By: Shannon Latham, Enchanted Acres
Spring in Iowa is synonymous with chicks, bunnies, lambs, baby goats, daffodils and tulips. This year it also brought an early spring dusting of snow at Enchanted Acres. A set of twin kids was born right before the new season began, and more kids should arrive any day.
Speaking of arrivals… Spring officially arrived on Thursday, March 19. #DYK this is the earliest spring equinox that we’ve experienced in our lifetime? The last time spring arrived this early was in 1896 — a whopping 124 years ago!
Legend has it that on the spring equinox, you can balance an egg in an upright position due to the Earth’s position. Because I love science, I researched this old wives’ tale. Standing an egg is possible, according to Scholastic.com, but it’s something just about anyone can do any day of the year. Who knew? Click here for tips on how you can try this at home.
If you’re up for another science-related activity, here’s a link for making rainbow-colored Bath Bombs. Bath bombs fizz due to a chemical reaction between baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, and citric acid. When dropped in water, the two chemicals generate carbon dioxide in the form of lots of tiny bubbles.
One of my favorite activities to do in the spring with my kids is color Easter eggs. We’ve tried different kits and dye recipes throughout the years. Right now we have colorful eggs naturally thanks to the assortment of chicks we got last fall from Hoover’s Hatchery. Those fluffy chicks, which hatched the first week our pumpkin patch opened for the 2019 fall season, have grown into beautiful young pullets.
Pullets are chickens, under one year old, that are still developing. Depending on the species of chickens, young hens will begin laying eggs when they’re between six and eight months old. A pullet may lay only one egg every 3 or 4 days at first. As she ages, the pullet will lay an egg almost daily. After about 18 months, she’ll take a break to molt and refresh her plumage. After the molt, a hen will lay fewer eggs per clutch than she did during her first year. This pattern continues as the hen ages, so each year she lays fewer eggs than in the previous year.
In addition to a hen’s breed and age, her egg production is affected by temperature and light. Hens lay best when the temperature is between 45°F and 80°F. Egg production slows down when the temperature is either colder or warmer than this. Hens also lay more consistently when there is 14 hours of daylight, so some farmers provide artificial lighting during the winter months to keep their hens producing.
The days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and our hens are getting a little older. We will soon be gathering a dozen, large eggs daily at Enchanted Acres. With so many fresh eggs to use, I’m always looking for ideas on how to make protein-packed meals.
Eggs are easy to fix, so let your kids (or grandkids) try making new recipes. Cooking and baking are great ways to learn math, including practicing fractions, and following directions. This “homework” has the benefit of tasting great, too.
Homemade soup and salad pair perfectly for early spring. Take your taste buds on spring break with the following meal ideas:
- Creamy Italian Egg Salad Sandwiches with Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Quick German Egg Salad with Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup
- Mexican Egg Salad, Beef Enchilada Soup and Mexican Fruit Dip (see recipe below)
Mexican Fruit Dip
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese (not fat free)
1 T vanilla instant pudding (dry)
1 tsp. vanilla (Mexican or McCormick)
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. half & half
1/2 package toffee chips
- Cream together cream cheese, instant pudding, vanilla and sugar. Add the Half & Half.
- Fold in toffee chips.
- Serve with fruit. It’s especially good with fresh strawberries, pineapple and bananas.