Chickens, Journal Style Posts

Eggs For Days!!!

I love going outside every afternoon and collecting eggs from the coop. It makes me smile each time I see a pile of eggs.They are so pretty. I thought Barred Rock hens laid white eggs, I googled it because I thought my sweet girl wasn’t laying, NOPE, she lays the most beautiful dark brown eggs.

I get every shade of brown and I love it.

They even lay eggs in the blue barrel that I filled with bedding as a spot to escape from the sun. This is by far the hardest spot to get eggs from because they lay them all the way in the back of the barrel so, I have to crawl in there to get them. I will eventually cut out a flap and put it on hinges so I can get the eggs a bit easier.

Hubby has decided that we need to expand when Autumn comes. It’s way too hot to do anything until then. He has decided that we need to extend the run, fix the shed next to the coop and turn it into the new coop and then, rip out the old coop. I am okay with this because I wanted to make the shed into the coop to begin with, but he wanted to build one. In case you are completely lost because this is the first post you have ever seen, this is our current setup.

These pictures are rather old so I will also include more pictures of the inside of the run.

They have of course been digging since I took these pictures because they like to dig holes and get down to the cooler Earth and just lay all sprawled out in these holes they dig. I will take some new pictures when I get a free minute. The tires were supposed to be dust baths, but they prefer to make their own, which is fine. This is their home and I want them happy and comfortable.

We also flood one half of the coop almost daily and they absolutely love it because they can walk around in the puddles to cool off and then once all of the water soaks in, they go digging for worms and bugs. They also turn the compost piles because all kinds of insects surface when the piles are nicely soaked.

I keep eggs on the skelter (the actual name of the rack I bought, which happened to arrive the day they started laying.)

I get some crazy big eggs, this one was a triple yolk egg. My very first eggs were double yolks.

They always investigate when I come collect eggs. They don’t seem to care that I’m taking them, but I think they want to know if I brought them some goodies so, they come check. I usually give them some kind of treats when I come collect eggs. It keeps Chicken Little from being a major jerk.

He’s ridiculous. He hides under a hen because he knows I am the boss, but he has been a hormonal teenager lately and starts puffing up and coming after me when I am not looking.

He got me pretty good today. When he acts crazy and aggressive, I have a lovely trick to put him back in his place in the pecking order. I usually tote him around under one arm and make sure his women see that he’s not able to boss me around, but that just wasn’t cutting it today. Today, I did what he does to a hen when he puts them back in their place. I grabbed him pressed him to the ground holding the feathers on the back of his neck. I want to be VERY clear, he wasn’t harmed at all. He wasn’t happy, but he settled down. I let him go and about 10 minutes later as I am raking up the run, he fluffed up again, I started flapping my arms and stomping my feet and he walked away and pretended to eat a stick. Since then whenever he decides he is a big bad rooster, I just do the rooster dance and flap my arms and stomp my feet and he remembers that I’m bigger, but I am not going to hurt him or the hens he is so good about protecting. He crows at every bird, the mailman, the UPS driver, the FedEx driver, and he crows every single time the back door opens. Even if it’s 2 am and I’m letting Miss Mia out to go potty. He crows. I never have to worry about him being lazy and not watching out for his girls. He even brings them goodies he finds and he has a special little chirpy sound he makes when he’s happy or has found something tasty.

A few hours after I put him back in his place, I went to put them to bed because someone’s field was burning and a storm was rolling in and it was calling for hail. He did his usual crow at me once I entered, but then he saw I had oatmeal muffins (I make these specifically for the chickens so there is no sugar in them.) He got all chirpy and when I held one out, he came and started eating out of my hand. I scooped him up and put him inside of the coop with his muffin and all the girls followed. Once they were secure for the night, I brought the rest of the muffins into the coop for everyone else to enjoy because I put them to bed before their normal time. They have a window and I moved the feeders into the coop for the night because it will be raining all night and all day tomorrow. They have water both inside and outside of the coop. So even if they stay inside the coop tomorrow’s because of the rain, they won’t go hungry at all and their food won’t get soaked. I really need to find a covered feeder that won’t get nasty when it rains. If anyone has suggestions, I am in need of suggestions.

Chicken Little is my sweet boy normally. He just gets feisty sometimes. He’s a Buff Sebright Bantam so he will never really be big. He will also never be slaughtered for behaving like a rooster. He does an amazing job protecting his girls, but he will eventually get spurs and his beak will become sharp enough to break skin and draw blood. So, I nip his bad behavior towards me in the bud the minute it starts. I am not going to be intimidated by a tiny bird, but I am also not going to hang him upside down because this could collapse his lungs and harm him. I am never going to hurt him before I am quite attached to him. He was the tiniest little chick and he was adorable.

He was so small. He still is small, but he is still my favorite because Hubby swore up and down that teenie tiny little chick would never survive the night. He turned out to be my only rooster. The other suspected rooster laid an egg in front of me one day and I was absolutely shocked. She’s a total sweetheart now.

Also, if anyone is curious, my accidental Cornish cross is still alive. She is still able to walk and run. She is also still in the laundry room until fall rolls around because it’s just too hot for her. She’s laying regularly, one egg a day and they are the coolest eggs ever. The first egg was almost white, then she started laying brown eggs. Some are speckled and some are just brown. When we upgrade the shed into the new coop, she’s getting her very own section of both the coop and run. I don’t trust the flock to not bully her. She goes outside and I let her visit and I give everyone grass and scratch grains so they eat right next to each other. Sometimes I bring her in the run and as long as they aren’t pecking her backside I let her get integrated into the pecking order SLOWLY. She will never be able to live unattended with the flock because they see her as injured because she prefers to lie down and eat and is quite lazy. Instead she will have her own space right next to everyone else, but with fencing in between. She also doesn’t roost and sleeps in a burrowed out sort of nest in the bedding. I will also be able to regulate her food intake if she’s separated from the flock. She will eat until she cant walk. I have been regulation her food intake and she does get treats just like the rest of the flock, but she doesn’t get to eat all day long and she doesn’t have access to a large full flock feeder. She would eat the entire thing. Once she does get to a point where she’s not living her best life, we will put her down as humanely as possible. Until then, she’s a happy girl and loves chasing grasshoppers around the yard in the early evening just as the sun is setting. If she goes broody, I will get her some fertilized eggs to sit on. She has already outlived her normal lifespan. I spoke with a few other homesteaders who kept Cornish Cross hens because they accidentally ended up with them. One lasted a year before her health started to go downhill another lived 5 years in the same setup we are planning on giving her, and another lived until she was 3 years old. So, I’m hoping for the best and prepared for anything. She loves being outside, but she can’t be in the current temperatures without struggling and likely dying from it. I make sure she gets fresh air every single day. She’s friends with the cats and Miss Mia loves to sniff her. I can leave the crate door open and she doesn’t try to run out. She stands in the doorway clucking at me to hurry up with her food, water or cleaning up her home. She has a dustbath (a low sided cat box with the same soil the flock dustbathes in in the run) she has a nest box, she sleeps in it and lays her eggs there. Then she has the rest of the extra large crate to scratch for scratch grains or freeze dried mealworms. She’s got her own ac vent and loves to sit next to it when it’s hot outside. She will NEVER be food. I don’t eat meat. Hubby agreed with me since she greets him every day after work she clucks her happy clucks at him and he talks to her. I am home all day so I go sit with her so she isnt lonely. Sometimes she comes out and sits next to me and we chat. I will be extremely sad when her time comes, but she’s had a good life no matter what.

I’m hopeful that when she molts, all the purple from the Blu-kote will be gone and she will be beautiful and all fluffy white again. She was inside of the run and the rest of the flock was doing their own thing and leaving her alone. It was nice. I think she will be much happier once we get the shed converted and she can be outside with the flock, but protected from the flock. When she’s gone, the space we make for her will be used for new chicks, quarantine for injuries (sick chickens will come inside in the laundry room in the dog crate)

Well that’s all the news I have, except for replacing the well pump… yet again. It was under warranty and now the new one has another 3 years of warranty so, we won’t have to pay if it happens again as long as it happens before 3 years are up.

Until next time…

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

First Eggs

I went out this evening to check water levels in the waterers before putting the flock to bed. I had about 45 minutes of light left before the sun fully set so, I went out to the coop. I opened the coop door and thank goodness I was paying attention because I found an egg on the coop floor. I immediately checked the nesting boxes, which are kitty litter buckets with the lid cut off at the hinged part. The remainder of the lid keeps the nesting material inside of the bucket when it’s laid on its side. Inside one of the nesting boxes was the second egg. I didn’t have my phone with me so, I grabbed both eggs and actually ran inside. (well, sort of ran) I showed hubby the eggs and he was just as shocked as I was to see eggs.

They are apparently large according to the members of the Homesteading groups I am in on Facebook. They weren’t dirty and they were just perfect and smooth with no weird flaws. The brown smears are mud from my hands because I grabbed the waterer before I saw the eggs and the waterer is always muddy because of the spot where I fill them being somewhat muddy.

I had purchased an adorable egg rack for the kitchen counter on Prime Day on Amazon and it arrived today as well. Absolutely perfect timing for it’s arrival.

My first two eggs fit perfectly in the rack. I plan on numbering or dating them with a sharpie as they do not need refrigeration unless I wash them. I want to make sure I know how old they are. The brown paper is unbleached parchment paper and covers the built in grill area of my ancient stove to keep crumbs and dust from gathering in that area, which means I don’t have to clean it daily. The other section is a ventilation fan and hot air from outside blows in through the vent so, I keep it covered to avoid the heat coming inside.

Hubby also brought me home two 55 gallon black plastic barrels today from work. I will have to clean and sanitize them of course, but they will become rain catchment barrels, which will become a gigantic chicken watering station once I get everything set up.

Friday is Hubby’s birthday and Saturday is race day, (he races Racesaver 305 Sprints) so, I will have to work quickly to get the coop cleaned up, new roosts installed as well as additional nesting boxes. I also have a roll of shade cloth that my lovely mother in law randomly brought me so I am going to create some shady spots for them to hang out under because it is just way too hot.

Hubby’s truck measures the heat index and he took this after his truck had been running for a few minutes and the air conditioning had cooled to ice cold. (It was reading much higher before the truck was running) this is just too hot to be out in the sun. The run has the entire top covered, which does create shade, but they hang out in the coop or under the coop door during the hottest part of the day. The coop does have a rather large window, which is covered in EXTREMELY thick fencing with square holes. It’s too big for rabbit fencing so, I think it’s called hog fencing. No clue honestly but it is nice and secure. I will shutter the window when colder temperatures start, but right now it creates a nice airflow and the temperature of the coop isn’t sweltering hot.

This is an old picture. We completely secured this piece of fencing with weird screws that have washers secured to the screw head. I have no idea what they are called, but they work great. We also attached a shutter so the coop doesn’t get soaked when it rains. I can easily run out and shut it within a minute or two and when we get strong winds, I shut it and make sure they are not being battered by the wind.

Originally I repurposed an old wooden ladder as roosts because the flock was still small. Now they are much bigger and they fight a lot over who gets to roost on top or on the paint can shelf of the ladder. Our solution is to take “L” shaped shelf brackets and use planks of wood we already have and have everyone roosting at the same height. No more fights about who is up higher.

These fights resulted in poor Chicken little ending up with a blood caked comb.

It scared me until I took a closer look and realized it was blood and dirt. Much to his dismay, I took him inside and gently cleaned him up with some warm water and a bunch of q-tips. I then applied Vetericyn (no purple dye), which is a first aid spray. (I sprayed it on a cotton round, not directly on him.) He’s all healed up now, but one injury is too many.

I have learned a lot about chicken first aid and like the Vetericyn spray much better because it doesn’t contain dye and it’s safer than Blu-kote from what I understand. I am not an expert by any means, but I do prefer to NOT have purple chickens.

He still crows a lot and still sounds rather ridiculous. I know when the UPS truck pulls in, I know when the garbage men come, I know when FedEx comes, I even know when the neighbor’s dog comes to pee all over our yard. He greets me and hubby every time we are outside. I know if I hear him crowing, something is going on outside and I peek outside to check on them. He is still snuggly and still adorable. I love them all.

Until next time….