Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Chicken House’

Hot Weather and Predators

Summer, the real heat of summer arrived in the Pacific Northwest this week.    Temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s permeated the State of Oregon bringing with it skies……..

August 2016

Our Oregon sky!!

…..as blue as any sky you’ve every imagined.  Thankfully, this summer, there has not been any large fires proximally close enough to cause smokey air, or dingy skies.  The air has been clean, warm….well, hot….and easy breathe.  It feels good, actually, as the humidity that can sometimes accompany the heat, is really nonexistent this time of year.  Well, let me clarify that….sitting, sitting in the heat feels good….working out in it beats you down pretty quickly.  This really has been a lovely summer.

August 2016

Okay….don’t laugh at my scrawny watermelon…..hahahaha!!

Something else arrived on the homestead this week…..something less desirable, something lying in wait, opportunistic in nature, watchful and observant….waiting for a chance.  I let my guard down, and it turned it’s instinct into an opportunity…and, without hesitation, ran with it.  The chicken house was the intended target…..cunningly, or more like a rushing train, “It”, the predator, took advantage of my unwarranted trustfulness in what I had not yet experienced…a predator had broken into the chicken house.

June 2016

See the screen….these guys ripped that screen one day when they roagly entered the, Chickens Only, yard. We keep the chicken feed in this area…the goats L-O-V-E chicken feed!! See the empty feeder on the ground…UGGHH!!

Due to the heat, I had opened that little window, from the picture above, on the chicken house to create a little air flow through the night.  One larger window we leave open in the summer, but it is covered by mesh wire (not a window screen.)  This window had a screen, however,  it had been torn away…..so no screen, no wire mesh.  I had placed a fan in the window and held it in place by wooden dowels, thinking the sound of the fan and the supporting dowel structure would keep predators at bay.  It had worked for numerous nights, but not that night.

March 2016

I heard commotion from the flock, it was about 2:30 a.m.  It woke me up.  The flock was upset.  Sometimes, Benedict, our rooster will call out in the middle of the night….that is not an unusual sound.  The cackling that was going on that night, was not that sound.  Half asleep, I got up, and listened….Penni, my Great Dane, barked just a single bark…..I was in the process of thinking, “Should I go out there?” …. I did not instinctually run out in my jammies and bare feet ….. I listened, and the sound rescinded.  I listened a while longer, and all was quiet.

I had already cleaned up here a bit before snapping this shot.

I had already cleaned up here a bit before snapping this shot. Notice the struggle in the sand. 😦

Morning chores revealed the struggle my birds went through that night.  The first clue was noticing that I did not see one hen or rooster, anywhere.  Seeing the open window, no fan, or dowels remained within the open space.  Opening the door of the chicken house….there were feathers…there were many feathers.  In the corner of the droppings tray lay the body of a Rhode Island Red hen.   My heart sank.  I checked her legs…..she did not have a red band so I knew it was not Chardonnay, our #1 broody hen for hatching chicks.  Chardonnay is a sweet, sweet hen.  I was happy to see that.  So, this meant it was either, Don Pedro, or Chablis (I only had three true Rhode Island Reds at that point.)  Her head and neck were gone…the rest of her body untouched, but still I knew….this was Don Pedro.

Don Pedro....hen in the foremost of the picture.

Don Pedro….hen in the foremost of the picture.

Don Pedro was the lead hen of the flock….she ruled, second only to Benedict.  Sometimes she ruled with an iron beak, but one thing is for sure, she was respected among the other hens.  We will miss, Don Pedro!!  She had the largest, floppy comb of the hens, and I could always tell which of the hens were her actual offspring…they were the ones with the larger floppy combs…but none of them as grand has hers.  RIP, Don Pedro.

Foot print in the sand

Foot print in the sand

 

It seems that this was probably the work of a racoon.  There were suttle foot prints among the signs of the struggle within the sand of the droppings tray.  Also, a Google search told me that if just the head and neck are missing, the predator is either a mink, a racoon, a hawk or an owl.  I’m pretty confident I can eliminate all three except the raccoon…I don’t think we have mink up here…I’m not sure….but I’m pretty sure an owl or a hawk would not enter the hen house through a partially blocked small 2 x 2 window.

A claw mark, I think.

A claw mark, I think.

Needless to say that window will remained closed until I put a wire mesh screen over it.  On a good note, when the flock emerged from their hiding place, we found that only the one hen was taken from us that night.  It could have been so much worse.

Don Pedro showing off her personality as a young chick.

Don Pedro showing off her personality as a young chick.

Don Pedro….she was quite a character!!  Hahahaha!!  I’m glad I knew this funny, demanding hen!

Happier news on the homestead…..our Great Dane, Penni, has a confirmed pregnancy!!  Puppies due Sept. 21, 2016.  Check out http://www.haveadanehilldanes.com

Thank you for visiting today!!  Have a wonderful Sunday, and an awesome week!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#racoonattacksonchickens  #whatanimalwillonlyeattheheadandneckoffachickenandleavethebody  #predatorsagainstchickens

 

Creepy Crawlies….YUCK!

Kermit May 2015

Less than a day after the hatching of chick number two, Kermit, left the nesting box.  She moved herself and both chicks down to the larger brooder area, leaving five eggs behind.  I have seen this happen with Chardonnay, but normally that took a good four days, or so, before she totally let the eggs go cold.  This move was definitely early, but this was her first brood, so I chalked it up to inexperience….until…….

……WAIT…….WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT!!!!

As I was reaching down to move the eggs back under, Kermit, hoping she would hatch one or two more….I paused…..looked….what’s on the eggs?  Tiny, tiny little specks…and they were moving!!  I looked at my hand…tiny, tiny little specks were moving on hand, on my shirt sleeve, both my hands….WHAT WAS GOING ON??!!!

MITES!!!  Oh my gosh!!  It was so gross.  I have never had mites, at least I have never seen evidence of mites, on or around my birds.  What was I supposed to do???  I remembered the goat rancher saying to get diatomaceous earth (DE) to powder the goats if they got itchy….in other words, fleas, ticks, etc.  I had some…..I ran to the shop.

web_red-lake-diatomaceous-earth

By this time I was feeling things crawling on me….on my face and in my hair.  KEEP CALM!!!  I put on gloves, and a heavy duty mask….I was already wearing glasses so I thought that would suffice for eye protection….put a bunch of this fine powder into a bucket and ran back to the hen house.  I doused the nest, the brooder area, and even mama hen, Kermit.

May 2015

There was no evidence of the creepy crawlies on any of the eggs laid that day, but I wasn’t taking any chances….everything got dusted….every nesting box, every roosting board, window eaves, and the entirety of the floor of the hen house.  The place went from a pine, wood board color to grey.  I left a good amount on the roosting boards so that the hens, and Benedict would be laying in it as they roosted for the night.  Then I went out to their usual dusting spots, and dusted those areas.

May 2015

I dusted the goats…for good measure.  I used the residual dust on my gloves to run my hands over Penni and give her a light dusting, I dusted my clothes….then….oh gosh…I can’t believe I’m admitting this…..I very, very, lightly dusted my hair.

OH MY GOSH!!!!  SO GROSS!!!  I could feel the creepy crawlies on my scalp….. BLEH!!!!

I left it on for about fifteen minutes, then showered.  They critters were gone, which gave me good hope for the hen house.

That night, however, I didn’t sleep well.  My mind was all about having to clean up the chicken house, and having bugs crawling on me.  Thankfully, after leaving the place thoroughly dusted for three days, when I did clean it from top to bottom this weekend, not one creepy crawly was felt, or found on me, or anywhere else.

May 2015

OMGOSH!!  I don’t know what caused this to happen.  I’ve never had mites in my flock!!  There are two things that I suspect…I used straw as bedding the last couple of months;  I normally use pine shavings.  Straw, apparently, has hollow spaces perfect for little mites to thrive and populate…ok…back to shavings we go!!!  Secondly, mites are spread by other birds…and the other birds hanging around ALOT right now are my neighbor’s peafowl (two peacocks and a peahen), the Canadian Geese have gone.

 

May 2015

May 2015

In the meantime…this little beauty hatched in the incubator….

May 2015

…..and is running around with Mama Kermit…and his siblings…

Kermit and the Brood May 2015 IMG_9779

All is well!!!

Thanks for visiting today….no itchies for you!!  Hahaha.

Have a great evening, afternoon, or morning (depending on when you’re reading this!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

The Littlest Hen

The morning was filled with the warmth of summer in late July. Anticipating the freshness of the day, the flock was noisy, calling for their freedom. I pulled opened their door, and quickly, hens rambled outside. Opening the “people” door, I heard that familiar little sound. Although, somewhat muffled, it was undeniable. Peering into the brooder, my eyes landed on the source of the high pitched “peep peep peeep”……

July 2014

…she would have been easy to miss, as she quickly hid in the warmth of Mama Chardonnay’s wings. Out of seven eggs, she was the only one to hatch.

August 2014

The baby chick quickly grew, and became her mama hen’s little shadow. Chardonnay shared all of her food with the chick, always allowing her to eat first. She has always been such a good Mama Hen.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

She grew, and grew.

She grew, and grew.


Corn has always been one of her most favorite things.

Free ranging everyday, she diligently followed Chardonnay, listening, watching, imitating, and learning. She became well integrated into the flock, and was rarely chased or pecked at by the older hens.

September 2014

As is the danger of growing up in the middle of a farm – forest, predators are a real threat when feathers cover your body. The flock works hard to safeguard themselves against these threats, and they do very well. Sometimes their efforts, and our efforts are not enough. Something attacked our littlest hen.

The undeniable evidence.

The undeniable evidence.

I found the evidence yesterday morning…I’m not sure if it happened Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Usually, I count the flock to make sure everyone made it into their house for the night…I didn’t do that Saturday night. I don’t remember specifically seeing her come out of their house on Sunday morning, but nothing alerted my conscious thoughts to her absence. In any case, she is gone…I wish I knew what got her!

It’s that circle of life thing. The flock knew it and were on high alert all day, hiding underneath things..running from cover to cover to change locations. They felt the loss, and the danger. This is the life of a free ranging chicken. There are real dangers, and in spite of that, there is real freedom….and sometimes, if I catch it just right, I think I can see them smiling!

Sorry little girl!!

Sorry little girl!!

There are definite life lessons that occur in nature, look for them, they’re there.

Thanks for walking through nature with me today.

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

29 Hours on the Farm

I’ve come to realize that my life is all about the chickens…and of course Sir Benedict.

October 2014

They tell me, under no uncertain terms, when to wake up. On those rare mornings that I have not gotten out of bed before sunrise, Benedict loudly calls from his high roost, and the hens squawk and complain….and poop…everywhere. Since I clean their roosts, nesting boxes, and platforms in front of their nesting boxes every morning…it’s a good idea to get them out just as the sunlight crests the darkness. I fudge this timing, just a little on the weekends, but still need to get out there before the hens have need for their time of privacy.

No more rooms at the Inn!!

This flock dictates how late I can stay out at night…somebody has to close the door to the hen house after dark!! Predators in the forest = a definite need for security.

Moonlit Night Oct. 2014

The flock and I have a symbiotic relationship…..they poop…I pick it up. They eat…I buy more food. They get blown by the wind….I cover up the drafts…. (this will be the last time I do this….more on that in my next post.)

The UPS guy told me that that was the most "Red Neck" chicken coop he's ever seen...hahahaha!

The UPS guy told me that that was the most “Red Neck” chicken coop he’s ever seen…hahahaha!

…..they poop…I pick it up (yes, I said that twice…I spend a lot of time picking up chicken poop!) My flock free range. They follow their natural food sources, and always end up back in their house at night. Sometimes that means this……

Hey, get off the porch...that water is for the dogs!!

Hey, get off the porch…that water is for the dogs!!

….and this…..

Seriously...that is chicken poop...That's ridiculous!!!

Seriously…that is chicken poop…That’s ridiculous!!!

….so, I follow them around picking up their…not so golden surprises. In the end, I believe the flock is healthier (I know we are!) and happier.

If you have 41 seconds….take a look at our little video, 29 Hours on the Farm , …. this is the reason I let this flock run my life ….

….next stop….well, we’re looking at goats (any ideas?), but I think I need a trip to Disneyland first!!! I’ve definitely got the bug!!

Thank you, for visiting the farm this morning!! Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Nope, Not Moulting

You may remember this 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.)

….big daddy, Benedict….our gentleman rooster. Always polite, never asking of his hens without the traditional dance. He doesn’t eat of the discarded kitchen goodies until his family has had the chance to partake. This boy keeps his eye on the sky and warns the flock of any impending dangers…Yes, he is the stud of the farm.

The past couple of months, Benedict has become somewhat of a bully to a few select hens. Oddly enough, these are hens of his roo-hood…the full Rhode Island Reds, all of them…except mama hen, Chardonnay. He will literally chase them down, not necessarily to mate, but often times just to, well…stand on them. Really, at this point, I know the difference..hahaha! Their backs are bare, or in various stages of feather regrowth.

Poor little Reisling's bare back...FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

Poor little Reisling’s bare back…FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

I’ve read about this. Their feather loss is not due to molting, there are even thick wing feathers that have been broken off, not pulled out. And I’ve witnessed it…I’ve seen the intentional chase..mount..stand, just standing, no rooster duties going on. Sometimes, Claudio, our Buff Orphington hen, gets in the act with Benedict, and will run over and start some weird kind of hen attack…plucking at the other hen’s feathers while Benedict stands on them. Is this common behavior??

Benedict and his harem...including the 4 bare backs.

Benedict and his harem…including the 4 bare backs.

As the colder weather approaches, I’m a bit worried about these girls. At the advice of our local feed store, the flock is now getting supplemented with Purina Flock Raiser which is higher in protein and fat than regular chicken feed (Purina Layena.) It seems to be helping with feather regrowth, and since the cold weather is currently knocking on the door, I’ve made this their primary food. As the feathers attempt to grow back, those thick shafts stick out, and it seems much more painful for them when Benedict does…whatever it is he is doing. I’ve become, Alpha Rooster, and chase him away from these girls when he pursues them…he does seem to be listening. I’ve read about hen jackets that are made for this reason, however, you run a greater risk of a mite infestation with the jackets….I don’t think I want that…but I also don’t want my girls to be cold. The only thing I know is….there’s a lot I don’t know!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

Thanks for checking in on the farm today. When I tell the flock that you’ve been here…they get very excited!!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

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

My Least Favorite Time of Year

Do you like summertime? I do! I like harvesting, sharing, and eating the beauties from my garden….

Summer Corn 2014

I like the long days that stretch into the later hours…

July 2014

……and the hot summer night sounds from my neighbors Peacocks

I like the warmth of early summer….

June 2014

…..when the ground is still green…

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

THEN…..August thinks it can just come along and spoil the goodness of my green summer days……my least favorite time of the year!!

What's that???  Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

What’s that??? Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

August brings the heat, and the dryness to the land. It is the time for getting poked from stickers that get stuck in your socks as you walk through the dry grasses.

August 2014

August 2014

Unfortunately, a bolt on the mowing implement attached to the tractor was broken for awhile at the end of June. Burn restrictions went up on July 3rd…since we have rocks, and metal blades against rocks can create sparks…sparks against dry grasses can create fires…mowing season ended earlier than usual. I didn’t have a chance to do the final cutting…so, unfortunately, the weeds are larger, and uglier than I am happy with…

YUCK!!

YUCK!!

The chickens get hot, and scrounge the dry grasses for bugs and seeds. I hooked up a fan in the chicken house for relief of the hens while they conduct their “business”…then I turn the fan in the afternoon toward the roosting boards so they can find some relief as they need it.

August 2014

The pond has receded….thankfully it has never gone dry! But this summer…actually, the past two summers, have really tested our little pond….

The pond is way down...this "green" area is usually not as large.

The pond is way down…this “green” area is usually not as large.

See the green ridge above the water line? This is where the pond usually recedes too…the ridge above it is where the pond sits when it full…I call that the NORMAL part of the year!!

August 2014

Saturday, August 30th, did bring some relief…

Fall can’t come too soon!!

Thank you for sharing the first day of September with me. I hope your Labor Day is spectacular….put one on the barbie for me, and I’ll add a burger on my BBQ for you!!

Your friend from the NW,
Tami

The Cool of the Morning

In the cool of the morning life again starts,
In the cool of the morning nature becomes art,
In the cool of the morning something departs,
The cool of this morning has broken my heart.
by Tami

It started as a normal summer day. By 6:30 a.m. the first of my morning chores were completed…the chicken house was opened and cleaned for the morning’s egg-laying activities…

No more rooms at the Inn!!

No more rooms at the Inn!!

….Benedict and the hens were out to free range for the day, as the patriarch of the flock danced and strutted to remind the ladies of his presence…chicken feed was scattered about to supplement their free ranging…the dogs were fed…and so on, and so on. Finally, it was time to sit with a cup of coffee before starting out for the rest of the morning chores.

As I was pouring my cup, WHAM!!! A loud, familiar, yet more striking, noise came from the windows facing northwest. The man who really tames this forest, looked out and confirmed a bird had flown into the solid illusion of open space. It was laying on a cushion from our patio swing. Any bird that flies into the window is an urgent concern to me. Given time, and the safety of a secluded environment, most get over the confusion of what is probably a massive headache, and are able to be released back to their avian lives. Unfortunately, this beauty was laying on its back, feet curled….lifeless.

As suspected, it was a big bird. Normally the beauties hitting the windows are more like finch size…this one was dramatically larger…and so beautiful!!

A beautiful, beautiful tragedy!

A beautiful, beautiful tragedy!

How gorgeous is this!

How gorgeous is this!

God is quite an AMAZING artist!!!

God is quite an AMAZING artist!!!

She was called a Flicker. She was an ant eating woodpecker. She was a welcomed friend that I would frequently see, and hear on our trees. I marveled at her beauty from afar, and am totally amazed at her stunning beauty at close examination. I will miss seeing my friend in the mornings, and the early evenings. I will miss the familiar knocking that causes me to look up and seek a glimpse of her. I hope she doesn’t have young ones in a nest somewhere waiting on her return, it is later in the season so hopefully her young have left the nest.

Photo by Dennis Paulsen, posted on Slater Museum of Natural History website.

Photo by Dennis Paulsen, posted on Slater Museum of Natural History website.

If you want to read more about her, check out this website… http://slatermuseum.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-ant-eating-woodpecker.html

Goodbye my friend!!

Thank you for sharing my morning!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami
****UPDATE***** I realize I left you all with the sadness of the morning…let me add a little encouragement with some light-heartedness…how about the newness of life beginning with this cute little critter….

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

Rude Awakening

It was like any other morning. The air was cool and filled with the melodic symphony of the many different song birds that make their home in the forest. The resident bullfrogs croaked their low drone-like percussion, and the neighboring peacock rang out like the clash of a cymbal, carefully placed within the orchestra. Benedict, our resident rooster, added the occasional trumpet-like excitement as the song continued. There is just no better performance to be heard than this early morning ensemble.

Benedict...the mighty trumpet boy!

Benedict…the mighty trumpet boy!

The flock was happy that morning, the air was cool, but the sun was shining. The hope for the day was warmth to bask in…add a comfortable dust bath, and their day would be awesome! I opened the door, and the flock filed out in line. After cleaning up around around the nesting boxes, and taking a quick look, I left my feathered friends to do their early morning dance as the symphony played on.

The flock during a calmer day.

The flock during a calmer day.

About 20 minutes later, the melody changed. Rather than the calm, continuous song, the tension had risen. Benedict’s trumpet had become urgent, and the hens were now chiming in loudly. The dogs, who were inside the house, ran to the windows barking excitedly. Opening the door, the sound was deafening. I ran out to see what was going on.

As I approached…there it was!! It had already turned to start its retreat. It was close to the house…right up on the chicken house. It was a coyote!! It casually trotted away. I ran out to the flock…yelling and raising my arms towards the retreating coyote…it picked up its pace and ran down the hill toward the creek, and out of site. Everyone was accounted for…and I didn’t see any sign of pulled feathers. Thankfully, I hadn’t let the “Littles” out of their area at that point,

The Littles!!

The Littles!!

so they were still safe in the house. The flock had dodged another bullet!

Growing Season

A farmers delight, a heavenly sight, a mix of sun and rain, a blessing for the growing grain….and weeds, and trees, and tomatoes, and…….. IT’S GROWING SEASON!!

Last year's cantaloupe 2013

Last year’s cantaloupe 2013

Enter the keep-working-till-the-sun-goes-down-eat-dinner-around-9:00 p.m. busy season. Well actually, in about a month it will be 9:00….right now it’s more like 8:15 🙂 I need to get my routine down a little better this year, and head inside in the late afternoon to prep dinner during the higher heat hours of the day. Otherwise, I find myself trying to throw something together around 8 p.m. or later. My goal is to have dinner ready to eat by 7:30 p.m. this summer…that would be a good change.

The early evening hours hold chores. There are dogs to feed, the tidying-up of the chicken house (poop control, new water, food, and shavings in the nesting boxes, sleeping areas (for those who don’t seem to like to roost), and brooder area (if we have chicks…which we always seem to have chicks – thanks Chardonnay…oh and of course Benedict!!) Also, a nice, general tossing of new shavings really freshens up the place.

Benedict and some of his ladies...a little molting going on.

Benedict and some of his ladies…a little molting going on.

I prefer a “clean” chicken house (is there really such a thing) when the Roommies show up for their night’s stay. When the sun rises, it’s out to the let the Roommies roam for the day; a quick look, and removal of any poops in or near the nesting boxes, and a freshening of the brooders water (always seems to need freshening.) With the extra effort, we have very few eggs with any soiling on them.

WOW, did I ever get distracted!!! This post was supposed to be about this year’s vegetable garden 8)

So, here it is…so far. For the most part, we’re using planter tubs again this year. Hopefully by next spring we will have a proper fence, better gopher control, defined planting areas, and a more defined watering system. I’m hopeful!!! In the meantime, here is what has been planted so far…

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

I'm getting quite used to using one of these.

I’m getting quite used to using one of these.

Well…it’s not fancy, but the veggies and fruit will be awesome nonetheless. I still have a few more things to plant, but it’s finally coming together!

Rain, Rain, & More Rain

When did this last string of rain start? I don’t remember…I think it has been the long side of a week. There are a few breaks here and there, but for the most part, big, fat, juicy drops have been falling constantly from the sky. Everything is soaked!

We're starting to float!!

We’re starting to float!!

The new hatchlings are toasty warm thanks to Mama Hen, Chardonnay, and a handy dandy heat lamp. The Littles, who are not so little anymore…

Not so Little anymore!

Not so Little anymore!

…are getting drenched. Although everyone enthusiastically shares the chicken house at night…there is still some intimidation going on by the “Elders” towards the Littles during the day. This teenage flock are gaining in confidence, but are not quite there yet. During the day, if the Elders are in the house, the Littles stay out. They haven’t yet learned of the different areas around the farm to find shelter besides one,…

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn't work to well when there's only one wall.

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn’t work to well when there’s only one wall.

…and if rain is going sideways, it doesn’t keep them as dry as I would like. In a huge desire to freshen up the chicken yard, unfortunately, I dismantled their outdoor cabana a little too early.

Wish I hadn't taken down the cabana yet....well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one...hahaha!

Wish I hadn’t taken down the cabana yet….well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one…hahaha!

The Elders are much more refined in their rain behavior. They find good cover, and stay pretty dry…..

They're a bit wet from all the rain.

They’re a bit wet from all the rain.

…so compare these two Littles, Pontiac (closest to front) & my man Austin, to Benedict and Claudio above….

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

….who do you think are more rain-challenged?? Everyone gets a good supply of cracked corn in the early evening to hopefully help them have a warmer night. Here’s a quick little video…it’s really quick….hope you like it.

And the Muppets continue to grow.

Kermit takes a ride!

Kermit takes a ride!

DANGER, DANGER, DANGER

UPDATE ON TODAY’S POST

Remember that robot from Lost in Space?

That’s what our rooster, Benedict, was calling…”DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!!”

In all seriousness though, he was calling out for a reason! As I looked out the window to see what all the commotion was about, I saw one of the adult hens, Don Pedro, was outside the enclosure. She was running with wings flapping toward an outside covered area. Then I saw it…a huge hawk inside the chicken yard, trying to escape. She was getting caught up on the chicken wire fencing that kind of bends in.

I ran outside with my Great Dane, Penni,…..

Penni the Great Dane!  Protector of all things chicken!!

Penni the Great Dane! Protector of all things chicken!!

…..who caught site of the large bird now sitting on the ground outside of the enclosure. Penni ran at the hawk. Although beautiful, it is a natural enemy to my flock. The hawk had an easy exit and flew to a nearby tree. I didn’t see anything within her grasp.

It appeared everyone was inside…there certainly was enough noise coming from the house. I opened the door and started counting…1, 2, 3, 4…..with the one hiding outside all 8 adults were accounted for. Time for the Chicken Littles…1, 2, 3,….7…7…wait where’s #8? I counted again…still 7. Quickly exiting, I started looking for #8. This was deja vu to when we lost our little rooster, Gretchen (post from July 2013, A Sad Reality.) At the backside of the hen house, huddled in a corner was my little #8!! Was she alive? I opened the gate and she got up walking away from me…then I as called to her, she came back to me and let me pick her up. It was my little Austin Healey…the little chicken born lame! (See my previous post in December 2013 – Premature Chick Hatch)

Young Austin Healey

Young Austin Healey

She cuddled her head under my chin and sat quietly, shaking. I tried to reassure her, as much as you can reassure a chicken, checked her over a bit, and not seeing anything, brought her back to the flock.

As i walked back to the house, I saw this…

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

Oh nooo, she was injured! I went back and found a puncture hole through the skin layer of her chest, under her right wing. She was no longer bleeding, and I could see the lining under her skin. It seemed intact. My poor little Austin…but she is strong, she had to be to survive the beginning of her life. She will be fine, and a little smarter. Thank goodness for our rooster, Benedict, who always keeps his eye on the sky!!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

We Thawed, They Moved

As brief, beautiful and fun as it was, it is good to see the vibrant green of our Oregon home once again. To read these words one may think that we have been trapped under ice and snow for weeks…well 5 days is a long time! {ducking as tomatoes are thrown by those in the midwest, etc. who have spent months in a deep freeze} There are reasons we moved to Oregon rather than, say, South Dakota…5 days of snow, then a thaw is apparently one of them.

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

The ice-rain layer covering the snow left some damage, and broken limbs…but thankfully most of what we are seeing is minor.

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

We’re still hoping that the damage, if any, to our newly planted trees is minimal. Although we’re not too worried about the 300 Douglas Fir babies as they are built for Oregon winters, and the fruit / nut trees are also quite resiliant to the cold while they are dormant, the Giant Sequoias are a greater concern. So far, the tension and suppleness in their young branches seem okay…only time will tell (at least another month) if they will survive. Here is what they looked like in the snow/ice…

As we thawed, our band of cabin fever poultry showed great happiness in being able to stretch their legs. Literally, as soon as they noticed a path out of their cabana without snow those little chicken feet ran to the great outdoors. They were so happy!!

The “Chicken Littles” on the other hand had GREAT BIG changes awaiting them. With increasing bullying going on in the bigger chick brooder, it was time for them to move into the adult chicken house. Thursday night was the big transition. In preparation, I had cleaned the big house, and added a lower roost that afternoon. About an hour after dark….my son and I carried each one in, sitting them on the lower roost. The older chickens didn’t seem to really notice or care about what was going on below them…funny how darkness kind of lulls chickens into a daze of some sort. Since Little Austin Healey and Honda are 2 weeks younger than the oldest Chicken Little, I hooked up the heat lamp in their original brooder (within the big house), but left it open so that they and the others could hop in and out as they wanted.

First night in the hen house...it's actually dark, except for the flash!

First night in the hen house…it’s actually dark, except for the flash!

I worried, but they survived the night! I put up a barrier to keep them inside the house and cabana areas, but would also allow the older chickens out…well at least I figured the older chickens would find their way out, and they did. Benedict was hanging around the “Littles” and seemed to be accepting them quite well. I hadn’t seen much pecking going on by either hens or rooster so I was hopeful…

Since then they are struggling a bit with their courage…I find them all in the brooder area most of the time, although they know how to get in and out of it. I did see some pecking going on from the more dominant hen toward the young ones, but it was more attention getting than trying to harm…however, Benedict, our rooster, did go after one of the little suspected roosters in a much more “assertive” way. I scooped up that little baby and held him…..okay a little over the top, but he (hopefully she) closed his eyes and snuggled in…they are still my babies!! We’ve had stormy weather everyday since Thursday, and I’m hoping that once the older birds get out and about more, the younger ones will start becoming more adventurous, and grow their courage..the combs on about 3 of them sure are. NO ROOSTERS!!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

Chickens and Ice

There have been two constants since the snow started on Thursday…snow has been accumulating, and the chickens have hated every minute of it! I have wondered about the “intelligence” of my birds, because often times in cold rain, hail, and really cold wind they have been outside running around going from tree to tree, and complaining the whole time. They don’t seem to have any sense sometimes, and even in those conditions will wait until almost dark to run inside their house for the night. Even in this storm, on Thursday when it started spittin’ snow, I had to chase them inside and close the door behind them. Friday, however, it seemed something finally “clicked” with the flock and they have kept themselves inside and within their outdoor cabana since.

One great thing about cold weather....cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!

One great thing about cold weather….cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!


Whooooaaa, I'm not going out ther!!!

Whooooaaa, I’m not going out ther!!!


Hey what's that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

Hey what’s that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

The younger flock are still in their larger brooder so they didn’t have the decision making dilemma that the older birds had. Since they were on shavings over concrete, in preparation of the storm we slipped a rubber stall mat on top of the floor and covered that with the shavings. With two heat lamps, they have been staying toasty warm, when they want to warm up…they do huddle together under the lamps during the coldest parts of the day, but they seem to be doing great. I do feel like they are just about ready to join the older flock, but the weather is not ready for them. These active little ladies (hoping for no roosters…) seem to be a little bored lately, so I gave them something to do…just like the big kids.

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!



The aftermath!!

The aftermath!!

Beyond the chickens…I have some outrageously beautiful pictures of the snow, which turned to freezing rain and left a 1/4 inch layer of ice blanketing the snow on the frozen land of which I and my family are so blessed to share with the Oregon wildlife.

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?


Frozen Blackberry bushes.

Frozen Blackberry bushes.


Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen.  :o(

Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen. :o(


Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

A Little Elbow Room

If you’d like to add a little ambiance to this post…please click on the youtube link…it will play while you scroll. If you want to relive something from your childhood…if you grew up in the…gulp…60’s & 70’s this is a cool blast from the past and fun to watch. Either way, or both ways…ENJOY!

Being squished is no fun!! It’s not fun when you’re trying to maneuver in a small space. It’s not fun (yet totally important) when you’re having a mammogram. It is certainly not fun when you are one of eight rapidly growing young chickens.

We’ve had a lot of bickering going on within the young brood. Still in the small, improvised brooder, there has been increasingly less and less space as the chicks have grown. Since it is winter, they are house-bound, and getting no relief from one another, with the exception of the two days in the 50’s without wind we had about a week ago. Since then they have been in real tight quarters…not a healthy lifestyle to sustain healthy “tween-age” chickens.

I tried allowing the young chickens into the adult chicken’s house area.

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

By closing the outside door, the young ones were protected from the incoming draft, and the incoming house-protective flock. The chicks were somewhat reserved in their enthusiasm, and the older chickens were not happy to be closed out of their house. This idea was fine for an outing, but they needed a more permanent home during their too big for this, too small for that awkward stage.

My solution…drag their outside look-I’m-a-big-chicken-now pen into the shop, and set it up as an indoor pen. The beauty of this is because it has an open bottom, all I have to do to clean them up is to lift the pen a little, move it over (corralling the chickens within it’s walls), then sweep up the old shavings. EASY!! Also, when we do have a warmer day, I can easily walk the chicks, and their pen outside for a little while.

I’m hoping this move will make our little snarky brood a little kinder to each other. I’m feelin’ the love…I hope they are too!

Looking happy in their "tween-age" brooder.

Looking happy in their “tween-age” brooder.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

The Gentleman Rooster

Aesops Fables – THE ROOSTERS AND THE EAGLE
There were once two roosters who argued loudly. They wanted to prove who reigned over their flock and farm. Day and night the roosters crowed, proclaiming each one’s own strength and power. One day, crowing turned into fighting. One rooster saw that the other rooster was hurt. He stopped fighting as his kindness would not allow him to continue. The other rooster proclaimed his victory. Flapping his wings, he crowed louder than ever before. Running into the openness of the pasture, he jumped onto a log and announced his victory again, and again, drawing the attention of a soaring eagle. With quiet accuracy, the eagle snatched the rooster off the log and carried him away.
The moral: Victory comes in humility and kindness, while boastful pride can cause destruction.

Our rooster, Benedict, is a true gentleman rooster! He reigns over his flock with a firm hand, yet he is kind. He keeps the hens safe from the hawks that fly overhead (see previous post titled, “A Day in the Life…”), runs, I mean runs to a hen if she is calling out in distress, leads the flock to the chicken house when darkness approaches, and just a few days ago welcomed with open “wings” Chardonnay (our mama, broody hen) back to the flock. The more dominant hen, Don Pedro, tussled with Chardonnay as she first arrived…but Benedict jumped in between the two hens to stop the fighting.

As these events unfolded, the four oldest chicks had their first outing from the brooder. It happened to be a sunny day, and temps were in the 50’s so in full sun Lo Ri-dah, Jag, VW, and Pontiac stretched their legs! They were only out about 45 minutes before they lost their sun, but it was fun while it lasted!!

While I was out with the the four adventurers, Chardonnay jumped back in with those still in the brooder…and so did Benedict!! I was ready to jump in and save the babies in case Benny got aggressive, but this AWESOME rooster was a perfectly behaved “daddy” to his little brood. BTW, Benedict’s comb succumb to some frost bite this winter…the white patches are areas that were affected and are, hopefully, healing. The darker coloring on his feathers at the top of his neck is clinging dirt from the Vaseline, and NeoSporin I put on his comb.

The following movie stars Benedict, Chardonnay, Chevy, William Jr., Honda, and Austin Healey…

I’m hoping Benedict’s actions in the brooder is a good indication of the easy transition to come once the chicks are ready for the big leagues…joining the rest of the adult flock.

BTW, if you noticed, Austin Healey is doing FABULOUS (said in a very flamboyant manner!!!) Her legs / feet had some bruising as Chardonnay kept the little brood on their feet much of the day. As her legs have gained strength this bruising has calmed. Now that Chardonnay has left the brood completely, everyone is calmer and I have noticed there are more periods of resting. This has been good for our littlest member of the flock!!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

Oh and in case your wondering if, Penni, our Great Dane is watching out for the new bunch of babies…you decide!! Hahahaha

Are you our Mother?

Are you our Mother?


I promise to watch over you... I may chase you, but I will protect you!

I promise to watch over you… I may chase you, but I will protect you!

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!!!

BRRRRROODY HEN

I’m a nervous chicken mama. The temp has been dropping steadily for days. Our efforts to protect the flock has been a learning experience, especially since one of our hens has decided that this would be a great time to sit on a nest. Chardonnay is broody, and extremely dedicated to her potential chicks. December 14th will mark 21 days on the nest…and maybe our first hatching!

This is our first experience with a broody hen, and I know this is the worst time of year for her to be wanting to hatch these eggs, but….we’ll provide whatever support these little chick-a-dees may need for warmth, etc., and hope that Chardonnay will take over some of that responsibility. She has been off the nest a couple of times wherein I think she has gotten confused which box she had been laying on. The eggs had cooled off some, but did not get “cold.” Well maybe a couple of them did. Each time I put her back on the correct nest, she has cuddled down and brought any eggs outside of her body into and under herself. At last count, she had 14 eggs!!! I don’t know if she is bringing more eggs into her nest, or if others are laying theirs where she is lying. This is a true learning experience, and if we come out with one or two chicks, I will be ecstatic!!

This all started two weeks ago today. Six of the 7 hens laid eggs in the same nesting box…Chardonnay decided to sit, and there she stayed. The 7th hen laid her egg in a different box, so since it was still warm, I put that one under her….one egg for each hen giving us a better chance of a pure Buff Orpington chick. Our boxes are a bit small for a broody hen, so Tony took out part of the lower wall under the nesting boxes (they are about 4 ft. off the ground) and made a nest/brooder area that expands into the “people” area. I lost some of my storage space, but Chardonnay is more comfortable, and the chicks won’t fall off the landing area in front of the nesting boxes.

I was afraid that moving Chardonnay and her eggs would result in her abandoning her nest, but she is so devoted, she just wiggled herself back into place, pulled two eggs under her that were sitting out, and snuggled in. She has been much more comfortable since the move, and is growling a lot less when I come near. I bring her treats, and little bowls of cracked corn and chicken feed at night…I thinks this is helping. Due to the cold, I haven’t candled any of the eggs to see what we’ve actually got going under there. I’m sure we won’t have 14 eggs hatch. It’s going to be fun to see what we actually get…I’m hoping for at least one Claudio (our Buff girl) look alike!

New nesting box.

New nesting box.

Ideally, the hope is that the brooders can stay with the flock (in their own area within the chicken house) with mama leading the way, keeping them warm. Logic would say that their integration will be more natural this way, but there are dangers of attack by other flock members that we have to be really thinking about. Our logic doesn’t always coincide with God’s design in nature, so we’ll try our best to nurture through the cold of winter whatever may hatch. I just hope they’ve stayed warm enough through this bitter cold. Either way, I won’t let Chardonnay sit for much longer than a few days past the 21st day. She needs to nourish herself and get back to chicken business beyond nesting.

A question for my knowledgeable poultry friends out there….Will eggs that have been sat upon for many day still hatch if Mama Hen gets confused and sits on eggs laid that morning while her nest grows cold? Chardonnay did that today. In very chilly weather, the eggs were cold to the touch when I found them without her. She readily snuggled back down with them when I put her back on the nest, but my fear is that damage has been done.

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Los Angeles Freelance Writer • Comedian • Photographer •

Crockern Farm

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Mucking Moms

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Willow Creek Farm

High Altitude Homesteading

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