February Coop News
Of course, we had to have some really cold days this month along with some nice sunny days, the ladies getting warm breakfast and supper indoors, out of the windchill–some days in the teens! Yikes! But, eggs appeared fairly regularly and needed coop repairs made, plus some chicken drama, of course! With some sunny day happiness when it got into the 60s, roller-coaster weather kept the ladies confused. February got in one last wintery blast on the 28th, taking us down to 31 degrees, giving the waterer a thin sheet of ice, which I removed so the ladies could get to the water after their warm breakfast.
February 8th was Sophie’s and Blondie’s birthdays! They’re three now, bought as pullets, in 2016, from Chickenville, USA in Terrell, Texas! Highly recommend these folks. Happy Birthday, ladies! They’ve been our most popular egg layers with the families since they lay the blue and green eggs! I’ll be driving out that way again after the hot summer days are behind us to add two more Ameracauna sweeties! I’d wanted to add them this spring, but with a vacation planned for July, I was afraid to be away when they might need extra attention.
Eggs! Production has been improving this month. So much so, that the ladies are no longer happy with the two bottom nestboxes and I had to remove the upper nestbox barriers and add shavings! Yep, we’re laying around 3 eggs average daily now, and on occasion 4 or 5! I am able to please my regular customers, and even added a customer’s mother to the list! All the ladies’ combs are bright red, signaling they are indeed laying eggs! Little Dottie has been giving me an “Early Bird Special” egg nearly each morning! I guess Cluckin-Better Farm is open once again! I hear from customers, sometimes, with a question, or to brag on how gorgeous our eggs look! It’s always appreciated to be appreciated! I let the ladies know how happy they are making folks! We work hard to keep the ladies in top condition so they can better stand the cold snaps. This is Texas, so they aren’t here long, then it’s 60 degree days again. There’s always a cold front coming, but I keep a close watch to the weather to have warm food and water available for them.
Drama! Yep, we couldn’t get even halfway through the month without some chicken drama! For whatever reason, Blondie was startled by my appearance with their evening dinner and flew over the fence! What!??? That meant, leaving the coop open to get even colder, but the ladies had their supper. I alerted Bill that we’d have to get into the gated community behind us to beg entry to the back door neighbor’s backyard–again! As luck would have it, a car zoomed around us as we were trying to figure out the call box, soooo—we just pulled in right behind them! Lucky for us, the owners are sweet people and led us out to see Blondie pacing back and forth by the fence. Also lucky because their dog, didn’t realize she was there! I went left and Bill went right. Well, we got lucky again! Blondie saw me coming and immediately flapped and squawked and flew back over our fence, back into our yard!!! How lucky is that??? I told the neighbor folks that I would keep her wings clipped so we wouldn’t have to disturb their day again. They were gracious, saying it was no problem at all. I owe them a free dozen eggs! As promised, the next morning I captured Blondie, turned her where her head was loosely under my arm, and spread a wing out till I could see the front feathers, like the illustration. Quickly, I snipped them off. She didn’t flinch, so I was assured I had not hurt her. I turned her around and did the other wing. The whole procedure didn’t take 5 minutes. I gave her some mealworms and she was happily nom-noming while I latched the door hook onto the wire that keeps it from banging open. The other ladies did not even notice my work with Blondie. Whew! Her feathers will stay clipped until she does another molt, which might be summer, at which time, I’ll clip them again, but give her a couple days of looking fabulous, first!
Brrr! Of course we had really frosty days—it’s still winter, even here in Texas! A couple days were super frosty, and I had to put out my fireproof “candle-in-a-can-in concrete” device made just for those days. It’s simple, just a short fat candle, lighted and put into an empty metal food can. I then put the metal can inside a concrete block’s hollow insides. I then set the waterer atop that, leaving a gap so the candle receives fresh air. Viola! A fireproof chicken water warmer! TIP: use a small votive style candle when using a plastic waterer as it can get the plastic warm enough to melt. So far, I haven’t had that happen, but am using a 1” candle. You can also use a metal pan for their water to be on the safer side! Either way, it keeps the water warm so the ladies will drink enough water needed to digest food. The candle only lasts a few hours, time for our Texas temps to rise above freezing. On really cold nights, I add warm water to the green trough for their night’s drink.
Drat Ms. Rat! I saw Ms. Ratty in the coop enjoying some food on the floor, and shooed her out with the broom! Man! I had seen a hole below the feeder and tried covering it up but not well enough. I told Bill about it and on a nice day, he put down a 1′ square piece of hardware cloth over the hole, then relaid the pavers in another pattern so that they were securely over the patched hole! It’s been 3 days since the fix and so far, Ms. Ratty hasn’t been able to reenter the coop at night for a big snack! I still have the problem of an open door where she can just waltz in durning the day, but that can’t be helped. I have put a plate inside the feeder so she cant get up inside the feeder to eat and poop. Ugh!
It’s been a wild February and I’ve enjoyed most of it. We even got in a couple rains, each time giving us about a half inch, encouraging green things to finally begin to grow back. We’re looking forward to March and official Spring. I know the ladies are ready for a good bug hunt in the backyard! If the days will get into the 70s on a sunny day, I can let them out and recline on the chaise!