So. I sit here, in bed, comfy-leggings-and-bulky-sweatered-up, on a Friday evening (my cool life knows no bounds amiright?), one that the Mister and I planned as a date night, and I am instead faced with a headache after doing comparatively little to what I could do pre-head-injury. This is all after a Sunday to Wednesday migraine that left me totally exhausted and with a bruised-feeling brain and spine to match. Ugh. My productivity grinds to a painful, pounding halt when the migraines come a callin'.
These post-concussion symptoms mean I end up doing a lot of this:
And when I can tolerate enough light and sound and just want to be distracted from the pain, there's some of this too:
As I sit here, I am contemplating my ever growing to do list and what I have on the go. And what compromises I have to make. Like coop lighting, for example.
Well, the light is on in the chicken coop as of tonight at 6:30pm when the sun had totally disappeared. I've been trying to figure out why the three 25 week old hens aren't laying yet. I've dealt with these breeds before. I expect eggs by now....and yet...the ladies remain....egg-defiant. Barren. Hungry yet elusive.
"C'mon ladies!" I say to them in the morning and evening when I check the nestboxes. "Sheesh!"
They stare at me blankly. "Wraaaaaah?"
They come to investigate the bearer of food. Does she have worms or fruit peelings or treats? When they realize I don't, they go back about their business. Scratching at the ground, pecking at my freckles (they must be edible, right?), finding a comfy place to roost, searching for things I can't see in the sand....
So I looked up the weather chart. Duh, I know, but I've been a little preoccupied....and they're only getting 10 hours of sunlight per day. Hens usually require 14-16 hours of light per day to lay eggs. I'm not for or against lighting coops: I know its a hot button topic for some, and after some research I feel comfortable supplementing with light only to add a few hours per day. I don't want my lights on all the time. I figure the Ladies don't either. They need their beauty rest after all. Plus it just ain't natural. If I had a big non-urban homestead where I could keep chickens that I had no use for egg-wise, who were good natured and I could justify retiring, I would probably not supplement with light, except on the coldest days, or I'd just use radiant heat that isn't a fire concern, as I did with my newest batch of chicks.
But...back on topic.
We need eggs people! Oh my....purchasing organic eggs at the store pains my soul and wallet (so.darned.expensive). We were spoiled with all the glorious, delicious, delightful, dark-orangey goodness that is an egg that you plucked from the nest, still-warm. And after having enjoyed a profuse amount of eggs in a rainbow of colours from my well-fed-but-not-overfed urban flock, with their Homemade Organic Feed, and their organic sprouted grains, fermented feed and daily fruits, veggies, grasses, weeds, greens, home-raised-organic mealworms and waxworms.....I expect better. So lighting it is! But only so their total light equals the Summery minimum of 14-16 hours per day. No more. Perhaps less once they're laying...as once laying is in full swing with my heritage breeds I find they don't need to much extra light to have their laying continue in full production, lighting or not. I'm still planning, saving and brainstorming for my "solar powered radiant heat coop". Likely not as far off as it sounds, it's certainly one of my dreams for the chickens and the good ol' earth. But alas, not yet.
So lighting it is.
Also? Wanna know a fun fact?
The Urban Homesteader is getting rabbits!!! Yes, that's right. This menagerie is growing to include some wascally wabbits, and Chateau Jardin will eventually be enjoying its own home-grown, lovingly-raised meat to accompany our organic eggs, fruit and veggie selection. Annnnnnd I'm just a little excited.....
Who am I kidding!? I'm rediculously excited :)
More info on this exciting development to follow in the days and weeks ahead.
And as always, Happy Urban Homesteading. May you have many migraine-less days to enjoy this beautiful Autumn in :)