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Extreme Frugality: She’s Baack!

Never ever write off a Black Austrolorp. Especially one named Stella.
stella’s eggs

“Look at this, Dad!” Eliza commanded in a voice loud enough to wake a sleeping 46-year-old man. As I simultaneously bolted upright and wiped the drool from my chin, she continued, “It’s so cute!”

Mere inches from my blurry eyes was a very small egg, obviously from our wild friend, Grousey. This was definitely worth being woken up for. Visions of perfectly roasted young grouse danced in my head because, as luck would have it, Lisa and the kids had given me a 40-egg incubator for Father’s Day. If we could gather a few more of Grousey’s eggs, we might even be able to pay for the incubator in less than a few months. What a marvelously frugal paradigm.

“Where’d you find it?” I asked, half-expecting her to say near or under the hen house.

“In the nesting box on the end.”

“How’d Grousey get inside the …” I began before realizing this was definitely not Grousey’s egg. We hadn’t seen her in weeks. No. This could only have one source.

“It’s Stella’s,” I explained. “Remember when we ate the Scott’s hen a couple of months ago? You guys were freaked out at all those eggs lined up in her oviduct, waiting their turn at freedom. The farther they were from being squeezed out the vent, the smaller and smaller they got.”*

“That’s enough, Dad. I get it. Why do you always have to be so gross?” she said, and then beamed. “Stella!”

While doing a little jig, I called Lisa, even though I knew she was presenting some case before one of the tougher judges around. This was big news. “Stella’s back online,” I said, and then explained as quickly as possible. Stella had once again fought her way back from the edge of defeat. Show me a chicken with as much fortitude, willpower, and joie de vivre, and I’ll show you a cartoon character. They just don’t make them like a Black Australorp, especially this particular model.**

We’ve been having a hard time filling our current weekly egg orders because the hens evidently haven’t appreciate being kept out of the gardens they used to tear apart at will. Unhappy hens, in our case, mean an egg or two a day less. Stella’s return to the production line will just about bump us back into the black.

Stella to the rescue!

Frugal Tip of the Week As I mentioned in my first post, Lisa tried to open my eyes to reality way back, and being sporadically dutiful, I did implement a number of frugal practices, one of them being purchasing a set of clippers—the Conair 20-piece Home Haircut Kit with model HC31BECS clippers, for $18. While I have not yet used all 55 possible settings or watched the surely fascinating instructional DVD that came free with my purchase, I have spent hours studying the unexpectedly mesmerizing paper instructions. I’ve saved almost $900 in less than three years, and I actually get compliments from people other than my own children. And now Lisa has started cutting the girls’ hair. Last week, she snipped some stylish bangs on Helen, saving at least $30, the cheapest local price for female haircuts.

* Like humans, hens are born with all their eggs. They begin as follicles—the actual yolks—which make up a hen’s ovaries, bunched together like grapes. As the hen comes of laying age, these follicles begin their weeks’-long journey down the oviduct, first gaining in size while being enveloped in the protective and nourishing albumen, or white, and then taking on the increasingly harder shell. It’s a fairly amazing feat and is explained in understandable detail on the University of Illinois Extension website.

** We had originally ordered day-old Black Australorps because they are considered to be the most well-rounded and family-friendly domesticated hens. Certainly, this must be the result of higher intelligence and inner strength?