Do as I’m doing, follow, follow me

I love having baby chicks!

This is the first time we’ve had a hen hatch a batch for us, and I’ve got to say, it’s the best.

The little chicks follow mama hen where ever she goes, and do what ever she does.

She pecks, they peck.

She scratches the dirt, they scratch the dirt.

They walk around the yard pecking and scratching all day.

Today I was watching them and mama dealt an immobilizing peck to a grasshopper and then stepped back so her babies could enjoy the prize.

Mama & Babies

They enjoyed it all right.

Chicks

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The Little Red Hen

Our flock has grown to about 20 hens and 1 rooster.  Yes, we are down to 1 rooster.  King Henry was beheaded after being found guilty of assault.  Henry attacked Daniel on numerous occasions when the latter was attempting to gather eggs.  Our neighbor came over to help, and turned the king into chicken soup.  It was good.

I didn’t think you would want to see pictures.

Now Wilber (the other rooster) is King.  He is also very happy.

Anyway, that is all off today’s topic.  Today I am going to tell you about the little red hen.

We have a sink leaning against the garden box on the back of Clark’s shop.  It had water in it this spring, but the boys kept putting ???? in it, and the water got rancid and stank.  That is why Clark propped it up on the garden box.

Fast forward a few months to last week.

The chicken waterer started leaking and Clark thought he would fill up the sink to give the chickens extra water.

Sink

This is what he found when he tilted back the sink.

The little red hen.

She is sitting on a nest of eggs.

Hen

It took me a few days to catch her off the nest to count how many eggs she has.

Eggs

Fourteen!  Heaven knows if they are fertile or not – I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks.  It takes 19-21 days for chicks to hatch.

Homeless

During the excavation of the back hill, the chicken coop needed to be moved.  The plan was to pick it up by some chains with the excavator shovel, swing it out of the way, excavate, and then return the coop to it’s original location.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.

old-coop

Sparing you the gory details, when all was said and done, this is how things ended up for the poor chicken coop.  Somehow I don’t think it will be returning to it’s original location.

Not to worry though, I told you my husband can do anything.  That includes building  a chicken coop.  In the mean time though, the chickens were homeless.  I’ve decided there’s nothing dumber than a chicken.  They milled around the location of their old coop looking increasingly forlorn as evening approached.

Clark and I tried several times to herd them into his shop for the night, but they would have nothing to do with that.  As soon as we’d get close, one chicken would bolt, and then it was a chicken free-for-all, running every which way.  Oh, and did I mention that it was snowing?  The weather was awful, the chickens were wet and probably cold, and wouldn’t go in the shop for anything.

We gave up herding the chickens and waited until dark to try and find them and carry them into the shop out of the snow.  Clark and I tromped around in the snow with a flashlight for 30 minutes finding chickens sleeping in all sorts of crazy places; inside a roll of chicken wire, in their old nesting box, and roosted on the edge of the trampoline.  There was one gray hen we never did find.  She likes her new bed so much that she’s hidden there every night since.  We still haven’t found where she sleeps.

The chickens had a warm night, but faced another problem the next day.  Where to lay their eggs.  Some hens shared a nest they made behind the door of the shop.

in-shop

Other hens decided on the open air approach and used their original nesting box.

outdoor-nesting-boxes

One hen laid her egg underneath the trampoline.

The second night the when we tried to herd the chickens into the shop (the new coop wasn’t finished yet) they were happy to comply and marched single file straight into the shop with no complaints. – Well except for our independent little hen who dissappeared again at dusk to her own favorite mystery spot.

The third day it was easy to see that the chickens had finally accepted Clark’s shop as their new home.  They hung out there during the day, and almost all the eggs were laid in the shop nest.  Everyone seemed happy with the new arrangement with one notable exception.  Clark.  He tried to work in his shop on a little project but came out frustrated.  Too much clucking, and tripping over chickens to work in the shop.  He turned his focus back on the new coop with renewed energy.

new-coop

new-coop-2

The new coop was roughly finished on the third day.

finished-coop

dsc_0002

finished-coop-2

That night we let the chickens fall asleep in the shop and then carried them into their new home.  The next night they let us herd them through the little chicken door, and tonight they went in all by themselves.  And when I checked the nesting box in the new coop, this is what I found.

what-do-ya-knowI think they like their new home!

Aliens in our Backyard

OK. So there aren’t really aliens in our backyard, but that sounded so much better than Animals in our Backyard. And sometimes the animals act like they are from outer space, so I’m sticking to the Alien title.

Introducing….

Yukon. Our Retriever/Lab mix. He’s a great dog, loves to go for walks, play with the kids, guard us from Mountain Lions…

Agate, our half wild cat that Yukon found on one of our walks up the canyon a few years ago.

Sir Galihad, or Hadley for short. He is the king cat. A great mouser/bird killer 😦 Doesn’t like Agate, and chases her off the property whenever he gets the chance.
The flock. We have 11 hens and 2 roosters.
This is King Henry. His name says it all- He rules the roost. Except when he’s not watching closely and Wilber sneaks privileges with the Hens. King Henry gets FURIOUS when that happens and chases poor Wilber away.
Wilber is a lone rooster, shunned by the Flock. He’s at the bottom of the pecking order. I’d feel sorry for him, but at least he’s alive. He was abandoned up the canyon, and our neighbor’s dad’s dog found him and took a bite out of him before the Dad saved him and dumped him over the fence into our yard. So he’s really lucky to have such a nice safe place to live, even if he is the outcast. And he is pretty good at sneaking privileges, so don’t feel too sorry for him.

Pop Quiz Answers

The post you’ve all been waiting for!

1) Rhode Island Red: the classic “little red hen” will lay about 250 eggs per year.

2) White Plymouth Rock: A cold hardy bird that will produce 200 eggs/year. We have four.

3) Buff Brahma: Primarily a meat bird, they lay about 150 eggs/year. We have three hens.

4) Blue Andalusian: The Medieval spanish chickens can lay 170 eggs/year. We have four.

Let’s see, that works out to be 2,150 eggs per year, or about half a dozen eggs a day. More in the summer, and fewer in the winter (we have an unlighted, unheated coop.) Hmm…looks like we’ll need to make more pound cake and egg nog!