Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Hen is "Born"!

Okay, so technically, she hatched in March...but Henrietta has laid her first egg!  That earns her a title change from "pullet" to "hen"!  The difference is that a female chicken is called a pullet because they are too young for egg production (kinda like the chicken version of calling her a teenager), a male chicken that is too young to "participate" in "adult" behaviors is a cockerel...roosters are the adults.  At any rate, that just leave Clyde left to prove herself as really a pullet, as she is supposed to be, but she is still holding out on that first egg.  That little light brown egg in the photo is Henri's egg!

I tried something last night, something new to me, but many other people already do it.  I left the pop door open over night!  Anyone who knows me knows I am super anal about the security of my chickens...I really hate leaving them outside where I cannot protect them 24/7, but I also realize that they are not house pets!  So, I went to check on them a little early last night, mostly because they were fighting over roost space and I wanted to separate them before one of them got seriously injured.  I had been out a few hours before and everything had been fine, so I was very surprised to see the water container completely dry!  It had been almost half full 2-3 hours ago!  So, I refilled it, not something I do at night because I really don't want to attract mosquitoes, and opened up the people door to see if they were thirsty.  Boy, were they!  I am again left feeling like a "bad chicken mom" as they were super thirsty and drained about half of the water-er by flashlight before settling back down for the night!  I didn't want them to go so long without water again, so I opted to leave the door open so they could get up and go get water as soon as possible this morning.  Oddly enough, it was a much quieter morning than I was expecting!  They are usually very loud when I get up and let them out before 8am...this morning was silent until almost 8:30 when Gerty decided she should announce to the world that it was "get up time"!

As for the egg-laying...Gerty has not laid an egg in 5 days now and I am very worried!  They get chick feed (I've got one more kitty litter container full), which I will switch to Layena pellets as soon as it runs out, but the higher protein can't be too bad with the added greens they are getting (they cut down on the actual amount of protein they are eating).  Or, I could have everything backwards and I really need to up their protein, badly!  Either way, today after going grocery shopping and getting them a big container of plain yogurt, they are getting plain yogurt & tuna fish "salad" served on a bed of Kale, with shredded Carrots...'cuz I spoil them.  Anyway, when Gerty is laying, the entire neighborhood hears about it!  She screams for about 2 hours before laying her egg!  Henri, on the other hand, quietly went about her business.  She was in the nest box when I turned in the TV (woot for Chicken Channel!) and refused to leave when I went down minutes later to check on food and water for them (and water my plants that the watering system misses).  About 30 minutes later I went to refill my coffee cup (I was up at 5:30 this morning), she was gone from the coop!  So, I went down to check things out (the roost blocks the view into the nest) and there sat that tiny egg (all 1.2 ounces of it).  As I am typing this, I can hear Gerty crying in the coop, so hopefully her laying issue was a water-based one (but, her last egg was very runny) and she will return to laying soon...this cannot be good for her!

Today's goals include going out and finally spending the "buttload" of money on a feeder and water-er.  I really don't want to spend the $60+ on them, I would rather just buy chicken nipples and make a water-er myself!  But, those are only available through online purchase using PayPal...and I don't use PayPal, so no nipples for me.  For next summer, I may come up with a similar idea (as many others already have) and use the dog nipples that attach to a hose faucet.  But, these types of water-ers do not hold up well over winter (they freeze), so I'll wait on that one.  I plan on getting the 3- to 5-gallon sized containers simply so I can leave the girls for a few days and not have to worry about the feed and water running out.  However, the only trip we see in the foreseeable future is at Christmas...they will need someone to give them fresh water a few times a day!

Also...I have a chicken-bully.  As I mentioned, I gave the girls a special watering last night at bedtime.  They were super thirsty!  But, Gerty is a bit of a, a-hem "female dog", when it comes to sharing.  She bullies the other girls on the roost (the reason I was down there in the first place) and generally picks on them if they get too close to her or are in a space that she has deemed "hers" for the moment.  Last night was really awful in my eyes though!  Clyde had gotten off the roost to grab a drink from the opposite side of the container and Gerty reached down, around the feeder, and grabbed her by the little feathers on top of her head, shook like a dog trying to wrestle a toy out of your hands, and actually ripped some feathers out!  All this while poor Clyde is screaming her little chicken head off!  I knocked Gerty off the roost and gave Clyde sole access to the water for a few drinks to help calm her back down.  But, every time Henri or Clyde got anywhere near the water, Gerty attacked!  So, I did a lot of holding her back while giving the other 2 a chance to drink...she did get equal chance at the water, it wasn't like I was denying her...but the other 2 share well, so they probably got a few more drinks in.  Clyde and Henri were sharing a drink while back up on the roost, Gerty went behind them and grabbed Clyde's leg and tried to rip her off the roost!  Poor Clyde must feel used and abused....Gerty seems to focus on her much more than she does on Henri, who gets her comb grabbed often, but doesn't get viciously attacked like Clyde was last night!  During the 10 minutes I was out there, I would say Gerty ripped 6-10 feathers out of various places on Clyde...this may be part of the reason it appears that my Wyandottes are getting "extra fluffy" looking on their backs...I would wager a guess that it is Gerty pulling out their main feathers!

I originally planned to only write one "IBA" (Idea Bank Answer) a day...but I might write an extra one on days I really feel like writing!  I'm going to send my Mom home with a printed list (or I may just text her one or two at a time) so she can write on them too...she doesn't have internet access, so I'm going to ask her to just write them up in Word and mail me a disk when she fills one up (my other half should be able to tell me how much will fit).  I may add to the list I have if I find anything that really strikes my fancy, but as of right now...there are 706 ideas/questions on the list!  Once the list is cut down enough that I start having repeats, I will renumber the list to exclude ones I have already done...but even at 2 a'll take me over a year to get through all of them!  There are so many...I have no idea what most of them even are!

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