Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Backyard Flock: On strike!

I was afraid this might happen. Our recent drought has brought lawn mowing to a standstill and, therefore, I had no grass clippings to use as litter this last coop cleaning over the weekend. So I had to go back to piling straw on the floor of the coops and stuffing a handful into each of the nesting boxes. Since then we have had only one or two eggs a day. Finally, yesterday, we had none - eleven chickens and no eggs, in spite of the fact that Amy finally resorted to cutting a few handfuls of grass for the nesting boxes. We are convinced they are making a statement; although, other factors may be playing a role.

We are into the days of declining amounts of daylight. Chickens need about 12 hours of light to make an egg. Production always goes down in fall and winter. Some of them are molting. They stop laying for a few weeks when they molt. Then, it rained yesterday. Less light, cold and wet – it had to make them miserable. I know it did me. And there was the dog.

Our daughter’s dog spent the afternoon at our place. He loves to take runs at the fence to Chickenland and scatter the chickens. Maybe he put them off their game. Yesterday, he caught a groundhog in the backyard and roughed him up real good as the girls watched in shock from behind the coops. They don’t have a problem with the groundhog, who frequently dines alongside them at the trough. They do have a problem with the dog. Perhaps they felt some empathy.

Whatever the reason, production is down, especially with the Araucanas. We haven’t seen a blue or green egg in over a week.

My little buff cochin made me proud yesterday. She refused to budge when the dog charged the fence. She stood her ground as the others made like Chicken Little. I have taken to calling her Lady, because she is so reserved and polite. Every morning she avoids the scramble for table scraps and waits patiently while I fill the feeders with cracked corn and crumble.

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