The sun is shining, but the clouds are rolling back in. My weather widget says we can expect rain through Sunday, and even then I don't expect things to get better. I guess it's just that time of year in the Pacific Northwest again. The girls, as you can expect, are less than pleased about the weather. They truly enjoy their outside time, and being confined to their enclosure is less than pleasing to them. Today they received a handful of strawberry tops, the last of the season. The patty pan squash are less appetizing, and the most recent one I left for them has been pecked at in an apathetic manner. Perhaps I am not the only one emotionally effected by the dreary grey days.
I built a "chicken ladder" for them a couple of weeks ago, and it appears to be unused so far. All the best chicken resources say that you need to provide your hens with a roosting pole inside their coop. My attempt has backfired. They still cluster right next to the door, waiting for me to open it in the morning, then push their way out and down to the food. I am convinced that they are not bright. Not bright, but definitely hungry. They are currently consuming food at an alarming rate. I can't blame them. It's been cold both day and night recently. I think I've been refilling the feeder every three or four days, adding in some three-way scratch to keep them happily pecking away. We are on our last bag of developer feed, and we may need one more 50 pound bag before they are old enough to lay. Going by the calendar, they should be six month old and ready to give us eggs by about MLK day, January 18, 2010. I am not, however, expecting to see eggs before late February, given the lack of daylight at that time of the year. A friend and co-enthusiast of urban chickens was in one of the classes I taught at work last week, and she suggested lighting the coop to promote more laying. While I've read about that option elsewhere, I'm concerned about reducing the hens' overall lifespan and laying ability. It just sounds so unnatural!!
Yesterday was also an information drop-in day at Everett Community College, where I will begin my quest for a BA in Environmental Planning and Policy. I met with the head of the department, and she gave me lots of useful information about this new degree program which is a blend of Western Washington University and the Huxley College of the Environment. I'll be starting my freshman year in January, and I only hope the math and English classes are as easy as I expect.