Tag Archives: Broody hen

Slow down and enjoy time – 5/23/2019

With the two back to back events done, having completed spinning 15 breeds for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em for the Livestock Conservancy challenge, used 7 or maybe 8 of those breeds to knit the giant half Hap shawl.  With the B&B soap contract made and packaged, the 6 hanks of yarn spun, selected, banded, and packaged for the yarn shop. With the garden fully planted, staying more or less on top of the weeds and the mowing, it is time to slow down and enjoy some slower moving times.

Not idle, but not so frenetic.  Last fall, I purchased a felter’s pack of 5 pure  1 ounce each Alpaca bumps or roving in natural colors from white to black.  I think they were designated as felter’s  pack because there is a fair amount of vegetable matter in the roving, but easy enough to pick out.  I am spinning it very fine with the idea of making 5 lace weight mini skeins that can be knit into a gradient shawl.  I have lots of the fawn color and the black color separately, so it could be a very large gradient shawl with narrower bands of the white and two grays.  There is no rush on this, I can take as long as I want.   The mini skeins of Alpaca will probably be listed in my shop or sold at a retreat or festival.  The extra 4 ounces of light gray Shetland that I ordered, fearing I was playing chicken on the Hap arrived and though I really like spinning it fine, I think I am going to force myself to spin it a heavier weight and use some of the remaining Black Welsh Mountain yarn to make several pair of mittens for the winter markets.

IMG_20190523_155240

Some time ago, I designed a hat pattern with a lacy band while knitting a hat for the shop.

lace hat

Hats, fingerless mitts, mittens, and cowls are easy to carry in my bag to have handy when there is down time, being a passenger in a vehicle, or just want to do a few rows at a time.  They can be made with no more than a single skein of yarn, often with just left over scraps or mini skeins.  My pattern designs are printed out and available for sale at events or free with the purchase of a skein of yarn.  I even have a hat kit that comes with a skein of choice, a 16″ circular  knitting needle, a darning needle, and the pattern.  I really liked the lace look of the hat and decided to design a companion cowl to go with it.  It is one of my current go-along knits.  That pattern will be added to my collection at some future time.

IMG_20190523_160815

The other go-along knit is a pair of fingerless mitts made with the leftover skein from knitting one of our granddaughter’s a sweater for her first birthday.

IMG_20190523_160732

They are fairly thin and will only fit a smaller hand, I can barely put them on, but the colors are pretty and will make a nice fall or spring pair.

There are no large projects in the works, but yarn has been selected for another 5 foot tri loom shawl soon.  It is too hot to have large heavy knits in my lap.

And in the coop, there is still a 6 month old hen who thinks she is going to sit on eggs that are infertile with no rooster in their midst.  I run her off the nest several times a day, taking any eggs that have been laid in the interim and block off the nesting boxes at night.  With only 9 hens, having one not laying is putting a dent in my supply.

Drama in the Coop

Chickens are such drama queens.  The Sitting Hen (SH for short) is a pretty Buffy, still maintaining most of her upper wing and back feathers, obviously able to ward off the amorous young rooster better than some of the others.  She puffs herself out over her nest and seems to be able to inflate to twice her size if I open the egg door above her, or if Broody Mama Wannabe (BMW for short) comes near.  BMW has given up on having her own nest, but has not given up on having SH’s nest even if she has to share.

They have struggled over the nest so much that 3 of the 12 eggs were broken and in the current heat, I could smell the nest from many yards away.  This is not good for SH, will not be good for her chicks if she succeeds in hatching any, and is a predator attraction.  Yesterday, I carefully removed SH from her clutch of eggs, moved them to the next box temporarily, and while holding SH under one are with her squawking to get away, cleaned out the stinky nest, put fresh hay in and moved her eggs back.  When I put her down in the coop, she fled, but came back shortly to again cover her pending chicks.

Each night, BMW is found sitting on top of SH or trying to squeeze beside her in the nesting box.  I remove her and put her on a perch, but before I can move, she is back.  Over and over persistence.  Last night I decided if she was so intent of raising chicks, that I would let her brood and brought 4 fresh un-refrigerated eggs out to give her something to sit.  I put them in the next box over and moved her to them.  She promptly left them and returned to harangue SH.

I gave up and moved a wooden crate in front of SH so she could have some privacy and BMW perched herself on top of it.  If she is found today on a different nest, I am just going to leave her.  Put the 4 eggs from last night under her with whatever was laid today and see if she will stay.  Last year, this hen was sitting a nest and when another hen in the coop’s chicks hatched, she abandoned her own nest to try to go and steal the other hen’s chicks.  She is one of the hens most picked on by B’rooster and the other hens, so I think she will be marked for fall slaughter and a new pullet added to replace her.  She is two years old, small and beat up and hasn’t proven herself as a good layer or Mama.

The chicks are all t’weens now.  None of them are cute and fuzzy.  The older ones look like teenagers, all legs with little tail feather sitting high, full wing feathers and are unstoppable.  The younger chicks legs are getting longer, their wing feathers are mostly in and I’m seeing the start of some tail feathers.  As they are all feathering, I realize how many of them are BO X Americauna, so they will all be culls for meat.  I hope that some of the Buff’s are pullets as I would like to keep 4 of them to replace BMW and add 3 to the layer coop.

tweens

 

They are much less fearful of me now and gather at the coop door each morning to be let out to get a drink of water before they move on to forage and escape their pen.  It won’t be much longer before the first hen rejects her chicks for them to be on their own.  When that happens, I will move her and the 5 chicks to the coop as the other brood should be ready to hatch and will need the brooder coop for 6 weeks.