Losing Feathers

Picture 1859Moments ago a neighbor up the road called to see if we had any extra eggs. ” Not at the moment”, I said, “the hens are molting and we’ve just put a light in the coop a few weeks ago”. The light is to extend the length of day, now that our days are getting shorter. Chickens need at least 14 hours of light a day to stimulate egg production, a light bulb in their coop helps with that. Molting also happens every year as the days shorten and the temperature cools. The chickens will shed their old feathers and begin to grow new ones, most often they stop laying while this is happening. The length of time for the new feathers to grow back in place varies from bird to bird. A lot depends on their diet. It takes a lot of energy to grow feathers ( feathers are mostly protein), so keeping them well fed and watered is important. For some birds their feathers will grow back in about 4 weeks, for others it may take up 6 or 8 weeks. Right now the inside of our chicken coop looks as though a major pillow fight has taken place. That’s kinda fun to imagine actually. We rake them up with the shavings and dump them into the compost piles. Feathers are fairly high in nitrogen, although they can take a long time to break down and to release the nitrogen into the soil. Always thinking about soil here, yes we are!
The gardens are now pretty well put to bed for the winter. Most have been covered with a nice layer of semi composted leaves. In the vegetable gardens, a few things continue to hang on…the kale, some chard, and several rows of carrots. The hoop house continues to produce some fresh greens. Soon however, the last bunch of our ram lambs will be occupying that structure, they’ll put an end to any green growth for sure.
How is it that we’re nearing the end of November already? Perhaps we’ve been tricked with this incredibly warm Fall weather. Maybe I thought September was lingering ( where did October go?) and that we still had months ahead before cold and snow. Let’s just hope those ladies in the chicken coop get their feathers back before a good Nor’easter blows in. I could knit them sweaters, I guess. If I ever find the time to knit sweaters for twenty naked chickens, I’ll definitely post pictures…… but don’t hold your breath waiting!

21 comments on “Losing Feathers

    • Yes, of course they’re all going to want their very own design, with brightly colored eggs marching across the yokes of their sweaters ( ha…yolks….didn’t even see that coming!), and probably monogrammed, as well ! Feel free to imagine these hens perched in their coop, naked necks sticking out beyond the collar of their newly fashioned sweaters……clucking away. hmmm

    • Well, Judy…send your address, I’d be happy to send along a bag of chicken feathers….you could stuff one of your beautiful quilts with them….a nice chicken feathered down comforter , what do you think???

  1. Sounds like perfect inspiration for “chicken art” to me….
    We had a bald (naturally bald, he felt like warm peach fuzz) rat name Kojak, and a friend really did knit me sweater for him; so see, knit happens sometimes.
    Fingers crossed for a speedy re-plumage for the girls.

    • Perhaps an “adopt a chicken’program? I could send out pictures of our egg laying ladies, crafters could choose their girl, and become their sweater sponsor! Oh, I think I’m on to something!! I know how crafty you are Melody, better sign up for a chicken and get to making ( sewing,crocheting, knitting) a garment for our featherless gals. Take your pick!!!

  2. Yes, always thinking about soil. The time has gone by and the weather definitely had Oct feeling like Sept. Now Nov is feeling more like Dec. Oh, how I would love to see 20 chickens wearing sweaters! 🙂

    • It seems we are quite obsessed with our soil building….always, always thinking about recycling all that is considered ‘waste’ back into the earth. Doesn’t it make a difference though! Grow good soil, is what we always say! I tempted to now knit at least ONE chicken sweater.

  3. Honestly, I do think you need to do at least one chicken sweater at this point–you’ve got us all dying to see what you come with! I hope the girls get their feathers back soon–I hate to think of them shivering and covered with goose (chicken?) bumps!

    • True kerry……and what the heck, I may as well go down in history as ….”ya know, that woman down on the North Ridge road, the one who knits fair isle sweaters for her laying hens….yeah, what ever happened to her????”. O.k., I’ll get started right away….stay tuned! New business? Pampered Poultry?

    • Is it o.k with you if I repost this site on the blog….oh geeze!!!! I guess a business knitting sweaters for chickens…not so crazy after all! Thanks!!!! Let me know if I can pass the site on to readers….and thanks for reading!!!

      • Pretty funny, no? Someone posted this on Facebook and I copied and pasted the link. I assumed that it was okay to pass on the link because it clearly attributes the content to mnn.com, but you will have to read the site’s terms to see whether you are comfortable passing it on. In other words, my permission is irrelevant! If you think I shouldn’t have included the link on your blog, let me know and I will edit it out of my comments.

        • I’ll go ahead and post it….too funny to not pass it along. Thanks a ton for sharing….still, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to knit cozies for the chickens, I can only imagine how my family members would react if I stop supplying them with hats, mittens, scarfs, socks, etc. to begin knitting for the chickens. I think I’d have to move into the coop myself!!!

        • You could start a new business–knitted Supergirl capes for hens, natural twin sets for the sheep (they already have the underlying sweater), and bacon-motif scarves for pigs.

        • And when I become super wealthy and famous and go down in history as the Coco Chanel of livestock fashion…which I no doubt will, I will surely mention your very timely input. The inspiration for my line of chicken formal wear was inspired by a fellow blogger and reader of Fernwood Nursery’s blog. Further more, when we have our New York debut, and the chickens make their way down the fashion runway modeling the latest in chicken sweaters and accessories….you will have a front row seat.

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