Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Disappearing Chickens & Other Holiday News

Happy holidays everyone!  It's almost Christmas time on the farm.  We haven't updated for a while, but it's been a busy couple of months.

By the end of September, we had a great crop of onions, a few carrots, and LOTS of melons, zucchini and cucumbers.  The tomato crop was a bit of a miss though.  The early tomatoes were fine, but an early frost destroyed the late crop.  I had great results from my ground cherry experiment.  The plants absolutely thrived, but I've decided I'm not a huge fan of the fruit, so I don't think I'll be growing it again next year.  The sunflowers did great too, but we dried the flower heads wrong and ended up having to throw them out when they started to mold (seeds and all).  We didn't get any grapes either (well, that's actually a lie, we got about 5 grapes... mind you that's 5 grapes total, not bunches of grapes).  My dad thinks it's the deer.  I think it's because the roots weren't kept warm enough last winter.    

October: We got all our bulbs planted.  If all goes well, we're going to have crocuses, tulips, hyacinths, amaryllises, and irises flowering up everywhere next year.  Plus, a GIANT crop of garlic, elephant garlic, and shallots.  I'm actually trying an experiment with raising the elephant garlic and shallots as perennials.  So, I'll definitely be writing about that in the future.

November: Set Jacqueline and Bacon out to root up and clear the old vegetable bed.  Unfortunately, Bacon wouldn't stay in the vegetable patch, and started going after the grape vines instead, so we had to give up that idea.  Then, we tried to keep just Jacqueline in the patch to clear up some of the vegetation, but Jacqueline absolutely refused to stay anywhere Bacon wasn't.  Finally, I tried to add the cleared plants to my compost heap, only to find someone added a giant load of kimchi and fish/miso/and I-don't-even-know-what to it.  *sigh*  Thus, ended my compost heap.  On a more positive note, we finally started getting eggs!!!  

The middle egg, by the way, was not a double-yolker.  One of our pullets just lays huge eggs.  Another one of our pullets initially had a lot of problems figuring out how to get a proper shell on her eggs, but she's since figured it out.  

As far as the animals:  Bacon's almost doubled in size over the past few months, and so has Jacqueline.  Her case of angel wing has become quite pronounced though, and we think it's too late to fix it.  My parents and I aren't really sure what to do, but we feel quite bad for her.  She and Bacon are still doing fine otherwise, as are the dogs and the cat.

The chickens, on the other hand, keep mysteriously disappearing!  I heard that pigs will eat chickens, bones and all.  I'm really hoping that's not what's going on, but I'm starting to wonder, because they're disappearing without a trace or clue left behind (no feathers, no sudden screams, nothing!).

We're down to the rooster, two of the Rhode Island Reds, and one of the Buff Orpingtons.  One of the three pullets hasn't been laying regularly either, so something is definitely up in that hen house.  We still have another Buff Orpington as well, but she slipped out of the chicken run and got torn up by Steve and Elizabeth last week.

We ended up having to do some serious chicken first aid.  She seems to be recovering for the most part, but her right leg seems pretty damaged so she may still have to be put down.  See, if it was a damaged wing, then I'd say she'd be fine, because a chicken can have a decent quality of life without wings.  However, if she can't use a leg, then she's going to be at the mercy of predators and all the other chickens (the pecking order means they'll literally peck at her if they can).  Her quality of life is going to be pretty terrible.  It'd be the kinder thing to put her down at that point.  She's a super sweet and friendly bird though, very talkative, AND she's the one that lays the huge eggs, so I'm really hoping she pulls through and recovers. 

Well, with Christmas around the corner, maybe we'll get a mini-miracle.