Monday, February 16, 2015

Cold, Cold and More Cold

It is pretty darn chilly here. It got down to something like 1 degree overnight with a 'real feel' of minus 15. I have had a sheet of ice outside the coop door for month now. It just isn't warming up and this week is no exception. Brrr! Every time I think about going out the door, I reconsider and think better of it and stay in. Who needs milk? Not us! Taking out the trash? Pshaw! The chickens are not amused and mill around their little chicken hatch giving all the snow a dirty look. The kids want to go out, but when they do it doesn't last but a few short minutes. And you know what is more annoying that spending 15 minutes getting 3 kids dressed in snow gear? When said kids spend exactly 2 minutes outside before coming in, stripping off their snowy gear onto the floor and saying 'it's too cold!'. C'mon, people! According to my mathematics, if I spend 15 minutes getting you ready, you should spend at least 15 minutes outside. Sounds fair, right?

In other frigid news, I was able to go on a fun photo-taking adventure with a friend, except I forgot my memory card and thus took pictures with my phone instead. What I failed to take into consideration was that the area we went to is accessed by a pretty steep hill. The hill happened to be covered in solid ice. My friend had never been to this part of the park and she was in for an adventure. Fortunately we were able to take the long way around and neither of us broke anything. It really was gorgeous in the snow, even if we did have to walk down there like two elderly ladies who broke out a nursing home. Here are a few pictures from the walk:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Hate, Educate! Also Known As A Public Service Announcement About Chickens

After having this conversation no less than 3 times in the last week and a half, I have decided to put a fascinating post up about chickens and egg laying. It will be every bit as interesting as it sounds. So, first things first.
  • Chickens, they don't lay eggs forever. After the two year mark it drops significantly and depending on the chicken they may lay anywhere from 2-4 eggs a week, or none if they feel so inclined. They will continue to hang around, I am told, for upwards of 5-7 years. I can't confirm this because I don't have the space to run a chicken retirement facility. 
  • They also stop laying if they are broody or molting. Broody means they sit on a nest hoping to hatch a clutch of eggs. Since we don't have a rooster, there is no chance of those eggs every hatching. Molting means you go to check for eggs one day and it looks every bit like a chicken exploded in the coop, but without the guts. Just feathers everywhere. And they go around half-nekkid waiting for their feathers to come back in. At this point, they put all the protein they can get toward the production of their fancy new down jacket instead of laying eggs.
  • In addition to all that, eggs are a seasonal product. Fo' real, people. Chickens need light to lay eggs,and when the days get shorter the egg supply decreases or stops altogether. I recently had one hen come out of retirement to lay us blue eggs again. She hadn't laid an egg in about 4 months. First, she molted. Then, the days were short and somewhere in her little bird brain, she went on a sunny beach vacation where no one is expected to do silly things like lay eggs.
  • Chickens don't lay eggs until they are about 5 months old, at which point they begin gearing up to lay approximately 5-6 eggs a week. At first, they are just getting used to the whole thing and they lay tiny 'pullet' eggs. Sometimes they even lay rubber eggs which are pretty gnarly and not in a good way. Gradually the eggs get bigger and as they work the kinks out, you might be graced with a double yolker. If they get really crazy, they might lay an egg so big it has stretch marks. It basically looks like they bought the add-on package and stretched it right in the middle. Finally they get into the groove and lay almost an egg a day.
  • Fresh eggs do not need to be refrigerated. When a chicken lays an egg, it is covered in 'bloom' which protects the porous surface of the egg from absorbing bacteria or spoiling. Factory eggs are washed, bleached and then lightly coated in mineral oil to replace the bloom. (Store bought eggs I would not trust outside of the fridge) Fresh, unwashed eggs can keep. I usually refrigerate mine because what else am I going to do with the egg drawer and it keeps them from getting broken, but I have also left them on the counter many times and NEWS FLASH! I didn't die. Word on the street is that in Europe they don't refrigerate eggs even in the store. 
So there you have it! I could add a whole other section on roosters, hens and the blasted chicken sweaters everyone thinks I should make, but I will spare you. If your eyes aren't bleeding by now, I hope you learned something and can bust out your new found knowledge on an unsuspecting-but-soon-to-be-very-impressed friend.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Drawing Again!

I have been doing a few sketches lately. I forgot how fun and relaxing it is to draw. I have a painting idea in my head which involves a jackalope, thus the reason I was drawing jack rabbits. :)