Category: Chickens

The Chicken Chronicles

Just like yesterday’s post, this one is two weeks in one.  I forgot to schedule both of them last week.  DUH!

The Welsummers are now about 13 (now) 14 weeks old, and they are FINALLY starting to venture out with the big hens some.  Up until this point we have wondered if we made a mistake putting them into the coop with the older hens, and perhaps we did, but now they seem to be coming out of their shell (pardon the pun) a bit.  😀  We are still cornering them by themselves in a separate cage almost daily to give them time in the sun without having to worry about the older hens picking on them.

One of the issues we have had with the Welsummers is that they just roost on top of the nesting boxes instead of the roosting bar.  Last night I put a branch in there near the nesting boxes and was happy to see a couple of them on the branch when I opened the door to the run this morning.

The laying is going full steam, and we have been able to bless family and neighbors with several dozen eggs so far.  It sure is nice to see the smiles on the faces of folks when you bring them a dozen fresh eggs, especially those who really enjoy them.

Speaking of eggs, the silly Welsummers are roosting on top of the nesting boxes, so there ends up being a mess in the boxes all-too-often.  I need to get another roosting pole put in the coop in an effort to prevent this – it’s not happening this week though.

Speaking of chicken projects, I also need to get the roof patched.  There are a few leaks, which aren’t causing trouble now, but I sure don’t need them to continue.  I doubt I will get to that this week either.  And that isn’t it.  I have another project I have been putting off for a while, though I will save the details of it until later.

The Chicken Chronicles

There is not a whole lot of new things happening with the chickens.  The biggest news right now is the babies (Welsummers) and the older ladies (Rhode Island Reds, primarily).  The Reds sure do pick on the Welsummers, so much so that they Welsummers stay in the coop away from the other hens.  This week we have taken the step of putting the babies back in the baby coop and a separate run when we can.  It doesn’t work so well when it rains, which it has been doing this week, but it is nice to get them outside.

One thing that is encouraging is to see the Welsummers testing one another.  No, I don’t relish the fact that they are establishing a pecking order amongst themselves, but I do like knowing that they are getting tougher and stronger, which means they will be able to hold their own with the older ladies soon enough.

The biggest problem with the Welsummers is they are roosting on top of the nesting boxes, and in fact they stay there much of the time, which means their droppings are falling into the nesting boxes.  We have to make changes because of this.  It isn’t hurting anything, but it is making the eggs more dirty.

One of the nice things about the hens right now is how they are fertilizing the garden for us when they are out running.  I like one way I have heard it said: chickens are a compost factory that just happen to lay eggs.   Surely they are not providing all the compost we need, but they are helping.

The Chicken Chronicles

Well, I meant to post this last week, but for some reason I forgot about it.  So, you will get last week’s post and an update to last week’s post.  🙂

Another week, another chicken problem. It seems Red has hurt her leg somehow. Red, by the way, is any one of the Rhode Island Reds, as we cannot really tell them apart. Anyhow, we have had to separate her to keep the others from picking on her, and to keep her from trying to go up and down the stairs in the coop. We’re also giving her half a baby aspirin at least two times a day. Right now she is avoiding standing on that foot, but I cannot see anything wrong with it. That leads me to believe she might have sprained it somehow.

 In other chicken news, we built a small coop for the babies (the Welsummers) so they can start staying outside all the time. The silly girls wouldn’t go into it the first night though, acting like young kids the first time they try to camp out. 😀 We finally decided to bring them in after listening to crying for an hour. Maybe they will get used to it decide to sleep in it. It won’t be long until it is time to integrate them with the rest of the girls.

 We had a good week of laying both weeks, including one day where all of the older birds laid eggs – that hasn’t happened often at all.

This week’s update: Red is doing much better.  She is now back in the coop with her sisters, and while she is still favoring her leg, she is much, much better.

Since last week, we have put ankle bracelets on three of the Rhode Island Reds, and amazingly we can now see who rules the roost!  There is one of them, tentatively named Pink (because of the pink bracelet) who is obviously at the top of the pecking order, and it seems Blue (you guessed it, a blue bracelet) who seems to be #2).  The Easter Eggers seem to not really care either way, but they do recognize Pink’s authority.  It’s funny how we could never notice that without some identifier of who was who.

The most exciting news this week, and a far change from what I expected given the update above, is that the babies, the Welsummers, ran into the big girls’ coop one day when they were out running around, and they showed no interest in coming back out.  The older ladies are picking on them some, but they seem to be holding their own, so this is where they will stay.  🙂

Happenings Around the Homestead

Work and a special photography project I have been working on have kept me busy enough lately that there hasn’t been too much activity from me around the homestead outside of the chickens (more on that tomorrow), but some things of note have happened.

  1. Cicadas!  Wow, these things came out in force this past week!  I don’t ever recall seeing so many that they were on car tires, grass blades, small plants, and anything else they could latch onto.  Wow, this is a bumper crop this year.  😀
  2. Sweet Potatoes – despite not putting much of a garden out this year, I am putting out sweet potato slips.  They arrive this past week, and I neglected to get them out over the weekend.  I’ll try to do that Tuesday of this week.  This year I have purple, white, and orange.  Hopefully some will grow this time.
  3. Volunteers – Again, despite not putting out a garden this year, the leftover seeds in the compost had a different idea.  We have at least three volunteer tomatoes growing that we will let continue to grow.
  4. Grass – We have a buch of grass peeking its head through our new woodchip covering on our garden.  Time to move the chicken pen to let them take care of it.

Finally, I ran across a good article about Ten Things We Can Learn From Old Homesteads.  I really liked this list.  Is there anything you would add?

The Chicken Chronicles

As I mentioned yesterday, the chickens are earning their keep this time of year as they are becoming the fertilization factory.  The portable coop is helping with this tremedously.  Next I need to get the next phase of the project done which will allow them to run about in other spots in the garden more freely, yet with protection.  I can’t wait to share more on this.

The babies, the Welsummers, are doing very well, though I cannot wait to get them in with their sisters.  They are still too small to intermix them without supervision though, as the other hens will have some motivation to show them who is boss.  That is, to establish the pecking order.  I am writing this part of this on Sunday, and today we plan to let them all out to play together in the yard to see how it goes. Update: we let them out to play together with the older hens, and overall it went very well, though one of the Reds was taking every opportunity she could take to peck at one of the Welsummer’s heads. SIGH.

Egg laying is still not showing an impact from the loss of a bird, so I am thinking she might not have been laying a lot of eggs. We are still getting 51 eggs per week, or 5.67 eggs per week per bird.  Not bad.  This year we havn’t given as many away because are going through them like crazy in our house.  I guess everyone is enjoying the fresh eggs.

Happenings Around the Homestead

How I love this time of year!  The weather has just been amazing!  The plants are coming out everywhere – I love it!

One of the biggest pieces of news around the homestead this week is the number of apples on the apple trees!  I cannot believe this!  We have had these trees since we moved in here, and while they have made one or two apples a year, it has been truly pathetic.  This year, as you may remember, I pruned them heavily.  I can’t say that made all the difference, but I have to believe it made the bulk of the difference.  There seems to be hundreds of tiny apples now growing on the trees.  Check it out:

Growing Apples

Growing Apples

The other big news of the year is my almost-firm decision that I am not going to put out a full garden this year.  I have decided that there is wisdom in letting your soil rest periodically, and with us having just converted to a new type of gardening, this is a fine year to let it rest.  I have already ordered some plants, and I have already planted some things, so anything that grows from that will be permitted to grow, but we aren’t going to do anything else.  Basically, this means we will have garlic, some greens, some popcorn, and sweet potatoes.  The rest will be left to rest.  (I sure hope we can find someone with plenty of fresh tomatoes this year!)

One of the nice things happening in the garden right now is the portable chicken coop is allowing our chickens to fertilize the garden like mad.  😀  We are moving it around the garden regularly, and they are not only eating any grass that remains there, but they are stirring it up, fertilizing it, and helping to prepare it for next year.


The Chicken Chronicles

I have to begin this week’s post with some unfortunate news.  For those of you who know my wife, I would ask that you not talk about this around her.  She is still taking it a bit rough.  We lost our first hen last week.  Snow White had become egg bound, and to make a long story short, she died from it.  Believe me, there is more to it, which is why my wife is not keen on discussing it, but it ws a good lesson for us.  In the future any hen who gets egg bound more than a couple of times in their first year of laying will be removed from the flock.  It seems this is a strong sign that there is something physically wrong with the hen, which ended up being the problem with Snow White.  This is why I want to add one or two birds a year to the flock though.

Speaking of new birds, the Welsummers are coming along nicely, and they are spending most of their days outside now except when the weather is bad.  They are loving it.  We still haven’t mixed them in with the rest of the flock yet, as we are wanting them to grow some more first.  In fact, I hope to make a make-shift small henhouse for them today so they can stay outside more, but still in their own cage.

Egg-laying is coming along nicely, and even with the reduction of one laying bird, we are still keeping up with our typical totals of 49 eggs per week or 5.44 eggs per bird per week.  I can’t wait to see that number go up when the Welsummers start laying.

Speaking of the Welsummers, how about a picture?

Aren’t they getting big?  It seems we bought them around the first of March, so they are nearing eight weeks old.  Lately they have been trying to establish their pecking order – it is almost like watching a bunch of teenage boys.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

Our ladies sure are enjoying this warmer weather!  I cannot wait until we get to a point this summer that we can begin primarily feeding them out of the garden.  I am smiling as I write this thinking of how much they love tomatoes.  Those hens go nuts over tomatoes thrown into their run, but I am not sure whether it is the tomatoes they enjoy or the red color.

Speaking of hens, look at the size of their young sisters, the Welsummers:

Welsummers Growing

Aren’t the Welsummers getting big!?

They are growing by leaps and bounds, and by next week they should be ready to be introduced to the rest of the birds.  Whew!  I still need to read up on that.  I will do this as soon as possible though, as I don’t really think keeping them in a garage without fresh air and sunlight is the best thing for a chicken. Even so, they must be protected from the elements a bit while young.

The hens are really laying well now, averaging about 5 eggs per hen each week.  That means we are getting about 7 eggs per day.  When the Welsummer start laying, we will have an incredible abundance of eggs, probably near 70 or so a week.

We have been using the portable run to put the hens over grassy areas in the garden, allowing them to earn their keep.  🙂  The problem is that they are enjoying the worms more than the grass!  I had to smile when I went to check the area where the portable run is after putting them back in the permanent run for the night.  It was as if they overturned everything on the ground EXCEPT the grass.  Hmm.  Perhaps they need to be reminded that getting rid of garden grass is one of their jobs.


The Chickens’ Comic Debut

My youngest son has always had an interest in drawing, particularly super heroes and comics.  As you may know, we homeschool our kids, and this year he is taking an art class that has a section of it devoted to drawing comics.  I thought I would share the latest one, as it puts a recent event which started as a video in pictures.  I hope you enjoy it like I did.

Snow White Egg - Page 1

Snow White Egg – Page 1


Snow White Egg - Page 2

Snow White Egg – Page 2

Maybe it is just the fact that I am the dad, but I love this!

The Chicken Chronicles

There’s not a whole lot of new news this week with the birds other than their egg production is really going up.  This week we had 53 eggs, with the Rhode Island Reds laying 23 and the Easter Eggers laying 30.  That is 5.3 eggs per week per bird, and I am expecting that to go a little higher.  Go ladies!

Speaking of birds, check out the Welsummer chicks!  They are really growing!  It won’t be too many more weeks until we can begin to put them outside, and I think they will be more than ready.  By this time the container we are keeping them in is getting a bit crowded for them.  I cannot wait until these ladies start laying.  They are supposed to lay a beautiful dark-brown egg.

Welsummer Pullets

Welsummer Pullets

Oh, I shared a picture of the new portable run last week, but I wanted to share another with the birds in it.

Portable PVC Chicken Run

Portable PVC Chicken Run

You will notice the ladies checking out the milk crate, which I had hoped would be a good make-shift nesting box in case one needed to lay an egg while in the portable run, but they rejected that idea.  We’ll have to find something else today.  While you cannot see it in this picture, they love the roosting bars in this run.  I added them more for stability, but I am sure glad I did now.

As I mentioned yesterday, you are not going to want to miss tomorrow’s post.  My youngest son has drawn a comic which I think you will all enjoy.