Monday, July 19, 2010

What's all the racket? It's 6:20 a.m.!

My daughter comes scrambling in my bed this morning saying the chickens are cackling like crazy. I scramble out of bed, grab my husbands bathrobe, slip on some sandals and head for the back door without my glasses. I get the backdoor unlocked (with effort) and head around the corner to their pen where Betty is pacing the front of the run and cackling her heart out. It is LOUD, too. She was acting like she was locked up in her coop and a worm was just outside and out of reach.

She made some really funny sounds too, like she was announcing herself to the world. Lord, I feel sorry for my neighbors. College kids by day, restaurant servers by night. They are quiet and respectful and probably would appreciate sleeping past 6:30 am. I would be so pissed if I was them. Betty was obnoxious.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Three a day!! Whoo hoo!

Zelda's, Lulu's and Betty's Eggs
Lulu finally laid an egg yesterday. What, has it been a month since I got her? She seems to be a sensitive girl, but yesterday and today there were two brown eggs and a pretty blue one in the nest. I think Lulu's are slightly more brown and Betty's are slightly more pink, but who the hell knows.  Just glad she is a contributing member of the family now, cause she sure eats a lot!

Finally bought them a 25 lb bag of feed. I bought 10 lbs and it lasted a week. I wish they wouldn't spill so much. All is well. It is getting hot, but I have a courtesy fan blowing on their favorite spot under the bushes. Probably need to get their water someplace with more shade.  Noon time is roasting in their pen, but by 2:30 or 3:00 they are in shade the rest of the day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Finally a Blue Eggs!

On June 24, 2010 I finally got a blue egg from Zelda!!!!   
It is a good sized egg compared to Betty's as you can see in the image, and I just love the color.  Lulu still hasn't laid and I'm beginning to wonder at what point do I worry. I'd say soon. She has no reason not to lay unless she is actually too young and hadn't started laying yet when I got her. I let them roam the yard now when I get home and that makes them happy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free to Roam...Sometimes

Well, after keeping the girls under lock and key, I now let them roam the backyard from about 6pm until sundown. They dutifully go back to their coop and I shut them in sometime after swim team is over, around 9:00 p.m.

Betty is laying about every other day, which is nice. Zelda gives me nada. Lulu is seriously slacking as well. Their former hen mother said to give her a call if they aren't laying by two weeks, which is Friday. My God all the work to make them mine; I can't just swap them out. I have faith they will lay eggs, after all, that is their purpose and my home is as good a place as any to do it.  Still, kinda disappointing.

Betty runs to me at full speed when I come outside and I snuggle her regularly. She is an awesome hen and I'm glad that the Dominique was swapped out, because Betty Two rocks.  I can occasionally snag Lulu. She feigns the role of escape artist, but isn't in a huge hurry. She knows she is ok, even if I catch her and she doesn't squirm a bit once I have her in snuggle position.

Zelda is my wild girl. Never touched her, which means no clipped wings and no snuggles, and I bet she doesn't hang out long, if I ever catch her.

They fight over the big bugs and I was surprised to see Zelda win in a war over a tomato worm. They are happy, but I just wish they could eat mosquitoes!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tiny Eggs

After talking to the guys at Buck Moore, I think I got two Barren Rock hens eggs yesterday and today. They are tiny. No go on the two other hens, but tonight they put themselves to bed, which is a nice step in the right direction. 

Betty is a very Huang chicken. She eats non stop. She will jam her head through the fencing to get a blade of grass a foot away.  I put out a 20oz jar of food this afternoon and it was 3/4 gone in ten minutes. Working on getting some netting for the run. I bought some, but a friend offered a roll, so I'll gladly use that.

Anxious to let them roam, but I need help clipping their wings. That is not a one person job.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Morning! Day Two in Henville

So this morning is hot. Dang, I always forget how incredibly hot and sticky Austin can be and it is indeed this weekend. The girls were waiting at their coop door at 6:15 am.  I intended to sleep in, but woke at 5:00 am. Lord!

I got them fresh food, water and went on a snail hunt, which brings me great joy! Their nice sharp beaks have no trouble devouring these abundant, slimy suckers.

Off to the Blanco Lavender Festival today, so the girls are hanging alone. I have to admit it gets pretty hot for a few hours around noon on their side of the house, but they will be fine.

I forgot to mention that I am counting on some eggs today.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meet the New Betty

Meet the new Betty.  She is a Barred Rock and pretty frisky. I liked the calmer Dominique, but this hen will be a nice addition to our family.  The hen lady who did the exchange also brought us a dozen eggs and some good feed to say thanks.

Bon Voyage Betty

It appears that the woman I purchased these birds from gave me the wrong bird. Meaning that the Dominique (black and grey) is a show bird that she breeds and accidentally scooped up yesterday in her rush to meet me. She offered to bring me an additional hen, but I simply don't have room for four. I don't need that many eggs either and I don't want to buy that much feed. 

She is coming today to swap her out for a eight month old Barred Rock, which is supposed to lay some 50 eggs more per year. Kinda sad though, we had pretty much settled on Betty for her name.

Hens Penned

On the advice of lots of folks at the forum, I decided to build a mini-pen and cover it with a tarp to 1) shade and protect from rain and 2) keep them from flying away.

They spent the majority of the morning happily in their coop and it is plain to see they don't know what the heck is going on or why they are here. So, strategy is to keep them in their smaller pen space for awhile, a week maybe, and give them time to adjust and keep them safe. 

Then, we'll clip one of their wings and give them space to roam in their larger pen. But free ranging may be sometime down the road. I still may need to get some kind of fruit tree netting to keep them out of the neighborhood airspace, but we'll cross that road later.

Next, serious coop repairs...

Friday, June 11, 2010

These hens are WILD!

So, this evening was trying. Here is my plea for advice from members of

New hens (6 months); totally lost!

I just brought home three new hens. My other two hens died after a nice long life and I thought getting new hens would be easy (please stop laughing).

First of all, my other hens were adopted at about age two or three, so they were calm, tame and very spoiled girls. These new girls are WILD. I have one Ameraucana, one Dominique and one Buff Orpington, all from the same flock. They are about 6 months old and I thought that I could just drop them in to my pen and they'd settle in nicely.
Catching them tonight to put in the coop was a bloody nightmare. Mainly because of the mosquitoes attacking my husband and I while were tried to catch them, so question #1 is: Will they get to know that this is their coop and go in nicely...ever?

Also, they FLY. My other birds never flew anywhere more than 2 feet. I saw some other posts about using netting for fruit trees and clipping one of their wings, but can you train them to behave? Question 2: Do they calm down? Can you train a chicken? Any advice to get them on the road to chiilin' chickens?

Really ANY kind words are appreciated and any advice to get us through this transition to their new urban home would be helpful. I'm not ready to cry yet, but I wasn't at all prepared for these crazy teenagers!

Thanks warmly,


We have a new family and I'm scared to death

So, we were really lucky to welcome extremely well behaved hens to our home when we adopted sweet Myrtle and Hazel, but I brought home our new girls just hours ago and things are a bit different.

The Ameraucana is beautiful, but so wild looking. We are going to work on names this weekend. The Dominique seems really timid and I think Betty might end up being her name. My daughter asked for the names from the Flintstone's, thinking they would be old fashioned and Betty seemed to just fit the Dominique. She is quite beautiful.

Our Buff is skittish and so lovely. She completely freaked out when Max, the sweet retriever, stopped by the gate for a gander. He was oblivious to the girls, but I think they will take their time getting to know him.

I tried to build a new door for our coop yesterday, but the isosceles triangle measurements and angles for cuts got me re-questioning my spatial reasoning. I actually think I got it right, but am afraid to make the circular saw cuts without my husband's confirmation. I just require a second opinion about most things involving math, as hard lessons have taught me to seek them.  I remember a time I tried to cut some fabric to make a dress for my toddler without drawing a pattern, measuring or even ironing the fabric. What was I thinking? I totally just started cutting and ruined a beautiful piece of white linen.

Waiting for my hubby and daughter to get home. I am obsessed and petrified, but really looking forward to making the girls feel at home. Go egg layers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Starting a new family

Friday I am picking up three new hens. An Ameraucana that lays blue eggs, a Dominique hen and a Buff Orpington. They are six to seven months old and laying regularly. I have some work to do on their coop; fixing the door, cutting the branch I want to use as a roost, add fluff to the nest. Also want to get some feed that is pellet vs. the crumble, which is a HUGE mess and attracts so many pigeons, I'm not sure the chickens ever get to eat. I hope they'll eat the pellet, along with the scratch I have on hand already.

I'm really excited. I've missed having hen fresh eggs and can't wait to use my yummy garden veggies to make some quiche and fritattas. Also looking forward to the different variety. Hope they get along and become one with our family unit. Nervous, but happy to pull the trigger and finally commit to getting birds.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

RIP Sweet Hazel and Loveable Myrtle

Miss Hazel died today only a short month after Myrtle. We think she died of a broken heart, although there was a mysterious illness that neither antibiotics nor de-wormer could cure.
I cried my heart out. I'll miss them badly and so will my family and friends.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My pets used to make breakfast...

Ok, so Hazel and Myrtle have been a bunch of freeloading, poop laying pains in the ass. They eat, a lot. They poop, a lot! And I am tired of their free range lifestyle with out some eggs.

They haven't laid in months. When they were laying a few months ago, the eggs were not so pretty inside. No details, but more often than not, I chucked them. Now, after a round of worms, they are eating, pooping lazy birds. Healthy, but lazy.

So today, I wrangled them and put them in their run. Tented the coop so I could shelter their food and water from the rain. I fluffed and added shavings to their nesting box. Found some nice green grass, scratch and oyster shells to toss at their feet and walked away.

Oh! I added a store bought egg to the coop for inspiration. I will give them some lentils for extra protein in a bit, but then I want to see some business. I miss my fresh eggs. My daughter now says, "neh!" to store-bought-egg omelets. "The eggs don't taste good," she says. I have a nine year-old egg snob. What have I done? The girls are just not earning their keep.

I know they are older, but they have a good life, big yard, green grass, bugs galore, organic feed and hugs whenever they need them. All I ask for is some EGGS.

Ok, I am done. I will get them some lentils and hope for the best, but I appreciate any egg-laying vibes that are sent my way...or my hens way, which would be better.