Friday, April 24, 2015

A State of Egglessness

This homesteading/farming/self-sufficiency thing isn't as easy as it sounds, or looks, or logic tells you it should be.
I mean, chickens lay eggs, right?
Why, you ask?
I've asked myself the same.
We have been in a state of egglessness for quite a while now.

For one we keep two flocks of Silkies, and whilst they do lay, they aren't known for taking out best-layer-of-the-year awards. They can't be depended upon for one's egg supply.
Their laying comes and goes, and with the last bout of laying I set most of the eggs as we need to breed from them. The need to breed from them brings me to point two...

Our line of laying Australorps all but died out.
You see they were in their prime when we moved here 3 years ago, and lived the good old free range lifestyle, mostly because we didn't have anywhere to lock them up and it takes a while to get around to building chicken pens.
They laid here and there, big beautiful nests of creamy brown coloured eggs. We'd find some early on and enjoy collecting eggs from them daily. Most of the nests however we inevitably found when they had filled it with 20 or more eggs and had moved on to a different this stage the freshness of said eggs was unknown and so they weren't used.

Then we finally got around to building the chicken pens and the hens were put into them - large, roomy pens mind you, because they were our future veggie gardens. The hens laid, we enjoyed eggs a plenty, taking the homegrown egg for granted.

Then we got busy with all the stuff that needed doing to this patch that had been neglected for almost a decade by the previous owner. We had cattle arriving, paddocks to fence, yards to build and skip loads and skip loads of rubbish to clear out of the place. I've lost count of the amount of skips we've filled with stuff from this farm.
Skips and rubbish and cattle aside, time went on and of course the hens passed their prime and the laying began to slow. Still we paid no attention.
We should have.

It was at this stage of the hens lives that we should have put aside our need to eat their eggs and begun to collect clutches of them to set. We should have put eggs under Silkie hens every time they went broody and had them raising future replacement pullets for us.
Alas, the thought did not enter our minds. By the time it did occur to us that perhaps we needed some replacement birds, getting the hens to pop out an egg or the rooster to do his duty was a difficult task. Special mashes were mixed up, herbs that would help them lay added to the mix.
It was too late.

They'd reached their golden years, our beautiful line of Australorps that had proved themselves good layers had hit retirement with no offspring to carry on their bloodline.
It didn't bother them of course, but it bothered us.

For the last little bit we've been relying on our Silkies to lay us eggs, and that they do, when it takes their fancy. In between their bouts of laying we purchase eggs in small quantities from a local free range, bio-dynamic chicken farm. We've seen the farm and it is free range in the true sense of the word - chickens with feathers and beaks intact, in un-crowded conditions, roaming lush grassy hills to their hearts content. Bio-dynamic, organic grassy hills at that.
However to be buying eggs just feels a bit strange and nonsensical when we have a small farm where the focus is homegrown...and we aren't growing the obvious..EGGS.

You'll remember the arrival of Mr Mussels? With that trio of beautiful birds we also purchased three Plymouth Rock x Australorp pullets of the same age. The Sussex and the Australorp crosses are all beginning to mature now and all eyes are watching them for any signs of laying. It can't be long now before these girls start to give us eggs. Surely.
I've announced to our poultry that if they don't end up laying, I'll drop my heritage breed poultry ideals and purchase a trio of commercial layers. I really hope I don't have to because, as I've said before, I love heritage breeds.

Only time will tell.
In the mean time, the egg rations will continue in our kitchen.



  1. Mr Mussels is gorgeous. Our chooks have depleted too, down to 3, so old they aren't laying. It's time to turn attention there but like you, so many other areas are also needing attention

    1. Yes I love the Sussex, such a stunning breed. Hope you get your chookies sorted too x

  2. Thats so sad Sarah. It must be very frustrating for you. I never thought so much about the humble egg before. I hope you get things sorted soon.

    1. It has been frustrating but these girls will start to lay soon, so I'm not too worried. x

  3. I hope you don't get this message twice! LOL ... I have 17 chickens and no eggs! But in saying that, I have 5 which should be laying any day. Thankfully we did the chicken and egg thing last year. Good luck!

    1. Oh I hope your girls start laying soon too! x

  4. My nana always said that Rhode Island Reds where the best layers and when they stopped laying they where good eating too :) I hope you girls start soon! we waited 7 weeks for our first egg when we got our chickens at Point of Lay... Liz x

  5. I reckon the need a little pep talk! The might be a little shy of late.. hehe! Hopefully you will have your results soon my dear.. they are ever so pretty chooks! Hazel x


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Maira Gall