Tag Archives: chickens

Egg-cellent!

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Ten months ago we started our little coop with eleven chicks, and today we finally found ELEVEN eggs!
Just in time for Easter, too. I’ve got a lot of colored eggs and deviled eggs to get cooking.

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Good Golly, Miss Molly

So here’s the scoop on our coop- there is trouble in the hen house. (Am I killing ya with all these little rhymes? )
Upon opening the coop door yesterday afternoon to say howdy and check the waterer, I was met with the unpleasant sight of some bloody chickens and spatter covering quite a few surfaces!! Ack!!
They all came rushing at me as soon as the door was open, so it took a few minutes to get everything calmed down and assess the situation. Alastor the rooster was bleeding from his very weird and large comb ( he’s a double rose combed silkie- which to me looks like brains are on the outside of his head….). A few of the hens had some splatter on their feathers, and then there was Molly covered in blood on her head.
Miss Molly is our biggest hen- a Buff Orpington. She is queen bee and very aggressive with all the others, always asserting her dominance in the flock. We named her after Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter series, as they are both “stately” ladies and Molly Weasley shows some serious backbone when challenged (go read them. ALL of them.) We thought that might change once we added the rooster… but instead she just took to attacking him along with the others.
This is only the 2nd time the squabbling had led to bloodshed. Molly got Alastor once before on his chest.
So we grabbed the blue coat spray and carefully treated both Alastor and Molly. The others were all unscathed. We cleaned up in the coop and put all back to order.
It’s freezing cold here, so I’m not really wanting to separate her, it would be difficult to keep her warm on her own.
I’m not really sure what else to do at this point but just hope they start to get along and that spring comes soon so they can get outside more often. I do wish Miss Molly would just behave!!


At long last, we have eggs!

It’s been 210 days since the chicks arrived in the mail, and this morning we had a full dozen home grown, fresh eggs in the carton! What an amazing feeling. I was so inspired by this sight, I decided to bake some homemade bread and thaw some of the strawberry jam I put up this summer so that tomorrow morning we can have a “feast” of homemade/grown foods and really relish the outcome of putting some effort into growing/making our own food.

We are getting an average of 4 eggs per day now out of 11 hens, so I am expecting to see a lot more production on that front. It’s snowing now and we are getting into the full swing of winter, and I am relieved to see that we do in fact have winter layers- just not sure which ones they are yet! For certain, I caught our smallest Barred Rock in the nesting box yesterday.

Can’t wait to serve up this “from scratch” breakfast to my family tomorrow!

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The Interloper

I find myself faced with a dilemma this week….. a dilemma of the Rooster sort. See, when I first decided to raise chickens for eggs I carefully and specifically ordered only females because based upon all the research I did, a rooster seemed an unnecessary element for the flock. Less hassle for the hens, less risk of “danger” to my kids (from aggressive rooster behavior), less noise…

My husband really wanted a rooster. He felt like it just wasn’t a proper coop if there was no rooster…but after many many MANY conversations he seemed to come to terms with my “no rooster clause.” At that point, he began a campaign for a “funny-looking hen” instead. Okay, funny looking- I can deal with that.

Well, 6 months later, my father in law presents my husband with his new funny-looking chicken… which upon getting home and introducing to my flock- we realize is most decidedly a Rooster. A cock-a-doodle-do-good-morning-wake-up-the-neighborhood rooster. Sigh…..

So what to do?

We live in a rural area, with fairly few neighbors. In fact, the house across the road keeps chickens as well. There’s no anti-rooster town rule. It doesn’t seem excessively loud or aggressive. In fact, most of the hens are almost larger than the guy. He’s a double-rose-combed Silkie. A very pretty chicken, really, if I am forced to admit it… I dig his fuzzy looking feet… And OF COURSE, the kids are already loving him because he is so cute and fluffy looking. “BUT,” I keep pointing out “He’s a ROOSTER!!!” I feel like I am losing the fight. Is it a battle worth fighting? Do I just relent and let the rooster stay? Will it be more or a headache than to just listen to a few days of boo-hooing and send him on his way??

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Free, free, set them free…

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After a few weeks getting the ladies acquainted with their new digs, we got brave this evening and set them free to range the yard. I have been really nervous about this, afraid they will wander off, get in the road, or meet another untimely end… So we will go slow with the ranging. Pasturing, I guess it is now referred to as free-range seems to have lost its labeling cred.
They took straight to it though – not venturing to far from the coop but definitely interested in all the surrounding gardens etc.

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The kids got to test out their chicken-herding skills….which consist mainly of lots of shrieking, jumping, flapping pretend wings, and an ungainly chicken dance performed in footie pajamas and barn boots… You had better believe those chickens went running for their coop!!!


The name game

It’s been an interesting first 2 weeks with the new chickens in their coop. We have discovered a few things- like they are amazing lawn mowers! In just 5 days they had completely cut down the grass inside their pen, which was nearly knee high in some places. They also managed to dig out their own dusting spot in a matter of days- while I am here researching online how to build them a dust bath. Guess nature doesn’t wait for Pinterest 🙂
They really do love watermelon and spaghetti noodles, and don’t appear to be fond of radishes (I don’t blame them).
So now the kids want to name them… Which is proving fairly difficult as we can’t yet tell many apart. They want to name the hens all after Harry Potter characters, and so far we’ve got the smallest one called Ginny, the largest one called Molly, the tallest one named Minerva, and this one here is Helga- she has a crooked toe so we can spot her easily.

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Still working on a name for the coop, and already my husband thinks we need maybe just another kind– something “fancy” he says….


Building

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Funny how quickly word spreads, especially in a small rural town. Even funnier is how quickly word spreads among people who don’t use phones or social media- like the Amish. I have to applaud my husband, who has been working steadily in every spare moment to get the coop ready for the new chicks. He now has gained a reputation amongst the local Amish community as “the man that is building the worlds biggest chicken coop”! 😉
Now, keep in mind that we started with the idea of a small coop to keep 3 hens (maybe even just a chicken tractor). Well, then I couldn’t quite narrow down the breed I wanted, so ended up ordering 4 different ones. So now we have 11 chicks, because I really figured we would (will) lose least 40% of what we ordered- but have only lost one. And of course the kids love them and want to keep them all!

So, he decided to build it a little bigger..

Today he stopped by an Amish sawmill to ask about buying some boards, and upon introducing himself was told “oh yes, I have heard about you. You are the one building the world’s biggest chicken coop.”. No kidding. Too funny.

Honestly, it doesn’t look THAT big!?! The coop itself is about 8 x 8. Seems reasonable to me 🙂

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Spring has hatched

The chicks have arrived!! The lady that called from the post office early this morning sounded a bit surprised at my excitement upon hearing that my chicks had arrived and were ready to pick up. I promptly called my parents and left them hurried messages to PLEASE dash to the post and bring my new babies home, then rushed through the work day, eager to go get the kids and see the chicks.

Much to my surprise, and delight, all 12 of the little chicks arrived alive and peeping, and quickly took to the water dish. It wasn’t long before they found their way to the feed as well.

This was the first time I’ve ever held a chick- I still can’t believe how soft and tiny they are. It was so fun sharing this 1st with the girls, experiencing the same curiosity as they were feeling.
So, we now have 3 females each of Buff Orpington (since they are yellow we easily spot these), silver laced Wyandotte, Dominiques, and Barred Rocks. As these 3 breeds are all black and white, I have no idea how to determine which fuzzballs are which…. Guess we will have to wait and see. The kids wanted to start naming them already with the names we’ve chosen from our favorite Harry Potter characters, but I told them we need to wait a bit and see which chicks make it. Maybe that was mean, but I feel like they shouldn’t be surprised to find a few less chicks in the brooder over the next week or two…
In the meantime, we will keep hammering away at the “barn” my husband is building where their little coop began. He argues that he just knows me better than I realize and that there is no way I will be satisfied with a tiny coop and 3 hens…
It’s been a busy week or so around here- we got the garden planted finally, and helped out with shearing at my mom’s alpaca farm. That was a very interesting process, which I will try to post some pics of soon.
For now, keep your fingers crossed and wish us luck with these little chicks!

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And now we wait!

I’ve done it! I’ve placed my order for our first chickens! In about 8 weeks ( oooooh, the waiting!) we will HOPEFULLY have a chirpy box of Plymouth Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Dominique’s, and Silver Laced Wyandot hens. Pullets. Whatever, the girl kind 😉

So now to hustle the hubby into readying their new home.

In the meantime, the vegetable seeds have arrived and are waiting for me to get them started: Hello seed, meet dirt….. Then there’s the garden plot to be tilled…. Which normally we never get to until around Memorial Day around here… but this year is just, as you’ve noticed… different.

I hope we are not going to suffer the brunt of some great cosmic joke in which we see the sudden return of ” the winter we never had” come April or May! We are just so ready to dive right into this spring.

Even the alpacas at my mom’s farm are eager for spring, as they eye us up and wonder just how quickly the fresh pastures of orchard grass will sprout up for them.

We even discussed getting out the lawn mower this week , and I guarantee that I have never seen grass being mowed in March in my 30+ years!

Plenty of stuff yet to be done in the meantime as we wait …. and wait… on seedlings and chicks.

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Ahoy Mateys!

Ocracoke Lighthouse

We’re back from our trip to the seashore. Ocracoke island in the Outer Banks is beautiful. The island is not quite open for tourist season yet, which meant we got a real feel for the island itself- quiet and isolated. Legend has it this island was a hang-out for Blackbeard the Pirate, and the place where he was killed.  My daughters spent hours burying seashell “treasure” in the sand to hide from the pirates… but the only pirate I saw was a weather-beaten plastic one on the front deck of a restaurant… maybe the pirates are seasonal too.

We spent hours enjoying the beaches entirely to ourselves, and had our pick of the very best seashells each morning. I’ve got buckets of shells soaking in bleach now, hopefully enough to make a shell wreath. I ALSO have a bucket of bleach way out in the barn- where we are soaking 2 very stinky starfish we found washed ashore. Those were quite a pleasant surprise for my husband- you can imagine how thrilled he was when I asked him to deal with that particular package. Hopefully he can manage a way to hang them to dry away from all the stray cats. Speaking of which, Ocracoke is curiously filled with cats. We saw dozens of them as we explored the island. Cats and cemetaries tiny little graveyards strewn about, each with just a handful of residents.

I also spent a lot of quiet time (and there is a lot of quiet time on an island that depends on a ferry to get on or off) trying to make some decisions about my spring chicken raising project. Pretty sure I have settled on a design for the coop- a 4×6 style with a fenced in area with a roof connected for pasture area. I fear we have too many loose dogs and coyotes in our neighborhood to let the chickens totally free range. I will either try to let them range about when I am home and can keep an eye on them, or may go with a chicken tractor to move them around the yard. Early in the mornings I could hear roosters crowing, but couldn’t find many coops visible on the island.


Finally, I think I settled on breeds. I’ve always wanted to raise some American Heritage breeds, but since this is my first go-round I am a little wary of investing heavily into specialized birds.  My plan is to order some Plymouth Barred Rocks and some Buff Orpingtons, and I’m still considering whether to get a few Buckeyes as well.  The Buckeye is what I had originally wanted to raise, and I finally found a place where I can order just a few to start with.  I’m trying to stick with cold-hardy birds with reputations as good layers- so far these breeds sound ideal.

Barred Rock

Barred Rock

Buff Orpington

Buckeye

Buckeye

Next up, I have to figure out when to order these little chicks and plan for their arrival date.  It  NORMALLY is pretty cold up here into May, but this winter has been totally bizarre and not nearly as cold as normal so I’m not sure what to expect for spring.  I think I’m still going to shoot for a late May arrival, or possibly early June. That should give us plenty of time to get the coop built.  Which means I also need to decide on a location for the coop.  I haven’t really any idea how close or far away from the house I want these girls to be- far enough to not be smelly, but near enough to run out and do chores quickly, and maybe even let the kids go gather the eggs.  Yeah, I guess location is the next thing to settle upon.


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