Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Chicken Eggs’

The Great Egg Hunt

I have some devastating news…….

A Symphony in Eggs

A Symphony in Eggs

 

Last Sunday, I used the last of the eggs…..we are egg-less!!   This is traaaaaaagiccccc!!  We have not been without eggs from our hens since they started laying four years ago.  How did this happen??

November 2015

There are a number of factors working here that could possibly be affecting our lack of eggs….

  • most of my hens are over three years old
  • the hours of daylight has decreased by about six hours from the height of our lighted hours.  Conservatively, during the summer, we have light in the Pacific NW from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  This time of year, light shines upon us from about 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m (and that will shorten.)  Light drastically affects egg production.
  • the hen house and free range acres are in a different location this year….more rustic, less domestic…maybe they have more of a wild-hen mindset this year??  LOL
  • they are laying somewhere other than their nesting boxes (highly likely, for some, but I don’t think it would be 100% across the flock)
  • the predator that attacked the hen house this summer, knows that the eggs are there and takes the opportunity to grab them when the hen’s door is open for the day??
  • they miss me!!!  Hahahaha!!  Since the puppy was born, I haven’t spent much time with them….Tony has taken over the hen house duties for a couple of months.
Those are some beautiful girls!!

Those are some beautiful girls!!

The fact is, I have about 4 birds that are 2 yrs or younger.  Even with the lack of light, I should be getting at least 1 or 2 eggs every other day….so, we have an egg mystery….

November 2016

What dug this hole?? Is this a den??

I removed the shading, and then sharpened this photo to try and get the interior of the hole to show.

I removed the shading, and then sharpened this photo to try and get the interior of the hole to show.

….coupled with the mystery of this dug out hole!!  What dug up this hornet’s nest??  Did they make a den out of this hole?  We set up our field camera to see if something comes and goes from this hole….unfortunately, the camera is apparently malfunctioning because it took no pictures over the three days it was set up…it would have taken something, even movement from the wind, if it were working properly.

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Oh well….everyone needs a good mystery, but when you mess with my eggs….you’ve gone too far!!!  So I think step one will be to add a few hours of artificial light to the hen house to stimulate egg laying and see if that helps.  The Holidays are upon us…..I have no eggs….it is baking season!!  UGGGHHH…..that light is going in today…..I just cannot bring myself to buy a carton of eggs.  Oh no…..I think I’ve become an “egg-snob!!”

Ohhhhh.....the good old days!! October 2014

Ohhhhh…..the good old days!! October 2014

Thank you for visiting the homestead today.  I hope you have an amazing Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

And the Sun Emerges

Has it truly been almost a month since I have written on this blog?   Just about every day I think, “I’ve got to write about that,” and then I get distracted with life.  That being said,  you can catch up with us a bit on http://haveadanehilldanes.com as we walk through our days analyzing every droopy face, every burp, every ….. well, go check it out …. there may be new additions to the family soon.

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Okay, so where do I begin?  Winter is quickly fading into spring out here in the Pacific Northwest….really quickly.  The goats are getting “itchy”, literally, to loose their fluffy, winter coats.  They are rubbing on trees, scratching their backs and sides with their horns,  and enjoying laying down under the mid-winter sun breaks.

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The hens went into an egg shut-down this year, and virtually stopped laying.  Since late October, we have only gotten 1 – 2 eggs every couple of days….within the past two weeks….production has increased, and we are now up to 3 – 4 eggs per day!  Thank you increased daylight…with morning and evening combined, I think we are up to almost two more hours of light in the day than we were in the deep dark of late fall-early winter.

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My two young hens have even started their egg laying careers……

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…..these tiny eggs are perfect when you want to make a 1/3 of a cookie recipe or something.  Who would want to only make a 1/3 of a cookie recipe, you may ask….well it’s kind of like buying already made refrigerator cookie dough, and only cooking part of the package….but I wouldn’t know about that, because I have these little eggs and I just make 1/3 of  the recipe. HA!

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One of my young layers…her name is, Summer….she is very friendly thanks to my niece, Justine, who spent a lot of time holding her, as a young hatchling, this summer…and quite fittingly, she named her, Summer!  🙂

Speaking of recipes, I’m on a mission to “lighten” our lives a bit.  At this point, I’m not overzealous, but just making changes where I can.  I’d like to share with you this recipe I made for the Super Bowl….it is a lightened up version of Spinach-Artichoke Dip…

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….it was full of flavor.  It did feel lighter in texture, not as creamy, but totally okay because the flavor was there…..honestly, I did miss the creaminess a little, but I can live with that.  Here is the link to the recipe…. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/09/hot-spinach-and-artichoke-dip.html

Thank you for visiting the farm today after our long absence.  We hope you have a most wonderful day.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#lighterversionofspinachartichokedip  #spinachartichokedipwithgreekyogurt

An Incredible Find

Have you ever seen the artistry in the routine? Birds nest….an incredible, yet routine event in their lives…

The Muppets hatching.

The Muppets hatching.

Chickens do not really build a nest, they find a cozy, quiet spot. Many of the flock will then lay their eggs in that same location, resulting in this…

Six nesting boxes....this one was the hot spot today!!

Six nesting boxes….this one was the hot spot today!!

….that was all from one morning. Where is the artistry in a nesting box full of eggs? If you look closely, each egg is very different…size, shape, color, decorative “freckles”…they are each very unique….

July 2014

That's one big egg!!!

That’s one big egg!!!

That being said, I think the true artists reveal themselves every spring with the creation of an incredible piece of workmanship. The structure is amazing, and the question that usually arises in me every time I, happily, encounter one of these delicate yet strong, masterpieces of construction is …. “How did the bird build this without the use of hands?” You will not believe the incredibly gorgeous piece of true art that I am so blessed to have come upon while hiking with my Great Dane, Penni.
September 2014

It must have blown out from the trees this past week…. are you ready…..

Look at this closely...

Look at this closely…

So completely incredible...

So completely incredible…

Look at this closely…imagine the time it took to build. The supplies used were ingenious…feathers from the chickens supply softness, hair from the mane or tail of our neighbor’s horses provide structure, and a little peacock feather for a splash of color….completely, insanely gorgeous!!!

September 2014

By the size of it, my guess is a hummingbird nest. Truly amazing…

September 2014

I feel like it is truly a privilege to have found this little beauty, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you!!

Thank you for taking a walk with me this morning, I hope this little gem of the forest will help to make your day just a bit more special.

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Oh, Did I Tell You…

It seems like forever since I have sat down to write. It is that time of year. Mid-August usually demands a certain amount of sweat-equity…not only from the summer heat,

Oregon's best kept secret....

Oregon’s best kept secret….

but also from the demands of the oh-so-soft-spoken ripening garden. It has been dry, really dry.

The ground is so dry.

The ground is so dry.

Everything, is feeling thirsty from the lack of those wet, drippy things that fall from the sky. It takes a bit of an extra effort to keep the flock in fresh water (they get overheated very easily), to maximize the benefit of the water given to the garden, to water young fruit, nut, and Sequoia trees one by one by the bucketful, while keeping a balance with the water level in our holding tank. That tank holds water from our well…which in turn, waters this family.

"Yeah, I'm guarding the water!"

“Yeah, I’m guarding the water!”

In spite of water rationing for the garden, there is plentiful ripening. Harvesting of more than just a couple of tomatoes here…a pepper there…has begun! We are starting to enjoy the “fruits of our labor”, especially in the berry department. Wild blackberries are ripening at break-neck speed, and my little strawberries are right behind them. When you pick them at that juicy, sweet ripened stage from the vine, they don’t last long. The upshot of that is turning this…..

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….into this!!!

Making jam...

Making jam…

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

And this….

Bucketful of Blackberries

Bucketful of Blackberries

…into this…

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Oh boy!!!

Oh boy!!!

A little time consuming, but totally worth it!!

Oh, did I tell you….

The newest addition.

The newest addition.

….welcome to the farm little Roni Jr. ….. hatched on my daughter’s half-birthday. Out of six eggs, this is the only one that hatched. After several days, Mama Hen abandoned the nest, and the eggs went bad. The baby is out and about free ranging with the rest of the flock, watching every move Mama makes.

Thank you for sharing the long days of summer on the farm with me!! Hope you are having a wonderful August!

Your friend,
Tami

Of Summer and Chickens

A little chicken humor to start your day…

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
The Chicken says: “Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”
Pig replies: “Hm, maybe, what would we call it?”
The Chicken responds: “How about ‘ham-n-eggs’?”
The Pig thinks for a moment and says: “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”

Here’s something else that I find very humorous….

YES!!!  That's our Benedict!

YES!!! That’s our Benedict!

…Benedict!! Our gentleman rooster kicking back and spending time with mama hen, Chardonnay. She’s been broody lately, but non-committal. She’ll sit for a couple of days, then I find that she has switched nests. I’m fine with that as I really don’t want more chicks right now. I think Benedict misses her!!

With mama hen broody, I don’t think she is laying right now which is totally fine. Out of nine laying hens, eight are very active. I have more eggs than I know what to do with. Here’s a peek into my fridge….

Eggs galore!!!

Eggs galore!!!

…..EGGS, so many EGGS…..they are taking over!! I’m averaging six eggs a day. Once in awhile they all get on the same page, and all eight will give us a beautifully formed gem…

Beautiful golden gems.

Beautiful golden gems.

….with four more hens coming of age (remember the Littles), I’m going to have to open an egg stand at end of the driveway! I’ve read of those farms that will have an “on you honor” system wherein they have a cooler with their eggs, and people just stop and pay for what they take. I may try something like that. I figure, if someone needs to steal a dozen eggs, then they must be really hungry and they can have them for free!!

Speaking of the Littles (aka the Muppets)…..

The Littles

The Littles

…they’re not so little anymore! Can you see the three young roo’s in this bunch? Their plumage is really becoming apparent, yet, at this point, I haven’t heard that tell-tale croaky call that shouts they have come of age. Benedict does do a good bit of chasing them around, so the day of reckoning is close at hand.

Other than that, the flock is basking in the joy of summer. They lay in the sunshine and spread their wings wide, then shuffle, shuffle, shuffle in the dirt allowing themselves a good old fashioned dust bath. In the heat of the afternoon, they find a well developed shade tree, or hang out wherever shade is cast.
June 2014
The flock freely moves about, picking the seeds off the mature grasses, and wait for me to come out with discarded fruit, or leftover corn that may be hanging onto a half way eaten cob. They stay up way past their bedtime, since the sun set after 9:00 pm, and wake up demanding to be let out of the house at 5:15 am every morning. They thoroughly enjoy their remodeled house, and complain loudly when something disrupts their solace. Life is good!

Oh, by the way, they have a new friend who greets them as they enter their house…the first of what will become a collection to garnish the outside perimeter of their home….

June 2014
June 2014

Thanks for taking a walk with me today. Have a great, and wonderful Sunday!!

Tami

“HEY…WHAT WAS THAT CROAKY SOUND COMING FROM THE LITTLES?” Seriously, just right now…..oh boy!!

A Major Remodel

My hens have been talking to me, very clearly. I can hear them, and their requests have not fallen on deaf ears. Okay, before you call a crisis worker, let me explain….

Hey Ma...Can we talk??

Hey Ma…Can we talk??

…chickens have a way of looking at you, an impassioned blinking of their eyes, and a subtle, sweet, higher pitched cooing of sorts that lets you know they have something to say. If you listen, really listen with your eyes, ears, and your heart you can start to understand what they are saying. My chickens were telling me that their home was no longer inviting. Given the addition of the, now-laying four Middles, to the, already six laying Originals,…and four near-future-laying-hens better known as the Littles, three nesting boxes were no longer adequate. The ladies were complaining.

Nesting Boxes

Nesting Boxes

First of all…can you imagine having to wait your turn while needing to lay an egg? I don’t think it’s too comfortable…and neither did they. We had A LOT of complaining going on and rightly so! I drew up the plans, and the remodeling began!

Tony removed the inner wall, which included the nesting boxes, that separated the people area from the chicken area, opening up the entire house…

All opened up...

All opened up…

My idea was to create a tiered nesting box area on the left side, back wall. The bottom level would jut out creating a ladder of sorts for easier access. The top level boxes would sit flush against the wall. My hope in this also was to create a poop protected area underneath the nesting box area for those who might want to snuggle into clean(er) shavings to take a dust bath or just take a nap. I have found that not everyone wants to roost at night, some prefer to nestle in. So, Tony and I…Tony…built three more nesting boxes, and in they went!

Stamp of approval...that's Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

Stamp of approval…that’s Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

We had a constant companion helping with the process….

….she supervised the entire project. Even though she didn’t like the sound of the drill, and complained her way through it…she wouldn’t leave..hahahaha!

After the nesting box area was finished, we started on the rousts. We decided to change out the Douglas Fir limbs to wooden planks. I believe they are happier not having to balance all night, and are resting better. I don’t hear the early morning (like 3:00 in the morning) carrying on anymore…now it starts about 5:30. I think we are all happier!!

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

And here’s the result…..

The first night after the remodel.

The first night after the remodel.

…yes, those are the Littles, now totally integrated within the flock. They are finding their place in the pecking order, and are starting to roost on the boards with the older birds. Harmony in the merge?? Not quite yet achieved…but they are working it out! As for the success of the additional nesting boxes…A LOT less loud complaining from the hens…and MAMA CHARDONNAY IS BACK ON THE NEST!!!!!

Nooooooo!!!! Really NO!!! I replaced the eggs she accumulated…. TEN!!! ….with wooden eggs. She is still nesting and protecting her false clutch as she normally would, and I’m supporting her efforts with extra food, goodies, and water. I’m hoping she will abandon the nest at the point where they should hatch but don’t. She is so adamant on the nest, I didn’t have the heart to take her eggs away and push her off the nest…I hope this will be easier for her. She looks at me, and blinks slowly as she tells me she loves her little brood beneath her. She’s a great Mama…thanks to this big guy…

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

In that vain……our family would like to say…HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!…to any dads who may be visiting the farm today!! We hope you have an awesome day, week, month, and year!! Take care all!!

Tami

WELCOME SPRING!!

WELCOME SPRING!! You’ve been asleep too long!!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Old Man Winter is keeping his finger on the temperature controls a bit longer…we are still waking up to temps in the twenties…28 degrees at 7:00 this morning. The afternoon temps are getting into the high 50’s so we are totally warming up!! Driving around the lower elevations in town, and out to Salem, trees are in various stages of bloom. Daffodils are blooming like crazy in some places, but up on our hill…we are just now seeing the first brave Bulbasaurs (couldn’t resist that…my son grew up as a big Pokemon fan.)

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our young fruit trees that were planted this past fall, are just now starting to swell…sooooooonnnnn to be blossoming!!!

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.


The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!

The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!


"I'm Here," shout the Cherry trees!!

“I’m Here,” shout the Cherry trees!!

It’s great to know that these young trees survived the harsh cold, and unusual large snowfall that hit us in January. These beauties are shouting their presence and eagerly waiting to spring forth into the 2014 growing season. The roadblock in front of them are the freezing temperatures we are still experiencing in the early mornings. There is still “frost on the pumpkins” and cars, and rooftops, and ground. We may still be three weeks out before that ends, meaning, sadly, our garden has to wait awhile longer. Although the Giant Sequoias experienced a little frost burn on their tips, the branches are still green and pliable…WHEW!!! That is good news. On the 300 Douglas Fir saplings…we may have lost half of them due to the big snows. It may not be as bad as it appears, but on numerous saplings, needles come off in our hands…not a good sign. In normal conditions, we would loose many of these trees, one reason why you typically plant so many, but this winter was definitely NOT normal!

Definite signs of spring on the farm…starting with our most welcomed tenant, GLORIA!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

The first dandelions of the season!  My flock is very happy!!

The first dandelions of the season! My flock is very happy!!

We've hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

We’ve hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

I know it's spring and not summer 'cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

I know it’s spring and not summer ’cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

The ultimate of ULTIMATES!! The frosting on the cake! The sure sign that spring has sprung…..
Welcome to the farm…to havadanehill….WELCOME THE MUPPETS!! First one hatched, Kermit…March 21, 2014…

Welcome little Kermit!!!

Welcome little Kermit!!!

…three more hatched on March 22nd…Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf (after the two old guys who sit in the Muppets Theater Balcony)…

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

……I could feel three more eggs were cracked under Mama hen yesterday…she hasn’t shown me the new little ones yet today, so I’m not sure how many more have hatched…but I will update soon! She had 10 eggs under her before hatching started!

Premature Chick Hatch

When does life begin??…the age-old question. I believe that life begins at conception, for many reasons…and I believe the Bible tells us this. So what does that mean for chicken eggs? Given the right heat and humidity, a fertilized egg develops into a chick…but, put them in the fridge, they look and act like any other egg. Seems to me it is safe to believe that in a fertilized chicken egg, once it starts developing, life has begun. Little Austin Healey is the strongest example of this…EVER!!! She fought to stay alive in her shell during extreme single digit cold temperatures…Chardonnay was on and off the nest in the beginning because she kept getting confused which nest was hers. She warmed, she cooled, she warmed, she cooled, she was late in hatching, and when she finally did hatch……..

Update on little Austin HealeyChickface
Very soon after her hatching, it became apparent that there was something different…wrong with little Austin Healey. Trying as hard as she could, she was not even close to being able to stand….she crawled on her belly, and her legs splayed out to the sides. She was so determined, she never gave up…so neither would I. I promised Austin that I wouldn’t give up on her. As I watched her, it seemed that she had hatched prematurely even though she had been in nest for over 21 days…is that even possible…is it possible for a chick to start and completely hatch from an egg prematurely, on her own?? I am convinced that it is. Here’s Austin’s story since the hatch….

Austin’s legs had no tone, her feet looked almost as if the bones had not finished developing. They would curl into a “fist” whenever she tried to use them. She was so less developed than the chick, Honda, who had hatched just 29 hours before her. The pictures really show the extreme differences between these two.

Hatched just 29 hours apart...big difference!

Hatched just 29 hours apart…big difference!

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

20 hours after hatch...Austin is having a tough time.

20 hours after hatch…Austin is having a tough time.

Obviously, Austin needed to be given a chance to develop and grow stronger, so she was separated from the young flock. Since there was such a big gap between these last two chicks and the others, I took Honda out of the brood (she was getting kicked around a bit) she and Austin became roommates. They had each other to cuddle for warmth, and I believe that Honda was a great example for Austin to follow as she struggled to stand.

Austin fought hard. She crawled on her belly, I removed the pine shavings from her little brooder and replaced it with a rubber matted rug for traction. I fed her sugar water until she could start eating chicken starter mush. Her legs continued to splay to the sides…I found this idea about tethering her legs together with vet wrap… http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/spraddle-leg-in-baby-chicks-what-is-it.html So, I tethered her legs…

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

I so hope this works!

I so hope this works!

There is so much that I could say about our little Austin Healey. She is and was such a fighter. She tried and wanted to stand so badly. We worked together…every time I held her up to eat, I positioned her feet and body correctly so that she was upright, and uncurled. Everyday, Austin got just a little bit stronger. Honda moved back into the main brooder leaving Austin a little lonely…so we gave her a friend..

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Austin worked hard on her physical therapy, holding her body up, with my support, working the muscles in her legs. Then one day, her legs stayed forward, underneath her…the next day she was moving around in a squatting position…the next day she wobbly, wobbly stood mostly straight…the next day, she stood up and walked upright….the next day she gained strength and coordination…the next day, she met her mama, Chardonnay, for the first time. She spent the day, she spent the night…she survived both. She eats and drinks with the brood, she cuddles under the heat lamp with her family, and hides under her mama’s wings. She is a fighter…she is AWESOME….she is home!!

Way to go little Austin!!

Catching A Hatching

I have no words to say that would add to what the video already says….except maybe two things….my Great Dane, Penni, totally believes that all chick babies belong to her…and GOD IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!! I’ve never seen a complete hatching before, and I hope that the experience never grows old….

Have a GREAT Day everyone!!

Three Plus Four = Ten??

I’ve never been that great in math….can you tell? My dilemma with the finite solution of 7 to the equation in the title, doesn’t lend to the possibility of the three waiting in the wings…so to speak. Technically, 3 + 4 does = 7…but I think it is more fun to ponder the possibility of 10….because right now, the possibility does exist!!

The last time I updated on our Christmas brood, we had three hatchlings….now there are SEVEN!!! They seem to be hatching a day apart from each other. One chick, #6 – or better known as William Jr. (long story there), had a difficult time hatching. I got a bit anxious and got involved a little too much with the process by breaking the shell, leaving unnatural break-lines, and weaknesses to the shell.

Cracked egg...I started to help the process.

Cracked egg…I started to help the process.


I was getting over anxious, it had been a couple of hours, so I chipped away a little more of the shell

I was getting over anxious, it had been a couple of hours, so I chipped away a little more of the shell


A couple of hours later, I felt the chick was struggling, I had broken the shell too much, and Chardonnay was pecking at the baby. I took it inside to finish hatching.

A couple of hours later, I felt the chick was struggling, I had broken the shell too much, and Chardonnay was pecking at the baby. I took it inside to finish hatching.

After a short time, Chardonnay sensed something wrong, and started pecking at the exposed chick, not the shell. At this point I removed the hatchling from the nest, and brought her inside the house. We did not yet have an incubator so I made a warm area underneath my bathroom sink utilizing a lamp, a cup of water for humidity (my husband’s idea), and a heating pad underneath the box wherein I placed the shell.

Warm area under the sink to help William Jr. finish hatching.

Warm area under the sink to help William Jr. finish hatching.

If this little one survived, GREAT, if not, at least we gave it a chance. Chardonnay was not going to be so nurturing. After a couple of hours, my daughter, Roni, checked on William Jr….he (hopefully a hen not a rooster) had hatched and looked pretty weak.

Within minutes, like maybe a half an hour, it was obvious that this chick was strong and completely normal!! I then took it out to Chardonnay…here is what happened next…..

That night, one more egg hatched under Chardonnay, leaving the count of four yet to hatch. Mama hen became so busy with her brood, that she started leaving the nest for longer periods of time. She would allow the eggs to cool down a lot, and with the temperatures as they have been, I was afraid that these eggs wouldn’t get a chance to hatch if they were, in fact, viable. We gathered the four and put them in the incubator. Yesterday, December 27th, the first of the four hatched at about 5 P.M. At about 8:30 P.M. I brought the chick to Chardonnay. She was sitting on her nest…all the chicks were under her. I set this little one down in front of her, she looked sideways at it..cooed, lifted her breast, and the little one scooted right under her!! Checking this morning…that 14 hour old chick is doing GREAT…swallowed some water as I dipped her beak into the water dish, and ran around with the brood pecking at food that Chardonnay kicks up for them. I’m a happy Chicken Mama!!

BTW, another egg in the incubator is currently chirping….within the next few hours, we should have # 8!!!

The Three Amigos

Status Update on our 2013 Christmas Season Hatchlings….

Over the course of four days, our brood of seven hens and one rooster grew by three…you all welcomed, Loa Ri-dah, a few days ago (see previous post)…today I’d like to introduce you to Jag,

Top - Little "VW", to the left - 1st hatched "Loa Ri-dah", to the right - Jag

Top – Little “VW”, to the left – 1st hatched “Loa Ri-dah”, to the right – Jag

and sweet little, pure yellow VW, named after my daughter, Roni’s, little yellow bug.

Jag and Loa Ri-dah are Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red crosses…while VW, at this point, looks like a pure Buff Orpington whose parents can only be Claudio (hen) and our gentleman rooster, Benedict….who by the way…is “DA MAN!!!”

If you remember, Chardonnay has been sitting on 14 eggs, she started with 7 and added 7 as that first week went on. Roni and I decided to candle the remaining eggs in the nest to get an idea of things to come, and if it seemed that there were more viable eggs. Due to the difference in time, it is hard to gauge when to take the eggs away and let Mama just go about raising the 3 that hatched. Candling is really cool! I hadn’t ever done this before, so I was quite amazed. Out of the 11 remaining eggs, 4 had not formed, but 7 had. Within each of those 7 eggs was a definite air pocket, and complete blackness indicating the growth of a chick.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.


This egg is very full...close to hatching??

This egg is very full…close to hatching??

Whether or not the eggs are still viable at this point, only time will tell…we have a few more days for the next hatching window (actually from today through Christmas.) In the meantime, Chardonnay is loving on her babies…she is such a good Mama Hen! In the cold of winter, she provides a consistent place of warmth, and her babies know it.

Staying warm with Mama

Staying warm with Mama

Speaking of the cold, it has been a challenge. I am using long throw rugs to block drafts from the people door that leads from the main chicken room into the now revised people/brooder room. I’m using this same method for the people door that leads outdoors. By doing this, using a heat lamp, and an abundance of pine wood shavings, I think our little family is keeping warm and toasty. Chardonnay’s nest is in a bit of a covey not directly in line with the heat lamp, keeping it at a more moderate temperature for Mama. She seems to be thriving there.

I have been amazed at this entire process of our broody hen, however, one event holds a high amount of respect. Mama had been on the nest for a few days. I went in to check on the family, and found that she was off the nest…..and the eggs (11 at that point) had been moved…completely moved from her nesting area. Chardonnay moved her eggs directly under the heat lamp;

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.


she and the babies were sitting away from them. I scratched my head thinking…”Maybe she feels it’s time to abandon the nest?” I decided to totally just clean her nesting area with new shavings and see if that made a difference. I went away for a little while, and lo and behold, when I returned, the eggs were back in their proper place, and Mama was back on the nest! UNBELIEVABLE! That was completely AWESOME…but then again, my little Chardonnay is completely AWESOME!!!

DAY 21

Just a quick, quick post……

Yesterday broody, mama hen, Chardonnay, let me check out her batch of eggs. Besides growling and raising her rear, she has been such a nice hen during this process. She has never tried biting or pecking at me when I approach her, and she lets me pet her after her initial growl. Maybe it is because I bring her goodies like worms, spinach, water and cracked corn for the frigid evenings? I have been pampering her a bit, but she totally deserves it. Imagine sitting on 14 eggs for 21 days…..that’s right today is day
twentyone

Twenty-one days that Chardonnay has been on the nest…today may be the day she hatches one or some baby chicks!!!!! Okay so here is the real exciting part………..

I stuck my hand underneath Chardonnay yesterday, and just held it there for awhile…and then I felt it……..MOVEMENT!!!! No kidding, I know it wasn’t my imagination….there was like a quivering movement in at least two eggs that I had my hand on!!! So right now, I am confident that there is life in some of those eggs, and today, may be the day for little ones that look like these…

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

Freezing Chicken Fix

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees...brrrrr

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees…brrrrr

I think it is safe to say that the late, fall weather has arrived! I still find it fascinating when I leave for work and puddles are frozen…then when I return, those puddles are still frozen. Two days later, still frozen…obviously these puddles are shaded throughout most of the day, but I’m still amazed. In the Bay Area, it is a rare event when it gets cold enough to freeze a puddle, and even more rare for it to stay frozen the length of a day. I don’t think the beauty that the cold brings will ever get old for me. Since we now live at a higher elevation in the foothills surrounding our town, our temps can be 5 – 10 degrees different than what the phone weather apps, like the one above, display. Sometimes I will call down to my Mom who lives in town when it is snowing…we may be getting a bunch, while in town it is more of a slushy rain.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

With the onset of the colder weather, my thoughts ran to the chickens. I know they wear their own down filled “jacket”, but I worried that their house wasn’t going to be warm enough through the night. We still had some issues with drafts, which, I have learned through my blogger friends of whom I hang on their experienced wisdom, is bad, bad, bad for chickens. That first cold/rainy/windy night about 3 weeks ago, I kept waking up thinking about my freezing birds. I apologized to them as they stepped out onto the wet ground of the morning, fluffing their feathers and cackling at me (do chickens swear, cause I’m sure they were…) Needless to say, when I got home from work, I hopped into action. I can’t have a bunch of angry hens and a rooster on my hands…not since they’re producing these….yes, that’s one day’s collection.

Seven chickens, seven eggs...life is good!

Seven chickens, seven eggs…life is good!


Everyday, we’re collecting 6 or 7 beautiful eggs…from 7 hens. It has definitely helped with my dog food bill. 🙂

I just really love our chickens, I don’t want to think that they are cold or can’t get out of the rain. #1 – I decided that they needed a cabana that would give them cover as they stepped out of their house. I took the paneled wire fencing from around the garden, and with the help of my son, set up a three sided frame, attaching it to the chicken house for stability.

They already like it!

They already like it!


Looks like a good space.

Looks like a good space.


At this point, then, I was alone with the rest of the design and build of the cabana. We always seem to have a supply of plastic tarps, so I threw some of these over and attached them to the wood framing with a heavy duty staple hammer. This was the first level of protection against the winds that come over the mountains behind us and funnel through on their way into the valley.
First level of protection, insulating against the wind.

First level of protection, insulating against the wind.


I then found a ground tarp that we used underneath our tent for camping. I hesitated on the thought of punching holes with the staples through this tarp, but I figured our flock was more important than a piece of plastic. This tarp was large enough to provide protection from the rain. It was a great fit, then I realized that I had to pitch the roof-line or rain would just accumulate on top and cause all sorts of problems. On my hunt for a solution, I found items like a stand alone wire shelving unit, boards, and boxes that as I lifted, shoved, and somehow moved around, creating a pitch…we had a pitched roof. I stretched the tarp tightly, and tacked it down to the wooden frame. I was stoked! It really came together! As I stood back to take pictures to send to hubby who was away on business, I realized that as I created the roof pitch, the tarp had shifted…leaving the wind/weather side of the cabana shorter than the other side. UUUUGGGGHHHHH!..it was that Charlie Brown moment….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ-t4DhAfrs

It ain't purty, but it works!

It ain’t purty, but it works!

I wasn’t about to go through and remove all the staples, so I used Shoe Goo on the seams of the white tarp, and it seems to work just fine. It’s quite cozy, and the chickens really seem to like it. With the addition of a heated water bowl to keep the water from freezing, I think they’re doing pretty well! I’m glad I liked to build forts as a kid…and with my kids when they were younger…I think that helped!

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry...that's their heated water bowl.

Cozy and dry…that’s their heated water bowl.

#2 – I needed to fix the drafts and provide some sort of “insulation” since their house had none. As you can see in the previous pictures, I tacked on some large, flattened, cardboard boxes to add a line of insulation on the outside areas corresponding to their indoor roosting branches. Then hunting around the shop, I found some cans of foam insulation….PERFECT!! Being afraid that the birds might be attracted to the yellow, hardened foam, I insulated from the outside. It’s not that pretty, but it completely cuts that draft from those areas I applied it. Basically, I just followed the gap lines between the boards, trying to keep a straight line..haha.

Can you see what's roosting behind the windows?

Can you see what’s roosting behind the windows?


Canned Foam Insulation 2

By the time I finished, it was getting quite dark, but I couldn’t let them go one more night in the cold. The result is that the flock is happy, I’m happy, my dogs are happy because of all the eggs they get to eat…all is well, and I’m not waking up thinking about freezing chickens.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

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