Happy Easter one and all. I’ve been juggling a lot of things lately, while still trying to get on top of my health, so it was nice to have some down time to reflect on the purpose of life and the foundations of my faith. And with The Husband having some time off work, it’s nice to have help with a certain, very fidgety small child.
The weather has shifted into proper autumn-like weather and we have even had rain! The tank is now a little over 1/4 full, which is the most we’ve had since probably the end of last year. We’ve been living in water-saving crisis mode for a couple of months, trying our best to avoid having to buy-in water. We have our usual water-saving measures to keep us in the blue, but the weather this year has been unusually hot. It was little consolation that heat and low rainfall records were broken or that neighbours could be seen getting water trucks in, transporting 1000L containers of water onto their properties or buying bottles of water at the supermarket. If we’d known summer and autumn were going to be that bad maybe we could have been super careful earlier on, but there’s no way of knowing just what weather the next few months will bring. The good part is that we’ve developed more super-water-saving measures, more faith and more confidence in our ability to scrimp on water. Our shower may be old and crappy but it has one good feature: the ability to turn down the water pressure. Low pressure showers for the win!
I am really enjoying the cooler weather. I am in my element. Now that Daylight Savings has ended, I get to marvel at the star-filled skies on crisp, clear nights. I get more sleep because the nights are pleasantly cool. We get to bask in the warmth of a fire-heated living room. And we can happily work outside on sunny, blue-sky days without the danger of heat exhaustion. Autumn is fantastic.
In chicken news, the flock has decreased slightly. We sadly lost one of Rory’s young girls, though fortunately not our favourite super-friendly girl, who has become known as Rory Jr, and will not be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. We also said goodbye to Annie. Finally. I really liked Annie and had trouble making the final call to cull her, necessary because of her ongoing issues with laying soft-shelled eggs. I started to suspect she might have egg yolk peritonitis, as one day I found what looked like a small, hard pus ball on the coop floor. It was only about the size of a large marble and I haven’t had a hen with egg peritonitis before, so I wasn’t sure if that’s what it was and if it was, exactly who had the problem.
When Annie started hiding out in the nestbox, not laying but not being broody, I knew it was really time to say goodbye. Then I cut her open to investigate and found a way-too-big mass of pus in her system – indicative of egg yolk peritonitis. Poor girl. I should have culled her sooner, but I didn’t know what was going on inside her. She was very good at hiding it. Egg yolk peritonitis happens when the developing yolk released from the ovary isn’t caught and passed along for the rest of the egg-making process, but ends up in the body cavity. If this happens occasionally, the body can reabsorb the yolk, but it becomes a problem when it keeps happening and bacteria comes along, which leads to the formation of hard masses of pus in the hen’s body. It can be hard to know if a hen has it and there isn’t a lot that can be done about it.
The other chickens are all still around, although four of the young girls are heading off to a new home soon. I’m still trying to decide what to do about the roosters. Head rooster Darrington has actually grown on me, but Thomas and Andrew are coming along nicely. Thomas, son of Frodo and Darrington, is a big boy, as big as Darrington now. His blue colours are beautiful and he’s thriving and assertive. He’s bound to give Darrington a run for his money one day. Andrew, son of Annie and Darrington, is a friendly boy and the only offspring of Annie. He’s taking a bit longer to fill out but I think he could turn out really well.
Paris is still with us. She settled down after she came out of the furious moulting phase and left her chicks to their own devices. Since she isn’t bullying the others anymore I’ll keep her around because she’s a great layer, as long as she stays in line. I think Thomas is helping. He’s taking on rooster duties and is more authoritative than Darrington. Darrington still keeps him in line though. Tiggywinkle and Jemima, the oldest of the spring/ summer chicks, are laying. We just need to move a pruning mountain out of the chicken pen so Jemima stops laying in it… I was doing well at dealing with the pruning piles until the mulcher went out of service. It needed new blades, plus new and very specific screws, since The Husband munted the old ones in order to get the old blades off. This sparked an international search for blades that would fit the mulcher. And the special screws. Now it’s all sorted and back up and running better than before.
I’ve got eggs in the incubator for hatching – from Frodo, Tiggywinkle, Jemima and Paris. I don’t really need Paris babies but I treated the chickens for coccidiosis and rather than throwing out the eggs we can’t eat I figured I might as well get one more hatch in before winter. And when I say one I actually mean two, as I had to do a second round of treatment since the chickens didn’t drink enough medicated water the first time. Blaze and Pickle are furiously moulting now and not laying, so there are no eggs from them. There is no guarantee that Darrington will be the father of all the chicks anymore. I’ve seen Thomas trying to get around. Whether any of the hens have fallen for his charms yet, I’m not sure. I’ve heard the younger girls screech when he tries to bust a move. I’ve seen Paris hide from him in a tree. Frodo, I’m not so sure.
The first batch of eggs is at 19 after candling. The second batch of eggs has 15 and they will be candled in one week. I will have to separate the batches when the first batch reaches lockdown time. So, what am I going to do? Well, as usual, Frodo is my not-so-secret weapon. She’s going broody again and I’m letting her. I just have to decide which eggs to give her: the first batch or the second batch. But I also have to decide what to do about the crossbred Paris eggs, as I can’t have them getting mixed up with the purebreds under Frodo. Why did I put them in there? Well, I felt bad throwing them away. And they’re so big and fertile. And maybe I’ll get more roosters for meat birds this time. And maybe I’m just too soft at the moment.