Monday, December 28, 2009

Strawberry Surprise

With each hen that has commenced to lay, I have been delighted anew by the pride that I feel in my healthy, happy bird, and in the comfort of the forthcoming abundance of the near-perfect food that is an organic egg.

Having three hens that were laying fairly regularly, we've been "in the eggs", reaping on average about a dozen and a half per week. Enough to meet our holiday baking needs and still give some away to friends & family. All of our girls were up and running, with the exception of one.

Strawberry, an Americauna hen, was our lone holdout. She was by far the gangliest and most high-strung of our flock, and the very last to show signs of maturity or maternity. Frankly, she had me a little worried that she was either infertile or unwell in some capacity. That is until last week, when she started exhibiting a few of the behaviors that I have noted in our hens that are laying, namely, a heightened startle response and a LOT more vocalization. Sure enough, a few days after the onset of "the signs", the girls went out to feed the chicks and said that Strawberry was in the nest box. Hurrah!

Alas, poor Strawberry labored and clucked for the better part of the day, with nothing to show for it by day's end. The next morning though, upon letting the chickies out of the hen house, I find 2 eggs in the nest box - both brown. Ok, this was weird. We have 4 hens, three of whom are Americaunas and one Silver-Laced Wyandotte. Americaunas are a favorite chicken to keep because they lay beautiful and unusually colored eggs - light olive green to sky blue. The Wyandottes lay a lovely pinkish-brown egg. So, I should have 3 blue/green and one brown per day. How in the heck had I ended up with 2 brown?

Well, as it turns out, the chicks sold to me as Americaunas, were in fact, actually "Easter Eggers". Essentially, they are mutts, but with a large enough slice of the Americauna/Aracauna features to be sold as such. Though she looks every bit an Americauna externally, Strawberry's mixed heritage was outed upon her laying her first milk-chocolate colored egg. Easter Eggers, it turns out, can lay just about any color egg - brown, white, olive, pink, blue or green.

Though we were surprised by her eggs, we were not in the least disappointed by them. After all, our family are essentially mutts as well - Ukrainian, German, Welsh, Scottish, Cherokee and English, among others - and are better for having so many varied and rich influences in our blood and in our traditions.

We now can expect in the neighborhood of 2 dozen eggs per week! Besides giving some of our surplus away, and perhaps letting the girls sell a few for pocket money, I'm hoping to find a beekeeper or orchard owner who wouldn't mind swapping some eggs for honey or fruit, to be made into jams, wines, ciders & meads. Oh the possibilities!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your final hen reaching maturity! I remember the thrill of finding a nest full of eggs every day... kind of hard to explain to non-chicken people, isn't it?!

    Eggs for honey - that would be the swap I would look for. I would love to keep bees, but hubby is highly allergic to bee stings so not keen on the idea. (gee, why?!)