Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Need Cheered Up! Plus, Egg Taste Test and Poultry Drama

I feel like I am not progressing very far in my preparedness efforts these days.

Our garden has been severely stunted by the unrelenting heat, drought, and insect pressure, so it hasn't produced nearly as much as it should. I'm thankful we are getting enough tomatoes to slice and eat on sandwiches, but my vision of massive amounts of canned tomato sauce is not to be this year. Most of the things that I was planning on freezing or canning have fried in our record-breaking heat. 

That's depressing. 

I also haven't bought a lot of preps because I spent my entire June-September prepping budget on items for the duck house build/chicken moat expansion. My Poultry Acquisition Disorder has definitely taken a toll on prepping. 

Sigh. Can somebody cheer me up and make me feel like I'm not a prepping loser? 


Alright, enough whining. 

The last time I blogged, I showed you all the first egg my dear little pullets laid. Not long after I completed that post, I cracked it open and compared our egg to a run-of-the-mill one from the grocery store. 

Our egg on the left, store egg on the right

Our egg was definitely smaller than the store-bought egg (1.3 oz vs. about 2 oz) but look at the difference in the color of the yolk and the firmness of the white! The store-bought egg is positively runny while our egg stands up nice and tall. 

I fried each egg separately and had the family do a taste test. Yes, all of us just had to sample that little bitty egg! The difference between the eggs was incredible. Our egg was so much more flavorful and almost buttery-tasting in and of itself. The store-bought egg was positively pallid in comparison, both in color and in flavor. 

The eggs just keep coming!

Since that first day, we have been nearly swimming in eggs. My girls are currently averaging 8 eggs a day, which is plenty for us and some to give away. Hubby Dear has people at work asking for eggs, so we might end up selling a few dozen here and there, too. I also plan to explore other methods of egg preservation so that we will never run out of eggs during the winter months when production will slow down. 

The ducks finally moved outside at four weeks of age

The same heat that destroyed my garden also prevented my five remaining ducklings (I gave away four to friends) from moving outdoors. I didn't spend 28 days nurturing these guys in an incubator only to have them fry in the 110 degree temperatures! The duck gurus I asked were very adamant that ducklings do not do well in such hot weather, so they stayed indoors for four weeks. Oh. my. word.  I can't even type out the horrors I had to clean out of that brooder in my bathroom. Finally I had enough and moved them outside one evening when it was "only" supposed to be in the upper nineties the next day. 

Ducks are creatures of habit and so the move scared them quite a bit. 

Goldilocks checking out her new neighbors

Plus, they now had nosy, loud neighbors who were very interested in everything the newcomers were up to. That would be intimidating to anyone. 

Puppy, Freckles, Morning Glory, Hyacinth, and Peek-a-Boo 

After a couple of days, the ducklings were having a ball making a mess in their new home. See how brown the grass is? We need rain desperately!

Will Doofenshmirtz be nice to the ducklings when the temporary pen gets removed next week?

Our rooster, Doofenshmirtz, is on probation. First, he was overly eager to mate with the pullets and would viciously attack them. He got that under control but then he started to attack my two oldest children when they came to collect eggs or visit the ducks. He does not mess with Hubby Dear or I, just the girls. 

Handsome brute

We are seriously torn as to whether we should keep Doof or eat him. The farmers around here say that's just how roosters are. Since we want a rooster so that we can hatch our own chicks, that's what we have to deal with. But I also don't want to ruin the pleasure my children have in interacting with the chickens and ducks. Tough decision. 

I went ahead and ordered processing equipment in case we decide to eat the brute. We need to get killing cones, knives, and other butchering paraphernalia anyway because we are definitely eating the turkeys. 

One of the Bourbon Red turkeys

Oh, the turkeys. We decided to try and house them with the chickens until butchering time. Since they are getting too big to get in the pop door (and are to ornery to do it themselves, anyway), every evening I get the joy of catching the beasts and throwing them into the chicken coop. They aren't too hard to catch, though they do shriek and kick their legs ineffectually when I pick them up. I won't miss that chore once they are gone. Picking them up every evening makes me keenly aware of just how much they need to grow before we butcher them. I feel like the witch in "Hansel and Gretel", feeling their keel bones every evening to see if they are fat enough yet to eat!  

Although it has definitely taken me a bit off course from my preparedness goals, I do so enjoy working with our livestock. I've even begun to dream about building a small barn with a brooder room, attached greenhouse, and room for a goat or two. 


  1. Don't feel too bad, you're not the only one experiencing difficulties in gardening this year.
    If we had to survive on our garden, we would have already died by now. LOL... Due to the drought currently across the country the cost of food is going to skyrocket, making food storage more costly too. We just have to keep plugging a long.

    1. It will be interesting to see what food prices do, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Our garden isn't doing so well this year either....I replanted some peas and other things this past week hoping to get a fall harvest since my spring ones burnt up! The only peas my boys like are the ones that we grow in the garden. I enjoy reading your posts....I wish we were able to have chickens!!

    1. Good luck with your peas! Homegrown peas are so much better than store-bought. Your boys have good taste!

  3. Cheer up! This summer has been tough on all our gardens. We lost every single tomato plant due to heat and wilt. Luckily, our local grocer had a huge July canned goods sale, so I just stocked up on 28oz cans of plum tomatoes. We spent the rest of July sterilizing our garden soil and hopefully, will be able to plant some fall crops.

    You are making progress on your prepping. You have a column on the left of your site detailing your canning/freezing progress, so it's easy to see progress in that area. What you DON'T have is a "poultry progress" section to see what amazing new things you have accomplished. You know, (1) Birds hatched and brought to adulthood (2) Number of eggs collected (3) Birds rated on deliciousness criteria, etc.

    You have done some amazing things this year, you are just eyeball deep in bird poop right now so it's hard to survey the scenery. Those of us on the outside see it though and we are rooting for you. Go Harried, Go Harried, Go Harried!!!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! You made me smile. :) I do think I will take your advice and add poultry to the sidebar on my blog.

      Good luck with your fall garden and thanks for reading.


  4. Our garden too is having a tough time of it. The only thing doing well is cabbage and my guys don't eat it like I do. Your eggs will get bigger we have chickens and the eggs always start out small. I too am disappointed planning on canning a 2 year supply of everything I could and most stuff burnt and my tomatoes got blossom end rot. We have a 300 gallon tank to collect rainwater and it did help, but it was still just too hot. so it'll be back to couponing and signing up for free samples for me. I love your blog and from all of the things that you accomplish each week a little setback here and there in your prepping efforts will only make you more creative and you will get it done. Trust me I know. Are you feeling a need to hurry like many are may I ask? Some days I do! Good luck with everything.

    1. My cabbage is doing well, too. I made batches of bierocks to freeze and probably should learn how to make sauerkraut. I've never even eaten sauerkraut so I don't know if I'd like it or not.

      Thanks for the encouragement. I guess I don't feel so much in a hurry but I'm worried that I'm not moving forward, does that make sense? I made so much progress in my first year and a half and now I seem to be treading water. Sigh.

  5. You are getting a lot of eggs! How many hens do you have? I got 5 layers in February and the fox got 2 of them in June. I bought 3 more layers in July, but I can't tell how many are actually laying. I have 6 hens are get 2-3 eggs each day. I know for a fact that at least 3 of the 6 are laying. One of the newer hens was supposed to be hatched this spring and start laying soon but I don't think that has happened yet. I am trying to figure out if I have any hens that aren't laying for sure and if I do what I will do about it.

    1. Hi Cindy. I have 15 pullets and one rooster. Some of my girls started laying at 19 weeks of age. Now they are 23 weeks old and I am getting up to a dozen eggs a day. I know that at least 13 of my 15 are laying. It sure is tricky when they all lay the same color, isn't it?

      There is an article in the current issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine that might help you determine who is laying. The article is called "Don't Save the Pretty Hens: Pinpointing Deadweight Hens Involves Science, Ingenuity". I looked on the BPM website and they don't have the article posted, but you might be able to find this issue at your local feed store. I thought it was a pretty helpful article.

  6. Well that young hen is laying now for sure-little brown eggs and she sure makes a lot of noise about it. I've been watching closely. The last 2 days we were up to 4 eggs each day. That is perfect! I did a search online and discovered a quick and easy way to see who is laying is to look at the coloring of their legs. Basically if the legs are yellow, the hen isn't laying or has just started laying. 5 of my hens have grey legs and the young one with the yellow legs just started. I haven't actually seen 2 of the hens lay, but I know 4 of the them are for sure.

    I love having fresh eggs and knowing that I can provide protein for my family no matter what. (Well as long as the chickens are alive and well that is!)

    1. Glad to hear that you are getting more eggs! All 15 of ours are laying now and we have started selling our extra eggs. The kids sure enjoy that.

      I've read that about the hen legs, but don't forget that some hens' legs are different colors naturally. For example, my Rhode Island red has yellow legs but my Speckled Sussex have white legs and my Orpingtons have pinkish-white legs. The pigment bleaching trick is handy for those breeds that it works on, though!

  7. Hey, where you been? How are you? I hate it when prepping slows, I know how you feel. My rooster is not like that, you might consider eating him and trying with another guy. Feel free to email me from my addy on my blog. Hope you're all doing well!