Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Shelter .... plus update on COCKA-DOODLE-DO!!

Now that we have cows AND horses, we need a place for each when it's drizzly, stormy, blizzardy or just windy from the north!  They don't really congregate together.  So Mike planned and built a shelter for the horses and I've already seen them in there!!  Here you can see the progression:

The meager beginning (L) and if you enlarge the detail on the right, you can see at least 3 grasshoppers on the post, not to mention a nice side view of the house.
Once the frame was completed, it was time for the roof:
Then the aluminum siding to wrap around for the finished structure:

BUT, my favorite shot is looking out from the interior:  a nice fall day, with a view of the house and the horses just resting under their favorite tree - You may have to enlarge to see the horses!!!:

As for my cock-a-doodle-do-less 'Cogburn', about a week after my last post, he started cock-a -doing!  He didn't quite have it until about another week later when he finally got it right.  He now wakes us up with a full COCK-A-DOODLE-DO!!!  Every morning it's very noisy out in the hen house as all the hens are 'BEDAWKETTING'  VERY loudly in response.  Don't think those hens didn't notice Mr Rooster's shortcomings (L) - however, time has made him a more handsome rooster as he's growing in tail feathers:

As for our hen population, something 'got' one about a week ago.  My count was off when I put them to bed, and I hunted all over for her but couldn't find her..... until the next morning.  With daylight, I could see feathers all over the place and following the trail --- I found her dead and picked apart by something.  My cats were a little suspect at first, but we've narrowed it down to a likely chicken hawk.  Then Mike got a call from someone who was selling his chickens, so he got 6 more hens.  Upon arrival, one flew over the fence and disappeared across the road.  We've been visited nightly lately by howling coyotes and figured that hen's chance of survival was next to nothing.  Late the next afternoon, I heard a screem and went out to find Sam with something!!  It was the hen!!!!  We yelled at him to drop it and she ran off the first time.  He ran after her and caught her a second time and was 'mauling' her with his mouth.  Again I yelled at him and he dropped her and she just laid there.  Well, so much for that hen!!  So Mike picked her up so Sam wouldn't get a taste for fresh chicken, and after several seconds, her eyes blinked!!!  Then she moved a little.  So we brought her to the hen house, and she jumped down and joined her sisters - all huddled in the corner.  So by some miracle, we have all 6 new hens!!

I don't know what kind they are, but they are interesting with their orange necks and feathered feet.  The one below looks like she has fluffy slippers on.  They're pretty young, so I don't know that they're laying yet.  I did have one very light egg the other day, so maybe they're just starting.

Speaking of eggs, on the recommendation of a friend, I painted a face on an egg and put it in one of the laying boxes.  Sure enough, they like laying when there's already an egg there.  Sometimes there are up to 4 new eggs in that carton.  So I put a golf ball in one, but they didn't buy it!!!  Finally, after a month, at least one hen accepts the golf ball and sets on it to lay her egg.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No cock-a-doodle-doing here!!!!

You know when you get a little male puppy, they don't know how to lift their leg right away?  I remember our dalmation as a puppy, I thought he'd never potty like a big dog, but eventually he figured it out!!  Sam, our border collie was a quick learner and trust me, not a wheel rolls on our driveway but it gets peed on!  He thinks it's part of his job description around here.  He also breaks up cat fights and he and Eeyore have discussions at the corral gate whether a donkey should paw at the lower bar!  Eeyore says 'I will if I want to'  and Sam says 'not on my watch you don't.... get your hoof offa that gate!!'  Eeyore will ignore his grain to aggravate Sam at the gate.  It's like a game and he knows it bothers Sam, so he does it on purpose when Sam's right there.

Once upon a time there were 9 Cornish hens looking for a home.  My friend, Neta, called because she knew Mike was building a chicken house and wanted to know if we'd like to adopt them.  The yard wasn't fenced it yet and we didn't have any supplies, but how can you turn down a gift chicken that's about 6 months old and just starting to lay eggs!!  So he put wire up and we got a makeshift bowl for water and we were in the chicken business.  At first we got 1 or 2 small eggs a day, but I think they like their new home because we've picked up on the number of chickens that lay every day.

For your edification.... Have you ever had something 'stuck in your craw'?  I've heard the expression, but since we've had the hens, I've learned what a craw is!!!  If you look at the left-most hen, you can see a pouchy area below her throat.  You can see it on the second hen too.  That pouch is a 'craw' and when they eat insects (like GRASSHOPPERS) they go first into the craw for the first stage of digestion.  Since I am overrun with grasshoppers, my hens walk around with thier craws full most days and I can see which are quickest and best at catching those nasty grasshoppers!!!! 

Neta's husband, Junior, brought gifts!!!  A bale of hay for their nests and a bucket of wheat for treats!  They had to come visit and see the chickens.  Neta also has a family heirloom for me ... her dad's chicken laying station ( for lack of a better term)  It's actually pretty nice though it needs a little repair.  A week later I got another call from Neta... "Do you want a rooster???  Junior got one for you if you want him."  Now don't laugh, you'll hurt his feelings!!  Something almost had him for dinner and instead got a mouthful of tail feathers!  Poor Cogburn.... no tail feathers until he grows new ones.  We figure we saved his life by letting him come here with our 9 hens.  And af far as 'cock-a-doodle dooing, he doesn't!!!  I guess it comes with maturity.  Mike's waiting for the morning he gets awakened with a cock-a-doodle-do!!
In the meantime, we've grown to 4 or 5 eggs a day and they've gone from small eggs to medium and large!!  I weighed them the other day to compare to a 'large' store-bought egg, and I'm getting at least one large egg everyday and a few mediums!  Compared to store bought, the yolks are yellow-orange in color.  It's awesome having free-range eggs.  They make beautiful deviled eggs!