Please read this fabulous poem by a 9 year old, entitled “I Love You Chicken”
I picked up bales of straw for the chickens this past week. I’ll probably pick up more before the month is over in hopes of having enough stockpiled for winter and spring. We use straw inside of the coop but also as the choice material for deep bedding. My girls (and Arlo, though he’d never admit it) have been on cloud 9 these past few days. This is a great run-down of the benefits of deep bedding for backyard flocks:
Deep bedding solves a whole lot of chicken-related problems in one easy step:
- It goes a long way toward controlling odor.
- It reduces flies (it not only absorbs poop, it actually fosters parasites that kill fly eggs)
- It makes the coop area much more attractive to look at.
- It gives the chickens more to do (i.e. scratch) which keeps them happy, which keeps them from developing bad behaviors
- It saves you work, because you don’t have to clean it out very often. Maybe not at all. Depending on your set up.
I remember an old farmer telling me once that, with livestock, the important thing is to think through the relationship. You’re supposed to be building a pleasant present and a better future. Unless that’s where things are headed, it’s time to make changes. He expressed this as, “There’s a livestock auction every Thursday.” What he meant was that we can end an unsuccessful relationship quickly — and we should, because when things go sour, everyone’s a loser. It’s time for someone else to give it a try.
I recruited my brother this weekend to help me clean up the chicken coop and run a bit. By recruited and help, I mean he did all of the work of course. I’m still incredibly nervous around Arlo after he tried to kill me. (Slight exaggeration, of course, but I’m pretty sure he would if he could.) Side note: I was reading a blog this weekend and the author said one of the pictures was of her rooster problem, “the problem being that we have a rooster.” I thought, yes, I know that feeling.
But I digress. The run was a mess. Kale stems, corn cobs, and various bit of rinds from a variety of fruits and veggies were everywhere. It felt silly to sweep dirt to ‘clean up’ but there we were. The inside of the coop was full of last year’s straw which was less than appealing. Sometime this week I have to go pick up fresh bales. The chickens will be thrilled.
Coming soon: Arlo needs to have his spurs trimmed. I’d prefer to not be around when that happens but I don’t think I’m going to get out of it. If you have any advice I’d love to hear it.
(This is not directed toward Tumblr, but) For the thousandth time
No, you don’t need a rooster for you hens to lay eggs. Does saying this stop people from disagreeing or thinking I’m crazy? No, it doesn’t.
I’m so tired of this discussion and the inevitable disbelief that it makes me almost wish I didn’t have Arlo just so I could prove it to people.
Women ovulate without the assistance from a man. Hens are no different. This should not be a difficult concept for folks to grasp. And yet…
I let the chickens try bananas a couple of nights ago. Arlo loved it and kept ripping off huge bites.
One of the most satisfying things for me this summer has been collecting eggs right along goodies from the garden.
Arlo just attacked me and chased me out of the coop. He didn’t actually hurt me but visions of a mangled leg drove me to run for my life, with Arlo chasing me to the back door the whole way; it was a mess. I’m sure I just gave the neighbors a good show.
He only acts this way with me. Asshole.
Final Thoughts on Maggie, the broody hen
After two unsuccessful attempts at sitting on eggs, the second of which conveniently ended during a heatwave, it appears Miss Maggie is finally over her desires to be a mother. Since the eggs hatched on Friday she has moved from her constant vigil inside of the coop to the nicer shaded area outside with the rest of the flock. I’m fine with this. The only reason I let her sit was because she seemed so determined, I didn’t feel like breaking her from the habit, and I thought it might be fun.
Never mind all of that. This last hatching was all of my fault. I had intended to move Maggie and her eggs to a separate space closer to hatch day. But I wasn’t quite sure when she started sitting on the eggs and had miscalculated by a couple of days. This might not have been an issue if the hen sitting had been, say, Loretta who is much higher in the pecking order. A successful hen mama needs to be aggressive from the moment her chicks hatch. Maggie was not a great protector. The result is four dead baby chicks.
After feeling guilty and upset I’m mostly over the whole thing. I don’t intend to hatch my own chicks, ever. Everyone I’ve talked to says even the most seasoned chicken pros have trouble hatching with both broody hens and incubators. It’s just not worth the time and effort, and potential heartbreak, to me. The girls are all still wonderful layers. When production slows, or god forbid we lose any hens, I’ll add a couple more chickens to the bunch but they’ll be breeds I don’t already own. I’ve already got my eye on the chocolate eggs layed by French Marans.