Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hen Miscellany

I call him Buster. He is the sole remaining rooster for our flock, and I love his fluffy thighs. He has never threatened us with violence. We appreciate that and bless his life in return. He may also be the progenitor of birds unknown, but this is yet to be seen.

I heard from Edmund that if you want uniform fertilization for your eggs, you need to keep one rooster for every 10 hens. We have 22 hens right now, more than double what is advised. This would not be an issue if our hens were entirely disinterested in their own production.

But this is not the case. This hen went broody at the tail end of March. I went into the egg mobile one day and noticed that her head was unusually low, like you see it here. The Dark Cornish hens are very sleek when on their feet. Their feathers lie close to their bodies, making them look more like dinosaurs than the typical plump backyard hen. The day I noticed something was different, she had fluffed her plumage to fill the entire space of the nesting box.

A hen hatching out a bunch of adorable mutt-chicks sounds lovely to me (and sustainable, for that matter). But what doesn't sound as precious is the idea of her heating a bunch of unfertilized eggs for three weeks (or more) and then cleaning up a filthy mess while she, now disenfranchised, protests. There is just no way to know until one or the other happens. Oh well. We'll see.

So aside from going broody, the hens have taken to laying in unconventional places. Mostly they lay here in the hay.

While collecting these eggs, I heard a hen squawking from above the housing for the well in the red barn. I took out the ladder and found 9 eggs proceeding down the crevice by the wall.

I used them in a quiche with the only other thing we are producing on the farm right now - dandelion greens. It was wonderful. If you are reading this, and are in a climate similar to our own, now is the time! Bring in your dandelion greens before they become bitter!

So, beyond laying in unknown locations, or refusing me access, one hen surpassed the rest and forewent the shell entirely, laying an egg cloaked only in a membrane.

I didn't make anything with that. But I should have, because aside from being particularly naked, it looked perfectly good... when I got rid of it.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Alanna, I read this post and happened upon your handsome photo of Buster immediately after reading another blog post about the symbolism of the rooster during Holy Week (Matt 26:34 - "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”) I'm not reading any deeper meaning into it than that, but it certainly made Buster's presence all the more dramatic!

  3. Share the link Chuck! I would love to read it.

  4. Wow, that unshelled eg is cool!

  5. You might think I spelled "egg" incorrectly there, but really it was a totally intentional and brilliant visual depiction of an egg missing its outer layer. Just so we are all on the same page.

  6. The shell-less egg was creepy. Alanna dropped it in my hand and evoked a holler from my amygdala as I anticipated "egg" and instead received, "weird squishy thing".

  7. Perhaps special little paintigs done in egg tempera out of any future eggs that never received their barrier shell?

  8. I know this is late, but why don't you candle the eggs? It's much faster than the "wait and see" approach.