Tag Archives: Rhode Island Red

Goodbye, Molly Weasley

When I decided I wanted chickens, my friend Stephanie encouraged me and even dragged me with her to a poultry show. I came home with my first four chicks in a box.

Molly weasley and her Peeps the day I brought them home.

I initially named them all after delicious chicken entrees so that the kids would remember that they could end up as dinner and not get too attached. As fate would have it, three of those first four chicks were roosters, and they did end up being three tasty dinners. One lonely hen survived that initial chicken run to be rechristened Molly Weasley. This evening, Gwen went out to the coop to feed the chickens one of their favorite treats, corn cobs with bits of sweet corn still attached. Sadly, she found Molly Weasley, still warm, laying deceased in the run.

I don’t know what her cause of death was. She hasn’t been behaving strangely and up until yesterday, she was still laying eggs. It seemed disrespectful to tinker with her carcass in search of an issue, so I buried her without probing for more information. Just in case  it was some sort of illness, I’ll keep an eye on the rest of my flock, but hopefully the rest of the girls are fine. For now, I’ll just take a moment to remember her on a happier day.

chicken in the backyard

Free range chicken

1 Comment

Filed under urban chickens

Egg Update

My babies started laying eggs the 8th or 9th of August.  If you read “Whose Egg is This?”  or “Green Eggs“,  you already know this.  With all the egg hubbub in the news and tainted eggs now reaching my neck of the woods, I figured now would be a good time to do a follow-up.  

I was pretty sure this egg wasn’t Molly’s because of the size.  Now, I’m not so sure.  That egg was the only egg we got that day and we didn’t get another little brown egg for nine more days.  It’s typical for chickens to take a day off every few days, but nine?  Plus, Molly’s egg the day after I found the tiny egg was ginormous, really pale brown and weak-shelled.  I’m thinking maybe the mini egg was Molly’s after all.  Research online leads me to believe it’s not impossible for a hen to lay a tiny egg even if she normally lays larger eggs, but I’d love to hear your opinions. 

My favorite hen.

Bella wouldn't hold still for a close-up.

 

I don’t think it was Bellatrix’ egg anymore because she laid her first verified egg August 17th and has only taken one day off since. Nine eggs in ten days is pretty good! 

Hermione really has beautiful markings.

Still not laying.

 

Hermione still hasn’t started laying, but that is typical of a larger breed bird like a Wyandotte. 

Luna's a big girl now.

Luna in the run.

 

So, if Molly laid the tiny egg, Luna was the first of our new girls to start laying.  She’s laid thirteen eggs in the eighteen days since she started.  Her eggs have gotten a little bigger, but her eggs will never really be large because she is a medium-sized bird.  

Between the babies, we’re getting a dozen eggs a week now.  That’s good because Molly stopped laying again the same day that Bella started.  I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but her crop is doing strange things again.  Even if Molly doesn’t start laying again, we’ll soon be getting a dozen and a half, free-range, untainted eggs a week.  I think that’ll be plenty.

2 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

Whose Egg is This??

This weekend was the 18th Annual Dunegrass Festival in Empire, Michigan and our second annual weekend at the festival.  Aside from Dunegrass, we’ve been to Empire a lot this summer.  Day trips to the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan.  Day trips to North and South Bar beaches.  The kids and I even made a trip out for Food for Thought’s Green Cuisine event which technically is in Honor not Empire, but we did have to run to Empire for gas so we could make the long trip home.  These little staycations are one of the reasons I’ve been away from my blog so much.  There are posts here and here about other reasons I’ve not been around, and a couple more coming I’m sure.  

Delilah at Dunegrass

Delilah playing her bass while standing ON it.

But, I digress.  Dunegrass is technically a real vacation, not a staycation like our daytrips to the beach or the dunes.  We load up the car with food and camping gear.  We set up a campsite in the field with all the other festival-goers and we enjoy great bands like the Rachel Davis Band and Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys.  

 We sleep in a tent during a torrential downpour and wake up in puddles that quickly dry up the next morning in the sweltering heat and enjoy tins of Jiffy-Pop cooked over a Coleman campstove. 

Gwen and Dylan enjoying the festival.

Gwen and Dylan at Dunegrass with their balloon accessories.

So, if this is a vacation post, why is it called, Whose Egg is This??  Good question.  Even though we went away for a vacation, we drove the 17 miles back into town several times.  You see, we have animals.  The chickens?  They would have been fine.  I checked their food and water supply each time we came into town, but I never had to refill it.   

Palomino Rabbit

Fiona enjoying some time in the yard.

Our new friend, Fiona, would have been fine too although she probably would have gorged herself on all the extra food the first day and been hungry until we came back to feed her again.  I could have boarded the dog, but I didn’t.  Dogs, especially indoor dogs, have needs.  Like food.  And Water.  And the bathroom.  Mostly, that last one.  As far as I can tell, Luther doesn’t eat when we’re not home; his food sits untouched in his room until we come home and he’s sure we’re not leaving again.  However, if he had too, he would go potty inside.  He’s done it before.  Wouldn’t you? 

So, we came back into town.  When we came home Saturday morning we collected Molly Weasley’s egg from the nest box and found the “little” girls taking turns sitting in it.  I saw both Luna and Bella sitting in the box on separate occasions.  We weren’t home for a long period of time, so Hermione might have been trying it out too, but we never caught her. 

Sunday morning we came home and found this in the nest box: 

Does it even have a yolk?

Bigger than a bantam??

  Isn’t it cute?  Now we just need to figure out to whom it belongs.  

I’m pretty sure it isn’t Molly’s because she’s been laying (much larger) eggs off and on since February.  

Molly enjoying the sunshine in her new run.

It has been 19 weeks since our girls were hatched and now we have eggs!  Don’t you love Urban Farming?? 

It can’t be Luna’s, because she should be laying blue or green or pink but not brown eggs. 

Luna's a big girl now.

Luna in the run.

If I had to guess, I’d say it belonged to Hermione because she is the biggest of the three babies and according to MyPetChicken, she will be the most prolific layer of the three little girls.  But, I never actually saw her in the nest box.  I still haven’t seen her in the nest box even though the other girls have been testing it out since at least Saturday. 

Hermione really has beautiful markings.

Could it be hers?

So, it could belong to Bellatrix.  She was actually sitting in the nest a few times, but I never saw or heard her laying an egg. 

My favorite hen.

Bella wouldn't hold still for a close-up.

  I guess I won’t know for sure until I catch one of them in the act!

9 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

Happy, Happy Day! (Or, Egg Independence Day)

Back in May I told you about Molly Weasley’s crop problems.  Then, I left you hanging without an update. 

Molly’s crop seemed to clear up after her daily massages and diet of soft foods so I started letting her eat her regular diet again after a week.  This return to her regular diet didn’t seem to have an ill effect on her crop, but she gained a strange habit.  Suddenly, Molly wanted to drink her water out of the dirt.  I have always added grit to her food, she eats grass, bugs and dirt from the front yard and she scratches in the dirt for cracked corn and compost so I’m not sure why she felt the need to drink from the ground as well.

Every time I took fresh water to the coop, Molly pecked at the container to try and splash water onto the ground.  If I dumped water out she joyfully scratched at it and drank it.   

Molly was eating so much sand that her droppings started to look like sand castles.  You probably think I’m joking.  I’m not.  I’d take a picture and post it but then I’m sure my husband would have me committed.  He already thinks I take way too many pictures of otherwise trivial things like jars of jelly and whatever we ate for dinner.

Back to the crop.  It seemed to be maintaing a normal size and was regrowing feathers so I figured eating all that sand was some sort of chicken self-doctoring.  After several weeks of sand eating and a normal sized crop, I was expecting my dear hen to start laying again.  No luck. I waited.  And waited.  Still nothing.

Then Molly started picking at the little girls.  You know the term, “hen-pecked”?  That’s what my chicks were.  Luna even had a bloody spot near her tail.  I was at my wit’s end with Molly.  Not laying was one thing but now tormenting the rest of the flock?  Not cool. 

 To make matters worse, one day shortly after the Coop Loop I picked up Molly and found a large, sandy scab on her crop.  Apparently all that sand was more than her crop could take; it seemed to have ruptured causing sand to ooze out.  The sand had all hardened and despite my strong urge to pick at the sandy clump, I resisted.  I checked on Molly’s scab every day to make sure it wasn’t getting worse.  After a couple days, the wound was significantly smaller.  Shortly after, to my great surprise, it had completely healed!

Despite Molly’s return to good health, we were still without eggs.  And, the girls were still being tormented.  I was just about ready to send Molly to the soup pot.

And then . . .

I found this:

Egg Independence once again!

The end of a long, eggless spell!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

6 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

Why Have I Been So Busy Lately?? Part 1 ~ The Coop Loop

As I have gotten older, I have found myself getting involved with more things.  Only natural, right?  I’ve collected new hobbies and new friends, and along with them, more responsibility.  I’d stop volunteering for committees and boards, but I really enjoy helping out and being part of something bigger than me.  Plus I love the social connections I have formed as part of these groups.

Visitors checking out the coop

Chelsea and other visitors inspecting Hogwarts Home of Eggcraft and Hennery during the Coop Loop.

 

Saturday, June 12th was Traverse City’s very first Coop Loop.  I’m proud to say I was part of this event even though it meant adding more meetings to my busy calendar.  This chicken parade of homes was a huge success and If I had to wager on it I would guess that around 200 visitors passed through my yard to meet the girls and inspect my husband’s handiwork.  Luna, Hermione and Bella were in the chicken tractor in the front yard and Molly was in the coop since she’s recently taken to bullying the girls and needed a time-out.  The separation actually worked out well.  If the girls had all been in the coop, it would have been too crowded.  Having chicken viewing in two parts of the yard allowed better flow for the guests.

Tuesday we had a wrap up meeting to discuss how the tour went.  We discussed what was really great about the tour, what we can change and how to make next year’s tour even better.  So, for now my chicken meetings are done, but optional social meetings will be held monthly by the Coop Loop Founders until we start planning the next tour.  Mark your calendar; next year’s tour is scheduled for the third Saturday in June. 

Discussing my chicken tractor with Kate and some other guests.

"What kind of chickens are they?"

I didn’t get to see all the coops on the tour because I was acting as a docent in my own yard, but I hope to see the other coops soon.  Until then I’ll have to get by with the pictures Gary took of our coops.  You can see the rest of them at cooploop.com

4 Comments

Filed under Coop Loop, urban chickens

Ready for the Big House?

A while back I told you that I won a scholarship to the Farm to Cafeteria conference in Detroit.  I’m super excited, but going away for three or four days requires some planning.  Like finding someone to watch the dog.  And the chickens.  I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible.  One hen in the coop and three in the brooder in the house kicking woodchips everywhere is not the easiest job.  However, if they were all in one place, it wouldn’t be a bad job.  
In theory, the girls are ready to be sleeping outside.   The rule of thumb is that new chicks need to be at ninety-five or a hundred degrees and that the temperature can decrease by five degrees a week until it hits seventy.  At almost seven weeks old, we’ve reached that “safety zone”.   Their down has been replaced with feathers and they haven’t needed the light in the brooder for a while.  
It seems like the stars have aligned.  With the convergence of spring weather, the conference and the girls’ seventh week, I decided it was time.  We’ve been slowly introducing the girls to Molly and allowing them to range together in the chicken run Mr. Hippie built for me but I was still worried about putting them together for good. 
First night in the coop

Hiding in the corner.

Despite my fears, the girls spent their first night in the hen house last night.  I had lots of anxious thoughts.  Was it too cold?  Would Molly be nice to the girls?  

The last time I checked the coop temperature it was fifty degrees even though the actual temperature was considerably colder.  Seeing the girls huddled up in the corner didn’t make me feel any better though.

When I checked the coop this morning, everyone was alive and well.  I opened the hatch and went back out a bit later to see if the little girls had figured out how to get out of the coop and found everyone scratching around the pen:

The chicks survived their first night in the coop.

They made it!

1 Comment

Filed under urban chickens

Crop Failure

I wish I would have taken a picture.  But, I didn’t.  Molly has had a gigantic, enlarged crop for at least a week. 

You’re probably wondering, “What the heck is a crop?”  I imagine it like this: Hamsters have pouches to store food, right?  A crop is like a storage pouch to hold a chicken’s food before it moves to the gizzard to be ground up.  It’s normal for the crop to change sizes during the day as the chicken eats and then digests food.  Poultryhelp.com has a diagram of a chicken’s digestive system if you are interested.

Back to the giant crop.  I’m not sure what caused it, but I have some ideas: Too much popcorn?  Bunches of kale that we wouldn’t eat?  Too much roaming about the yard eating grass?  Eating straw out of her coop?  I don’t know for sure, but a hen doesn’t usually have a crop so large that it starts losing feathers, does she? 

When I found the large, grapefruit-sized blob on my hen, I started freaking out.  I Googled, “chicken tumors” and narrowed it down to either sour crop or impacted crop.  There are all sorts of remedies online for both, but the most drastic is surgery.  I’m not up for doing chicken surgery myself, and as much as I love my hen, I’m not ready to lay down $100+ to have it surgically removed by the vet. 

So, I started trying other “remedies”.  I started with crop massage.  Some sites say to do it, others advise against it for fear of choking the chicken on her vomit.   I massaged Molly and inverted her several times on Sunday hoping that she would vomit and clear her crop.   She dripped quite a bit, but never vomited. 

I continued massage for several days with no success.  Instead of getting better, she actually seemed to be getting worse.  Her crop was so full that  she even started “dripping” when bending down to eat grass.  Still, after all this, she seemed in good spirits and wasn’t lethargic in the least.  Despite her cheerful demeanor, she stopped laying eggs.

Time for drastic measures (but still not surgery).  First, I stopped putting her in the yard where she could eat grass.   I added apple cider vinegar to her water.  I took away her food.  I tried to feed her yogurt.  (She wouldn’t eat it.)  Two days ago I scrambled an egg in copious amount of olive oil which is supposed to lubricate her digestive tract and served it to her.  She tasted it, but didn’t love it.  Finally, she got hungry enough to eat the egg.  The next morning, her crop was smaller, but still pretty large and filled with grain considering she hadn’t eaten solid food in a day.   So, yesterday was day two of scrambled eggs in oil.  This morning her crop was almost completely clear but still had a ping-pong ball-sized lump.  It didn’t seem hard which would indicate impaction and didn’t feel grainy like it had before, but after two days of almost no food, I was hopeful that it would be clear.  Today I let her pick the sweet corn off our eaten cobs and gave her some watermelon rinds.  I think the pieces are soft (and small) enough not to worsen her condition. 

She still hasn’t started laying, but I’m hoping for a full recovery.

5 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

Chicken Run

Okay, so really it’s a chicken tractor, but look what hubby built me today:

Brand new chicken run.

Isn’t it amazing?  The traditional anniversary gift for twelve years is silk and linen, but I’m diggin’ pvc and chicken wire. 

Now my dear Molly (and soon the chicks) can forage around the yard eating grass, weeds and bugs to their hearts’ contents.  Molly loves it. 

Molly enjoying the sunshine in her new run.

Even Dylan loves it!

Dylan and Molly in the "porto-coop".

And, if you haven’t read the comments here, guess what?  The girls are going to be in the Record Eagle on Sunday!

7 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

Look Who’s Here!

I was going to write a post about my friend Stephanie’s visiting bantam chicks.  I mean they’re tiny.  And super cute.  See:

Stephanie's chicks

Spring Break visitors: 8 bantam chicks

But, ever since the demise of the roosters, I’ve been waiting for the day we could have chicks.  That day is today!  Tony over at Traverse City Urban Chickens coordinated the chick order for us.  We placed the order a long time ago but because of the numbers and varieties of chicks we selected, we had to wait until now for the “stars to align”.  Our chicks hatched yesterday and arrived this morning.  Nine little girls in a box. 

Little box of baby chcikens.

The box the babes popped out of.

The little box is so cute.  Tony let me take it to transport my three girls home from his house.  He has pictures of all the girls in the box and of the girls shortly after their arrival here.  He also has an amazing brooder that I’m sure he’ll share some pictures of when he gets a minute.

We’re reusing the guinea pig cage brooder that we used for our first four chicks, but I gotta tell ya, day-old-chicks are so much cuter than month-old-chicks.

My three little chicks in the brooder.

They like to stand in the food to eat but the chick feeder is way too big right now.

Our day-old chicks are already as big as Steph’s banty chicks but they are all fluff.  It will take a while for their feathers to come in.  I’ll post pictures regularly, but don’t count on daily a la “Three Chicks a Day“; that’s been done already.  However, these girls are different varieties so the pics’ll be different even if I did opt to follow in Josh Elliot’s footsteps. 

When I ordered my chicks I chose them based on the characteristics of the adults.  I had forgotten what the chicks looked like and was surprised at how dark my little ladies are. 

Are you ready to meet them?

Hermione Granger

This is Hermione, a Golden-Laced Wyandotte.

"Loony" Luna Lovegood

Here's Luna Lovegood. I named her that because she'll lay "Loony" blue, green or pink eggs.

Bellatrix LeStrange

Bellatrix LeStrange. I hope she isn't evil like her namesake but she'll be black and white.

And, that is why I had to rename Chicken Cacciatore.  After we culled the roosters from our flock I started calling her Ginny for Ginny Weasley because she’s a Rhode Island Red.  But then I decided that  since she’s much older than all my new girls she should have a more mature name.  So, her permanent name is Molly Weasley after the matriarch of the Weasley clan. 

Molly in all her glory

Molly loves a dust bath.

I’ll introduce the girls to Molly when they’re a little bit older but for now they’re safe in their brooder.

7 Comments

Filed under urban chickens

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

chicken in the backyard

Free range chicken

Scratchin' up the lawn.

Molly weasley helps with yard work

Can chickens rake?

Burrowing under the swingset

Starting up a dust bath.

 

Molly in all her glory

Molly loves a dust bath.

It's like a sandstorm.

She stirs up quite a dust-cloud.

2 Comments

Filed under Silent Sunday