Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Incredible, Edible Eggshell?

We used to be really good at "making do" with what we happened to have at hand. Of course TheMartianMidgets were toddlers then and we were frugal out of necessity, not because we really preferred to be. This urban farmstead project is really forcing us to take a hard look at ways to pull things together on a shoestring budget.

As I go through the planning stages, I am constantly tempted to just buy certain things that we'll need.Instead, I have to rein myself in and Re-think, Re-use and Re-Purpose ordinary items that we happen to have around the house.Today, I decided to begin saving eggshells for our future flock of chickens. Eggshells can be washed, dried, crushed and fed to laying hens to provide calcium. The mineral is critical to ensuring that eggs laid will have strong shells. I could purchase calcium for poultry (also known as oyster shell), but that is an additional cost, albeit a small one at around $5. However, I do have about nine months before our chickens will begin to lay. (This is an extreme version of counting your chickens before they hatch, since the chicks that we will get in the Spring haven't actually hatched yet!) Hopefully, all of these small savings will add up and enable us to meet our farm-building budget of $1000.


Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Save the egg cartons too! We bought our eggs from a local farm and got a small discount if we brought our own cartons. Now that our hens are laying, I'm so glad we saved cartons. I really thought in this weather, they wouldn't lay, but we're averaging 4 eggs a day ~ and they JUST started laying earlier this month. The other thing I can tell you about chickens is that you can build your own feeder, brooder and coop/nesting boxes/roost. We repurposed a lot of what we had on hand or gleaned from friends to put our coop together. The only thing we had to buy new were shingles and screws. Also, our hens free range in our backyard. Even in winter they find a lot to suppliment their diet with. We have a small raised bed around our coop where I plan to grow greens, just for them. And, of course, ours scrounge every good morsel they can find in our compost bin. Good luck! You're well on your way because you're planning (and thinking) ahead!

TheMartianChick said...

Thanks for the ideas, Wife to 1! I would save the egg cartons, but I buy the eggs at our local farmer's market and get a discount on my next dozen by bringing the cartons back. I do have my mom, sisters and a few friends saving them for us. I can't wait until the weather improves so that I can start pulling things together. I have a collection of things that I plan to re-purpose, but keep the ideas coming... I can certainly use them! I know that we are still going to have those times when we smack ourselves on the head and say, "Why didn't we think to save/get/use (fill in the blank)?" I am really hopeful that experienced people like you will be able to share some of your insight and spare me from getting a concussion from all of that head-smacking!

ChristyACB said...

I save eggshells too for use in the garden. Tomatoes are real calcium hogs and adding some finely ground eggshells to the ground when it is prepped in late winter seems can help with blossom end rot.

I'm pea green you'll be getting chickens. The city has determined that I can't have even 4 or 5 layers in this city. ::sigh::

Love your blog and am rooting for you! From one suburban/urban homesteader to another, Good Luck!

TheMartianChick said...

Thanks for the tip about calcium and tomatoes! I didn't know that one but I will certainly try it out. I think that if I weren't able to have chickens, I would get a couple of hens that most people wouldn't recognize as chickens like Silkies or Polish and pass them off as some unusual variety of Paraguayan Ground Parrot.I will not be denied!

sugarcreekstuff said...

I save the eggshells for my tomatoes and girls too. I don't wash them though, too busy, I just let them "bake" on a cookie sheet after I take something out and turn off the oven. It cooks any goo that may be left and makes crushing them a breeze, it also changes the taste to prevent egg eating habits in hens.
You will love having chickens.