One of my oldest hens Andie (after Andy Warhol with the crazy hairdo) has joined her sisters and started laying again. Her eggs are shaped like her…tall and skinny.
I don’t have a photo of Andie, but she’s a silver-laced Polish hen and looks like this.
Andie is about 6 years old, which if you believe everything you read is unheard of to still be laying. She’s laying almost every day to boot. My other old hen Lulu (after Lou Reed) popped out a couple of eggs this spring, but seems to have taken a break lately. Hopefully she won’t go through her “I think I’m a rooster” phase again this year.
Well, we survived the slumber party! It’s amazing how 5 girls can kick 2 adults arses so badly. I haven’t felt so hungover since….well…….maybe having a newborn. I’m not a huge party-er.
We have finally gotten winter weather here. It is freezing. Literally. It’s pretty much the first time that the ground has felt hard under my feet when I go out in the backyard. Neil winterized the coop, but I don’t think the chickens are enjoying the cold. To show her protest, Razzy changed the size of her eggs.
I might have to knit them little sweaters to make them happier. Like this person’s photo a friend forwarded me on Facebook.
Right at the shortest day of the year, when chickens are taking a rest from egg laying…my girls decided to give us an early Christmas gift. A bunch of them. What sweethearts.
We’re back from Iceland! It was a truly amazing vacation. If you are even slightly considering going to Iceland, I want you to go! I am editing my photos now, so more will come.
We are now trying to get back into a routine. Lindsay has her first full week of school this week, which is helpful for getting more things done at home. One of the things we haven’t gotten back into a routine again, is locking our chickens up at night. Our coop is predator proof, but we built an extended run that isn’t. So every night when they tuck themselves into bed, we lock the door between the runs. Except last night we forgot.
I woke up around 3am to the most painful screeching sounds. I knew instantly that the chickens were in major distress. Neil and I ran out there to chase off whatever predator was after them. Neil saw something run away, but isn’t sure if it was a cat or a small raccoon.
Fortunately we seemed to be in time. The girls were agitated, but there didn’t seem to be any blood. This morning I checked again and didn’t see any injuries. I just saw this clump of feathers ripped from Andie in the coop. Poor girl. They still have the little sheaths over them, which means that she just grew them. It looks like they came from her head, but I couldn’t see a bald spot.
We just re-set the chicken alarm on our phones to remind us to lock them in at night.
A while ago I noticed that my hen Razzy was missing feathers under her vent. I chalked it up to chicken mites, and gave them all a treatment. That was in the spring, and she still has a bald bottom.
Chickens are attracted to the color red, so her poor red bottom was attracting the others to peck her. I’m not entirely sure where the feather picking started. She might have lost feathers there due to mites. Or the others may have just started pecking at her. Ultimately it doesn’t matter now, because they are drawn to the bright red of her poor, little tush.
I did some reading and found a product called Pick-No-More by Rooster Booster. What I liked about this product is that it is a natural product. It has a scent that chickens don’t like, which deters them from pecking. There is also calendula, which helps soothe her poor, pecked bottom. You use the applicator to smooth the cream onto the affected area. It is a dark purplish gray, which blends into her feathers particularly well.
In addition to treating the bald patch, I am trying to boost the protein in their diet. Feather picking can be caused by boredom or a protein deficiency. My girls have a pretty large area to roam, so I don’t think it’s the boredom. I feed them a lot of kitchen scraps, so that could have led to a decrease in protein. I am giving them a mixture of plain yogurt with some dry cat food. Cat food works well because it has a very high percentage of protein. It’s hilarious to watch them eat the yogurt. Particularly my polish hen, who’s head feathers act like a kind of mop in the yogurt dish.
I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to see new feathers sprouting soon.
A few weeks ago Swedish TV4 sent a reporter and cameraman to my home to talk about urban chicken keeping. It was fun and the girls were feisty – kicking dirt in my face during the interview. Nothing like keeping it real!
Take a peek at the link to see it. Not sure why the put such ugly clips of the city. My neighborhood is beautiful and leafy.
Click here for the link.
Yesterday I had two tv crews come to my home to discuss backyard chicken keeping. In the morning TV 4 from Sweden came. We had been postponing this for weeks due to the constant rain. Yesterday was beautiful and sunny and the chickens were happy to get out and stretch their legs. We had a hilarious interview where the chickens were happily kicking leaves and dirt all over me.
In the afternoon a Japanese tv crew came from El Mundo, which is a show on NHK. Folks who subscribe to NHK programming in the US can watch the show. They were covering lots of different angles on chicken keeping and we represented the backyard chickens as pets portion. The host, Hanna very gamely tried holding a chicken.
They were mainly interested in talking to Lindsay about her pet chickens. It was a little intense in the beginning for her, but she held her own and did a great job.
I’ll post links to these shows when they are available.
My daughter’s school celebrated Earth Day on Friday. It has become an annual event in which I bring my chickens. The kids love seeing our unusual chickens. Many have never seen a live chicken before, so it’s fun to hear their reactions. I bring a big tub of spinach for the kids to feed the chickens.
We had the worm compost table next to the chickens, so the kids had a blast picking out worms and bringing them over to feed the chickens. The chickens ate like queens!
This little guy was smitten with the chickens. Whenever his mother lost him in the crowd, she just came back to me and there he was. She finally gave up and just hung out with us.
A friend brought her beekeeping equipment and lots of photos to show the kids about bees. She had popsicle sticks to dip into the honey for tasting. The smart kids used the sticks to dig for worms and then feed them to the chickens.
Hope you are having as much fun on Earth Day!
Around Ground Hog’s Day the days get long enough to trigger my hens laying mechanism. This year I had new ones who layed all winter long. When March began my old biddies didn’t start laying. Weeks went by without an egg, so I thought they must have hit chicken menopause. They are almost 5 years old after all. Actually I have no idea when chickens stop laying.
A few days ago, however, I saw a green egg that looked slightly darker than Edie’s eggs. I wasn’t sure until a white egg appeared. Those belong to Andie my silver laced polish hen. Seems like my old gals have decided to begin laying at the solstice now.