The Challenges Of Raising Chickens

It started in earnest in September with a few dropped feathers. Some days, the area around the Chicken Mansion looked like feather pillows had exploded.

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Each chicken by 18 months of age began her turn molting, even little Ashley, who looks positively patchy in this photo snapped a couple weeks ago.

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Molting is no fun — not for chickens and not for their keepers. As expected, egg production slowed to a trickle since the girls needed all their calories for feather production. When I’d peer into the nesting boxes, the expected eggs were replaced by a mass of feathers.

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Buying expensive feed while gathering just a couple eggs daily from 11 hens means we felt cheated.  Reflecting on adorable chick photos of our girls helped sustain my affection for them. From early March 2014:

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We now seem to be through the worst part of molting. Our very sad news is we lost two hens last week. Through a combination of some known and some mysterious mishaps, both Ashley and Olive are now gone.

The two funny, faithful Ameraucanas will be missed. It’s been through them that we’ve learned to love this breed, and we will continue to raise Ameraucanas beginning with chicks again in March. Ashley had the black cross on her back when we first brought her home during Ash Wednesday week 2014, like an ash cross.  Ashley was always first out of the pen for free range afternoons and had a sweet, submissive spirit that allowed me to pick her up pretty much whenever I wanted to. Black Olive with her cute crooked beak laid a lovely greenish egg that was also the best to hard boil out of all eggs since it consistently peeled like a dream.

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Our other nine hens live on to explore and lay another day.

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