AboutI write and illustrate children's books, among other things.
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We got some snow last week. I’ve put some supports under the room to try to brace it in the event of snow, but when I came out in the morning after the storm, this is what I saw.
I did NOT like that bend in the middle, but it turns out that was the edge of the roof, where it’s not supported, but flexible. Everything was fine! So that was a big relief. My building skills win again.
We’ve been getting up to four eggs a day now. They are coming in faster than we can eat them. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t think it would come so soon. The days are short, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down. The good news is that whoever was laying them in the dirt under the coop has stopped. (I crawled under there once, and decided that was totally nowhere, so after that I used a golf club to pull them out). The bad news (sort of) is that they won’t use my nesting buckets. They lay them right in between the two of them. Here’s Suzy Creamcheese illustrating the point.
Once they find a spot they like, they all use it, so I’ll just be happy that they lay them in a spot where I can reach them and I don’t have to crawl through the other things that come out their butts.
My first Too Many Chickens! segment is today! Garden Guys Green Revolution Radio is on the air right now, and my segment will be debuting. You can listen later, if you can’t do it now. I’ve also created Too Many Chickens Dot Net to post the stories after they’ve been broadcast.
We got some snow last weekend, but it melted pretty fast, so perhaps Heat Miser gets his way this year. The chickens have gotten a little bit better about not freaking out about snow. In that way, they are superior to many drivers around here. Once they figured out that there are still bugs and crud monsters under the snow that they can eat, they got over it.
Boss Chicken in the snow like it ain’t no thang.
We’ve been getting one egg about every other day. Since we just hit the solstice, and the days will be getting longer, that should pick up, since light affects how productive they are as layers. Once we start getting one egg per chicken per day, we’re in for it. Too many chickens!
I’m pretty sure Boss Chicken is responsible for at least one of the eggs. I went to check the other morning, and she was in the spot where the eggs appear (which is not in the nice nesting buckets I made for them) sticking her butt out and making a freakier-than-usual noise. I know fertility when I see it. She held it in, though. Boss Chicken is always contrarian.
I got a bag of mealworms for a treat for them, and they go nuts. Boss Chicken now follows me around just in case I have more. They smell kind of nutty. You should come over and eat some and tell me how they are.
Something good next to the house.
No, redneck bumpersticker, this is the footprint of the American chicken.
I’ll be briefly talking about my upcoming podcast segments on the very podcast I will be appearing on today. The show is at 3. My pieces start in earnest in January. If you want to listen, here’s the link. Oddly enough, my bit will be called “Too Many Chickens!”
If you like reading about my chicken experience, but you think, “This would sound better in a ridiculous monotone,” you’re in luck! In January (and perhaps beyond), I’ll be a sort of chicken correspondent for the Garden Guys Green Revolution Talk Radio podcast. New episodes air live on the tubes on Fridays at 3, but you can also listen whenever, because, you know, the internet.
I’ll also pop up on the shows on December 21st and 28th to briefly talk about what the hell I think I’m doing with all this.
They have a million ways to listen to all this, so if it sounds good, check out the link above. If it doesn’t sound good, you must be new here.
I’m not sure what’s so great about this one spot in the yard, but when we let the chickens out, they usually end up there and stay. It’s where we dumped a bunch of leaves last year, so I assume the bugs in there are good and ripe. Though, on Sunday, they did venture out much further in the yard than usual. We were letting them run around while doing yard stuff, and they were busy being chickens. It’s apparently a full time job.
Agway was blowing out any trees that they still had in stock, so I got a peach tree and a plum tree for $15ish each, instead of $70ish. It seemed like a good deal until I had to dig the holes to plant them. That stuff I have heard about rocky New England soil was NOT an exaggeration. I dug up enough rocks to fill one of the buckets the trees came in, and that’s not counting the little ones I threw back. Here’s a pile from one hole.
THRILLING! I even dug one up so big I put it in the stone wall, just like a real farmer.
(It’s the dirty one.)
Still no eggs from the chickens, but I suspect they will start laying any day now. Unless they’re hiding them to mess with my head. I wouldn’t put it past them. I have looked into their eyes and seen treachery.
This morning when I opened the chicken door, Suzy Creamcheese was nowhere to be seen. From what I’ve read about predators, most will leave some trace behind. If your chickens are up and just flat out disappearing, that means someone has taken them. “Who would steal my chicken?” I thought to myself. No one, it turns out. I went to the back door, and could see that two other chickens were just sitting on her and blocking her from view. You got me, chickens!
Saturday night I looked in and one of the Mandrell Sisters was pecking another Mandrell Sister in the back, for no reason that I could tell. I reached in and broke it up, but I could tell there was a little blood, and when that happens, they’ll start pecking at the blood, and then it’s a bad cycle. In the rain, Collin and I went out and I put Bag Balm on the spot. The Agway wasn’t open to get the stuff people recommend for this, but Bag Balm will do in a pinch, as it is also antiseptic and tastes bad if they peck it. Later that day we let them out, and sure enough, if one pecked the balmed spot, they didn’t do it again. Of course, chickens being chickens, the balm got all covered in crud, but at least they’ll leave it alone. If not, I’ll have to separate them, and I’m not sure where to put an extra chicken right now. I have no idea what prompted the pecking. They have a pecking post in the coop, but maybe getting off the roost to use it was too much to ask. Chickens are as lazy as everyone else.
Pulled a nice bit carrot out of the garden yesterday too. I tried to get Graham to pose with it, but it had dirt on it, so he wanted nothing to do with it.
I have a new tool for dealing with chickens. The Chicken Stick! Demonstrated here by Spiderman (or, as they call him in Holland, SpuyterMann).
It’s the rod from our closet, which I took out because we redid the closet. I now follow them around like a cross between Gandalf and a goatherd. It’s actually very helpful when it’s time to get them back in the coop, as you can really wrangle them all at once, and also reach deep into the pricker bush to prod them out.
Barred Rock on a rock:
Not to be outdone:
They’re venturing a little farther from the coop when we let them out now, but not that much farther. They love going out so much that if they even see one of us out in the yard, they rush to the coop door to be let out. FREEDOM!
Chicken stick in repose:
Boss Chicken had a real bug up her cloaca yesterday. They all were being kind of dickish to one another for some reason, but Boss Chicken needed to stay on top. That’s why she’s boss. There was a lot of jumping, chasing, puffing of feathers, and weird squawky noises. I think they are probably all worked up about Back to School Savings, or Fall Fever, which isn’t really a thing the way Spring Fever is.
Spazzy chickens are fine until they decide the boy human needs to be bossed around. Boss Chicken kept charging Graham, who despite our pleas to stand his ground, kept trying to get away. After a couple of times, I finally had to grab Boss Chicken and let him come over and pet her, and everyone had to be friends again.
Happier times before the ugliness:
This weekend was really nice. Perfect weather to be outside, or to be a chicken.
They had predicted 70mph winds on Saturday night, and I thought, “So long coop roof,” but we were fine. Lots of rain, but the roof could take it. It was really beautiful the rest of the time. My two sunflowers that did not get eaten by damn chipmunks (or caterpillars, who tried to kill them but failed) bloomed Saturday morning too.
Anyway, watch your step, Boss Chicken. This guy has been watching you.
I said “chimp,” not “chump,” so knock it off. Anyway, chimps are exciting because they use tools. They also wear diapers and sometime co-star in TV shows, but that’s a different post. I, like a chimp, have devised a tool to make my chickening easier.
At first glance, this is merely a piece of wood with a hook on the end. But what it really is is a marvelous device that lets me reach under the coop and get the chicken feeder (which hangs on a hook in the middle of the under coop area) without having to either lay on the ground or mash my head against the chicken stairs. Remember how I said chickens crap all over everything? Those things are both everything, ergo, they have chicken crap on them. Now I can reach under with the stick and give them more food with ease. I will be pitching these on the Home Shopping network later this month.
DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM REACHING YOUR CHICKEN FEEDER? etc.