Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hen House Surprise


Today was a beautiful sunny day. We decided to take our lunch and drive out to the Sutter Buttes to see all the almond trees blooming and have a picnic. And the trees were gorgeous!!! If you have never taken that drive in the spring, it is well worth the trip. We always go through Live Oak, towards Gray Lodge, out Pennington Road. Acres and acres of puffy white and light pink almond and peach tree blossoms blowing in the breeze. What a nice lunch and trip, but I had on my list today to clean out the chicken coop so we headed home.
With all this rain, I felt the chickens could use a good hen house cleaning. My egg production had been down these last few weeks and a predator had taken off with my sweet Black Jersey Star hen. I needed to see how that fox or skunk had gotten into the pen which required opening up all the doors and nest boxes. A good time to get in there and do a thorough cleaning.
Even though this job is not a pleasant one, the day was so wonderful, even the hens seemed to be excited about what was happening in their house. I backed up the Gator to the side flap and cleaned out all the nest shavings. Then I opened up the interior door and started scooping out the straw and shavings on the hen house floor which took a good 45 minutes. I scrubbed down their perches and started to put down all new shavings.
While I was leaning over, I noticed a few eggs way back in the corner, under the perches and in an area under a bench, tucked in an area I had never noticed before. I started pulling out bedding, and found more eggs, and then more eggs, more bedding, more eggs. They just kept coming out the more I pulled. Here were all my eggs I had been missing!! The hens had found a special secret spot to lay their eggs and hide them from me. I counted 31 eggs. Of course, I had to throw them out as I had no idea how long they had been under there.
And if any of you readers have ever cracked a rotten egg, well you know what I mean!!!
Since I was cleaning up under that perch, I started pulling out all the rest of the nesting at the other end of this bench that I had not known about. Just in a flash, something came flying out at me. The first thing I thought it was, was a RAT or MOUSE!!! I screamed at the top of my lungs and jumped back. Since there wasn't a light on in the hen house,and I was on my hands and knees, my mind flashed it could be just about anything flying at me. As I got to my feet to run, I saw what had flew out at me, it was my missing sweet Black Jersey Star hen!!
I went and got my flashlight and saw what she was doing under there. She was sitting on 25 beautiful brown and warm eggs. That hen had not been lost to a predator but was laying on a sizable clutch of eggs. I have a feeling she had started another nest at the other end too, but may have gotten pushed out by another hen. That is a total of 56 eggs I had missed!!
I decided to let her keep this secret nest. I put some new straw and shavings all around the nest to protect them since I had cleaned out all the shavings that kept it so secret and protected.
The Jersey Star clucked around the yard for a while, pecked at some good bugs, along with the rest of the flock until I finished my hen house cleaning. I gave them fresh food, a good batch of scratch, cleaned their water and put my tools away. My unpleasant job was done.
A short time later, I decided to check to see how she was doing. There she was, all fluffed up on her nest as you see in the picture. I will keep a close eye on her in the next week or so to see if any of those eggs hatch. I do have Mr. Big Boy, the flock rooster so there is a strong possibility there may be some.
The tulip trees are blooming; the peach, apricot and apple trees are blooming; the daffodil bulbs are booming. Spring has arrived. Another special farm adventure here in Gridley at Windmill Farm. Happy Spring to you all.
Oh, I also want to remind you that I still have a few more memberships available to our 1st year of CSA-Community Supportive Agriculture. CSA allows you to receive a box of our produce once a week or bi-weekly, delivered to your doorstep, fresh picked and packed for you grown by Frank and I right here on the farm. Check out http://www.localharvest.org/, check the CSA box and type in Windmill Farm and it will take you to our website page . It will explain general CSA information and list all the produce that we grow, along with our farm fresh eggs and seasonal flowers. Our food is grown using sustainable farming practices, it is delicious, and you will be supporting local farming. AND you will know where your food comes from!!

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