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Jan 25, 2009

Winter Eggs

Chickens lay eggs during the summer without a problem. It is not the warm sunshine, it is just the sunshine. During the summer chickens get over 14 hours of sunlight a day. We heard about this last winter. Our chickens stopped laying eggs as winter set in, but we kept their house a comfortable 65 degrees with a thermostatically controlled heater.

After we found out that they might lay eggs even during the winter with enough sunlight, we turned on their light at 5 am until the sun came out and after dusk, we turned it on again until 7pm. It only took one day of this to get eggs again.

Chickens also stop laying eggs if they get frightened over something. We experienced this one day when a raccoon tried to attack our hens and chicks during the daylight hours. I frightened the raccoon away and we later had to kill him (we've heard raccoons who come out during the daylight hours ((this one came out at noon)) are usually rabid.

Anyway, our chickens stopped laying eggs for over four weeks due to that frightening episode. One even went broody -- the one closest to the raccoon. All the little chicks disappeared after the attack. We could not even find a feather for hours. Then, by accident, I saw one laying under a Hosta plant and broke down bawling. "Larry!" I cried. "There . . ." I said, pointing to the plant. "They're all dead!" I said and stumbled into the house and flopped on the bed and let me heart break.

Larry came into our room, smiling, and holding one chick. "They were pretending to be dead. They are all alive and well." It was and always will be for me, a perfect miracle.

Jan 11, 2009

It's a Dog's Life or It Used to Be

The little red house you see belongs to our dogs, Buddy, Buddy's Buddy, and Missy. It has a front porch and is raised up off the ground about 10 inches on cement blocks. It has one window on the west side and shingles on the roof and is completely insulated, even the floor.

The Buddys' can see out their window and look down our driveway ever watching for a errant car to try to enter their territory. They love company to pull in because they can strut their stuff and bark like they mean it.

Anyway, about the little red house for the dogs. The chickens and ducks have taken it over during the day. The chickens stand on the front porch and it appears to us like they are just enjoying the scenery the same way we do from our screen porch.

The ducks do not want the chickens on the dog house porch and all five ducks will waddle with an attitude in a row, quacking loudly, toward the chickens and the chickens, at first, would scatter off but with dignity, as if that is what they wanted to do all along.

The rock area you see between where I am standing with the camera and the red dog house is our water garden with koi and goldfish. For years it has run clear and the morning sun and the fish swam like gold jewelry under the water with gold pebbles as a backdrop.

Then came the ducks. Momma Duck and her four little ducks made it home. Now the water still runs clean but it is never clear because the ducks purposely churn the water. I haven't seen the koi or goldsih for nearly three months. They are there and no one has died or I'd know. We built a flat rock island in the center of the pond for the ducks. They sleep on the island and feel safe.
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Artic Nights Ahead

We are not worried about our chickens in frigid weather because they have a very nice house with heater, windows, fresh hay, water, food, and plenty of things to play on, like a step ladder and hay bales.

We are concerned for our ducks. They will not sleep in a warm chicken house with the chickens. They are adament about being near the little water garden. We are expecting a high of 12 degrees in a few days. Can they survive?