Monday, October 31, 2011

Chickens LOVE Halloween and pumpkin guts!!!  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Tale of Chickens and Horses in Magical Bavaria

I want to share with you the email from my wonderful Austrian friend, Hildegard. We were so blessed to have booked a vacation on her family farm several years ago and have remained close friends ever since. Hildegard and her brother, Bascht, have taken on the family farm after the death of their parents. Not only are they hard workers, but some of the nicest people you will ever meet and they have been so good to us! We have made several trips to their farm and I can tell you that I think that their place is about as close to heaven on earth as you can get! They raise beef cattle, pigs, chickens, and beautiful Haflinger horses that that run free in the green valley surrounding their farmhouse. Bascht trains and shows the horses in dressage competitions and also uses them to take people for sleigh and carriage rides in their community. Bascht and the horses are amazing to watch in action as he whispers commands to them and they respond and do exactly what he says. Bascht and Hildegard also rent out two apartments that include a wonderful Bavarian breakfast. Their farm, Baerhof, is about one hour South of Salzburg and lies just outside of a small town named, Annaberg, and is situated in a beautiful green valley in the Bavarian Alps. Pictures cannot even begin to show how beautiful this place is. You just have to experience it yourself.

Now to get to the email from my friend, Hildegard. She and I often exchange emails and she has given me some tips and stories regarding her experiences with raising chickens and here is a recent story about her chickens. I found it quite interesting:

"If American chickens are anything like Austrian chickens, I have been amazed how sensitive they are. For example if it is very hot they lay fewer eggs. Also during marked weather changes they lay fewer eggs. During the winter when it is very cold, they don't lay eggs at all. When we moved one horse next to the chickens during the winter, though, to our surprise, they still laid eggs! When we had 2 horses next to them, they laid the same amount of eggs during winter as they lay during summer! This has been very interesting for me to observe."

While I know it would not be feasible for me to get one, much less two horses to live in my small chicken coop during the winter because I live on only a one acre lot in suburbia, not to mention that horses cost lots of money and eat a lot, too, but maybe some of you who do live on farms and have chickens and horses, can give this a try!   Also, when I read my friend's email, I can picture her farm in "fairytale like" Bavaria full of dragons, unicorns, and fairies and start to imagine her two beautiful horses with glowing golden manes and tails walking into the cold dark barn from the snow covered valley in the alps. As they walk into the barn they begin to light it up with a warm glow like a candle and then they lay next to the chickens causing them to be very happy and content and after not laying eggs for many days due to the freezing temperatures, the hens start to lay lots and lots of eggs and are able to feed the hungry people in the village during the long cold winter. I guess my imagination has gotten away from me, but that is what Bavaria makes me think of and I loved my friend sharing this experience with me. I hope you have enjoyed it, too.  The pictures above and below are some photos from her farm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

Not much time to blog, lately, but wanted to post an update.  Just incase you haven't been keeping up with my blog, on July 1st my husband and I purchased 4 young hens and are raising them in a suburban neighborhood. All were coming of age and were supposed to be laying any day, but as the days went by still no eggs. I grew impatient until our Black Maran hen, named Blackie, was the first to lay an egg on Sept. 10th!  So the most recent and new news, is that a few weeks ago, on Oct. 10th, (exactly one month later!!!) our White Americauna hen, Betty White, started laying. Whoo hoo! So exciting for us! It's the little things. :) So now, knock on wood, we get two eggs almost everyday. We look forward to checking the nest boxes for eggs.  Betty W. lays a beautiful bluish/green egg and it looks so beautiful next to Blackie's dark brown egg.  Betty's first egg was very small, but now they are a normal size egg. It is a fun to think that maybe our other two will start laying any day now. Although, they show no signs or interest in laying right now. The funny thing is, even when you have little experience with chickens, you kind of know when one might start laying. They start to get more vocal and will go in and check out the nest boxes often. When this happens, then you know an egg is probably coming soon. We have a big grey Cochin hen, named Baby, and she has to be everywhere that Betty White is. I think this relationship started when we first got our hens, Blackie and especially, Meany (where the name comes from) always pecked and clawed at poor baby. She was the smallest and youngest hen at the time. We really worried for her survival, but Betty White always came to her rescue and got attacked many times for the sake of poor Baby. It was really sweet. Thankfully, all of our hens are BFF's now, but Betty W. and Baby remain inseparable. Whatever one does, the other does, too. I thought Baby might start laying soon, because she follows Betty to the nest box and sits in the nest box beside her when she lays an egg. But Baby has not become vocal and she only goes to the nest box when Betty does, so I guess she is only there for moral support right now. I'm afraid that if Baby and Meanie don't start laying very soon then it will be Spring before all four are laying, as I hear that egg laying becomes sparse in the wintertime. So, this is the latest and greatest regarding my suburban chickens! So many more things to write. One being an email to share that I recently received from my friend who runs a farm in Austria. A very interesting one regarding her chickens laying in the winter. Stay tuned!