Thursday, August 4, 2011

A little clutch of eggs

As Babette performed her morning ritual, I raced (well, that is an overstatement), more like trundled to her nesting spot.

I counted 15 eggs. Lovely!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mystery Solved

You remember Babette? She is the little fan tailed princess who waltzes around my backyard in her black and white coat of feathers. The rotten little hen had stopped laying eggs (or at least we could not find them). The other day she disappeared. An occasional chicken "gone missing" has affected our happy little flock before (dog? opposum?). The words "Babette is missing" was not laid upon ignorant ears. One of the beautiful things about farming with children is the life lessons they are taught. When joy and tragedy happen in our own little animal microcosm it gives them tools to help deal with these things in their lives later down the road.

What do you know--the next morning we saw her! She was moving fast with barely a hello and then she was gone again. Hmmmm.

Two days later we saw her again. This time we locked her in the coop to see if she was laying eggs again. The poor girl scolded, clucked and paced so much I had to let her free again. Whoosh! Away she went.

I had a suspicion that some unsolicited mothering was going on here, and unless Babette had found a rouge rooster she was up to some fruitless brooding. After searching EVERYWHERE for this nest to no avail I decided to call on the experts. $5 was offered to any child who could find this nest! The search was on.

This morning Babette came out around breakfast time. She ate some grass, she scratched the dirt and then took a speed shower in the sand box. Next, she shot off like a road-runner. She was, however, followed. Two hot and tired children came in with the report that she was in the front yard. A third child kept watch outside. Next thing I knew I was out $5 because, low and behold, the nest had been discovered by a patient, curly haired 7 year old.

Babette resides under my porch in a potting shed type of area. She has taken up house in a broken blue plastic tub where she eagerly mothers a clutch of eggs. Here is a photo of her "setting." When she gets up for her morning run I will try to dash and get more pictures.

My better sense tells me not to, but I am not listening. I am going to try to get some fertile eggs for this dear little bird. Wouldn't that be fun? So both my henny and myself are nesting, I wonder who will hatch her egg first?

So motherly, wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Dirt

Chickens stay clean with, well, dirt. They have a daily ritual known as a dust bath that helps to keep parasites off.

Steps included in a chicken spa treatment:

1) Choose some lovely warm dirt or sand--preferably somewhere your owner would rather you not dig.

2) Gingerly place a toe into the dirt to test the area. Start to dig a hole.

3) If it is perfect, proceed to sit down in egg-laying fashion in the hole.

4) If it is very perfect, start to kick the dirt up with your feet while flapping your wings.

5) Go ahead and roll your head around in the dirt because it feels so nice.

6) Finally, relax and soak up the cool dirt and warm sun giving onlookers the impression that you are dead.

Photo taken from: 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


According to an article in the April/May 2011 issue of Organic Gardening, many eggs labeled as "organic" do not jive with the typical mental image of happy hens pecking at bugs and grass. The organic label is only a guarantee that the feed was organic and no antibiotics were administered. It does not guarantee the hens were given a good life.

Z7 chickens

The article defines the terms you may see on an egg carton:

Cage-free: Chickens are not kept in cages. They may or may not go outside.

Fortified or vitamin enriched: The chicken feed as been supplemented with vitamins or flax. These eggs are supposed to have more Omega-3s.

Free-range: Chickens are given access to the outdoors--However, this could mean one small door for thousands of chickens. Access is also limited. There is not a guarantee that there is grass out doors.

Organic: The feed is organic and there are no antibiotics or synthetic hormones given.

Pasture-raised: Chickens are raised with extensive access to outdoors, and a part of their diet is from grass and bugs.

The answer: "Buy fresh. Buy local."


Monday, June 27, 2011


 I love going to the coop in the morning to collect the fresh (and sometimes still warm) eggs. There is a quiet satisfaction that comes from eating food that you have raised.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our Story Part 2

Buffington, our Buff Orpington was determined to be a mother. In chicken terms, she became broody. In kitchen terms, she stopped laying eggs. Utterly consumed, she hardly ate or drank, so intent on hatching non-fertile eggs was she. Something had to be done. I read that ice packs help to break this behavior. Not Buffington the dedicated. Soooo, I asked a friend if I could have some of her fertile eggs. I didn't really think the whole endeavor would work. However, 21 days later I looked in the coop and there were 3 little baby chicks tottering around. I passed out cigars and we oohed and awed.  

Chicken mothers are a pretty amazing and dedicated fowl. As the mother sits on her eggs she turns them frequently to help the baby develop correctly. After the chicks hatch, the iconic image of shelter under a mothers wings becomes personified as Buffington lifts her chest and lets the babies run under her feathers. She walks around puffed up as if she is in the Macy's Day Parade. She has different calls for her little brood: food, danger, and bedtime. She would show the chicks where good food was and call them close to her if there was reason for alarm. Three little chicks would run under her wings. It was amazing to see this instinctual behavior so finely tuned. It's hard not to love a fluffy yellow chick, or be inspired by this dedicated chicken mama!