It seems like forever since our last update on the blog. We had a few days of sunshine which seemed to completely change the appearance of the garden. In three days of weather above 70, everything doubled in size and looks a lot more luscious. The strawberries are still looking a bit pitiful but they haven’t been in the ground for long, so they have an excuse. The potatoes are exploding with greens, we already had to add some more soil to cover them up a bit—hopefully this technique will produce a good crop of potatoes to enjoy through the winter. However, the peas that we co-planted together with the potatoes are not doing so hot. The chickens outsmarted us by plucking all the side seeds, leaving the few that I dropped in the middle of the cages and those got covered with soil along with the potato plants. Peas don’t like that. I will sow a row of peas in the pallets soon—we are getting really close to finally planting my salad bar and herb garden.
About two weeks ago I got a text from a neighbor complaining about our chickens (Chicoletta, my favorite chicken to be specific) harassing her guest by trying to get into their vehicles. Chicoletta is a special bird in many different ways. She was the one with the impacted crop and spent some one on one time with Paul and I for two days (getting fancy soft foods and lots of hugs and pats) so as of now, she has lost her chicken-ness (although she still lays eggs) and considers herself a human. She follows me around the garden and tries really hard to get into the house. She actually snuck inside the garage and was stuck there for a few hours, terrifying the young chicks and eating all of their food. While I find it endearing (and highly amusing), others get easily annoyed with my pet. Because of the complaints we decided we had to do something right away, to prevent them from leaving the back yard. A few days before, I found a gentleman on craigslist.com selling used fishing nets. Paul picked up two thinking we would use it in their new run. Boy, were we glad to have gotten them when we did because now those nets are keeping the birds in and the neighbors happy.
I don’t blame the gals for wanting to get out, there is nothing fun in the back yard and they get bored. Never in a million years did I think one of my daily chores will be providing entertainment for a flock of chickens. Every day I try to feed them in a more creative way by scattering their scratch in different places so they have to look for their treats and spreading salad greens all over the yard again, to send them on a scavenger hunt. One day I was desperate I had no greens, only one head of very expensive organic cabbage, so I used that as their treat by hanging it up for them to peck at, sort of like a piñata. That cabbage was on my menu board for the next day so I had to do some meal reorganizing. On the weekends I picked a bunch of dandelions for them to snack on. Before even having a chance to get out into the backyard to scatter their tasty treats, the birds knocked the tray out of my hands and engulfed the greens in less than hour. Good thing we have a lot of weeds on our property!
Along with the chickens harassing the neighbors we also noticed a few weeks ago that their egg production was decreasing. This confused us as nothing has changed. The days got longer and warmer so in theory, they should be laying like crazy. And of course they were, a few days into the low egg count, I went on a hunt. We had four regular chicken escapees so I figured they were too lazy or busy to go back into the coop to lay, therefore finding other places to nest and lay their eggs. I looked everywhere and just when I was ready to give up, something caught my eye in a pile of leaves in our compost pile. It was a nest that had been filled with eleven eggs in three days! I called Paul and we both had a good laugh. We kept the eggs separate to make sure they were ok. I am glad to say we ate them all. Eggs are amazing. They keep much longer without refrigeration than your government and the egg council would have you believe. Check out this discussion on one of our favorite forums.
The last interesting chicken keeping issue we have never dealt with before is one of our hens is getting broody. I am not sure how often or how much of her day gets spent sitting on eggs but the last two days when I’ve gone to close the coop and collect the eggs, she is there keeping her babies warm. I know it is a difficult habit for them to break, so I had to take her off the eggs and collect them to not encourage such behavior. She did not put up a fight at all but I did feel like I was stealing her babies. We have no rooster, so having her sit on perfectly edible eggs seems wasteful. It also affects the other hens, because while she is occupying the nest, they will not lay eggs in it. This could lead to a condition known to as “egg bound.” I will give her a few more days and then refer to my chicken guide on how to handle a broody hen.
This weekend and for the next few weekends Paul will be working on the new chicken run. If all goes like planned (haha!!) it should look very awesome! We decided to go with the hog panels and have already purchased them. We will use these for the walls of the run, and string the netting over the top to make sure none of the girls can leave through the roof. Come back soon for updates and photos of the run!
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Thanks for reading!