Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Have a Chicken Addiction and Other Stupid Facts

Hi, My name is Jocelyn and I am absolutely addicted to chickens.

Do you think there is a 12 step program for this?  There should be. Chickens are the gateway livestock, and it is way too easy to become addicted.  I have geese because I had chickens.  I have ducks because I had geese.  I will have guinea fowl, because what the hell and why not.  You see the slippery slope?  Chickens are cute, small, portable, cheap, and very useful.  There are always tons of them at the feed store and online, and they are so tempting, especially after a long, cold winter.

These are our layers right now.  Hermione, the Barred Rock, is in the front here.
We started with 10 chickens here at Chicken Scratch.  10.  We had more eggs than we could eat, and were selling the extras.  It was going well, so the plan was to add 10 more this spring, for an even 20.  When chick ordering time came around, the 10 turned to 15.  Up to 25 now.  Then we lost one of our laying hens.  So we were down to 24.
A Sicilian Buttercup chick
24 is a nice even number, so we'd stop there.  But then there was the Emmet/Arthur problem of too many ganders and not enough geese (poor Ginger).  Thought I'd alleviate that by a trip to the feed store to order a goose for each of them.  But here in NY, you can't just order 2 of anything, when it comes to fowl, 6 is the minimum.  So, I added 3 Ameraucanas and 2 guineas to my order, and had 7 and was good to go.  3 more chickens would bring us up to 27, an odd number, but it would be OK.
A Black Copper Maran chick.
Chick time came in the feed store, and I got the Ameraucanas.  I knocked together a quick (read: badly put together) brooder box for them (the other two were filled with geese), and off we went.  Went back to the feed store for wood chips.  They had Silkies.  Thought of my mom, who wants to start with chickens this year.  She had wanted a Silkie.  So I asked for one, and Katie, who works in the feed store, asked if I could take the two she had left instead.  One Silkie for me, one for mom.  Ok.  Up to 28 now.
My mother's silkie chick.  Mine was still in the brooder.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and the mail order chicks finally arrive.  One Ameraucana is DOA.  Another, the Ancona, dies that day.  I have no idea why, but there you have it.  We are down to 26.  26 is a nice, even number of chickens.  Good.  Done.
A Salmon Faverolle chick.

5 toes!!
Go back to the feed store yesterday.  Buy some more wood chips and look at the chicks. you know where this is going?  Casually mention to Katie that there are a few chicks in the box that seem to be getting a little long in the tooth--just making conversation.  So many tiny ones, and there are these Barred Rocks that are a lot bigger, you know?  So she asks if I want them, and that she'll give them to me for a discount.  I agree, because I thought there were two.  Two can't hurt, right?  There were four.  Can't back out now, so I took them home.
New Barred Rocks.  We call them The Hermiones.
The count is now 30.  We went from 9 chickens to 30 chickens.  It's obvious an intervention needs to take place sometime soon.  And I need to find an outlet for all the eggs.  Oh boy.

Either a Speckled Sussex, or a Welsummer.  They both look the same to me.
So what did we learn here?
  1. I am a chicken addict.
  2. Chickens are the gateway livestock and lead to other types of livestock.
  3. I single-handedly increased our chicken flock over 3 fold in a month's time.
  4. I like even numbers when it comes to my livestock.
  5. I should not go to the feed store and look in the chick room.
  6. I will have WAY too many eggs later this year, and will be giving them to anyone who rings the doorbell or walks past the house (or drives past, or looks in my direction).
  7. The eggs will be pretty.  Just think of all the colors we'll get.
  8. If there are roosters in this batch (beyond what I planned for), then we'll have chicken to eat.
  9. I will never remember all the names of the chickens, even though my children will name every one of them. I will call them all "Chicken".
  10. I will not be placing a chick order next year (or the year after that).
  11. My husband is a saint and deserves a shrine to be built to him.
One of the Ameraucanas from the feed store.  My daughter says her name is Molly.
Don't do what I've done, everyone.  Learn from me.  Stay off the slippery chicken slope!
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The Continuing Adventures of Ginger

The count, when I last counted, was seven. 

She doesn't get up anymore now, unless she really needs a stretch.  Then she only does it for a short time, and it's back on the nest.  I've been feeding her and giving her water right there, since she won't get up.  It'd be better for her if she did, but she's determined.  She's been breaking twigs off the nearby bushes to make her nest nicer, and she's pulled out a considerable amount of her down to line the nest.  She spends the entire night in the bushes, with Ferdi and Arthur guarding her.  It's only right since one (or both) of them are the father. 

I am truly impressed with her fortitude.  She's not even a year old, and there she is, mommy material already.  It remains to be seen if anything will hatch--there are lots of variables, not the least of which is her young age.  If they do hatch, we should start to see some babies around the 26th of May. I would love to see her get at least one to hatch.  Just one, so she has something to show for all her work.  I'd hate to think she might be sitting on a nest of duds.  How heartbreaking.

What would I not like?  All seven to hatch.  Though I know she'd be thrilled, and I'd be thrilled for her, what am I going to do with seven BuffX geese?  I'd be going the Craigslist route, for sure, and putting a flyer in the feed store, that's what I'd do.  But I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it.  For now, I'll be making sure she has what she needs, and that the dippy boys are doing their duty by her. 

I will keep you posted.  Cross your fingers for her!
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Look What Came in the Mail Today

And a tip for you:  don't order 8 different types of chicks at once.  They mostly all look the same at this stage, and it's really hard to tell which one is which.  My daughter and I spent an hour on the computer, picking up the chicks and holding them to the pictures on the screen to figure out who was who.  Forget about telling which are male and which are female.  We have no clue.

If we were right (might be a big if), we got Black Copper Marans, Welsummers, Speckled Sussex, Ameraucana, Anconas, Black Jersey Giants, Sicilian Buttercups, and Salmon Faverolles.  There were two losses right off the bat.  I'm holding my breath that there won't be any more.

I'm glad they are here.  They were ordered in December, to make sure I'd reserve the really special ones.  It's been a lot of waiting.

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Adventures of Ginger the Layer

The count is now six. 

She laid on them all night, through a thunderstorm.  This morning she got up at 6:00 ish when the others were let out for the day.  She jumped down from her nest and walked away, and did not want to go back. 

Around 7:30, I went to look at her nest.  It is lined with some down, and just beautiful.  The last count I had was 5 eggs.  Today I counted 6.  Sometime yesterday or last night, she laid another.  Ginger did not appreciate my poking at her nest, and came over to yell at me.  She climbed back up and is setting now.

I don't know if there will be more eggs, or if she is ready to set for good.  I don't know if she will set for good, because she is so young.  She seems protective of the nest, which is a good sign.  But the setting takes a long time (30 days), so whether or not she'll stick with it, we'll see.

I would love to get my candler out there and see what's going on.  You have NO idea.  I'm trying to let nature take it's course.  I'm not so good at that sometimes, can you tell?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The OTHER Animals of Chicken Scratch

All dressed up....

He was posed like this BEFORE I took out the camera--honest!

Pretty little lady

Mommy said: Act like models

Act giddy!

Act like you know everything!

Now, fight!

And make up!

Strike a pose!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

I've Got to Admit it's Getting Better

The waterfowl seem to be getting along a little better lately.  Like all animals, there's a hierarchy to their living together--a caste system.  Chickens have one that most people are really familiar with -pecking order.  But waterfowl have one too, and it can be a bit more complicated to maneuver.  Unlike chickens, who can forget that there are any new "people" in the coop with them after a day's rest, Geese and ducks have long memories.  They don't forget from day to day, and so the hierarchy "discussions" can be long. 

Here we've had a good amount of time to acclimate the old geese with the new geese, and the new ducks with everyone.  For weeks, the old geese terrified the ducks.  Then one day, everyone was accepted.  The new geese/old geese relationship is trickier.  As the old geese recognize the new geese as their own kind, they are more reluctant to let them fit in.  It seems we may be ironing it out a bit now, though.  I think it has more to do with the new geese's size than anything else.  They are becoming a force to be reckoned with.  Either way, it seems that it's getting better.

Of course, none of that applies to interlopers.  A pair of mallards came flying out of the sky this morning and landed in the pond. 

They were pretty, and I was hoping they would stay awhile, but the girls were less than hospitable, and they shortly flew off. 

 Oh well.

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Number Five

I caught it on the camera, too.  Ginger did not appreciate me filming and staring at her rear end, but she laid the egg anyway, lowering her rear end out of eye sight at the end. 

If you've ever seen a chicken lay an egg, then this will be old hat, 'cause fowl all do it the same way.  But if you've never seen it, well, then it's pretty cool.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time Passages

Time passages

Years go falling in the fading light

Time passages

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day in Pictures

Hidden nest

Buried treasure

Noisy babies

Compost, fresh from the brooder

Hay mess

Solution found--hayrack made of recycled wood

Ginger the worm hunter

Quiet reflection

Wormhunter Charles


Keeping company

Ollie on my lap

Rest with my friends

More progress made

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