If you enjoyed The Natural History Of The Chicken as much as I did you may also enjoy The Private Life Of Chickens.
Amateur chicken sexer D. Stevenson on FB commented on a picture of Ms. Mao that she looks more like a silkie rooster than a silkie hen.
The Rhode Islands laid eggs before any of the new chickens appeared in Coopertino.
The other two ones Guillermo sold me are hens because I get 4 eggs a day max. I haven’t expected 5 eggs because Senorita Mao was too young.
This morning I got out of bed during the crowing and right after the crowing stopped, Lady Mao came around the corner of the house from where the crowing sound originated.
No rose without a thorn. While the egg cache is a great find it brings with it the question of edibility. Having no idea how old these eggs are or which of them are the newest I can’t put them to their best use, which is to say, I can’t eat them. But… how do we know they’re bad?
One way to tell is to see if the egg floats like a duck. An egg that sinks is edible and therefore not a witch. One that floats has gone bad. Who am I that is so wise in the ways of science? I read about it on the internet.
We have approximately three possible states. The egg will float because its porous shell has sat so long that the liquid inside has partially evaporated. This is a bad egg. Or the egg will sink if it has not lost so much liquid to be bad. Or it will be somewhere in between in which case it will sink but one end will point upwards.
I have performed this experiment in the lab with the 34 remaining eggs in the cache.
Sir Walter Romeo Riley contests this exclaiming “Those belong in a museum!” Ignored.
The setup is simple. The eggs are cleaned up and placed in cartons. A tall vase is filled with water.
The procedure is also simple. Each egg is dropped in the vase. The egg’s buoyancy is then carefully evaluated.
You can watch the experiment in all its scientific glory here. Flickr cut off the last bits so oh well.
The results are: Each of the 34 eggs sank at varying speeds. Most settled with a hardy thunk while others coasted down at a more leisurely speed. Several pointed slightly upwards indicated a more advanced age. I noticed too that in these, if you shake them, you can feel the insides moving around.
That’s pretty exciting huh?
I guess I’m a farmer dunce because my assumption was the older chickens stopped laying for the winter and were maybe stressed out about the loss of the musketeer chicks of which now only Mao survives. No eggs were laid in the coop for quite a long while. It turns out they had moved their operation deep into the catacombs under the deck.
The cache was discovered by Sir Walter Romeo Riley while on a mission of being too quiet for too long to be up to any good. He descended the catacombs and brought news of his discovery back to the surface by way of a crushed egg shell snack in his mouth.
The undisclosed location of the coop has served as a safe haven for many chickens for awhile now. We’ve had some inside jobs carried out by hell dog that have cut short the lives of several birds but for the most part they live a simple carefree existence and are able to come and go from the coop at will and travel wherever they want in the backyard without fear of predation. Today the security and tranquility the flock has enjoyed was upset by an airborne assault that struck at the heart of Coopertino leaving one of its finest dead and sending two others running for their lives.
I had just arrived home from some errands when I remembered I had a biscuit left over from breakfast that I intended to split between the dogs and the chickens. The dogs received their share in the backyard and I continued to the coop’s cafeteria/gymnasium to give the remainder of the biscuit to the chickens. As I approached, I saw a great flapping of wings and a bird, I thought it was Peregrina, rising to the roof of the coop’s outside area and then bursting through the roof (its plastic sheets are weighted down but not nailed down) and off into the air. Below in the coop there was a blanket of black and white feathers, the remains of Peregrina, now a chicken dinner for a hawk.
The other chicks were missing but I could hear them peeping somewhere outside the coop. Amazingly they had escaped both the hawk and the coop. It wasn’t until I opened the nest boxes that I discovered how. The hawk must be smarter than I give it credit for because apparently it came into the coop through the open front door. Inside, the coop is separated by a wall with wire mesh. The purpose of this wall is to keep the flocks apart until the young ones are old enough to be mixed with the older ones. At the nest box there is a triangular opening between the frame of the wall and the roof/door for looking into the nest boxes. When I put the wall in, the first thing the big chickens did was go into the nest box and squeeze through this impossibly small hole to get into the back of the coop. I built a flimsy cover for the hole, thinking it would be enough to deter the big chickens because chickens won’t try too hard at anything before giving up and doing something else. I was right, it was a viable deterrent for a chicken. But not a hawk. The opening was torn down, presumably by the hawk on ingress and used as an escape route by the little ones while their big sister was being served ala carte out back.
Meanwhile out in the yard the big chickens carried on about their business without a care in the world. Makes me wonder if they might have called in a favor.
Now that the hawk has discovered his lunchbox, the coop is in lockdown. I can’t disclose all of the measures we’ve taken to secure the facility because everybody has the internet these days (and I’m friends with the hawk on Facebook) but suffice it to say, nothing will be getting in or out of the coop this evening or for the foreseeable future. Batten down the hatches Grant Park chicken owners.
And so we say goodbye to Peregrina, the largest and most friendly of the three, now two, new chicks.