Chickens Go to Jail

Tomorrow it is the other side of the the fence, until we remember eggs go in the nest boxes.

My chickens are going to be confined to the chicken run for awhile, which to free range chickens is like jail. Their run is huge but it is fenced.   Every morning they greet me at the gate anxious to get out and forage for food.  It is good for them, and the eggs they produce.   It is also great on the pocketbook.   Laying hens eat lots, and free food is always best.

Last week three of my hens decided to lay in the shed rather than the nest boxes in the coop.  This week I can’t get more than three eggs out of ten active laying hens.   I have looked all over and can’t find a clutch of eggs anywhere.   I have checked in my yard, the sagebrush  in the pasture, under the trailer and even some of the adjoining pasture.  I should have more eggs than I know what to do with instead I barely have enough to get by.

In fall laying hens will slow down, but that usually doesn’t happen for me well in to October.  Some of my breeds lay almost all year round.  Hens will stop laying when they molt, but there is no sign of that either.    I can come to no other conclusion than they are laying somewhere out there on the range.   Now I will have to confine them back to their run for a week to remind them eggs go in the nest boxes in the coop.   Wish me luck!

Let's hope it doesn't take long for them to get back to using the next boxes.

Eggs – All Shapes, Sizes and Colors

Yesterday I gave eggs to  friends and they remarked on what a lovely dozen of eggs they were.   All the various colors, sizes and even shapes.

That comment made me take a closer look. I have ten laying hens right now and though some of the eggs are too similar for me to tell apart, my eggs are reflective of my birds. The greens come from my sole Easter Egger, who’s eggs are much larger this summer than last.   The solitary egg the color of a porcelain doll’s face comes from Dolly, who is past her prime and the single egg in a dozen reminds me of that.  Jane’s eggs are like torpedos; while Rock Star’s eggs are hard to tell the pointed from the wide end apart.  The littles are starting to lay and the small eggs belong to them.  My eggs are as diverse as my flock.

Grocery store eggs come from a breed or two that have been selectively bred over the years to produce hens, who lay as early in age as possible, as often as possible,  and as uniform as possible.  Grocery store birds have been developed over the years to tolerate confinement well.  Even free range or cage free chickens are given minimal space. I on the other hand have all sorts of breeds, some of who were the basis for the super layers.   This menagerie of laying hens gives me all sorts of variety in personality and beauty.  That also gives me a dozen eggs that even before you crack the first one that will out compete store eggs.

Smoke Season

Almost every year at this time we enter smoke season.  It means fires are burning in the west and summer is coming to an end.  We live in a valley  and the smoke blows in from other parts of Montana and Idaho.  Some days there is little more than a haze and other days it is so thick it reminds me of a total solar eclipse I  once experienced.  It is an odd sort of dark day and the sun isn’t visible at all.

The other day when running to a nearby town, I stopped and snapped a picture of the mountains in the distant.  It reminded me of the Blue Mountain Cards that were popular years ago. Smoke also makes for spectacular sunsets.   Last night when we were coming home as we got on the interstate here was a young couple pulling out law chairs and a cooler to sit  right there on the entrance ramp and look down the Big Hole Valley at the spectacular sunset caused by all the smoke.    I had never thought or consider this prime sun set watching place, but to be quite honest it was great.  It was just high enough to be able to look over the valley and the sun was setting between two mountain peaks.   Not sure if this was a spur of the moment tourist reaction or a local who heads there when the smoke is right.

Not sure how long smoke season will last this year, but am sure when it is over fall will be here in earnest.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Seasons

The Littles are Laying

We found a little egg on the patio the other day.   The new hens, we affectionately refer to as the littles, are now laying.  They are 22 weeks old and I consider it right on schedule.  Laying hens can lay as early as  18 or 19 weeks and we have had two that wait until they were 26 and 28 weeks.    When hens first start laying you may find an egg or two in an unexpected place.   The patio is the most unusual place I have ever had one drop her first egg.  First eggs are often on the small side, but in just a few days of laying I find that their eggs are larger, and the bird quickly figures out that the old girls are in those squares for a good reason.  My husband calls those first eggs that get dropped anywhere  sneakers, like farts that happen and you claim you did not know were coming.

A second little is also laying, though she laid her first one in the chicken run.  Much closer to the desired location.   We are still waiting on two girls.  I have to keep my eyes open for where those first eggs might land.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Chickens

What is Your Calling?

Recently a video that asked “what is your calling?” was shared with me.   It has  really made me think.   I found myself thinking about my calling, when I lay in bed before I get up and at those quiet moments watching the sun set    I thought about this yesterday when I drove an hour to my bosses house and a second hour all the way home again.   This inability to shake this question drove me to share this video today with you. I think I understand what a calling is…a passion that shapes a life.   It is something you are driven to do.  A calling in that thing that gives you peace; makes you know that your life has purpose; lets you know why you are here.   I think about others in my life and I feel many of them have found their calling.  I know lots of things I a good at, but I don’t think I have yet discovered my calling.  Am I not listening? Am I unaware?  I am seeking my calling.  Do you know what is your calling?

Spending Time with My Sweetie

My Sweetie and Me

In this hurry up world it is easy to take our spouses, partners and companions for granted. It is so much easier to eat in front of the tube, and then vegout  the rest of the evening. We are as guilty as the next couple, though we do try to eat at the table.  Just that one thing makes such a world of difference.   Sitting there across the table from one another makes you have to talk.  We always cover the mundane what I did at work today, but it quickly becomes other things.   It is those other things that remind us of why we are a couple.  The fact that we are worried about the same people and things.  The amazing uncanniness that we would spend a millon dollar lotto the same way.  That are plans and wishes have evolved so dramatically in over 30 years, but still so in sync.  I am not sure how we managed such, but I am glad we did, and I am glad I did it with my sweetie.

Picnic Food

We know that summer is quickly passing away, when you get your first light frost.   But I refuse to give up.   Last night we had a indoor picnic with our neighbors.  We grilled burgers, topped with every kind of cheese you can find in the the deli in Montana, which was a huge hit.   We had sides of all sorts; potato salad, 3-bean salad, coleslaw, pickled beets, watermelon, strawberries and grilled veggies. Nothing very adventursome.  Most of it very traditional and served by my Grandmother.  It was more food than we could eat, but great leftovers for the next week.   It reminded me of my family and growing up. If your summer is like ours and you know your days are limited or you have many more hot summer nights to go, I hope you are inspired to call your family and friends and have a picnic with them.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Seasons