Category Archives: Chickens

Hunting for Eggs

You just have to indulge me. Its been 5 months since the chickens have really laid anything, and even then, after the incident with the dog, and then with the raccoons, and then with the one being a rooster, we were down to just the three Old Maids who were actually laying anything. And then winter came, and then they molted, and so we’ve maybe been getting one egg a day for the last while. Then all of a sudden, I find a half dozen eggs of all shapes and sizes scattered around the coop each morning when I let them out.

I know I’ve already told you about the chickens once this week, but I just had to show you this.

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Back in Business

The days are getting longer and the chickens are getting older – which means, after a couple month lull, we’re back in the egg business. And with a big surprise.

As is turns out, Turbo (who did make it past Thanksgiving, fyi) is a lady Turkey. We know this because the past few days she has laid us the biggest speckled eggs we’ve ever seen! So she’s started pulling her weight (finally!) which is a good thing – we didn’t really know what we were going to do with this 30 pound bird who eats more food than all the chickens combined, plops herself at my feet asking for back-rubs when I go outside, and in the evenings collapses dramatically onto the grass like a dying swan so she has to be carried back to the coop. Yes, our turkey is high-maintenance.

From top to bottom, see 1. Baby E meeting Della 2. A hidden nest in the weeds 3. A mini-Monet on the hen-house roof, compliments of the plum tree, the sprinklers, and the March breeze 4. Egg sampler, from turkey eggs on the left to chicken eggs on the right.

 

 

How to Make Sweater Felt

Making thick, wooly felt is really easy – all you need is a sweater and a washing machine, and enough guts to disobey laundry instructions.

What you need:

  • 100% wool sweater (any color or pattern, get from thrift store, garage sale, closet, etc… bright, ugly knit sweaters are fun because the images shrink up really small)

What to do:

(Its kind of fun to take a picture of the sweaters before you do this so you can be amazed at how much they shrank. But then I’m always a sucker for before-and-afters)

  1. Throw the sweaters in the washing machine on the hottest setting you’ve got; you don’t need any detergent. When they’re done…
  2. Pull them out and throw them in the dryer on the hottest setting.
  3. Remove from dryer, laugh at how small they are, and do it again – wash and dry on hot. And then do it again.
  4. By the time you pull them out of the dryer for the third time, the sweaters should feel stiff, heavy, and be very short. Any pattern or design that was knit into the sweater will be miniature, and the fabric will be really thick.

Now you have wool felt, ready to use for all sorts of projects. The great thing is that you can cut it and the fibers are shrunk together so tightly that it won’t fray or unravel at all, so you don’t need to hem or do anything to the edges. And its so stiff that it will hold its shape once its cut.

In the past I’ve taken this felt, glued paper to the back and cut out little sweater-y gift tags, I’ve sewed the arm-tubes into knitting needle cases, I sewed a pair of slippers… this stuff is very versatile and very forgiving.

This time I made little birds with feathered tails (thank you chickens for contributing to this project!) The feathers catch every little breeze and spin the birds right around, which makes them very entertaining for little Ellie.

What’s on the BBQ This Week

(For some reason, the chickens don’t see the irony in hanging out on the BBQ.)

This, in case you don’t recognize him, is Turbo. He or she —we’re still not sure which— is huge. And no wonder! When we put food in the dish he’s the first one to dart into the coop, and use his beak like a giant tractor to gulp it up like he’s been starved the rest of the day (he hasn’t). He towers over the Old Maids as the other chicks crowd under him for protection. And yes, he still follows Hubbs around.

In fact, when Hubbs was showering the other day, and opened the high bathroom window, Turbo heard his voice, ran right over, and tried to fly up to say hello. This relationship is very entertaining for both Hubbs and I.

And this fancy lady on the left is Glamorous Glennys, (named for the airplane that broke the sound barrier). Her headdress is growing in beautifully, as you can see. She does have eyes, but they’re well-hidden under her plumage —the poor thing really can’t see much at all. Her sister, Zoe’s feathers grow much more… vertically, giving her more of a mohawk and less of an eye-cover.

Chickie Chickie Update

They’re getting bigger! And Turbo (yes, we’ve named and photographed the turkey) is SO cute and friendly, that he worked his way right off the Thanksgiving menu and onto the pet-roster. He’s obviously smarter than we thought.

Starting Over

Well, there’s been more trouble in the hen house. This time, it was a pack of raccoons who crawled into the coop and killed poor Red before Hubbs could get out there with his pitchfork. So our flock has dwindled down to three.


We decided it was time to supplement. And fortunately, new chicks are only $2.50 away. We went back to Alamo Hay and Grain, this time they had more variety available. We got two Polish Chickens, a Minorca, a mystery breed, and a turkey. The Polish are the ones with the little pill-box hats on their heads, which will turn into impressive headgear someday.

We didn’t plan to buy a turkey, but he was in there with the other chicks and we thought we’d get him, name him “Dinner,” and not get too attached. But then we got him home and brought the little chicks outside, and the little turkey went and did this:

He’s like a little wind up toy, (did you see how fast he is??) and just so darn cute! So we may have changed our minds, and have gotten a pet turkey, rather than a Thanksgiving turkey. We’ll see what happens come November, but at this point, he’s looking pretty safe.

And Then There Were 4, or Trouble in the Hen House, Part II

The Phone Call

On Saturday, while we were out, we thought the worst happened. We got a frantic phone call saying that a big black dog was running around the backyard, and all the chickens were gone.

We drove home in silence – Hubbs’s anniversary gift to me, our little gals that we lovingly raised since they were one day old, and they had just started laying. And now the poor things were gone. Just like that, with no defense against a dog on a rampage.

Searching

We got home and took stock of the situation. The dog was gone, apparently back in the neighbor’s yard where it had dug through the fence, and it looked like there had been a chicken massacre. Feathers were EVERYWHERE. Grey speckled ones here, white fluffy ones there, red and brown feathers scattered wherever we looked.

We walked around to try and account for all the girls. Della had already been brought into the house. She was alive, but looked pretty mangled. There was Wilson’s body, red feathers easy to see lying in the the back weeds.

Hmmm, this was going to be a tough job.

We kept searching, and then, shivering under the wheelbarrow, we saw Roxy! She was spooked, and patches of feathers were missing, but she looked ok. Back into the coop she went.

Ok, at least we have one that’s gonna make it.

We kept on, and incredibly, we found Picker (I know, we should have given her a better name) hiding behind a flower pot – broken leg, chewed up back, but alive!  So Jacks was left. No sign of her in the yard, or in any of the neighbors’ yards. We walked around to the front, to ask the neighbors if we could search their yards for a lost chicken, and there, without a scratch on her, was Jacksie. (We always knew she was the clever one!). In all the chaos, she had flown over our front gate and was waiting for us near the tulips. Woohoo!!

We instantly felt like we understood the parable of the lost sheep – the others were all accounted for, but all we wanted was to find the lost sheep er… chicken. (And its just a silly chicken! How much more joy is there when the God finds His child and brings him home!)

Recovery

As bad as Della and Picker (now renamed Red) looked when we brought them in, I think they’re going to be ok. They’re in a large bin in the warm house, and are being pampered with little cups of applesauce and water brought right up to their tired beaks. Red was so grateful for the treatment that she laid us an egg, right there under her broken leg.

So our little flock remains. Four strong. Ok you four, no crowing and absolutely no more playing with the neighbor dogs, you hear me? We’re not losing any more of you!