The girls are molting! I noticed tons of feathers inside the coop over the last week or so, but I assumed there had been a skirmish of some sort within the pecking order. Saturday I was cleaning out the coop though and noticed the ladies are starting to shed their feathers to grow new ones for the cold winter days ahead. Are they going to be completely naked at some point, or do they lose them in patches? I guess I will find out.
I adopted my urban chickens last October and they had already stopped laying for the season when I brought them home. The molting had already happened as well, so I have no idea what exactly that process looks like. Egg production is down as well. It was only a couple weeks ago that we were giving away eggs to anyone who would take them home, and now we are only getting maybe one a day – maybe! I suppose I was a little optimistic with my fake egg I have planted in the nesting box. I thought that might buy me another month or so of eggs if the girls saw that little reminder every morning.
The girls were banished from free-ranging in the backyard after I returned from my trip to South Korea. Yesterday, however, I decided it was time they came back out. Here is a picture to the right of them going at it around the roots of my struggling echinacea plant. They scratch back the mulch, then dig into the earth looking for worms and bugs. The beneficial things they are doing include tilling the earth, dropping some high-nitrogen poop into the soil, and pest control by eating any and all bugs they find. Unfortunately, their grand day out is followed by me spending time raking the mulch back over the plants. I lost a few plants this summer during my trip because the plants fried in the hot sun with their roots exposed to the elements from all the chicken scratching.
Yesterday was a great clean-up day in the garden in general. I lopped off some artichoke blossoms and noticed one of my tomato plants has given up on life. Today it is sprinkling, which saves me from watering this evening. And I have more gourds than I know what to do with. In fact, that will be my next post! It will be a gourd-tastic themed post.