Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chicken Day

Yesterday was chicken day.  Tuesday of the previous week I had got a call (finally!) from the hatchery to say that I could pick up my 55 'ready to lay' pullets yesterday morning.

The work started the evening before though.  We got one coop cleaned out, and much of the other one.  Then after dark we carried the forty or so hens from the north coop and added them to the 27 hens in the south coop.  Both bunches of hens came here in the Spring of 2013, about a month apart.  Luna was beside herself with the excitement of it all.  She's not really interested in the chickens when they are out loose in the field, but if you start handling them, she wants to be right in the thick of the action.  Jake and Calli couldn't give a hoot.

Yesterday morning I got out there reasonably early and finished cleaning out the north coop.  We  realized rather too late the evening before that working in a dusty chicken coop was NOT the best thing for Larry's recent cataract surgery.  So a couple of hours later, I had the coop finished, taking all the roost and nest boxes out and hosing everything down, and then leaving it to dry in the sun.

We headed off to the hatchery.  Usually we load the back of the truck with assorted dog crates and chicken cages, which only fit in in a certain order, and are a pain in the arse to pile in and out of the truck.  So this year we tried something different, that we had seen someone else do.  We put hay in the back of the truck and just put all the birds in there loose.  It worked well, but it would have helped the clean up if we had put a tarp down first.  We have the base for the fifth wheel hitch bolted to the bed of the truck, and hay kept getting stuck under it as I tried to hose it out.
As soon as we got home, Luna was on high alert.  I know she doesn't look like it here, but trust me, she was.


She didn't leave that truck the whole time it was parked in the shade while we got the chicken coop back together and set up for the new hens.


It was all very exciting.  We backed the truck as close to the coop as we could, but were still ten feet or so away.  We didn't really have a good plan for getting them into the coop, since they were all loose.  In the end I had to climb into the truck and pick them up one at a time and hand them to Larry who carried them to the coop.


Birds flapping around.....it all got too much for Luna and all of a sudden she came flying over the tailgate.


She never once tried to touch any of those birds


Even when they started flying around (see the one over my left shoulder)


Or even when I put one on her back.  She just kept her eyes on the ones in the corner


Eventually they were all safely ensconced in their home sweet home, and a few hours later a lot of them had ventured outside.  That was nice to see, as sometimes they can take a day or two to start going out.


We'll keep them in this small pen for a week or so, so they have a chance to get things figured out and adjust to their new environment, and then the gate will be opened.


We spent the rest of the day catching or herding previous inhabitants of that coop back to their new home.  There are three persistant ones that are at it again today.

Some of the new girls look fairly close to dropping that first egg, but lots won't be at that point for a few weeks yet.

Hurry up girls, we have customers waiting!

Update - one of them laid an egg today:)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Another Attempt

We took the dogs for a swim at the lake about 8 o'clock this evening. There was a dark and fascinating cloud formation coming over from Mt. Baldy way.  Like many of those black threatening clouds that we see around Oliver, it just dissipated and nothing came of it.
A couple of families of Canada geese sailed by to see what all the splashing was about.

The pictures that go with the previous post, I hope.

Just because I can

The smart phone learning curve has levelled off a bit. I no longer feel the urge to chuck it out of the window at times. Between me, Meredith and google I'm figuring things out.
We are in Oliver right now. Courtesy of the library's Wifi, I'm sending an email to blogger that should appear as a post, complete with pictures. The pictures will be smaller and I'm not sure how they will be placed.  We made multiple stops on the trip here.  I took the dogs for a walk along a dyke while Larry laid back in the car seat and put four different sets of drops in his eyes. The cataract surgery has upset his Fuch's Dystrophy, so the eye will take longer to clear up. Thankfully we didn't meet any bears on our walk.  The climbing rose is in full bloom, and the potatoes and beets have recovered from their hailstorm beating and have grown quite a bit in the last three weeks.    

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Egg Dilemma - Supply and Demand part two.

I did a post back in February about our egg supply, and having too many, and having to sell some hens.  After than, things went along fine, we seemed to be able to sell all the eggs we were getting, more or less.  Usually when I buy new hens each year, I put my name down to get more the following March and April.  March and April came and went, and I didn't get a call from the hatchery.  I kept thinking I should give them a ring, but it didn't get done.  We had enough eggs for our customers, and quite frankly I just didn't want to be bothered selling the hens we had to make room for some new ones.  And then the Spring flush of eggs seem to peter out a bit.  Demand seemed to go up, and I started to think that I'd better do something about getting some more hens.  I phoned the hatchery.  They might have some extras a few days later, but we were going to be away then, so I asked when the next batch would be ready.  End of May, early June,  she said.  May came and went, and we were in to June, and I still hadn't heard anything, so I phoned last week.  She should know by next week she said.  I phoned today, Thursday.  She was going to try and find out on Friday.   We are puttering along with 28 (maximum) dozen a week.  I get stressed out about the customers at the farmers market that want to buy from us, and we can't supply enough.  We have only one neighbour now that buys from us, and I'm trying to not sell them as many, so I have more to take to the markets.  Trying to keep as many people as happy as I can.   

Why do we need to get new hens each year you might ask.  Well the hens we have are a commercial brown egg layer.  They are bred to produce a lot of eggs.  Their first year is their most productive year.  They still lay well into their second year, but not as well as the first, and there are more eggs with weak shells.  It works best to replace them each year, although I don't always do that.  Usually I advertise them on Craigslist, and they go on to lay eggs at someone else's farm.  They take their acquired bad habits with them.  

Habits like flying up onto the gate, over the fence, and laying in other places.  This pile of plant pots under the trees next to a shed has appealed to a few generations of hens.  I don't mind if we know they are there, as it's on the way to the chicken coop and we just collect the egg(s) each day.  

Except it's not quite as easy as that.  The crows also know that a hen or two are laying there.  Then it's a race as to who can collect the egg first.  More often than not, the crow wins.  The last two mornings I've won.  Yesterday was easy.  As soon as I let them out, the hen went over the gate, laid her egg quickly, and I got to it first.  This morning was different.  It started out the same, but she was taking her time laying that egg.  I walked back there three or four times.  I even tried putting a plant flat over the top to keep her in.  I did it twice and when I came back she had knocked it off.  I was heading in for breakfast, and decided to do one last check.  As I got back there she was standing up, had just laid the egg, it was still wet.  


All of a sudden I heard a hen cackling behind me.  I turned around and looked, and escapee number two was stood in front of this thing.  This thing is the protective cover from the hay mower.


I lifted up the end flap, and guess what.......


There were 16 eggs.  I quickly picked up the one just laid.  It was easy to tell as it was still all warm.  The eggs all looked the same, so it was just one hen laying there.  A hen's eggs are kind of like her 'fingerprint', she generally lays an egg that is the same size, shape and colour as the previous one.  This hen had been sneaking under there for more than two weeks.


I picked up a dozen, which we will use ourselves.  I don't sell eggs I've found in a nest like that, because we can't tell which are the old ones.  We scrambled four of them for supper.  I left three eggs behind, and marked them with a felt pen.  Hens can't count, but they often object if all the eggs are taken, and won't lay there any more.  What she will do is find another hidden place to lay that I won't know about. If we leave three eggs, chances are the hen will continue to lay in the same spot, and we just collect the unmarked egg each day.  As to discouraging them laying there, it's almost impossible.  Once they have their favourite spot to lay, they are damn determined to get to it, one way or another.


I'm just hoping the crows or the dogs don't figure it out, because they can be pretty sneaky and determined too.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Salmonberry Season

It's that time of year, and if we hadn't noticed that the salmonberries have started to ripen, Calli is sure to let us know.  The season is in full swing right now, so it makes for kind of a slow walk through the bush in the morning.


Calli expects to get her quota, and sometimes we use them like the proverbial carrot, tempting her with one in our hand to keep her moving along.


I guess her eyesight must be fading because she can't seem to catch a tossed one like she used to.


All the dogs will pick their own, with Calli spending the most time looking for them (it's that Lab 'bottomless pit' thing), and Luna would be next.  Jake spends the least amount of time picking for himself, but certainly doesn't turn them down if you pick them for him.


Sometimes a girl has to get up on her hind legs to reach the best ones.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

All Fixed Up

I've seem to have been otherwise occupied lately.  I don't seem to have been near the computer as often.  My sister visited from Ontario for almost two weeks, we had a great time.  She is good at getting me going on things, so things got done.  (I always think that the hardest part of many jobs, is actually just getting yourself started).  We had lots of fun, took a flying trip to Oliver, as in went one day, cut the grass, watered everything, and came back home the next day.
Yes, we have grass! Okay, a bit patchy, but much better than the dirt patch we started with in the Spring. Cathy cut a lot of grass and pulled a lot of weeds while in B.C.


After we got back, we found out that a few days before we got to Oliver, there had been a localized devastating hail storm that damaged much of the fruit crop.  I thought something had been eating some of our plants, but I guess it was hail damage.

On the way there we stopped to look at Spotted Lake.


There's even a heart shaped spot!


Information about Spotted Lake here  and more pictures here

While we looked, someone was looking at us.


 We visited lots of thrift stores, and had lots of fun doing it.  We bought lots of stuff.  The best one was in Oliver, when they were having a 'bag' sale.  For $5 you could get whatever would fit into that paper bag.  We didn't bother trying the stuff on in the store, just took it back to the house and tried it on there.  Seems I thought I was skinnier than I am, but I still got some good deals.

I graduated to a 'smart' phone from a flip phone.  Phew, a steep learning curve.  I had to google how to answer a call.... I can hear you laughing:)  The google answer was only partially right.  I finally figured out that I had to drag my finger from the center pulsing reciever symbol to the green reciever. What I read on google said to drag your finger out of the circle.  I guess at first I was dragging my finger towards the green phone, and then eventually I got too far away and wondered why I couldn't answer the call.  And then I figured out if I dragged my finger to the red reciever, I could end the call. Wow!  Anyway, I'm having lots of 'fun' with it.  We got rid of our land line and transferred that number to the cell phone.  Which meant, (long story) that we had to change internet providers.  So it's been an interesting couple of weeks.

Meredith got possession of her condo last Saturday.  She hasn't moved in yet, we are going to have a painting party soon.  Not sure when, I'm at the BC/Yukon agility regionals this weekend with Luna.  Meredith's helping Larry at the farmers market on Sunday.  Yes, the farmers markets have started in earnest.  Every other Saturday for me, and every Sunday.

And then next week Larry is going for cataract surgery.  No driving or much of anything physical for two weeks.
 I spent a couple of panicky hours between 3am and 5am this morning, fretting over everything I haven't got done yet, but need to do.   So much to do, so much to do.....

Here's a post I started last week and never got finished (until now)

  On Monday I took the dogs to the chiropractors.  Luna has had an odd weird lameness with her back right leg a couple of times in the last month.  Turns out we didn't have an appointment on Monday, it was actually on Tuesday.  You get the sense something is wrong when you say your dog's names and the receptionist asks for your last name, and you are wondering why she has to look you up.  Thank goodness we only live fifteen minutes away.  We saw Dr. Lana Tuesday morning.  Calli was in pretty good shape, but Jake had a couple of ribs out.  We wondered if he had run into something or had been run into by another dog. He had been showing signs of being a little stiff at times, so I'm interested to see if his adjustment makes any difference to that. (it hasn't)

Luna was a mess.  Dr. Lana asked if she had been acting different than usual.  Less energy, sleeping more, grumpier......  We hadn't noticed anything really.  Luna's tail was out.  It was affecting a lot.  She was tight all over.  Luna doesn't particularly enjoy being adjusted, but today she was really making it obvious that things hurt.  I was controlling her head.  She was struggling, looking wild eyed and showing a lot of white, and licking her lips constantly.  But once it was all done she was right in there with the other two looking for her treat.  Jake is funny, once he is done, he stands and looks at the treat jar, then looks back at Dr. Lana, and then back at the treat jar, and so on.  Dr. Lana broke down and gave them all treats after each dog was finished, so they got more treats than normal this visit.  Jake and Calli love her, Luna not so much.  She said Luna should be good to go.  That is a relief, as she is entered in the BC/Yukon agility regionals in just over a week.

On the way home, since we had to pass it, we stopped and walked the dogs at the dyke.  A beautiful day, and the water was very high.


All the dogs got a swim.  We managed to find some piddly sticks for them to fetch.


This kind of makes me think of a kid running with scissors.