Tag Archives: layer hens

Oh great, it’s time to move blog platforms again

I’ve been blogging here at WordPress for nine and half years, and I was perfectly delighted with it for eight and a half.  I’ve never had so many problems as I did this year.  Coincidentally, this year is also the first time I’ve paid for the top tier account, for extra storage (nine years of images, yo), and to keep my blog free of annoying ads. 

To hell with that.  It’s usually easier to just stick with what you know than do time consuming research and transition, but I’m not thrilled about paying for the suck.  I switched from Blogger in the oughts, it’s time to move again, although there’s some time before my subscription renews.  WordPress fail.  Research ahead. 

In the meantime, chickens.

Puffling is storking.  The Pufflings are laying eggs – green ones!  They are blue egg layers crossed with brown egg layers, and their eggs are almost olive.  I inadvertently created bearded olive eggers.

The Brahmas are giant bird pillows.  So laid back.

Ave MARIAAAAA!

Until they’re not.  JK.  She’s yawning.


Guinea falling asleep.
Am not!

Let the chips fly where they may

We brought in a quantity of wood shavings today (free for the pickup at a local sawmill).  The chips arrive:  What is it?  Oh, we’re watching.We’re watching intently.Here they come.  A cautious approach. Here comes everyone.First, the investigatory pecks – Is it edible?  They were underwhelmed that it was not. 

Then the whole crowd sort of circled around the mound.  Later, they were up on top of it.  Since I have more birds this winter than last, even if they do have a big yard, I have to make sure to get enough carbon in there to neutralize their nitrogen rich poop.  No poop smells, thank you!  Now it smells like a hamster cage.

All in!

What a load off my mind!  Everyone is in.  I thought it might all be too crowded for the numbers I have now, but it’s ok.  It’s sloppy and slapdash right now, but it will work out.  There’s plenty of room for the coops, and a pool, and more.

The guineas are being very tolerant about this mass invasion.  They very much like to sit up on top of Silkieland.Perhaps we’ll poop on you. I think they’re so cute.  They treat the chickens more like pets they’re fond of, than equals.  They watch out for the chickens and will erupt in alarm calling if one is in distress.  They’re always watching what’s happening, but stay a little bit aloof.

I just realized.  How am I going to recognize Galahad, once all of the Pearls grow up?!

It’s hard to feed everyone, because I get mobbed, and there’s tiny little chicks in the mix.  I walk slowly and carefully.

They’re all so happy!  It was remarkably quiet all day yesterday, and when I look in, everyone is piled up, or investigating something, or lounging somewhere.  Very peaceful.  It’s getting cold, too, and I’m reminded how lucky they are, because it’s nice and warm in there.

All the coops are cozy and clean.  I’m tidying in the greenhouse, but outside the greenhouse is a catastrophic mess, with all the doors, and canvas and chickeries and hen tents and sticks and buckets strewn around – huge mess, but I’ll get to it.  Note the little face on the other side of the fence.  Still golf ball sized, but getting very voluminous pants.   The chicks all learned how to go to bed in the coop in two nights- impressive!Ketchup etc on the rim of Silkieland – popular real estate.The guineas are piled up underneath Alpha coop! I dug a hole. My irrigation tape is still in.  I have to pull all that – lots to do yet.

Also yesterday I moved the pigs.  They’re out of the woods entirely now, as they need maximum sunshine as it gets cold, in their final weeks (one is gone already).  They were so funny!  They were sprinting around, galloping the length of their new field OINKOINKOINKOINKOINK!  And jumping on each other like dogs would play.    Very funny.  They’re very expressive.  I was trying to move the fence one post at a time, while they were in it still, but they kept running back up to me, because they’re excited.  I just found some delicious roots over there!  Oh, what are you doing here?  Looks like the fence is all floppy right here, oink oink…   I’m like, no!  Go away!  But I managed, kept them in.

Now I must dig all the potatoes, because it’s about to get COLD.

Bedtime, and coop cops

Some of them decided to face the other way, for variety.  And two of them decided to have a big pecking fight, on the rail, with one uninvolved keet between them, hunched up low, keeping head down and out of the crossfire raging above him.   So funny.  Peck you!  No, peck you! They’re getting slightly more independent; they scatter wider.   Packing up the three boxes of moms and chicks, to go into their safe house in the greenhouse (everyone goes in a lock box at night for weasel safety), Fiesty’s box was empty.  I found her in the weeds, pretty well concealed.  Daisy’s Silkie chicks are always slipping out of Silkieland, which is fine, but at bedtime, they aren’t so good at remembering where they came out.  Cheep, cheep, cheep!  They run up and down the footboard crying and I have to assist.   Unfortunately, the beautiful silver one isn’t the sharpest tool in this shed.  He’s always the one that runs right past the open door while the other two run in.

She knows I’m coming for her.

Inky.  Inky is gorgeous and very very sweet.  But she is determined that she sleeps in the pine tree.  She’s too sweet to get involved in the night coop drama.  I have two coops with night drama problems now (why!?).  In Alpha coop, it’s Perchick, that posts herself up on top of the ramp like St. Peter.  You get to come in.  No, you’re not invited.  Peck.  (why!!?) I have to get in and sweep her out of the way so the crowd of young chickens milling around can just go to bed already.   Inky skips this and goes straight to the same spot in the pine tree.  But for her safety, I have to pluck her and put her in the coop.

 

In the Silkie coop, there’s two culprit hens.  They sit in the doorway: You shall not pass.  Everyone just wants to go to bed, the chicks are all overtired and crying, making a big racket.  It’s very frustrating.  I take them and put them in the farthest nesting box, but they pop out again and again, like Whack-a-mole.  These two are first on the list to go to a new home (not a euphemism- I do sell and trade birds – I literally can’t keep them all).

Broodies and brooderies

First order of business: a broody box for Perchick (smaller than a chickery, but big enough for a big hen mom – wow!  I have broody layer hens!)

While I was making a broodery, I made another chickery, because I’m sure I’m going to need one real soon.

Note helper chicken, Apples, stage left.

Cream Puff is still freakin’ out!  She’s being good, diligently staying on her eggs, but she’s on high alert and looks very concerned, like she thinks she’s losing her mind, and no one told her this could happen.  What’s happening to me?!  I’m feverish!   I have a compulsion to snuggle with eggs.  I can’t Google these symptoms because I don’t have thumbs!

If I crack the door to her box to reach her food she flips out! and makes a wild flapping break for the door.  Then gets back on her eggs a minute later like nothing happened.

It’s nice that it’s easy to peek in at her.  Her guard is never down though.  No matter how quietly I sneak up to peek, she’s looking right at me through the gap.

Perchick made a smooth morning transition to her broodery though.  With the help of a cloaking device.

She seemed to like to be covered.  She pancaked right out while I sorted eggs and stuffed them under her.   I figure the disruption of being moved is nothing compared to being hassled by the other hens trying to lay an egg on top of her.  Puffcheeks is a real squaller.

Traffic jam in the nest box

I set her up in the greenhouse, and am just committed now to that being the last end of a row I get to plant.There’s a kennel vacancy.  The broody Silkie was faking it.  Well, probably not, but for whatever reason she was broken up and frustrated this morning, Why am I in a translucent mailbox?!  so I put her back into gen pop.  She was a new hen, so I’m surprised she even went broody.  I figure those hens are still calming down and learning to chicken, not ready to level up.

Last frost tonight.  Says me!  The forecast says not even, so it may have been overkill for me to run around in the dark for an hour, to cover everything and bring in the seedlings, etc etc, but it smells like winter this evening, and I’m not taking chances.  I am definitely ready for that aspect to be done – the frost shuttling and the frost blanketing of the plants already in.   I was excited for tonight to be the last night of that. So are the guineas.  They do not like the row cover.   Or someone keeping them up when they’re ready for bed.

*It did frost

The little chicks change every day.  The brown one is getting browner!

morning sunbeamThe other is still a mom sitter.

Roos of the woods

Eviction is in progress.  We lifted the coops out of the greenhouse, and I’m “encouraging” the birds to all transition to living outside now. You’d think they’d be all gung-ho to spend all their hours out of doors and get their vitamin D.  But no, they are resistant to being encouraged.  They all find their way back into the hot house by the afternoon.The GH is at its worst these days. It’s (past) time for it to assume its primary function, sheltering growing food, so high time to move all the chicken related detritus out. 

Creative egg laying. There’s no coop anymore!

Outside, the wretched roosters have taken over Charlie coop.  They’ve adjusted pretty readily to outdoor living, but they decided not to stay in their adapted chickery coop.  Charlie coop, the former skycoop, was occupied by one lone (homegrown) rooster, the others having all graduated up.  And then, the wretched roosters decided to move in.  All at once.Out you go, guys. The world awaits.

 

Snoopers

It’s that time of year.  The geese are back, and the robins.  A little in advance of the retreat of snow.The so-called ailing chicken is quite lively, considering her posture problems.  She clambered into the nesting box today, and eats with an appetite.  She just needs delivery.  I have to monitor her meal time, too, because other hens come nosing around.  Whatcha got? Nosy little Perchick is convinced something’s going on there. I hear munching.

Cold mornings, hot afternoons

In the morning their water is frozen, the hens stand around with no necks,or on one foot. It’s a calm time.  After the mating, chasing, scrapping, squabbling, and gobbling, that is.  When they are first released, it’s mayhem.  Later it’s calm.  Time to groom. What is she doing in there? And glean.And doze off.   Sometimes when you look at animals, they look back at you with equally avid curiosity.  Cheeks is good at that.The Colonel has been given access to hen land.  I didn’t think he’d stay in there because the flock he protects is larger than just the Silkies, but he’s very comfortable. The chicks are showing their combs, nearly teens now, and they can use the male role model.  I’m not joking.  Young roosters hero worship the big cocks, and I bet good roo behaviour is learned, just like they learn to wipe their beaks and scratch from their mothers.

The first night I let him in there, too, at night when I usually do the airlift, I opened the fence and he matter of factly escorted the whole troupe (but one) to the coop.  A few chicks who have known nothing but the airlift process, were walking around the ramp, worming underneath it, clearly mystified how they were supposed to make the transition from out to in.  Funny.

Another expiring chicken

I have another chicken kicking the bucket.  A few have died this winter, from the crew of clipped beaks that we got our first year, so they’re all the same age, about 5 years old.  I’m glad, in a way, that they don’t live forever, but on the other hand it’s a little bit weird that they’re dropping like they’ve hit an expiry date.  My favorite hen (ok, one of) is from this batch, so I’m not looking forward to losing her.  She’s sweet.This hen showed lethargy for a couple days and then yesterday did not leave the coop.  In the morning she looked so nearly dead that I thought she’d be gone in minutes, but in the afternoon I got surprised.  She’d improved and was alert enough to look at me and accept some water. So she was only mostly dead.   She also found an egg to steal and sit on.  Very odd.

And she’s hung on overnight too, still with us.  She doesn’t look good, but I’ve been wrong before.  I’m giving her vitamins and water, just in case it’s not her time yet.