Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Barnevelder

Dry Ground

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Slowly but surely, our chickens are showing signs of adjusting to the cold hard facts of winter around here. They have occasionally been venturing out of the coop and over the weekend even made their way the full distance to the barn where they can stand on dry ground beneath the overhang.

I stopped by to visit with them for a bit, tossing out a treat of cracked corn and mealworms for their enjoyment.

They were being rather chatty so I played along and mimicked their sounds, pretending they would magically then consider me a member of the flock. Mostly, they just gave me strange looks in the way chickens do, with a tilt of the sideways turned head.

At the same time, several of them came over and lingered close, giving me a chance to feel somewhat included. I think they just wanted to see if I had any more treats to offer.

The winter sunlight through gauzy clouds illuminated the depth of hues in the fabulous feathers of our Barnevelders.

It was nice to see the chickens taking advantage of the dry space under the overhang. Everywhere else was as white as could be.

I wonder how long it will take for this brood of chickens to find their way to the labyrinth. Something tells me it won’t be until long after the snow has melted and we have dry ground everywhere once again.



Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

Minor Minutiae

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…the small, precise, or trivial details of something.

Trivial details, I got.

One thing that bugs me is how my attempts to craft simple little features without engineering them to a level of “bombproof” end up reflecting the amount of proper preparation I failed to put into the effort. (See how I twisted that around?)

I really am pleased with all of the features and framing of that image I captured, but the intended subject was simply the “out-of-level” timber frame I installed as a base for a portable sink feature Cyndie wanted beside the door during summertime. I’ve commented many times about my surprise over how much the ground is constantly moving. It’s like the surface of the sea, except it moves a little slower. Currently, the right-hand side appears headed for the trough while the opposite side is reaching a crest of the rolling land wave.

I was so proud of the effort I put in to make that frame level when I built it. I have no idea if there is a prime time of year to re-establish level again, but I’m guessing it’s not while the ground is frozen. It doesn’t really matter for the sink. I just don’t like the sagging look it presents loud and clear every time I walk up to that door.

While I was taking that picture, two of the Barnevelders showed up to see what I was doing, in case it involved any scraps of food a chicken might enjoy. It didn’t.


I love how the closer bird looks like she’s got a foot like a duck and it’s kicked out at an odd angle. It’s a leaf she’s probably standing on. You can’t really see her feet buried in all that snow.

That dusting of flakes was just enough to make things a little slippery in places on our trails and combined with a very noticeable drop in temperature, are making it feel a lot more like December around here. I actually had to dress like it’s winter when I took Delilah for her bedtime stroll last night. Overalls, extra top layer, and mittens! Not gloves. I wore gloves in the afternoon walk and realized it was time to change so the fingers don’t each have to fend for themselves against the frigid temps.

If you are reading this from some warm climate, don’t feel you need to be jealous of how great we have it to enjoy such a full depth of seasons throughout the year. I heard a weathercaster on the news the other night speak erroneously, probably from having the long spell of unseasonably warm weather and getting out of synch with the season. She emphasized that it could get “below freezing” when she meant below zero (F) with the wind chill. It was already below freezing.

It’s enough to make little chicken feet long for the warm sands of summer.



Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2020 at 7:00 am

Looking Ahead

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We have decided to try releasing the eleven pullets and Rocky to free-range our property tomorrow morning. Our plan will be to let them out of the coop before we release the three hens. Then we’ll open the fence around the courtyard that has been their run since we moved them from the brooder two months ago.

After they all figure out their freedom, we will open the back hatch to then let the hens out. We kinda hope the hens will take their usual immediate jaunt to the barn overhang to get fresh food and water and wait to investigate the roaming young ones later. I’m not counting on it, though.

Based on previous experience, I expect the pullets will be so thrilled over access to green grass blades again, they won’t wander far in the early minutes of their newly-granted freedom.

You can see in the accompanying image that they do quite a number on anything growing inside the confines of their fenced area. That was all luscious green grass when we put up the fence two months earlier.

Now it’s a vast wasteland. There isn’t a crawling critter that would dare enter that space.

On Monday, I watched one of the barnevelders try to chase down an Asian beetle that showed up inside the fence. Merciless.

The beetles become overwhelming pests this time of year after the soybean fields get cut. They are incredibly successful at breaching any and all seams around our doors and windows intended to keep bugs out. We can’t vacuum them up fast enough. I wish the geniuses who devised using these insects to control aphids would have also figured out something to occupy the spotted orang half-rounds after the crops are harvested.

I saw or heard at some point that in this phase of the beetle’s life they are on a quest to find water. Nothing is frozen solid yet, so why do they instantly all want to get into the house? We’ve got a perfectly good landscape pond beside the deck. Drink from there. Geez.

Maybe the chickens lose interest after tasting just one beetle and that’s why so many survive to reach our dwelling. Otherwise, I expect our feathered pest controlling omnivores would neutralize the threat of beetles as well as they do all the flies and ticks in the vicinity.



Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

TwentyTwo Days

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I’m happy to report that the chicks are all progressing wonderfully in their daily race to maturity. In fact, they are beginning to seem a little crowded in our water-trough brooder.

When I had the cover askew yesterday while cleanng out the waterer for a poop-free version, one of the New Hampshire chicks made a leap for the lip of the water-trough and achieved a perfect pin-point landing. She seemed entirely pleased with herself over the accomplishment.

I didn’t give her a moment to enjoy it, reacting instantly to snatch her in avoidance of further escapades. The two New Hampshire chicks appear to be the boldest and bossiest of the twelve, although the others will all push back when getting picked (pecked) on.

The one Barnevelder chick that was lagging in development continues to hold her own against all the others who take every opportunity to make sure she knows she is at the bottom of the pecking order. I figured she would remain half their size as they weren’t going to stop growing to allow her to catch up, but it is getting harder to instantly spot her among the brood of active chicks.

It is normal for chickens to always want what another bird has picked up in its beak but the littlest chick didn’t shy away once last night when a rival repeatedly pecked at the very spot where the first one was eating. In fact, she even alternated to pecking one slot closer toward the rival in a perfect tit-for-tat response.

“You take one of mine, I’ll take one of yours.”

I’m gaining confidence that she will do just fine as they all grow into the phase of full feathered “pullets” in a few more weeks.

I sure hope I have the coop subdivision completed by then. (Maybe I should actually start on that project.) The three adult hens are about to lose some square footage and will soon have to deal with a dozen rambunctious new neighbors.

I’m sure they will be just thrilled about it.



Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Eight Days

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Yesterday, our chicks reached the mighty age of eight days old. I recorded another video for Judy.


I’m afraid there is one chick who has not kept up the pace of growth with the rest of the brood and that may spell doom for her, in terms of longevity. Otherwise, the rest are exercising their little wings and sprinting about, eating and drinking with gusto, and appear to be having a rollicking good time with their present confines.

We are not counting the eggs that they will eventually produce yet, but we are feeling hopeful for their chances of growing to the next level.

Oh, they grow up so fast.



Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

More Chicks

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New chicks arrived this morning!


It was a two-day trip to get here through the U.S. Mail and all but one appeared to be in perfect shape. The lone weakling initially appeared as one who didn’t survive the trip but she did eventually take a drink and stand up on very wobbly legs. We are hoping for the best that she will gain strength to keep up with the rest of the rambunctious brood.

Because our previous familiar breeds were not available at the time Cyndie placed the order, she went with four that are completely new to us:

New Hampshire, Dominique, Barnevelder, & Light Brahma.

Here we go again! Despite the current battle with a fox that has boldly made a daytime attack on our 3 adult hens.

Sometimes heartfelt decisions defy logic in favor of hope.