On the mend and finishing touches

My little red hen seems to be improving daily. Her limp is almost gone. However she is still a little weak. I integrated her with the flock for a few minutes and only the young rooster picked on her, I think because he though she was his best chance at mating. She set him straight very quickly, but it took a lot out of her so I separated her again. Will give her another week of recovery.

I also removed the splint from the doeling with the broken foot. She had begun to put a little weight on it and I’d set a time period of 10 days based on research I did. She too is recovering nicely.

I’m also putting finishing touches on the chicken run. The cross ties at the base of the run were not quite long enough, so Kenny made little bottomless boxes that I can put soil into and plant annual vines such as cucumber or gourds, providing summer shade.

I’ve painted the boxes bright colors with spray paint. If I were an artist or knew one who could do it quickly I’d have the coop painted as well with bright colors.

Chicken musings

The garden is coming up: mustard, turnip radish, buckwheat and carrot. Still waiting on spinach, chives and cilantro.

Hauled in more compost materials for the chickens this morning. They are machines. The run has a nice layer of straw now.

Last night Kenny switched the far doors around. They opened to the back inside, which made it difficult to open them once I started hauling in compost materials. We had to wait until the chickens went to bed so none got out. My five youngest chickens, four pullets and a cockerel hatched last spring, were the past to go in. They were very reluctant for some reason. The last two I tossed in because it was already so dark.

I find it extremely relaxing to watch the chickens scratching. And I’m not the only one.

Rainbow the kitty loves it too.

I moved the hen who was attacked by Sheba out into the open. Every time I checked on her she had moved to a different spot inside the tiny coop where I had her. Now she is standing nicely. I put her in the run with the other chickens yesterday to see how she did. She can move around okay, but she was having to run from the others picking on her so I pulled her back out and put her in a pen next to the run where she can visit and be around other chickens without risk.

Yesterday while I moved her new pen, she stood outside the run and communicated with one of the other hens, who would pick up straw and drop it and cluck at her. The little red hen alternated grooming herself with standing still and watching and occasionally talking back.

She has a pretty strong will to live and I think being around other chickens strengthens it.

She is a hen who loves to scratch in compost. Usually when she sees me with a pitchfork or shovel she is hot on my heels and very attentive to whatever I turn over. I hope that she regains the use of her legs.

Splinting a broken foot

Little black goat kid has a broken foot. I’m guessing Coco stepped on her. The goats rush to share the cow food every evening. She was fine before I fed. I heard her scream and went to check on her and her foot was floppy. I wrapped with self adhesive wrap, splinted it, and then wrapped again. I just hope it’s not too tight. I don’t really know how to tell. I gave her a bc powder and crushed up vitamin c, dissolved in water. Shot it down her throat with a syringe. She is able to move from one spot to another.

The injured doeling with her splint. She is hopping around fine by day three after the injury and the pain seems to have lessened.

Supposed to leave splint on 10 days.

I get all my info for goats from Pay Coleby’s Natural Goat Care. It’s an awesome little book.

I also have her book on cattle.

My favorite book for goat care.

I am still enamored with Fort Clux. I just hauled in a pile of ruined hay and the chickens are working it over, spreading and turning it, looking for food: insects and seeds mostly. As they continue to work it, it will break down into fertile soil for the garden, which I will plant directly in this run after I rotate the chickens out.

The chickens work over a pile of ruined hay. It keeps them entertained, feeds them and provides me with fertile soil for planting.

Today I broke up the opposite run for a fall garden: I plan on putting in mustard, turnip, radish, carrots, cilantro, chives, lettuce and spinach.

My fall garden spot.

The Turkey will find a new home today. He is quite the bully, probably because he wants a mate. He tortures the hens and hogs the roost at night. The new coop and runs are not ideal for him. So I’m taking him to the auction today.

The Turkey has to go. He is headed for the local auction today.

This is the first of several culling decisions I will need to make with my new set up. I’m not sure what the perfect number of chickens is, for eggs, compost, meat and replacement stock, but I look forward to figuring it out.

Loving Fort Clux

The new chicken coop/run is awesome. After hauling in some pine straw, cow manure, persimmons and kitchen scraps, I’ve sat and watched the chickens for a few hours.

Several thoughts have occurred. The enclosure simplifies making decisions about culling. I know who is the bully, who is at the bottom of the pecking order, who is stressed out and who is laying. There’s trick to that I’ll talk about in another post.

In addition, I can plant a fall garden in the extra run immediately. When the garden is done producing or I’m tired of eating from it, I can rotate the chickens in and plan a different garden for the space they’ve just vacated.

The chickens are currently in the south run.
Soon I’ll plant a fall garden in the north run. When I’m done eating from it, I’ll rotate the chickens into it and begin planning a garden for the south run.

As Dev pointed out, I can also use the extra space to raise chicks if need be. Or, I can use it for selective breeding.

The possibilities are exciting, for sure.

Chicken musings and things you discover about your husband while installing cattle panels

8:52 am

Slept late this morning. None of the animals seemed to mind and Rocky didn’t get a chicken. Probably bc they are wise to where they can go when he is tied up. I really hope that he is not ruined on chickens.

The hen Rocky got ahold of is still with us. She is well enough to cluck with some outrage when I move her around to clean her cage. I put some hay in with her and insulated the outside with newspaper and the boys’ boogie boards.

I see people on FB selling chicks all the time. Some say they are NPIP certified and others don’t say. I wonder how much money they make. Usually $3 a chick is what they sell for. Rarer breeds are $5. Costs would be the care and feeding of the layers, incubating and care and feeding of chicks until they are sold.

Interesting, but I hate hand raising chicks. I would rather let the mamas do it. I would like some blue egg layers though. I may get some this spring along with some Cornish cross. But not til I get back from vacation in late May or early June. I hope that my hens do better this year with going broody and raising chicks. It was a disaster last year. I think maybe four chicks survived.

9:51

Did some figuring. It looks like I’m spending $16-20 a month on food for chickens, including chicks I tried to raise last year. I have to get and sell 10 dozen eggs a month to pay for feed. Or 120 doz per year, or 1,440 eggs per year, or 4 eggs per day, or 28 eggs a week.

Since March I’ve sold approximately 40 dozen or more.

6:25 pm Kenny and the boys got the cattle panels up, making a nice sized corral for the bull. Now I just need to get water out there.

Getting the panels up was not without issue. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Kenny doesn’t know what a rectangle is AND has the audacity to get on to me for not communicating clearly.

10 eggs

Dawg crossed the line

He’s been with us since he was a kitten, a little over a year. I got him for indoor pest control and he’s doing a remarkable job. Not one single mouse since he moved in.

But. We had him neutered back in the fall and he immediately developed uti issues and so we now feed him special food.

And. I cannot deal with kitty litter so we installed a cat door. After a little training it’s working out.

Then. After a few months, he began bringing half dead critters like moles and voles into the house. Once or twice they escaped him to die a painful death under furniture. We know because we had to search for them when the stench became unbearable.

All of this I have accepted, telling myself well it’s better than having mice.

In the video above Dawg is playing with a salamander he found inside the house.

But y’all. Tonight he crossed the line. Some friends dropped by and one glances over where the cat is playing with something. “Is that a worm?!”

No. It was not a worm. It was a baby snake. A baby freaking copperhead. A live snake. I can’t even.

When you find bees…

My bee saga continues. Sunday afternoon while walking the goats I decided I needed to sit down. I looked around and spied a riding lawnmower tire in the brush. With its rim intact, it looked like a good seat. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t ask me about the random garbage in our woods. Anyway, I creep into the brush and reach for the tire; it spins a bit when I grab it.

Out pour millions of honey bees 🐝 🐝.

And they are mad. At me. 😳

Even though I immediately begin running for my life, my brain imagines this cartoonish swarm of bees over my head. I am feeling Winnie the Poohish when I spot a mud puddle. But the slime on top of it makes me think twice about diving in to escape the mad swarm.

So then I just stop because I know I can’t outrun them. They are in my hair. In my clothes. So off come the clothes and I’m half naked in the pasture, dancing around with my hands in my hair and whipping it back and forth. Slightly inappropriate, I know, because my boy had a guest over visiting, but thankfully they were otherwise occupied.

All told, my glasses, ponytail holder and hair barette are probably lost forever, flung to the far reaches of our property in my desperate attempt to escape the bees.

And I was stung oh about 10 times I think. When I finally got the last one off me, it was stuck in my hair buzzing like mad, I put my clothes back on and walked back to the house so Kenny could pluck stingers out of me.

But…I know where the bees are!

An Egg is Born

I’ve been around chickens and laying hens my whole life (40 plus years) and it’s only been within the last couple of months that I’ve actually seen a hen lay an egg.

Either I have a strange hen, or I have been ignorant my whole life. I thought the hen sat peacefully on her nest, laid her egg and then got up, sang her song and went about her business.

This particular hen does indeed sit on her nest. But as her time approaches, she actually stands up and assumes a squatting position. Immediately a woman in labor came to mind when I first saw her do this. I have seen pictures and read arguments that a woman in labor who stands and squats to give birth actually has an easier time, since she is employing gravity to help her.

Several months ago I witnessed this hen’s egg laying procedure by accident. At the time I wasn’t sure what I’d just seen. She was facing me in the nest, squatting, and as I glanced at her, an egg rolled into the nest from behind. I did a double take. But I was unsure if she had been rearranging the eggs already there or if she’d just laid one. After a minute or two she did her little song and vacated. I was puzzled.

Yesterday, my 11 year old son, Isaiah, and I were in the barn tending to the goats. There are several nests in the barn, and this hen was in one and had risen up into a squat. She was a little funny looking because the nest is in a cabinet, so she was hunched up as well to avoid hitting her head, it seemed.

“Watch,” I told him. “I bet you didn’t know hens stood up to lay eggs.”

“I did not,” he said, peering at the hen. She was in profile to us, and we could just make out the tip of the egg protruding.

“This is kinda gross,” he said absently, not taking his eyes off the hen.

In less than a minute the egg emerged, shiny and wet, dropped and rolled into the nest.

“I just saw a chicken get born,” he said. I did not point out that the chick still needed to be hatched.

“Gah,” he said, with much relief. “At least it wasn’t a woman having a baby. You can’t unsee something like that.”

I suppressed a laugh. He had also made the connection between the hen’s posture and a woman’s labor.

It is his job to gather the eggs. Understandably, with a mixture of disgust and maybe some reverence (who knows with 11 year old boys?) he waited a few minutes to let this one dry off.

Blogging with GA’s

I’ve been helping my best friends teach Girls in Action on Wednesday nights at our church for several years now. My job is chief kool-aid maker, though sometimes I get roped into teaching and sometimes I can’t help from inserting my own opinions.

Tonight we talked about a missionary who is a blogger and our activity included letting the girls make a blog post. I volunteered Udder Truths as their forum.

The following post is from my “guest bloggers” the Girls in Action at First Baptist Church of Hornbeck on the topic of lessons they’ve learned in GA’s.

As a GA leader I’ve learned how much I admire missionary kids because they live such adventurous lives. —Julie Bell, GA Instructor

I learned to respect God’s earth and pick up trash. You also have to be nice to others.–Laney Eckman, 8

Learn about God! Visit with friends. Do fun stuff. –Nova West, 9

I like that we go out and do things as missions and have fun and we are always laughing and smiling. We talk about Jesus. We all need Jesus. –Jacklyn Thompson, 12

GA’s are so fun and I learn stuff. –Lillie West, 6

I love my family, learning about Jesus and praying, t-ball and making friends, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. –Emily Hatchett, 5

I helped Emily write hers. I like everything she said, except I like softball, not t-ball. –Laynie Sharp, 10

As a GA friend I admire having fun and learning about God.—Denium, Osborn, 8

People need Jesus.–Ainsley Mire, 11

I love these girls!–Tammy Sharp, Chief kool-aid maker.