Production, it’s not what it used to be. Part II

I went to the Rogue Winterfest today and took a walk around the trees displayed. There were some pretty fancy things there. I loved this ornament.  It made me think how nice it would be to have a little trailer that I could take and go wherever a whim suited me to go. I’m feeling like a trip, a long trip in a trailer, would be good for my soul about now.

A cozy Christmas Camper

A cozy Christmas Camper

Two nights ago I was watching the most recent Grey’s Anatomy. It is one of the few shows I enjoy watching.  I typically watch it after the fact on the computer. Do any of you watch it? Well, there is a baby on this episode that is needing heart surgery. I didn’t realize until late into the show that the baby in question had the same condition as my son Kevin had. Today would have been  his 27th birthday. They didn’t have successful surgeries for his condition in 1985. Hypo-plastic left heart syndrome was a sure death sentence for babies.  They had tried a few experimental surgeries in St. Louis back then, but all the babies had died on the table. My husband and I decided to not put our baby through that. I wanted to just hold him as long as I could.  I didn’t want to have him pass away on a sterile cold surgical table without the warmth of his mama.  And so I did…I held him every single minute I could until his last breath was gone. Even tho it was 27 years ago….I always find myself feeling a little tilted from about December 7th until after the 13th. He passed on the 12th. My youngest brother’s birthday is on the 13th. That is my reminder that it is time to move on.,  This year, because of watching this show two days ago, I had it brought to my attention a bit more strongly than it has been in many years.  Typically, since it has been so long, it is a slow awareness that brings it to my attention.  Noticing the date and having my mind jolted into “oh yeah…that’s why I feel a bit off”.   I hope you all don’t mind me sharing this with you…sometimes sharing things eases the weight of them a bit.

That same show held another moment for me. Bailey is struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed as being “symptomatic” of OCD years ago. I haven’t  really noticed it  being problematic or pervasive much over the last few years, that is, until moving to this house I am living in. Being where things are so broken and ugly and clutterd and just funky has made me feel more anxious. There is not one room in the entire house that is completely “normal” with everything in working order and painted and cleaned. It kinda wears on me.

So that is why this little trailer caught my eye. It made me think about just wanting to get in a trailer that was all cute and cozy and just go with the flow. Wherever I wanted to go.  Of course, that isn’t going to happen.  But sometimes…letting our minds wander like that, thinking about a trip to wherever, it can help one to get through the moment.

For many many months I was really struggling with pain and  decreased energy.  That was the reason for starting this thread on low production.  Each day all my energy was used just to get a meal and maybe a shower.  It started with the intense heat of the summer, then the smoke from the fires and then the weather changed dramatically in late September and the pain in my joints escalated to where I wasn’t doing much of anything.  Or at least that is how it felt to me.

I had always been so active in the past.  I worked hard and played hard.  I work and worked a lot, always at physically hard jobs.  I worked in food service for years.  If you have been a waitress you know how demanding that is.  I worked at the brown truck company as a pre-loader lifting approximately 50,000 lbs worth of packages a day.  I owned/operated my own businesses, first doing housekeeping and then lawn maintenance.  Then I went back to school at the age of 35.  Single mom, working as a nursing assistant as well as still mowing some lawns a couple days a week in addition to taking classes to get into a nursing program.   It took me 10 years of schooling, all the time working  and raising kids and keeping a house, to get my degree as a registered nurse.  It’s been almost 3 years since I have worked at a regular job and it is still hard for me to accept.  And now, living in this house that needs so much attention and has so much cleaning to be done, while not having the strength or energy to do it,  is really hard.  Especially for someone that has symptoms of OCD. Every day I would hope to be able to clean an area or fix up something, but I just couldn’t stay out of bed long enough for weeks on end.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, the weather changed again.  We hit a cold spell.  A very DRY frigid cold spell.  Low and behold, my energy has been better.  My pain has been reduced.  NO, it is not gone, but it is better than it has been for over 4 months.  It’s been good now for nearly two weeks.  The increased energy has come at a good time.  It is the holiday season.  I have things I’ve wanted to do and things I  want to accomplish.

I am not much of a gift buyer, but I do enjoy making gifts.  As most of you know the holidays take energy if one enjoys participating.  So, I am grateful for this current improvement.  I don’t know how long it will last.  I never know if tomorrow will find me hurting too much to do more than the basics again.   I am doing the best I can to do what brings me enjoyment and fulfillment each day that I get that I feel well.  This house…it isn’t going to get fixed over the holidays. In fact, it is possible that it will never really get fixed during the time I live here.   But I can do a few things to make it have a bit of coziness during the month of Christmas.  I can bake and create lovely aromas to entice smiles and warm memories for anyone who comes by.  I can make gifts of food to share with friends and neighbors to bring a smile to their face.

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking!  :)

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking! 🙂

So, production WAS down and now it is better.That is how it has been with the Layers too.  They went through a rough summer.  They were moved to a small funky coop in town.  They were put with another group of chickens.  They had to deal with the heat and the smoke.  And then they molted.  But now they are looking beautiful and giving us about 8 eggs a day.  They are in a new season and production is good.  It could change again.   Production changes with the ever changing environment.  I guess I’m not so different from the chickens.  🙂

DSC_1830

I think there are still a few girls holding out. They must not have heard the rumor about the stew pot.

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Production at an all time low: Part 1

Around my house, if one talks about production being down, it’s usually in relation to the recent output from The Layers and Crew.  (It seemed appropriate since the flock is now a combination of my girls and his girls and our girls, that I needed an updated title for the group.  What do you think?)   In layman’s terms, how many eggs did we get today? Production has been down.  Last year at this time the girls were giving me about 8 eggs a day form 13 hens.  My guy was getting oodles from his girls.  He didn’t gather daily (eeks…I know!!! I gather a few times a day most days) and so there would be a couple dozen when he would go gather.  He was giving them to all the neighbors and they loved him for it.

The decrease did not come overnight.  It has been like this for months.  When we (The Layers and I) were still out at the farm and they were free-ranging, they were giving me nearly 6 dozen a week.  That was out of the dozen girls that were old enough to lay.   The first change for them came when I changed their food.  They had been having Rogue Quality Feeds Layer Pellets when I got them in October and I kept them on that until late spring.  I changed it to the Rogue Nature’s Harmony Organic Layer Pellets.  They are both 16% protein.  The only difference is that one is made with grains that had been certified Organic by the Oregon State Dept. of Agriculture, per the packaging.   I noticed a slight drop in my daily egg counts. Then, in May, when things began blooming and I came back from a trip, my landlord asked me to pen them.  They were getting into her pretty flower beds.  I understood.  So a pen was built around their coop by none other than my most favorite hardworking handyman..my boyfriend.  He even made the gate cute for me.  🙂  Right away, there was a significant drop.  In  April I had been getting about 9 or 10 a day and then it was down to about 6.  I felt they were crowded.  The enclosed area was plenty large enough by the standards you see when you look to find out how much space a chicken takes.  I had 17 chickens and they had a 16×8 foot coop and their run was at least twice that big.  So maybe around 350-400 square feet of ground space for them.   That’s plenty for certain.  But I felt they had given up too much space.  They had been roaming 3 acres for the last 8 months.  So I decided to re-home 5 of the original Layers.  And the eggs skidded down to a mere 4 or 5 a day. But wait a minute.  4 or 5 a day out a of dozen chickens?  Oh…wait a minute, let’s evaluate.  I had 13 Layers, one died.  That left a dozen.  Then I got 5 baby chicks.  So 13-1+5=17 chickens in the flock.  Am I right?  Please check my math.  Then I sent 5 of the “original” flock to a home where they could free range once again.  Out of the babies, which none of them were old enough to lay eggs yet, was a rooster!  So, I was down to only 7 Layers.  Having 5 eggs a day was pretty good production. Then the heat came in early June.  It was in the 90’s daily by mid June.  Egg production down to about 3, but I did start getting itsy bitsy cutie patootie little eggs in July!  The Littles were laying.

In July I moved, and in August, the girls were transplanted into the city.  Boy oh boy, did production drop then.  They were in a very small coop/run with a whole new flock of chickens.  For a bit, we were getting about a dozen eggs a day from The Layers and Crew.  A dozen isn’t bad, until you do the math.  Damn chicken math!!!  I had my dozen, of which 4 of them were The Littles and not laying regularly yet.  There was the flock my guy had with 12 that we think were laying, but he didn’t know for absolute certain.  He used to have 17, but we re-homed 5 of his before we brought mine.  So let’s look at the math.  17(his original Crew) + 12 (My group) – 5 (The Littles)=24 Layers – 5 (the ones he re-homed before mine came) = 19 Layers.  I’m getting lost in this chicken math.  I know we re-homed a few of his and a few of mine to get to where we had 1/2 dozen of each and by putting them all together we had a flock of a dozen.  Then we got the two Red-Laced Blue Wyandottes.  We are on our way back up.  Or so we thought.  We are up on chickens but DOWN on the number of eggs.  We only had 8 that were Laying and we’re getting about 4 eggs a day.  Hmmm….that sounds similarly close to how it was last winter.

Did I tell you I noticed in late August or early September that my Polish hen had different colored feathers in her bonnet.  Some new white ones.  She was never a white head before. Before we got the newest Littles (we will always be having Littles I think) my guy again took out his tools and gathered up a bunch of stuff from around this piece of property and he made us a new coop/run that was more airy and larger and more secure and so much nicer.  So again, they became upset.   They were moved.  Production went down again.  There were a few days that we’ve had only 1 or 2 eggs.

I know that in September I started noticing a lot of feather laying in the chicken run.  They were molting.  I believe that is why my Polish hen, Miss Donna, had a change in her bonnet.  A few of them became pretty rough looking over the next few weeks.  Even my gorgeous Austrolop, Sweetie, was not her usual full feathered self.  Fortunately that only lasted a month or so and they are looking much better now.

Here we are now, with mid November upon us and still production is down.  We put up a light for heat and well…for light after daylight savings time ended.  Even with 24 hours of light we still only are getting 3 or 4 eggs a day.  I am starting to think that a few of my guys Crew are much older than 2 or 3 years old.  If that is the case, we may be rehoming a few, or making chicken stock.  We decided to give them 2 weeks to ante up, or off they go to a new home or the stew pot.  That is part of chicken math too!  When you have the bulk of a flock that isn’t laying for months on end and you are spending money on feed and not having anything tangible in return, then something has got to change.  At least at our house it does.

On the up side, the Blue Red Laced Wyandottes should be laying anytime now.  I haven’t noticed any tiny little eggs yet, but they are just about the right age for those cute first little round eggs.  I’ll be sure to share it with you all when it occurs.

The Littles give little eggs.

The Littles give little eggs.