Tag Archives: pecking order

A Terrible Night on the Farm

Around 2 a.m., I was awakened by a noise, I assumed it was a pack of coyotes I have been hearing lately, but once awake, I didn’t hear it again.  Hubby had just come to bed, but that never wakes me.  I got up to relieve my self in the dark and after I got back in bed, heard the toilet still running and got back up to get it to stop, again in the dark.  When I stepped into the bathroom, the floor was wet, so the toilet was not only running, but stopped up and as the upstairs flooring is the upper side of the 2 X 6″ tongue and groove pine ceiling of the first floor, the water was dripping through to the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.  Hubby and I sprang into action, tossing down towels to sop up the spill, sopping up the drip through and having to spray down the kitchen and walls downstairs with cleaner to leave the counter and stove tops sanitary to use in the morning.  Once the mess was subdued, my adrenaline was kicked up enough to keep me awake.  I had had a restless night the night before as well.

I sat up until nearly 5 and finished a book I was reading and finally went to sleep in time to get up for morning chores.  Dogs were fed, granddaughter was fed, coffee was made and I went out to do the morning chicken chores to find that a skunk or Opposum had gotten in the chicken tractor and killed 4 of the 3 week old chicks.  I know that loss is part of farming, but on two nights of inadequate sleep, the water disaster and finding 2/3 of the babies dead and mutilated, it was too much and I cried.

When I let the hens and teenagers out, one of the brooding hens left her nest and didn’t return.  I watched them for a couple of hours to see if she would return and she didn’t, so I moved her 7 eggs under the other hen that is a day behind her in brooding.  She stayed away from the nest for many hours and when she returned, was very agitated that her nest was empty.  She tried to steal eggs from the other two hens and managed to break one egg that was viable and another that wasn’t.  To stop that behavior, I had to put crates in front of the two sitting hens to protect them from her.  Tonight, I will put Momma Hen and her two remaining chicks in the coop and put a crate in front of her as well to protect her littles in the coop.  This weekend, we will try to make the chicken tractor more secure as we should have more chicks starting to hatch on Wednesday or Thursday.  Also while out there, I removed the fencing between the two runs, making it one larger run that can be temporarily divided with poultry net if I need two runs.  This freed up about 25′ of fencing that can be used toward the run on the new cull coop that is under construction.

The only real positive of the day was a small harvest to round out the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic that were to be roasted with a pork tenderloin.

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The turnips are of a size to harvest and free of the little white boring worms that I used to experience before dusting the seed row and top of the seed bed with wood ash from the winter’s fires.  The Daikon radishes are also maturing and both made good additions to the roasted veggies.

Growin’ Up

The chicks are fully integrated into the coop.  The barrier has been removed, the food and water are outside, the chicks leave the coop during the day and return to perch at night.  The first day they all went outdoors, 6 of them perched in the smaller part of the then divided coop with the big girls and only 4 isolated themselves.  Now they mix it up on the perches, so fun to see with big and littles all scrunched together.

I was still having some concerns about the king and queen of the coop as the Olive Egger was picking on the chicks and Cogburn without most of his harem was beating up on the two Buff Orpingtons hens.  Tonight after coop up time, Jim and I went out and shook up the pecking order a bit.  We moved the 3 red sex link laying hens back into the coop and removed the king and queen to the cull pen and chicken tractor.  Cogburn will have 4 hens and the coop has 5 hens and the 10  nine week old pullets.  Once the pullets are laying and son comes to run freezer camp, Cogburn will likely be returned to the coop and the red sex links may be removed.  The Olive Egger only gives us about 3 to 4 eggs a week and though it is fun to find the green eggs, she may go to camp.  Maybe by removing her and the roo for a while to allow the Buff Orpington hens some rest and the chicks some time to grow some more, they may both be returned to the coop.  That will have stirred up the pecking order and may drop her down a peg or two.

It is still exciting to check the nesting boxes in the evening and bring in 7 to 9 varied eggs.  The sale of the extras to my knitting group generally funds my dinner at coffee shop where we gather.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.