Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘raising chickens

Complete Opposite

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As expected, we received new snow overnight. Not a lot. Around five inches have been added to our snowpack. The most noteworthy feature about this snowfall is how completely opposite it is in comparison to the previous snow that fell. The earlier event occurred with temperatures hovering around the freezing point and resulted in a heavy, soaking wet wallop of sticky snow. This latest precipitation is all dry powder snow.

There is an interesting result of the snow being such light powder that fell in tiny flakes visible beneath our deck railing.

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I am impressed with how the “shadow” effect shows up directly beneath the verticle slats in the railing.

Cyndie captured the moment of the sunrise this morning from the vicinity of the chicken coop.

She was, as always, very accommodating of the chickens and cleared the path to the barn overhang before opening the coop so the chickens could make their way to that sanctuary for their breakfast.

I will spend the day accommodating delivery drivers by plowing the driveway and clearing pathways. Given the light powder, it shouldn’t take much time. That will allow me to get back inside to spend time on a jigsaw puzzle and watch NFL playoff games in full rest and relaxation mode.

In a way, it’s the complete opposite of the stresses of the work week.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2021 at 11:14 am

Rocky Maturing

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Caught Rocky giving a few shout-outs yesterday when I stopped by to check if the brood might be turning in early for the night. I wondered if he might be trying to help me out by calling them all in.

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It turned out they weren’t done for the day and the few who headed inside for a short time were soon back out again. Some decided to scamper up the path toward the barn again. That’s my sign to leave them be and come back when it is much closer to dark.

As can be seen in my video, the added overhang extension performed flawlessly in protecting the chicken ladder from the sloppy, wet snow sliding off the roof. We received a serious dose of “heart-attack” snow that was a bear to plow, but it made for great snow sculpting.

To heck with simple snowmen. Cyndie went with a snowchicken.

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If that isn’t enough to show how much we love our chickens, I actually went along with my wife’s accommodating their tender-footedness and succumbed to her philosophy of shoveling a path to the barn.

Ralphie, is that dorky or what!?

I figure it’s just a sign of true love. I risked my heart for them.

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2021 at 11:22 am

New Eggs

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Our newest batch of chickens appear to be coming of age. The hours of daylight have started to noticeably reveal their shift in duration so maybe that is inspiring our young ones to get on with the whole egg-laying process.

Cyndie reported the surprise of finding two little eggs in the nest boxes yesterday. It’s not entirely surprising, since it is right on schedule for their age. The timing for us with this latest brood is just a little off because they were hatched so much later in the year than the first two batches we’ve raised. We are not used to seeing this kind of laying activity in January.

It’s exciting. And a little mind-boggling, when we consider there may soon be around a dozen eggs a day.

If we keep this up, Wintervale may need to start marketing eggs for sale.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

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High Perches

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Yesterday, Cyndie happened upon the chickens roosting on the fence and gate under the overhang of the barn. It’s great to see them making themselves at home in the protected spaces we are able to provide.

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They appeared to appreciate the brief visit of actual sunlight. We haven’t seen a lot of sunshine lately.

 

my mind is able to travel
to visions of high perches
where I see things from a different perspective
insight drips in slow transitions
from vacancy to vibrancy
energized elasticized
drastically fractionalized
collages of distinction
mixed in transfixion
a modal depiction
of a different view

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2021 at 7:00 am

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.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

Triple Jump

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The latest dozen chickens that arrived in July continue to mature and adjust to their first winter. They are showing a strong dislike for all this white stuff on the ground.

The morning after the big storm, I opened the coop and coaxed a few birds out to brave the deep snow. One of the dark Barnevelders boldly forged her way through undisturbed powder, despite my well-tread path already open to the barn. She only made it so far before regret seemed to set in.

After a brief pause, she let out a chicken version of a power yell and suddenly leaped with flapping wings to make a most spectacular triple (quadruple?) jump in order to reach the barn, where she stopped against the wall and stayed motionless for a disturbingly long time. I worried she may have pulled a “hammie” if chickens even have hamstrings.

I was in the process of shoveling a clearing for them beside the sunniest side of the barn that the previous brood always appreciated. Eventually, I made my way to the shell-shocked pullet and gently cleared the snow around her to provide unobstructed access around the wall to the area under the overhang where food and water awaited.

Somewhat reluctantly, she took advantage of the easy travel and joined the two-year-old Wyandotte who had already wisely strode up the easy footpath and walked right past the motionless triple jumper to get to breakfast.

We keep hoping the two remaining old birds will teach the next generation the tricks but it’s been going the other direction. The old Buff Orpington has gladly joined the young ones in staying in the coop like a bunch of chicken chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2020 at 11:15 am

Happy Chickens

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Our newest chickens are now about four and a half months old and have reached a size that has the two remaining hens from the previous batch mixing with them as equals. As a group, they are behaving as the happiest and friendliest of yard pets. Almost too friendly, in fact. They are showing no hesitation about racing up to us when we are walking Delilah, who would not hesitate for one second to grab a mouthful of feathers.

On an afternoon walk after our Thanksgiving feast, Cyndie made me stop to occupy the chickens while she hustled ahead with the dog.

She paused to look back and see me chicken-whispering to thank them for agreeing to wear face masks for my little photoshoot the day before.

They had been very accommodating, lining up politely for their fitting.

This morning, there was a new level of excitement because Rocky found his voice again and was crowing many times in a row after weeks of silence following his initial experiments.

Rocky’s coloring and sheen are launching him far beyond the splendor of his brood of adoring pullets.

We continue to visualize his protective spirit as one that will include us and any people visiting as non-threats. He could be our ultimate test of the power of our chicken-whispering abilities.

For now, we are thoroughly enjoying the present state of bliss caring for our growing chickens. They seem totally happy, which is making us even happier.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2020 at 9:55 am

Quick Learners

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Tuesday night, Cyndie was crawling in the dirt and chicken shit underneath the coop to wrangle chickens back into the coop after their second day romping in their fenced front yard.

Last evening, I couldn’t leave the bedtime chore exclusively to her for the third night in a row, so I volunteered my help. When we arrived, Cyndie assumed they were all cuddled in the darkness beneath the coop. I stooped for a closer look and couldn’t find a single bird.

After only their third day out of the coop, they let their instinct guide them to return to their house as darkness approached. All twelve had put themselves to bed.

I picked the right day to offer my help.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

One Month

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Our little babies are a month old now and outgrowing the space in their brooder. They are adding feathers and sprouting tails, each at their own pace. The poor early developers stood out as unwelcome attention-getters. All the other chicks giggled and poked fun at their odd protuberances, until suddenly they got them, too.

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We are planning today will be the day to transfer them to their half of the recently subdivided coop. I think they will like it.

It’s a bit like they are transitioning from elementary school where they are totally confident to the high school where everything will be new and intimidating. Cyndie’s a former principal so she knows how to create a safe and welcoming space for first-year classes.

These kids will quickly become masters of their new domain. After they reach a size compatible for mingling with the 3 adult hens, it will be the elders who we will be curious about, as they will be outnumbered four-to-one all of a sudden by these unfamiliar new breeds.

Feathery feet! Oh, my!

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 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.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2020 at 6:00 am