It may seem early, but I'm starting to clear some garden beds and get them ready for winter. I blame it on not putting in as large a garden this year and being tired of the very hot summer weather we're struggling through. Some of the plants are showing signs of struggling, too, so I'm just not going to fight it.
We all are familiar with the song that starts "The hills are alive . . . " Well, the plants are alive . . . with grasshoppers. Great, big, healthy grasshoppers. And they are hungry. If they had invaded when the plants were small, I'm sure they would have destroyed them all. So I'm grateful the giant jumpers have waited to make an appearance until this late in the season. I'm sure they're a sign of the drought.
And drought conditions we are still having. Our local weather report daily states we are having "near critical fire conditions." No rain is in the forecast for the near future. Periodically they will say there is a slight chance of precipitation, but it just doesn't materialize.
I almost hate to show this picture of our pond. As you can see by this one end of it, the water level is down about 4' and it's turning into such a sad looking puddle. It's not spring fed but rather gets water from the run-off of high ground to the north of us. No rain equals no run-off this summer.
We've never had much luck enticing any of the breeds of full-sized chickens we've had into being good setters and hatching our replacement chicks. The bantam breeds haven't (so far) been as inbred and still have some of the old-fashioned characteristics of going broody so this spring we ordered a few Silkie Bantams in the hope they would do the job for us.
We've never had this variety of bantams before and they certainly are strange looking little creatures. Above are two of them, nearly full grown now, along with a couple of teenage full-sized birds.
They don't have feathers as much as fuzz or fur. They're as soft as they look and are very friendly. Here they're clustered around some whole grain treats scattered on the ground. From the back they look like large, moving pom-poms.
We have half white ones and half black ones. They aren't touted as great egg layers (they may lay somewhere around 100 eggs a year), but we aren't really concerned about that because we have laying hens that keep us supplied in a good quantity of eggs.
If all goes as planned, these little fuzzies will earn their keep hatching out new chicks for us. Plus, I think they'll be a fun addition to our flock.
We have dryness too! We got some rain but not much, It all helps! The country is in such a state some areas are flooding other's are dry! Love the chickens! They do look soft and friendly. Sorry about your garden. there's not much you could of done to help it. xo
linnellnickerson - Yes, our weather "problems" could be a lot worse. Many folks are dealing with much more difficult situations than we are. Considering the weather we've had this summer, I can't complain about what we've gotten out of the garden. I'm not happy about sharing with the grasshoppers, but they've got to eat, too!
So sorry about your continued lack of rain and then the grasshoppers. Have you ever had a summer with so little rain before? The fire danger is scary, says someone who lives, surrounded by bush. We get nervous in dry times. Those 'puff-ball' chickens look comical, but cute.
I'm sorry you continue to suffer from drought as well. Are Silkies winter-hardy in your area? I thought I've heard that's a problem. Our four new chickens are not quite three months old so still growing; they are co-existing well with the seven old hens.
Rosalea - No, we've never known a dry season like this before. And I hope we don't have to experience it again. We had a low level of snow on the ground this winter which made for a dryer than normal spring which no one up here likes to see. Then the heat and lack of rain hit. Ooof. Not a comfortable situation.
Michelle - We have read that Silkies are not as winter hardy as other varieties but they will be housed in our new chicken quarters this winter with all the other birds and are hoping they will be fine. If not, we'll pen them off in a corner with a heat lamp. Glad your new chicks have integrated well with the older gals.
Drought is worrisome, and I'm sorry you're experiencing it right now. If only we could control the weather!
I'm still waiting to find out if any of our new chickens have the broody instinct. Otherwise, I think we should finally follow your example and get some banties. I think you're right about inbreeding. The more I learn about genetic diversity, the more answers I have to challenges we've faced.
Sorry to hear about the dry conditions. You still have vegetables, no doubt, that could use some rain. Your silkies are adorable. Where were you able to get them?? Are the other chickens getting along o.k. with them? I'd be concerned that they are so small, they'd be pecked a lot. I've heard they are good for going broodie, as well. -Jenn
Hang tough MP! As you said you aren’t alone and actually have pretty good company in that regard 🤩
Love Silkies. Daughter bred several varieties of bantams including Call Ducks. The ducks were extremely prolific and the Silkies and Millie Fleurs were amazing layers for such tiny packages.
Enjoying lovely late summer morning today . Our temperatures have dropped back down to normal and below normal. I Can smell a hint of autumn in the air as I post this comment.
We were up to the Detroit Lakes area about 4 weeks ago, and things were looking more and more pitiful dry the farther north we went from east central Iowa (not in drought at the time). I imagine it's only gotten worse since. I guess we'll find out when we go back next week to help niece finish estate related cleanup. Hope it's a bit cooler at least! How deep is your pond that it can be down 4 feet and still have that much water? Though pictures can be deceiving, maybe there's less than what appears to be.
The silkies are so cuuuuute!! I've occasionally thought about getting chickens, but know they'd most likely end up being raccoon snacks. Besides, I'm not so sure I want anything more that needs fed/watered/cleaned up after, so I don't - the outside cats are enough to care for right now.
Leigh - We've kept banties before specifically for their broodiness and always been happy with them. Our last hen (previous to this batch) was 8/9 years old when she peacefully tipped over and was gone. The banties have always been such docile, easy birds who give us a good amount of eggs for the little feed they consume. So this new batch of the Silkies will hopefully last us a good long time. Sadly, commercial hatcheries can't afford to efficiently hatch chicks by letting their birds sit on eggs to reinforce the (what should be) inborn broodiness. All eggs are now hatched in an incubator far away from any mama hen. :o(
Jenn - Our Silkies came from Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio. Our poultry pasture is big enough that we've never had problems with small chicks or banties being harassed. There are lots of bugs, worms and green grass for the birds to roam about in/on. Every once in a while you'll see a bigger bird run over and chase a smaller bird away from what looks like a tasty morsel, but no harm done.
Goatldi - Glad to hear your daughter found the Silkies to be good layers! Wonderful that your high temps have dropped and you can feel autumn in the air! We're really eager for that feeling this year.
Just Gail - Our pond isn't very deep when it's full, only about 6' so hubby and I both think we've got only about 2' of water in it now. Ugh. I know what you mean about acquiring more animals than you really want to spend the time caring for! Over the years we've gone the gamut from raising some of just about everything thinking that was the way to go. Nope. For so many reasons. Hopefully we've gained some sense (!) now and make careful decisions about that very thing.
Having lived outside of Perham (we attended church in Detroit Lakes), JustGail's comment jarred me. I hadn't considered our old stomping grounds vulnerable to drought!
Michelle - I know. We can hear and read about various weather related conditions in any number of other places, but until we can relate it to something of which we have personal knowledge, it often doesn't feel real. Up here in the north woods, we're very unused to drought, too. I mean, think of all the heavily wooded areas, the plethora of lakes, the cool summers (ha!) and you wouldn't think we'd be in drought conditions either. :o\
WOW! Those fuzzy chicken are SO CUTE!! I have never seen anything like them!! So what if they aren't good egg layers. They are just adorable! (ok, so I am not a farmer and it is easy for me to say "so what!" Ha.) Really, just too darn cute for words.
Retired Knitter - It's probably just because they're new to us but we're having lots of fun watching these Silkies. You may be sure that if they turn out to be good broody hens for us, we won't care if they don't give us a gazillion eggs!
I do hope you've had a bit of this rain from Storm Fred? It has been a blessing here, raining a little or a lot every single day this week. It's such a relief after the long dry month of July.
The silkies look so pretty. We have some new chicks that we bought at Tractor Supply for 1.00 each because they were "old", the lady said. Which means about a week old. That suited us just fine. They're growing well, a variety I'd never heard of, ISO Browns. They're supposed to be great layers, which we like.
Praying that you get rain soon. That pond is just so sad.
Granny Sue - I'd never heard of your variety of new chicks but when I looked them up (I think they're called ISA Browns?) they sure sound good. Docile temperaments and will lay LOTS of eggs. Good luck with them! We have a 60% chance of rain tonight (so they say) and we are hope, hope, hoping it comes to pass. Our trees are really starting to suffer. Turning brown and yellow before the usual fall color season.
I'm so sorry about your drought. We have had more rain than usual this year so go figure! Your new little chickies are so cute. They do look like pompoms! I'll pray for rain for you and maybe you cou ld go out and do a rin dance? Take care!
Sam - Maybe our rain dancing (plumb wore out several pairs of shoes doing this all summer) has finally done a little good. We got 3/10ths of an inch last night and early this morning. Not nearly enough (especially with a huge forest fire burning 48 miles away as the crow flies), but we're grateful for even that much. Thanks for your concern.
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