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Snow Day at the Carlton-Ritz Chicken Palace.

January 22, 2016

Well hello there.  I feel like its been quite a while since I’ve written and there has been so much to report.  Most of it good and fun, but there has been one Terrible Awful.  I’ll go ahead and share that news and get it over with so we might put it behind us and move on.

It is through tears and a sad heart that must tell you I lost Polly on January 3rd, to what I believe to be a neurological disease caused by who knows what.  I had to ease her out of this world myself and can still barely bear to think about it.  Poor girl.  While I researched this possible eventuality before getting my hens, I certainly did not expect to be faced with such so early on and it has been a hard thing to come to terms with.  That said, I guess if your’e going to have chickens, you’ve got to be expected to put on your big girl panties once in a while, so there you have it.  Let’s not discuss it further and move on to Penny, Harriet, Marilyn, Max, and Minnie, who are all doing fabulously well, I’m most grateful to say.

In fact, I do believe I can be expecting my first egg any time now.  Actually, it will be Minnie’s first egg.  She has matured the fastest by far and is now around 20 weeks old.  In the chicken world, the point at which a hen lays her first egg is called the Point of Lay.  This can range anywhere from 18 weeks to 12 months (with most between 18-26 weeks) and is determined by a number of factors including:  hormones, breed, health, lighting, extreme temperatures, stress, and diet.  Much like children, hens mature or reach puberty so to speak, at varying ages.  Telltale signs are combs and wattles growing in and turning dark red, exploration of the nesting boxes, eating the extra calcium provided, a new, deeper sort of clucking, and a squatting behavior.  So far, Minnie definitely has the combs and wattles covered as well as the new clucking, she is perhaps eating the calcium I began providing at 17 weeks and may be in and out of the next boxes, but I haven’t witnessed it.  I’ve tried to put pieces of straw on the perches outside the nesting boxes to see if they have been disturbed, but never know if the straw is gone due to a breeze or to a hen practicing sitting in there.  Wish I had a “hen cam” so I could see whats going on when I’m not out there.

Take a look at these two photos taken maybe 2 weeks ago of Max and Minnie.  They aren’t the best, but you’ll get the idea.  See all the red comb and wattles on Minnie and no color and very little comb and wattle on Max.

Minnie’s comb and wattles are much larger and are a deeper red now than when these were taken, and this past week, she started the new clucking.  I’ve been checking the nesting boxes daily, but with two weeks of crazy single digit temps and now the blizzard, I’m not sure anybody would want to lay an egg, less more your very first egg ever.

To help things along, I’ve moved the girls over from Grower Feed to Layer Feed which has more calcium and a tad less protein.  Additionally, I’ve put out a separate feeder of Oyster Shells for added calcium.  Folks also use crushed egg shells, so I’ve been washing, drying, and saving my eggs shells for awhile now so I’ll have them as a source of added calcium when the store bought Oyster Shells run out.  Hens will eat this as needed because an egg laying Hen needs tons of calcium.  Additionally, I’ve put lots of cozy straw in the nesting boxes along with a golf ball in each.  The golf ball (some people use a wooden egg) is to help the soon to be layers know where they are supposed to lay their eggs.

I’d guess there is at least 6-7 inches of snow on the ground already with more falling fast and furious.  I went out early this morning to stomp out a few paths for the chickens and clear off their favorite bench and bale of hay in the event they wanted to venture out.  I didn’t have any takers, so after about an hour, I shut the door to keep them cozy inside.  I’ll head out later with some raisins (one of their two favorite treats) to say hello and to check the nesting boxes….just in case.

Image 2

Until next time.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Monk permalink
    January 22, 2016 10:48 am

    SO interesting and VERY exciting! Can’t wait for the first egg to be laid!! MMDG

  2. Lucinda Denton permalink
    January 22, 2016 11:25 am

    Thanks for the update and will be eager to hear about the first egg. I can remember glass eggs being used in my grandmother’s nesting boxes. They looked very much like real eggs! Make the first eggs hollow by blowing it out so you can keep it as s souvenir. Hey, you could even turn it into a Christmas tree ornament!!!

    • January 22, 2016 11:42 am

      That’s a great idea Lucinda! I’d love to have a “first egg” Christmas ornament.

  3. Rusty permalink
    January 22, 2016 2:13 pm

    The snow really sets off the chicken palace! I can’t believe the chickens aren’t outside considering how much they were enjoying the arctic blasts last weekend.

    • January 22, 2016 7:39 pm

      Exactly Roo. My thoughts as well. I even drizzled a trail of mealworms and didn’t have any takers.

  4. Doug permalink
    January 22, 2016 7:32 pm

    Know the girls don’t like all that ‘white stuff’ in their front yard and below freezing temp!

    Like the golf ball idea…keep us posted on Minnie’s first.

    • January 22, 2016 7:39 pm

      Thanks! Rusty brought those golf balls all the way from Raleigh.
      I’m sure his magic touch will encourage Minnie along.

  5. January 23, 2016 12:25 pm

    Know Minnie and the girls are tired of that ‘white stuff’ in their front yard…so am I.

    Like the golf ball idea….great idea, never thought about it.

    Rusty enjoyed his visit, just glad he is not there this weekend.

    Have a warm and safe day…stay inside and off the roads.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  6. Marilyn permalink
    January 25, 2016 6:06 pm

    Margie, I love the pic in the snow! you truly amaze me!

    Love, Marilyn (friend, not hen!)

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