Wednesday, June 18, 2008

growing for the egg makers

it is official, the egg makers have cleaned out the chard patch. i had no idea the chard would be such a hit. i place a few 4 or 5 stalks in the pen each morning and in a few hours, sometimes less time, the ladies have it devoured. sometimes i wait until afternoon to give them the treat. they love the stuff and that's great but clearly i did not plant enough to keep up with their appetite. the chard should grow back but i imagine it will grow slowly considering the temperatures have bee so brutal. i have also planted more in a few other spots in the spirit of planning ahead. but for now what? i have added flax seed to their feed which is a good.

the feed is a "complete organic feed" but i think it's good to get them their greens and veggies on top of that.

yes there is grass and i give that to them but watching them eat grass is not nearly as exciting as watching them jump up to reach the hanging chard leaves. i truly believe they find the whole experience joyful. a little jump, a little treat again and again and again.

yesterday was particularly exciting as saffron and alfie pegged a small lizard lizard. boy oh boy the chase back and forth that ensued was high voltage. freckles decided to stay out of the whole mix. she was vocal but alfie and saffron played serious mine, mine, mine, mine, keep away and steal the lizard lizard from one another. i do not know who prevailed. the keep away went on for more than 20 or so minutes. i finally left them to themselves to work it out. everyone seems to be happy now which means no lingering grudges. don't you wish all life were like that? i do.

poor lizard lizards; between the girls fast moves and opera kitty's fast moves they are truly being challenged like never before around here. i wonder if the word is out. if the lizard lizard community is sending message to avoid the ladychickenchica compound or risk sudden death. never know but it would be an easy choice to shift a bit north and hang out at the compost pile rather than risk life and tail in "pullet" off ya land. ha ha ha, i crack myself up.

oh this is going to be bad, prepare yourself, but speak of cracking up, the eggs they are putting out are outstanding. (i warned you) both saffron and alfie are laying double yolkers every other day. alfie's eggs have jumped in size in a very short period of time. she's pretty much laying full size large to extra large eggs everyday. it took saffron a bit longer to reach the larger size. it's all interesting to me, learning about these chicas.

another tidbit i've learned about miss alfie. she likes to sit in the nesting box solo when it's time to lay and she appreciates everyone clearing out before she travels up. she's my nesting diva. she gets almighty vocal if freckles goes up to the nesting box with her. she will chatter and chatter until miss freckles get's the message and bugs off. miss freckles has been doing this for a bit now, traveling up to the nest and sitting with both saffron and alfie when they lay. i think it's a cross between sisterly support and practicing herself for the big moment, she likes their company too that is clear. i find it hilarious but tend to go out to talk with her about her chatter in consideration of the early time she likes to lay and in consideration of the neighbors who might possibly still be sleeping.

freckles has turned out to be the largest of the three. larger by far but oh so beautiful and her tail feathers are really filling out now. she has yet to begin the laying but that is just fine. she is beginning to warm up when i'm around. she is a the most private of the three when it comes to big creatures like me but i think that may be shifting, time will tell.

saffron does not seem to care too much if she has company while laying but if i come in to collect the egg right after she has dropped it and she is still up there well then i might experience a stern chicken stare and possibly a single peck on the back of my hand if i make a reach for it. she sends a message - "give me just a bit more time to move on out would you please, geez!" so i have begun to make a practice of collecting eggs after both ladies have layed. both ladies are laying eggs with nice hard shells that i'm not so worried for the egg pecking. it seems to have only been a problem with alfies first odd soft shelled egg.

but back to the quandary - what now with the chard patch gone? i've got to do some research to see if russian comfrey is safe for the ladies. i've got plenty of that. i'm not going to pay grocery store prices for chard, that's nutso and they don't seem to be too hot for melon. i have read they are not big on bananas but i have not tried that here myself. i could try to get some malabar spinach going. boy oh boy these ladies need their own little supply plot. maybe i ought to prep the "chicken chica plot" sooner than later. i wonder if they can eat fresh beans, we'll have plenty of those real soon. i'll have to look into that, i believe i have read on the topic and that some beans are not so good for the ladies. i'll confirm and report back later.

i could wrangle them into the tractor again and set them out to forage. that might be a great solution for the short term. fresh grass pickings and fresh scratch area.

uh oh, gotta go, aflie is clearly communicating that the nesting box is not free and clear to her liking. i wonder... does freckles jump up there just to get a rise out of her smaller sister? hey you never know, it could be her daily form of humor.

aha aha aha - an idea - sprouts! all i have to do is start a large scale (couple of big jars) of sprouts for the ladies to cover while the chard comes back. that's economical, mung beans are cheap in bulk and i've got alfalfa seeds around too. brilliant! i deserve a beer. auwp, too early in the day for that. well maybe later

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