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Monday, January 10, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I would like to state at the beginning today that I am in full apology for still depending on this old computer and having been so far from you all at this time. I have not abandoned you but am simply having to keep my computer usage very limited to basically email and personal business. It is VERY-VERY SLOW and even tries to open programs all by itself. I have taken the original one that crashed to the "GEEK SQUAD" for a check up and it was not repairable for under a huge fortune of money. Then I reconnected the OLD desktop back up and this has as many problems and again I am making plans and researching a new system that hopefully will arrive shortly after my income tax refund does this year, probably in late February.
Now on to my REAL business...I have some concerns that have been raised by a phone call today that some of you out there in the backyard chicken flock keepers are getting a little either concerned or disheartened by the fact you have stopped getting any eggs, even from supposedly good winter layer birds. I must remind everyone that these flocks have little real, water & daylight! A good worming and de-licing occasionally doesn't hurt either. That can be done with something I have mentioned before...something called "DE" or food grade DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. Sounds a little like a Star Trek thing right? DE is the remains of microscopic one-celled plants that were once under water and that are now mined and processed. Make sure it is FOOD GRADE! See below for more information.
You can get it at your local feed store or co-op. That CAN be one cause of laying stoppage. But most likely you must take into account that as I have often spoken of in past postings that a good general diet, including fresh greens, maybe a few more whole grains in cold weather and a MINIMUM of 12 to 15 hours of light a day, either natural or artificial will make a difference. It takes light to make your birds feed...feed turns to protein...protein turns into egg production. You MUST provide adequate lighting.
It might also be that your birds are in the stages of an early molt. I have 17 remaining birds from the original flock after donations and 2-losses. I have about 1/2 of the flock now in a heavy molt...YES right here in the midst of winter with snow on the ground today even and them about 10-months old. I am not only running an infra-red heat light but an additional flood light pointed on the water fount that keeps the water thawed and adds a little "daylight" as well, forcing them to eat a bit more and then keeps at least some laying. I have like I said about half of the flock molting, a little early I think, but I have several friends in my Master Gardener group with birds who are going through the same thing. I have the extra clear flood light on a timer that gives me an extra 4-hours lighting each day and on freezing nights have even left it on all night. But the molt will cause an egg laying hiatus all on its own.
Keeping backyard chickens is a wonderful hobby and lots of fun and a good conversation topic among folks who are clueless to anything "barnyard-ish"! But it is not like keeping a cat or a dog who you can ignore and life goes on. It does take some thought, planning, a strong stomach to a certain point (dealing with illnesses, chicken fights, poop everywhere, etc.) and more than just something you "THINK" might be fun. You must spend time with them daily and keep them in a tame mode otherwise you will end up with basically feral chickens or just another flower pot to water. Keeping something alive and truly living takes a little more than that. My middle brother would LOVE to have chickens, goats and more but he and his wife travel so much it is just not realistic for them to add those projects to their life. It is nice and a nice thought...but the facts are that they are like children, pets, keeping ANY living takes some kind of commitment on ones part to make it work and work well.
Not to again blow my own horn (I promise, no more shofars!) but in all the molting, loss of natural daylight and the colder weather, I am averaging still about 5-1/2 dozen eggs a week from my 17 birds. I have been providing extra whole grains in the way of extra scratch being fed, buying some marked down lettuce heads from the grocery, some sunflower seeds (large 40# bags from the Home Depot for around $8.00/bag) some dried oat meal (whole rolled oats - long cooking type) and adding the DE to the regular chicken layer crumbles...just in case! I also did a coop and bird dusting to keep down and prevent mite infestation. I have not found any upon inspection of any birds but if one has it they will all have them. So far - so good - but not taking any chances.
Now to those of you who think backyard keeping has turned out to be less like Foghorn Leghorn and more like Green Acres and you all feel more like Zsa Zsa, my suggestion is to invite some friends over on one of these weekends and fire up the grill for some Bar-B-Que chicken or some fried chicken for the preacher on Sunday. So I leave you today after missing you all so much (& please bear with me on my computer issues) with our ongoing affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

1 comment:

  1. your last paragraph is worth the price of admission. Funniest thing I've read in weeks!