Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Rural VIEW Today

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday it rained hard all day and the wind blew from all directions.  Few of the flock came out. even though there was green grass in view for grazing.
The 5New birds came out and were totally undaunted by the wind and rain.

These barred rocks are truly amazing. i often wonder if the entire breed is like this or is it because the first owner raised them to be indestructible food scavengers ?  If you got some, please tell me how yours are.

I just want to know if mine act the way they do because of genetics or environment.

Early this morning, the temperature was 22 degrees and put a layer of ice over everything the rain had touched.
A sprinkling of snow covered the fields.
The wind chill made it about 4 degrees and the when the wind hit my face it stung like pins and needles.  Know what I mean ?

My loyal 7 chickadees have almost emptied the sunflowers from the feeder.

When I go outside to let the flock out of the coop, I bring several pails of warm water for them as the buckets from last night are frozen solid.   One bucket goes near the house so I can quickly add to it all day and the second one goes into the coop.

Mrs Howell is the first pullet out of the coop and races over to her preferred bucket of warm water.

I had to walk carefully as the entire driveway and side yard were like skating rinks.


I moved the Winnebago /chicken tractor to the south side of the coop last week so the flock would have easy access to it and so it was out of the way of the snowplows.  I keep putting 2nd cut hay and scratch feed into the Winni so the hens can peck through it and stay busy.   By putting hay in every day the ground stays somewhat unfrozen.  I think this year I am going to wrap plastic tarps around it to cut down on the wind and make a protected sanctuary for the girls.  Now I just have to find some tarps.....

I am so thankful for this unique recycled coop, the extra large chicken tractor and this comic flock of birds. They keep me busy, laughing and well fed.

I am thankful to the carpenter who listened to my need for a coop made out of recycled materials and found a 250 year old barn being torn down. He scavenged the remaining good wood, doors and hardware and built me a new, 250 year old coop!
I am thankful for my friend who is an engineer and gifted me with this enormous chicken tractor on wheels.  I can easily use this as a brooder for chicks or ducklings and better yet I can get inside of it to add perches or remove birds, easily.

This hay fills the air with its wonderful just-cut smell.   The birds ravage it and consume as much as possible.      Later I will bring out warm oatmeal and steamed broccoli for their lunch.

 Chicken colors mesmerize this ADD flockster.

 Inside the coop is toasty warm (35 degrees).  The windows face south to add light and solar heat and I am not opening the large door this winter to eliminate big drafts and shavings being blown out. That strategy is keeping the coop a bit warmer and the pullets laying much more than this time last year.
I am using the the emergency pop door on the south side of the coop on cold, bitter days like today.

The girls like it.

Here are a few of them heading to the upper nest box to lay some eggs.

 As I head back to the house to feed Mavis I smile as I see the tracks of my flock.

Yesterday I added a munga chunk of fresh beef suet to the bird feeders.

I was reasonably certain all the bears in the area had gone to bed for the winter, so my feeders are safe until March.

An hour later when I came back out to check the nest boxes for eggs in this bitter cold, I found this wonderful gift.

7 eggs before 9 am!

That's about as many as I expect for today.

I have 14 hens, 5 are recovering from moulting and 2 others are not laying at all. One of the non-layers is headed for the stew pot and the other non layer has beautiful feathers (see second feather photo above) and makes soft humming noises. Its obvious that she wasn't blessed with brains as she gets lost, often, and is very codependent on her hatch mate. Her breed is a mystery. She came with the splash Blue Laced Red Wyandotte (BLRW) and is thought to be a darker version of the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. However, she needs to start laying soon as she was hatched March 1st of this year.        32 weeks and counting.....

 I have had a nice surplus of eggs lately, so I have been gifting people who have been doing good deeds and this week I brought several dozen to the local food shelf to add to their thanksgiving baskets.

I encourage all flock keepers to please donate surplus eggs to your needy neighbors and your local food shelf.
I usually put 6 eggs in a carton, more depending on how many I have by Tuesday.
So 2 dozen eggs can go to 4 people.

 I always try to make a nice color combo in every carton and I make sure eggs going to families with kids have at least one blue egg, compliments of Amber the shy Easter Egger pullet.

We celebrated Thanksgiving here on Monday when the weather was much better and relatives had time to come visit.  It was PieVille here!  Pecan, lemon merangue, grasshopper, pumpkin, apple and mincemeat were just a few that came for the event.
I was thankful for such a great visit, conversation and kindness.

Lots of veggies too.  Most from my own garden and the rest from friends gardens.

So many that the flock has been enjoying some too, especially the mashed potatoes, green beans and brocolli.

I am thankful for my constant companion who makes mischief but keeps me out of trouble.

Mavis is a true joy to live with.   I do hope she thinks the same about me.

My greatest thankfulness is because my herd has a brand new barn at their new farm.
It was a stipulation I made before I transferred my herd to the younger farmer.
He was true to his word and had an enormous barn built for them.
4 times bigger than I had suggested.

 My heart is always heavy when I think of my beloved herd.
Tears roll down my face, as they do now, but I can not explain the relief I feel knowing that now they have shelter from the weather. Finally.
3 years after our barn burned down and our other barn collapsed in a freak ice storm, they are safe, sheltered and living like royalty.

I am also thankful for the kindness of strangers in this blog world and all the factual information that YOU leave for me in the comment section. Your suggestions, encouragement, support and humor have kept me going in the rough times.  Know that I appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to sharing more rural adventures.


  1. We've found every batch of Barred Rocks to have some very independent birds. A lot depends on the source of the birds. I think yours are better foragers than normal due to their upbringing.

    A tip about having just hay in the Winni: hay can cause impacted crops. We had a spell of it in our chicken group a while back. It's ok to use, as long as other things are offered also: leaves, garden waste, bark mulch, etc.

  2. PieVille sounds like the best place ever! i think i started reading your blog right after the barn burned down. i cried. give Mavis some pats from me. :-)

  3. You have much to be thankful for. It must be hard not to have your herd. I miss reading about them. Our hens have all but quit laying. We have nine that are 2 1/2 years old. They are molting right now and while they should be freezer bound, we don't have the heart to do so. Your eggs look wonderful.

  4. Love the chicken prints in the snow! Be thankful for good friends willing to help!

  5. Oh wow. What a story! I loved this!

    And I love when people are honorable!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your slice of life. Enjoyed the series of pics and the challenges you face. Have a wonder filled week!