Tag Archives: hens

Another Busy Day

The day is gloomy, chilly, and very damp as the remnants of Harvey drift over the state.  Saturday we go to breakfast then to the Farmers’ Market and have missed the past two weeks, so in spite of the gloom, we traveled in to our favorite local diner for breakfast, then on to see what the market vendors had in stock today, we were low on meats and there are many veggies that I prefer to purchase rather than grow, partly to support our local farmers and partly because when they are ready to pick, there is more than we can use.

We were then off to a department store at the nearest mall to get Jim a couple of nicer shirts and another pair of khaki pants in anticipation of our cruise that we hope will depart next Saturday, if the next hurricane doesn’t foil that plan.

Back home, the rain had stopped for a bit, so a much needed harvest was done.  The 22 quart bucket was half full of jalapeños, cayennes, and large bells, half full of tomatoes, and a big bunch of second growth basil.



The tomatoes from the last harvest were removed from the freezer, peeled and cooked down into a nice thick sauce.  While it was cooking down, two strings of extra large jalapeños and the cayennes were strung and hung in the south door to dry for winter use, 5 more pints of jalapeños pickled and canned.  That makes a total of 31 pints of them canned so far, many more than any other year, but eldest son and Jim will eat one with most dinners for the next couple of seasons until there are more next year.  Some of my poblano pepper plants ended up jalapeños and there are many more to be harvested before our first frost takes out the plants.





The tomatoes frozen today will be peeled and canned as Rotel style tomatoes tomorrow for chili this winter.

As usual, I turned to my two favorite canning books by Marissa McClellan.   She is not a sponsor, but if I ever wanted a sponsor for my blog, she would be one I would seek.


I still need to find a good canning recipe for the Asian Pears.  There are so many and I don’t need more jam, conserve, or chutneys, my sweet tooth has been curbed and they just don’t appeal to me anymore.

This week, the young hens have come into good production, while the old ladies have all but given up.  Each day there are 10 or 11 eggs to bring in.  We only use a dozen or so each week ourselves, so there are many eggs to share with friends who appreciate me raising healthy, non commercial eggs.

It is time to start the oven to cook the stuffed peppers from today’s harvest.

The New Digs

Sixteen 5+ week old chicks are just too much for the 110 gallon hard rubber water trough that they have been in for the past 5 weeks.  As few day old chicks, they looked lost in it with room for two mother tables, a 1 quart water dispenser and a 1 quart feeder and still plenty of room to run and chase.  By 3 weeks old, they needed larger dispensers for feed and water as they would go through the quart in half a day and the gallon size ones took up more room, plus by then they also needed a small container of baby grit.  Now, they are just too large, they are teenage chicklets and a couple have even escaped into the garage to be confused and terrified wondering what had happened, even though there was a window screen over the top. They needed more space.

After the morning school drop offs and the return home, a realization that they needed to be cleaned again and almost no way to do that without chicklets flying all over the place, they were caught a few at a time, place in a giant bucket, covered with a feed sack and carried over to their new digs.  Their feeder and a 3 gallon nipple water dispenser, one of their mother tables, and the pint of grit were added to their new space.


This coop is raised off the ground on a raft of cedar logs sitting on large rocks, covered with several inches of hay, then soil, rocks around the inside edge to further deter predators and the soil covered in a thick layer of hay.  The coop is fondly called Huck’s Coop.  I just couldn’t resist during the construction last year.


The brooder tub had pine shavings in the floor, so the chicklets were at first unsure of the new surface, but quickly discovered it was fun to play with.


There is much chasing, grabbing leaves and running off with several others in pursuit to see what goody had been acquired.  A much larger space.

This coop has three perch bars and a ramp up to them where I am sure the teenagers will soon discover and will be found huddled in a tight mass at night.  Until then, they still have their familiar mother table to sit on or huddle under.  They have been in the unheated garage for more than a week now and all of them are fully feathered except for a few fuzzy heads.  For the next week, the ends of the A frame will be blocked at night to cut down on drafts.

In about a week, once they think of this coop as home, they will be let out into a spacious run enclosed with rabbit fence so they can’t squeeze out and topped with a sheet of bird net to keep the flying predators from swooping down for a meal.  They will live in this coop for about 5 or 6 weeks and then they will take over the main coop.  At about 22 weeks old, we should start seeing some pullet eggs from this crowd.  With 16 layers instead of the current 6, one hen doesn’t lay anymore, there should be plenty of eggs for our use and to share with friends and family.

If any of the big girls decide to brood this year, they will take over Huck’s coop to raise their littles.

Mrs. Houdini and Romeo

Yesterday while working in the meaties pen, I watched Mrs. Houdini try to make her escape.  She failed as Mountaingdad was coming over to see what I was doing and startled her back into the pen, but she was caught in the act.  The gate is a common garden gate that has a wire fence inset in the galvanized pipe frame.  The mesh is tighter at the bottom and larger openings toward the top and the mesh ends about a foot from the top.


She flew her heavy body up high enough to land on the bar below the top bar and then hopped through to freedom.  The solution was easy to deal with, requiring a piece of the plastic chicken wire and some cable ties.


She now has to be able to fly about a foot higher and is too heavy bodied to be able to do that.

Earlier in the week, I contacted the farmer from whom I had purchased my dozen hens over the past two years and asked her if she had a young rooster or cockrell or would save me one in the spring so that next time one of the hens gets broody, I can let her sit and raise a brood for next year’s meaties.  The Buff’s grow slower than the hybrid meat birds, but they are dual purpose birds with flavorful meat, so we are going to try to just use them in the future.

Tonight we picked him up.


Meet Romeo.  He has arrived home just a few minutes a go and will spend the night in the dog crate with food and water and be introduced in a pen tomorrow.  Ms. Farmer says he has a docile personality, he was very calm when we picked him up.  She did say his tail feathers were a bit shabby as he has been picked on a bit in her barnyard.  He was intended as a cull, but had too good a personality for her to do it and she is glad he has a new home where he can reign as king of the coop with a dozen ladies in waiting.

We continue to get 8 to 11 eggs daily from the dozen hens.

Lovin’ life on our rainy mountain farm.

A Tale of a Lone Hen Protector

During his sleep last night, the lone hen protector had a terrible dream.  Cogburn ruffled in his dream, but couldn’t awaken enough to figure out what was going on.  In his dream, one at a time, his ladies were disappearing, until there were only three.  But he knew he had nine, what on earth was going on.  When he awoke this morning, he was startled to see that it wasn’t a dream at all, his coop only contained three of his ladies and a new wooden structure that obstructed part of his kingdom’s perches.  He crowed mightily, hoping that the aliens that had abducted his ladies would return them.

Once the tall lady came out to let him out of his coop and give him food and water, he was even more distraught as the aliens had returned his ladies, but alas, he couldn’t get to them.  How was he going to protect them from the shadows in the sky?

Then to make matters worse for him, that tall lady crawled into the coop with strange and noisy objects in her hands that didn’t look like food to him and she made lots of noise and commotion in his castle.  When she was done, ten small noisy creatures invaded his castle, but he couldn’t get to them.  What had happened?  Some nearly invisible force field prevented him from surveying his domain and chasing those interlopers away.  His beautiful queenly lady that lays the green eggs entered to survey the situation as well, she has always been a curious sort and as the tall lady had piled deep new hay under her perch, she made a nest, but the tall lady kept fussing at her and finally stirred up the nest she had carefully arranged.  When the tall lady stirred up the nest, she was in the coop and this upset her king.


Since his kingdom seemed to be totally disrupted and this tall lady seemed to have something to do with it, he decided it was his noble duty to attack her, but when he rose to strike, she raised this long hard object and pushed him firmly away.  Being rebuffed and defeated, he decided the only thing he could do was crow at her until she left.


It bothers him greatly that his other ladies seem to be doing fine without him in the other castle, they are even giving the tall lady their daily gems in the new and foreign nests she built for them.  What’s a king to do?



A Moment from the week


The chicks are now 3 weeks old and the 50 gallon plastic tote no longer large enough for them.  They were starting to escape, requiring more than the pint waterer and the gallon one took up too much of their dwindling space.  A piece of screen was put on the top to keep them in, but there was no way to expand the floor space.  We have a large wire dog cage and an extra large one.  The large one isn’t too difficult to erect, so it was moved to the basement, set up and set inside the larger plastic tray from the extra large one.  I know that there will be more mess to clean, but the chicks are getting big.  After putting it all together, I threaded two sticks from pruning fruit trees at two heights as perches and the chicks learning to use them is comedic as they tip and rock learning their balance.  I think I need to make the perches with 1 x 1″ wood scraps or larger branches to give them more to grasp.  We have a warmer week ahead and that hopefully is signalling an end of the cold weather.  In another week, I may move them back to the garage and I need to start planning how to divide the coop for their introduction later this spring.  That also means that the chicken tractor needs to be moved back outside and a nesting box or two added to it as 6 of the hens will be moved to it until sometime in the summer.  My coop was built for 14 and I will have 14 in there when the chicks are moved.  The size of the coop is fine during the spring, summer, and fall, but a bit over estimated when they are all inside on a snowy day.  We will see how it goes and the flock may have to be reduced back to 10 or 12 after this year.