Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When life gives you lemons

You make lemonade.  Right?  We've all heard the saying.  But sometimes the bigger challenge is figuring out what the "lemonade" really is?

About 2 years ago, we treated the hens with a drug that had a long withdraw period.  And it simply broke my heart to toss all their eggs into the trash.  I couldn't feed them back to the hens or I'd simply prolong the withdraw period.

So as the eggs began to stack up higher and higher, I thought I'd try my hand at blowing them out.  I had done this as a child.  One year I took 3rd prize at the Saks Fifth Avenue Easter Egg decorating contest.  Which was kind of unfair because at the time we had a green egg layer, a goose and Japanese Quail.  So I had some pretty good material to work with.

Anyway, I started spending an hour here and there blowing out the hens eggs and before I knew it, I had dozens and dozens of empty eggs stacked up in the garage.  Then the question was, how do you decorate all those brown eggs.  I just assumed I couldn't color them.  So I tried painting, gluing and glittering, wrapping, etc. but I just didn't have the patience to spend that much time on a single egg when I had about 20 dozen to work with.

So on a whim, I picked up some gel food coloring and gave it a go and WOW, you really can dye brown eggs with pretty good success.  I added extra dye to the container and when each egg was dry, I rubbed them with olive oil to make them shinny.

My first thought was to decorate our Christmas tree with the eggs but I couldn't bring myself to put them away.  So I filed up a glass hurricane and set them out on display.
But I still had so many more eggs.  And it was bugging me that they'd been sitting in the garage all this time.  So over the weekend, I pulled out my handy hot glue gun and an old rose vine wreath that was sitting in the garage collecting dust.  And just started gluing the eggs onto the wreath in a random pattern.

And this is the end result.  I'm really quite pleased.  The colors really pop against the door and it's been so much fun to walk up the front walk and see this hanging on the door.  I'm sure from the street, they look like fake eggs.  You can't see the holes in them until you get up close.  Which is fine with me.  I know in my heart that my girls worked hard to help me make this spring wreath for the front door this year.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Self Portrait

Isn't it funny how you can get all dolled up and have a professional portrait taken, but your favorite photo ends up being one a friend took spur of the moment with their iPhone?

This photo was taken at least 18 months ago.  Hubby and I  had gone out for big hike.  We came home and went to say hi to the hens before getting cleaned up.  I picked up Honey for a snuggle because she's so soft and cuddly.  Then Ginger jumped up onto my lap and right behind her was Spice.

So before I knew it, I had three Buff Orpingtons on my lap.  Ginger, in the middle, was pecking at both Honey and Spice, desperate to get them off of HER lap.  Ginger never liked to share.  Hubby thought that was a cute scene and snapped a photo with his iPhone.

It turned out to be one of my all time favorite photos of me with my hens.  It's become even more special to me since we lost Spice and Ginger last year.

Back in November we stopped in a local coffee shop for a java fix and a local artist was displaying a number of her watercolors.  And I was smitten.  Even though there were no birds on the wall, I knew she could transform my favorite photo into something really special.  And below is the final result.

I asked her to remove the ugly green wheel barrow and my garden clogs.  I also sent her some close up shots of the three hens so she could really see their faces.  And she nailed it!  All the way down to Ginger's angry red face.  I couldn't be more thrilled.

The artist is local the Bay Area but will ship in the US.  Maybe overseas too.  I didn't ask.  Her name is Amy Rattner.  And her website is: http://amyrattnerart.com/  Check out her dogs and cats.  I think her work is amazing and I couldn't be more thrilled with the end result.  I can't wait to get the final work back from the frame store to hang above my desk.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is Coco Broody?

Today was a pretty typical Wednesday.  Get up, go to work, come home, refill the hens feeder, give them fresh water and collect the eggs.  But today offered up a surprise along with an egg from Coco.  Coco's nest was filled with her soft, beautiful black feathers.

I only have three hens.  Honey Bear is golden blond.  Poppy is steal grey blue.  And Coco is jet black.  So there's no mistaking her feathers.  And Coco is the only one laying eggs right now as Honey Bear and Poppy are in the final stages of molting.

So is this just a fluke and maybe a few feathers came out in the nest after a good, long dust bath?  Or is Coco going broody?  Coco is a Jersey Giant.  A breed not known for going broody.  But she did go broody on me about a year and a half ago.  So I know it's possible.

And I was fully planning on getting more chicks this spring.  I figured that Honey Bear, my Buff Orpington, would go broody and I'd tuck baby chicks under her when the time came.

So this has me saying Hmmmmm, this evening.  If Coco is indeed broody, do I put chicks under her for her to raise?  Or break her and let Honey Bear raise babies later in the spring when she goes broody?

Anyone have experience letting a Jersey Giant raise baby chicks?  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I'm out of eggs

How is that possible?!?  I have my own chickens!

Okay, granted only Coco is laying eggs right now but she did lay 6 eggs last week.

I had some store bought eggs and attempted to hard boil them to make deviled eggs.  But the centers didn't cook.  I don't know that's possible as I hard boil eggs ALL the time with out issue.  I tossed them out of frustration.  Besides, I don't want raw egg centers for deviled eggs.

So then I took all 6 of Coco's eggs and hard boiled them.  But then I was too tired to make deviled eggs.  No worries as we'll eat them up this week.

But then I went to make dinner and needed an egg to batter up the fish I was going to flour and fry.  And yep, NO EGGS!!!  I couldn't believe it.

I keep telling Poppy that she's finished molting and needs to get back to work and stop freeloading.  But thus far, she's chosen to ignore me.  Sigh...