October Randomness

A few disjointed pictures and stories to share today.
First this pullet - my Buff Sussex that I call Blondie. She caused me a lot of concern this week when I noticed that her neck feathers seemed to be turning white and looking eaten.

Lice? Mites? I was imaging the worst and decided to post a question about her on the backyard chickens message board. Backyardchickens.com is a great reference site, and there's a ton of people who are very active on the message board - it's a wonderful support network for newbie chicken owners like me!

Anyhow, it turns out that she's just molting. I hadn't even considered the possibility since she's only 6 months old, and everything I've read says that chickens don't molt until they're at least a year. Apparently it's not terribly uncommon for young chickens to go through a light molt, especially when the weather gets colder like it has been. The white that you can see is actually pin feathers, young feathers that just grew out and have a white coating around them. Since she can't preen the back of her neck she can't get the coating off and it looks pretty bad. This pictures was taken last weekend and already she looks much more normal. Whew!

Now if only she would start to lay eggs! Still only two of the pullets have started to lay.... lousy freeloaders! I've put a light in the coop in the early mornings and evenings. Longer daylight equals more eggs, and it's common to light coops in the winter to keep egg production up.

In other chicken news, I'm now about 99% sure that 3 Spot (one of the Black Australorp chicks I hatched back in July) is a boy. I walked out to the dog crate coop that he and his sister are living in and heard a crow - an unpracticed and warbly crow, but a crow none the less. I had a feeling all along that he was a rooster, but I've been in denial until absolute proof presented itself. You can't have roosters in the city, so now I've got to figure out what to do with him. I'd like to quietly butcher him but he's still too small, so I'm hoping he'll stay quiet for a while longer. That one crow was the only one I've heard - maybe he'll hold off on the real crows for a while longer. If not, well, baby chicken is a delicacy in France.....

I'm more and more sure that his "sister", Puff is a girl, and she's getting big enough that I'd like to get her integrated into the rest of the flock. Yesterday, Stanley came over to help with the first attempt to let them intermingle freely. It didn't go so well. Puff got pecked pretty bad a few times, but knew what was good for her and submitted right away. It was interesting that the pullet who picked on Puff the most was the Black Copper Maran who is at the bottom of the totem pole in the rest of the flock. I guess she likes feeling like she can boss someone around.

3 Spot on the other hand, wasn't going to back down to anybody. This would be fine if he was a full grown rooster, but he's still only about 2/3 the size of the older pullets. He could really get himself in trouble! After an intense 20 minutes we put the young ones back in their small run. I'm going to wait till they're just a little bigger before I try that again.... Having chickens is stressful!

Ah... too many words without pictures! I'll post some good pictures of the little ones soon.

Here's a funny story. If you go west of Madison on highway 14 toward Spring Green, there's a farm store called Peck's. My brother and sister-in-law were there a few weeks ago and got in on a killer winter squash deal - 50lb for $15.00. They told me about it and I knew I had to go. Winter squash is such a great fall/winter staple, and $.30/lb is just too good a deal to pass up. We looked up Peck's website and saw that they also have a petting zoo - which was awesome since Stanley's 2 year old son, Elwood has a serious obsession with animals.

So Stanley, Elwood, and I drove out toward Spring Green until we came to a farm store, in about the right place, except it was called Heck's. I was pretty sure we were looking for Peck's, but it just seemed like too much of a coincidence, especially when we saw the Heck's had that deal on winter squash. I walked in to ask about the petting zoo. The lady at the counter didn't look happy and informed me that that was at Peck's, just two miles down the road. I didn't want to miss out of the squash, so I quickly filled up a 50lb bag (Elwood was getting antsy to see the promised animals), and we took off down the road to Peck's.

What do you know? Peck's had the exact same deal on winter squash, and their squash looked to be a little better quality. So, in true Megan fashion, I went overboard and filled up another 50lb bag of squash. I'm now the proud owner of 100lb of winter squash: buttercup, kabocha, red kabocha, butternut, delicata, spaghetti... it's a nice mix that should last through the winter.

But really, how did that happen? Heck's and Peck's? Two miles apart with the same product line? There's got to be a story there......

And yes, Elwood got his animal fix. There's absolutely nothing cuter that a baby miniature goat. Nothing.
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