Thursday, August 11, 2011

When chickens wont come home to roost.

Farm fans REJOICE! For today is a day of great celebration in the land of Ruvalcaba Farms!  We have procured dirt! it will be dropped off Saturday morning, hopefully moved into its home by Saturday afternoon and planted Sunday after the farmers market! HUZZAAHH!!!!! pictures and separate entry to follow.  But today's post is about chickens!

So every night, after they have walked around in the yard eating weeds for a few hours, the chickens put themselves to bed.  They all walk up into the coop and cuddle up in the windows.  For whatever reason, they sleep there rather than on the roosting bar.  All of them just troop right on in there... except for Other White Chicken. 

Girlfriend really is her own bird.  She's a chicken among...other chickens.  If you remember from earlier OWC and Polish came to us after our initial five chickens (one of which was Betsy, the rooster).  Even though we only got them a week after the others and they've spent the vast majority of their lives as a group, OWC and Polish tend to stick together.  OWC typically takes longer to leave the coop when they get let out for the night and Polish usually sticks close by until OWC makes her way out.  When all the girls are pecking the weeds near the gate, OWC and Polish are pecking the weeds under the slide.  And more often that not if someone is squawking and tearing across the yard with a chihuahua in hot pursuit, its OWC or Polish.  Its not that they are outcasts really; when Zero attacks one of them, the other girls will eventually swarm him to remind him to back off.  Its just that those two tend to occasionally act like a separate flock within a flock.

So its no surprise that while all the chickens are going inside for the night OWC is roosting on every thing EXCEPT the inside of the coop, with Polish keeping a watchful (if not lone) eye on her from the window.  Not the same window as the others mind you. 

that's plywood that i use to hold the door open while they are outside.

Typically, i let them do their thing outside while i make dinner and usually i come out after dark to find them all tucked in and OWC perched on the brick grill next to the coop, like shes hoping to become dinner later.  You cant see it here but shes usually all hunkered down with her belly on the brick and her head down by her chest.  She fully intends to sleep there every night. At least until someone puts a fire under her and cooks her up. Usually i have to pick her up and put her back inside with her other ladies. 

"Time to  get off the grill and go inside OWC"-Me "Eat me"-OWC
OWC.  A rebel without a cause.  Unless, of course,  "not roosting inside" is a cause.  then shes pretty much a rebel with a cause.  a ridiculous cause. 

"what are we gonna do with that bird?"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Farm Update!

I have been getting lots of questions about the status of the farm.  I'm a little ashamed to tell you that on the "growing things" front, we are at a stand still.  A lack of two days off in a row and a lack of pickup truck are making it impossible to get dirt for the beds.  So for the moment they still look like this: 

Empty, barren, full of dirty plastic (that had been spread out over them to help burn off the weeds).  As soon as we can afford about $300 worth of dirt, we can fill them.  But really unless that happens next weekend, we will likely miss the last summer planting season.  then we will have to wait til mid September to plant for the fall.  Not that that is so far away. just a bummer.  No tomatoes for us. =(

Basil: Purple and Sweet
Thyme in the foreground, Oreg in the background
In the mean time, we have been growing herbs in window boxes next to the house with mixed sucess.  The basil is doing very well.  We also have thyme, parsley and oregano that are doing well.  Our Cilantro, which used to occupy that lower orange box with the parsley all died off, this the bald spot on the edge of the parsley.  The three empty green boxes on the bottoms were just planted today in a mix of our compost and potting soil.  They contain cantaloupe, watermelon and pumpkins.  Im not sure which is which because i failed to label them! so it
will be a surprise when they show up.  I also threw some pumpkin seeds down on the ground next to this set up just to see if they would grow.  I'm told pumpkins will grow pretty much anywhere. So its just an experiment.  i'll let you know how it goes.

On the other hand, the chickens are doing lovely!  I hadnt posted many pictures of them because they were in their ugly phase.  Chickens have a very ugly phase between the time they are chicks and the time they are pullets.  They look like pigeons with chick heads.
See? This was Esther about 2 mo ago...

Sadly, Betsy did turn out to be a rooster so i sent her/him to live with a nice family on  a farm.  Literally.  Or at least i hope its literally.  More likely than not they are planning to eat him in a few weeks.  But that's better than the other crazy fear i have which is that they are using him in a cock fight.  Lets hope that's not it! I'll need to screen my applicants better in the future. Really i just freaked out when he started crowing.  I didn't want the police called and all my other girls forced to leave over one stupid rooster.  My neighbor was kind enough to haughtily tell me that its illegal to have roosters so she's very glad she hasn't heard any crowing coming from my yard. I tell you, if my ladies ever need lessons on how to be a cluck-y old hen, i'll send them to that lady. Sheesh.  

Anywho, the girls are big enough now to free range in the yard for a while.  so when i come home from work i let them out and they wander around eating weeds. 
That's Esther pecking the weed and Ruth behind her.  Dorothy's butt is behind them both
Since monsoons started its helpful to have some girls who are willing to eat the never ending supply of weeds in our yard.  Its also humorous to see them all around the kid's play things.

After it starts to get dark (or rain) they put themselves back into the coop and settle in for the night.  You know the expression "hens coming home to roost"?  That's a real thing.  With no prodding at all they will just walk back into the coop and roost.  Whats roosting?  you see that 2x4 in the picture of young Esther? That is a roost.  Its just a bar or plant that they can sit and balance on.  Chickens, for some reason, dont like their butts to touch the ground while the sleep.  Three of mine sleep on that bar (Polish, Ruth and Other White Chicken, not ironically the bottom three on the pecking order) while the other three (Esther, Dorothy and Talulah) roost in the window and like to stick their heads out and watch the rain.  They are funny girls.

I wish i had a picture of it, and maybe i should just do a whole post on it, but the sleeping habits of the girls are really very cute.  Dorothy, the second in command sleeps with her neck stretched out across Esther (top chicken)'s neck.  Their necks are longer than they appear when they stretch out and so if you look quickly it looks like Ether's striped body has a brown head and Dorothy's brown body has a black striped head.  Talulah just looks at them both like they are whacko's and shoves her head out of the chicken wire window and lets the rain drip off her beak.

So there you go, an update on the girls.  No eggs yet, but we suspect Talulah will start laying eggs at the end of this month or the beginning of next mother.  They've all been put on layer feed to help them produce healthy well shelled eggs!  

There is now talk in our household of a pair of pygmy goats for the milk. but that will require us to bulldoze our hen house and build a new structure, part hen house part "goat cave".  But first we need to get some dirt! what do you think?