Underneath that calm exterior…
Three little puff balls…
So far – two Easter Eggers (from the green eggs) and one Dominque.
Aren’t they adorable?
More updates as they’re available…
I’m really hoping for a few more Dominiques at least!
Underneath that calm exterior…
Three little puff balls…
So far – two Easter Eggers (from the green eggs) and one Dominque.
Aren’t they adorable?
More updates as they’re available…
I’m really hoping for a few more Dominiques at least!
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…
It’s a GREEN egg!
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!
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
A few days ago I noticed a bunch of feathers in a couple of different spots around the yard. More than a few feathers. Got me curious.
A couple of days ago I thought, “Gosh, Crayon looks a little weird.” Not sick weird, but just – well – different.
A couple of the older girls have gone through molting in the past weeks – it seemed as if they’d lose tail feathers, or bunches of other feathers – but nothing drastic.
Here’s a good definition about molting from Wikipedia:
Molting simulates the natural process where chickens grow a new set of feathers in the fall, a process generally accompanied by a sharp reduction or cessation of egg production. Natural molting is stimulated by shortening day lengths combined with stress (of any kind). Before confinement housing with artificial lights were the norm, the fall molt caused a fall scarcity of eggs and high market prices.
We didn’t know a whole bunch about molting when we got into this whole chicken addiction stuff. Gosh, the stuff you learn!
But day before yesterday, I walked out and realized, “CRAYON’S NECK IS NAKED!” William exclaimed, “She looks like a Turken!” He hates turkens, they scare him! Can you see that naked neck up there? Poor Crayon!
Last evening when I looked out the kitchen window, there was poor Crayon, huddled up – nearly naked! – in the corner of the chicken yard. It was getting cool out – and she has almost no feathers left! Poor thing!
Doesn’t she look sad and pathetic?
You can kind of see that she has new feather’s working their way in. But what’s she going to do when it gets colder and rainier nest week? So sad!
Jessica and I decided the best way to see what she looks like is with a little bit of video. So here you go:
One’s gotta wonder if she’ll end up completely naked before it’s all over! Isn’t that sad – just one little old tail feather left! LOL!
If no one has told you yet, let me be the first.
Chicken keeping is addictive.
When you first start making your plans to add chickens to your world, you might start by saying something like this: “Three, yes. Three chicks would be the perfect place to start.”
Of course, then you go to the local feed store in Springtime and see the beyond adorable chicks. On the way home you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Eight is probably a better number… Wouldn’t be that much more room to house…”
How you get from eight to twenty-two (including roosters that had to go away) is anyone’s guess!
Sufficeit to say that by the time you settle down to fifteen hens and NO roosters, things seem, well, comfortable.
Here’s the thing, though. When you’re into chicken keeping, you’re pretty much sure everyone else ought to join you in this wonderful pursuit! So, when a friend happens to mention that she’s been dreaming of starting her own flock one day – all she wants is some started pullets… You help!
Over the course of time things happen. Five go to friends. One dies from some mystery malady. Two get eaten by neighbor dogs. One goes broody.
Before you know it, you’re down to just four or five eggs a day.
That, my friends, is just not enough!
Especially not when you’ve got BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs to supply!
So – you might start saying things like, “Well… if William is really going to do an egg business this coming year, just how many chicks should we order?”
You, of course, temper those statements with things like, “We probably shouldn’t get chicks – at least not this year. I mean I’m going to have major orthopedic surgery!” (This would be why you’re up to midnight the night before said orthopedic surgery placing your chick order!)
So… somewhere along the line an assumption is made that yes, some chicks should be ordered. Someone might have said ten chicks. Someone else might have said, maybe 12 chicks. And somewhere along the line the order gets morphed into – oh, thirty chicks!
Thirty adorable chicks.
Five Blue Andalusians (one was a rooster).
Five Speckled Sussex.
Five Delawares (two went missing, one came back).
Five Cuckoo Marans.
Five Amaracaunas (one was a rooster).
Five Minorcas – three buff (one’s a rooster, one died), and two black.
See? I NEEDED thirty chicks! J
And, accordingly, we needed a larger coop and run! (Particularly in light of our new neighbor dogs! UGH!)
This is not a job for the faint of heart! It might even require some blood, sweat, and tears! Or at least a blister or two!
John, my genius husband, has designed and drafted plans for the expansion.
Have I mentioned recently what a genius he is? Cause if not – let me just be sure to keep you in the know – he IS! Seriously!
The coop was the first structure he ever built.
It’s been nothing short of amazing and phenomenal. Many people have stopped to remark how nicely it’s built, and what a great design it is.
Yes, like I said – genius!
So, my genius husband has drafted – as in AutoCAD drafted – the plans for the addition. They’re pretty cool looking. But I’m thinking the built-out model will be EVEN cooler still!
This new addition will more than double the space of the coop! This wall will have six new nest boxes.
The new big door will open into the expanded, new, and improved chicken run.
And my brilliant husband even thought to build in a spot for a fan – for the hot days of summer. Last thing we need is a chicken with heat stroke!
I love this door! He built this all by himself! Isn’t it cool?
And here you can see that the cattle fencing has been stretched to it’s new anchor on the corner of the addition. The girls are going to like this so much!
And here’s a peek at the new chicken yard addition – an actual area with grass for them to hang out in! They’ve already tried it out and seem to think it’s a great idea!
So – now we wait. We’ve got 25 chicks who will begin laying sometime around mid-August. John’s got a schedule all worked out to make sure everything is finished up and all of the new nest boxes are in place in plenty of time for that!
In the meantime – we’re on chick hatch watch:
Shelly is on day 20 on Sunday. It takes 21 days of a hen setting consistently on her eggs for them to start hatching out. I’ll be sure to report any signs of progress!
So that’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles central!
Today I was in and out of the house for various reasons. The girls (big and little alike) rushed to meet me each time – they always expect snacks. How can I deny such enthusiasm?
At about 1pm I went out to get eggs. Everything was hunkey dorey.
John got home at 4pm. He came in from the back and asked, “Was there a chicken showdown today?”
You see, there’s been LOTS of posturing going on the past few days. I’ve wondered if it’s pecking order being worked out, or if it’s roos starting to feel the effect of puberty.
We went outside and he showed me this sight – LOTS of white feathers. No blood – but LOTS of white feathers. There were a few more over further into the front yard. And just a smattering by the back porch – but these ones from a Blue Andalusian.
So who is missing white feathers? Or is someone missing? We did a quick survey and can’t seem to find our big girl white chickens – the California Whites. Oh dear. (Shelley, of course, is still broody and is safely tucked away in the dog kennel sitting on her dozen eggs happily.)
We did a quick head count and found the White Ameraucana – I’m wondering if this one is a girl or a boy! See… (sorry, fuzzy! He/She wasn’t so sure he/she was happy to have a close up picture taken!)
Look at those tail feathers… They’re definitely longer than the average hen’s… Only we’ve only ever had one Ameraucana – Crayon – and she’s definitely an egg layer!
Anyway – found the White Ameraucana. He/She? was fine – missing no feathers.
Found all four of the remaining Delawares. All present and accounted for – no missing feathers, either.
So… that leaves the California Whites. What could have happened? We do have a new neighbor two houses down – with big dogs – that have been seen roaming freely this week. Our neighbor across the street was quite cross with them and their owner yesterday over some destruction they did in her perfectly manicured yard.
When putting the girls to bed tonight and doing a head count, we realized that, indeed, one of California Whites (the no-name one), AND one of the Blue Andalusian baby girls are missing.
When did this happen? I was in the house – at the kitchen sink (looking out over the coop and side yard), at the desk (looking out from a different angle over the coop and the side yard), in the laundry room (same view, slightly different angle), my room (looking into the branches of one of the Camellia’s they hang out on during the day often). How did I not hear anything?!
This is not a good outcome thus far! Two of the big girls gone, two of the little girls gone.
Wondering if I should be worried – a lot. Some worry will come perfectly naturally, of course! That’s just paranoid Mom’s way!
It makes me glad we’ve got Shelley setting on those dozen eggs, though! I wonder what the outcomes/odds on successful hatch will be. We’re ten days in on her setting – here’s hoping she takes her job seriously!
I’ll update if we find out anything else. I sure hope it wasn’t those new neighbor’s dogs!
Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.
Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)
John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!
A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!
It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.
John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!
We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.
We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J
I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!
As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!
Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!
For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”
We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!
Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.
Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.
She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.
Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.
The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!
Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!
I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.
I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)
We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!
This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home! She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here. She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off. (Yay! I’ve missed her!) She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest. My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well. It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well. When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time. These kids sure have been sleeping well!
Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks. It’s so wierd not having him here. We all miss him!
John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had. Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing. I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!
For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.
What we’re really looking forward to, though…
I love it when school is out for the summer!
This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J
December flew past in a bit of a white blur… At one point in time we actually had two feet of snow on the ground… Looking back and remembering how slow some of those days went by – with no ability to get out and about – there really was no true sense of cabin fever. We enjoyed having the chance to do some things slowly – to be honest. But here – at January 5th (how did THAT happen?!) – with the kids back in school today for the first time in weeks and weeks – it feels like it was just a blur.
I decided quite definitively this morning that I would not allow the girls to free range today – there’s a big rain storm moving in – they’re saying we may get up to an inch of rain this afternoon and evening. But as I went out to let them into the run I was greeted by their sunny little faces on the back porch!
“How did you get out?” I asked them. They squacked in return.
I eventually figured out the nest box door had not closed completely the day prior – apparently – and the girls had found a way of escape!
So they’re free ranging today. They love it so – it’s hard to deny them the freedom! (Well, except for when it requires me chasing them back home from the neighbor’s yard down the street!)
Isn’t BB getting pretty? She’s our Cuckoo Maran – I think I’d like to add a couple of more of her breed to the flock… We’re getting ready to put together an order of chicks. Lots of thinking to do on that!
Ducky – honestly – is the sweetest little chicken. She’s sweet natured and lays the coolest eggs. And she’s very pretty!
Every morning I don appropriate clothing – this particular season of freezing temperatures and snow calls for many layers and good sturdy shoes – and go out to care for the chickens. Some might dread this sort of thing, but honestly, I enjoy it. I love talking to the girls – they’re so fun – sometimes they actually talk back, in their own chicken-y ways. It’s always fun to check up on them, interact a bit – they love being petted, and Millie (who is queen of the flock nowadays) always has a report to offer. I bring them fresh water, fill up their feeder, and then gather the eggs.
Today was no different from any other morning, really. My morning routine has been altered slightly since Shelly is broody and in the pantry – and this morning I planned to clean out her temporary housing (she wasn’t amused, btw) and check on her overall health.
I’d gotten the flock cared for, got some pine shavings and went to the pantry to deal with Shelly – and heard a car pull up, and after a moment, a door close. I assumed this meant that John was off work early… only, he never came in. I opened the pantry door and what did I find?
What appears to be an Americauna.
On the top rack next to the door.
Looking, well, a little confused.
!!!!!!! Here she is… Isn’t she cute?
Here’s Rooth giving her the once over – making sure she’s okay to be in her coop. Millie looks on thoughtfully… trying to figure out if she’s seen this one before!