Chickens Foraging in the Woods

Chickens Foraging in the Woods
Chickens Foraging in the Woods

Friday, August 22, 2014

Great Pyrenees Adventure

Several months ago I posted my last blog.  I seem to be apologizing for not blogging when I have so much to share, but once again I will apologize for taking so long. I last posted that my two great prys let themselves out and that this was a story for another blog, so I will begin there.

We had our dogs inside a mesh electric fence, which they respected greatly, because they were still a little too friendly with the chickens.  One morning we found Sarah on the porch.  Abraham was still in the fence, but when he saw me, he came barreling through a gaping whole in that fence.

It appears that Sarah wanted out so badly that she tore the fence up getting out.  I can only imagine that for her there was a predator on the farm that she had to take care of.  I was very excited about her desire to protect, so I set them free, and all was wonderful.  They did not mess with the chickens and seemed to both enjoy patrolling the outer perimeter and chasing whatever all night.

We had one predator left, a weasel or weasel family, but with these two dogs out all the time, they were quickly gone.  I am not sure exactly how they caught these very small but very dangerous predators, except that they would come in with caked on mud up to there knees and on their noses--possibly burrowing for the weasels?

But then Abraham started climbing the four foot fence that has two additional barbed wire strands at the top.  He was going through the barbed wire!  I would begin to miss him and would find his hair left behind on the barbed wire, but when called he came out of the woods and willingly came home.  Then one day my neighbor called and said he had my dog.  My neighbor's farm was a good distance away and close to the highway so Abraham became friends again with the power fence and with a tie out.  He was so funny.  As soon as Sarah would get out of sight, he would cry.  But remember he didn't mind leaving Sarah while he wandered the neighborhood.  Typical male?  They have both been neutered.

They were very amusing during this time.  I would see Sarah bark and jump at Abraham as if she was saying, "We got work to do.  Come on."  Then she would run a short distance, turn around, and bark again at Abraham, and he would then look at me and bark as if to say, "Let me go.  I got work to do."

While he had been penned up, the chickens were not and have not been laying well, and Sarah comes in exhausted since she is the only one working, so we have installed a power strip around the inside of the fence to stop Abraham from climbing.  We will turn it on this weekend and train him to it and hopefully he can remain free to patrol.  We are not dog trainers, but these dogs make any effort successful.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another WooHoo

My Great Pyrs turned themselves out (that's a story for the next blog) and have been on guard for about a week and have not bothered the chickens.

As I was walking down the steps this morning, the dogs ran by me barking.  THEN I notice what they were barking at, crows on the ground near the chickens!!!  They chased them off.  I hope this translates to hawks.


I get to go out today without five layers of clothing and serious dread of the cold and wind.  It is sunny and warm at 40 degrees.

The last few days have been brutal for me.  80 degrees is the weather I am comfortable with.  Besides the five layers of clothing, I am carrying water out to my animals, breaking ice in their waterers if I can.  And wanting desperately for this to go quickly.

Amazingly my hens are laying so very well  in this cold.

But today will be a pleasure.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I have been very bad about not posting, but my heart was not in it.  We lost so many chickens to predators, coyote, fox, hawks.   There may have been others but did not catch or see other predators.   I didn't want to share that part of farming. We purchased two Great Pyrenees  pups that have been marvelous though not yet turned loose with the hens.  Just there presence took care of the foxes and coyotes.  But dive bombers are another story.  It has now been almost four months since we lost any hens to hawks.  I have no idea how or why that stopped, but the 14  hens that were the most effected give us only one or two eggs, but no more.

We have put up new fencing and have hopes that that will also deter predators.  We have new hens that have begun laying though we have never turned them loose.  To substitute for the grass fed part of our eggs, we feed Standlee alfalfa pellets mixed with Buttermilk and I also sprout grains for them.  It is so easy to do.  I take boards (not any that are treated wood) and put them on top of moistened grain on the ground and let them sit that way until they sprout, just a few days to a week depending on the weather. Once sprouted I turn the board over onto more seed on the ground.  The hens love it and it makes use of feed that would otherwise be wasted.  These hens are laying fairly well, but not as much as I would expect from 25 hens, but of course the days have grown shorter and colder.

A few days ago, I was at Tractor Supply getting chicken feed; our 50 babies that will lay this spring eat a lot! There was this nice gentleman there looking at feed and asked if I had chickens.  We talked and I learned that his wife had begun raising hens inside I-285 and our Tractor Supply is the closest to them.  His wife wants to raise them on feed much like mine, no corn, no soy and as natural whole grain as she can get.  I found such joy in sharing how I feed my hens and realized that even though it gets hard, I do LOVE it.  I shared with him how I feed and that I use the alfalfa pellets with buttermilk and how I sprout my grains.......He had to just walk away before I could stop.  If I knew him, I would call him and thank him for being such an encouragement to me that day.  It was just what I needed.

I gave him a business card and the first thing he commented on was my scripture verse.  I said yes, that is my favorite verse in the whole Bible.  Revelation 1:17-18.  ...I am the first and the last.  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.  Who else would I yield my life to and serve, but the one who liveth and was dead and lives for evermore.  By the way, Christ gives away the keys to heaven in Matthew.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I am excited to announce that my eggs are now available at Silver City Marketplace on Bannister Road near Matt, GA, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Check out the FaceBook page for SilverCity to learn more about the marketplace.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Where is my Mommy?"

My last post spoke of a hen setting eggs, again;  This setting hen abandoned her chicks and only one survived.  We have nicknamed it the teenager.  Several months later, this setting hen hatched out 10 more chicks taking care of them faithfully and courageously.  She is a fury that I don't want to cross.

Our egg production was down during the very hot spells, 100+ temperature.  Some of the hens went broody meaning they wanted to set the nests and not lay eggs; some I suspected had been laying in out of the way places.  One of those hot days, I was walking to the barn and saw a hen sitting on the concrete, and thought, "Your laying one of my eggs out here on the concrete; why don't you lay in the nests."  Then she got up and eight chicks ran out from under her.  "Well, there are my eggs walking,"  I said to myself.

Sadly though we realized that she had disappeared when we noticed one of her chicks running around frantically, chirping, saying, "Where is my mommy?  Where is my mommy?"  He would chase after the hens that looked like his mommy, and they would take a look and run, saying, "Go a way."  I believe that  chirping chick ran the equivalent of several treks from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to south each day, back and forth, back and forth, chirp, chirp, chirp, never stopping.  We assumed a fox got the hen and the chicks followed her.

A few days later, I noticed that my setting hen had a very small chick with her; I counted and now she had 11 chicks.  One of the missing hen's chicks had just snuck in with this setting hen and acted like he belonged there, and the hen had accepted him.  More often than not, a hen will not allow a strange chick in with her chicks, so we counted this a miracle.  We caught the chipring chick and put it with the 11 chicks, and the setting hen didn't object; the chick did.  It stood tall, looked around and started running and chirping, "I don't like this mommy.  Where is my mommy?"  This chirping and running went on for several days.  My son's dog must have gotten tired of the chirping because she had caught the chick and was carrying it away when we stopped her.  The chick was a little shaken, but OK.

When I was shutting the chickens up that night, I heard the chick chirping in the hoop house.  It was dark so I thought it had found its way to the hoop house while chasing one of the hens.  But when I shined my light on the chirping, there the chick was cuddled up under my oldest hen.  She was on the ground;  to be safe at night, chickens roost up as high as they can get.  This was a real sacrifice for this old hen.  Our little chick had found a mommy.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The summer heat is hard on the chickens, but dust bathing and shade in the woods is refreshing for them.  I do wish I could let them go to the creek, but too many predators right now.  There are five hens right now that want to nest which means they don't lay eggs, just sit them to hatch chicks.  

My one hen that I mentioned earlier in my blogs is sitting again.  I did find one egg near her broken open and eaten.  Not sure what would have gotten the egg from her and left her alive and undamaged.  Previously she had hatched two chicks, but one has not survived.  Again, not sure what killed that little chick.

Our new flock of  Black Australorps are getting larger and their combs are getting red which means there hormones are working well and we should have eggs soon.  We are in the process of training them to the hoop house and laying in the hoop house; this process involves access to the chicken house they are in now as well as the hoop house.  Once we move them from the chicken house to the hoop house, we will have to help them learn how to forage.  All of this training can take a toll on egg production because the hens tend to stop laying when their world changes.  Hopefully we will learn how to do this one day without that toll.

How faithful God is.  I was not able to get my garden going--tomatoes, squash, etc. and was more than a little sad about missing the vegetables this summer, but it turns out I don't have time to harvest and in this extreme heat, I would have been out there trying to not waste anything; probably wearing myself out.  So I am thankful for His wisdom which sees beyond what we see.