Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chickens

Yes Indeed

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It might be cold outside still, but that isn’t stopping Cyndie from forging ahead with her great wardrobe transition to the warm season. After work yesterday, I walked in on a disaster in the bedroom. It looked like the dresser had gotten sick and thrown up.

I don’t understand how that drawer ever contained all of the contents that were now unceremoniously regurgitated up out of it and spilled onto the floor.

Yes, indeed, warm weather can’t be far off now. Winter socks are getting stowed, and shorts and t-shirts will soon find a place in these drawers.

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In an update on our oddly behaving Wyandotte, Cyndie reports the hen is agreeing to take sips of electrolyte-enhanced water, but otherwise still chooses to isolate herself in a nest box. She doesn’t appear to be getting any worse, so we are continuing to let her be and will watch to see what each new day brings.

If she hangs on long enough, maybe she will be able to come out and enjoy a period of several warm days in a row. I saw a prediction that it might happen as soon as next week.

We are looking forward to that. Yes, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Bird Bath

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So much for letting nature take its course. Cyndie decided to try a little intervention on our ailing Wyandotte. Looking up the hen’s symptoms online pointed to the possibility of her being egg bound. That meant a trip to purchase some supplies and then redecorating the downstairs bathroom into a triage and recovery center.

A twenty-minute soak in epsom salts treats a myriad of afflictions. Even if it doesn’t help, there’s not too much threat of causing harm.

Well, Cyndie’s efforts didn’t produce definitive results, so we are pretty much back to letting time be the arbiter for an outcome.

It’s tough, because you want to help. We don’t want the poor hen to suffer, but we are both¬†disinclined to take this to a level of seeking professional examination and treatment. Our chickens could be considered a hobby at this point, and as such, they end up receiving hobby-level vet care.

We are not real doctors.

Meanwhile, our cat, Pequenita, is vying for attention by throwing up three times this morning. My hobby-vet analysis points to the fact that I caught her violating house rules overnight, on the island countertop, chomping on Cyndie’s flower display.

I think we should give her a bath in epsom salts.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2019 at 8:37 am

Egg Failure

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Someone in our chicken family isn’t feeling like her old self lately. We weren’t completely certain which one, so all of them will receive the benefit of some supplements in their diet.

There were some hints in the last couple of weeks when, twice, we found an egg with an incomplete shell in the nest boxes. At first, I wasn’t sure whether one of the hens had pecked the egg, or just laid one with an incomplete shell. Later, we found an egg that was complete, but it had a flat side.

It struck me that the egg that looked pecked was lacking the classic egg symmetry, too. That was enough to establish a trend. Unfortunately, it got worse before it got better.

Yesterday, Cyndie found that an egg failure didn’t even make it to the nest box. The poop board under the roost held evidence of an egg-saster.

Didn’t take long after that for Cyndie to make her way to Fleet Farm for an oyster shell calcium supplement. Will it be enough?

Last night, when Cyndie closed the chicken door on the coop, she found a wyandotte had chosen a nest box, instead of the roost. She had seen a wyandotte in the nest box other times this week, without getting an egg. We think this is the hen having a problem. She was making some unusual sounds.

We’ll keep an eye on her, as much as possible. Generally, we are inclined to let nature take its course, which ended well enough for our buff orpington earlier in the year. Hopefully, the extra calcium will prove helpful, and the wyandotte will ultimately have a good outcome, as well.

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

New Ramp

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Our chickens have been politely accepting the replacement ramp Cyndie fashioned out of some spare wire shelving, after her incidental demolition of my original ramp, when she killed the possum multiple times with a shovel back in February. But, the replacement was intended to be temporary, so I have been plotting “Ramp 2.0” for some time.

I’m not sure it will be shovel proof, but I did try to beef it up a little bit. The chickens took a liking to pulling out the sticks in my first version, so I increased the weave to hopefully slow that process.

Initially, I tried grinding notches in the cross braces, hoping to “key” the branches to seat tightly together. It ended up being a wasted effort, as my technique was rather imprecise and the frame branches kept torquing and twisting out of the sweet spots as I wove sticks through.

Since I increased the weave, adding two smaller vertical branches, it became critical that I find sticks that could really flex. The solution came to me after winter storms brought down a massive number of branches from our willow tree this year.

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On a return trip to the tree for more material, I noticed there were some new branches sprouting from the trunk that were destined to be pruned, so I included those, as well. It was very helpful to have the “live” branches, because the closer I got to finishing, the less space there was to angle the branches into the tight bend required.

Gives it a little color.

Since the notched frame branches had shifted out of position, I decided to add some screws to lock things in place after the weave was complete. It is definitely more robust than the first ramp I built.

With that, the new ramp was ready to be mounted on the coop for chickens to test.

I am interested in finding out if they will try to disassemble this one as much as they did the first ramp. Something about little sticks that seemed to just call to the chickens. I don’t think they could help themselves. It was irresistible.

Maybe they won’t like willow branches and will just leave it alone. I have my doubts about that wishful thinking. Then what it will come down to is, whether my two additional vertical branches (the warp) will be enough to discourage the chickens from trying to pull (the weft) branches out.

Worst case, I need to collect more willow branches. Luckily, that tree seems to offer up an unending supply.

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Lucky Eight

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It is such a treat to open the access door to the nest boxes in the afternoon and find fresh eggs. Our lucky eight surviving hens seem as happy as can be with the hints of spring that have flashed for brief moments between blasts of foul weather. Yesterday, they rewarded us for their good fortune by providing the maximum eight eggs.

The chickens are a far cry from having horses, but they are now the primary distraction filling the horse-energy void. The warm, sunny day yesterday had them actively scouring the grounds in a circuitous, wide-ranging meander.

I generally walk Delilah in a direction away from where the hens happen to be hanging out, but it gets harder to do when they are moving around to so many places, in so quick a span of time.

The dog and I made our way to the high spot by the driveway and messed around in some of the last remaining dirty snow.

She likes to rub the sides of her snout in the snow to scratch a nagging itch. The cold temperature is probably soothing, as well.

We are headed for a run of days with temperatures above freezing, so the rain moving in will likely finish off the dwindling patches of snow that have lingered. Hopefully, Delilah won’t switch to rubbing her face in the mud.

Cyndie is flying to Florida for a few days again this week, so it falls on me if Delilah needs extra grooming. My methods tend to involve avoidance of hazardous areas, to ward off the need for putting in any extra clean up effort.

Our walks yesterday were strictly confined to areas where mud was at a minimum, but that worked because there happened to be a few areas that weren’t soaking wet. That ends as soon as the rain arrives.

She may end up confined to the driveway pavement for the next few days.

At the same time, since it’s not supposed to be freezing overnights, I could always pull out the kiddie pool. Yet, I’m just a little hesitant about testing fate like that, because with my luck, that might trigger another spring snow storm.

You know, I think the chickens are actually easier to tend to than our dog.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Still Functioning

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It’s one of those days when the dog woke me too early and I feel like everything I’m observing is a movie in which I am not one of the characters. I guess that describes the majority of my dreams, so that is understandable. I slogged through the morning routine of walking Delilah and opening up the chicken coop, got all the animals fed, and here I sit.

Somehow, most things continue to function, including me, despite the inevitable march of time and natural inclination toward decay. The constant shifting of the earth is toying mercilessly with our fences, creating a laughingstock of my sense of order. The ramshackle construction of my chicken coop has resulted in two of the three main latches becoming mis-aligned to the point I wasn’t able to fully secure the side egg-collecting hatch last night.

Luckily, no predators noticed.

I’m told Cyndie made it back to Minnesota last night, but she arrived so late to her parents’ Edina home where her car was parked that she ended up spending the night there.

I wondered if Delilah got up early because she had understood me when I told her momma would be home when she woke up. I’d already put her to bed when the change of plans occurred.

One thing I didn’t miss while sleepily stumbling through walking Delilah this morning was the rich orchestral soundtrack of bird sounds filling the air. In addition to the chickens, pheasants, wild turkeys, and low flying geese, there were staccato drummings of woodpeckers and more varieties of songbirds than I could count. An unparalleled chorus.

Too bad I’m not as quick recording sound for you as I am at taking pictures. Of course, this morning, I didn’t even do that.

I’m still functioning, but just barely.

A warm sunny day would do wonders for my outlook, but that’s not what we have in store for today’s weather. More clouds and rain are on the way.

Sounds like maybe I could justify a nap. One where I can dream a movie of sunshine and straight fences, and latches that align while all the birds sing.

Speaking of finding myself in a movie, did I mention yet that I’ve been called for jury duty in my county in Wisconsin? The term here is 30 days, but I believe I’m released after serving one trial. I’ve been ordered to appear for a trial scheduled this Thursday and Friday, but need to call on Wednesday evening to find out if they settle out of court.

Along those same lines of barely functioning, I’m hoping for restful sleep Wednesday night, because I really don’t want to be one of those jurors who get chastised for falling asleep on the job.

Didn’t I see that in a movie somewhere?

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

Early Worms

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The saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. The ground has barely thawed, but the chickens made a mad dash out of the coop this morning to scour the sloppy paddock for something. Are the worms already out and about?

I peeked out from under the overhang to see how wet it was because the sound of the rain on the metal roof of the barn made it sound like it was pouring.

The land is already saturated by the spring thaw, so, even though this April shower slowly moving across our region has been gentle, it has triggered some substantial flow in all the drainage swales. Water, water everywhere.

It always causes me to think about the people down stream, on the rivers being fed by countless other drainage tributaries. Sorry, you guys.

Maybe all the water will carry some worms for your chickens to find.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2019 at 8:45 am