Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Egg Hunt

Those clever chickens! They think they can hide the eggs from us. Well, they're right. We keep finding eggs EVERYWHERE--in the grass, under tarps, in between carrying cages, even under the front steps. No clue as to how old they are either. Bill had the idea of picking up all of the eggs we can find, and then when the hens lay again in the same spots, we will know they are fresh eggs. Great idea except when you pick up all the eggs from one nest, they make another nest somewhere else that you don't find until a week later.

Of course what we really need is to finish the conversion of the rabbit barn into the new deluxe chicken abode. Bill has worked furiously in the heat and the rain to get it done. All that remains is the door. Then we can lock them all up.(Ha Ha)

This new group of chickens has been a challenge from the beginning. We bought 200 chicks in the spring. Then sold some, traded some, added to them with ones we hatched on our own, and ended up with about 150. When it came time to move them out of the brooders, we put them in one of the movable coops we normally use for our broilers. Soon they were crowded and we had to separate them into two groups. One wise chicken farmer once said that when you separate, you can never again combine. Well, he was right. They were suddenly two separate flocks, each with their own pecking order. When it came time to move them into the brand new, shiny movable hotel with the new zappy electric netting around it, they immediately initiated war. The smaller ones ran/flew right though the holes of the electric netting leaving the larger bullies in complete ownership of food and water. The smaller ones took refuge in the trees at night and under the shed in the daytime. Of course we gave them their own set of food and water and hoped Lilly the white dog wonder would keep predators at bay. (We'll never know if there were losses, but we haven't seen any piles of feathers.)

Now, nearing their 5th month, they have surprised us again and begun to lay a earlier than expected. The larger flock has since learned the art of flying over the electric netting so less and less are actually in the space allotted. No, confinement has never been on the minds of these rebellious ones. Since they have begun to make eggs I sense a new attitude in the flock. They are bold, they are brash, they do whatever they want and no one will stop them! I've seen the way they look at me now when I have the feed bucket in hand. I'm just glad they're not more than three pounds.

However, with all this mixing and matching it seems there is less bullying going on. The roosters have begun to crow and grow beautiful tail feathers, the hens are rounding out into fuller, more mature looking specimens. We are hoping that we can put them together again into one flock. They have to go somewhere. They have been climbing into our trucks if we leave the windows down. The plan is to catch them at night, clip their wings, and let them all wake up together in the new house. I sure would like to prove that wise chicken farmer wrong. I guess we'll see what happens.