It was with a heavy heart we said goodbye to our dear Wilma on Sunday. She had been through a lot in her short little life. It made her a strong (scared and mean) little bird. She was an okay layer and an egg eater, but a part of the family.
We are not sure what happened to her. For a couple days she was very docile and let us pet her, which was very unusual. Then on Sunday she fell of the roost (I don’t know that this is literal).
She taught us a lot about chicken first aid, maggots and friends. She will be missed. (Even if she did try to peck your hands til they bled)
It’s been a week now after putting in a scratch block, hanging a scratch brick when the block was about gone, everyday outside time and blocking off the laying box that had the most broken eggs, the girls are still pecking and eating eggs. Averaging six a day. We had caught Wilma in the act and hoped it was just her, as the majority of broken eggs were in her box. I put her in her own pen for a day and there was no change, so she rejoined the flock late in the afternoon the same day.
I also gave them a separate dish of oyster shells, just in case. I know dietary changes won’t fix a possible deficiency over night. I am impatient. I was hoping that after a week there would be some noticeable change. The last two days egg production has been unusually down. I will take some responsibility for that, messing with their routine and everything is bound to throw them off some. The egg eating has not slowed down at all and is continued in every box as well.
It was time for “Operation Mustard Egg”.
From what I understand chickens do not like mustard, which it too bad because it’s pretty good with eggs, and for how many they eat they might as well. But they don’t and I planned to use this against them. I took 6 eggs that had been pecked but not yet eaten and removed the insides. Like a Ukrainian egg but not nearly as perfect or pretty. I then filled each egg with yellow mustard.
The chicken light turns on at 6:30 am. I finished my cow chores shortly there after and headed to the coop. I placed one mustard bomb in each box. The hole facing back so they wouldn’t notice. I finished the chicken chores as usual and went back to the house. A few hours later, I went back to the coop to collect the eggs so far, which was comparatively dismal to days prior. The first thing I noticed when I opened the door was the place smelled like mustard. I knew at least one had fallen for the bait.
In fact a few must have gotten it because each mustard egg was pecked, smashed and uneaten. The other eggs that had been laid so far that morning had some mustard on them but were not pecked. I removed the eggs and place a golf ball in each box. They can they peck the golf ball to their little hearts content until they figure out that what is in the boxes are no longer edible.
At the end of the day there were no eggs pecked, aside from the mustard ones and production was back up to the normal two dozen. Now to see what today brings.
***Update*** I have left the golf balls in the laying boxes for two weeks now and the number of pecked eggs has decreased to only one or two a day. They do help.
** Note** If you don’t use a pre-pecked egg, remove the “innards” as you would a Ukrainian egg, fill with mustard and seal the egg with a little paraffin wax. I didn’t wax mine because the beak holes were much too big.
There is no contest on the farm if it was the chicken or the egg that came first. Around here, it was the chicken. After a summers worth of work building the coop and trying to keep the birds from getting eaten by the raccoons, fox and dogs, we now have eggs. Kind of… The girls haven’t gotten together and made their laying schedule, so we are only getting a few eggs a day so far or called attention to what size they are going to lay. We’ve had some pretty big ones and some tiny ones. Someone is consistently laying “double-yolkers” too! Ha!
Wilma has picked laying box 4 by the way and seems to be doing better, just in case you were wondering
We are wrapping up this summers projects around the farm, one of which is the chicken coop. My husband finished up the electrical, we have lights and power to the outlets for spring heat lamps! My dad made the laying boxes and installed them. We now have some very happy hens. I put an egg in one of the boxes to give the girls a hint- New laying boxes means it’s time to start laying eggs! (So far no luck. But they are old enough that it should be any day now.)
Wilma’s milk crate is still by the waterer because that’s where she tended to spend most of her time. Good news though, I can now remove it. She has been on the top of the roost the last couple days. I’m sure once she picks the box she want’s she will be there more often then not.
Every Sunday after church they serve coffee and doughnuts. We like to stay for a cup and hear the “news” of the week. It’s the same group at our table; my husband and little boy, my parents, Great Uncle and Aunt- Bill and Liz, Cousin Bill, Cousin Mike and son. Sometimes an extra will join us, but for the most part that’s it.
Uncle Bill is a story teller. There is a town in Montana that I can’t spell but will never forget the name, they lived there for a while and we have heard many stories from that direction. I just love listening to his tales, he gives such detail, you can just picture it. We have discussed our fox problem previous Sunday’s. This week he let me know that one of the guys at his “weekday” coffee said it was a raccoon that ate the fence and the fox that had been stealing the chickens. Good to know. We went on about that dilemma for a bit then on to another story. One that reminded me of Wilma and Thomas.
Years ago Uncle Bill bought a small herd of cows, Holsteins I believe, and the guy he bought them from said “Bill you’ve got to take the Gander too. She’s been with those cows from the beginning and has to stay with the herd.”
So he did. It was winter and even if it weren’t, the goose would get trampled in the trailer. He put the goose in a gunny sack and cut a hole for it’s head to stick out and it rode on the floor of the cab that way. He stopped at a rest stop for the night “one of those places you could rent a bunk, ya’ know… I went out the next morning and wouldn’t ya’ know that goose was still sitt’n there. Just like I left it!” It rode that way all the way to the farm.
When the cows were sent out to pasture and the goose let out of her sack, “she went right to one cow, and never left it.” Now matter where that cow went the gander went too.
Years later the cows were sold and the gander wouldn’t be taken with. He said it wandered, pretty lonely for a while, then someone else asked to take it and that was that.
He also had a fawn pair up with a horse. He said he could take that horse anywhere and the deer would be right there too. When he finally sold the horse, he said he never saw the deer again either. (It was longer when he told it but the basics are there.)
I guess Wilma the chicken and Thomas the turkey weren’t such an odd couple after all.