"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things I Don't Understand

1) Why the chickens are not laying eggs. A few weeks ago, we decided to put the chickens into a coop because we weren't getting very many eggs. Since then, we've been getting no eggs at all. Before you suggest it, yes, I let the chickens back out and still got almost no eggs at all. Put them back in so at least we would know whether they were not laying or laying but hiding eggs in the blackberries. They aren't laying. I'm feeding twenty chickens and getting two eggs a day. Why?

2) Why I can't figure out how to cook a farm chicken and make it edible. In light of the rediculous feed:egg ratio, we decided to kill a few roosters today (note to self: later, post pics and praise Rowan highly for doing her part). This time, we picked the very youngest roosters, neither more than four months old. Same result: tough, inedible, rubbery flesh in a grimy broth. Happy dogs, unhappy people.

3) Why I even have chickens at all.

4) How to clean up beehive frames and put together a beehive. It seems simple when you read about it in a book. There are only four or five parts to a beehive, none of them moving parts (until you put the bees in, anyway.) Why can't I figure it out? Today I scraped down about thirty frames and tried to sort my big jumble of equipment into recognizable bits: bases, boxes, lids, queen excluders, feeders..... I just got hot and confused.

5) Why the beeswax won't melt. When I scraped the frames, I scraped them into a big cardboard box. Beeswax is really nice stuff, and expensive, too. Of course, the crap I was scraping off the frames wasn't nice clean wax, but rather blackened, hardened lumps full of dead bees. However, I figured it was at least worth a shot to try to save it, beeswax being so valuable and all. I dumped it all into the top of a double boiler and it's been simmering away on the stove (along with the hideous chicken soup) for hours. No melting yet. I planned to sieve the melted wax through a triple layer of cheesecloth, but I can't do that if it WON'T MELT.

6) Why in God's name there's no beer in the house.


Anonymous said...

LOL.....Hang in there!

As far as the non egg laying chickens I am sure your going to get lots of advice. I do know depending on the breed of chickens some do not lay in winter. Shorter hours and cool temps cause this. Protein is very important for egg layers. Feeding just scratch and corn will result in a bird with alot of fat and no eggs. I use Purina Layena and have an abundance of eggs.
Are you sure you do not have some type of egg theif. I had eggs missing in my coop and put fake easter eggs in the nest to have one come up missing. The next day it was back in the nest. I finally caught the egg bandit. It was a large black bird.

I hope that everything improves for you.

I am looking forward to checking back and reading some of the suggestions you will get.

Tonia said...

Try this again!! Goat stepped on my power strip and shut everything off!!
Okay the chickens will quit laying if they have change like that. Everytime we move ours they either slow down or quit laying for a couple of weeks. I feed mine extra dairy and meat. They will start back soon.
On cooking it well I have slowcooked it and made noodles and soup... Everything else turned out dry and stringy... I heard they are suppose to age for 3 days but mine did.. SO I dont know..

Penelope said...

everyone I've talked to that has actually been successful in making tasty chicken dinner from a live bird puts it in the freezer for three days after cleaning it. And I agree that the change in scenery will stop the hens from laying for a couple of weeks (I think I told you that the other day) stick them in the pen and don't let them back out for several weeks, they'll calm down and start laying, just don't keep letting them out and putting them back in or they'll never adjust

Cattle Call Farm said...

Just one of those things. Sounds like your chickens went on strike. I agree with other comments, change will make them stop laying.Sometimes they will eat their eggs. I keep oyster shells in for my chickens, I get them at my local feed store.

berryvine said...

I agree with the change making them quit laying for a while. Also if there is a change in light.Is the new coop darker than the old? Laying is dependent on the hours of light they receive. Up their laying feed a few days and let them get used to the new surroundings. As for cooking them I can't help there. What about a pressure cooker?

el said...

1. We're experiencing the same thing here, though not on as an extreme scale (down from 12/day to 5-6 from 24 hens) and I figure they saw their shadow! Smart considering how much snow we have.

2. Go here:
You need to braise tough birds, even if they're young. The best chicken I ever ate was a 3-year-old layer. It's all in the technique, frankly. Do NOT let the liquid boil or you'll have chewy meat.

3. They keep you on your toes

4.,5. I have no clue

6. That one's easiest to rectify!

Sara said...

Anytime you go below 14 hours of daylight your chickens are going to slow or discontinue egg laying. Some people will supplement with artificial light to keep production up. I personally feel it's natural for the chickens to slow production, and should be allowed to do what is natural to give their bodies a rest.

Dr24Hours said...

Clearly, if the beeswax won't melt in a double boiler, it's because the melting point is higher that 212 deg F.

However, the literature suggests it melts at about 145-155 degrees. So you got me.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Sorry, I can't suggest anything to help with # 1 through 5.....


Claire MW said...

Agreeing with what has already been said, but just adding that here in Iowa, our hens quit laying in November and have just recommenced in the past couple of weeks. Molting and daylight hours have a serious impact. We have about 60 hens and are now getting about 10 eggs a day.

I cook roosters in the slow cooker only. Long and slow. I put it on the low setting and let them cook 8-10 hours. I often use a marinade also.

Dan said...

A couple suggestions to help with your chicken dinner: 1) Once those roosters hit puberty you can forget about fried chicken. Try to butcher before 12 weeks if that's what you want to cook. 2) Old roosters can be tasty too! Try aging them in the fridge for 4-7 days(be sure the temp stays below 40 degrees!), followed by an overnight brine, then 8 hours in a slow cooker on low with your favorite herbs, sauce, etc. Delicious, and far more flavorful than a young bird.
As an aside, in my experience ALL freshly butchered meat tastes and cooks better after aging (the jury is still out regarding pork).

Jerry said...

How long have your girls been not laying? When do you check for eggs? How old are the birds? Did you have to rile them up to move them, or just kind of shoo them along? Were you moving them to a whole new "safe resting area" or just letting them out to wander around vs leaving them locked in their night coop?

As for 2-6, not sure I can help. Sorry! The beer predicament should be not too hard to solve at least.