…to prove to the opossum it could be done. *haaaa!* I heard this chicken joke from a 4th grader awhile back. And since this post to dedicated to “The Ladies” I thought it would only be fitting. Here’s a tour of Windy Ridge Farm’s chicken “operation”. (I say “operation” like we’ve got hundreds of chickens under control. Need I remind you, we have 7, SEVEN hens??)
Along the way, we’ve had as many as 12 chickens at one time. Long story short…we killed some roosters and put them in our freezer, gave away some hateful bantams, had 2 mysteriously die, and now we have 7 hens.
Count them…remember the missing lady.
We typically gather 4-5 eggs from the ladies each day. Sometimes 3, but usually 4. Now, do this math…Orpingtons are good layers, meaning they lay an egg once about every 26 hours. We have 7 hens…shouldn’t that mean we should gather 7 eggs a day (or thereabouts??) Apparently, we have some late bloomers, but since we rarely “catch” a hen in the act of laying, it impossible to tell which hens are the slackers…and even if we DID catch the hens laying, it’s impossible to tell them apart so we’re back to square one.
That being said, guess what I found this morning?
That feathery chicken bottom is a hen in the nesting box. She had BETTER be LAYING an egg and not sitting on one. Hens go “broody” most often in the spring, but can happen anytime of year. Broody means they lay an egg and decide to be all motherly and hatch the egg by keeping it warm and sitting on it. Our eggs can’t hatch though because we don’t have a rooster, which means, the eggs are just eggs, not potential fluffy chicks! Makes you feel better about eating them! We don’t want the ladies to go broody because that slows down (and sometimes) stops egg production. And we eat a LOT of eggs (and supply Mrs. Bee’s family with eggs & fresh bread in exchange for dropping off our trash at her trash can weekly!)
Yes, there is also a golf ball is in the other nesting box. (There’s actually another golf ball under the
better NOT be broody hen too…) Chickens are dumb. They are also approval seekers too, apparently. They will lay where other chickens have laid their eggs and if you don’t want to leave one of their eggs in the nesting box…you can “fool them” with a golf ball, plastic easter egg, or other egg-shaped object. Our chicken hating neighbors unknowingly supplied these golf balls, compliments of our field being used as a driving range.
Here’s the hen house where the ladies sleep, eat, drink, and lay eggs. The nesting box is on the front under the window. Miss Bossy Britches is now tall enough to open it and gather the eggs herself…but she won’t because she’s a big chicken herself and is afraid there will be a chicken on an egg or something???
It’s a diamond in the rough right now. It was built over 2 days our of dire need because we had 8 not so baby chicks in our garage. There chicken fluff (and stink) was too much to bear for any longer AND they were getting ready crowded in the brooder (cage) we had them in. So thanks to my Dad for free plywood, Ms. Bee for free windows, left over building materials from our new house, and a $300 trip to Lowe’s, this is what was born. The picture in my mind is sooo much more beautiful. Once we have money and time to paint and add trim, the cuter factor will increase exponentially, but for now, it is what it is. We are the white trash neighbors with the ugly coop and make shift fence in the back yard. I’m so thankful for it (and for the Handsome Husband’s ability and vision to make it happen).
Here’s the inside…
We have a chicken waterer with chicken “nipples” in the white bucket on the right. We fill the 3 gallon bucket with fresh water about once a month (more often now that we chickens have been banished from free ranging in the back yard). The ladies’ food is hanging in the feeder with the red bottom. They eat about 50 lbs of chicken feed every month- 6 weeks which costs $15.00
The roost is the 3 tiered contraption on the left. They all pile on the top row and peer out the windows in the evening. It’s kind of creepy looking from the outside in. Chickens are extremely nosy and curious…
The ladies heard me in the hen house and had to sneak a peek. This is the “runway” from the coop to the chicken yard. Above their chicken sized door is the most magical thing the Handsome Husband has ever done (with the exception of asking me to marry him)…
All those wires, cords, and pluggy things are the magical contraption that keeps chicken farming a possibility for us. It’s the automatic chicken door! SOMEHOW, those timers, cords and wires make the electric car antenna thing (in the middle of the picture) pushes the door down when it’s evening and pulls the door open @ 8 in the morning. (This means yours truly doesn’t have to make a trip to the back forty to lock up the ladies at night or trudge out in the cold morning to let them out.) The ladies are pretty self-sufficient as long as we keep food & water in their house. The Handsome Husband does go out each evening and check on them, making sure they all made it in the house before the door closed and checking their food/water supply.
THIS is my kind of chicken keeping dear friends. Low maintenance, super yummy (and healthy), all natural eggs…
Happy Day :: Christy