A chicken update...
So in case you missed it in my last post, we have some new chickens on the homestead. Unlike last time, though, these are all supposed to be HENS. We've wanted hens from the start, but since we've been kinda full up on poultry, we figured we'd just wait till the roosters were gone then get some hens. Through August and September, my husband worked on building a new, sturdier chicken coop with nest boxes for our eventual hens. By the end of September, the new coop was almost finished but the 8 roosters were still alive and as annoying as ever. Knowing the demise of the roosters was imminent, my in-laws scored us a good deal on 10 female chickens: 9 pullets and 1 laying hen. They brought over the hens and hastily helped us finish out the hen house (I was going to post a pic of it all finished and painted, but we still haven't finished painting it yet!). So for a short time, we actually had 18 chickens! We set a date with the roosters for the following Saturday...their day of reckoning had arrived.
If you are wondering how exactly the rooters met their Maker, I can't really say because, mercifully, I was not out there when they did. My husband, his parents, and his brother did the, uh, "processing." I totally played the pregnant lady card and was excused from duty. I cleaned house and went shopping instead :-) By the time I returned, they were done. The roosters were on ice at my in-laws' house and we were back down to 11 chickens total (we kept one rooster, the lucky duck...er, chicken.). Hallelujah!
Now, as I said, of the 10 female chickens, only one is old enough to be laying. And she did lay two eggs shortly after their arrival. But then, she quit! For weeks afterward there were no eggs. Which was mildly irritating (grumble, grumble...stinky, good-for-nothing, birds...). Actually, we were starting to get a bit concerned for her health. We upped the calcium in the chicken feed....nothing. My husband had read that hens need a lot of daylight to lay through the winter and with the days already getting shorter, maybe she just wasn't getting it. So he put up a warming lamp with a timer in their coop to give them more light in the mornings and the evenings. About two more weeks pass and still nothing. Then last week, sadly, one of the pullets died. We don't know why, she was just dead inside the coop one morning. We were a bit concerned that if the pullet was sick, it might spread to the others but so far, none of the others are showing any signs of illness so I think we're ok there. Whew! However the very next day, this happened...
And ever since, the hen has been laying an egg just about every day! Sweet scrambled egg breakfast, I can hardly wait till the others start laying! We could have nearly a dozen eggs A DAY! Omelettes, anyone?
In other animal news...I'm not the only one on the homestead who is expecting!
We bred our rabbits about a month ago, so our lone doe is due to give birth any day now!
Unlike in humans, pregnancy symptoms in rabbits tend to be quite subtle. So we won't know for sure that the breeding worked until she actually gives birth. Although, unless it is just my imagination, she has gotten pretty flippin' HUGE in the last few weeks. ...and a bit moody...she actually bit me the other day! Crazy preggo!
Stay tuned to find out how the first birth on the homestead goes!
PS-- in case you are wondering, no, we haven't actually eaten any of the roosters yet so I have no idea how they taste. As I said, the chickens are in my in-laws' freezer. My mother-in-law, bless her, was out there helping process all those roosters and for weeks afterward she had absolutely no appetite for chicken. And I don't blame her one bit! Don't worry, we'll thaw one out one of these days. ;-)