Friday, July 19, 2013

Update: The Chicken Chronicles


Well, we had nine chickens -- five hens just hitting laying age, four chicks that are about to hit three months old. Now we have seven -- four hens, three chicks.

My daily routine is to go out and scatter feed for them each morning right after I pour my first cup of coffee (which I drink outside under our gazebo/canopy). On Sunday morning, I knew as soon as I stepped out the door that something was wrong. There were feathers scattered all over the enclosure.

The feathers were from one of the hens that was still there, our Buff Orpington. She had a gash on her breast as well, and for a couple of days she was shy and skittish, but now she's pretty much back to her old self.

Our Brown Leghorn and one of the chicks were missing (and still are, presumed dead).

This was not totally unexpected. Our neighbors two doors down have lost most of their chickens in the seven months they've lived here. I had hoped that the enclosure I built, which has smaller openings in the fencing, etc. would prevent it, but it didn't. Presumably the (as yet unidentified, but we suspect a fox) predator managed to lift up a portion of the PVC frame and get in under it.

Response: The enclosure was about 30 feet from the house. Now it's right next to the house, with the PVC anchored in more places, landscaping timbers placed around the exposed portions of the base and some scary Halloween statuary I got for a couple of bucks at a yard sale (a gargoyle and a flashing-LED-eye bust of some kind of devil or Greek sex fiend god or something -- horns and leer, you know the kind) at the corners, and with a back porch light left on nearby overnights. No more incidents. Yet.

Two of the hens are laying -- the White Leghorn pretty reliably an egg each day for a couple of weeks now, the Blue Andalusian not quite as often and only the last few days. We've had some omelets. They're great. I've been saving eggs for several days, and tonight or this weekend, I'm going to try my hand at a bacon and spinach quiche. Once the other two hens' ovaries come online, we should be looking at at least a dozen-and-a-half eggs per week.

Liam has more eggs in the incubator, but I think we're going to give the hatchlings to our aforementioned neighbors.

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