20 ways my hens shamed me January 3, 2014

Recently, we had to buy eggs—oh, the shame of having chickens and buying eggs! We bought humanely raised eggs from a local farm, of course, but it still felt weird buying eggs! For us, there are not only ethical reasons to avoid buying factory farm eggs, but also… just ick. Factory farm eggs are unappetizing, ghastly pale and have a lot less actual taste than eggs from a backyard flock, where hens have access to pasture.

rainbow eggs - buying eggs is not so pretty

And also hell-O gorgeous eggs! Eggs from our own flock are always so colorful. <3

We don’t usually have to buy eggs, even in winter. We have cold—but not extreme—winters in West Virginia. There is a lot of skiiing–Snowshoe, Canaan and Winterplace are popular resorts. If you don’t ski, you usually go sledding. Chickens? Not so much into sledding. Or snow, although if it’s not too deep, they’ll usually venture out in it, anyway.


Maybe they go off into the woods and build little snow chickens.

But even though we don’t have the deep dark winters of New England, I like to choose good winter layers. (Good winter layers are cold hardiness are NOT the same thing!)

We have enough hens that we normally don’t have to go without eggs, but all the girls seemed to molt at the same time this year. That seldom happens in my flock since I have so many different breeds and mixes; it’s usually more staggered. But this year right around the holidays—just when we were planning for holiday meals, cookies and egg nog—we were down to three eggs, and no one had laid for 10 days. 

So, we bought two dozen local eggs, just to tide us over. The shame, the shame! The dearth of eggs shouldn’t last more than another week or two, I thought, so we could get by if we were frugal.

Two days after we purchased: four eggs.

Two days after that: seven.

Yesterday, I gathered eight.

buying eggs - I should have had faith

Buying eggs: purchased eggs rarely look as pretty on my counter, even when they’re local, humanely raised eggs!

That’s 19 eggs in less than a week, 19 ways they showed me I should have had faith in them. Add the shame of buying eggs, and that equals 20 ways my hens recently shamed me. Good work, girls. I should have been patient. (But I’m  not too disappointed, of course, because I think this means we can indulge in a winter quiche!)

What do you do for eggs when your hens are molting, or when they’re laying few due to the season? Let us know in the comments, or take our poll.

sofy January 3rd, 2014

I wait for them. We don’t consume eggs until they lay.

Lissa January 3rd, 2014

That’s what I would normally do, but we were cooking holiday supper for a dear friend who lost his family (and his flock) this year, and wanted everything to be perfect. Maybe my hens started laying because they knew he was coming and wanted to show their support! 🙂

Suzanne January 3rd, 2014

I wish that would have worked here, I think we have gotten 4 eggs in the last month and hardly any before that, plus 2 of the 4 we got were frozen solid, poor eggs.

The pictures in this article are of gorgeous eggs! I love variety but those are some really dark eggs, anyone know what kind layed those specific eggs?

Lissa January 3rd, 2014

Thank you, Suzanne! The extra dark eggs were laid by Black Copper Marans. The dark speckledy eggs were laid by Welsummers. They’re both great winter layers. 🙂

Ellen January 3rd, 2014

I, too, broke down and bought eggs (pasture raised). My girls are still not laying much of anything. One thing I did last summer while I had eggs coming out my ears was to dehydrate 18 of them. Just haven’t gotten up the courage to try them yet- and husband said HE wasn’t eating them. So, one of these days when I look up how to reconstitute them I’ll give them a try- maybe during the blizzard which is due to descend Saturday night thru’ Sunday.

Lissa January 3rd, 2014

Let us know how that works out, Ellen!

Tammy brewington January 3rd, 2014

Mine quit lying and I finally broke down and bout 2 dozen. Lone behold next day 6 eggs in the nest! Seriously, my chickens are out to get me!

Stevee Salazar January 3rd, 2014

Well we live in California, so I can’t complain! No frozen eggs yet! My girls still do molt this time of year and we have had several mornings when I would go to release my girls from the coop and the water in the waterers were frozen! I actually had about 15 pullets start laying when my older girls stopped, so I am actually getting more now than before! Worked out well in my opinion 🙂

sherry January 3rd, 2014

I have Silkie’s and the opposite problem. I am not a breeder. My chickens are pets with eggs. Seriously 3 clutches of baby chicks every spring 2 years now. So many eggs I don’t know what to do. I have difficulty finding good homes for them because they are not for meat…they are docile and trusting. We built the coop with 4×4 base on cement slab over cellar with 3/4″ walls and siding. Windows, storm door, ramp, fresh cedar shavings on floor…you get it. 10′ x 10′ overall with fan for summer. We have large garden so in season they eat well and in winter I shred carrots, zucchini, squash, add corn, mix in some oatmeal and scrambled eggs. (too many for us). For those of you experienced…what do I do? How do I find good place for hens…they will eat from your hand and they follow me everywhere …is it possible to just keep the roos? Or would they be miserable?

Lissa January 3rd, 2014

Hi, Sherry. If you’re having trouble finding homes for your hatched chicks, gather the eggs rather than allow the hens to hatch them. Then you won’t have to worry about finding good homes for the babies. (If only spaying and neutering dogs and cats to prevent unwanted puppies/kittens were so easy!)

Karen January 4th, 2014

Do you keep your eggs out on the counter? Or do you store them in the refrigerator?

Lissa January 4th, 2014

Karen, I refrigerate my eggs. Unwashed eggs (I don’t wash mine) can be stored on the counter for some time, but they keep longer if refrigerated, so it just makes sense to refrigerate them for home eating. You can read more about that in this detailed blog post, Washing Eggs and why you shouldn’t.

Julia January 4th, 2014

I think it must be because I prayed for it, but we have 14 hens, (three old hens) and 2 new laying Ameracaunas, and 9 new laying Barred Rocks, and we are getting an average of 9 eggs a day. It must be the prayer, because we haven’t changed anything in their rations, and we still don’t have electric to their coop, so we have no supplemental lighting. Keeping their water from freezing has been a bummer, because we have had down to sub-zero temps at night lately!

All I can say is, “good little hens”, and PTL!

sherry January 5th, 2014

Hi Lissa. I actually asked my vet (country vet / horses, cows, sheep, etc.) if I could “fix” Kunta (my rooster)…he thinks I am crazy am sure…
but seriously would love to just have just the boys (silkies) but would they survive without hens?
I was told that if the hens go broody and I remove their eggs they will only stay broody longer and could become self-starved and could die.

My chickens are so sweet .Docile. I probably spend too much time and too much money for them but they give me joy. I am a nature/ bird/ nerd. I have wild bird feeders on my 5 acres around house and use aquarium heaters in water troughs to keep their water from freezing…I have deer feeders also.. that the wild turkey and ground birds enjoy also .I feed the wild life I do not kill the wild life here.
I suppose I enjoy the silkies because they are pets and stay close when free ranging .Best part of my day watching them chase bugs and come eat from my hand and just hang out with me when I am in the garden or just taking a break.

It kills me to have to think of giving them up but I am a strong advocate of animal rights and the responsibility of control of unwanted offspring…

Just wish there was the option to be able to fix the rooster and all of live in peace.

Lissa January 5th, 2014

It’s more risky to surgically sterilize your roosters than to allow your hens to be broody. Just make sure your broody girls are eating and drinking enough–and be sure to check them over for mites or other external parasites. (Broody hens are more vulnerable to parasites, since they may not dust bathe when brooding.) Silkies are lovely, calm and sweet birds. They make good mother hens when it’s time for chicks. 🙂

Dorothy Rogles January 29th, 2014

In your photos, some eggs look bright red. Are they? If so, what breed lays them? I have a small flock of mixed hens. One lays a beautiful speckled brown egg, I am just learning about chickens and the breeds. I love caring for them , and they have blessed me with eggs every day, even in this freezing weather we have had this winter.

Lissa January 29th, 2014

The Welsummer eggs are usually a terra cotta color, which is a rich brownish red. One of my Marans also lays a very red-brown egg. If you are seeing red-red, it may just be a difference in your monitor. For instance, I posted a photo a while ago of some of my more unusual colored eggs, and one that is a sort of dusty lavender apparently looked bright purple on some monitors. I *wish* I had a scarlet layer! However, I don’t know of any breed that lays a true red.

Okami the ovo vegetarian November 5th, 2014

Chickens are amazing! 🙂
Sadly we don’t get snow here in Victoria, Australia,
Good luck with your chooks

Carol January 2nd, 2017

If happen to me I bought some to bake at Christmas . I waited for then to eat my eggs.
I have a question. I bought 3 hens for the Blue eggs,and now they eggs are regular color. Ask they gets older they loose the color.????????????

Lissa January 3rd, 2017

All chickens will lay lighter color eggs as the season wears on. With hens that lay the super dark chocolate eggs, the change is more dramatic. Usually blue egg layers don’t see quite as much change, but there are certainly exceptions. However, after a break in laying (such as over the winter or during the molt) the color should recharge and get darker again.

Barbara January 3rd, 2017

Twelve beautiful hens and I’m lucky if I get 1 to 2 eggs per day. And the only ones that are laying are my 8 month old araucanas. And it’s not even that cold here this winter! ?

F Sethman January 3rd, 2017

This is our first yr with our girls. They started laying Sept then slowed down mid-Nov. We’ve had most of Dec with lowest amt since beginning of Sept, even having 0 one day! Our customers understand-thankfully- and they put orders in ahead of when they needed them. No matter what or how many we got, customers got their’s first. We went without eggs or only used several needed.
Now our numbers are going back up and I couldn’t be happier!! We’ve got 4dozen built up and sold now for 2-6wks plus 3 orders being filled to our regulars as well. We had added 7 girls in November because our eggs were in such high demand then they all dropped! Now it’s getting to be worth it finally.

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