Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow, snow, snow!!

After a hard snowfall which left most of the chickens stranded in the coop, a few ventured just steps out for some tasty treats this afternoon.
Aside from a race to shelter under the deck, this is the farthest they have gone in the snow. Tomorrow should be warmer and some cracked corn will help entice them out.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I went out to let the chickens loose from their coop this afternoon.

I called to them, as I usually do, and heard the scampering sounds within as they queued up inside next to the hatch door. After opening it up, I like to stand back and watch them race out -their first breath of outdoor air for the day like the first they have ever had. Do the chickens remember being outside yesterday? Do they remember their past? I used to try and count the ten of them as they raced out, but since we have added more hens and subtracted a rooster, the dynamics have changed and they don't all rush out in a bunch. The three newest ones have been slowly adjusting to their new lives with us. The Partridge Cochin, Patty, is a loner and keeps to herself mostly, but the other two that I call Lucille and Carmen are best buddies. Pulled on a cold day out from the bundle of feathers made up of ten chicks, we took these two home and have only just recently opened up their dog crate mini-coop housed inside the main coop. They have gotten by just fine with the other hens because they have no idea they are at the bottom of the pecking order. Their presence has benefited Patty as well since that role was hers when these two were kept apart and she was the new one. Carmen, who my husband calls "Thing Two" assimilated quickly and explored the outside right from the start. Lucille, or "Thing One" is a shy girl and peeps loudly when Carmen is out of sight.

Today, as I stood in the chilly December air and watched the chickens make their way towards their favorite places, I was pleased to see Patty settling into place amongst the bunch. She was trying to keep up with the crowd on their way to the bird seed. I turned the corner and opened the lock on the latch of the dutch door. I saw Lucille over by the waterer. About to step inside, Carmen lay at the foot of the door. She was quite still. I am not certain, because I didn't witness the events, but I have suspicions that our one remaining rooster, the very docile and lovely Dottie who has tried to make the moves on Patty recently, might have tried to mate with Carmen. She didn't survive whatever happened to her after I left her snugly tucked in against Lucille in their mini-coop last evening. Poor Lucille. She had a very best friend and now does not know how to get along without. As I try to coax her to befriend me by holding out morsels of homemade bread, she makes quiet peeps.

I wonder if she will survive without her buddy.

Carmen aka Thing 2.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Famous Eggs!

Our hens have been photographed for two newspapers and I have been interviewed on live radio for a station in Seattle about them... What famous eggs we have!

I am not sure yet what the big deal is about having chickens, but it is a big deal, in a small way, if that makes sense. I feel like I am connected to the ground I walk on by way of the food I eat. I do not want to ever buy eggs in a grocery store again. It isn't only the fantastic taste of the eggs themselves, the idea of providing a home for the layers where they can live their personalities out in the open is the most pleasing aspect of this enterprise thus far. And what personalities they do have!

Below is Speckle. When I went into the coop the other afternoon to collect the eggs, there she was. She is a very friendly bird and follows me around in case there is a chance I have some table scraps. The golf ball under her and next to the eggs was used to encourage proper egg-laying behavior (i.e. in the nesting box and not on the floor or out in the yard). The photographer for the NY Times took a pic of it when it was alone in the box and did a double take when we laughed and said it was not an egg...
Speckle lays blue-green eggs which are very cool. She is a descendant of the South American Araucana, also known as Americana. The mutt version in some feed stores is called Easter-Egger because of the beautiful colored eggs. One of the Araucanas laid a HUGE double-yolker the other day... It was in my hand for some of the photographs the Times took. We will find out Sunday which pics made it into the paper.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Since we were given laying hens before ours were laying, we threw together nesting boxes and a roost corner without using the space most efficiently. Then, with an additional three hens, bed time space was hard to find and some of the girls were pecking at the others a little more than we'd like. As we were winterizing the coop, we moved around the nesting boxes and put in a proper roost... Hopefully they will all fit!

Here is Sparrow checking things out.
Always an inquisitive bird, she came in at least five times as we were hammering and moving things about. Little did we know she was intending on laying an egg! We collected our most ever that day - 9!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Faces, New Places.

There has certainly been some activity in the coop these fall days. As the temps get colder and the light diminishes, egg laying usually recedes -or so we have been told. So far, we have not found any change. We get between 5-8 eggs a day from the Araucanas, Black Stars and Cochins that are laying, which is plenty for us (and some lucky neighbors!). Come spring, we could have 14 a day, and if the little Polish feathered-head ones lay by the summer, 16!!!

The girls each have their own distinct personality and with that, their preferred nesting box.

Here is Latifa (yes, like the Queen), a Black Star in hers of choice.

Later in the day, SnowBall (White Cochin) and Sparrow (Araucana) in theirs.

Only one of the Araucanas uses the bottom bin. Today, if all goes well, we will redesign the interior. With 17 hens we need some more boxes!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What a Few Weeks Can Do...

Well, it was a sad day yesterday when we said goodbye to Rooey. He is off to greener pastures to live out the rest of his crowing days amid 26 hens. I am sure coop drama is rampant there too!

Here's a brief update of what's been going on at our place...

The three snow sisters are still lingering about the coop and have not discovered the wild birdseed patio or the treats to be had at the kitchen door -what discoveries lay ahead!
The bossy black star with the fold-over comb (unnamed, but not for long with the attitude she carries around!) misses Rooey and shirks the attentions of Dottie.
Dottie, the omega turned alpha roo, has been finding his voice. Poor thing, no wonder it takes awhile... With petticoats like his it is not surprising he has to smooth talk the girls (he looks more like a he now that his "Romulan" comb is developing more).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Roos: 2, Hens: 13

We've got some lovebirds:
Dottie & Sister One

We've got the jealous other sister:
Sister Two

We've got the battle for Boss Girl:
Rita & a Black Star (unnamed as of yet!)

We've got the new feathered feet trio:
Snowball, Snowflake & Snowbelle

We've got Roo dynamics:
Dottie & Rooey

We've got anticipation:
Who will lay the first egg??!!

How could you not stay tuned?