Today I wanted to share with you the benefits that I have seen over the years in my flock by adding sea kelp to their diet. I originally started sporadically adding sea kelp to their diet years ago, when I first learned how my lobsterman friends, would set their traps out in the yard for their flocks of chickens to clean. The chickens would go nuts for all the seaweed attached to the cages. They made fast work and within no time they would clean the traps, leaving no traces behind. It got me thinking, what were the chickens getting from the sea anyway?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated with the beauty of feathers. Often a rare find from walks in the woods, I always considered finding them good luck and a gift from the world of feathered friends. Over the years, I have collected hawk feathers, turkey feathers, backyard bird feathers and since keeping chickens, their feathers too. Today, I’m sharing how to create these gold feathers.
Since getting started with chickens in 2010 we have always had Silkies. I selected this breed because of their gentleness, small size, ease of handling, and their undying desire to mother. The breed lived up to all of its promises and more. I have to say I love Silkies.
When I lost Tilly a few weeks ago, I was feeling such a profound loss. I shared it with you all and the outpouring of love and support was nothing short of amazing. Thank you! I received a special message from a woman named Shannon asking me if I happened to have a few of Tilly’s feathers. She wanted to create something just for me. I did in fact have a few collected feathers from Tilly. I picked two of the loveliest ones and shipped them to Oregon.
Silkies are funny little chickens.
Last week, all four Silkies, Dolly, Autumn, Feathers and Fifi were broody. It doesn’t take much to convince a Silkie that they should be broody. Clearly this was the trendy thing to do this week. There they were piled on top of one another inside the nesting boxes. Toward the end of the week, Tilly decided to join them. For the past few days, one by one, the Silkies gave up being broody. It wasn’t as much fun having Tilly there sandwiched between the two boxes overflowing with Silkies.
Tilly has been taking her time to decide if she truly wants to be broody or was just under the weather. It seems like the old chicken and the egg argument; which came first. This morning, Tilly was the last one out of the coop. I watched as they one by one popped out of the coop with a lust for life. Dolly and Tilly took some coaxing. I could hear them “talking” to their invisible chicks as I have heard mother hens do.
They all came outside and were enjoying exploring the run. A pair of robins landed outside the coop. Tilly ran for them. Like a watch dog, she chased them away. They had no business being anywhere near the newly reseeded grass outside the coop. Life somehow seemed to be returning to normal for Tilly today.
I went inside to finish up with the morning chores and returned about a half hour later to clean the coop. There, something caught my eye. Tilly and Fifi had returned to the nesting boxes. I had to remove them one by one and place them in the run. I always clean the coop without any chickens inside. There, I noticed underneath the coop ramp someone had made a nest. Two pearly little Silkie eggs were laid inside.
The eggs were tinier than usual, due to the Silkies returning to the egg laying process after being broody. I removed my coop cleaning gloves and gently scooped the still warm eggs up into the cradle of my hand. I was surprised that Sunshine had not discovered them. She is ruthless when it comes to discovering eggs that had not been laid by her. It is amazing to me that she recognizes her own eggs verses those laid by others.
Tilly is quasi-broody. The Silkies are laying again. Sunshine did not use the Silkie eggs as kick ball. Somehow, things are off kilter, but make me feel content. Life isn’t how one would expect it but somehow, option B turns out to be just as good as option A.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
|Robins return each year habitually to hatch eggs.|
Habits can be classified as good and bad. I think that we all tend to have both. Good habits can benefit us directly and some are even chore-like. When I think of good habits, I think of brushing my teeth, setting a bed time, eating healthy (or at least trying to), catching the school bus in the morning, going to church, or regularly meeting a friend for coffee. Good habits can also be chores, such as paying the bills, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and cooking dinner every night. Unfortunately, we all have bad habits too. I think of young kids picking their noses. Biting our nails. Chewing with our mouths open. I happen to pick my cuticles and hangnails. Interestingly, I have noticed that chickens also have both good and bad habits.
Their bad habits include kicking shavings into the water, emptying their feed dish, hogging the roosts, sleeping in the nesting boxes and eating eggs (gasp)! Their good habits include rising early in the morning, running out first thing to have some scratch, going to sleep at night and carrying on conversations with me.
Tilly’s best habit is the job she does as head hen. Every evening, she is always rounding up everyone and making sure that they are all in for the night. Her bad habit is being mean to the Silkies. Sometimes, she tends to overreact.
Oyster Cracker’s best habit is always being first to greet me at the run door. Her worst habit is repetitively jumping into my lap when our quality-time session was only supposed to last a few minutes.
Sunshine’s worst habit is pecking my hand very hard when I hand feed the girls scratch. You’d think she had to make a kill before she ate. Her best habit is being Oyster Cracker’s inseparable best friend.
Dolly’s best and worst habit is always being broody.
Autumn’s best habit is surveying the run first thing in the morning before dining on any scratch. She seems to be checking that the perimeter is secure, or…she could be trying to escape. Her worst habit is sleeping in the nesting boxes.
Feathers’ worst habit is pecking at my jewelry. Her best habit is being my most friendly Silkie.
Fifi’s worst habit is pretending to be broody and faking me out at least once a week. She sure does put on a show, complete with growling, tail in the air and the classic poufing up. Her best habit is taking care of her feathers. She is the fluffiest little girl for a non-show quality chicken.
If you look closely and observe most species, you will find that they over time develop patterns and repeat things. Some say that routine is familiar and familiar feels good. Others say that sometimes things are merely according to schedule. Animals instinctively fill roles that aid in survival. People, I believe, are the only ones with the power of insight to change them or at least add one new good habit to out-number our bad ones.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
My children love to draw. Sometimes, they like to sit back and watch my husband draw things for them. Many times these involve drawing aliens and animals. I can remember one day, my kids asked him to draw lots of animals. When he completed drawing everything that came to their minds, the kids asked him to go back and put a goatee on all of the animals. When he draws aliens, they come up with the most clever names related to some foreign appendage that is hanging from their body. Well, last night, as I was busy filling calendar orders, little did I know that they were downstairs drawing our chickens. It was my daughter’s idea. Tilly came first.
This morning I awoke to one of those peaceful and quiet Saturday mornings. There was a serene calmness about everything outside. The wild birds were quietly bouncing amongst the branches in the trees. Neighbors were still sleeping and not even distant cars could be heard zooming past in the background. The woods surrounding our home are beginning to settle in for the Winter, now the trees are mostly barren of leaves. The sky was a piercing blue and the sun was shining brightly. It was one of those mornings where I find myself stealing a peaceful moment away with just me and the girls. I joined them as they were starting to take their morning dust bath.
I quietly observed the girls and their beauty ritual. I was incredibly happy to find Oyster Cracker finally taking a dust bath after her long and severe molt. She had it the toughest this year. Finally, her pale comb had glimpses of red as I discovered her among our Silkies, Feathers, Dolly and Autumn,enjoying a communal dust bath.
There the four of them were enjoying one another’s company. As three faced one way and Dolly faced the other, dirt was thrown, fluffed and kicked into every feathered nook and cranny all the while eating bits of found goodness from each other’s feathers. Dottie Speckles on the other hand, was content to inquire about my visit and continually interrupt the girls as they were dust bathing. Sometimes, she is such a bully!
Finally, after spending a spell with the girls, I checked for egg. In the nesting box, I found broody Fifi sitting on her invisible eggs. Of course, I would expect no less from my egg detectives. Dottie Speckles and Sunshine followed me inside the coop. There were two eggs that I gladly retrieved, still warm in my hand after being laid.
It was nice to steal this morning away with the girls. Quality alone time is important with any pets you might have. It is during quiet times like this that you notice behaviors, personalities and what goes on in their minds. Suddenly, you realize that you are catching a glimpse into the life of a backyard chicken.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest