The Run…

My wonderful husband built a run of sorts for our growing flock of chickens. Did I say growing?  It seems that the number count gets less, but the chicks are growing bigger every day.  And do you see a Mr. Knightly Jr. here?

Junior

I’m afraid so…going to be hard to let him go…

Anyway back to the run…

run

It is totally covered to keep hawks out during the day. It runs  between the little chick coop on the right and the Tack Room coop on the left where the hens live. You can see the new  little door that opens out into the run on the left. So that’s it.

I put a branch in today to see if they would like something to sit on… Roo and pullet, can you tell how much they have grown?

branch

This still makes me sad. I know the chickens are much better off getting all that good food in the wild when they free range, but for now they have to be enclosed.

I noticed that I now have 99 followers. I’m doing another painting giveaway when it hits 100, so stay tuned…

No More Free Range

My neighbor called me the other day and asked me if I had seen the little yapper dog again, because two more of his chickens were missing…just gone…no feathers…no sign. I told him it could be hawks…

933265-chromolithograph-of-hawk-attacking-chickens-in-farmyard-circa-1880-by-artist-giacomelli

Last night before dark I went down as usual to close up the chickens and Mara was missing. She is an old hen and wasn’t laying anymore, but she always was in the coop at night. I looked around and saw these strange markings in the snow…

1

I had no idea what this could be, so I looked it up and sure enough they are the wing tips of a bird of prey.   This morning when I went down to the coops I found more evidence…

2

These tracks went on for about 20 feet…

3

Really amazing when you think about it.  I can picture the hawk flying close to the ground chasing the chicken and then finally capturing it and carrying it off… no sign of the chicken…

4

You can see my boot track in the last picture compared to the wing span. Needless to say I have decided very reluctantly to stop free ranging. My last four laying hens are going to be cooped up until I can get a very good run built.  I have 6 roosters and 4 pullets in the other coop that I was beginning to let out for an hour a day. No more…it’s just not worth it.

That’s my take on it anyway after really desiring to have chickens free range. I’m so thankful that the last hen that was taken was the one that was old and not laying.

So, I think these are hawk wings, anyone have any experience in this? Could they be an owl?  I’m thinking hawk because it probably happened in the day time.

It’s Snowing…

It’s early…I have to go down and let the hens out and give them fresh water instead of frozen…24 degrees, but tomorrow it’s supposed to be 4 degrees, so hey, I better get out there and enjoy it.

winter

Four inches of snow graced our land last night. A lot of you had much more than that, but for here it’s a lot and I love it. Love the scrunch underfoot and making the first tracks.

Tracks

It’s much easier to do all the chores without the big hens underfoot, so I went to the chick coop first, but something caught my eye… I can’t believe it! What is Uno, my Marans hen with the wry tail, doing out here? She must have spent the night out in the cold below freezing temperatures.

It was dark when I closed them in last night, but she’s never been one to do something like this!

She seems to be okay, but how strange…

Uno

I opened the door to the big hen’s coop…the light has been on since 4 this morning and Mr. Knightly has been crowing a lot, so I figured they were plenty ready to come out…

coop

But they weren’t… They stood there for the longest time.

inside

It’s hard to say if Mr. Knightly is just a “chicken”, or if he is a gentleman, but he definitely was waiting for the ladies to go first…

The creek is starting to freeze over. With temperatures this low for the next week, the snow will stick….

creek

It’s night now. I wrote this earlier today. When I closed up the hens this evening, I counted and guess what, Uno was not there. I found her out in the cold in the old horse stall sleeping on a pallet, and picked her up, and put her in the coop.

I don’t know what is up with this???

Anyone have any ideas?

Chicks Are Eight Weeks Old…

I’ve still got 10 chicks… Yay!  Mama takes great care of them, and they are 2 months old today. Here is Mama Hen with some of her boys…

Mama and boys

Yes, I think I can tell who are the boys at this point…

male

And who are the girls…

girl

I think out of the 10, 5 or 6 are roos…

With the freezing temps we’ve been having, I thought it would be a good idea to put the heater back in the coop, but that means I would have to put all the chicks up the plank again and I was not looking forward to that at all…

For 3 nights I took the net and put them all up into the heated part of the coop and raised the plank. The 4th night I went down and  they were all up in the heated coop…Mama taught them all to go up the plank. I just love her!!! And I’m so proud of the chicks!

coop-heater

New Chicks!!!

I know you all are waiting to hear how it turns out for Broody Emma under the porch…

Well the story got pretty exciting last night….

It was dark…the day was done… we, my husband, two daughters and me were in the house reading, knitting and whatever, and we  heard a loud squawk outside. My husband went running out with his flashlight…my daughter following at his heels, and they discovered a possum attacking the chicks that had just newly hatched. Broody Emma had let out a loud squawk and run off into the night…

My husband shot at the possum several times and it ran off, hopefully fatally wounded. And then he went  to get a crow-bar to pry up the boards from the porch. Mama Emma came back and regathered the chicks as best she could, and sat on the eggs. My daughter looked under the porch with the flashlight and thought she saw 2 dead chicks.

After the boards were pried up, we decided to go ahead and move Mama Emma and her chicks and the eggs to the coop that I had just cleaned out earlier that day. We were in such a hurry, but I think there were 5 eggs and 7 chicks. 2 chicks had been killed by the possum. We placed Mama Emma in a box first, and then the eggs and chicks in another box and rushed them down to the coop. We placed the eggs and chicks in a nice cozy old nest in the coop and Emma got right on top of the eggs and chicks when we let her out if her box.

broody Emma

This morning I went down and put a bowl of food for her and some water and chick food for the babies. It was 42 degrees this morning, and I know that Mama Emma could keep her brood warm, but I went ahead a put a light in the coop too.

all set

She won’t get off the chicks yet, I’m not going to bother her after that traumatic experience last night. I’m so curious to know if they all made it… I will post pictures later today with an update.

Here’s what our porch looks like this morning…

porch

How did that possum know? Emma hasn’t been bothered the whole time she has been under the porch. She has never squawked or made a peep.

Now she is quietly sitting on those chicks…I don’t know how they breathe under her, and she is purring like a cat…Did you know hens purr?

Beauty Berries and Broody Emma

I never get tired of pulling together all the different plants that are blooming at the moment. What got me inspired this time was the  purple of the Hyacinth Bean blooming in the garden and the Beauty Berry bushes growing in my yard…

fall bouquet 2

And a  little closer shot…

fall bouquet

I also grabbed some purple grasses, sage, Lamb’s ear, Autumn Sedum Joy, and of course the beautiful brightly colored zinnias…

Here’s a close-up of the Beauty Berries…

beauty berries

But all things are not so beautiful. When I left for a week I put my starting plants of cabbage and broccoli inside the house, so that my husband would remember to water them. And he did, but this is what they looked like when I got home…

cabbage

I can’t even imagine what got them inside the house and I don’t see a sign of anything anywhere. The strange thing is that when I went out to the greenhouse  all the cilantro and radishes I planted in there look just the same as this. The kale and bok choy is completely gone…

>>>Sigh<<<

On another note…Broody Emma is really serious this time laying on her 14 eggs…

Emma

She’s still under the porch. I would like to leave her there, but I just am not sure. If we move her we will have to take up two boards off the porch. I know a skunk or possum or raccoon could get to her fairly easily, unless we put chicken wire around her like one of you suggested, but where she is, it would be very hard to even put the chicken wire.

I’ll let you know what we decide to do…

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…