Buffy, the Peeved

When we choose breeds of chicks last year we referred to an oft used resource – Henderson’s Chicken Chart. Things that I looked at were how cold tolerant they were, how hardy they were, whether or not they were good forager, whether they were a consistent layer, and what size egg they were known to lay. I also like to choose breeds that aren’t quite as common – if we can help keep a breed from extinction – then happy day! I also pay attention to that column that tells what a breed’s likeliness to go broody is. Cause, while it’s nice to have a mama hen now and then, it really does do a number on egg production. A broody hen will set eggs for 21 days, and then for the next 4 to 6 weeks will be all consumed with raising said chicks. (And her pals in the flock will sometimes sympathize with her so much, they’ll slow down laying, too!) Then she’ll likely moult. Then, when she gets back around to it, will start to lay again. It’s totally the easiest way to raise chicks, but well – like I said, puts a bit of a damper on the egg production.

In the 2009 chicks we had 3 Buff Minorca’s, but by the time that group of chicks grew up, we were down to just one. We named her Buffy – anyone else remember Family Affair?

That’s her at about 10 o’clock in this picture. She’s decidedly a blonde. A sweet little bird, a little shy, but a great layer of large white eggs.

One of the things I’d learned about Minorca’s was the fact that they pretty much don’t go broody.

Leave it to us to end up with one that has!

Meet Buffy the Peeved:

She sat here for about a week – strangely enough, taking one afternoon off – but then went back to broodiness. After a few more days, we finally decided to get some fertile eggs to let her set.

So I took a little road trip south to http://www.eggs2u.com and came home with a dozen fertile eggs.

Here they are, nestled in a bed of hay, just waiting for Buffy to come warm ’em up!

There are:

4 Dominique

4 Easter Eggers

2 Rhode Island Reds

2 New Hampshire Reds

So – I went and got Buffy from the nest box, transferred her to the Broody Mama part of the coop, and expected her to sing the Hallelujah Chorus for bringing her REAL eggs!

WRONG!

She was totally PEEVED! Why, pray tell?

Cause I took her away from THESE eggs:

Yes, they are wooden.

No amount of explaining would quiet her down. So I left her to stew.

An hour or so later I found her thus:

MUCH happier, don’t you think?

So… we’re on hatching watch. We should have chicks sometime around the 25th or 26th.

I can’t wait!

Someone…

…is laying MONGO HUGE-O eggs.

See?

Three of those eggs are in excess of 3 ounces each.

Typically, eggs around here weigh in at about 2.5 ounces. Decent sized.

Here’s a handy reference:

Modern Sizes (USA)

Size

Mass per egg

Cooking Yield (Volume

Jumbo

Greater than 2.5 oz. or 71 g

 

Very Large or Extra-Large (XL)

Greater than 2.25 oz. or 64 g

56 mL (4 tbsp)

Large (L)

Greater than 2 oz. or 57 g

46 mL (3.25 tbsp)

Medium (M)

Greater than 1.75 oz. or 50 g

43 mL (3 tbsp)

Small (S)

Greater than 1.5 oz. or 43 g

 

Peewee

Greater than 1.25 oz. or 35 g

 

 

Or…

US egg sizes are defined by the weight of a dozen eggs. (Not individual eggs.  An egg in a carton of Extra Large eggs need not weigh at least 27/12 ounces, but the dozen must weigh at least 27 ounces.)

Size

Weight of a dozen eggs

Jumbo

30 ounces

Extra Large

27 ounces

Large

24 ounces

Medium

21 ounces

Small

18 ounces

Peewee

15 ounces

 

So – in short – those are MONGO HUGE-O eggs someone is laying!

All I can think is: OUCH!

And which breed is it laying those monster eggs?

Investigative reporting to ensue!

I’ll report back when I know more.

Houston – we have GREEN!

When we ordered chicks earlier in the year we made some strategic decisions about what TYPE of chicks to order – i.e., what breeds. One thing that we’d realized we wanted – and didn’t get – with our first little flock of girls, were any Americauna’s – i.e., tinted egg layers. As long as 16 months ago we’d decided that we needed some Americaunas. We wanted green and blue eggs!

Typically – a pullet (what a chick is called before she’s a year old) will come into lay – i.e., start laying eggs, at about 20 weeks of age. A number of factors can really affect when that first magical egg arrives, though – things like hawk scares, neighbor dog scares, weather, etc. can delay laying.

Of course, a little less than a year ago we had the mysterious arrival of Crayon! Yes, she’s decidedly an Americauna, but lays a pinkish-hued brown egg – no blue or green. L We love her, though – she’s very sweet and a wonderful addition to the flock.

Our April 2009 chicks are now EIGHT months old. Up until now we’ve had only brown eggs – so I’d assumed we’d lost out on the tinted egg layer lottery, darn it all!

But on Thursday – an event worthy of me trying to figure out how to use my camera phone and text everyone a photo occurred…

LOOK:

It’s a GREEN egg!

WOO HOO!

I figured – well, at least we have ONE tinted egg layer.

Then today – THREE green eggs – all varying shades of green – clearly the work of three different girls! COOL!

We’re so excited!

Good girl! Keep laying those cool green eggs!

Catching up…

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

First – my desktop computer – it croaked. No warning whatsoever. One minute it was working beautifully – the next, dead as a doornail. Thankfully I have a rocking warranty on it, and so I called the Dell folks, spent copious amounts of time on the phone with tech support, they had me try pretty much everything short of standing on my head and juggling oranges – and deduced they needed to send out replacement parts and a tech. They overnighted parts, the tech arrived with the parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?!

NO.

So… the tech calls tech support, reports the outcomes, they decide to send MORE parts. But, of course, it’s the weekend before a major holiday, and so a WHOLE WEEK goes by before said tech calls again and reports he’s got the parts and wants to come by. I said, “By all means!” I mean HELLO! I’m addicted to my computer. May as well cut off my left foot without it! So he comes by, he replaces said parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?

NO!

EGAD! So then they say – “Um… well… We’re basically gonna have to replace your computer!” Which, in theory, sounds great – right? New computer, 2 years into the rocking warranty. (Thank you Jesus that the hard drive is in good order!) Right?! But get this: 2 to 3 weeks to receive said replacement computer.

UGH!

So, I’m pretty much just limping along on the laptop. THANK YOU LORD JESUS for the laptop! Oh, and the wireless network! BUT – all of my files – everything – are on the hard drive of that desktop, and well, yeah – it’s been a little bit traumatic.

So forgive me for my absence – not having the desktop has sent me for more than one loop! (Okay – yeah, I get it! I’m an addict – a computer addict! I know! I just don’t see anything to do other than embrace it!)

THEN…

The laundry room sink – original to the house (aka VERY old) – you know, the old cement kind? Cracked. Big time. And then a bit of a flood ensued. And the landlord had to be called, and stuff had to be replaced. Praise the Lord for good landlords!

THEN….

The washing machine broke. Had to get that fixed. Praise the Lord that happened on a pay day – and while it hurt to pay the $163 to fix it – it got fixed. Cause, honestly, I’m about as addicted to my washing machine as I am my computer! Thank you Jesus!

THEN…

Brace yourself…


(John visiting me in the hospital this summer.)

Remember how I was pretty much sick all summer long? (Well, honestly, it was since April 24th, to be specific.) And how I was in and out of the hospital May to September? And how the last time I was discharged from the hospital they had me go NPO (nothing by mouth) and sent me home with IV antibiotic infusions five times a day and TPN (IV nutrition) for 16 hours each day?

Yeah, I remember, too.

Well, on the 18th of November (the day the computer crashed) I went for a follow-up Upper GI. Guess what we learned!!

ALL.

HEALED.

UP.

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

So, 9 weeks to the day from the time I went NPO (September 19th, 2009) I took my first sips.

It was soup broth – nothing earth shaking – unless, of course, you’ve just spent 9 weeks ingesting NOTHING! I spent that Friday through Tuesday doing liquids, and then on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the wonderful Dr. Zelko (my amazing surgeon here in town who takes such great care of me) called and gave me the go ahead to eat whatever the heck I wanted to! I like Dr. Zelko so much! J

Great timing, huh?

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was full of lots of reasons to give thanks!


(Great-Grandma’s Toffee Cookies – for Thanksgiving, of course! Famiily tradition lives on!)

We had a great get together with family early in the day, and had the great privilege of getting to have a second Thanksgiving celebration in the evening with our very dear friends.

I got off easy – I brought the dinner rolls! I will concede they were pretty darn yummy.

Oh! And my African violet – which I’ve never had success keeping alive in the past – did this:

THEN…

In the midst of all of this – life has continued to go on.

Like…

Jonathan (the goofy kid on the right)… drum roll, please…

MADE THE JV2 BASKETBALL TEAM!

Woo Hoo!

We are SO proud of him!

His first game was Tuesday night – they creamed the opposition – 68 to 30-something. Go team!

And like…

Our girl Jessica – who unbelievably enough is a Senior this year (How?! Where did the time go?!) has…

  1. Been accepted to one college.
  2. Gotten her applications, essays, scores, etc. submitted to all of the rest of the colleges she wanted to apply to.
  3. Concluded she will likely go nuts waiting to hear the outcomes of said applications!

I, on the other hand, will try not to freak out about the fact that my BABY is in our home for the last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, etc. as a kid… She will soon be out on her own. Sniff… I miss her already.

And…

William continues to be William – or ahem – BiL, as his friends know and love him – and give us all great cause to smile – and laugh out loud – just being who he is – a really, really cool kid.

In the Hip Chick Chronicles part of life, the 2009 Chicks are growing up!

Our flock has settled right at 30 girls. We were averaging about 10 or 12 eggs a day until we kept them shut in the chicken yard for about a week and taught them WHERE they are supposed to lay their eggs. We had a 20 egg day the other day – amazing!

Crayon has recovered from her molt and is no longer naked! Good thing, too – it’s been downright cold, and is supposed to be bordering on frigid in the coming week!

Scarlet – at the grand old age of 8 months old – has decided she wants to be a Mommy. She’s been broody for nearly a week now. If it were summer I’d buy fertilized eggs and let her set them. But the dead of winter? I think not.

Scarlet, by the way, was once deemed our special needs chick. If I had my desktop here I could upload a photo that showed you how she got her name. As just a wee thing she somehow got the top part of her beak caught somewhere – and it pretty much ripped off – and when we found her – she was all bloody. One of the kids – a boy, I’d venture! – said we should name her Scarlet. Somehow it stuck. At first we worried quite a lot about her – she was underweight compared to the other girls her age. But she’s compensated JUST FINE, thank you very much. She’s actually quite sweet and I believe would be great Mommy material. I keep wondering if we should have her bottom beak trimmed, though – it seems so weird that her beak is so uneven!

She’s a Cuckoo Maran, by the way, who lays the most gorgeous deep chocolate brown eggs – when she’s not broody! The copper coloring along her head and neck is so pretty. There is such a thing as a Copper Cuckoo Maran – I’ve wondered if that’s what she is!

AND, maybe most potentially world-rocking of all…

It has become quite obvious that we need additional income.

We’ve scrimped.

We’ve eliminated perks.

We’ve given stuff up.

And it’s just not enough.

So I’m looking for a job.

I actually got called for an interview. We’ll see what – if anything – comes of it. It was for a wonderful place, with very nice people, doing a job that I believe I would be very good at. I could be quite content with said job!

So lots to thank the Lord for.

As always.

Gosh, it’s good to be His!

Success!

…for the most part!

See what my genius husband did today? He secured bird netting over the chicken yard – essentially, making it impossible for Rogue Chickens to fly up into the tree! Woo Hoo!

For the most part it worked! Two of the girls figured out how to sneak past and fly up into the tree – one of the Ameraucana, one of the Blue Andalusians. And yes, it did take John and me essentially hunting down and throwing them into the coop – the other 8 girls who usually sleep in the Willow. But who cares?! They’re in the coop! Right now! Sleeping!

Cause for rejoicing!

See that little Ameraucana through the hole? She’s SURE she can find a way through that bird netting to get up in the tree!

She was wrong!

A couple of the Blues checking out the coop. By this point in time each night they’re normally way up at the top of the willow. This change has rocked their world a bit!

She’s not feeling amused about the change! Doesn’t she look a little bit cranky?

Nighty night, girls…

Rogue Chickens

As I mentioned before I’ve got a subset of my flock who are convinced that going native is the way to be. There are eleven of them, to be exact – who want nothing to do with the ways of the civilized chicken.

They have a lovely coop that my amazing husband has slaved to complete. Yet they sleep in the willow.

The girls who sleep up in the willow end up flying down the next morning – outside the chicken yard – and getting them back in to try and keep them confined at all is well – nigh on to impossible!

They also disdain the lovely nest boxes…

…and choose instead to find obscure locations to lay their eggs…

The stinkers!

The first time – we found 36 eggs.

The next time – 19.

Yesterday – I found 8 out in the yard.

I have to admit – it doesn’t thrill me to go out in the pouring rain and have to hunt down eggs in the 1/2 acre of a yard. Of course, the girls are looking for a mostly dry protected place to lay – which means I have to carry a flashlight and sometimes the pruners – to reach into the underbrush and clear the way.

UGH!

They’re driving me nuts.

So – we decided we should just coop them up in the run for a week – so they’ll figure out where they’re supposed to sleep and lay.

We tried putting out treats INSIDE the coop before bedtime to lure them in. We were all poised to shut them in as soon as we could get an at least a fraction of the Renegades in there. Yeah – well, didn’t work.

So, we decided, maybe we need to get some bird netting up so that they can’t fly up into the tree. That’s still an option – but with the weather we’ve been having (inches upon inches of rain, not to mention wind) – we haven’t been able to go there.

I’m seriously considering clipping their wings so they can’t fly. The only challenge will be catching them! The Renegades are not warm and fuzzy, as a general rule. They have not been handled much since they were babies. They love us – and come running when we come out into the yard – they know a good thing when they see it! (We usually come bearing treats!) But catching them will require Jessica, the girl with the chicken wrangling skills. Seriously – she’s got a gift. She’s so busy with school and extracurricular activities, though – finding a time when she’s available could be a bit of a challenge.

With the winter fast approaching and potentially chicken-threatening weather a possibility – I’ve got to come up with some sort of a plan. For me – as much as for them – I just don’t want to be tramping around in the snow hunting eggs!

If you’ve got insider tips – share away, friends!

Fresh Eggs

John got the sign up today, advertising the fact that we have eggs for sale.

We’ve been selling eggs for quite some time. People stop by all the time and ask if we have any, and if we have enough excess, then we sell them. If you’ll recall, William decided some time ago that he should have an egg business – and so we ordered chicks to augment our flock this spring.

Said chicks have been laying – and getting their “sea legs” so to speak, starting with the cutest little tiny 1 ounce eggs, and most are now up to regular sized eggs. Most days we’re getting a dozen eggs. Today was a 15 egg day. We’ve got five dozen extra eggs in the fridge – and available for sale.

Wow – it’s actually happening!

The morning started off with a lady from the neighborhood stopping by to buy eggs. A good start!

Today as I was washing dishes and looking out onto the chicken yard, I was struck by the fact that our baby chicks are nothing of the sort any longer – in fact, they’ve grown into some really beautiful pullets. So, of course, I had to grab the camera and get a few pictures.

This one I’m excited about. This is the lone black Minorca that we have left. She is SO beautiful. I don’t know if you can tell at all – but she’s so black that she has an amazing green sheen to her feathers. I love the contrast between her feathers, her crazy floppy comb and wattles, and her white ears. Yes, she lays white eggs. It’s very difficult to get a picture of her – she’s pretty skittish. So I was pretty thrilled to get this one!

And I know I’ve said it before, but I just love the Blue Anadalusians. Here’s a not super clear picture of one – but I think this one is really a beautiful bird!

All of the Blues are, really – but the lovely deep hue of her plumage is really stunning.

I realized today that there really is no distinction – size wise, anyway – between the big girls and the 2009 chicks. When they’re out scratching around – you really can’t tell which is which, except for the breed differentials.

And great news! Crayon isn’t quite so naked any more. She’s getting her feathers in! She still looks pretty funky – but she definitely looks better!

And here’s a not very clear picture of Mystery – the black Ameraucana. She’s so pretty – and also very skittish – so it’s hard to get a picture of her.

On a different note – my Aero Garden is growing amazingly! Take a look:

See that? I’m not sure if you can – but those are little buds that are coming out!

It’s been so fun to watch these plants thrive and develop! It’s been nearly a month since they were planted, and they say we should expect tomatoes to eat in another month.

And amazingly – there are still a few flowers blooming in the yard. Not the best picture – but it’s still a beautiful little poppy! I’m definitely going to plant a whole bunch more poppies next year – I’ve loved them!

All in all – I’m adjusting to the fact that fall is here. It really is beautiful – even if it isn’t my favorite time of year! J

What a surprise!

This morning I was out in the yard checking the nest boxes for eggs. It was pretty early. Early enough, in fact, that I was still in my PJ’s and carrying around my TPN backpack.

Honestly, it was a little early to be checking for eggs. Our girls seem to wait until after 9am or so before they get serious about laying. But I kept hearing a chicken carrying on like she was about to lay an egg the size of a watermelon or something – they can really get loud, the pullets, when they first come into lay.

Of course, the 2009 chicks started leaving us the cutest little eggs quite a few weeks ago – must have been late August or early September. Over the weeks since then the egg size has standardized and the number of eggs collected has increased…

But not that much.

On a banner day we’re getting ten or maybe 11 eggs.

We have 30 laying chickens.

We’d wondered if some of them were just late bloomers. Or maybe some of the breeds less inclined to lay daily. We wondered if our expectations were too high.

We have seen quite a few of the 2009 chicks on the nest over the past weeks – an encouraging sign that they’d figured out the whole how and where to lay an egg thing.

So – this morning, I went out to check for eggs earlier than normal. When I was at the East end of the coop I realized the squawking was coming from one of the Blue Andalusians – and she was over by the Cedar trees that the girls like to hide out under.

I thought, “Great, I hope she’s not going to lay under those trees – I’ll never be able to get under there to retrieve an egg!”

We have found an occasional egg in a really weird place…. Under trees and bushes (just a couple of eggs), in one of my flower planters (1 egg), in the chicken run (2 eggs), and early on quite a few on the floor of the coop – typically UNDER the nest boxes.

So I felt pretty sure there was a good chance that I would have to get the boughs of the cedar to check it out.

However, the Blue – rather than ducking under the cedar – turned the corner and ducked into the lean to. We have this strange little lean to that we believe was originally used to store firewood. It’s actually pretty good sized, but it’s very dark inside, and has a dirt floor. Right now John stores his excess lumber and building supplies there, along with the rototiller, and lawn mower. I followed behind the Blue and way in the back was one of the Delawares, nosing around. The Blue was still carrying on, but it didn’t seem like she was going to lay right then and there, so I headed back for the house.

I had a lot of things I had to do today – it was a pretty busy schedule, and I’m still kind of a wuss when it comes to energy expenditure. I did mention to John we should check out the lean-to to see if one of the girls did eventually decide to lay an egg back there.

Shortly before John got home from work, William and I grabbed a flashlight and decided to check out the whole lean-to thing.

What we found astounded us. See for yourself:

…and…

All in all – 36 eggs found. All of questionable age, of course, and there was the distinct odor of rotten egg back there.

So, when John got home we showed him, then collected them, and then promptly disposed of them.

So…. More of the girls are laying – lovely eggs I might add – than we suspected.

John quickly got to work and tacked up chicken wire over the opening to the lean-to so they can’t get back in. Here’s hoping they figure out that laying on the nest is WAY more fun than under a tree or bush somewhere. It’s getting to be that time of year and I really don’t want to have to go egg hunting in the wind and rain all winter long!

Crazy chickens!

They’re Growing Up!

Nearly all of the 2009 Chicks are laying now. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has flown – they were just little fluff balls the other day – and now they’re getting to be big girls!

I went out in the yard last afternoon to try and get some pictures – I must provide the disclaimer that I’m still pretty weak after having been sick and my hands shake a bit – so my pictures aren’t the clearest – sorry! But this will give you an idea!

Remember this? Aren’t they adorable?

Here they are now…

This is one of the Delawares. I think they’re so pretty! Interestingly enough, they lay brown eggs.

This is one of the Speckled Sussex.

Here’s one of the Cuckoo Marans. They are HUGE. Well, so are the Delawares, but the 2009 Cuckoo Maran chicks are even bigger than BB!

In the foreground one of the Blue Andalusian girls. Isn’t she just stunning? And yes, the Blues lay white eggs. Slightly behind her is the Buff Minorca. She’s the last Buff Minorca – her sister was the first to die – didn’t handle the transit well here in April. The other Buff that we ordered was a roo – and he went to live on a farm this summer.

This is Mystery, she’s an Americauna – it took us the longest time to figure out what she was because she looked so different from her sisters.

This is Scarlet. She’s our special needs chicken. Her top beak got ripped off pretty short, and has a long bottom part of her beak. She’s learned to adapt pretty well, but I do try to give her her own special treats so she doesn’t have to fight for them. She also has the most interesting coloring of all of the Cuckoo Marans. We’re wondering if she’s a copper Cuckoo Maran.

And here’s one of the other Americaunas. We can’t tell these ones apart, so they don’t have names. But they are kind of golden and brown colored, and very inquisitive. I don’t think they’re laying quite yet, either.

I couldn’t for the life of me get a picture of the Black Minorca – she’s so skittish! But she’s SO beautiful. She’s jet black with a green iridescent sheen to her, with white ears, and a bright red comb and wattles. We originally had two Black Minorcas. In recent days we’ve realized the second, less dominant one, has simply disappeared. To be honest, with all of the girls who sleep up in the Willow tree, we’re having a hard time even knowing exactly how many chickens we actually have! Probably close to 30, I think. Maybe 28 or 29. I’ve got to find a way to get a head count!

On the egg front, we’re averaging about 10 eggs a day – we’ve had as many as 14 in a day. So things are definitely improving in the egg production world. There were times not that long ago – when the heat was so bad – that we’d have three or four egg days. It will be interesting to see what kind of tally we’ll have when everyone is producing.

We continue to have people stopping and asking to buy eggs, so we’re getting ready to start doing that. We have casually in the past, but we have a real sign now and everything, so that should be an interesting transition!

I’ll close this with a picture that I took a few days ago – I love the coloring of it!

Home again!

One has only to spend 17 days in the hospital (two stays) over the course of a month (first admission 7/23/09 – second discharge 8/23/09) to really come to appreciate one simple fact:

Home is precious.

I’m so glad to be home.

I’m about a weak as a kitten, but I truly feel the beginnings of well. I haven’t been there for a while.

I have a lot of work ahead of me- remembering to eat (even though I don’t have much of an appetite), remembering to rest (probably the hardest thing), resigning myself to doing what I CAN, not what I feel I OUGHT to do. Can put a kink in a girl’s preconceived ideas of doing stuff!

And just in case you didn’t know.

I adore my husband.


(John holding William – Oregon Coast, 1997. William was just 6 months old.)

He’s so kind. Patient. Loving. Compassionate. Conscientious. You know – one of those guys who do the right thing – even when it’s not the easy thing to do. A guy who has the character of God deeply ingrained in his heart. His smile and laugh just make my heart glad. I’m just so thankful to God for the great honor of being John’s wife. Something I truly do not deserve. But God…

So – guess what I did when I got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! (Okay, after I checked email.) I grabbed the camera, headed out to the yard, found a place to plant myself, and I took a few pictures.

Stuff happens when you’re away from home!

The babies stopped looking like babies and look more kinda like awkward teenagers now! At first we thought we had one Dominique and one Silver Laced Wyandotte. Now we don’t know. I’m hoping they are two different breeds – cause one of these might be a roo if not!

Note the differences:

Birdhouse gourds galore have grown!

And so exciting!

Someone has started to lay the cutest little white eggs!

They weigh in right at 1 ounce each.

Kinda piddly compared to BB’s 3 oz eggs!

Here’s my guess as to WHO the layer of said adorable eggs is:

One of the Blue Andalusians. Isn’t she pretty?

So – it’s good to be home.

Happy sigh.

I refuse to think about the fact that it’s only two short weeks before my kids head back to school again. I am SO not ready for that yet. Jessica comes home from camp tomorrow late afternoon – after a summer away. She will be a senior in High School this year. I want every moment with her possible.

Off I go to rest.