One of my Black Australorp hens (a one-year old) is broody. She started sitting in a nest box a few days ago. For the first couple of days we kept moving her to get the eggs out – there was one egg the first day and none the second day. The third day, I put four eggs under her that I found in the other boxes – I’m going to give her a chance and see what she can do. I don’t think she’s laying eggs at this point, since she’s broody, and she hasn’t come out much for others to lay their eggs in there. I’m a little worried because we are getting into late august – if she can hatch them, the chicks would be born in mid September. We sometimes get snow by Halloween, so I may have to have a contingency plan for chicks if we do get any from this. We’ll see.
I was in the coop earlier and my Speckled Sussex hen was really upset that this broody hen wouldn’t come out of the box, because she wanted to lay an egg. She kept squawking at the broody hen. There are three other nest boxes. I showed the Sussex hen the other boxes, and I think she laid an egg in one of those.
I like spoiling my chickens with occasional yummy treats – they get a lot of vegetable scraps and some bits of bread sometimes. Yesterday it was hot outside, so I gave my chickens some watermelon as a treat. They really love it – they will pick it till there’s just a thin bit of rind left.
I have separated out the roosters from the hens again. The boys wouldn’t leave the ladies alone. I have two Production Red hens that wouldn’t even come out of the coop. I’d go to pick them up and they’d duck down like they do when they’re about to be mounted by a rooster. The 6 remaining roosters were just too much for the 15 hens. We are planning to cull some of those 6, we are still not sure which ones.
My Sumatra hen flew up on my shoulder today when I was in the coop. That was a little weird. She’s smaller than the other hens, and probably always will be – they are a smaller breed. But it was funny that she flew up and sat there.
I love sunflowers. They are my favorite flower – I even chose them as my wedding flowers. I have about 7 or 8 sunflower plants that are growing very well. Last week, one of them bloomed.
The funny thing about this one, is that it is not very tall:
This morning I woke up to find this flower bloomed:
I planted a bunch of different kinds: some orange, some lemon yellow, and some giant mammoth sunflowers. The rest of the plants are on their way, they all have flower heads forming. It will be interesting to see what they all look like when they bloom.
This is my favorite time of year. I love when I can just go to the garden to pick dinner. My vegetable plants are really starting to produce for me. I had some chard and kale already this season, but the last few days my zucchini and yellow squash have started to have large enough squashes to pick. Yum. I have a lot of plants so I know I will eventually be overrun.
This year I have 5 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, and I think 4 acorn squash plants. Last year I had 3 or 4 zucchini plants, and by mid September I was very tired of zucchini. I froze what we had left and didn’t eat any for a couple months. They were very delicious in the middle of winter when I wasn’t sick of zucchini any more. This year I received a pressure canner for my birthday, so I’m planning on using that to can a lot of our harvest. I also plan on freezing some things.
I have gotten some pea pods, but not enough to do more than just eat the peas straight out of the pods. My son has been enjoying that. I worried my peas wouldn’t like the heat we’ve been having but they are doing well. Next year I will have to have more plants.
My beans have been producing well. I actually got enough from my first harvesting of them to use for a side dish for tonight’s dinner:
I started with some green bean plants, but they didn’t do very well at first. I wanted more plants, so I bought a packet of purple beans. They really took off, and I’ve been getting more purple beans so far than green. The green plants are growing taller than the purple, and I can tell they are going to produce well – there are a lot of flowers and baby beans growing along the vine where they’ve climbed up my string support system. They are even climbing one of my sunflowers. Last year I had a few bean plants, but I never got enough beans at one time to cook on their own; it was always just enough to cook up with something else. I’m hoping to can or freeze some this year – hopefully I have enough to do that.
I have a lot of green tomatoes forming. I’m growing three varieties of indeterminate tomatoes, and the plants are going crazy. I have been consistently pulling off suckers from the plants, and now because there are so many baby tomatoes, I’m pulling off extra flowers too, in an effort to let the forming tomatoes get bigger faster, and possibly ripen on the vine. I worry that they may take too long if I don’t do that – last year I had to let my tomatoes ripen in the house. Our growing season isn’t very long – we may get frost by mid September.
Our youngest chickens are (mostly) grown up now – They are just over 3.5 months old. They are still a bit smaller than everyone else, but they are getting there. I have finally figured out for sure what we have – Out of all the chicks we received this spring that lived (14 chicks, in two batches) we got 6 hens and 8 roosters. We still have 6 of those roosters, and of course all the hens. Our oldest young hen, a Speckled Sussex, laid her first egg a couple of weeks ago. Her eggs have been about 1/2 the size of everyone else’s. The first egg was small, and I thought they’d get bigger but so far they haven’t. They are still good eggs so that is fine.
Here is our Speckled Sussex – she does not like to pose for pictures, and she’s been mostly hiding inside the coop to stay away from the roosters.
Our other hens are getting close to adulthood:
Our young roosters are growing too, and getting into mischief.
I haven’t taken that many pictures of my older ladies lately – I need to get some chicken saddles. They have a bit of feather loss from the roosters, and a little from molting, I believe. Here are a few of them:
Overall, the chickens are doing well. I need to cull at least a couple more roosters though. And get some chicken saddles for the ladies.
I haven’t posted in over a week, because I went to California to meet my new niece. Before I left, this was my garden (taken on 7/23/15):
I came back less than 7 days later and my garden had exploded:
The chickens are doing well. We had planned on starting to cull some roosters when I got home. A couple on the shortlist have redeemed themselves for now. We culled two on Sunday – one was getting very aggressive and had pecked my son, and the other was picking on the rest of the big roosters. We will need to take out a couple more before winter, but the ones we still have are behaving better. One of our youngest roosters, Wonky Top:
Wonky’s comb has been straightening out. He has straightened out too – he was going to be one of the first we took out, because he didn’t get along with anyone – he was really skittish, and he fought with everyone. We had separated the roosters from the hens for awhile, and he would get picked on by the bigger guys, and then escape. Each time we caught him and put him back with the roosters, he would escape again, and then evade capture for most of the day. I finally put him in with the hens. He stayed there while I was on vacation. When I got back I thought my roosters were bored being over in their side (we had them in the grassless side because it was easier to get them in at night), so I put them with everyone again. Wonky then asserted himself, pretty much saying “you’re on MY side now!” and he wouldn’t take any flack from the big guys. Now he doesn’t seem so skittish, and he’s getting along with everyone better. So we have decided he can stay, for now. I suspect he’s a Cuckoo Maran – I really wanted some Marans (the hens can lay darker brown eggs ) so if possible we may keep him for breeding. We will see.
I was planning on keeping certain roosters based on looks, for breeding purposes, but we are starting to cull based mostly on their behavior, especially toward us. Our big Black Langshan rooster was one that we took out this weekend, since he flew up on my son and pecked him in the chest. That was the deciding factor for him. We were planning on keeping at least two – I read that if you have 3 or 4 they can get along better than having just two. We’ll just have to play it by ear with them.
The chickens are enjoying their outdoor shelter – we allow them in the coop anyway, but this shelter was already in the part of the run that I have them in right now, so we left it (it’s a little large so we’d have to disassemble it to remove it) – they have learned they can go on top of it. That puts their heads only about 6 inches from the top of the fence. They have not seemed to figure that part out yet though – I was worried they would jump out but nobody has so far.