Monday, November 14, 2011

Trial, Error, and an Egg

We know several families who are eager to buy land and try their hands at a bit of homesteading, whether it be beekeeping, gardening, raising animals, cultivating fruit, owning a milk cow, or any combination thereof.  Some are biding their time by watching the real estate market, and others are just about ready to take the plunge.  I often joke that they can learn from our mistakes, because no matter how many books you read or Youtube videos you watch, experience is the ultimate teacher.

One mistake we made late last winter was not ordering our chicks soon enough.  Much of this mishap had to do with our preoccupation with making the house more livable, so when we got around to ordering laying hens and meat birds, the first available delivery date was June 3.  At the time, we didn't think this was too big a deal...and maybe, in reality, it wasn't.

But we did run into a few bumps along the way.  When you farm, the weather is a huge factor in most of what you do.  Our Cornish Cross meat birds had a very hard time in the extreme heat of this past summer, and it was a sad day when we found three dead from heat.  As you may recall, we ran a fan out to the pen for the last couple weeks of their lives:

July heat + fan = happy Fat Boys
As for our Rhode Island Red laying hens/rooster, they fared better in the heat, but we have been waiting anxiously for them to start laying.  Typically, it takes 4-6 months for a hen to begin laying, and we think the cold spell we had at the end of October may have thrown them off. 

Here's how chickens pose for photos.
See the rooster?  He and the Partridge Rock rooster daily have a "Dueling Roosters" competition in which they crow back and forth.  Unfortunately, this guy's puny adolescent crow is no match for the loud and lusty lungs of the older rooster.
I digress. four months, I also switched them from the higher-protein broiler feed to layer feed, because I was assuming they'd start, well, laying.  A month and a half went by.  I griped to friends and family that they needed to start earning their keep.  Then yesterday, here's what we got...

See the one in the front on the right?  That's our first pullet (young hen) egg!
The funny thing is that this hen flew over the electric fence and laid the egg in the Barred Rocks' little chicken tractor.  Hopefully that confusion will abate, and hopefully the others will begin laying soon, too!

I'm linking up with the Barn Hop.  Click below to visit!


  1. Isn't it so exciting when six months of hard work and caring for them culminates to a single egg! I didn't want to eat a few of the first- just stare at them in amazement!

  2. Hey! I stopped by your blog but for some reason couldn't comment, so hopefully you'll see this! I remember going to the coop 2-3 times per day when our older hens began laying!

  3. That's great! Mine have stopped laying - they're all molting. Sigh.

    I'm sending my friend The Texan your way. She wants to learn about rain barrels.

  4. Thanks, Lisa! And I hope you get some eggs soon. :)