Tag Archives: winter

Prelude to Winter and Hens that Refuse to Lay

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Well, we didn’t get seven feet of snow here this week, but there are flakes on the forecast for Wednesday. For a place that’s usually sunny and seventy degrees on Thanksgiving Day, that’s pretty crazy. In fact, on the first of November, there were several inches of snow to the north and south of us, although my personal snow-free zone still seems to be fully functional.

I haven’t confessed to The Boy yet that it’s probably my fault he doesn’t get to go sledding when kids four miles away are building snowmen. For now, I’m just hoping that this snow-repelling power isn’t some sort of voodoo that I’ve passed down to him and his brother!

One thing I love about cold weather is how much more pleasant it makes the daily chores. I absolutely hate being out in the smothering humidity of our South Carolina summers, but on cold days, I can bundle up. My heavy Wall’s 12/8 jacket is big enough to zip over my growing baby belly, my Muck Boots keep my feet warm and dry, and with some work gloves, I get everyone fed and watered so much more comfortably than in the summer heat.

I’ve run into a strange problem this year. The pullets I hatched out on February 9 and the ones I bought the next day (in case I had hatched out nothing but roosters!) have never started to lay. They’re 41 weeks old, and I’ve never caught one of them in a nest or seen any evidence of eggs being laid and eaten. I’m really at a loss, but at this point, I’m seriously considering culling the whole bunch of them and starting fresh next spring. They’re eating laying pellets like there’s no tomorrow and we’re not seeing any return on all that feed. So we’re going to change brands and see if it makes a difference, and in a few weeks, we’ll make a decision. This is a first for me, so it’s hard to know what to do.

The rabbits continue to be wonderful. I just love them. I bred Anne, one of the California does, to the AmChin buck (George) last month in hopes of getting a better growout rate in the kits. She was due two days ago and hasn’t nested yet, but she’s made a little tunnel in the nestbox bedding and tends to put off pulling fur till the last minute. Based on her crankiness these past few weeks, I’m pretty confident she’s pregnant. Should be interesting to compare her litter (provided she has one) with whatever we get from the larger AmChin doe, Martha, who’s due on December 4. I’ll post photos as soon as I can.

Hope everyone has safe travels this week and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sleet, Sheep, and a Pet Bunny

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Finally! At long last it’s COLD outside! I’ve been out there a couple of times today to thaw waterers and make sure everyone has enough bedding, and I’m glad to be settled in with my Boy for the rest of the day while we wait for his daddy to get home. We had sleet off and on all morning, and it’s not even gotten up to freezing. In spite of the fact that I have to do chores in the cold, you have no idea how happy this makes me. We need a lot more days like this before spring.

We’ve had so much warm weather lately, and every time I see someone else rejoicing about being able to wear t-shirts and flip-flops in January, all I can think about is our bizarre winter last year and how it threw off the rhythm of all the other seasons. I think a good, cold winter (and seriously, we’re talking about South Carolina here, not the Arctic, people) feels like hitting a “reset” button. It makes everything feel clean and helps me tolerate and even be grateful for the warmer seasons. So come on, y’all, let’s break out the warm layers and enjoy the cold!

Well, both of our rabbit does kindled within 24 hours of each other a couple of weeks ago. The younger girl has six little ones — three white, two grey/brown, and one black. The older one only has three, but they’re at least twice and possibly three times the size of the others! Chubby little things. The other day, I even caught one of them out of the nest box, hopping around the cage behind its mama. Usually they don’t venture out for at least three weeks or so!

The Boy is having a little trouble with the idea of eating the bunnies, though. He keeps insisting that we don’t eat animals (because they have faces and make noises), and we’re trying to explain to him that the bacon, steak, and chicken that he loves so much all come from animals. On Wednesday, though, we went and got him a pet rabbit — a six-week-old sandy Flemish Giant that should end up between fifteen and twenty pounds and will definitely not look like one of the meat rabbits.

We got her from a lady with a really cute little hobby farm. The Boy got to hang out with turkeys, feed sheep, and pet guinea pigs as well as visit with all the rabbits. Just before we left, he decided he wanted to hug the sheep goodbye, and he did manage to hug the lead ewe, but then he started chasing the rest of the flock, who weren’t used to seeing little people and ran away from him. This made the alpha ewe decide he was a threat to her family, and Ben and I both could see what was going to happen next, but we were too far away to reach him. Fortunately, she was only standing about two feet from The Boy, so when she lowered her head and butted him, she didn’t have a running start or much force behind it. She didn’t frighten him or knock him down, just pushed him off balance. Ben and I both were laughing, but I’m pretty sure the lady who owned the place was having visions of lawsuits, because she couldn’t apologize enough. Isn’t it sad that something as funny and harmless as a strong nudge from a sheep immediately conjures up issues of liability and blame?

Anyway, the sweet new bunny is named Charlotte. At first, The Boy said he wanted to call her Ice Cream, then Vanilla, and then Charlie. Ben suggested Charlotte as a more feminine option, and The Boy liked it. If I’d been naming her, I think I would have called her Truffles, because she’s two shades of brown: a dark chocolate color down near her skin with a lighter, cocoa-powder brown at the tip of each hair like she’s been rolled in it. But she belongs to my Boy, and her name is Charlotte.