Chickens delight in the light – we make the most of fresh eggs and farm days!
Santa Rosa hit 70 degrees just a few days ago, with the warmth lasting far into an afternoon that could easily be described as summer-like. Well beyond five o’clock, the sky remained bright causing a great buzz of activity. Families strolled by our court later in the evening, squirrels skitted with intensified fervor and chickens across the county laid bounties of eggs!
While winter’s short days and long periods of darkness can cause egg production to decrease, the welcome longer days of approaching Spring create happy chickens. One lucky week we received three dozen eggs from farmers suddenly finding themselves with surplus.
|sample of our weekly bushel from Singing Frogs 2009|
Later that afternoon, neighbor Sharon Eisley, stopped by with a tiny basket and cloth covering three blue eggs – the first delivery since Fall. Last Spring we co-opted into to Sharon’s chicken coop project and purchased “Chicky” an Araucana chicken which lays blue eggs – at least during the time of year with brighter, longer days. We were pleasantly surprised by Chicky’s returned desire to lay, and didn’t dare mention our growing egg surplus to Sharon!
Now… what to do with all these eggs? First and foremost, I wanted to make a batch of fresh mayonnaise.
Looking for your own source for fresh eggs? Michele Anna Jordan wrote “Where to find the best eggs“, which the PD featured last year.
What about raising your own chickens? Start with local Chicken Diva Dawn Russell and her website: Ranch Hag Hens. Here’s what Dawn says about what to expect while raising chickens:
|picture taken by photographer Michael Leras|
- “Hours of entertainment with their EGGcentric personalities, their clucking and strutting
- Regular supply of pasture raised, free-roaming organic eggs
- Chicken manure makes excellent fertilizer for your garden and plants
- Assist with weed control
- Excellent recyclers for your surplus fruit and vegetables
- Low maintenance family pet
- No crowing! Just happy, healthy laying hens”
While sadly Dawn and Ranch Hags are not selling chicks this year, she offers important tips for how to ensure you get ethically treated, healthy chicks.
- Do some research on how many feedstore and mail order chicks are hatched - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkuohLV2u0k
- Try to find chicks from local providers – with a reputation for knowing how to properly vaccinate chicks for Merrick’s disease – such as craigslist or a local 4H group.
- Try to buy chickens that are 3 – 14 days old that don’t have crooked beaks, bent toes, featherless bottoms, or “poopy” bottoms.
- Carefully follow tips (See Ranch Hag’s How it Works page and scroll down to Day Old Chicks) for bringing your chicks home and allowing them to settle – little chicks are easy to fall in love with as they are ultra precious and fluffy. However, they also have a huge rate of loss.
For more great chicken raising tips, follow Dawn Russell of Ranch Hag Hens (a self-described chicken fanatic). This local Petaluma mother is now focusing on writing a book about raising chickens while selling “chicken treats.” Find your own chicken inspiration as well as homeopathic, flower essences, and coop cleaning products at her “Treats for Chickens” site.
While chicks need to live in a controlled environment – say a cardboard box with a warming lamp on your kitchen table suggests Dawn Russell – older chickens will likely need a coop and or chicken run for protection, nightly roosting, eating, and egg laying. Visit the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market and find our local recycled wood chicken coop vendor or call Mack at (707) 481-1145 for one great coop resource.