Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's a Christmas Chicken post!

Actually, I didn't intend for this post to coincide with Christmas. BUT one must blog when she has time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It's all about the chickens. So this spring, we had two Goldies, Marvin and Ruby, But the two Goldies were retired. One quite laying eggs and the other became peckish. Have you heard the saying “I'm feeling a little peckish.” and it means you're hungry? Well peckish means that a chicken has discovered her egg is food. Maybe she laid a soft shelled egg or accidentally stepped on an egg and busted it but somehow, someway she's figured out that her egg is edible. And that's bad. Because once she figures this out, she eats eggs, then the other chickens see her eating it and then they figure out eggs are food and then no more eggs for me. I knew is was happening because not only did I have less eggs, but I also found bits of shell and a wet spot on the straw in the nest box...because that was all that was left. We figured out which chicken it was through process separation. I would take one chicken over at a time to Dad's tractor and we figured it out in about a week. So most of the summer Marvin and Ruby had a glorious time. They ranged in the garden, in the lavender and the grapes. I told Mom when I let them out I could almost hear them singing that old song “You and me and me and you together forrrevverrrr!” But change is a part of life, and change started for Marvin and Ruby in June. All summer Ruby and Marvin had something new taking shape in the pen. The green sheet metal along the bottom is a new addition from this spring, in response to the fox throwing himself against the chicken wire. And here is a snapshot of the elusive Andrew. He's not a photo op kinda guy. I was in charge of painting it. Here is the nest box from the outside. Three nestboxes for eggs, and a lid so I can get the eggs without going into the coop. The front of the coop has a little door for the chickens to use and a larger one for me to get into the coop to clean it out, or put the feed in on rainy and snowy days. Why do we need a new and bigger coop in the pen? Well we need more space, as you can see from this spacious interior Drum roll please.... Easter Eggers! Eight easter eggers chickens moved into the pen in September. Easter Eggers are a hybrid chicken that come in brown and black and white and black. They lay blue eggs. Or green ones. Seriously. Google "easter eggers" Here are some pictures of the girls: The next picture is of Eugenia. Eugenia had a bit of an issue. When she came to the house she got it in her head to get broody or “laying” where she quit laying eggs, sat on the eggs the other eggers laid, so they were laying eggs in the pen. To “break up a laying hen” you have to isolate her from the other hens so there are no eggs for her to sit on. Eventually, she will lay an egg to sit on it, but laying the egg will reset her brain so she doesn't want to sit on it. We kept her by herself in Dad's chicken tractor for two weeks. She also molted a lot of feathers which is also common. Once I found an egg in the nest box, I reunited her with the other hens. One thing that's good about easter eggers is that they are very cold hardy. Note their little comb, so little it is very hard for them to get frostbite on their combs. Ruby's comb is also pretty small. She was the first to molt this year. Ruby says “Merry Christmas”

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Summer at the House

Even though I ripped up the last of the 2014 garden a couple weeks ago, I have some pictures from this year's garden. I'll start with my very favorite, a picture of Ruby and Marvin enjoying a good roll in the dirt in the herb garden, surrounded by chamomile, oregano, and a yellow flower, I can't remember what it's called. Once again I grew Malabar spinach from M, my green thumb friend. I just love it. The last picture in this series is actually the seeds that I collected in mid-November. They stained my hands super deep purple, but it washed off pretty easily. In California, they can grow rosemary hedges 2 or 3 feet tall. Here is Ohio, 18 inches is the best I can do. We had ripe strawberries as late as October And here is a shot of the mum my friend M gave me a few years ago As far as animal life around the garden, we had chipmunks most of the season, but not in the fall. I'm not sure if they moved somewhere else, or if the neighborhood fox or Cooper's hawk got him. They were fun to watch, racing around with their little tails stuck straight up like a flag on a go cart. The cats sure had fun watching them too. One of the best things about being outside this summer, was our new neighbors, cows, calves and a short horn bull in the field around the house. I loved watching the calves grow up, and seeing the cows in their shiny summer coats. The dusty gray cow is the herd's lead cow. She is my favorite. The short horn bull is standing just to the left of her. Is his forehead patch in the shape of a heart or the shape of Ohio? I'll let you decide.