February Blah

Oh February. This is by far the toughest month for me to live in Wisconsin. Winter is dragging on and spring is still so far off......at least in March I can begin to think about starting tomato seeds. We're expecting 10 more inches of snow tomorrow. In December that was exciting, in February it's just depressing.

On the bright side, my locavore habits are much easier this year than last. I'm still enjoying the summer's harvest through the magic of the chest freezer in the basement. The peppers, corn, pesto, and tomatoes I froze in the late summer are really coming in handy. The picture above was my dinner tonight - homemade Marina di Chioggia gnocchi, basil pesto from the freezer, and local Parmesan cheese. I guess I don't have too much to complain about.

Like the blue coats? Convincing the chickens to get along has continued to be a challenge. I introduced the wheaten marans back into the flock last weekend and she went right back to her bullying ways. If you haven't been following her story you can catch up on the background here and here. I put her back in the basement and started researching what else I could do to protect my other girls from her incessant pecking.

What I came up with were these fashionable fleece coats. They go around the wings and tail of the chicken and protect her back from pecking. They're not easy to get on the girls - I couldn't have done it without Stanley's help. The design is good, but they aren't yet perfected as you will see....

This black copper is wearing the prototype. I made hers last weekend and she's been wearing it for an entire week. It doesn't seem to bother her a bit.

We put the rest on this morning, with limited success. Blondie's fit really well and I think she likes it.

The Welsummer, on the other hand, hates hers. The first time we put one on her she managed to wiggle out of it in less than an hour. I put a smaller one on and it seems to be secure around her wings, but she's managed to get it off her tail. She has the most pecking damage from the wheaten, so I need to make sure she has a secure covering before the wheaten gets put back in.

The second black copper marans has also managed to get hers off her tail, twice. Argh! Why won't they realize that everything I'm doing is for their own good! I don't have a picture of red hen. She's molting (not supposed to happen in February but I guess she never read the manual). We got one on her, but it was too tight and I took it back off. I'll have to make her another one.

To top it off I decided that I was getting too many eggs (since I live alone now and I can't eat more than 2 eggs a day), so I turned their morning light off. Each hen is born with a certain about of potential eggs and it seemed to make sense to let them lay less now and keep laying later into their lives. Well, now they've stopped laying almost entirely! I'm lucky to get one egg a day. Ah well, oatmeal is a good winter breakfast in the absence of eggs.

My plan is to leave the wheaten out for a few more days and then put her back in to see how she does. Hopefully her extended isolation will chill her out a bit and the blue coats will keep her from doing any more damage and everything will be fine. If she keeps being a bully, I'm going to look for a new home for her. Marans are popular birds, and she does lay beautiful eggs. I'm sure I could find someone who might want her......

I can't wait for spring.

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  1. Just found your blog when I was searching for photos of Wheaten Marans. Delicious photographs! I can't wait to try making some of the gnocchi from home-grown squash next fall.

    Being from MN, I can sympathize with the February blahs. Spring will come eventually!

  2. Thanks Katie! Did you find pics of the Wheaten Marans? I have lots more if you need them. I'm going to put her back in with the flock tonight - wish me luck!

  3. I did, thanks! There were some Wheaten Maran chicks listed on Craigslist, so I had to see what they looked like. But I should probably hold off since I already ordered chicks for March!

    Good luck putting her back in the flock - I hope she learns to play nice.


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