Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Low-Down on Feathers (Tuesday, Aug. 24)

I went out to feed the animals this morning still half asleep.  I got all the way to the barn and realized the scoops I needed were sitting by the back door.  I had remembered my camera, though--bad farmer, good photographer!--so I took this picture of my tracks in the heavy dew with the dogs waiting for me to come back.

This sight is all the reward I needed for doing the chores!
Coming back to the house, I marveled over the beauty of row upon row of mountains fading into the distance from our front door.
Sterling enjoys an after-breakfast catnap on the Kubota tractor.  Rascal's been keeping herself scarce since I chased her off the top of the chick brooder.  I think I hurt her feelings.  Lucky for Sterling, he's too lazy to hunt my chicks!
The Ameraucana chicks are feathering out more smoothly than the Naked Necks.  Perched on top of the concrete block, Pepi-two shows off her new feathers . . .
. . . and what she can do with them as she flutters down to the floor.
I've discovered why my hens are hardly laying lately.  You may think, "No wonder!  It looks like something killed them!"

That's exactly what I thought when I opened the coop door on this sight.  My second thought was that Victoria and Esmerelda had attacked Gypsy.  A bit of research on the internet revealed that my third guess was correct:  They're molting!  Apparently it is quite common for chickens to begin molting in August as the days begin to shorten.  It is also common for them to stop laying while they molt.  Unfortunately, it can take anywhere from two to six months to finish growing out their new feathers!  Gee whiz!  By then my new chicks will be ready to lay! 
Here's Gypsy enjoying a dust-bath in the barn.  You can practically see her "rootching" (a good old German word I learned from my Grandma Tritschler) her way down into the dirt.  Ahh!  While it may not be my idea of how to get comfortable, Gypsy was obviously loving it.

I've noticed the girls don't eat much and aren't ranging very far from the barn.  They're spending a lot of time nestled down in the dirt . . . just growing feathers, I guess!  It turns out that my "mistake" of buying unmedicated 20% chick starter is actually serendipitous, because the high-protein food is exactly what they need to help make new feathers. Feathers are almost 100% protein, so it takes a lot of extra protein to make new ones.  And that's the low-down on feathers, so you're "up" on them along with me!


  1. AWESOME Pictures especially of Silver, I mean Silvester, I mean the grey cat. :-)

  2. You're so funny! You could just call him Cat-Thingy . . . :)

  3. I'm waiting for someone to notice my pun . . .

  4. as in "down" on feathers??

    I'm catching up on your blog--I've missed reading it a few days. I'm sleepy now so will read more another day

  5. @Barbara, you got it! A feather in your cap! :)


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