Archive for March, 2016

The Great Flood

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Have you ever seen a movie where some wall or dam has a leak, and it starts off as a drip, then becomes a bigger drip, and then the whole thing just collapses under a rush of water? Well, I am seeing that in real life, except instead of water, it’s eggs. I am collapsing under a rush of eggs. You might remember that when my ladies started laying again, there was an egg every other day or so, then if I was lucky, one a day. Well, that time is over. Now I’m getting five or six eggs a day. I’m so used to no eggs, or just one or two, that I always forget my egg basket when I go out to the coop at night, and then have to go back into the house to get it, mumbling to myself about how long is it going to take me to remember it’s egg season. Knowing myself, it’s going to take at least a few months.

Ride the wave.

Ride the wave.

I had to put plastic Easter eggs filled with sand in the nesting buckets again because everyone is so out of practice that they seemed to forget where eggs go. I originally took the Easter eggs out because they were making one of the Mandrell Sisters constantly go broody. She must be a big fan of Easter, or really into challenges. But I got tired of finding eggs all over the coop and run now that the factory is open again, so I made some new decoy eggs and put them in place. One has already fallen prey to my inability to work with super glue, and it split open and dumped a bunch of sand in the nesting bucket. This is fine, for the most part, since it was in the bucket they all like to use, so there’s probably going to be at least one egg in there anyway, so the rest can use that as their example. I just have to hope whoever gets the urge first knows where to go.

Where's the nestroom?

Where’s the nestroom?

Since we’re getting so many eggs, it’s safe to assume that the Old Guard are still productive. That’s good. I had expected to see a tapering off from them this year, but if they want to work during retirement, that’s fine by me. I’ve gotten one torpedo egg so far, so I know at least one Mandrell is still at it. We got one that had a weird lump of extra calcium on the end, which just seemed like someone maybe trying a little too hard, and then the really big surprise happened. I was fishing around in the bucket, because sometimes they bury the eggs in the chips, and pulled out what I thought was a golf ball. It turns out it was just a small, white egg. None of my chickens are the sort that lay white eggs, so this confused me. It still confuses me a little bit, but my best guess is that it’s all related to the “egg machinery” not quite running as smoothly as it should. If I get a bunch more of these, I’ll start to worry, but one, right at the beginning of the season, is not quite panic attack material. Maybe.

Even regular golf balls kind of freak me out.

Even regular golf balls kind of freak me out.

I can now finally begin dealing out eggs to people that I owe them to. One lady I work with has been bringing me egg cartons all winter, and telling me how many eggs from the grocery store she’s been eating. I have always had to meekly shrug and apologize that it’s just been a really slow winter for us. Come Monday, she’s getting one of those egg containers back, filled with eggs of course, and then I can remind her that all those store-bought eggs she’s been getting taste like cardboard compared to mine. Or maybe I should tone it down a bit and just thank her for the cartons and say, “Enjoy!”

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Ulma Gloderl by Franz Lichurtichentaler)

Spring Break!

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Well, even though it’s Spring Break, I had more work to do than usual (papers again), so no podcast this week. Meanwhile, enjoy this visually stunning (mostly) rooster footage. See you next week!


Think Chickens from Chase Rees on Vimeo.

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Boss Chicken Laid An Egg!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The title of this episode refers to a song my son and I always used to sing if Boss Chicken did in fact lay an egg. It somehow never got old. If my son was inside when I made the discovery, I would run inside and just sing, “Jingle bells, Batman smells,” and he’d stop whatever he was doing and answer, “Boss Chicken laid an egg!” It was a pretty good bit, but I was worrying we had seen the end of it. Spring, or something like it, is landing on us, and while a few of the ladies in the coop are back to work laying eggs, I wasn’t sure if Boss Chicken would be. I assumed whoever was laying the eggs was a n00b, since the Old Guard are getting a little long in the beak, and so I’m not hanging onto any expectations of them reaching their old levels of productivity.

batman smells

Seriously, dude. Wash the suit once in a while.

An odd thing I noticed was that when we finally got eggs again, the first couple looked suspiciously like Mandrell Sister eggs. I can tell the difference. Since they were the first eggs of the season, I didn’t want to be so sure right off the bat though. They were a little odd-shaped, which isn’t surprising. Have you ever stopped exercising for a while and then started again? It’s always a little tougher at first. Now imagine doing that with an egg. Things are going to be a little rough around the edges at the outset. The Mandrell Sisters have a history of torpedo eggs, but I wasn’t about to point fingers. I wasn’t sure where anyone was in their egging career, so I took the time to just sit back and let things happen, even if said things were slightly deformed.

weird eggs

Workin’ on it.

Just in case, I decided I ought to check the Boss for eggs now too. I didn’t want her to feel left out, but I also didn’t want to make her feel bad if the magic wasn’t happening “down there.” That didn’t stop me from picking her up every night and looking under her while asking, “Got an egg under there?” I realize now that this was probably too forward of me, but social niceties aren’t always my strong suit. To make matters worse, there usually wasn’t an egg under there. I was messing up all over the place.

egg shaming

Egg shaming is real.

Then last week, she was out enjoying the sunny side of the hutch, and I went to check the state of her bedroom. Often, there is a poop situation in need of wood chips in there. I opened the door, and while there was in fact poop, there was also a brand-new, perfectly-shaped egg sitting there. It was a Boss Chicken miracle! Or just a sign that she’s not ready to retire yet. Since then, I’ve gotten another couple of eggs from her. This is good news to me. I get more eggs, she gets to feel like she’s a productive member of the flock, and most importantly, we get to keep our family’s favorite bastardization of an already bastardized song. Winning all around!


(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: The Great One Step by Victor Dance Orchestra)

A Chicken Miracle Occurs

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Sometimes the impossible, or what feels like the impossible, happens. We didn’t get any eggs between January 6th and February 15th. That’s the longest stretch of no eggs we’ve ever experienced, and I was honestly beginning to think that we’d never see another egg again. Well, at least from our chickens. I know where to see eggs, they just weren’t showing up in the place I wanted them to. My house. Or the coop, because I can carry an egg into the house myself, if I have to.

I mean, within reason.

I mean, within reason.

On the 15th, I opened the coop, saw the egg, and was so excited I said, “An egg! Thanks, chickies!” Notice that I included them all in the praise, in the hopes of encouraging the whole group to get on the egg train, or at the very least to not egg-shame anyone. We fell into an egg-every-other-day pattern for about week and a half. This was where we had left off in January before everything just stopped. I figured we’d hold there for a month or so until it really started getting light out, since the pre-hiatus egg pattern had gone that way. So when I went into the coop on what I thought was an off day, I was pleasantly surprised to find another egg, but figured they’d make up for it by skipping the next day. You know, a put in some extra hours at work, then take a comp day sort of thing.

Phonin' it in.

Phonin’ it in.

The evening of February 26th, I stepped out into the cool night air, and smelled the smell of someone cooking out. This is not a big surprise. It was a nice night, and people cook out all the time. I went about my chicken duties, saying goodnight to Boss Chicken and closing up the front of her little bedroom in the the hutch. I closed the main door to the coop, removed their yogurt dish and waterer, closed the door to the run, and set the electric fence. Then I went to check for eggs, though I was fairly certain there wouldn’t be any. I opened the rear door to the coop, and there, in the nesting bucket, was an egg. “An egg! Hey, thanks chickies!” I said again, a little louder than last time, since I was so surprised. Then, just as a force of habit, I checked the nesting bucket that they never use. And in there was another egg. “What!?!” I shouted. “TWO eggs, way to go chickies!” I wasn’t faking my enthusiasm, either. They, at least statistically, had really gone overboard this time. I gathered everything up and brought it into the house. “We got two eggs today,” I announced to the household. The household was not as impressed by this as I was. I put the eggs in the carton and marked them down in my egg journal. Then I went outside to get one more thing that I had forgotten to bring in the first time, and that’s when I noticed that the reason I smelled someone grilling was because our new next door neighbor was out there at his grill. And had been the whole time I was yelling with joy at the chickens. And his grill is about 50 yards from the coop, so there’s little doubt that he heard me.

They get that far-away look in the eye whenever I appear.

They get that far-away look in the eye whenever I appear.

Oh well. He was bound to figure out I’m a nut sooner or later.


(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: The Royal Vagabond by Jockers Dance Orchestra)

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