Chicken Resurrection

Happy Autumnal Equinox! Welcome Mabon, the middle of the harvest season! Happy thoughts to Texas finally cooling off at some point in the future.

Today’s little tale has a sort of harvest theme, because it happened when I went to harvest eggs last night (make that egg, as there was just one).

I got a bunch of chicken food and spread it out, to much clucking and cooing. Then I went into the hen house to check for eggs and to see how Blackie, the one who got all broody and wouldn’t get off the nest, was doing.

I miss having white eggs! And the hen that laid that tiny brown one now lays BIG ones.

Each day for the past few weeks, I’ve been having to reach under her and take out whatever eggs she had gathered to sit on. I would inevitably get pecked a couple of times for my impertinence.

Well, she wasn’t there. I’m so used to dead chickens, that I immediately got all sad that some dog or animal got her while she was defending her nonexistent chicks. Then I steeled my heart and said to myself that we tough ranch mamas are totally used to losses. It’s just part of life.

Were you looking for ME?

I turned to take my egg to the car, and low and behold, who came walking up, a bit thin, but perky? Blackie! She’s a tough old bird after all. I guess she got tired of all that sitting, or her hormones wore off, or something.

I’m not as buff as buffy, but I’m eating again!

She was broody over a month, but she made it through. We will have to see if she starts laying again. Right now only 3 of the 7 are producing eggs.

Big Red, Little Red, and Rocky are glad to have their friend back.

I declare that Blackie rejoining chicken society is the start of things getting better around here. A new season, and new stuff to enjoy/deal with is on its way!


New Mamas and Wannabes

I just had to share this! As I was driving into the Wild Hermits part of the ranch, I saw our tenant messing with a cow. Hmm, I thought, some of those cows looked pretty bagged up yesterday (yeah I talk rancher talk to myself).

Sure enough, when he left, I saw this shiny new calf he’d just tagged. Hooray! It’s New Mama time here! These won’t freeze to death for sure.

Brand new baby!

It turns out there were two new brown calves, but the mama blocked my view when I drove by. Lucky, I found that baby in a photo of the other pair.

There’s another baby hiding at right. Moo!

I found the cool magnifying glass thing in my photo tools. Handy.


I guess the cow hormones must have drifted over to the chicken coop, because Blackie has gone broody. That means she wants to hatch eggs. Last week Kathleen and I managed to remove one.

Thanks, Internet!

Yesterday and the day before, she was not happy to have me poking at her, but today I just used both hands and managed to remove four more green eggs from her. I only got poked badly twice.

I read that they stay broody 3 weeks, so I hope my hand makes it through two more. I also hope she eats and drinks enough. They only leave the nest once a day. Poor Blackie. She’s all hormonal.

That’s Blackie in the middle of this picture from back when I had more chickens.

(The remaining 6 chickens are still fine! They love the cube!)

Chicken Cube

Today I had two potential things to write about. I’m chickening out (oh how humorous) and writing about the hens rather than ranting about self-righteous millennials.

Also. Happy National Dog Day in the US.

We’ve been stable with chicken numbers for a couple of months now. Mandi thinks it’s because her dogs have managed to catch a couple of owls. I’m of two minds. I love owls, and they’re protected. But you can’t stop dogs from protecting “their” kittens.

Since it’s been so hot and the seven ladies I still have are trying their best to keep laying, I felt like they deserved a treat, so while I was at Tractor Supply, I got them a huge 25-pound cube full of grain and scratch that they can peck at and have fun. I think they liked it.

Rocky was just pecking at the cube.

I also thought I should show you how well that little scamp Buffy is doing. Her tail feathers are growing back after Jess the blue heeler puppy tried to carry her home in her mouth. But they are coming in much darker than they were before!

I think my dark feathers look classy.

The black chicken is acting broody or something. She won’t get out of the nest box. I hope she’s okay!

And…that’s my cheerful, pleasant chicken report.

Guess Who’s Not Dead? Hint: Cluck Cluck

It rained a bit today. What a surprise! But that’s nothing.

I went out to feed animals around 6:30. Horses and Fiona were covered with burs, but otherwise fine. To get more exercise, I walked over to the chickens, more wary than usual, since there was yet another hefty rat snake, or in this case, chicken snake, in the henhouse yesterday.

Sure enough, no eggs (but snake is gone). I glanced over at the place next to the cabin, since I’d found four eggs there last week. Yes! An egg!

Medium brown mystery egg.

Hmm. That egg is definitely darker than Rosey’s and Mrs Stripey’s eggs, but lighter than Wild Thing’s speckled ones.

I decided to walk around and see if I could find any other hidden caches. I went in the barn and checked out random baskets an such. Then something caught my eye on a shelf.

Continue reading “Guess Who’s Not Dead? Hint: Cluck Cluck”

Late Spring Bounty, Plus Drama, of Course

As the days grow longer and longer here in Texas, our harvest starts arriving. It’s lots earlier than in other parts of the US, where nothing’s ready until August, but hey, it gets hot here early.

Some Good News

This has been a great year, too, with the rain continuing to fall much later than usual. It’s raining now, in fact, and it’s only 79 degrees (too bad it was up to 93 at the end of our horseback ride this morning).

My shadow and the garden. Beans are to the right. Giant squash is in my shadow.

I think I’ve mentioned that our neighbor Tyler started a vegetable garden this year. Yesterday, as I was looking for chickens, I peeked in and saw a really, really big yellow squash. And Tyler is out of town.

So, this morning after putting up the horses and Fiona (who went with us on our whole ride and caused no trouble), Sara and I went in and harvested the giant squash and zucchini that were lying under the large, healthy vines. We have to hand it to Tyler, his fencing and netting combination have worked great to keep meddling animals, birds, and others out of his crops. We left him plenty of small squash to harvest for himself once he gets home.

Our buckets did not hold all the hugs squash, so I got creative. (photo by Sara Faivre)
Continue reading “Late Spring Bounty, Plus Drama, of Course”

The Year of the Snake?

You’ve heard all about our snake and chicken issues. Today I was happy to see the hens in the chicken yard, so I could give them some new food. But as I walked toward the yard with the food, I saw a funny-looking garden hose. That was yet another snake. It was heading under Tyler’s bedroom, where I’m thinking the eggs now are. Sigh.

I’m pretty sure this is a garden hose, says Rosie.

The chickens didn’t care. They just wandered by it and went out to eat bugs. Sigh again.

Continue reading “The Year of the Snake?”

Chickens Can NOT Catch a Break

I’m beginning to think my poor chickens are living under a black cloud, are haunted, or broke a mirror sometime in their past. They really just can’t catch a break.

Here’s a rat snake that was found in a shopping cart in Midland. So friendly.

You may recall that just last Saturday, I found an adult Texas rat snake curled up happily in the henhouse, with three eggs embedded inside him or her. That snake was removed, so I was really thinking all was well.

Nope. Wednesday night, Seth, the chicken tending volunteer, got scared witless when he saw TWO snakes in the hen house. He didn’t stop to try to identify them. For someone who lived in the boonies most of his life, he’s not real “ranchy.”

Here’s a cute spider to take your mind off snakes.

He called his mom, who told me. I said, hey, remember Tyler who lives right there? He can take care of snakes. Then I heard nothing.

I asked Mandi how it all went, and she said she wasn’t sure. He wasn’t talking about it. Wow. Nature is not kind to that boy (age 19). But I do understand that many people have big issues with snakes, even non-venomous ones.

So, I asked Tyler, who IS ranchy, what the heck had happened. He said the two snakes were the same kind and size as last week.

What, are they a family? If so, one of them ought to tell the others that the fun times at our coop don’t have happy endings.

Mostly, though, I feel bad for those poor remaining 8 chickens. We took care of one set of predators, only to be joined by another one. I think my friend Mike and I need to get working on the new and improved coop, not just talking about it.