Wednesday 19 April 2023

Chickens! and other things.

The other day Romeo decided to flap up on top of his coop for a better view. From there he figured out he could flap over the closest edge. Kelly decided to follow him and when I went out to give them lunch there was a "bawkbawk" from behind me under the deck. They followed me back in the fence and haven't tried to jailbreak again. Romeo still sits on the coop but I think they really disliked being trapped away from the rest of the flock.

This past weekend I moved their coop to the side of the house, partially to give them some fresh grass, partially to block them from the winds of the week. They've been settling in nicely. 

There was a bunch of squabbling their first three days here but I got that sorted out. Seeing that something was wrong and that they were hounding me and shooing each other away form the food, I weighed the pellets. Turns out, the information I found online about feeding wasn't accurate for my local pellets and they weren't getting enough food. It was not 1/2 cup = 1/4 lb like many others, and after doing some math, the chickens are now getting plenty of food to go around.

Kelly still isn't laying but I did get a look at her vent and she's not ill or anything.  She may just be too young and so not laying just yet. The other three are churning out eggs like nothing. Over Monday the 10th through Sunday the 16th, they laid 23 eggs which is an egg a day for all three of the layers plus an additional 2 bonus eggs. Hugslut double checked online and apparently extra eggs is a thing that can happen with young hens so it's possible that we have two or more youngsters in our flock of 4 but we definitely have 3+ eggs every day for now and that's been really nice. 

In addition to breakfast sandwiches, carrot cake, and such, we had quiche for dinner tonight. The eggs are great and neither of us can explain HOW they're different but since we started getting fresh eggs from a neighbour, and then started getting our own, they are very different from the grocery store eggs. We were already buying the free-range omega3 fancy eggs for like $7.50 a doz, but eggs so fresh they were laid two days ago? No comparison really. I mean they're still EGGS... but they're fresh and bright and eggy? It's like the difference between the huge boring strawberries and the lil juicy ones.

Now onto something that isn't chickens. :-) The weather is starting to warm up a bit. It's been about +5C to +10C all week and the daffodils are just straining and waiting for the very best time to bloom. The pussywillows have lil fuzzy nubbins on them and when the sun is out it is really nice outside. 

Mini soil blocks.
Half lightly covered to see what works best.
Approx. garden corners.
On the right is the garlic/etc.

I've got the seeds started for the onions, leeks, lettuce and spinach in mini soil blocks. Everything else in the garden this year is going to be sown directly. I'm still putting up the garden fence but there's still some time. Can't really start anything outside here until mid or late may if you want to avoid frosts.

Growing sprouts has been a great way to have something fresh and crunchy on sandwiches. On the right is alfalfa and on the left is lentils. Normally it's not a good idea to eat dried beans or lentils that are raw, but sprouting makes enzymes break down the seeds into easier to digest compounds just like cooking does. The lentils were sprouted specifically for the chickens. It's nice to be able to give them something they really enjoy that's actually good for them and also is really inexpensive. That whole jar will be two days worth of high protien treats and it started as just 1/4 cup of dried lentils from the grocery store. 

And with that I'm back to talking about chickens again... lol
Oh well. Here, look at them!

Sunday 9 April 2023

Eggs on Easter!

The entire first day they were under house arrest to make sure they got to know their new home.

I wrote to Yellow Brick Road Farm explaining the troubles I was having getting a hold of laying hens, and would they be willing to sell me a few so I could get started this spring and not have to wait until summer. 

Thursday morning I got an email back from Jennifer saying she'd be happy to help. Thursday night our first flock were tucked safely in their new coop and I called to cancel the June order. 

  • The rooster is a barnyard mix we named Romeo Rex the First. He was second fiddle at his old place and now he's got his own little flock of ladies.
  • The striped black and white hen is a BarredRock we named Jennifer after the lady who sold them. 
  • The black hen is a Black SexLink we named Issabella.
  • The brown/red hen is a Red SexLink we named Henrietta.
  • The white hen is a DeKaub we named Kelly because Hugslut once told me she wanted a "Kelogs looking chicken" and we know she's not a leghorn but white plus red comb is close enough.

Our very first egg!

They're all unknown/random ages but proven layers. We got our first egg from them the very next morning, but we have had a bit of trouble with breakage. One egg each day so far has been broken in the box. I'm not sure if it's a calcium issue with one bird or a problem with the nest box being too slippery. I put a crate pad down under the nesting materials for a bit of traction today so we'll see if that helps.

I'm happy to report that yes, Romeo yells his head off every morning crowing at the neighbours rooster and throughout the day occasionally just crows for fun... but it's not a harsh sound at all. With the doors and windows closed we hardly hear him inside, but even right up close it isn't jarring or unpleasant. 

First two days I was out there 6+ times a day. Today I'm going to try to keep it to Morning, Midday, Night. 

In the morning(as early as sunrise when possible) I need to let them out of their coop, refresh their water, and give them some food. I've been giving them 1/2 their pellets in the morning so they don't eat it all right away and get hungry later. I also give the coop a quick sweep while they're out eating.

In the middle of the day(usually right after lunch) I go out and give them more food including veggie scraps from the kitchen, and check for eggs.

At night(once they've gone inside but as close to sunset as possible) I need to go out and close up their coop so they're warm and safe overnight, as well as make a last check for eggs. 

The rest of the visits were to check for eggs a million times, but also just to hang out with them and to get into the rhythm of the chicken life. (eg: first night I had no clue when they'd agree it was bed time)

If you were looking for news that isn't chicken related, you're gonna have to wait. 

Everything is about chickens right now. :-)

Tuesday 4 April 2023

No Chickens Yet.

I got the coop up, the electric fence installed, and now all it needs is chickens.

Last November a local place told me they sell laying hens in April, so Hugslut and I went this morning (April 4th) to find out they've been taking orders since February! and the April order was placed yesterday!  Now they're taking orders for birds that won't arrive until June!

I was so looking forward to chickens this spring but I took a look online and it seems no one else around here even sells laying pullets. Everyone seems to do hatching eggs and day old chicks, and I don't want to mess around with incubators and brooders, and it's not like I can even cheat by sticking them under a hen and hope she likes them.

I put in an order for 4 hens to arrive in June. I'm just sad because I thought I had got all the information last fall to set me up for success.

We got some food just in case we can find some hens soon but I'm really not expecting to.

Garden season is also comming up. I'm going to be planting some seeds soon, and that means I need to get the garden fence up. A farmer's work is never done.