It appears that we 'bloggers' on Cairncrest Farm have been suffering something similar to the molt our chickens have been undergoing for the last two months. The molt should come as no surprise. We bought our hens in March of 2010, and for nearly a year they had been laying fairly consistently. Whatever it was - the stress of the hurricane and the consequent destruction of their egg mobile, the week they spent at sea in the pasture before the new (and improved) egg mobile was delivered, the season, nature's good order - whatever it was - their egg laying basically dried up about two months ago. Oddly, this hiatus has been perfectly in sync with the disruption in your 'regular' (read: whenever the spirit moves us) updates from Cairncrest Farm.* We do apologize.
I am pleased to report, though, that not only is the hen pictured above one of the last of our flock to undergo a thorough upheaval of her plumage, but that we too seem to be on the mend, so to speak. Beginning this Thursday, in preparation for Thanksgiving, we will be offering daily posts of gratitude and reflections on the last year.
After a generous respite, and some attention to their additional molt-related protein needs (feathers are almost entirely made up of protein and hens coming out of a molt will struggle to lay again if they cannot get additional enough**), the chickens are under light for the winter. Maybe soon they will begin laying again, and we will have something else to be thankful for.
* See Susan Merrill Squier's "Poultry Science, Chicken Culture" for an interesting and scholarly collection of essays examining the chicken across the human spectrum. The link above will take you to her blog.
** See "The Chicken Health Handbook" by Gail Damerow, an exhaustive and detailed resource on, well, everything that could possibly relate to a chicken's health.