December is almost over and we have been inundated with deep snow and stormy blasts. I bought a packet of powdered antibiotic at the farm store, to be told it would no longer be available in the New Year. Only vets can sell it after that. What an upset for farmers!!!
Who would afford a $150 vet visit for one chicken, with slight diarrhea, who prompted this purchase. I gave the girls a dose in their water to last a few days to wipe out any respiratory problem that might arise, and hopefully give them a good boost for the New Year. No further problem at all. I did try to buy some more antibiotic at another farm store, but was too late as they are pulling lots of things under new guidelines.
The chickens still go outside as often as weather allows, but they don’t try to go anywhere in the snow, hovering at the packed area in front of the door, running in and out for a few hours to break the boredom inside. I found a perfect metal container at the grocery store with two compartments in which to put oyster shells for grit and calcium, and maybe greens or scratch grain which I usually spread out on the floor. I also found that they love bird seed, especially black sunflower seeds. I have tried chopped up fruit, like fresh apple pieces, but that is not relished as fresh or frozen vegetables are, especially leafy green ones like lettuce, Swiss Chard and cabbage. The chickens didn’t like the green beans I had in the veggie garden this past summer, but neither did I. So I won’t grow Greencrop (Bush) again.
The chickens really love the pieces of a slice of bread I give them as a reward when I close them in for the night. I always carry a piece of bread in my farm coat for this purpose, as the goats at Red Wing love bread, too. All of the hens now look up at me eagerly as I arrive, and will even take a piece from my hand. Ouch, so on the floor it goes instead. So it is a great training tool to get them to come, if you speak the same word every time as you offer it. I have no problem letting the girls outside in the summer to wander at will and then calling them back into their yard at another time, all for a piece of bread.
All of my customers are staying in the city for a week, so a great time to deal with any health issues in my chickens. They are now molting, but still laying six eggs a day despite the weather. All chemicals have by now been flushed out of their system, before I offer eggs again to others. Temps in the chicken coop hover around zero Celcius (32F) or slightly above, but as temps drop I am thinking of increasing the wattage of the light bulb that provides a tiny bit of heat and is inside an old stove pipe suspended from the ceiling. I am using the stove pipe for nighttime darkness, and because it radiates the heat so evenly from all sides. Thanks to the old farmer for that hint.
Speaking of health issues, I had to cancel my big appointment in London, Ontario, a four-hour drive one way because of nasty road conditions and a SUV with problems. Yesterday I returned from an overnight in a hotel then a drive into Toronto for more tests and to see a surgeon at Sunnybrook Hospital. Nothing can be done to improve my sight in my right eye, due to all the scarring from previous injury, but I can live with this, can drive okay, so came home relieved.
I had a lovely visit with both my children and grandchildren for Christmas celebrations. Lorelei ran in happiness to leap into my arms in greeting. Her Mom sent an email to tell me she is still playing with her new doll and its bed. Since Lorelei had asked for a doll that cried, I had another little girl help pick it out in the store. It coos and and says Mama, fascinating my Granddaughter! Plus all the other things Gramma had for her of course.
Zuke, on the other hand, was shy and kept watching me, as I don’t see him very often and he is just 17 months old. His other Gramma cares for him while the parents both work.
Other than that things are very quiet, and most days are spent at my desk typing away. We go to town about once a week for shopping, but not even that if the roads are bad, as they are today. I deliver eggs locally once a week.
I stopped by Red Wing to take lots of eggs to a customer, who showed me two live, rainbow trout he had caught in a netted cage in the river. Largest fish I have ever seen and from this insignificant stream? Apparently. The men will continue to fish to take home what they get as a Christmas treat. Quite something!
We discussed my using their chicken coop on the property to raise new hens in the spring, but I am not certain just yet if I will increase my sales of eggs locally. Have to order chickens in January fairly quickly if I want older birds, but don’t have a warm building for a March delivery when I could get ready-to-lay hens of almost any breed I want.
One cannot put new birds in with an established flock, or the feathers will fly and egg production lessen. So that means a May delivery of started birds about 12 to 14 weeks old. They would need another three months growth to begin laying in August, just as I did last year. So hens are on my mind as Christmas comes and goes.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
Diary for November – with links to earlier postings, especially photos of my overland trip to India.