Spring Cleaning!

Today John mucked out the coop. We do the deep litter method of chicken keeping. That means that – typically – once or twice a year it will be mucked out and started all over again with fresh pine shavings. Throughout the course of the year additional fresh pine shavings are added to the top, when things need “freshened up” so to speak.

Aside from finding a WHOLE BUNCH of chicken poo, John also found 10 – yes, I said TEN – eggs – all of varying age. Elijah, my inquisitive nephew, decided to squeeze one of the eggs to see what would happen! Yeah – rotten egg is not such a pleasant experience when you end up wearing it.

See that white egg there behind John?

This Welsummer was pretty put out with John as he worked. She’d come in – squak at him – supervise his work for a while, leave for a while, then come back and repeat!

BB – along with all of the other girls – was trying to figure out what the heck we were doing in her coop!

You see – we do have a plan! (Of course!) John reattached the door that was taken off last fall – so that we can divide the coop once again. The big girls will sleep on the side that the nest boxes are on…

and the chicks that we’ll be getting this spring will hang out on the other side of the coop!
We are looking at adding chicks from the following breeds this year:
Cuckoo Maran
Ameracauna
Sussex
Minorca
Delaware
Barnevelder
Andalusian

I don’t know which of these we’ll actually be able to get our hands on – but I’ve started the process of seeking them out.

Tonight, the big girls were a little confused about all that was going on tonight when they were going to bed at first – but eventually settled down for the night just as they always do.

On a sad note. Angel, our California White with the prolapsed vent, has not responded to therapy. Even worse, her prolapsed vent seems to have gone necrotic – I believe she’s been pecking HERSELF. We had her in isolation – away from the other girls – so that they would not harm her – but apparently that wasn’t good enough. So we’ve decided to cull her from the flock. It seems the only humane thing to do.

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!

They got cold feet!

When I went to check the temperature in the coop this morning it was all the way up to 30 degrees! Woo Hoo! A veritible heat wave!

So I dressed up in my long johns and jeans and warm socks and sweater and coat and hat and scarf and mittens and went out to get them some clean warm water and check the food and gather eggs.

Yesterday when I went out they wanted NOTHING to do with coming outdoors. Today, however, they seemed somewhat interested in doing some exploration. So I decided to let them out.

I got the water out, scattered some corn, and let them out to explore. The California Whites were the most adventurous – they made it all the way to the big run – and then stood there on one foot looking like they didn’t know why the other foot was so stinking cold!

A couple of the Welsumers decided to follow the California Whites on the corp of discovery. They weren’t amused. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they could get a LOT further if they would fly places – keeping their cold little tootsies out of the cold, cold snow!

So, as I went about my business, checking on everyone, bringing out scratch, etc. I failed to realize that the girls were way not amused any longer. In fact, they were shivering like crazy!

So I quickly herded them back up, carried them one by one back into the coop, and then transferred the water to the interior of the coop.

They were so happy to be back in their little warm coop! I’m thinking they won’t be venturing out into the snow again in the near future!

Oh! Interesting note. In all of the days preceding this weather event the 14 girls had been laying between 10 and 13 eggs a day. The day it snowed – 10 eggs. Yesterday – 9 eggs. So far this morning – 6 eggs (and it’s still fairly early). It will be interesting to see if their production is impacted by the weather.

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!

Will she make it through the winter?

Speedy, as you may well recall, has not had an easy time of it. She is smaller, less coordinated, definitely lowest girl on the pecking order, and well – sad. That’s her on the left.


I think it’s so interesting that some of her pals – the girls who are the same age (aka the California Whites, Ducky, and BB) will take turns hanging out with her – typically making sure she’s not alone much. Here she is with one of the Whites and BB.

We’ve talked much about the fact that Speedy may not make it through the winter. We’ve really only had a few nights where the low has gotten close to freezing – but I have to wonder as the winter progresses, will she make it? She’s so light. She seems to have so many fewer feathers than her peers. And she struggles so to do things the other girls do routinely.

She definitely has not started laying – in fact, we’d be blown away if she did! Poor thing – she’s so peeked and pathetic. We’re worried.

This is Shelly. Doesn’t she look hilarious with that crazy comb?

Here’s one of the Welsumer babies. They’re old enough to start laying now, but haven’t begun quite yet. Their combs and wattles are becoming more pronounced and redder – shouldn’t be long now.
And here’s Ducky. Remember the big conclusion that Ducky was laying those gorgeous dark eggs with the freckles? Well – ummm… maybe not! I went back to my photo archives after some suspicions and found that sure enough – our Ducky does NOT, in fact, lay those gorgeous dark freckled eggs – BB does! Ducky lays a lighter egg with lighter freckles – much like it sounds Vonda’s chick does! Just when you think you’ve figured your chicks out! LOL!

So you gotta see the new bigger run that my brilliant husband has put together!

It gives the girls a much larger area to hang out – while still being confined somewhat.

You see – they’ve developed a bit of wanderlust, these girls. I keep finding them going DOWN THE STREET toward the various neighbors yards. That had to change!

So John added this additional fenced yard. Part of it is under the big old willow, part gets sun.

Thus far, the girls seem quite happy with the new digs!

Gosh, my husband is the coolest!

I love Ducky

When I first started looking seriously for breeds of chickens I found an article about heritage breeds of animals… i.e., animal breeds that have been nearly forgotten and some nearly lost, due to the fact that they aren’t has hardy in large scale production. I’m a history girl… I love it. I read about it – all the time. So when found some information about Dominiques, particularly, I thought, “I want those!”

So when it came time to order, I placed an order for five Dominiques. There was a little boo boo at the feed store – my order got mixed in with a bunch of other black-ish looking chicks – and I was sent on my way with what was HOPED to be five Dominiques – plus one, just in case.

As it turns out – three of our “Dominiques” were boys. They had to go away – and they did, to a very nice farm. The other three are Ducky, BB, and Speedy. Of the three, I’m convinced that Ducky is the lone Dominique. 😦 The jury is still out on what BB is, and Speedy – well she’s a sad story all unto herself!

But Ducky… She’s so sweet! She’s so lovable. When you go outside and speak – she comes running! If you reach to pet her – she holds still so you can. She looks at you when you talk to her – and acts like she really gets what you’re saying! She’s adorable.

And… she lays the coolest looking eggs!

Aren’t they pretty? How’s that second to the left one for huge-o!?

Can you see the speckles on them? They’re very, very dark brown. Kinda freckled.
Here’s that big one – 2 and 3/8ths ounces. Wow!
I’m so glad we ended up with Ducky – she’s a wonderful chicken!

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.

Sometimes the rain is a happy thing

The occasional showers – well, since the HUGE downpour that came with the thundershowers the other night – have been really quite nice. They’ve done wonderful things for the garden – even if they do have the chicks really puzzled about those strange drops falling out of the sky!

As you can see, the Welsumer babies are growing up! Everyone has feathers on their heads now! Wow – that was fast! Looking us straight on at the center of the photo is the little roo who will be moving to a wonderful farm come later in the week. He will be well-loved there. I’m convinced he’s going to be a wonderful roo – he’s got such spunk and fun personality – not to mention is quite handsome!

On the left is Speedy, BB (which stands for big black) who is in the center, and on the right one of the California Whites – maybe Angel, I’m not sure – not all of them have names.

Can you believe how much smaller Speedy is than BB? And how much HUGER BB is than both the others? Speedy *is* the smallest in the flock – without a doubt, but she is catching up. She’s really made quite a turn around and we’re just so pleased. She is retaining her fun personality – and is definitely the most comfortable of her group (the middle girls) with human interaction. We continue to give her treats daily, hoping to help her catch up on that disparity in growth!

Below is the green bean plot. I walk out the door each day and am just blown away at how much they’ve grown in another 24 hour period of time. Since yesterday tendrils have shot up on the pole beans. We MUST get the trellis in tomorrow! When I look at the Squash patch I just smile – in happy anticipation of my very favorite veggie coming into fruition! We had that conversation again this year – John and I – the one we have every year. In his mind – one or two yellow crookneck squash hills will do us just fine. In my mind – there’s no way it’s physically possible to have too much! I will absolutely, positively eat it every single day that it is available – I never get sick of it. In fact, I’ve been known to eat it with breakfast (it’s wonderful sauteed in an omlette!), lunch, and dinner! Okay, I confess, I’ve also just run out to the garden to snatch a couple of baby-ish sized squash and quickly sautee up some for a snack as well. It won’t be long – and I simply can’t wait! I’m so pleased that they are progressing so nicely.


I also firmly believe that there’s no such thing as too many cucumber plants, either. I tried for YEARS to grow them – and never with much success. When we finally got it right, we really got it right – and it’s been wonderful ever since! They’ve got a lot of growing to do these cucumber plants – but I have faith that they’ll do very nicely. Gosh, I’ve got plans for those cucumbers! LOOK! They’re growing! Lots and lots of blackberries! Yay! The past couple of years we’ve started picking them right around the last week of July. That’s not that far away, is it?!
Here’s another flower that came up in the flower bed with the wildflower mix that got scattered last year and did nothing. I can’t seem to figure out what it is – but it sure is pretty!

The cool weather has been a nice change after the super hot days. But I’m happy to see the coming week’s forcast – in the 80’s and sunny. 🙂

The boys have gotta go…

It’s official. We just can’t have roosters here. We’ve tried various methods of keeping things quiet in the mornings – but it’s just not working.

Its interesting, the past couple of weeks we’ve had quite a few of the neighbors stop by and mention how much they enjoy the fact that we have chickens now. A couple even stopped by to say how much they enjoyed having Harlan nearby (must be morning people! LOL!). But there is one neighbor particularly who is not amused – much more than not amused – by our chicken keeping. Suffice it to say that as renters – not home owners – we must tread lightly.

Our intial hope was that we’d find a place to move to (maybe even buy someday?!) with some more elbow room than we currently have where roosters are do what roosters do – including crow. We hoped our little roos would hold out on the crowing arena until then. My, we were naiive.

Of course, the boys have been practicing crowing for a little more than a week now. Amazing how far they progress in perfecting their technique each day! Equally amazing – how each morning seems to be a little bit earlier that the crowing begins than the one preceding.

We tried Danni’s wonderful crate them and keep it dark enough to prolong the “nighttime” effect so that they don’t start crowing quite so early protocol. It actually worked fairly well the first morning. But I think the fact that we have a neighbor rooster who starts “singing” pretty early in the day is working against us!

We came to a consensus yesterday that all of the boys must go. It only makes sense – and honestly, it’s much better for the roos, too. We were fortunate to find three homes to send the five roos to. The little Welsumer rooster will go to a wonderful home with Victoria next week – thankfully, he’s young enough that he hasn’t found his voice yet! Sami has a more rural home and came yesterday to take our California White to be king of the coop at his place. And a young man who is wanting to raise chickens came today and adopted the three Dominique roos. All five roos will now live pretty posh – on a chicken standard, anyway! – lives on at the very least mini farms. Hooray!

So… we’re left with a redefined flock. The three big girls (RIR’s). The four California Whites. The three Dominiques. And the five Welsumers. If our calculations are correct – the big girls will start laying sometime 2 or 3 weeks from now. THAT will be exciting!

Now to head back to my online real estate browsing! There must be a home out there for us somewhere!

Rooster Report and more!

This is El Pollo Loco – as the kids have named him. This is the guy – not even alpha roo – who is taking the lead in the crowing arena. He’s gone from being a morning crower to being a most of the day all day long crower. We are not amused. Okay – well, that’s not entirely true. He sounds hilarious – very much like a young pubescent boy in the throes of voice change. Loco is definitely dealing with some vocal challenges. Even so, he manages to communicate with the roo who lives a couple of blocks over. He’s an interesting little chicken this one – kind of a quirky personality. He does have good Roo qualities, though – he watches out for his ladies and he is quick to sound the alarm.

This is our little Welsumer rooster. He’s 5 weeks old now and boy – is he all boy! We’re so happy that he will be rehomed to a wonderful farm where he’ll be encouraged to crow for all he’s worth! I feel confident he will be a stunning grown up.

Our rooster crowing intervention of last evening had an interesting result. First – let me just interject here that letting the boys go into the coop and roost and get a little drowsy first is a real key toward success in this enterprise. Next key to success is having teenagers on hand who are quite skilled at the art of chicken handling. That being said, we went ahead and placed our four roos in the cage/kennel type dog crate on the back porch. They had a bed of pine shavings and the crate was draped for the most part to keep it dark – and protected. (Remembering that we have regular racoon visitors.) John typically is up and getting ready for the day at about 4:30 or 4:45 each morning. Once he’s gotten ready to leave for work he goes out to the coop and lets the chicks out of the coop and off he goes. So this morning he went out and let the girls out. The roos, up until that time, had remained perfectly silent! (This is all the way to 5:45 a.m.!) Once the girls were out and about they began to crow, however.

So, the modified experiment for the coming morning is to NOT let anyone out and about until the hour we feel is appropriate. (I’m thinking 8:00 a.m.) I’ll report how it goes. 🙂
I say this every year – but I just can’t help saying it again. I just can’t believe how much the green beans grow in each 24 hour period of time! WOW! I just found a great green bean salad recipe that I want to try out… I wish they’d hurry up and give me some beans! (At this rate, it shouldn’t be long!)

We have three different types of pear trees on the property. All of the trees are very loaded with fruit this year. We do next to nothing with the trees – other than to prune them. I think we’re supposed to thin the fruit out or something – but obviously, I’m no expert on it at all! A couple of years I made a pear jelly that had cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a hint of cloves in it. People loved it – so I’m thinking it will have to be on the list of things to can this year!

I realized today that it had been a while since I’d posted any photos of the big girls. They tend to forage a little further afield than the middle girls, so they are not often around for photos.Henrietta is on the left and Hallie is on the right. They’re so funny. Henrietta is definitely at the top of the pecking order. She is large and in charge! Well, actually Millie is the largest of the three girls – and the darkest now – she’s so pretty! The big girls are now 16 weeks old by all accounts that we can figure out anyway. Gosh, shouldn’t be long before they start laying!

We’ve got plenty of projects to keep us busy over the holiday weekend – building nest boxes will be high on the priority list. I’m dying to know what people think the best nest box medium is, too. Let me know if you have a favorite and why, okay? Thanks!