Those nest boxes were built just in the nick of time! The eggs started coming in early October.
It's been a busier summer than normal on the farm, which explains why blogging failed to happen. With the drought and all the projects, not to mention a well-deserved 2 + week vacation to California, Maggie's Farm was a hopping place. Now that the chickens are almost 4 months old, they are looking and acting like adults, even though they are not quite mature. The hens should start laying in October, when they are 6 months old. Out of 24 chicks, we have 10 roosters who are vying for the rule of the roost. With the exception of Elvis, Smoky and the other silkie roosters, the rest are sounding like teenage boys as they test out their crowing. The biggest male started crowing first, but little Sunshine has got the best sounding crow of the bunch. The others are sounding comically weak. It's a good thing that they have 6 acres to range over because that many males creates big competition for the hens.So why did the chickens cross the road? Perhaps a better question is, why didn't they? I live on 6 acres, bounded on two sides by road. All summer the chickens foraged for food right up to the very edge of my very quiet road, but never ventured out onto it. You might say the road itself stopped them, but that wouldn't explain why they happily walked across the driveway. I left on vacation in late July, and when I returned 2 weeks later, I discovered that they were now crossing the road to my neighbor's lawn. Larry (my neighbor) who marveled at how they never crossed the road said that as soon as I left on vacation, they started coming over. Thankfully, he thought that was neat, but it was concerning after I heard that they ventured even further down the road to another neighbor's property.
Well, I know that many of you might think I'm such a talented animal trainer, that my mere presence was enough to assure they would not cross, but overt training had nothing to do with it at all. Perhaps the fact that I was outside everyday working on the coop or picking raspberries for my client restaurants was enough to keep them nearby - especially since I was known to throw a few raspberries and Japanese beetles over the fence for them to fight over. But that would still not explain how they stopped at the edge of the road 100 feet away from where I worked. Needless to say, training of my own device has now ensued - in the form of bucket throwing! As I sit outside at my computer getting ready for school, I periodically take a break and go check whether they are too near the road. If so, a few buckets clatter down the road. It seems to be working. We'll see.
Darcy, on the other hand, is now so well trained not to bother the chickens, that she is absolutely no help in herding the chickens back home.
Well, I'm a bit remiss in keeping you all posted on the chickens, but this picture ought to help explain why. The shed on the left side was used for storage of all sorts of miscellaneous things, like ice hockey equipment, mosquito catchers, grills and the odd wading pool. It all came out to start the remodeling project into a chicken coop. Believe it or not, this shed is probably as old as the house (117 years old) and was originally used as a coop. But I made it into a kennel which never got much use, so it ended up being storage.
As all remodeling projects go, one thing led to another and now we are in the throes of stripping and repairing the roof. My son, Will, came home from L.A. just in time!
So what about the chickens? Well, they are about as happy as chickens can get. All day they poke and scratch around the woods and yard. They kept me company for 7 days straight as I hand-weeded the raspberry patch. Everytime I pulled up the weeds, they were right in there looking for whatever insects got stirred up in the process. Sunshine was the most avid of the group, happily chirruping as he helped me weed.
When there not in the berry patch, they're digging holes into the wood chips and taking dust baths. At first, you might not notice there are chickens about, but as you stroll by the bushes, they come running - all 24 of them - with their wings flapping, hoping for a handout. They crowd around so quickly that you have to shuffle your feet to keep from stepping on one of them. One of their favorite treats is watermelon!
Follow the antics of the Science room chicks and their offspring as they hang out on Maggie's Farm. During the summer, we grow vegetables and raspberries that are sold to Madison's restaurants.