Sunday, February 27, 2011

All the Wood Behind One Arrowhead -- Fertile Eggs

In the 90's a computer company took advantage of a Robin Hood movie to describe their product concentration as "all the wood behind one arrowhead". Their claim was that concentrating their resources on one goal yielded superior results.

Well, that claim sure holds true for chickens, though "wood" is a tasteless pun in this context.

My current flock of four chickens includes one rooster and three hens. They are getting a lot of attention from Mr. Big.

Today I cracked eight eggs. Every single one of them was fertile! How can I tell? Each one had a "bullseye" on the yolk. You can see an excellent example of this at

Good job Mr. Big!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Funny Picture -- Egg in shape of chicken laying an egg

This picture was CellieBellie's first post on

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New chicken feed

The feed store was out of my usual chicken crumbles. They did not even have pellets.

They had Chicken Scratch. But that stuff is like bird candy with only 8% protein.

They also had Gamebird Feed. But that stuff is like an avian version of jet fuel with 22% protein.

I still had some Black Oil Sunflower Seed. It is pretty good at 18% protein.

So I decided to improvise. I bought the scratch and gamebird feed.

I am trying a 1:1:1 ratio with scratch, gamebird, and BOSS. In naive terms this ought to be (8+22+18) / 3 =  16% protein. Add grit, provide oyster shell, everybody happy. Right?

I put down a cupful of the feed mix. Oh the chickeny joy! They thought it was a treat for nearly thirty seconds. And then they were through with it.

As with the cabbage, they turned their backs and walked away.

Next day they ignored it. And the day after. Even the squirrels will not touch it.

Apparently my kitchen skills apply to chicken food too.

Update: Discovered a local gas station selling M-G 20 Layer Pellets. I have been driving past their sign for 15 years, wondering where the feed store was. *sigh* At least the birds have started eating up the improvised feed, pellets and all.

Update: Lack of calcium embedded in the feed has caused one case of shell-less eggs. One hen hates oyster shell and when she does not eat enough calcium-fortified pellets she has an oopsie.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Do a dust bath, make a little love, get down tonight

My chickens are slowly adapting to the realities of confinement.

While none have tried to shank me, the rooster has given me the stink eye on more than one occasion. He has crowed at me while standing his ground. And he has tried to score with the ladies right in front of me.

These acts of aggression cannot stand.

When he behaves this way I haze him. That is to say, I point at him and call his name, or I take a step in his direction with an arm raised, or I step between him and the hens. That last one seems to have really bothered him.

Now when I open the pop door he leads them around behind the coop where I cannot see them. Today I was quick with the egg gathering so I stealthily peeked around the corner.

Oh the chickeny joy! It was a scene out of Imperial Rome! The ladies were lolling about with Sybaritic pleasure, languidly scooping dirt onto themselves at intervals. Mr. Big was having his way with one of the hens.

This went on for some time, so I slipped away before they noticed.

Now I feel dirty.

Update: I have tried my hand at creating dust bath containers for the chickens. They hated the litter box. They hated the raked area. They hated the sand-filled tire. They hated the round livestock water dish. The only thing that seems to please them are random depressions of their own construction, in which they place foot magnets to attract my feet. I suspect they are plotting against me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fowl Mouth Rooster

My rooster, Mr. Big, has a fowl mouth.

If I do not open the pop door early enough he will growl his displeasure.

If I spend too much time around his ladies he will crow at me. This touches off another round of rooster hazing.

If I bring them a treat that is not quite delicious enough or properly presented, he will grump and huff.

Last night I really crossed the line. I went into the yard to get a bucket to build a rat trap. Apparently, he saw me coming and ushered the flock into the coop.

When I did not show up to close the pop door, he stuck his head out and cussed me thoroughly. Chastened, I hustled over the the coop. He gave me the stink eye, turned his back, and stalked into the coop.

Unhappy with my service, he did not leave a tip.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sneaky Cabbage Snatcher

I have been trying to get my chickens to eat cabbage for the past few days.

The first day they left the cabbage leaves on the ground and demonstrated their disdain.

The second day they picked at the shredded bits of cabbage and dropped them back on the ground.

This morning  I gave them a cabbage quarter. They pecked once or twice and then huffed off to take a dust bath, flouncing their tails at me.

But this evening the morning cabbage was gone. Unless the cabbage fairy took it away, the chickens finally ate it.

Sneaky birds....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cabbage haters gonna hate cabbage

Cabbage is cheap nutrition. It helps chickens lay rich delicious eggs. Even Cato the Elder thought is was good stuff.

Other people have chickens that loooove cabbage. The cool people at often recommend hanging a cabbage in the chicken coop to keep the birds entertained with a healthy snack.

But there is one little catch. The chickens actually have to eat it. As things stand now though, I am wondering if a chicken suppository is possible....

You see, my chickens like to free range. They dig and scratch. They eat bugs and weeds and delicious things that are too small for mere humans to see. Weed leaves that are too big to swallow whole get pecked into bite sized pieces. Now fast forward to today's cabbage experiment....

I gave them whole cabbage leaves. They kicked them out of the way to peck at the dirt.

I gave them little bite-sized cabbage leaf bits. They kicked them out of the way to peck at the dirt.

I left cabbage leaves in the feeder. They kicked them out of the way to peck at the crumbles.

They reeeeeeally hate that cabbage.

Update: Cabbage gone. Who did it?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Texas Snow

Texans do not understand snow and ice. This applies to Texas chickens too.

Their pen was a winter wonderland of ice covered with snow. The ground was icy snow. The water bowl was icy snow. The coop, people step, and chicken ladder were covered with ice and snow. I liberated their water bowl with a shovel and a jug of hot water.

Then I opened the pop door. Oh the chickeny puzzlement!

Mr. Big stepped out the pop door and promptly descended the ladder in accordance with Newton's Law of Gravity. He hit the ground, picked himself up, looked around for chickeny witnesses, and finding none, strutted away as if to say "I meant to do that".

De and Vo were next to exit. They pushed out the door at the same time, like Two Stooges. After a "BAWK" duet they popped out and scooted down the ladder. Vo tipped over the side and covered her embarrassment by scratching in the ice.

Buffy sauntered to the pop door and in one graceful hop landed at the bottom of the ladder. Like a fluffy orange bowling ball, she crashed into De and the two of them fussed over the indignity of it all.

I think we are all ready for spring.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oh No! Snow!!

My chickens live in Southeast Texas. The weather brings us hurricanes, tornadoes, horizontal rainstorms, blazing heat, occasional freezes, and the ever-so-rare threat of snow.

I remember doing a Pro/Con list before moving here. Top of the list for Con was Hurricanes. Top of the list for Pro was Snowless. I still think it is a good trade, but just barely.

Once, while visiting Austin, we got 1/8 of an inch of snow. There were 400 traffic accidents that morning.

Some fool ordered snow for Friday, so I am planning for a weather disaster. Here is my checklist:

  • Block roost draft
  • Secure plastic sheets
  • Check overhead tarp
  • Sufficient chicken feed
  • Cache of water
  • Grit, oyster shell, BOSS
  • Wrap pipes and faucets
  • Vehicle fuel
  • Groceries

Did I miss anything?