The Great Chicken Transfer

A couple of weeks ago, the chicks I raised were ready for life with the big chickens. There’s some timing involved with a new coop, transferring a flock and getting everyone settled.

The hand-raised chicks couldn’t move from their home in the garage to our small coop because it was already at capacity with 3 adult hens and three teenagers. We were waiting for our new, bigger coop to arrive so that two teenagers and two of the garage chicks could go with the little coop to said sister, Mary.

The new chicken palace framed by mountains in the distance and my straw bale garden. You'll hear more about that soon!

The new chicken palace framed by mountains in the distance and my straw bale garden. You’ll hear more about that soon!

While we waited those last few days for coop delivery, the garage became noisy; the gang of four was ready for new quarters. At my sister’s place, farther out in the country, they set up a pen that would attach to the small coop. The youngsters would spend days in the pen to allow them to settle in and get bigger while Mary’s cats adjusted to living with birds. The bigger the bird, the less interested the cats are.

Finally the day arrived. Our coop, complete with wheels and a pen, came rolling up the road on a flatbed truck. It was a sight to see and it is a palace! We positioned it in the yard, set up the pen and hid the old coop in the garage to avoid any confusion.

Ruby, our golden comet hen, circling the new coop.

Ruby, our golden comet hen, circling the new coop.

Using dried mealworms and lots of raisins, we lured all eleven chickens into the new coop. They inspected it thoroughly, clucking and cooing as they went in and out of the doors and  each of the six nest boxes. I put an egg in one of the boxes to let them know where to lay theirs. Chickens are very open to suggestion. The transition was smooth and just before dark, everybody lined up and walked up the ramp to their new home. I am always amazed that chickens put themselves to bed every night without being told.

photo-1The next morning they tumbled out of the coop door ready for breakfast. The three one-year olds visited the nest box with the decoy egg and one after the other, laid perfect eggs of their own. Mary’s husband, John, arrived with his trailer and we loaded the old coop and gear. That night, we plucked four young chickens from their perches while they slept and magically transported them to the old coop at its new location. They never knew what hit them.

So everybody is happy! To read more about how her flock is settling in, check out Mary’s blog at www.mentalfarmer.com.

 

 

The Egg Skelter

I am the proud owner of an egg skelter.  Hens who lay more eggs than you can use each day or two are a good thing, but you need to use the oldest eggs first.  They keep on the countertop for a good while, but the first-in-first-out inventory method is definitely the way to go.

I try to remember to pencil dates on the eggs as they arrive, but sometimes I forget. Even if you remember, it seems that the oldest eggs will find the bottom of the bowl and stay there forever, covered up by new eggs.

My wedgewood blue egg skelter; all the way from the UK!

My wedgewood blue egg skelter; all the way from the UK!

Thank goodness some clever person in England invented the egg skelter.  You put the new eggs at the highest vacant spot on the spiral and pluck the oldest eggs from the bottom of the slide.  You can’t really roll them from the top and let them crash into each other unless you want scrambled eggs on the counter, but it’s still fun.  Great name and you get to show off your home-grown eggs!

I saw a picture of an egg skelter in a magazine recently and knew it would solve my inventory issues.  Web and Ebay searches only turned up egg skelters on UK sites so I sprang for the extra shipping.  It’s very British that the egg skelter comes in colors that match Agas, the venerable stove that warms many a cozy English country kitchen.  I guess people who have Agas have hens.  My skelter is wedgewood blue and I wouldn’t mind having a matching Aga next to it!

AGAc-1.

The helter skelter; a popular ride at British amusement parks.

The helter skelter; a popular ride at British amusement parks.

I am a word fanatic, so I had to know why the holder is called a skelter. It makes me think of helter skelter meaning a mess or chaos, but it also reminds me of the Beatle song on the White Album.

In case you don’t know, the helter skelter in the song is a ride that appeared in British amusement parks around 1906.  It’s a medieval castle tower with a spiral slide around the outside. The egg holder does follow the same design.

Take a look at those Beatle lyrics if didn’t know about the ride. You’ll find they have new meaning! There’s a link below.

History lesson over, the Aga wedgewood blue egg skelter sits on my kitchen counter now and prevents egg chaos beautifully!

http://www.lyrics007.com/The%20Beatles%20Lyrics/Helter%20Skelter%20Lyrics.html

P.S. I just did another search and see that Manna Pro (a farm supply site) now sells an egg skelter in the U.S.  Please note that it only comes in cream, silver and red.  If you’re trying to match your Aga, you will have to go international.

 

Morning Ruckus!

A big ruckus in the yard this morning brought me running.  I thought I heard a dog barking and that rarely bodes well for free range hens!  Boy, was I wrong.  The barking was coming from Ruby, our golden comet hen.  She was loudly defending her breakfast against attack by an aggressive crow.  I arrived just in time to see the crow back away and take off.  Three cheers for Ruby!

Meet Ruby the heart-breaker.
Meet Ruby the heart-breaker. She’s a great layer and was born with that crooked tail. She prides herself on being an individual. The flattened stokes asters in the background are a favorite spot for Ruby to take an afternoon nap in summer. 

Here’s another Ruby story.  We’d had her for a few months when we realized that one of our “hens” was a rooster.  Before the rooster matured, Ruby was all mine.  She hung out with me when I was in the garden and did a little subservience dance when she wanted me to pick her up.  She’d flatten herself a bit, lower her head and stomp her feet. I’d pick her up and we’d visit until she was ready to join the flock again.  Both of us enjoyed this daily ritual.

Then Big Bird, the rooster, grew up and started looking like a real man.  Right after that, Ruby dumped me.  She started dancing for Big Bird and I was persona non grata.  Our cuddling days were over.  If I needed to pick her up to check her for mites or anything else, I had to pluck her off her roost in the coop under cover of darkness.  I was broken-hearted but glad to see her so happy with her fellow.

Since Big Bird passed away a few weeks ago, Ruby has come back to me.  Sometimes she dances for me twice a day!  It’s like old times.  I guess some girls just need an alpha figure in their lives.  I’m enjoying our chat sessions, but I know they are fleeting.  We’ll get a new rooster this spring and once again Ruby will tolerate me only because I happen to show up each morning with the organic feed and dried mealworms that she loves.  She’ll eat out of my hand if I bring a special afternoon snack, like a banana or peach, but there won’t be any cuddles.

I am already steeling myself for the blow.  Maybe one of the chicks we are hand-raising will value me the way Ruby used to.  A girl can dream, can’t she?