After hearing about the horrible ice storms north of us that have caused so much damage and left so many without electricity, I am not going to complain about our cold weather on the homestead this week. Many homesteaders I have met through internet forums and email have really suffered from all this nasty weather – some have lost chickens due to the extreme cold, and a few have had signigicant damage to their homesteads. And all of them are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll start complaining again next week.
I’ve been busy packaging and mailing out soap orders – a big thank you to all who have ordered from my shop! I still have a limited amount of soap, lotion, and other items. I’m heading down south to visit with my family for Christmas, so this week will be the last week I will be able to ship orders in time to arrive for Christmas.
A few weeks ago, we began finding a soft shelled egg in the coop every other day or so. I wasn’t too terribly concerned as it is not all that unusual that a new layer will lay a few soft shelled eggs before her body figures it all out and begins making harder shells. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but one morning I found a Golden Pencilled Hamburg looking very puny. I picked her up and discovered she had a soft shelled egg protruding from her vent. It had burst, and the egg white had hardened – effectively gluing the soft shell in place, and blocking her vent completely. I brought her in the house and soaked her bottom in warm water while I gently worked on tugging the shell out – only to find there was yet another soft shelled egg right behind it. It too, had burst. I was able to pull that out as well.
I kept the little Hamburg in a dog cage for 24 hours, and she perked up. I had planned to keep her inside for a few days and feed her extra calcium until she layed a hard shelled egg, but she had different plans. She would not eat a bite while inside. The minute I put her out with the others, she immediately began gobbling up any food in sight. *Sigh*. I’ve been watching her carefully, and though she continues to lay soft shells, she is actually laying them and none have gotten “stuck” again.
This Hamburg is one of the lowest on the chicken totem pole, and often does not get at food until everyone else is finished. I leave oyster shell out for the hens 24 X 7, but she doesn’t seem interested in it. I feed back all of the egg shells from the eggs we use, but she doesn’t get at them until everyone is finished, and then there is usually not much, if anything, left. I’ve given them cheese and other calcium rich snacks, but again, she doesn’t get much of them. She won’t eat when she is separated, and doesn’t get much to eat when I put food out for everyone. She does appear to be a fairly good forager, but that apparently does not provide the calcium she needs to lay harder egg shells.
What’s a Chicken Mom to do? I suppose that as long as she continues to lay soft shelled eggs without a lot of ill effects, I will just continue to watch her and hope things kick in and her body gets the whole-egg-making-thing squared away. I know many of you would tell me that I should cull her. I’m not going to argue. You are probably correct. I just can’t. Not yet. We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.
Bernie and Tex completed the fabrication neccessary to mount the snow blade to the Trail Blazer. I am quite impressed with it. To be frank, I envisioned it would be a Mad Maxx looking machine when they completed it, but I was wrong. It looks pretty darn good! And the snow blade can be removed, returning the Trail Blazer to it’s original, cute, dirty self. As impressed as I am with it, I really hope we don’t need to use it! But that opens up the conversation for me to complain about winter, and I’ve promised not to do that…… this week. I had hoped to post a picture of it today, but it has been raining/drizzling/icing all day and as you may know, I’m not all about going out in that kind of weather. Other than the egg checks and throwing out some chicken snacks here and there, I haven’t ventured outside much at all today. But, I’m not complaining about the weather this week……
Although I am not going to complain about the cold weather, my meal worms made no such promise, and they are indeed complaining. Well, “complaining” may be a rather strong word. They are, in fact, being rather silent. For those of you that only recently began raising meal worms, don’t be alarmed if you are not seeing any of them right now. They actually hibernate during cooler temperatures. You may see the beetles, but you will likely not see any meal worms if their environment has dipped below 75 degrees or so. Not to worry. As soon as it warms up to a consistently toasty 75 – 80 degrees, they should become quite spunky and visible. That is most probably a few months away though, so don’t forget to warm them up every few weeks so they will wake up, eat, and not starve on you during the winter. Also remember to check the water source (raw, halved potatoes work great) and insure it hasn’t dried out. I keep my meal worms in a large, plastic container. I bring the container out and leave it in the room with our wood burning stove for a few days each month. I hope they appreciate the gentle, loving care I am providing them and that they will grow into plump, happy meal worms. Because my chickens want to eat them 😉
I am sending my best wishes to each of you. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, stress-free, filled with cheer, and surrounded with people you love. Be safe. Stay warm. Hug a meal worm. Kiss a chicken.