The Fat Ewe Farm 
    and B & B permaculture farmin' 
  for the lazy you's and
 Bed, Breakfast 'n Bale


Bird Brains

Posted by Fluffy on November 29, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Oh boy, when the term 'bird brain' was coined, it was not simply out of the blue. I fail to understand how people believe chickens are smart. As you can see in the photos, when the snow covered their food, they thought it was gone! Then when I brushed the snow away, voila! the food returned magically, though it had been there all the time. One would think the birds could smell the food, or remember that is where it is located, since it is always there for them, but no, as soon as a little soft, white, fluffy snow covered the food, they did not 'see' it. Oy!

The Chicken Coop

Posted by Fluffy on October 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (3)

The chicken coop was actually a shed that was insulated with rigid foam. An opening window was installed, plus a vent to let moist warm air out. Unfortunately, the door does not fit properly and there is seepage of air so the coop is not all that warm. Today, a heat lamp was installed, not necessarily for heat, but because the chickens are afraid of the dark. They have no problem going out of their wind tunnel door  when it is light, nor going in the coop during the day, but as night falls and it is dark inside, they are afraid and would not go in unless I opened the man door. This was not a good plan, because any warm air from the day's sun was let out during the evening opening to let the chickens in. So, a heat lamp was added, and it solved two problems: one, the chickens being afraid of the dark, and two, the added warmth available when it is cold outside because of the air leak around the ill fitting door. I have tried to add wood to the inside to make the door more snug, but the door itself does not sit properly and the lower part is out a half inch. When wood was added, it would not close securely, so it was removed again. If the chickens did not peck at things, a foam door strip may help, but they would demolish it, most likely. So for now, this will have to house the chickens. 

Next year a new door can be constructed to the one that is there can be rehung properly to fit. In the meantime, no more scardy chickens.

Mother Hen?

Posted by Fluffy on October 12, 2012 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (3)

It was a very cold today with a nasty windchill. The little chicks were out and about with the big chickens, but they were cold. They have most of their feathers, though they are still sparse and small. I put a straw bale in the fenced area so the chickens could be sheltered somewhat from the wind if they wanted to be outside. The coop run door was opened and they easily could have gone inside. They didn't though. The hen with the wing over the chicks is a rooster actually. It was so endearing to see him protecting the little ones and the hens surrounding him as he tried to keep them all warm. He is not the father of the chicks either. His instincts must be very strong. I believe he is a keeper. 

The poor babies huddled outside under the chicken coop and fell asleep. I was unable to reach them to put them inside. It is still very cold and windy and I sure hope they will be alright. The rooster went inside to stay warm. I guess chickens cannot communicate well enough to tell others to go inside where it is safer. Too bad. 

Roosters at The Fat Ewe

Posted by Fluffy on October 9, 2012 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Brewster, the Jersey Giant

Shane, the Speckled Sussex

Jason the Columbian Wyandotte

There are too many roosters at The Fat Ewe Farm, but so far, none have fought very much. Maybe that is because of the breeds they are or that they have enough room. Brewster, the main rooster, is a Jersey Giant and is smaller than he should be. He is gentle with the hens and an excellent protector of his flock. He also finds food and calls them over to see what he has. The little Japanese Bantam rooster does that same thing too. He has a flock of his own, so he is the boss there. The Speckled Sussex rooster is always outside his pen trying to fight with him though. There is definitely a pecking order in the roosters as well as the hens. The Salmon Faverolle is on the lowest rung, then the Australorp rooster. He is younger than the others, though in time, might put up a fuss about being low man on the totem pole. The Wyandotte Rooster and the Speckled Sussex are about equal and run away from Brewster. The ones that challenge the others are the little bantam crosses. I could not get pictures of them today. They did not want to stay still long enough! 

Richard, The Salmon Faverolle

The Australorps

The chickens are in their new winter coop tonight. I had to physically catch each one and put it inside and keep the door closed. They ran out like screaming banshees when I put them in with the door though their lives were at stake. Crazy chickens. All that time, effort and money and they are too afraid to make use of a warm coop. I put in two solar lights and locked them in for the night. I hope I do not have to do that again tomorrow. The bantams have a special cage in the coop. I hope they are alright there, especially because there are 2 roosters in a small place. Guess I will find out. 

Eggs From The Fat Ewe Farm

Posted by Fluffy on September 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I am blessed on the farm to have such wonderful animals, including the chickens, which just might be my least favourite. I really like the Japanese Bantams though, and even the Polish/Ameracauna Bantams. The Japanese Bantams are very sweet, quiet, friendly and so pretty. The Ameracuna cross Bantams are wild, crazy, exotic and excellent foragers. I have not let the Japanese Bantams out yet since they are young and also new to the farm. They are purported to be great foragers as well. The rooster flew up in the trees when he arrived. I have seen him since, and tried to catch him, but he is clever and will not let me close. Even three of us with a net could not manage to get a hold of that little critter!

So, the Khaki Campbell ducks have been laying since early spring. They lay an egg a day , except for Duck, who just hatched 8 of her own babies, though 2 drowned I am sad to say. One of the Rouen hens is not laying and has not been for some time. She is very small compared to the other hen, though their babies hatched early this year should be laying soon. The Japanese Bantam laid her first egg the same day as one of the Bantam crosses did. We think this is an easy task for a chicken, but that first egg, though it is smaller than subsequent eggs will be, is akin to a human having a baby. Things must stretch, move, tear and give way for this new rite of passage. I understand that the first baby is hard and the second is easier. I met a lady who was on her tenth and she said she would be home within in an hour of birthing. For chickens, laying is this way too. After ten eggs, the process is very natural and not painful any more. 

A hen can hold her eggs back for a long period of time. Red, my little Buckeye, will wait all day to go to the duck pen, the place she has deemed her laying spot. I am keeping the chickens in their house until noon these days to encourage them to lay in the house rather than all over the yard. This morning, The Jersey Giant was in the nesting box and produced a lovely large brown egg. Nesting boxes keep the eggs clean and also fresh, since the box is gleaned daily. Eggs laid outside can be questionable as to freshness and are best left for the animals, in my opinion, unless I have collected the eggs daily, as I do in the case of Red. The two broody hens with chicks will not lay again until the chicks are of substantial size and fully feathered. It will be winter here then and this year I plan on insulating a shed for the chickens so they stay warm and the eggs do not freeze. 

A pullet is a young hen who is just starting to lay eggs. The eggs are usually quite small and some may not have a yolk or may have two yolks. Until the chicken's body is used to the process, the eggs are subject to change. As the hen grows, so does the size of her eggs. Some hens will lay every day, even though winter, while others will lay 5 days a week or even less. The bantams will not lay many in a year, maybe 100 to 150, but there is an exception to every rule too, so until a year has passed, I won't be sure exactly who lays what and how often. 

Duck eggs are fantastic in baking producing a moist tender product. They are excellent for devilled eggs and egg salad sandwiches too, but just fried on in an omelet, I find them too heavy, since they are more than half yolk, while chickens' eggs are more than half white. The white is what gives a fluffiness to the omelet or pancake, but they are not as tender and moist as when made with duck eggs. Excess eggs are given to the animals, even the chickens, but I boil them first then mash them for two reasons. I do not want any egg eaters on the premises since everyone free ranges together and more available protein is obtained from cooked eggs rather than raw. I now have a customre to take 2 dozen duck eggs per week. This will leave me 3-4 for my own use, which is plenty, plus lots of chicken eggs, now that the pullets are starting to lay. Thanks birdies. You are wonderful!

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