2014-09-19 - Good-Bye - for now - This blog has grown too large with words and pictures to be able to edit with the technology I have. Thanks for all your support and comments.... Look for a new blog - Jottings II sometime in the future. :O)

2014-7-18 - Nice reprieve - Temperatures in the 70's and lately over 9-inches of rain! This is phenomenal to someone who has been ind drought for a number of years. When I lived in the desert our annual rainfall was just under 6-inches. But the desert has its own specialized eco-system that is unsurpassed. Yorktown, TX had annual average of 35-inches - but the last few years of drought were far below that average. Here, the average is 55.97, and it shows in tall trees, oaks and pine forests.

Now to decide about the fall breeding season... Yesterday's discovery, the auction house down the street doesn't auction cattle it auctions chickens! (and has a horse auction the first Sunday of every month. Other items are auctioned there too (household junque). Fascinating. )
2014-07-04 - Happy Independence Day!! - Happy Independence Day -
Now that all the littlest chicks have gone to their new owners, I miss them. Empty nest syndrome? Maybe you could say, empty brooder syndrome (but they had all been outdoors for a while.) One new owner who got all girls calls them "the ballerinas."

Of the Easter chicks, they are getting really BIG. I'm sure Corrigan is over 3-pounds right now. Mattie is not far behind that.

How can you not love a face like that...hope that the hot weather (It hits 100-degrees+ daily, but cools down pretty quickly and we have a shower most days in the afternoon lately) doesn't promote too large growth of comb and wattles...in Corrigan.
2014-06-23 - Summer's here - The weather here is much nicer than at the old place. The chicks are growing like crazy, in the middle pen, the Easter hatch - (Corrigan, Morgan-Frida, Iris and Mattie) are happily living with the ones that hatched out 3-weeks later. As of now the younger ones are all spoken for. They are so funny -- it is almost as if they remember their brooder days and they come up to be 'tickled' or picked up--- stroke their backs and they will trill or squwak and then come back for more. Strangely Morgan who is the one on the BYC 'myPage' that had the highest contrast of any chick I have hatched to-date is the most melanized. She is now the darkest chick. Isn't that interesting? The Easter hatch is pushing 2-pounds at 9-weeks old (well, Mattie and Corrigan are). Morgan had nearly white face and underbelly--- it will be interesting to see her mature plumage. The Easter hatch is my 'replacement' batch - and I am very attached to them...

Tonight Mattie was on top of the coop looking for a way to fly into the rafters and not finding it....and I put her in the little coop, only to find that the eight six-week-olds have moved into one of the nesting boxes - which probably displaced Mattie... She seemed fine - but with a dozen chicks all cuddled together - it must be hot in there at night.

Mattie, who got a 'big girl' plastic spiral legband at her weigh-in today --- she is 1 pound 14 ounces.

Corrigan - just an ounce short of 2-pounds at his last weighing. Will that comb stay upright? The crest is a bit larger than his dad's was at the same age I believe, and he is being a good 'big brother ' to all the females in there - and a bit of a pest to his little brother - he zooms around the pen - very full of himself.

The 9-week-olds are approaching the size of the Isbar pullets...and Mr. Blue Rooster is now with a friend - who's Blue Isbar rooster suddenly died for no apparent reason. Hope someday he may journey back here...
2014-06-15 - Happy Father's Day - I think my blue Isbar rooster is an over achiever. He worries too much, searches for danger too much, breeds the hens too much, and gets REALLY carried away when he demonstrates how cozy the nest box really IS so that the females will jump right up there and produce eggs.

wish you could hear him extol the virtues of the nest! Sometimes he doesn't even waht to move out of the way for the hen......

2014-06-01 - June! -

The boy and 7 girls are now on the front porch! In the rabbit hutch..It's now reinforced with hardware cloth - but I still worry.

Here are my 4 beautiful Isbars...and each of the hens produced their egg early this morning - all in the same nest box too. Isbars are great chickens!! The new silver background is a tarp between Isbar and Legbar enclosures so the two roosters stop fence-fighting.

2014-5-29 - Funny Baby - Yes, it is funny when the little Cream Legbar crows at about ....two weeks... it sounds like a rusty wheel squeeking....and you more think it is a baby chicken fight and someone got hurt....No, it is that little rooster...practicing.

Luckily - in a way - Robin didn't go into broody mode...so that clutch of 13 eggs never got started. I guess when I saw her on the nesting box - it was just her normal daily trip there to lay. She now tips the scale at 5.5 pounds, which is large for a hen around here. I like the smaller hen that lays well. Today's egg was 1.89 oz or so -- just under size 'Large'. I'm awash with eggs right now.

"Heart" is back! - he is a son of Robin and Ice that survived the raccoon attack - full brother to "(Amazing) Grace". If I breed Robin to Heart...the genetics of those chicks would be 3/4 Robin....all the chicks hatched now are full brothers and sisters to (Amazing) Grace and Heart..... Let's see where is that photo of Heart??

If I have full sisters of (Amazing) Grace, I will be so happy to grow them out -- and I will hope that they are just like Grace was.

2014-5-13 - A Baker's Dozen + 9 + 4 - This is chicken math as you well can tell. I had been setting aside fertile eggs from Robin & Ice for two people who requested them... And then, the timing and arrangements fell through and the eggs just keep getting "older" -- So now what to do with these 13-eggs... The oldest of which is 13-14 days old. (Robin has been laying daily like gang-busters)...So I put them in the nesting box in the Eglu where she is currently residing solo, (awaiting the arrival in June of her son ---for a summer hatch.) I thought - who knows it could inspire her to go broody. Today I thought I saw her sitting on them for a while --and tomorrow night temp to 48-degrees is predicted - so if she does decide to brood - she will have her work cutout for her tomorrow night.....

Then the results of my hatch 3/4 or 75% - Of the dozen that made it to lockdown 9 hatched...and SEVEN of the 9 are females. How's that for amazing luck?

There are the first three...they are so little and they are so delicate...I was having tremendous trouble 'leg banding ' them -- (I was using Vet Wrap--- but I don't think I would have fared any better with zip ties---they are just so little---their little legs and feet are small as meal worms -- try to put a legband around a meal worm... They grow so fast though---they are tiny and so frail - and then they are bouncing around the brooder and growing before my very eyes.

And the 4 - are the four that hatched at Easter time -- 3 girls and one boy--- Time to pack the incubator away for awhile now.
2014-5-12 - All girls - so far.... Thus far 3PM, 4 have hatched and they are all girls...another one is zipped...maybe it will be a boy? They are so TINY compared to my 3-week olds. I weighed Morgan and Corrigan - and they weighed 1/2 and 1/3 pound respectively. Now they are out doors...but the newly hatched chicks seem so tiny and delicate in comparison......
2014-5-11 - OMG Pips!! It isn't possible that three weeks have gone by. The incubator countdown says there is still 1-2 days left---but there are pips, so THAT means the brooder needs to be emptied tonight - and the ones in the brooder now, need to make room for their brothers and sisters that are eager to get OUT of the eggs....and these Easter hatchlings are way way too big now for the little plastic container that they are in... But where to put them? Inside the pen where the Isbars are, in a separate enclosure....
2014-5-10 - That white chicken needs a bath now!! - I mean NOW!! - "Bebe" my fun and funny Easter Egger has been a bit mopey lately. She's actually my oldest chicken and probably as a result my lead hen. She actually is not white per se she is 'wheaten' so the woman who I bought her from said. Her fluffy butt was pretty nasty---and I have been meaning to give her a bath for a wihle. And while I'm at it my Isbars have been 'yawning' way too much, and I want to make sure that they don't have Gape Worm, I haven't wormed them since they started laying. Today everyone was wormed, everyone was weighed, and the older chickens sprayed for Scaley Leg mites. Bebe has a lot of feather loss on her butt, and she may just be molting AGAIN!! - she is loosing some of her beard too. Poor kid, that could not only explain the moping but also the drop in her egg production.

Here is "Bebe" post bath--fluffed and buffed...she isn't pristine, but she is better. I have to say that it is enjoyable to give her a bath--and now I blow-dry the chickens with a hair dryer - a spa day for the chook, and relaxing to groom her.

"Robin" is all alone in an Eglu classic. She was raised in this one and she had her first chicks in this one so she should feel right at home. Once I get her son "Heart" back, I will pair them and genetically the babies should be 3/4 "Robin". right?

Speaking of babies, here are the Easter Chicks....they are starting that awkward phase wouldn't you say? Little crests are just starting to sprout. Foreground left is "Iris." Behind her is "Mattie" - "Mattie" took 24 hours to hatch - just because she was so big, and in a difficult position in the egg. Center - in front of "Mattie" is "Morgan", but maybe her name should be changed to "Frida" in honor of Frida Kalo, because she has dark coloration just at the very top of her beak that seems to nearly join behind her comb, resembling Frida Kalo's eyebrows. To the right of her is "Corrigan" the only boy in the bunch. He has, thus far, a symmetrical crest - well balanced and a straight comb...and are there 6 points? Or are there 7? "Corrigan" because he hatched from the WRONG end of the egg. He is named after "wrong Way Corrigan", the aviator. That batch of eggs, experienced some hardships, including when the ex-dh mistakenly put them in the fridge, when I left them on the kitchen counter in an egg carton. It's a nice bunch of chicks...
"Corrigan" got away and was found behind the dryer...a bit confused. One day, Mattie was roaming the floor of the kitchen, when I had left the top of the brooder ajar, and each of them has had an adventure or two already at their tender age....and just wait a few days and the move to the great outdoors...they better feather fast.

Infact, my timing was a bit off--- I have eggs in the incubator and they are due to hatch in 2-days. The above chicks are just three weeks tomorrow. Usually I don't put them outdoors until 4 weeks...but only have one brooder. Fortunately - I have a gizmo from Omlet that is a "Snuggle Safe" microwave Heat pad - 5-minutes in the microwave gives 8 hours of warmth - they will be fine for the transition.
Why doesn't the USA have clever things for chickens like that??

Last and not least my Isbars....(notice how the interiors of the pens are down to bare dirt - or nearly so? )

I Love my Isbars, they are like a floating mist...Have to admit, I like flashy roosters like my blue Isbar male - and my Cream Legbar...another time, I will have to sing the praises of my Isbars...oh yes, and in the bottom picture, you can see "Bebe" in the very top of the frame, you can see "Ice" and my Basque, and then three Isbar hens and an Isbar rooster in the lower part of the picture....

2014-4-27 - It's all new!! - wow, more than a month since the last post....New Chicks (on Easter and the following day)- New pens - at the New home, and new internet connection.

Hard to believe that I let a week go by before even getting the first picture of them.....Just after this picture, one of the females took a dust bath in the feed. Have more eggs in the incubator. :O)

Here are the new pens:

The most capacity I have ever had....and the bench to Chicken TV. What could be better? Temperature here was about 10-degrees cooler than the 99 that San Antonio enjoyed today. Hope it will always be a bit cooler at this location.

2014-3-11 - De-spurred--> Finally -- I guess it has been on the "to do" list since Ice got back here -- so that would be November.. This try, I wrapped him in towels; covered his face with towels, didn't stop when he flinched, and took a small exacto type blade and scored the spurs near his legs. It was bloodier than I thought it would be, I put Vetericyn on the spur stubs that remained behind. It looks very painful. Placed him in a clean pet carrier so he is away from the hens while the blood stops. How sanitary are wood shavings?

2014-3-07 - At last - This poor guy has been in a pet carrier in a bathroom since January. His shipping-buddy died, probably from Marek's- so the shipping must have been very stressful. Probably the cold in the plane? He had rales, and needed to be isolated incase he to succumbed to Marek's. Finally - at last- he is moved outdoors now. He is a black Isbar, and in order for him to be outdoors, it took Mr. Carlos to be selling an Eglu in Dallas, TX on eBay, and Mr. Fleming to be driving from that area to the Hill Country ranch, where I could pick it up and bring it here So that's 9-hours of travel, and this is just the temporary home. At least I feel that it is highly secure from the lurking predators around.

My other Isbars seemed to have stopped eating their feed. That Eglu needs to be moved next to this one. There is something in that shed that may be nesting in the feed dish...and I have been gone overnight to the Hill Country place so often now - that I haven't been here to monitor - and neither have the dogs.... I suspect a pack rat maybe. Not the Norwegian rats that live in the NY sewers, also known as the 'common rat' - but a native of the countryside around here....Native species in the southwest and far 'cuter' than the common rat. they even have a furry tail often...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pack_rat

The enclosed feeders keep out the rain -- but who wants to stick their head in a feeder that has a beady-eyed creature in there? I'm beginning to think I need a big indoor aviary like in the zoo to keep the chickens free from all the mrauders around here.

Here is the black Isbars rooster, "Mr Tibbs" outdoors.

He is just so pretty...and certainly deserves better than his previous habitat.

Now to get the big 'babies' out of the rabbit hutch...also long over due...maybe another Eglu will come up on eBay? This blue Eglu -- may be the very first one that was imported ot the USA and it is in excellent condition - even better than my green Eglu - and I like the 'classic' Eglu better than the newer trapezoid shape. For utility, protection, ease-of-cleaining, sturdiness, and portablilty, these Eglus cannot be beat. Too bad that they aren't even available in the USA any longer from Omlet. One SnapLock I have is partially here, and partially in the trailer that is in the Hill Country awaiting my "closing" on the East TX property so we can all move there.... --So "Mr. Tibbs" blue Eglu location is temporary.

These poor neglected chickens need some attention today - and I really need another coop and run fast...The Christmas hatch are now 3 1/2 pounds for "Donder", 3 1/4 pounds for "Comet" and 2 1/4 pounds for the pullet "Vixen". They have out grown the rabbit hutch long ago -- but the pens are in the Hill Country also awaiting a move to now East TX. Figure out how to move -- seven 10-ft by 6 foot panels another 7-hours drive from their current location....rent a flat-bed trailer, of course... (Of course) lol.

I guess the very first order of the day will be to build some cattle panel coops in East Texas - so that the chickens can have more breathing room. Especially since there was a cougar sited there, in the vicinity. Since Cougars have a 25-50 mile range, since the place has been vacant for so long, since it is surrounded by pine forest, and since I saw what may have been a cougar track up there --- (wish I had taken a plaster cast), the pens will need to be very, very, very secure. Will I be helping the USA economy or what - with all the building materials that I need to buy? Big, big help I guess.

2014-3-01- EEEKKKkkkk! - Screamin' won't solve it. There is always something. I go out of town for one day - and come back to this.....

Meanwhile, I must have left the top ajar/off of the rabbit hutch in the kitchen only to come home to Donder - wandering around the kitchen...how long has he been without food and water...can I judge by the pile of chicken poop on the kitchen floor? all the juveniles are over 2 pounds now. Everyone needs a different coop arrangement...but that all now has to wait for the move. ahhh the move.

2014-2-20 - A first - On a beautiful day the 'babies' go outdoors in the 'play pen' for the first time. They are eating the grass like it is going out of style...they have never seen grass before. So cute. How to get them back in when the time comes - I will worry about that later. This 4x4 space is the biggest they have ever been in.

2014-2-17- Big juveniles - As the adorable 'chicks' approach 2-months old - they are still in the rabbit hutch - in need of getting out, however due to major and unexpected life altering event, chickens are now sidelined into 'survival mode' and they are still in the rabbit hutch rather than outdoors scratching in the dirt as they should be. The chicks, the newly acquired Isbars from Samantha at HighView Ranch, and surviving Isbar from a shipment of two-- from which one got Marek's probably from the stress of transport and I killed it - sadly - because it was a beautiful and promising cockerel) - So survivor is in the bathroom in a pet carrier, and the whole flock is exposed to Marek's...but I think still that Marek's is ubiquitious. Meanwhile, life's deck is being shuffled and I'm parachuting to a different place.

Here are the "getting BIG" chicks:

If you don't have real dust...use sawdust...(wood shavings) for your dust bath!

2014-1-23 - Four Weeks (and a day or two) - Comet 15oz, Donder 13oz, Vixen 10oz. - At 4-weeks I consider the Cream Legbar
"fully feathered" - tonight predicted temperature 28-degrees, 30MPH winds and freezing rain/sleet/snow not question of going outside. Here is a shot from above - they're a bit fluffed up from the cold weather but they are quite robust chicks. Comet almost a pound at four weeks... A 'brooder shot' and individual pictures yet to come this week or weekend.

And Comet is getting really good at a very recognizable crow...at 4-weeks - and at 3 weeks - that scretch was a practice crow.

2014-1-17 - Three Weeks plus - From an 18"x33" plastic tub in the bathroom where the ambient heat was turned up to 60F, to the 25"x40" rabbit hutch and no ambient heat -- brrrr - just the Ecoglow brooder... More room/space to be Hooligans in - but it is a cold cruel world isn't it? That's from 584 Sq inches to 1,000 Sq inches. And there are just the three of them. Each of them went through the 1/2 pound mark this week, and both boys 'crowed' or should I say squeaked.

Before - comfy, cozy, crowded! The 'Rabbit Hutch" - tomato stake for perch, bricks to raise food & H2O

These chicks are really growing, I don't think the last batch I raised in the rabbit hutch got this big this fast. Manna Pro Chick Starter? Older parents? At any rate they are getting big.

More head room for certain Comet (left) Vixen (center) Donder (right)

Donder Vixen

Comet - already starting his crest, and his light head spot is filling in with dark barring feathers. Does that look like 6-points and a blade to you? So nice that he is perfect comb wise as a baby ...This big a crest this early may eliminate his perfectly straight, perfectly centered, perfectly pointed comb...Only time will tell.

2014-1-08 - Two Weeks Old - Graduated to wood shavings, getting feathers - and quite rowdy- Able to hop and fly out of the brooder now. 1/2 way to full feathered and weigh around 1/4 pound already.... Growing fast.

Vixen (left), Donder (front & center) Comet (right)

Vixen, Donder, Comet - funny thing, Comet's head looks like it is concave on top due to the whit-ish head spot.
2014-01-01 - 1-week old! - Happy New Year!!




Comet - wing feathers gigantic wing and tiny tail feathers showing in the fuzz... He's on the egg scale and weighs 2.7 oz.

Comet - enough of this stuff - put me back in the brooder Puh-leeze!

2013-12-28 - Newly Hatched Chicks - Here are photos of Comet, Vixen and Donder:

Donder (Left) and Comet (center) Vixen (right)

Vixen (left) Donder (right).....

2013-12-26 - Surprise!!! -- We got home last night to find this:

He must have hatched right about the time we started driving back here (3-hours drive). He had to spend overnight in the incubator. Today two pips from the mailed eggs...Hatched and started tearing up the incubator...and now two eggs remaining in the incubators - I can even see movement through the shells........Three chicks in the brooder. What could be better than that? Day 21 for one incubator and day 20 for the other. So yes,Virginia, there is a cure for hatching fever. These chicks are all so pretty and lively.

The one that hatched on Christmas day was from the egg that I cracked on Day 3 at the air sack end, that subsequently I put wax over thanks to a BYC post. Christmas eve just around midnight- I nearly discarded it because of the Nightmare before Chiristmas that I had that it had gone bad and was about to explode in the incubator. So glad I didn't discard it, it is a cockerel with Ice as the father. His name is going to be Comet, and the two others that hatched today (also on day 20 ) are Donder and Vixen.... OH yeah, I hope it was a Merry Christmas for all and for All a good night!

2013-12-15 - Right before my eyes - Just after I cleaned the poop tray I was standing there admiring my chickens, out of the sky swooped a hawk and it wasn't silent; it screeched as it dove. It may even have been a kestrel, because it was about half the size of the chicken, NOT the red tailed hawk that I saw in the tree awhile ago. What is astonishing, is that the hawk was probably half the size of the chicken. Perhaps because I moved forward, or perhaps because the chickens ducked, or maybe because the rooster was there - the hawk/kestrel flew off. Strangest thing. I keep moving the decoy I'm using - it got a giant reaction from the dogs...but this hawk wasn't deterred.

Two of the eggs in the incubator are not going to develop, one clear, one blood ring. The one I broke - appears to be developing - but I'm skeptical about the success. For the eggs this is near the 1/2 way point, and the weights look fairly good. Keeping the non-hatchers in for just the moment to help stabilize temperature with the mass...will remove tomorrow.
2013-12-09 - Hatching fever - cured?? Maybe not - The eggs from here are old, the shipped eggs spent the night in a sorting facility, two shipped looked scrambled and just now I accidentally cracked the newest of the ones laid here. On the air sack end, but I suspect it is a gonner. I will candle in a few days. Only time will tell.

2013 -12-01 - Milestone - Today - passed my 4,000th BYC post.
2013-11-24 - Construction and Eggs!! - Hooray for SnapLock coops- plastic, easy to assemble - practical, easy to clean and keep clean -- and the design/diagram they provide on their site is something even I can construct from. Not only that, but the same legs beneath fit BOTH sizes of coops that they sell.

simple construction with 2x4's you make a square, put in a cross piece, add 4 legs, place the assembled coop on top. Love that power 'chop' saw and power drill...makes it easy work.

Hen looks over my ladder construction, figures it out, trots up and lays her egg without missing a beat!

OH yes, we are back in eggs. Bravo - and Robin & Ice are in with the other three...maybe more in the coop in the cold will help them all be a bit warmer - I hope-- Today 40 - Wendnesday predicted to be 30.

2013-11-17 - Unbelievable - When I was checking on the chickens in the cattle-panel hoop coop, one of those cold windy days just as it was getting dark. And then I couldn't get out. I was locked in
Very scary. It could be one of the best ways to test the security of your coop. The scary thing is how could this happen?
Here is the cause of the problem. The following is one of 3-latches on the coop door...the other two being a similar wooden latch and a metal hook and eye closing.

open closed

So my deduction is that the wood pivoted down on the screw and as a result I was locked in. It took me an hour to MacGyver my way out. It got darker, it got colder, and the chickens just didn't understand what I was doing there as darkness set in. They were worried I would try to crawl into the coop with them - Like the scene from Walt Disney cartoon Alice in Wonderland where she has legs, and head sticking out of the white rabbit's house. I could still be there- it is a very secure coop.

Speaking of secure - it's good because there are racoons about at night.

clear raccoon foot print on plastic tub lid

The other night, I neglected to put the pin in the end of the run attached to the coop that Robin & Ice share. That could have resulted in tragedy. Yesterday morning I saw muddy raccoon prints where a raccoon had crawled over the top of the pod of the Eglu Classic. Maybe it is time to start trapping again.

Ice and Robin out with some supervised free ranging - I hate that I can't just let them go - because of all the predators around...Collapsed in a heap to have a sun bath.

2013-11-12 - Brrrr - There's another old saying in Texas, "IF you don't like the weather, stick around for 20-minutes, and it will change. " So yesterday 80-degrees, now outside 30+MPH winds and 36-degrees. The difference is the kicker....The first cold seems extremely cold. If it freezes, the grass will stop growing until the spring. Tough times for the cows. Hope we can dodge the bullet and get at least a few more weeks of some grass growth for the cattle, and not have them need to depend on the so-called-hay. Drought has made it more like straw.

So what if the forecasters are a bit off and it freezes...there's "Ice" with that big comb. "Robin" was smart enough to go in the coop when the bitter cold- front moved in, he was guarding outside the coop door to protect her from the wind.....my brave guy. The other chooks went into their coop too...and they are not usually inside chickens. Oh, hey, I know what to do, I'm an avid BYC reader, you put Vaseline on his comb. So I'm out there in the howling wind, in the dark, holding the rooster in one hand and the jar of Vaseline in the other... and I'm going: 'how much Vaseline? Over the whole comb? or just the tips? -- The joys and trepidations of a rookie.. Just scoop some out rub on his comb that you can't see much of anyway and slather the rest on his shanks and hope for the best when morning comes.

Me(d)Cre's third egg today since coming out of molt - it's quite big..haven't had a chance to weigh it yet.

Today is 11-12-13 -- next year will bring a 12-13-14 - and that's it for this century I believe...
2013-11-10 - Robin, Ice and Me(d)Cre - Me(d)Cre is layinig eggs again, and since she has molted, they are, as the books say they will be, larger..... Todays was 1.9 and some oz.

Low light, low contrast shot while they free ranged late this evening. Both are under treatment for bumble foot using daily 5-minute soaks with tricide-Neo. Expensive stuff, and a time consuming process. It seems now on day 4 to be making a difference. The heart-rending part is that this problem could be fatal.

Interesting color change in Ice, in this shot, his breast feathering and his neck front are very dark, and he looks a bit more like the Diane Jacky illustrations of CL. Robin's crest was missing when she came home.

The spurs do affect the way Ice walks. My greater concern is that they would do needless harm to the hens when he breeds them. On my BYC 'my page' there is a link to a guy despurring, there is an internet video of an APA judge pulling off a spur, and there are postings of using a hot potato to assist with spur removal...but...no explanation of what the potato does.....

2013-10-31 - Ice and Robin are back Home!!! - Yay! In quarantine, have a few issues, but back home!!
2013-10-27 - No wonder they were acting that way - A while back BeBe had a blood mark on the side of here face. That is right about the time all of my chooks started acting like combat troops under fire. They would run from cover to cover for the most part...free range and pick bugs off plants early in the morning, and keep under something all day. The porch, the short deck, something. Went out today to the coop - and a GIANT hawk flew out of the tree above. Had never seen one this close to building - except roof dwellers that nested outside an office window working in one of the cities. And that was 20-floors high. Usually I call the chickens and they answer, usually they come running. Neither.

Finally found them --- flattened to the ground under a low 8" deck and BeBe under the porch up beside the edge of the building. So -- despite their great caution, they won't be free-ranging gain for quite some time ---until I can be there with them.

So top priority today was to move the coop/run--- which I can only do right now by dragging it attached to the trailer hitch. Remove all the pieces of skirting using leverage and wedges. Remove the coop. Attach chains, tow straps, put over the trailer hitch, pull it about 15 feet, unhitch, lift up all the sides, replace hardware cloth skirting, move coop back in, set up. Wish I still had some legs - On the to do list to build....and put in feed and water.

Your room is ready, the maid has finished room service.

suspended feed with lid of molasses tub beneath so there isn't a ladder for ants.

Let's check it out to see if we like it.

Safe from hawks, safe from raccoons, safe from REALLY Large Snakes......

2013-10-25 - Uh - oh, chick fever strikes early - I really do have chick hatching fever..... I can only think of one cure....let's see to get a Thanksgiving day hatch...eggs would need to be set by November 7th right??

And here's the Molt update of late:

Doesn't she look beautiful with those fresh feathers? Almost done molting I would say......

Me(d)Cre with tail nearly back to normal - weeds and "cowpen daisies". You should see them harvest the caterpillers...off these plants.
2013-10-12- Today's Molting Update -

Me(d)Cre's tail feathers growing in nicely, but the rest of her looks rough, especially her crest. Beautiful Bebe has her beard back, and Basquie has her tail mostly back, but has the palest comb and wattles of the three.

2013-10-09 - Just in Time - Just about to leave town for a couple of days. Found a way to hang a traditional metal chicken feeder from the cattle panel roof. Got 20% protein crumbles at the TSC in a 20# bag, and they are tolerating it.

Now, as long as the leaf-cutter ants don't find a way to get into it, they will have feed they can eat for 3-days. Good. No daily room service to the PDZ in the poop tray, alas, but they can rough it for a few days---right? Anyone want about 30-pounds of layer pellets that my hooligans turn up their beaks at?

2013-10-08 - Home Sweet Home - Here are my three remaining hooligans.

2013-09-30 - Molting Progress -

2013-09-28 - Weigh in - BeBe, - 4 1/2# she turned 2 years old on Sept 8th, Basquie - 4# purchased chicken age unknown, she is very dense. Me(d)Cre - 3 1/2# - projected to be 1-year old in October she has gained 4oz - and NoCresta - 3# she had lost weight, and something was wrong.

Here is the run/pen construction to date in Hill Country. Needs roof, hardware cloth on exterior and electric wire.... coop will be the large sized snapLock. 6 nesting boxes and nightly perch space for 12 chooks.

2013-09-26 - one fewer chicken - Seems like I almost found a home for NoCresta as a companion chicken for a woman who had only one remaining chicken in her yard. Since I'm off to the Hill Country ranch today, I decided to execute NoCre yesterday. I felt bad because she was a pretty and seemingly healthy chicken. Not a good example of her breed, no crest, squirrel tail, shell-less eggs etc., She could have stayed as a pet, except she was an egg eater. I also think that she taught the others to eat eggs. Some folks call it cannibalism.

With the cut-ants stealing the chicken feed, it was easier to put the chickens in just one pen then try to maintain two food bowls in moats of water to foil the ants. The feed fell in the water, the water started to stink - etc. Daily changes of water moats with stinky water...I'm getting lazy in my old age I guess. Can't think of much harder thing than trying to care for chickens when you aren't there.

So, off to a distant pasture, didn't even try to process her, because, I was doing this before I drove to an hour-away town to pick up my external HDD that they couldn't repair - and to get my money back before being gone a couple of days -- you know how that is right?? Driving back home in my "BadBoyBuggy" (an electricle 4WD vehicle - like a golf cart on steroids), it was either the sweat pouring in my eyes, or the tearing up, or my stupidity or my head was in the ozone, as I followed the dry creak bed back toward the ranch house - but I drove off the embankment with 3-wheels, and one wheel was 18" higher than the rest. Pretty scarey and in danger of tipping over. Next, I hike back to the house and 'go for help' but no one is around. Then, I drive back out there in the pickup, with a tow strap and hitch it to the buggy and the trailer hitch so that if I screw up in my extractiion efforts, there is some slight insurance that the tow strap will keep the buggy from falling completely over on its side. More thrilling than an amusement park ride on a roller coaster. Thanks to goodness I had 4WD because at one point in my adventure, my driver's side front wheel was spinning in air. Scarey thing is that I could be laying out there under the buggy right now. Last, the simple process of one person getting two vehicles back home.

The cow I raised from birth on a bottle came over -- I think she was trying to help in her cow way: the dogs just had to be in the vehicle I was driving which was pretty impossible, not to mention dangerous, when the buggy was in danger of tipping over. AS Shakespeare would say, "All's well that ends well" Here is what I tell myself: one of the things a 'breeder' has to do is eliminate inferior genetics from the gene pool. (Not that NoCre would ever pass along genetics.) A friend of a friend had a daughter that raised show rabbits. I remember being horrified at the time that this cute little girl would kill off the bunnies that weren't show quality. Ever see the movie :"Pets or Meat" ?
2013-09-19 - Pictures Please - here are photos of already mentioned sights.

Me(d)Cre running past with a single tail feather.....

BeBe regrowing her beard - she just got out of a dust bath loaded with DE which makes comb and wattles appear lighter than they really are.

BeBe's bloodied side, cause unknown

NoCresta - Needs to be "kilt and boiled", as Mr. Darcy's aunt would have said, or rehomed - totally squirrel tail, no Crest and now getting a bit uppity

Basquie in the background - regrowing her wry tail less wry - also chasing Me(d)Cre around --- she is on a short string.

Feathers, feathers, feathers everywhere. The leaves are from Live Oak trees, there hasn't been enough rain to deterioriate them - Live Oaks shed leaves in SUMMER.

2013-09-18 - There is always something II - Woke up early enough to snatch BeBe from her roost, and tried to get some of the blood off her white feathers. No success. Wormed her while I had her and put Vet Rx on her shanks, not much else I could do for her. Maybe a full blown bath soon? I suspect that the number of grasshoppers they have been eating has filled them with round worms eggs...since grasshoppers are a step in the life cycle, and we are overrun with grasshoppers. By the time I was done and put her back in the coop, the rest of the chickens were up and about. Several large feathers were shed in the process of handling BeBe.

Then, BeBe started raising a ruckus, louder than the egg song when she is really announcing. So I started looking around for a snake, a raccoon, a predator....and it wasn't until about 4 minutes of her squawking and me looking that I finally SAW it. This time an armadillo. First thought, are armadillos a threat to chickens? Second thought, do armadillos really carry leprosy? http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1306/is-it-true-that-armadillos-carry-leprosy Third thought how can I keep my dogs away from an aramadillo? - I had seen the beginnings of a dig-hole next to the hardware cloth skirting...and guessed it was a foiled raccoon,, now I think it may have been armadillo, and the soft sandy dirt could be excavated by armadillo in one night they are pretty amazing excavators from what I understand. Time for a google moment to see if they are predators to chickens. Sheesh.
Day-before-yesterday, Me(d)Cre caught a tiny snake and killled and then swallowed it. Me(d)Cre is lowest on the pecking order, youngest and the only decent Cream Legbar that I have. I need to do something about that ... but right now don't have time to care for little chicks. ;O(

My huge respect for the chicken-alert system - BeBe let everyone know that there was something going on....Chickens are VERY smart.

2013-09-16 - There is always something, isn't there - BeBe was in the nest box. She was rearranging the wood chips and clucking that happy "I'm thinking of going broody" song. She looked and acted so cute...I love that domestic aspect of hens. Many hours Later I came back to find an egg. She is beginning to come out of her molt....Her single wattle did indeed go bare, like a turkey, and I should have taken a photo. Right now, she is getting feathers back in to her wattle, so by winter, she will probably have her full beard back. Somehow BeBe had been bloodied. I thought it was dirt, but it was blood. She was also limping slightly. They had been left to free-range the whole day. So it could have been an external attacker, or it possibly could have been another chicken. Caracaras (Mexican Eagle) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Crested_Caracara#Florida_Caracara have been exceptionally visible and plentiful this year. Today, I saw a red hawk. Caracars generally are scavengers, however, I have heard that they will attack dying prey --- If BeBe was taking a dust bath out in the open...Caracars could have thought she was dead or dying. To reinforce this theory, my chickens run from open spaces, go back to the hoop coop or cluster under the wooden porch/deck. There is always something. BeBe seems to be recovering.

Meanwhile, I was going to run and get the camera to snap a picture of Me(d)Cre with a feather askew and upside down in her tail...looked kind of funny, but the tail feather fell out right before my eyes......After being out of town for a couple of days, Me(d)Cre has only one tail feather left...which also looks kind of funny --- maybe a protein boost would help them with the molt. I can just picture them enjoying some hard, boiled eggs. Weather is cloudy and humid, real-feel today will be in the middle 90's so they say....Mornings and evenings are nice for working outdoors.
2013-09-03 - Not at Death's door anymore - Or so I think this morning. Yesterday evening she got restless and started rummaging in the shavings for something unknown to me....so I let her out to free-range. (nobody else gets the privilege)---- She started eating little blades of grass and looking for something in the dirt..stones for grit? I had grit in her cage but the stones look a bit big for her delecate self. She spent last night with the others...still a bit aloof. Picky about what she is eating. She needs something ... I wish I knew exactly what.

She had scrambled eggs for breakfast....no one else....until she walked away from the dish. Then I put it in the cage -- for all to get--- and the one eating it started doing the ant dance. The ground is covered with fire ants. Hate those things....so now there is a layer of DE on top of the fire ants. All the feed now has to float in a bed of water to prevent the leaf-cutters from carrying off the feed. Inevitably the chicken tips it over into the water, or in the other cage they shove it to the edge of ant highway. Need to work that solution out a bit. maybe a big round paver in the water pool to elevate the feed. Nothing lik making it difficult is there.

Here is Me(d)Cre - eating eggs...and hopefully on the road to full recovery from what ever it is that is ailing her.

2013-09-02 - Ovaduct malfunction - Poor Me(d)Cre, she is isolated. Day-before-yesterday, Bebe was pecking her. This is pretty unusual, although Bebe is Top Hen, and the oldest (2-years in a couple of days)--- Bebe wasn't mean - just sort of: "c'mon, snap out of it". I really looked closely at Me(d) and ..... she definitely wasn't her perky self. It also seemed like she was picking up food and treats and letting them drop. Add to that - she hadn't produced eggs on her now normal schedule, in fact, she only laid Monday and Wednesday---but maybe Thursday and I didn't record it, I honestly don't remember, so I didn't give her credit in the egg contest for Thurs. --but --> fewer eggs, lethargic, spitting up drool, dropping food after picking it up. Obviously something is wrong. In isolation I can monitor exactly how much she eats and drinks. Eating and drinking a good sign...not eating and drinking a bad sign.

Then Sunday when she laid an egg, I noticed some yolk on the outside of a perfectly good egg, so I know that there was another egg--unlaid in the ovaduct. Today I decided to give her a bath...and while washing her I found an inch long protrusion - kind of 1/2 complete shell.

Here it is after I removed it (one inch was protruding, the other 8 were inside.

So I finished the bath, toweled her off and for the first time for both of us, used the blow-dryer on a chicken. Here she is after the blow dry-- probably in shock from the removal:

Head lower than normal, tail lower than normal. She did do some grooming -- but the question for me is -- is the ova duct malfunction the cause of her problems or is it just a symptom. We are coming off a long stretch of days over 100 -degrees and the heat stress may be taking a toll on her. Bebe and Basquie are molting. When Basquie sheds feathers it looks like autumn leaves, when Bebe molts it looks like a snow storm, and Bebe just molted this spring -- what?? Between those two I think they are having a contest to see who can be the slowest to molt. NoCre - pretty to look at but worthless for eggs, if she does lay, the egg has only a membrane and she manages to eat it. Bad chicken.

Tomorrow predicted to be 102 in San Antonio - so here---- 105 at least.

Here's the snake skin in the Live Oak I wrote about.

Here zoomed in to almost see a ghostly snake grin

And where pray tell is this snake tree?

Well right over the chicken pen, of course.

And here is ANOTHER snake skin found laying on the ground. In the backgrhound, the cows seek shade....smart girls.
2013-08-29 - Too Weird, but that's South Texas for you - Just the day after I moved the chickens to their new quarters, one of my dogs was having a fit -- barking and growling at the ground. I didn't see anything from 10-feet away. Then the other dog joined in. The one who started the ruckus was fiercely growling and barking and looking at the ground, her tail tucked under her legs. If it had been one of the plentiful pocket gophers here, the dogs would be digging. I thought maybe scorpion or tiny snake baby, or something vibrating far under the earth...what? I didn't see any movement in the grass or leaves.

Finally I went over, because her behavior was so strange...I saw nothing. Then on closer inspection, I saw the remnant of a piece of snake skin where a snake had shed it's skin. Maybe a 2" by 2" piece. They are dry like leaves, but somewhat flexible. So I picked it up and the behavior stopped. Something made me look up - and there on the branch of an Live Oak tree about 30-feet overhead was the mostly intact skin of a snake waving in the breeze, just like a festoon of Spanish Moss. Great. Later I had found another mostly intact snakeskin on the ground. Double Great, huh.

A little later, I saw a piece of corn traveling along the ground, then a fragment of corn, then a feed pellet. The entire contents of the feed bin was being carried away piece by piece by leaf cutter ants. If you have ever seen leaf cutter ants, you know what I mean. An entire kernal of corn from scratch traveling along the ground. An army of ants carrying feed away from the coops and an army of ants returning for more. They must have removed over a pound of feed from each of the little coops. The previous day, one of the chickens had done the fire ant dance. Stomping the feet strangely to dislodge fire ants. I put a pile of DE over the mound of ants.... and subsequently it rained.

Yesterday evening, I let them out to free range -- and watched Bebe nearly step on something and then make a "bawk" that sounded kind of like WHOA. On close inspection of where she was staring I saw a tiny snake. Beautiful makrings and perfect camaflauge, because twice when I walked away or looked away, I had real trouble relocating it. This snake was probably only about 8" long, with an oversized head, it kept coiling into the rattle snake striking position. The ferocity of this snake made me fear for my dogs' noses, my bare toes and my chickens. It seems to have recently swallowed something quite large for the size of the snake... (The python that swallowed the pig image).

So I picked up little snake with the pooper scooper and hurled it over the fence into the pasture....Thinking a newly hatched snake must havve a lot of brothers and sisters....

So my new location is infested with snakes and multiple species of ants. Great. I am looking forward to seeing August end. Yesterday the thermometers passed 100 once again.

2013-08-23 - Good night, chooks, and thank you for the Eggs!! - The three in the new enclosure made from cattle panels did figure out how to get up the ramp at dark. It's the same "coop" just now raised on legs and enclosed in a cattle-panel hoop coop - Plans of which are readily available on the internet.

I put

Lastnight, I put the tarp over and attached with all-matching flashy red bungee cords, and today we moved the SnapLock coop on to the little "table" built to support it. Approximately 8x8 is quite small....once the coop is inside. It would be more ideal if there were a way to keep the coop outside the enclosed wire area....but it would be a lot of work and open vulnerabilities for predators. We are pleased with the way it came out --

Wish I had done it some time ago.....It is cattle panels, 2x4's and covered entirely in "hardware cloth", I can hang feeders and waters from the cattle panel grids inside the hardware cloth. Under the bottom frame is hardware cloth. Completed just in time - I'm leaving early tomorrow morning and they will have to take themselves to bed and up in the morning. They have been free-ranging since their return - they did have freedom to find the coolest microclimate by the ranch house. Now they are moved about 1/4 mile away from the house to my combination art-studio, guest house, computer lab and office - now also chicken headquarters.....But I'm still worried about the heat. Even "Live Oak" trees seem to be leafed out very sparsely in this drought. So far so good. One chicken remains in the Eglu Classic because she has been laying an egg with a shell so thin and brittle that it bursts upon being touched. The others wait for it to appear and then it is feast time. Today in the new coop/run - "Me(d)Cre" was trying to get to the nest box after spending hours since before sun up in a pet carrier, but got caught under the coop when the egg just had to be laid. "Basquie" was on that egg the second it hit the dirt...literally - Fortunately the shell was hard, and I was there to retrieve the egg-- But "NoCre" by laying shell-less and now super brittle shells has ruined the chickens for respecting eggs. And so today was a very exciting day for the chooks.

New location, new pen, and legs under the little coop.
2013-08-06 - Beating the Heat - Just knowing that they won't suffer heat prostration is a big load off my mind. Today will be 104 in San Antonio, so I hear...and it is always hotter here. I've stacked my chickens in dog creates in the Ranch office building.

Now I can breathe easier for this heat wave and my being away. Maybe chicken keeping shouldn't be THIS difficult.... ahhh just a few more weeks until mid-September when the heat should break.
2013-07-31 - Nostalgia and Google and Me - Beautiful "Ice" now a grown rooster came up as the first picture when I was doing a search on Cream Legbar something or other on Google. My understanding of how Google works is that the most frequently looked at stuff comes to the top of the sort engine unless there are paid adverts. that jump ahead of the frequently referenced. Cool huh? It is post 91 on page 10 of the thread on BYC " Working Group Standard of Perfection" - and there is Ice at 4 months old. So it must have been a year before last April. Here's a link:

I do finally have some new pictures to post. Meanwhile my laptop crashed. (different one - this time video screen haywire.)

Temperatures in the triple digits. Yesterday one thermometer said 107 at a high point - and a few hours later the back porch of the ranch house said 99. Today 100, tomorrow 101 and the next day 100 in San Antonio and we are 3 to 5 hotter than they are....and that doesn't include the heat index. Counting the days until cooler weather moves in -- Hoping for survival for the chooks.
2013-07-27 - Anticipation - Okay, so Monday, once they have gone to roost in "Summer Camp", I am going to snatch MeCre and Basqueie and NoCre off their perches and bring them here. Maybe I can even get some pictures of Claire's chicks. 3 of the remaining 5 are developing crests.
Should be cute! Since Cream Legbar dad is Heart, they are 1/2 Cream Legbar -- so we are calling them Easter Leggers.

MeCre is entered in the Cream Legbar Club best layer contest..... IF grasshoppers have anything to do with nutrition needed for eggs---these girls will be very fat and full of grasshoppers.
2013-07-22 - Holding Pattern - Trying to remember from the days when I flew all-the-time, when the plane circles the airport wasn't it called a holding pattern? The most recent delays I've experienced were the "S" maneuvers over the Pacific to delay landings at LAX and that has been more than 10-years ago. But I'm in a holding pattern. All my chickens are still at summer camp. I have no chickens here. But we REALLY miss them. Dh even wrote on the anniversary card "missing those chickens". Isn't it the truth?

My plan is to move them to the Hill Country....when my sister and I were there, we sat outdoors and put a cardboard box between our two lawn chairs. We set an appetizer on the cardboard box ( a break from moving). About 48-50 hours later, I noticed that the cardboard box that I had left between the two chairs was ripped ferociously. So the fragments of the appetizer that soaked through the paper towel into the box attracted a predator to the front stone porch - and the prints left in the night were raccoon. So there is no doubt that my chickens are at risk up there.

I need to build something that can protect them from raccoons, and I need to be able to be away from them from time to time for a few days and that along with the ferocity of the raccoon on the card board box give me great pause. I need to study up on electric fence.
2013-05-31 - Disappearing Hen - My friends favorite hen "Claire" disappeared while she was out of town and her dh was minding the chickens.
Five days ago - when my friend went to lock up the chickens for the night...there was the missing Claire, and she had returned with 7 chicks!!!

BTW "Heart" is the father.

Here is another view of my chickens at summer camp.

Went to the Hill Country and got this shot of a "Barbary Sheep" - and exotic and invasive species.

And just what does the Hill Country look like? It is nicknamed the "Alps of Texas"

2013-05-27 - Memorial Day - Thank you all who have served our country.

(note to moderator) - after I sent the help message, I found the pencil icon at the bottom - but didn't have a way to contact you to cancel my request for help....

Yes, bird netting does trap snakes:

He was so snarled in the netting I had to cut him out.

The netting was actually starting to slice the snake...perhaps he struggled most of the night -- you can see the out of focus chickens in that pen in the background. They were pretty calm about the snake. Just a chicken snake or a "rat snake' -- they come in several varities.

In line with the old TX superstition, I hung the snake on a fence post. (apologies to soft hearted individuals) Here is his fence post:

You can see it was a pretty long snake...fence post is about 48" high. And guess what--- it DID bring some rain. Drought is still bad, it didn't fill the watering ponds....but there will be some grass for the cows. Rain was only 1.8" - It takes two inches to be agriculturally significant...but, this is more rain than we have had in a very, very long time.

Meanwhile I was in the Texas Hill Country where I'm planning to relocate, and it rained 2-3" on that place and 7" into the Sabinal River near Leakey so we were cut off from Leakey - as everything to it's east was cut off for a few hours due to the high water over the roads. That same storm brought floods to San Antonio, and I think I heard that 2 people were drowned.

So all my chickens are now living at a friends house. And I miss them a lot....but am free to travel for a bit and get things set up for their new domicile.

Saw Heart and Owl and Tigress too.

Tigress, Owl, Heart

Bebe - all the roosters love Bebe the best....


My five Hooligans in their summer quarters.......Hopefully to be picked up in the fall and moved to new digs.

2013-05-07 - Picking up the Pieces - Trapped and killed a raccoon. No consolation. Putting in some photos:

Meanwhile - life goes on - Mutt "NoCresta" decides to drive the electric 'BadBoyBuggy'. Her feet couldn't reach the accelerator - and luckily she didn't poop on the seat.

Basque Hen "Basquie" is a very good layer - she has a future. Meanwhile "Bouffey" with too bouffant a crest for my taste, is mean and a lousy egg layer... She and "NoCresta" - May not have a future. They are worthless as layers...."Bouffey" - less than an egg a week, and "Nocresta" can't produce a shell. Their sister is a daily layer....

Basquie and Bouffey

And last but not least some good wildlife - A Rio Grande Turkey, although the photo is shot through a window.

2013-05-05 - Dead - everyone of them. Overnight a raccoon punched up from below the external nesting box. The raccoon got in, killed and ate Grace and killed and ate 4-chicks.
2013-05-04 - It's a GIRL! - A bright-eyed fully fluffed little girl peeked out of the nest box - to see what the human intruder was doing with coop cleaning tool, and water changing etc. And looked me in the eye - and dove back under mama hen. How could I be more thrilled -- (well, if all 4 eggs have hatched, that would do it.) So proud of (Amazing) Grace. She lasted the 3-weeks just like a pro. And I was hoping and praying that after all of her little determination and energy that she sank into the eggs, there would be at least one hatchling -- and there is. I'll see later if I can get photo and if maybe this chick has sibling(s)

2013-05-03 - Post 3200 - Just put my 3,200th post out there on BYC. Dizzy busy lately - but tomorrow may be hatch day for Gracie, or the next day -- and she's sitting tight. Big cold spell goes through - day-before-yesterday thermometer outside ranch office hit 103 - a bit later 95. Last night predictions in the low 40's Fierce winds blew over the pump house again - so dh and I spent the morning trying to fix that. Monday we will have a man come to evaluate building a new one. Cattle would die if pumps to wells went out. We have all our cattle now dependent on troughs from wells - and watering all the head from three different wells. Three herds are spread out over 4-sets of pastures each in desperate hope of getting enough to graze. 1.9 inches of rain has fallen, however. We fed, again, our "last bale" of hay (They should never still require hay by April, there should be abundant forage - but there frankly wasn't/isn't)-- That is after 6 truck loads (18-wheelers) have been brought in. It is dire right here -- drive 10-miles and they got some decent rain. It is a killer drought. I found a large snapping turtle by a garage. No matter how far he had crawled (unless he did the 10-miles) there would have been no ponds, stock watering tanks or watering holes that held water around here. I put him in a tub of water....BTW did you know that snapping turtles kill each other by biting the rival's head off? -- and now I have a problem about what to feed him. I bought some aquatic turtle food....but he doesn't seem too interested. Would it be a shame to save him only to have him starve? Drought is hard on the wildlife here too.
2013-05-01 - It's May! - Already it's May - time is flying past. In just a few days, it will be day 21 for the hatching eggs. Hate the suspense. All of the newly acquired chickens are in lay now. I was just about to give up on the pullets but each has come through. So they are 'safe' for now.
2013-04-23 - Half way - (Amazing) Grace nears the 1/2 way point for the chicks. Two eggs were blanks, and have been removed. So-- she has 4-chances at chicks. She is still a very determined broody. To be continued.....................

2013-04-17- My Broody lays an Egg - Got home to turn around for another trip out to the farthest ranch - and there in the run....a tiny egg from Grace. Broody hens aren't supposed to lay. Tiny egg - shown here next to the egg that Basque laid today.

2013-04-16 - Broody Grace!! - Can you believe that little (Amazing) Grace has gone broody? She went from normal to broody in 48-hours, and I think she caught it from Bebe. After all, it was Bebe that was hogging the nest box and not letting Gracie in. Bebe was acting broody, not Grace. Go figure. So Bebe is not not laying as if she were broody, but she is not setting either. The 4-new chickens -- one shelled egg from the CLs and several from the Basque...this is the 4th week - No wonder their former owner sold them - huh?

Bebe won't leave nest box even when Gracie needs it.

So with Grace now deeply broody, the egg production around here is 1-laying hen out of 6-residents... give a break to the young ones and think they are just late bloomers? Hmmmmm. <--------------------------------------------- Just after I wrote that Bebe got back on the wagon and laid a very Large egg today.<----

She is sitting on eggs from Curtis - who had brought some for 'display' to the Fancy Feathers 4-H event in San Marcos, TX on April 13th. Now did the handling of these eggs become less than optimum? I was thinking of that as I bumped down the gravel road on the way to home. -- The rooster for these eggs is "Ice" - so if we get any hatches, Gracie will be hatching her 1/2 sisters and brothers. There are 6 fairly large eggs, and Gracie is a little chicken - so maybe she cant even cover them all..... but how do you know? She went broody without much warning, she must have caught it from Bebe though.

Right now, I'm far too committed elsewhere to hatch and especially take care of chicks. So if Gracie comes through - that's the spring hatch, otherwise it will have to wait quite some time. My greatest fear is the horrific heat she may face inside that coop. Day-before-yesterday hit 100-degrees and a few days before 99. This is predicted to be one of the hottest summers on record (again).
2013-03-21 - Officially Spring - Weather up and down - but still no rain. Two weeks of hay left for the cattle then we are out. Water low--starting to sell out the older calves, next will be the heifers. Meanwhile the spring calves are popping - they are beautiful.

While I'm out of town, mother-in-law to care for chickens. Luckily, I won't be away without passing through for a few hours after 3 days and then gone again. I suspect if she forgets to get eggs, and they sit in the nest box, it could throw Bebe over into broodiness. Wouldn't THAT be something. Found some very nice looking 5-month olds on Craigslist of all places, and so I couldn't resist.

(Amazing) Grace, still laying a small well saturated colored egg every day - up to 25-in-a-row, and yes there are raccoon tracks around again.

It just never ends...there is an endless supply of racoons right around here, or so it seems. So now chickens will be penned up the entire time I am gone and they will not be happy campers. I will have to figure out how to trap racoon(s) again soon.
2013 -03-12 - (Amazing) Grace is a champ!!! - Wow, Grace is, well -- Amazing-- She is a beginner and today she laid egg number 17 in a row..which exceeds my expectations. Eggs are 1.6+ ounces....
2013-03-06 - G'bye 'Heart' - To save drama, and having to chase him down, I put 'Heart' in the pet carrier last night. Then I put him in a building that has old decrepit screens on the windows and one window was partially open. I almost left the pet carrier outdoors, just outside the building. This morning one of the screens was punched in:

I guess you can see how decrepit the screen was, I seem to recall a cat crawling up the screen some years ago, much to the detriment of the screen. It also looks like what ever punched or clawed in the screen could have gone through that opening in the window.... so when I went in this morning I searched for an intruder, but didn't find one. I suspect another raccoon. Could it have sensed "Heart" inside the building inside the pet carrier? Sure glad I didn't leave him outside, the pet carrier was a pretty flimsy one. Can you imagine telephoning the person that you were expecting to deliver a rooster to and saying ...'sorry about this but the rooster was attacked lastnight....'. There must be a cryptozoo of marauding predators roaming around at night around here. This one is pretty creepy. Had it been a human attempting to invade, they would have just removed the screen, so it had to be a different form of 'intelligence'.

When I got the pet carrier out Bebe had to inspect it carefully - she was expecting it to contain someone from her past....

For my part, I feel like it is breaking up a family. 'Heart' was hatched here, grew up here, never had a day in his life away from his sister...and they are two survivors from the devastating raccoon attack...and now he's shipped off to live elsewhere. Well while I'm all downhearted about it, I put the pet carrier down over there and their hens crowded around to see the new guy and check him out. He was happy enough to do the rooster dance in the pet carrier....so he will move on to the next phase of his life. I miss him in some ways....I think the rooster is more constantly watching for threats, while the hens are more interested in finding a jucy bug to eat. 'Heart' would stand outside the nesting box while the hens were laying --- yesterday he had a real dilemma because two were laying at the same time in boxes that were 25-feet apart - so he tried running between them both... Today -- they had to do it all on their own without his encouragement.

(Amazing) Grace has produced an egg for 11 consecutive days....that's my kind of chicken!! If memory serves her mother's first laying streak was 13-eggs. Let's see if Gracie can tie or break that record.

Now to figure out how to keep the dogs out of the traps; bait the traps; and catch the window screen slashing raccoon. Had the rooster not been in the room on the other side of the screen, I doubt that the screen would have been punctured....and it really did need to be replaced, it was literally falling apart. On a ranch - sometimes things can go for years without being done...it is just one of those amazing things about ranching.

I found the first calf of the spring calving season yesterday too....so just another sign of spring. Yesterday also -- post number 3,000 on BYC!
2013-03-05 - Raccoon - A 10 1/2 pound raccoon, caught, dispatched. The next night I set the trap and around midnight thought that something was wrong. When I looked for the dogs, they were not on the porch. Blue had seen me bait the trap, went into the trap for the bait, and was trapped. Cramped to get a 30+ pound dog in that trap. Tell me, should I have left her there all night to learn her lesson?

(Amazing) Grace is really producing the eggs. Her first egg 2/21, then two days off, and ever since then an egg every day. She is up to 1.6 ounces for an egg now.
2013-03-01 - Another Predator - What ever it was got into the rabbit hutch on the porch, and the pink egg in there disappeared. I never shut that hatch that is also their gang-plank to get in, and I just realized I left it open tonight. Either I had left the playhouse coop - that no one sleeps in, open, or the predator got in. Inside one of the purple eggs disappeared, and the other one was out in the yard. Fortunantely the Eglu Classic run is always locked up at night. What ever it was did this damage to one of the ceramic eggs in the playhouse coop - That is what I call the currently unoccupied Snap Lock coop. This is a ceramic egg -- I couldn't have made these gouges with a knife...maybe an ice pick with a lot of pressure.

What ever it was had some serious teeth and some powerful jaws. Thank heavens, it didn't get hold of any of my chickens. It did some destruction in a planter that I had set up--- Had two varieties of mint and a strawberry plant in an oblong planter and it was tipped over, chewed, uprooted, and destroyed. So the freshly planted bedding plants had their roots exposed to air, and add to that a frost last night. grrrrr.

I set two traps tonight--but those are those cheap-construction high-priced TSC traps -- don't buy 'em -- go to a true feed store or hunting store. I hope the dogs don't sneak into the area where the traps are. Hope I catch whatever it is.... Sometimes it seems like chickens are so fragile and vulnerable to the horrors of predators. Wish me luck.

Interesting chicken behavior observation, (Amazing) Grace just couldn't get comfortable to lay in the rabbit hutch nest, she squakwed and finally left it. I think she noticed that the pink egg was gone. Things weren't the same, it had been disturbed. Same with Bebe.... I thought that there would be no eggs today -- because of the invader. Today they both laid in the Eglu Cube. Switching where they normally lay, and going to a different spot. Don't tell me that chickens aren't smart.

2013-2-26 -Stay away from TSC - I just want to warn you-- keep away from Tractor Supply....because they have their chicks IN!!!!! Awww. We were there yesterday, and no sooner had we walked into the door, but we heard 'peep, peeep, cheep'. So of course you have to go over and take a look. O.K. don't say I didn't warn you. I bet one of feed stores we visit (about 30-miles 1-way) has their supply of chicks in too. Even if you weren't looking to buy chicks....you see them, and something triggers you to need them. Spring.

Yesterday winds were gusting to 40MPH. Not nice for chickens. The poor rooster - who is so protective anyway - was trying to figure out what exactly was going on, and of course protect has hens from it. It was purely nasty out. Lids blew off the tubs I keep supplies in - (the ones without pavers on the top), a screen blew off the house, (it had just been rescrewed too), a limb blew off a tree - (right on the netting around the chicken's coop/run). While I was picking it up in a wind storm, the jagged bottom of the branch caught my arm and gashed it. The pump house over the well and pressure tank blew to a 45-degree angle. So I drove to the old barn (surprised that old barn didn't blow over) and got some T-posts to brace it against the wind, figuring that if I righted it, it would just tip over again. By the time I got back, dh had just pushed it over to upright, so that was a pretty good team-effort. You know what it was like out? Did you ever see The Wizard of Oz? You know, the black and white part at the beginning where everything is blowing away.

Our neighbor stopped on the road just as we were leaving, and said his daughter had been driving along and someone in a truck had shot out a tail-light in her truck with a shot gun (while she was in the truck). That doesn't sound healthy does it? His daughter is a grandmother BTW and works at a prison, so she isn't a fearful person. Now dh has a rule, we close and padlock the road gate - all the time. The thoughts go through your head...they better not hurt the dogs, they better not hurt the chickens...(but the chickens and the road have about 1/4 mile between them so hopefully no idiot can do them harm......). This is an unknown person in a truck that they didn't get the license plate number of.....but there was a report of a truck that contained firearms stolen in a town about 40 miles to the north. What do you call that "random acts of stupidity"?

(Amazing) Grace has laid 3-eggs by now.... Yesterday when I got home -- there in the nest box there were 2-eggs (One from Bebe, and one from Grace). I wonder if the animals know how proud I am of their efforts to be such good chickens. LOL
2013-2-21 (later) - GRACE's first Egg! - I couldn't be more proud of that little pullet. She laid a tiny pullet egg today, 1.20 oz. Color-wise - it's between oac151 and oac123 - yeah, kind of on the green side, but more saturated than her mother Robin's first egg was. Pictures soon. Grace turned 24-weeks on Monday, and so 24-weeks and 2 and 1/2 days.... Right on schedule. Yea for Grace!
2013-2-21 - Choose the winners - I'm in the process of setting up a contest for the BYC community to help the Cream Legbar Club choose the winner of the Crests contests - http://k3questions.polldaddy.com/s/cream-legbar-crest-photo-contest. Hopefully there will be a lot of BYC participation.

2013-2-20 - Heart & (Amazing) Grace and Bebe - It's been awhile since any pictures. Here are some recent pictures of the chickens. Everyone is doing well. Bebe has finished molting and is back to about 5-6 eggs per week. Meanwhile, Heart and Grace are now young adults. Both spend all the time they want free-ranging during the day. Bebe has decided that the best of all the 5 nesting boxes she could choose is the one in the retrofitted rabbit hutch, which is still on the porch. So Grace was in that nesting box today -- rearranging the wood chips, and trying on the nesting box for size. She was a very happy pullet, playing house. She has just passed 24-weeks, so she could come in to lay soon.

Here are some recent photos

Bebe in new feathers leaving the rabbit hutch after laying. Notice her beard is back.

2013-2-13 - 2900 - wHoo Hoo! just put my 2,900th post on BYC. Fixed a typo in the last post--I said it was 3013 instead of 2013. Processing a rooster for a friend today.
2013-02-07 - Spring and a rain! - It's hard to believe Monday brought 2"+ rain. This is the first agriculturally significant rain in memory. Not sure if tanks caught water---but in 24-hours things are greening up. There are wildflowers starting to sprout, buds and leaves. Supposedly around here if the Mesquite begins to bud out---there will be no more frost. Temps in the days are in the 70's and overnights are 50's.

Bebe was in the nesting box in the rabbit hutch which remains on the porch--since I don't really have another place to locate it right now. She was clucking up a storm...singing a little song to the egg. She is so funny. When she wants out -- she somehow gets over the netting-fence. None of the others have her adept escape-artist capability.

They were all so happy and content today too, all smooshed together in one big dirt/dust bath -- like a spa. I got videos of the clucking and the dust-bathing. But the clucking is shot through the hardware cloth and has lots of construction noise (porch is being rebuilt), and wild bird singing, and some road noise....and the dusting is through the netting fence. I knew if I let them see me they would run over for a handout and the magic moment would be entirely lost. May be able to salvage something for posting here.

I'm wondering if Bebe is going to go broody on me. And the implications of that.

2013-01-24 - Look out! - Here's what happened: While I was cutting the strings from a 6-foot bale of hay (they weigh about 1,000 pounds, and I cannot see over the top of them) the bale suddenly began to roll toward me in an alarming way

Of course, I knew exactly what was happening, there was an animal directly opposite me. In this case a 2,000 pound bull. The bulls especially, and at times the cows, sometimes come up to a bale that is newly put out and rub their heads on the bale to remove the outer layer of 'old' hay. Like you taking a wrapper from a candy bar. The bulls sometimes think this is so fun to start removing old hay, that they will push on the bales. (We put giant hay rings around the bales, but first the strings need to be removed.) So picture the Pillsbury Doughboy with a 3.000-pound rolling pin approaching. I chased away the bull...he didn't know I was on the other side BTW, and it wasn't malicious, it was just bovine fun. I wonder how many bones could have stood up to 1,000 pound bale being rolled over them. Is that one of the reasons that Agriculture is considered a dangerous occupation? Earlier I had alluded to the drought reducing the hay harvest...but now the ranch has purchased enough hay that we will have feed until spring.

Spring looks like it may be early for 2013. The drought persists, however.

While waiting dh to bring bales with the tractor, I was sitting in the truck, and counted a flock of 34-35 Rio Grande Turkeys. Beautiful birds. We used to see 4-6 at a time. This is the largest flock I have seen in my 9-years on this ranch. Infact, the largest flock I have seen together. Some of it may have to do with the fact that we terminated our hunter's lease some long years ago. But, this is a chicken blog so let's focus on the pollo side of the picture.

'Bebe' has stopped shedding feathers like a mad-crazy-hen causing a snow storm everywhere she goes. Her new plumage is growing in very nicely. Her tail lost all feathers with the exception of one new feather... Her head has quills. Lately she hasn't been her self. No eggs, of course...but not the happy-go-lucky clown that she once was. She also has taken to hanging out indoors. It could be the high prairie winds, the cruel weather, the fact that (Amazing) Grace always hangs out inside the coop. My first pair of Cream Legbars came in February last year, and they spent much more time in their shelter...while the rest of my flock only went in at night. Bebe molted off her beard and looks like a different chicken....The strange ways of chickens.

Speaking of '(Amazing) Grace'...she is growing to be a beautiful pullet, IMO....despite the missing wing. Her face is getting red. This is so interesting about Cream Legbars...the facial change from buff colored to red as they mature. I notice it more in these than any other breed I have had. I need to put a YouTube video up of her, to show how she has recovered from raccoon attack. She is also vocal and friendly.

Meanwhile, 'Heart', the cockerel that I am keeping for a friend -- has done some remarkable things. His floppy comb has gone much more straight and erect - albeit at a diagonal. He is a nice rooster. He will have inner turmoil but will take food treats that I hold out -- lettuce, a piece of bread. He is constantly on watch, larger than his father, more colorful than his father, and seldom crows. A pretty nice package for a rooster

So, tell me...is it like one of our Blue Heelers that had floppy ears until she matured more? Is his maturation part of the comb straightening process?

2013-01-14 - Happy New Year - Can you believe that 'Heart' and his sister are 18-week-olds now? 'Heart's' comb in addition to being diagonal, is flopping over. He has developed bright and intense color - which is not considered desirable in the coloration of a Cream Legbar male that is trying to meet the proposed Standard of Perfection, and with the pale breast feathers that show up in the previous picture of the two, I thought that he would be a lighter colored cockerel than his father was. In actuality, I believe he is growing out to be darker.

And the pullet, now named '(Amazing) Grace', is continuing to grow, but in addition to having only one wing, she has a problem with her eyesight. And so here are two examples of Cream Legbars that have a lot of the endearing characteristics of the breed, but are not birds with genetic superiority. The cockerel is larger than his father, and is a great protector for the hens.

While on the subject of Cream Legbars, a new club 'The Cream Legbar Club' has been established.

Little Easter Egger 'Bebe' is now in full molt. She has only one tail feather left, and I think it is regrown. For some reason, she is the favorite of the roosters. Where ever she spends time, a shedding of white feathers looks like it has either snowed or a hawk attack occurred on the spot.

Here are 'Heart' and 'Grace' at 18 weeks.

2012-11-09 - Growing! - Bright-eyed chicks - (juveniles actually) Hatched on September 3rd..... Female is the one with amputated wing, male is the one with interesting color developing.

'Heart' and his sister

2012-11-04 - Hoards of them - So this morning, another huge raccoon in the trap. They look like little bears. This one was first class at ferocity. His weight 22-pounds. Hence forward, I will have nightmares of finding a bigger raccoon in the trap daily. This guy did some real destruction to the trap too....He bent the trigger mechanism. (Lots of weight there) and he managed to move the entire trap about 2-feet from where I had set it. Hopefully he is the last one.

2012-11-03 - Life Happens - Whew does it happen. It has been eventful, hectic (dare I say crazy?) of late.

Catching up....had I said that Rox, (the father of both Owl and Tigress), won 'the best cock' Easter Egger online poultry contest on BYC?? in addition he was 'runner up to the grand champion'. He is a very handsome roo too. Thanks Araucana Annie for the contest-- lots of very beautiful EE pictures for us to admire and --- tough competition. Lots of fun as well. Here's the link to the contest. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/702253/easter-egger-contest/70

The idea of breeding Rox and Bebe, in addition to beautiful pullets produced eggs with greater color intensity. Yea..... I was aiming for that.

Owl's egg - comes in at oac116 in the online auction color chart.

So owl lays a beautiful green egg...and I think Tigress is producing the pretty blue egg.

Not all is well though. Owl began laying and has been pretty regular and the eggs increasing in size. Tigress a bit slower to lay---and I"m not 100% certain she is laying because I have been gone--- so much lately...but I have two different shades of pullet eggs. One is a bit bluer and one a bit greener....Then today a shell-less egg. (bad girl!). But when Tigress was preening the other day, it looked to me like her wing was drooping. Was she just relaxing or was that a first sign of Marek's. I am so PARANOID of Marek's. (because I so hate to loose a pullet). But I decided to breed these girls to be resistant...so they have to have the genetics to resist. I am keeping a close eye on Tigress....just incase. The Easter Eggers, besides being pretty birds are the ones that run over to me, and peck the hem of my jeans to get attention (Like, I don't know what they are expecting -- ha) are turning out to be good layers...or at least Owl is for sure. They will be going to a new home after Thanksgiving.

on Tigress wing, the tiny bit of black wing primaries showing - is it trouble or am I too paranoid?

The cream legbar who was de-winged by the raccoon attack that killed two hatch-mates of hers---is surviving. Subsequently we trapped another raccoon -- this one at 19 pounds...and there is still a raccoon prowling. He must climb the netting fence at night and pull it over.... And I keep forgetting to set the live trap, or I'm away, or I'm home too late...or I'm leaving at such a time that I couldn't deal with him if I caught him. All the little ones were moved into the dining room ---where they proceeded to make quite the mess....however, I knew that they were totally safe from raccoon attack.

'Heart' the Cream Legbar cockerel - sharing the Eglu Classic with the little female that lost her wing to a raccoon attack. Strangely, just like Robin and Ice who were raised in this little Classic, they like to spend a lot of time indoors. He's got his mother's eyes.

Now the one without a wing, and a cockerel with crooked comb - are in the same Omlet Eglu classic that Ice and Robin were raised in last February.

My first coop criteria was that the coop is safe. Even with a raccoon prowling around or even climbing on the coop---I'm pretty confident that the chicks and chickens (in the Eglu Cube) are not available to him. It was the rabbit hutch that was the disaster zone. I will forever feel bad about those chicks being killed. Back to the wingless girl---she seems to be adjusting well enough. She is a bit awkward...and seems to hold back at feeding time. I picked her up the other day and she seemed very boney and skinny. She has some white feathers coming in-- I think it is like gray hair on a person who has undergone tremendous shock and stress. We will see what the future will bring for her. Wish I was here more to try to 'fatten her up'.

Speaking of live-trap....the TSC 'catch and release' live trap that costs around $64 - is purely a piece of junk. Save your money and look for a trap made in the USA or a trap that is used but still working well. This thing is bent up and worthless after just one use. The ramaining one -- not much better...but I did remember to set it tonight.

As a result of chicken population reduction, I 'closed' my Eggzy egg stand. (not that it was ever open except for my own information)-- It is just as well --- my little holigans are on strike---down to about 1 -2 eggs per day. I never added the pullet eggs...since the two EEs have always been destined to move away--- (I had sooo many chickens at one time) --- and Bebe and Lily -- are on strike. They act like the food isn't appealing. (dh says that they are too spoiled to eat ordinary chicken feed-- maybe he has a point....too many left over scrambled eggs for these girls). Strangely though we have plenty of eggs. (I guess Christmas baking will put a stress on that tally). We are gone so much that they will sit in the fridge longer than they used to.

We are about to begin a lot of moving around. dh has acquired some properties in different parts of TX. We will be traveling an awful, awful, awful lot. One of them is 2.5 hours drive away and the other one is 5.5 hours drive. (but between the two of them is only 3-hours drive). The result of this is a tremendous 'strain' on keeping chickens, or at anyrate keeping them well. Sadly the 'chicken adventure' will need to be greatly curtailed...at least until everything is under control on all the ranches. Then perhaps, I build a serious -electric-fence equipped enclosure and have well protected chickens........Once things settle down, once things are under control.

And speaking of under control.... When we had the hay baled there were only about 30-bales. (I haven't counted yet going by dh's estimate of how long the balers were here). With the hundred from the earlier cutting, we only have enough hay to feed cattle for about 6 1/2 weeks. (Last year we fed 20-bales per week - and this year we have more cattle) ---These are 6-ft round bales.... Never before has dh purchased hay. Within 10-miles of us though---some folks have had enough rain to make a decent crop. One place even has irrigation and they have abundant hay.... do they intend to sell some?

It's just about time for that giant dispersal sale. dh -- will however go up to the edge of the cliff....and push luck to the limit, I expect. In addition to hay shortage, we are nearly out of water for all the stock ponds in all the pastures. We do have watering troughs connected to several water wells--- and that is how the cattle are surviving. Tonight there is a 40-percent chance of rain. The weather is holding mild.... 60's in the evening and 80's in the day. There is still a chance for grass to grow... The average first-frost here is mid-November. Then the cattle will be depending upon us to feed them...... Enough grass usually isn't available in the pastures again till March...do the math... We may be totally out of hay by Jan. 1st. and still have 10-12 weeks before they grass can support the herds again. Usually we are going into the winter with over 250 bales of hay stocked up. .

My great three-year project is due to complete this Dec. Thus far it is going smoothly---but there is always effort for project completion. Like all of us---the holidays are like a train -- and we are walking along the tracks. ... Always remember this---a busy person is a happy person.

2012-10-14 - Owl's first Egg - Little Owl, born on May 25th laid her first tiny egg today. She now holds the distinction of laying the most intensely colored of all my layers. It is a very strong green.

Dh shot one raccoon (8-pounds) in the night, and one (14-pounds) was caught in the trap. Two other traps had no catch, but the bait was removed. Not sure if that means that there are even more raccoons around here. I will continue to set traps overnight. Protect the chickens....and, hope for the best.

Looking so pretty and so vulnerable. Seeming like an animal that is sweet.....NOT.

Here is some video:

Here is the damage to the chick:

You can almost tell from the chick's eyes that she was still in shock at that time....

Here she is deciding if she wants to recover on leave this earth....

Ending today on a better note...here are Owl and Tigress--- Owl already accomplished first pullet egg...Tigress expected to follow soon after.

2012-10-13 - Cold Cruel World - At first, I was thinking that because the first day my 5-week olds were outdoors, a rain squall blew up from nowhere, and icy rain was on them before I could snatch them up and bring them to shelter. Then, I was sympathetic because the temperature went from the 90's to the 50's with fierce winds...and it was so suddenly cold - due to the temperature drop - and the wind chill, that even the crews working on the highways were bundled up with scarves and masks. Usually around here the concern is protection from the heat. Now the daily temperatures are back in the high 80's and low 90's.

We had to go to a visitation and a funeral, and I got home late, long after dark. Checked the chickens--and was worried. They were fine. I forgot to set the live trap, I took the dogs with me to another location--and created the perfect-storm-conditions for a predator.

As I got up there the following morning, I had a brilliant idea to protect the 5-week olds each night, but it was too late. One was dead on the cage floor - be-headed, one was totally missing, except a pile of feathers beneath the cage, and one little chick had her wing totally ripped out of the socket. She may live....but she may not. Two cockerels and one pullet of my 5-week olds escaped the attack. Each bird must have been grabbed through the 1" hardware cloth.

The grown chickens and rooster in the eglu cube, were safe...despite tracks that looked like raccoon on the awning. Robin and the chicks too, were not damaged due to the eglu classic, despite muddy prints over the classic's plastic, and even over the door to the egg port, beneath which Robin sleeps with the chicks. The eglu classic's run is covered now with bird netting, in addition to the 1" x 2" weld mesh in the run.... The bird netting to be a snake deterrent.

Last night the live trap bait was taken but the trap wasn't sprung. Tonight, that trap and two new traps are set...inside the chicken's pen. Meanwhile I am retrofitting the 1" hardware cloth with 1/4" hardware cloth.

It could be that more than one predator was involved in the attack, one to scare the chicks to the edge, and the other to grab them. I am in shock, numb and heart-sick.

2012-10-5 - Happy Family - Not meaning the 'happy family' that is often a dish on the menu of a Chinese restaurant....I caught some photos of Robin, the chicks she is raising...and their dad.

In the background Robin and chicks, in the foreground Ice and some weeds. It can be clicked on to see larger view.

Ice, patrolling the grounds and protecting ever one with feathers, from everyone without feathers, and with flying predators. (Notice his breast feathers blowing in the 20MPH winds?)

Here's - I know it is a lousy picture---BUT, I love it. Robin is my first broody hen, one of the chicks hopped on her back....I thought this only happened in art work. Ran to get the camera...put it on long telephoto and just as I snapped the chick started to groom. Although a bad pict, it has sentimental value for me.... It's the chick on the hen's back thing.

2012-10-04 - My punk Rockers - I'm too fascinated with these chicks. And have zero time before I have to leave for most of the day, but i HAD to put up my 1-month-olds...... They are in that awkward stage...their crests are just sprouting. That must be uncomfortable.

2012-09-28 - Chicks with mom vs. Chicks in a brooder - I think I should pay Robin the 'big bucks' for her work teaching the little ones. My chicks being raised in a cage...they just don't get the attention and learning.

and getting ready for their eggs sometime next month are Owl and Tigress, who are very pretty and very friendly.......

2012-09-27 - Good News! 4 New Chicks! - There are two more females and two males now running around, and BEST of ALL they are with their mother, Robin, who has stepped into the role of mother hen beautifully. It is so endearing to see the little chicks and Robin interact. Seems she is constantly monitoring them and teaching them. These hen-raised chicks also have a much richer environment than the brooder-box raised chicks. It is a different world. I need to put bird netting on the weld-mesh of the attached run, it is my only snake deterrent and snakes seem to be the most feared predator of the moment.

The hatch was very spread out. One male hatched the 24th. 'Early' is his name. A male and female hatched the 25th 'Black Jack' and 'Joan Jet', and on the 26th an egg had pipped and a little female was in there....late to the party, but there she was. 'Party Girl' is her name.

Although my hatch could be considered dismal....4 of 11 eggs hatched, I realize that I am just about totally at fault for it not being around 7-8 out of 11. IF I hadn't moved Robin, she would not have broken her broodiness. One egg had rolled out of the nest, one had been broken open and shoved in a corner of the box. One was laid after I set her on three and had Cydectined her the night before. Of her eggs one probably would have hatched, but I think my moving her, her subsequent abandonment and the resulting chilling did in that egg. In the incubator, when the first chick hatched, I didn't put the lid on correctly. I was in such a rush to remove the chick and place it under Robin for it's first night that I misaligned the lid. On that incubator there was not only automatic thermostat but also automatic humidity control, but with the door ajar, I suspect it flooded with humidity and kept pumping in heat. Astonishingly two chicks hatched successfully the following day, and one on the day after hatch day. The remaining eggs, I think drowned. Note to self, never leave the incubator lid ajar.

If the right conditions aren't met the eggs cannot hatch successfully. (I know ---duh--)

Drawing of my incubator, created with Android App 'paper camera' from Google Play store---it's 25-cents for the next 4-days - regularly 99-cents. It is so much fun--- you can use it on photos and videos for these fabulously artsy effects. Way, way, way too much fun.

It is more nerve wracking to have a long staggered hatch than to have all the hatching go from start to finish in one day's time. Another note to self....No longer than 7-days on eggs set aside for hatching due to the adverse storage conditions they face here...especially in summers. This summer was bad, but not as bad as last year's. The temperatures are now in the mild low 90's and high 80's during the day. It is funny to think of the brooder being kept at 95 the first week etc. Robin had the babies out -- was there for them if they needed her....but they are outdoors on day 1.

It's difficult to be sad, when there are 4 beautiful chicks. These legbars are very dark in the chick down. Their dorsal stripe is quite black on both the males and females. Same parents - 3-weeks earlier hatch had the traditional coloring....

The earlier hatch of 4-girls and 2-boys is now in the rabbit hutch in the dining room, making a horrific mess by scratching the floor and throwing wood shavings everywhere---in the feed, in the water, over the sides. They are just entering that 'awkward' phase...they were three weeks old..on Monday. By next week they should be fully feathered and are doing well. Their next move will be to the porch or if 'chicken world' is completed by that time--they will go there to grow out.......

The EE pullets are quite beautiful, and have no fear of coming up to peck on your shoe for something. They are constantly vocal -- but I just can't quite understand what they want. Within a few weeks, they should be laying eggs, and then off to their new home....They and one of the older Cream Legbar roosters already are wanted.
2012-09-25 - Acquired Taste - Hooray, Robin accepted the baby I put under her last night. He came a day early. Today they were out in the grass (that quick?) and she picked up and dropped this disgusting old rotty grasshopper a couple of times and they baby swallowed it. Yeeeech. that's what I mean by acquired taste. That meal should last the baby a long time..... oh how groady. You think that you have this nice sterile environment, and you keep it clean and sanitary for the brooding chicks. HA...just let 'em out with Mom.

Hard to tell, I know but there is a grasshopper in that baby's beak.

Strange hatch...got a boy and a girl today and put them under Robin tonight. But the rest of the eggs...seem inert. (one pipped). Robin got so interested in being out... (and it got into the 90's and she was hot and baby probably hot too) that she left the nest. So by end of day...I grabbed the one remaining egg - that has now been two days without being sat upon...(although she was on the nest overnight)--- and popped it in the incubator - after candling and thinking it looks pretty dense in there...but couldn't really tell anything. So tomorrow is day 22. At least there are three babies - 2-boys and 1-girl.

2012-09-22 - One gone, 10 to go - Today, I found an eggshell in Robin's broody nest. I saw the date that I had written when I collected the egg, it was the oldest egg that I put under her. I think it had gone bad and she moved it to the corner, or it had been cracked and she ate it perhaps.

I don't know how many days it had been there...because for the most part I leave her well enough alone...but my suspicion is that - when she was rolling the bad egg away from her others, she jostled in such a way that one of the eggs she didn't intend to discard rolled on to the roosting boards used for flooring. We shall see. I got home late Friday to have dh alert me that there was an egg outside the nest. So I think it may have beep pushed aside since Friday. The Friday evening egg was dated 8/30, and the broken shell was dated 8/23-- a month old already. Now it is possible that she intended to discard both. -- The 8/30 egg is back in her clutch.

I have one in the incubator that is even a day older than that one I think it is 8/22---and I did set them as an experiment to see if an egg that old could hatch. I hope it doesn't explode and contaminate everything in the incubator - besides making a mess.

One of the other eggs under Robin was layed after I wormed her. I figured, hey, she is going broody---why not worm her NOW. So THAT egg may be no good.... The hatch rate of the 10 -- one is old, one was even older, one was medicated with Cydectin....may not be good, merely because I decided to push the limits. Tuesday is hatch day.

I moved Robin just around sundown. She wasn't too pleased about the new arrangement. Robin is now in the Eglu Classic, Owl and Tigress in the Eglu Cube along with Lily, Bebe and Ice. The six new chicks are out growing their brooder (aka cardboard box) but they are being really well behaved together. Once I have cleaned out the rabbit hutch, we will move it indoors and the Cream Legbar chicks from September 4th hatch can start to have more room to run and even fly and jump among perches I will set up for them.

I think I want to plug that I have those 'baby cakes' and chick kibble for my chicks and forage cakes and kibble for my chickens all from Resolve - and I think that the products are fabulous and the treats that I am giving them with these feed additions are healthy ones. Reslove is also a BYC sponsor. So sponsorship works and the products supplied by the sponsors are good ones. I put the forage cake in a wire suet feeder and hang that up in the run. Wish me good luck with the eggs in incubation.

2012-09-17 - 'Blondie' is a winner! - All the chicks in the 'Tiny Baby' contest could have been the winner....that is one set of sweet chicks.

In third place as the most colorful is 'Blondie'.... Post in this blog on 2012-09-03 shows her still in the incubator...and here she is today:

Blondie is my only light variation of the Cream Legbar female chick, my other three females are the dark variation. Here is the link to the contest. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/703072/tiny-baby-contest/20

Meanwhile, Robin has a bit over a week to go on her eggs.... Owl and Tigress are going to be moved to the Cube with the big kids......and there are 7 eggs in the incubator. One of the eggs put in as an experiment because I think it was something like 20-days old. I will have to check that date.

We got 2 1/2 inches of rain, which may make all the difference in the cattle business---

2012-09-14 - Is it Art? - Here is a recent digital shot of the two EE pullets 'Owl' and 'Tigress' - They are nearly ready to go in with the rest of the flock.

Owl and Tigress Looking very much like predators. (-click on picture for larger view-)

Among other things, Tigress was moving too fast for the exposure---however, I like this photo. The camera was on this setting called 'illustration' and I must admit I enjoy having photos that are unique. Someone standing next to me shooting the same subject wouldn't get the same results.

Robin is setting tight on the eggs. Hope she doesn't get drawn down too far going into 'winter' and not being fattened up.

The incubator eggs have about a dozen days yet to go. Need to get after building the new environment. It is difficult to do serious outdoor work when the temps are in the high 99's and 100's.....but a cold front is expected this weekend.

2012-09-08 - HOME MOVIES - Remember them? Here is a video of the chicks......

2012-09-06 - Robin is Broody - YEA! - Robin has been flirting with broodiness for awhile. Although our temps are still hotter than hades....the days are shorter, the shadows come out earlier...etc. Until the other day, I always pulled her off the nest and put her on the ground. Then I got 5-fake-eggs and put them under her.

She spent two nights on the nest box rather than the roosting bars....and now she has her very own cardboard box -- her very own eggs. I just hope she doesn't starve herself. First day on the nest I let her out and she went back to the Eglu Cube--but her eggs are in the Rabbit Hutch + cardboard box. (nothing but the best for this bunch, let me tell you). So I had to pull her out of the Eglu and put her back in cardboard. --

I trust her enough to put real fertile eggs under her...she has stuck like glue. Now, I'm hoping resident snakes can't get through the hardware cloth to steal from her...and she is safe and happy for the duration. She just looks so adorable on her egg. Wanna see a pict?

Just hoping the 'confinement' isn't too hard on her. That is one of the eggs right in the front and center. awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!

Now the EE pullets are let out and the other chickens are aware but not aggressive, they have supervised play time. I have a person who wants them both -- and one of my little just hatched roosters in hopes he is as considerate of hens as his father (Ice).

Here are Owl - showing some darker markings on the breast and Tigress the lighter of the two. Ya gotta love Easter Eggers. I will hold on to them until the first eggs arrive....they they will need to move along. When the chicks in the brooder box need to move to bigger quarters, I will sneak Robin in where the two pullets will vacate as they go to stay with the big chickens and the hatched chicks can grow there until Robin needs it (counting chicks before they hatch...but Robin seems pretty determined) and by that time I will need to have finished some expansion. Yes, it is chicken math for the chicken obsessed.

Owl and Tigress eating grass:

And today in any spare time that can be found....photo op day for the new babies.

2012-09-03 - Six eggs hatched!
Four Girls and two boys---all sacked out under the Eco glow after a full day of getting hatched.

2012-09-02 - Pips! - Three pips, and chirps tonight....one pip like the ones from the last hatch, one pip on the wrong end of the egg, one pip on the underside. Tomorrow is 'hatch day'.

2012-08-19 - Candled Eggs and...... It looks like 6 show veining, one showed 'early death' or a blood ring. For this whole batch, I'm not optimistic...but so far so good. The eggs are smaller than I would like to have set... The one that was not developing had lost a lot of weight from time I gathered it to the time I set eggs. Originally, I thought that I would be starting the 10th...but then we had to go out of town and so it became the 13th....

At anyrate, there is a possibility of 6-hatchlings on September 2nd.

The two Easter Eggers remaining from my May hatch are doing fine. They are in that period between being chicks and laying eggs. (12 weeks) They aren't the little chicks that were easy to pick up and that would nearly jump into your hands.....so they are sort of in limbo, at least for now.

Owl on the left and Tigress on the right......

The Cream Legbars are in the 'Cream Legbar Show' on line poultry contest on BYC that is scheduled to end Sept 1st. I'm not sure why our cream Legbar owners haven't yet entered. It would be nice to see a good 'turn out' for the first BYC Cream Legbar contest.

Here are Robin and Ice....

Robin has learned to wade - -yea! she will keep cooler. Ice has lost his two big white sickle feathers, although two are growing in to replace them, he now looks shorter, stockier and more like a little tank than he did with the long streamers.......

Ice is constantly on guard. He knows that I am responsible for the disappearance of two of his harem, and the three cockerels. He also knows that it was my engineering that had him caged solo for the time I was just last weekend out of town. I wanted my chicken sitter to have only three pens to care for (hence the removal of Hester and Priscilla) and I wanted both my chicken sitter and my cockerel to be safe in my absence, so he was imprisoned....and he knew that I was behind it.

--- Ice is so protective and so diligent that he has come after me a couple of times...only connected once. And I know it is protectiveness. At one point I thought I had discovered a new 'tame that rooster' trick. I would out stare him. Rather I would glare at him...ferociously. I learned this from the late-great Henrietta-the-wonder-chicken, she never had to fight, she just stared down any opposition into submission. I also tried to engineer the staring contest first thing in the morning with the sun behind my head so he not only had to look at me, but he had to have the sun in his eyes. For the longest time it worked...and seems to continue to work. But I'm wary. It was way too hot and I was far too busy to carry him around, or take any other 'dominance' behavior out on him....and he is pretty fast when you want to try to catch him....it all seemed like a good way for both of us to get heat stroke....and our temps are not kind. (although today we got a sprinkle...and the temperature didn't get into the 100's.)

The mean ( as in cruel, not as in average) heat -- not quite as life-threatening as last year, but still severe...has caused them to spend most of the day just surviving between when it gets hot in the morning until after sundown when it gets cooler. These are the dog days.....and we are actually thankful for shorter hours of daylight. --- but that is another story for another day.....

Although difficult to discern, Robin is fussing over Ice. It is like the wife that straightens the tie. or brushes off the lapel to give the finishing touch to the husband. I have seen Robin do this numerous times to Ice. Robin has the most alluring eyes. And good old Ice...he is the superb flock guardian...and egg fertilizer....and crower.

Here he is guarding.... He is such a good provider --- and worries for the hens feeding, he will pick up and drop the treat -- cluck when he finds something, come to their aid. always watch out for them (I mean ALWAYS)..... Oh yes, the very tips of his comb are darkening....I think it is actually sun burn.

2012-08-06 - R. C. Punnett and Ice - Didn't have as similar an angle for my shot to match the artist rendition of Cream Legbar cockerel, and the illustration has longer sickle feathers....but giving equal time...here's the comparison to Ice.

Sheesh, I found this photo from May of Ice. The background was littered with feeders, waterers, chicken-run weldmesh - etc. So with the magic of photoshop magic lasso, I outlined him - and selected inverse and deleted the background debris. Then I got this photo which is gorgeous IMO. He is reflecting a lot of that strong Texas sunlight in this picture, and isn't quite that light...plus -- add a black background for maximum light dark contrast. Aren't those Cream Legbars great? :O) Then I got the idea to use this photo in my avatar...it's time for a fresh new look.

Photo of ICE reflecting the morning sun, background replaced with black. Original...which just goes to show even a thow-away photo can be useful......

2012-08-05 - R. C. Punnett and Robin - Writings from the 1930's regarding development and genetics of the Cream Legbar were linked in the Legbar Thread by GaryDean26. In that paper, there is an illustration of a Cream Legbar Pullet. I did have a shot of Robin in a similar pose...so I compared the illustration figure from the paper to a photo of Robin.

In my eyes, proportionally, Robin is perfect. O.K. maybe she could be a little "longer". The illustration has the comb and slight wattles and the white earlobe, at the time of this pullet picture, Robin didn't have those. Our present-day crests may be larger than Punnett's illustration or that pullet may have been sleeked and ready to run off. I suppose Robin may be a bit pudgier than the 1930's UK pullet, and she doesn't hold her tail at 45-degrees, except occasionally. I think that is one of the astonishing things about Cream Legbars....there is a tremendous consistency in the breed IMO. When I see pictures of some other folks birds---I think that they are about identical to mine at that same age.

I need to find a comparison to Punnett's cockerel to Ice.

It almost looks as if tropical storm Ernesto could bring us some rain. Some of our stock watering tanks are dry. Dh moved one herd yesterday because the watering hole they were using was turning into a mud puddle. The grass is so dry, it is crunchy to walk on. WE need rain!

I processed the 3 Easter Egger cockerels, Prince, Fudge and Chipmunk. The Easter Egger females seem to be doing fine.

Priscilla has 3-strikes against her. First - blood drawing agression toward Robin, Second - lack of laying (same goes for Hester) and Third, while I was out there yesterday, I saw that Priscilla had laid a membrane egg...and before I could get it out of the run to feed the chickens, she broke it open and started to eat. So-- Prisc and Hester are going to be culled.

The two Easter Eggers Owl and Tigress will come on line sometme around Halloween. My laying flock now consists of Lily, Bebe and Robin, but I'm now saving all of Robins eggs to start incubating around August 10th, with hopefully a hatch the end of August and 4-weeks of brooding, they will be fully feathered and ready for the outdoors when Tigress and Owl will go with the layers and rooster, and the new hatchlings could take over the domicile that Tigress and Owl will be in once Hester and Priscilla are gone.

say a little prayer that the drought will be ended shortly.

2012-07-25 - Ghostly Image of Robin - I have been worried about the heat and my Cream Legbars.

Today Robin was doing her --"maybe I'm going broody" routine...and one of the BPRs pecked her comb to get her out of the nesting box. Blood! (of course I was there meddling at that moment). I applied direct pressure and it stopped immediately, I put Robin in Isolation to keep her away from the aggressive layer.
She drank and ate---but refused to lay until she was back in HER nest box. Then I went in later after she had laid the egg...she was snuggling up to it...and took her out of the nest box again.......

She is the one who starts panting first, pants hardest and longest in the heat....and then I saw her late this afternoon and got really alarmed because her comb was pale pink instead of red. Her face was pale...then I noticed even her legs were pale.

The joke's on me however....she has been dusting in the dustbath with copious amounts of DE and powdering herself with white.........no wonder she looked pale.

And.............................................................................................(drum roll please) I'm about to go out there and put up my 2,000th post. :O)
2012-07-16 - Chix update for July - Today I saw one of the chicks crowing so it is a for sure that Prince is Prince and NOT Princess. There may be three males...I'm thinking: Chipmunk and Fudge as well as Prince. Owl and Tigress - I'm still thinking girls. They are pretty chicks. Juveniles, I guess....by now. Time is going past so quickly. I'm counting the days till the worst threat of heat will be past.... I need to reduce population, or expand facilities or both.

Here's yesterday's picture of the "chicks"

I Know that it isn't a good picture...and believe it or not this is the same rabbit hutch that they were in awhile back. Less one chick, too. Upper left is Tigress, upper right is Fudge. Lower row left to right is Chipmunk, Prince and Owl. They were in the rabbit hutch while I cleaned and moved their Eglu Classic. If you look carefully at Fudge's middle back, you can see his feather quills amidst the grey down. The cage cup has icecubes in the water....and you can barely notice the extra bright pink/red of Prince's comb....combs on the other two red chicks are noticably larger than the ones I'm thinking are girls. Strangely too--- Owl was very dark fuzz, and her feathering is white, and Tiger/Tigress had the wihte fuzz as a baby, along with Prince's light fuzz. What can I say? After all they ARE chickens.

2012-07-09 - Back after 10-days of traveling - Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and back Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and then Texas - were some of the states we drove through, and although we were in the airconditioned vehicle, the outdoors temperatures were 100-107. So we weren't alone in the heat wave. I will complain less as if it is unique to us.

40-eggs were piled up, and no egg shells had been fed back during the 10-days, and I suspect vinegar omitted from the water, so Hester Prinn was starting to get soft shells once again. With 5-layers now, it doesn't take long for the eggs to add up. I have managed to drop a couple too...

I lost a chick, I think it was Coco. Because Coco and Fudge were identical, I'm not 100% sure who the snake killed. I had bird netting to put over the 1x2 weld mesh...but neglected to do it before leaving...and as I look at it now, all the sticks that I inserted for the chicks 'jungle gym' would make covering the weldmesh with bird netting REALLY challenging. Now none of the chicks will go into the coop where the murder occured.

Because Lily was acting broody, I bought some extra nest boxes and attached them to the outside of the coop-run on the Eglu Cube. Both Bebe and Lily tried them on for size, but never used them for a nesting box. Everyone wants to take her sweet time in the nest box...and although I have seen three hens in the Eglu Cube nesting box at one time, in pictures,---mine like to be solo. Sometimes they will double up...usually if the nest box is occupied they stand outside of it in the coop and holler up a storm. Tonight when I was locking them in---I didn't realize that Lily had jumped into one of the external nest boxes....no protection there what so ever....So I had to chase her out of the external nest box and into the run.

Lots of change in the chicks from June to July---- the chicks are pretty much fully feathered now. I think now that Princess is once again Prince. The comb is bright pink...darker than any of the others. The orange/brown (golden) chicks are the boys, I think, and the white (silver) are the girls. Prince was showing pink plumage there for a bit...but now I think is turning to a " golden incomplete columbian". I have a photo of the pink feathering in the "most colourful chicken" contest/on line poultry show.

Due to fear of snake returning, I capture the two girls (Tigress and Owl) and put them in a pet carrier inside the rabbit hutch overnight. It has smaller mesh. The boys can tough it out outdoors. Monday was the first night for this (brilliant?) idea....and the chicks are difficult to catch. I have some 'snake away' that I got at a feed store, but besides soil sulfur it contains naptha..(chemical used in dry-cleaning right?) and I'm not sure how healthy it is for chickens. Just sulfur, I wouldn't mind...and of course the store didn't have just soil sulfur.

Surprisingly, our temperatures have cooled into the 90's and even 98 feels cooler than 107!

So Lily didn't go broody while I was gone, from what I know. Both Bebe and Robin have been lingering in the nest box and putting wood shavings on their backs, and when I have checked on each of them they have raised their hackles and threatened me to get out of there. Wish I had a picture or a video of them doing that.

Ice, the wonderful cockerel has jumped on the back of my leg--- but so lightly that I have to verify that he has....usually, this being a ranch, it is boots and jeans...all the time --so no real harm done. When he actually made contact, I chased him down, even though it violated his dignity, caught him in my net...and held on to him for awhile. Now I'll bet that was a humorous sight. (in all the heat--ugh---he is very heavily feathered and he has hackle feathers as thick as a lion's mane.) I don't know how he manages but when he breeds the hens, he doesn't damage their backs and only slightly disturbs their feathers. What a gem.

Lily shows the new external nesting box to Priscilla

Bebe is early adapter and first to jump into the new nesting box to see just how cozy and comfy it would be for egg laying

Bebe walks past the Eglu classic in which her chicks are now residing. Top nearest to Bebe is Tigress, top right Coco, in front of Coco is Prince(ss?) who was feathering black and pink. Although only her head showing, Owl, is by the waterer and Chipmunk is in front of Owl -- between Owl and the feeder. On the far right is Fudge.

One of the reasons I wanted an Eglu Classic was for the "small bird set" - it covers the lower bars of the weld mesh and it changes the coop part's floor so chicks won't fall into the slats. My chicks were big enough at 4-weeks to not even need the "small bird set".
2012-06-25 - Pain from the Heat - Around 10 today I thought Robin had been in the nest box a long time. I opened the egg port, and she was there panting hard....she was just about to the stage where the chicken rolls her eyes up and passes out. I removed her from the nest box into a pet carrier on the front porch, put in water and water with electrolytes. (save-a-chick). The porch temperature was 96.8 --cooler than outside. But I thought maybe I could do just a little better so I brought the pet carrier into the ranch house and put a thermometer on top and it got down to 94.3.

Robin was panting so hard I could her gasps. So the day went on---but she was better inside. Outside she wouldn't even eat a meal worm...a really bad sign from one of my chickens. Inside, in the pet carrier, at least she would eat meal worms. She didn't have the egg in the pet carrier, although she was making a couple of attempts. Finally, I decided she was either egg bound, or the heat exhaustion had used up her muscular strength and she couldn't get the egg out.

I tried all the things that came to mind....and time ticked on. I put her in a pan of water...and it kind of brought back Henrietta's heat exhaustion episode from last year. One thermometer outside said 111, one said 115---

Finally, Robin got out of the pan of water and marched around the house. I let her into the chicken pen. She climbed the ladder into the coop and got in the nest box....and I left her in peace. I went back a little later and she was still there...in the nest box, panting hard the whole time. I decided to remove her from the nest box again....and like yesterday...she had laid the egg---amazingly ---but was continuing to sit on the nest and pant like crazy. By this time it was 3 in the afternoon.

My 'best' one is at greatest risk. I wonder if the crest holds in more heat, or her metabolism is higher. And doesn't the "emergency" always pop up less than 24-hours before I am leaving --- gone until the 4th of July or after. So I now have resigned myself to the fact that there is a good chance I will loose her to this heat. The hurricane isn't coming our way. I got a sprinkler I can attach to a hose and put that on a timer and start hosing from 10:30 until 2:30--- (won't it be a sopping wet mess by that time?) and hope that the water will give some relief from the heat. That is all I can do now. (Actually I wish I could just take her along on my trip---but that wouldn't be too good for her either). She will have to use all her chicken-toughness....and survive the heat ahead. I almost wish I could turn off her egg-laying for the remainder of the heat wave.
2012-06-24 - The latest on Eggzy - The great folks at Eggzy added Cream Legbar to the chicken breeds, and so when Robin started laying I could record her eggs on Eggzy. Here are my latest statistics:

I love those egg icons... I adore that Eggzy folks put that beautiful strong blue color there....it is cheering. The blues, greens, tans, medium browns.....beautiful. Cream Legbar: Robin; Easter Egger: Bebe; Leghorn: Lily; Plymouth Rock: Priscilla; "Mixed" (the other BPR): Hester.

Out of the last 10-days since she started laying, Robin produced 9 eggs. My chooks are all laying well. Robin, Bebe actually have laid daily for the past week so they show up at 7. Lily shows 6....but she was flirting with broodiness there for a couple of days. Priscilla is a bit better than Hester who are 6 and 5 per week respectively. We have plenty of eggs. We have plenty of heat too. It is heart wrenching in this heat to look into the nest box when they are in there laying. I thought today I was about to loose Robin from Heat exhaustion/prostration. I went to get a jug of ice water and put into the nest box, and just as I moved it past her...she jumped off the nest box...and the egg was there. I wonder if she would have just sat in a semi fainting state for awhile, if I hadn't disturbed her.

All 5 laid eggs today. The temp exceeded 100. And wouldn't you know I need to be gone again and travel and not be back until around the 4th of July. I am so concerned about the heat. There is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico...if only it would bring rain and especially cloud cover to Texas...it would be so, so helpful specifically to my panting chickens and the little chicks too. Chicks, by the way, love being outdoors.

I messed with the colors on the flock summary-- for eggzy users, they will be more beige than ochre...but I really wanted Robin's white bars to show on the bar graph. She is supposed to be a medium egg layer....and she is laying daily right now---not every-other-day. Robin is a champ!

In someways, this is the top. I'm so concerned that I will loose some to this heat. If they take off the rest of the summer and don't lay, that's OK....just hang in there and by the 2nd week of September, maybe the temperatures will be humane. IF you have never experienced this type of heat.... Imagine working out doors with a big parka on when it is hot and humid. The sweat dripping down your forehead runs into your eyes and you get blinded by it--not to mention the sting of the salt. And that is early in the morning before the heat sets in seriously. My chooks just try to hang on ---they pant like crazy. Same with the chicks....they flatten out and pant until late, late in the afternoon. I have doubled the shade on the cube, spray the runshades with water, spray the ground with water....and just have agony for what they are going through.

Today I started the page Marek's Disease Fact Site-- please contribute if you have good information about Marek's. This is the page I mentioned starting way back there when Jet died of Marek's. Here's the link: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mareks-disease-fact-site

Here's what we are facing according to the crystal ball:

2012-06-23 - Egg Shells - Our chicken egg shells come in two colors, "blue" and white. If the hen secretes color at the time she lays it turns a white egg shell brown, and a "blue" egg shell "green". The way to tell the true color of the egg shell is look on the inside. Here are some egg shells.

This is particularly interesting to me for a couple of reasons. Item 1 is the inside of the egg of my Cream Legbar. Since the colors match, she is not putting a colored coating on the egg. Beside item 2 is a piece of white egg shell from my Leghorn, a piece of egg shell from my Cream Legbar, and the true color of Priscilla's egg that day. (Barred Plymouth Rock---Priscilla's eggs are darker than Hester's).

For 3, I thought that the color intensity was about the same for the blue-green and the brown, so I converted to black and white in Photoshop....and it indeed shows up about the same shade of gray (I used 'scenic landscape' choice in the color to B&W conversion. Took the same process and removed all color saturation and got the same result.) That is the darkness intensity of the egg color from the Cream Legbar---and the white comparison. Inside the brown egg, the true white shell color is visible.

Later that afternoon, I was showing my results to a friend and the inside of the Cream Legbar egg wias bright white. Why? you may ask.... the membrane dried bright white and to see the inside of the shell color, at that point, required peeling the dried white membrane off a piece of the shell. Which shell was indeed the same color on both sides.

2012-06-20 - Growing Chicks - The chicks are no longer babies. They are healthy and out growing the rabbit hutch. My three pairs of twins are differentiating. Here's a set of photos from the 16th of my "3-pairs of twins". Growth is obvious when compared with 5/30 and 6/2 posts.

Left to right: Tigress, Princess, Chipmunk, Owl, Fudge, Coco. Sheesh they are BIG. And I don't worry about them as much because they aren't so fragile. (and yet they are still vulnerable to all the things that can attack chickens.) --fire, flood, disease, predators, parasites, lions and tigers and bears~ Oh my!

Happy Summer Solstice.

2012-6-18-The chicken genetics calculator and me--- Here is a link: http://kippenjungle.nl/kruising.html This is absolutely brilliant. ...I am in awe. If Henk69 is the inventor....thank you Henk...and thank you for making it available and maintaining the website.

I thought that the chick color in the female offspring comes from the rooster and the hen provides chick color to male off spring. Papa chicken provides Z chromosome and mama chicken provides a Z or a W chromosome. If a Z is passed from the hen, then the chick grows to be a cockerel and if a W is provided then the chick grows to be a pullet. Based on this---I thought that Dad's color would go to the daughters and mom's color would go to the sons. From my hatch of 6 I had four dark chicks and two light chicks...so I decided I lucked out and got 4 girls and 2 boys.

When I experimented with the chicken calculator....I could see that if Bebe was dominant white, then all the chicks would be white, and if she was recessive white, then all the chicks would be dark. I used both Lakenvelder and Columbian for the color of Rox.

However, there must be modifiers, because 4 chicks were dark and 2 chicks were light.

So---by putting "wheaten" in the female genetics, the calculator results more closely match my hatching results. I get something closer to my actual chicks--- Now, I think that the "silvers" are all girls, and the "golds" are all boys. A reinforcement of this new theory is that the 'golds' all have serioius tail feathers coming in and the 'silvers' have 'just kidding' tails at 2-weeks since hatch date. By week 2 - the ones now suspected of being cockerels had flamboyant little tails about 1" long and the ones expected to be pullets had little 1/2 inch stubs. It just goes to show you

Soooo Tiger is indeed Tigress, and Prince is Princess, and Owl showing more silver is still Owl. The remaining chicks: Chipmunk, Fudge and Coco---are most probably all little cockerels. The chicken calculator will bear this out -- depending upon what I enter..... I had it wrong at the beginning. It now looks like a 50/50 split male and female chicks..

This photo by the way is a frame from a video..... 1 is Fudge, 2 is Coco, 3 is Chipmunk, 4 is Owl who is showing silver barrs on the tops of her wing feathers, retains her baby fuzz on her face and a lot of her body....and yet, as you can see from the picture, looks more silver than gold. 5 is Prince(ss) and 6 is Tigress, who is the friendliest. Chipmunk is the most assertive of the group. Coco is the smallest....and Princess is develolping an interesting set of feathers that is more pink or peach colored on parts of her body....so I will put in some updates for that when possible. The above photo really allows me to understand why chicken color experts call white 'silver' and yellow 'gold'. Their added markings--- barred, quail, spangled?? When I usel alternatives on the chicken calculator for the mottling and the pattern gene I get interesting results and long complex names. You just have got to love chickens.

Chipmunk looks like a little hawk, the other boys look a bit like Baltimore oreoles (thinking orange and black here). They spent their first night outdoors on the front porch in the rabbit hutch. Hope that I" hardware cloth disallowed snake access if the snake is still there. After Friday---it is time to move outdoors.....

2012-06-16 - First Egg from my Cream Legbar - Yea Robin!!!! Weighing in at 1.260 ounces (1.25 is PeeWee on the egg sizing chart) - and looking like C15 on the British Araucana Club color chart--(-which I seem to not be able to find for sale on eBay, Alas) This chart on feathersite is a Photo reproduced with permission from F. Decmar for the British Araucana Club, who developed the chart. http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGA/Arau/BRKArauEgg.html Thanks once again Mr. Decmar. Although screens, monitors and printers will all vary the colorations......it helps to have something to match to. Here is her first egg....

Robin's first pullet eggs -- laid just short of 23 weeks!

The dozen fake eggs I bought, I chose the colors. As seen in the photo, it is greener than the blue egg and bluer than the green egg. (Would love to get those color intensities from chickens--but the bright blue and the bright green are fake eggs)....only the small pullet egg is real.

What a milestone for little Robin!!!

And the chicks--- they are now 3-weeks. In one week they will be ready for outdoor life. -- I need to catch up with portraits of them because they have REALLY changed from their chix pix. All are doing well.
2012-06-11 - Cream Legbars are 22-weeks old today! - Here are Robin and Ice on their 22-week birthday -

2012-06-02 - More Chick Picts -

The suspected girls at 3-days old....they all appear to have daddy's dark legs. First "Owl", next "Owl" and "Chipmunk" and the last two"Fudge" and "Cocoa" as in Channel......but the names may change. Rox (daddy of the 6) went to a new home last night.

On another note......I was doing a google search of images....first in google click the 'image' listing in the bar....then, enter 'chicken Columbian chick color' -- and who should pop up in the 4th or 5th image? Rox!! I was ASTONISHED! The daddy of these little chicks, has his 15-minutes of fame on the internet. Ilia, a BYC expert had said of a rooster with similar coloration that it was a 'Melanized duck-wing' with the columbian gene'--- So I'm saying that is Rox's coloration.... He has a lot of gorgeous dark feathers....I wonder just how his chicks will turn out. Mom (Bebe) of course is white..... The darkness in the above picture in the lower right side is the beginning of dark wing feathers on one of the chicks...and that picture is 3-days old!

Chicks are so cute...they climb on something and jump on each other----the other day Owl had climbed on top of the water jar...for a bird's eye view I guess. And now with a week and a day under their beaks...they are starting to flap their wings and look for places to fly.
2012-05-31 - Chick Navigation 101 - Now I am reinforced by some of the reasons I didn't start out with chicks but rather a hen and two p.o.l. pullets. Chicks are so scary! Because they are so, let's face it, so young! I was looking at a book of diseases and there are so many---starting at 4-days old. That is why I see it as chicks have to run the gauntlet of all the things trying to get them....before they become adults... Then they only have to face the adult threats---right?

I got three pairs of twins. It is soooo difficult to tell them apart at this age. Here is "Tiger", my second hatchling, with a tiger. Here are "Tiger" and "Prince"...looking almost as if there is a mirror in the photo--

I guess it is totally normal for chicks to be so much ALIKE-- because they are EEs, I thought there would be more diversity. There are these two light ones, and four dark ones. Since mom was white, I'm thinking the light ones are the males. Should I be wrong, then" Prince" can become "Princess" and "Tiger" can become "Tigress"....(spell checker did that to me...I thought it was Tigeress) On a side note: the APA has removed that ban on using the word 'Hopefully' - which previously language snobs knew was only used by language slobs. Are you kidding?? Hopefully is one of my favorite words! And tomorrow starts June! Unbelieveable how fast time goes.

2012-05-30 - Happy Birthday to the 20-week olds! - Monday was 20-weeks since hatch for Robin & Ice. I haven't put a picture in lately, so here is something recent:

And here is something I love. GaryDean on the Legbar thread found this write up by R. C. Punnett, and I caught these two in poses VERY similar to the illustrations in his write up. My kids are chubbier, but if they were to stretch to their full height...well it would be a carbon copy wouldn't it? The article: http://www.ias.ac.in/jarch/jgenet/41/1.pdf

The chicks hatched on the 25th are doing well...the 7th egg was either infertile or never began to develop. Priscilla produced eggs 3 of the 4 days to her year anniversary so she laid a grand total of --- 247 for the year Not bad for a BPR..

2012-05-25 - Six Chix - Six chicks transferred from incubator to 'brooder' aka cardboard box. We're all exhausted...but pictures will be forthcoming. The seventh egg---still in the incubator...who knows what may happen? I'm thinking nothing.... But six new arrivals is pretty good IMO.

1. Set eggs May 4th 2. Lockdown 3. First pip 4. First chick, "Owl" 5. Starting to zip. 6. zip done 7. "Tiger" hatched "Owl" is on the left.
8. "Prince" hatched...still pretty wet and a shell fragment stuck to head...is that cute or what?
2012-05-22 - "Red touch Yellow, Kill a fellow..." That's how I learned it anyway. And the rest is either "red touch black, venom lack" or the other way, "red touch black, a friend to Jack"... which is nice, teaching the kiddies that snakes can be friends. This morning I came across a coral snake in an old shed...and strangely the dogs were really excited about something behind a stack of boards awhile back; and I thought it was just a lizard. Here's an article about the coral snake: http://www.petplace.com/dogs/the-coral-snake-is-he-dangerous/page1.aspx My dh said that the little coral snake would have to grab the web of skin that is thin between your fingers and chew for awhile on a human, because their mouths are quite small. So we are leaving him/her alone and keeping the dogs away from there. He is at least 1/4 mile away from the chickens.

I have 3-days until day 21 of incubation hits. I'm so unready....Let's see---heater for chicks-->check; brooder for chicks--> Cardboard box is O.K? -->check; waterer-->check; feeder--> check--- OMG I'm beginning to get first-time-hatch-jitters. --Let's see: feed, litter, lid/top for the cardboard box....three days OMG.

If I see the snake once again I will photograph it...but I'd just as soon not see it again too.....lol

Update: the incubator eggs are starting to move ON THEIR OWN..... Should I turn off the turner early?? You don't think they would hatch out tonight do you? Yikes!

2012-05-19 - SOM3 NUMB3RS - One year ago on today's date, Hester laid her first egg. Hester and Priscilla were the two CraigsList chickens that I traveled an hour to buy (and then an hour home) on a day that was 99-degrees. Henrietta, was a last minute add in, and I had Hester and Priscialla a month before they began laying at 6-months of age. I realize that "Henrietta-the-wonder-chicken" definitely shaped my entire chicken-keeping experience...but that is another story entirely.

So, I looked back over the past 12-months and I counted all the eggs. How well do hatchery BPRs actually lay from 'experience'? I can say that both my BPRs got the same treatment...although Priscilla had eye-worm and a respiratory problem that nearly led to her being culled. I used to say that Priscilla was the 'sickest chicken in the state" when I got her, all my chickens had round worms at that time too, and Priscilla had Gape Worm based on her behavior.....but as of now both are healthy 18-month olds. I think I would also say that they are "fat and happy", as the saying goes. (not too fat though). That is one of the reasons that I have a regular worming program and wouldn't manage my chickens without it, because I don't want a lot of worms inside the chickens producing their worm eggs to populate the soil. The climate here is a paradise for insects of all ilk. .

Priscilla didn't begin to lay until a few days after Hester, and at the very beginning, I couldn't tell the eggs apart, but looking back and figuring in the laying pattern and the weight of the brown eggs I have extrapolated who laid what at the very beginning. There could be a margin of error---but for the most part this is a pretty accurate account of their performance:

In one year Hester laid 217-eggs since her start....however 17-18 had paper-thin shells or no shells. I was not counting those as eggs laid until I determined that perhaps I was doing something wrong and the chook shouldn't be penalized. There were also some shell-less eggs that I attributed to Henrietta that perhaps could have been Hester's, so at the very most she may have produced 5 more than that number. Hester is now the top-of-the-pecking-order hen. The shell-less eggs were fed back to the chickens, mixed in with their feed whenever possible, so they weren't a total waste. The time that Hester was having trouble making good shells, I suspect that she was getting less sunlight, and there is a possibility that the bag of feed I had at that time was defective (I recall a lot of BYC posts during that time window about egg shell problems)--- It is sometimes disheartening to realize how dependent I am upon what the feed company puts in the bag, and how 'fresh' it is on the store shelves....that is another story entirely too. My chickens have and always had both free choice oyster shell and their own shells crushed. The big bowl of oyster shell may have become less appetizing, I try to put out smaller quantities, more frequently. The 'cure' for Hester was a combination of pulverized eggshells (think food processer all you chefs) crushed vitamin D3 (WalMart vitamin section) and some raw eggs all mixed together in their feed..... and vinegar in their water--- but then I always put vinegar in their water...or at least 90% of the time.

During the same year, Priscilla had produced 244 eggs with the possiblility of one softshell/shell-less/membrane egg (Priscilla actually started May 24th so she could add a few to her yearly number) I have been right about Priscilla being more productive. If Priscilla were to lay an egg for the next 4-days, which is entirely possible she will have a 248-eggs-per-year total which is phenomenal. It still hightlights Henrietta's productivity, she was only living here 9-months and she produced as many. At her rate of laying, had she had an entire year...her numbers would have blown away the competition. Let's hear it for the golden sexlinks... (applause)

Priscialla weighs 4 pounds, so does Bebe.

An update on my first hatch of the Easter Egger eggs: The incubator eggs weigh 12.511 ounces today and the trend-line (perfect?) weight is 12.347. Those are total weights -- in grams it is about 3 and some decimal off the trend line (using 13% as the amount the eggs should loose in 21 days) --I think Brinsea instucts to take the average---so per egg they would be off by 0.02342 ounces per egg...but I do have the individual weights too...so I could see actual not just the average. Formula for that conclusion is using (12.511-12.347)/7. I guess I won't mess with the eggs. And....Friday was the end of the second week of incubating.

Egg parentage is Rox the rooster and Bebe the hen...for 6 and Lily the Ideal 236 for one egg. Rox WAS going to go to a new home...but now he will probably become food. He's just an excess rooster despite his great beauty. Rox is for sure the rooster that was with Bebe- and six incubator eggs are Bebe's. The 7th egg is Lily's (becuase Bebe skipped a day of laying that week)--- One day, while I was changing out the water in the coop/run where Ice was, Lily strolled in because she thought he must certainly be getting better feed that she was, and she was bred in that short instant by Ice. Sooo the LIly egg could have either Rooster as the father. IF by chance it were to be Ice, then it would have a crest---right? (I read that crest is a dominant genetic trait.) (If it did hatch, and have a crest it would definitely have to be Ice's offspring.)

According to my readings, an 85% hatch rate is considered a good one. So 7 eggs x .85 = 5.95 eggs. And if there were 5-6 chicks, the going rate is 50% roosters. So getting 2 possibly 3 females is a realistic possibility. (and I realize that getting zero of anything is also possible)

Just an example of 'counting your chickens before they hatch'. On one hand you need to prepare for and set things up for new arrivals, and on the other hand the entire hatching adventure could be a total bust and there could be zero hatchlings. And the only thing that can happen is to say 'wait and seel'.

2012-05-12 - Embryo Development - Finally, today I cleaned out the 'broody house' and cracked the eggs to see what was what. Here is a picture of the embryo development of one of the (the oldest) eggs....
Picture not very good, I realize, but the egg was broken into a glass bowl. The eye, and some of the blood system is very evident, the white arc in front of the eye is a reflection from the light or the window.... So, I know approximately where my other (incubator) eggs were yesterday morning in the development process. Some of the eggs were just lain within the last couple of days. Lily never stopped laying...so maybe it was a false broody--- Today I shooed her out of the nesting box in the cube. Perhaps she just wanted to be elsewhere for her nesting.

This link is photos of the embryo development inside the egg--by day from 1 to hatch. http://freshpics.blogspot.com/2007/05/stages-of-chick-embryo-development.html

On a happier note, here is a picture of Robin who has been working on developing her comb and reddening her face:

She is lowest in the pecking order...but very agile just like Bebe was (and still is)-- Everyone is in one coop, and during the daylight hours they have the freedom of the netting area about 30x30' - Inside the netting are Eglu Cube - where they all sleep, Eglu GO where they still feed and rest at times during the day and Eglu classic - where again the run and run shade put some variety in their lives. The rabbit hutch is still inside the netting fence too--- and Rox is in the rabbit cage -- and the dense shade beneath it is welcome relief from the Texas sun.

Here is Ice

I sort of chopped him in front in the pict. He is looking very roosterly, and indeed is an ideal flock rooster even at the tender age he is. His tail has two mostly white sickle feathers - like racing stripes. Very showy, very stylish.

Here is Lily on her first afternoon out

Lily requesting escape from motherhood duties.

And remember those sunflowers awhile back? Here they have gone to seed---and the chooks love them in the pen:

2012-05-11 - Egg abandonment - Today Lily abandoned the eggs.

She stood at the doorway and hollered. No motherhood gig for LIly.

Glad that I didn't trust her with the eggs I really wanted to have hatched. She was put in with the rest of the chooks this aftermoon. She scratched up a storm -- and ate all the grass sprouts she could get her beak on. I don't have the heart to see how far the eggs developed in the week that she did sit on them. One of them had yolk on the outside of the shell, so I know she ate one she was sitting on. Possibly it was cracked...I had moved her housing and possibly cracked more than the one I checked (which was fertile and developed to day three). So the moral of that story is---don't count your chickens before they hatch.

In the incubator, I still have 7 eggs. About 5:45PM yesterday a power outage that lasted until 1AM this morning or so---but I had an emergency plug-in battery that I used, so for the 7 eggs, they have successfully completed their first week---and their weights are within 1/100th of the weight on the trend line.
2012-05-10 - Pictures of the Chooks -

Wish I could have resized the pictures and wrapped the text--however, top Lily on eggs, next Bebe in a cloud of dust bath (sand, ashes and DE) -- Ice - he's all Legs, with the flock and doing a really good job. He does find for the chickens treats, patrols for danger, breeds the chickens and looks regal. Lastly Robin--she has spent the past 3-nights with the hens and Ice in the cube. So now I have 3-layers, 1-rooster and 1-pullet in the cube. Rox in the rabbit cage and Lily in the dog carrier (broody house). We shall see.....

2012-05-05 - Happy Cinco de Mayo! - Because of the great fluff of new wood shavings in the nest box--Bebe has refused to lay--- she just doesn't recognize it as her nest box. :O( Just saw one of the BPRs climb up the ladder, probably was Hester.... wonder if she will make the adjustment. Then Bebe will follow suit, I hope.

Not knowing if Lily will be broody for the length, I changed my great plan which WAS to put the eggs I really wanted to have hatch under the (supposedly) broody Lily, and the other eggs in the brand new Brinsea mini adv. incubator. If Lily started but didn't finish incubation, then just swap out the eggs I really wanted to hatch into the incubator--they would both be on the same time schedule.

Revised plan is to put the eggs I really want to hatch in the new incubator and put the spares under Lily. (Lucky me, I can learn on two tracks at one time). If Lily goes the distance with her hatch---then try to sneak the incubator chicks under her at the same time she is actually hatching her own chicks, and she can raise them all. -- (Not counting on that though). I don't trust Lily's distrust of humans.

Freaked when the temperature on the incubator was down in the 80's---then realized by the downward pointing arrow that it is doing the cooling-off routine... So everything is fine there.

Last night; got home around dusk/dark and took the leftover (non-incubator) eggs and put them under Lily. She reflex pecked at me each time I put an egg there. This morning the eggs seem to all be under her---but she seems to be discarding the fake eggs....or shoving them out. (can she know?? she is so cagey!!)

Here was a big motivator part of the plan switch: the pet carrier is not good broody-hen housing because there is no easy way to clean up the poop. She doesn't have much room to poop---and putting that box in to divide the 'broodie-house' from the other square foot of space to allow her to poop outside the nest box ---doesn't seem to be working too well. I reach in to scoop out the poop with kitty-litter scoops, and Lily (being Lily) kind of freaks. (Except today, she stayed put and grumped a lot)-- now I don't think the nest box conditions are particularly sanitary. -- so my great plan wasn't that great---but every thing is in motion now---so I am going to stay the course (at least for awhile)

I would say though--that Lily is now in broody mode (surprise!)-- she doesn't have much other choice in that pet carrier. Lily is a grumpy broody unlike Henrietta who was so happy and clucked to her eggs singing herself a little song. --- Each one is different, that's for sure. Now I am really wondering if I moved her, would it break the broodieness...... If I move Lily complete with cardboard box, the enclosed nesting materials and eggs....so she would have more freedom, would she walk away? So for now--- she stays put.

Hopefully before chick-hatching time, I can relocate that rat-snake/chicken snake I saw on the porch railing--and hopefully it isn't a family of snakes living in the crawlspace under the house. If they are eating mice...great, I will put them on the payroll....but if they were to get an egg or a baby-chick...then I think that they would be a better fashion-item.

2012-04-28 – Possible Broody Behavior - Yesterday Lily was spending a long time in the nest box. There are a couple of possible reasons, but when I opened the hatch she didn’t bolt away as she usually would. Instead she scolded me and was protecting the fake purple egg I keep in there and Bebe’s egg that she had claimed. When I lifted her up – she actually tried to peck; me albeit half heartedly. I was kind of proud of her for trying to protect the eggs. I carted her off after picking her up and fed her some mealworms…and put her down by the feeder at which point she bolted in typical Lily-behavior—she is the most skittish of all my hens. Then she deposited a huge poop on the ground. Could it have been a broody poop?? Lily? She isn’t a breed that should go broody, but then none of my hens are.

Lily got pretty abused by Rox the day before—and the preceeding couple of days he was really rough on her. I thought that she was hiding out in the coop/nest box to avoid him. Rox has been in with the hens since Tuesday, the day after I got home.

I felt particularly sorry for Rox because he spent the week while I was gone cooped up in a rabbit hutch. Excuse me but the rabbit hutch is, indeed, rather cruel and unusual punishment for a big rooster. He deserves better---but it was the only housing I could get my hands on in the circumstances of VERY short notice. – I needed to move him out of the Eglu GO and make room for my little Cream Legbar cockerel Ice.

Why the emergency? Because Ice reached sexual maturity and began trying to breed my Cream Legbar pullet Robin who hasn’t reached sexual maturity and didn’t like that idea at all. It looked like a mini-hawk attack to see the pile of Robin’s feathers in their shared coop/run. I didn’t want to come home to a bared-back and possibly bleeding pullet. So a quick game of buy and assemble the rabbit hutch and then musical coops ensued since I had less than 24-hours before take off.

Rox due to his cruelty to Lily, as if he was more interested in killing her than breeding her, (although he was not vicious on the other three) is now back in the rabbit hutch for the moment. I promised Lily she won’t be exposed to him again. Which is fine, because I don’t particularly want to hatch Lily’s eggs, even with Rox as the father. The eggs that I would want Lily to sit on would be Bebe’s eggs. One BYC member has stated that he suspects that feather picking could be hereditary. Bebe lays as well or better than Lily and Bebe has the blue egg gene which I suspect Rox also has….so the egg colors of Bebe’s off spring would likely be richer than Lily’s and the production as high or higher for whatever portion was inherited from mom.

So while I was gone, both Ice and Robin were in coops by themselves, life was normal for Hester, Priscilla, Lily and Bebe; and Rox was jailed in the rabbit hutch because he is the odd man out.

Rox’s true owner is ready for him to be Coq au vin. Dh would like to rehome him just because he is so spectacularly beautiful. And for the moment, the eggs being laid are most likely fertile. Sooo guess what? If Lily is broody, I will arrange for her to have her own nest and to sit on some fertile eggs.

The weather is in the low 90’s and the chooks are already panting in the heat. I hate to think of fighting the heat like last year. – And so need to research some better alternatives for the care of my flock.

Ice had grown a lot while I was gone. He stays in the Eglu Go.

The 4-layers stay in the Eglu Cube.

Robin stays in the Eglu classic – and when the afternoons get so hot that she is panting I bring her in the house with me and feed her mealworms and we talk things over.

Poor old Rox is back in the rabbit hutch. But with only one solid wall and being adjacent to the East side of the house---he gets shade first and the most wind/breeze.

Rox was fine with the hens for most of the week with the exception of his treatment of Lily. Lily, “the evil white queen:”, who was so cruel to Jet and Bebe when they were just little. Maybe Rox sees into the heart? However, no creature deserves what poor Lily was getting. She is, however a survivor, and she will be fine. Her dirt-bathing picture shows where her huge comb had suffered from holding and pecking, although Rox also grabbed her by her neck feathers…. The other chickens, especially Bebe got far better treatment, and if Bebe said “not tonight, I have a headache” Rox was very respectful—go figure…because both are EEs?

We will try to rehome Rox, to someone who doesn’t have white Leghorns or Ideal 236 or maybe just many more hens than I have…. But first a try for some EE chicks with pea combs, blue egg genes, and slate legs. It would be nice to pass along Rox’s beautiful feathering too.

Speaking of which---we are way up in egg production, up to over 2-dozen per week. I’m setting aside the green ones…. Just incase I have a broody hen on the horizon. I guess I need to turn them, and I guess I should deposit fakes for the ones I’m taking out incase that would inspire Lily to set.

Above, Lily piling on the dirt---some comb injury visible - looking a little like she is fixing to go into that broody trance wouldn't you say?
2012-04-11 - Update on the CLB's - You would think they are the only chickens I have, because I find them soooo facinating... Here's today's photo session of Robin and Ice. Thanks to my niece for holding them, and reducing the blurrs.

He's starting to get sickle-shaped tail feathers, and saddle and hackle feathers...her crest is fuller, and they are both sweet hearts.
2012-04-09 - Problem Solved - Egg shells pulverized in the food processor, mixed with vitamin D3, mixed with layer feed and some water-- ACV added to every watering-- and their shells are great. I guess while I was feeding back the soft shells or the ones that they punctured while getting off--I boosted their protein too. Today, 4 hens and 4 eggs. Bebe my EE is my best layer. Lily my Ideal 236 is a close second. Plenty of eggs to go around.
2012-04-02 - Robin and Ice - You can call me delusional...but I could swear that Robin and Ice and I had a conversation today. I came back fairly late---and had only glanced at them in the morning. Their water had gotten low in the heat and 96% humidity and their feed was emptied. I have smallish containers for feed for them so that the sparrows aren't attracted--but that may NOT be working. I saw sparrows crawling into the other chickens feeder just yesterday evening. We had a little talk about feed and water and chickening....in very high notes. They seem to be growing well....and doing O.K. -- they just aren't 'chicks' any longer. They were pretty complacent about getting meal worms in exchange for being held....even though by this time it was so dark it was getting hard to see the meal worms and the solar night eyes were already blinking.

Meanwhile, the other chickens are doing fine, but Hester Prinn seems to be having a difficulty putting a good shell on her eggs. In fact, today was 5-eggs from 4-hens. But the earliest one may have been laid last night after I put them to bed? Two brown layers had produced shell less eggs. We are fairly flush with eggs now.. So when a irregular egg occurs, it is easy to mix in with the chicken feed and feed the egg back to the flocks.... When I put more effort into Hester's feeding, then she produces a good egg. I think BPRs should lay every-other-day, and they may not be able to get eggs up to par with a daily egg. It mystifies me. Lily and Bebe's eggs are fine. Today was the first day of two 'membrane eggs'-- and it has definitely been Hester who has been having soft shells that she seems to be able to puncture when she gets up to leave the nest. I'm thinking my particular bag of feed was a quality control mishap and it lacks the calcium that they need? Just a strange thing...I guess I need to resolve. There is a lot of oyster shell there...too much maybe? They get chicken egg shells, vinegar in the water---and it seems that yogurt and Vitamin D3 are required by Hester to make a good shell...what gives? Has she become a high-maintenance-chicken???

All my information is now not "up to date". Not my set up, not my main page....nothing. My member page still features Henrietta. I guess it is time some revisions are in order........ but when will time permit? Maybe in May or June.

2012-3-27 - B.O.S.S. Daze - Ah Ha..... I had thought that they always got all the Black Oil Sunflower Seed treats thrown out to them...but nope....Here are some that they have missed. So a crop, to grow, to harvest to feed them later with the ones that they missed.

We're up to 20 eggs per week and we need some new chicken pictures, wouldn't you say?

2012-3-22 - Spring! - We've passed the vernal equinox, and the egg production has increased.

Our winter low was just under a dozen.......
I'm also not sure how accurate my cost-per-dozen is. I think I entered 28.00 per month to cover treats, feed, supplies, wood shavings, medications and coop and run costs as well as chicken purchase prices over the expected life of the equipment and chickens. :O)

Actually I entered erroneously and it is only 82 eggs in the last 30 DAYS, but then again , today's eggs aren't in, so perhaps it is spot on for today. The days in the graph with two eggs from the same hen are typos, that I am unable to correct, but I asked eggzy to enable corrections to egg numbers.

I love these cute egg icons---I think that is what got me hooked on eggzy. Mixed is actually a BPR, I put Hester as mixed so I could tell who was performing better, Hester or Priscilla. Easier for someone with small flock to track than someone with large. (and my computer keys are sticking and K only works if you pound on it.....drat)

I can't help but think if Henrietta were here there would be 5 hens and 6-7 more eggs per week. But I still miss the 'wonder chicken' most for her personality.
2012-03-11 - Crested Cream Legbars. - Friday was a week since we picked them up from Samantha at High View Farm in the Tx. Hill country, and Samantha got them from GreenFireFarms. They were hatched on January 9th. Although very common in the UK, they are fairly rare here in the USA, but that is probably only temporary. When we talk to them in the morning they answer back with a little trill that is extremely endearing. They skitter around so fast that you can easily see their Leghorn background. At two months the little cockerel is practice crowing. It is very cool to know that one is a hen and one a little boy this early on. Her name is Robin and his is Ice.

somehow, I cannot get a picture that will do them justice.....They have a certain matter-of-fact-ness, and air of self assurance about them that is very interesting.

Here is a link to a broody Cream Legbar on a nest. I think it was called screaming hen or something like that---but it does show that the hens will go broody. It is fascinating to discover more about this breed.

so their "Audrey" seems to have a barred crest instead of a black crest like most of the ones in the USA. The breed was developed in the UK , as a derivation from brown Leghorn, Barred Plymouth Rock and Araucana. In the UK the Araucana can have a rump (they have rump and rumpless types) and it has a crest. It never-the-lessl is a blue egg layer. .

Here is a pict of Rox today:

And here is the rest of the crew, playing, scratching and chomping in the clover and grass

Basically all the kids are playing nice together......
2012-03-07 - Whew - Bebe is just fine, today, with no intervention, she laid her normal pullet sized egg -- 1.8oz, actually a medium egg.

We were gone all day--so it was a relief to come home and find Bebe's green in the nest box. Here is an addition to the mystery though, Lily has some egg yolk on the back of her head. Go figure that one out. ??

The other hens are fine, the rooster is fine and the new chooks are fine.

Saturday and Sunday each hen laid an egg. Bebe's on the left were jumbo, then comes Priscilla's, Hester's and on the end Lily's

2012-03-07 - Bebe channels Henrietta. - For the first 19 days of her laying career, she has laid daily. Day 18 and 19 are jumbo eggs. 2.5+oz. Day 20, I saw something hanging from her little behind…which I think was a shell-membrane. Couldn’t catch her for close inspection. Then, it was gone in the pen someplace.

Lily, the-queen-of-the-dinosaurs was subsequently seen to peck at Bebe’s behind..(egg white snack?) and cleaning the poo tray, I found some yolk in the wood shavings.

Caught Bebe, and gave her a warm bath--- and held her for a while. Cleaned the dirty behind, but no egg. (shells or fragments). So I worry. She is perky, eating and traveling around the run/pen as she normally would, so not to worry….maybe.

After her bath, Bebe's soiled rear fluffed up and was sparklingly clean…so Lily had no more interest in Bebe’s butt.

Next day, (yesterday), no egg. So today…I will try that hot towel treatment listed in Gail Damerow’s book Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Alternate warm towels in the microwave, lubricate, probe—and hopefully moist heat will cure it….if it is eggbinding. Of course, should she lay normally, then I would be reinforced in thinking that these two jumbo eggs had used her shell calcium for awhile and that egg had been shell-less. As Bebe expelled it, Lily started investigating (she's always the energetic beak operator). Lily broke the then intact membrane and started eating most of the yolk. Total speculation here...but a possible scenario, knowing my chooks. It's Just easy to fear that 'something is wrong'.

My hope is that Bebe was just being an over-achiever, and showing off her egg prowess to the others.

Just when you think everything is going smoothly, something turns up. I have to admit, Bebe has now replaced the late Henrietta as my favorite of the flock of 4. My worries could easily be needless, and I am 'over engineering'. Perhaps it was a shell-less egg that she got out. She did however spend a period of time in the nest box yesterday---and no results…. So today’s chicken-keeping goal is a careful examination of Bebe.

Hester Prinn's shell problem seems to be gone. Priscilla and she alternate egg days, although they will double up. Lily still a good reliable layer, of course, it is her destiny. Saturday and Sunday-- everyone produced a beautiful egg.

Friday, I got two chicks. They are 8 weeks on the 9th. Pictures to follow...but not today. The winds are predicted to be howling at 30MPH and up --- and thus not a good photo day in the outdoors. However, I need to start capturing their babyhood, because they are growing visibly daily.

2012 -03-02 - Peaceful Integration - With all the shake-ups, loosing Henrietta, playing 'musical coops' with the chooks.... the hens finally are all located in one coop. At last, the 'flocks' are combined. (Meaning the whites and the barred are living together.)

Picture on Top left--- the egg carton looked so pretty when the brown eggs were withdrawn -- Bebe and Lily were laying daily and it alternated: green-white-green-white etc. for a dozen. Then I started putting Priscilla's in. The egg carton looks so pretty with the multi colors.... etc. You know the gig. The condensation on the eggs if formidable. It is in one of our humid seasons....94% humidity. The weatherman said we have had something like 5 3/4 inches of rain. (That is like more than the entire year last year...) There is grazing for the cattle now... One calf even got into the yard yesterday--- while we were gone... Not sure how it got in, but see a broken piece of fence where it got out.

Hester, had been laying jello-eggs/rubber-eggs, not Henrietta, I guess? I'm confused now. The wild birds had swarmed into Hester and Priscilla's coop (Cardinals and Chipping Sparrows) and I think cleaned out their feeders faster than I could keep the feeders filled, so, shell[-problem could be poor management on my part.

Yesterday, after working to boost in calcium in their feed, and insure adequate feed, there was a Hester egg with a paper-thin shell, that was broken and lying at the bottom of the steps. Egg eater? Just broken because it was so thin? Or a predator (mouse? snake?) that somehow got into the run through the weldmesh? I'm hoping that this shell problem can get corrected, and Hester back on line to normal production.

Bebe is channeling the late Henrietta and has laid daily since her first egg on Feb. 15th. You gotta love that little pullet. The eggs are getting larger too. She is at the bottom of the pecking order, but she takes everything in stride. Yea for my little EE.

The BPRs will peck at the white chickens. Lily just crouches down and 'takes it' on the back for a peck or two, then she will scuttle away. Bebe, who is hen pecked by all will sometimes squawk and scuttle away. Since the BPRs out rank the younger chickens, there really isn't a challenge or battle. Somehow, though, one always has a pang of sympathy for the underdog... There have been no dramatic 'chicken fights'.

More regarding the pictures:

Top right, Rox, out for a stroll, and he didn't want to go into his pen that evening, he wanted to go in with the hens.

Middle right and bottom, photographic proof that they are getting on together. I am pleased about that.

Middle left photo a pretty sight in the nest box. The purple egg is a fake, that is easily identifiable, but I think I am going to put some more fakes in there----just incase it was a chicken that got that paper-thin shelled Hester egg....and hopefully a paper-thin shell is a sign that she is 'recovering' her shell making ability. - Days are longer, more vitamin D, calcium boost, the disruption of moving fading from memory. --- Why it didn't affect Priscilla who shared the environment - my guess is because Priscilla is smaller and needs less feed to keep her own metabolism going, thus requires less.

Today's agenda....well, there is an empty coop now. Soooooo maybe get some more chickens.... Of course!

2012-02-21 -I cannot believe that Henrietta has died. What a blow. Dh said that she looked like she didn’t feel too good day-before-yesterday. That day, when I set her down after a mealworm treat she was a bit unsteady on her feet. She hadn’t laid a shelled egg since the end of December, and hasn’t had her usual personality lately. She wasn’t first in line for treats, she didn’t come and peck at your shoe to remind you that she was there…. It has been said that chickens are very good at hiding what ails them. By late afternoon, she had laid what I call a membrane egg, or a rubber egg.

Yesterday, when I went to check the chickens first thing in the morning, Henrietta was laying on her side in the run. By night she had died. Somehow I still cannot believe that she is gone. I’m not sure if it was old-age, Marek’s or something else unknown.

This happened just when I was congratulating the little flock for all being survivors.

Day-before-yesterday, I was checking her out and I was thinking I need to get photos of how good she looks with her new feathering on her head, wings and tail.

I think Henrietta’s "time" was here. She had survived last summer's near-death-experience too, so I'm lucky I had her for 10-months. I don’t know how old she was. My thoughts were that if her body is producing those nice feathers, then she isn’t really ill, is she? My best guess that this was at least her second molt. There may have been signs too, the shell-less eggs, the fact that her last few eggs may have had a little thinner shells. I have heard that older hens have more trouble metabolizing nutrients, so she was old in hen terms. She had even produced an egg in the evening of the day that dh mentioned that she didn’t look well, and I thought it was just trouble with getting the egg out. Membrane egg with no shell. Perhaps she had expelled her shell gland…

Still, I thought she could be one of those old dottering hens that would snooze and totter around for a long while into the future. That just wasn’t her style.

Now the flock consists of 4. I wonder if Henrietta’s a one-in-a-million chicken, (which I suspect IS the case) or if other gold sex-links or Golden Comets would have the same productivity and personality. I figure I am spoiled for life, because there won’t be another chicken like Henrietta. And there is the heart-stabbing specter that Marek's claimed her, and may claim others..... but for now, I'm saying old-age and natural causes.

On the subject of productivity, Bebe actually did lay 7-eggs in a row. As Eggzy predicted due to the algorithm.

Now I have put Bebe and Lily in the Eglu GO and Hester and Priscilla in the Eglu Cube. This is because each set thought that the food was much better in the other set of chicken's environment, so when they were out free ranging and strolled in to the living quarters of the opposite two, I shut the run doors. I'm still planning to combine the ‘flock’. It is an unsettled time, and I think combining the 4 will halt eggs for awhile.

With Henrietta gone as my top-of-the-pecking-order Chicken, I guess a shuffle is about to happen, so why not throw them all into the mix. This may stress them and cut egg production which was just on the rise.

Hester and Priscilla hadn’t laid an egg in a couple of days now--- yesterday and today, and if I recall the day-before-yesterday too…. I figured instead of waiting for the spring solstice, I will worm them now – wish I had done it 3-days ago, since they aren’t laying. I will then have a discard period of 5-days. Then perhaps I will worm the other two---they should be due for a rest by that time…and we will still have eggs to eat by alternating the worming by egg color.

I’m still numb, and expect to see or hear Henrietta any time I am in the yard. And I know that Priscilla and Hester are looking for their flock-mate.

2012-02-17 - Bebe’s Eggs – Bebe began laying on 2/15, and has lain daily since. Yea for Bebe. I wonder if it is because she shares coop space with Lily who lays about 6-eggs-a-week? In their world, that is the correct chicken behavior.

Egg production is picking up:

Interesting the algorithm that Eggzy must use to show Bebe at 7 eggs per week, while she has only laid 3-eggs in her life…but she has produced daily todate, so she is three for three. I think it must take the number of eggs divided by the number of days--- to some extent. For my Eggzy stats, I switched Hester to 'mixed' so I can tell by chicken who is laying...otherwise I would show Plymouth Rock laying more per week and not know who is less productive.

Now, about the color…what a subject! Luckily, F. Decmar for the British Araucana Club, somehow developed an Egg Colour Chart. Subsequently, it made its way to the internet along with matching color charts for Araicana Club of America and Ameraucana Club of America. The charts dropped their ‘u’ crossing the Atlantic and are now color charts.

Soooo I think that Bebe’s egg is between the C9 and C10 and dh thinks it’s C13. But since monitors, printers and printer papers all differ—and paper print outs are reflected light where computer screens are illuminated light--- its comparing apples and oranges. Never-the-less, it is nice to be able to have a firm color in your mind, and I so appreciate the work of F. Decmar and the breed clubs for codifying egg shell colors. It is just another part of the fun. Oh here is a color chart link: http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGA/Arau/BRKArauEgg.html

Today's Eggs: Left to right, Bebe, Lily (back) Priscilla (front) and Hester

I guess that means that Bebe has the blue egg gene, and a brown egg gene in there somewhere. If I ever want to start an EE breeding program she would be a good hen.

Another view of the same eggs (today's are the front 4), and I photoshopped a black star on Bebe's 3.

Dh doesn’t agree when I anthropomorphize the chooks, but Bebe has been acting pretty proud of herself these last three days. She has that same get down to business approach that Henrietta has. Or rather I should say had. It is so interesting too---to now have a little flock that has what is probably normal production for chickens. The BPRs, Ideal 236 and Bebe have all laid an egg for the past 2-days, but on the 15th, only little Bebe produced an egg, and it was her first. On the 11th for the very first time ever since getting chickens, I got zero, none, nada, zip, nimnochka, eggs. Can you believe that? Again, the converse is how prolific Henrietta was, because you could count on an egg a day.

Back to bragging on Bebe, she was hatched right around September 8th, therefore, a day short of 23 weeks when she produced egg number 1. The first two were 1.3 and some odd ounces, but today’s was over 1.5 so she has already graduated to laying size “small”.
Here’s a link to my page with the egg size chart on it. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/charts-and-quotes

Some folks wait a lot longer for their Easter Egger to begin laying...but I suppose it all depends partially upon the background mix that produced the EE in the first place. I know someone with EEs from this same age group - hatch date, hatchery, and their's haven't started as of yet. Bebe deserves a mealworm, wouldn't you agree?

2012-02-15 - News Flash!!! - Bebe;s first egg today. Picture and more information when time permits.
2012-02-14 - Goin' Courtin' - (Cue song from 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers') Here Rox visits with the old hens through the Weld Mesh:

Rox asks for Henrietta's Phone number.

The rooster is so sweet and shy, and such a great crower. He really is an asset, even if he can't lay eggs. Maybe some day in the future we will want the pitter patter of little chicken feet, but not at present. Rox dances fabulously and furiously for Lily, Hester, and lately Bebe. I'm hoping Bebe is near that first egg---but who knows?

Henrietta is less sharp and personable than she was. Now she is more like a little old lady--- I go to the old chickens with a treat of meal worms, and by the time she has figured out that I have meal worms, Hester and Priscilla (mostly Hester) have gobbled them all up.

Big-big-BIG news, and wonderful, is that Feb. 11th (3-days ago) passed the 12th week of Marek's exposure, and not only are there 5 alive and well chickens, but there is also a rooster around.

I still have to engineer the coop combination. It's been cold and windy/rainy--- out, so I haven't been spending as much time with the chooks as I would like. Add to that we have just been super busy lately. Speaking of rain, we are in hopes that there will be feed for the cattle. The hay field, the clover patch and one pasture that still needs some fence repair are the locations for the herds when we feed up the very last...and I mean last of our hay when we feed the cattle THIS week. Then it is all gone, none, zilch, zip, nada. It is like driving up to the edge of the cliff. If these rains hold, and if the weather is warm enough, the cattle can get what they need from forage. We may just make it. Remember that 1 1/2 inches we got long ago? We did cut hay from the 33 acre hay patch, and got a skimpy 35 bales (about 1/2-ton bales). Usually that patch produces around 200 bales. But that skimpy 35-bales bought us another week and a half of cattle hay.... so never doubt that miracles can happen. I think that we are approaching our 'frost free' date here. Now---if we have enough rain in 2012 to replenish our hay and our watering ponds, we will have survived the drought. We are a thread away--- somehow, I think we came through and we will make it. We will also have an amazing wildflower season this year....and this county is famous for wildflowers.

Happy Valentines Day!

2012-02-07 - Musical Coops - Remember the game 'musical chairs' where there is one fewer chair than the number of people circling the chairs? When the music stops everyone grabs a seat the person left standing is 'out', one chair is removed and the game continues untill two people circle one chair and the one who gets it when the music stops is the winner?.

Lily and Bebe love to visit the big coop when the three old chickens are out foraging. And the old chickens like to go in and eat the feed in the coop Lily & Bebe live in. Today I closed the wire doors on Lily and Bebe in the big coop and got the others in the coop where Lily and Bebe vacated. All part of the integration plan. They say it is easier to put the old chickens in with the new chickens. So when, toward the end of the week, I combine them for sleeping quarters, the old ones will be going in with the new ones. (unless they re-sort themselves while they are free ranging and I don't get them in where I want them)

The Eglu Classic is kind of dwarfed by Rox. Roosters just need more room than hens. Maybe they need strutting space? I had three hens in the same coop/run arrangement, and they did fine. One rooster seems too big for it.

By the end of this week I plan to move Rox into the larger arrangement of coop/run (Eglu GO with extended run) Henrietta, Hester and Priscilla in with Bebe and Lily in the Eglu Cube, and empty the Eglu Classic for a good scrubbing. Then use the classic for an added nest box space, because there will be congestion in the Cube nest box. Not because there isn't enough space, but because mine will all lay one at a time and squawk if someone is on the nest box when they need it.

My 12th week and no signs of Mareks, so it looks like I will be going into the spring with 5-females and 1 lonesome male for a total of 6 resident chickens.

2012-01-29 - Rox Rocks!

In one of those cases where the sexers got it wrong, the supposedly pullet "Roxianne" turned out to be a boy. He’s really gorgeous. Right now he is living here. I see Slate legs, beautiful plumage and small comb. Is that a pea comb? He has a crow that adds so much to the atmosphere around here. But…. he may be a homicidal maniac. At any rate, both Hester and Lily love him, and run over to his coop/run when I let them out to forage.

Speaking of the others….

Lily and Bebe are the same size now, and Lily is calm and sweet. Lily is my nearly daily egg-layer now. Henrietta is indeed, a 'spent hen', I think.... She hasn't laid all month to speak of (that shell-less egg---does that one count?) She should have a proper 'retirement party.

Henrietta and Hester were enjoying the dirt so much today---- I had to snap a shot.

The above view of Henrietta shows her head is feathering...she is just deep in that dirt and both of them loving every second.

Not to be left out, here is today's photo of Priscilla:

Today was a 3-egg day. I'm considering that the current maximum possible until Bebe starts laying. I ask her on a daily basis---"when will you start giving me those blue eggs?" Do you think she will get the power-of-suggestion?

And this marks the 11th week since I saw signs of Marek's. Very sobering. Get through this week and next and supposedly we are in the clear, although I have heard that it attacks hens at the point of lay. It will be time to pick up where I left off 11-weeks ago and integrate the "old" and the "new" chickens. I suspect that at least for the near term, Mr. Rox will be imprisoned, but he has been on the premises a week now, so when I let him out to free-range, he should know where he is supposed to go "home", but will he? My plan is that his free-ranging will be in a different time-window from the hen's. Rox has done the rooster dance in his run...with Lily or Hester on the other side of the wire....

2012-01-19 - Feather Stubs - She is looking a little 'rough' now, but I am very much looking forward to her new feathering. Some close-ups of her face are listed here on 2011-09-17, this time she really IS getting feathers on her bald patches. Quills on her neck too.

2012-01-12 - Pin Feathers - Henrietta is getting pin feathers on the part(s) of her head that are bald. She was happily in the nest box today, and later I found a shell-less egg. Still later, she was sitting on Priscilla's egg. -- And I messed her up, put Pris's egg in my pocket, then forgot about it and later broke it, so only Lily's egg made it to the fridge today. Perhaps you'd say Friday the 13th came on the 12th today.

My blog is now disconnected from 'my page' - wonder if the update to the forum will eventually re-connect the stuff. I guess in the new navigation, everything is accessible from the profile.

2012-01-09 - Mystery Solved - Maybe ---> Today piles of red feathers in the run and in the nest box. So Henrietta visited the nest box --(It was Priscilla who laid today)-- I think Henrietta is finally going a little farther forward with her molt. When I thought that she was molting before she didn't stop laying -- and now Maybe she had taken my advice that it is time for a set of new feathers. As always, time will tell. Rained 1 7/8 " --- some of the dry watering holes are beginning to fill up. But only just beginning. Still it is a start.
Henrietta's timing may be a little off-- Thursday''s forecast is 29-degrees. I hope she continues to hold on to enough feathers to get through the cold snap.

2012-01-08 - Henrietta stops laying. It was 246 eggs last year, and two soft shells I didn't count. And that was the end of Henrietta-the-wonder-chicken's laying. She hasn't laid this year. Of course that reduces the egg production around here drastically, we are now 7-eggs-per-week less. Lily, my Ideal 236, has taken over as the one who lays the most---laying 2-3 days then taking a day off. Hester and Priscilla continue to alternate so it is still close to a dozen a week. Has Henri retired? Started to seriously molt, is she a spent hen? She has endeared herself to us so much that she has a retirement home here for the rest of her natural life.
Bebe has just about outsized Lily, and they share a 'quarantine' coop till February rolls around. Henrietta, Hester and Priscilla don't seem quite so alarmed at seeing the Lily & Bebe when they stroll past them. (How successful is my quarantine?) Although Bebe continues to shed fluffly feathers, I have not seen Lily peck at her, but rather the reverse, Bebe wants to peck everyone and everything.
This morning I shot a raccoon. It was a 14 pounder, and I felt very badly to kill such a beautiful specimin of wildlife, but it was in the yard, and the chickens are in the yard. Sooner or later there would have been a problem I suspect.
Here is a picture of Lily and Bebe, and of Henrietta the grande dame, lady of leisure, possibly spent hen, retired matriarch of my chicken keeping.

2012-01-02 - Happy New Year! Now it is 2012 - Reviewing what is behind, Henrietta produced something like 247 eggs-to-date since her arrivel. Astonishing.

What lies ahead: more weeks of quarantine for the two exposed to Marek's, then the subsequent introduction to each other to share coop space. -- Then awaiting the (hopefully surviving) Bebe's first egg. And the 1-year anniversary of keeping chickens by April.

Updates: eggs have diminished to just about 20 per week. For the past 3-days the Remarkable Henrietta has taken the day off. The two BPRs alternate and Lily skips about a day per week. Everyone seems well enough. Lettuce remains the top favorite treat, followed by human leftovers such as cooked spaghetti, and other foods. I'm feeding cranberries and finished up some pomegranets in hopes that the foods would have imune system boosting powers.
Time for a little winter vacation for the chickens. Our temperatures at night reach in the 40's and the days are in the 60's at present. From time to time in this season we have an occasional temperature dip as low as 16-degrees, but at present no weather like that is in sight. There are some patches of what we call 'rescue grass" growing, and there are areas of clover up--- Wild birds have become abundant here, and fly through the weldmesh wires to get at the chicken's feed.

2011-12-22 - Solstice! Time for the days to get longer. But although it is the official beginning of winter here--- it will be colder and dark for awhile. A big 2.5 inches of rain today. That is important for us. We may have had some water run into the stock watering tanks...but still not enough, we haven't recovered from the drought. Today each layer produced an egg, so it is a 4-egg-day.
Bebe decided to go in with Lily, and I think Bebe is finishing her mini-molt because she is now dropping big wing feathers here and there.
Saturday will be 6-weeks since I first noticed a symptom of Marek's disease. So if my calculations are right it is 6 more weeks that could be the incubation period. Everyone seems to be doing well... I thought that perhaps Henrietta-the-wonder-hen was loosing a little weight -- so I popped her on the scale, and she is just about 4-pounds. Her eggs are 2.5 ounces and up usually. She may look a little scruffy---but I have yet to see her equal in egg production.
I keep wondering if my BPRs are BPRs, and most likely they are a hatchery mix-- they have white/pink legs and beaks not yellow as the breed should have. My egg production is still hovering over 20 eggs per week. Best producer is, of course, Henrietta, then comes Lily my Ideal 236, and then Priscilla with Hester close behind. Their respective eggzy rates are 6.65, 5.somethng and 4 and 4 with the decimals pusihing it up past the 20 eggs-per-week.
Merry Christmas to all----and to all a good night!

2011-12-14 - The Cluck of approval!

Although it looks like a two-headed chicken, it is Hester and Henrietta side-by-side on the roosting sticks -- back behind them Priscilla investigates the grass.
At last, the old chickens have new accommodations. Lastnight after dark, I moved each of the three into the Eglu Cube. The egg port is a very easy way to put the chickens in when you are the one doing it all solo. (Three chickens, three trips in the dark…etc.) This morning they woke up in the new location.
Next morning for Henrietta, I picked up twice and put in through the egg port door, and the second time, she settled in and clucked very contentedly. (There was a fake egg in the new nest area, so I am sure she knew the drill)… Henrietta laid her normal egg today.
I am expecting a housing-adjustment egg slow down… but by afternoon, Priscilla decided it was a good time to lay an egg, and she figured out the ladder, and scuttled her self up into the nesting part of the Cube interior and spent some time there too---enjoying the new environment.
This frees the Eglu Classic, the smallest of the coop/attached-run arrangement I have – where the three were housed, to put Bebe in, so she will not be harassed by Lily. It also means that if I put leftover scrambled eggs or treats or anything in the feed dish, Bebe will get some---rather than Lily eating all the eggs etc. Now the big downside is that Lily in the Eglu Go is all alone, and Bebe in the Eglu Classic is all alone. There is not another chicken to help supply warmth in either coop. I moved the runs side-by-side so they can see each other. I doubt if there is any love lost between them, because Lily was always being so very dominant…but Bebe, had stress from Lily’s mean streak before, and now has stress from being the only chicken in her coop/run. My continuing Marek’s Disease research indicates that stress is a factor in the immune system succumbing to Marek’s.. I am not sure which stressor is worse. Choose yor poison, I guess. I’m hoping that by insuring that Bebe can eat the feed I intend for her, and still see Lily nearby it will keep them away from my older chickens for the rest of the time that Marek’s virus could be incubating inside one of the two who shared feed, water and quarters with Jet.
Henrietta, Lily and Priscilla each laid an egg today, Hester took the day off.

The picture of Henrietta is from the day she laid her 230th egg since her April arrival here. I took her inside for a mealworm reward and put her on the top of the old freezer in the Laundry room. She was up close and personal to a glass window for the first time and explored it with a little peck.

2011-12-05 - Yesterday 4-eggs from 4-hens in 4-colors. Perfect. Today Lily takes the day off, and the three brown layers produce. Our temperatures are getting cooler, and the days are still shortening. The chickens have less 'awake-time' to ingest, and need to use some of the energy they ingest to keep warm, so.....I expect that egg production will go down. Right now Eggzy scores 21.68 eggs per week. All of the chickens are laying over 2-ounce eggs now, even Lily.
Bebe is in a funny growth time. I think she is at establishing her place in the pecking order or something. I know that she searches for Jet, or at least she did.... Bebe when I let her free range will run furiously toward something, like one of the dogs....and get ready for a chest bump -- and get ignored. She will run flapping her wings toward Lily--and stop short....as if at the last minute she decided better of it. Too bad she doesn't have a chicken at exactly her stage of development. I also tell her that she should work on laying a nice baby-blue or sky-blue egg come next spring when she will be old enough. Not a Vulcan mind-meld, but a chicken mind-meld.
Only a matter of days and the great chicken adventure of 2011 will be over.

2011-12-03 - Today was the first day since April that I didn't get a brown egg. Only the white egg from Lily. All three of my originals took the day off. When they do this, the next day's egg is usually quite large, so we will see what tomorrow brings. Yesterday it rained all day. At the house 2+" at the old cattle pens 1.8", various amounts in other rain guages. So the chooks spent most of the time outdoors---under their run covers, but all in all it was pretty soppy. Now we are expected to have high winds.
http://www.heifer.org/ is a charity that allows the gift of livestock to the needy. For twenty-dollars, someone in need can get a whole flock of chicks. It sounds like a really good way to "teach them to fish". Everyone who realizes the benefits of having chickens would see the connection. Somehow, this Christmas, I am going to give a flock of chickens. What could be better?

2011-11-30 - The Evil White Queen – Of course you know the joke that an Evil Chicken lays deviled eggs, right? Not sure exactly where I heard that one. Is Lily evil? There really isn’t good or evil in the animal kingdom, there is only instinct, and fight or flight….or is there?.
Today Lily was after Bebe, not because there wasn’t enough food/feed, and not because Bebe was in her territory or in her face…but because Lily was channeling her inner dinosaur. Lily went after Bebe, who ran, but Lily pecked her dead center of the back. Bebe scuttled away squawking, and a feather flew out. The feather was on the grass, and Lily eyed it for a bit, then picked it up and swallowed. Seems to be a creepy sequence of events. Poor Bebe is trapped in a coop and run with a bird that wants to eat her alive. I do not think from her behavior that Lily acertained a cause and effect relationship between the peck and the subsequent feather on the grass..... IMO
Fortunately Bebe is quick and agile and can out run, or dodge Lily, who is also very quick and agile. Obviously it isn’t a good situation. In my mind I’m beginning to think, despite Lily’s elegance, beauty and egg laying ability, she could also become chicken soup. Or perhaps go to live elsewhere, the people who kept her while I was gone thought that she was an amazingly beautiful bird, and a great egg layer.
I re-sterilize the pet carriers that had housed and transported Jet, knowing that they are probably filled with Marek’s virus. I dump everything and spray with Oxine. Tomorrow will be another scrub and another spray with Oxine (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral spray). And aggressive Lily will spend some time in chicken prison for her high crimes and misdemeanors.
Next, I come back from the Oxine efforts, and there are Lily and Bebe resting side by side in the run as if nothing had ever happened. Ahhh chickens!
Obviously Lily is not content, she needs--- more protein? She is at 20% now. She has about 36 sq ft. to share with Bebe. I wonder if an acre would be enough for that chicken. Yesterday, I let her out to free range despite my intention NOT to, and she covers a lot of territory, and is very aggressive about scratching, digging, and eating the grass. – But I have to keep her away from my other chickens until about mid-February.
Meanwhile, my other three are so docile, friendly (or I should say conditioned to associate me with treats, food and water) that they run to the edge of the netting fence even when they are free-ranging, and they see me. Today one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks even flew a few feet off the ground, which was totally astonishing because her wing is clipped. It was quite an interesting thing to see a 4-5 pound chicken flying to greet you. They are going to get a new coop arrangement shortly.
Bebe is no slouch, she was out free-ranging and getting a break from Lily while the dogs were laying around watching the chickens. Bebe likes the dogs, runs toward them and was even pecking at Ginger’s tail—which startled Ginger…but Ginger just moved away. Bebe really has gone through a growth spurt, and she is nearly as big as Lily, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she grew to be bigger than Lily.
Lily, may not be a chicken that adapts well to confinement. But Lily lives in an area where there are numerous predators, so she will have to learn to like it.

2011-11-26 -Thanksgiving - Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Hope that when you count your blessings that you have many, many, many to count.
Cranberries are a traditional food for the holiday, and I discovered, to my surprise, that my flock loves cranberries. Usually they are a little suspicious of something that they have never seen, but they adapted to this fruit and seemed to relish it.
Henrietta is completely recovered from her 'limp' and is running and flying (or should I say flapping) with the best of them. Hester and Priscilla seem to alternate egg-laying days, however, both produced eggs today. Lily, sometimes exhibits agressive behavior--- Just cannot figure her out, compared to the mellowness of the other coop. I suspect that she would really love to be out to free range, but that is the coop where Jet was, and so I am treating it as if it is contaminated with Marek's. No cross association between the two, and no free-ranging to control (to the degree that no free ranging can control it) where chicken dander will fall/fly. Bebe seems to have undergone a growth spurt, she is doing her 10-week molt (how fast the little ones grow!) and has light fluffy feathers carried loosely and based with a fine white feathering that seems like marabou. Off floats a feather toward the other coop--- OH NO !!! Hopefully not contageous. Contrast with Lily very smooth non-fluffy feather, carried tightly, very sleek, very dense. Ho ho--- both Lily and Bebe, wormed lastnight with Cydectin, purple pour on, on their skins and whte feathers. Today marks the end of the second full week since I noticed a problem with Jet--- 10 weeks to go. :O(

2011-11-22 - Necropsy – What a sad fate for little Jet. She was only about 17-18 weeks old, I’m guessing. First, her left wing was drooping, I thought that a horrid gust of 40MPH prairie wind had knocked her off her perch- that was on Saturday, when I checked on them at night. Sunday, I caught her, and upon examination the left wing seemed to have no injury. Then, the right wing began to drag, she seemed to loose her coordination. I isolated her on Sunday fearful of Marek’s. She had food and water Sunday, and Monday, but she wasn’t getting better, and I had to be gone most of Monday because we worked cattle. Tuesday I decided to drive her over to the A&M Veterinary Diagnostic Testing lab, because I feared if she did have Marek’s, then all the others were at risk.
There were no tumors, so it took cellular level diagnostics and the length of time for cultures to get the results back. The lab confirmed Mareks by phone, they have yet to email me the Necropsy report.

Poor Jet. Even when I took her over, they remarked how beautiful she was, and by that time she was showing (in her pet carrier), the classic one leg forward, one leg backward symptom. If there is any comfort it is that she didn’t suffer long. But that isn’t much comfort.

such a beautiful pullet, so much potential, so smart, friendly -- what a loss.

The incubation period for Marek’s, I read, is 4- to 12-weeks. One week gone. If all my chickens are alive in 11 weeks, then they were resistant. Lily may have enough Leghorn genetics to be resistant, Bebe, being so young, probably the most likely to get it. The older ones, maybe past the age of getting it, but in the next few months I could be down to zero chickens.

I had not combined the two coops, and now I will keep them apart another 11-weeks.

To memorialize Jet, I’m putting a picture of her as my Avatar.

There is a poster, cicene mete
, on the forum who dealt with Marek’s and I am going to follow the approach that they took. I appreciate that they posted their experience. If any other chicken shows signs then I will remove that chicken as sad as it would be. It will be just in hopes that some might be spared. Perhaps, I will start a page specifically on Marek’s and eventually post it here.

The chickens kicked up a racket today and dh said ‘what’s going on?’ - I said ‘go check’, he did, but didn’t find anything, until later…it must have been hiding in the grass and they were quite perturbed about it…..a large snake. But this time only a chicken snake or ‘rat’ snake as they are sometimes called. No eggs inside the snake. One should DEFINITELY listen to one’s chickens when they are hollering.

In the meantime—between now and 11-weeks from now, I will try to enjoy the chickens as much as possible, continue to brag on them….try to prevent stress, and hope for the best, If all are alive and well in 11 weeks, then a sigh of relief…and continue to enjoy their chicken antics. .

211/217 is the number of eggs from Henrietta divided by the number of days that I have had her. 97.2% productivity. She may have laid an egg the first full day I had her, because I let her out to free range, clueless that she wouldn’t know where she was supposed to lay….but I never found (or even looked for) an egg. She laid the day after her near-death experience, then skipped, because she was fighting for life instead of ovulating on that particular day….. And so, through the horrendous ‘hottest summer on record’ she has continued her stellar performance.


Her cheesecake (made of cottage cheese, yogurt, and some oatmeal with knox gelatin to make a firm) cheesecake and a meal worm trimming is pictured here along with her 200th egg party.

So, the Chicken adventure of 2011 may end very sadly, or some or all of the survivors may make it to the Chicken adventure of 2012.

2011-11-11 - Camping Trip – we camped for the week, and they camped out too. Some mischievous children visiting the people they were staying with let the chickens out of their secure run, in order to pet them. I think when the children’s father chased the chickens down for recapture; he injured my prize hen, who is now limping. Moral: put a lock on the run door, not just a latch!
Henrietta laid a daily egg, which put her at 200 on November 10th, and 201 on November 11th. She deserves a cake. She deserves 200 bonus mealworms. She deserves something exceptional! She never missed a beat, and I’m not certain exactly which day her foot/leg was hurt.
Hester and Priscilla laid eggs fairly well during their sojourn. Bebe spent the week growing and definitely working on her muff. Jet worked on comb and wattles, just the faintest red is beginning to show. Lily laid an egg each day except one.
On Friday they were moved home and resettled, in reassembled coops and runs. Sunday to Friday, they produced 20 eggs between the four layers, and they still have Saturday to add a couple more to the count. Moving today was not a problem for them---each produced an egg today.
There is nothing quite like being at home, and having your tucker after that journey.


2011-11-02 - Howdy! The first time Henrietta saw the other chickens she walked away in disgust with outraged sqwaking that continued for quite awhile. Today, the three "old" chickens were out free ranging and I was in the yard. I looked over and the three old ones were looking curiously at the three "new" ones. Shortly later, Henrietta and Lily were facing off (wire mesh between them). Henrietta puffed up and brought herself to her full height, then they both did some head ducks....and then Henrietta fluffed up again to show the newcomer just who is the top chicken around these parts. Then I called Henrietta, Hester and Priscilla over for mealworms. Weighed them today---and Henrietta and Hester were 2-ounces lighter than last month--but they had already laid for certain. So I think that they weigh the same, each of them weighs in at about 2-ounces for the egg, Well Henrietta 2.5 ounces but the scale I weigh the chickens on isn't THAT accurate to pick up 1/2 oz. Priscilla weighed 2-ounces heavier, but she hadn't yet laid her egg. It was a 4-egg day.
Henrietta is about 8-9 eggs away from my 200-egg goal--- And wouldn't you know that I need to move the whole kit, coop and kabodle away for someone to care for the 6 while we go on a camping trip. Do you think that the wonder chicken can overcome that obstacle? Will she make egg #200 sometime around November 10th, or will the new digs mess up the prolific laying...I guess time will tell.

2011-11-01 -Eggs

Eleven hours and four minutes of daylight, and I thought that my chooks would slow down laying. In fact, yesterday was only 2-eggs. So today by 11 all four had laid their egg. Are they champion layers or what?
Here Lily looks at a pile of eggs. While I was wiping the condensation off when I took them out of the ‘fridge, I dropped one, or there would have been another one in the photo. Maybe because I cooked it up and fed to the hens yesterday, they all produced eggs early on today. Lily started laying on the 20th of October. I have already given away 2, there are these 6, the one I dropped and the one from today---that’s 10 eggs in just that short time. Her first egg was 1.5 ounces and something, today’s was 1.9 ounces and some. I’m impressed with her ability to lay eggs.
Hester laid a light brown with white spots. I’m thinking she is the one who laid the light brown with blue spots and the light brown with dark brown spots last spring. For her brown egg with white spots, (and she has done this several times) I thought that the brown bloom was just omitted, but on close examination, the bloom does exist beneath the white spots. Hester has also laid the light brown with the lavender colored spots. She decorates her eggs for me.
So today I have the perfect flock once again. Four hens laid four eggs of four colors.
And then there is the egg weighing. Why I started doing this, I now remember is because Henrietta was laying some ginormous eggs---and I thought that I needed to verify. They seemed as big as duck eggs. Big, big eggs. Then I kind of got hooked on it…so now I just weigh before storing in the fridge.
Knock on wood, perhaps I shouldn’t brag on them so much----Let’s see, it is November now, and the days continue to shorten until December 21st – Winter Solstice, then they begin to lengthen. I originally wanted chickens for the eggs----and I got good layers.
Anyone in another climate reading this---our days are in the low 80’s and nights in the 60’s. Thursday a cold front moves through and the night will go down to 41-degrees so they say—but once the front moves through –back to mild temperatures.
We will get a cutting of hay…maybe not many bales….but still some…. Therefore our cattle have a better chance of making it through the winter.
And speaking about forage----my new chickens love grass best in the world…as if it is the best treat the world has ever seen. I’m thinking ---if you could take this yard down to the dirt---that would be just fine with me--- Go for it chickens. .


2011-10-30 - Halloween fun time. Mental gymnastics for Halloween:
Red Beret + Ballerina = Lily
Hot Rod flames + a Raven = Jet
A chick + a Dove = Bebe
Mental costumes for the others:
A red cape and an emblem on her chest like Superman, except it would be an 'H' for Henrietta the Wonder Chicken
A large, bright red, Gothic font 'A' on her chest for Hester Prinn to resemble her namesake in ‘The Scarlet Letter’
A pilgrim hat and a big white round deep collar like the pilgrim pictures show----for Priscilla Alden. – Maybe next Halloween I will make pictures of the older ones.
Moved the netting fence (play pen) and the Eglu Classic and attached run to the other side of the house….opposite the side where the owls are. But still keeping them penned up when I am not there. I think we project our own freedom needing urges on the chickens….they seem o.k. and even went into the wire run although they were free to be out (only have shade inside the run at the moment) while I was letting them play in the pen.
If Henrietta goes broody, I need to arrange for another place for Hester and Priscilla to lay---hadn’t quite thought that out thoroughly.
Lily was flopping in a dust bath beside Jet and Bebe and they were kicking up dust like crazy just yesterday afternoon.
I’m going to move the two pens closer and closer…..and hopefully they will see each other and get used to other chickens around. Then, yes, I am getting a new larger coop arrangement. (Eglu Cube) and will combine them. The Eglu Classic will be Henrietta’s broody house, if she goes deeper into broodiness.
Yikes, next week a camping trip and now I need to also arrange to have the chickens taken care of in my absence. Then after THAT---if it isn’t too late, tooo cold, too awful, I will talk to Henrietta about her egg sitting prospects.

2011-10-28 - Right now my BYC status is "overrun with chicknes" maybe that's true--- We are getting plenty of eggs. Today was another 4-egg day. Lily is proving to be a good layer, living up to her reputation as an Ideal 236.

Of course there is no way to be overrun with eggs, right?
Yesterday Henrietta was moving an egg -- she somehow manaaged to get it out of the coop and must have dropped it against the plastic edge as she moved it. I picture a hard hit, right on the end of the egg. This idea is based on the fact that the egg was in the run just outside the pop door. The dent broke the outer shell but not the membrane. It could have been there for a little while -- it surprised me quite a lot. None of the three in that coop tried eating the innards of the egg. Yesterday I started putting 'fake' eggs in the nest for each one of Henrietta's that I took out. So by today there were two fake eggs. Tonight when I went to shut up the coop, one of the fake eggs was outside in nearly the same spot as the one that was broken yesterday. Henrietta IMO is trying to set up housekeeping some safe place where her eggs won't continue to disappear after she lays them. She was investigating the old plastic dog house quite avidly just the other day---sizing it up. Now by trying to encourage her broodiness, I am as the Texas saying goes "fixin' to" turn off her egg laying prowess. What am I thinking? And I don't need any more chickens. (but there is no way to know for sure she would/will go broody, no way to know that the eggs I get will be good by the time they are here, no way to know that Henrietta would set for the full 21 days...etc. all the odds. But in about 13 more eggs she will have reached her (my) goal of 200 eggs since April....so a deal is a deal..even to a chook.
My three new chickens enter week 4 of quarantine tomorrow. Pictures of my three new ones are on my home page. Seems like I can only get lousey pictures of Lily. Lily is 'flighty' as you would expect a Leghorn to be. Jet is a typical black sexlink, and Bebe my Easter egger, is now 7-weeks old. She is fast like a skitter, Jet is fast too---but is smart enough to know when she gets out to get back in fairly quickly. In the vacinity, there is now a nest of owls. About 3 giant live oak trees away from the chicken area. -- So I really can not let the little ones out to free range. Funny thing in that homepage picture, is that Bebe is being held like she is a pistol, and it turns out she is a pistol. She has doubled maybe tripled in size since that picture of her at 4-weeks. Trying to figure their current ages. Lily started to lay on Oct 20th so must be in the neighborhood of 20 weeks at that time. Jet is somewhere between Lily and Bebe, so she may have been 8 or 12 weeks when I got her. (MaryAnn at Blue Star Ranch gets a new batch of chicks every 4-weeks.).
My first three chickens, so calm, so docile, so friendly. Run up to me in their big netting-fence pen. Spend most of the time 'out'. (Yesterday I left and forgot to put them back IN). My newest three will eat meal worms and treats from my hand, very cautiously. Wonder if in 6 months they will be as calm and "friendly" as my older bunch.

2011-10-20 - Congratulations to Henrietta, Hester, Priscilla and me! We have successfully passed our 6-month milestone of chicken keeping. Dh said that they produced 2 eggs yesterday, 3 Tuesday and 3 Monday, and they produced 3 on Sunday---so they certainly aren't "suffering" in my absence. It has been an amazing 6-months of raising those fabulous little birds. I guess too, my approach started with research, so I have had chickens inside my head for about 1-year now. I have heard of some folks that buy the day-old chicks and then figure out the coop arrangement, what feed to get etc. My approach and that of my friend is get it all ready and set up---and then find the chickens to populate their environment. I did bring home chickens without having feed though, because I wasn't certain in time to get them exactly what age I would end up getting, and for us---it isn't a quick matter to sashay out to the feed store... and are they even open when I have time. The day we brought the three home was horiffically hot---and so it seemed best to make no stops. The person I got them from was running out of feed (and possibly money) so I couldn't purchase some there Those were my Craigslist chickens......
Speaking of purchasing chickens...I want to put in a plug for Blue Star Ranch in Bellville TX. MaryAnn has a large selection of chickens in multiple ages, and is as excited about chickens and helping beginners as we beginners are about getting chickens. That's where I got my new three, and they are now 1/2 way through their quarantine.
The most "scary" part of the past six months was the awful heat and the threat it posed to my chooks. The heat was relentless and it was day in and day out -- luckily the nights did cool to give some relief..but it was a rough patch. That heat threat exceeds that of health problems they had when I first brought them home. So -- happy 6-month anniversary to us...
Another Congrats! "Lily" my Ideal 236 laid her very first egg today! Yea Lily! too bad I'm not there to fuss over her.

2011-10-14 - Hester Prinn, a chicken with pulchritude, is the largest of my three “old chickens”. She is a somewhat cooperative, very anxious to feed creature, and quick to grab treats from my hand, or from the beaks of the other two. She is pretty and a little less “friendly”. Here is a picture or two of pretty Hester.
Henrietta (the wonder chicken) sitting on an egg that was left in the nesting box by Priscilla, is the other picture. (Of course she had laid earlier that day, but I had collected her egg) It is taken looking straight down, which makes her upright tail look a little different, but it has its characteristic raggedy feather edged look. Henrietta had just deposited some wood chips on her back. There are twenty-some more eggs to go before I work full scale to have her “go broody”. Thinking fake eggs would be a good step in that direction. Sadly,I didn’t even follow my own good advice and set ISO for 400, she was moving her head and playing with wood shavings, so the head is slightly blurred.
My three new chickens, still in quarantine, are Lily, Jet and Bebe . A leghorn, a black sex-link and an Easter Egger added to the family. More about them as time goes on. Breaking a few rules with this bunch, different ages and different breeds, but by the end of the first week, all three were in their coop resting in the late afternoon. Hopefully everyone adjusts. The smallest, Bebe, just skitters around eating and peeping and avoids Lily and hovers beside Jet. Lily the oldest feels like she has come down in the world from her spacious surroundings previously. Jet, a target of Lily’s dominance will run to me for solace and get a meal worm as a reward. She is a smart chicken.
After being stowed back in the garage, the live trap is now installed by the chicken pens, once again, due to a report of a large raccoon in the vicinity. Last night, although the trap was baited and set, the bait was still in the trap by morning---no predator. An article about an Eglu Cube in the state of Vermont that withstood an encounter with a black bear, reassures me of the safety of Eglu products---but I don’t want predators around and about the chickens, period. I put the article on the page about Eglu,”my friend’s cool cube.”
As luck would have it, I need to travel next week and have to turn over chicken keeping to dh. It is going to be a long week for me.

2011-10-10 - RAIN!!! on Sunday 3.5 inches of amazing rain. Thanks L7 and everyone who prayed the rain into Texas. We will have forage now providing the weather stays warm enough to grow grass, and we may even get a hay cutting. Maybe even some water in the stock watering ponds (tanks). A miracle. I heard Dallas got 6 inches. We got 4 and 1/2 at the far end of the place. I had forgotten how to use windshield wipers on the vehicle. Rain!
Saturday, we went to get some chickens. More on that later. Chicken math has stuck me. (I had Eglu capacity, thanks to the Eglu Classic I got used). they start their month of quarantine.
Today, Henrietta sat on Hester's egg just after Hester layed it. Henrietta was really happy, chirping a little song to herself. I HAD to run to get the camera, shoot a photo, albiet lousy, through the egg port on the Eglu Classic. Henrietta looked like one of those ceramic chickens on a basket. She started putting wood shavings on her back, and re-arranging the shavings. It is wonderful to see a chicken that happy.
Hester, is she my red-headed step-child? (Red combed maybe)-- I finally got a semi-decent picture of her.... Too busy lately, gone and having a computer problem, so no pictures tonight--but very soon, I will put up a picture of Hester and of Henrietta in bliss putting wood shavings on her back and rearranging the shavings around an egg to make a cozy nest. Is it possible she could go broody?
OH -- I went to a photo workshop, and the person leading it is an expert wildlife photographer. I brought away the tip to set the camera ISO at 400 to take pictures of birds. Good advice hey?
2011-10-03 - Eggzy is very informative. For a few simple keystrokes of entry, you can see at-a-glance a lot about your flock. It does require registration, and regular data entry for accuracy. For example, I have entered a monthly estimate, but I am not sure how close that is to my 'real' costs for a dozen eggs. It is merely derived from a field where monthly costs are entered as one lump sum. But then it must also factor in the number of eggs per month and thus obtain the cost per egg. I like graphics, charts, icons and the statistics that the site provides.

Eggzy also provides the ability to download into a spreadsheet so you can manipulate your data as you wish 'offline'. The photo above shows Eggzy's screens, sligtly modified for clarity. Hopefully it shows up well enough. Thank you, the folks who made and maintain Eggzy. (It is eggzy.net incase you are not familiar with it. ) I suppose too, the small size flock owners are at a pretty big advantage, since data entry isn't a large time commitment. In the eggs for sale, where you can archive the eggs a dozen at a time, there is even a date for each of the eggs that I enter. It's a fun statistical tool about your flock.

2011-10-02 - Last night (Saturday) it was well after dark when I got home, and I left before fully light. I was able to do the daily coop routine in the semi-dark before leaving. (will have to write about how that is now simplified some fine day). With flashlight and not much else, I went to get the eggs after getting back home. Henrietta-the-wonder-chicken was nestled on the eggs---keeping them warm? Could she be going broody again?
I talked it over with her this morning---and told her in about 38 more eggs, she will have reached 200 since she came to me. Knowing that once she was broody it would cut off the flow of eggs, it would be a deal between us, I would see that she got some fertile eggs to sit on. Last "Henrietta-is-broody" episode nearly ended in disaster, but now the cooler weather should be coming---and what better way for a hen to spend the winter months than raising a family? Anyway way it would work for me.

2011-09-26 - The calendar has rolled to ‘autumn’ but Sunday’s temperature was 102 and today’s was 100 at the coop and 103 outside the house and the office building. The chickens have survived the summer and I believe the true Equinox (day equals night [in hours that is]) is on the 27th.

Pictures of Priscilla are here today. Not only is she my smallest, she is the bottom of the pecking order. Priscilla is the chicken I refer to when I have said that I purchased the ‘sickest chicken in the state’. Round worms, eye worms, gape worms, and respiratory problems are among the illnesses that Priscilla has faced. Never-the-less, she is, despite her smaller size, a more reliable layer than Hester, who I believe is her hatch mate.
Another interesting thing about my two Barred Plymouth Rocks, is that they may not be Barred Plymouth Rocks at all, although that is what they were sold to me as being. When I heard of the ‘standards’ for BPRs, they included yellow beaks and legs. My two pullets have always had a more ivory colored beak and their legs are more white or pink. At one point I saw a picture of a cuckoo Marans and thought the beak and leg coloring was more like my hens, however they lay light brown, or light pinkish brown eggs, and Marans are famous for dark eggs. They may have some Marans in their background, but their eggs would never pass for Marans. So which decides their breeding, the legs or the eggs? Regardless of the heritage my little mutts come from they are in the flock, and part of the family. Their job is to lay eggs, eat insects, chomp weeds and contribute to the compost pile.

2011-09-24 - Talos Sampsoni - does this bring you back to the days when you were a kid and thought that dinosaurs were the most exciting things around? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/new-dinosaur-raptor-_n_974300.html#s368112 and the other recent discovery about feathers being preserved in amber from 85-million years ago! A video on the bottom of the page of the above link. Great picture of Talos from Utah museum. I think I need to change my avatar to that. :O)
2011-09-22 - How much do they weigh? Here are each of my hens for their monthly weigh-in. Priscilla barely makes 4 pounds, Henrietta just goes over to about 4.2 pounds, and Hester is the largest at 5.1 or so.
Hester generally lays the smallest egg at about 1.8 oz and some change. Then comes Priscilla the littlest chicken who usually produces an egg at around 1.9 to 2 ounces. Next is Henrietta who always lays the largest egg, and always lays first thing in the morning.
Since I got Henrietta in April, she has given me 152 eggs as of September 22nd. I started weighing her eggs in about June—so I took the weight of each egg since June and added them all, then divided by the number of eggs added since I began weighing, (once I got the egg sized weighing scale). With that average 2.421 ounces multiplied by her 152 eggs, Henrietta has given me about 23 pounds of eggs. That works out to about 5 and ½ times her weight.

Sorry for the lousy pictures, but they didn't want to stay on the scale too long--- Take a look at how raggedy poor Henrietta's tail feathers are.
2011-09-20 - More on molting as I learn about the process from Henrietta-the-wonder-Chicken.


The first picture shows that she is pretty 'raggedy' in the feather department. She did have some broken wing and back feathers upon arrival. In the second picture her wing is spread. The flight feathers near the wing-tip, are in need of replacement. (Those are the whiter ones.) The feathers following are growing out, and look pristine. The books say that the wings are the second last set of feathers lost in the molt and last feathers to be replaced are the tail feathers. (She does have a raggedy tail too---she really could use some new tail feathers.)--The breast feathers, she looks fine, but if you part the feathers she has bare skin. I didn't notice this until her near-death-experience. Why is this all so mysterious? Because she has not stopped laying. So--- is she molting and laying at the same time? Did she defeather her self when she was sitting on the eggs? Will she ever get new tail feathers? Stay tuned. Some chickens can take as long as 24-weeks for the wing to refeather according to my book by Gail Damerow 'Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens'. But Henrietta continues to lay. Today was the 150th egg since I have had her, or was it the 151st? I need to check the calendar.

2011-09-17 - Henrietta, was ‘balding’ in July. She wasn’t overly feathered when I got her in April, and now her feathers appear to be growing back. I will add a shot of her wing(s) and her breast---which has no feather regrowth at present.
This is so interesting. I wonder if Henrietta is experiencing a ‘stress molt’ from the heat of the summer, or if this would be the moult/molt that she would be expected to normally have in the fall when she is approximately 1-year old. What is additionally interesting is that she continues to lay. She has lost several flight feathers, which is supposed to signal the end of egg production during molting. To me, as a first time chicken owner, it is mystifying.

To my eyes, she has more facial feathering than she had in July. She has a pretty tired set of feathers, and has done a superb job of laying eggs since I have had her. She's entitled to a new set of feathers.... I guess we'll see what happens.
At last we got some rain. Today we were saying that 89-degrees at noon is much cooler than 104-degrees at noon. Conceivably her feather-loss could be a stress molt. (especially since she is still laying up a storm)--- Speaking of storm, today 3/10 inch of rain, and thunder and lightening. Yesterday 2/10 inch that stopped us in our tracks and we had to watch it rain. This has been the hottest summer 'on record' and the dryest 12-months on record. Unfortunately we never fully recovered from the drought of 2009. But now, we have chances of rain, we have shorter days, and we have cooler temperatures. in a few days it will officially be 'autumn'.
2011-09-14 - Henrietta has produced 144 eggs since I got her. And I got her around April 20th. That is a dozen dozen, a full gross, a lot of eggs. Now I don't know if all Golden Comets are this prolific, but this little bird has me in awe.
Heard that the Dallas/Fort Worth area has had 70 days of temperatures 100 and over. We have had way too many. And the temperatures keep staying up there in the 100's. San Antonio has had something like 54 days of 100 and better, and we exceed San Antonio temperatures -- just about all the time. Davey Crockett is reputed to have said 'You all can go to hell, I'm going to Texas" when he left his political sojurn in Washington D.C. -- But I wonder how close the temperatures would be in the two locations. It is so hot out, it is painful. I think that part of the heat problem is that the earth is so baked. that there is no evaporative cooling to speak of. That being said, my chickens as of tonight are still alive and seem to be doing fairly well...but when days are too busy, like today to free-range them...for more than the morning check in, they do sqawk about it.

2011-09-09 - Another stressor for my little chickens: on Tuesday the 6th I prepared to evacuate, because the sky in the east was filled with a cloud, and the cloud wasn’t rain, it was smoke. That was odd because the fires in Bastrop were 2-hours away and the San Antonio fires were 1-hour away. It turns out the smoke was from fires that were about 22 miles away, and another one 27 miles away. They were contained, and they will never make news other than locally.
My poor chooks, I got out the old pet carriers again. This time I would pack 3 chickens in the larger dog carrier, or maybe split them 2 there and 1 again into the smaller carrier that is cat-sized, then put the cat in a small carrier, and the dogs would be loose in the vehicle. Not the best plan, but the best option of that moment. It was toward sundown before the smoke smell rolled in. Everything is tinder dry, and I’m not sure that our area would make news since we are so remote, add to that resources are spread pretty thin. Makes you realize what you would take and what you would leave. I have heard of Live Oak trees exploding in flame and hay bales ( 1/2 ton round bales) flaring up in spontaneous combustion. Prepared to evacuate, but never evacuated, I was going to go if I saw flames on the horizon or the smoke smell got really close. (Which may have been cutting it close from what I heard about the speed of the fires).
My sympathy to everyone who has delt with the fires, and those faced with floods.
One of the things I packed was the computer and all the gear, and the camera. It wasn’t ‘til today that I put it all back. Now things are ‘back to normal’.
For me, another criterion on how many chickens to keep, how many can I evacuate in emergency. Speaking of chickens, each laid their egg today. Time for some pictures of the pretty chickens.

Henrietta. Hester in the tree Priscilla jumping off the back of the Eglu Classic Solar night eyes.....formidable.
Today 96, tomorrow 98, Sun. 99. Mon. 100, Tues. 100, Wed. 100, Thurs 99. The hottest summer in history --- and blah, blah, blah as you already know.

2011-09-03 - This morning, the live trap was empty, the bait still there. Tonight I reset it, and thought that the 'solar Night Eyes' were pretty alarming. I have quite a few....probably too many there. Know what it looks like? Remember the 'Pirates of the Carribbean' Ride at Disneyland? As the boat goes up toward the exit, look into the darkest recesses and see the flashing red eyes of the rats! That is exactly how my night eyes were looking tonight when I re-set the trap. In a few days the weather is supposed to break. The daylight hours are growing shorter, so it cannot get as hot as it had been.
Pictures are the best part of blogs IMO. One picture worth 1000 words, right? Here is a picture of the great Eglu Cube my friend got. It only took her husband and I about 2-hours to put together. I unboxed while he ran some errands, and he had all the needed tools, I had some prior Eglu assembly experience. It is just so cool. Hats off to Omlet and the makers of Eglu.
Strangely there are people who have strong negative reactions to anything Eglu---- usually people with no experience with the products. I'm on the lookout for one (eBay where are you when I need you ?) They hold their value so well, they are so sturdy, that they don't come on the market very often. I see that they have changed the waterers to allow chicken owner to incorporate nipple-watering system in the design. I guess I will have to post the other pictures I shot today on my Eglu page. Less words more pictures. Where are some picts. of those pretty chickens anyway????

2011-09-02 - No, No, No -- it hit 100 yesterday, and is supposed to be 101 today and 102 tomorrow, and then 103, and THEN 99. Are you bored with this hot weather (endless hot weather) stuff. Just imagine how we feel. (Literally feel....get it?) Latest forecast is for tomorrow to be 103, Sunday 102-- thence forward 95. There is no rain in sight. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee heads for Louisiana who doesn't want the rain and they predict 12-20 inches...but in Texas it's too dry to even cry real tears, but we are crying for rain. We are at least 20 inches behind. It is sad to see trees dying from drought.
When he drove in last night my husband said he saw a large raccoon by the garage and it ran off. Not that it would come by the coop, but years ago we even had one that would shinny down a near by oak tree and come on the porch for leftover cat food...used to have more critters up by the house. I set out a live-trap, and now I wish I would have done something with the hinge...cause it is pretty old and rusty. And I wonder if the hungry critter would come to the trap whereas it otherwise wouldn't have, just because of the bait. Still, I do have the 'solar night eyes' blinking....but maybe by now, they (predators) coiuld be habituated to them. Hope the chickens are safe tonight. It was another 3-egg day.
2011-09-01 - Today is the day the forecast is supposed to dip below 100. We shall see. Every other sub-triple-digit prediction has been blown far beyond the 99.

2011-08-29 - We survived yesterday. Back porch thermometer 113oF, Thermometer by the chicken’s run 120oF. I packed the chickens in pet carriers and bundled them into a building that is being constructed. It isn’t finished, but has AC of all things---a place where it is 87-degrees, and I’m out there with a fan and jugs of ice trying to fight the heat (beyond futile and primative). I had two in one PetTaxi that was a re-assemblage and didn’t have vents (note to self, get drill, drill vents in the top part), and one in the other, and I could see her panting through the vents. So I partially disassembled the Eglu Classic, and put down plastic, old cardboard and reassembled it inside the building. Hardly any light there….and I kept them in until the sun was nearly down and the temps were around 100 outside. It was traumatic for one and all. Took the dogs in there too and they slept. Now the dogs don’t want to be out in the heat (try to tell me that they aren't really Smart, they know where the cool spot is now). Today I have a rather poopy mess to clean out of the building ----but live chickens. I can haul the cardboard to a burn pile not far from the construction.

Henrietta has gone back to Jumbo. Yesterday morning she laid a 2.696oz egg and the two previous were 2.515oz and 2.491oz – how does she do it? I guess she is an over achiever.
I doubt that anyone will lay today. Poor Priscilla had to lay her egg in the pet carrier and she was shoved in with Henrietta and unfortunately that one was the one that was a ‘marriage’ of two broken carriers, so it was two bottoms. Perhaps it is time I got something decent to hold them in an emergency. While the 6 sentient beings were huddled in the construction zone---I got it lit to about the degree of twilight, I kept thinking of the hurricane Irene victims. We could be in that same place sheltering from the storm if a hurricane comes this direction. But sheltering from the heat? Now the forecast for today is a high of 106-- It does have to end sometime, it can’t be soon enough for me.

2011-08-25 - My idea of the perfect flock is one where you know each of the chicken's eggs. I thought that if each produced a different color egg it would be a cinch. I always know my GC's eggs hers are larger and darker brown. The two BPRs I only seem to know for sure if I am there to know which one laid the egg. O.K. today my three were the perfect flock.

Wish I hadn't gotten the camera shadow on the lightest egg.....Back one is Henrietta, middle is Priscilla and front is Hester....Now Hester hasn't laid one quite that light as a generall rule, it is usaually more like Priscillas color...but today---three hens, three eggs, three colors.

2011-08-24 - Guess what, a revision in the weather forecast-- a revision UP! thur 103, Fri 107, Sat 108, Sun 106, Mon 105, Tue 102. I'm just not too well equipped to handle these extremes. Frustrating. Hope all pull through.

2011-08-22 - Heat wave continues: Today 100-"feels like 109". Forecast: Tues 101, Wed 102, Thur 102, Fri 104, Sat 105, Sun 106! guess I will need to plan to spend Fri, Sat and Sunday trying to protect the hens from the heat somehow. However, the TV weather forecast said the High Pressure will diminish and move off and the temps will be 99, 98, 99,99 ==etc. no more triple-digits.

Heard a ruckus from the chickens, went out there, saw nothing. Decided to check for eggs while I was there---and that’s when the rattle snake started to rattle. He’s deceased now, and no chickens (or humans) were hurt in the making of this picture.

There is a superstition in TX that a snake hung on the fence will bring rain. I tried to hang on the fence…but it kept writhing itself off. Pretty creepy to have a dead snake still writhing. Believe it or not, rain came. I could see it falling about 4-5 miles away. We didn’t get any. I even saw a rainbow.
Got two eggs today.
The picture of the hens---is so funny---as if they are all discussing ?something?--

2011-08-21 - Henrietta has survived the ordeal. She decided that the overheated nest is not a good place to raise a family after all. Now she is back in the Eglu Go----happily dustbathing and murmuring with Hester and Priscilla. The temperatures in the 7-day forecast all exceede 100.

2011-08-18 - Horrible day or good day, I nearly lost Henrietta to the heat. She truly has gone broody, she was sitting on eggs (just the ones she laid today and the last two days and the fake egg...I intend to take them out when the fertile eggs arrive-- I checked in through the egg port to find her panting and her eyes rolling up in her head. Checking on her broke the spell and she got out of the coop but collapsed in the run. Then staggered to where I could reach her. I put her on the porch on a damp towel, got wet paper towels and put on her legs, then finally got a dishpan of water and just put her in. She stopped panting---rested in the water and her beak hooked over the edge of the pan kept her head up. Later took her out and she just lay on the towel (as if dead)--- but still breathing. Tried to give her some water with electrolytes, tried to give her some plain cold water. While she was wet, I noticed that she really has a bare breast---not sure if she plucked and ate feathers just today or over night, because she spent the night on the eggs, (I think) and was there this morning. Poor Henrietta. Eventually I think I put her back in the water, then back on the towel. When she finally got up, (I think I set her on her feet between moving between water and wet/damp towel) she staggered, like she didn't have balance or like there was some paralysis. Eventually she was walking, but still seemed a little unsteady and one wing seemed limp to drag down a little. Wonder if that (heat prostration/near-death experience) broke her of being broody. She drank electrolyte water (luckily I had a packet of save-a-chick)-- It was about as close as you can get, and I'm not sure she is really O.K. I guess part of having chickens is loosing them at some point. My sympathy to everyone who has lost one of their pets.

She finally ate a little but not with her usual appetite. Saw her drink electrolyte water. Moving the whole thing tomorrow in search of a cooler venue. No end to the heatwave/heat high pressure in sight. I think I heard the weather forecaster say something like 39-days of triple digit temps of late.

2011-08-17 - Ha...change in forecast--- the next six days 103, 103, 101, 101, 100, 100. Symetrical at least.

Henrietta, could be going broody. She sits on the dust bath, she sits on the nest. She 'hogs' the nest, and then Hester and Priscilla are flustered. I moved H. to the newly acquired Eglu Classic yesterday. I put a 'fake egg' in the nesting box. She laid her egg there. I removed it, then thought better and put it back. She now has the entire unit to herself and two eggs. Will she really set? Will she last 21 days? Have some fertile eggs on the way. Is it all an exercise in futility? Henrietta aka the 'wonder chicken'. she rather likes her new housing arrangement. I think that she may have been showing it off to the other two when I let them free-range yesterday because they were all in there cooing. What characters they are.

2011-08-15 - This week's forecast Mon 102, Tues 102, Wed 101, Thurs 101, Fri 101, Sat 100, Sun 99. Did you see that? A cool 99 for next Sunday. Think we will make it?

2011-08-12 - It is just so hot, the drought is so extreme...I think we are getting numbed by it. The forecast is 103 today and the heat index 110. A big wind grabbed the patio umbrella I was using to double shade the coop and smashed it into the eaves of the office building then blew it up on the porch-roof where the crank was detached, then blew it on to the building roof where an o-ring was left then blew it over the building and smashed into the pear tree. It is now destroyed. Only the supplied run shades protect the chickens, until the afternoon shade casts some house shadow over the run & coop. I put out ice and ice water, move them in the afternoon to their pen where there is more ice and ice water. The grass is all burned dry it is more like straw. Even when they free-range, there isn't much to find...even the insects have migrated away. It is almost like a desert. And no break in the heat, and no rain in the foreseeable future. Never-the-less, my chickens spoiled me today and each laid an egg this morning. They don't even seem interested in their food. They are just trying to last out the heat. We are now thinking that 99 would seem cool.

2011-08-08 - Looked at this weeks forecast--> Mon 102, Tues 103, Wed 103, Thu 102, Fri 101, Sat 101, Sun 102. :O( And the temperature was 103 officially with the heat index hitting 104. The back porch thermometer 110, no rain in sight, and Henrietta's laying streak ends. (Hester and Priscilla both laid today, however).

2011-08-01 - Of course Henrietta laid consecutive egg #100. Haven't I said that she is the Wonder Chicken? Hester wanted the nesting box at the same time---and Henri was in there for an hour---- and she hadn't laid, she was irked to be looked at so much and once she did lay the egg she was off the nest like a rocket. Then....Hester Prinn pretty fast. Late, late in the day when the temperature was well over 100--Priscilla Alden was in the pasture-pen and decided to lay---so I transported her to the run/coop. She came out looking very hot, stressed a little disoriented, and flustered. No egg. Priscilla was panting extra hard, and flattened herself in the run on some damp dirt and began pulling dead grass to ? build a new nest?---- there is a gallon jug of ice in the coop, and it is insulated. I sprayed down the whole area, readjusted the shade umbrealla and put her feet in a plant saucer of water...and by that time it wasn't really even cold water, more like tepid. She stood there for awhile.... and then went over and pecked at the food cup-- I went away and when I came back she had gone back into the nest. --- whew. Heat prostration? Anyway she also laid an egg today. Tomorrow's predicted to be 103 by the thermometer. Don't want to think about heat idex, again.

Actually. looking back at egg 90, this seemed like 'wishful thinking'. Now all I care about is that all three make it through the heat spell--and come out alive-and-well on the other side.

Henrietta in nest & her 99th consecutive Egg-- Priscilla looking in.
Priscilla checking on Henrietta---- the outside view of the picture at the far left.
2011-07-31 - Consecutive day 99 of egglaying for Henrietta! 100 looks like a real possibility. Temperature tomorrow is supposed to hit 106. Every day for the next 7 days is 101-106. Today's egg was something like 2.345 oz. Henrietta really likes hanging out in the nest box. Could she be on the verge of going broody? A Golden Comet going broody? Wouldn't that be something? She didn't want to leave the nest box--- and when I opened the back to check on her progress....she stood up----and was kind of in a trance. She wasn't too interested in the mealworms that I offered her....and she tried to move the egg....AMAZING. I wonder if she could sit on fertile eggs for 21 days?

2011-07-27 - Henrietta hits number 95 in consecutive days of egglaying. Today's egg 2.178 ounces. So now it is large instead of Extra Large. Which is still fine. Jumbo and Extra large are nice---but large and medium would be just fine. If she can lay for 5-more days it will make 100 in a row. (big deal to human---chickens...can they count to 100?)
2011-07-25 - Yesterday, when I got home, the coop-run thermometer registered 120. Fortunately no chickens were hurt, but they spent a lot of time panting once I let them out to free range. I keep wondering which day will stop the run of eggs for Henrietta. The other two are laying every-other-day, now. Which is still good. Today, I should get the run extension that I decided to 'go for it'. And... I should get the bolts I need to assemble the Eglu Classic. Then, of course, I will need to get more chickens.

2011-07-24 - If today is Henrietta's 92nd consecutive day of egg laying, I can't help wondering, despite the heat, could she make 100?
2011-07-21 Sooo if Henrietta is able to lay an egg tomorrow, it will make 90 consecutive days of Egg-laying for her. Temps are 99 today and heat-index 103 or so. Today the pullets Hester and Priscilla each made it into the 2-ounce category for their eggs. Good girls. So they have now laid a large sized egg. (check the charts and quotes page if you would like to see the size reference chart.)

Of note: 7/17 tucking the chickens in for the night...I noticed that Henrietta is going bald. Her facial feathers are disappearing. Her comb and wattles are lightening. I think that perhaps Henrietta is going to go into a molt. She deserves a rest after her outstanding performance. I wonder when her non-stop egg-laying streak will actually stop. ....... to be continued.--> see the above