Willow Bark Farm

  (Grand Tower, Illinois)
Farming In Southern Illinois

Posts tagged [chickens]

The Four Penny Egg

 I have and raise a small flock of heritage breed chickens and turkeys. I have 20 young laying hens that are now 24 weeks old. The breeds are Buff Orpington’s, Rhode Island Reds, and Silver-Penciled Wyandotte’s.

Throughout my 30 years of living on the family farm I have raised many types of poultry. My largest flock was ten years ago when I had 100 heritage breed chickens, 10 bronze turkeys, 150 mallard ducks, 2 White Chinese Geese and 30 Bobwhite quail.  

I have 3 incubators and a brooder that I use to hatch new baby chicks. My children were always amazed when they were young when we would put the eggs in the incubators to hatch.  We all waited in anticipation for the little chicks to pip from their shells. Throughout the incubating process we would candle the eggs. This is done by holding the egg upright the small end pointing up, in a dark area and using a flashlight to look into the egg to see the embryo alive and growing inside the egg.

I just love raising poultry. They are easily cared for and have such individual personalities. It is an enjoyable hobby and the birds can supply a family with fresh eggs and meat. I like the idea that I know what my poultry is fed. My birds are naturally grown and are not packed full of hormones and antibiotic.  Commercially raised poultry are often raised in small cages and fed a meal that contains both antibiotic and growth hormones. My poultry love fresh picked greens and vegetables from my gardens. I feel it is important to give poultry fresh vegetables along with their regular diet of farm raised grains, grasses and clover that they pluck from the ground from free ranging and the many insects that they search out and find on their daily travels.

I awoke this morning at 4:00 a.m. to a temperature of 39 degrees. Tonight the temperatures are due to reach a freezing point. I hurriedly dressed warmly and made my way out to my chicken coop to feed and water my chickens and turkeys. They were all awaiting my arrival. Clucks, cock-a-doodle doo’s and gobbles sounds filled the air. They were chattering up a storm as I made my way inside for the morning feeding and watering.






One of my young Buff Orpington hens that I named Henny Penny was in the nesting box laying an egg. She is quite verbal when anyone comes near her nest when she is laying an egg. She cackles and ruffles her feathers warning off any intruder. I went about my business of doing my morning routine of caring for my birds. It wasn’t long and Henny Penny got off of the nest and made her way with the rest of the flock that was busily eating. 

I went to the nesting box to collect Henny Penny’s egg. I was shocked and amazed at the huge egg that lay in the golden straw. It was by far the largest egg that any of my chickens had laid in the 30 years of raising poultry. I added it to my basket and continued collecting the eggs. I went inside the house and washed my eggs under cool running water. It was apparent by looking at the normal size eggs that Henny Penny’s was a monster. I decided to measure the size of Henny Penny’s golden egg. As I carefully laid her egg on a clean and dry paper towel, I certainly didn’t want her egg to roll off of the kitchen table unto the floor. I lined up copper pennies in a row next to the egg. One penny, two penny, three penny and finally four pennies lay in a row next to the lovely egg. I hurried to get my camera to photograph Henny Penny’s wonderful egg.


 Her egg was so large that the egg carton would not close. You have heard of bragging size tomatoes, well I have a bragging size golden egg that was laid on a small country farm in rural Southern Illinois.

 So, this is my story of Henny Penny and her unusual four penny egg. A penny for your thoughts….





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