Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Reading - What I Learned This Week

This has been an interesting week around the Small-Hold. We had a storm that blew over a fairly good sized Boxelder tree. I been spending almost every minute I can on getting this chicken operation going which due to the fact that we ended up having two roosters has grown about four times larger than the chicken operation I had planned.

The proverbial "bad things come in threes" curse hit me all in one day for a change rather than spreading itself out. This made for a rather horrible day but at least I got it done and over with  quicker.

Through it all I have learned a few valuable lessons. Mostly about chickens of course but a few others besides.

I have also figured out I am so sick of rain, wet, mud and humidity I want to scream right now. I really want a dry Fall to get here soon. Although all this rain should make for a nice Goldenrod flow and a spectacular Fall leaf color show.

This week I learned or rather affirmed that my long standing rule of allowing no trees over 20 foot tall within falling distance of the house or out buildings was a damned good idea.

I learned entirely by accident that it is a good idea to keep the main doors on the barn open during storm season. In fact with all the other damage to barns and out buildings in the area I am now convinced that the only reason ours escaped undamaged was because I left the main doors open on each end. This allowed the damaging wind to just pass through and not create an updraft into the roof.

I learned that chickens are much more intelligent than I at first gave them credit for. At least the two surviving roosters anyway have adapted to life around here quite quickly. In fact I am simply amazed at how well they have fit into a niche so far. Even just the two of them seem to have made a huge dent in the insect pest population around here and if I am anywhere within their secured AO (otherwise known as the Barn lot) they even have started following me around like my old feline supervisors used to. For some reason my being nearby seems to embolden them too.

The Hens are starting to fit right in as well although the first batch of five are getting very tired of being cooped up now. One of the Red Sex-Links has started rushing the door when I come in and has began pecking my boots when I am inside the coop area. Tonight three of the new old hens began using the roosting bar but it was the little Hamburg Hen that first discovered it and lead the way. The Hamburg also becomes the first hen to earn herself a name. She is now known as Littlebit.

I learned that when entering a chicken coop where the hens have started feeling comfortable around you being near them NEVER wear shorts with tattered strings hanging down from them and if you do wear such shorts NEVER turn your back on the really out going hens.

Now of course this isn't a picture of my shorts but I thought this one was better for obvious reasons. The shorts I was wearing were knee length which placed the strings at about chicken height.

Those little beaks are sharp let me tell you. This need to peck everything presented the second Hen to earn a name. I now call her Barcode because she is constantly pecking at the barcode on the side of the waterer.

I learned that you can easily shove a wayward piece of chicken wire completely through your finger without much trouble.

I learned that hanging waterers and feeders really are better than ones that sit on the ground and I learned that Hogan's Heroes ain't got nothing on chickens when it comes to digging too. Those poor cooped up hens have dug some mighty holes in the floor let me tell you. I am also convinced they know what they are doing and trying to find an area where they can tunnel out.

And finally I learned that eggs made right here on the Small-Hold taste best of all.

I think I am biased though.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!


  1. They are all good lessons to learn from, the holes they are digging might just be for dust baths, they like a good dust bath and to half bury themselves, there was me thinking that was a picture of you you shattered my illusion :-)

    1. A picture of me? Not even 30 years ago did I look like that. I was more straight lines not all curves :)

  2. Thanks for posting all your good points. I agree with you about the shorts and I also will not take care of animals or collect eggs without boots.......Too many snakes hang near the eggs from time to time. I agree about not having trees near the house. I have a few bushes, but trees have to be a distance away.
    I read your comments about barn doors with interest. I don't usually leave one or both doors open during storms, unless it's accidental, but when I think about it, I think you are right. I think chickens, especially some chickens are quite bright, as are roller and homing pigeons, something I did not appreciate prior.
    Thanks for all your insights. Here's hoping for a quick transition to Fall and a better week over all.

    1. Jane - The most damage I have gotten from wind to my barn is always when I have one door open and one closed with the open one being the wind side. When that happens then it is almost assured I will get roof damage. I have just started leaving both doors either open or closed never a mixture.

  3. Chickens are cheap entertainment and some earn names though most just blend into the population especially if you have a bunch. We don't have any with names now, the old ones that earned names have all died and no new names have been earned which is a good thing sometimes.
    The fresh eggs are different and you can tell if you break one from the store in a frying pan with one of your eggs, the main difference seems to be with the yolks. I take the shells and break them up and the hens will eat them for the calcium and they get recycled.
    Many people are surprised to find that chickens love meat, if you ever give them any it will be a big riot to see who gets it.
    One thing that may disturb you is that I found that the majority of them to be democrats. When butchering the meat chickens I would chop their heads off with a machete, they would yell for their leader....Baraaaacckk!

    1. Sf - LOL BAAAAraaackk :)

      I already saw them devour a mouse actually. One of the cats got one and some how the roosters got it from the cat. They ripped that rodent apart. I also saw the roosters devour a small frog too. I have noticed the toads are never found in the barnlot anymore.

  4. PP,

    Careful what you wish for. Out here in the anhydrous zone any form of moisture, any time is most welcome. Been a LONG time since we have gotten tired of rain, LOL. I would not wish this off on anyone...well maybe Obummer.

    Been enjoying your chicken stories. My chicken palace has been pressed into duties for other things and I am in the middle of making a big box brooder. Also been thinking of a big "cage" aka tractor for the birds. Coyotes mean no free range birds here.


    1. Winston - I know when I bitch about rain that it is bad when a drought hits. I swore I would never bitch about the rain again but I lied lol. This Summer has been the worst I ever remember. Probably still better than a drought though.

  5. Welcome to the wacky world of chickens. We have fashion police hens, too. The black hens are Black Australorps. Nice hens and good egg layers, too. Oh, and don't forget to set out a tray of oyster shell for them to keep their egg shells strong.

    Enjoy the little feathered menaces... er, friends.... hehe... they are 'cheap entertainment'.

    1. hobo - Ya I forgot the oyster shells the other day so I need to pick some up tomorrow. So far the Black ones are still being kinda mean to the others but it seems to be dying down a bit.

  6. You can feed them your old egg shells if you are short of oyster shell. Just pulverize them pretty fine, so they are not in their recognizable egg shape, as they will start to eat their own eggs. I've given my chickens almost sour milk, and have a poultry management guide from the '30's that states milk and alfalfa are good feed rations. This was before the feed mills were pushing only commercially made feed for everything. Keep some protein to them in some form- leftover meat, broth and they won't peck each other as much. Cannibalism is a danger when they are deficient in something. Usually protein. My pen is underneath a large tree and baby birds get tossed out and consumed within minutes of hitting the ground. Giving them something to work on, like an entire head of cabbage or a sunflower head will keep them occupied so they aren't as bored to attack one another.

    I was reading your blog one day on my phone and I noticed you were considering a shock collar for your dog, but worried about the shocking part. I wanted to comment (but didn't get to at the time where -ever I read that) that I had a shock collar on our border collie for awhile. It has a tone setting, a few others do, I'm not sure if they all do, but for training purposes sometimes just the tone is sufficient to get them to stop what they are doing. Since b.c.'s are super sensitive and actually kind of neurotic, the shock part of the collar is kind of excessive now that she's technically not a puppy.

    And just a note for anyone who likes those Buff Orpington hens? They are sold as dual purpose because they are large and although they don't lay as frequently when they do, the eggs are pretty large. Well, I had 12 of them, sold all but 2, because they are broody in any warm weather. Great if you want to hatch eggs, but not if you just want them to layon a daily basis. Extremely docile though.
    This year I have buckeyes (because they are cold tolerant) and partridge rocks and a couple NH reds. They just started laying and I'm going to have to go back to freezing and/or canning eggs.


Leave a comment. We like comments. Sometimes we have even been known to feed Trolls.