Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update (ha ha. That's an understatement.)

Hi!  Remember us?  We have chickens!  Still!

So much has happened since the last post, but one of the things that has happened is work.  As a teacher, I get awfully busy come September, and this poor blog got pushed aside.  So here it is...a long awaited (maybe) update.  I may put everything I've got here, as it might be another four months before I post again.

Let's see...first, recording of egg quantity and size.  As you know, I was religiously recording this data. You could say I was obsessed with it.  I started on July 4 when we found our first 3 eggs.  Here is what my (messy) recording system looked like:

As you can see, we got 10 eggs that first week in a whole range of sizes.  It's clear from the hash marks that the sizes steadily increased, as did the quantity we got each week.

I kept going, every single day, until October 16.  I stopped at that point because the girls had become pretty consistant.  We were getting between 9 and 11 eggs a day, and most were falling in the extra large size range, with any additional eggs in the large or jumbo size group.

We had a banner week with 76 eggs--that's 11 every day except 1.   That started to be the norm, so counting seemed less critical, and admittedly, I had less time.

Still, the sight of a full carton of eggs from the girls brings me lots of joy.

Obviously, getting 10 or 11 eggs a day is too much for a family of 3 (or 5, when you count the in-laws) so we give eggs to some folks, sell to others, and the girls are more or less paying for their food now.

What else?  Oh...the biggest news is that we moved the girls to the back yard for the winter.  We needed to add a heating element for their water, and there was no way to run power out to the field.  Plus, collecting eggs, feeding, watering, and cleaning the coop is much easier a few feet from the house than it is across the street and across a field...not to mention the trouble of snow.

Tucker is delighted to know the chickens are out back.

"What is this white stuff!?  Make it go away."
So the snow.  Chickens do not like snow.  They come down their ramp, see the snow, and look most offended by it.
The tarp

So we gave the girls a tarp over the outside area of the chicken tractor. The tractor element of the design, by the way, is of no use in the winter. The bottom mesh sunk into the ground and froze there. We can't move the girls til there is a thaw.  The tarp keeps down snowy build-up and keeps the girls happy.

Unless there is a blizzard.

We had no snow on the front walk after the blizzard.  Hurray for wind patterns!  We wondered, from our cozy warm house, "where did all that snow go?"  Then we realized where it went.  It landed on the chickens.   Boo for wind patterns.

Took some work to shovel the walk from the basement door to the girls.

And another thing about winter: with the frozen ground and snow, the girls have less to entertain them at ground level.  Plus, when the weather is terrible, they stay inside.  This makes them...bored.  When they are bored, they misbehave.  Misbehaving comes in the form of plucking and eating each other's feathers.  Ewwww.  We were checking on the girls one day and noticed some very bald and very red rumps.  Time for an intervention.  There is this stuff called Blue-Kote, which is like spray paint for bald spots.  It's used on horses and other animals when they get injuries and other issues.  On chickens, it will hopefully stop them from plucking each other. 

Here is Betty's bald bum, gloriously painted purple.
We are still waiting to see if this works.  We will keep you posted.  But probably not until April.

1 comment:

  1. You can also up their protein intake with a 20% layer feed ... in winter I have noticed that that seems to help as does a big bowl of warm oatmeal... I buy the oats for dirt cheap at the feed store and they love them.