In the coop, our hens have been doing great. Since the winter has been mild thus far, they are super active and are getting lots of sunny winter afternoons foraging in the dormant garden. We are gathering a dozen eggs a day regularly and have developed a great group of friends and neighbors who gladly purchase or trade for our eggs every week. The egg money has been covering the cost of feed and things seemed to be just grand.
In the hives, things seemed to be going well also. Both of the colonies are still alive despite my lack of knowledge and the many opportunities to fail. The bees have been making use of the sugar I provided (blog post: mid-december part-2: emergency feeding) and and appear to be wintering well.
As I was still kicking my self over the hive incident, Whit came home one afternoon and found a dead hen. One of our araucanas we called "Grousie" (because she looked like a ruffed grouse as a chick) was laying dead on the coop floor. We looked her over but could not find any marks or anything out of place at all. The coop and run had not been broken into and there was no blood. She looked for all the world like she was laying on the floor asleep. After a sad good bye, we started looking into why this could have happened. There are actually a number of ways a chicken can die unexpectedly from heart attack to calcium over douse. Since we believe little Grousie was a new layer and her vent appeared swollen, Whitney suspects an impaction of the oviduct, a birthing complication you could say. Chicken reproduction is really fascinating, check out this great blog: http://eggcartonlabels.blogspot.com/ how hens makes eggs if your interested. This is our best guess, but for now the death remains an un-solved mystery.
Grousie is the furthest rear hen in the above photo, we'll miss her around the coop.
We remain positive of course, speed bumps like these are all apart of the journey.
I hope my next post brings better news. Until next time.