Sunday, January 20

13 Chickens (as of last nights count)

We are down to 13 ladies in the coop. As of last week, we have had 3 natural deaths here - no signs of a predator, the three hens in question were still in the coop, and they were all healthy looking and acting normally previously. I have no other idea as to what has happened except natural causes in the time frame of two months. Not unheard of in the chicken world but enough to make me feel the slightest bit of dread when I go into the coop in the morning and again at night. I count them all as I throw out pieces of stale bread and apple peels. One, two, three, four, oh wait, one just ran in for that scrap - start again, one, two, three, four.....  all the way up until i get to 13. Lucky number 13.

The weather has been up and down here, as in almost two feet of snow one weekend and then sunny and almost 70 degrees the next week. The girls were locked up on the coop for those very cold and snowy days and by the fourth day, they were getting restless. Since I installed the extra portable fencing to their run which allows them access to fresh grass, they see it as an insult of sorts to be confined. As soon as the weather was ok and there was no more risk of frostbite, I let them out and they were 13 very happy ladies.

I am taking the winter accommodations day by day, weather forecast by weather forecast.

We are using the deep bedding method again this winter, which has worked very well int he past and seems to be doing the same good job this year of keeping the girls warm, dry and semi-clean. A trip to the straw supplier must happen sometime next week since I spread the last bale yesterday. Actually, all I really have to do is separate the sections of the bale and throw them into the coop area. The ladies pretty much do the rest of the work, scratching and digging around looking for hidden treat treasures. But i like to scatter it a little for them - makes me think that they actually need me.

I have had a problem for the past few weeks with one broody hen. A mean one, she is, and she will peck my hands as i try to get those eggs. In the past week, she has enlisted another hen to join her in guarding the eggs and I now have two hens squished together in one nest box, one facing foreword, the other facing backward. So when I go in at dusk to collect the eggs, I am greeted by a feather-filled nest box with a head and beak on the right and a fluffy tail feather display on the left.

Luckily, the new recruit is not as dedicated to her egg duties as her broody boss. The new girl will gladly hop out of the nest box for some of that stale bread.


  1. So sorry about the loss of three of your ladies. I love your style of writing.

  2. Sorry to hear about your chickens.
    Just an idea about the bedding...if you still have your Christmas tree or other pines on your property you could trim, snip the branches up and toss them into your coop to add to the bedding. Something about the pine counteracts against the alkaline of the droppings, keeps the coop fresher and better smelling.