Last weekend Matt, with some cursory help from the boys, processed several of our roosters. Sadly, it had to be done. Tristan and I thought we would be prepared to let them go, but we had NAMED them and you never name the ones that are going to get the ax. It really does help if you don’t think about them personally.
Tristan seemed all geared up to do some farm work: The processing of chickens. It didn’t work out quite as he had expected. I think he stayed for one and then decided he needed to do something in the house. Gavin, on the other hand, stayed for a little longer. He was assessing the situation and watching the sequence of events.
Thanks to our neighbor John, Matt was able to process the “roos” very efficiently. You see, our neighbor had demonstrated his technique to Matt and also the age old method of plucking out the feathers. Wow! Big difference. But, I will stop right there.
The Flock Today
Almost immediately, our flock took on a different feel. Pebbles, the remaining rooster, took charge of his ladies. Let me say this . . . he has a big responsibility and knows it. He used to be a pretty relaxed guy who liked to show off his new found crow. Cock-a-doodle-do! Now he is very concerned about the well-being of the hens. Personally, I think he likes to just boss them around because he can. There’s no one around that can stop him now.
Now that is absolute power.
However, he is still a cool guy. He is still a tyrant, but not a mean one.
The hens obviously have to ask him for permission to do anything. Before the flock size decreased, they were all coming and going as they pleased. Now, he tells them where they can go and when.
But, you know what? I have also seen that the hens get along with each other much better. Actually, they all seem to be a closer family. I’m guess that they all sit around complaining about that bossy rooster. And we all know that common ground is unifying.
For now, we are patiently awaiting the arrival of our first egg. I’m hoping that Silver (Silver Leghorn) shows us what she can do pretty soon. Besides, she’s the type to run around telling everyone what she made. It will make her day.
Since we are left with one rooster, to protect and serve, we decided that the rest of our hens needed names. It seems that the ones that had names already earned them while they were still under the heat lamps. Here are the names of our ladies:
Buff-Buff or Buttercup (Buff Orpington)
Silver (Silver Leghorn)
Sally (Salmon Favorelle)
Elvis or Elvira once we determined he was a she (Cream Brabanter)
Olga & Svetlana (Russian Orloffs)
Henny Penny & Frenchie (Copper Marans)
Dirty & Esmerelda (Rode Island Reds)
Duchess & Lady or affectionately called the “Brahma Mamas” (Light Brahmas)
Pebbles (Light Brahma)
I started seeds indoors a long time ago. I mean, they are old enough to be planted outside. The problem is that they all sprang up nicely and then started dying. The soil was so dry and I watered them regularly. After just about everything died and I tried to nurse them back, I took some time to do a little research. I found the problem.
Actually, there were two main problems. First, I needed to hydrate the soil before I planted. I have never had to do this before. Germany is humid and dry soil, indoors was never an issue. The second problem was how I was watering. I had always watered from the top. That’s just sort of how you usually water plants, right? Well, not when you’re starting seeds in cells and indoors. I learned to pour water into the tray and let the plants drink for about 30 minutes. If you pre-moisten the soil before you plant, the water in the tray will be soaked up quite easily. BRILLIANT!
Let me just say that these two quick fixes have already proven to be very helpful. My sick seedlings came back and I replanted some with hydrated soil and guess what? They are so healthy and lush. I replanted some herbs a few days ago and they are already coming up. The best part is that the soil never looks dusty.
Another trick I learned was to disregard that plastic dome. I thought that was the best part of the tray thingy; having a mini greenhouse. But no. I don’t even use that thing anymore. The bottom watering trick is essential for growing seeds in a dry climate.
Matt and I braved the wind this morning to stock up on veggies. We recently discovered that the Market on the Move comes to our area. What a great opportunity to stock up on fresh vegetables at a low, low, low price. A semi truck unloads boxes upon boxes of vegetables. I mean boxes! Then many workers help direct you through an assembly-line. We stood in line and were handed two boxes. Then we paid $10 to have a go-around. You can pay $20, $30, etc. and then receive the […]
We have a new little baby boy in our lives. He was born January 1st, 2014 and he bites. We named this little bundle of teeth, Hank. We named him after a character in one of Gavin’s favorite series of books, Hank the Cow Dog. He is a Blue Heeler (a.k.a. Australian Cattle Dog). Before bringing him home, the boys built Hank and Annie a dog house. I only agreed to have another canine if they stayed outside. Since our weather is mild in the winter, this is acceptable. Matt […]
Sunday was the first day we let the chickens free range. It was exciting and we were a little apprehensive.
We were concerned about a host of things:
Will they find their way back to the coop? Answer: Yes, they were tentative about leaving the run and made several trip to and fro. They did have a little trouble figuring out where to go in and out. The doorway was confusing and remains troublesome for a few.
Will they fly over the fence? Answer: This hasn’t been an issue yet. They don’t venture far from The Big House and appear to only use their feathers to pick up speed or threaten others.
Won’t something eat them? Answer: Possibly and very likely. We have a few brazen hawks in the area that perch just above our property. Tristan has thrown rocks at one. The chickens also have great hawk eye-sight. They see them flying around and they shriek, run, and hide. Plus, we’re hoping one of our roosters takes the role of big boss. We have one now that I’ve noticed acting roo-like. I’ve noticed a few of them actually scare off the little LBJs (little brown jobbers).
So far so good. We keep an eye on them when they are out. Earl Grey met them on Tuesday. He was out prancing about in the garden and had an informal introduction to The Professor (the Blue Ameraucana), with two layers of fence between them. They both seemed to be thinking, “What are you?”
Annie is not too sure what this free range thing is all about. First, the chickens were nicely packaged in a chicken run and now they get to roam around the big backyard. Life just isn’t fair!
I just wanted to share something with you.
I like fresh fruits and veggies. I do. Matt does. And so do our little tough guys. We have been receiving a Farm Box weekly from Sunizona Farms.
What is a Farm Box?
A Farm Box is also called a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, the wonderful farmers put together a mix of seasonally available foods and drop them off somewhere for you. Sometimes you can pick and choose from foods that are available, but we are wild and crazy kids and we like them to pick for us. I know . . . WILD and CRAZY.
So far we’ve had:
And that’s just for winter. I can’t wait until spring and summer.
That’s right baby! And just in case you are wondering what I am talking about . . .
Remember when I said that we were rethinking this whole public school thing? I mentioned this before Christmas. Well, we did make a final decision.
You have chickens.
You are crazy (either just plain crazy or crazy because you like chickens. It doesn’t matter which).
You live in Cochise County.
And you are a lady (no boys allowed).
Those are the requirements for The Crazy Chicken Ladies of Cochise County. This is where a bunch of women get together to talk about all things related to fowl, family, and farm.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted on our new feathered family members, so I figured I’d give an update. They’re all about 8 weeks old now and getting bigger every day. A few weeks ago, they made the move to the big outdoors, otherwise known as “The Big House”, thanks to Tristan. Fortunately for our birds, they live in beautiful Arizona, so even though it is winter, they get plenty of outdoor time. 60+ degree days help them out there, though I’m not so sure how happy they’re gonna […]