Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Flock 4 Contributations

  1.) That I finally blog again! I have to apologize for the lack of chicken posts the last few weeks. Summer is a busy time of the year here on the Shawhan farm. I've been peeling, cutting, snapping, canning, mashing, freezing...weeding, mowing, washing, hoeing, picking, plucking, pruning...running, wiping, changing, chasing...how many more action words are there??? Let's just say it's been very busy lately keeping up with all the goodies the garden has been blessing us with along with a one year old. (A big thanks to my mom and dad who have put in some time and labor out in the field, I mean garden!)
 2.) That Flock 4 is starting to lay!!!
  It's always very exciting to see a pullet egg in the nest box, or some other secret hiding place, for the first time. You can easily get in the grove of going out and seeing all your chickens hanging around, knowing about how many eggs you'll probably get that day and just put the thought in the back of your mind that someday...someday, the newbies will start producing too. Then, when that day comes, it's rewarding and exciting...like finding money in your pocket you didn't know you had, or buying something at the store and it rings up cheaper than you were expecting.
  So far we have gotten a handful of these pullet eggs. They are smaller than an a "regular" egg,

and the couple that I've cracked open for scrambled eggs have been missing a yolk. Perhaps it was in there, but to me it looked like it was just the white part. Oh well, I don't mind because I know that by October or so, we should be hitting a peak in egg production.

 And speaking of egg production! Talk about a bunch of slackers right now! Some days we only get 6 or 8 eggs! I don't know if all the up and down temperatures are messing with the girls or not...I could ask them, but I don't think they'd answer me. Sometimes I think the fear of the testing facility gets to them and they can't perform under pressure.

 At least we have Flock 4 who can take up the slack!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Near Death Experience

 Last week my momma came up to spend the day with Carl and I. Because I have to have my excessively large garden and we have had an excessive amount of rain this summer, it has caused an excessive amount of weeds to grow at an excessive rate. A couple of Sundays ago, I spent a good part of the afternoon hoeing the eight rows of sweet corn we put out. I hacked and hacked until my arms and back ached as the searing sun beat down upon back. All I could think about was pool, as I dared not envision the beach down in Punta Cana because it was a cruel reminder that I won't be going down there anytime soon. (This beach is AMAZING!!!! Think Kokomo and any other beach the Beach Boys ever sang about or any tropical picture they ever painted for you...here is a mean teaser for you!)

 It's a cruel summer, I know...

 Anyhoo, back to my garden and last week.... after hoeing all the corn it needed to be done a week later. *Shaw Sigh* So last Monday mom came up to visit me and a very special little boy so that I could hoe the green beans and run the tiller.

 As I was finishing up the garden work, mom came out with Carl and they watched me finish the tilling/played in the yard. After the forest of weeds had been officially destroyed, we all ventured in the barn to check on the animals. I went to the chicken coop first since it was a rather warm day and I figured they needed more water. As soon as I opened up the door I cried out in horror, "She's dead!"

 There, hanging lifelessly upside down from the top of the nest box, was one of the Araucanas from Flock 4! I named her Snowy because she's such a beautiful white-ish bird. (A word of chicken owning wisdom... don't name your birds...those are the ones who will be killed or runaway.)

 I stood there in the door of the coop dumbfounded with my jaw hanging open. Mom was already offering her condolences and Carl was chewing on his fingers happy in grandma's arms. A feeling of defeat washed over me like the waves in Punta Cana. What the crap am I doing wrong!! I try and try to keep these birds alive, well and happy, but they seem so fragile. Sometimes keeping them all alive, well and happy is like trying to hold a palm-full of water cupped in your hand and expecting not to lose any, but it always runs out.

 *Shaw Sigh Again* I walked into the coop with the intentions of removing the carcass. As I edged closer I saw a flicker of movement. Her eye moved, then she began to stretch out her wing like one can see chickens do sometimes as they stretch. So much movement...she was still alive!!!

 "She's alive!" I cried back to mom like Dr. Frankenstein (all that was missing was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightening.)

 "She is?" Mom asked, sounding truly stunned.

  As I investigated closer I saw that Snowy was hanging on top of the nest box by her toe. The top of our nest box has hinges in the middle of it and part of the top opens up so we can collect the eggs. A certain someone, who shall remain nameless, though it WASN'T ME, collected the eggs later than usual the night before. Snowy must have been perched on the top of the nest box for the night and when this person opened and closed the lid of the box, it must have caught her toe, making her trapped. My guess is that she appeared so lifeless because if you a chicken upside down/on it's back, it releases something in their brain that makes them "relax"/ not fight you.

 I was a bit worried about her since it was a hot day and she hadn't been able to drink in hours and I'm assuming she'd been in that position for awhile. I also didn't know if her leg was broken or not. I kicked out the current testing subject in the brooder and put Snowy in there for a few days. Now I'm happy to report that she's back with the flock and running around acting like nothing even happened.

 Thankfully, this time I didn't lose another chicken and for last week, anyway, my garden looked great!