Photo Friday: Polly’s first egg

WARNING: While I don’t find the following pictures too graphic, you may… that said I hope you enjoy seeing something you might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.
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She began building a nest around Buddy’s chew bone, sat on it and tried it out for size, and then continued building.

Much later I heard a strangely familiar sound, but it wasn’t chickens…

It was Polly laying her first egg!

Molly watches like a good Midwife.

The rest of the flock seemed to be standing guard through the process.

Cheeky and Spot:  “OK, show’s over!   Time for a nap.”

It is never boring here on the Farmlet!

Can Spring be so far off?

The days warm to mid sixties and low seventies.  I see the buds swelling on my berries and roses.  The bulbs are awakening and pushing up everywhere in the lawns, along fencelines and around the house too!   And the grass, though patchy, is slowly greening and this makes the Geese happy!

“GREENS!”  They honk and proceed to push over the little green poultry fencing I had up to keep them in all winter.  Bob shouts to me ” Hey!   Your geese are out!”  I round them up, put them back into the north quarter, and repair the fence line.

But what is this?  What is Polly doing out there by the straw bales?

Picking up straw…

billful by billful…

and slowly she’s starting a pile.

A nest?

I hope!

The morning after

After all the excitement of the hawk incident, most of my girls were pretty anxious to get back to business as usual.  So I was sorry to disappoint them yesterday by closing the gate in their face, but close it I did and left.  I had other work to do!   The Silkys on the other side of the yard were even more incensed as I did not let them out until I had made some sort of emergency makeshift run for them.

To accomplish this I put up a metal dog playpen and attached it to the chain link fence.  Then I took my staple gun and stapled garden bird netting directly to the sides of their hutch.  Next, I took a box of spring binder clips and attached the netting all the way around to top of the chain link and the dog playpen.  It looks  a ramshackle affair, but seems to be working!  I can live with it for a couple of days till Bob and I can do something more permanent and less ghastly looking…

When finished I quickly ducked under, opened up their hutch, gave them their ladder and watched for them to come out.   They didn’t.  I waited, and waited!  Oh-KAY-THEN.   I went inside to watch from the window.  It took the two adults about a half an hour to come out, but the three babies took till almost noon!   Poor things.

Later in the evening I went out to lock up the hutches and collect any remaining eggs from the day.  The egg count was understandably very low.  This happens when the girls get stressed.  However, the most curious thing I found wasn’t in the nesting boxes.

It was this…

and I found it in the leaf litter out in the run!

These are Tippy’s eggs.  the one on the right is normal, and the one on the left is about the size of a medium jaw breaker!

I know it to be hers, because she is the only girl I have that lays white eggs.  (blue tint is an anomaly of the photo)   The little one is called a *Wind Egg, or as some crusty folk call it,  a “Fart Egg.”  When opened the inside will contain only the albumin or “white” of the egg.  Quite irregular, but then I guess if you are throttled the day before by a hawk and he pulls out all your tail feathers, but you thankfully manage to get away, then you can be expected to be a little off the next day.

Poor baby!

*For more amazing and strange egg anomalies look here:

A murder most fowl

The day did not break, it rather came out of hiding.  A slow and progressive lightening of the dark sky which  revealed the morning, and the misty cold rain that came down to  turn everything it touched to a dark and ugly brown.

I went out as I always do at chicken-thirty of a morning, to release everyone, and to put out feed and water.  I told my girls to stay in and stay dry, but do they listen?  NO!  After all they say,  “The bugs are juicier and more abundant out in the pasture.”

Fast forward about 4 hours…

The Guineas (aka: Weechoos) are going berserk, screaming and chattering so loudly I can hear them through the tightly closed windows.  I get up to go chastise them.  Two are strangely huddled against the fence while the one closest to me is running and jumping up on the fence by the window.  She is still screaming and looking at me, then to the other two.  Suddenly, a large shape separates itself from the fence line right above the two Weechoos farthest from me.  It is a hawk!

I stand there thinking I will never make it on time, but turn anyway to run out the door.   Grabbing the broom as I go I head out and begin calling to the chickens in the loudest voice.  I am hoping that the noise will scare away the hawk!  I think it’s working but go out into the pasture to be sure.

I find a handful of my girls and Topper bashing themselves against the chain link fence in blind terror to get back into the chicken yard.  I herd them all in  through the gate.  I keep calling but can’t see any of the rest of my flock.  Finally I see Grayson across the pasture and he is pressed up against the fence in the farthest corner from me.  Slowly I make out the forms of more chickens strung out along the fence line and frozen there.

I look about but do not see any evidence of the hawk, so I leave thinking I have done my job.  I go into the house and to the window.  At that moment I see little Tippy still on the other side of the pasture move, and the hawk is there in an instant!

Feathers fly and I am helpless to do anything for her!  When I am certain all is lost she breaks free and flies 400 feet across the field to get to safety!  I knew chickens could fly enough to get over the fence, but I had no idea that they could do that!

Again running for the door I scramble down the wet stairs in slippered feet, once again I go to the aid of my chickens!  I am yelling at the top of my voice HERE CHICK-CHICK-CHICK!  Repeating it over and over,  as I race to the gate to let them in.  Finally, Grayson makes a break for it and everyone follows his lead, they are running to get to me and I let them into the yard.  Amazingly, they all went directly into the chicken run … that is except for the Weechoos.  They are still outside screaming their wattles off over all the excitement.  I tempt them with scratch and they come in too.

Now I count chicken butts and find:  4 Barred Rocks, 4 Black Australorps, 7 Rhoad Island Reds, 2 Amerucanas, Grayson, Tippy and Topper.  All present and accounted for I tell myself.  Everyone settles down and begins scratching for the feed I scattered down.  I watch them eat paying particular attention to Tippy and Topper.

They are battered and featherless on their backs.  Tippy’s poor tail is gone save one lone feather.  It is pathetic looking, but I tell myself they are OK and the feathers will grow again.

Again I return to the house.  Bringing my computer to the dining room table I sit down to write to you and the Weechoos go off again.  I look to see if somehow the hawk has managed to break in.  No, all is well, but they continue to scream.  Going from window to window I scour the trees,  and then I see it.

The hawk is sitting under the silkies hutch.  It has caught Momma Roo and it is too late.  I run to the door, chase the hawk away, and pick up her lifeless body.

Standing there I agonized over whether to let the hawk have its meal or dispose of her.  I think to myself, If I take her away then the hawk will come again tomorrow and simply take another of my girls. Then I think,  But if I leave it for the hawk, then I’ll simply be reinforcing that this is a meal station.

I carry her inside, wrap her in paper, and dispose of her.

The remaining silkys were in hiding, the youngest in the hutch, Kung Foo Roo in the incinerator, and Lady Roo was nowhere to be seen.  I finally found her frozen in terror behind the incinerator.  I picked her up to put her in the hutch and Kung Foo Roo came out of hiding and attacked me!  A valiant effort on his part, but I was not the enemy.  I understood and forgave his savage blows.

I would make four more trips out to the yard before dark to chase away that hawk.  He was simply not going to take “NO” for an answer, but I managed to keep him off of my Roo.  (I would have put him inside his hutch, but I just couldn’t catch him.)  Now, and for some time to come, I will simply have to keep my birds in their run.  No more letting them out to pasture.  I will have to build them a larger run, and a new one for the silkys too.

A sad day for us here on the Farmlet

The Culprit

How would you have handled this situation?