Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Egg Ornaments

IMG_2869I haven’t posted in a while.  Life with four kids can really tie you up for some reason :),  especially this time of year. Christmas is a busy and blessed time of year preparing our hearts and celebrating the birth of our savior.   It’s a tough balance in our society and is easy to get wrapped up in other things. ((PRESENTS!! ))  Gift giving can become the focus of Christmas instead of thanking God for the gift of His Son.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Giving gifts does not have to take away from the true meaning of Christmas. If we focus on the wonderful gift of salvation the Lord has given us, giving to others is a natural expression of that gratitude and love. The key is to keep our focus on the ultimate gift, Jesus.  This year we decided to make some gifts for our family to show our love using our very own chicken eggs.  Here is how some of them turned out.


I really Like the diorama ones.  It was surprisingly easy to make.

Here is a quick tutorial.

First drill a hole in the side of the egg using a small dremel bit, embroidery scissors or other tool.  Then carefully chip the shell away to about a 1 inch opening. I found embroidery or or cuticle scissors work very well for this.  Dump the egg out saving it for later and rinse the shell.IMG_2826I then paint a few layers of clear fingernail polish, mod podge, or glue around the open area of the shell to strengthen prevent cracking.  When this is dry I then take the embroidery scissors and cut a bigger opening.  IMG_2825IMG_2827It doesn’t have to be perfect.  You can add ribbon or pipe cleaners around the opening to give it a nice finished look when your done with the inside. I then microwave the egg for a few minutes to further strengthen the shell and sanitize.  You can then take craft paint and paint the inside and out if you wish. Then decorate the inside.  You then make a base for your diorama. We used cotton stuffing for the tree and a bit of styrofoam and wood shavings for the manger scene. For the tree we just took some pipe cleaner and  twisted it in a circle to make the tree, IMG_2882and for the manger we used tooth picks and a bead wrapped in paper for baby Jesus. IMG_2883Hot glue everything into place and use a bead end and some string  to hang it. IMG_2886 The other ornaments were just blown out eggs that we put stickers on and a layer of mod podge. Rub-ons would work better than stickers, I just couldn’t find any. IMG_2885Simple, yet pretty.


Here is a few my 7-year-old daughter madeIMG_2884MERRY CHRISTMAS!

LOVE- Theresa

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17


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This last weekend we had the opportunity to watch chicks being born.  It was an exciting thing to see that first little pip and a chick bursting forth out of its shell.

Chick starting to hatch

We also did some experiments prior to the hatch.

1. Rubber egg  

What you need is one raw egg, one jar, and vinegar.

Gently place the egg in the glass jar.

Slowly pour in the vinegar until the egg is completely covered.

Store jar covered for at least 72 hours to a week. The longer the better

Then i had my children guess what would happen to the egg.

What does happen to the egg?

The vinegar causes a reaction with the calcium carbonate (the chemical that makes up the shell) breaking it into its calcium and carbonate parts which releases the carbonate in the form of carbon dioxide. You can see this reaction taking place almost right away in the form of carbon dioxide bubbles forming on the egg . The calcium part is left floating around in the solution. 

Some of the vinegar will also sneak through the egg’s membrane and cause the egg to get a little bigger.

You can see here on these eggs the leftover calcium after the carbonate separated.

Then we decided to see how far they could bounce before they broke.My son’s egg didn’t make it very far only a few inches. My daughters egg on the other hand made it to about a foot before it broke.

The second experiment we did was to test the strength of an egg.  This one was super easy. We just need one raw egg.  I then let each child squeeze each egg as hard as they could with one hand.  The egg does not break. Why?  The shape of the egg is what give it such strength. Eggs are similar in shape to one of the strongest architectural forms,  a 3-dimensional arch.  The curve the shell distributes pressure evenly all over the shell rather than just one part. By putting your hand around the whole egg the pressure of you squeezing it is distributed evenly all over the egg. However, eggs break easy when uneven forces are applied,  like when you crack it on the side of a bowl.   This is how a hen can sit on an egg and not break it (the weight of the hen is evenly distributed over the egg)  but a tiny little chick can break through the eggshell (the pecking of the chick is directed at just one spot on the egg)

The third experiment we did was to see how a chick breaks through its shell.  We just used a raw egg and an opened up paperclip.  I let each kid try to scrape through, without poking it directly into the egg.  It takes a long time, and their hands and patience with this experiment grew tired. They were then able to understand and appreciate the hard work it took for the chick to break out.

Now for some super cute pictures of our chicks! We had a total of 7 chicks hatch. Three did not make it.

The only black tufted chick that hatched. Look at those tufts!

Blue double tufted.

Clean faced white chick 

Clean faced lavender chick 

This breed of chicken defiantly lives up to its difficult name so far.  Out of 26 eggs 7 hatched and 4 survived, 2 tufted and 2 clean faced.  This whole experience of hatching always makes me in awe of the power of our living God and savior who makes all things.

Homeschool hatch part 1

Homeschool hatch part 2


Update pictures at 2 weeks:

Update 1/2013


Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself..”

Isaiah 44:24

Down Home Blog HopBlogfest

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This last weekend we were able to look inside the forming eggs with a method called candling. Candling is when you light up the inside of an egg with a bright light, usually a flashlight, to see if your chicken is forming inside. It was amazing to see some of the little chicks wiggling around inside. Here are some pictures of what we saw.

Here is a picture of an infertile egg.

THis one has a chick forming at 7 days

This one is a “quitter” a chick that died early in development

We saw a defiant 7 chicks that were developing well and wiggling around in there.  One of those were from the smashed box of egg that I received! We also have had lots of fun this week with our egg experiments.

The raw egg /cooked egg test.

Place a hard-boiled egg and a raw egg on the table. Spin each of them and see what happens.

The raw egg spins slowly and wobbles and the cooked egg spins fast.  Why is this? Its because the liquid yolk and white are different densities. The boiled egg is one solid piece. Therefore the whole egg spins in the same direction. The raw egg has liquid inside which moves separately from the shel which keeps the whole egg from spinning quickly.

For part two of the spin test, get an egg spinning again, stop it with your hand, then quickly let go. If the egg stops quickly  it’s hard-boiled. But if it begins to move again after you take away your hand, it’s raw.

The  Egg in a Bottle test.

This one is fun to watch at any age. I know we performed it a few times 😉

What you will need is a peeled hard boiled egg and a glass bottle with a mouth a little smaller than the egg, I used a quart milk jar, paper and a lighter.

I first had my kids gently try see if they could put the egg in the bottle without breaking it.  They could not.  Light a piece of paper and stick it in the jar. Quickly place the egg on top and watch what happens.  The egg gets sucked into the bottle!

Why does this happen?

 In elementary terms, the burning piece of paper heats the molecules, or little pieces that you can’t see that make up air, in the bottle and causes the molecules to move far away from each other. Some of the heated molecules escape out past the egg. When the flame goes out, the molecules of air in the bottle cool down and move closer together creating a suction like a vacuum.  If the egg wasn’t there the air outside the bottle would come rushing in to fill the bottle. The air trying to push its way back in is so strong pushes the egg into the bottle.

I love learning new things.  I also love teaching my kids about God’s world. We plan on candling again this weekend and will have more fun experiments to perform in the next few days.

And to man He said,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.’” Job 28:28

Homeschool hatch part 1

Homeschool hatch part 3

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This is my young breeding trio of bantam Aracanas

The Araucana is a challenging breed of chicken which ideally has ear-tufts, is rumpless and lays blue eggs. They come in a variety of colors in both large foul and bantam (minature). Tufts are a group of feathers that grow from a protruding flap of skin located near the ear called a peduncle and are only found in this breed of chicken.

This lovely pullet is from Smith Wonderful Poultry. http://www.swpoultry.com

Araucanas are rumpless which means that they do not have a tail or a tail bone.  These unique traits make the Araucana chicken one of the most unusual and in my opinion one of the most beautiful breeds of chicken, but they also cause a number of problems that make this breed changeling. The tufts gene is lethal when present in both parents and result in a 25% in shell mortality.  The tufts do not breed true and only a tufted bird carries the tufted gene.  If both parents are tufted  50% of the chicks will be tufted 25% dead in shell and 25% non-tufted (clean faced). If only one parent is tufted you will get 50% tufted and 50% clean faced. This means that a flock will always be a mixture of tufted and clean-faced birds. Unfortunately, many of the tufted birds will have uneven, small, or one-sided tufts. Birds with large showy tufts are rare and highly prized.  Rumplessness is a trait that also causes challenges to the breed. Even though the gene is non-lethal, it can have an effect on fertility because the lack of movable tails can cause mating difficulties and reduce fertilization.

Where did these chickens come from?  According to The Araucana Club of America; “Araucanas have a most interesting and controversial history, having originated in a remote area of Chile ruled by fierce Araucana Indians who resisted European domination until the 1880’s. The distinctive traits of blue egg, tufts and rumplessness originally were found in two distinct breeds from this region. The first breed, named “Collonocas”, laid blue eggs and was rumpless. The second breed, called “Quetros”, had unusual tufts, but was tailed and laid brown eggs.”  The Araucana that is standard today in America is thought to be a result in the breeding of these two Chilean breeds.

The Araucana is frequently confused with other blue-egg-laying chickens. The only recognized blue laying breeds in the US are the Ameraucana, (tailed and muffed chicken)  and  Araucana. Most chicks sold by hatcheries or feed store are not a true breed but a mix of a blue laying breed, usually Ameraucana,  and some other breed resulting in a mixed possibility of egg colors (blue, green, and brown) and hence are named the Easter egg chicken.

Blue/green eggs from my Easter egg chicken. White egg is added for contrast.

Here is a picture of a common feed store Easter egg chicken.  These are one of my favorite and one of most dependable laying chickens I own.

So why am I telling you all this?

This last friday (October 5th)  I set some large foul Araucana eggs in the incubator.  I bought the Araucana eggs from two different people on the East coast.  The first box I received was left dented and oozing on my front porch.  The postal service did not take care with it nor did the sender do an exceptional job packing.   I really hope the ten that were not broken will hatch and weren’t completely scrambled in the mail.   The second package arrived the next day. I received a call from my local post office at 5:30 am to come and pick it up at the loading dock. The box was in perfect condition.  Even if the box had been banged around in transit I am positive the eggs would have made it.  This was an excellent packing job!   I had to wait at least 12 hours to let the eggs settle before I could put them in the incubator. We are keeping them set at a constant 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 45% humidity.  They will remain in the incubator untill they hatch on the 26th (hopefully).  Chicken eggs take on average 21 days to incubate and hatch.

This next weekend the kids and I get to candle them to see how they are developing. I can’t wait to see the miracle at work inside of those eggs and have an opportunity to show the kids how..Great is our Lord, and mighty in power! Psalm 147:5

I have also planed a few fun experiments and lessons around this hatch over the next few weeks. Homeschool so much fun!

Learning the parts of a chicken egg.

For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.  Psalm 47:2


Homeschool hatch part 2

Homeschool hatch part 3

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If you know us pretty well it wont surprise you that we have had a calf out in tinny front yard for the last 8 weeks.  It has been a wonderful learning experience and tons of fun.  It was also fun to sit on our front porch and watch neighbors walking by.  Every time he would moo people would look around really confused.

We got seven when he was only a few hours old.  The big cattle truck pulled up in front of our house and dropped him and a cow igloo off.

Whats that green stuff on 7’s forehead?  That is some paint the farmer uses to mark the forehead of the calf so he knows who received colostrum.  It’s really important for a calf to drink at least a gallon of colostrum in the first few hours of life.

There were a few things I had to learn about new-born calf care.  The first is that they only eat 2 half-gallon bottles of calf milk replacer a day, no matter how much they moo at you.  They can get scours (the runs) and that is not good for a little calf. Second, you need to keep a close eye on their naval.  If the calf was born in unclean conditions, placed in an unclean area, or just by chance they can develop naval ill. This naval infection if not caught early on can spread  through the bloodstream and settle in other parts of the body.  Our little guy, for whatever reason, contracted this.  I had to give him injections of penicillin in his neck for 6 days and treat the navel with iodine. Yuck! It was the first time I had to give anything an injection and I hope I never have to do it again for my sake and the animal’s.  After about four weeks we started giving him calf starter grain.  Only a little at first, discarding leftovers in the evening.  The rule of thumb is if the calf eats 2 lbs of feed by the end of the day he is ready to be weened cold turkey.  A calf is usually weened a 6-8 weeks. Seven was weened at 7 weeks. Now that he has been weened it was time to move him out to pasture at our friends house.
Here he is in the horse trailer 7 weeks old. Can you guess why we named him Seven?

Here he is meeting his new friends Oreo and Chocolate.

Here is Seven’s new digs. He has roommates, but still way more luxurious than the igloo.He was so happy to get out of that igloo and run free.Eat lots of grass little guy and get fat!

So where did we get seven?  How much did he cost? How much does it cost to feed him?

Seven- Free!  A lot of dairy farmers will give their males away for free or next to nothing. Seven is a Holstein cross.

Igloo-Trade work.

Calf milk replacement (1 bag)~ $70.00 Typically you only need one bag/ calf.

Calf starter grain ~$18.00/bag. You should only feed them this grain for about the first 6 months.  The rest of the 18 months or so the steer will eat grass and hay.

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Here are some recent pictures

IMG_2791 IMG_2792 IMG_2793-Theresa

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Chicken Eggs

Is there really a difference between store bought eggs and home grown eggs? Aren’t eggs bad for you?  Is it cost effective to raise your own chickens for eggs? Why did you start raising chickens?   These are just some of the many questions that I receive from people. So I decided to write a post on why I raise chickens for eggs.

I first decided to raise chickens for eggs because, quite honestly,  I thought it would be fun!  When I was young I always wanted to live on a farm.  My father grew up on one and my mother spent part of her youth on one and I loved hearing stories about it.  When I was about 8 we visited my mother’s cousin who lived on a real farm in Saskatchewan.  To this day the only thing I can remember about that trip is going out to the chicken coup and collecting fresh eggs, that and vomiting next to some mustard fields after getting really really car sick.  After this trip I knew when I grew up I wanted to live on a farm.  I have to admit that my favorite part of having chickens is going out to the coup and finding a lovely bunch of eggs.

 I just love all the color possibilities. Eggs can come in various shares of brown, such as reddish, pink, purple, orange and chocolate, there are  shades of green and blue, white, and spotty eggs.  Its also fun for my children to collect egg.  Is it cost effective? I imagine not.  I haven’t really done the math because I don’t really want to know.  Its more important to me to have nutritious eggs to eat rather than being cost effective.  We spend a little extra to buy quality feed. I also raise meal worms for my chickens, make them a leafy weed/herb salad daily and give them our table scraps.

Now,  the difference between store bought eggs and my backyard eggs.  Here is the generic nutritional information off of an egg carton:

According to Mother Earth News eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

Now my chickens are not “Pasture raised” exactly, but I do work hard to ensure they have a diet very close to that of pasture raised chicken.  Here is a picture of one of my chickens eggs next to a store bought egg.

The yolk was darker and was rounded and the whites less runny. The shell was thicker and the membrane stronger.  This was clearly a difference you could see.

As for the health benefit of eggs?  Well, there are so many if I were to list them all this blog would go on forever.  So we will go over two myths about eggs that have been busted.

The first one is that eating eggs causes high cholesterol.  While it is true eggs are high in cholesterol it has been proven that only 1/4 of the cholesterol in your blood comes from your diet.  The rest your body makes and the levels produced are based on your genetics. Saturated and trans fats have a greater effects on blood cholesterol than the cholesterol in your food. The unsaturated fats and other nutrients, including B vitamins, in eggs may even be beneficial to heart health.

The second myth is that egg whites are better for you. An article in Journal of the American College of Nutrition stated that those who had two whole eggs for breakfast felt fuller afterwards and ate significantly fewer calories at lunch .  Egg whites do have less calories, no fat and no cholesterol,  but they don’t have all the nutritional goodness.

Nutrients: Whole Egg Egg White
Calories 70 17
Total Fat 5 g 0 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g 0 g
Cholesterol 185 mg 0 mg
Protein 6 g 3.6 g
Folate 24 mcg 1 mcg
Iron .88 mg .03 mg
Zinc .65 mg .01 mg
Riboflavin .2 mg .1 mg
Selenium 15.4 mcg 6.6 mcg
Vitamin D 41 IU 0 IU
Choline 126 mg .4 mg
So in an eggshell this is why I chose to raise my own eggs.
Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?
Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
 My soul refuses to touch them;
They are as loathsome food to me.
Job 6:6-7
(couldn’t resist, 🙂 I know this isn’t the point, but I find it interesting how Job uses an egg white in his justification of his complaint)
If you are confused about the Many different labels that categorize chickens and their eggs here is a blog that explains it: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/06/07/egg-labels-and-terms-whats-in-a-name/
Also here is a nice You Tube video that might change your mind about what “organic” means: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbqyAemRlno&feature=player_embedded
some more sources:
 Whew.. thats a lot.

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The Great Quail Eggscape!

After eighteen days of anticipation my quail finally hatched!  Eighteen days doesn’t seem like very long when you think about what goes on inside that little egg.  It is truly one of God’s many miracles.  Here is a Quail development chart that I downloaded off of the The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s website.  Click here to see it better.

This chart is of Bobwhite quail.  I hatched Coturnix quail. The incubation for Coturnix is shorter between 16 and 18 days.  That is unless you are me then its between 18 and 19 days.  I think God wanted to remind me that he is in charge of life, to appreciate his role in the hatch and an opprotunity practice patience.  In the end God answered my children and my prayers and gave us 26 quail chicks!  So far all are healthy and feisty.

To hatch your own quail eggs you first need to invest in an incubator.  Incubator prices vary extremely, from $50 to $300 +.  After researching incubators I saved up and was able to buy an Brinsea 20 advance.  When incubating quail eggs the humidity and temperature needs to be  constant at 45% and about 99.8 degrees F.  You will also have to turn the eggs 3 times a day. I bought the Brinsea because it takes care of all that for me. All I had to do was make sure the water trough didn’t dry out.  I just set it and forget it.  This was an important feature for me.  With 4 small kids, one being 6 months, I didn’t have the time to keep a watchful eye 24/7 on my incubator.  If your kid is older it might be a good education experience and lesson in responsibility to buy a cheaper still air incubator

We posted a wanted add on craigslist and bought 48 quail eggs from a 4H student.  Interesting side note.  A fertilized egg doesn’t start developing until it is incubated by a bird or machine.  You can keep the eggs in a cool, damp area for a week or two before incubating.  Fertility rates drop the longer they sit though. When we got home we let the eggs settle for a couple of hours.  While we waited we let the incubator heat up and stabilize.  Then we placed the eggs and let God and the incubator do their work.Two days before hatch day we take out the bars, turn off the auto-turner and increase the humidity to 65%.  This is was to make sure the membranes in the eggs don’t dry out and trap the chick.  This is also a good time to set up a brooder, a little pen to keep the chicks in after they hatch.  The pen can be a fish tank or a large plastic bin with food water and a heat lamp set to 95  degrees F.  (Reducing the temperature each week by 5 degrees.)  Then you can watch as the eggs jiggle and listen to the little peeps coming from the eggs as they try with all their might to break through and make that first little hole.You have to use extra small water dishes or fill a larger one with marbles so they don’t drown.

It can take sometimes up to 24 hours for the chick to completely emerge after this point.

This little guy came out feet first and wasn’t getting anywhere after a day.  So I helped him out a little.

It was a wonderful experience for the kids and myself alike. I am so glad we decided to hatch our own eggs.

 Now we have the cutest little chicks running around. Hopefully most will be female and in only 8 short weeks we should be getting some eggs!

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good... Genesis 1:31 

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