Marigold’s First Egg

Our pretty little Welsummer laid her very first egg today. It is tiny and lovely but weighed in at a surprising 47 grams. Clementine’s first egg was only 41 grams.

It’s only slightly larger than the other two “first eggs” that I’ve kept in the fridge for over a year. The old ones are light and seemingly hollow now. They sound like glass when tapped. I hope I never break one in the house. I’m sure they’re rank.

First Eggs

Good job, sweet girl!

Marigold almost didn’t make it: Part 1 Part 2

Clementine photo bomb
Rosie Photo Bomb

Coop Renovation

My body is broken and I’m ready for bed. But this weekend was wholly productive and I’m thrilled about it. Yesterday I got the cool season veg all planted and today we got the chicken coop addition installed.

It really sucked trying to do anything in the coop. I couldn’t stand up and had to work hunched over. I bumped my head frequently and had to crawl in shitty coop dirt to get at anything under the box part. I bitched quite a bit about it so Gordon decided to build something for the coop to sit on. I was skeptical that our starter coop that we bought used on craigslist could handle being lifted like that after rotting in our muddy soil for the last year and a half. But he planned and built it anyway.

The timely addition acted as a halfway house for Marigold after her injury and then a time-out pen for Rosie the bully.

It was quite a pain to dig out all of the chicken flooring in order to rip off the hardware cloth that was stapled to the inside of the bottom 2x4s. But now there’s a load of fantastic compost on a tarp in the garden.

With much effort we were able to put that big heavy decrepit thing on top of the new. Gordon ended up having to cover one board with a new one because it was split, but other than that it went OK. The chickens were annoyingly interested and Clementine kept flying up into the coop while we worked.

Ta-da! It’s pretty great.

One Tough Chook

Marigold Lived to See Another Day

Her existence precarious and her condition a mystery, Marigold somehow made it to morning anyway. Warmth, love, a few droppersful of water, and her own strength saw her through. The morning found her a good bit better: able to stand and able to drink when her beak was dipped.

Gordon went to the feed store and picked up some antibacterial eye ointment for chickens per the suggestions (and consensus diagnosis of a pecking injury) of all my new best friends on the Backyard Chickens forums. As soon as I wiped an ointment covered cotton ball across her crusty sealed eye, it opened.

I took her to work with me, hiding her under my desk in a box and only revealing her presence to everybody. I made sure she got water (with electrolytes via gatorade) and eventually she ate scrambled eggs.

Team Marigold Socks

It’s now three days after I found her dying. Today she was well enough to be a chicken again and she spent the day in her own coop, mingled with the bitches a bit later in the evening, and is spending tonight in the regular coop.

Rosie tried to keep her out at bed time so I had to intervene with a few prison-like threats.

Tomorrow Rosie is going into solitary. Going to try and reorganize this pecking order.

Marigold Isn’t Well

She may not make it through the night.

Either Rosie severely pecked her in the eye, she contracted bird flu, a weasel got to her, or she has some other thing I haven’t read about yet.

The day before yesterday
Today

I don’t even know what say or think. I posted on the Backyard Chickens forum and googled probably too much and not enough. My head hurts. I think I’m going to search for something that validates me going down to the basement and wrapping that ouchie swollen face with a warm wet compress.

I have no idea what to do.

Us on the basement stairs. Banished in case it’s bird flu.

Looking at this makes me think I should just let the poor dear go. How can she come back from this?

——————

I was able to give her a few droppersful of water. She seemed a bit more alert. Her other eye was open and looking around when she wasn’t falling asleep. Both sides of her face are swollen but the closed eye side is worse. Also maybe bruised. Maybe my cleaning with a damp cloth bruised her. Either way, she looked less dead, not more. So I’m a bit hopeful.

I held her for a while. Someone posted to me that she may have some terrible respiratory illness and I need to contact the state vet if she dies.

My clothes are in the washer and I’ve thorougly washed my hands, face, arms, and neck. Yes a shower seems in order, but no I didn’t get into one. But I did bleach questionable surfaces.

I’m tired.

God bless you, Marigold. May we see each other in the morning.

Chickens a Year Later

I’ve learned that:

  • They really do stop laying in the winter
  • They really molt and look like they’re dying also in the winter (which is weird because you’d think they need their feathers to stay warm)
  • It all resolves itself and they become beautiful layers once again (Nutrena Feather Fixer is a nice help)
  • Laying hens squat and have red combs; this all stops when they stop
  • Hawks really kill and partially eat beautiful huge free ranging birds
  • Established flocks really are jerks to new additions, especially Rhode Island Reds….(Rosie I’m looking at you)
Rosie The Bitch

Juniper got taken out by a hawk one day in the early fall. Actually it’s only a best guess that it was Juniper because the molting that had begun was causing me to confuse my two Delawares. So my sweet remaining Clementine may not actually be Clementine, but she is now.

Early one evening I went to close the coop and one of the three was missing. A small sense of dread came over me as I tried to rationalize that Juniper had gotten sleepy and roosted in some underbrush. The light was fading so I quickly roamed the edges of the yard singing out for her with the “chick chick chick” call. Then my gaze landed on a still mass of white. The dread grew into heavy truth and it became difficult to approach what I knew to be her. White feathers were everywhere and a large, beautiful bird lay destroyed from the shoulders up. How much suffering did she know? Did the hawk snap her spine before he plucked her and ripped her flesh away from her bones? Did shock slip in quickly with its mercy?

I went into the house and quietly delivered the sad news to my husband because I didn’t want Silas to follow us outside and see. We grabbed a light and buried her in the garden. We could hear the bells of the neighbor’s goats as they looked on at the ghouls weilding shovels in the dark.

———————

A couple of weeks later I contacted a local breeder on craigslist and brought home a three month old Welsummer. Her name is Marigold.

She came here very sweet and timid. Rosie established her dominance in the very real pecking order by being a big fat bully. I added a piece of hardware cloth in the run so Marigold could have a seperate space during the day. At night she snuggled up in the coop with Clementine who was missing her snuggle buddy sister (the one who slept on top of her and shit down her back all night). They’ve since settled in together as a flock of three.

The girls are getting an addition to give them a little more space to roam and their lady a little more head room to work.

Egg Size Progression

Clementine’s eggs have increased in size by nearly 20% since she began laying just over two weeks ago.

Rosie’s eggs are now much darker than they were when we first met her and also they are huge!  I didn’t have a food scale (or even think to weigh them) back then, but just a month ago, there is no way her eggs were like this:

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According to U.S. egg sizing standards, Rosie started out as a Pee-wee producer (HOW CUTE IS THAT?!) and is now nearly a Medium.  Rosie, the old pro, is giving us solid Extra-Large eggs 6 days a week.

This is so fun.  I should go let them out of the coop and give them kisses!