Saturday, 8 January 2011

Introducing Sheldon

As you are all aware we own 4 chickens. Our lives as chicken farmers has not gone smoothly so far. Out of the 1st 4 chickens 3 were roosters, including my beloved Cornelius. The removal of these 3 put poor Pius into shock and bringing in 3 new upstarts did not help. By the time the daylight started to fade for the year we had 3 hens who had not quite reached the age of laying and one who was too terrified to do much. So we sat back and resigned ourselves to no eggs til spring.

We have however been checking the nest boxes regularly. You never know right? Over this last week a couple of them have been starting to look like they may start soon. Their combs and wattles have become a bright red and if you go to pick them up they squat down in a position which says they are preparing for the rooster.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 9 to let the girls out. I'd had a late night and really just wanted to stay in my warm bed but the livestock comes first. Clad in my dressing gown and wellies I gathered the kitchen scraps and corn ration and headed out into the still snowy outdoors. It was cold and wet and really not shaping up to be a great day. I scattered corn in the run, tipped out the scraps and cleaned and refilled their water hanger then let them out. Hilarius was clucking like a good un just as she does every morning. Shall I check the nest boxes I thought to myself. Yeah why not. There are 4 boxes. Nope, nope, nope, squeal! Our first egg. As quick as I could I locked up the run, ran inside, shed my wellies and woke up Spadger. As far as I was concerned I didn't care if he was grumpy 'cause I woke him up. He had to hold the first egg while it was still warm. Yup they had only just laid it. So without further ado I give you Sheldon.

Complete with piece of straw and a feather. It is small and perfectly formed. So perfectly formed in fact that we felt they have laid a few previously that have been failures, no shell etc, that they have eaten so we've not found them. Usually the first few are a bit hit and miss as they get the hang of the whole shell thing. We resolved to check again after we got back from shopping and the farm. Lo and behold in the actual coop hidden in sawdust there was another egg. Smaller than Sheldon and still very fresh. I tested it by dropping it in a jug of water. How far from horizontal on the bottom it lays tells you how fresh it is. There is an air pocket in the round end. The older the egg the more air. As long as your egg is still in contact with the bottom of the jug it should be ok but I'd crack it into something other than your baking or pan just to check. If it floats get rid! Anyhoo, Eggbert laid horizontal so I think he was either yesterday or today. Sheldon is still the first though as we found him first.

The 2 hens most likely to be responsible are Hilarius and Linus as they squat and the others still run.

Oh frabjous day!

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