In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine


Productivity is on the rise.

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, November 30, 2009

For the past five days we've been consistently getting about one egg a day.  So we felt confident in saying that only one of our gals had started laying eggs.  Today Kyle called me at work, he stopped by the house during his lunch break to check on everyone (the dogs, cats, goats, and chickens).  He told me that he saw one chicken sitting over a freshly-laid egg in the usual spot where we find the eggs; on top of the platform that we made for the goats to play on- not the best place to lay a fragile egg.  Also, there was one chicken in one of the eight nest boxes- this was encouraging as we had yet to see any of the girls even think about checking them out.

When I got home from work I jogged to the house- pulling my hat down over my ears in response to the wind and snow that finally graced us.  I let the kids out (Ollie and Shyla), threw on my warmer, Carhartt barn jacket and my muck boots, and headed out to the barn to collect a couple eggs!  Yippy!  My excitement grew with every step- I would have run had I not worried about colliding with Ollie who is always adamant about trotting right in front of me.

As soon as I stepped inside the barn I could immediately tell a difference in the temperature since we covered the windier sides in plastic wrap.  In the past, even with the doors closed, we would have a breeze coming through the barn on the really windy days.  This past weekend we finally patched all the larger holes and the plastic wrap will take care of the multitude of smaller gaps and cracks.  The barn is nowhere near air-tight, which is just fine because you need some ventilation to keep it from getting really offensive in there.  But at least we can keep the girls a little more comfortable now.

So, I entered the barn to the sound of chickens clucking away and goats calling to me.  It was a little too early for dinner, not that they really knew that, so I went about my task.  First thing first, was to grab the exposed egg off the platform.  I looked, looked some more...but no egg.  What the heck?  I scanned the floor around the structure just in case, the goats demanding my attention, still nothing.  I moved over to the nest boxes and did a quick scan through those, looking for an egg.  No chicken sits in a nest box just for the heck of it....but no egg.

I trudged back to the house and called Kyle up at work to ask if he had decided to grab them before he left this afternoon- nope, they had to still be in the barn somewhere.  So I grabbed a flashlight (not that it is dark in the barn now that we have lights out there, but every little bit helps) and once again headed out into the damp and windy weather.

Ok, I got my game face on, this time I was on an honest-to-God egg hunt.  After giving the girls their dinner to keep them occupied while I went about my task, I checked around the platform again.  This time I dug through the dirtied hay a little more than I really wanted to sans-gloves, but this is the life of a homesteader; you get really dirty, and its never just dirt.  Nothing.  Back to the nest boxes.  I looked extra-carefully in each little cubby and 'hello!' there was a little brown egg, hiding in a nice little nest of hay.  Ok, cool, so we've found one of the two eggs we knew were laid today.  As I turned to do a general survey of the barn I saw a suspiciously flattened area of hay in the manger; it was definitely chicken-sized.

This past weekend we took a few small steps to try to prohibit the chickens from going into the manger.  We just bought some really nice second-cut hay (read: extra tasty and nutritious) that the goats were going crazy over and we didn't want to waste any by letting the chickens hang out on it.  But apparently our efforts were in vain- to a small degree.  Today, after the hay had been eaten down enough, some little chicky decided she wanted in, so in she went.  Luckily for all those involved, when a chicken goes to lay an egg it prevents her from defecating.  Its kind of like the esophagus/tracea set up we have in our necks; when one process is working, the other one is stopped- same for chickens and their egg-laying.  So, not only is our hay in fine condition, but we had another egg!

So, we had officially collected two eggs today, but nowhere could we find the one that Kyle had discovered earlier.  My only thought is that perhaps a goat crushed it and then the chickens found it and ate it- leaving no trace.  But now we can be sure that three out of our twelve hens are laying, three out of the four Dominiques.  I am really looking forward to the eggs from our Easter-Eggers, with their naturally-colored eggs, that will be a novelty.  I can't wait to see what we'll collect tomorrow!!  Nothing like hunting eggs and finding a few treasures to really brighten up your day.


  1. Donna Mae Says:
  2. sounds like great treasure hunt! :)
    When do you eat them??!!

  3. Melissa Says:
  4. Well...we bought a fresh carton from the store just before the girls started laying...so not until we finish those up I guess. :)

  6. Yeaaaaay!! How exciting! You'll have that fun little hunt everyday now. Pretty soon, you'll have to start selling your eggs.