My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!

Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!

Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!

Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!
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It’s ALL my fault!

Night before last I volunteered to go and make sure the girls had found their way back into the coop, onto their roosts, and tucked themselves in for bed. We’d just come in from running errands, so I grabbed a flashlight and headed out. I was just a few steps from the back door when I turned the flashlight on and thought, “Does this thing work?” I hit it a couple of times it got a tad bit brighter, and so I proceeded.

I went out to the coop, and tried to open the big – people sized entrance – door and because of all of the rain and moisture, it was swollen shut, and I couldn’t get it open. (And John has shaved it down a couple of times already! Dang – we need warmer, dryer weather!) So I went around to the little run – where there’s a window into the coop above the chicken door, and peek through – and got a head count. Only – it was dark in there – and my flashlight wasn’t so strong, and I kept losing count. I finally stuck my head through the chicken door and tried counting again – but again, I wasn’t sure. I finally thought, “Sheesh! It’s not like they don’t just put themselves to bed every night!” and so I figured it WAS 15 I’d counted and went back into the house.
Yesterday morning I went out to let the girls out into the run. I opened the chicken door, said my good mornings to them, and was just outside of the run when I spied Henrietta racing toward me – from around the end of the coop – on the outside of the run! I looked at her and said, “How’d you get out here?”
It was then that I realized she was drenched, and cold, and shivering, and one of her eyes was closed, and she looked more than just a little ruffled.
OH MY!
She didn’t make it into the coop the night before! She’d spent the night OUT!
Here’s Pepper giving me the “BAD chicken Mom!” look:

POOR Henrietta!

Oh my word! I gathered her up into my arms – where she gladly tucked her head against my shoulder, and took her inside. I once again commandeered Pepper’s indoor bed (which she honestly doesn’t give much of a rip about – she’d much rather sleep with her people!) for a temporary chicken hospital.

Once I had a chance to hold her and dry her off a bit and warm her up considerably, I was able to get a pretty good look at her.

First – her left eye is closed – for some reason – not sure exactly why, but she won’t open it for anything.

Next – she’s a little bald on that left side, too – around the ear.

And – she’s got a couple of pin prick places with dried blood.

She was missing a few bigger feathers on her shoulder – but not much. There was no blood or injury anywhere else. My deduction – she’d hidden in the blackberry bushes and somehow managed to get some pin pricks from the thorns.

POOR BABY!

Jess and I had noticed on the weekend that she seemed to be losing some feathers on her undercarriage – and I chalked it up to a potential oncoming molt. From what I’ve read not out of the question.

So – here are the pictures…

She really just is loving being held and doted on – yeah, what chicken doesn’t?! But honestly, a little more than normal.

I would move her back out with the rest of the girls if that eye weren’t closed. I can just see them going after it and that’d be the end of that. So, she’s an indoor chicken for the time being. I’m considering letting them all out to free range today and then letting her do the same – only staying close and supervising to make sure Henrietta doesn’t get beaten up. We’ll see…

I gotta admit – we’re so fortunate, though. We have racoons in our yard NIGHTLY. We see them ALL the time. When it snowed so much -we all saw how many racoon tracks there were around the coop -they were sure interested in getting in there! (My husband is such a genius – he did such a great job at constructing the coop!) Henrietta – by all rights, could have easily been a racoon snack, or an owl snack (there’s one that hangs out on the side of the house), or a coyote snack (been sightings in the neighborhood recently), or a big cat snack (one of those sighted recently, too). But she merely had a run in with a blackberry vine. Wow. She’s one lucky chicken!

Getting Ready for Winter

This is a very pretty flower I picked up at Home Depot in late Spring. I wanted it in the vegetable garden because I felt it would attract pollinators. It did. It’s lovely. And, it’s pretty darn hardy. Today I transplanted it out of the garden – which hopefully will get tilled tomorrow – and into planters on the front porch. Here’s the info about this flower – Sunny Day Tickseed – a type of coreopsis. But you wanna know what bugs me about this plant? This little blurb on the plant identifier tag: “Protected by US Patent Laws and/or Canadian Plant Breeder’s Rights. Illegal propagation is prohibited.” Okay – how stupid is that?! I’m sure someone somewhere thinks it’s a good thing to have intellectual property rights to the propagation of this plant – but one has to wonder… what if it accidentally is propagated naturally? Will I be prosecuted? Ugh!

I hope this pictures comes out okay… In the background – see that truly BIG pile of leaves? The boys worked hard today to amass it. They’re planning on building a fort from the raked up leaves. Ummm… today was one of those rare REALLY blustery days here in Oregon. Supposed to be tomorrow, too… This Mom can’t help but wonder if this plan may somehow be, well, difficult to execute fully. 🙂

ALL of the animals are loving the leaves. Pepper likes to roll in them. Jake and Caleb like to curl up in them. The chickens like to scratch through them… And soon, I hope, they will be moved to my compost heap – helping to make wonderful compost for my garden one of these days!


Today John worked hard to finish up pulling up all of the remnants of the garden. The chickens LOVED following behind and scratching through everything.


Wow – it’s that time of year ago – time to start strategizing what next year’s garden will be.

It’s wild how strange it is that we’ve come full circle. No more green beans… This will be my garlic patch – and soon! Thanks to Danni‘s and Melinda‘s examples and excellent information – I will FINALLY – after years of feeling completely inadequate and definitely not smart enough to attempt it – plant my first garlic patch. Woo Hoo! I’ll be sure to report later!

And here is my piled-high compost heap. The girls are investingating – trying to determine if there’s anything worth finding in there.

And here is my new composter. Kinda wild, huh? It’s called Earthmaker – it’s an Aerobic Composter. It involves a three step process – it has three different compartments – see?

Interesting, huh? I like it thus far, and will be sure to give updates as to how effective it is – or is not!

It occurred to me today – Hey! I should harvest the seed from my basil! Why have I never thought of that before? So, I went out with my scissors and a saran wrapped basket (so anything that escapes a seed pod will not be lost between the slats of the basket), and went to work. Here’s a peek. I’ll probably get around to coaxing the seed out of the pods tomorrow – I’ll be sure to report back! But here’s a great resource I found online about harvesting basil seed.

So – it’s true… it’s full force fall with winter on the way. I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s only a week until November. But I think I’m ready for it now. I think the fact that it hasn’t been horribly soggy has helped. I may even be ready for the rain. We’ll see!

Speedy Update

I’m leaving for Spain in less than 2 weeks.
We’re fortunate to have a willing and kindhearted chicken-watcher all lined up.
However, as you can see from the progression of these photos – Speedy just hasn’t been well – well, since mid-June.

In fact, in the past week she seems to have weakened considerably.

She tends to stay in the coop – granted, it is warmer in there – and shows little interest in much of anything.


The middle girls will huddle around her – almost like they’re trying to keep her warm and protected.

The little girls – the Welsumer’s – are not so nice. In fact, they pick on Speedy quite a bit.

Interestingly enough, the big girls have taken on more of an attitude of watching out for her, as well – especially Henrietta. (Maybe that’s because Henrietta seems to have been bumped out of her spot as queen of the hill and now is just a lowly follower!)

Whatever the case, it occurred to me that it would be a sad – and maybe unkind – thing if – for the caretaker, as well as Speedy – if she were to give up and die while we’re away.

The kids had voiced their concerns about Speedy and wondered if there wasn’t something we could do for it.

That’s when it occurred to John and I that we might know of someone who might “Speedy-sit” while we’re gone.

So on Saturday morning Speedy went to visit at Rancho de Kao – really, pretty much, chicken nirvana. Kao and Tonya are very experienced chicken-keepers who sometimes agree to help out in time of need. They have been so kind as to offer to help our Speedy out.

I should have taken pictures – it was a wonderful experience – and amazing to get to see up close and personal so many different breeds of chicken. They’ve really got a great set-up out there!

I feel so much better knowing that Speedy will get the very best care possible. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if we got word that she’d not made it. But we won’t give up hope yet – here’s hoping that Speedy is hearty and hale and ready to come home when we get home from Spain!

I was wrong!

Remember the mondo egg? The 2 and 7/8ths ounce one? Here’s a picture:

And remember how we thought it was BB who had laid it?

Well – I was wrong! It wasn’t BB at all – it was Millie! Here she is below – she’s the darkest of our Rhode Island Reds – and has the sweetest temperment. Not only has she laid that one mondo egg – she has followed it up a couple of times now with others of exact same size! She’s kind of coming into her stride egg-laying wise. She’s laying pretty much daily now and the majority of the time her eggs are right between the 2 oz and 2.25 oz range.

Remember my late planting of the Scarlet Runner Beans? Well, they worked hard and finally filled out – and produced the most beautiful peachy color blossoms… See?

Here’s a picture of the other planting on the other side of the trellis:

These ones (which I can never remember what they’re called) have a pretty little yellow flower.

And this is what they look like now – after the deer came to visit my garden:

I’m not feeling very warm or fuzzy toward the deer right now. Grrrr!

On Saturday late afternoon – with the skies and the weather forecast predicting rain, we realized we ought to pull the ripe tomatoes in. When all was said and done – we picked about 120 pounds of tomatoes of various varieties…

We love the stripey yellow/orange/red tomatoes that you can see below. They are so sweet and robust tasting.

We decided to try a yellow Roma this year. Wow – they’re gorgeous! And tasty!

We always plant cherry tomatoes, and grape tomatoes, and pear tomatoes, and… you get the idea. This year we planted a variety called sugar lump – here’s a good picture:

Here’s a couple of baskets full of the mini tomatoes. They’re amazing!

Thus far we’ve made pomodoro, diced tomatoes, tomato basil sauce, garlic tomato basil soup, and I’ve got about a gallon of peeleed and seeded tomatoes waiting to be processed.

This is the pomodoro, above; and the tomato basil tomato sauce below.

John’s Hungarian Wax peppers are nearly ready to harvest! Aren’t they pretty?

And just a few of his bell peppers… They’re nearly ready!

Henrietta – always willing to reassert her role as leader of the pack – loves to sit up on the lawn furniture. Here she is – on her throne – observing her minions!

And lest you think we’ve gotten all of the tomatoes that our garden will offer – THINK AGAIN!

These are from Wednesday evening.

That’s a BIG tomato, huh?

Guess I’ve got my work cut out for me! Our tomato plants are still pretty loaded and it’s supposed to be 90 on Monday – in the mid to high 80’s on days on either side of Monday. I’m thinking there’s gonna be lots more tomato processing!

Now that’s a BIG egg!

Yesterday BB laid her first egg…


That’s BB on the left. Her name stands for big black – yeah, I know, not very inventive – but we were trying to keep a LOT of chicks straight – and she was just consistently bigger than the other chicks! She (and the rest of the “middle” girls) was 18 weeks old on the 1st of September. So we’ve been watching for her first egg.

Yesterday was the day! It was exciting – but a rather average, albeit a bit smaller than average (compared to the big girls, anyway).

THIS is today’s egg from BB:


Yep – that says 2 7/8ths ounces.

DANG! That’s a BIG egg!

Compared to Rooth’s eggs…And in with the other eggs from the big girls – who routinely lay about 2.25 oz eggs…

By the way… Aren’t they pretty eggs? I love the color variations. The kids are getting expert at being able to identify who laid what egg. Wild!

We live in an old house – and sometime shortly after the house was built (in 1946) someone planted a hydrangea right under the kitchen window. It’s a very large bush! It is kind of wierd, though – the colors on it tend to wash out to almost white in late summer and early fall, and then it seems to shut down production, as I assume other hydrangeas, do. I was walking past the bush – as I do many times each day – and was shocked to see one cluster of flowers on the back to a truly stunning blue. Isn’t it pretty?

Here are a few of the girls out sunbathing the other day… So much for cleaning the carpet and letting it dry in the sun!

It didn’t take us very long along the road of chicken ownership to figure out that chickens make the funniest noises. Henrietta makes the funniest little chirping sound when she’s on the nest box and you dare to disturb her. Here’s a tiny little video clip that Jessica took of her the other day.

And here (the lightest brown egg) is the egg she laid shortly thereafter!

Interestingly enough – Henrietta is still the most consistent egg layer. We get an egg a day from her – pretty much without fail. Rooth is right behind her in consistency. Interesting, huh?

Our Rooster Laid an EGG!!!

So we have this neighbor…

Well, I should back up a bit… If you remember Harlan the rooster, you’ll remember the neighbor – you can get the whole story here. Suffice it to say – our neighbor does not approve of roosters.

In the past week I’ve had several alarming mornings… picture this… me, in my nightgown, wearing my muckers (the world’s best shoes for running around a dew-wet yard), a cardigan, my hair all over the place… madly trying to coax my California White chickens out of the neighbor’s (yes THAT neighbor’s) newly seeded lawn. I nearly have a heart attack every time I glance out the bathroom window and see that they’re THERE – AGAIN!

About a week ago the neighbor’s wife came and knocked on the door to let me know our chickens were in her yard and I should come remove them… I, of course, quickly donned shoes and followed her to the sight of them scratching in her yard.

This neighbor and I have never spoken before. It was an interesting conversation. She mentioned casually that she used to raise chickens. She shared some tidbits on the best methods to raise chickens. And then she informed me that one of my California Whites was, in fact, a cockerel – not a pullet and that I should be cautious. I responded that I was pretty sure that it was, in fact, a pullet, not a rooster – we’d already gotten rid of our California White rooster – and that it wasn’t unusual for the pullets to develop more pronounced combs and wattles right before they started laying eggs – just about the age of these chicks. She made certain to let me know that she had no doubts we had a roo on our hands, and that she’d be keeping an eye out.

Today – our “rooster” laid an egg!

Here SHE is… she doesn’t have a name, but since she’s so easily identified visually from her peers now, I suppose we’re going to have to come up with a name for her! Any suggestions?

And here’s her egg. It’s our first white egg! Woo hoo! It was petite – only 1.375 oz – but perfectly beautiful!

How’s that for a display of variety?! The darkest eggs are Millie’s, the lightest of the brown eggs are Henrietta’s, and the medium brown ones are Hallie’s.


Oh – and Jake has found a new favorite place to nap during the day:

Yes, that’s him curled up right underneath the nest boxes. The girls don’t seem to mind him there – and he doesn’t seem to mind them, either. He’s such a goof!

It’ll be interesting to see if he’s allowed to continue to nap there as more and more of the chicks start laying… The middle girls are now of an age where that will begin. I’ll be sure to report!

Pictures of the Girls (Finally!)

Today’s Post Courtesy of Jessica Here are a couple of pictures of Henrietta. She’s so cute!
Here’s one of the little girls (that aren’t so little anymore)
hiding in the trees by our house
Here’s Millie, her comb is finally coming in.
She’s roosting on the lawn furniture.

The little girls love wander all over the yard.
There’s speedy, running like always…
Hallie and one of the white chickens searching for

snacks by our neighbor’s garage
Here’s my mom with Henrietta. She is such a cutie!

Here’s me and speedy. Speedy is still the runt
and she is super clumsy.

Hallie has the biggest comb of all. But weirdly enough

she doesn’t lay as regularly as Henrietta and Millie

Henrietta and Millie just hanging out
All of the girls love to eat blackberries out of your
hand. Ducky, BB, and Speedy all want this one.

The thrill…

Will I always feel that thrill when I open the door to the nest boxes and see this? Will I ever be able (willing?) to go to the coop and check for eggs without camera in tow? I’m sure that at some future point in time it will change from a feeling of utter delight to drudgery perhaps… maybe in the dead of winter? Nah… I don’t think so!

I actually have a spreadsheet that I’m keeping that includes which hen laid which egg, what time of the day, how much said egg weighed, and the age of the hen. I’m sure some additional fields will eventually make their way in there, but thus far, these fields seem to be sufficient. I’m such a wierdo sometimes! LOL!

Suffice it to say that the egg watch has retained it’s high level of importance at our house – from the youngest kid on up – we’re all still thrilled with the discovery of a new egg.

Today Millie joined the egg-laying ranks! Woo Hoo! Her first egg was 1.5 ounces – just like Henrietta’s first real egg. But note the difference in color! Millie’s egg is on the left, Henrietta’s is on the right. Interestingly enough, Henrietta is the lightest in color of our three Rhode Island Reds. Wild, huh?

Henrietta’s egg shown here was 2.25 oz – thus far two of hers have been 1.5 oz, and two have been 2.25 oz. We haven’t cracked the second 2.25 oz egg yet, but the first one was a double yolker. Jonathan has dibs on the second one, and I’m sure will be a part of his breakfast in the morning!

This is the first time I’ve raised eggplant. This is an Ichiban variety, and is supposed to be good eats. If lovliness of a plants flower has any weight for the flavor argument, this one is gonna be really good. Wow – isn’t it gorgeous?
John’s pepper plants seem to have gone bezerk all of a sudden. One day you can’t find a pepper, the next, this!
Tonight at dinner John actually took one of these Hungarian wax peppers and diced it to enjoy with the tacos. (Yes, he was the only one interested in consuming it!) He reported that it’s a very sweet pepper thus far, but he’s read it has the potential to kick some serious butt!

Aren’t they gorgeous?
And look! The new planting of green beans are doing their thing!

By the way… I know this is difficult to see, but if you’re good at deciphering clues, you’ll find as we did – HOOF PRINTS! That’s not all we’ve found… more plants uprooted, green tomatoes with bites out of the sides of them, etc. Darn deer!

Thankfully, we’ve got enough tomatoes that the few the deer have gone after thus far have been inconsequential. (I could get QUITE cranky, however, if they don’t watch it!)


Last year our cherry tomato offerings were a little bit paltry. That will not be the case this year!

I think one of the most astounding things in life is to find a tiny little zucchini one day, and the next come back to find a ready to pick and consume fruit!

Of course, there is no such thing as too much yellow crookneck squash, but WOW – we’re getting lots of it, and it’s only just begun! Isn’t it pretty?


I’m watching the berry bushes daily (and of course quality control testing) the fruit to determine if it’s time to start picking. I hope to harvest many, many times in the coming weeks so that we’ll have plenty of jam, jelly, syrup, pie filling, and frozen fruit. I’m sure I’ll find some other things to do with the berries, too – just give me a little time! 🙂

And our first green bean patch is growing like crazy – there are blossoms all over, and baby beans left and right – hooray! I can hardly wait to start canning these for the coming year!

We took a ride out to Ag West today to pick up a couple of things. My heart just yearns for a place that we can call our own… driving through the countryside just outside of the urban growth boundary was a call to my heart… oh, please Lord! Let there be a place for us one of these days!

25 hours later…

Can you see her in there? There’s our Henrietta – who for the better part of an hour hung out in “her” nest box (bottom right) – arranging the pine shavings, moving the wooden egg here or there, squking now and then, and as William observed, “looking kinda angry!”

Yesterday we retrieved egg number 1 at 1:08 p.m. Today, egg number 2 was retrieved at 2:08 p.m. According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, “Approximately ever 25 hours, one ovum acquires enough layers of yolk to be released into the oviduct…”

So, makes sense, huh?

And not only did she prove to be consistent in terms of timing – the next quote from Damerow, “As a hen gets older, her eggs get bigger.”

Yep! Yesterday’s egg was 1.5 ounces. Today a whopping 2.25 ounces.

WOW!

That means egg number 2 is just shy of the jumbo eggs that we purchase, and nearly double of yesterday’s egg!

Wow!

As William reported today, “Henrietta rocks!”

I think he’s absolutely correct!