This has been a rather busy week for us but of course that is the usual for us. The chickens have been dropping off their egg production for a while now. They are down to about 50% which is below what we would expect for their age and time of year. The biggest drop occurred when the light in their coop was not coming on at the proper time so that they were not getting the proper 14 to 16 hours of light needed to maintain a good egg lay rate. It was a few days before we noticed and fixed the problem but that was enough to set them back. But they are also into their third year and we cannot expect them to lay at the same rate as when they were in their first year. So on Saturday we went to PULLETS PLUS near Elmira to get more hens. These are pullets (meaning young hens) and are termed ‘ready to lay’ which means exactly that. Hens start laying eggs at about 21 weeks old and these birds will be about that. The lay rate is not at a maximum for a few weeks, the time period varies, but in a month at the latest we would expect them to be up to maximum lay which is about an egg a day for each bird with a day off from time to time. They should average a little over 6 eggs a week and keep that rate for nearly 12 months.
We have them in a rather small coop for now as we need to build them another larger house. We want to keep these separate from the older flock. So planning and building a new chicken house has taken up a lot of time as well. We also need to get the ducks moved to another spot as they are very messy because they are ducks. They like to splash around in their water and get the surroundings quite wet. They are also very good at dropping copious quantities of dirt and sand in their drinking water which is also shared by the chickens and that is not good. We have intended to separate the chickens and hens for a long while now but just have not found the time. So we have two houses to build; a duck house and a chicken house, The duck house is much smaller and will be much quicker but getting the ducks in it will be much harder. Unlike chickens, ducks can see quite well in the dark and are far from docile when caught. We’ll have to come up with a method that causes the least commotion in the pen when we are catching them for the move. We might try herding but herding ducks is a precarious occupation If we move slowly and patiently it might work.
The weather has been most co-operative this November. We have been able to get a lot done though much more needs doing. Still a lot of firewood to gather and though we were busy with chickens over the past week we also spent a good bit of time gathering firewood. Most of the wood this week is green and will not be used for at least another year. Two summers passing is a good length of time to give firewood to get nice and dry.
Horses, cows, sheep and donkey are doing fine. We were at the butcher’s three days in a row to pick up beef. More beef will go in two or three weeks; we are waiting for Willie to let us know when he has a time slot for us. Lamb and a goat will go in to Willie’s in about two weeks. There are a lot more photos on our Facebook page. Use the link at the right and up a bit to get there.