Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chicken Drama

So, today was pretty crazy. Andrew had asked me a couple of times where Rosemary was, and since she is my brooder, I just figured she was where she always is: in the nesting box. Well, we were sitting outside and Kevin heard a chicken. Of course, I thought, I have six. Of course, you hear a chicken. As it turns out he heard a chicken in the yard next door. We looked over the fence and sure enough there was Rosemary. I don't know why she'd fly over there, but I'm betting on the hawk we've seen in the neighborhood. The chickens only fly like that when they're scared. Long story, but we spent hours trying to get her, going into several different neighbors' yards to do so. She flew into at least four trees, higher and higher each time. Finally, when she was in a tree that overlooks my yard (probably at least 15 - 20 feet up), we decided to let her come down on her own. She took her sweet time, but when she saw the other chickens scratching about, she did, indeed, come down on her own. I thought she'd want to run over to the other chickens, relieved to be down, but she acted quite nonchalant. She's a brat chicken, but I'm relieved I didn't have to call the fire station for assistance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mystery Solved!

I sometimes see Myrtle coming and going from the area that I call my garage. It's actually a car port that has been kind of fenced in. It's not fenced in very well, and the hens can get back there pretty easily. I had a feeling that Myrtle, and sometimes her buddy Birdie, have been laying eggs back there, but I could never find them.

Not until today, that is. Tonight we heard chicken sounds coming from back there, and sure enough Myrtle was noisily laying an egg. (I've never heard any of them making noises while they're laying. It's usually not until after they've layed that they make noise, and then what a ruckus.) For all my looking, I never thought about looking under my old hammock. I guess I need to see the world through chicken eyes.

Not only was tonight's egg there. Several days worth of her eggs (and a couple of Birdie's) were in the secret laying place.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I think the chickens are starting to molt. I'm seeing more feathers in the coop and on the ground and egg production has really slackened off. I've seen some pictures of molting chickens online, and it's possible that they will lose almost all feathers. So far my chickens still have most of their feathers. I have to say that featherless chickens are pretty unattractive (ha, ha, if you can be pretty unattractive).

I am pleased to report that Ethel and Rosemary have stopped brooding. They brooded for most of the summer, which was quite annoying. They didn't lay any eggs most of the summer, and by constantly laying on the eggs, they made collecting the eggs a bit harder.

Now that the weather has become less severe I've been able to spend more time outside with the hens. I'm not saying that chickens are as companionable as dogs, but I do think they are pretty sweet creatures. Not that this is a new idea for me, but I guess not spending as much time with them, I kind of forgot just how sweet they are.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Okay, So Roaches Can Survive a Nuclear Bomb, But Can They Survive a Chicken?

I never have a video camera when I need it.

Last week I discovered that the wood chips that I put in the hens' boxes had gotten wet and that a nest of roaches had moved in. I know, pretty gross. I'm always in such a hurry that I didn't have time to do anything about it ... until today.

I decided that I'd give the hens a treat and rounded the hens up for a morning snack. I dragged the bag of chips into the chicken pen, and the first thing I saw was not a roach but a little really black spider, not that I'm afraid of garden spiders, but I didn't recognize this one. Not to fear, however, lovely, brave Birdie came over and promptly ate it. And then the six of them ate all the roaches that I shook from the bag. I would say that there were no less than a dozen living in the wood chips, and I don't think even one got away. Not all of them were full grown. Maybe five or six were over an inch long, but I can tell you that a good time was had by all, including this big mother hen. If you haven't seen it yourself, I just can't tell you how much fun it is to watch chickens chase and eat bugs, and there is something extremely satisfying when that bug is a roach.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Long Overdue Update

It's been forever since I posted an update, and I have no excuse, really. In the winter, I didn't have much to post because it got dark so early. Now that it is summer I should be writing more often. Okay, here's what's been going on:

The chicks love being out in the yard, but that also means that they like to lay their eggs in the yard. Myrtle, especially. She likes finding dark quiet places to lay her eggs--the "garage," the cast iron plants in front of the porch, the overgrown area in the back ... . Yesterday, I had to shoo her away from the back porch even. She wanted to lay her egg inbetween the screen and back door. Silly bird. I eventually picked her up and put her and the others back in the pen.

Ethel and Rosemary have been all broody since I got back from San Antonio in late March. They huddle up in a nesting box together, changing boxes only after another hen has layed an egg that they can rush over and sit on. They do come out occasionally to eat, drink and poop (really large poops!), but they cluck the entire time so the "chicks" in the eggs they are nesting on don't miss them. No, I'm not leaving eggs for them to nest on. It's just what they do.

I had a batch of thin eggs a week or so ago. I hadn't been giving them oyster shells, but I've started up again and that seems to take care of the problem. One of the eggs cracked under Rosemary and stuck to her chest, and I had to clean it off of her, which, of course, she hated.

Lastly, I had to net my blackberries and tomatoes, so I can have b's and t's for us. It seems to work for the birds and squirrels. (Although, I'm sad to report that I've seen two birds caught in the net. One I was able to rescue. The other was dead by the time I found it.) The nets are less effective for the chickens. They simply go under the blackberry nets, and they've found an opening for the tomatoes. Myrtle was in the tomatoes yesterday, but I think that she was just looking for a place to lay an egg. Because Myrtle and Birdie are now bff's, Birdie had to go into the tomatoes as well. I think she scared herself a bit because she couldn't figure out how to get out right away and kept headbutting the net. She figured it out soon enough, however, and all is well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was the first annual (maybe biannual) chicken coop total cleaning. I took everything out that was take out-able and scrubbed it was a bleach solution. I then took all the wood chips out and scrubbed the the nesting boxes, etc. I shoveled out about a third of the old dirt and replaced it with new. All in all, it was a lot of hard work, but it looked good for the brief time between when I finished and when the chickens went back in. This morning it was all poopy again.

I tried to wait to do the inside of the coop until the eggs had been layed, but Myrtle apparently was a late layer. Poor girl. She was so anxious about me being in there with strange things like brooms and scrub brushes. She kept looking for a private place to nest, and at one point I thought she'd layed her egg in the bushes. She was so desperate that--I didn't see this for myself, but Andrew tells me--she even went into the house. The chickens rarely get within ten feet of the house. She finally had a moment to herself in the coop while the boxes were drying, so she end up laying her egg in a bare box.

The weather has been so beautiful lately that I've tried to let the chicks out as much as possible. Here are a few pictures, mostly of their upturned bottoms as they peck around in the yard.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Slight Thaw

This morning was the first in about a week that the chicks' water wasn't frozen solid, and I'm enjoying the balmy 40s and 50s we've had lately. Even with all this cold, Birdie has wanted to sleep up in the eaves of the coop. I don't like her sleeping out there by herself. Bee sometimes sleeps with the little chicks up in the eaves of the coop and that leaves Honey all by herself. I think they should keep each other warm, so I've been putting Birdie in the coop each night. She can make her own decisions as to where to sleep once it warms up a bit during the night.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ice Cubes

Today is so cold that the chicks water has started to freeze. It looks like we're in for several more days of this arctic weather as well.