Thursday, June 27, 2013

What's in an Egg?


Juliet asked the most iconic question of all time: “What’s in a name?” Well, the Chicken Lady asked, “What’s in an egg?”
 A lot apparently! One can look at the eggs their hens are producing and determine the overall health of the flock. Personally, we’ve experiences our fair share of weird eggs here on the Shawhan farm, and I’m relieved to know, most of it is completely normal and harmless!

Some eggs have no yolks and are called “fart eggs” in the chicken keeping community. These are usually a first time production by a pullet hen and are completely normal. Just a funny name and not a lot of breakfast!
Blood and meat spots happen sometimes, but rest assured, they are safe to eat if you can stomach it! They are the result from a small defect in “uterine production” where some of the tissue from reproduction is left behind in the shell. (Khuly, 66) The good news is that it is not a sign of disease or an unhealthy bird. The bad news is that it can be hereditary. So if you know which hen(s) is the culprit(s) and you don’t want this in your eggs, don’t plan on breeding them/hatching out a brood.
Some eggs come out with no shells. We call these “membrane eggs” here on the Shawhan farm. For some reason, they just happen from time to time and are no reason for concern. Sometimes eggs with discolored shells appear and are also no cause for alarm.
Egg deformities like ridges and bumps are common and sometimes genetic. Usually nothing to worry about, but could potentially mean a nutritional problem if it is happening to all the eggs in the flock.
There are round eggs, which mean they spent more time passing through the chicken. Pointy eggs or “torpedo eggs” happen when an egg spent less time passing in the hen. These come from older hens (who I guess just want the egg out because they have better things to do with their time). Round eggs come from younger, possibly more patient hens!

In relation to cook-time in a hen: a thick-shelled egg spent longer in the reproductive track than a thin shelled-egg, which spent less time in creation.

Some eggs are wormy AND a cause for alarm!! PLEASE tell me if you ever get wormy eggs from me! That means the girls have worms and will need to be treated. It’s very important that I know this.

 Fingers crossed we don’t end up with worms in our eggs, just all these other goofy odd-balls instead!

                                                                                                           …cluck… cluck… cluck…

Khuly, Patty. “Egg Samples: What do Your Girls’ Eggs Say About Them?” Chickens Magazine Summer 2011: 66+

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the Know of Chickens


I came across an interesting article in the July/August (2012) issue of Chickens Magazine. It was very informative and interesting – all about the ins and outs (literally!) of a chickie. So of course I thought I’d share some the TMI.

 First off, by knowing as much as we can about chickens, from proper care and nutrition, housing, egg laying, anatomy, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…the better we can take care of our birds. We will be able to spot disease, distress, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…much quicker. As with ANY animal, pet, livestock, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…it’s all about observation.

Let’s begin with some chickie history. Chickens were bred and tamed in Southeast Asia. Supposedly we get our modern-day chicken genes from Red and Gray Jungle Fowl…whatever that is. Every chicken out there has two legs and wings and all have feathers, wattles and combs.
Chicken feathers can tell you the overall health of your bird. Chickens LOVE to dust bathe…especially in your newly planted and mulched flower bed…then they will spend time preening their feathers by taking oil from the uropygial gland under their tail base and return oils lost back to the feathers. The oil helps to repel water as well. Wattles are those flaps of skin under the chicken’s chin. They can be blue, black or red. The comb sits on top of the chickie head and can also be several different colors. The comb can come in all shapes and sizes. The purpose of the comb is to regulate body temperature. Chicken breeds meant for warmer weather will have larger combs and those breed for colder climates will have smaller ones.
Chickens can see colors. Red lights in chick brooders reduce stress.
Ears are located at the side of the chicken’s head. Here’s something cool I didn’t know: A hen who has a white ear lobe will lay white eggs and a hen with red ear lobes will lay brown eggs.

 All chickens have spurs – as with most chicken parts, spurs are more pronounced on males.
Chickens can have five toes, depending on the breed, but most have four. Chicken legs are usually yellow, white, olive, black or slate.

The skin of a chicken is very thin. It varies in color too, being either white or yellow. Also a cool note: the skin color will deepen (like the egg yolk will) if the bird is allowed to get out and free-range.
It takes 20 hours to form an egg shell. Most hens will be done producing an egg by 3:00 P.M. It takes about 3 and ½ hours to make the albumen, and 1 and ½ hours to make the shell membrane. The egg is covered with “bloom” or “cuticle” which protects it from bacteria. The shell is produced in the chickie’s uterus.

As for the rooster, his testies are located on the inside. If hens and roosters are housed together, mating is going on 24/7.


Chickens do not have teeth, so most of food breakdown occurs in the gizzard with the help of grit (pebbles, a store-bought mix, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…) However, first food is stored in the crop, a pouch located below the chicke’s neck, where is can stay here for up to 12 hours.

Hope you found some of this interesting!

                                                                              …cluck… cluck… cluck…

 Urquhart, Kristina Mercedes. “Anatomy 101: All Chicken Keepers Should Know the Ins and Outs of Their hens and Roosters.” Chickens Magazine July/Aug. 2012: 24+

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Like Father, Like Fumm?


All of us here on the Shawhan farm would like to wish all the father's out there a Happy Father's Day! The festivities began in the wee early hours on this Sunday morning, try 5:00 A.M., by the CONSTANT crowing of certain manly roosters. (I can't believe the cops haven't been called to our house yet for disruption of the peace...)
As I was feeding a certain little man this morning I noticed, much to my own annoyance, that our roosters wouldn't shut up. Over and over and over again they crowed and crowed and crowed! Part of me wondered if something, or someone, dangerous/deadly was out in the coop with the chickens. I knew it was too early for them to be all mad at us for being let out yet, so I didn't know what the deal was. It just seemed so over-the-top, even for them!
Finally a couple of hours later, after a certain little someone finally drifted off to sleep, I went back to my dark and cold hidey hole bedroom and drowned out the constant crowing with the air conditioner until 10 A.M. (Believe it or not, I'm still tired! I even took a nap!)
Anyhoo, Dan never mentioned anything scary out there once he turned everyone loose for the day. I didn't notice anything when I went out to do a couple of barn chores. I don't know if the boys were just saluting dads everywhere or if this is a normal occurrence. I guess the next mornings I'm up at 5:00 A.M. I'll try and listen, much to my own annoyance, for their crows, and if so, something may have to be done about it.
All throughout his upbringing, little Fumm has crowed after Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk. Or maybe Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk have to crow after they hear tiny Fumm try and squeak one out.  Either way, once one does it, the other has to follow. I like to think the two older roosters sort of taught Fumm how his voice works, no matter how puny it is. I like to think too that they are his mentors in his dads, who may one day want to kill him, but are so far pretty tolerable. I hope my older boys will be good and will be kind to would make me a proud momma if they did.
I just couldn't pass up such observations on a day like Father's Day!
                                                                                           ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

HELLO! It's Nice to Meet You!


WOW! It seems forever since I posted last! I also can't believe that the last time I did this I still had not met a certain little someone :)

Well, Sunday, June 2nd was a day filled with meeting new acquaintances. Dan had to fed in the morning and decided to move Flock 3 in with the rest of the cluckies. I kinda wanted to help him and figured we would do it after church. He beat me to it and had the big move done with before breakfast and church. When I asked if anyone was immediately attacked he said no, but some of the older broads were already putting some of the newbies in their place. It seems like every animal species has a pecking order.

I was especially nervous about the new little roosters and the puny size of all the bantams. So far though, so good. Knock on wood, no one has been killed yet. You hear over and over again that when you combine roosters (who haven't grown up together) they will fight and one will end up 6 feet under. (OK...not quite 6 feet when burying a chicken...maybe a trip to Manure Memorial Gardens...). I hope that if we combine YOUNG roosters, there won't be a need to fight to the death. Fumm and Orp. are young enough boys that hopefully Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk won't find them a threat and can whip them once and say, "HEY! I'm the big dog and am in charge." and that can be that. Well it's been almost 2 weeks and no fatalities, so hopefully all is good with the boys.

I can see issues bringing in an already mature rooster, like Fog Horn...then I could understand a fight club scene.

After church, Krogers and Taco Bell, we got home and checked on everybody. After seeing that all was well, I convinced Dan to get the car seat base installed in my know, just in case. After the one in my car was put in, Dan decided to put in the car seat for his truck. I was sitting in the backseat, overseeing the operation, when I noticed something different...I got out and went in the house and sure water had broken. This was at 1:30 P.M.

All that stuff they told us in child birth class about when to go to the hospital flew out the window! I stood in the house stunned and frozen. I called the hospital (AFTER I called my mom) and they told me I had to come in.

Of all the times to get behind a camper and trailer on the way into Hillsboro, going full speed ahead and topping out at 40 mph.  So anyway, to make a long story short, once I got there and got admitted, we found out the baby was in a breech position, his butt was down and head was up, so I had to have a C-Section.

At 4:04 P.M. Carl Daniel came into our lives at 7 pounds, 14 ounces and with a head of red hair!

I kinda knew in my gut he was going to be a boy so I wasn't that surprised when they told us. More days than not I envisioned a boy...maybe next time I'll envision a girl! The name "Carl" was special to both Dan and I. For him, a man named Carl owned the farm his family has now in Hillsboro. Dan says that without that Carl they wouldn't have what they have today. It was special to me since you all know my Beach boy obsession and Carl Wilson was a part of that. Everyone says Carl was who held the group together and no one has a bad word to say about him. Plus he had the most beautiful voice. "Carl" is simple and American and a name no one can screw up.

We like it :) Just like we LOVE our little Carl Daniel and think we'll keep him around the Shawhan farm!!

We are all settling in just fine and everyone and every chicken, seem to be doing well...except for these hot flashes...if this is what menopause is like, then I am NOT looking forward to that!  I'm just glad he's here and healthy and I can't wait to have a little helper out in the barn and for the day I can give him an egg carton and he can reach in gather the eggs!

I hope to be posting again on a (hopefully) regular basis!

If this doesn't sound the greatest, sorry, tired today!

                                                                                             ...cluck... cluck... cluck...