Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whats been up lately

It has been a while since my last post!  I have been very busy at work and when I get home there is so much to do that I don't get back on the computer from home.  I will have to write more when I get some pictures to post, but the nutshell version is that Clover has been diagnosed with bone cancer in her face, most likely caused by the bad teeth.  It is progressing pretty fast, so I think we are measuring her life in weeks rather than months.  She seems pretty happy most of the time, although it is a challange to find something she wants to eat.  She still looks good but is loosing weight.  I feed her a lot of bread.  It settles her stomach and then she sometimes will eat kibble.

I have finally put all of my first batch of chicks outside in their temporary run.  They are integrating pretty well, but the last batch of 6 are still pretty scared of the bigger ones.  I think that one of my chicks will grow up to have blue eyes.  This might be a phase though, so I will watch her and see what happens.  The biggest ones, Americaunas, all have reddish orange eyes now, which is their adult eye color.  All the other ones have hazel eyes that will become that reddish orange as they age.  The blue eyed chick is pure white, so it will be interesting to see what happens.  I will post some pics later.

I have one easter egger chick who has double thumbs on both feet.  Pretty interesting!  I call her "Thumbs" as a name.  I don't really know if  she is male or female, but hope springs eternal, and I will hope for a hen.  Thumbs looks just like one of the Americaunas, only he doesn't have double thumbs.  I am assuming that he is a HE becasue he has a much larger comb starting than his hatchmates.  I need to catch them both and get a picture of them together.  The americaunas are beginning to grow their muffs, (beards/sideburns)  They are quite interesting to look at.

Yesterday I traumatized on of my poor NH hens.  She was filthy, for many months she has had leaky drippy bowels and her backside is always attracting flies. She always seems very healthy though, and is a good layer who eats and is active and does what she should do. The day before she and many of her sister hens escaped their coop/yard and she got a little beaten up by something or other.  I suspect that the other hens did it to her as she tried to lay an egg.  There were feathers everywhere, and her comb is pretty pecked looking and her back between the shoulders is pretty bare.  She didn't seem to be feeling well yesterday and I thought she might be egg bound.  All the reading I have done suggests a warm bath to relax her muscles so she can pass the egg.  She seemed to be a pretty mellow hen, easy to catch and handle, so I gave her a bath.  She had actually just laid an egg when I got her for her bath. While she wasn't happy about it, I did manage to get her pretty clean.  She was very easy to handle even after I let her go.  She just wandered into the storage area where the coop door is and asked to go back in.  Picked her up with no fuss and put her on the roost.  If she were feeling well I think I would have had a fight on my hands trying to catch her after such an affront to her dignity.  Poor girl.  I hope she is feeling better today.  Will check when I get home.  From the looks of what she is passing I wonder if she needs more calcium to form egg shells.  Her drippage looks like egg albumin, so I wonder if giving some more oyster shell will help her some.  Her egg from yesterday was very nice, good shell, good size, and she didn't make a big fuss laying it.  I guess that time will tell.  She was clean for a little while anyway.  I had been calling her "The dirty butt hen" but since my husband seems to object to such descriptions I changed it to "D.B." which quickly became "Debbie".  Makes sense to me, and it seems kind of girly so she might like it.

Purple still comes running to her name, and Boo Boo still aviods me which makes her hard to catch at night, but all is well with the two walking wounded hens.

I have another batch of chicks to pick up today or tomorrow, they will be RIR and Easter eggers.  We will have about 50 hens when they are fully grown.  Actually, some will be roosters, but I will eat those.  The person with whom I ordered this batch didn't get me sexed pullets, but he said that if I end up with roos, he will trade me hens for them.  We got a total of 100, so there should be some good hens in the bunch.  It is just a matter of raising them until we know which ones are egg layers and which are for eating.  I will keep one Americauna rooster if I have one (out of the 6)  My neighbor two doors down got the other 9 of them, so if he has a rooster, I can borrow him and have some semblance of genetic diversity as I allow a couple of hens to lay fertile eggs.  I would love to breed an Americauna with a New Jersy Giant and see what I get.  Americaunas are big birds, and NJGs are bigger.  It would be nice to have green egg layers and big meat birds in the same brood!  Oh well, i am not in a position to buy more birds this year, I am already at capacity.

More later!  Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

now THAT is an egg...

I don't know how she did it, but my hen Purple managed to lay the biggest chicken egg I have ever seen.  It is the size of a goose egg.  7cm. long and at least that big around, if not bigger.  Take a look at the pics below.
On the left is the jumbo egg, and on the right is an average large egg laid the same day by another chicken.  Pretty impressive!

So here we are with a tape measure.  The Mutant egg is 7cm long, while the regular egg is only about 4.5-5cm.  What is most impressive is not the length, but the GIRTH.  How did this poor hen actually survive pushing this out?  This is the kind of monster egg that gets stuck.  I am glad that she is ok, and I think she is pretty happy to have it out of her.  When we crack it open I will measure the volume of it and count how many yolks are held within.  So far I have only had one double yolker, and that was last fall.  I also had one very tiny egg that I will have to post pics of on another day.  It would have been pretty cool to have both the giant and the tiny egg in one pic with a normal egg.

I had to put in this pic of Ivy (l) and Sammy (r) in because it is cute, and to show that the egg is about half the size of Ivy's skull if her hair weren't poofy.

When I got home from work yesterday and let Purple and the other injured hen out to run around the yard, she kept coming up to me asking for treats.  It was pretty cute that she kept following me around and making little questioning cooing noises.  Sushi is back with the flock now, and there is another hen who has peck wounds that need to heal. If you remember from previous posts, Sushi had been very severely injured, with her whole back end below the vent pecked raw.  Sushi has since healed, and on her own has refused to be crated so is now back in general population.  It has been about a week, and she is still fine.  I kind of miss her because she was a pretty friendly yard companion.  Purple is more than making up for Sushi's absence the last couple of days.  While I miss Sushi, it is very difficult to separate out a couple of hens to run the yard without letting the whole flock out.  Oh well, she is happy being part of the larger flock, and I am very glad that it seems to be working out. 

I have another injured hen, a red one like Purple, and she is being caged now for her own protection.  She was healing pretty well, but yesterday two extra hens escaped and were loose in the yard with her and Purple.  I haven't figured out a name for her yet, and she looks so much like the other red hens that I doubt it would do me any good to name her.  Anyway, the other miscellaneous hen is one of the nasty ones, and she pecked the injured one drawing blood again.  Quite discouraging, but now I know not to blame all the damage on Ditto.  This hen had plenty of things to do other than fight and peck, but she is just nasty.  I bet she will taste pretty good though!  Once I get a couple of replacement hens integrated into my flock, I will start culling the nasty ones out.  They are not necessary if they are going to injure and kill the others.

The other hen that got loose is Ruby.  I don't have a pic of her, but she is one of the pretty ones.  She is a sex-link, with black body and red head.  Ditto looks alot like her, which is why she is named Ditto.  Anyway, Ruby is pretty friendly and was very easy to catch and put back in at the end of the day.  If she is always that friendly, I might just continue to let her out with Purple and the injured hen.  She has been pecked too, and had blood on her both yesterday and the day before.  I treated her wounds two days in a row, and she is very good about it.  If I just keep the goop on her that tastes bad maybe the other hens will leave her alone.  Otherwise she will have to be crated until she heals too.  We will make that decision this weekend after I clean the coop.

I have also just acquired some Easter Egger chicks and some slightly older Americauna chicks.  The Americaunas are about 3-4 weeks old, and the Easter Eggers are between newly hatched and 10 days old.  There is one chick that didn't come out of his shell properly so he has crippled eggs.  I don't actually know if it is a he or a she, but unless I find someone who wants him for a pet, he will be meat when big enough.  It is sad, because he walks on the top of one foot, and gets kind of trampled by the other chicks.  This is a batch of straight run chicks, so I have no idea how many roos are in the batch, but I don't actually want any.  I may keep one if he is extremely sweet and pretty, but I also don't know what the Americaunas are.  I wouldn't mind keeping one of the Americauna roos, because he could breed a couple of my existing New Hampshires and make some pretty babies. 

The funny thing about it is that my friend who was going to a swap meet brought back all these chicks for me, when I had asked him to bring me meat birds.  He thought I wanted the Easter Eggers and must have misunderstood when I told him I had already ordered some and they were coming in May.  Oh well, now we have to speed up our plans to increase the size of the chicken coop. I haven't decided if I want the new addition to be open to the old one, or if I want to have the option of seperating the sections.  I think a door would give me the best choice so that when I have chicks, I can protect them from the adults until it is time for them to be together.

Here are a couple of pictures of the chicks.  Right now their brooder is on my big freezer in the utility room.  it is the warmest spot in the house, and there is a big red heat lamp shining on them too. This is one of the smallest of the chicks. Right now I call him/her "Speed Racer" because he/she has the cutest racing stripes!

 Here is a back view. It looks like he is getting browner as he gets older.

Here is a pic of an older chick.  This guy is about 10 days or so, and a much larger handful!

The last picture I will show is one of the middle aged chicks, maybe 5-7days old.  Pretty brown, looks like a wild bird.
Here is a shot of the top of his head.  Vere pretty markings, but they don't stay the same as they fledge.  Sad that they don't stay so pretty like this, but very interesting.
Well, this is all I have time for today.

Good night chickens, and good night world!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Poor Clover...

I walked in the door last night around 5:30 and saw that Clover had a HORRIBLE nose bleed.  She is my nearly 14yr old basset hound, and she had an abscessed tooth or 3 that the vet pulled last Tuesday.  She had a couple of nose bleeds before the surgery, but nothing like this.  It looked like a slaughter house, blood everywhere!  Good thing I hate my carpet and plan to get rid of it as soon as I can find a hard floor covering that I can afford.  The vet had said this could happen, but I was certainly not expecting it a week after her surgery.

Poor baby, she was trying to remain calm, but you could just tell that she was getting very stressed out.  Of course, the vet was closed, and we don't have the money for an emergency vet visit.  It was storming, rain and thunder, which we think may have triggered her stress and caused the nose bleed.  She isn't normally a stressed out hound, so my suspicion is that a large crack of thunder or close lightning strike may have startled her and made the blood pressure jump, causing the nose bleed.  Since the area was still structurally weak from the abscess and the surgery to correct it, it just bled like a faucet. Her face has a lump where the bone is malformed from the abcess, and I don't believe it will ever go away.

We weren't home when it started, and this continued for a couple of hours after we came home.  Finally, after hoping it would stop on its own, we put her in a compression garment (snug fitting T-shirt) which calms a nervous dog (more on this below) and put her blanket into a crate and closed her up in it.  Clover had spent her first 7 years sleeping in a crate at night, and although we allow her to be uncrated, sometimes she just wants the comfort of a small space.  She calmed almost immediately and went to sleep, the nose bleed slowed way down and eventually stopped. We took her out to potty a couple of times between 10-midnight, and the bleeding was very slow and didn't get any worse. She was dry this morning, so the bleed must have scabbed over.  I left the T-shirt on her when I went to work, and she is free to roam the house and go out in the fenced dog yard at will.  I just hope that DH is paying attention so that she doesn't get tangled in the shirt.  I checked it out this morning and it still seemed to be fitted well on her body. If she moves around a lot it might come off her leg and she could trip on it.  Not much fun for an old lady with arthritis.

More about compression garments for pets:
You can buy very expensive compression garments for extremely nervous dogs.  They are made of a variety of materials, I think neoprene is a common one.  They have zipper or Velcro closures and give compression to the body from shoulders to hips, which either stimulates a bunch of nerves at once, or distracts the dog, or makes them feel protected from the outside environment (or whatever) and they almost universally calm down.  This is especially helpful if you have a pet with storm phobia or travel fears or anxious destructive behavior.  You should not leave your dog unattended while wearing the garment.  I have one guy who could benefit from one, except that he would most likely chew it and make himself sick.

The cheap version:
Take an old T-shirt that fits the dog well at the neck.  For small dogs you should use a toddler shirt, for medium dogs a child's T-shirt should be good.  Slit the shirt up the back, put it over the head with the front legs going through the arm holes, and cut a chunk of fabric out of the middle of the back of the shirt.  Now you will have to find a way to tie the shirt closed up the dogs back.  The shirt should be made snug from collar to hips.  I usually cut a couple of tie tabs out of the remaining material on both sides of the back opening, and tie once in the middle of the back and again at the dogs waist, just in front of the hips.  Tie it tight, but make sure that you can stick your hand inside the shirt from any opening.  You don't want your dog to struggle to breathe, but you want him to have compression over all the major organs.  Voila!  You have now fitted your dog with a very inexpensive, washable, disposable compression garment.  If the shirt is too big, you may have to cut off the sleeves and make a different hole for the front legs, but hey, how much did that grungy T-shirt cost you?  Go ahead and destroy another one if you need to.

Compression garments for dogs can be useful for a variety of reasons, including preventing the dog from licking a wound.  If it works for your dog, they will be SO MUCH HAPPIER than if you make them wear the stupid "cone of shame" from the vet.  I have personally used the T-shirt method successfully quite a few times over the years.

I hope that Clover has a really good day today!  So far, so good.  No nose bleeds at last report.  Now if she feels well enough to eat, we will know that she is just fine.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Resurrection Sunday

We just got back from dinner with my family.  One brother has been dating a very nice lady for a few months, and he planned to have dinner with his daughter, lady-friend, and my parents, and then DH and I got invited, and another brother and his wife were invited, so we all went to Applebees.  Silly me, I had a gift card for there with around $15.00 left on it, and left it at home.  Oh well, dinner was nice even if I did have to pay full price for it.  I guess I will have to take my husband out some other night to use up the card. 

Today was another nice day. Not as windy as yesterday turned out to be. Early it was nice, but later it was just short of violent. Today I had to go find a tarp that had blown across the yard into the brush at the edge of the woods. After church this morning I came home and gathered the eggs, let the turkeys out, and let Sushi and Purple out too. There were 11 eggs! I am glad that Purple is healed well enough to start laying again. Both Sushi and Purple had been pecked pretty badly, so they are kept in dog crates inside the coop to protect them from the other hens while they heal. Sushi is a black hen, and her whole rump underneath her tail was not only plucked clean of feathers, but I went in one day and saw the most horrible sight. Her rear end looked like hamburger! About the size of my hand, from palm to finger tip, with fingers slightly spread. They had pecked her rear end out, and wouldn't leave her alone. That is why I named her Sushi. Now she is healed up very well, just has an area about 1" high by 3" wide that is still covered with scab. Her feathers are coming back in also. Here are a couple of pictures of her from the rear.  The 1st picture is kind of funny because it shows some little tufts of feathers coming in on the underside, just below the scabbed area.  Her skin is nice and healthy, the pink shows good blood circulation, and the wound looks great.  I am very happy that I could save her, she is a very good laying hen and just plain nice to have around.

She is healing up very well, and lays about 4-5 eggs a week.  Since she has been handled so much she is quite friendly and will come to me and allow me to pick her up, so I allow her to run loose in the yard for a couple of hours when I come home from work.  I also allow Purple to run in the yard for the same reason.  Purple is a New Hampshire hen, and her wounds are such that I spray them with a livestock spray called Blue Kote.  It turns everything purple, so she went from being called  "the purple hen" to just Purple as a name.  I think Sushi knows her name, but Purple doesn't show any sign of knowing it.  They both come running if they think I have a piece of bread in my hand.  I will have to get a pic of Purple some time soon. 

Purple was almost totally healed about 2 weeks ago, so I put her back into general popluation again, and they just beat the snot out of her, pecked her back open again so I had to re-crate her.  Then last Tuesday night I didn't have her crate closed properly and she escaped from it. The other hens got her again. Now she is back to being the walking wounded again.  This time it was only shallow flesh wounds, but dog-gone it, I hate having to keep them crated! She just got re-purpled because of it. They are both laying well, and it would be nice if they could have full freedom.  I am going to have to think of a better arrangement for them soon if I can't re-intigrate them into the flock. 

The other hens have a small fenced yard attached to their coop and can go in and out all day.  They are not very hand tame, and some of them are a pain in the neck to catch, so they don't get to roam freely. 
Yesterday one of the other random hens got out, and I figured that she wouldn't be a problem because the other two are so easy, but NO, the brat tried to take off into the woods, and I had to chase her back twice before I could corner her and scoop her up!  I even had bread in my hand for her but that wasn't good enough, she wanted to see the world.  If I could reliably tell her apart from the other hens I would name her Dora the Explorer!  I have a few that are easily recognizable who have names.  I will have to introduce you to them later.  Here is a picture of the hens in their small yard. There is some random lumber in the foreground, but you can see that the coop is made of all reclaimed lumber and plywood.  I am rather proud of having scrounged almost all of it!  The only thing we bought besides nails and a few pieces of hardware is the corrugated roofing material and the corrugated window material that you see at the top of the wall.  Everything else was scrounged. 

If you look closely you can see that some of the hens are red.  Those are the New Hampshires.  The black ones are called Black Sex Links.  They are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks.  Both are generally docile and good layers, but this spring I have orded Rhode Islands and Easter Eggers. The Easter Eggers are Americauna mixed with something else, and they will lay me green and blue eggs.  The RIs are brown egg layers, and they are supposed to lay an average of 5 eggs a week each.  the NH hens that I currently have are supposed to lay an average of 3-4 per week, although I am getting closer to 5 each per week. With the new flock that is coming I will get 25 hens total, and we will have to expand the coop by about 8' to accomodate the larger number of hens.  Along with increasing the fence area, expanding the coop will be this summers project. 

Anyway, today I took the loppers out and brutalized my apple trees.  I haven't pruned them in a looooong time, so they were desparately in need.  Some of what I need to cut off will take a chain saw.  I would be better off to have an experienced orchardsman come and guide me so I don't do anything stupid, but since I think I erred on the side of caution, there isn't much damage I could do.  The darn tent worms are already making small tents on the trees, so I got out my can of brake cleaner (my favorite instant-kill pestacide for this problem) and blasted the little buggers to oblivion.  No, it isn't really a pestacide, but it does the trick.  I probably should have put a band of bearing grease around the trunks a month ago, but didn't think the darn bugs would be crawling yet.

Just for fun, here is an extremely cute picture of 3 month old Ivy.  This pic just shows her flirty personality.  I think this would make a great t-shirt! 

Time to sign off now.  Good night world, good night chickens!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cleaning the coop...

Today was a beautiful day, sunny, breezy and around 70.  A good day to clean the chickden coop and the turkey kennel.  I can kick the hens out into their fenced area and close the door to keep them out. 
They are producing about 9 eggs a day on average.  Below is a pic of my nest box arrangement from the outside.  The 5gal buckets are slightly tipped so the eggs roll into the tray, and the tray has something blocking the ends to prevent eggs from falling out.  Trust me, the hens will turn around and try to move the eggs around, I have lost quite a few that way.  Duct tape and a cut up Coca-cola bottle do the trick of blocking the ends up nicely.

This is a nest box from the inside.  the white strips are bathtub skid strips to help the hens grip the slick surface.  You will also note that the hole is surrounded by black duct tape.  That is because the hens were sliding around and getting their feet cut up on the jagged edges of the cut out opening.  Duct tape is a simple and cheap solution to prevent wounded feet.  If you know anything about chickens, they are mercilessly curious, and they like the taste of blood.  'Nuff said!

The turkeys live in a dog kennel that measures about 8X12', it has some straw bales inside to block the wind with a couple low ones so they can hop up on them if they want.  The back half is covered with a heavy tarp that goes almost to the ground.  After being cooped up all winter there is a TON of poop.  Trust me when I say that turkey poop smells worse than chicken poop.  So I kick the boys out and let them roam the yard.  Adult turkeys are very easy to catch because they move pretty slow, and besides, they follow me pretty much everywhere I go.  Social critters that they are, they will follow almost anyone so long as no one tries to touch them.  I touch them anyway, because it keeps them easier to handle.  I have to herd them into the kennel when we leave, because they will wander over and pester the neighbors. The fact that they don't enjoy being touched makes it much easier to herd them.  They just move away from my outstretched hand, which gives me the ability to steer them. Big is the friendlier of my two boys, and he is a little larger than his brother Blue.  The easiest way to tell them apart is that Blue has a mostly blue head, while Big is usually sporting red.  Of course, as their moods change, so does their color.  DH calls them "Mood poultry". (DH is shorthand for Dear Husband) DH can't be bothered with helping clean the turkey kennel, but he does get brownie points for helping me to rotate it.

I use an old red plastic sled to move the manure to the garden, one backbreaking load at a time.  Since we rotated the kennel, I don't have to do all of it, just the part that is still full of poo.  The area that we moved the kennel off of can wait for a couple of days.  I pull the loaded sled with a rope back to the garden, then flip it over to dump it on the part of garden that could use the enrichment  After 4-5 loads, the turkey kennel is clean enough.  I spread a layer of straw, which is very helpful next time I need to clean the kennel.  Pitch fork tines can pick up straw, so if it is the bottom layer, it comes up pretty well.  We are going to have a killer garden this year, I have moved about 20 sled loads of manure into it, and have been turning it by hand to work it in.  I am going to plant peas in one of the beds later today.  Last year the peas didn't do very well because the groundhog ate every plant.  I still have a few more loads of manure to move and to work in, but for now the chicken coop is clean and fresh, and the turkeys have dry clean ground to stand on!  Yay for them, and Yay for me getting it done!

This is a picture of the part of the garden that I have already turned.  These are raised beds, and I have worked the chicken and turkey manure in by hand.  The farthest bed is going to be potatoes and peas, and the next one in will be zucchini and sweet white radishes.  Interesting radishes, they are white on the outside, and watermelon color on the inside,and they are supposed to be sweet.  We will see how they turn out.  Since they are such a short season crop is isn't like I have much to loose by trying them.

This is the quarter that I have only just started to work with.  That is all manure and bedding that I need to work in.  I think that I will try some cantaloupe there this year.  I did Honeydew last year, but I planted it too late to get much fruit.  Don't care much for watermelon, so won't bother to plant any.

This is a portrait of Blue.  He is very handsome, and he knows it.  I have Big Breasted Bronze turkeys.
This is a pic of the boys following me around the yard.  Big is in the foreground, with Blue close behind.  They are not even a year old yet, but they are pretty big.  I don't feed them food to put weight on them, because I am not ready to eat them.  Right now they get layer hen pellets, and that seems to suit them fine. We had a 3rd tom who we gave to one of DH's brothers, and as soon as he was put on meat builder food his weight zoomed from about 25lbs up to 75lbs.  He dressed out at 45lbs.  That is a HUGE turkey!  I think that these two weigh about 40lbs each, although I haven't picked them up in a while to find out.  I don't think I am going to try it either...

Well, it is the day before Resurrection Sunday, so I better get some more work done in order to enjoy tomorrow without having to deal with things left undone.  Hope you all have a blessed holiday, and can spend time with loved ones!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another day, another blessing...

OK, so I was going to call this post "Another day, another expense", but realized that once again God's timing is perfect. Please note that I have chosen to adjust my attitude for the better! The front end on my minivan was shaking pretty badly as we went down the road yesterday so I had to buy new tires.  If this had happened two weeks ago, we would have had to borrow money.  It hit at just the right time so that there was money in the bank to replace the front tires.  The driver side tire had tread separating from the steel belts on the tires, and it was bad enough that I could finally see what was causing the problem.  We had thought that maybe the lug nuts had worked a little loose.  Glad to have the problem fixed before a tire burst on the highway!  Now my little blue pickup is leaking oil into the radiator.  Hopefully it is just a head gasket and the neighbor can fix it for us.  He is way cheaper than any other mechanic around, and I am confident that he can do the repair because he did it for his daughters car with the same problem.  Now if we could just sell that darn snowmobile, we would have enough to pay for THIS repair.  Do you know anyone who wants a really NICE snowmobile?  Will trade it for a decent car...  I am waiting to see what blessing God rains down on us this time!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It has been a busy couple of days here at the little chicken farm!  My almost 14yr. old dog Clover had a lump on her snout that we thought was cancer, but ended up being an abcessed tooth that started to grow and swell and expand all into her face.  Quite overnight her eye was almost closed because of the swelling in her face, her nose was bleeding (lots) and she was miserable.  We took her to the vet, and $633.00 later she had 3 teeth pulled and is on antibiotics for 14 days.  The good news is that when they pulled the pre-op blood test, her results came out like a 2yr old dog!  Pretty impressive for such an old girl.  I am a big believer in vitamins, and just about every day she gets an EsterC, a fish oil pill, and a CoQ10, and if I have any, she gets a glucosamine chondroitin tablet too.  Just takes a bit of peanut butter on a spoon and down the hatch.  It has done wonders with the arthritis she has in her spine and shoulders, and apparently with her organs and blood values too.  I also feed good food, the best I can afford.  It is not the most expensive food, but it is very good food.  VF Complete Turkey and Rice.  VF stands for Veterinarian's Formula.  Check them out at

I had taken two vacation days off work because my MIL was having cataract surgery, and we didn't think my brother in law could manage his complicated life to take care of her for those couple of days.  Happily it all worked out perfectly and he was free to stay home with her so I was able to be around home to care for Clover instead.  Talk about the hand of God!  The timing couldn't have been better.  I had already taken the time off of work, and that very day a check for almost the exact amount came from the mortgage company to pay down the excess in my escrow account.  We would never have been able to pay for the surgery without it.  Clover would have had to be put to sleep if that check hadn't been here.  God knew our need even before we did.  Then again, He always does!

I know that anyone reading this is more interested in the chickens than in my dog, so now is the part about the hens.  The weather warmed back up and the hens started laying better.  I got 10 eggs two days in a row, which is pretty good for 12 hens.  I also went back to the feed I was buying, which is called Dumor, from TSC.  I think it is better than the Pen Pals feed that I had bought from the feed mill where I get my dog food.  The hens are pretty happy with their little outdoor area, and have already killed and eaten every blade of grass and every weed in sight.  I need to get some fencing panels from Tractor Supply so that I can move them around the yard some during the day, but keep them from being a problem for the neighbors.

Have been cleaning the old chick pen in preparation for the new chicks coming in early May.  I have made a ton of trips to the garden to dump old nasty chicken poop, and have been doing some of the heavier labor of turning it into the garden by hand.  I have raised beds, so using the rototiller at this point would be pretty useless.  If I can get my Dad to give me his little Mantis tiller I might be able to churn things up a bit better after I get it worked in some.  That is a pretty light duty tiller so it won't dig as deep as the big one, but my soil is pretty light so it should do the trick.  I have hand turned about 1/3 of the garden so far, and if I can turn that bit one more time I should be able to put in some early seeds like spinach or something.  I have never had much luck with spinach, but maybe I wait too long to sow it.  I hope the chicken manure isn't too rich to plant in.  Well, there is quite a bit of bedding mixed in with it, so it should be alright.

The dogs want my attention now, so I am signing off now.  Good night world, and good night chickens!