Tag Archives: Broody chicken

A Week On the Farm – May 8, 2016

Today marks my 35th Mother’s Day.  Eldest was born a few short weeks after Mother’s Day in 1980.  Daughter followed in 1982 and youngest son in 1987.  They are wonderful children and great parents themselves.  Today would also be my Mother-in-Law’s 100 birthday.  She has been gone almost two decades.  Hubby and I have both lost both parents, but have been given 5 grandchildren to love.

This week was rainy and other than a single day in the garden, weeding where I need to plant the tomatoes and peppers, not much has been done outdoors.

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You can see to the right of the poles, the heavy cover of Lamb’s Quarters that I am removing.  I did get some weeding done in areas that are already planted, but I am just not motivated to get much done out there this year.

Yesterday, I realized one of the hens had gone broody and was firmly planted on half of the eggs laid yesterday and very resistant to leave them.  I had not finished what I needed to do on Huck’s brooder coop.

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I had stapled plastic up to the sides, but the wind had taken most of it down and I had not dealt with brooder boxes.  Today, Jim and I went to Lowe’s after he took me out to a nice lunch and bought 3 two gallon buckets with lids.  I cut out the lids to make hen size openings, leaving a lip to help hold in the hay and eggs, later chicks.  They have been secured together and placed in the coop with food and water, a short cedar tree trunk wedged in as a ramp out of the coop for the hen to be able to leave during the day to relieve herself. The plastic was again secured to the sides, and the inside of the coop layered in another deep layer of hay and she and 10 eggs were moved.  So far, she is very agitated and has not returned to the eggs.

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She is perched up in the top of the coop squawking.  Maybe, I should remove the eggs, leave her in there to create her own nest of them and see how it goes.  For now, I am leaving her alone and hoping that she finds the nest and eggs soon.  It is warm today, but not warm enough to keep them viable for long.  If she has gone broody, it won’t be long before another does as well and if she has company in the brooder coop, she may be less agitated.  Last year, we didn’t try to move them until the babies hatched and the brooder coop was not secure enough to protect the babies.  We hatched 50, raised 5 and only have 1 left between wild predators, a neighbor’s dog, and ending up with the last two being roos and having to kill one of them because they were fighting.  I really don’t want to raise meat chickens in a brooder box until they are old enough to be outdoors, I want these hens to raise them for us.

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler and dry so I will finally plant the starts, the adage of don’t plant tomatoes until Mother’s Day will be fulfilled.  If I can get that area weed free, the starts planted and mulched, perhaps I can get some of the other seed in the beds.  I still haven’t even thought about planting the deck pots with herbs and flowers yet.  It is going to be summer and I am going to still be planning.

Yesterday was a great day for gardening, but I did a craft show indoors.  It wasn’t a huge success, but I did make my registration, recover the cost of the item I donated for the raffle and came home with a little cash.  Surprisingly, more than 80% of my sales were knit wear and yarn, not soap, lotion bars, and salves.

Lessons Learned

This is the first time I have allowed hens to raise chicks and since we had the predator enter the chicken tractor, it seemed prudent to allow the hens to remain in the coop in a nesting box until the chicks started hatching and the chicken tractor was made more secure.  That said, the 3 hens began hatching the day I was repairing the chicken tractor, so I put a crate in front of the hen that was hatching to protect her from the other hens and the overly aggressive Americauna cockrell.  At the end of the morning, once the tractor was repaired, I moved her and her remaining eggs.  She quickly lost interest in the eggs and moved the chicks out of the nesting box until nightfall.  As a result, her remaining two eggs did not hatch out.  I didn’t break them to see if they were viable, just tossed them in the compost bin.  Knowing that the other hens were a day or two behind, I left the crate and a board nearby, so that I could secure those hens as well.  One of them hatched one chick and abandoned the remaining eggs even without being moved.  I waited a day to see what would happen, putting her back on the nest that evening and tucking her little under her.  Two more hatched and the third hen tried to take them over.  I moved the hen and her littles to the tractor, placed the eggs under hen 3.  She hatched out only one and though I waited a day and a half, no more hatched and the other adults were trying to get to her.  I feared for the chick and moved her with her nest to the chicken tractor.  She immediately abandoned the nest and mingled with the other two hens and their chicks.  All of the eggs were kicked out of the nest around the inside of the tractor, one of them nearly broken in half and the chick struggling to survive, another is pipping, but Momma hen is paying no attention to either of them.  I fear that none of the remaining eggs will produce chicks.

A bit of research shows me that I should not interrupt a hatching hen during the process.  Next time one goes broody, I will move her as soon as she starts to sit and leave her alone until all of her chicks hatch.  Having her in the chicken tractor will allow me to keep separate food and water for her.  Instead of 22 chicks, we have 11 new chicks.  With the two survivors that are now about 4 weeks old, we have far fewer than the experiment was hoping to produce. Perhaps another hen will go broody with enough time for them to develop a sufficient size by late fall, perhaps I will yet have to purchase day old Rainbow Rangers to make up the difference.

Over the weekend, we did harvest the garlic, onions, turnips, and Daikon radishes.

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They are curing in the garage due to the daily afternoon thunderstorms.

This afternoon, I weeded the new upper half of the garden where the three sisters are planted.  The Amaranth weed pops up overnight and get a foot tall in less than a week.  That took me most of the afternoon.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to continue moving down the beds and also get the tomatoes tied up.  We have peas filling out, tiny tomatoes and peppers forming, a few tiny summer squash.  Bush and pole beans growing.  The three sisters didn’t do as well as I had hoped.  Each cluster of corn has at least one bean plant, not the three per hill that were planted.  The winter squash seed was left over from last season’s purchase and produced only 3 or 4 plants.  That may actually be good, as last year we were overwhelmed by winter squash, still have a few in the root cellar.

Lessons are learned each season and with each experiment on our homestead.

Summer Delights

Yesterday was miserable!  My day started with dog and chicken chores in the rain, not a gentle summer shower, a torrential downpour.  I had moved Broody Girl to the auxiliary chicken run and chicken tractor the day before and had put her in the chicken tractor with some amusing effort the night before.  Her food was in there, but not her water.  She squawked unmercifully until well after dark.  Figuring she was better off in the tractor since it was raining, I attempted to put her water in with her, but she dove past me into the run in the rain so I just left the door to the tractor open.  Now I have heard that turkey’s are stupid enough to drown in the rain.  That may be an old mountain tale, but Broody Girl was stupid enough to stand out in the pouring rain nearly all day instead of going back inside the tractor.  Last night I felt sorry for her and returned her to the coop, very wet and very agitated.

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The first thing she did was go to the nesting box and I ran her off.  She is showing me her wet displeasure.  This morning she exited the coop with the others and has stayed outside.  Yay!

Once those chores were done, I spent 90 minutes in the dentist chair getting a temporary crown on the tooth I broke 7 weeks ago when I went to Northern Virginia to pick up Grandson #1 for the summer.  As soon as I got home from that, the dentist did a build up so the tooth wouldn’t break anymore until he could see me for the crown prep.  This is not a fun time.  It is my 6th crown. 

As we were headed home, still in the pouring rain, we picked up the power washer as scheduled and in spite of the rain, our neighbor with my help cleared the covered front porch and open back deck of plants and furniture and he power washed both.  He was soaked from the effort and the rain and I was also from helping to move furniture and the hose from front to back.

Today is still overcast and has rained off and on, but not like yesterday.  The weather broke enough after we returned the power washer for me to do some harvest.  It is definitely that time of year. 

The two trips out to the garden resulted in a huge bowl of mostly hot peppers and another of tomatillos.  A few tomatoes are getting picked each day and a few lemon cukes.  The counter full of goodies encouraged me to haul out the water bath canner, a box of jars, and the other necessaries to put some of it away for the winter.

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The cayennes were strung to dry, the habaneros and a couple pounds of tomatillos were made into another batch of the I No Longer Have Taste Buds XXX hot sauce (son said it was wonderful), the jalapenos pickled for hubby, the rest of the tomatillos canned in quarters and the lemon cukes pickled in a dill brine.  

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One afternoon’s canning session cooling on the counter.  A good addition to the goodies accumulating on the shelves for winter consumption.  As I’m a rather adventurous cook at this age, the XXX hot sauce must be documented so I can duplicate it next year.  My basic idea came from a visit to Mexico where the woman house staff made a salsa for us from Jalapenos, tomato, onion and garlic.  That one is good too.

I No Longer Have Taste Buds XXX Hot Sauce

a dozen or so medium Habanero peppers

2 lbs (16-20) tomatillos

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 tsp pickling salt

1/2 c fresh of 2 Tbs dried cilantro

In a heavy non reactive pot, heat a couple of Tbs of Olive oil and saute the onion, chopped coarsely.  Quarter the habaneros with seeds (gloves are advised), peel and chop the garlic, remove the papery husk, wash and quarter the tomatillos.  In a blender, place the peppers, garlic, tomatillos, sauteed onion, lemon juice and salt and blend until fairly smooth.  Pour back into the heavy pot, add the cilantro and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.  If you are going to can this for shelf stability, it should be water bath canned for 20 minutes in pint or cup jars.  It will keep for months in the refrigerator if just packed in hot jars and lids with bands applied.

I do love this time of year.  Enjoying the spoils of our garden and the labor of putting is away for winter enjoyment.  Soon I will be canning tomatoes and tomato sauce nearly every day, but it will be so good later.

Life is an adventure!

Olio – August 6, 2014

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Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

As our last week with our grandson this summer is closing and since he was such a good traveler last week we gave him another afternoon at the Frog Pond, the public pool.  He enjoys this outing.  The pool has a large shallow circular pool with an island, an umbrella that showers water down and a small frog shaped slide then an attached deeper pool with two water park type tube slides into it.  He slides and gets out, slides again, then gets into the shallow area and plays splash tag with other kids.  Neither of us got in with him today.

Broody hen is winning.  Yesterday, I repeatedly removed her from the nest, put bags of ice in the nest (she sat on them), and finally blocked off the nest (she moved over one).  This morning, after I blocked off both of the ones she prefers last night, she had moved over yet another one and was sitting, puffing up and pecking at me when I try to move her.  I have pulled her out of the nest and put her in the pen several times today and just a few minutes ago, I found her again, sitting on an egg.  In the past 11 days, we have gotten only 2 eggs and she broke one of them.

Yesterday, I brought in several pints of jalapenos and pickled them for Jim, who eats one with nearly every dinner I prepare.  There are dozens of Ancho peppers turning red, a pint of so of red cayenne’s, a handful of Habeneros.  The Tomatillos skins are beginning to dry and split, showing the fruit inside.

This morning, our neighbor who has been gone for 2 years, having returned a couple of nights ago, came down to visit and say hello.  He tried to help get my solar charger on the electric fence to charge the fence.  The charger will shock you if you touch the connector with a wire, but won’t charge the braided wire that the charger requires.  I sent him home with a grocery sack full of rainbow chard and several jars of various jams.  He will be helping us over the next few weeks to get our porch and deck re-stained before winter.

Our eldest, father of the visiting grandson, will be here this weekend to begin setting up scaffolding and caulking between the logs of the garage so that we can begin staining again.  Log homes require frequent staining until the logs have absorbed enough of the oil stain, then it can be done with less frequency.  Knowing what we know now, though we love our wood house, we probably would not have built a log home, rather one that was easier to maintain.

The weather over the next few days is to be cooler and wet, so the final outings with grandson will have to be of the indoor variety.

Broody Girl

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On July 3, Brown Dog, belonging to our neighbor feasted on two of my United Nations flock of cull chickens, after causing significant damage to the chicken tractor in which they were housed.  On July 4, eldest son and I killed the remainder of them and frozen them for stewing chickens plus 1 rooster, the Buff Orpington, the King of the Domain.  He had gotten too aggressive toward the hens and toward us.  Neither of the then 14 month old hens was showing any signs of broodiness though I really had wanted a self sustaining flock and hen set chicks.  The next day, Brown Dog managed to scare the teenagers enough that one flew out of the pen the dog couldn’t get in and he trotted home with a young Buff Orpington pullet in his mouth.  Brown Dog hasn’t been seen since then, and the Buffs are maturing to a point where I expect the 3 that are 22 weeks old to start laying very soon and the 20 week olds to begin within a couple more weeks.  Since July 4, we have averaged only 1 egg a day from the two adults.

Beginning night before last, when I went to check for eggs and lock up the girls, I found one of the mature hens sitting in the nesting box that they both use.  I chased her out, took the egg and closed them up for the night.  The next morning, she didn’t come out to eat with the rest of the girls and sure enough, she was on the box again and puffed herself all up at me.  I chased her out again and found her there again last night, this morning and this afternoon.  This evening, though there are no eggs to collect, I put an upside down bucket in that nesting box.  She is quite indignant with me, puffing up and trying to peck my hand when I shoo her away.  She probably won’t be too amused to find the bucket in her space, but now that Cogburn is in freezer camp, it is pointless to let her continue to be broody as there are no fertilized eggs for her to sit.  Silly chicken.

I have 15 Rainbow Ranger chicks due here the end of the first week of August to raise in the second pen and chicken tractor and I don’t need Buff Orpington chicks in the coop that won’t mature enough to put in the freezer this fall.  Perhaps next spring I will replace Cogburn with a new young rooster and let one or more of the hens go broody and see if we get chicks in the coop.  For now, I just need to break Buttercup’s heart and her broodiness.