Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Weather to Talk About-- So Let's Talk Chicken!

The big, bad winter storm completely missed us and all we got was a little bit of sleet. Nothing to write about.

The temps inched up today and hit the mid-forties which means much of the snow and ice we already had is melting and turning everything into slush and mud. I dread walking to the chicken coop-- the path is so muddy, so I walk on slippery, slushy snow, which is no fun, but at least if I fall, and I haven't, yet, I won't fall in the mud.

Of the six young chickens I have left, it's looking like only 2 are hens. Foo! The young roosters are starting to get cocky and I have caught them trying to mount one of the older hens who promptly give chase, clucking all the while, as if to say: "How dare you get fresh with me! I'll give you a piece of my mind! Don't you ever try that again with me, you pitiful excuse for a rooster!" Because of the snow and mud, they roost on the back stoop, which makes it fun to watch their antics, but leaves me with a poopy stoop. I get an earful from Andrew about that, a lot.

Friends of ours told me I needed to crack the whip and make my hens lay an even dozen. That'd be nice, but at the moment, I have only 11 laying hens. Adding in the two young ones, and they'll be ready to lay eggs soon, will make it 13. Chances will be good, then, I'll have a dozen eggs from time to time, until the older ones start molting in the Spring.

I doubt I'll buy any new chicks this year.. I'm happy with the flock I have now, and they easily go through a 50 lb bag of feed in 10 days. I can only imagine how much more feed I'd have to buy with more chickens. I'm looking forward to Spring and the chickens feasting on bugs and fresh grass again! I give them kitchen scraps and leftovers when we have them to supplement their diet.

Maybe this will be the year of getting a pig? I need to figure out where to put a pen and build some sort of shelter first before I can even think about that. But I am hopeful, so wait and see. I worry about getting attached to the pig and then having to take it to the butcher when it's time, but that's something I'll have to work on. I already know that it will be hard for me to butcher any of the older hens, having had them for almost 2 years and it's likely I'll just let them live out their days here. How long is the average life span for a chicken anyway? I'll have to look that up.

One of the young chickens is a hunchback. He's a roo. I have no idea how that happened-- he wasn't born that way. I wonder if it's possible to be pecked in the just the right spot and suddenly be hunched? He definitely cannot see me coming from his right and what he lacks in form, he makes up for in meanness. He's overly paranoid, but I don't blame him, he can't see what's coming at him until it's too late and I think he's on the bottom of the pecking order. Come Spring, he'll get butchered along with the other 3 roos. I'll be taking extra care when I butcher him to study his spine and see if there's any reason why he's hunchbacked.

10 eggs today, and two were really small ones, so perhaps the young hens are already starting to lay eggs? I can't imagine any of the older hens popping out little ones like that, so it's possible. I need to check my calendar to figure out exactly how old the young chickens are, but if I recall correctly, they should start laying around this time.

Chickens are just about the only colorful things to look at outside-- everything is either white, gray or brown. So I've got chicken on the brain. I enjoy watching them, they are fun to watch and it relaxes me. You can often catch me standing at the window, nose pressed to the glass, watching them. With all the chaos of 4 children, the chickens outside my window sure have a calming effect on me!

Stay warm and if you were one of those people hit by bad weather, I'll send good thoughts your way. :o)


Cheyenne said...

A hunchback chicken? My daddy raised chickens, pigeons, and exotic pheasants and I never once heard of a hunchback in the group. I am very anxious to hear how it occurred too.

jenny said...

Cheyenne-- I'll try and get a picture of him, he's kind of flighty, but I'm pretty sure I can get one of him.