Continuing my chicken drama from the last post – our first flock bit the dust,so – Oft to the swap meet we go . . .
We bought five more birds. Turns out two of those birds were roosters. Because I’m a newbie chicken mamma and believed the sellers when they told me they were hens!! The saddle feathers, large combs and wattles should have given them away, but what did I know at the time? I swear, those sellers saw me coming from a mile away.
Unknowing we were supposed to quarantine our new birds, our flock comes down with sickness. Raspy breathing, watery nostrils and milky glazed eyes called for antibiotics. Down to the local feed store I go. We medicate, but we lost one (the sickest) to the flock. Apparently it’s not uncommon for chickens to turn on each other when their is weakness among them.
It’s true what they say. Chickens are nature’s garbage disposals, disposing of each other if necessary. Gross.
The others recovered, but not without leaving my Black Austrolorp with one swollen sinus cavity and blind.
Another small hen got swiped by a hawk (we think) leaving us with four chickens. One brown bovine/red sexlink rooster (Ruddy), one rhode island red rooster (Joe-Buzz 2.0), our black austrolorp rooster (Raven) and our gold laced wynandotte hen (Goldie).
Now anyone who owns chickens knows a hen to rooster ratio of 1:3 is bad if not deadly. I suck at math and don’t like ratios, but even I knew this was terrible chicken math.
A local homesteader gave us two more hens (by this time I knew my hens from my roos), buff orppingtons (Featherduster and Cinder). They are three years old.
So now we have six in our flock. Three girls and three boys. My ratios are getting better, but no where near what they need to be. One buff doesn’t lay any longer. The other buff and gold laced wynandotte are laying.
Two eggs a day.
All this work for only TWO eggs a day?!? Seriously? I’m a terrible chicken farmer!
Now any other person might have thrown in the towel by now, but one thing living with chronic illness has taught me is how to persevere. So onward we go…
As chance would have it, my gold laced wynandotte goes broody. What’s broody you ask? She’s ready to be a mamma. She’s sitting on six eggs. But on one of her treks down to stretch her legs something scratched her neck up. She crawled into the nesting box next to the eggs and died. We found her the next morning looking like she just fell asleep.
We have no broody hen and the eggs had gone all night, uncovered, in 30 degree temps. They are no longer viable. We don’t have an incubator, but we candled the eggs and four out of the six had chicks growing. Bummer!
It’s now February. My chicken math and my buffs’ feathers tell me we need more hens!!
As cruel as it may sound, we culled the black austrolorp since he was blind and carried the gene for his sickness. The brown bovine rooster was a terrible rooster and was mean to my hens. Now we aren’t a wasteful family and since we live off the land the most logical conclusion was to put Ruddy out of our misery. So we ate him 🙂
Now, we’re down to three chickens. Joe-Buzz 2.0 (rir rooster) along with Featherduster and Cinder (buff orppintons). At their ages it is unlikely they will lay much longer (and one already has stopped laying all together). This leaves me with ONE egg a day and NO broody hens.
Tractor Supply chick days here we come . . .