Chickens and Vegetables

The chickens are doing great. Life is so dull, though I imagine chickens don’t care about excitement. Peepers is still a bit on the small side for a rooster. He’s about nine months old, I guess.

Peepers, Cackle, and the black sex-link (still unnamed)

Peepers, Cackle, and the black sex-link (still unnamed)

We get four eggs a day, or thereabouts (Cackle is still not laying). I’ve worked out a distribution cycle for neighbors and family since I really don’t eat eggs very often.

We had a scare the other day with a stray border collie that wandered into our backyard. I have green plastic fencing stretched to keep the chickens/dogs from walking out the side driveway, but it’s not particularly secure. A dog with enough drive could get through it.

The border collie hadn’t gone through the plastic fence, but its stare had pierced the mesh and was fixed on the flock. Peepers was squawking loudly. I came out to see what the noise was about, and saw the dog in half-crouch on the other side of the fence.

My presence broke the tension. The dog ran off down the driveway, and Peepers strutted off into the middle of the yard with his flock.

We have plastic fencing up around the vegetable garden too. It keeps the chickens out, no problem at all.

Canteloupe. No fruit yet.

Canteloupe. No fruit yet.

Squash. The rear right one got trampled by something (Dozer?) and the top broke off, taking a bunch of baby squash with it.

Squash. The rear right one got trampled by something (Dozer?) and the top broke off, taking a bunch of baby squash with it.

Yellow squash. Mmmm.

Yellow squash. Mmmm.

Mystery squash. I have no idea how to cook this, or even when it's ripe to pick.

Mystery squash. I have no idea how to cook this, or even when it's ripe to pick.

Green beans sprouting.

Green beans sprouting.

Corn sprouting (canteloupe is a little pushy there on the side)

Corn sprouting (canteloupe is a little pushy there on the side)

More dill than I know what to do with. Hey Monarch butterflies, this stuff was for you, so wth are you???

More dill than I know what to do with. Hey Monarch butterflies, this stuff was for you, so wth are you???

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More Chickens

Oh my. I have more hens. I bought two more, and got an additional one for free.

We are now officially one chicken over the city limit (five chickens) but I’m really hoping no one will notice. I’m buying the neighbors’ silence with eggs.

I got a black sex-link and a red sex-link. These are prolific brown egg-layers.

The black sex-link has very pretty feathers with a metallic green sheen. Her eggs are smallish, and she is the smallest chicken of the bunch. She’s also one of the braver hens, and will come around to eat things from my hand with Peepers and Squawkers while the others peer at me suspiciously from around the corner of the hen house.

The red sex-link is missing most of her feathers, poor thing, but I think a bit of time and some free ranging will do her some good. She lays HUGE eggs.

The third hen is another Ameraucana. She was given to me for free because her beak is a bit crooked; the top and bottom parts don’t come together perfectly. She eats fine, but I can see how this might be a problem in the future, because the beak doesn’t wear evenly. Well, we will see how it goes. This Ameraucana is also fairly small–she’s very young–and she has a lot of white feathers around the head and neck. I wonder if she will stay this color? She’s very pretty.

Peepers is truly in heaven. He spends all his time strutting his stuff for the ladies. (They are not impressed.)

The amazing thing is that with three more hens, we get three more eggs a day–so in the one and a half days I’ve had them, I’ve gotten five eggs. The eggs are a lovely array of pastel blues and light pink-browns. They’ll be killer for Easter and I’m hoping their flavor will give me an edge in Mousse-fest 2009 (my family’s annual mousse-off).

I do have some photos of chickens and eggs but haven’t uploaded them yet. Will do it soon.

Still need names for the new hens, too.

Also, the Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour is coming up! I’m so excited. I want to see what other people’s coops look like.

Chickens are dangerously addicting.

Spring Days

I’ve gotten over my initial worries about letting the chickens roam. Nowadays, I open their coop for free range in the backyard from about noon to dark. The chickens put themselves back in the coop when it starts getting dark. They haven’t left our backyard yet, even though the back fence is a mere four feet high. Hopefully they realize there’s a dog over there (untested around fowl).

Chickens framed by wisteria about to bloom like crazy.

Chickens framed by wisteria about to bloom like crazy.

Where'd my ladies go?

Where'd my ladies go?

This used to be a leaf pile. Then the chickens came. Now it is a leafy expanse.

This used to be a leaf pile. Then the chickens came. Now it is a leafy expanse.

On the back porch for a drink from the dog water bowl. Over 90 degrees today, and we were all panting--chickens, dogs, and humans.

On the back porch for a drink from the dog water bowl. Over 90 degrees today, and we were all panting--chickens, dogs, and humans.

No Idea

Cackle’s name doesn’t fit her nearly as well as “Caterwaul” would have. This morning I woke up to hear what sounded like a cat in heat, yowling loudly in my yard.

Bleary-eyed, I stumbled outside in my robe, prepared to chase off the predator that was undoubtedly tormenting my chickens.

The sound was coming from Cackle, and once I was outside, I realized it was some sort of crazy clucking noise. It’s the sort of sound I might expect from a hen trying to lay a particularly big egg, except that she was just standing there on a cinder block (Squawkers was “occupying” the nesting box).

Then Cackle caught sight of me, gave a final yawk, and dashed behind the hen house.

I still don’t know what that was all about.

Field Trip

Since Peeps has some pals to hang out with now, I feel a lot safer letting them roam the backyard for a few hours each afternoon without supervision.

Here are some pics. We named the light brown female “Squawkers” and the dark brown is named “Cackle.” Squawkers is the only one laying eggs right now for some reason.

Squawkers is the one on the left, Cackle is the one on the right.

Squawkers is the one on the left, Cackle is the one on the right.

Come along, ladies. There are bugs by the shed.

Come along, ladies. There are bugs by the shed.

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