Thursday, April 19, 2012

recipe for fresh eggs

This will not be your typical recipe sharing today! :) Where do I start? Well, for starters, it has been a few years of this "recipe" brewing on my mind. 

A few things you should know as you follow this journey with us... one- I was raised a farm girl. 100% mid-west full-time farm family in the heartland of the good ole' USA. Animal life-cycles and harvest time were the patterns that my life revolved around as I went about being a typical little girl, adolescent, and teen gal in the 80's and 90's. Being a farm chic wasn't all that cool for me at times, but I sure did learn lots from my farmhouse mama and my hard-workin sunrise to sunset dad. For many years I couldn't wait to get off that farm, but as I grow, I find I yearn for those quiet and simple farm ways of life. Second- I loved animals as a kid, but as I found town life to suit me well in college, I decided I didn't even want a dog in my house. Well, married and 3 kids later...I have two lap dogs :) Third- I have always been fairly health conscious about what I eat and as I started having kids paid even more attention to what I was buying and from where. Fourth- My middle son came out loving cars and animals. He actually is what convinced me we needed a dog. Then he got me with two. Dang kid. However, through his eyes I have come to see how animals can really have a very positive effect on people. Especially pets. And I remembered how much I enjoy animals too, most the time. Fifth- I love to cook or bake for people. I love breakfast food. I love farm fresh eggs. I love things made with farm fresh eggs. There truly is a huge difference, research to prove it. And last- I really have wanted some sort of "chore" or "thing" my kids could do. Something where they could do the work to care for something, learn about basic animal care and responsibility, and then use their efforts to understand the concept of working and getting paid at this young age.  Okay- that is a lot of background, but it will be helpful to know those things as you follow this crazy chick loving journey!

So back to the beginning. I have been following some backyard chicken farmers for a couple years and love what their journey has brought to their kitchen table. Last spring I was ready to jump on board, but the crazy looks from my husband and the baby about to be born at this house convinced me to wait. Winter time this year I started seeing chickens in my head again. Crazy lady laying in bed dreaming about chickens, I know! I do not want to even tell you how many hours I have read about and researched on chickens. Pretty sure I could be a chicken judge at this year's county fair in the poultry department, but that is a number I will keep to myself to save a little embarrassment (and my husband's!). All the reading and researching had me pretty excited and convinced that THIS was our spring to dip into the backyard chicken business. I narrowed down my choices as to where to find such lovely girls and found the perfect place on-line, MyPet Chickens. After saving some money (not much, chicks are low costly!!) and a couple wonderful informative phone conversations with Les at My Pet Chicken, I had hand selected our flock with just the right mix of breeds I wanted and put an order in for our girls to arrive mid-April! The kids and I were pretty excited! I knew they would be arriving (7 total) via post-office sometime the week of April 16th. Tuesday we got the call. The girls were here! Check out the pics below to catch you up to where we are now...

Before the girls arrived the boys and I had to come up with some rules. We also spent a little time preparing the brooder with a heat lamp, having fresh water ready, and food available. Did you know chicks can survive the first 48 hours of their life with no food or water? They live off the yolk they swallow right before hatching. These chicks would arrive just a day old and ready for some food!

Tuesday morning our wonderful postal service called that our chicks were here. They offered to bring them out early for us and the boys jumped with excitement when they knew they were in-route. Both boys met him at the little postal car and heard the little cheeps for the first time. Their smiles were priceless.

We opened the little box and there they were...2 white silkies, 2 black silkies, and 3 Rhode Island reds. I chose the silkies because they are a very docile laying hen that are also very winter hardy and do well with children. Their calm gentle personalities were exactly what I wanted for all the little hands around here. The Rhode Island reds are classic all American laying hens. They lay a beautiful brown egg and are one of the most reliable chickens for laying purposes. They are here for practical reasons, aka, egg source. They also are very winter hardy and if raised with people, become good pets as well. Not all 7 girls get to stay though. As they get bigger we will choose 3-5 to keep around here and the other ones will find new homes at my family's farm and their flock. Aren't they cute?

First step, get those gals some water! I read that they eat much better if given water first. I had the boys on watering duties within minutes of opening and greeting the girls. Jaxon did a great job helping them figure out how to hold their heads back to swallow.

My original plan was to keep them in our house for the first week. They got adjusted to their little box very quickly. I also read you could just use tuna cans for feeders or opt to buy a $3 feeder to attach to a mason jar. I also read conflicting research about using newspapers vs. pine shavings. I again chose the free newspapers I had laying around here, at first. Since I wanted to do this for as cheap as possible I skipped the feeder and the pine shavings before hand. The girls were here 2 hours and I was already at the feed store buying my $3 feeder piece and $4 pine shavings bag. Those gals are not that smart and kept pooping and standing in the tuna can feeder and the newspapers were too slippery for their weak little legs and made it so they fell often. I had one arrive with a bum leg and wanted her to not have to walk in pain on slippery newspapers. Plus, the shavings are much easier to clean after. Anyways, as I returned from the feed store I walked in my home and smelled...wait for it... chickens. Weird, huh? The girls got moved to the big good-will wood box in the garage in about 30 minutes after that experience.

Carson LOVED his first sight of the chicks. He just calmly stared and smiled back at them and me. I think I have another animal lover on my hands.

Austin has done just what I need him to do. I want these gals to be tame and able to be around kids. Lots of early exposure to kids and handling is just what they need to fulfill those goals. And Austin is my man for the job. He has spent hours already holding each one, talking to them, and watching them. Once the girls got settled into their semi-permanent home in the garage, under the "sun", and with clean bedding they have been the entertainment for this boy especially. Day 1- so far so good. 6 healthy girls, 1 with a bad leg, and a mom with her sanity still.  This recipe is going well so far... stay tuned for day 2!


  1. I just love this, Jess. Not at my house... but I love it at yours!! :) We'll have to come meet the girls soon!

  2. Hi Jess, I'm so jealous! I would love to have chickens (and fresh eggs) for both myself and my kids to enjoy. Are you guys in CF or Waterloo - not sure where the boundary is over there? I was thinking that CF didn't allow any farm animals in the city limits so now I'm hoping you're in CF and that I'm wrong because I would love to have some. Did you guys build your own coop or buy one? Good luck! - erin bartlett

  3. I'm so looking forward to seeing how this adventure unfolds for the Hansen family! What a great experience for your kiddos, and you're so right--farm eggs are far superior. I'm thrilled to now have an "egg man" at Jordan's nursery, where they sell fresh farm eggs for $1.50 per dozen. Keep us in mind when you go on vacation, for a little chicken tending!