Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Broken Trees and Little Deer

Following the Blizzard of 2010, many tree limbs around our house have broken off because of the weight of the snow.  This is just one of many trees in our backyard. 

Spring cleanup time will soon be here.  Meanwhile, the deer have enjoyed the cedar branches on the ground. 

Speaking of deer, I noticed today the deer herd that has been wintering in our backyard has left, at least for the day, but Little Deer stayed behind.  He stayed by our barn and in our backyard by himself.  He even came right up to the house to check the bird feeder area.  It's funny how he seems to always stay in our yard, even when the others leave.  There are other fawns in the herd who aren't much bigger than him, but Little Deer is not afraid to stay alone.  He's my Little Deer. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Deer Find a Home in the Storm

During the recent blizzards a herd of deer found a home in our backyard.  My favorite little guy, Little Deer, was out there, along with other older fawns, does, and several bucks.  There's a patch of cedar trees that block some of the snow and the deer like to congregate there.  They love to eat the cedar trees.  Also, we have an old barn way out there which we are not using, and we keep the door open for any animals which need shelter from the weather.  I don't think the deer really go into the barn, mostly it's used only by birds, but it's there if they need it.

One of the bucks left an antler behind.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Betty & the Roosters

Another of our chickens has gotten injured. 

This time it's Betty, the beautiful black pullet -her ear was almost ripped off.  I got off work late one night this week, but wanted to go visit the chickens in the coop anyway.  So I woke them all up and turned the light on, they all wanted to sit in my lap and get pets and neck rubs, the Big Yellow Rooster was crowing in excitement, life was generally good in the coop.  Betty was roosting with her sisters, then she turned her head sideways and I saw all the blood and gore on her ear.  Poor girl.

Our problem is that we have 13 hens and 8 roosters.  Well, maybe 13 and 8, but it could be 14 and 7, we're not too sure about one boy, he might be a girl, we're waiting to see what happens.  And snow on the ground outside makes the chickens spend alot of time in the coop.  We already sold a few roosters, and now we're going to have to get rid of some more.  It's so hard to choose who goes and who stays because I've gotten to know each bird's personality, their good traits, what they like and dislike.  I've been watching them grow and develop into good roosters, leaders.  I've just gotten too attached...  But such is life with chickens.  Some will have to go.

Back to Betty ~ She came inside, got a very good head cleaning and inspection.  Her earlobe was almost ripped off, leaving raw flesh exposed, which was pecked by the curious chickens.  We put some antibiotic ointment on it and are hoping it heals up.  It will be a few days before it's all healed - I don't want to put her back out in the coop just to have the chickens peck her to death.  I wonder if she is now deaf in that ear? 

Meanwhile, Betty's in my bathroom.  She's trying to buy her way out of confinement - she's laid an egg every afternoon since she's been inside. 

PS - If anyone wants a good rooster for their flock, let me know!!  It would be nice to know if my boys got a good home.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mystery of the Egg, Continued

And so the interrogations continued... I have vowed to solve the Mystery of the Second Egg.

These interrogations include chickens that didn't make the blog last round.
The first to be questioned was The Big Yellow Rooster. 

He used to be quiet and shy, but once his hormones kicked in, he grew big and loud. Leggy, the Big Man Rooster, has made the Big Yellow Rooster the official announcer/crower. The Big Yellow Rooster announces everything to the flock, every noise, every time the chicken coop door is opened, every time I talk to someone in the coop, it is announced with a loud crow. There will be no secrets. The Big Yellow Rooster is wanting to be second in command under Leg; we'll see if Muffin, who is currently second, lets that happen.  The Big Yellow roo wouldn't talk because Leg and Muffin were present, ever listening.  He didn't want to let any chicken secrets out to the human world.   

The next to be questioned was Lucy.

Lucy is a sweet and quiet hen.  She has been seen hanging around the nest area, even assisting others with nest-making. Lucy wasn't a suspect because she is thought to be an Americana, which means she should lay blue or green eggs, when she does lay.  Lucy is very friendly and loves her soft and fuzzy neck to be rubbed.  She provided me with some good intel on the suspect after some neck-rubbing.

    Next I spoke to the Little Hawk Rooster.  That's what I call him, at least.  We used to have 5 chicks that looked like hawks or eagles.  Although their looks have somewhat changed, we still call them "hawks".

The Little Hawk Rooster and I met up behind the feeder for some private conversation.  I'm not positive this is actually a rooster; I have never seen him in that way with one of the young women (pullets) nor have I witnessed him crowing.  To me he is a very good-looking young man, if I were a pullet I'd keep my eye on him.  The Little Hawk Rooster was once a very sick little chick and spent a while in the chick infirmary in the house.  In fact, I posted a pic of him back then when he was sick.  He still is very friendly because of all that extra attention he got back then.  

The Little Hawk Rooster actually likes to hang out in the nest area and has been seen assisted the ladies with bed-making.  Sometimes he even sits on the nest for a short period.  Like I said, he has some feminine qualities, to each his own. He did open up to me, and told me about the ladies that he hangs with in the nest area.  He's a good boy. 

Lastly, Freckles was brought in for questioning.

Freckles is the original Momma Hen.  She is top woman in the flock.  She once killed a Guinea fowl because she thought it was going to hurt her baby chicks.  She is one tough woman, nothing gets by her.  She is the apple of Leggy's eye - he's been in love with her ever since he was just a chick.  Nothing happens in the coop without her knowing about it.  Freckles has been giving me eggs since last November.  She knows exactly what happens in the nest area, and yes, she told me who was blessing me with eggs. 

So, here they are, the two little pullets who are giving me eggs...

Zoner (Hen # 5) and Raspberry (Hen #6).
We all knew Zoner was laying, but didn't know about Raspberry until today.  There may be other pullets laying, too, but these two I know about for sure.  Zoner and Raspberry are sisters, and are Freckles' daughters.  Freckles can also be seen in the picture above, and also Betty can barely been seen in the bottom of the picture. 

Soon enough I will probably have more eggs than I know what to do with!   

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blizzard is Over, Feb 11 2010

It has finally stopped snowing in Maryland.

The snow may be over, but the wind refuses to stop.  It's blowing and very cold outside.  The snow has drifted into snowdrifts that are over my head.  When all is said and done, I think I read somewhere that we got near 55 inches of snow.  This is record snow for Maryland.  It is exciting to see history take place! 

I love this picture because it shows how deep the snow is.  At this spot by our cemetery, it was almost up to my waist.  Randy plowed the road with the tractor, but you can see deer tracks left in the snow.  They like to eat the cedar trees in the cemetery.

This is my car.  Luckily I have not had to go to work this week.  I think most of the Washington DC area is shut down, still in shock over this storm.

One of the fields.  Today is a bright sunny, but windy day.  If you look closely, you can see the deer tracks in the field.

Now these are my tracks.  I ventured out into the backyard to put corn in the deer feeder, and disturbed the perfect snow.

Stay warm!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

4 Eggs in 4 Days at 4 Months?

Now that I've decided that my little 4 month old pullet, Zoner, is laying eggs, I've gotten 4 eggs in 4 days.  She's laying more eggs than my mother hen!

Zoner back on 8Jan10

Here's the weights on the little eggs I've found in my chicken coop:
Feb 7 ~ .9 oz
Feb 8 ~ 1 oz
Feb 9 ~ 1 oz
Feb 10 ~ 1.1 oz

So, here's a question for all the chicken pro's out there ~ Is it normal for a young pullet to start laying like this?  I thought the hens would be much more sporadic when they first started laying, and eventually work their way up to an egg a day.

Or is more than one of my pullets laying?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Mystery of the Egg - Solved

The interrogations have begun to see who has given us the Second Egg.  
Yesterday the Lineup was created to organize all the suspects.  Today the interrogations took place.

First up, Leggy the rooster was questioned. 

He's the big man of the coop, he knows everything that goes on with his flock.  He's the brains of the operation.  Nothing happens that he didn't allow.  Leg kept his mouth closed during his interrogation, instead he opted to snuggle in my arms and take a nap inside my fuzzy coat liner.  He's still my little baby, no matter how big he gets.

Then I moved on to Puff. 

Puffy ran, peeping like a little chick.  He hid behind his momma, Freckles, and she wouldn't let us question him.  She said he was just a boy, despite the fact that he's the same age as Leg.  I don't question what Freckles says, she's my Momma Hen.  So, Puff didn't get questioned.

No luck so far.

Then I opted to talk to a very friendly man, the Little Yellow Rooster. 

We met up behind the waterer for a private conversation.  This Little Yellow roo is very friendly, he loves to sit on my lap, I knew he'd talk, especially if I gave him some cracked corn.  After all was said and done he provided some very good intel about the flock members.

Then Muffin was brought in for questioning.


Muff is Leg's right hand man, but Muff has a loose beak.  He never stops talking, singing, chatting, whatever.  He always provides good intel.  Muff told me not to let Leg know he talked, he's lose his status if Leg found out.  The Big Yellow Rooster has been talking to Leg about becoming his right-hand flock man, and Muff doesn't want to lose his status.

The rest of the birds were questioned, everyone had their turn sitting in my lap getting extra attention, neck rubs, and pets.

And finally...

Zoner was brought back in for re-questioning...  


It was brought up during the interrogations that Zoner was seen nesting, making beds, carrying straw on her back to the nest area to make a bigger bed.  Everyone likes Zoner, she's a popular gal.  When she gets startled, she goes off into her own world, zones out.  Sometimes she's seen staring at the wall, zoning out, in her own world.  But she's friendly, and especially loves her super-soft neck to be rubbed.  I used to think Zoner was a boy because she developed her comb earlier than most of the hens.  But since then I've changed my mind (when she became popular with the roosters).

And during my time in the coop yesterday, I watched as Zoner made a bed and laid another egg.  I thought Zoner was part Americana/Araucana because of her puffy face and lack of tail.  That would mean that she'd have colored eggs, not light brown.  But who knows... All I know is that she's laying little light brown eggs.

I made sure Zoner got some extra broccoli and cracked corn yesterday.  She's my little early laying girl.
The mystery is solved.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mystery of the Egg ~ Lineup

I have created a lineup of who could have laid the mysterious second egg.  These are the suspects.  All these pullets are approximately 4 months old.  I have not included the two Americana hens, as their eggs would not be brown, nor have I included Little Danni or Chloe, who have a solid alibi.

So, here they are.  All suspects are given a number for identification.  If they have a name, it will also be provided. 

First up, #1, Betty

Hen #2

Hen #3

Hen #4

Hen #5, Zoner

Hens # 6 and 7 (6 is on the left, 7 on the right)

Hen #8

There you have it, all the suspects. 

Vote now for who you think is the owner of the Second Egg! 
Also, please recommend names for the hens without names- I am just awful with names! 

I will find out who laid that second egg, and will let you know when I do! 

Stay tuned for interviews of the other chickens who were in the coop during the incident...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Mystery of the Second Egg

Last October 14th we got quite a few baby chicks and one hen, who we named Freckles.  The chicks were only a few days old when we got them.  Fast forward to now - the chicks are not quite 4 months old, right?  Guess what I found in my chicken coop this morning???

The larger egg is from Freckles, the momma hen.  She's been laying eggs since last November.  She gives us 4 or 5 eggs a week.  Freckles' egg in the picture is 1.7 oz - her normal weight is 1.8 oz, so that's about normal for her.  She laid it this morning, normally she's an afternoon layer.  But she took off yesterday, so I guess she decided to do her deed early this morning. 

But who gave us the new little egg???  It's a light brown egg, so it's not one of the Araucanas /Americanas.  It was in the same nest as Freckles' egg.  It weighed in at .9 oz - I assume it's small because the pullet is so very young.  Isn't 4 months too young to be laying?  

Now I have to solve the mystery of the second momma.  Which chicken is it??  There will be a lineup, and interrogations.  They know who it was.  I will get to the bottom of this mystery...  And when I find out, that dear little girl will get extra cracked corn and broccoli!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blizzard of 2010 4PM Feb 6, 2010

These pics were taken after 4pm today, Feb 6, 2010, during the blizzard of the century, according to the news.  The snowfall was winding down, just a few flakes were still coming down at this time.  You can see the snow is up to the base of the trees below.

Here's my car - at 11am I showed a pic of this car in the blog so you can compare the snowfall amounts.

Under this snow is our SUV.  Somewhere under there.

Below is a pic of one of our fields, with our old collapsed tobacco barn in the distance.

I'm still not sure how much snow we really got because of all the snow drifts.  At some places the snow was up to my waist.  At other places it was up to my thighs.  It was alot of snow for MD, that's for sure.

Of interest to me was the rabbit tracks I saw tonight around the chicken coop.  The chickens are secured inside their coop - they will not be going out into this deep snow for a couple days, at least.  But there were rabbit tracks in the snow all around the perimeter of the chicken coop and fenced-in area.  The rabbits are light and jump on top of the snow, leaving tracks behind.  My husband made a really secure fence around the chicken area ensuring that nothing could climb under or get out.  So, why on earth was a rabbit trying to get into the fenced area??     

I walked around back of the chicken coop, cleared the impossibly high snow from around the gate so I could open the gate to enter the chicken pen, and then I saw it - a rabbit was locked inside the pen.  There were rabbit tracks in the snow all over inside the pen.  He was panicking, trying to escape, but couldn't get out.  I saw the scared rabbit under a tree in the snow.  He was a cottontail.  He must have been locked in the pen for at least a couple days.  We must have left the gate open before and he wandered in, then we returned and closed the gate while he was in the pen hiding from us.  Then a blizzard hit while he was captured. 

The interesting thing to me is that the rabbits on the outside were running around the pen, trying to get to the rabbit on the inside.  Does that mean they cared about him?  Rabbits have feelings/thoughts?  Hmmm...

I made my way back into the house, got a carrot, returned to the fenced-in area behind the coop, and put the carrot under a tree.  When I left I made sure to leave the gate open behind me.  Good luck, little bunny.  I hope you get out before that red fox I saw in the back yard a couple days ago gets in.

Blizzard of 2010 11AM Feb 6, 2010

We are in the middle of the Blizzard of 2010.  The snow is coming down hard, and they call it moderate snowfall on the news.  This afternoon and tonight the news predicts heavy snowfall for us.  It snowed all day yesterday, all night last night, and is predicted to snow all day today and all night tonight.  Will it ever quit snowing?  So far, we estimate we have about 2 to 3 feet of snow, but it's hard to tell because the snow has blown and drifted.  In some places, it comes up to our house windows.  Below is a pic of our front yard.  That's a four-wheel drive truck snowed in on the left.

Here is my car ~ the snow almost totally covers the wheels.  I will not be driving anywhere any time soon!

I'll post more pics are the blizzard progresses. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Feet - Chicken Style

One of my hens broke her big toe on her left foot 3 weeks ago.  The prognosis wasn't good at first, as the hen couldn't walk at all and screamed in pain when the foot was touched.  She had no desire to eat or even move.  Since then, the toe was taped straight and she was moved into a small cage in my living room.  Soon she starting moving around more and the small cage was too small for her, so she was allowed to sit on my living room floor on an old towel.  She loved watching TV during this time; I think she was lonely and missed her flock.  At first she just sat, didn't walk to walk or move much.  After a day or two she started walking and pooping all over the living room.  It was then that she was moved into the bathroom, where cleanup was much easier!  During this time the hen was named Danni, as a way of saying thanks to all the advice and guidance from Danni at Critter Farm.  (Thanks again, Danni!!!  I couldn't have made it without your guidance!)

A week and a half ago I took off Danni's cast, but she still couldn't walk on the foot.  It must not have been healed.  The toe bent at a right angle still and she continually fell down when trying to walk.  We cannot keep a lame chicken, so at this time Danni's future was not very bright.  Danni appeared to be depressed from being alone without her fellow chickens (chickens need other chickens), so one of Danni's twins (there were 3 identical hens) was moved in with her, which greatly raised her spirits. I named the twin Chloe.  The broken toe was taped again for another week and a half. 

Danni is in front, Chloe behind

And finally, the good news!!  Today we removed the make-shift cast again.  The toe is still slightly bent.  It healed bent off to the right.  But she can walk!!  That is all that I was hoping for.  She's not too sure of her foot with the cast off, so she'll most likely spend the weekend inside learning how to walk on the foot without a cast.  (I've dealt with chickens in my house now for 3 weeks, another couple days will not bother me more than I've already been bothered.  I've cleaned my bathroom every night, it's become part of my daily routine.)


The broken toe is the big center toe on the foot on the right in this pic.  You can see the toe isn't straight like the one on the other foot.  It's bigger than the other big toe, as it didn't heal straight.  She's not putting her weight on it much, you can she she's relying on her other foot to stand.  But she's not falling over anymore, so I think she'll make it after all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Have a cupcake

Anyone who knows me knows I love to bake.  Here are the cupcakes I made for work last week: