Monday, December 27, 2010

'Tis the end of the year (with snow)

The girls are now almost 8 months old, everyone is laying and it seems like they have always been in the backyard. Everyone asks what we'll do when they quit laying eggs and our reply is "keep loving them for years to come"!

The cold and dark have altered our routine a bit. No time in the morning to sit and have a cup of coffee with them as it's usually dark until almost 7am and I need to be at work, so we make sure they have food and water each evening. I still have to go out and check on them (and maybe take them a treat), but it's a quick visit. In the afternoon I still let them out into their yard. The cold doesn't seem to bother them but it's been really cold here in NC and I stay out as long as I can. Weekends are better, we don't have to go to work and can let them out multiple times during the day for as long as we can. Egg production has not slowed appreciably- last week we got 30 eggs!

We had 9 inches of snow yesterday and the girls chose not to come out and play. They did enjoy the vegetable soup for breakfast and even laid 4 eggs, despite the lack of light. The snow covered the run entirely and it snowed all day.
There really is a chicken coop under the snow

The view from inside the coop- no wonder they stayed in!

Soup for four- Harriet and Lydia stayed on the roost.

 My brother made a sign for my coop as my Christmas present. I may have mentioned how much I like camels. Not a name I would have chosen, but it works with the sign! This was taken Christmas day.

And this was taken the day after Christmas, from inside the coop.

Only 5 more days to the New Year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And now there are six hens a laying.....

Emma finally joined the ranks of the big girls and started laying. I was hoping her eggs would be blue, but she held the line and went green.

Emma's egg is in the middle- a little larger and lighter than the others.
 I have learned that fresh eggs are not for boiling- the white peels away with the shell, but if I wait until they are a week old they do fine. So here's my system:

The new eggs go on top for cooking, but the eggs on bottom are saved for boiling. Sure it would be easier to use egg cartons than to take them off from the top to get the bottom eggs, then put them back in reverse order. Opening the fridge and seeing my bowl of eggs makes me happy.

Complicated, but so far it works for me. Doesn't stop my grandma from collecting egg cartons though!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Five Eggs in one day.......

This morning the egg laying started early. At 6:35am Lydia took off for the nesting boxes and settled herself in. When I got home in the afternoon and went out to check in with them Harriet was in a box....when she hopped off there were 4 eggs: two green and two brown. Bummer, I was hoping today would be a 5 egg day. I can tell who laid which egg and today was Kitty's day off evidently. I settled to read and after a few minutes I noticed that Kitty wasn't out grazing in the yard. Upon investigation I found her in a box. Guess today was a 5-egger!!!!!

Clockwise, starting top left: Fanny, Kitty, Elinor, Lydia and Harriet's eggs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now we have color!

Fanny and Kitty have been plugging along, laying their little brown eggs. Elinor was next in line to start laying, but she didn't seem to be in any hurry. Harriet, Emma and Lydia were not expected to start until at lest 24 weeks (which is 10/30). Imagine our delight to find an egg from Fanny and a little speckled brown egg that must have come from Elinor and a green egg that we decided, after comparing the color of their combs, came from Harriet. Lydia's comb was pretty red also so we expected to see one from her soon. Kitty took the day off, but still.....3 eggs at one time!!!!!

The little speckled egg to the left of  the big green egg is
Elinor's. Eggs look bigger in green, don't they?

We were very proud of our little hens and were sure Lydia would be participating soon....little did we know last night that she already was! Will went out this morning to check on the girls and see if they needed anything and I asked him to add some bedding to the nest boxes. Guess what he found hiding in the corner- yep, another green egg. So now we don't know who laid which green egg- but so what! Yesterday for the first time ever we got 4 eggs and 3 were from first time layers.

Here are our first green eggs. Emma is lighter than Lydia and Harriet, so maybe she will lay blue eggs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Kitty's first egg is the lighter one on the left, the brown egg is Fanny's 19th!

When Fanny laid her first egg it was light brown and very small. As time has passed (and she has been the only one laying) the eggs have gotten darker in color and gradually increasing in size. First time out Kitty lays an egg that is longer than Fanny's but not as big around. Go figure! At least two of the three comets are participating. Elinor can't be far behind- except that's what I've been saying for three weeks since Fanny laid the first one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who invited a rabbit to our hen party?

My son has a new pet, a lionhead rabbit named Dorian who is about 12 weeks old now. Seemed like a good idea to introduce her to the girls and let her play- she can play in a secure area, dig in the dirt, nibble grass....just never thought the chickens would have an issue with her.

I have a cute picture of Elinor and Dorian, just before Elinor pecked at her (trust me, she had reason), but blogger has changed how I upload photos and I can't do it right now. Bummer......

10/6/10  Let's try this again!

The girls are not happy with Dorian being in their run- looks like they are working up the nerve to run her off!

Elinor and Dorian have a stare down. Dorian won.

Kitty is trying to be brave, but running jumping rabbits are nerve racking!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We have an egg or two......

Which came first? Well, in our chicken house the chicken came first......

Then one egg.....

And now there are two.....

THANKS FANNY! Now lets get the slacker sisters motivated!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pink Polka Dot Boots

I've been wearing old croc sandals out in the chicken yard, run and house. Basically keeps my feet clean, but mornings have been cooler and the grass is wet so I decided I needed something else. Thanks Target for marking your rain boots down 50%!

See, subtle are they not? I was a little disappointed that the girls were not immediately flocking to check them out, but they went on their merry way, looking for bugs and what not in the grass...

Now Lydia, Kitty and Elinor are showing some interest (OK, the others did too but moved away before I could get their pictures).....

Lydia is probably wondering if the dots taste like, well, you know......

Nope, definitely does not taste like banana. I bet Lydia could work a pair of little pink boots, although she'd probably prefer a pair of black slingbacks with a kitten heel.

Fanny deciding if she approves....she'll get back to me about that.

The silly sisters (Fanny, Elinor and Kitty) are now 18 weeks old and still no eggs. Seems the average age to start laying for Golden Comets is 17-21 weeks, but some start as early as 15 weeks. I have a feeling that they might hold out until the snooty sisters (Harriet, Emma and Lydia) are ready to start at about 24 weeks just to torture me. We have put golf balls in the nesting boxes to give them a clue, but so far they are clueless- much like Jane Austen's character Emma. If you haven't seen them you should check out 'Clueless' and 'Emma'. Two good movies, neither of which laid an egg!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Things we like to eat

Grass clippings are always a treat- Will dumps out the mower bag and they play in the hills 'o grass and search for insects. Within just a few hours they have spread the grass throughout the run in a nice even layer.
Anything growing in a pot must be examined, tasted and sat upon. That's why the potted plants are now sitting on the chicken free side of the fence.

Watermelon is their favorite fruit (but banana is a close second)

And everyone needs a little oatmeal to start out their day- dry, not cooked please!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 2, 2010

The hen house, empty until I come in to take this photo.
This morning was cool and bright. The girls were waiting at the door to the run and in what is becoming routine Kitty, Fanny, Elinor and Emma waited for me to pet them before going into the yard. Harriet and Lydia look on with some interest but hang back. I usually only have a few minutes in the morning to feed up and give them fresh water, but today starts a week off for me and I was able to hang out with them for a few hours. They grazed and I read....except for Fanny flying up on the gate and having to be redirected it was blissfully peaceful.

They followed me in, no doubt wondering why I was going in their space and if I had a treat for them.

Morning snack time.

Nesting boxes are ready, but no eggs so far. The small hanging feeder has crushed oyster shells to help make the egg shells strong- the eggs that could show up anytime now from the comets.

The round thing hanging down is a head of cabbage. Yes, they get to play with their food!
Sometimes its like watching a kindergarten tether ball game.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The not so perfect name ideas.....

1. Loretta, Dolly, Tammy, Emmy Lou, Patsy and Wynonna

2. Stephanie, Lula, Joyce, Connie, ....(couldn't come up with two more names from the Stephanie Plum novels)
    What is Grandma Mazer's name, anyway? And Mrs. Plum?

3. Ann, Nancy, Grace, Janis, Stevie and Pat

4. Kiev, Cordon Bleu, Pastry, Fried Steak, Salad and Tenders (not really, but I couldn't resist)

5. Amy, Haley, Sandy, Donna, Kate and Nettie (Section 318)

6. Ruth, Clara, Dorothy, Arlene, Tootsie and Linda

Wonder why we went to Jane Austen for inspiration?

blissfully unaware of how close they came to being named after chicken dishes! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

The boy and Lydia

The boy has not been thrilled with the girls. He grudgingly helped with the coop construction but was not at all interested in getting to know them. So it came as a bit of a shock when he came out to the coop a few days ago and announced that he wanted to hold a chicken. He stepped into the yard and checked them out, pointed to Lydia and said "I want to hold her, she's pretty". Well, good luck dude! Lydia is not a fan of being held and does not like being approached. If she's in the mood she will initiate contact, otherwise see-ya!

Guess it was just us, because not only did the boy get his hands on her, but held her for quite a while. She didn't try to get away or protest....nothing, nada, zilch!

Maybe he has a future as a chicken whisperer.......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You've heard of the 5th Beatle? Meet the 7th chicken.....

 Oscar the cat spends much of his day hanging out by the chicken coop. They don't even react anymore when he comes walking up. It took him a few weeks after we fenced in an uncovered yard for them to drop in for a visit. His first attempt he simply jumped up on the gate and sat a spell.

 I finally decided to just open the gate and invite him in as I was curious as to how they would react to finally not having wire between them. Oscar just found a spot to get comfy in and the girls just kept on keeping on.

No worries here- no one is out to harsh any one's mellow. Oscar and Kitty (how apropos!) have come close to touching, but both of them backed out at the same time. He's an odd duck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Chickens? Not enough room for a camel!

I think that I shall one day own a camel if the opportunity (and finances) presents itself. I think they are beautiful and I would love to have one as a friend. But since we don't have the room or the $30,000.00 to buy one (there is a licensed breeder in Franklinton, one of only two in the US- there's my sign!) chickens seemed the next best choice.

I grew up on the stories my mom told about her pet chickens, especially a rooster who never grew all his adult feathers and her cousin Bobby named "Double Ugly". Despite her propensity for violence and  willingness to fight anyone who called him that, the name stuck. My grandparents failed to realize just how attached to him little Linda was until he met his maker and found his way to the dinner table. No dummy she, little Linda put 2 and 2 together and raised such a fuss and cried so hard that Double Ugly got buried rather than eaten. Another senseless death....don't worry, our girls are safe!

Fast forward many decades and I became enamored with the idea of having chickens. I've always liked birds and except for a few years here and there have always had birds- parakeets, cockatiels, finches. Our last bird, Rudy, died about 4 years ago. Will was willing to talk about it and soon could be found searching the Internet for different breeds of chickens, looking at houses, runs and chicken tractors. We planned on getting chicks in April, but our plans were derailed by two separate events.

Our friends and neighbors decided to put their house on the market and we felt that having a chicken coop (which is the house and the run) next door might discourage prospective buyers. So we put off getting chicks for a few months. In April my mom died and life as I knew it ended. Then in early May there was an article in the N&O about the annual "Henside the Beltline Tour de Coop" and I remembered how much I was looking forward to having my own coop before the world went pear-shaped. So Will and I went on the tour and by the end of the afternoon we were hooked and making plans.

By June 5th we had 6 chicks and here we are in August, only a week or two away from the comets laying eggs. We can't wait!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lydia, oh Lydia, have you met Lydia....

Lydia is hands (or wings) down the most beautiful of the girls- she always has been. Although she was named for Elizabeth Bennett's spoiled, selfish, vain and stupid younger sister I picked "Lydia" for her because of the song, "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady". As a young chick she looked like she had tattooed eye liner.

While everyone else went thru an awkward phase, looks wise, Lydia never did.

She looks like she got into mascara in this photo.

Lydia, hatched 5/9/10, at 13 weeks old

Lydia is a bit of an alarmist and will run for cover if she so much as gets a silhouette of a swallow from the corner of her eye. She also likes having her picture taken, especially if the flash is involved- it hiskimitizes her (hey, if cows can climb up a ladder and misspell words on a billboard Lydia can misspell hypnotize!).     will take you to Groucho Marx singing "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hello, Kitty!

I am Kitty's favorite. When we first brought them home she would come sit on my foot and look up at me as if to say "hey, don't I look cute? Don't you want to pick me up?" She was the ice breaker, because with chickens its pretty much monkey see, monkey do (only with feathers)....

Here she is trying to find out what is in the coffee cup. For the record I did not let her try- love her, but not drinking after her!

It's nice to be loved! Is it me or the green faux crocs?

Kitty's comb and cheeks are coming along nicely. She's a sweet girl and even when no one else pays me any attention Kitty can always spare me a few minutes to cuddle.