Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ending the mystery (and a drum solo)

Months ago, when I first was considering the breeds of chickens I wanted to raise, I took into account a number of different things:
Temperament: Whether the breed is naturally docile, friendly, flighty, aggressive, etc.
Hardiness: Whether the breed is weather-hardy or needs special care in extreme hot or cold.
Size: How big the breed gets - I wanted to go for consistency as I'd read that you generally don't want to mix big and small together.

Eggs: What color eggs they would lay was important to me. Having spent a large portion of my childhood in Germany where brown eggs are the norm, I knew I wanted the majority of my eggs to be brown. However, I was very intrigued when I read about the Ameraucana/Easter Egger type hens. Apparently, these hens can lay various shades of blueish green or greenish blue eggs. I really wanted some of those!

Ultimately, all but one of my chicken breeds are friendly, fairly docile, weather-hardy, large birds. I have:
2 Rhode Island Reds
2 Silver-Laced Wyandottes (1 turned out to be Roopert the rooster)
2 Barred Rocks
2 White-Crested Black Polish (1 turned out to be Pip the rooster) - this is my exception breed. (They tend to be flighty and need a bit of special care.)
2 Black Sex Links (a.k.a. Black Stars)
1 Buff Orpington
1 "Sparrow", who was going to give me those cool green/blue eggs:

Long before the ladies began to lay, though, Sparrow was my special girl.

As a chick, she would fly from her brooder box to my lap where she would peacefully sit and watch the world around her:

She even loved being carried around the house, just 'hanging' with the family. She picked me to be her pal:

To this day, she sticks pretty close:

So, in addition to being a very engaging chicken (and one that kind of tugs at my heart), I couldn't wait to see her eggs.

Now, as you may have read here on my blog, my girls began laying on July 3rd of this year. But it wasn't until just the other day, that I was actually able to confirm what color eggs my Sparrow was laying. You see, until that point, not the slightest greenish or blueish hue was to be found on any of my eggs. So, either she wasn't laying, or...
Well, I was beginning to have my hunch. Like the day that I got 9 brown eggs from my 10 hens, the 10th hen being a white egg layer. The outlook was not good for me getting that rainbow egg basket I had been hoping for.

So, if you'd like to see what color egg Sparrow lays, watch the video below. Keep your eye on the white decoy egg in the nest:

Now I notice a couple of things here. Yup, the egg is brown:

But, she is also the first hen I've seen who lays eggs standing up!

Here's Sparrow admiring all the lovely BROWN eggs that she and her girlfriends lay:

They are pretty, aren't they? Even if none of them are Easter eggy?

This all makes sense, really. Sparrow just didn't want to lay greeny blue or bluey green eggs. My girl has always marched to her own beat.

And speaking of beats, there is this. Very short. Just for you.

My niece, Julia.


  1. WOW, that is so weird that she lays eggs standing up!!! Our chickens sit, as far as I know :-P...our Ameraucanas lay greenish eggs...they are very pretty, and some turn out to be VERY large--so large that the egg carton barely closes! I like brown eggs, though...we get greenish, brown, and one chicken lays white, eggs. :)

  2. Good girl, Sparrow. What a beautiful egg layer. You know, standing labors are quite productive actually. The whole force of gravity and all.....

    She is such a sweet girl. Very cozy, that one.

    And the drum playing is awesome. Way to go Julia.

  3. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Heavon! I just love reading your blog and looking at your pics.

    I love how sweet you are with your animals;)

    I cannot wait till I can have chickens and eggs;)

  4. I have never seen any of our hens lay standing. Very cool that you could catch the action. She actually looks quite proud of her accomplishment. We had two Ameraucanas a couple of years ago and they both laid greenish blue eggs, about every other day. Our best producers so far have been the Rhode Island Reds and the white Leghorns. Our Buff Opringtons lay about every other day or so, less in the winter months. We choose not to use artificial light to keep them laying because we want them to do it naturally. So our winter production usually goes way down in all breeds.

  5. Ya know - our Hallie lays standing, too. I just happened to open the door to the nest boxes yesterday morning as she was laying - I was so surprised!

    While Sparrow's eggs were not what intitially expected - she really does lay lovely eggs, doesn't she?!

  6. Good egg laying video! Sparrow is a beautiful girl even if her eggs are not blue or green.

    Great drum solo Julia! You go girl!

  7. Hey, good pics. I wouldn't care too much about the color of the eggs anyhow...didn't your momma teach you, it's what's on the inside that counts!

  8. I forgot to mention that you should go read Urban Hayseed's Sept 16th blog comments about his Chicken-without-a-Name (formerly known as Shirley)who has not laid an egg recently and he is thinking of getting rid (!) of her. I have been encouraging him to allow her time to increase production and/or offer Shirley to Critter Farm. She is an Americauna and might give you those green/blue eggs you desire.

  9. Danni, you are so mellow with your animals. I really admire that quality in you. I'm guessing sweet Sparrow just wants to be like all the others, but isn't it weird that her eggs are brown?

    And little Julia, I'm sure, must have potential. Some day she'll be a rock star!

  10. A couple of my Ameracaunas lay tan eggs, I have also seen the standing up laying thing too.

    Is that the niece that was once in the toilet?

  11. Mellimaus - It must be a breed-specific thing, the fact that the Ameraucanas stand while laying. I've heard this now from a few people since I posted my video. I'm green with envy over your green eggs. :-)

    Hi frugalmom - Sparrow asked me to ask you where the HELL you went? Peaceful Schmeaceful, she's kind of ticked you're gone and aren't collecting the eggs anymore.

    Hi adventure girl wanna be - You leave the nicest comments! Welcome - I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog...when do you think you will be able to have your own chickens? You'll absolutely adore the experience!

    Hi egghead - you know, until you explained in a blog post what that was on your glasses, because of your screenname (and the teensy size of the photo), I always thought that was an egg squished between the frame of your glasses and your head! lol. I think my best layers are my Black Stars and my Barred Rocks. I don't plan to light my coop either - I'm sure we're going to miss the eggs come winter!

    Hi Dina, I forget - is Hallie an Ameraucana? If not, that totally blows my standing-up theory as a breed-specific thing out of the water. :-)

    Hey farmer jen - the video was just luck. I've always got my camera in my back pocket and Sparrow just *looked* like she was going to do something monumental, so I was ready for it!
    I'll pass on your encouragement to Jules!

    And yes, I had seen Mr. Seedhead's post...just hadn't figured out how to respond yet. This video worked well in our (your and my) favor, I believe. (p.s. don't tell him I called him Mr. Seedhead) ;-)

    Hello THE warren...that totally cracked me up. You are FUNNY :-)
    And yes, of course, you are is what's on the inside that counts. Forgive me, Sparrow.

    Hi californiagrammy - that's one of the nicest compliments I could receive...about me being mellow with my critters. Especially since "mellow" generally isn't a word I would use to describe myself. lol. I've found my animals respond to a calm demeanor and definitely notice and react if I am stressed, hurried or not at peace.

    Sugarcreekstuff - You have an excellent memory and you crack me up (how many times have we said this to each other??!). Sure enough, that's the toilet girl. Fortunately, she doesn't do that anymore. :-)

  12. Wait a minute! All of my girls lay standing up! I must have defective chickens! Oh no! Actually, they sit in the nest until they're ready to push the egg out, then they stand up.

    Your girls lay a lovely group of eggs. I just love how brown eggs look when you put several together. Don't they look so perfect and natural?

    Speaking of naturals, Julia is one!

  13. That was a cute story. Your eggs look beautiful and yummy. You have such good girls!

  14. Personally, I'm a brown egg fan. I don't know if I'd want to crack a green one...hmmmm...didn't Dr. Suess write a book about those?

    I'm completely smitten with Sparrow. An adorable character right from the outset and such a sweet disposition.

    I too immediately noticed your tone of voice on the video and think it's lovely how caring you are of them. I got the distinct impression that Sparrow was laying that egg "for you".

    In fact, I'll probably visit that video often. It's a very peaceful, calm little escape from the day. I think I'd probably spend a lot of time hanging out in the coop, if I were there.

    As for Julia...that girl's clearly got a lot of spunk and enthusiasm and I'm ALL about spunk and enthusiasm. You go, Girl!

  15. Now that is odd. My Sparrow-like Americana lays the most beautiful blue green egg. But she is not very friendly or very smart so I guess you can't have it all. You are getting more eggs from your girls at this point than I am. I'd take more eggs no matter what color they came in. I also have 5 nest boxes and they all lay in just one.
    Cute kid.

  16. I too am impressed with your gentle tone of voice to Sparrow in the video. You may have missed your calling as a midwife I think :-).

    Really, your chickens are lovely and I really enjoy reading your blog and looking at your beautiful photos. It makes me feel as if I am there.

  17. Go Julia! She's great and I gotta say I love the sticker, OUTSOURCE BUSH.
    I can't believe your hen, amazing. Poor little thing. I'll never forget when I got my first peek and our hen laying an egg. I felt so bad for her!

  18. I have two Easter Egger hens. The one named Fluffy looks almost like your Sparrow. I got two because I know some EE's don't lay blue eggs.

    My hens started laying a few weeks ago and I have been lucky to get blue eggs from Daredevil. I haven't caught Fluffy on the nest yet, so I'm not sure if she's laying or what she's laying.

    Cool video of Sparrow laying her egg!

  19. WTG Julia, rock on!

    My Ameraucana's name is Penny. She came under the guise of "Cockerals have been added for warmth". Mind you, my chicks came in Texas in October---no extra heat needed. Just the hatchery's way of getting rid of roos.
    I was thrilled to find that he was a she! I waited and waited for that easter colored egg. Just like you, it never came. I now tell people that she lays pinkish brown egg--leaning toward the brown end of the spectrum. Oh well, she was free. I can't complain. Oh, my Penny is not friendly at all. Not flighty, but just doesn't want to be my pal.

  20. Wow ....I feel like I just spent the day at your house. Very cool chicken and drum roll , now all you have to do is loop the drum roll in the hen house and hit that cymbal every time an egg comes out..then VOILA !!! Lots of eggs, and taxicab colored ones too !!

  21. Most hens stand up a little for the actual egg laying. There is alot of sitting around and clucking and throwing hay before and sometimes after the actual "plop".

    Americaunas are not a green egg guarantee, I have to say- I would say only about 8 of every ten lay a colored egg.

    Most hens won't lay in front of a person, either, if they can help it. Sparrow must love you lots!

  22. Two very talented girls!!!
    Pa dum dum!!! Ting!!!

  23. I was going to comment how lucky you were to have such a trusting hen like Sparrow. None of mine will lay with me in the coop. They can be carrying on clucking and if I poke my head in they stop and glare at me like "DO YOU MIND!!??" :) Sparrow is a lovely hen no matter what color egg she lays!

  24. Fantastic post all the way around! I loved "meeting" Sparrow. And your niece is too die for - so cute!

  25. I am so excited that I found your blog...what interesting (and fun) posts!! Loved the video! Looking forward to your next post!!! I have some goats and chickens...I get brown and white eggs, all different sizes and shapes!


  26. I guess it's not that odd... I have two Ameraucanas and they both laid brown eggs like all the rest of the hens. They're some of my sweetest chickens, though!

  27. I guess it's not that odd... I have two Ameraucanas and they both laid brown eggs like all the rest of the hens. They're some of my sweetest chickens, though!

  28. YAY!!! I actually got to watch the video!! WOOT! My first ever video? Chicken sex over at twinville. Yours is the second. And guess what? I have an EE hen that looks just like Sparrow and she lays standing up too! (but she does lay blue eggs.....sorry.)

  29. very cool! the eggs, the chickens, the drums, everything! thanks for sharing ;-)
    (our hens are slowing down with the egg production...we get only approx. 3 eggs a day from our 10 hens... they are 1 1/2 years old now)

  30. Wow! I have never seen a chicken lay an egg...that was pretty amazing.

    My parent's have Amaracaunas- the eggs are so magical! Sorry your's didn't turn out to lay the colors, but it sounds like she's making up for it in personality!


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