Category Archives: chickens, etc.

On broody hens

Chicken Patty is sitting again.  And she’s cluckingly, spittingly mad.  Doesn’t she look tough?

Amanda asked what one does with a broody hen determined to sit on unfertilized eggs.  I had been hoping at least one of our 25 hens would get the urge:  the clock is ticking as we do want some chicken in the freezer this year.  This is our first year with roosters, too, so with hope the eggs, should someone decide to sit them, would be fertile.  I had even gone so far as to secure the lease of an incubator when blammo! Everyone has the urge to sit.

Last year we had no roosters but Chicken Patty (our lone meat bird) went broody.  Not willing to miss an opportunity, I let her sit on some duds for a week and THEN I stuck six day-old chicks under her, one at a time, substituting chick for egg.  This worked!  Jerusha and Johanna and Nice Rose are clucking around the barnyard today and their three brothers went to Freezerville.  But I know this plan only works if you actually want more birds.

I have no direct answer for you, Amanda, but I am sure others will tell you in the comments.  Eventually, this too shall pass…perhaps harvesting the eggs while wearing gardening gloves is an option.  I have heard extremes like sticking the girl in a wire dog kennel, off the ground, and she’ll come out of her broodiness in a day or two.   Me?  I wouldn’t go that far, but then again I want a broody bird or three.  Like most of chicken-keeping, it’s a matter of adjusting to their quirks (“Hey, my chickens are digging up my garden!”  “Well then get them out of your garden!”) that I have found to be both fun and somewhat frustrating about having them around.

I suppose they could say the same thing about me.  We’ve certainly got each other very well trained.

On the birds

The bantams, true to their reputation, are broody little birds.  Here, a Golden Sebright and a Mille Fleur d’Uccles patiently wait out their confinement in an old dog kennel.  They’re sitting on about 2 dozen chicken and wild mallard (!!) eggs.

Chicken Patty says she wants to be the first meal coming out of the masonry oven.

And who in the world could take care of 17 children?  I don’t wish it on Ruby so the majority of them are now under lights.  She gets to raise the three we intend to keep.

And this little fellow has been living in and around my garden the last two weeks.  Very shy, you gotta wonder how he got where he is.  I explained it to my daughter this way:  “Do you remember when you lost your first balloon when we were at the county fair when you were 3?  Well, that’s probably what happened to this family when their little bird flew out the window.  There’s nothing you can do but cry and watch it fly away.”

Bunnies for sale!

Hey:  have a yen for a funny little bunny?  Live nearby?  Willing to part with $15?  Then email me!

You know you want one

Pedigreed Mini-Rex bunnies for sale:  black and black otter in color, born 3/3/10, just weaned, six total.  Super soft and cuddly!  Both parents are small, under 4 pounds.  $15 each.

On chicken saddles

I’ve wowed you with caprine couture, so how about hen habiliments?

Mary Ellen and The Colonel, our two full-sized roosters, have been fairly aggressive with a couple of our girls this winter.  They stand on their backs and pull the girls’ back feathers out in the heat of passion.  Poor biddies!  Time, then, for some costumes, straight from the bench of my dear mother-in-law’s whirring sewing machine.  And my dear husband whipped up this template for you to follow along at home.  Print it out on 8-1/2″x11″ paper.  Use elastic bands for the arm loops, heavy canvas for the body, and of course you can embroider “Keep Off” on the saddle itself!

Here’s a video

Poor Sister Wendy

As you can see from Helen’s and Caroline’s rears we need a few more.  Everyone else seems to be able to get out of the roosters’ way.

On the egg onslaught

“She’s set it down, but it’s not food!” Disappointing Blanche, Nice Rose and Emilie just for a photo

So we passed something of a farm record last Friday:  one dozen eggs in one day.

Then, the next day, we got 13.  The next, 15.  Holy frittati!

This surprises me, though the numbers shouldn’t.  It’s one of those math puzzles I have such a mental block about:  I am getting eggs from hens whom I don’t consider egg-layers.  So, philosophically, I have three categories of chickens:  egg-layers, meat birds, and bantams.  The bantams, quarter-sized chickens, are simply cute yard decorations.  But all three categories of chicken (25 girls) lay eggs.  Year-round, apparently!  It really picked up after the December solstice.  So:  each bird lays an egg every 36 hours or so (less if they’re young) and so, duh, I should have a dozen eggs a day.

(If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, El…)

I “expect” eggs from my stalwarts like crazy Pauline the Egg Machine (she’s a Leghorn) and Verloe, the RIR.  And all the new egg birds are just that, new, so they’re in their most productive year.  Likewise, all those extra meat birds I couldn’t bring myself to slaughter (3 thus, still unnamed) AND their clutchmates are eggy now too…as are the cute Bantam chickens (Janet, LaToya, Rebbie and Featherfoot) with their even cuter half-sized eggs.

But yeah, we’re awash in eggs.  Luckily, I have customers!

On flock protectors

Don’t mess with her

It’s a good thing that Ruby is in with the chickens!

The dog was whining terribly, and as I couldn’t really hear anything over the music I was playing, I let her out…to see a hawk in the chicken run, fighting with our hen turkey.

Ruby got the upper hand, I have not a clue how.  The hawk was terribly injured, so I put it out of its misery.

Ruby is fine, though flustered.

Don’t blame me for this one, says Little Edie

On the flock

Welcome, Edna!

About a week ago, we got a knock at the back door.  It was dark out (and we have no lights on the back porch) so we figured it was something pretty important.  Honestly, the only visitors we have out here are delivery people, and that is with enough regularity that we know their names, even their birthdates…anyway.  The other people who come to our door are proselytizing types, but that’s usually during daylight hours.

This was a neighbor who lived two doors down.  I had never met her.  But:  she had a chicken!  A poor, lonely chicken whose sisters had all been eaten by a raccoon who had clawed his way into their pen.  Could we possibly find a home for her in our flock?

So, here she is.  She’s a Buff Orpington, but is really tiny, and shy.  I’m hoping her ashy comb reddens up, but she’s beginning to feather out nicely.  I cornered her in the chicken condo for this picture:  you should have heard her clucking with indignation.  She’s been picked on, but she just usually hangs out with the other low-totempole chickens.

Queen Ruby

Ruby and Earl (the turkeys) are living with the chickens now too, because, well, they like the company as they miss the geese.  So:  this makes 31 birds in the back yard.  Wait:  did I just say that?  That’s a looottt of birds.