Extraordinary Eggs

eggsWe all know what a chicken egg looks like—hard shell, gooey clear stuff inside that turns white when you cook it, yellow yolk in the middle. You may have noticed that twisted “umbilical cord” and maybe you fished it out before frying your breakfast. If you break an egg into a bowl, you’ll find that the white (the albumen) has a thicker part around the yolk, and a thinner part further out. And if you’ve ever peeled a hard cooked egg, you might remember two layers of translucent membrane just inside the shell—removing them as you go makes it easier to get the shell off.

But have you ever really looked at an egg? Wondered what all the parts do? An egg is actually an amazingly sophisticated way of protecting and providing for a developing bird embryo.

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Culling the Flock

chicken_run2

I have nine hens in my chicken coop: six pullets that have just started laying small eggs, and three aging biddies who lay huge eggs… once in a while. We love the jumbo eggs—one per person is enough for breakfast—but we are only finding three or four per week, whereas the six pullets are together laying five or six eggs per day. In the meantime, the hens are all munching down on laying pellets at pretty much the same pace.

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Choosing Your Chickens

cecilia-chicksIt’s spring. Bulbs are blooming, birds are singing, and feed stores have fluffy yellow baby chicks!

When we were still living in Silicon Valley, finding a source for baby chicks was a challenge. These days, no matter where you live, buying chicks is easy. There are lots of hatcheries that sell by mail-order. It may seem odd that day-old baby chickens are shipped in a cardboard box via snail mail, but it actually works very well. Newly hatched chicks can survive without food or water for the day or two it takes to arrive at their destination. The post office will call you as soon as the box arrives, and you have to be ready to rush over and pick up your brood.

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