You do not know how much help you have been as I try to tackle some of my dreams. But I have a question about our chickens. We have six hens and one rooster. The rooster was just hatched this past spring. He is picking on one of our hens who was hatched last year. He just goes after her to pick on her/attack her. It’s not the typical mating stuff. We’ve been able to keep them apart for the last month or so. (But we put The Boss in with all the hens at night and remove him first thing in the morning.) He used to get along with this particular hen. Could her molting have caused him to think she’s weak, and thus prompted his attacks? She’s done molting as far as I can tell, and he’s still attacking her. Is there anything I can do to help these two get along? She’s a good layer, and we were hoping to hatch a batch of our own chicks next spring.
Sometimes one chicken just becomes aggressive with another. The molting may have started it, or not. His maturing hormones may have just gotten overstimulated. You can try trimming his upper beak off with a pair of dog toenail clippers, removing about 1/3. If it bleeds you’ll need to be prepared to cauterize it with a red hot screwdriver blade. This sometimes stops the picking. If not, I’d advise trading the rooster for another one or butchering him to save the hen. Or you could trade the hen to someone if the rooster is only picking on her. Good luck. — Jackie
We have chickens; one is dying every week or two weeks. Bleeding out their vent. We have 3 ducks in with them and have not had any problems with the ducks. Any idea what is wrong?
Watch your chickens carefully. Are one or more of the chickens picking on the others? Often when there is bleeding from the vent it comes from having been picked by other birds. Hens can take very little of this before dying. If this is not the case, I’d advise taking a recently dead (or live bird with symptoms) to your local vet and asking his opinion. — Jackie
Poor garden area
What a wealth of info you are. Since you’ve worked with all kinds of soils, I’m hoping you can direct me a bit. For 5 years I’ve planted a 25′ x 50′ area beside my house. The soil had been covered with a mobile home for over 10 years and I had it removed. Everything I’ve planted has been hit or miss. I’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, cukes and melons + other stuff. I’ve got a mostly clay/sand composition and had been adding a bit of peat moss ( about one bale of it across the entire plot.
This past year I contacted an old high school friend who raises horses and went and got enough manure to sprinkle over the entire surface last Jan. Then I tilled it in twice three weeks apart. Cukes went crazy, fantastic. Peppers, tomatoes and melons set a lot of fruit, but lost 95% to blossom-end rot. Our summer was very dry so I used soaker hoses, but several times we got torrential rains of several inches at a time. String beans did really well too, but okra didn’t get as tall even though it produced well. My wife is fed up and doesn’t want me to plant a garden anymore because of my poor luck. I also specifically ordered Heirloom seeds this year and started cukes and tomatoes from seed in the house, another thing she hates. Any suggestions ? I just want a garden that works.
Larry D. Petersime
Moncks Corner, South Carolina
Sorry to hear your wife isn’t supportive of your gardening efforts. But I think when your garden begins to produce well, she’ll come around. Nobody can resist all those garden fresh vegetables! Your biggest problem is your clay soil. You just need more organic material worked into the soil to make your garden work well. Many new gardeners experience partial (or total) failures with a new garden plot and give up. So sad! Hardly any new garden is really productive; it just doesn’t happen. Gardens require a few years of care before the soil gets into good condition and you gain experience. Here on our new raw homestead in the woods, we started out with pure gravel and rocks. But slowly, as we added more rotted manure through the years and worked the soil, picking tons of rocks, our soil improved into a rich black loam. And it’s terrifically productive now! Yours will be too. It takes rotted manure, hard work, and patience. See if your friend can give you a lot more manure this fall and winter. Pile it on at least eight inches deep (or what your tiller will till under), leave it to “cook” for a few weeks, then add another layer and till that in. Go a little light on the area you will be planting tomatoes and peppers — too much manure will result in lots of plants but few tomatoes. As your soil improves, it will retain moisture and blossom end rot will gradually be a thing of the past. Hang in there!
Do be aware that in some areas of the country, farmers and ranchers are spraying their hay fields with a herbicide to improve the quality of their hay (no weeds!). Unfortunately, this has seriously affected a few homesteaders who have used this composted hay/manure on their gardens. It has residual affects on all plant life, including your garden vegetables. This practice is fairly uncommon in most areas, thank God, but I thought I’d better mention it, FYI. — Jackie