The chickens and the eggs

The egg production is getting low…very low. It’s interesting as you get in tune with animal and food cycles how you realize that our continuous availability to all foods is completely unnatural.

 

5 thoughts on “The chickens and the eggs

  1. Is there a reason why you’re not using light bulbs in the coop? Maybe I missed that if you had written it somewhere… You mentioned about the PV panel, but I guess I don’t get why regular power isn’t local… (isn’t it great that Alberta is going to phase out coal? I hope the new PV factories will be located in the former mining towns, though.) All the issues you are considering are very complex, so that’s why I was wondering about your view on light bulbs in the coops.

    The previous comment from “Just Another Day On The Farm” was great – as soon as Calgary allows laying hens within city limits I’ll be trying to encourage hens to supply me with eggs – but I do intend to use ordinary old- fashioned incandescent bulbs for heat and light. They DO make sense when heat isn’t an undesirable side effect.
    I was trying to remember what Baba used to do, and she must have timed the chick maturity somehow. She also had many ducks and geese – could it be that their laying patterns are more robust? That probably isn’t the case, but you might already know. From what I remember from Baba’s farm, I will NEVER have geese – they’re mean to little kids! – but ducks are pleasant to have around and their eggs are good. You are really making me think about my Baba – she came to Alberta around 1908 (she was born in 1898) and was married and moved to the homestead in Smoky Lake in 1914. In the late 1950’s/early 1960’s I remember the house where she lived, the outhouse that I found alarming, the well, which was frightening, the milking barn, which was clean and soft, had barn cats, and was pleasantly warm (to a 4 year old) but I will never forget the shock and betrayal I felt when I had my first taste of milk straight from the cow. Ewwww! It was warm!!! Unpleasantly warm – and I was so mad at the cow for not refrigerating it! Now I wonder how Baba had time for the enormous garden, the cows, milk and butter, the sheep, carding and spinning and weaving, the chickens, ducks, geese and eggs, feathers, down, quilts and pillows, the canning, baking and church activities, raising the kids, getting the hemp and poppy seeds to the miller for oil, and the wheat for flour. (What do you use for oil? besides lard… Baba had a visit from the RCMP in the 1940’s about the hemp and poppies…) I only remember boughten sugar, but my Dad was responsible for at least 20 bee hives so most of their sugar would have been from honey.

    Thanks for switching to vlogging – I love travelling with you.

    ..Loretta from Calgary

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    1. hi, I have guard geese for my barns, they are huge and they protect the smaller birds and the lambs, helping keep them all safe from fox’s and such..

      But the reason I wanted to write back was you asked about ducks, your grandmother was mostly likely much like my own was, they did four things that I was trained in..

      A) you store eggs in the glut to have them in winter, my own family stored in salt, but others used mineral oil and others used water glass, it all does the same thing, seals the eggs and allows them to stay good for months, they never washed their eggs, always leaving the natural bloom on them and even just in regular cool temps, they will stay good for a few months. (always put the pointed end downward as the air pocket should be on the up end as it will grown a bit with age.. To test your egg, you place it in room temp water, if it sinks to the bottom, fresh egg, if it lifts up on angles, its a older but still good egg, if it floats, its bad.

      Having said that, no one ever cracked a egg into the dish like we do, I can remember grandma, one at time dear in the bowl and check it 🙂

      B) if you are allowing your hens to naturally set, and hatch chicks, you will have young hens coming on line for the winter laying, so that helps a lot.. but its only good for a certain part of winter

      c) Ducks are indeed part of the answer :), they start laying four to six weeks sooner in the spring and hard part of winter then the hens will, I run a mixed flock and I count on the ducks to provide the late winter eggs, the goose hen will also start sooner then the chickens. Duck eggs are amazing for baking and as they have a higher percent of yolk are what I was taught to use to make pasta with..

      d) I remember grandpa teaching me about how to help the birds, when it came to no heat and lack of protein in home raised grains in alberta (and I am not saying to do this, more like passing the info along), he would hang wool blankets on both sides of the doorway, creating a trapping effect on the heat from the inside to the outside.. clever I think.. and the hens would sleep on the milk cows and team’s backs.. smart birds, as for the protein, in the hardest part of winters, once a week, he would butcher a rabbit and hang it for the birds to eat.. He said that if they butchered something, the bits went to the birds to increase the protein but in those four to six weeks of hard -40 winter, they feed the birds, their grains, and a rabbit to get them though the winter, he said that those that did had better bird health.. its the protein of course that did the job on why that worked.

      Have a good one

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    2. Hi Loretta,
      Nothing against light bulbs, but there’s no power in the coop. We repurposed an old grain bin into a coop and never set up power in it. I’ve had to run extension cords over the years but was trying to get away from it. Alas, I’m back to it! The Solar panel light was busted!
      We only use lard or other animal fats for oils, so far. Although I know some great Albertan organic cold pressed oil producers that I really need to visit so I can have mayo again!
      Lard however is the most perfect fat. Bake with it or deep-fry in it. I love it.
      Your Baba and my Great Grandparents, like all the pioneers, were amazing human beings! We’re only scratching the surface of the incredible lives they lived!
      Which really is our purpose in this, to answer the question; “Why is it with all of our modern conveniences, we can’t even feed ourselves for a year?”

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  2. Best of luck on this winter, while I do not know if it will help you this year or not.. There are only two ways I know to keep hens laying better in winter beyond light..

    One is careful timing of hatching of chicks, if your young hens are coming up to laying age in the fall, they will lay all winter long because they are just at that age, they will moult late winter and take a break early spring.. but that is ok because your year older or more hens who took the winter off laying, will be hitting their stride in spring and just crank out those eggs.

    The second thing that really effects them in winter is protein tied to fresh greens, if you have whole grains (barley is the easiest) having a small green fodder system going in the warm house and taking them fresh fodder daily keeps everyone laying better all winter long.

    Otherwise Apple sauce to bind the baking and oatmeal to bind the meats 🙂

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