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Out of the egg business!

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We are out of the egg business.

After eight years, we just can’t take the pooping everywhere anymore.

I just re-homed my hens. They’ll be pooping in a new garage soon.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in birds, farm

 

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Ah Larry, We Hardly Knew Ye.

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This is Larry, our rooster. Sadly, he is no more.

Larry was an accident to begin with. He was supposed to be a pullet (a girl) when I bought a clutch of six chicks from the Cackle Hatchery. I blame Larry the Cable Guy.

Larry the Cable Guy did a show not long before I picked up my chicks where he was sexing chicks. I’m pretty sure Larry is to blame for the sexing screw-up. Hence, we named the cock after him.

We didn’t WANT another rooster. The last three have all turned mean, and we had to dispatch them.

Remember this debacle? (READ POST HERE).

Yeah, no more roosters.

As it turned out, Larry seemed okay so far, and we were willing to give him a chance to prove us wrong about roosters and their nasty dispositions. Sadly, Larry didn’t get the chance.

One morning I opened the coop to find Larry dead along with one of the hens inside. The gate was still locked so I was stumped as to what had happened. Some investigation around the coop turned up evidence of the B&E.

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Something had CHEWED THROUGH the chicken wire.

I spent the entire day rewrapping the chicken yard with new wire. Bryon sometimes uses the flaming weed dragon up next to the coop yard to burn off weeds, and we think that must have weakened the wire. That and the fact it’s now ten years old.

We didn’t know what had eaten the chickens, but the remaining hens were traumatized and refused to return to the coop the next night. I couldn’t blame them.

I had to gather, and then carry each hen back out to the coop for several nights. One still refuses to go and hides under the shelves in the garage where I can’t get to her. I don’t even want to know how much poop is accumulating back there.

A few nights after the massacre, I carried a hen under my arm out to the coop, opened the door and counted. One, two, three, four, five…wait a minute. You are NOT a chicken. Yep, sure enough the perpetrator was back. A possum was huddled in the corner of the coop. The hens were all up on their roosts and off of the floor, but there was already a pile of feathers on the coop floor. The birds were calm, but if I hadn’t caught the jerk, he would have eaten more for sure.

I poked at him with the rake, but he refused to leave. I ran inside (yes, still holding the chicken under my arm) and told Bryon. He sprang into action and came out with the .22 revolver and dispatched the varmint.

Life on the farm is hard sometimes. There’s always someone waiting in the woods to pick your bones.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in birds

 

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Birthday, Birds and Basketball


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Here it comes, the October super post. Oops. Guess it’s November. See how that happens. Anyway, grab an iced tea and sit back.

OCTOBER

Grace celebrated her NINTH birthday in October. We have had some giganitic birthdays and some small birthdays. Last year we had the first ever haunted trail for her birthday/Halloween party with more than thirty kids plus parents. This year we took it down a notch and had a sleepover. Fear not kidlets, next year the Haunted Trail is back on the agenda and it’s going to be SCARY! Some of the kids complained because it was not scary.

Trust me. We can DO scary. Just. You. Wait.

Sorry, Marah, you may have to go through in daylight.

Not to say there weren’t a few scary moments during the birthday party. Like the lead photo above. Or this…

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Somebody LOVES him some sleepovers. Bryon always wants to sneak outside Grace’s bedroom window, stick this face against the glass and scare the crap out of them but I won’t let him. Maybe when they are teenagers. Or have already watched Salem’s Lot which is the very reason I can’t sleep with the blinds open.

As a former teacher, I know that free time is your enemy with a room or a houseful of kids, so I planned some activities.

I bought shirts for them all and they decorated them with Sharpies. This is a cool activity Grace learned at summer camp and we’ve used it several times since.

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They had some very creative results!

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I also bought little pumpkins and they each carved one.

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It was messy but they had fun. Grace’s molded in two days.

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Gotta love a vampire pumpkin.

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Of course they stayed up ridiculously late. They also slept upstairs in the playroom for the first time. Did I mention the playroom is DIRECTLY over our bedroom? Yeah, we heard every thump, bump and giggle. Which were many.

Nine is a pretty good age.

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BIRDS

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My hens are old and lazy. I’ve been getting one egg a day until recently. Now I get NO eggs a day. In August we tried incubating some eggs and ONE hatched out. You can read that post and see the chick’s birth here.

Then I bought it some friends. That post is here.

A few weeks ago, Bryon and Grace gathered up the new chicks for me and tossed them in with the old to get acquainted. They still aren’t exactly friends, but we haven’t lost any of them. I left them cooped up together for the first three days. The first night after it got dark, I went to count and make sure they were all back in the coop together.

Yep, twelve chickens. Just like I had hoped.

I shut the coop door and said goodnight.

About an hour later, Bryon hollered from the bathroom that I had a chicken squawking outside the window.

Erm, not I didn’t. I cooped them all up.

I went outside to investigate. Nothing. No squawking. No chicken.

I went back to the coop and counted again. Yep, twelve chickens, just like I… wait a minute. Where’s the little Buff Orphington? The one chick we HATCHED? Not there.

I have thirteen chickens.

We all three looked with flashlights for the little buff but no luck. I hoped it had roosted in a tree somewhere and would make it through the night, because there was nothing else to do. I wasn’t going to leave the coop door open for it and leave all of the rest of them in danger.

The next morning, the buff was trying to get into the old coop and was very happy to join it’s friends.

They’ve all made it back into the coop every night since.

I guess we both learned a lesson that night.

BASKETBALL

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Grace has become quite the little basketball player. A couple of the Niangua dads have been coaching them now for two years and their little team has really improved.

They even have REAL uniforms now which makes them much more intimidating than they really are.

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We told Grace we’d pay her a buck a basket. This last session of six week ball we paid out a total of five bucks. I know it will get more and more expensive but it seems to be a good motivator. I was never very good at sports. I’m glad she is and is interested. The good thing about playing sports in a small-town school is if you are on the team you WILL get to play. Every game.

We have a break until January (a short basketball camp in a couple of weeks) then it’s back at it.

HALLOWEEN

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For Halloween this year we went on a Haunted Float with our friends Lynsey & Brayden. It was the first year for the canoe rental place to host the float so it had a bit to be desired. The Type A part of me had an entire list of suggested improvements for them but I resisted. Not. My. Baby.

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I had to repeat that to myself a few times.

On actual Halloween we all three dressed up and hit the good churches and neighborhoods. I made an unfortunate shoe choice so I waited in the car most of the night until it was time to go eat Chinese food.

Still, I looked good. We all did.

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NIANGUA RED RUN

IMG_4415 (1024x1024)Grace and I participated in the Niangua Red Run. I walked. Still I totally beat Grace and the chick with the stroller so WIN! Bryon had to work or he would have been there too. The run was a fundraiser for playground equipment. One boy in Grace’s class one the whole thing! He’s smokin’ fast!

We are NOT smokin’ fast. Or at least I am not smokin’ fast.

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This may be why.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Chicken Challenges

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You may have seen my video of our experience hatching incubated eggs for the first time. If not, you can see it here.

Since then we have dispatched our very mean rooster. We were all tired of living in fear of the thing. Grace and Nana were especially joyous to see it dead. In fact, Grace wanted Bryon to remove its inch and a half long spurs and drill a hole through them so she could wear them on a necklace as a trophy.

Bryon and I agreed that was a little too Walking Dead for us but as redneck parents we were also strangely proud of her for thinking it.

Yeah. We’re weird.

We put the rooster in a pot to boil for a satisfying dinner of chicken and dumplings.

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The rooster got the last laugh though and burned up in my pot while we worked outside. We ate Chinese that night.

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Unfortunately, that single little chick was the only to hatch out of the dozen fertilized eggs. The rooster has one lone progeny to carry on for it.

Ten to one it’s a rooster too.

Since there was absolutely no way I was going to raise one lone chick, I stopped by the Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon to buy it some friends. I hadn’t placed an order in advance. Didn’t even know if they would have any chicks available. I just showed up.

Now if you didn’t know it, the pecking order is a real thing. You can’t just mix different aged chickens together and they all get along. My little chick was already a week old.

Lucky for me they just happened to have three Welsummers and three Easter Eggers—two breeds I’ve never raised before. Oh, and they were exactly one week old. How amazing is that?

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I brought home a box full of cute and fuzzy chicks to join the lone ranger. There was a bit of pecking, but they settled in quickly and all was right with the world.

Last weekend they finally outgrew their brooder box so Bryon helped me move the chicken tractor into a semi-permanent, anti-critter reinforced cage. They liked the new space. A lot.

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Then two mornings later, one of them didn’t get up and scurry to the corner when I opened the cage. It was suddenly lame. I’ve raised baby chicks for the past ten years and have not lost a one to injury or disease. Predation sure. But otherwise, I’ve had no problems.

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I separated it from the flock because they had already started picking on her. Survival of the fittest and all. I set up Grace’s outdoor critter cage for her. For some reason she just couldn’t stand. I didn’t see any visible injuries and she didn’t squawk when I stretched her legs out to check for problems

Google was no help so I stopped by Cackle Hatchery the next day and quizzed the experts. Apparently there are about five million chicken ailments and they all have the exact same symptoms. None of which explained my lame chicken.

The next day I called my vet. Our vet is the kindest, most patient, tell-it-like-it-is country vet. He suggested that perhaps in her exuberance she’d sprained a groin muscle or the chicken equivalent and was too sore to stand. Uh, okay.

He also suggested feeding her some hardboiled eggs for a few days since she would love them and they had lots of good proteins and vitamins in them.

Cannibal chicken it was then.

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Now, five days later, she’s beginning to stand again. She still gets her legs tangled up sometimes, but I’m feeling more hopeful about her recovery.

All of the rest of the chicks seem fine. With the troubling exception that one of the pullets (young female chickens) has a disturbingly large comb beginning to grow on its head. Now, I don’t know if you saw the Only in America episode where Larry the Cable Guy was actually at the Cackle Hatchery sexing chickens, but I’m pretty sure Larry is responsible for this one.

Larry, if this pullet ends up being a rooster…I’m sending him to you.

You’ve been warned.

Life in the Big Cedars is still good.

But it’s better without a rooster.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Funny Farmer

If you ever needed proof I am not a real farmer…here it is. Grace noticed a hole in the side of the chicken yard this morning. Something chewed through the wire. A few more bites and it would have been inside.

Since I’m working from home today, I went out after lunch and tried to do a patch job. My only real hope is that whatever was chewing through the fence will get it’s eyes poked out on the pointy bits if it tries again.

Sigh.

I really am a bad farmer.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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