Friday, May 25, 2012

Sunflowers, Kate and Chicks

Check out these felted sunflowers over on JLW's Flickr stream. Great job! From my Felted Zinnias and Sunflowers Pattern available on Ravelry or on the left sidebar.

Here's a fun sunflower project being plugged and organized by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England. They are sponsoring a giant sunflower seed counting project to complete the research of scientist Alan Turing. From the website: 

"Alan Turing, perhaps best known for helping crack the Enigma Code during WW2, was fascinated by how maths works in nature. Turing noticed that the Fibonacci sequence often occurred in sunflower seed heads. He hoped that by studying the plant it might help us understand how plants grow, but died before he could finish his work. Our tribute to Turing is a mass experiment to grow 3,000 sunflowers. If enough people grow, we can collect sufficient data to put Turing’s and other scientists’ theories to the test. What better way to mark the mathematician’s centenary than to complete his final research project?"

We all know about "yarn-bombing" - now it is "sunflower-bombing" but they are calling it "International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day." Not too late to join. Check out the Facebook page too.

Kate has had her womanly parts removed. No puppies for her or us. The vet's office accessorized her collar with this crazy cone because she was trying to pull out her stitches. Once a Border Collie gets a job, they don't stop until it is done. She'll be wearing it for a week or so. Hasn't she grown?

New arrivals in bird form - a dozen Aracauna chicks for replacement hens. These little girls will lay the blue and olive eggs. I've had these in the past and they are incredibly productive once they start laying.

I have a hard time throwing things out and deleting things from my life - especially in the chicken department. My chicken pen was clearly overstocked with old hens who weren't laying eggs anymore. I stupidly fed them all winter while my grain bills mounted up and no eggs were laid. About a month ago, I found a Moldovan family who wanted my old hens. Over two different evenings, they arrived with a wire cage to help me whittle down the hen population. Best thing I ever did - well almost. I will repeat the process next year. And the family enjoyed lots of chicken stew.

Last year, I got smart and ordered only one color and breed of chick - Buff Orpingtons. They are a lovely shade of gold and docile good egg layers who tolerate cold. These girls have been producing like crazy ever since the old hens left. Still have a couple of roosters too and my favorite guinea hens. Now I will know how old each hen is and be able to keep only productive hens. 

Are you a chicken keeper? What do you do with your older hens? Cull them, stew them, or let them live out their lives. Every backyard farmer has a different take on keeping chickens. Would love to hear. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.


ellen said...

I don't have much room for more than a dozen chickens. We have lost some over the last few years, some to a dog who came in through our pastures. (The chickens free range during the day and are put up at night.) I know that Betty, my little white Leghorn is not laying, but I just decided she needs and deserves to have a happy retirement. I do have six new chicks who are at the hideous adolescent stage. They are breeds I haven't had before; Welsummers, Production Reds and Buckeyes.
My biggest mistake was not keeping some of Mrs. Charles Dickens' chicks which she hatched on her own..14 of them and out in the nursery somewhere. I thought she was dead for several weeks and then she showed up with a raft of adorable babies.
As you say, everyone has a different take. I would love to have some Buff Orpingtons one day.
I do love keeping chickens, they are a very wonderful source of amusement. Better Living without the Chemistry! Free and harmless Valium right outside my door.

Jo said...

This post brought back happy memories of my grandmother, and spending time with my grandparents at their Nebraska farm. Grandma would take a chicken suspected of not laying, and put it in isolation. If she confirmed that it wasn't laying, she would butcher it and we'd have a chicken dinner. I remember helping with the process and how upset Grandma got when she occasionally found a chicken full of eggs.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

I've tried to keep the chicken population around 12-15.We had a mink get inside the chicken house two nights in a row and lost 3 hens and have lost a few to old age this year. I bought 3 dark Brahmas, 3 Speckled Sussex and 2 Silver-laced Wyandottes a few months ago and they are being eased into the flock. The hen I call my mean girl went broody several weeks ago and I bought some fertilized eggs (Olive Eggers) to put under her. If she hatches some, I can trust her to raise them without my help. She's so mean, no one will mess with her! Our hens tend to die of old age. Roosters, on the other hand, better watch their step. One false move and they're gone!

Anonymous said...

No hens to comment on, but I was wondering how Winston and Archie made out having their male parts removed? I know there was concern about getting them on the truck, calming them down, etc.....Kate looks beautiful.

Wendy Thomas said...

I was pointed to your blog. I write about our adventures with children and chickens in NH and I also hold workshops on raising backyard chickens.

It's always a tricky question when someone asks me what to do with a hen who has stopped laying. The obvious answer is put her in the crock pot on low. While I eat chicken, I have yet to eat any of our chickens (I was able to cull a few bad boy roosters this year but we didn't eat them)

Our girls are welcome to spend their retirement in our hen house but that's my personal decision. Most people move them out of the flock either by culling them or refarming them.

Nothing wrong with any approach as long as they are treated with respect and dignity along the way.

Adaliza said...

Poor old Kate! You could crochet some petals for that collar and then she'd look like a sunflower! 'Cos we all know you've got loads of time!!! What a difficult dilemma for all the chicken lovers - sort of glad Flora the duck is a pet and can stay around for as long as she's able to waddle. On the farm where I spent a lot of time (with the farmer's son) a neighbouring old farmer used to visit and deal with the old birds - nobody who'd been looking after them for years wanted to do the deed themselves!

Helen said...

Hi Kristin,
I have just 4 hens ... well - I HAD 4 hens up till this week - I now have only 2 - lost 2 to egg peritonitis (very nasty). The 2 left are an araucana and a buff sussex - both lovely and still laying - they are over 5 years old. I will keep them until they pop their clogs, I am less interested in the eggs than in having them around me in the garden - they are such good company.

Now I am looking for 2 new ones to add to my "flock" - I am very fond of Arry my Araucana - so maybe 2 more.

Love reading your blog.


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