The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens November Update!

30 Nov

So it seems like it’s been awhile since I talked about the chickens (and ducks) and given everyone an update. I mean hell, the last time I talked about them, I had a hen with a prolapse and it was warm outside and the plants were green. The hen healed up and is an egg laying machine, but the weather has changed and we’re now cold with sporadic bursts of snow, shit is dead or dormant, and the grass is getting a bit sad looking. It would appear that winter is upon us. Blech.

Where to start? Well Thor, that gorgeous rooster of ours decided he wanted to test his fighting skills…on me. While I had my arms full of bags and a weenie dog, that feathered rat bastard. It was a very enthusiastic jump up type of assault, complete with wing flapping and legs kicking. So I kicked at him to get him away from me. And made these really weird AAAAARRRRRGGGHHH gurgling noises in between screaming for the hubs. Hubs came out and they did their little chest puffing (hubs was trying to establish himself and the supreme being in the male population around here) and that seemed to get Thor to back off. I started carrying the broom around with me just in case and I did have to tap him on the ass another day when he puffed at me and got all “I’m gonna get you” on me. I told him that if he kept up that shit his pretty little feathered self was going to become dinner. Perhaps a nice Coq au Vin. I ate a piece of chicken in front of him as well, just to show him I meant business. It seems like he got his cock fight mentality out of his system, but I still carry the broom around when I’m in the yard. I bet that is a sight from the road.

Matilda, taking a dust bath

Matilda, taking a dust bath

Ever heard of feather pulling hens? Ya, I’ve got multiple ladies missing feather. Actually, only 1 hen and the rooster have feathers on their bums. At first I thought it was some weird reverse molt, but once the feathers started growing back in and were pin feathers, a couple of days later they were gone. My newest guess? They’ve resorted to being bored with their beauty routines and like having naked chicken butts. Because they don’t have any lice or mites, they get lots of scratch grains, are laying regularly, everyone takes dust baths and is otherwise healthy, and no one can possibly be considered bored since they are out all day long, foraging around the yard for tasty greens and bugs. Lucky me, I got weird birds. I’m at a loss at what else I can do since if there are feather pullers, there is certainly more than 1. And I have never actually caught anyone pulling out any feathers, except for the one hen occasionally pulling on Thor.

Speaking of letting them run free, the hens reminded me that they are not always the smartest animals. They are smart enough to avoid the highway, move out-of-the-way when we pull into the driveway, and come running when they see me because I have scratch or perhaps some other tasty treat – yet somehow, they are not smart enough to stay on OUR side of the fence. Matilda ended up on the business side of the fence once, and I easily lured her fat ass through the gap with some scratch and back to the safety of our yard.

Then one night I came home from work to lock up the ladies for the night and Francine was missing. My heart sank. I figured she either decided she wanted to see WHY a chicken decided to cross the road and met her maker, became a meal for a hawk, fought a cat, or was stuck on the other side of the fence like her sister and had to hang out for the night since it was dark. Hubs and I looked high and low for her and couldn’t see her. He then called me in the morning to tell me he saw her roosted up on the other side of the fence in some Aborvitae trees. Let me tell you, chasing a chicken for 20 minutes is some good cardio first thing in the morning. Francine came to me easily – ran right under the fence and high tailed it to me, but then stopped and wanted to go back in. Well then. I figured she had to be thirsty and hungry, so scratch should have easily lured her to my open arms. No dice. Finally she did what chickens tend to do and cornered herself, where I was able to lunge, almost fall on my face, and grab a strong hold on ONE SINGLE FEATHER to get her to stop so I could carry her back to the safety of the run. As I wiped the sweat from brow that chilly 35 degree morning, complete with snow flurries, I decided the birds were staying in their run for the day. One AWOL hen was enough, and I didn’t want to have to commit to the same chicken chasing cardio the following morning. Hubs thinks she wants to go off and be a wild chicken. I think she was just too dumb to find her way back home and got stuck so she hung out.

With the days being colder and the sun setting earlier, the girls have slowed down on their egg production. We are still getting 4 eggs per day from the chickens, 1 from the duck, so no substantial losses. I am still buried in eggs even after all of my holiday baking so we are not feeling the eggless pinch just yet. I decided I didn’t want to give the hens any artificial light to keep their egg production at it’s peak. I wanted to have my first year of chicken keeping be a complete test run. If they continue to lay with a decline but still give us a couple eggs per day so I don’t have to buy any, then we’ll keep them on natural lighting next year as well. That just means no eggs for anyone else but us. I mean, they are our chickens after all, so we should reap the rewards of our efforts!

And for those of you that have never seen a chicken take a dust bath, I bring you Matilda, the Barred Plymouth Rock hen who is by far the friendliest of my hens and one of the funniest. Till next time….

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10 Responses to “The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens November Update!”

  1. thefoodandwinehedonist November 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Let’s see – 1 hen and Thor are the only ones with nether region feathers? Is it possible they were getting Brazilians? (The one hold-out being the “hippie”)

    • seasonedwithsarcasm November 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      yep, only 2 chickens with nether region feathers. I like the brazilian idea. However they did not get the memo that winter is upon us. All that naked pink skin has GOT to be cold! And the ducks have all their feathers too….they are not down with nudity. Prudes.

  2. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy December 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    I love that you ate chicken in front of him.. 🙂

    • seasonedwithsarcasm December 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      haha I figured what have I got to lose? Perhaps that would learn him lol

  3. Yinzerella December 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    2 eggs a day is good for you.
    How many eggs do you guys consume? I get the 1/2 dozen and it sits in my fridge for ages.

    • seasonedwithsarcasm December 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Between baking and breakfast consumption, there are times that the hubs and I go through a dozen per week. I always have hard boiled eggs in the fridge for a quick snack or to add to salads too, so it’s easy for us to go through them!

    • Maureen S December 14, 2012 at 4:08 am #

      Yinzerella!? You MUST be from Pittsburgh!! I am too, and still live here… 🙂

  4. Maureen S December 14, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Oh my goodness, you are too funny – mental pictures abound. But its also funny because we have spent many evenings searching for that one girl that won’t go back in the coop with the others… never know where she would turn up. Picture us returning home from a funeral home, all dressed up, dark in the yard, walking around with our cell phones trying to find her, lol. Glad it wasn’t just me!

    • seasonedwithsarcasm December 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Haha Thanks Maureen! And the things we do for our chickens! I’m sure if anyone driving by had been paying attention to me, they would have wondered what in the hell I was doing! My husband said there is someone out there somewhere who has seen me in action and thinks I’m a crazy chicken lady. Oh well!

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