Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘raising chickens

Another Example

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Still Ten

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Aw Heck

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Two chickens missing at bed check last night. No evidence visible in the low light of evening to account for their absence.

We knew this was likely to occur eventually, but, of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Cyndie’s audit identified the missing birds as a buff orpington and a golden laced wyandotte.

A survey for any sign of feathers dropped will commence after daylight this morning.

It’s enough to make you shake your head, going bonkers…

Hunter knows how to do it. That’s his cow face.

I think he was shaking off flies when I happened to snap that photo.

Those pesky flies love the eyes.

I bet the horses know what happened to the two missing chickens. I haven’t mastered the level of communication with them that would enable me to hear their version of the story.

Well after dark last night, I thought I might have heard coyotes in the distance. Maybe it was just my mind’s effort to provide an explanation for the unknown. Coyotes would seem a logical possibility, although, a certain fox would be an even more plausible alternative.

There was no memory card in the trail cam at the time, so the culprit(s) will probably remain unidentified.

For the immediate future, the plan for the 10 chickens still with us is to confine them to their coop. There’s no reason to believe this will solve anything, but it just feels better to take some kind of action against an unknown foe.

Maybe this will spur the hens on to make full use of those fabulous nest boxes in there. We’ve still only found 4 of the small eggs associated with the start of their laying career. That leaves six who have yet to reach this milestone of maturity.

We are even more vested now in hoping the rest will live long enough to get there.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Who’s Friendliest?

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It’s no contest. When the chickens hear us out and about, they come running. Lately, a pattern has developed in which one of our three breeds is demonstrating an unmistakable preference to socialize.

Our black australorps are the first to approach and then will linger and visit socially, far longer than the rest of the flock.

Cyndie brought out some food scraps from dinner last night, which eventually attracted all the buffs and wyandottes to join in the fun.

On Wednesday night, Cyndie came in from a walk with Delilah and was completely out of breath. She described a scene that sounded totally hilarious.

Since we have little trust about Delilah being near the chickens, we practice a lot more avoidance than we do spending time trying to teach her to respect them.

When the chickens heard Cyndie and Delilah walking by, the birds emerged from the woods and started running after them. Cyndie hoped they would notice the dog and maybe back off a little bit, but they kept coming. So, she prompted Delilah to pick up the pace a bit and chose a path straight for the house.

The chickens kept coming. Soon, Cyndie and Delilah were running for the door, being chased by the flock of twelve chickens.

Led, of course, by the friendliest four.

What fun they add to our days!

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Our Debuggers

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The main reason we wanted to get chickens was as a means of reducing the number of flies that show up when you have horses. Even more so when we heard they eat ticks, as well.

I had no clue how much fun they would also be as social pets. Of course, there is the added benefit of eggs, too. That’s a feature that I have come to value much more highly than I ever imagined I would.

Our flock continues to number twelve birds, which is really rewarding, but tends to make the inevitable threat of future loss more ominous, at the same time.

Lately, we’ve seen the chickens exploring ever greater distances away from the area around the coop and barn, which I am hoping means they are eating more and more bugs.

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Otherwise, they tend to spend the bulk of their time under the thick cover of the trees between the house and the fields. When we walk past, it is common to hear their 24 feet clawing the leaves that cover the ground, as they search for bugs to eat.

My piles of composting manure no longer hold the shape I build up, as the chicken’s busy feet quickly wreak havoc in their search for precious morsels.

It’s a disruption to my sense of order which I gladly tolerate.

Despite all the bugs our chickens can eat, there remain plenty of flies that pester the horses. We put masks over the horses’ eyes, and this summer we are trying wraps on their legs.

Horses will often stomp their feet to knock loose the biting flies and that repeated concussion takes a toll on their feet and hooves.

Cyndie gave them some time on the short arena grass at dusk yesterday, where they can get some reward that helps distract them from the relentless harassment of the flies.

After that, Cyndie made a pass by the chicken coop to check for eggs and was rewarded with TWO eggs at the same time.

Now we know there are two hens laying. The rest won’t be far behind.

They might be our debuggers, but their eggs really are the crowning glory of our wonderful chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

On Schedule

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The first egg appeared yesterday!

Right on schedule, per our calculations. Melissa and Sarah were visiting and Cyndie took them down to check the coop, just in case. The fact that they were present to witness the occasion was fitting, in that last year they were all up at the lake together when I reported the appearance of our first egg from that flock.

The Williams girls are our good luck charms.

The chickens were being very social while the ladies played a few rounds of ladder golf on the driveway. Instead of being intimidated by the flying obstacles, the birds took great interest in the colorful orbs.

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Maybe they thought the golf balls looked like eggs.

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2018 at 7:21 am

Eggs Soon?

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Lately, we’ve been wondering how close our chickens are getting to their egg laying stage. One of the signs is when the wattle and comb develop and reach full color. Ours are growing at various rates.

Even among the single Buff Orpington breed, there is a range of maturity.

I checked my blog posts from last year to see when the first egg showed up. It was August 8. This year’s batch were all born a week earlier, so if their growth is similar, the beginning of next month could be the start of the daily egg gathering adventures.

I sure hope the predators around here stay focused on wild game for a good long time.

The other day I noticed these twelve have taken an interest in dismantling my woven stick ramp into the coop.

I’ve patched it up a few times, but they always go back to pulling out sticks. If they keep it up, it’s going to be a BIG step to get in to roost at night.

Maybe they know something I don’t. How big a gap would it take to discourage snakes from wandering up to get inside?

Just because they are chickens doesn’t mean they aren’t able to make an occasional intelligent decision, don’t you know!

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2018 at 6:00 am