Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Home, home on the (free) range

I am still having production problems with the girls. At least the girls who are not molting. This week, Abigail decided it was her turn. This time of year in the Southwest they should be back to the levels of last spring, I would think. (All of the girls have been laying for less than a year.) At that time, we had not yet enclosed a larger run and the girls were making themselves at home all over the back yard and patio.  I took a look at my current coop and run setup and realized that it is now almost completely shaded all day long. Could not enough light be the problem? My husband was skeptical, but he lacks chicken intuitiveness.
The girls and my last eggplant harvest
While getting a pedicure last week,  I happened to quiz one of the nail techs who has a huge flock in a more rural area of town. The first thing he said was, "They aren't getting enough light." Ha! So, with much protestation coming from the no-chicken-keeping-in-the-DNA crowd, I decided to let them free-range once again. Which means watching them like a chicken hawk. We have done some work on our yard since then, and keeping them out of the gardens is a challenge. One of the things we did was remove a small area of lawn (read: ugly Bermuda grass), and began working on a new garden area. As most of our yard is taken up with the cement pond, gardening space is at a premium, and grass just seemed like a tremendous waste of water and real estate. I am now working on a plan to extend the run to replace a problem area in the garden, but one with a lot of sun.

At 2 in the afternoon, not a speck of sunlight

Shaded coop and new garden area
So once again, I have patio chickens;  and on occasion when the weather is nice and I have the door open,  I have kitchen chickens, too. They come for the cat food. Fortunately, Marguerite, the cat, likes only tuna, so Chicken of the Sea is the only chicken on the menu; it is perfectly safe for the girls to eat.

In the meantime, we had a little freeze last night, and my eggplants and basil are toast. We were just about to dig them up anyway, so letting the chickens do some of the digging for us works out really well for everyone.

Making hay in the freeze-damaged eggplant
The jury is still out as far as my egg production goes, although Dolley, my only consistent layer at this point, has stepped it up. I am hoping that the B-52 and Eleanor will soon follow.
A tale of two tushies

The end(s).


Katrina said...

Trust your intuition :-). Hope the girls production improves!!!!

Penelope's Beehive said...

Perhaps we all begin a molt if there is simply not enough light? I am certain that the girls shall be right as rain shortly...particularly with regular "kitchen" visits...such pampered gals (as it should be, yes?).

Happy day to you Joy!


Nathalie said...

Hi my dear Joy
Under the cold and the rain of Paris, I dream of your sun and your swimming pool. I love your girls - Xo Xo - Nathalie