Monday, October 14, 2013

An Update From The Chicken Coop

It's been a long time since I did an update on our chickens. If you remember, we started out with eight chickens last summer. We wanted an even dozen, so we ended up getting four more. All throughout the winter, the girls kept laying for us. We got around eight eggs a day, which I considered awesome considering we had the coldest, longest, winter we have seen around here in years.

iPhone pic. Chickens following me on a walk!
Come spring, we had a new challenge in keeping Teal (our dog) away from our chickens. Last year, we let our chickens free range all year. They had four acres to roam, but mostly really liked hanging where we were at. In fact, my husband would always laugh if the girls and I went on a walk through our woods, the chickens would be following along right behind us. Since Teal is a brand new puppy (now 8 months old), we are working on training her. She is my husband's hunting dog and is trained to mainly pheasant hunt, or duck hunt. Thus creating a bit of a problem with our chickens. So we determined that this summer, while Teal is still in training, our goal is to leave them in a huge fenced in area until around 3 or 4 p.m. when they are once again allowed to roam free. It's not my ideal situation for them, and I'm hoping by next summer, we can have Teal so well trained, that it won't be a problem to have them out together.

Thanks to my CSA leftovers, scraps, and some kind neighbors who give us scraps from their garden to feed our chickens, our girls are well fed. This spring, we were getting some of the most beautiful eggs and an abundance of them.

iPhone pic. The chickens come right up to us! This is my personal favorite!
Then this summer we went camping (still have to blog about our summer). A friend has agreed to check on our chickens for us when we are out of town. On this particular camping trip, Teal was at a local dog kennel, so we told our chicken babysitter (Ha! That sounds super funny!) to just let the chickens free range from sun up to sun down. Well, three days in to our trip I got a text that said something like, "Hi Vanessa, has Chris gotten any of my texts or calls? Something terrible has happened." I frantically had Chris call her thinking maybe something had happened to our house. Thankfully, our house was fine, but our chickens not so much. Somehow, all but five survived an attack that we think must have been by a dog. I'm not going to lie, I was devastated! Not only were some of my favorite chickens as far as personality goes, killed, but these were my best layers. The girls too were so sad that all their chickens were gone. I promptly went on Facebook and Craigslist once home in order to get some more layers. Surprisingly, I found 10 more to get us to 15. The transition for them wasn't perfect though, and one refused to roost in the coop and would fly over the kennel. I didn't realize it one day, but she was out and I let Teal out and you can guess what happened. So much for trying to train her not to attack them. Another one got sick one day, laid down and never woke up. We still aren't sure what happened, but I'm grateful we didn't lose more.

However, our girls have pretty much stopped laying. I typically now get 3 or 5 eggs a day, but today got none. I know that the stress can cause a chicken to stop laying and I'm pretty sure that is what happened with many of our chickens, both old and new. Now though I'm wondering if some aren't molting? I often find lots of feathers in their coop and around the yard. Although my daughters and I do 99% of the chicken work around here, I really know very little about them and what to expect from them. So if anyone wants to tell me how long molting goes on for and if they will start laying again, I'd appreciate it! :)

iPhone pic. This one is my second favorite, although she isn't as friendly!

Oh, and before I finish the long post, you must know that my daughters (with the help of their dad), have decided to name of few of our chickens. Hop along Hope (because she has one bum foot), Oreo (because she is black & white), and Cheetos (because she is orange). We all have our favorites, and I'm really hoping they all start laying soon and that nothing more happens to them because somehow, we have all fallen in love with them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to share any jewels or treasures in your comments to me. :)