Ratty Four upgraded to Fair Four

This is what the Ratty Four looked like after I sprayed them off and put them in the coop.  4 days ago now.  Kinda rough.  And I bet the very kind farmers at the Mennonite Fowl Sale ( see Fowl Sale) were gently smirking at my purchases.  Cuz what do I know about bird quality???

Ratty 4 Picture

Here is what they look like NOW.  Much better.  At least drier looking, anyway.  It turns out that the gold-ish one, even though she is the fattest, isn’t in charge.  The pecking order starts with the big white one; she is just crabby.  Maybe it’s the heat.  The two smaller while ones flecked with black just try to stay out of the way of both the bigger hens.  I don’t blame them.

Fair Four Picture

Fair Four is a dumb name so don’t expect me to call them this next time.  You gotta keep up; the times keep changing.

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Fowl Sale

So I’m talking to my neighbor in the back the other day. She’s driving her John Deere mower along her grass next to the dead-end road, and I’m drinking coffee catching up with her. I tell her my last two chickens died. Murdered. ‘I never closed the coop at night. My fault entirely’. She says, ‘yeah, the coon’s got ’em’. And then she looks at me like I should know better.  Which I do. I just got lazy.

She told me there is always a “Fowl Sale” up in Yoder, which is a nearby Amish/Mennonite community. She didn’t know when the next one was, but I gave her my number (to call me if she needed anything; she’s finally out of chemo and recovering from cancer). A day later she calls me – ‘the Fowl Sale is tomorrow. Friday. Here’s how you get there’.

I drive up there with a pet carrier on the off-chance I find some pullets or chicks or not-too-old hens. I want birds that will appreciate me and enjoy some leafy vegetables from me. In truth, the last two birds were jumpy and bitchy and wanted no part of my giving spirit. (But that’s not why I didn’t close the coop).

I walked into a yard full of cages – chickens, Guinea fowl, rabbits, ducks, geese, a few pigs, and even an adorable puppy. Here’s what it looked like:


I got a bidding number from the ladies in the office (a clean garage – one side the office and the other side was home-made foods. Yes, I bought some pie and cinnamon rolls).

The office:

 

It’s an auction!! Which I just love.  They started with one auctioneer and then added another auctioneer.  The perfect pullets I wanted went for $18 a bird.  WAY to rich for me. I eventually bid on two pullets (after I lost the bid – but that guy only wanted roosters), and two other single hens.  Again, though, I was second bidder to men who wanted roosters. Suits me just fine, I thought. I spent a total of $10.

I call them the “Ratty Four”. They had poop all over their feathers so I had to wash them off. They’ll look better tomorrow.

They are securely locked up for the night!  That’s my commitment to them.

A Little Respect, Please (said the chickens)

Remember when I said that the chickens hadn’t been laying? Except they HAD, and I just was not looking in the right place for the eggs?  I found that they had layed 2 dozen eggs behind an old piece of OSB board that leaned against the cedar fence.  The nest box, in the coop, had remained empty all winter.  I, frankly, was ready to give those stupid hens away through Craigslist – “come take these useless hens; free or best offer”.

After I rescued the 2 dozen eggs (we have not tried them yet, so we also do not have salmonella yet.  Just kidding.  Not about the salmonella, though.  Or trying them. But we WILL try them; #notafraid), I cleaned all the old winter hay out of the coop and nest box.  I always buy straw bales from an old fella that lives in Wichita – he has a small red barn right next to his house.  He or someone for him stocks straw bales in there; it is rarely empty when I drive by.  It is a self-serve barn.  Take a bale.  Put $6 through the mail slot next to the front door.  I only met him once when he was out tending his tomato plants.  He is one of those guys who is living history.  I would love to sit and talk with him for an hour or so over coffee with a tape recorder running. [side note – I am thinking of starting a podcast with interviews of friends who qualify as living history of our area]

Turns out all our two sweet hens wanted was some clean hay to lay eggs in.  After all, no one wants to bring a baby into a place that is not clean and safe.

So, sorry about that, girls.  My bad.  I will be more careful to keep things clean and welcoming for you.  It is the least I can do.

A Ladder and Fresh Hay

As hoped, I got all the poultry moved around in the back yard like I want them. The old hens are rousted from the coop, but they still have their laying box and it is underneath a wood and wire box.  One of the hens already layed an egg in the box today. Here’s a picture of it:

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I knew the Auracanas were smart, but that is pretty quick work to figure out where to be!

I also made a stepladder for the hens to go roost in the tree.  Hard to tell how many days it will take them to figure that out.  I put chicken feed on each step to entice them to climb higher.  Excelsior, as Kurt Vonnegut’s character exclaimed.  Here’s a picture of that:

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The tiny babies are tired of that tub and the Red Leghorns (“boy, I say BOY…”) kept jumping on the ledge of the tub and also jumping out.  It was time to move them.  Here is a picture of their new digs:

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Hopefully, they will stay warm and not get lost under all that hay!  Rest assured, I’ll check on them last and first thing.

Tail Feathers

I can hardly believe how quickly our duck is growing.  No idea if he is a he or a she – but

“it” is sprouting tail feathers.  Finally! The chicks have their wing feathers and are growing body feathers, but the duck had, so far, no adult feathers at all.  Not a motivated individual, I guess.  Ducky is HUGE, though, and getting huger by the day.  So far, adding video has defeated me.  Once someone shows me how to do THAT from my new Tablet, you can watch Ducky go crazy on water, food, fingers.

Today is possibly the day for the move outside.  Depends on how hard I work on pressure washing most of the entire property to get ready for painting, staining, and, in the poultry’s case, having a fresh coop to move them into.

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