The Mystery of the Defective Chickens

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One egg.  Buttercup is a sure thing.  Nearly every day we get a small white egg from her.  Owlette the Araucana lays one a few times a week…on a rickety shelf, where it falls and cracks.  Once in great awhile we get an egg from the Salmon Favorelles.  Never two, just one.  And once a month we might get a small light brown egg from either the Giants or the Marans, it’s really hard to know.

All I know is that for having seven chickens it sure is suspicious that I am only getting one or two eggs max a day when I have seven first year laying hens.  Anyone else find this odd?

There are no signs of egg eating.  They have plenty of scraps, sunshine, running room, oyster shells, water, and food.

They have never laid more than this so I can’t blame the lack of light.  Gosh, they aren’t even friendly chickens like the ones I used to have!  I threaten them with freezer camp as they run screaming from me.  I even named them and talked to them sweetly.  To no avail.  No eggs.

What do you all think?  Egg eater?

 

The Ducklings Return

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The ducks have returned to Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  They are adorable and fluffy and live behind an impressive fortress.  Ten cats is something to worry about but we have kept the just a few days old ducklings safe.  We can barely get in, however!  Over the plastic storage box Doug molded some fencing then we put up a portable cage around that topped with a screen, and a card table!

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In the box is three inches of straw (they eat pine shavings).  We added a small waterer that they try to swim in.  We learned our lesson with the last ducks and don’t use open bowls of water like we did with the chicks.  They splash and destroy their surrounding areas with water and duck poo.  They are still splashing water but they can’t get a lot out at a time.  They look like rubber duckies trying to swim around the one inch canal.

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They have a small feeder with flock starter in it as well.

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We got four ducklings.  Two Indian Runners like last time.  The Walt Disneyesque, bowling pin effect never fails to delight me. They are also fairly good layers with 200-300 eggs a year.  Joining them are two Khaki Campbells, who are also good layers at 250-325 eggs a year,

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Every week the red light will get a bit higher and at six weeks they can safely stay outdoors.  However, with the warm weather in May, perhaps they can go out a touch earlier with their red lamp in their coop.  We still need to devise a small coop for them to stay in and lay eggs in.  A place to sleep away from predators at night.  We will let them free range in the newly fenced area that consists of our new pumpkin patch, outdoor kitchen, fruit trees, rose bushes, and the cold frame.  We will use one foot high fencing that just pushes into the ground to keep them out of the plants.  This is cheaper than building a duck run and they will have more space.  We will get a child’s swimming pool.  The trees and corn may act as a deterrent for hawks and owls.  And how fun to look out the back porch and see ducks running around!

For the Love of Chickens (a look at different breeds)

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“How did you decide on these chicken breeds?” someone asked me.

I can’t say I did a lot of research.  When we went to the feed store to get chickens the first year, we hadn’t reserved any so we got who hadn’t been picked up.  One of the breeds I hadn’t heard of.  Golden Buffs.

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Mahalia has never laid an egg.  But her sisters, Peep and Daffodil, are great layers.  They reliably lay a large brown egg a day.  They are slowing down in their third year of laying, but they are still good layers.  They have great temperaments.  Peep runs up to strangers and wants to be pet.  The other two are less lovey but are not aggressive  in the least.

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Our California girl, Ethel, was another breed that we got that year.  She is a great layer (again slowing down now) but she laid a white egg that was perfect for boiling and Easter eggs every day for a long time.  She is sweet.  She also likes to fly.  Not away, but into the goat yard.  The grass is always greener on the other side for California Whites.  She doesn’t leave our actual yard though.  A clip of a few feathers could keep a California girl in her own yard if needed.

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Our Jersey Giants are still great layers even though they are older.  Nearly every day we can count on a small, beige egg.  They are very sweet and docile.  They are not near as giant as I had imagined.

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The next year we researched breeds that were docile, affectionate, and good layers.  The Buff Orpington came up in many suggestions.  Though I have heard that many are affectionate, mine peck at my ankles and fight with each other.  They are good layers but they are not the fun loving birds I thought they would be.

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At a farm we were touring there were these black and white birds that laid dark chocolate eggs.  I was smitten.  They had a nice rooster that was with them who was also a Marans.  We got three girls, Liesel, Brigitta, and Louisa.  Louisa soon became Henry Higgins.  And indeed, he is a very nice, docile, yet bossy and protective, rooster.  I just love him.  I love to hear him singing in the morning.  I love how he herds the girls to safety if he thinks anything is amiss.  He is a gentle giant.  He is very passive with us.  The eggs the girls lay range from medium to dark brown, some variegated with lovely stripes.  Brigitta wants to be picked up and has had many a photo shoot with our granddaughter.  They are one of my favorite breeds.

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I have always loved the blue and green eggs that Araucanas produce so we got three Aracauna girls, two beautiful gold and black girls and one white who still lays blue eggs every day.  They like to fly as well and for awhile laid all their eggs in the front yard.  They are passive, sweet chickens as well.

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A friend of ours had Brahmas.  They were black and white lace patterned with petticoats and floofy slippers.  I loved them as well.  They are dual purpose, meat and egg layers, so they will not be prize winning egg layers, but they will add to the pretty factor on this farm.  We are fickle farmers.  I pick animals based on their cuteness.  Not scientific, but fun.  Two of them will be joining our farm next month.

Backyard chickens are a joy to have and easy to take care of.  An essential component of any mini or large farm.