Saturday, June 02, 2012
Martha My Dear
Things have been super busy around here this past week and I just haven't had the energy most evenings to post much. I finally told myself ya'll were probably tired of looking at that last post though so I needed to get something up! Things are starting to come in from the garden so most mornings are spent harvesting a few things. Usually it's blueberries, black raspberries, a few strawberries and this morning I added a little broccoli and green onions. The cabbage is getting close too.
I'm not getting a tremendous amount of berries but it is enough to go with my yogurt every morning and to make an occasional batch of muffins.
Jack and I also spend 2 days getting the weeding under control as it had gotten just a little ahead of us. I am now in the process of putting down weed barrier and lots of mulching so we don't have to deal with that again.
The raspberries improve every year so even though I'm not putting up pounds of them I am pleased with their progress. I get a big handful every day and the red ones have not even started turning yet. What I'm harvesting now is black raspberries.
I also dug one half of the garlic crop, or all the Inchellium Red. I left the Red Toch to see if it would grow a bit more. This batch looks really good with some pretty sizable heads. It's all drying now and soon I will have to finally learn how to braid that stuff!
We also had a new batch of bitties come in! We have had to do a major overhaul of our flock. We culled out the 5 Rhode Island Reds we bought from that guy across town. I will never, EVER buy hens from somebody I don't know personally and well. They were a very bad choice but I guess it's a learning experience. Even though we kept them separate from the girls for a while I could not see that there was anything wrong with them. Turns out they gave our girls lice and possibly bronchitis. I'm still not sure if their eggs problems are due to that or a calcium problem. We had a time getting rid of the lice but we did and now they look so much better. I'm sure they feel better too. Let me tell you; washing 10 upset hens in a tub is not something I ever want to do again.
I'm beginning to think their egg difficulties may have been our fault though and giving them too much scratch. I don't know; it;s so hard to tell unless you have some tests run I guess. The soft eggs and dropping eggs in the night has improved but we still get one occasionally. The worst part is another hen died though. Sweet little Martha, the Buff below, died Tuesday. I think it was an issue with egg binding and this may have been what killed Emily, way back. Both acted the same. Very sudden not feeling well, not wanting to walk around. They both sat on the nest for some time but never laid an egg. I tried what I could with Martha, even going to far as to examine her for a stuck egg but couldn't feel anything. I soaked her in a warm bath etc. Nothing helped. Then I noticed she had some discharge that looked like egg remains so it may have busted inside her. I don't know really. But she died that same day.
So, in reading I found out too much scratch, which contains a lot of phosphorous, can deplete a hen of calcium and thus cause such problems. So, now they only get scratch as an occasional treat with 90% of their diet being layer mix and what they forage outside. We do give them fruit and such too.
So, I had ordered a mix of female bitties to replace the ones we've lost and get a better strain of hens going here. I got mostly Speckled Sussex, a few Partridge Rocks, New Hampshires and a few Brown Leghorns. We also decided to let Prissy hatch a few eggs since she is so determined to stay broody. We got a few eggs from Rurality and stuck under her. Hopefully she will get to be a mom. Oh, we gave Runt, our roo, away a few weeks ago. He seemed to be getting too aggressive with the hens and had just terrorized a couple of them to the point they would hide in the coop house or woods to stay away from him.
So, that is just part of what has been going on. I'll be back soon maybe with more.
Oh, the new bitties are up at the house, away from the regular flock and have been vaccinated for several issues. They will be vaccinated again for bronchitis (it's done twice) before they go down to the chicken complex.