It has been a long time since I posted anything, leaving me wondering what would be worthy of breaking the silence, which of course stilled my "pen" even longer.
So why not just start with the everyday? What ever I post about today will begin to tell of what has kept me busy. I got 25 chicks in the middle of February. I ordered pullets. My neighbor wanted chickens again, having lost hers to the neighborhood coyote a few years ago, and I had reason to promise her 10 of the first batch i raised. With high mortality, only 17 lived to see the great outdoors, leaving me 7. We named emily after a friend of my daughter, and emily became a rooster.
In April, I brought home a dozen newly hatched pullets. I had had trouble ordering three of my favorite breeds of chicken. Speckled Sussex, Dark Cornish, and Buff Brahma, but had waited so long to order, that they were not avalaible from www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/ . I was thinking I would just have to wait til next year for them, but a few days after the turkey chicks arrived, I was at "Murdoch's", regional big farm supply place, and they had Speckled Sussex, so I got some because it would be no harder to raise pullet chicks right along with the turkey hatchlings, than to raise just the turkeys. And I got some of what ever else they had, because a dozen of one variety makes it too hard to tell them apart.
In June, the 6 February pullets began laying. They start out with small eggs, each hen laying 2 or 3 a week, and work up to 6 or 7 full sized eggs a week. We are coming up on mid august, and today I know for sure that the April chicks have begun to lay, because I had a nine egg day.
I better get my sign out at the driveway. For now, I could put out signs for : SOAP, EGGS, VINEGAR, KOMBUCHA, HONEY.
I got 28 chicks in the middle of June. mostly pullets, but the Buff Brahmas and Dark Cornish are straight run, so I could have several roosters out of that batch, but the hens will be ready to begin laying in October. At that point I will have approximately three dozen laying hens. By then, their egg production will decline for the winter, but next spring, watch out! I'll need buyers for 3 dozen a day.
In order to have this flock of hens with roosters and turkeys, I've needed to get a predator safe chicken house for them. And a play yard too, for the times they can't be out in the fields eating the year's bumper crop of grasshoppers. And, because we are on a mountain lion's circuit, and there are neighborhood dogs, and remember the coyote who waited each morning in the neighbor's orchard for his chicken breakfast? Even with a mighty fortress for the birds to safely roost in at night, I needed protection for my birds.
About a year ago I first heard of flock guarding dogs. There are several breeds, and the one that appeals to me is a Komondor. To know more about them, here is a web page: http://komondor.org/ They don't chase or herd animals, they just hang out with them and make sure things go well for their flock.
I built a fence to keep the dog in, should I eventually find one. The fence is a work in progress, because I need to lay out the traffic pattern, and want to be able to drive into the driveway, and go to the house and garage without having to deal with gates, but the place is "mostly" fenced. In late July I located a litter of pups in central Idaho, at a place called alpha omega ranch. Here is the website http://www.nigeriansandicelandics.com/Komondors.html and last week brought two home. They did not stay in the orchard, or in the fence, knew nothing about leashes, liked me OK, but didn't necessarily come running when I called ..... I needed a puppy safe pen, which I built less than 12 hours after arriving home. The puppies got out of that, and the next day I build another pen.
So, that's just a hint of all that's been going on around here, and I've begun blogging again. I'll get pictures up later.