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Natural Perspectives: Our chickens and their eggs

April 11, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Fifteen eggs laid by our hens and decorated for Easter.
Fifteen eggs laid by our hens and decorated for Easter.

Sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

When Vic and I last wrote about our three chickens, it was mid-December and none of the hens were laying eggs. Despite spending an exorbitant amount of money setting up our henhouse, the darned hens weren't laying any eggs.

It was frustrating.

If you recall, I had hatched a plan to acquire a fourth chicken since my new, barred Plymouth Rock hen wasn't laying. But you know how it is around the December holiday period. No spare time. I didn't get around to getting that fourth hen.

Good thing, because in early January all three hens began to lay again. Their molt was over, and the days were getting longer. That's all it took.

And they've been laying ever since. We are getting as many as 15 eggs a week. We are swimming in eggs once again.

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I am now wise enough to know that the hens will lay best in the spring, and will slow down in summer. They quit for a while when they molt in the fall, and then quit altogether during the winter. That leaves us with no eggs for long stretches at a time. I hate to admit it, but I was reduced to buying eggs at the store this past winter.

Right now the problem is too many eggs. I've given away some of them, but now I have found something else to do with the spring surplus. I have hatched yet another plan.

I consulted the blogosphere to see what others do. It turns out that you can freeze raw eggs. Not the intact egg. Just the contents. I am freezing the spring surplus to use during the winter dearth of eggs.

I crack two eggs into a bowl, break the yolks with a fork and lightly mix the whites and yolks. I add a tiny bit of salt to help stabilize the proteins.

Then I pour the raw eggs into a Ziploc sandwich baggie and lay the baggies flat in the freezer. When the eggs are frozen, I put the small bags into a large Ziploc freezer bag for extra protection. Raw eggs freeze well, but cooked eggs turn rubbery if frozen.

The frozen raw eggs can be thawed out later to make scrambled eggs or baked goods. Since I had to buy three-dozen eggs last winter, I expect that I will need three-dozen frozen eggs to make it through the upcoming winter.

It turns out that there is a lot to learn about chickens and eggs.

I learned part of what I know from Vic. He pointed out to me that while female mammals have two oviducts, one on each side of the abdomen, chickens and other birds have only one. And that one oviduct lies smack in the middle of their abdomen.

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