Monday, December 28, 2020

Carl’s Comb

 Carl started crowing last night around 3am and woke us from a sound sleep. You might wonder why on earth we could hear our rooster in the middle of the night and you would be right to do so. It’s because he is currently housed in a kennel in the utility room. 

Yesterday when I went out to release the chickens there was blood sprayed around inside the coop. Not death quantities, just spatter. The last time that happened Bunty had torn her comb and sprayed blood whenever she shook her head. So I immediately started checking everyone for damage. Sure enough Carl’s comb was torn. Now how on earth he did it is a mystery. 

Chickens have an amazing ability to catch themselves on stuff. When Bunty was injured I decided it was a metal band that I was using to attach the grit cup to the wall. I removed it and no other injuries occurred so I figured I was right. So what was in there that Carl could get caught on? Given the size of his comb I decided it was the mouth of the feed tube. It’s PVC, not sharp, but if he got his head inside the Y joint it’s possible he pulled hard enough to tear the comb where it attaches to the top of his head (no, I’m not posting pictures. Ick). 

The damage isn’t severe but it is enough to make him shake his head and spray blood. It’s also enough to attract the other chickens and they were making it worse by pecking at him. Obviously he needed to be isolated. Chris easily caught him (an indication of his needing help as he doesn’t usually like to be touched) and we cleaned him up, put him in the medium kennel with all the comforts of home, and placed him in the utility room where he’d be warm and quiet. A towel draped over the kennel helped to settle him also.

And he’s definitely feeling better because he’s crowing up a storm. At 3am, of course. He’s also eating, drinking, and the blood is no longer dripping. We’ll keep him isolated for another day, treat him with that goop that turns blood black (to keep the girls from pecking him), and put him back in the coop at nightfall. Everything should be okay when they wake up the next morning.

Oh, and I removed the feed tube and replaced it with a heavy crock. I’ll need to keep a closer eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get soiled or spilled, but hopefully that will solve the problem.

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Traditional Christmas Walk

We typically go on a walk through the woods on Christmas morning. This year was unusual in that instead of our normal December upstate NY weather (cold, snowing) it was 56 degrees and raining. Most years we have to wear snowshoes. This year? A raincoat and rubber boots.

Given that we got 26 inches of snow just over a week ago, this melt off and rain has flooded the streams. This is worse than any spring thaw we’ve had.

There is still some snow in the woods

This is a stream I can typically step over

The driveway culvert

Grass! And 0 inches of snow.

And now, at 9:30pm, it’s just 26 degrees. Everything is going to freeze up tight. Crazy weather.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The 2020 Ornament

Every year we do a special ornament for the Christmas tree. We started this with our first year of marriage so now have 30 ornaments; we’ve had to cull generic ornaments to have room on the tree. The early ones were store-bought and we tried to tie them to something major that happened that year: the year we got snowshoes, a snowshoeing snowman of course. The year we went to Puerto Rico, a tiny handcrafted mask from a local artist. You get the gist. Now I usually make them, which means it’s easier to tailor them to our lives. A small shoe for the year we started making our own shoes; a bulb filled with construction debris the year we built the house.

We don’t just put the ornament up and hope we’ll remember all that occurred though. We also write up a synopsis and store it with the ornament. Just a few years in it was easy to read all of them. Now that we have so many we just pick random ones to read aloud as we decorate the tree. It’s a nice tradition and it’s fun to remember what we’ve done and even what we’d hoped to do as we sometimes included future plans or goals in the write up. 

This year is going to be a hard review. So much has happened in the world. And really, there was only one ornament that would work.

I think it conveys just the right touch of whimsy 

Friday, December 18, 2020

26 inches

What a snow! Far too gentle to be called a storm. No winds, no sleet, just steady wee flakes that piled up, and up, and up.

I braved the depths to jam the snowstick in. I’m reasonably confident I hit ground but regardless it’s a good enough measurement of what accumulated.
26 inches

Cooper was much less enthused by the snow this year. She tried to follow me out to the shed (where we’d left the snowshoes and snow shovels for some silly reason) but gave up pretty quickly.

That dark spot in the path is Cooper’s little head

Note that I was only halfway to the shed when I snapped the picture. Really should have had that shovel on the porch. Trudging through thigh-high snow is hard!

Much happier now that I’m down there with her

Shoveling the path to the chicken coop felt like it took forever. Fortunately my shoulder issues are gone (thank you PT) and I’ve really gotten stronger (thank you fitness classes) so I was actually able to help with snow removal instead of Chris having to do it all. 

That gate is closed for the winter!

 I guess I won’t be pruning the fruit trees on the solstice this least not without a lot more shoveling.

Thursday, December 17, 2020


We didn’t get the snow stick installed before it snowed (oops). But it’s obvious this a lot of snow! I’ll go out later with a yard stick to see just how much. Of course I’ve got to wait until it stops snowing to get a good measurement.

The first real snow of the season 

Nothing is getting light in the greenhouse 

The coop is buried
I love the first snow. It’s gorgeous and makes me feel all snug. It’s magical.

Of course, I’ll have a different feeling later in the winter when I’ve had quite enough of the work that snow brings. But for today I get to look out my windows and enjoy a hot latte while watching my world get covered in fluff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Chicken Update


In late October the older hens went into molt and halted egg production. Completely normal, nothing to worry about. And the younger hens were still laying 3 to 4 eggs per day from 5 hens. 

The molt was going on a bit long and as the days got shorter the younger hens decided an egg moratorium was a good idea. Huh? This is flock #3 for me and every other young flock laid consistently throughout the winter without needing supplemental light. This flock figured a break was a great idea and quit laying a full two weeks before Thanksgiving.

I had to buy eggs! I own 10 hens! I was a wee bit upset.

So I decided to add a light on a timer inside the coop. I had a bulb cage, an outlet in the coop for the water heater, and a good place to hang the cage where it wouldn’t get knocked down. A bit of research said they needed at least 14 hours of light and that you should introduce it gradually. And that’s what I did. I extended the day in both directions by a half hour until I had at least 15 hours of light (I figured better safe than eggless). 

It took a while for them to start again, but I’m now getting 3 to 4 eggs a day. They started December 7 and haven’t missed a day since. 

The older hens are finally out of molt and laying (that’s a Bunty egg up there. The super extra large that looks like a goose got into the coop) although I don’t expect daily production from them. Two of the younger birds are consistent layers but the other three are sporadic. I think I’ll need to put bands on everybody so I can start figuring out who is laying and who needs culling. But that’s a problem for nicer weather. It’s 4 degrees out and I’m just happy they’re laying at all.