I’ve neglected this little blog lately. Things suddenly hit fast forward and I got a bit lost in the wake of it all. There’s been a hospital stay and recuperation period. And the weather made things a bit dicey for a bit. And then, Christmas decorating…
I managed to keep up with chores, but that was about it.
It would seem the reign of chaos is over, for now, so allow me to catch you up on the chicken world at Remote.
After a couple of weeks of downloading images from the game camera, I’ve taken it down. The idea was to identify the hens laying eggs. Which would have been a cinch because they all have those colored bands. Except they are laying mostly in the predawn hours. So, all the images come out black and white. Outsmarted by a bunch of clucks!
However, I did manage to make a few observations from the images I got. One of which was that my girls all seem to be morning peeps (see what I did there?). Another is that Daisy, who still insists on staying inside the coop as much as possible, dutifully checks the nesting boxes as soon as they are vacated by a laying hen. I may change her name to Nosey.
I do plan to reinstall the camera if production increases. But, for now, I know what I need to know.
And what I know is that all of the Comets are laying. It is not consistent, but most days I get five brown eggs and every few days I get six. Since I never saw a Sussex (also brown egg layers) in any of the nesting boxes, I have to assume that all the brown eggs are Comet eggs.
And, I now know which Egger is leaving me the pretty sage green eggs! But I didn’t find that out from the camera.
About a week ago, I got the first tiny green egg. It was a total surprise, since the days have shortened to the point that getting any eggs is usually a surprise and I’ve gotten sort of cavalier about collecting them. Although, I am recording the numbers for each day so I’m in the habit.
Knowing that the girls are morning layers and not finding five or six eggs when I go down to let them out into the run, I make a habit of going back mid-afternoon. And too, I’m still not sure we didn’t lose four eggs a couple of weeks ago and I’m not going to feed a freeloader, be it rat or snake. I walked down to the barn to get some scratch to scatter and saw that little green egg as I passed. The smile on my face probably lit up the neighborhood!
It was tiny, as all first eggs are. Not quite as small as the first of the brown eggs, but still too small to mess with. I determined I would save it and blow out the insides.
Then, for almost a week, no green egg. And the puzzlement of who had laid it to begin with. I had a feeling I knew who it was, but much as I did with the first of the Comets to lay, I wanted proof before I congratulated her.
The weekend following the appearance of the sage green egg, I had plans to convert the coop to sand. I’ve known for a good while that I wanted to get rid of the pine shavings. They smell lovely when first spread and they do offer a nice springy spot for the girls to land when they leave the roosts. But it doesn’t take long for the poop to penetrate, no matter how often you rake the floor. And, once fully soiled, they have to be removed. Completely. Unless you’re using a deep litter method. I did look into that and decided I couldn’t do it. The Leonard in me wouldn’t stand for the nastiness of layer upon layer of chicken shit, especially when it came time to haul it all out!
I did my usual research and convinced Coop Daddy that sand was the way to go. But, since it was he who had surgery, I knew I would be doing all the heavy work alone. Thankfully, Sheli decided to spend the weekend in Remote and is always a willing helper when it comes to chicken chores.
We started really early on Sunday morning, knowing that a weather change was coming in on Monday. This would be the last of the warm sunny days for the year and I wanted to power wash all the surfaces since I would have sunshine and warm breezes to dry it all out.
I raked the pine shavings, then swept, then used the ShopVac to get the last of the bits out of all the cracks and crevices. All the while, Daisy marched up and down her roost, chuckling softly when I hit my head and threatening to bomb me if I bent too far into her line of fire. Then Shakira, another of the Eggers who’s become Daisy’s BFF, decided to join her. I warned them both that any shenanigans would get them tossed outside for the duration.
Sheli helped me carry the nesting boxes and ladder out into the run and started scraping them down. I chased Daisy and Shakira out into the run. Then I hosed out the coop and set up the power washer and we scrubbed and sprayed until all the poop was gone.
Daisy usually just hangs out on the outdoor ladder until she sees an opportunity to fly back into the coop. I pulled the door closed to keep her out. Shakira seemed as determined to get back in. She was pacing outside the door and mumbling to herself. I told Sheli to try sticking her in a nesting box in case my hunch that she was the sage green egg maker proved true. Shaky did a couple of turns then popped back out. Okay, maybe it isn’t her after all.
We worked until well after lunch, then abandoned the project in favor of a bite to eat. An hour would give us the dry floor needed to start spreading sand.
No sooner had the door opened than Shaky and Daisy flew directly in and up to the roosts.
And Shakira dropped a lovely new sage green egg right onto the freshly washed coop floor. Mystery solved and hunch confirmed. But I was sad to see her efforts, after a week of waiting, lying broken on the ground beneath her. And I thought I was going to have to get grief counseling for Sheli!
I cleaned up the mess, washed down the floor again, and we trudged off to the house.
It’s been better than a week now since we worked in the coop. The sand is a huge improvement, even if I do have to scoop poop every day. We had our coldest night yet, just days after we spread the sand. The final drop in temps left us at 18 degrees for several hours in the deep night. I have to feel the insulating power of that sand, coupled with the heat energy produced by sixteen hens at the beginning of egg production, and the wind block provided by Coop Daddy’s framed plastic wall panels made it warm enough for the girls to sleep peacefully.
Shakira is laying a sage green egg just about daily now and they are slowly picking up in size and weight. She has become easily as sweet as Daisy is and has sold me on Easter Eggers. I have no plans to get more chicks before this first group is old, but I will always have Eggers in my flock.
Shaky’s little egg has been blown out and washed. I need to figure out how to preserve it now. Or maybe I’ll get Sister to paint something on it.