Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberries, and the Chicken Story

As hoped, our strawberries are starting to come into full swing.  This first lil' teaser handful was picked last Friday before heading out of town.  I knew we were going to need to get into the patch Sunday evening after returning from the Farm trip.  And certain enough, three quart containers were picked, cleaned and mashed up.  Today, Cassie and I picked a second time and filled 4 quart containers.  We're going to have plenty of strawberries this year for jam, jelly, wine (?), freezing...... what else can you do with strawberries?  We've never had a patch like this before. :)

Only after-the-fact, did I think about taking a picture of my breakfast this morning!    I figured with a dozen eggs in it, a slice of angel food cake and strawberries was perfect for the start of the day.

Over the weekend, I spent much of the time on the lawn mower at the Farm, or on the big tractor mowing part of the field.  But Saturday evening was spent on the porch swing, relaxing, and listening to the races happening a few hundred meters down the road.  The evening was GLORIOUS!!!

Sunday was filled with big plans and ambitions!!!  
A family friend contacted me via FB last week, asking if we wanted to adopt their 14 chickens.
Oh! Boy!  Would I!

Shortly after 1:00, we headed out from the Farm.  The trip was a quick 20 minutes, and when we arrived, Ms. Becca was awaiting.

I can only imagine how difficult this was for dear Becca.  She's raised them for the past few years, adding a few more girls to her henhouse each year.  When we caught the first chicken, I asked Becca who she was, what her name was, if she had any special needs and/or talents.  After loading the first few, Becca started sharing openly on her own about which chickens get along, which need to be separated, and all the silly quirks of personalities of these beauties.  She held Ruby for the last few minutes while we were settling all the carriers back into the van.  Ruby was definitely loved!  Becca informed us that Ruby will happily sit on your shoulders while you walk around, and she'll be the one to come a'running when you crouch down.

Lucy was another loved chicken -- she was given her own small carrier for the ride.
And how did we travel with 13 hens and 1 rooster?  We had two large dog carriers, one holding 3 chickens and another holding 4.  Rex the Rooster was given his own small carrier, as was Lucy.  Two other medium sized carriers held the other 4 chickens (2 in each).  The entire back, left side of the van was organized with seats in the sto-n-go, so room was actually quite adequate.  I LOVE our sto-n-go option on the Town-n-Country van!

For the most part, the two-hour trip went quite smooth.  The chickens hardly made any sounds, but.... they certainly challenged our limit of smell-tolerance!  LOL.  At one point, I DID hand over the air-freshener spray to the girls to give the van a slightly more pleasant smell.

We arrived home and unloaded the chickens first thing.  We hadn't really put much thought into where the new crew was going to live and sleep for the short-term.  For now, they are living in our southern chicken-run with a simple hodge-podged shelter area until Paul is able to build the new coop -- Thursday or Friday, I'm thinking.  

Judy L blogged about a couple different groups she has of chickens.  Groups of chickens can't just be thrown together.  Take a look at Steve the Rooster pictured above.  First, recall that he's new to our family just a couple of weeks ago himself, BUT he has transitioned beautifully with our 4 hens.  However...  he was cawin' and cacklin' and fluffing up when Lucy started taunting him through the fence.  Directly behind Lucy is Rex (the red rooster), and behind him--the white chicken with the black tail feathers you see -- that's Patti.  I think she's the alpha-hen!  When I visited the yard a bit after this picture, Steve was back at the fence; this time with Patti on the other side -- and the two of them were actually coming to blows with each other.  Patti would lunge a peck at Steve -- nail him on the head -- and Steve would retaliate by kicking up his spurs to attack her.  Instead of hurting her, though, he actually made himself bloody by attacking the fence.  Again, and again, and again.... I don't know how long it went on for;  3 minutes? 4? 5?  Eventually, they separated.    

Since then, Steve has kept his distance from the fence.  I also noticed a small limp in his step Monday morning.   All in due time, we hope.  But for now -- our chickens and the new group remain separated.

With all the excitement of getting them settled, and then picking strawberries, and unloading the car, and starting laundry, and unpacking, .......

... Paul rolled in from work carrying a package of goodies!  He was able to swing by our incubating buddy on his way home from work to pick up our share of the duck hatchlings!  So, while I brainstormed on chicken housing, Paul and Cassie started setting up a simple duckling establishment.  

It was after 10:00 before we all finally washed up and settled in for the evening.  ((although, I did head back outside around 10:20 to check on the chickens!  All was well)).

Monday morning, I rose with Paul at 5:00.  When he left for work at 5:45, I headed outside and did a lil' walk-about.  The chickens were all awake and accounted for.  
A bit later -- 'round 6:30, I decided I needed to head back out, just to make sure they were all still safe.  LOL.  Plus, I needed to open the coop door for our other chickens since we took away their in/out door by closing off the chicken run door.  
Rex the red rooster is the biggest rooster I have ever seen!  I mean -- he's easily TWICE the size of any other chicken we've ever had.  Patti, the large white/black chicken, isn't a small thing either.  Again, after observing the group together for a couple of days now, I think she's the ol' mother hen alpha-female of the group.  

And naturally, the girls are loving having another 14 pets around the yard!

Ruby really is a shoulder-percher!

And we think Elvira is too!  LOL.
I don't remember all the names of all the chickens, but there are a few who stuck with us.  
Ruby, the shoulder percher (red)
Daisy, the lightest red chicken
There are two other reds, but we don't remember their names.  Renaming will occur soon.

Elvira, the only white chicken

Patti, ol' mother hen (okay, that wasn't her real name -- we don't remember -- but she reminds us of a Patti;  named after a coworker!  LOL.)

Lucy, a black/white speckled chicken (gah!  I can't remember her breed!)
There is one other speckled chicken too, but lighter.

There are four black chickens, two of which were brooding at Becca's.  However, neither are showing signs of sitting on eggs right now.

And then there's a tigery-looking feathered one.  
Eventually, all of the chickens will get defining names -- I really wish I would have taken pictures of all of the chickens with Becca as we were loading them. :\  Hind-sight!

And JUST when I think we finally have reached some calm waters in the chicken department... 

OUR Red Mama decided to create some drama!
I didn't witness anything, but when I was walking from the garden this morning, I noticed her marching her way across the driveway, and.... she wasn't completely RED anymore!  I cocked my head to the side, and wondered what on earth.....  it looked almost as if... she had been dipped in a bucket of black paint. ???

Good lord, chicken!  She had found the small container of waste-oil that we had in the garage.  
Have you ever washed a chicken before?  LOL.  Thank goodness she was quite calm.  Dawn dish soap doesn't have the "Save the Animals" logo on their bottle for nothing!  I did the best I could, but she'll probably be a bit discolored for awhile.   I didn't dare take a picture of her once she was sent back outside with her friends;  she looked quite........ ummmm....... well, .... sad, I guess.  I can't really say she looked like a drowned rat.  She certainly wasn't her normal fluffy self.

Thankfully, she dried decently and fluffed back out by late afternoon.

And, of course, there has been plenty of gardening going on.  Tilling.  Weeding.  Watering.  
And chauffeuring girls around to summer school, softball and volleyball events.

Two weeks into summer break, and I have YET to really get much sewing done.  **shrug**
Different priorities right now taking precedence.  


scraphappy said...

What a story. Enjoy the new chickens. Sounds like a full house this summer.

JB said...

I LOVE reading your blog Amy. It is so fun and I can actually hear you saying it exactly like you've typed it. Glad to see everyone enjoying the new hens. We never get to see our chicks past two weeks of age. We always take them back to the farm once we hatch them. But that's okay because we get them when they are super cute! My students love them!! We had 12 of my 14 eggs hatch this year. Unfortunately, one of the 12 died a couple of days later. It was interesting to see how the students reacted to this when writing about it in their journals.

Pat said...

Yes, I have washed live chickens. They do not like it and to be honest I was not overly fond of it either. My oldest son, showed chickens in 4-H and I got to learn along with him on how to prep show chickens. Every woman would like to be primped like show poultry and animals!

My youngest son (legal age) had a bumper crop of grapes last year and we made wine for the first time. It was a huge learning curve and we very much enjoyed the process; even when we looked at each other with a deer in the headlights look. In wine making it is advised to freeze the fruit in order to extract more juice, so you have time.

Just like canning you need to spend some money on the equipment, but then you can reuse it.

PB in MN

Amy said...

Pat -- I can't reply due to the no-reply settings you have set, so.......may this find you !

THANKS for the comments!!!
Wine-making is my husband's dealio; I'm simply the consumer :D
Our Ag teacher/advisor wants my oldest daughter (entering 8th grade) to consider showing some animals at the Fair; definitely something we'll consider for next year! We enjoy the entire process anyway :)