The frost settled in heavy a few mornings back though thankfully warmed up nicely in the afternoon. My young Welsummer pullets (and five roosters) seemed to be in awe or shock at their surroundings. Or maybe they are just frozen! Naw, it wasn’t really that cold.
Having the chickens stay in the garden for the winter is a win-win-win. They have lots to scratch in, i can throw all kitchen scraps out there and they bury it or eat it, plus they poop a lot adding tons of manure nutrients to the soil. However, to prepare the ground for winter grazing, about mid-summer i allow grasses to grow unencumbered so they are mature and lay over by the end of the growing season.
Back home and starting to get settled into regular chores and a few moving ahead projects. Despite coming home to sub zero temps, 1/4 inch ice, and swirling snow, just two days later it is starting to melt and at 33 degrees F (headed to 44F just before dark), it’s not too bad outside.
While i was gone, my silly Welsummer hens began laying – thank goodness – they are about 7 months old and until this past week had laid not one single egg! Apparently, they had not read the book that they are a breed which starts laying at 5-6 months. Granted, i am willing to give them a pass because i did accept them after June 8 (because of Nathan and Heather’s wedding and knowing we would be gone, i didn’t want baby chicks around), so that put them going into the shorter days which is typically when hens start laying fewer eggs. And these gals are truly pastured hens and never on a high powered ration. But when 6 months rolled around, i’m thinking they ought to be laying something! I checked them and most had developed the visible and measurable signs of being mature enough – yet no eggs.
Here’s the lovely dozen eggs i found this morning! In the photo, the lighter colored one is from a purchased dozen of eggs from the store which say they are on pasture. Here’s the interesting part, that store bought egg is considered a large egg yet is very similar in size and weight of these first eggs laid by my hens. In other words, my hens didn’t start with pullet sized eggs, they started in with mediums and larges! And beautiful shell color.
Remember that the color of the shell has nothing to do with the quality of the egg nor does it tell you anything about how the hen was raised. The color of the yolk can be darkened by the ration fed to a caged hen (marigold and/or corn). Anyway, my hen’s eggs were all frozen, so these first ones will have to be thrown away since they could be contaminated because of cracking. But maybe we’ll get some today to collect.
Stay warm and have fun!
Welsummer pullets hard at work keeping spiders and crickets from getting into the house last fall (2019).