Thursday, January 06, 2011

Out and about...

The chickens had a nice day out on Monday. They don't get out much to free-range in winter; among other things, they don't like to walk on the snow! But most afternoons I do let them run around the lower barn. However, we had a warm spell over New Year's and most of the snow melted, so the cluckers were happy to go outside for a couple of hours on Monday.


 

 Errol Flynn taking care of his ladies! He's going to be very handsome when his big tail feathers grow back. I think the black hens have been pulling them out! They are mean to the roosters.



Buttercup enjoys a walk. I love her fluffy feet!



  

Beaker brings up the rear behind Henrietta and Cupcake. They usually knock him to the ground when he attempts any funny business. Or as the boys on Big Bang Theory would say, "coitus."




While the dogs are ostensibly out guarding the chickens, really they are just constantly eating chicken poo.



...like here. It looks like Sophie and Beaker are having a confrontation, but actually Sophie is just chomping down on some of Beaker's finest intestinal offerings. And Beaker is just looking alarmed by that.


Errol Flynn says, "I am rooster, hear me crow!"
("And stop pulling out my tail feathers!" He really is hen-pecked.)




Errol going incognito near the beehives, while Penelope Pigeonator saucily struts by.



 Meanwhile, back in the coop, Anastasia and Lord Gaga have some private time together.


And Tristan awaits my return by the front door! 

A good time was had by all.

16 comments:

  1. Ahhh. Life on the farm.
    Thanks for the lovely interlude.
    (Written from within my steel tower at work)

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  2. Buttercup is LOVELY! Very beautiful. We have a little finch Errol Flynn here... tee hee.

    My lady puts some of the second cutting hay in the chicken pen once a week. The ladies and gents really enjoy pecking and playing with it. Gives them a little green during the loooong winter.

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  3. Dang! All that good fertilizer being used for snack food instead. I guess a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.

    I like the fluffy feet, too. Classy.

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  4. Ah it's god to see the ladies out an aabout.. and the gents too!

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  5. My pleasure, Elisabeth!

    Isobelle, Miss Buttercup thanks you. She is a dainty little thing. I like your hay suggestion. My friends grow hay so I will see if they can spare a bale and I will put some in the pen every week. Thanks!

    Marylee, fortunately I still get good compost when we clean out the coop. I shudder to think what's going on in the dogs' intestinal tracts, but they get dewormed twice a year.

    Jams, it is indeed good. They do so love being outdoors. There's always a line between letting them do what they love and keeping them safe from predators!

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  6. Why on earth do the dogs like chicken poop? Is that normal for dogs? Yuck! We don't have new green hay, but have many bales of nice clean straw and we try to put down some new stuff in the coop once a week to keep the chickens entertained. They love to pick thru it.

    My hens are mean to each other and to the young cockerels, but they dont bother the mature roosters Leggy and Muffin, despite Muffin's goofy name. If one of the young cocks tries any funny business with the adults hens they kick his butt. Live and learn, I guess. There's a serious pecking order going on here.

    ~Lynn

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  7. Technical question from an ignoramus (if I may ask): A pal of mine recently acquired a few chickens (against my advice, and his own actually, but his wife wanted them and she rules the roost, so to speak), so anyway, they have several chickens, for several weeks, but no eggs. Now... someone who may know commented on this by telling my own wife "You need a rooster for them to lay eggs." Is this true? I thought maybe a rooster would only be needed to make chicks from the eggs. Anyway, my reluctant pal, before the chickens arrived, said "At least they won't make a bloomin' noise like a rooster would." Oh dear... is he going to have to be wakened up early by the rooster if his wife is to get her much wished-for eggs? Whatever you tell me I will pass it on to him first, for him to decide what his wife needs to know :) He may decide that a few midnight "accidents" in the garden and a few weeks living off chicken pie may be a better plan.

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  8. Oh, I said "chickens", I think I meant hens... (?)

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  9. Not an ignoramus question at all, H. I.!

    There could be a few reasons your friend's hens aren't laying, but lack of a rooster isn't one of them! :) Eggs come out whether or not there is a rooster, but if there IS a man in the house the eggs get fertilized and might hatch if there is a broody hen around (or you can just eat them! I collect eggs twice a day and they would never have a chance to start developing an embryo!) But absolutely NO NEED for a rooster in order to get eggs.

    What hens do need is to be old enough to lay (mine started laying at about five months of age). They also need enough daylight, which can be a problem in winter! If you don't give them adequate daylight during the dark season, they will cease laying. A simple incandescent bulb in the coop, left on for 12 hours a day, will help. (Some people prefer the hens to go by their natural rhythms and don't give extra light, and get fewer eggs in winter.) A warm, comfortable coop in winter is also important. We use heat lamps and consider "warm" to be above freezing in winter!

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  10. Ooops, hit the button too soon! Anyway, to continue: if someone pawned off some knackered old hens on your friend, they may be past their best laying days (years one to two), which could also explain the lack of eggs. But at this time of year I would suspect the lack of daylight.

    As well, the girls like nestboxes to lay in. Mine even have old teatowels across the fronts of theirs, for privacy. They like to lay in safe, dark places.

    Backyard Chickens is a GREAT resource:

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/

    Btw, my hubby has totally fallen in love with our chickens. If your friend gives it a little time (and starts collecting delicious eggs for breakfast!), he may fall in love with his wife's hens too. So tell him: adequate daylight, warm coop, nesting boxes, and make sure they are eating laying mash as well! They need good food to make good eggs.

    But no need for roosters! We didn't have roosters for the first year we kept chickens.

    Hope that helps, and my other chicken-loving friends might have other suggestions. Feel free to ask any more questions you might have!

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  11. Lynn, my dogs have NO TASTE, especially Sophie. They eat all manner of crap, literally and figuratively! SOphie delights in bringing me corpses in spring, after they have been festering beneath the snow all winter.

    Cats are much, much classier than dogs.

    I'm going to look for some hay for the girls!

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  12. That's brilliant, thanks! I'll pass that on to my pal. I only tend to converse with him when we play golf together, which will not be for a while if the snow and ice remain, but in this case an email is justified! And I will pass onto him the news that he may be living with "a knackered old hen" (see what his wife makes of that) :)
    I will report back on progress at some time, and with a bit of luck a review of the taste of the eggs (or, as a back up, the taste of some knackered old hens). Thanks again.

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  13. H. i., you're talking to the woman who is going to have 19-year-old knackered hens ambling around the farm with walkers!!!!

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  14. Lol, Nat. We have an older hen, Freckles, who's our first hen. She's about 2 or 3 yrs old now, and her laying has almost stopped. Randy mentioned maybe we should sell her for meat, I told him definitely not! She has been a good mama hen to us and has led all the pullets, not just her own chicks, by example. I told him she deserves to live her remaining years here safe and happy, eggs or no eggs. He laughed at me because he knows me by now.
    ~Lynn

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  15. Ok, I'm on a comment roll here! I started my last comment to ask about your bees, but somehow got sidetracked and forgot! I am such a blonde sometimes, lol! What's up with your hives? Are the bees locked in for the winter? Do they sleep all winter? So interesting!
    ~Lynn

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  16. Lynn, I am with you! None of my hens are going into a stewpot when they finish laying. What a way to reward a girl for years of hard work!! :( Glad Randy is on side!

    And I will do a post about bees in winter. Stay tuned.

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!