Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Wrangler: Gathering up the week's events

This Friday post is coming to you a day early because Canada is sending us the best it has in the way of a BIG.COLD.STORM. Chances are good that the trees will bring down the power lines, leaving us with electricity tomorrow or the next day. So we're wrangling in the week's highlights today!

Meet the Barred Rock Girls

We are having so much fun learning to care for our new laying hens. Our family has been raising Cornish Rock Cross (meat birds) for a few years, but we haven't--until now--brought laying hens to our homestead.

We adopted 4 Barred Rock hens last weekend from friends who needed to re-home their beloved chickens in a hurry. "The Girls", as I like to call them, are settling in nicely to their new home. One or more of them decided the dog crate we brought them home in makes a wonderful nesting box. Each afternoon, when I bring them their plate of sliced fruit and fresh veggie scraps, I peek inside the dog crate to find one tan-colored egg. We have a traditional nesting box for them, but they seem to prefer the dog crate. Go figure.

The Barred Rock Girls like to bathe daily. CRCs never bathed, so this is a new revelation for me. Fortunately, I came across City Boy Hens' post at this week's Homestead Barn Hop, I learned the importance of dust bathing. So, of course, I put together a nice dust bath for them...which they haven't yet used. But, I can tell they are "bathing" in other areas.

It seems to me the Girls would like to get out and about little more. CRCs don't have that same zest for adventure. Unfortunately, we won't be able to do anything about giving the girls more outdoor space until early next, when the storm passes. Then we'll extend their outside run and cover it with netting to keep the predatory birds from snatching them up into thin air.

The Barred Rocks hens are light eaters compared to Cornish Rock Cross, whose very mission in life is to eat, gain weight, then...gulp, be eaten. Incidentally, I'm looking to learn more about diet for the Girls. They came with a bag of Purina Layena, but I confess I'm not a Purina fan. I'm searching for alternatives. If you have laying hen feed brands or blends you like, please let me know.

Best of all, we get eggs; big, beautiful eggs, with sunset yellow yolks. What a blessing they are.

The Storm

Since we had some warning that The Big Freeze is moving in, we took time throughout the week to prepare for it:
  • My husband and son added a wind break to one side of the horse shelter
  • The horses are blanketed
  • All exterior pipes and hoses are off, drained, disconnected, and wrapped where needed.
  • The wood box is filled
  • The gas generator is ready to go
  • All the laundry is done and the dishwasher is emptied.
  • The emergency lighting supplies are squared away
  • Today we go to town to buy some extra food that can be easily cooked on the woodstove. (The last time Canada gifted a storm like this to us, the road shut down for 5 days and so did the electricity.) 
  • Checked the water supply in case something really crazy happens and we lose water too.
  • Put the tire chains and chainsaws in the vehicles. Storms of this sort tend to knock down a lot trees which block the roads. If we have a chainsaw, we can usually cut our way through.
  • Each afternoon at dusk, I cover the garden beds with simple bed sheets, then uncover them in the late morning when the air is warmed. (If it were wet and rainy, I'd use something else, like Agribon.)
God bless you and have a wonderful weekend.

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