Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mink Trappin' (Part 2)


So far our poor cluckies have been "cooped" up in the coop for over a month now. I think they all believe they are on permanent ISS...or In-School Suspension. On really cold or rainy days I don't feel so sorry for them since I know that if they were allowed outside their confines, they wouldn't go past the kennel anyway. However, the past few days I felt awful for them because I knew they would have loved being outside in the spring-like weather.

Because of that, I really hounded Dan to get our mink trap built and a bait system in place. He came home last night with his homework assignment already finished and by 6:00 P.M. he had everything, trap, and nasty sardine bait.

As you can see, the opening of the trap is only as wide as the trap itself. This way, Mr. Mink (or a poor cat) has to go over/through the trap in order to reach the bait behind it. Minks are cleaver and will actually move the trap out of the way. Dan also staked the trap in place so this cannot happen.

(That nasty looking glob in front is mink lure.)

This mink trap box is closed in the back:

Dan also placed a cinder block on top incase our violator did get caught in the trap and flopped around a lot. This way he's sure to be in one spot and one spot only.

I don't even know if Mr. Mink is still lurking in the shadows are not...too much time may have already passed. Our game plan now is to keep the girls locked away until the weather gets a little warmer (like I said, they wouldn't go far right now anyway). They might get to sample a little bit of freedom this weekend with the warmer temps and we will be home and will be able to monitor the barn in case Mr. Mink decides to come back like he did at his Christmas visit.

I know the chickens need/would like to get outside, but I also can't help but note the impressive number of eggs we are continuing to get. We still get a dozen or more a day. Only one day this past week did we drop below the magic number 12 and only received 9. Dan was a little harsh that night on ladies calling them slackers and whatnot. I told him, what can he expect? The past 2 days prior they gave us 18! This drop in production was probably due to the fact we ran out of chicken feed and supplemented with Jimmy and Charlie corn for a couple of days...opps.

A chicken really is only as good as what it eats!

Hopefully Mr. Mink comes back and gets snapped up in the traps. If we haven't suspected any mink activity, we may just go ahead and let the cluckies out and try and lure him back in. Keeping my fingers crossed for success, justice and no more dead chickens!

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

There Really Isn't Anything to Say...


Sorry I didn't post Thursday...but there really hasn't been much going on, which is a good thing. No bad news anyway. But that only means that it's the calm before the storm....

We are still getting between 10 to 18 eggs a day, so way to go girls!

I sold 9 dozen eggs yesterday and am considering charging everyone from now on. I can't believe the gull of some people who have received A LOT of free eggs and expect free eggs for nothing. All I did was call in a favor/payment of yellow cake and chocolate frosting and people EXPECT free eggs before they will make  me a cake. Guess what, that is not happening. I have never asked anyone for egg payment, so really the baked goods should have come a long time ago. more freebies people.

Hopefully I'll be more creative on Thursday!

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Whopper


We have had a certain egg for a couple of weeks now. I have been super protective over this egg, constantly reminding Dan not to eat it because I wanted to save it for it's own special post.

I call it, The Whopper.

I think it is the biggest egg we have ever collected from our girls.

Dan brought it in one night with the other eggs collected from that day, saying he didn't think it would fit in the carton the same way as the others. And it didn't.  (Hopefully you can see the comparison in these pictures. Again, my camera isn't the best. The Whopper is in the top photo and a regular sized egg is in the bottom photo.)


From that day on, The Whopper has been lifted up on a podium (the top shelf of the refrigerator) and safe from consumption and threats of being sold. Even now I have no plans to eat it or get rid of it. Part of me wants to keep The Whopper forever as a trophy as to what my birds are capable of producing.

I measured The Whopper using a soft tape measure from my sewing box. It measures 6 and 1/8 inch around.

Another random egg from the carton measured only 5 and 1/8 inch around.

We had another large egg, but it doesn't quite measure up to The Whopper, being only 6 inches around.

Here is The Whopper compared to an orange:

And here is a smaller, random egg selected next to the same orange:

I really wish I knew the girl who squirted out The Whopper. Not only would I give her The Employee of the Month award, but also a nice ice pack she can sit her bum on!

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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Chicken "A-HA!" Moment


Today, Dan had an epiphany. I'm so proud of him!

This evening he comes in the house with a full carton of eggs, plus 6 more eggs on top of that.

"I think we should keep the chickens cooped up all the time." He said smugly.

I turned from my sink of dirty dishes and about fell over. My jaw hit the floor.  "How many did we get?" I exclaimed.

"18! That means all but two laid today."

I thought perhaps our large number of eggs was due to the fact that no one can escape and play Easter Chicken on us. (I don't miss hunting for eggs around the barn at night.) But Dan made a better point.

He thinks our increase in eggs is due to the fact that since the chickens are stuck inside all the time now, they are eating only their laying feed ration, and hence cranking out the eggs.

Normally, our birds are out in the steer lot, eating bugs, grubs and steer corn...or the corn from the steer poo - it's gross I know, but it's true - and eating only some of their ration. A laying hen is fed a specific diet. You can buy the feed at feed stores, or make up your own like we do. Our chickens are fed corn (duh!) with bean meal, mineral mix and calcium carbonate. This "recipe" came from Gene Debruin, who I have talked about more than once in this blog, and who is an animal nutritionist. (Helps to know the right people!)

This logic makes a lot of sense to me. 

Plus I feel like it's a win for me and Dan...finally...I mean, it's about stickin' time we won at something when it deals with these freaking birds....who make you feel like your crazy most of the time and we are always on the loosing team. Feels good to win one for once. Maybe we'll stay in the game a little longer now.

Dan says the other two hens better step it up. He wants a day where every single female produces an egg. He also wants so sell enough eggs to buy himself a new pick-up...thought
 that day may be a long time coming!

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mink Trappin' (Pt. 1)


Chickens will teach you many things.

1.) No matter how hard you try to conatin them, they will eventually find a way to escape;

2.) No matter how hard you try to protect them from the evils of the world, they will eventually die;

3.) When a rooster starts with his head bob, he's going to turn mean; and

4.) Everyone will tell you trapping mink is next to impossiable to do.

 But of course we still try... to do all of these above...except when the rooster turns mean, we get rid of him.

Anyhoo, we have begun our adventures in trying to capture and bring to justice, Mr. Mink. Thankfully, I learned a lot from weasel trappin' and have not had to clean up any messes in the microwave. I DID have to buy sardines for the first time in my life.

Last year when we tried to get a weasel I bought chicken livers. I was able to conspicuasly hide them in my over-flowing grocery cart. Buying the sardines this year was a little different. First of all, it is no longer a surprise to anyone, espically small town Hillsboro, that I am expecting. My protrouding belly and I went to Krogers and purchased 2 cans of sardines (so many choices!), a bag of Cuties oranges that I have been eating like crazy, an issue of  Pregnany and Newborn I found in the magazines and a Three Musketeers bar that was my reward for 30 minutes of swimming. I figured it didn't look good a pregnant woman buying sardines (no fish prego ladies!), so I tucked the cans behind my magazine, hoping I wouldn't see anyone I knew, and rushed to an empty U-Scan.

After my purchasing experience, the next exciting adventure was actually opening the can of sardines. Now I'm sorry, but anyone who actually buys those things and eats need help! That crap is gross! What is the difference between eating what comes in those cans and just cathing a small fish, chopping it in two and sucking it down right on the banks of the pond!?

Only weird people and mink like sardines.

Dan and I had purchased two different kinds of mink traps from Bass Pro plus yet another interesting concoction called mink lure...which smells fishy.

We ran into an interesting guy who has done some trapping before and gave us a few pointers. For instance, you have to boil new traps in this powdery stuff the hunting stores sell, or if you only have a couple of traps, you can add walnuts and other nuts found outdoors to your boiling water of traps. This helps make the traps smell more like nature and no so suspious to the varmits. Also, there is a huge bar of wax you are supposed to rub on your traps so that arms and limbs can't slip trhough the bars of the trap. We didn't buy any wax and we boiled our traps in water and walnuts. The thought ran through my mind of using surfboard wax, but I think minks would be more suspicious of coconut smelling wax than plain old human scent.

A few nights ago we set our first trap. Dan placed theset trap in front of a small enclousre he quickly made and we put the sardines inside. That way the mink would have to go through the trap in order to get to the fishes inside.

I knew we would be humbled. The next morning the seafood was gone and the trap was moved aside. We don't know if the mink was still around and pushed the trap aside (mink are smart, or so we have been told) or if a cat figured it out.

We have a long way to go in this trapping process. I knew we would catch anything with a flimsy box on our first night. But it didn't hurt to try.

Today's sardine experience was even more embarrassing. I bought 2 more cans while at the dollar store, along with ghrahm crackers and peanut M&M's.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eat Your Vegetables


I really want to apologize for not posting pictures lately. I'm heart broken that my last few posts have been accompanied by any photos. For whatever reason, this site isn't letting me upload any from my computer. I guess I'll have to see about posting from another computer or trying to upload them from Dan's phone. So anyway...

Dan and I hosted our first New Year's Eve party here on the Shawhan farm. It was a blast! Lots of good food and good company. One thing on the menu was a vegetable tray that Dan and I bought from, where else, Kroger's. It had your typical veggie assortment of carrots, cauliflower, celery and broccoli. Our party was great...lots of food and lots of left-overs. One of which was our veggie tray.

After several meals of the tray sitting on the table and not being eaten, I finally took it out to the barn. I have heard from several sources that chickens can benefit from table scraps, especially those that originally came from the garden. Also, for the past couple of weeks our chickies have been cooped up in the coop and not getting their usually dietary supplement of bugs and grubs. Thankfully, everyone seems to have made this adjustment quite nicely. We are getting anywhere between 11 to 14 eggs a day and the chickens don't seem as mad in the morning as they used to be at us because they were ready to be let outside and we had slept in too late. The only noticeable difference may be the paler yolk color.

I started out giving the chickens a small handful of broccoli. (I didn't want to over-do it, since I know what excess vegetables do to me!) They loved it! Tonight, I gave them the cauliflower, not knowing if they would eat that or not, but they ate it right up. I guess next I will try the celery, but I'm not sure if chickens like celery or not. Jimmy and Charlie are getting a few carrots about every other meal. Charlie ate his the first night, but chose not to eat them tonight. As I remember correctly, Jimmy loves carrots and Charlie spits them out.

I haven't taken care of the animals the last couple of feedings...busy mornings and I was feeling sorry for myself last night. Today was a long day and sometimes if I haven't seen everybody for awhile I get a little anxious, hoping all is still going well. So it felt good to take care of everyone tonight and sort of re-connect and spend a few extra minutes with my animals. Animals are special and can (at times) be relaxing and therapeutic...especially when you need a smile...chickens are great for that!

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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rotten Eggs Part Deux


I got some great feedback from my recent post, "Are You a Good Egg or a Bad Egg?", that I decided to share what I got.

First, back on the 4th of July, I gave my cousin Emily a dozen eggs. At the time I posted the info about how to determine if an egg is good or not, she STILL had at least one left from that dozen! Being the good friend that she is, she tested that 5 to 6 month old egg and sent me a photo (which for some reason, I can't share on here???? Maybe gonna switch blogging sites if this continues....) Anyway, in the photo, the egg was floating to the top of a container filled with water! Remember, bad eggs float!

Now, if you get a rotten egg from me, it's probably your own fault. I advise you eat them before 5 to 6 months :)

Next, here's a story my Grandma Shaw e-mailed me. (I hope it was OK to share it!)

"Hey Becca,
After reading your last chicken story, I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was a little girl-----I was probably 6-8 years old.
I would spend several days visiting with my cousins who lived on farm. At that time, farmers would harvest their wheat by using a threshing machine rather than the combines we have today
That was always a big occasion. All the neighbor women would cook these large meals for the men who were working My cousins and I went to another farm where other children lived also We found some chicken eggs in the barn that had been there for quite awhile. We had lots of fun throwing then on the back of the barn. Yes, they had a distinctive sulfur smell
Needless to say', their parents were furious and made the other children scrub the eggs off the barn. My cousins and I were lucky. We were already home when the deed was discovered and we didn't have to help.
I hope your little one doesn't decide to throw rotten eggs at something
It has turned cooler here .. The sun is nice and warm, but we have a north wind blowing. It is only 60 today.
Love, Grandma"
Now, IF you find a rotten egg anywhere, don't throw them at people's barns!
At least I was right about the sulfur smell!
                                                                                                     ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mr. Mink...alias, Mr. Weasel


So, there is a major twist in the weasel drama here on the Shawhan farm. Our suspicions have changed from weasel to mink!

Let's back up a second here. After the latest attacks, we FINALLY broke down and bought some weasel lure. For $20.00, one can purchase four of these little containers (not even as big as a salt and pepper shaker) that contain a magical potion that will lure a weasel into your trap and find his instant doom, bringing justice to postmortem chickens all over the world.

What is actually in weasel lure, I can't tell you, though the place we ordered it from listed the ingredients. Me being of curious nature, took a big whiff and am convinced that skunk fragrance extract may be least that's what it smells like.

~Now ladies, I don't recommend this pregnant, as the olfactory senses are working in high gear during this time. I also don't recommend sniffing it pregnant right after a big meal, as it induces gagging.~

~ ~I also don't want to hear any bull/comments about sniffing weasel lure while pregnant and what affects one may say it will have on Baby Shawhan. (Or other chicken related activities...I sniffed weasel lure, not poo!)~ ~

 Anyhoo, last night Dan and I went out in the freezing cold, after heating up a heaping chunk of old baked chicken, and spooned out some lure. Hoping for fast results and a late Christmas present, I was disappointed to find the trap empty this morning and again this evening.


Dan was able to to talk to Gene DeBruin (the man who really does have all the answers in life regarding livestock!) and Gene said it sounds like we have a mink instead of a weasel. On Christmas day when we rushed outside to save the ladies and Dan manfully entered the kennel armed and dangerous, he said the "weasel" looked pretty big...almost wondering how our weasel trap would even hold the animal.

Gene says mink are just a big cousin to weasels. Mink usually live near a water source (we do have a pond in the back recesses of the Shawhan farm) where they usually live off fish/rats/mice, etc. Perhaps with colder temperatures, or maybe not a lot of fish in said pond, Mr. Mink found himself an easy food source. Mink will stay the same color throughout the winter months, whereas a weasel will turn white in the winter and brown in the summer. Also, weasels are pretty small in relation to their larger kin.

Last winter when the perpetrator was spotted in the coop and Dan tried to spear it with a pitchfork, he remembers it being quite large and not white. We are beginning to think it has been Mr. Mink all along.

Gene says our weasel trap won't hold a mink and that mink are too smart for live traps. Which only means one thing: a very cruel, Becca isn't against using, claw trap. (Well, that's what I call it.) So  more shopping for the Chicken Lady. Now we need to find another kind of trap...SIGH...and bait it with sardines. Yummy.

We still have the weasel trap set and will probably continue to fish for weasels. Better to rid the property of as many predators as possible. Oh, and it's probably only one or two mink, which is good. If we can finally end all of this and get some much needed justice, the ladies can enjoy the outdoors again!

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