It’s been a busy week here on the farm. There’s been more canning (peach jam, tomatoes and more apple butter), fire wood to chop and eggs to gather.
We had a cook out for Labor Day weekend, and invited half the neighborhood. They didn’t all show, but those who did had a pretty good time, despite the heat.
I spent most of that day worried about the chickens because it was so hot, and wound up feeding them frozen mango to help cooling them off.
One of the little hens actually stopped laying for a day due to the heat. Poor little thing!
Another hen surprised us by laying the biggest egg I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure the pictures I took did it justice, but the thing was like two jumbo eggs combined.
And of course, the heat wasn’t helped by the fact that my RiR roosters were ALL really starting to ‘feel their oats’ as ‘mature roos’ and were seriously getting under skin. It’s been since June (when the Gold Sexlinks started acting up) since I’ve had this much chaos in the coop, and I only had 9 roos this time around. Not 17.
In one of my last posts, I described the unwanted antics of one of my RiRs. The last week and a half since that post have seen ALL 8 of the little shitheads behaving the same way. In addition, several of them have taken to following me or Little Dude around the barnyard, run and coop at feeding times, growling and challenging us.
I personally have been more annoyed than impressed.
Until yesterday, when I went down to feed them and discovered that one of the hens had laid an egg out of a laying box and someone had stepped on it, leaving a big hole in it. My first thought is how much chaos has been in the coop recently. The RiR roosters will chase any hen they see, and have recently taken to chasing them up into the beds.
We solved the problem yesterday morning by finally butchering the last of the roosters.
Except Dots, of course, who is spared by the virtue of being Little Dude’s favorite.
This should be the last round of butchering for a long while. We don’t intend to get more roosters, unless some day, I decide to hatch chicks and there are roosters there.
And speaking of hatching eggs… I think my Abigail is going broody. She spent yesterday, all day, in her laying box. She isn’t laying an egg, she’s just laying on the plastic Easter egg put in the boxes to encourage the little girls to lay.
I took her out of the box this morning when I came down to clean the coop and fill feeders. She got up, ate a little, drank a little and then hopped back in her box.
While she’s in her box, she fusses and coos, but this not anything out of the ordinary. She always does this.
I’m not sure if this is broody, or something else. Abby is about 6 months old now, and has been laying since August 8th. I’m not really sure what I should do.
I have three hens laying eggs now. Abby, my first layer, does one egg a day but takes off one day a week to rest. Either Rebecca or Ava (not sure which because I don’t usually see her in there) is the other hen, and she also does one egg a day. The other is a RiR hen and she lays every other day.
Somehow, in the last 5 days, the three of them filled an 18-pack.
Yesterday afternoon, Little Dude and I discovered another egg in the laying boxes, leading me to the thought that we now have three laying hens.
This morning, we were up a little early (trying to get back into the groove for Back to School) and as we were saying ‘good-morning’ to our little fluffy butts, I noticed a very fresh, very newly laid soft shelled egg. Fully formed, but wet and rubbery. Yuck.
I am unsure if this is a new hen or one of the ones who have previously laid. It’s too early in the morning to be Abby and it wasn’t in ‘her box.’ (Yes, I realize that’s not a real consideration, but she’s used that same box 11 out of 12 times she’s laid an egg. It’s hers.)
I have been putting layer feed in one of the three feeders we have in the coop, as up until yesterday, I only had the one laying hen, and she only just turned 18 weeks last week. Also, I had a half bag of the grower/finisher left and they like it, so I didn’t want to waste it. I might need to start putting it in a second feeder, I guess.
As Abby has been laying very nice eggs, I didn’t think I would need the oyster shells for a while, but today I set out a bowl of them, just in case. It was immediately ignored in favor of whatever bugs/etc were waiting outside in the grass.
Hopefully, though, whoever laid this egg will be okay and find both the oyster shells and the layer feed to her liking.
Today marked Day 13 of egg laying for our girl, Abigail. She’s only missed one day, making her count 12 eggs in 13 days. A very hard working girl, our Abby.
I was starting to feel very sorry for her, because she started laying eggs on the 8th and none of her sisters have shown any signs of even thinking about laying eggs.
And man! Was she neurotic about it. Every morning I went down to clean the beds and give everyone fresh water and she’d be in there, squawking and waiting for me to leave so she could climb up into her box and lay her egg. Except for one day, she’s been laying around the same time every day… or so I estimate. The egg has been showing up sometime after 8:30 but before 10 am.
That one day, she waited til 1 pm. Her egg for today, was at Noon.
But again, it was just her. No one else. And again, I felt sorry for her.
This morning, this egg showed up.
It was there when I went down to clean, and it was NOT in the same laying box where Abby usually lays her eggs.
It’s also not the same color as Abby’s eggs. Hers are a darker brown.
But since it was the only egg in the boxes, I assumed it was her and left.
I did have my suspicions, though, because its NOT the same color, also it’s slightly bigger than Abby’s eggs.
Those suspicions were proven correct about an hour ago, when I went down to the coop to find Abby in her box, laying her egg.
So now I know… we have two hens earning their keep. Even if I don’t know who the second one is.
Below, I’ve posted a few comparison pics of Abby’s eggs (different days) versus a store-bought jumbo egg. The store egg is the paler brown egg on top in each pic.
And now, here’s Abby’s 1st and last eggs compared to the Unknown Hen’s egg…
Oh, and you know I was commenting that Abby’s very first egg was obnoxiously large for a first-timer’s egg?
As July progressed, in between the slow culling of the roosters, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the coming of age for my sexlink hens, and the coming of eggs. About a week ago, Abigail, who has always been the biggest of the sexlinks, started doing a ‘submissive squat’ whenever someone tried to pick her up. So we’ve been watching her closely.
In preparation, Little Dude, DH and I did some changes to the coop, namely curtains for the beds I’d to have has laying boxes. I’ve read in numerous places where the curtains offer privacy and shade for the hens, and a safe place to lay their eggs. Once the curtains were up, Little Dude and I placed extra straw and plastic Easter eggs inside the beds. The straw to encourage nesting and the plastic eggs because we have a ton of those and I didn’t want to go to the store to buy golf balls. I figure that the hens won’t care about the color, right?
One of the sexlink hens checking out the laying box.
Close up of the hen in the laying box.
A ‘little Roo’ freaking out because of the curtains. Chickens really don’t do change well, do they?
I saved extra cloth from the curtains to go with the other egg-related project I’ve been working on in my spare time… the restoration/renovation of an antique egg-basket.
I was hoping to finish this little project before the hens began laying, but Abigail had other plans, apparently. 🙂
She was in the coop this morning behaving very strangely (for her, or for what I’ve seen of these birds thus far). She was in the laying box she has been favoring all week, and I mostly ignored her while I was cleaning the rest of the beds. Then, she stood up, stuck her head out behind the curtain, stretched her neck waaaaaay out and started screeching like nothing I’ve heard before. She did that for several minutes, which totally freaked Little Dude out, and he began to worry. But I told him that I’d heard ‘some chickens sing before they lay an egg.’ So maybe she was getting ready to lay one. Not that I would call that sound ‘singing.’ It was more like panic. Like she was yelling at Dots to hurry up and get the boiling water and bed sheets, the baby was coming whether the doctor was here or not.
And then… she just stopped panicking, stood up and started dragging straw from some of the other laying boxes.
That’s where I left her, dong her nesting thing. No egg.
But I came back down to the barn this afternoon and found this in the coop, in that same laying box:
Abby’s first egg 🙂
Close up. I love the speckles 🙂
And here is a comparison of the real egg with the plastic egg. The Plastic egg is the standard size, too. Abby’s egg is about the same length, but not as big around. Bigger than I thought it would be, though.
And here is the ‘proud mama’ and Dots with her.
For the record, Abigail, Dots and their sexlink ‘sisters’ are 17 weeks old today. I wonder when Rebekah and Ava will start laying, too? 🙂