Back in the Eggs

Hi there keepers, of late we have been a bit short of eggs, what with moulting and the girls laying away from our garden, however now that the weather has turned for the worst they seemed to have nearer home, as I have said before, and kiwi’s will know all too well, when it rains here, it really pours down, instant rivers form just about anywhere they can.

So it seems the girls have decided to move the nests a bit nearer to the coop and relative dryness, which means the egg basket is nearly full again, it’s been  two months or more since I could say that, in fact the only reliable hen has been Manuella the Minorcan, which now that I think about was why we chose her breed in the first place, as they are known to lay in the winter here.

On the subject of moulting, poor Gloria is looking very rough, the top of her head is presently bald, and she has lost alot of feathers down the back of her neck, she looks a bit like she has literally been dragged through a hedge backwards, and it seemes to me that they are fully aware of how rough they look, Gloria infact seems quite depressed over the whole issue, she spends most of her time hiding in the bushes, and won’t let any of us pick her up, whereas before moulting she was more than happy to pick up for a cuddle and bit of pampering.

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Nancy’s Gone Broody Again

Hi there keepers, it seems Nancy has gone broody again, I didn’t expect her to do that in the wettest part of winter, I thought her maternal instinct would tell her that this isn’t the right time of year to bringing chicks into the world, but not so, she has managed to find her way back in behind the neighbours shed, even though they have screen off the outdoor area where the shed is, she has performed her mission impossible stunts to enable her to get back into her favourite spot.

I recovered 6 eggs from underneath her the other day, two of which didn’t pass the float test, so she must have been laying back in there for a couple over two weeks, there were at least another four eggs under her, and at least one had broken, for the eggs I retrieved were covered in yolk and pieces of broken shell. She is spending her nights in there now, which seems to have cut down the fighting for position in the coop , come roosting time. The last time Nancy went broody, it was for some 10 weeks, I wondered how long this one will last, as the weather is very different, cold and wet, I  imagine the warm of the coop will draw her back sooner this time.

Free Range Drawback

Hi there keepers, just a quick post today, and it’s about the one main drawback of letting your hens free range, I am having trouble finding theirs nests all the time, as the weather has changed recently, basically is now very wet, the girls have moved nests again, the only one who is laying in the same spot is Manuella the Minorca, she lays under the coop, where it stays dry all day long, whereas the others have taken to moving their nests to a place I cannot find.

I suspect it they are in the mass of undergrowth that line the banks of the creek, however after seeing the lengths that Nancy went to, in order to conceal her nest, I could be searching for a long time. Sad as it may sound, but I think I may have to rein them in a bit, afterall we are keeping them for their eggs, and at present we are only getting one a day.

Rain stops play.

Hi there keepers, I realise alot of readers here are from the northern hemisphere, and so at this time of year they are enjoying the warmer months, the spring flowers are all in bloom, and temperatures are rising as summer rolls in like a warm carpet being laid over all the death of winter.

However down here in New Zealand, winter is fast approaching, like a cold wet flannel being flung in your face. It gets very wet in the North Island, the coldest tempertures are reserved for the South Island, where most of the Celtic immigrants settled, they like it cold, they get their winter tan of blue.

Auckland rarely drops below 10 degrees celcius during the day, but it still feels pretty cold when you’ve gotten used to the constant 30 degrees of summer, but it’s the rain, when it rains here it rains big drops, flash floods are common place, infact 2 small tributeries form under our house, feeding the creek at the bottom of the garden, I had to dig out two channels to allow them to flow through, rather than flood my workshop under the house, so if you lift one of the floor boards you can see these trickling flows of water.

So you can imagine it’s not much fun if your a chicken, the ground becomes very soggy and muddy, there appears to be less bugs in the grasses, probably washed away on a bug sized tsumani,  sunbathing has become a distant memory, and the dust baths have become mud pools. The girls spend most of their day under the deck and concrete stairs that lead down to the garden, there’s plenty of room for them all to stay dry, but they will bicker and peck over the driest spot, like kids who have been stuck indoors over the holidays due to bad weather, fighting out of boredom. Which made me think I need to provide some games for them, like ‘Peck the hanging cabbage’ and ‘ Pellets in a slightly open matchbox’, the names need work, but you get the idea. Daisy still makes the dash around the block to her mates who provide her with daily bread rations, and returns sometimes slightly soggy but full.

Bring back summer.

Who Likes my Dumplings?

Hi there , I have tried before amd failed, to make dumplings that is, I remember when my Mum made them at home, she would use shredded beef suet, which I found out is the hard layer of fat that surrounds the kidneys, I didn’t have any of that last night, so I substituted it with cold butter, ( has to be cold), then is kneaded in with the fingers, like making cake mix. Well they came out lovely, as it is getting a bit colder here, it was time for a stew. I made them some 10 years ago but they were awful, that’s why it took so long to attempt them again, my son has never tried them before, and wasn’t too sure about the flavour.

There were two dumplings leftover this morning, and I put them out for the girls, with a couple of leftover spuds, well they proved very popular with the hens, however they seemed to be getting their beaks a blocked up, a bit like watching a dog chewing a toffee, when it gets stuck to the roof the their mouths. The water trough seemed to be a hit after the dumplings.

I’m chalking that up as a culenary success.

Omega Levels in Eggs.

Hi keepers, the link between high-fat, high-cholesterol diets and heart disease is well established. Today, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. However, since 1964 the number of deaths caused by heart disease has decreased dramatically. Part of this decrease has been attributed to changes in the American diet. The dietary intake of cholesterol and saturated fats has decreased, while the intake of polyunsaturated fats has increased. Several studies have shown that fish oils rich in unsaturated (omega-3) fatty acids can lower blood cholesterol levels in people who have hypercholesteremia (high blood cholesterol). Other studies have claimed that these fatty acids can reduce blood pressure, tumor growth, arthritis, headaches, and the formation of blood clots. Eggs are a good and inexpensive source of protein, but one large egg contains 220 milligrams of cholesterol. Therefore, a study was performed to determine if adding omega-3 fatty acids to eggs can affect blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The study included nine men and three women with normal blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. During the first four weeks of the study, half of the subjects ate four eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids per day in addition to their normal diet, while the other half ate four regular eggs per day. During the second four weeks of the study, the diets were reversed. The diet containing the regular eggs caused blood cholesterol levels to increase, but did not alter blood pressure. The eggs with omega-3 fatty acids did not cause blood cholesterol levels to increase, while they decreased the amount of triglyceride (fat) in the blood and decreased blood pressure as well. It is concluded that eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids may be more healthful than regular eggs.

It is my understanding that Omega levels in eggs have dropped due to modern farming methods( i.e, battery farming), no sunlight or sun-grown feed, grasses, bugs etc,  now scientists have worked out a way to artificially put it back in ??????, if they just left things alone, it would have been fine,, ..so the eggs that we back yard chicken keepers produce, should have the correct levels of omega 3,  the amount nature intended,  for no study has yet been done to determine, how all this added Omega 3 will effect us in the future.