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Eggs

Agriculture.com Staff 09/19/2007 @ 2:22pm

I've got eggs, baby.

Well, not me personally. You know what I mean.

It's been a long summer. Some critter cleaned out my five laying hens last winter. I tried to let it go, but I'd become used to eating eggs that tasted like, you know, eggs and I had a hard time letting it go. Besides, when you buy eggs, you buy them as needed -- there's no growing inventory crying out for an angel food cake.

I went to get a few more chicks, but unfortunately, a four-year-old girl was hanging out in the store next to the chick barrel. She kept finding cute ones to add to the box and, bottom line, we ended up with 18. I was worried about dying of cholesterol poisoning, but luckily, one chick got eaten by a critter, so now we only have seventeen -- a much more manageable number.

Seventeen was better than 18, but 17 chickens eat a lot more than five did. Back when I was getting four eggs a day from five hens, my chicken enterprise was netting almost $ 0.27 a week. Seventeen chickens and no eggs per day was seriously cutting into my bottom line -- the costs started mounting rapidly. We'd gone first class all along. Regular chicks cost only about $0.79 each, but we'd decided on the extra fancy ones with pretty feathers, guaranteed to lay blue and brown eggs, and they'd cost us big money -- some of them up to $1.89 each.

When the weather was cold early in the spring, I spent about $3.72 on electricity for the heat lamp. After that was five months of chicken feed, running us about $15 a month. Do the math -- we had almost a hundred dollars in the chicken biz with no return on investment. To make things worse, my banker was starting to get that look in his eye that always makes me worry.

A buddy recommended that I take a hatchet out to the coop and hang it on the wall. Nothing really threatening, just a little reminder that there are alternative chicken-based proteins other than eggs. I didn't want to do that -- I've never really been a fan of bosses who rule by terror. A hatchet seemed like too much. Instead, I took a can of chicken soup out and set it where the label was clearly visible from inside the wire. Again, not threatening, just a little...motivational.

About a month ago the hens started to scratch little nests in their bedding. That seemed a promising sign to me, but I'm also a guy who seriously expected the Vikings to win the Super Bowl every year all through the '70s. I've had my heart broken before; I was prepared to carry sacks of chicken feed out to the coop and eggs home from the store pretty much indefinitely.

But then, one day a brown egg appeared in the fridge. My wife had done chicken chores that day and quietly sneaked it into the house. It was just one egg, and it was a very small egg, but it was clearly a sign of things to come. The next day I found one -- then two more.

Yesterday I found five eggs -- all at the same time. It looks like the can of chicken soup did the trick, the team is hitting its stride and I can look forward to a dozen eggs a day for a year or so. For a couple of days, life was good, and a couple of days of that is about all you can hope for. Now I have a new problem I'm worrying about

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