Befuddled

Aren’t these spider lilies beautiful?

spider liliesLike  their relation the  Surprise Lilies, they just come up out of the ground when you least expect them. What a blessing! Thought I would start this post on a positive note… 🙂

Especially on a day like this when I am overwhelmed and befuddled. I can’t even speak here of all the situations, but two of them happen to be the garden and the chickens and that is what this blog is all about.

October is right around the corner and October last year was when I got my first chickens. 14 Marans chicks and 4 Welsummer hens, 1 cuckoo Marans hen and 1 Barred Rock.

Today I have from the chicks 1 rooster and 4 hens, 1 of the  4 Welsummers, and the 1 cuckoo Marans.  I also have 2 Ameraucanas. I sure have lost a lot of chickens… 😦

I know that the 2 Ameraucanas are laying 5 to 6 eggs a week and occasionally I get a brown egg from the Welsummer and one dark brown one from one of the Marans.  This morning I penned them all up in what  Sleepinghorse terms the naughty room. And the reason for this is to find out if any of them are making nests like Emma did. I want to know who is laying and who is not, and how many eggs I should be getting a day.

Emma is the other dilemma!

I thought it best to move her and her 14 eggs and then I began to think about the fact that the embryos in those eggs are probably pretty well formed by now and wondered if it would be detrimental to move them at this stage. They should be beginning to hatch in about a week. I looked again on line and found many who had moved the eggs and the mama hen abandoned them. I would just hate this. So we decided to take the chance and let them hatch out and then move them. They are right under our bedroom window, so we should be able to easily hear any ruckus that goes on.

While I was writing this, I heard a strange noise outside and I ran to see as I am totally on alert now until the chicks hatch… It was Emma coming out for a quick bite to eat. I ran to the kitchen and got some oats and leftover tuna…

Emma 3

She gobbled this up and then fluffed her feathers…

Emma 4

And while she was stretching and sunning I took a peek at her eggs…

marans eggs

Still 14…

Then there is my pathetic fall garden. Every leaf of every plant that I planted from seed has been eaten up, and I don’t even know what the culprit is. So no fall garden this year, or do I go out and buy some plants?…Like I said, I am befuddled.

I guess I’ll just take one thing at a time…

spider

Wiggly~Piggly and Other Surprises

I have been concerned about one of my hens. She was broody for a long, long time. Her crown turned very dull and she would puff up so much that it was scary…

Finally, she came out of her broodiness, and then I noticed a huge lump on her chest, but not the hard kind, a very jiggly wiggly lump that shakes when she runs.

Here she is this morning eating the scratch I threw out…

eating scratch

She’s the one on the left…

Here’s an article that I found at Backyard Chickens

Birds can pig out and get a really big crop, however it could be a problem with her crop.  A bird’s crop is like a bag that holds the food they eat.  It is held there and moistened and gradually fed into the next stage of the digestive process.  Normally the crop is full in the early evening when the bird goes to roost and it empties overnight while the bird is sleeping.  If you check a crop early in the morning before the bird eats again it should be empty or almost empty.

If there’s a problem I would guess that your bird either has an impacted crop, or otherwise a pendulous crop.  I would feel over her and see if she’s skinny and losing weight or if she is well covered.  Also feel the crop and describe what it’s like.  People on here will no doubt be able to head you in the right direction.

An impaction is when the food gets matted up and forms a lump in there that won’t break down and pass.  Long grass strands can start this off, but sometimes it just happens.  The first thing that I would try with an impacted crop is giving the boil some olive oil, leave it for ten minutes, then firmly but gently massage the crop and see if the mass breaks up a bit.  You can do that a few times a day to see if the impaction will break down.  In extreme circumstances you can do a crop surgery to remove it, but people lose as many birds as they save.  I would always try massage and oil first.  I would also stop the bird eating long grass or hard grains while trying this.  I would give soft foods and I would also put vitamins in the water as the bird may not be well nourished.

The second possibility is pendulous crop.  That is where the crop is actually stretched and saggy.  This means that food catches and balls up in the lower part and doesn’t ever move through.  These can’t be cured although people try things like surgery or even a ‘crop bra’.  Surgeries don’t tend to work as once a crop is saggy it tends to go back like that even after a surgery.  I’ve never tried a crop bra, so go for it if you feel like it, but I don’t really have a lot of faith in it.  When I’ve had pendulous crop cases here I’ve found that they can hang on for quite a long time living normally.  Usually the day comes eventually when their health is compromised and they don’t tend to be long lived.

If the crop goes down to a normal size overnight then you know she was just a pig.

wiggly

I think she may have what the article above says is a pendulous crop. But I’m not sure…

Here she is eyeing me to see if I’ll throw out more scratch…

eyeing

And right after this she actually flew up on top of the trash can where I keep the feed when I was closing it. She obviously loves her treats. She definitely is a glutton.  I named her Wiggly-Piggly.

After I took these pictures of Wiggly-Piggly hen, I was surprised to see a beautiful morning glory growing up and around the horse stalls that is now the chicken coop.

morning glory

And while I was enjoying the beauty of these flowers something else caught my eye. I have been wandering  all over the area every day trying to figure out where the hens are laying, because I’m once again only getting 1 or 2 eggs a day. And my 2 Ameraucanas have not been laying any.

So, this is what I saw when admiring the morning glories…

eggs

The Ameraucans were laying their eggs where the critter had dug a hole to get into the chicken coop. I never EVER thought to look there…

eggs2

I picked up all the eggs…3 days worth…and left it hoping that they would keep laying in this new nest.

But I did not find any yesterday.

I wonder if I will today, or if they’ve found another nest…

Massacre in the Chick Coop

This morning when I went down to let the chickens out, all my chicks were dead. : (

chicks

They were getting so big…

We haven’t caught the predator yet, that killed Copper the rooster and the Welsummer hen… It could be the same animal…

Whatever it was tore off the metal hardware cloth that had been buried around the coop and dug a hole underneath…

hole

Here  is the hole from the inside of the coop…

hole 2

There were 10 dead chicks inside the coop and 2 piles of feathers outside.

The big dog trap is standing there still set…untouched.

Adding some paw prints…

paws

paws2

About My Chickens…

Things have settled down a bit here and the hens are happy and laying and we still have Mr. Knightly who is behaving himself. Caught a couple of pics of Mr. Knightly and Emma on the bridge…still hanging out together…

Mr. K and Emma

Mr. K and Emma2

Once a week I clean the coops and put out more pine shavings and some of the wonderful herbs that are growing so prolifically around here…

herbs

First on the chicks coop door in the burlap bag …

herbs2

And then on the nesting boxes in the old Tack Room coop…

herbs3

Love this head shot of one of the Welsummer sisters…

hen w

She is the inspiration for my new oil painting Giveaway to celebrate my first year of this blog, so stay-tuned…

Can’t leave without sharing a pic of the Ameraucana chicks…

chicks

There are 12 of them and I think at least half are roosters. They are about 11 weeks old and some are starting to get their muffs. Roosters have a wider comb with 3 rows whereas the pullets will have just one row. Correct me if I am wrong. I’ve also noticed the roos getting pretty blue feathers.

Follow Up on “My Mistake…or Not?”

Thanks to all of you for all the wonderful encouragement you gave me… I appreciate you all so much!!!

A week has gone by and things are settling down here a bit. There is a lot more work for me to do, and I just ran out of layer feed, but we are getting more today through the coop pick-up that comes once a month, so perfect timing.

I’m feeling a little sorry for the quarantined hens…even though they are looking so much better, they are cooped up, and I know they just can’t wait to get out and be free again. It is hard for me to get good photos right now, but here are a few BEFORE pics…

hens

The white one now looks white, and there is a bit of a sheen coming to her feathers. When she arrived she was Oklahoma dirt orange. : )

The dark one to the right is the one that is missing a lot of feathers, and the coppery brown to the left is the nicest looking and I’m thinking may be an Easter egger. I’ve been getting 2 green eggs a day, so they could be from this one and one that is a little darker than her, but not visible in the picture.

An Easter egger? What do  you think?

hens2

This is a closer shot of the dark one with the missing feathers…

hens3

This next one looks like a mix of some kind…

hens5

I have sprinkled DE all over the coop and on the hens.  I put a fresh layer of pine shavings over the whole floor. They totally mess up their water and their feeder and get it so dirty that I’m thinking it has something to do with being cooped up like they are.

The little Ameraucana chicks love having all the grass to eat in their new temporary dog house converted to coop and run. I’ve been moving their run around every other day and I can’t believe how excited they get when there is new grass and clover. They are growing so rapidly now.

Ameraucana

I love the gray color in some of these chicks…

Ameraucana2

So far, so good…no sick hens or chicks that I can see, but we are only one week into this…

A Bad Mistake or Not?

Everyone makes mistakes, right?  Of course, we do, but I can’t believe I did this one. I should know WAY better…so after trying to be very positive about my little farm life, I’m going to rant a little…just a little…

DiningMr. Knightly and his girls dining in my flower beds.

I have one handsome Black French Marans rooster who I have to watch behind my back all the time, so he doesn’t attack me. And then I have 4 lovely Marans hens all of whom I raised from chicks. There were actually 13 to begin with …4 died when they were small… 3 were roosters that we butchered…and one rooster Copper was killed trying to save the flock from a predator. So I have 5 left. Then I  have 3 older hens…2 Wellsummers and one Cuckoo Marans named Mara.

When Copper the rooster was killed by what we thought was a coyote, the other hens were understandably shocked and did not lay any eggs for a while. One of the young hens became broody…we cured her of that and she is laying again. So now when everything should be back to normal, it isn’t. I am getting one, maybe two eggs a day.

My son works for a guy who has hundreds of hens and they lay tons of eggs and he was coming home for a few days. I frustratingly and impatiently thought, “Why not just buy 6 of his hens and at least we would have some eggs.” Sounds reasonable, right? So I called my son and he very sweetly said he could do that.

Now I had to work out where to put them. I know they would have to be separated from the other hens for a bit, so I decided to transfer my new little Ameracauna chicks to a little dog house temporarily and put the new adult hens in the chick coop.

Here is their temporary shelter and I think they are pretty happy in there…

coop

Now comes the rant…my son pulls up with the cage in the back of his truck covered by a big blue tarp. I know a journey of an hour and a half was probably rough on the hens, but I was pretty shocked when I saw them. In my ignorance I just did not ever imagine hens being in this kind of condition. I found out that they basically live in the wild, roost in the trees, lay their eggs anywhere…they were dirty, thin, dull and a couple of them had quite a few feathers missing. We put them in the coop along with water and food, and left them for a bit to settle in.

My nightmares started…I felt like I had been punched in the stomach…I thought of lice and diseases that these birds could bring to my flock. Going back down to the chicken coops to close them up for the night, I sat and watched the new hens…

They looked wild like the turkeys that come through our property sometimes. Their necks were thin and stretched out, and then they started flying up to the top of the coop to roost, like they are used to, I assumed, when they fly up into the trees. They stunk. They were so dirty.  I cried…All I could think is that I had made a huge mistake…

I cried myself to sleep that night wondering what I was going to do and trying to reason with myself not to make mountains out of molehills. But even if I got rid of the birds, I would have to totally clean and disinfect the coop to transfer the chicks back in it, which I just did not to long ago, and I was not looking forward to that, at least not so soon…

I got up at 4 in the morning and started looking on the internet about introducing new birds to your flock and I was even more horrified with what I read. I could not get rid of the anxious gnawing in my stomach and I wished that this did not involve the other members of my family.

In the morning I prayed and gathered myself together and went down to the coop with a more positive attitude. I went in the coop to get the waterer to refill it, and the hens were freaking out and I freaked out and started crying again…Am I just nuts?

My son said I remind him of the wife on Green Acres…

Anim_HomepageImage from Mark Maggiore

I don’t think so…

I haven’t seen that series in a long time and I might just have to go take a look and get some laughs out of this whole fiasco…

Anyway, after our Bible time that morning I asked my very sensible level headed daughter to come down to the coop and see what she thought and to tell me if I was just crazy. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the hens were just as sweet and docile as they could be…I mean they still looked scruffy, but at least they weren’t flying off the walls of the coop. She encouraged me that it would be OK and just to wait and see how it went.

Later in the day my son handed me 3 eggs from those new hens and then my husband found 2 more that evening….

full tray

By the way…I did find 5 Marans eggs in a nest behind the barn …the 2 broody hens that are taking up the nests in the big coop must chase all the other hens away…

So was it a mistake? or not?

June…

Daylilies…

daylilies

Gotta’ love them…

Looking back in time I planted a spring clover cover crop to turnover and plant the pumpkins in. It took along time to come up, but here it is now ready to be tilled…

clover

The bermuda is so prolific in these here parts that covering it with newspaper, landscape cloth and 6 inches of mulch didn’t deter it. In fact it seemed to thrive. So gardener daughter Anna covered all around the tomatoes with cardboard. It still peeped through…

grass

So now I picked out most of the bermuda and put 6 -8  inches of hay over the whole bed…

hay

Baby Ameraucana chicks have a new nursery…

chick3

chick

It’s in the old chick coop that was built in the stall. The window panel in the front gives them more light during the day and can be taken out at night and the big door closed for their protection.

chick2

We are getting 3-4 eggs a day from the Marans hens. Ever since the rooster Copper was killed and the broody hen fiasco, the older hens have stopped laying. Or they are laying somewhere else and I can’t find the eggs.  Here they are having an afternoon snack. We have not had any sign of the coyote, and have not trapped any other critters. So far…so good.

chickens