Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hanging with dinosaurs

I am pleased to report that there were no nasty surprises when I went to check on the little dinosaurs this morning.  Well, unless you count mounds of chicken poop as nasty surprises, which normally I would, but after yesterday, poop is nothing.

Once you've seen something, it can't be unseen.

I learned something about the girls today.  It's much easier to keep them contained when there's snow on the ground.  I arrived early this morning, said hello, and gathered my supplies.  I wanted to clean out the nest boxes, because cannibalism, ew, and I knew it would be easier to keep them out of my way if I let them out of the coop.  I stayed up last night thinking about my strategy.  Yes, I did.  Because these girls are fairly docile (when they're not eating their own eggs), and they're fairly easy to entice back into the coop, but there are 10 of them.  And I did not want to be hanging around for hours chasing chickens, popping one in and having 2 more escape while the door's open.

I noticed when my friend was explaining what to do for the chickens that they stayed around the coop as long as we were there, but some of them followed us and wandered further away when we went into the garage and then the house.  So I decided I needed to gather all of my supplies before I opened the door so I didn't need to leave them unattended.

Turns out I didn't need to worry.  Only one of the girls was brave enough to venture out in the freshly fallen inch of snow, and she regretted it almost immediately.  She stood on the snow-less arm of a nearby bench clucking mournfully and staring wistfully at the open door of the coop.  I suppose I could have shoveled a path for them, or put some straw down on the snow so at least they could get some fresh air, but that could have given them the courage to branch out farther.  They're sneaky little creatures.

I changed the bedding in the nest boxes to remove any trace of that egg, and I gave them a calcium supplement.  We girls can't be too careful with our bone health.  Or our eggshell health.  Hopefully that will solve the problem and they won't make egg eating a habit.  If not, I do believe we have some golf balls around here somewhere.  Apparently, if you put golf balls in the nest box, the chickens will think they're eggs, peck at them, not be able to break them, and that will make them decide not to peck at eggs anymore.  Sneaky, but apparently not very smart.

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I hung with the girls for a while, and right before I left, I stepped into the coop to count heads.  I found myself nose to beak with one of the girls who strutted over to see what I was doing.  I stared into those beady chicken eyes and was struck by how prehistoric these creatures actually look.  The alert, staring, ridged eyes, the pointed beak, the fierce sculpted features, the fleshy comb, wattle and ear flaps.  The scaly legs and feet, the sharp claws.  It's not hard to imagine them scratching around at the feet of dinosaurs millions of years ago.

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I'm making pickled dinosaur eggs today.  Here's my friend, and fraternity brother, Jim's recipe.  I discovered that it really is true that fresh, like 2 days from the chicken, hard boiled eggs are harder to peel than older ones.  Next time I'll follow Betty's advice.  In her recipe for baked eggs and artichokes, she suggests:
Hard cooked eggs are less difficult to peel if you pierce the large end of the egg with an egg piercer, thumbtack or pin before cooking.  The small amount of water that seeps in during cooking makes egg peeling easier and also can keep the egg shell from cracking during cooking.
Pickled eggs are definitely an acquired taste, but what else do folks who live up in da UP, eh, have to do all day except sit around acquiring a taste for pickled eggs?  Ah, memories...

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