Ginger Hen Genetics

I couldn’t remember the breed of chicken our new brown one, Ginger, was. I knew if I just saw it, I’d remember, but it wasn’t listed on the Bird and Bee Farm website.

Not only am I cute, I’ll lay a bunch of eggs.

Chicken-loving friends to the rescue! Cheryl pointed out on Facebook that she is an ISA Red. I got her so that I’d have at least one high producer, and they are fine looking gals. Here’s what Cheryl posted:

Such pretty ladies! I think Ginger might be an ISA Brown. Great egg production, but not as long-lived as many other breeds.

Facebook

I wondered what ISA is and why they are short lived. I looked it up! Tractor Supply said:

ISA Browns are one of the top sellers in the industry because of the number of eggs they lay and their calm demeanor. Their eggs have excellent shell quality and texture. This especially sweet, docile, gentle bird, is extremely easy to work with and are great birds for new chicken owners or young families. ISA Browns produce almost an egg every day and do well either in confinement or free ranged. Hens begin to lay around 4-5 months of age with adequate daylight hours. When they are hatched, the pullets are red and the cockerels are white for this color sex-able sex-link.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/isa-brown-chicken-sold-in-quantities-of-

What is ISA?

She’s figured out the coop!

ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale, the company which developed the crossbreed in 1978 for egg production as a battery hen. They are very popular in large egg production places. Glad Ginger is a free bird!

Longevity

As always, the high egg yield is detrimental to the long-term health of the hen. The ISA is one of several breeds developed for high egg yield at the expense of longevity and natural reproduction.

https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/isa-brown/

Well, she’s pretty and reminds me of our old red chickens, who were also sex-linked hybrids. Long live Ginger!

She and Bertie have the feeder figured out!

Yearly Chicken Adventure, 2020

You may remember that last year, after I’d lost a lot of chickens to an owl, I went and got seven new ones at Bird and Bee Farm. I was surprised to realize that was almost a year ago. Things continued to get my poor birds, and now I have only three left, Buffy and the reds, Big and Little.

A Rio Grande turkey.

We decided to let those birds stay at the cabin by the old easily infiltrated coop, since they have figured out how to stay safe and enjoy their free range lifestyle. Our renters at the cabin like them anyway. I’ll just give them a chicken cube every so often.

We have been working on a new coop for a while, and finally decided today was the day to put some young hens in there.

Guineas and turkeys free ranging.

My sister, Canova, loves to look at chickens, and niece Kathleen loves all farm animals, so I brought them along. After stocking up on chicken treats and such, we headed off to the country between Rockdale and Milano.

We had a great time looking at the turkeys, guineas, and of course the plants in the wildscape.

Wildscape progress.

It was fun watching Canova and Kathleen when they saw just how many types of hens there were! There were really some cool ones!

Continue reading “Yearly Chicken Adventure, 2020”

Coop Coop! Run! 2019 Projects Done!

Hooray hooray. Today we finally were able to get the work done on the chicken coop to get it ready to hold actual chickens. Yesterday, while enduring the longest lines ever at multiple stores, Chris was able to get all the materials we needed to finish the coop, plus a feeder and waterer.

Roofing in progress.

This morning we got going as soon as we were coffeed up, and with assistance from my brother-in-law Jim and less assistance from me, Chris got a really cool arched roof on the chicken run that will thwart even the most clever hawk or owl. HA! Raptors go eat something else!

One good-looking chicken run!

It really ended up looking pretty spiffy. Once we got the roof on, Chris and I fired up Hilda the 4-wheeler and rode around the property looking for ideal branches to turn into perches for the chickens, so they can have fun while cooped up in the run.

Feed and water holders are hanging. And the big stick for roosting is installed.

Vlassic came with us, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the far ends of the ranch. I showed Chris every inch of the place, and we even visited the horses and Fiona.

Nest boxes are ready for hens!

I was very happy that Vlassic behaved well with the horses. He started to chase Fiona a couple of times, but she gave him the annoyed donkey look and he backed off. In the end, everyone got along just fine. That’s one dog down, and only four to go…

This sweet great Pyrenees will be adopted soon, we hope.

After we finished putting a wind barrier up on the north side of the chicken coop, we took a break, then went over to the Cameron Touch of Love to finish the last touches on the dog run we’re donating.

Sandra checks out the shade area of the dog run.

Chris and his dad put together the shade roofs for the entry and another area on the run, and also installed wind blocks in one area that will also provide a bit of shade in the summer. We got help from the Fords, our cat rescue folks, so it went pretty quickly.

That’s me in the hat. I’m not supervising. I’m helping attach the wind barrier/shade cloth.

I took a lot of pictures of the dogs at the pound with the camera I got loaned for Christmas. I wanted to practice taking close-ups.

A sweet puppy who’s heading to a new home in Colorado soon.

And I also took some bird pictures. I’ll still work on the photography thing.

Yes, I can identify these birds! I was far away from these black vultures.

Luckily, there was a sad dog named Bud at the pound who I felt sorry for, so I got him brought out to the dog run and played with him. He’s so well behaved that he hates to pee or poop in his pen. He peed for a full minute when he got in the pen, then we played and played. He loves kids and is sweet, but energetic. I hope he gets a family soon.

We came home, and Kathleen and her daughter kindly cooked a New Year’s meal. MMM. Black eyed peas! I hope to make some tomorrow, if I can get any when I get back to Austin.

Vaguely successful telephoto shot.

What a fun day we had! It was a perfect ending to the year. The last month has seen things start to improve, at least in our little world. I’m going to keep focusing on our family, our friends, and what we can personally make an effect on.

My favorite picture so far with the “real” camera.

That’s why I’m so glad we can help with Milam Touch of Love and the dogs at the pound. We CAN make a difference there.

Oh, Buffy Hen! (And a Long Day or Two)

The Internet ate what I was writing earlier today, and it has been a long couple of days, so you luck out and get to read about the CHICKENS again. I’ll also share some cute dogs before getting all thoughtful again tomorrow.

This evening, Kathleen and I went over to feed the animals, as usual, just before sunset. We heard a LOT of mooing, and when we got there we saw the Vrazels’ cattle in the race. Other cattle were in the pens. As you can see, these were mamas and babies (hooray, I got to see the spotted ones up close).

We are very dubious about this confinement.

They said they were going to AI all the mamas, which meant there was no way for us to get to the horses. I said I’d do it in the morning. No problem. It was fun watching them move the little ones away from their moms. They were displeased.

So, we went back to the chicken area, where Big Red and Little Red were eating some popcorn that Yanelly must have given them. I gave them some feed and scratch, then looked around for Buffy. She was nowhere to be seen, so I figured she must have finally bit the dust. Also, there were no eggs in their new nest (they have totally deserted the old coop).

Continue reading “Oh, Buffy Hen! (And a Long Day or Two)”

Building Things: Floats, Chicken Coops, More

Hiya hiya (a brand of knitting needles), everyone. I’ve been trying to write this all day, but I can’t complain, because my lunch hour, when I often write, was pleasantly filled with a nice conversation and lunch with my friend Melissa. We had one of our usual hour-long regurgitation of the highs and lows of our lives since we last saw each other, which was way more fun than sitting at my desk typing!

Harvey supervises the painting of our giant wooden Hermann house.

Yesterday was an equally full day. Kathleen and Chris made it to Cameron Saturday evening, so we set out to do on Sunday all the things we’d originally planned to do over the whole Thanksgiving week. Not everything got done, but we sure did a LOT. We’re really grateful to Chris for how hard he worked.

It’s starting to take shape!

Saturday we started out working on our float the the Cameron Christmas Parade. The good news is that we already have a truck and a trailer, so yay. And another good thing is that a marvelous invention, the battery-operated Christmas light, has enabled us to light the float without putting a big ole generator on the back of the pickup.

Vlassic is dubious about the quality of my tree construction. Hey, it’s worth every penny of the $30 they paid for it.
Continue reading “Building Things: Floats, Chicken Coops, More”

Ranch Return. Ahh.

Being away from nature for a week was hard on me! I was so glad to come home to the ranch and see familiar sights. The trees, the cattle, the birds, my dear pets. It even smelled like home.

Back exploring with my buddies.

I got to check out what has changed and what’s new this evening. I also got to walk the dogs through beautiful autumn light. Here’s a report!

The old cedar elm at sunset.
Continue reading “Ranch Return. Ahh.”

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!