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eggs

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

Three thousand is a pretty large number, well depends on what the 3000 represents. Compared to the number of leaves I will have to rake this fall, it’s not very large at all. Compared to the balance in my checkbook, it’s rather sizable. But this is a blog about my garden and my chickens——-NO it isn’t the number of tomatoes I harvested this year  (actually I didn’t plant any) and I’m not expanding my coop and run to accommodate 3,000 new chicks.  I’m writing about eggs.

the ladies give me small and extra large eggs

the ladies give me small and extra large eggs

On April 4th 2012, I brought home 6, one-day-old chicks.  5 hens and one surprise rooster, Jack. On August 4th 2012, I got my first egg, 220 days later on March 12th 2013, the count reached 1,000 eggs, 223 days after that on October 21st  2013, 2,000 eggs and 310 days later, on August 27th  2014, 3,000 eggs.  They are slowing down with the egg production.  When they first started the ladies would average better than 4 eggs per day, for the last 3 months they are averaging less than 3 eggs per day.  Some of the reasons they are slowing with their egg production are, they are getting past their prime laying age,  some of the time they are molting and Miny has been sick.

While I was off on my hike, Miny stopped acting like a chicken.  She wasn’t interested in food, she wasn’t scratching about and she would spend most of the day sitting in a corner of the run.  She was very lethargic.  My wife, Lil, who I affectionately call the “chicken whisperer”  hand fed Miny, yogurt and treats, massaged her crop because it wasn’t emptying and was very squishy.  She gave her olive oil to help move things along by eye-dropper daily.  Some days Miny seemed better and some not so.  Lil took her to our vet twice.  On the second visit the vet operated on her crop and cleaned it out.  No perceivable blockage was found.  Miny then spent some time in the crate in the kitchen recuperating.  Wrigley (the cutest puppy on the planet) did not make this a relaxed stay for Miny.

Miny in her cottage

Miny in her cottage

Wrigley on leash, with chickens in the yard

Wrigley on leash, with chickens in the yard

When I got back home later into May, Miny still wasn’t acting well, actually getting worse.  We took her to another vet that specializes in birds of all kinds. The vet didn’t think Miny’s insides felt right so she did an ultra-sound and took x-rays.  Miny has a tumor, a mass in her that is crowding her organs.  We brought her home with very heavy hearts.  Glad to have an answer, just not happy with it.  We decided to make her as comfortable as possible,  Both of us thought we would be burying her over the July 4th weekend.  Lil had read someplace about high doses of vitamin-C shrinking tumors——-so—-she started giving Miny daily eye-droppers of high dose vitamin-C.  Miny started getting better. There were days when she acted like a chicken, out in the yard scratching away with the flock. We were both very hopeful.  BUT, in September she started being lethargic again and I watched one day as Mo and Jasmine rather viciously attacked her.  I separated them and put Miny in the old run by herself.  NOW WHAT???  I fenced off a section of the new run and set up a little “cottage” for Miny.  Again she would have some good days and some not.  Lil was still hand feeding her everyday, I made her a separate corn-cob feeder for her cottage.

Miny in her cottage

Miny in her cottage

Miny, Lil and Wrigley

Miny, Lil and Wrigley

Miny with feeder. The chickens love corn on the cob, I don't like just throwing them into the run and the dirt. So I drill a hole in them and stand them on dowels.

Miny with feeder. The chickens love corn on the cob, I don’t like just throwing them into the run and the dirt.  I drill a hole in them and stand them on dowels.

Miny went to that farm in the sky September 20th 2014.  We buried her at the base of a large rock in the back yard.  Not quite 2 1/2 years and we have lost our first chicken.  We have always tried to be good custodians of our flock, Lil, maybe more than I. Lil would have them live in the cellar under the stairs when it gets cold out side, me, not so much. We hope our chickens know this, that they are spoiled BUT who knows what goes on in the mind of a chicken.

Jasmine on the garden fence ready for her escape, Jack still in the garden

Jasmine on the garden fence ready for her escape, Jack still in the garden

Cute puppy picture

Cute puppy picture

I would like to report that none of our chickens are wearing “saddles”.  The bare spots that Jack has caused the ladies have filled in with new feathers and they are all looking good.

IMG_0051

collard greens hung on a wire

collard greens hung on a wire

The ladies have been very consistent with their egg production averaging better than 4 eggs per day from five hens. Until this year, For the month of January they averaged less than 3 eggs per day and February is looking the same.  I have had one day this year that I got 4 eggs.  All of the other days have been 3, 2, or 1.  They are approaching their 2nd birthday, we think 2 of them were going through a molt and it has been a little cold around here. Maybe they are just on strike because they don’t get to free-range as much.  With this last snow they won’t leave their run if we opened it.  Our chickens are spoiled and as such we will keep them and feed them and care for them even if they aren’t laying as many eggs.

Ed

 

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.

DSCF0011

looking into the covered run

looking into the covered run

Ed

I cooked my  first sweet potatoes this week, made sweet potato fries.

sweet potatoes ready to fry

sweet potatoes ready to fry

I fry them in coconut oil.  It’s supposed to be a better oil for high heat frying.  When done and the oil is cool enough I pour it through a paper towel in a funnel into a clean glass jar for storage.  This jar is just left on the counter till the next time.  I’ve been doing this for over a year with no problems.

Lets do a little egg production history.  I brought home 6 one day old chicks April 4th, 2012, 5 hens and 1 rooster (Jack was a surprise).  I still have all of them, the gods have been looking out for them.  On August 4th, 2012,  I got my first egg.  shortly after that all of the ladies were laying eggs daily.  About 7 months later the ladies had laid over 1000 eggs on March 14th 2013.  Well we have gone another 7 months and the ladies laid their 2000th egg, on October 22nd, 2013.  I keep track with my egg production sheets.  https://mygardenmychickens.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/egg-production-sheet-take-two/.

Ed

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

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