Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Think It Might Be....!!!!


WELL!!! I think that the 100 degree day may have "sparked" a member of Flock 2 to leave us a girft! That's right, I'm pretty sure I discovered a pullet egg along with 7 other eggs in the nest box this evening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can definately tell the egg in the middle is smaller than the rest. What you cannot see by this picture, and I'm sorry, is that the speckling on it is different than the rest as well. Obvisouly it was eaiser last year to tell the chickens were laying, since no one was until that day in the garage Dan found one tucked behind the snow shovel. At least this year we don't have to go hunting all over the yard to find the bounty!

I was thinking we'd see a membrane egg, as I call it, before anything else...and we still may. It would be more bebeficial if we didn't since a membrane egg is just that: a memebrane. Those are easier to break by accident and if a chicken gets the tatse for egg yolk, they will start to eat eggs...a very bad habit we don't want to have!

I also can't wait until our Araucanas start to lay since those will be blue and green. So this pullet egg is not from an Araucana. I guess tomorrow and the next few days I'll have to go out a peek inside the nest box to see if a newbie is sitting. Last year our firt layer went back the next few days and saty even though she didn't lay another egg for a few days.

Flock 2 is now well over 4 months of age. It was right at 4 months last year that we started to see eggs from Flock 1. Our Golden Coments are known to be early producers...and come to think of it, I just changed out the straw in the nest box last Saturday and I remember seeing a golden feather in it.

I'm just excited! It's been a few months now since we were at maximum egg production and I CAN NOT wait to get back to cranking them out again!

This was last year's first egg (I remember eating it for breakfast):

This is this year's first egg (I'm pretty sure it is):

As always, I am one proud momma!!!!

                                                                                         ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm Gonna 'Bug Out' in the Chicken Coop....


Were we the only couple to sit down and watch the show "Doomsday Preppers"??? This was a show that featured people who are preparing for catastrophic events that would drastically change the world. I was both fascinated by these people and at the same time, terrified because of them. I was not afraid of them as in I felt in danger by them, it was more of the fact that they showed me how unprepared for uncivil unrest we really are.

According to Urban Dictionary, the term "bugging out" means: "To move away from your current location very quickly (often under fire) because your position has been compromised by the enemy."

"Bugging out" is a very popular term used by preppers. It's their escape plan. Most of them have a "bug out" location...usually in some remote rural area and underground. These people buy "bug out" shelters that cost more than your average home, and they fill it with anything from freeze-dried food to your most luxury modern convinces. Now I know the world is supposed to end on December 21, 2012...or the world is going to immediately change at 12:00 A.M. on that day, but let's just hypothetically say that it does not....not on that day or any day (hopefully) in our/their lifetime....they just spent so much time and money setting aside these "preps" about a waste!

Anyway, this all came to my mind after reading an article in the May/June issue of Chickens Magazine, about what else??? eggs.  When an egg come out of a chicken, it has a natural protectant seal covering it. By simply washing the egg, it takes that seal away. Now listen to this: an unwashed egg can last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator...or in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit!!! So I don't want to hear any more comments on receiving poopy eggs! I never wash my eggs...I always just thought it was a materialistic waste of time. Putting the gg in the cartoon with the pointy-end down also helps keep them fresher longer.

As soon as I read this, I thought about the episode of "Doomsday preppers" where this lady showed how she smeared her eggs in something...and I can't for the life of me remember what it is....and she said it made her eggs last for months. At first I thought she was full of it, but now I believe her. I will never again get stressed out when a cartoon of eggs has sat in the fridge for a month! Now don't assume this on store-bought eggs...I'm sure those have been washed because God forbid someone finds a spot of poo on their breakfast in the morning. (Remember folks, most animal poo is naturally considered "organic".)

I didn't think I had a "bug out" plan before, but now I do. I'll be hiding out in the chicken coop eating eggs and an occasional non-laying hen. I just need to devise a way I can incubate eggs without electricity....if I don't have a broody hen at the time...hmmmmm. Though many nights after this show I tried to convince Dan to buy us a bunker. I have the best place for it where no one would find it. So far no moves have been made to order my bunker, but he did go on a bullet shopping spree.

                                                                                                            ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

"Odd Eggs." Chickens Magazine May/June. 2012:22

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Great EGG-pectations


Our motto here on the Shawhan farm is:  "Go BIG or go home."

It seems as if we can't do anything small or small scale. One example is our garden, I mean, field, that takes up half of the yard. (I planted a pound of green beans.) It also includes potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, sweet corn and gourds. All three of our apple trees are overloaded this in about a month or so, if you want to find the Chicken Lady, I'll be behind the stove watching a canner 24/7.

There is no egg-ception for the chickens, either. In my mind, I egg-pected 30 hens, therefore 30 eggs a day. But you know that old saying, "You makes plans and God laughs..." that is another one of our mottos that must adhere to. I planed on having 30 chickens, but thanks to death, lazy cluckies (freeloaders) and the male chromosome, I won't be seeing 30 eggs a day. Once all of Flock 2 start laying, I will be egg-pecting over a dozen a day. I think that is reasonable, don't you?

I have been happy with what we have been getting; typically 5 to 8 eggs a day. Today, however, we fell short and egg-perienced a low egg-pectation day... in the photo above you can see today's finished product of a whooping 3 eggs. See this kind of work is just unacceptable!! What is so important to these girls that they can't just poop out an egg! I doubt it takes that's not like they have a whole lot to do. Maybe I need to cut down on the salaries, take away bonuses, start laying off workers...maybe that will kick things back into gear.

Oh, and don't think Chicken Hawk is off the hook. I have high egg-pectations for him too. He has big shoes to fill in  following Foghorn. Right now Chicken Hawk's voice is a little weak and wobbly. His crowing is slowly getting better and doesn't so pathethic anymore. HOWEVER... I want him to be big and pretty like Chaz and Foghorn (even though right now if he were to get mean, and I think he will, I wouldn't be scared of him since he's puny...) and I want him to just belt it out when he opens his mouth. I don't want any wussy roosters on my farm.

All this may sound mean, but I just don't egg-pect anything less than greatness from our place. Remember, go big or go home!

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!


Everyone at the Shawhan farm wants to say:

to all you dads out there!

On the chicken stand point of things, I would like to have taken today to wish Foghorn and Chaz a Happy Father's Day. I just know that if I would have incubated a handful a of eggs they would have been fertile. So I think they deserve some recognition today too. Not to mention all they hard work the did protecting their women and calling and crowing from danger warnings to food discoveries.

This is a good picture of Foghorn. See how mean he looks.....

Chaz never looked mean.

On the topic of Father's Day, it should be noted that God is the Father to all of us and we should keep that in mind every day, not just today or in church on Sundays. I couldn't help but see the irony that today was Sunday, Father's Day and it rained...a good bit I might add. Rain has been something we've desperately needed.

Hope all you dads out there have a great day!

                                                                                      ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mean Chicks


Nervousness swelled up inside Freckles Silver-Laced Wyandotte's chest as she stood in the front of the cafeteria. It was her first day at her new school, Shawhan Coop High. The day had been awkward enough, and now she had to face her biggest challenge yet as the new chick in town...lunch. The cackle of the crowd in the lunch room did nothing to override the thudding of her heart. I can't just stand here forever, Freckles thought to herself as she looked nervously about the room for an empty roost. I'll be made fun of for sure. Everyone will call me a geek!

 "Hey Freckles..over here!" Freckles turned and saw a wing waving her toward a vacant roost. It was next to a chick named Hannah Jo. Freckles also saw another chick she had seen in her nesting class; she thought the other chick was named Blanche. Relief coursed through Freckles' legs as she waddled over to the table, thankful to have dislodged her feet from their home on the cafeteria floor.

That evening Freckles clucked excitedly as she told her parents about the new schoolmates she had made. She went to sleep with a smile on her beak and dreamt of her new best friends.

The next morning, Freckles felt 100 percent better about the day and her new school. Sure she was just a Freshman, but at least she had some friends and wouldn't end up alone. Confidence soared through her veins...the next four years at Shawhan Coop High were going to be great!

Today at lunch time Freckles walked steadily in the direction of her new table where her new friends sat roosting and waiting for her when she heard someone else call her name. Turning she saw Henrietta, Smirnoff and Prissy motioning her toward their table. Freckles gulped and smiled tentatively...those hens were SENIORS...what did they want with her?

 "Freckles...come sit with us today." Prissy said and motioned to the only available roost at their table.

Frantic ran rapid in Freckles...yesterday Hannah Jo and Blanche had filled Freckles in on the popular clique everyone at Shawhan Coop High called The Artificals or The Arties for short. Apparently they were so popular, but no one really liked them due to their fakeness.

Prissy was the leader of the group. She was shallow and stole other hens' boyfriends....there was even a rumor circulating that Prissy had dated a married man!

Smirnoff was a lush who everyone said kept her favorite beverage, Smirnoff Strawberry Aci, in her water bottle...and Henrietta was just a Prissy follower. A minon.

"Well are you coming or not?" Prissy asked.

"Sure..OK." Freckles looked over her shoulder and shrugged at Hannah Jo and Blanche's confused expressions. She would have to explain later that she was nervous and definitely didn't want to get on Prissy's bad side.

"Eww!!!" Henrietta shrieked.

"What?!" Freckles asked and looked around...did someone puke?

Henrietta pointed a long flight feather at Freckle's tray. Freckles was poking through the wiggling worm mess, trying to find a hair or something gross, but coming up short when Prissy explained, "Oh, we don't eat school lunch. It's not environmentally friendly...or something like that. If you want to continue sitting here at lunch everyday, you are just going to have to eat when you get home."

A loud grumble of hunger arose in Freckles' stomach as she pushed her tray away.

"Oh my gosh, I love your feathers! Where did you get those speckles?"

Freckles looked down at her white spots. "Um.. my mom and dad..."

"I have white speckles too...don't you love them?" Prissy asked and Freckles couldn't believe it, but she could tell Prissy expected an answer. "They're beautiful." She agreed.

"I know, right!"

"Oh my gosh you guys, look who it is! It's Fanny-No-Feathers!!!" Smirnoff clucked loudly and all three Arties fell into a hysterical bought of laughter. Of course the rest of the cafeteria noticed what they were doing and who they pointed to and then joined in.

Freckles had been filled on Fanny the day before as well. The poor girl had a ruff bought of molting and had re-grown all her white feathers...all but her tail feathers. Now she looked like a giant marshmellow running around school and was picked on daily. And no one picked on her harder than the Arties.

Dread filled Freckles. In 24 hours' time she had been low, felt higher than a kite and was back down to low again. She felt trapped. She couldn't just get up and leave the Arties...she would become their new victim...but she wasn't comfortable sitting there and hanging out with them either.

What's a chick to do?

This is basically the scene inside the coop every night since we inter grated the two flocks. See all the empty space... Flock 1 hogs the roost... (Please don't report me...I know they still have bald spots on their backs...I think it's a molt)... This is the popular table.

With the exception of a few "cool" newbies, the older girls definitely get the good seats for the night. I believe this has something to do with the poultry pecking order. I think I read somewhere that hens higher on the totem pole will roost higher than their lower peons...but I'm not 100% sure on that.

The chicks who are neither popular nor nerds sit on the nest box railing.

The nerds of the coop sit on the angled roof of the nest box. It can't be comfortable...slipping and sliding down the sloping surface all night.

The cool kid sits in the window, if you can see she can blow her cigarette smoke out and not get caught smoking in school. I should report's illegal in the state of Ohio to smoke in buildings....

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chicken Down


Lately I've been noticing a trend among the numerous birds' nests around the Shawhan farm. Chicken feathers have been playing an important part in the nest building materials. It's cute in the fact that what I've seen is that the feathers are what the little birdies are laying on, rather than being in the make up of the nest. Is this the animal kingdom's version of goose down bedding???

The picture above is what was left of a barn swallow's nest that was in the rafters above Charlie's stall. It was there one night when I went to put him out in the pasture, and then the next morning I found it laying demolished on the ground.

We had another swallow nest out our front door and on the side of the porch awning. It was there last summer because I saw babies in it. Momma had come back this year, but I wanted a nail on the porch for a hanging flower basket and all of Dan's pounding sent it to the ground. I was kind of sad about that and I'm hoping Momma re-builds, but thanks to so many foreclosed nests in the area, I'm thinking she won't. Anyway, her nest was filled with chicken down as well.

I suppose this is a popular housing trend in the area and maybe it helps with real estate value. After all chicken down looks soft and is a great insulator and helps to wick away moisture. Using it helps keep the surrounding area free from random chicken feather litter and is therefore a reusable resource that doesn't rob our our environment of its natural resources. All these little birds are going green! Maybe I could start selling chicken down....

Personally I have never owned anything made of feathers...unless you count my flock of chickens, but not as far as bedding is concerned. Anytime I have laid on a feather pillow it's too soft and in all honesty it freaks me out feeling the feathers inside.

Here you can see a nest in the barn that is currently using chicken down for the babies. You can see the beak of one....

I do know people who love their goose down comfronters and the warmth they provide during the cooler months; I just don't think it's for just must be for the birds!

                                                                               ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Guessing Game


Life is full of surprises and unfulfilled expectations. As a chicken owner, one has many of these experiences. To begin with, the sign at the feed mill will read: Get Your Pullet Chicks Here!!!! (A pullet is a female chick.) This means the chicks from the hatchery have been "sexed" and only females are supposed to be present in the many boxes of chirping fluffiness. One also assume that the breed labeled on the paper and taped to the box is what one will get, and those chickens will grow up to look like the corresponding picture in the pamphlet given to you from the hatchery.

In the beginning, Dan was almost positive R.W. was going to be a rooster...these days we aren't so sure. We don't know what the sex is and I'm beginning to question what the breed it is.

We had this problem last year with Chaz...and I know, I never got around to doing Chaz's profile. For the longest time we didn't know what Chaz was...a male or a female...and yes, in honor of Chaz Bono, hence the name, Chaz.

Sometimes it's hard to tell a rooster from a hen in the early days. No matter the sex, each chicken is growing their combs (what's on top of their heads) and their wattles (the red stuff hanging down from their chins). Roosters are by nature bigger in body, wattles and sometimes combs. As chickens mature sexually and get closer to laying eggs, the wattles and combs will develop more and become more pronounced.

Cadburry has "matured" over night it seems and resembles a full-grown chicken. Prissy got her name because she was the first out of Flock 1 to fully develop. Prissy has a rather large comb on her head.

(I have also read, that  you can tell if a chicken doesn't lay eggs if her comb and wattles are shriveled looking and not really "there".)

Chickens start to lay when they reach 5 to 6 months of age. (That means hopefully next month we will start to see some pullet eggs!!!!!!) And it seems everyone is developing right on schedule. We are going to be in for it though. We definitely have a rooster, who has already reached puberty and is trying to ride his overachiever. Yep...we have one worse than Foghorn...

Ladies and gentlemen who are fans of The Chicken Lady, I introduce to you....


You know since we had a Foghorn we had to have a Chicken Hawk. The above isn't a great picture of him, but he already struts his stuff. I think it was a good idea we let Foghorn go...who knows what would have happened between the two

I am excited to see what Chicken Hawk will look like once he's full-grown. He already has beautiful green tail feathers. That's another thing with roosters, their tail feathers arch out and curl, unlike a hen's as theirs tend to be straighter.

I'm sure Chicken Hawk will become a character as time goes on. He has yet to discover his voice .  He can take his time...Dan and I are enjoying the peace and quiet....sorry to my neighbor who actually misses the 4:00 A.M. crowing!

Once in my fantasy world I had 30 laying chickens. Then, due to human error on my part and the hatchery, I know have maybe 26 to 27 laying hens and possibility more than one rooster. And so begins round two!

                                                                                      ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Letter Home


Dan, myself and the rest of us here on the Shawhan farm have received a letter from Foghorn! (Please don't tell him, but he is not missed. We are very much enjoying the peace and quiet that is not constantly interrupted by incessant crowing! We also think the chickies are enjoying their freedom from wifely duties. We have 9 laying hens and yesterday we got 8 eggs! That is a HUGE we haven't seen in months!)

Foghorn is quickly learning German and I had to translate some of his letter:

My Dearest Familie (family),

This place is INSANE! know what I'm sayin'? It's weird, though...the voedsel (food) tastes the same...maybe I'm trippin' or somethin'. Just wanted to let you all know that me and Chaz is doin' real good, know what I'm sayin'? It's pretty nice all up in here this new crib of ours. We gots plenty of dames (ladies) and we are gettin' along real good with everyone. I gots this dame (lady) who works kinda like my translator and she helps me say all these words in Dutch like my new familie (family) does. I told Chaz though that body language is they can still understand the language of love even though they can't understand me, know what I'm sayin'?

Well I don't have a lot of time to write...they believe in work at this place, but it's cool. My body is showin' some ab muscles that would put The Situation to shame, know I'm sayin'? Hope you all are doin' good. 

 ......Mom, you taught us to play nice and we are, know what I'm sayin'? taught us real good. (That water mark on the paper was from a rain drop, or somethin'...or the wind was blowin' dirt in my wasn't cause I was cryin', know what I'm sayin'?)


Foghorn Stutzman

P.S. To any roosters comein' up in the newbies...SCREW UP DUDE and get sent here!!!! It's off the hook with LADIES!

As I said before, Foghorn is not missed.

                                                                             ....cluck... cluck... cluck...