Oh Mariek, say it isn’t so! My little love dove doesn’t want me to touch her anymore? Come here and let me stroke your beautiful feathers; you used to love that, remember? Like, yesterday, you really loved it, right?
Well, not anymore, and I know why. After about 14 months of steady egg production. I’ve got my first molter. This brood raged right through their first winter with all four birds laying almost every day, but that is pretty unusual. Chickens are very photo sensitive, and the day length determines the egg laying cycle. If you keep the day length over 14 hours, like in an enclosed chicken house, they keep laying. Yard birds like mine take a break when the days get short: they stop laying and start molting.
Mariek is exhibiting the first signs of molting, even before you notice any feathers missing. She hasn’t laid in a few days, she has stopped “presenting” for me, and does not want to be touched, and this is from my cuddly lap chicken who two days ago was laying 4-5 eggs a week, presented (mating pose) every time I got within ten feet, and loved to be picked up and stroked. Even now she comes up to me and stands close as though asking for attention (out of sheer habit). As soon as I move, she runs away. She wants it, but her body is telling her “no no no!”. As the old feathers drop out, the new feathers are coming in, and that makes the bird very sensitive. The new feathers come out as “pins”: sheathed protuberances that still have living blood circulating through them and are pretty delicate. All the chicken is going to want to do for the next couple months is eat, sleep and preen, preen, preen. She will pluck those old feathers out, protect those pins and fluff up the new feathers once they have hardened up inside the sheath.
So to the chase: don’t expect your little cuddle buns to be receptive during this time. If you insist on grabbing at the bird while molting, they might never come back to being your lovey-dovey. Just back off until they are done and come spring time love will be in the air. In fact, that will be one of the first signs that they are going back on the lay. “Touch Me Daddy!”
The tomato grafts look great this year, the best yet. My plants were running a little behind schedule, and I was a little worried because the healing period has taken a couple of weeks or more in years past. If I could just get them healed up and growing in a shorter period of . . . → Read More: The Healing Chamber
Epilogue: (11-15-12) Good News! The little hen has a new home!
A viewer (I assume) has contacted me trying to find a new home for her beloved pet bantam hen. I quote:
I need to find a new home for my pet hen (a little bantam mille fleur, age 7, still laying eggs, . . . → Read More: Free to a Good Home
Which one will you be? For whom would you vote?
So I was joking around with a viewer, and somewhere between spinach leaf miners and civic involvement we started to paraphrase and parody “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
I started with the following:
“I should have been a ragged gardener, Scuttling around Town Hall with silent pickles…”
(this after . . . → Read More: New Contest!!!!
It's not easy being green
Hey, hey you, over there with all the green tomatoes hanging off of an indeterminate vine. Wait up and smell the wood smoke, man. The curtain is coming down, the fat lady sang, we’re done, kapoot, fini-toe. Clip those tips or you’ll be eating green tomato pie all . . . → Read More: Clip Tips Tip Clip
In my last post I forgot to include the peppers which is odd because if I grew nothing else it would be peppers; chili peppers that is: Bulgarian Carrot, Guatemalan Insanity, New Mexican Green. From my first taste of taco sauce at five years of age I’ve been hooked, and I’ve gone through all . . . → Read More: Oh Yeah, There Are Peppers Too
What is this? The Real Garden or The Real Chicken Coop? Chicken, Chicken, Chicken, what about growing stuff?
Indeed. The reason this summer has been all about chickens is because I’ve been doing the show for ten years now, and never got to demonstrate chick rearing due to my very long lived adult . . . → Read More: What Happened To The Garden?
Chicken At Work
Ah, Mariek, Mariek, my little chocolate darling, I knew you could do it. Yes, the fourth and final pullet has come into lay, and good things come to those who wait. I actually prefer that the pullets take some extra time to begin laying; it gets their body weight up . . . → Read More: Mark it, Mariek Begins Laying- Week 23 and One Day
Spring Chicken Forever
Forget the creams and pills, just surround yourself with youth. I have mentioned that the new pullets have invigorated my two crones. Miss Kitty, the ten year old, is still hobbling with arthritis and still sleeps a lot during the day, but she has perked up and seems to enjoy . . . → Read More: The Secret To Staying Forever Young: