Chickens

They don't wear galoshes

We have had so much rain here this year.  My 102 year old mother in law says she has never seen anything like it and that's a whole lotta years to be comparing to.   We've certainly seen rain in large quantities come through quickly but not over such an extended period of time. The farmers growing vegetables have had quite a difficult year.

As livestock farmers, were not complaining. If your in the business of grass, things are good!  We have an abundance of grass and the sheep are loving it. This would be a year we'd duplicate in a heart beat...if given the choice.  Alas, that's not the way mother nature works.  So, we'll enjoy our bounty this year and hope to be as grateful next year.... regardless of what she has in store for us.

Rain or shine, there are chores on the farm that must be done!  Egg collections is just one.

Much to the dismay of Sir Richard (pictured here) we collect eggs daily.  He'd prefer having little progeny strutting about.  At least, based on his frequency of procreation you'd want to think that.  Believe you me, it's far from his fault there aren't little chicks running around.  Those of you that know chickens know what I'm talking about.  Wear those hens OUT!  That's why many farms choose not to have a rooster.  Unless you want chicks there is really no reason to have roosters.  Unless of course your like me and believe a farm isn't complete with out the morning crow of the rooster.



For some reason when it rains our eggs are covered in mud.  I haven't quite figured out how the mud gets on the eggs but they are generally covered.  It's not just one egg.  It's not just one hen.  I try not to disturb the eggs too much so if they arrive looking clean I put them directly in the egg carton.  On a normal day of collection (sans rain) there is always an egg or two that needs a bit of attention but not the majority and mud is usually not an issue.


The girls have nesting boxes to lay their eggs.  The nesting boxes are under the cover of the chicken coop roof so neither the nests or the coop perches are exposed to rain or mud.  The nesting boxes themselves aren't muddy.  Just how do those eggs get so muddy?  Maybe their feather bums drag across the grass hitting the occasional mud puddle or two and that's how it happens? They share nesting boxes so maybe it's one hen that is just a dirty girl with dirty feet?  Maybe it's one hen that likes to dirty the other girls eggs?  Maybe the hens get a little crazy?

Maybe Hen Party has more meaning then we know?  There are too many dirty eggs for it to be one or two hens.  How many hens does it take to have a hen party?




The Hay Bale Fiasco

On a sheep farm you've gotta have hay.  We are a sheep farm.  I'm not adding this up for your benefit, I'm trying to remind myself why we have this current dilemma.  What dilemma you ask?  Well, it goes like this....
Last year we added chickens to the farm to improve our pastures, the natural way!  They're is nothing finer then chickens scratching and chickens pooping on a pasture.  I'm happy to share the science of it all but that's for another Blog topic...and another blogger!  So, having chickens it was and we have enjoyed having them.
 Having a rooster crow in the morning....every farm must, right?  Chickens produce those yummy farm fresh eggs...gotta have those too right?  And so, we did.  The real icing on the chicken addition, we'll sell those eggs and that will really add to our farms productivity, right?




All those facts became reality, except maybe one....productivity.  Again, I am not going to address all the chicken realities we've rearranged our farm for, just the most recent.











We spent a great deal of time last month putting up hay, cutting and baling and stacking ever so beautifully in the barn, Whew!  A huge task done.  The sheep will be fed this winter!  Wait, whats all that clucking I hear?  It was as if we'd sold tickets to THE chicken gathering of the century and we'd asked them to arrive earlier then the gates were opened.  I mean those gals were lined up to get in.  All in, around and over those bales they came.  They were picking at the seed heads and just enjoying the change to their environment....so I thought that's all they were doing.

 Ok, ok, I know I still haven't gotten to the point.  We sell the eggs, right?  We have a pretty standard order to deliver each week, pre sold!  That's great.  Each day we collect eggs and each Saturday we deliver them.  That's the routine.
Well I believe someone forgot to tell the hens we have a routine. Our laying boxes have become passe for the time being. The chickens have decided to lay those eggs 10 feet up on top of bales stacked so tight to the rafters we can't even see what's up there.  So, how productive is it for us to climb and hunt for our eggs each day so that we make about $40 per week?  We've had to scramble a bit to fill our orders and the saddest part according to my husband, there have been no egg consumed in our house lately.   Each chicken challenge we've faced we find a bit more chicken wisdom. We are now presented with a new challenge.  We haven't really figured out how we'll lure them back to our desired organized method of collecting but we'll figure something out.  It is my contention those hens just wanted to be sure we know....Chickens Rule!



The girls and a few token boys!

I'm sure you can agree that no farm is complete with out the early morning crow of a rooster.  No rooster is happy with out hens!
We are going on 5 years and just now officially adding the rooster:chicken:egg dimension to our farm plan.  A few years ago we added about 12 chickens and one MEAN rooster.  They graced our farm with their hen like cuteness for about 8 months and something came in one eve and left nothing but feathers for us to find the next morning.  We then decided then we couldn't have chickens until our fences were up and we could keep them secure.  We couldn't have them running round in the yard like "sitting ducks(chickens) for raccoons, weasels, neighbor dogs, and foxes just to name a few.  The locals all had different suspicions about the crime scene, all different.  We never arrested anyone!  I guess the whole occurrence made us a little gun shy, not sure we wanted to feel the heartbreak again.  So, wait we did.
We decided to bring chickens back to our farm operation primarily because it is the most efficient and healthiest method of fertilization being used today. And, you heard it from me...a rooster completes the farm!
As many of you have heard, our new chicken DIG's arrived.  The chicken house is now home to 45 hens and 3(maybe 4) roosters.  .  We chose hearty varieties of chickens that are good layers and we also wanted to stay true to our belief in heritage breeds.
Well as it goes the wee ones arrive and they begin their life under a heat lamp.  They grow FAST and eat ALOT.  A bit more then a month has passed and the girls and their few token boys have decended upon the pastures!  Here they are coming out for their first peeks.  I wish I could have captured this moment.  Now, they run about as if they own the place.  They do make us laugh.  My mom once said she could imagine them in the halls of congress, "clucking" issues out!  I have never been able to look at them the same since.