Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chicken updates; June totals

First, our harvest totals for June from our 2 small vegetable beds and from our pet bees and chickens:  27.4 pounds of vegetables, 25 pounds of honey, and 85 brown (3 different shades) eggs.  (Note that one vegetable harvested, the fingerling potatoes, actually was nestled in one of the ornamental beds in the front yard rather than in the garden beds.)   That brings the totals so far, for the first 6 months of 2008, to 56.9 pounds of vegetables, 265 eggs, and 25 pounds of honey.  For a detailed harvest log, scroll down to the bottom of the blog main page.  Wow, even I am amazed at how these harvest totals are turning out.

I realize it has been a little while since I gave a good update on the chickens.  The little ones are not very little anymore.  They are 9 weeks old now, and about half the size of the mature hens.  When I let them out of their pen they put their heads down near the ground and their tails up in the air and zoom around frantically, making quick turns one way or another and occasionally flying straight up in the air before landing into another frantic run.  Think of a startled rabbit, with feathers.  They then do a couple of mid-air chest bumps to one another and settle down to scratch.  It is quite a 10 second show.  These three eat over a pint of chicken feed a day, plus some scraps and grazing in the yard.  Their growth rate is amazing.  The photos are of Lena (black, clearly a pullet - immature hen) and Expresso (red and blue (gray), probably a rooster).  I did not get a shot of Bunnie today.  Expresso is an Easter Egger (an Ameraucana that does not meet show color standards - hens lay blue or green eggs), and Lena is half Ameraucana and half Barred Rock.

The big hens do try to bully these guys when they are all out of the pen free ranging together.  Lena will get right up in their faces and stand nose to nose, but as soon as they peck at her she streaks away to stand with the other teenagers.  So far there have been no real battles, just the occasional peck and run.  Since it appears Lena is the only hen of the bunch, it may be that she is the only one who moves into the big house.  That will put her at the bottom of the pecking order.  I hope they continue to all get along without any incident, and that adding a new, young hen to the coop doesn't start a true pecking order.  Hilda continues to be the friendliest of the mature bunch, running up to you as soon as you arrive home or come out the back door, making little hen noises all the while, and jumping up in my husband's lap as soon as he sits down.  Lou is warming up as well, and likes to have her chest scratched.  Iridescent black and absolutely beautiful, Pauline is still quite cool, and will not willingly let us touch her.  She also is the enforcer with the teenage chicks, making her queen of the yard and top of the pecking order.

The yard continues to open up new colors and textures each day here in early summer.  Look at these beautiful orange flowers just opening in front of the maturing orangequat fruit (look to the top right corner of the photo for the fruit)!