Hawk attacks, limited fresh food….bet you never thought about all the challenges free range hens have in the winter.
Early in November we had our first hawk attack of the winter, so we moved our hens and Mr. Roo to their smaller winter home. Hawks seem to be reluctant to swoop into a more confined area to catch their dinner, so we moved the hen houses closer together, decreased the range area, and put them in the pasture with Turk (our Anatolian Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dog) so he can help guard them by running and barking at swooping birds of prey.
The little house to the left has the nest boxes, where the hens lay their eggs. Almost all of them generally roost for the night in the larger house. You can see how close their feeders and waterer are to their houses, so they can quickly run for shelter when the hawks fly over.
Our chickens love a “playground,” so we gave them a pallet. They all jump up, and then jump down, and then up again, and down….you get the idea. 🙂
See how close Turk is to the hens? He can guard them without the temptation of “playing” with them!
Chickens really enjoy a good salad bar, and quickly consume every piece of green foliage growing in their smaller winter range. I collect chickweed from the wild places on our farm and feed it to them daily. I think it’s the secret to healthy chickens and quality eggs with dark, rich yolks in the winter.
You can see Carly, our Border Collie puppy, outside the fence “supervising.” She is our shadow as we do our daily farm chores, and we work on training and discipline along the way, which she considers to be great fun.
Here you can see how easy it is for me to pick up eggs from the outside of the little house.
“Rules” say that there should be one nest box for every 5 birds, but nobody told these girls, and sometimes I find many more eggs in one nest. They are so beautiful, and it’s always with happy anticipation that I collect eggs every day.
We sell our large blue and brown eggs daily for $3 a mixed dozen. Delicious eggs are made by happy, healthy chickens!
When you come to the farm to buy eggs, you can see many of our animals from the driveway. We are happy to give farm tours (to touch and feed our animals, pick up eggs, and learn about honey bees in the apiary) by appointment for $5/person, with no charge for children under 3 years old. The tour takes approximately one hour.