Stink!

It seemed like destiny.

One broody hen.

Plus 5 Golden Sex Link hatchlings needing a Mommy…

And reports from the Backyard Chicken Yahoo Group that folks had successfully snuck chicks under an existing broody hen and had them bond.

Perfect, right?!

It seemed so to us, anyway.

So yesterday, we happened to be on the far East side of town – in close proximity to a feed store that keeps chicks in stock through the summer – so we swung by. Sure enough, they had a lovely variety of chicks, and so we bought 5 to bring home.

We set up a temporary brooder and gave the chicks some time to acclimate.

As the evening was drawing to a close, we substituted one non-fertile egg under Shelly for one live chick over several hours.

It seemed to go well.

There was a point in time, though, when I was worried. She got agitated. She was pacing and squawking. I was just about to go and grab the chicks and return them to the brooder when I got sidetracked by this:

Is that not the cutest thing you ever did see? Buffy and her 4 babies perching on the roosts at bedtime! Three under her wings, and the little Dominique sticking close to Mom.

By the time I went back to check on the chicks, I found this:

Shelly with chicks nestled underneath her wings.

WOW!

I was so surprised. And exceedingly pleased.

But still a little worried.

Worried enough that I snuck out there a few hours later to make sure everything was going okay. Sure enough, everything was fine.

Early this morning John went back out to check on everyone.

Sadly, Shelly had rejected the chicks. One she’d booted out of the nest, and it had died during the night. The remaining 4 chicks were huddled and trying to stay warm.

SO SAD!

And such a bummer. I had so hoped we could get Shelly past being broody this way, and that she’d be a good mama to them, like she was to her chicks last year.

Stink.

So – we’re brooding 4 remaining chicks.

Back up with the heat lamp.

Poor babies.

And fickle Shelly – back on the nest box – thinking she’s gonna get babies from the wooden eggs she’s setting…

Ugh!

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.

I love this time of year…


I was laying down on the couch-y piece of lawn furniture in the yard this afternoon and looked up and saw this pretty cloud formation. It was about 85° F, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was lovely.

Here’s Crayon checking out the new digs. She – along with the rest of the girls – are trying to figure out the new set up. John built new roosts – so that everyone is at the same height when they sleep. It’s really throwing them for a loop – you should hear them squawk when it’s bed time.

See? It’s cool, huh?

Of course, at the end down there – right before the fan, you take a left into the old part of the coop, where the nest boxes are. There will be additional nest boxes soon – John’s working on them. They’ll be to the right – between the door frame closest to us in the picture and the beginning of that roost.

Are those not the cutest little feet? Isn’t it the cutest little butt? And look! Wing feathers! The chicks are going to be 2 weeks old on Monday. There seriously is nothing more precious than watching these three little adoptees follow their Mama Shelly all through the yard each and every day. She clucks when she finds something yummy for them to eat. She’s teaching them that I am the queen of the world because I bring fun snacks. I love it that they are excited to see me! We are SO doing the letting the broody hen set on fertilized eggs again thing!

There have been lots of visiting kids here the past couple of weeks. My neice and nephew have been visiting off and on over the summer thus far – although they’re returning home on Tuesday. I’m going to miss them so! And my best friend – who lives in Mexico with her husband and children – spends the summers here with her parents, who live right down the street from us and go to the same church that we do. So Pepper has been on recipient of oodles of love overload all week long. I think she’s had more kids throwing balls for her to chase the past two weeks than she has in the entirety of her life. She’s really been sleeping well at night!

 

Here’s one of the Blue Andalusians. I think they’re just beautiful. They are great foragers – and so GREAT for a backyard flock that gets to free range. They’re quiet, polite, and are reputed to be excellent layers – of white eggs! Go figure!

Here’s one of the Delawares in the garden – eating weeds. I love it when they eat weeds – and remember to leave my cucumbers alone! Isn’t she pretty? She’s got black tips on her tail feathers, too. Interestingly enough, the Delawares lay brown eggs!

John and I were lamenting tonight about the sad state of affairs the garden is in this year. Well, I did have a major orthopedic surgery – so I’m almost no help. I can weed some – but as you can see here – not nearly enough! Here a couple of the Speckled Sussex are helping me with weeding. Those are lima and bush beans behind them.

But when it comes right down to it – we’re doing the best we can – and were just so thankful that we have a garden to grow things in!

Look – lots of cucumber flowers – woo hoo!

When this cucumber grows up – it’s going to be in my next batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!

Here’s Caleb – without a nose. When I was out weeding in the garden tonight he HAD to get close – and as I was trying to take his picture he turned away! Stinker!

OH! And look what we have! I actually ate one tonight – and it was perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious, and perfect. It was the ONLY ONE that was ripe, though. That’s okay – I need the week that it will take them to ripen up to get some projects done before I jump in and start canning jams and jellies.

This is our first year to do corn in AGES. We just really hadn’t had success previously. But with the expanded garden plot we decided to try again. It’s actually about as tall as John – and has put tassels on. I love that! That means there will be corn!

The green beans are coming along nicely. Thus far – no deer have obliterated them. I’ve got a couple of tomato plants that have bites out of them – but so far, they’re leaving the green beans alone.

And if this isn’t cause for rejoicing, then I just don’t know what is!

 

I love these tomatoes – even with the couple of little chicken peck marks in them. They’re a green stripey tomato. I think they’re going to be similar to the ones I eat in Spain – I sure hope so. If so – then it’ll be tomato mush for me!

This really has been the weirdest tomato year we’ve had in a long time. Some of the plants are thriving. Some have set fruit literally at the GROUND – what’s with that? Others are just looking like late bloomers – big time. Virtually every plant has some fruit on it – but man, not the bounty we had last year. Of course, it’s still early…

One of the blogs I’ve read in the past – The Shibaguyz – have constructed potato condos. John decided to give the design a go this year. You build this frame, put the soil in the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and then when the potatoes have come up about a foot or so, you add the next row of boards all around, adding more soil. Again, you wait until more growth, and repeat the process. They say you can harvest 100 pounds of potatoes from one Condo. When it’s time to harvest, you unscrew the bottom row of boards, pull the soil out, and there will be your potatoes! Cool, huh?

Here’s a good peek at the expanded garden plot. See all of the blank space? Yep – it’s the stuff we just haven’t gotten around to planting this year. It’s so bizarre. But, oh well!

Here are my sunflowers (three different varieties, if memory serves), nasturtiums, and poppies that are coming up in the little bed along the street. Please ignore all of the weeds that are coming up along side of them. One day I’ll make it there – just not today, or likely this week.

William was so proud of himself – he caught one of the Delawares!

The hammock my sister sent from Mexico back with Jonathan last year has gotten a real workout the past couple of weeks. The kids swing each other about halfway up the pear tree that it’s tied to. I just don’t watch. They have a great time, though!

So – that’s pretty much what’s going on in the yard!

We’re loving summer – and the beautiful evenings that we can sit out and enjoy the cool breezes and the company of friends and family.

We are blessed.

She’s such a good Mommy!

If you’ve been following along the progress of our experience with a broody hen, you may have caught Monday’s arrival of freshly hatched chicks! Shelly had been setting on a dozen fertilized eggs. On Monday – day 21 (right on schedule) the chicks started hatching. Seven eventually hatched. Two died in the process of hatching out. L In the next twenty-four hours, two more died – both having fallen out of the nest and got too cold. Super sad!

So – we have three little hatchings.

I’ll be honest. The first few days I was about having a heart attack! I wondered:

  • Will Shelly know what to do?
  • Will she reject them altogether? We’d heard of hens that had actually killed hatchlings!
  • Will she be a good Mom?
  • Should we supplement with a heat lamp?
  • Should we take the chicks away from Shelly and just brood them, like we’ve done our Hatchery chicks in the past?
  • Will Shelly make sure they get enough to drink? To eat?

On Wednesday I said to John, “This is WAY more stress than just brooding them like we always have!”

Today, however, I totally take it back.

I will concede that we have learned a TON about the whole process and would definitely have done some things differently – which would have made a considerable difference in the survival rate, I’m pretty sure.

Would we do this again?

Yeah, I think we would.

Here are pictures of Shelly’s trip to the great outdoors with the babies in tow today. She is a fabulous Mom – and was a total delight to watch!

 

 

Rooth is on the left – she was SO curious about those tiny little chicks. You can see that Shelly is all puffed up and is spreading her wings so the chicks can dive under her for protection.

 

 

 

 

It was absolutely hilarious watching Shelly teaching the babies how to sun bathe and dust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think there’s anything cuter than watching the little line of three chicks following – single file – behind Mom!

 

 

Rooth decides she needs a closer look at the chicks.

Shelly gives her the eye! Can’t you just hear her saying, “Those are MY babies! Back off!”

Get a load of those ruffled feathers!

All in all, Shelly and the babies free ranged in the yard today for about three or four hours. I was amazed that the babies had that kind of stamina! I’m betting they are sleeping really well!

Oh My Goodness Gracious!

This is Shelly.

Shelly is a California White chicken. She’s 15 months old. She went broody the first time when this past December, when she was just a young’un!

When she went broody again in June we decided to try and find some fertilized eggs to purchase to let her set on.

We were fortunate enough to find www.eggs2u.com and got a dozen eggs – six Dominique, six Silver Laced Wyandotte.

We got the eggs June 15th. Shelly has taken her responsibility as broody hen VERY seriously – rarely leaving the nest.

Today was Day 21 – when, typically, chicks start to hatch.

Here are some pictures – brace yourself – they’re just too cute for words!

Seven chicks have hatched. Sadly, two didn’t make it. Gosh, to work so hard to hatch out of those super tough shells and then die. UGH! BUT, by bedtime tonight, we had five beautiful little chicks. I’m not sure which is what breed – but you know what? I really don’t care! I’m having too much fun just sitting and watching them!

More on the babies soon – I promise!

That’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles Central tonight!

My Husband, The Genius

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!

Not a good sign…

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.

STINK!

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!

The Garden, the Flock, et al…

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!)

The Garden

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!

The Flock

 

 

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!

The Fam…

 

 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…

SLEEPING IN!

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

I can’t believe it’s January!

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!

I just love Ducky’s stripes!

This might be Angel… there are a couple of the California Whites that I have a hard time telling apart. But this one – and Shelly – both have the super floppy comb and are kind of comical looking.

Pepper was a little jealous that I was taking pictures of the chickens, so she had to haver her picture taken as well. She’s getting so whiney lately! Lord! It’s about to drive us nuts!

Here’s Millie – official leader of the pack – telling me all of her woes and concerns about the goings on in the flock. She is SO vocal! Maybe that’s where Pepper is learning the whiney thing!

And here’s our newest arrival – Crayon! She’s adjusted so nicely to life in the coop with the girls. I feel pretty sure she’s younger than the others… I know so little about this breed. I’ve done some reading – but I come away feeling like I still don’t quite get it. I have noticed in the past few days that her little comb is redder than it’s been thus far. Maybe she’s just coming into lay. We’ll see!

There is just something so right about looking over the garden plot and seeing the girls hanging out and scratching. I honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without the chickens in them now. It’s kind of fun how the neighbors (well, most of them anyway) are just as thrilled with them as well.

I should also report on Shelly – our broody girl. She continues to spend the majority of her time on the nest. We did end up moving her back into the coop with the rest of the girls. It was the right thing to do. She’s such a grump! She will peck at anyone who attempts to take a peek under her to see if she’s hijacked anyone else’s eggs to sit on. We did our best to try and find fertilized eggs for her to sit on – but honestly, we’re just not ready for that yet. Plus the weather is so cold… maybe if she goes broody again in the Spring – we’ll see. In the meantime, we humor her.

My, it’s pretty!

This is the view out our front window this morning… Yeah, we got a bit more snow!I got up – put on my long johns, pulled on my jeans, found a nice warm sweater, pulled on my warm socks, boots, coat, scarf, hat – and set out… The snow came up to my knees is some places! I couldn’t even find the stepping stones!

And yes – getting the gates open was a bit of a chore! Not that lugging warm water out there to the girls isn’t!

Here’s the view past the coop out to the yard… isn’t it pretty? That’s my egg basket hanging on the fence post while I take care of other business.

The willow that the chicken coop is nestled under is beautiful with the ice and snow on it!

Oh! And we’ve had some really great visitors to the bird feeders the past few days! I think this is a Wood Pigeon – if the lady at the Audobon Society was correct in her identification.
It’s really a pretty big bird – but so graceful.

Speaking of birds… Rooth is determined to check out the snow every opportunity she gets! Problem is – she really doesn’t like it when her toes get cold! She flies places, finds herself kinda of stuck, and then waits – sometimes patiently, rarely quietly – until one of us comes and rescues her and takes her back to the warmth of the coop!

We have what seems to be a whole flock of robins that are hanging out – a lot! – in our crab apple tree. They come to the feeders for seed now and then, too. They must REALLY be hungry!

My Mom received a gift of a lovely little shrub from my friend Charissa (who used to work for my Mom years ago) for her birthday one year. Mom was adamant that we take it with us when we moved her out of the house we all grew up in – we transplanted the beautiful little shrub into two planters – and they have thrived.
Here’s a close-up of the snow and ice on it. It is lovely – but oh, you should see it in summer when it’s in bloom!


I should report that Shelly continues to sit on her eggs (and no! I’m not brave enough to reach under and take them away from her!) and be committed to future Mommy-hood. I’m still searching high and low for fertilized eggs. I really hope we can find some!