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Life With Chickens

By dacjohns, Jan 11, 2012 | |
  1. dacjohns
    Been a year since the last update. I've been busy.
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    Hmmm, maybe I should update this thing. Or maybe I should put in chronological order which would make it harder for the very few people that used to read catch up if I do update it.
    Life With Chickens
    Thursday, Christmas Day, 2008
    A quick update on the chickies. We got 15 eggs the other day. Not too bad I guess for it being winter. All the hens are old enough to lay now but they seem to be slacking. The old black hen that raised a brood is acting like she wants to go broody again. Not plan on letting it happen.
    Do have the birds separated between the two coops. The Easter Eggers, mutts, Junior, and Pretty Boy are in the new addition. The rest are in the main coop. The mutts and EEs seem to be laying better than the Brahmas and the other birds.
    We have been playing host to Beaker, one of the traveling mascots. Check out the traveling mascot thread for photos of his visit. ​
    Monday, October 13, 2008
    Today was/is a holiday so I didn't have to work. So why was Wall Street trading?
    We butchered 12 of the extra cockerels today. It would have been 14 but two of them escaped from the holding cell when I was grabbing the next one to go to chicken heaven. The buff hen has not been right for quite a few weeks now so I had to cull her. I hope whatever she had hasn't spread to the other chickens.
    Roosters/cockerels we now have are: Big Rooster, Junior, Pretty Boy, Khaki, and the two escapees. There might be more but I haven't identified them yet. We still have too many males but I couldn't bear to get rid of Pretty Boy and Khaki. Junior is the replacement for Big Rooster as long as he behaves himself. The escapees are still candidates for the stew pot.​
    Sunday, October 5, 2008
    I haven't made in any posts in quite a while since there really hasn't been much change with the chickens except that they have grown. We lost Red the other day, think she was old and worn out. The young roosters are funny to watch but most of them are headed for the freezer. We have way too many and they don't lay eggs. Egg production is way down and has been for some months now. The old hens are past their prime and the young pullets haven't started laying yet although we did get a little egg yesterday. We think it is from one of the banty mutts but it could be from one of the other young pullets.
    Since some of you haven't scrolled to the bottom of the page for new posts I am going to rearrange this so it is in reverse chronological order. The new stuff is on top, the old stuff is on the bottom. That means if you are just starting you have to start at the end of the page instead of the beginning of the page. You might want to check the end of the page anyway just in case I add some old stuff from other sources.
    Monday, August 11, 2008
    We butchered 9 of the cockerels today. Gary, Nancy, and Braden came over and helped. They weren't as big as the meat birds and weren't as fleshed out but it was time to move them to the freezer. The average weight was just under 3 pounds. Too many roosters are not a good thing. We did keep a few of them for possible replacement of Big Rooster. One that we kept might be getting a little on the mean side. He has pecked me pretty good twice. It's about time to teach him who is the biggest rooster here.
    Last week or maybe the week before we picked corn, got it for free. We think about 200 ears which made for 57 pint freezer bags and 9 gallon bags with whole ears. It was an all day affair husking, blanching, cutting, and bagging. We had to get the chest freezer back.
    Saturday, July 19, 2008
    The chickens we call the teenagers are now 12 weeks old. We will need to butcher within the next couple of weeks. They aren't real big but if we wait much longer the meat will be tough.
    The last few days every once in awhile I thought I heard attempts at crowing. Today it was verified. One of the teenagers is crowing. He still needs some practice but it is a crow.
    Cathy was mowing last night and saw a snake in the front yard. I didn't catch it and it went under the apron at the end of the house. It was a smaller rat snake and I wonder if it was the one she saw in the chicken coop.
    Got the wood burning stove installed yesterday. It sticks out into the living 7 inches more than we wanted. Little bit unhappy about that. We think the guys doing the work just didn't want to cut the runners in the ceiling that support the drywall, frame in for the chimney, and didn't want to trim the chimney box.
    Thursday, 10 July, 2008
    Momma black hen and her chicks are in the well house. The other chicks are all in the main coop and roosting on the ladder and the rafters at night. Momma banty gave us an egg yesterday and today. Lost one of the chicks for momma black hen, don't know what happened. We came home after being gone most of the day and it was gone.
    Another snake in the coop today. Might have to get some hardware cloth to make the coop more snake proof.
    Found a turtle in the coop a few days ago. At first I thought it was a baby snapping turtle but it is most likely a mud turtle or musk turtle. I have no idea how it got in there. The only thing I can think of is that it came from under the well house portion.
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    Monday 30 June, 2008
    Friday night when I was closing up the chickens I heard some peeping at head level. Momma banty and her chicks were up on the top rung of the ladder roost.
    Last night when closing up the chickens buff momma (buff is a color) was on top of a box away from her chicks. I put her on the roost with the big hens. She is pretty much done caring for the chicks. Got another egg from her today.
    This morning when I was going out to let the chickens out Cathy called me from the bedroom window. The black hen that we suspected had a nest somewhere had 8 new chicks with her. I will try and segregate the big chicks from the little chicks and momma. I don't want her to keep wandering off.
    Now we have three sets of chicks, not counting the teenagers. One set of eight about a day old, another set of eight about _____ weeks old, and one set of seven about _____ weeks old.
    About 59 chickens. Before we head west again we will need to butcher all the cockerels from the teenagers.
    Thursday, June 26, 2008
    Butchered the last six meat birds and the two ducks today. Took about three hours which included breaks.
    Dean came over a couple times today for a couple of different reasons. Got him to help me finish the post holes. Now we have a bunch of posts to cut.
    Silly teenagers. They haven't quite figured out how to move between the different parts of the coop and runs. They like to bunch up and stay close to each other.
    The missing hen showed up again today. Still no chicks with her.
    Momma banty was teaching her kids how to climb the ladder roost. I missed it but it sounded cute.
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008
    The kitty has taken to chasing the chicks. It better not catch one.
    Yesterday we working on drilling post holes around the orchard. Hot work. The heat from the tractor just beats on you. A weld on the brace on the auger frame broke so we had to take it over the friend's house to get it fixed.
    Today the heat is already wearing us out and it's only 10:00 am. Don't know how much work we'll get done outside.
    Separated the meat birds so they can't eat today. Tomorrow is butcher day.
    The black hen that disappeared about 3 weeks showed up this morning. She is acting like a momma hen but she doesn't have any chicks with her. No idea where her nest might have been or if she had a successful hatch. I doubt that she had a successful hatch since she doesn't have any chicks with her. We were kind of watching her and after she got done eating and visiting with her girlfriends she disappeared again. We didn't see her go so we don't know where her nest is.
    The ducks are getting real aggressive towards the chickens. One had a teenager by the neck and then later was stalking the chicks. They might go in the freezer tomorrow.
    We put some chicken wire on the last part of the run where the chicks were getting through and put wire around the other run. Trying to get things ready so we can go away for a couple of days. That way the chickens don't have to be let out. Hopefully there will be room for all of them with the coop and two runs. I also hope they don't fly over the five foot tall fence.
    Drilled some more post holes this evening. Just too hot during the day today. Might finish up tomorrow. Have a full day ahead of us.
    Monday June 23, 2008
    Still working on the garden fence. I have about 1/2 the wire fencing up. After that, the gates and fill in around the edges. Then the garden can get planted again.
    I saw the buff hen, the one with the chicks, hop into a nest box today. I left to relocate another rat snake (not the same one) and when I got back there was an egg in the box. We had found an egg in one of the broody hen hutches a few days ago and I wondered if she had started laying again. It sure looks like it now. Her and the chicks are spending more time apart now also.
    Not real happy. Saw the dog chasing a chicken. Dog is no more.
    Sunday, June 15, 2008
    We butchered 9 of the meat birds yesterday, have 6 left. Dressed out they weighed an average of about 3 lbs 4 oz each. That did not include necks, livers, and hearts. I did not feel like cleaning the gizzards. They weren't as big as other people get for their meat birds but they were still nice sized. Had two of the legs for supper. Richer flavor and chewy.
    Had a racer (snake) by the pear tree next to the coop. Have to keep an eye on the chickens for the next few days.
    Sunday June 8, 2008
    So what's happened the last week?
    June 3. When you raise animals for whatever reason you know there are going to be loses. Knowing this doesn't really make it any easier when it does happen. Lucky the miracle chick which I helped hatch 2 weeks ago disappeared today. I don't know whether Lucky was destined for the freezer or the nest box but now Lucky is destined for neither.
    June 5th or 6th. The black hen that lays blue eggs just disappeared during the afternoon. No sign of her anywhere.
    We're letting the teenagers out in the afternoon. Will probably start all day tomorrow. They are starting to peck again when left in too long.
    Cut a hole in the south side of the coop and put chicken wire over it. The coop is just getting too hot.
    Still working on the fence. Need 4 more poles and some more brace material. It has been too windy to cut. Days are hot, 90s. Work outside for half an hour and rest for an hour cooling off and re-hydrating.
    Took care of Price's chickens from Sunday through Wednesday. Those birds were going through 6 gallons of water a day and there were only two waterers. Prices didn't even tell us they were drinking that much. Three trips a day, 7 miles round trip, grr. The coop floor is covered with poop. So nasty. The water they get comes out of buckets with algae and other great stuff growing in them.
    We are now down to 4 laying hens.
    Friday, 30 May 2008
    A day of violence.

    Today was another interesting day. We got up fairly early, at least fairly early for us and did the usual. Checked the chickens and guess what? The snake was back. It was the same snake so we relocated it again. Hopped in the truck and took it farther away and let it loose by a neighbor's barn. There are only 3 homes on my road and one of them is only occupied during deer season. The owner comes down ever couple of months so they got the snake. Figured a barn was a good place for a rat snake.

    Started working on the post holes and the other neighbor comes by to visit. He comes putting up on his Mule, not the 4 legged kind but the kind on wheels. Accompanying him is what looks like a big yellow lab. My chickens are all over the place and this dog starts eyeing them and starts paying close attention to one of my hens which retreats under a cargo trailer. We keep an eye on the dog and next thing you know the dog goes after a different chicken. Wife starts yelling at the dog and I grab a board saying something like "William I know it's your dog but my chickens come first." Catch up with dog which by now had gotten a mouthful of feathers. Wallop it good and the dog retreats. William who is in his 70s still hasn't quite comprehended what just happened. He gets hold of his dog and puts a chain on it. He is a little upset I can tell and wants to leave. I think he was more concerned for our chickens than his dog. We tell him not to go and we visit awhile longer. No hard feelings I hope but I also hope the dog stays away. Remember this is the country. I have 100 acres, he has 120 acres, and the other property at the end of the road (the snakes' new home) is about 120 acres. We all mind our own business pretty much but help each other out all the time.

    Snake and dog and it isn't even noon yet. Chickens have scattered with all the commotion and we're getting ready to go to "town" for the dedication of veterans' memorial. We notice "Lady", the beagle that left William's and adopted us isn't around. She is such a skittish dog, we can't even pet her, so we figured all the commotion with the big dog and the chickens scared her away. Account for all the birds, get cleaned up, eat lunch and we're on the way.

    We get back from town and the beagle is back. The day has turned hot and we don't feel like doing much work on the garden fence. Got all the water changed in the waterers and I'm watching the chickens. One of the little banty chicks is on the inside of the coop and yelling for mom. Mom's trying to coax it her way and one of the ducks gets hold of the chick. Duck gets kicked. I'm pretty protective of my chicks.

    Rooster. He sure hasn't done much to take care of his hens.

    Toll at the end of the day. All birds still here and look to be alright. One snake relocated. 3 eggs out of 5 laying hens. Haven't had any green eggs in a while. She better get on the ball.

    Just another day.
    Thursday, 29 May 2008
    With the leaves on the trees and the sun changing position in the sky I seem to be getting up later. BYC keeping me up late at night has nothing to do with it.

    My wife got up before me and let the chickens out and came back to the house with news. One of the chickens died last night. The chicken had been kind of droopy and lethargic yesterday and today I was going to pay close attention to her, check her droppings, etc. Not going to now. She might have ill or might have been old, I don't know. Then the kitty doesn't show up for breakfast. She might have met an owl, coyote, bobcat, or might be out roaming. We may never find out.


    Mowed some weeds. See the snake going away from the coop. Things should be OK I think.

    Changed out some litter in the teenagers coop. While changing litter hear some commotion next door. Really just the other side of the wall in the big birds' coop. Go in there and see a banty kind of agitated. The snake is back. Get the snake out and notice it has kind of a scar or something, wonder if I hit it will the mower. Relocate it again, farther away this time. With the scar I'll be able to identify it now. Gathered eggs. Watched the new chicks. Sat with the teenagers. Watched the new chicks. Moved a BIG rock for a stepping stone for the teenagers coop.

    Friend called. He finally remembered he was going to loan me his auger so I could dig post holes. He brought the auger over and we hooked it up to the tractor. He also brought our share of the broilers over. We started with 50, 25 each and ended up with 30, 15 each. Don't think I want to do the broiler thing again. We got the broilers because the farm store didn't know what they talking about and I was very new to chickens. Friend also took his banties home, except for two. Little rooster is hiding somewhere in the yard. We'll get him tonight when he comes home. Momma banty is taking care of 8 little chicks. I told he didn't momma banty for a few more weeks. I think he figured the chicks were his since his bird hatched them out. Maybe, maybe not. We've been taking care of the birds and feeding them. Any thoughts?

    Finished marking out where fence posts go. Now I've been in the sun too much and need a break. Winters are too cold for me in the north and summers are too hot for me in the south.

    Dug some fence holes. Might even start putting up the fencing tomorrow. Divided up the teenagers and took friend his share. Those darn meat birds don't even digest their food before it comes out the other end.

    When making sure the birds were in I noticed the banty and her chicks were missing. Looked around the yard and couldn't find them. I looked back in the coop and noticed one of her chicks outside of the big hens box. I opened up the box and saw the banty and the rest of her chicks under the big bird. Silly birds.

    Bird count now. 15 stinky meat birds, 1 big rooster who rules the yard, 16 chicks, 1 banty taking care of chicks, 1 big hen taking care of chicks, 5 laying hens, 2 Easter ducks, 28 teenagers for 67 chickens and 2 ducks.

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