Gertrude McCluck: Chicken in Charge from the April/May, 2009 issue of Backyard Poultry

February 7, 2013

Gertrude McCluck: Chicken in Charge

Hello, Poultry Pals!

April Fool’s Day is here and that can only mean one thing: time to put clear plastic wrap over the nesting box. One hen runs into it every year! If laughter is food for the soul, then we have quite a banquet on Gerny Acres. Last year I slipped a gold painted rock into Gloria Goose’s nest. She bragged all day how she’d laid a golden egg. If only it had been – we could’ve used the scratch! If you’re short on laughs or foolishness, spend some time with your chickens. With our funny habits and bird brains, we’re always good for a chuckle.

Keep your comb clean, Gertrude McCluck, C.I.C.

Me and My Shadow:
For True Bantams Only


Silhouettes reprinted courtesy of APA-ABA Youth Program)

A. Belgian D’Uccle Hen B. Rosecomb Cock C. Silkie Cock
D. Sebright Hen E. Belgian D’Anvers Cock F. Japanese Hen

Minute Mystery

“Get your beak off my egg!”

“Quack-no beak-quack-bill-QUACK!“

I arrived at the nesting boxes in time to see Babs flapping her wings in an attempt to separate a Mallard duck and Ameraucana hen. Some prankster played an April Fool’s joke and left the gate open. The ducks invade the chicken yard. As usual, one nesting box had become the hot spot to deposit an egg.

“Hop down here, you two.”

Lucky for me they did. “What’s the problem, Ms. Duck? And please speak slowly, I’m not fluent in Duckish.”

The Mallard duck waddled closer and said, “Quack-quack-open box-quack-lay egg-quackie hen-quack-pecking me-quack-quack.”

“Liar!” Meri shouted.

“Calm down, Meri. Now it’s your turn.”

The Ameraucana pushed her chest out and began, “I laid my signature green egg this morning. I left for a quick trot past the food bin and returned to find this quack in my box. She kept pushing the green egg under her body and acting like it was hers. I know for a fact I’m the only chicken on this farm who produces the amazing pale green beauties.”

I pulled out my trusty spyglass and peeked into the nesting box. Two green eggs, one larger than the other, lay in the box.

My bird brain computed the facts. Rattle, rattle, buzz…ding! I solved the case.

“I know who the eggs belong to.”

Who had produced the green eggs?

(Answer in Answer Box at bottom of the page)

How can you seen inside an egg without cracking the shell? Here is a cool way to remove the outer shell from an egg, but get permission from an adult first.

What you need:

  • Clear jar or glass with a wide mouth (to fit the egg inside)
  • Lid or cover for the jar
  • Raw egg
  • Clear vinegar

What to do:

Place the egg in a jar and fill with enough vinegar to completely cover the egg. Notice the bubbles on the egg. Cover the jar and allow it to react for three to five days, watching for changes in the appearance and number of bubbles on the egg. When the shell is dissolved, rinse carefully under water in the palm of your hand and look at and feel what is left.

What happened?

The outer shell of the egg is made of calcium carbonate. Vinegar reacts with calcium carbonate to produce carbon dioxide, which is the gas in the bubbles that form on the surface of the egg (like the bubbles in soda pop). As the vinegar dissolves the outer shell, the cell membrane (rubbery layer that surrounds the inside of the egg) is exposed. The membrane lets water in, but does not react to the acid from the vinegar. The yolk and egg white (albumen) stay safe inside the membrane. You now have a “naked” egg. If the membrane lets water in, can it go back out? Can other liquids go through the membrane?

Further eggs-periment (to become a true eggs-pert):

1. Put the naked (shell-less) egg into water for one day and observe. How does the size and shape change?

2. After trying water, drain and cover the naked egg in corn syrup and observe. How does the size and shape change?

The thin membrane that protects the egg is amazing!

Jokes…Get the Yolk?

Who’s there?
Arthur who?
Arthur any more eggs to decorate?

Who’s there?
Heidi who?
Heidi decorated eggs around the house!

Did You Know:

In 2007, more than 90.6 billion eggs were produced in the United States.

Iowa takes the honor of producing the most eggs of any state.

On average, every person in America ate 254 eggs last year. Make mine over easy!

(Source: American Egg Board)

How many chicks are in the picture below?
Don’t get fooled by the reflection!

Count the pairs of legs in front of the wood frame.There are three chicks, but at first glance six chicks can be counted.

Answer Key

Me and My Shadow:

1.D  2.C  3.F  4.A  5.B  6.E

Minute Mystery:

While Meri the Ameraucana may be the only chicken laying green eggs on the farm, Mallard ducks also lay green eggs. When Gertrude saw that the nesting box contained two green eggs of different sizes she sent the larger one home with Ms. Duck and let Meri sit on the other.

      Gertrude McCluck, Chicken in Charge is assisted by chicken wrangler Cyndi Gernhart. Find out more about Gertrude and her book series for children and other fun activities at: