Blowing out your eggs is a great way to save your prettiest or use them for craft projects. It's easy, especially with the help of the Blas-fix kit (see the link to buy one on amazon.com below). You can also use a thumbtack, paperclip and plastic coffee stirrer if you wish or a Dremel tool. If you have a Dremel, it's the way to go, it makes a nice round hole without the spider webbing you sometimes get using anything else.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Many of you who have been following my blog and facebook page know that my grandparents had a chicken farm. They sold the meat and eggs to support their family all through World War II and right through the early 1970s.
I grew up across the street from their farm, in a house that my grandparents built for my parents as a wedding present. They also built them a chicken house that was at least three times the size of the house...
and as you can see in this photo, came fully furnished with chickens !
But I digress.....
I have been around chickens almost my whole life. My brother and I raised chicks when we were young in our homemade cardboard box brooder and then collected their eggs wearing oven mitts so we wouldn't get pecked by the broody hens ! We had a rooster named Bojangles who used to chase us. We never kept a lot of chickens, and in fact the ones we had as kids lived in a smaller 'brooder' house that was behind our house.
Living right across the street from my grandparents, I naturally spent a lot of time with my grandmother especially. I remember spending rainy afternoons lying on her bed flipping through the Randall Burkey Company catalog, marveling at the cute chicks and all the other chicken-related items they have sold since the company started in 1947. My grandparents always seemed to have a copy of the catalog lying around.
Of course the products have changed over the years and the company has grown. I doubt my grandmother was ordering her hens treats or fancy feeders or waterers. She certainly wasn't buying any cute little coops or signs for the run, but I bet she placed orders for chicks over the years and maybe even medications for them.
So imagine my delight when Randall Burkey Company said they would be interested in sponsoring my blog! Randall Burkey is a company that I have grown up with. Their catalog is the very first one I ordered after we got our first chicks here in Virginia in 2009. My grandmother died last year, but I just know she is smiling down on me having Randall Burkey as a sponsor. She never understood the way I spoil my chickens, taking photos of them and naming them all, but she always understood quality and practicality - and Randall Burkey Company offers both.
Randall Burkey also sent a box of 'gifts' for my girls. Although my chickens are very familiar with Mealworm Frenzy, they had never tried the Sunflower Sensation. So I loaded up their hanging treat feeder and let them at it.
It was a HUGE hit as you can see.
A few of the girls seemed interested to learn the ingredients (psst, girls - it's a blend of assorted sunflower seeds, sunflower kernels, oats, oat groats, peanuts, and raisins).
There was also a treat ball in the box.
Since my girls already have one, they decided they wanted to give it,
along with the Mealworm Frenzy, to two lucky winners !
GOOD LUCK ! And be sure to check RANDALL BURKEY COMPANY for all your chicken needs from chicks to supplies, feed to instructional videos and book
CONGRATULATIONS TO RADISH GIRL THYMES AND LINDA MOFFITT WHO WERE CHOSEN AS THE WINNERS!
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
This coming Sunday, April 1st, we will be hosting the first annual Sunflower Sunday, and hope you'll join us! It's easy....just plant some sunflower seeds - the only catch is that you have to plant them in eggshells. The calcium carbonate in the shells will help nourish the growing plants and they make free, 'green' seed cups.
So save your eggshells after you make breakfast this weekend and get planting !
Here's what you'll need:
- an egg carton, egg tray or sectioned tray
- enough eggs to fill the tray
- enough eggs to fill the tray
- a package of sunflower seeds
- potting soil
- a safety or sewing pin
Here's what to do:
Poke a hole in the blunt end of the egg with a pin and wiggle it around to enlarge it a bit.
Carefully crack the top third of the egg and remove it, then rinse the inside and remove the membrane if you wish.
Arrange the shell 'cups' in an egg carton, deviled egg plate or sectioned tray. My Pet Chicken sells a neat Ceramic 6 Egg Holder that is similar to the one I am using.
Fill each shell 3/4 of the way with potting soil.
Put two or three sunflower seeds in each 'cup' and press them into the soil.
Then cover with more potting soil.
Give a light watering....
And put the tray on a sunny windowsill.
Keep the soil moist, and in two to three weeks you should see the seeds start to sprout.
After the danger of frost has passed in your area, you can plant the cups outside. Just crush the shell a bit before planting in the ground.
Space the cups 16" apart. Keep them watered and when the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall, thin out any that you need to for 16" spacing.
With any luck, by July 1st we all should have big, beautiful sunflowers ! Here we are the beginning of June already.
Once the sunflowers bloom, enjoy the cheery yellow flowers, and then cut the flower heads when the backs turn yellow and hang them in a warm dry place to dry the seeds. Save the seeds for your chickens or the wild birds, and remember to save some seeds to participate in next year's Sunflower Sunday.
The eggshell cups work on any other kind of seeds also and especially those that can suffer blossom end rot will benefit from the added calcium the shells provide.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Welcome to the world peeps !
The nine newest additions to our flock all hatched over a 24-hour period this past Thursday and Friday. We had a 100% hatch rate in the Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator in our very first ever time hatching eggs! Maybe it was beginner's luck but I think it was more a testament to the quality products that both Brinsea and Chicken Scratch Poultry provided to us.
We started nine eggs in the incubator and hand turned them (the incubator only holds seven eggs with the turning tray installed)) and all seemed viable, so I left them all in for the duration, and I am SO glad I did.
The incubator was amazingly easy to use and obviously does a great job. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone wanting to hatch just a few chicks (AND the coupon code FRESH gets you 10% off your purchase!).
These cutie pies came from fertile hatching eggs donated by Chicken Scratch Poultry and I can't say enough good about them also ! To get all nine shipped eggs to hatch is pretty darn good ! Can't ask for a better hatch rate than that.
We now have two Welsummers, two Olive Eggers, a Black Copper Marans, a Blue Copper Marans, two Light Sussex and a Blue Ameraucana.
This Blue Ameraucana was the first to hatch. I can already tell she is a spunky thing !
I am trying the Brinsea EcoGlow 20 for the first time and it appears she likes it ! She explored the brooder box a bit and then crawled right underneath the EcoGlow and went to sleep.
The EcoGlow replaces the red heat lamp and is supposed to more closely mimic being under a chicken. The chicks go underneath to warm up and then scoot out to eat, drink and play and then back underneath when they get cold.
The first to hatch was soon joined not only by her hatch sisters but also by some more chicks that I had ordered from Chicken Scratch Poultry. In the mix is now also Lavender Orpingtons and Araucanas, plus more Light Sussex, Marans and Olive Eggers.
Lots of play followed by naps is the routine for them.
I use a Rubbermaid plastic tote as a brooder. A hole cut in the top covered in 1/2" hardware mesh ensures that nothing will get inside, but provides plenty of ventilation. On the bottom I layer newspaper and then cover that with rubber shelf liner. It provides a nice surface for little feet to grip and I like it better than paper towels because it is washable and reusable.
The chicks have water with Manna Pro Life-Lytes mixed in which I will continue to give them for a few days to boost their energy levels and they are eating Manna Pro Chick Starter. I went with the medicated feed because the shipped chicks have such a hard start to life, the last thing they need to be doing is fighting coccidia too. And since we have other chickens out in the run, the chances of me bringing something inside with me is pretty high, so the medicated feed will be their main sustenance for the first 8 weeks.
At first the chicks weren't too sure about the feed, but now they are pecking away at it.
to this... in 21 short days. It just doesn't seem possible.
Well that concludes The Great Eggscape ! Thanks all for following along and a huge thank you to both Brinsea and Chicken Scratch Poultry. I would say this hatch was a 100% success !
Click here for information on Baby Chick Care.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Did you know that the effects of heat on chickens is cumulative? And that a sudden increase in temperature is more dangerous than a gradual climb. Temperatures between 65-75 are optimal, anything higher starts to cause stress to their bodies. The added blood flow to their combs, wattles and skin reduces the flow to their vital organs.
Doing all you can to help your chickens stay cool in the summer isn't a matter of 'spoiling' them, it can be a matter of life or death. Chickens have a hard time cooling off, so everything you can do to help them is beneficial.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Dry bread isn't good to feed to chickens because it can get stuck in the crop and cause an impacted or sour crop. So what to do with the heels of the loaves or stale bread ? Well, you can try my Blueberry Bread Pudding with Maple Syrup and Blueberry Sauce Recipe ....and you can make your chickens a nice treat right alongside a pan of Bread Pudding for the family.
Blueberry Bread Pudding (Chicken style)
4 pieces stale bread, cubed
4 eggs, whisked with 2T. of water
1/2 Cup blueberries (or raisins if you prefer)
Arrange bread in a small baking pan and pour egg mixture over to cover completely. Allow to sit a minute for the bread to absorb the liquid. Sprinkle blueberries over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and drizzle honey over the top before serving in the run.
This is a quick, easy way to use up both extra bread and eggs. My girls absolutely loved it !