Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Infotainment: Part ONE

Each week I include an informative and entertaining insert with the eggs from my little flock. The first insert, "About Our Eggs" is essential; it's about egg safety. There is a difference between handling grocery store eggs and farm-fresh eggs. What is this difference? Read on...

About Our Eggs
We don't wash our eggs, and you shouldn't either until just before you are ready to use the egg.
* Why DON'T we wash the eggs?? Are we lazy?
When a chicken lays an egg, there is a microscopically thin membrane that covers the egg's shell. This membrane is called "the bloom". The bloom is the egg's way of protecting itself against germs and harmful bacteria. It blocks the egg's pores, sealing it off from outside contamination and slowing down the aging process. Washing off the egg also washes off the protective bloom.
* Why SHOULD you wash an egg?? Isn't it organic?
There is pretty much only one exit from a chicken. It's called a 'vent.' Eggs go out the vent, and so does...everything else. (Now you know why eggs need a protective bloom.) So it's good to give the egg a wash off before you use it.
*I've never heard of this.
Grocery store eggs are washed when they are produced, then coated with mineral oil to re-seal the shell--like a man-made bloom. So you don't have to wash those eggs, because somebody already did.

As always, keep eggs refrigerated. Cook eggs, and food containing eggs, thoroughly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Take THAT, conventional wisdom!

All eggs. ONE basket. Whoa!!!
Our hens produced 15 beautiful eggs yesterday, 13 of which are pictured. The other two...

Here's a tip: Conventional wisdom would suggest that you do not put all your eggs in one basket. But I'm here to tell you straight up, it is more important that you do not put five eggs in your pants pockets, four in each hand, and two clutched precariously in the crooks of your elbows. That is going to end badly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time's amazing deal

It transforms chickens from scrawny, funny-looking things you have to crouch down to commune properly with...

into giants. Look at this thing! This chicken is a Light Brahma, but she is not very light. In the picture above she is a couple months old; now she is full grown and then some. She is pretty snuggly though. Less snuggly than the dogs, but more snuggly than the cat.
...AND the cat doesn't lay any eggs...hmm...

Friday, April 24, 2009

I've got some mighty fine pillows,

if I do say so myself. So let's put the chickens on hold for a minute. I just finished these pillow covers made from recycled wool sweaters. I washed and felted the sweaters, cut them into appropriate shapes, and sewed 'em up. (And that's the short version of THAT story.) Most of the squares are merino wool; some are cashmere if I didn't have the right color in merino.

Here are the backsides. See the stripe on the left one? I put that in because I have a natural feeling for what is going to look awesome. Ha!! Actually, I put it in because the main colors were not quite wide enough; they needed just a leeeeeetle more fabric. The other pillow has a zipper closure, with a cool zipper pull shaped like a pine cone. That zipper is also recycled from ANOTHER sweater...

Earth day, fools!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Standing room only

This is where the chickens stand when they think I am going to sing to them.
Or, feed them.
Maybe that's it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How cold WAS it?

To welcome in the warm weather, let's all think back to when it was so cold the chickens needed scarves. CASHMERE scarves.Two things to note:

(1) the human version of this scarf--it's much larger, for people--is available in my Etsy shop. Mother's day, anyone? (If you have a mother AND a chicken, I'll send you the chicken scarf too.)

(2) remember the two facial expressions of chickens? You would think that perpetrating this sad dress-up show on a chicken would get you 'outrage.' Instead she looks fairly content. Or at least a new emotion called 'contentrage,' in which contentedness and outrage duke it out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Celery bag pinata

Bringing scraps to the chickens is awesome. They get really excited and make hilarious happy noises. I thought I'd try to capture a picture of that excitement.

It turns out it's hard to photograph a group of excited chickens. But I did get this funny shot of the red hen. She is super-focused, waiting for the right instant to BREAK INTO THE BAG AND EAT ALL THE CELERYS AND APPLE CORES-- AND YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE, LOSERS!!!!!On the one hand she is very sweet and friendly, and on the other hand she is the most goal- oriented chicken in the photo. Hiieeee-yaaaah, suckas!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chicken Seven, you are cleared for takeoff

It's not actually a chicken runway. In fact it's the opposite: it's a people walkway, and it solves a horrible problem. See how the chicken house is built kind of on the side of a hill? Imagine that hill is covered with ice. For a few months. That's how it was this winter! Each day I thought would be the day that I took an unintentional luge to the bottom. (It's not very far, but still.)

Our incredible handyman saved these pavers from a patio he was replacing, chipped off the concrete from the bottom, and re-set them here. Take that, icy hill! Handyman 1, Recycling 1, Hill 0!

Just inside the gate, before the unilock part starts, is a really attractive section of stonework he put in. There is a rectangular stone in the middle, surrounded by concentric rectangles (if such a thing were possible) of different color bricks. I tried to get a nice picture but an inconsiderate chicken had recently pooped in the middle of the center stone. Oh well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Browwwn paper, whiiiite paper..."

I have been walking around with a head full of Flight of the Conchords snippets for a couple of months. Last night I went to their show at Radio City**, and today...well, I sometimes find that I am singing the stirring finale of Sellotape under my breath. (Browwwwn paper, whiiiite paper, stick it together with the tape! The tape of love...ooh, the sticky stuff... {repeat a million times} )

When you have a ton of chickens, AND the chickens have a blog, your mental state may be regarded as 'slightly suspect.' Let me tell you that singing passionately under your breath does not help your case.

So it simply completes the picture that I am singing TO THE CHICKENS about 'browwwwn paper, whiiiite paper,' etc. Also about Business Time. Also the heartfelt "Roxanne"-type ballad, You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute.
If only I had parrots instead of chickens, they could eventually sing these things back to me.

* * Note: Since I am not originally from New York (or aware of things that are popular), the first I heard of Radio City Music Hall was several years ago. A co-worker proposed that we go as a group to see the "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show."

This gridlock of nouns shut down my entire brain. I tried and failed to parse it into sense. "Radio City" would not compute... 'Radio' and 'Music' seemed to go together, as did 'City' and 'Hall,' but those words were not next to each other, and they didn't get me any further, anyway: "Radio Music City Hall?" Were "Radio" and "City" both adjectives that applied to "Music?" And then the whole incomprehensible pile-up was topped off with "Christmas Show." What?? It was unintelligible. I just stared stupidly back, slack-jawed. The conversation ground to a halt. Eventually I scraped together the following cogent response to the invitation:

"That's all nouns."

The concern for my mental state MAY have predated the chicken blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Uh, someone's IN here! Just a minute!"

There is sometimes a line at the most popular nest box. Why is it so popular? I do not know.

But now you know why the Ledge Layer has such a good short-term plan. Lines are a thing of the past when you lay your egg in a crazy place.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This chicken looks outraged.

"Outraged" and "content" are the two facial expressions of chickens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Eggs...

But no need for an Easter Egg Hunt, since no one told the hens that today is Easter. (Shhh.) These suckers were just in their nest boxes as per usual.

EXCEPT...for the egg that is always laid above the door. I'm pretty sure this egg is laid by a Barred Rock with poor long-term planning skills. Her babies would have a dangerous and circumscribed life, stranded on that ledge. It's pretty high--I know, because I have to hoist myself up to it, using a crossbeam and the door, to check for her egg every day.

Here is a blurry photo of the suspect:

The milk crate in the picture represents a failed experiment in chicken psychology. I thought if it blocked the Ledge Layer from getting into the small, secure corner of the eaves, she would quit laying up there, and go downstairs into the cozy, snug nest boxes. Wrong! Instead, she deposits her egg in the middle of the ledge, and the red hen sits on the crate to sleep.
So in some small way, we have an Easter Egg Hunt every day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blog Revival: Stand up straight. Comb your hair. Edit your prose.

These days I have chickens. Twenty chickens live in this chicken house, and more chickens are on the way.

And six years ago, apparently, I had a blog. I named it "Hensteeth," posted on it, eventually stopped posting, and finally forgot I had even ever had a blog.** At that time--6 years ago-- I did NOT have chickens. I had no particular interest in chickens. I was a vegetarian and did not eat chickens; I didn't know anyone who had chickens; I had probably never encountered a living chicken. So, why "Hensteeth?" I wish I knew.

But now. NOW I have chickens.

"Them chickens are funny," I thought to myself recently. "I should make them a blog." I tried several obvious chicken-related blog names--all taken, and not all of them were even about chickens. Then, unaware of the creepy surprise I was in for, I tried "Hensteeth." Also taken, I discovered, and also not about chickens.

"Heh, this one is funny though," I thought after a couple seconds. "But it kind of sounds...a!! WHAT?!?!"

It was the internet version of seeing yourself in what you think is a wall, but turns out to be a mirror. There is a short period of wrongness and horror, during which it seems you may be in the Twilight Zone or The Matrix. But the heebie-jeebies pass quickly and you are left facing your reflection, thinking: "Oh jeez, do I always stand like that? Is that what what my hair looks like? Is my prose still that wordy?"
Yes, yes, and yes, folks. But now it's about chickens.

** For a sweet ride in the time machine, I have left up three of the original posts. They all have to do with the bathtub...?