It poured with rain yesterday. POURED!
I have been having trouble with a group of layers who want to sleep in the laying boxes. It is not the sleeping that is the problem it is the fresh manure that piles up in the corners of the boxes every night, making the early eggs dirty and needing cleaning every day and I was replacing the bedding in the boxes every day and that was becoming unsustainable. I only have a certain number of straw bales. Every cent is accounted for this winter.
I put the box chickens back up on their roosts every night and they just flutter about and cry and then return to the boxes. So I looked about for something new to put in the boxes. Applying my new system – stop complaining and fix it or ADAPT. I have found these laying mats. They are made of plastic, looking like long haired door mats and are easy to clean with a good shake.
The mats have been in the chook house for two days now. I cannot change the unwelcome visitors but I can create an easy way to clean up after them. Chickens hate new things. But they laid fourteen eggs on the clean mats – a new high for this time of year – and much to my surprise, last night there were no chickens sleeping in the boxes, not when I checked anyway.
Yesterday I also caught four more of the wild chickens, who lay anywhere they like, and popped them in with the old layers, this is causing a ruckus in the chook house also. Possibly contributing to the box sleepers deciding to stick with their mates on the ample roosts. So part of my fixing it was to make some noise apparently.
Because they have started laying early, (usually by now we are down to one or no eggs a day), I must follow their lead and I have put on their extra daytime light to jump start the rest. This year I put cold bulbs into the heat lamp holders and hung them. What is interesting is that the chickens stick to those pools of light scratching about and doing their busy work right under the lights. So when, in the past, I thought they were gravitating to the warmth, it was actually the light that attracted them – these modern light bulbs have no warmth at all.
You can see from the image above that their wall window is half open due to the warm weather – this natural light (though no sun) and the warm winter has contributed to the egg count. It will be interesting to see what happens when the real winter cold comes – and it will come.
Just not today. Today we are going for a high of 47F/8C. Another NZ winters day on the prairies of Illinois. Rainy and foggy with lots of mud. But I cannot change the weather or maybe I can. I figure – if it took two hundred years to change the weather patterns, it will take two hundred years to heal them. I don’t care what the nay sayers say, I am leaving them blubbering in their corners, I am working on my corner now. I am an optimist. I have happy pebbles. So I am going to plant more and more trees (my healing of choice), and combine my feed runs in the big truck into one trip each fortnight and adapt to the changes that have been wrought so far.
Plus as you know I fly a lot in the winter which is another cross against my footprint count so I have even more trees to plant! The Fellowship Forest is going to be magnificent. I will focus on native fruit trees again this year and oaks and mulberries. (You are most welcome to plant a tree here too if you have no space at your place). And this year one huge plot of wild native flowers and grasses is going in for the bees and butterflies. I will sow piles of milkweed which will drive the croppers around here crazy! They like everything mowed and tidy and spray any flowering weeds they see. They hate milkweed. Then we wonder where the butterflies and bees have gone! They are slow to adapt but I am not.
I hope I have a good group of woofers this year – we have work to do!
The sun must come back one day. Not today though. I remind myself that cloudy days are good for the skin.
I hope you have a lovely day.