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I’ve been away from my blog, lets see if this dinosaur can remember how to post.  This post will try to fill in what has been happening in my back yard these past many months.

I did something for Thanksgiving, that I haven’t done since my Ladies started laying eggs.  I BOUGHT EGGS at the supermarket.  After laying over 3,000 eggs my hens have cut way back on the number of eggs they are producing. Partly because they are getting older, it is getting colder, some are molting and the loss of Miny. Some days I’d get 1 or 2 eggs but most days I wouldn’t get any. My wife and I said from the beginning that the chickens were pets and we would keep and care for them even when they stopped laying eggs.  So we buy eggs.  I’ve forgotten how pale and tasteless the store bought eggs are.

Shortly after Miny went to that big farm in the sky, my son asked me if we would take in his girlfriends last chicken.  They had a pair of chickens for quite a while but only one returned to their coop after free-ranging one day. I said yes but if she didn’t integrate nicely he would get her back.  I had the “cottage” set up for Miny still, so Holly was put in there. She was separated from the other chickens by a wire fence.  They still tried to attack each other thru this fence. With colder nights coming we really needed to get Holly into the coop. So after a couple of weeks with the fence between them we started letting them out in the yard together. Holly was chased and pecked at a lot by all of the ladies.  She learned to keep her distance. This got better as time went by and one cold night Lil and I just put her in the coop with everybody else. They have worked out the pecking order, Holly is at the bottom. Mini is happy not to be at the bottom anymore. Actually she goes after Holly more than the rest. This is a bit comical because Holly is twice the size of Mini. When we first got Holly she was molting and not looking her best. She is now fully feathered and quite a good looking lady.   All of our chickens are fully feathered this winter GOOD THING because this has been quite a winter.  My son didn’t think Holly was laying eggs anymore when we got her. But  earlier this month (March) she started to lay eggs.  I can tell they are Holly eggs because they are a very light color, my flock all lay brown eggs.  Holly being the largest hen lays the smallest egg, go figure. With spring trying to get here and the days getting longer the ladies are producing more eggs and we haven’t had to buy any recently.  Now some pictures. Clicking on them makes them larger.

Holly

Holly, 12/29/15

Holly when she first arrived, molting.

Holly when she first arrived, molting. 10/21/15

I’m about 25 miles west of Boston MA.  We have had a lot of snow and very cold temperatures for us starting the end of January and still going.

1/20/15 Chicken by the corner of the house. Very little snow.

1/20/15 Chicken by the corner of the house. Very little snow.

2/9/15 Wrigley in front of slide and wood shed

2/9/15 Wrigley in front of slide and wood shed

2/15/15 Coop and runs picture taken from back deck

2/15/15 Coop and runs picture taken from back deck

3/19/15 Chickens out in pathway. Holly in front. Still too much snow.

3/19/15 Chickens out in pathway. Holly in front. Still too much snow.

My grandson is learning about 3-D printers at his high school.  Me, I remember the mimeograph machines from my high school. And we didn’t learn about them, maybe we got to turn the crank. Well, Alden made me a chicken with this 3-D printer.  Some days I’m more of a dinosaur than others.

Blue chicken by Alden

Blue chicken by Alden

With all of this snow I haven’t really started doing anything about my garden.

Ed

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Not a lot going on here in the garden.  The seasons seed catalogs have arrived. But, since I’m not planting a garden this year, I haven’t even looked through them.

Egg production for the calendar year 2013 was 1601 eggs produced from my 5 ladies.  That’s 4.38 eggs per day average .  They are amazing creatures.  https://mygardenmychickens.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/egg-production-sheet-take-two/

My chickens have a pretty good life for chickens.  But, they do not have a heated coop.  There is a light bulb in a cement block under their water in the coop that keeps their water from freezing.  It probably adds some heat to the coop.  This last cold blast brought outside temperatures of -12 degrees F.  It was 5 degrees F inside the coop.  I have an electronic thermometer mounted on a wall in their coop.  Everyone survived, with no signs of frostbite.  I didn’t let them out of the coop all day, it was just bitterly cold.   If I open the coop/run door the temperature in the coop drops quickly.  I’m happy to report they are out in the covered run today with half a cabbage to peck at.

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looking into the covered run

looking into the covered run

Ed

We have been rather COLD, not like Willow Creek, but unusually cold for New England.  So this warm 50 degree air and mostly sunny day was most enjoyable.   Yup, I went outside.  Looked at my 2 main gardens.

December 20,2013 snow covered garden

December 20,2013 snow covered garden

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Let the chickens out for the first time since it snowed.  I tried to let them out the other day but they were not going out in the snow.  They didn’t have much bare ground to scratch at but they seemed happy to be out and warm.

December 20, 2013 chickens out in the yard

December 20, 2013 chickens out in the yard

I took advantage of the nice day and cleaned the run and coop.

loading the old shavings into the wheelbarrow

loading the old shavings into the wheelbarrow

Lastly, here is the chicken swing in the run extension.

chicken swing waiting for spring

chicken swing waiting for spring

Jasmine went broody July 2nd, https://mygardenmychickens.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/broody-hen-and-other-stuff/.  We tried ice packs and then just pushed her out of the nesting box.  She would stay out for a while and then run back in.  She lost a lot of weight and her comb is a sick looking pale pink, not the red that it was.  After 40 days of this I decided after everyone else has laid their egg for the day, I would push Jasmine out and close up the coop.   This worked. Or, she was just ready to stop. She was broody till August 18th, 48 days.  She is now eating better and not broody BUT, she is molting.  Jack had destroyed many of her feathers so this should be a good thing, but, she isn’t laying yet.  She needs to produce feathers not eggs at this point.

Broody and molting, two more things, I didn’t know about.  CHICKENS!!!

August 4th was the First anniversary of our first egg. Care of Jasmine.  The total number of eggs produced from our 5 hens for the year is……………..1675.  That is a lot of eggs.

I posted a mystery flower picture,  https://mygardenmychickens.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/end-of-june-garden-up-date/, in this post and no one made any guesses.  With that success I will do it again.  Anybody know what this flower is?

8/7/13

8/7/13

I made a very short video of Ini when she was in the big house after the fox attack but I don’t know how to post it.  Will ask for help and try again later.

I don’t always read all of the information about things, like directions or seed descriptions.  I ordered an organic cucumber seed this year called Silver slicer or something like that.  Well, after cucumbers started to form I wondered if they were alright, they didn’t look right.  So I went back and read the seed description.  This is what they look like.

Silver cucumbers and one regular pickling cucumber.

Silver cucumbers and one regular pickling cucumber.

They taste fine.  I made my cold cucumber soup with them.  These leeks, the first of the year, were also used in the soup recipe.

Leeks 8/21/13

Leeks 8/21/13

I got a late start with my squash seedlings this year and didn’t know if I would get any.  The summer squash didn’t do very well, two Patti pan squashes and no others. But my pumpkin and Butternut squash look real promising.

Butternut  8/21/13

Butternut 8/21/13

Pumpkin 8/21/13

Pumpkin 8/21/13

That’s enough for now.

Ed

Mini, our smallest chicken, is at the bottom of the pecking order. Miny especially likes to go after her.  It has gotten to the point when they go into the coop at night that Miny chases Mini out of the coop. I wasn’t home one night when they put themselves to bed and when I closed the coop/run door and checked in on the ladies ( and Jack), it was dark and hard to see, so when I counted 5 chickens, I just recounted and still came up with 5.  Walking around the run there is Mini asleep in the bridge between the coop and run.  I opened the door and gently pushed her into the coop for the night.

How do I fix this??

I look at problems and try to find a mechanical fix, something I can build to solve the problem.  Separate rooms sounded like a bit much, but perhaps a divider on the roost so Mini has a chance to  roost in peace and not be pecked by Miny. This is what we did with a scrap piece of plexi-glass (never throw out anything, you may need it someday).

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I’m pleased to report that this is working rather well.

Ed

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Jasmine yells, “Everychicken into the coop for a group meeting – I got a response to our letter!”

As the chickens all gathered around, Jamine began to read the response…

Dear Ini, Mini, Miny and Jack & Jasmine”.

What about me?”, asked Mo indignantly.

They are retired. I am sure it was just an oversight.”

(“or because you’re Stinky…”), said Miny under her breath.

Hey, THAT wasn’t ME!” said Mo even more indignant.

Jasmine continued, “We would be delighted to have you join us in North Carolina.”

There was an eruption of cheers and crows from the group.

Shh – there’s more.” as Jasmine turned the page.

P.S. Don’t these recipes look delicious??!

What’s a recipe?”, asked Mo.

I think it has to do with these pictures. I recognize the greens and the grains and I think that is fruit…but what’s THAT?”, wondered Jasmine.

Oh wait, there’s a caption. Hmm, “Basil, Peach Chi…Chi (gulp)…Chicken Breast’ and – oh my, ‘Buttermilk-Brined Grilled Chicken’.”

There was an audible gasp among the group as they realized an unthinkable thought.

Do you mean to say our Chicken Sitters who are moving to North Carolina EAT Chickens?”, asked Mo as her eyes almost popped out of her head.

They seemed like such a nice couple”, said Ini, shaking her head.

Jack chimed in, “Maybe it’s not so bad here after all. Maybe we should stay”

Yeah, we have survived 4 snow storms and I am sure there won’t be any more.”, chirped Mini.

All in favor of staying?”, asked Jasmine.

Six wings immediately shot up.

Meanwhile, on the big house TV…

Ch.5 meteorologist here. It’s gonna be another snow storm tonight! Hunker down. Don’t let the calendar fool you. It may say “spring starts Wednesday” but we are in the 4-8” belt…”

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