Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘free range eggs

Alternative Location

with 2 comments

I mowed the paddocks on Sunday. Knowing the kids were coming mid-morning, I headed out to the shop garage to move equipment around for access to the brush mower and watch for their arrival. I didn’t see Elysa’s car drive past, but looked up and noticed it parked by the house all of a sudden. A second later, I looked up to find Julian’s Jeep parked there, too. How they both got past me without my seeing them drive by is a complete mystery.

So much for that plan.

After chasing Julian around on his Onewheel, I left him to do more practice laps and hopped on the tractor. Elysa opened gates for me and stood on the lookout for wandering chickens.

I didn’t realize that Cyndie had reported a headcount of only seven hens located and I sent Elysa off to can pickles after I’d made a few passes around the perimeter. It seemed to me that I would be able to spot chickens if they showed up.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

When I got closer to the middle of the paddock, the grass was so tall and thick that it was impossible to see what I was mowing over. I looked up after navigating a tight circle around one of the high spots and I caught sight of one Golden Laced Wyandotte slowly and calmly walking away from the grass toward the paddock fence.

Had she been hiding in the tall grass, just as I feared possible? I wasn’t entirely sure, but the thought was unsettling.

The paddocks looked pretty good when I was finished. After six years of successful close maneuvering, I finally broke my first fence board when I miscalculated while backing up to turn around. Curses!

Cyndie took Delilah for a walk through the newly mowed grass and the dog sniffed out where the Wyandotte had been.

It looked like my tractor tire rolled over about ten eggs in the hen’s alternative to our nest boxes.

We are hoping the loss of cover will help convince the vagabond bird to return her laying habit to the coop.

Is it possible to teach old hens new tricks?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Holy Leaves

with 2 comments

When I got home from work yesterday, I discovered a lot of leaves on the ground. Definitely more leaves than branches, although there was an unsurprising number of branches scattered about, too.

I’m guessing that the broad line of thunderstorms that rolled southeast across Minnesota in the middle of the day yesterday dropped some hail over our property. Nobody other than Pequenita and the chickens were here at the time, and they’re not talking.

Cyndie took Delilah up to the lake for a few days, so all I know about what happened here is based on evidence gathered in the aftermath.

The sky in Plymouth became impressively dark as the storm arrived there in the morning, but I didn’t witness any dramatic wind. I did spot two impressive cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. The rain was moderately heavy for a while, but never as epic as what the boss experienced in Bloomington, where he reported roads temporarily flooded over.

From the looks of our yard at home and the meager half-inch of water in our rain gauges, I think a little hail is about the worst we received.

A few of the leaves in the yard have holes in them, providing additional clues to the likelihood of hail.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Happily, I couldn’t find any other signs of damage. Skylights on the house, shingles on the roof, and the plastic corrugated roof panels on the chicken coop show no evidence of the assault.

I didn’t find any stray eggs laying out where they might get damaged, either. Found five in the nest boxes, from the eight birds, so the numbers still lend credence to the possibility one or more of the hens have decided there is a better place to lay than in the coop.

Hopefully, the birds had enough sense to seek shelter when hail started to fall. I didn’t notice any holy chickens, so I think they fared well enough.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

Lucky Eight

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

No Question

with 2 comments

We have raved many times over how amazing our free range eggs are. Cyndie coined the term, “home-made” to refer to the ones we collect from our hens.

Just in case you aren’t sure why we are always going on about how much better our eggs are, as compared to local “cage free organic” eggs from the grocery store, Cyndie took a picture for reference.

Can you see the difference we are talking about?

Trust me, they taste as good as they look.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

Wondering When

leave a comment »

When will that day come? A day when the human induced changes alter the planet to such a degree (pun not intended, but left anyway) that life as we know it today can no longer carry on the same?

For almost a week, I have been checking the NOAA national radar to see how Hurricane Florence looked as it spun toward the coast and then paused to pummel the Carolinas. Yesterday when I checked, what was left of the disturbance had moved on to the north. Now they are inundated with flood water and the rivers continue to rise as the water follows the pull of gravity, flowing toward lower altitudes.

Many are without power and their lives are dramatically disrupted, and likely will be for quite some time.

Meanwhile, though the warming global atmosphere is altering the weather to dramatic affect for different locations around the planet (see Typhoon Mangkhut), the influence has yet to significantly alter activities near our home. We are able to carry on as if nothing is different.

Cyndie collected 8 eggs from the nest boxes in the coop yesterday. She decided to try a panoramic photo of the first seven, with some wiggling hesitation visible in the result. Somehow the nest boxes stayed mostly clear and crisp.

I was in Plymouth, MN when an afternoon storm front swooped in and turned day into night. Checking the radar revealed that I would be driving under the heart of the intensity for the whole way home if I left at the usual time.

I left early.

Instead of a non-stop downpour, I flirted with the leading edge at highway speed, where one-inch diameter drops fell hesitatingly at a rate that needed constantly varying intermittent speed windshield wipers, and the frontal gust stirred up dust and debris that created a persistent swirling world of distractions.

I arrived unscathed and parked safely in the garage before the thunder and rain caught up with me.

Changing my departure by one hour on one day for one storm does not constitute a significant alteration of my activities.

Whatever else is changing around the world and altering lives thus far, circumstances for us have yet to cause any noteworthy disruption.

Sometimes I wonder when that day will come.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

Another Example

leave a comment »

We’ve still got ten chickens, and they are still slowly mastering the natural art of laying eggs. It has been a common occurrence lately to have an “unshelled” egg dropped on the poop board beneath the roost.

Eventually, the shell develops, and when that first success is finally achieved, it’s relatively easy to spot.

We are not always sure which hen laid which egg, but in the days following the appearance of a small egg, the subsequent daily average number we find notches up by one.

The image above was taken by Cyndie yesterday.

How many eggs will we find today?

I’m voting for seven, even knowing that the average number of eggs our hens lay is six per week. Today could be the arbitrary day one of the already laying hens decides to take her day off.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Still Ten

leave a comment »

Just in case you were wondering, our flock of bug eating machines still numbers ten. When they are not eating bugs, it is because Cyndie has put out kitchen scraps for them. We knew they were very fond of watermelon and have discovered they tend to ignore honeydew.

Maybe they’d go after it if we put a little red food coloring on the rinds.

Tuesday night, Cyndie took out a bowl of peach peels that were left over from a fantastic looking pie she made. The chickens devoured them in a blink.

Apparently they like peach peels.

We are now averaging 4 eggs a day from the ten birds. Obviously, the hens are maturing at different rates. They were all born on the same day and have been together ever since, sharing living quarters and eating the same things.

Nature or nurture?

The other day, Jackie provided a cute picture she took of Dezirea eyeing one of the black australorps standing on the hay box.

I guess you could say the chicken is eyeing Dezirea right back.

I keep expecting to lose the golden laced wyandottes next because of their tendency to straggle behind the group. Last week when I was working in the shop garage, I noticed the birds coming to investigate my activity.

Counted nine of them. Lately, during the day, the hope is that the missing hen is back in the coop laying an egg.

The next time I looked up from my task, the chickens were gone. Oh, but then that missing wyandotte came sprinting from under the brush, racing to find and catch up with the rest of the group.

If I were a predator, that laggard would make for an enticing target.

So far, come time for bed check (roost check, actually), Cyndie has found all ten of the current bunch are making it back to the coop for the night.

What ever happens, we are already ahead of last year in both longevity and egg production.

We are counting our ten blessings every day.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2018 at 6:00 am