Maybe Teddy Roosevelt had chickens, I don’t know. But I can tell you one thing – truer words have never been spoken when it comes to chickens. I accidentally stumbled on this approach the other day after JB whacked me in the leg when I was looking for eggs (this is the same incident that I mentioned before. Still only a total of two times – he has not done it again.) Since then, I have been grabbing the shovel or rake that I keep stored in the non-chicken half of the coop when heading into the chicken area to check for eggs or refill their feed. I did it at first just to fend him off if need be. However, it turns out that when I am holding such a large and imposing object, JB calms right down and keeps his space. Interesting. Previously, if I walked in there, JB would puff out his chest and flap at me to show me his manliness. Rake in hand and he’s not nearly as tough. I’ve never had to so much as wave it at him.
So, I thought I’d try it to combat another problem as well. In the pictures, you see what I’ve previously called my “plywood bat” or “plywood wing.” In the past, I have picked it up to flap it at JB (to make him back off) or to whack him during his one actual attack on me. But, seeing the success of the garden rake in the coop, I was inspired to take this different approach. Nowadays, when I let the chickpeas out to free-range, I simply carry this around with me. It serves two purposes, and it serves them beautifully. First, it seems to make JB keep his distance and second-guess his actions. He no longer tries to get between me and his girls (I know he’s just doing his job, which is why he’s not pot pie yet) and he no longer gets all fluffy and flappy on me.
Purpose number two – it stops the gang-breeding/assault of the ladies. Since I originally reported on this phenomenon, they have expanded their repetoir to Shelley, Blanche, Lady B., and Sophia in addition to Dorothy (who is still their favorite). The other day, I had to rescue poor Blanche out of the brambles because she ran in there to hide from the boys who were all chasing her and grabbing at her. When I got there, she had blood all over her head! It turns out that when one of them (I’m not sure who) tried to grab her, he got the back of her comb and it tore a little. I scooped her up and took her into the house for closer examination and a little doctoring. You can’t leave a bleeding chicken with other chickens because they will peck at the blood and make it worse and could even kill her!
Anyway, once I cleaned up the blood (head wounds bleed a lot, of course) and stopped the bleeding, I realized that it was only a tiny tear and no big deal. Still, I was sick over it. I started to fantasize about all kinds of horrible things. At one point I even BRIEFLY considered locking the ladies inside and letting the dogs out with the roosters. It would have been a quick and thrilling end for them. But alas, no, I wouldn’t do that. I don’t want to encourage my dogs to want to kill and eat the chickens any more than they already do. I also started wondering where Brian’s exacto knife might be hidden… nice and sharp – would slice through a carotid and juglar quite nicely.
Anyway, I have now discovered that if I run over to the gangbang as soon as it starts, and I poke the currently-offending rooster in the side with the pointy end of the peacemaker a few times, the frenzy stops. All four boys back off and let the pullet shake herself off and walk away unscathed. It’s amazing!
So, now I just have the Peacemaker or a shovel or rake in hand when walking around with the chickens and I have no trouble at all. The only time I use any of it is to poke the boys off the girls. That’s it. Otherwise, I just hold it and it does the trick. Things have been much more peaceful around here since I’ve discovered this trick.
In the world of egg news, I found this egg last Friday. This came on the heels of a couple of days of multiple eggs with tiny fractures in a spiderweb pattern on the ends. I still don’t know what caused it. Before I was thinking that they were landing too hard on the plywood when they were laid… but plywood couldn’t actually push the shell in like that, so I have no clue. Brian guesses that they were being stepped on by other chickens after they were laid. Either way, I have stuffed quite a bit more straw into each nest now and they seem to be having a hard time clearing a space completely in it, and since then I’ve had no cracks. Who knows.
Anyway, as you can see, this egg also happened to be quite huge compared to our other eggs. It was officially the biggest egg we’d ever gotten, and since the shell was cracked (but the membrane was still intact), I decided I should eat it right away since it might not keep so well. So, I heated up a frying pan, melted a little butter and cracked the big egg. Then I looked… and I had to do a double take… I only cracked one egg, right? Yep, my second egg was right there on the counter, uncracked. We got our first double-yolker!
The ones on the left in the pic both came out of the one, huge Marans egg. I know I could make it look that way with two eggs, but you’ll just have to trust me. Anyway, I cooked these on Sunday and on that day we got another huge Marans egg, even bigger than the one in the picture. I haven’t cooked it yet, but I assume it is also a double-yolker. I wonder if you let a double-yolker be incubated… would it grow twins? Two chicks inside one shell? I have no idea, but I assume that’s what would happen. Anyway, since then we’ve gone back to normally-sized Marans eggs.
Caught Red Handed
As some of you may have noticed, today I credited Shelley with laying some eggs, which I have not done before. This is because before, I did not know who was laying them. But then Monday morning I walked into the coop and I saw this:
And then an hour later, there was a bright green egg in that same spot. Up until this time, I had only decided to name my two remaining EEs, “Maggie” and “Shelley,” but I hadn’t decided which was which. Well, this sealed the deal. This one is Shelley because on Northern Exposure, Shelley always did her own thing. She was quirky. I figure laying eggs on the floor instead of in the nests is pretty quirky. And to be honest with you, now that I’m used to who lays which eggs, I’m pretty sure she did lay her second egg in a nest. I got one bright green egg in a nest a day or two after I got the first one on the floor. Since then, all bright green eggs have been in Shelley’s spot on the floor. So, I think she tried the nest and decided she prefers the floor. See? Quirky.
Aren’t they GORGEOUS??? Over the weekend I bought local organic raspberries, blueberries, marion berries, and purple raspberries from the farmers’ markets. Berry season is in full swing up here and the Pacific Northwest is a haven for growing berries. Anyway, I mixed some up, tossed them with a little sugar, tapioca flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of allspice and freshly-grated nutmeg. Then I topped them with my favorite cobbler dough recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts and baked at 375 until the berries were bubbly in the center and the cobbles were beautifully golden brown. And then I ate it and forgot to take a picture.
Sweet Peas, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…
Ack! Are they they BEST or what? This little bouquet perfumes my entire kitchen and I think I’m in LOVE. We’ve been getting lots of April in Paris blooms, but the Cupani’s Original started up yesterday and by tomorrow I should have a couple of more varieties in bloom. If you walk anywhere near the plants or the cut flowers, the scent about bowls you over. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…..
Teeeeeeeeeny Tiny BEEBEE Vegetables :D
OK, this is another one of those times where my camera initially laughed at me when I tried to get pictures of these, but I managed to beat it into submission. The sun was getting low in the sky and beaming directly into my lens, plus we had a breeze and the plants were waiving back and forth non-stop, plus that bean is maybe barely a half an inch long. It was not the ideal setup for a photoshoot, but I got it by golly! These beans are very exciting to me because I started the seeds a long earlier than I wanted to and I hadn’t been hugely hopeful that they were going to produce at all. Then today several teensy little beanies appeared and all is well with the world!
And so I tried to get another pic of an even tinier one at the top of the plant, but it didn’t go so well. This was my best effort. It’s the tiny green thing that is pointing toward the camera. That one is more like 1/4 inch long, so really there was no hope. Still very exciting though!!
Also my cucumbers started flowering a few days ago and as of today I have several tiny baby cucumbers as well. YAY BABIES.