1.18.2011 What to do with the extra roos?

So it’s been a week since I last blogged, but I have the best of reasons. I finally got the carpel tunnel stuff in my right hand taken care of. I’ve still got stitches in my hand, but no more numbness. No more waking in the middle of the night with pain shooting up to my shoulder. It seems to be healing quickly, but it’s a deceptive sort of healing. It feels great when I wake up, and I go about my appointed duties, being mindful of my limitations of course. By late afternoon, my hand tells me I wasn’t mindful enough and I need an ice bag and a pain killer.

For the first week of egg laying, my hens produced a baker’s dozen. 1 to 3 eggs per day. Mostly green ones. But we do have a brown egg layer. Just haven’t figured out whether it’s one of the Buff Orpingtons or the Rhode Island Red. The eggs are small. The yolks are vivid yellow orange and the whites hold everything at attention. They are pretty darn yummy scrambled, too.

Yesterday, I strung a temporary electric fence around the apple orchard and tied plastic baggies, filled with Milorganite and punched with pin holes, to my trees. All part of my deer and rodent deterrent package. (I’m still not done planting all the daffodils. Weather hasn’t been right and now I’m working primarily left handed.)

Then last night, we set up my little 5 shelf greenhouse in the kitchen. It doesn’t take up too much space, but it also won’t hold nearly all of the plants I want to start. Yet it was inexpensive and will suffice for a while. Today, I started my asparagus (from seed, much cheaper than buying crowns) and the artichokes. All the seed orders I placed have arrived, with Italianseedandtool.com taking the prize for quickest delivery and most seed for your dollar. (course the seed packs are printed with Italian Instructions) Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Baker Creek Heirlooms also had a pretty quick turnaround. If you’re serious about buying seeds, then you definitely need to put your order in the first week of January. By the second week, some varieties were starting to sell out.

When I went down to visit the chickens this morning, I noticed my little red hen, (the Rhode Island Red) has lost some feathering on her back. I’ve read about this. Too much nooky from the roosters. Well, with four roosters and six confirmed hens, it was bound to happen. (We do have one little Polish chicken that seems locked somewhere between genders. The roosters don’t mount the Polish and the Polish doesn’t mount the hens. – That we’ve ever seen, at any rate.) I’ve been meaning to put the extra roos in the freezer for a while. Never had the time before my surgery, and now, my hand sort of limits what I can do. Can’t pick em by hand, and can’t set up the processing equipment by myself.

I could make saddles for my hens. These are essentially canvas aprons to cover their back feathers where the roos grab em. But, eh, there’s that hand issue again. I could buy them saddles, but by the time they arrived my hen would be bald. What to do? Well, with the assistance of my minions, I made one. And that’s a story in itself.

Short version goes like this: Checked the chicken book. Isolate the hen or put her in a saddle until the feathers grow back or she’ll be pecked by all the other hens and roos will eventually cut her open. Karina and Eric set up the old guinea pig cage in the feed storage area of the coop and we stuck her in. On the way back to the house, I made the mistake of saying the “A” word. (It’s the word that precedes Huckleberry Finn in the book by Mark Twain.) When Simonis say the “A” word, life gets complicated. We found the sewing machine, but not the box of notions. Moose and I made a Wal-Mart run. Moose threw up in the van halfway to Farmville. That stunk! Stopped at the gas station to fill up and clean up as best I could. As soon as we got home, she threw up again, in the house, on the carpet. I think she’s been grazing in the compost pile. Can’t think of where else she’d get hold of peanuts. Michael cleaned the carpet while Eric cut out the chicken apron. I ran it through the sewing machine, while cursing myself for not teaching my kids how to use the darn thing. (I have tried. But none of them have the knack.)

Tomorrow, I’ll probably put the roos back on pasture. For tonight, the two Wyandottes and the Black Giant are bunking with the turkeys. The turkeys are not happy. They outweigh the roos 2 to 1 at least, but they are completely intimidated by the roosters. Roosters get the roost tonight. Turkeys sleep on the floor. We’ve decided to keep the Rhode Island Red roo because the others have been giving my family a hard time. They never challenge or try to attack me, but they do go after Michael and Karina.

Course I could put the turkeys back on pasture and that would keep them off my porch. They stay in the run for a couple of hours in the morning and then leave as the chickens become unbearable. They wander around the farm until late afternoon when they come to the house. “We’re hungry and thirsty and are too stupid to find our way back into the coop. Could you help us?” If anyone is outside, they scurry over to see what’s going on and track you relentlessly. If you go in the house, they become the paparazzi. Lurking by the door and waiting for me to come back out. They follow me everywhere. It’s kind of cute and I’m learning to talk turkey. Never had groupies before.

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