Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pre-Easter Egg Hunt

As most of you know, we have a flock of chickens in our back yard. Recently we housed half of them in the garden while they were growing. While in the garden, they learned to jump the fence and escape into the wild of our yard. Even after we moved them into the big coop along with the rest of the flock, a few continued to escape whenever they wanted to go on walkabout. Some have become permanently feral chickens roosting in the rhododendrons at night and foraging in the yard for all of their food. The younger chicks have now started to lay eggs, and the ones who have stayed inside the fence lay their eggs in the nesting boxes as they should. But we've been wondering about the ones who are roaming around the yard never going back into the coop for anything. Where were they laying their eggs? Egg Hunt time!

A quick look around the yard found a couple of "nests". One was in the dirt in the kids' playhouse and one was behind the Camellia bush next to the house. There was even a chicken sitting in that one. Both of those eggs were blue/green meaning they come from an Aracauna chicken, but several of the feral chickens lay white or brown eggs, not blue. So, where were their nests? Today while doing yard work I found one more nest that contained 12 white eggs! But that still doesn't answer the question of where the Barred Rock chicken who lays brown eggs has her nest...that one is still a mystery.

These young layers lay much smaller eggs than the older hens. As a chicken gets older the size of her eggs will increase until at some point she either stops laying or lays the largest egg of her life then goes on to the great pearly chicken coop in the sky. So the composition of our egg boxes doesn't look like the ones you see in the grocery store. Each egg varies in size and color depending on the breed and age of the chicken. But for my money, I'd rather have a tiny egg from a backyard chicken than a big one from the store any day!

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