The Lull Before The Storm

The girls had a break from their winter icy confinement today. The temperature was well above freezing. Green showed through on the lawn. It was wet and mucky and not good for scratching, but fine for a bit of walking around.

Much of the yard looked like this. Here Blackie tippy-toes through the snow and slippery-frozen grass. 


But, the adventurous girls made their way out to the Chinese Beech Tree (remind me to show you a photo this summer – lovely!) They were able to scratch in the looser dirt of the perennial bed. 


It’s not springtime yet. The latest weather forecast says that two storm systems are moving in tonight and by Tuesday morning we should have another foot of snow on the ground. Well, it was nice to have a respite, however brief.

Small Dog Woes

Little 11-pound Scooter has had a hard time this winter. The soft-fallen snow has been too deep to walk through (we’ve shoveled paths for him.) Then, the snow got crusty and scary to walk on. Then it started to melt and his belly got wet and cold. It rained, it snowed, it sleeted. He fell into holes formed by my snowboots and he couldn’t get out. There are times when I’ve had to go out with an umbrella just to get him to do his business. 

But, today it is sunny and above freezing. There’s patches of dirt to sniff. He ran all the way to the back woods to check out the animal tracks. He felt like a real dog again. 

But then Scooter had to come back in and had to face this:


Our back porch stairs are in the shade. The water dripping off of the roof freezes. Lily, the big dog, leaps right over. I can step up. But to Scooter it looks like this:


A treacherous mountain.

I believe in treating even little dogs like dogs. He’s not a fashion accessory. He’s got a brain. It’s important for him to use it. Surmounting challenges are a good thing, whether you are dog or human. It’d be easy to give into Scooter’s big brown, “baby me” eyes. I don’t. I make him scramble up the stairs. 

Scooter was so proud of himself when he made it inside!

And then I gave him a treat. 

Good,brave dog.

Today's Eggs

It is bitter cold outside, yet some of the hens are laying. It’s early in the season, which means that sometimes some odd eggs appear in the nesting boxes. This is what showed up today:


The two pale eggs are laid by the bantam white leghorns. They’re supposed to be like that. But the one on the left? The dark brown egg with the two pointy ends? That was laid by a standard-sized hen. It should be large, like the eggs to the right. Sometimes, the first egg that a hen lays at beginning of the season is small like this. It might not even have a yolk. I’ve no doubt that the next egg by that hen will be perfect.

By the way, see how clean the eggs are? I didn’t wash them. This is how they come out of the hen. The eggs will be clean as long as there are clean nesting boxes. You might have noticed me using a kitty litter scoop to tidy up the boxes in the morning. Only two hens like to sleep (and therefore poop) in the boxes, so it’s not such a bothersome chore. If I had a hundred hens, I’d have to do other forms of animal management to keep things clean. 

I’d rather not wash the eggs. Egg shells are porous, and running hot water over the egg will push contaminants in. If you use soap or chlorine, you’ll taste it. If an egg does require washing (and I will have dirty eggs during mud season when the chicken tramp their muddy feet everywhere), I simply rinse the eggs quickly under cold water.

Marge or Petunia?

This is Marge:


This is Petunia:


They are both big brown hens. 

But they are easy to tell apart! All I have to do is close my eyes and listen. Marge is the noisy one. She is the most talkative hen I have ever known. In the morning, she’s the one complaining to be let out, right now! She’s the one to exclaim over tossed corn. She’s the one that watches me garden and asks, over and over, Where’s the bug? Give me the bug! 

Because Marge is so loud, when we did the photo shoot for Tillie Lays an Egg, I used Petunia for the photos. Marge was just too obnoxious.

There’s no sound on HenCam, but there are other ways to tell these two girls apart. Petunia is skinnier and taller. You could compare combs. But the easiest way is to look for who is moving her beak the most.

A Nice Outing

The temperature has reached almost 50 degrees today! (That’s 10 degrees for you Celsius users.) I decided to let the girls have an outing.

The hens in the big barn liked the mud, but refused to go on the snow. 


After a few moments scratching about, they went back into their very comfy spacious barn and took sunbaths in the shavings.

But, the girls in the HenCam barn hurried right out.


They went exploring.


And found their way to the one patch of green (over the septic system.)


As you can see, one day of 50 degree weather isn’t going to melt all of the snow that we have. But it has given the girls something of a mid-winter vacation.