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.
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.
Newport Beach squawks about man’s chicken flock: Michael Resk says he hasn’t seen a snail or a spider since he brought home his six chickens 16 months ago. But he has seen warnings from the city of Newport Beach to remove the birds or face fines.
Photo: The chickens on Goldenrod Avenue in Corona del Mar are ornamental and shouldn’t violate the city’s ordinance against owning poultry, their owner says. Credit: Daily Pilot
Despite eggs’ deadly reputation, decades of research have found that eating up to six eggs a week isn’t harmful for most healthy people. It’s true that egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but they appear to have little impact on most people’s blood cholesterol levels. Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and a healthful alternative to doughnuts and muffins. For many people, the real problem with eggs is what accompanies them: Skip the bacon and sausage, and go for fruit instead.
This cold and drizzly fall week offered a little glimpse into what chicken keeping will be like in the winter.
If the muddy eggs are any indication it’s a whole new ballgame. One I’m not going to enjoy nearly as much as I did in the summer.