Long-term Egg Storage Experiment

KIMG0419 Last year I followed instructions I found on another blog to preserve eggs without freezing or dehydrating. The eggs were coated in bees wax then stored in sea salt, with no egg touching another. I stored them down in my basement pantry – a nice cool, dark place.

Today, a couple weeks past the year mark, I got them out. The first thing I noticed was a reddish splotch through one side of the jar’s glass that had me concerned for an egg having gotten cracked in the packing process. Upon opening the jar, I didn’t notice any foul odors, so I removed the first egg.

KIMG0420 The wax wasn’t going to come off easily under hot running water, though I didn’t really try rubbing it off much. I got a mug of cool water and placed the egg in to see if it was going to float. It turned up on its point but didn’t float. I figured this meant it might still be acceptable for baking, but probably wouldn’t taste very fresh.

I then cracked it open into a small dish that I used to scramble a single egg and microwave for one minute to make my egg sandwiches.

KIMG0421 I thought the yolk sort of spread out more, but it didn’t completely break. Obviously, the proteins were degrading and the structures were not as strong as fresh eggs. I wasn’t sure but I thought it smelled “off”.  I added a bit of milk and a pinch of salt then set it in the microwave to cook.

Throughout the minute of cook time, the egg sputtered and popped more than usual for this method of cooking. The egg came out looking rather flat and dry. Upon tasting, it was definitely a bad egg, one that I spat out immediately, and would certainly NOT try using for cooking.

Not knowing if this was because of the one cracked egg lower in the jar, I simply threw the rest of the eggs out.  I don’t think I will try it again, as it took quite a bit of sea salt to cover the eggs, and I couldn’t fit that many (nine) into my largest (half gallon) mason jar. I will keep up with freezing some, and start to dehydrate more to turn into powdered eggs.

If you’ve tried this method with any success, I’d be interested to hear what you may have done differently than what I described above.

DSCN1455 Finally hung up the sign I bought at a local Peddler’s Mall. Rupert wasn’t sure what to make of it yet.

Also added a couple new photos under Who’s Who Second flock – those girls are twenty-three weeks old now and busily laying lots of little brown eggs for me. One of the Barred Rocks even squats down by me sometimes when I bring treats into the pen, and didn’t run off when I started to pet her. I think I will consider that one “Ringo.”

Of the first flock, Willow and Dawn are keeping up with their egg production, though between the two, I only got eight eggs this week. Anya has been noted to sit in a nesting bucket the last couple days, but has laid no eggs in over a month now. She better shape up…hate to have to add her to the crock pot for lack of production! (Just kidding, Anya…I won’t cook you …. yet).

KIMG0360 This is the second time I’ve found one of the Barred Rocks in a nesting box though I can’t be sure if it’s the same hen both times or if they were different birds. I’ve been fortunate that someone started laying at just over nineteen weeks old (just past four months), and currently have possibly three or four of the new flock laying. Many hens will not begin to lay eggs until they are six months old or more.

Of course, my first flock started laying around four months old, too, so I guess I’m just extra lucky!

Now if I could figure out what’s up with the girls from the first flock…Rupert got moved to the bachelor pad due to his over-amorous attentions to them, resulting in one death (Faith) before I knew enough to intervene. Two of the remaining girls (Anya and Willow) had stopped laying, with Willow at one point close to following Faith to hen heaven. Dawn, despite having been plucked bald at the shoulders, continued to lay fairly consistently. However, in the last week or so, as Willow resumed laying, Dawn has now quit, and Anya has yet to produce an egg since perhaps early July. They eat well, are keeping hydrated and certainly enjoy any fresh produce/herbs/etc I bring in for their daily treats, so I’m hoping it is still just recovery from the stress.

Thankfully, the new flock has started laying, though their eggs are so tiny – and cute! Someone isn’t taking in enough calcium, though, as I’ve found two soft-shell eggs on the ground the last couple days. Someone else hasn’t figured out the purpose of the nesting boxes as I’ve found an egg out in the run twice and on the floor of the coop once. I hope that girl figures out where she should be laying before those eggs get trampled. At least no one has decided they are worth eating!

I’m looking forward to getting production up enough that I can start selling some eggs again, though all the brown eggs will stay small through the fall/winter. The girls have to get through their first season before they will start popping out regular-size eggs.

I now get blue/green and brown eggs! Such a pretty mix of colors! Makes me think about what breed of hens to find next year to see about any other colors we can have! Better start making plans for a bigger coop!

Hot, Wet July

IMG_0572 Mum’s been busy, but not with stuff that’s she’s posting about a lot. This month she had enough black raspberries collected from wild bushes behind the barn to make two batches of jam. It sure looks and smells yummy, but she hasn’t shared any of it with me yet.

The cearcs from the first flock were all looking a little sickly. Mum’s not sure if some of it is from an early molt, but figures most of the bald patches on the girls is from that mean old red roo who’s been pecking at them a lot more lately. The girls all run away when Mum tries to help them by spraying some anticeptic wound care stuff on them. She bought them a different feed that is supposed to help make feathers grow back better; not sure if that’s helping much yet.

One of the girls was so sick that she stopped eating and drinking. Mum moved her out to the little red coop, but it was too late to help. That was Faith. She died a couple days later. Mum said she talked to a girl at the feed store about the hens (this was before Faith died), and that girl said ole Rupert needs MORE hens! So, Mum got her man to help catch the rooster and now HE’s in the little red coop all by himself. It was just in time, too, ‘cuz Anya was starting to get all droopy, and even Willow acted a bit dopey for about a day. But both girls started perking up after a few days free from Rupert’s “attentions.”

Dawn looks the worst as far as her feathers go, but Mum says she’s always been the best of the hens. She never acted poorly and has been the only one still laying (though it looks like she’s taking today off). Mum needs to see that Anya and Willow start laying again; she doesn’t want to have to deal with any “egg-bound” hens. Doesn’t sound like much fun, what you gotta do to help fix that problem.

Mum cleaned up the blog a bit and tried to organize the pages better, but there’s really nothing new. Still, you can go look at pictures from all the chickens and other stuff. Mum promises that she’ll work on something new soon that she can post about. In the mean time, she just needs to keep me and the WisenWeimer calm, cool, and collected! Some ice cream would help…hint, hint!

Faith isn’t feeling well.

KIMG0322 Well, the girls of the first flock are all looking a bit worse for wear. Part of it is because of molting, but some is because there’s some pecking going on. Whether it’s “hen-pecking” or whether it’s Rupert exerting his dominance over-much, it has really gotten Faith feeling poorly. The last couple days, she’s been “mopey”, laying on the ground or roosting in the coop, not doing much, and not really taking part in treats.

Last evening, I moved her to “the Infirmary” and added some electrolytes to her water. I did get a chance to spray her rump with some antiseptic spray since she wasn’t really up to running away as much, and will keep trying to nurse her bald patch as well as I can.

I went to the feed store today and talked to one of the girls there who knows her chickens. Her responses to my questions and description of things left me feeling better that I’m on the right track (for now) in how I’m handling things. She did suggest that one rooster to four hens is not a good ratio – not enough hens to keep Ole Red Rupert satisfied, thus he is pecking on the girls more.

After I see that Faith is feeling better, then I will put her back in her flock and move Rupert to the infirmary/bachelor pad for a while. When the second flock is about six months old or so, then I might put him in with those hens (there are nine) and he might be less inclined to peck on them so much.  We’ll see. I can keep him segregated, too, though at some point I would like to see about trying to hatch a small batch of eggs myself.

Anyway, there’s new photos of the second flock available for their eighteenth week birthday – official adulthood! Go check them out!

DSCN1391 My woman continues to call me a “Menace” – I think she’s been watching too many reruns of “Star Trek.” It is in my nature to covet the plump, fluffy creatures and I will continue in my daily indulgence of chasing that which I, as yet, cannot have.

If you go look at the latest photos my woman has posted of the Second Flock, under the Chicken Coop Project tab, you will see why I yearn so deeply for a bird of my own.

DSCN1344 The Woman continues to shout and kick at me when I venture near this structure, but I cannot help myself. I am drawn to these scrumptious little birds. I have not been fortunate enough to avail myself of one again – the woman is too vigilant and distrusting of my notions.

But I am a patient dog, though that is not always apparent by my voice or by my actions. I will continue my daily reconnaissance, knowing one day I must succeed.

In the mean time, you may check out the new photos the woman has posted under the Second Flock and Weekly Progression pages in the Chicken Coop Project tab.