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Broken Eggs
30 March 2009

Chickens

Rooster We don't really have any livestock on our Kona coffee farm.  We get some wild pigs and wild cows but we don't raise any livestock ourselves.  Unless you count chickens, we have a lot of chickens.  Sometimes it feels like we have too many chickens.

There are currently two flocks of chickens on the farm.  The main flock is Bantam chickens.  Bantams are smaller than most chickens and ours were raised by hand so they're quite tame.  We keep them in their pen most of the day, only letting them out for a few hours in the evening so they can wander around and scratch for bugs.

Letting the chickens wander around the yard in the afternoon gives them the opportunity to find bugs and get some exercise.  This keeps them extra healthy which in turn makes their eggs lower in fat and cholesterol.  The chickens naturally return to their coop around sunset.  By keeping them in their pen most of the day they stay out of trouble and it's easier for us to find their eggs.

Broken The second flock we have is a group of wild chickens.  Keeping them in a pen would be much more difficult because they are excellent fliers and they love to wander around everywhere.  They only come around the house at feeding time, the rest of the day they stay out in the fields.  Being wild, it is much more difficult to find their eggs.  Usually.

Chickens aren't terribly picky about where they lay their eggs.  All they really want is some place quiet and out of the way, preferably off the ground.  Apparently, to a chicken, the barn looks like a giant chicken coop.  It's amazing how many nooks and crannies there are that a chicken can get into.  My lumber rack seems to be a favorite spot.  A box of nails sitting on a shelf is a fine spot too.  The other day I noticed one of the hens roosting on the top of the water heater.

Matt The water heater is mounted up high on the wall where it's out of the way.  The top of the water heater isn't really visible from the ground so the hen decided that was a perfect place to lay her eggs.  The only problem was that the top of the water heater is slightly curved.  Every time the chicken laid an egg, her egg would roll off and fall back behind the water heater where it was out of reach.

This went on for several days before we figured it out.  What gave it away was the yellow yolk streaks running down the wall.  The stink wasn't too powerful yet but it was definitely getting there.  Unfortunately, there was no easy way to get behind the water heater without draining it, detaching all the pipes and moving it out of the way, all while standing on a ladder.

Luckily I have a friend.  He's a good friend and will quite often help with farm work.  He has an amazingly sensitive sense of smell and is not too fond of smells like cat pee, dirty socks or... rotten eggs.  Somehow though, I managed to convince him to climb up on the ladder and clean out the pile of half rotten, broken eggs.

It was not a pretty job.  We did manage to get it all cleaned up.  I left the water heater disconnected for a couple days while the mess dried out.  Then, after putting it all back together again, I nailed up a piece of cardboard to keep the chickens out.  Hopefully that will do the trick.

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