Begging to Free Range

It’s been one small snow storm after another and the ladies are fed up! Every time I go to refill their outdoor water they are crowded against the door begging to get out! Since the only area that’s been clear of snow is this part of their run, I’ll open the door, they’ll get a foot out until they hit the snow and screech to a halt. Then it’s impossible to get them back in! Poor ladies!

But today is a different day! The temperature is over freezing and there is a clear trail up to barn where the heat radiates and creates a warm, dry spot right in front of it. Yay! So today I don’t have to say no. I don’t have to look at those disappointed faces and I won’t get pecked as I’m changing their water. That’s right, being COOPED UP is a saying for a reason! These little monsters take out their frustration on you!

Anyway, there will be no further delay…….AND THEY’RE OFF!

From Hail Waste to Chicken Snack

The girls survives a 10 minute storm that included quarter sized hail! They were smart enough to run into the coop before they got smacked with it. It must have really scared them because they hardly laid any eggs that day. It took them a few days to get back to normal.

Unfortunately the crops were not so lucky. As we were pulling out damaged produce we found a number veggies that were dinged up but not in terrible shape. This was our first year growing acorn squash and the girls had never had it so I thought I would share it with them instead of tossing it into the compost pile. It was a big hit!

It started with 2 halves but they went after it so fast I knew I needed to add more. They are not great at sharing. Six  halves seem to be the magic number. Just enough to share without a lot of chaos.

What the girls eating acorn squash on their YouTube Channel:

 

 

 

The Bumblefoot Girls

It’s been almost 3 months since we found a couple of our Easter Eggers with a case of bumblefoot. Poor girls were not running with the rest of the flock and spent a lot of time sitting rather than hanging with the other hens.

We already had a lesson from our vet on how to take care of the foot bacterial infection called Bumblefoot. Soaking the feet in an antiseptic every couple days should take care of it. Unfortunately these two girls were stubborn and not healing very quickly.

We finally put them in cages so we could keep them nice and sanitary through the next phase. Soaking daily, then putting antibiotic cream on, wrapping in bandages and changing daily. Phew! This gets tiring. Why Blue? Because that’s the color of their eggs silly!

BUT we made progress! As of today all the scabs are gone! Some wounds are slightly open so we have to keep them in bandages until they are completely healed.

They are in better spirits. There are beautiful blue eggs almost every day. They’ve gotten used to the regimen and even talk to us while they are taking a soak.  I don’t know what they are saying but the tone seems much happier.

We figure a week for one of the girls who is down to one bandage, and a couple more weeks for the pretty girl with bandages on both feet.

Let’s keep the fingers crossed!

 

Chicken Love Is In The Air

 

Although Stewart still looks a little beat up from his battle against lice and mites, he is getting bigger and starting to look a little sexy to the ladies! Or maybe it’s just another power hungry Buff Orpington wanting to be top hen by trying to win Stewy’s approval! Who knows with these cute, innocent looking Buff ladies who seem sweet and loving but in reality they have pecked me and the other hens more times than I can count!

Still, it was adorable to see her watching Stewart crow and then jump up next to him trying to get his attention. At first he ignored her, so she scooted in closer. Then he took a quick look and went back to crowing. After awhile she leaned in to try and preen his face but he took a couple steps away from her and went about his business.

Ohhhh!  Dissed!  Poor Girl! She looked so dejected.

Love will come another day.

Watch Stewy and the wannabe top hen on the What the Flock YourTube Channel:

 

 

 

The Egg Song Chorus

It just seems like yesterday when the girls weren’t laying eggs and struggling to get out of their molt. The winter was miserable for all of us.

Along with sunshine, flowers and baby bunnies, it’s so nice to hear the song of the ladies excited to be laying an egg again. Proud hens spouting off to each other….My egg is bigger than yours! No….MY egg is bigger than yours. Oh yah?! I just laid the best one EVER!

It’s getting noisy around here! Now it’s not just the rooster, Stewart, trying to be as loud as possible. It’s quite the competition going on! You’d think they were dying!

I just had to share it with you.

Listen to the chorus on the ladies YouTube Channel:

 

Broody Chaos

As the summer is heating up so are the girls hormones! It’s that time of year when chickens decide they want to raise baby chicks, or become what we call Broody. Although we collect eggs at least twice a day, broody girls will sit in the nesting box and refuse to leave as though they are hatching eggs. They stop laying eggs, drop weight, lose feathers and get really cranky! Its not good for their health and unfortunately causes other hens to want to be broody too!

We’ve broken a couple broody hens over the last couple months but we currently have 4 chickens that are acting insane! I forcefully remove them from the nesting box when I’m cleaning or it’s free range time and they puff up until they look like turkeys, growl at us and race around the outside of the coop, banging on the doors trying to get back in! We’ve separated them into a fenced area right next to the run to keep them isolated, but they have such a bad attitude they started attacking each other!

Time for desperate measures! We bought a number of dog crates and put them inside the barn, put one broody hen in each crate and kept them there except when it was free ranging time. We gave them plenty of high protein snacks to put some weight back on and grow their feathers back. We had to keep them there for 5 days to break them, and the Easter Egger took 2 extra days beyond that! I guess this will come in handy when I need chicks hatched next year!

One of the interesting side effects of removing so many chickens is we ended up with the mother hen separated from the rest of the flock. She was horrific to deal with!  The picture above is her climbing the chicken wire to fly over the 6 foot farm fence, which she managed to do! When I tried to reach for her she puffed  up like a turkey growled and pecked at me! We noticed that the rest of the flock was very calm and not pecking at each other since removing her. After introducing her back she seemed to have been moved down the pecking order and everyone is getting along a lot better. Nice!!

So the flock was fully reintegrated in a week and within 2 more days we have 2 new broody girls to deal with! Time to start all over again!.

Watch as the usually shy Easter Egger show some broody attitude on their YouTube Channel:

See the broody mother hen trying to get out of her isolation pen on their YouTube Channel:

 

 

Let the Healing Begin

A couple months ago I told you the story of our first injured chicken. Well, she is still healing with more injuries.

It started with a broken toe that made it difficult for her to get around, then a chunk taken out of one of her wings. At first we thought she was caught on something but now believe she’s at the bottom of the pecking order and the mean girls are pecking at her. She now has a chunk out of the other wing and we’ve caught hens pecking a spot at the base of her tail feathers. Every time a feather starts growing back it gets yanked out by one of her sisters!

It’s hard to suddenly realize how awful chickens can be, but it’s all part of their survival instinct. Weak chickens can put the flock at risk in the wild. I think it’s easier to accept if you look at it this way.

Injured girl is now living in the “time out” pen where she can be close to the flock but out of reach from harm. Her feathers are finally starting to grow back and fill in. She sweetly talks to us and lets us pick her up now.

Most people who sell eggs for a living would have gotten rid of this little girl by now but guess what……this chicken has been known to lay 2 eggs in 1 day! That’s unheard of under her condition! Looks like TLC goes a long way.

Just goes to show you, a little love for your animals pays you back.

Meet Injured Girl on the chicken’s YouTube Channel:

 

 

 

 

 

Protectors of the Poop

We have a daily ritual of cleaning the poop off the deck under the roosts. It should be a quick job but the girls like to make it difficult.

The 3 largest girls jockey for position as the mother hen and cover each other when the other 2 aren’t around. They are very protective of the other chickens. If we pick up a hen and she squabbles, 1 or all 3 of them run up and start pecking our legs!

When we clean in the coop we try to keep the girls outside with snacks or opening their run for free ranging, but some will stay in the nesting boxes or just hang out. When we start scraping off the poop deck those 3 big hens jump on the roosts and give me an ear full squawking like crazy! We can still get the work done but how protective do you have to be over poop!  I don’t know whether to call it annoying or entertaining. You decide. The video below is on their YouTube channel.

 

Hen Aprons (or Chicken Saddles)

aracauna-hen-apron

Have you ever hear of a Hen Apron? I hadn’t either but the internet is a wonderful place to find solutions to your problems!

It’s molting season so some of the girls are starting to lose feathers. What I didn’t know is that when chickens lose enough feathers to show skin, other chickens get tempted to peck those open spots and literally draw blood! What nasty girls they’ve become! So much squawking I felt so bad for the molters!

I started by separating the one chicken with an open wound into her own pen, but within a day they were picking on another! That’s when I did my research and discovered the hen apron and ordered a few online. You put this cape like cloth on the chicken like a back pack. It’s got 2 straps to put the wings through, and covers the spots that are being pecked until they heal up and grow new feathers. It only took them a few minutes to get used to wearing it and all 4 of the girls currently wearing them are healing up nice!

Hen Aprons are also called Chicken Saddles. All you need to know is you call it a chicken saddle if you have a rooster. I’m sure you can picture it!

I ordered a grab bag of hen aprons which will undoubtedly be more colorful than the ones pictured. Those are future pictures you might now what to miss!

If you want to see how the girls like their aprons, watch it on their YouTube channel!