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Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Do for Eggs--is it worth it?


Is the price of my eggs too high?
Okay, since I am getting few eggs these days, I must be doing this for the love of hens. As you may know, parts of the South received heavy snow. I have 8 inches in my yard. The wind blew gently and now that is 7 3/4 inches of snow and 1/4 inch of ice. Every day the ice gets deeper and more treacherous.

traipsing into scary places
Today, I was crunching along, hauling the hens in my arms to their pen as I have to do each morning since it snowed. They refuse to walk on the snow. All day long I traipse on the scary, icy yard, going to their pen to give them nice, warm, unfrozen water and warm, cooked food. No, they don't have a house for night time living. They live in two Rubbermaid boxes atop a plastic table in a 10' x 10' dog pen. Since the raccoon attack and hen murder, they spend the nights indoors with me. We need a patron for this egg project, the hens and I.

at night they live inside with me
Usually, the night cage is set outside the door in the morning, left open for their departure. They depart at their leisure with stiff-legged jumps, and I follow in a few minutes with food and water. Since I still have 8 inches of snow, they refuse to leave the porch. Then, there is poop on the porch.....ewwww.

Speaking of stiff-legged jumping and landings, have you ever noticed that hens do not bend their knees to land when they jump down from something? They don't. They land with a thud that sounds and looks painful.

enticing them
I threw whole wheat bread (no preservatives, no hfcs) onto the porch to induce them to leave the cage today. That worked like a charm. Then, when they finished eating, they hopped right back into the cage. That left me with no choice. I had to carry them to their pen again.

gentle
They are always handled gently. Some people grab wings and tails or just swoop down, grab the feet, and carry them upside down. I cannot bear to do that.

long snow-on-the-ground event
It snowed Sunday night, so Monday I carried them. Tuesday, I carried them off the by now-icy porch. Wednesday, they disappeared, so I assumed they went to their pen. NO! they just jumped through the porch railing and were scratching furiously in the long flower bed. They must have detected the one last flower bulb left from their summer scratchings.

treacherous steps
Wednesday, they had lots of room to get away from me since they were in the flower bed. They don't run, just walk away.  I picked up Fancy easily. When I came back for Thelma and Louise, they were determined to avoid me. Silly hens! To avoid me, they went down the concrete basement steps...treacherous for me and especially with the ice. They were easily caught since they were penned in. As I walked up the steps with two hens clutched to my chest, I seriously wondered about my judgment.... I have lived a nice, clean (no poop) life until now-- 64 years old-- and now I am clutching 2 hens to my chest, staggering along in 8" snow that has crusted over, huffing and puffing, saving them from raccoons and cold, hoping that I do not slip down on the ice, crush them to death or maim them.

squalling hens
They would never have willingly picked me to go home with, not in a million years. You should hear their looong, drawn out squalling. I never knew hens did that. Mine know only too well how to beg/plead, complain, and sound danger.

last of flower bed
They sat on the porch in their house cage for an hour Wednesday, just complaining. Then, they decided to dig up every last bulb left in my lovely flower bed after they got bored of pooping on the porch and on my bucket of sand. Oh, I think I told you about that last bulb.

nutritious eggs
Still, I get eggs that are nutritious and have nothing in them to harm the hens or me. I will have gotten eight eggs this week if they keep it up. Okay, so there is the exercise I get by carrying for them. I cannot drive yet because of ice and snow. I cannot even walk into a store to shop, getting a few minutes of activity. So, carrying hens and working to walk in deep snow will be all the exercise I get. If not for them, I would not have stepped foot outside the house all day long for these three  days. Okay, I really have no place to go...lol.

yes!
Raising hens for eggs is worth it for me. It is not the monetary value I count. Healthful eggs from healthy hens is worth the bother. Heart disease is treated and prevented with Omega 3. While there is absolutely no heart disease on either side of my family, I don't want to be the first. Hens that eat green things have eggs chock full Omega 3. I fed them turnip greens from those I grew on the counter from sprouting turnips in their market food. Free range is the way to go for healthy eggs, meat, and dairy products. However, it would be less bother if they had a secure house, secure from raccoons!

practical or parsimonious
At this point keeping these three hens is not practical! They should have a place outdoors that is secure. I don't like having to carry them clutched to my chest. It is a real pain to walk so much. And, the conditions under which I must walk right now are dangerous. Oh, if I were not carrying chickens and were not in pain, having trouble with balance--sure, I love living like this. Okay, that last statement was a lie. Since I know the snow will melt soon, I can endure. But, if this were the way it was going to be all the time, I might just be buying eggs at the store. Practicality would win over parsimony. Laura Ingalls, I am not.

Your turn
Do you raise hens for eggs? For your own consumption or to sell and consume? To save money? To have eggs that have no hormones, poison, or antibiotics? Isn't the raising of hens just a pain some days?

Linda

7 comments:

  1. Wow, you must really love those chooks. I whinge when I have to bucket the water to my lot but you are a true chook hero.
    Take care though, the conditions there don't sound like much fun.

    I do it for the eggs, mulch for the gardens, entertainment, meat, exercise, lots of reasons.

    Barb.

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  2. I'd love to have chickens of our own, but in reality, I've never even picked up a chicken and can't imagine coming out ahead in that!

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  3. Barb, the worst of it, the snow, is finally melting like crazy, but that will make it more treacherous as it freezes. Oh, hens did go to pen by themselves. Thelma obviously HAD to lay an egg and I sort of "herded" the other with a snow shovel. They were headed that way but did not want to step on the icy snow. Ever see a chicken skidding, slipping, and sliding on ice. Wow! If I had only gotten it on camera.Yes. All good reason to have hens!
    Dmarie, I had never picked up anything but a day-old chick myself until I got my day-old chicks. Rats! They grew and I had to pick them up sometimes...mainly because of this icy/snow condition.

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  4. oh, linda, glad to have discovered you...yes chicks are fun, and an affirmation of life as art..oh yes! free nutrition, and fertilizer, entertainment as said, and companionship too.

    insect control, creative focus, they do all that any pet can do for health. now the only way to deter raccoons is to secure chicken wire across the top of your dog pen, i mean wire secured...

    hens eat everything and anything, and respond to " here chick-here chic-chick" a rake can flatten the snow in a narrow path, add twigs and leaves or any woody substances along the convenient trail to spare woman and beast along the daily chores.
    can you tell that i miss my chickens?

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  5. I am looking forward to getting pullets in the next few months, after we get their house (I havent decided if we should buy or if I will ask hubby to make.) The plan is to get pullets so we can have eggs within a month or so. If the house is not ready for pullets, we'll get chicks when in from TSC.

    Why do I want chickens?
    The way I see it, we already have a pot bellied pig...so we may as well have a mini-farm. We also like eggs (I can taste the difference between fresh eggs and store-bought - hubby cannot.) I realize that the cost may be more than if you were to buy a dozen eggs at the store, but I dont care. I love animals, and this just adds to the "herd."

    It will also be great to use them in the garden for bug control and fertilizer. I plan on leaving them in our very large circular garden (fenced in, by the way so puppy & piggy cant get in) when the plants are fully grown so they eat the little green worms that ate our green bean plants last year.

    I am looking forward to learning all there is to learn about the little buggers. :-) I'm relying on your wisdom to help. :-)

    ~Meg

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  6. Nadine, I am glad you found me too. The snow was so deep that I could not have cleared it. I tried today, and I am just not strong enough. The path of sticks I could do...how about a path of pine straw? That's what I will do tomorrow. It is supposed to be in the 40's tomorrow, so maybe I won't have to. I am going to first take a garden rake to the icy snow so they will not slip so. They might hurt themselves.Will regular chicken wire keep them out? I have that and some is loosely wired by me over the top. I had planned to get some welded wire, hardware fabric, and get someone to help me...help? I mean do it for me. LOL Yes, I can tell you miss your chickens.

    Meg, you do not want the chickens in your garden. They will scratch up everything.Okay, maybe when the plants are full-grown...I have seen their devastation! I got babies and had nothing for them,just they box they left in from the farm where I paid $1 apiece for them and $2 for a few of them. They lived in a series of ever-larger plastic boxes for months. I got ten so I could have four hens and ended up with 8 hens and two roosters. I gave away a rooster and two hens to two different women. That left 4 and a raccoon got 1. Get baby chicks. They are so much fun. Plus, you can handle each one and gentle them to you. Otherwise, they probably won't be too friendly. I like that one of mine "talks" to me. If you get older ones, they will always be frightened of the other animals. If hens are frightened, they might not lay as well or have blood spots in the eggs. Someone else will tell you differently, but the man who had the egg farm said the bloodspots in my eggs were because the men were trying to frighten an animal and just about frightened the hens to death.I should have had two blogs--one about chickens and the other about thrift!

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  7. Great information! Thank you! You gave me alot to think about. :-)

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