Archive for the ‘The Dark Underbelly’ Category

The sad side of things…

Ri-Ri is missing, and we lost the chicks to the cold. Some people would say “they’re only chickens,” and I know that when you involve yourself in any kind of animal husbandry on any scope, you will lose stock. But it just plain makes me sad, and the speculation on what happened to Ri-Ri is killing me. Rob said a minute ago, “I hope he just turns up out of nowhere.” We’ve seen far too many stray dogs in the area.

We are reinforcing the fencing soon.

Damn, I love those chickens.

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More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Chicken Butts

The silkies are of laying age, or at least one of them is. A couple of days ago, hubby brought in an egg. At least it was roughly the size of an egg (a bit smaller than my ladies lay), and

The robot chickens in WoW lay no eggs and are impervious to predators. I want steampunk chickens now.

The robot chickens in WoW lay no eggs and are impervious to predators. I want steampunk chickens now.

roughly the shape of an egg, but it felt like it was made out of thin leather instead of encased in a shell. This is a phenomenon that happens when a hen lays her first egg, maybe even her first couple. Their bodies are learning how to produce something they’ve never done before, so the reasonable explanation (from backyardchickens.com) is that it takes a while for their little egg producing selves to get with the program. First eggs have been known to come out without a shell (as this one did), encased only in the protein lining that is made between the egg itself and the shell. Some farmers have reported first eggs found in the nest in absolutely nothing–no pouch of any kind, no shell, they just looked like they were cracked right into the nest. Our egg was perfectly edible, just strange. (That said, I did toss it, albeit sadly, because I didn’t know how long it had been sitting out or how long it took hubby to find it, and I don’t know how porous that protein lining is). We have, just today, found our first solid silkie egg.

Chicken eggs (as do all bird eggs) come out of the hen coated in a substance (called bloom) that seals the egg, preventing its porous shell from allowing bacteria inside. If you have access to farm-fresh eggs, don’t wash them when you get them! Even if there’s a little poop on them. Set aside your sense of “ohgod, ick” while you store them. That substance in which they’re coated prevents spoilage (otherwise the egg would simply rot before a chick could hatch out of a fertilized egg). Farm-fresh, unwashed eggs can actually sit out on the counter for up to two weeks. I’ve heard. I don’t do that, because, well, at this point, it’s ingrained. I have a need to put the eggs in the fridge.

When you’re ready to eat them, that’s when you wash them (because even though chicken anatomy prevents waste from coming into contact with the egg as it’s laid, chickens really do let it out anywhere and everywhere, even in the nest, so don’t make me explain what you’re inadvertently doing with that bacteria when you crack the egg over your frying pan). Use hot water. Soap is optional; if you use soap, rinse thoroughly. Wash your hands after handling chicken eggs, because you just indirectly touched chicken butt. There. You can have your “ohgod, ick” back.

scarlett3

She looks like she could laserbeam that little dog right in half.

Completely unrelated: Kelsey came in the other day completely freaked out because she had to fight her grandma’s little shih tzu off of Scarlett. Okay, before my mother-in-law (or her friends, or anyone) sees this as a kind of indictment, it’s not. I’m not blaming Priscilla. I’m not even blaming the dog (though do not take that to mean I’m not very annoyed with him, and he is now banned from our yard for the foreseeable future). Dogs who have not spent their lives around chickens see them as prey. Chickens are small and fast, but not too fast. I mean, this little dog goes with us on our walks in the park, and you can see him thinking longingly about the pigeons there. What he saw the other day was a big, fat pigeon who was walking instead of flying. That’s the stuff dreams are made of in his little brain. The stuff of which dreams are made.

Luckily, Teebo is a small dog. Unluckily, he went straight for her head. She has a minuscule amount of blood that has come out of her eardrum and dried up, but she obviously did not bleed for very long–to be honest, he probably grazed her with a tooth by accident. These chickens are actually a little bigger than he is, so he got a mouthful of feathers from around the side of her neck and not much more. What she’s suffering from appears to be a flesh wound.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when chickens are attacked by a predator, they are very slow afterwards for a good while, and they tend to keep at least one eye closed if the predator got anywhere near their faces. I’m sure that’s a protective measure. When Ri-Ri was attacked, it took her days to even come up out of a crouch, and she was probably sore. Imagine if something as big as you  are (or many times bigger), something you knew wanted wanted to eat you, threw you to the ground and started pulling your hair out before going for your throat. At the very least, given your survival, you’d feel violated, exhausted, and achy. Scarlett is going through exactly that.  She’s been in the henhouse for two days, quiet and uninterested in frolicking with the other hens, and doesn’t want to come out. When I petted her, she didn’t freak out, but she isn’t exactly in a position to do a lot of flailing and yelling.

Chickens need time, gentleness and extra food to get over stress (which is why chicken factories are horrible, horrible places). Scarlett will be all right. She will get extra mash and extra scratch and lots of fresh water, lots of time in the cool of the henhouse and grass and bugs when she’s ready to come out. I will spoil her well again. Poor chickie.

I love those birds so much.

Oh! Rob said that the other day, the day he found the silkie egg, he heard a wee rooster crow! Somebody got laid, and it wasn’t an egg.

In other news, still no lambs. Stupid, stubborn, overly pregnant ewe.