We had a dreadful heat wave over Labor Day weekend–the hottest days ever recorded in Marshall. Saturday the temperature reached 108, and we spent the whole weekend checking on all the animals, hosing down the hogs and the horses and making sure the sheep and chickens were OK. We learned too late that we should have been more pro-active with the chickens–Melinda found them in acute stress about mid-day, and half had died. Melinda, Lisa and I saved 7 of our 15 hens by submerging them in ice water, and continuing to do that several times a day for the rest of the weekend. But we lost 4 of our 7 Buff Orpingtons, 1 of our 3 Ameraucanas, and 3 of our 5 Rhode Island Reds.  My friend Laura Watt, who raises chickens in Petaluma, said she has more than enough, and offered us some of her hens to replace the ones we lost. Laura brought them last weekend: 5 beautiful Swedish Isbars and one Belgian Campine. We introduced them late in the day and then checked after dark to make sure all the new girls had made it into the chicken house before the door shut. The new hens are a bit smaller than ours, but the girls seem to have worked out their pecking order without resorting to violence. It is fun to have the new breeds–they are very pretty girls, with particularly high tails compared to our hens.

Our new Belgian Campine hen in the middle with the white head; the dark girls behind her to the left, and the grey one behind her to the right, are the Swedish Isbars (click on image to enlarge).
Our Buff Orpington hens with an Ameraucana in the middle, a Rhode Island Red on the left, and the Swedish Isbars behind the Buffs (click on image to enlarge).

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