You guys, it’s Spring! For reals, this time! On Saturday, the temperature reached +18C! Yes, this news deserves all those exclamation marks and more!
We spent all day outdoors. It was so good. Will planted onions and spinach in the raised (covered) beds. We raked the grass, spread some of the snow, cleaned up the patio and set up the table and chairs.
Unfortunately, the girls had to spend most of the afternoon in dog kennels in the garage because a technician from SaskTel was here for over three hours upgrading our phone and internet lines. So they didn’t get to enjoy as much of the nice weather that we did.
(Backyard chickens are illegal in Saskatoon, and I don’t think the SaskTel technician can rat us out to the city, but we decided not to take any chances. We hid the girls away. We figured if he asked us what the coop was for, we’d say rabbits or homing pigeons, which weirdly enough, are legal in Saskatoon. Go figure.)
After our work was done, we sat in the sun and drank Will’s homebrew beer from Mason jars. I think I might actually be developing a taste for beer in my thirties. I’ve never liked beer, but lately, a cold beer on a hot patio is divine. The dogs rested in the shady, cool parts of the pavement, and I dusted off my bike, oiled the chain and took it for a spin. Glorious. Glorious, glorious, glorious.
As much as I loathe Winter at times, I have to wonder – would I appreciate Spring and Summer as much without Winter? Would a warm day ever feel this special without the memory of -40C? Would it be as awesome to take off your jacket because you’re too warm without months of having to wear Sorels and a goose down parka? I doubt it very much.
I hope Spring has come to your corner of the Earth!
It’s been just over a year since we added to our flock. Look how tiny Ginger was!
When we got them, we made a deal that we weren’t going to name them, since someday they will become food. For awhile, Ginger was known as “Little Peeper No. 1″. But it’s too hard not to name them when it’s such a small flock. You get to know them individually, and their personalities really shine through. Ginger was the perfect name for her.
And here she is a year later.
So very grown up! She’s a big bird, this one. The frostbite on her comb is almost totally healed. The little black parts on her comb fell off, and it is actually re-growing (amazing, stuff, I know). The dry skin on her wattles is flaking off, too. And her neck feathers have grown in very nicely.
She had a tough winter. We all had a tough winter.
But now, the redness is returning to her comb and wattles, and she is presenting hardcore every time I come near her, so I’m thinking eggs in about a week or so.
And the temperature is finally (FINALLY) rising. We hit +10C yesterday! Hurrah!
Have a lovely weekend, everyone!
- What’s with the wattle? (thenaturalpoultryfarmingguide.org)
Oh, this has been a long, grey, cold, dry winter, and everyone is just dying for it to be over. The girls are tired of being cooped up. They pace back and forth in the run, and squawk until we let them roam in the yard. The boys go absolutely nuts if they don’t get their daily 20-minute walk. And the humans? We just can’t wait til we can play in the dirt.
A few photos from our week:
Ziggy and his Frog. The Frog is on its last legs (you can see he’s already missing a foot), but Ziggy drags this thing everywhere with him. It’s his latest “baby. He’s had a few “babies” over the years, and they all end up in the trash eventually. He loves them to death.
Someday, I’m going to do a photo series called, “Eggs You’ll Never See in a Grocery Store.” I had no idea these weird things could happen to eggs. Before I had chickens, I only ate grocery store eggs. Clean, white, sanitized eggs. I had no idea that chickens could produce such abnormalities. Take this weirdo of an egg. It’s Liesl’s. I think she may have consumed too much calcium last week. Weird, right?
Oh, dirt. Glorious dirt. Will covered one of our raised beds with plastic a couple weeks ago, so the ground was thawed enough to actually work the soil this past weekend! It felt so good to put a shovel in the ground. Ginger was happy to be back to work in the dirt, as well. She had a great time scratching it up!
And now, as I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside. April 23rd, and it’s snowing. A few weeks ago, I was joking when I said maybe Winter will never end. Like somehow our world turned into Westeros (from Game of Thrones), and Winter may last for years. But as I watch the blizzard outside my window, I really am starting to doubt if this Winter will ever end. At this point, we are going to have snow on the ground well into May. MAY. The only way Mother Nature could make up for this awfulness is to skip Spring entirely and go straight into Summer. Okay? Okay.
Mystery solved. It was Scruffy that was laying the soft-shelled eggs.
Not who I expected at all.
Her eggs have always had beautiful, smooth, hard-as-rock shells. They were tough eggs to crack! Perhaps she depleted her calcium or maybe her egg shell gland wasn’t working properly. Whatever the case, the sardine-yogurt-eggshell-oatmeal mash did the trick.
It took five days, but her eggs are back to normal, and praise the chicken gods she didn’t get egg-bound at all through this ordeal.
I’ll cut back on the mash, maybe giving it two or three times a week now. I think this little chicken will always need some calcium/protein hand fed to her. She doesn’t seem to want to eat any oyster shells on her own. (Ginger, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the oyster shells, but she has yet to start laying again – go figure!)
We’ve got a problem in the coop. For the past three days, someone’s been laying soft-shelled eggs, or perhaps no-shell eggs. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.
I have no idea who it is. It could be any one of them. Today, I found a good egg in the nesting box, but I’m having trouble deciphering if it’s Liesl’s or Scruffy’s. And for all I know, the soft-shell/no-shell eggs could be coming from Ginger.
What I do know is that they are laid in the middle of coop, perhaps even dropped from the roost. They look like balloons. And I’m glad they are coming out of the chicken instead of getting stuck inside.
I’ll try adding some more protein and calcium to their diet by giving them a mixture of oatmeal, yogurt, sardines and crushed egg shells for the next three or four days. One of the many awesome things about chickens is that they process food so fast, a change in diet can have a positive effect in a very short period of time.
Look who’s laying again!
Five years old and the eggs keep coming. It’s hard to plan to dispatch a chicken that’s giving us eggs again. If the laying continues, we’ll postpone her end until fall, probably September or October, because that’s when she usually stops laying for the winter. But if she gets sick again or stressed this summer, and the eggs stop, we’re going ahead with the original plan.
As you can see from the photo, Ginger’s neck is looking pretty bare these days. I’ve done a quick check. I can’t see any mites or anything, and the feathers are broken off, not falling out, so I’m sure that it’s due to pecking or excessive grooming. The girls are just as antsy for Spring as we are, and I think being cooped up has finally gotten to them. Most of the day, they pace back and forth in front of the door, dying to get out into the yard and scratch away at the little patches of grass poking through the snow. I think once the weather is nice, the feathers should grow back. We’ll probably also get another pullet this Spring, so that will wreak havoc on the pecking order once again, but should at least give Ginger a friend to hang out with. Scruffy is totally ignoring her these days, preferring to challenge Liesl for top hen.
Speaking of Spring, it came for a day or two and then Winter swallowed it back up. First week of April, and there is snow falling. Blah. Blah, blah, blah. I can’t even describe how blah that feels. Even in this day and age of science and all we know about the natural world, I am feeling a primitive anxiousness that Spring will never return. If any more snow falls, I am prepared to make a blood sacrifice to the gods. A little burnt offering couldn’t hurt, right?