Monday, October 28, 2013

We've Got the Blues

Blue eggs, that is! Our Ameraucana chickens (Hattie, Zelda, and Ruby Red - pretty sure Hattie was the first) started laying a few weeks ago. At first, their eggs were a sort of dusty gray, which was disappointing. Ameraucanas are known for laying eggs with blue or green shells, and I was looking forward those lovely hues. But I figured eggs were eggs, and since the shells are just for show anyway, it didn't really matter. 

You can imagine my delight when I checked the nesting boxes a few days ago and found the two eggs above nestled in the hay. One tiny egg from the Louises (the Colombian Wyandottes are the only ones I can't tell apart, so I've named them both Louise) and one very blue Ameraucana egg. Hooray! I posted that photo on Facebook and a few people asked me if the blue shells were diet related, if the yolks would look different, if they were edible. I forget that not everyone is as chicken-crazy as me. Basically, different breeds of chickens lay eggs with different colored shells. We're used to seeing white and brown shells in the grocery store, because those are the most common, but there's quite a spectrum out there! From what I've read, no one is exactly sure why this spectrum exists, but some experts suspect it has to do with the need hens once had to camouflage their eggs in the wild. All I know for sure is that it makes for a lovely carton of eggs. 

Speaking of cartons of eggs, our chickens have not been laying as much as they used to. The new girls just hit 5.5 months old, and some of them have started laying, but it's been inconsistent so far. As for the older ladies, there were points where I thought they were just taking the summer off. I couldn't figure out why they'd slowed down so much - there are three of them, and yet we were averaging one egg a day, sometimes two, but never three. They're only a year and a half old and should be in their laying prime (an egg a day, more or less) so that empty nesting box was extra disappointing. The ladies seemed perfectly healthy otherwise - alert, eating and drinking regularly, friendly and inquisitive, and beautiful as always. I thought maybe the summer's heat and humidity was affecting them, or that they were molting (a natural occurrence, during which the hens take a few weeks off from laying) though I hadn't seen too many missing feathers. At any rate, our egg yield has been slowly increasing, both because the new girls have started laying and the older ladies have picked it up just slightly, so I'm hoping everything will be back to normal and we'll be rolling in eggs once again. I love the chickens and they provide a lot of entertainment, but fresh eggs are definitely one of the best things about them.

Another "best thing?" This photo:

I usually get out of bed first and report to my desk for a morning writing session. Meanwhile, Nathan (if he doesn't have to rush off to work) stays in bed, and the dogs join and/or trap him, whatever the case may be. Puppy love, y'all. It's the best.