Our smallest of breeds has been bringing us a lot of laughter and joy these past few weeks. We have been free ranging our little flock near a briar thicket that they can dash into if a hawk comes. Every now and again they get adventurous and saunter up to the back door and poke around. Yesterday we caught they clucking happily away while they laid eggs in this pile of baskets 🙂
I woke up at 5 this morning, the air was crisp and still. My family was asleep as were all the hens so I seized the moment. After scraping ice off the windshield of our trusty old truck TinkerBell I hitched our mobile coop up and pulled it from the back part of the property to the front.
Our animals depend on us to give them fresh pasture to search for bugs, to eat fresh grass, to always be in the healthiest of conditions. Getting to provide that to them lets me know I am doing my job correctly. It is A LOT of work, but we are committed to treating every animal we live with well.
In the stillness of the sunrise I watched the automatic chicken door come up and the ladies hop out one by one, clicking in approval at their new digs. I love what I do and I would not trade it!
Here at the farm we specialize in breeds that lay beautiful eggs in high production but we also have two breeds that are more of what we call “trophy birds”. The kind that when you look at a flock of chickens really catch your friends eye and cause them to say “what on earth is that chicken!”
Behold the fantastic hairdo of the Pavlovskaya hen – one of the breeds we will be releasing in spring 🙂
This morning our littlest farm helper wanted to lend a hand opening all of the coops for our flocks. To our surprise one of our Isbars had already laid an egg, we thought the color looked so pretty against her snuggly clothing!
The colder it gets the happier the Isbars are, they originate from Sweeden and although we got our breeding stock from breeders in the states they still have the love of their homeland climate.
This week was a big week of moving all of our mobile coops around, deep cleaning and giving everyone fresh pasture. While all of the moving about was happening one of our Svart Hona Roosters came into sexual maturity and our French Black Copper Marans Rooster took notice!
Luckily I had my camera on me to catch the action and barnyard drama as the two gentlemen danced at each other before the Svart Hona got moved to their new part of the acreage. Enjoy!
It is official! Our first unique breeding project for olive eggers was a success, our hens just started laying and the results are in, the Alchemist Farm Olive Egger cross lays beautiful olive eggs!
We started with an amerucana hen (egg on the top right) and bred her with our Little Peddler French Black Copper Marans Rooster (egg produced by a marans is on the top left) and the cross gave us the color of eggs in the middle. We threw in a run of the mill while and brown egg below for color comparison.
So what do these Olive egger hens look like? They took on the traits of their father big time and look identical to our Marans chicks at birth:
As they grow out and enter sexual maturity the sleeker body type of their mother comes out while they retain the beautiful Marans coloring. They are friendly but have the swift feet of their wild mothers to evade any predators.
Interested in some olive eggers of your own?
Fertile Hatching eggs (which will look blue when you pick them up): $4 each
When we discovered that one of our French Black Copper Marans was broody we tried a few techniques to get her off the nest and when all failed we decided to give her some chicks. We waited until a fresh batch of day old chicks hatched out and carefully slid three chicks under her breast while she puffed up and told us what for.
We all held our breath and watched for a moment and then to our surprise and enjoyment the chicks started nuzzling up in her feathers, jumping around on her back and chirping at her while she clucked and started to guide them toward food – it was nothing short of magical!
It has been a month now and the chicks still follow her around the yard and nuzzle up to her at night.
Here on the farm our hens are secure in the coop at night but completely free range on pasture during the day. We built the ladies many nice nesting boxes but they seem to enjoy laying all willy nilly in our barn and in little secret spots around the field. While it may take a few more minutes to collect the eggs, our smallest farm hand is getting eggcellent practice for when easter rolls around the stakes involve stickers in plastic shaped eggs.
Here are some fun images of our ladies in action:
This little pearl leghorn loves to hide out and nest next to our straw bedding
While these eggs were left behind by one of our olive eggers and a rhode island red under a tarp that covers our alfalfa.
Thankfully many hands make light of the work that is collecting the days eggs:
Finally there is some science to backup what so many of us intuitively knew about the health benefits of eating farm fresh eggs!
Eggs from hens raised in situations where they can eat seeds, grass and bugs are far more nutritious than eggs from confined hens in factory farms. Research shows that eggs from hens raised on pasture have:
* 1/3 less cholesterol
* 1/4 less saturated fat
* more vitamin A
* 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
* 3 times more vitamin E
* 7 times more beta carotene
* 4 to 6 times more vitamin D
Now hows that for some good news for all of us raising a flock of sweet ladies in our backyards? For more information on the study that produced these facts you can follow this link.
alchemist_farmFarm Fresh Pastured Eggs Are FAR Better For You Than Factory Farmed