Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Which Came Intermediately, the Chicken or the Egg?

We're having a bit of a debate here at the ol' Backroads homestead.

The Pony gathers eggs from our free-range chickens every evening. They are not so much free-range chickens as chickens who fly out of the pen because Hick built it out of two dog run fences hooked together, with no ceiling. And since he didn't clip their wings and they come and go at will, he leaves the door open. Most of the hens will lay in the laying boxes inside the chicken coop. But a few of them squat and let one fly wherever the mood strikes them. I suppose we are fortunate that they don't roam the contiguous twenty acres, but confine their movements to the front and back yard.

Since school was out, we have hatched twenty-one chicks. Okay, a couple of broody hens get the credit. Hick catches one sitting, and stuffs a couple of days worth of eggs under her. Sixteen of these chicks have survived. Now they are growing up. To me, the oldest group appears about half grown. They have that awkward, gangly, teenage look about them. Another four are kindergarten size.

Here's the issue. For the last two weeks, The Pony has twice picked up a tiny egg from the nest where most of the hens lay. Here's a photo taken by Genius the family photographer.

To be fair, this terrible picture was taken by my phone, and not his exorbitantly expensive camera. But that does not justify the poor composition. I expect the eggs in my blog-worthy photos to be...AHEM...egg shaped. So I asked Hick to snap a more flattering picture of his hen fruit. Which resulted in this image from his BBQing triangle on the back porch rail.

You will notice the regular aqua chicken egg from our Ameraucana hens on the left. And a whitish egg from one of our banty hens in the middle. It's the tiny brown egg on the right that mystifies us. Or perhaps I should say mystifies ME. Because Hick says it's a regular egg from one of our young hens. I beg to differ.

According to Hick, the egg is small because the chicken is small. And as the little hen gets older, the eggs will get bigger. PUH LEASE! I have never heard such nonsense in my life! I don't profess to be a fowl maven. But if this is the case, why have we never seen this phenomenon even once over the past three years of harvesting our chicken eggs? Were the previous hens saving themselves until full maturity to lay their eggs? I think not. We've had leghorns laying white eggs, and silky-footed black hens laying brown eggs, and a banty here and there laying the small eggs. But never any tiny eggs. Unless you count those two times that Hick tried to pass off a leathery round reptile egg as belonging to his chicken harem.

Hick wanted to give the tiny egg to my mom when she dropped off The Pony yesterday afternoon. He said, "Tell your mom we've got something to help her cholesterol. Never mind that Mom's cholesterol is just fine, and Hick takes medication for his. Or that, perhaps, she would crack open this abomination and out would slither a snake. I voiced my opinion of this proposal.

"You are NOT giving that thing to my mom! You don't even know if it's a chicken egg!"

"It's a chicken egg. Stop being so dramatic."

"How do you know? Did you eat the other one?"

"No. But I cracked it open on the porch, and it looked like an egg."

Oh. Very well, then. Let's send it home with Mom to eat it. I don't think so. How many of you are well-versed in eggology? Do adolescent chickens lay little eggs that get bigger as the hen gets bigger? And if so, why is this the first time we've ever seen such a thing?

My inquiring mind needs to know. So I can push the point with Hick, or shut up and forget about it if he's right.

10 comments:

Bailey Hammond said...

We have banties and regular chickens as well, and none of them lay eggs that small. Not even our young banty hens. Perhaps you have a phantom layer?

Sioux said...

I think Hick is an egg-head.

Perhaps HE should crack it open and make a breakfast for himself out of this "egg."

Chickadee said...

I don't know when chickens reach sexual maturity and maybe it's different for fowl, but songbirds, parrots and raptors DO NOT lay their eggs until they reach sexual maturity, which can range in age anywhere from 1 year to 5 years of age.

Is that the only small egg? Or have there been more? It could be weird mutant sterile egg. I've noticed it on occasion in my tree sparrow nest boxes, where they lay an egg that's a different color or are very small. Those never hatch.

Leenie said...

Teen-aged mutant NINJA CHICKENS!

Stephen Hayes said...

I had no idea chicken eggs came in different sizes.

Linda O'Connell said...

Have you ever read, Flap Yor Wings, a children's book by P.D. Eastman about a pair of birds who find an egg in their nest? They hatched an alligator. Watch out! Hick's trying to put one over on you.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Weird egg. I wouldn't eat it, either. I say that Hick should be the taste tester in this. Or perhaps he should slip it under a setting hen .......
Back in the 80's, when water beds were all the rage, my son Jeff, a middle schooler at the time had a water bed. I went in to change linens one day and noticed that the bed was too hot to sleep comfortably and checked the thermostat. It was at the highest setting. As I was removing the sheets and pillows I discovered his reason for having such a hot bed. Duck eggs, he was trying to hatch duck eggs. In his bed. Could he be related to Hick?

Val said...

Bailey,
I'm trying to think of what critter might sneak in and leave a tiny egg. At least it's not leathery.

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Sioux,
Yeah, he can eat it or shut up about it being a regular chicken egg. The ones with double yolks he sets aside for himself. But not the itty bitty ones. And why did he take one out on the porch to crack it open, huh? Unless he was afraid what might shoot out of it.

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Chick,
This is the second little egg. According to Hick. But then in the heat of the "discussion" he bragged that he had two more tiny eggs in his refrigerator in the barn. Since he doesn't cook over there, I'm not grasping the purpose of hiding the tiny eggs.

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Leenie,
Cowabunga, Dude! That would explain a couple of theories.

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Stephen,
I AM an educator, you know. Just doing my little part to keep the world informed.

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Linda,
I have not read that book. And I hope that we don't have alligators on the prowl. A snake, maybe. Or a lizard. But this egg wasn't leathery like a couple we found before.

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Kathy,
What an ambitious undertaking! Hopefully, Jeff never tried to butcher the neighbor's pot-bellied pigs, mine copper from the back yard, set another neighbor's field on fire with fallen fireworks, or used a sinkhole as nature's wastebasket for old cabinets and dead possums. Because if he did, there might be a genetic connection.

ingasmile said...

We have only been raising chickens for a little over 2 years and yes, our new layers tend to lay smaller eggs and they increase in size and strength (egg shell) as they grow older.

Those eggs are so cute! We have 5 that lay green eggs and 2 brown layers.

Inga

Val said...

ingasmile,
Thanks for that info. Maybe they are practice eggs. I can't figure out why we've never seen these tiny eggs before. Maybe the new layers don't lay in the coop, but out on the grounds somewhere until they get the hang of things.

We've got 40 chickens now, but I don't know the rooster count. When it gets to be a problem, they take a ride to the auction.