Proof we are eggheads…

Ah yes, we decided to be geeks about our chickens’ egg production by cooking up a Google spreadsheet to track our hens’ laying history. Then we got the idea to make it into a nifty eye candy chart. Then we decided to embed it in the blog. See the title bar up top for the permanent home. For those too lazy to click, I’ll help you for the first time:

We’ll update it frequently, maybe not always daily.

Fasting and Yom Kippur

I’m in my 21st or so (not going to figure out exactly) hour of fasting for Yom Kippur. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a full day fast that begins before nightfall the eve of Yom Kippur, the night of Kol Nidre. We have a final day of introspection and atonement. In the tradition, it is also a conversation time with G-d before the Book of Life is sealed. Fasting is a big part of the observation, and I always dread it prior to, but in the moment of it I understand. It’s not until about the 20th hour that it starts to sink in, i.e. when it starts to feel difficult.
There is a survival rule of thumb – the rule of threes – which anyone trained in Wilderness medicine or rescue will know. It’s not quite literal, but helpful to remember: three minutes without air, three hours without shelter (from cold/exposure), three days without water, three weeks without food. A Yom Kippur fast does not approach these limits, but it is at this moment that I can imagine the confusion and desperation someone who has had no food or water for a few days more is going through, the cumulative effect of a weakening system. In terms of Yom Kippur, it is meant to keep the focus of the day on prayer. But I think it is also meant to remind of how frail and fleeting life is – and our returning to eat at the end of the fast is a returning to life, as well as normal life (work, school, etc). By this time in the fast, many people have varying degrees of tiredness, headaches, and general lethargy. We are past general “hangriness” as some of my friends call cranky hunger. We can no longer work terribly effectively, even if we want to. As a kid this was always a time for homework, which was difficult with my mind straying a lot. I remember things like rereading the same paragraph several times, or restarting a math problem after getting clearly wrong answers. In short, it was frustrating to not be functioning as expected, much like anytime it is frustrating for one to be sick with a cold or an injury. It still is, but I have come to accept that as part of the fast, and I know it ends quite soon after I start to eat again.
In good health and times of success, we don’t remember this feeling of being on the brink that easily. Of course, we are in a challenging economic time and more people are scaling back on luxury and even basic needs as we contend with depressed job markets, foreclosures, and loss of retirement savings. Fasting today is an interesting parallel to the refocusing for many going on at the societal level, and of the difficult choices many are having to make to maintain food or shelter.
Yom Kippur comes along without any relation to whether it be a good time or not for someone, let alone a society, and any Jewish adult who is physically able to (it won’t endanger their life) must observe the fast.
I am thankful for this, I think it is a necessary space to be in once a year, a humbling moment. In this one day fast, it helps me remember that I am never more than the rule of three away from potentially life threatening times, and that without these basics higher production is difficult. It is an opportunity to remember that on a day to day basis, how fortunate I have been to not know this feeling. And it is symbolic that as my individual fast ends, a meal together with others begins.

20 weeks and 6 days…

That is how long it took for our chickens to start laying. Yes, they’ve started! I couldn’t be more excited!
Aaron and I have joked about the $1000 dollar egg, and we’re already to the $500 dollar egg. But having your own produced eggs is a great feeling. It’s a relief to know that they are capable, and the time we’ve put into them is coming to fruition!
Tonight, I came home to let the chickens out with just a hint of light left, and all but two hopped down off their roost for treats (yep, 6:25 and they’re roosting, it’s so sad – pretty soon I won’t see them at all at night). This is pretty normal – there are two girls who are early to roost and they value their sleep over treats.
Anyway, as the rest were having their cracked corn treat, after days of looking in the nest boxes only to see nothing, I said to myself, well, maybe because I cleaned them out yesterday there’s an egg in there… It was just yesterday I had calculated their age to see if they should be laying, and yes, they were at the magic mark. But it was dark in the coop and a little hard to see. Is that a bunch of feathers, I wondered? Put my hand in, and not one, but TWO eggs, one each in the top nesting boxes. One is a brown egg, which means from one of our Black Stars, and the other an olive colored egg, so, from one of our Ameraucanas! I thought for sure the Ameraucanas would be a while longer. They are tiny, but solid shells, so they are healthy eggs! Now I can’t wait to see if all the girls start laying, or maybe more importantly, if they’ll keep laying as it gets progressively darker and colder…
We’ll have to add free choice oyster shell to their diets, which gives them extra calcium they need to keep producing healthy shells. Next, we’ll have to get an inside the coop waterer that will not freeze. We could be getting as many as
Picture below:

I will maybe get one compared to a real egg next.
Edit: Ok, here it is, middle egg is from a mature local hen (bought).

Weekend update. Lots of little things.

ACLBaloonAfter returning from Austin, and Austin City limits Festival, we are both battling colds which put a damper on our weekend. Despite our colds, I think we were reasonably productive.
Friday evening I baked a pie, not from scratch, but still quite good none the less. I used the apples we picked at Kimball’s fruit farm with Joe, Katie, Kristen and David.
On Saturday morning, we visited the final day of the farmers market to get our weeks produce, and bagels. It’s sad that it’s over, but I think the participating vendors are happy for it to be done for the season. After speaking with a few of them, they indicated that the numbers have been steadily declining since the start of school. This was our first year shopping there, and we really enjoy supporting the local farmers. So, I hope when they return next July, not only are the numbers strong, but we will be one of them!
In the afternoon T mowed the lawn, while I cleaned the garage. After noting the increased amount of scalping on the lawn, I think we may have some work to do on the tractor. I hit a rock while mowing the stony field earlier this summer, after which I replaced a severely bent blade, but I think I may have bent a shaft. So that will require some further investigation, and perhaps money.
I spent the evening Saturday converting my recipe bookmarks to Evernote. I was using google reader because it’s where I find most of the recipes I want to make but relying on RSS and live bookmarks just doesn’t work. People delete, move, and change content. After searching out some recipes that interested me a while back, and finding more and more dead links, I thought it was best to capture the content incase the link goes dead. It was also a nice chace to take inventory of the recipes I’ve collected, and logically sort them. Now if I could only have all my cookbooks digitized, I could find all the great recipes I’m missing.
We had a lazy Sunday, I went grocery shopping, cashing in some coins for an amazon gift certificate. I wonder if they realize that with amazon prime, and the fact that amazon sells grocery type stuff, they are losing a sale by charging for coin star and not GC’s.
While I was shopping T cleaned up the coop, the girls are acting a little more like layers each day. Some of their cheeks have become quite red, and we’ve seen them hanging out in the coop under the nesting boxes. However we have still not been able to gather that elusive $1000 egg.
Later in the afternoon, T and I visited the girls at Silver Oak Alpacas. It was nice to see the farm they are at, and to see the ones I’ve never seen. We are still pondering names for the two young boys.
After visiting the girls, I whipped up a loaf of bread, and made some slaw. Not bad for a ‘sick’ weekend… Heck, I even posted a blog entry.