Monday, January 11

Monday, January 11, 2010... Off We Went to the Agway Farm Store for Feed...

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We knew we could not get through yesterday without at least a few bags of layer pellets for the chickens. We were low enough that we couldn't even feed in the morning properly without going to Agway. I went to the pickup, cleaned off the windshield and attempted to start that cold blooded ol' diesel to no avail. I immediately got the battery charger to recharge the run down battery after turning it over so much. I'm smart enough to know that the battery can't survive without a charge in it and it would freeze and burst. I then thought I should plug the block heater in and it would easily start when I was ready. I pulled the male plug cord out the front opening to attach it to the extension cord and was immediately annoyed to see I was holding a 12" extension cord in one hand and the plugged in extension cord in the other. I suppose the 12" cord simply plugs onto the block heater up under the front of the truck, but I was not going to lay in the snow to plug that little extension cord onto the block heater...where ever it is up under there. Anyway, we just took the car to Agway and let the truck sit with the battery charger on the battery, charging... We're betting that the diesel tractor in the tractor shed won't want to start too quickly either, so I might as well figure on bringing wood pellets to the front porch with the car too. We've been using the car to travel all over the farm in the last two weeks, saving us from wading through the snow everywhere we went. I take the car for the morning feeding, evening feeding and when we take the cats out for the evening and put them into the loft. We found it much nicer in the slippery, cold, snowy weather to just step into the car at the front door and drive it right out through the back yard to the duck and chicken barn, then over to the big barn. That way there is no slipping or falling on the ice and snow and we keep a lot warmer in the windy conditions.
Yeah...I'll just take the car to the pellet shed and bring the eight bags in and worry with the tractor some other time.
Vick's brother, wife and kids were to be here for dinner last evening. We dined without Rob and Katie because Rob was sick and stayed home and Katie stayed to keep an eye on her. We chatted a bit with Rich and Kenny after dinner and during coffee and then they took off for home. Vick's Mom and Dad are staying with us for a few days as a vacation, so her brother actually came here to visit them and us, along with enjoying dinner.
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Eggs continue to pile up now since we've instituted the heavier feeding plan that John, our new friend from California suggested to us. We never increased the feed amounts from summer when the weather turned cold, failing to think that the chickens need additional feed to produce body heat AND eggs. Without the additional feed, the production of an egg goes to generating the extra energy needed to produce heat to maintain body temperature. As soon as we kept the feed pans filled around the clock and they ate their fill, the egg production came back up. We do that, along with continuous light, clean, unfrozen water and dry lodging with no outside breezes entering the barn. I found that supplemental crushed corn sprinkled around makes them happier yet and helps boost egg production. We also supply a bowl of crushed oyster shells for a mineral boost to help egg shell condition too. Last year we had a breezy barn which caused the chickens to use additional energy to keep warm. This past summer, we closed in the soffits and gable ends to eleminate outside winds from whizzing through the barn and it has made a great difference inside. If you are a poultry person and are having the problem of winter egg production slumps, remember the following five things. Feed...water...light...dry breeze.
Thank goodness for John and Stanley. Stanley, our artist friend and neighbor down the road, brought John, one of his old shipmates from the Coast Guard, to see us and the farm last summer one day. He offered to help us then if we ever needed it and we graciously said we would call if anything ever happened. John was in the farm business his entire life and now is a highly paid consultant. We can certainly see why, after the way his instruction changed our egg production back to almost what it was this past summer. Getting constant egg production is a real feat once you understand the performance of a pullet's first two year cycle...and a miracle after that!

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