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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter has FINALLY arrived!

Not everyone likes the cold & snow but for me it brings out the child in me.  I can sit & watch it for hours & the first snow of the season always makes me smile.

The big coop I built in April has proved itself & the chickens are staying warm & happy inside even when it hit 1 degree.  but then again I do have a red heat lamp on one side above their water-er & a ceramic heat lamp on the other side where they roost at night.  I put up  old burlap coffee bags between the 2 sides a week ago so they could have a dark area to roost & light if they need a midnight snack.

I was sad to have 2 of my hens die in the last 2 weeks, one unknown causes, she was fine when she went in for the night but I found her dead the next morning in a laying box.  The other girl I brought in one morning cause she was hiding...a sure sign something is wrong.  Poor little girl started throwing up the most awful smelling stuff & couldn't keep anything down which in my experience shows gizzard bound.  she didn't make it through the night but at least she was not alone to die.

I finally figured out why my hens who get along with Jasper the duck where pecking him.  He is sexually frustrated & is trying to mount the hens, but since he is so small he can't get on their backs so he grabs them by the neck to pull them down.  which of course they are not happy about so they peck at him to get him to let go.

Now I am not really into the whole Duck thing, but I got him from Kelley when a cat killed one of her silkies that Jasper was raised with.  But I think I am going to have to get him a little girl duck so he can be happy & leave the hens alone. Right now I keep him in a dog kennel in the laundry room or in the bathroom but he is not very happy being by himself.  I had tried to place him back with the hens after the first time he got pecked near his eye, not knowing why they were doing this to him.  Well he wasn't with them 24 hours before his eye area was swollen again so I removed him again.  It wasn't until later that day I saw him try to mount one of the hens that I finally knew why he was getting picked on.......poor little boy!

Thank goodness he is not one of those huge ducks that are super loud & aggressive.....I have forgotten his breed but he is very small like a silkie hen. So I think I can handle one more so he is not so lonely.

Rosey, the dog from Georgia we have got to experience her first ever snow, she loves it....... not the cold, but try to keep a sweater on her is not possible.  She has even gotten out of the ones that fit tight to her body!

The holidays here are quiet, we really don't celebrate.  My son is in Oklahoma so it seems silly to do a big holiday when my husband &I don't care.  He spent the day playing on the computer & I sewed.  I have been sewing for 42 years but I will say, I was about to burn the dress I was making!  Its a dress pattern from the 1920's that had the worse direction & diagrams.  What should have taking me maybe a few hours ended up 2 days!

 I love old clothes so I try to make the things I like from the 1920's,1930's & 1950's whenever I can find a pattern from that time.  I have been lucky to get some great patterns from the web for about the same price as new ones, but some of the patterns I get are Costume patterns.  This was a costume pattern & very tough.
Since I now know how to make it the next one I do, it won't make me want to pull my hair out... but I think I will first sew the 1940's coat before I try another dress with that pattern.


I use my guest bedroom as a sewing room & I take Willow, my crippled hen up with me & put her in the middle of the bed on a feather mattress so she can be with me.  She listens to my Murder She Wrote DVD's & sleeps while I sew. The nice thing about having her with me is she doesn't tear up the pattern pieces or bat around the thread like Macy, the kitten does or sit on my ironing pad that's on the floor like Rosey does.  I had to kick them out & close the door which they hate cause there is now another room they are not allowed it!

Have a great & safe Holiday everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

When it rains, it pours! Weather affecting my animals behavior

We are having alot of rain up here in Massachusetts, USA when we should be getting lots of snow & I swear it is affecting the way my animals are acting.

On day its 1 degree, the next its 51 degrees & weird things are going on in my household.  Let me re-define that to things are weirder than normal.  I get that my dog from the warm state of Georgia will not be liking the cold, so having her laying pretty close to on to of the wood stove when its going I think is normal, though how she does not burn her tail end is beyond me.

My one & only duck Jasper is in love with my hen Bowzer & follows hr every where but when the weater started going from hot to cold over & over, Bowzer got a bit testy & pecked him near his eye.  So the poor little guy is now in a dog crate in the laundry room with medication on his eye & surrounding area.  He will not lose the eye, thank goodness!

Gracie, one of my beautiful 5 year old white leg-horns went into the coop one night normal, next morning dead in a nesting box.  No signs of illness, injury or anything just died.

Gertie, my limping white leg-horn decided to take on a bigger & heavier black hen & got her crown all torn up within a matter of seconds & it took an hour & 15 minutes to get the really bad wound to stop bleeding.  I really though with the amount of blood she was losing it would kill her.

This weather has also caused my chickns to quit eating as much as they normally do,but the ones that lay are still laying each day.

I have noticed that it is also affecting me, as I am getting more headaches which cause me to be short tempered & moody.  See, I am allergic to all my animals except for the lizard so I get headaches more often than most people & rain seems to make them worst & last longer even though I have medicene for them.

I also have a over-weight cat (Big Momma)that is more impatient as well, Ok  so she's always in a bad mood & hates everyone, but since she can't go out when its raining.....she hates to get her feet wet! She has been screaming at everyone over everything. She has food in her bowl but she wants more in it, her water is the wrong temp & on & on.  And lets not even mention the kitten Macy, who just wants to play with her. 

So the last few days have been unsettling with all this strange behavior from my fairly normal animals.  But I do know that weather can & does create changes in animal behavior, so I have a feeling with our so called wet winter I will be dealing with a lot of adnormal stuff from the animals & have to buy a case of asprin just to get through it unless we get some snow!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just trying to get settled for the cold months

It seems no matter what I get done, there is always more to do around here.  Today I spent 2 1/2 hours cleaning the big coop & re-arranging the roosting rods for the chickens since I hated the way it was.  I was forever bumping my head on the one roosting bar when I tried to get things done.  Solution was to move it to the other side of the coop with the other rod, so they are all together in one area instead of two.

Plus I am now starting to bring in the last 3 hens that had leg mites & trying to get a large rabbit cage into the coop wasn't easy with the way it was set up.  I now have room for the new cage & an area that will not get as dirty (I hope).

I named the 3 leg mite girls: Maiden, Mother & Crone....Crones legs are completely healed so she went out today & hopefully in a few days, I can let her loose with the others.  She managed to get out of the cage & was bossing the others around when I went to lock them in for the night.  She has no fear that's for sure.  But to be on the safe side, back in the cage she went!

The white wounded one from my last Blog...Coraline is now also healed up & down in the basement coop in a dog cage adjusting to those chickens.  She is doing very well with the aprin that covers her poor naked back.  Soon she also will be released into that flock since she is one of the babies I have to watch more carefully.

So as I write I am down to only 5 in the house & will be happy to see at least 2 of them go in the coming weeks to their coop outside.  Gertie & Piper are still limping so they will stay in until their legs are hopefully back to normal or near normal.  Willow will always be a in-house hen since she still can't use her legs well enough to really walk.
                                  This is Willow, my lame pretty sweet girl

Even with all that I did make a batch of old fashioned fudge this weekend using cocoa powder, that came out pretty good though it said to beat it for 10 minutes & I got 3 minutes into it & it set up so fast I barely got it out of the pan! And forget stirring in the nuts those had to be sprinkled on the top.  Good lesson though & enjoyable.

I finally got all the 31 pumpkins cooked....11 were field pumpkins & 20 were sugar pumpkins.  I did 8 field pumpkins for my Co-op lady, Mary & 20 for my sweet neighbor girl.  I did up only 3 field pumpkins for myself because I ran out of freezer space!  But I have enough for me to bake pumpkin bread with & some for the chickens....I thaw it out, heat it & mix it with their morning feed mix when its really cold outside.




I did learn something though I wanted to share since I know there are others out there that cut, cook & freeze pumpkins.  I suffer from carpel tunnel in both wrists & cutting & scraping out seeds was killing my hands & wrist.  I grew up learning to cut a pumpkin in half so that when you scrap the seeds it takes forever & a day to do. So I thought why not try cutting the pumpkin from the top down so I don't have to fight the seed membrane? It worked wonderfully & instead of 5 minutes to scrap out seeds I was doing it in seconds. I cut the middle section, as you can see at a slant so I was not cutting through the tough stem.

I could not believe I had not though of this before but am sure glad I did this time around with all the pumpkins I had to cut, scrap & cook up.  Guess this old dog learned a new trick. I have a extra long sharp knife that made it really easy to cut for the sugar pumpkins......the field pumpkins all got done the old hard way before I thought to try this.  Will sure be using this idea next pumpkin season!

We have yet to get our first big snow up here in Massachusetts & I have yet to get my antique wood cook stove in the house....seems I never have the time to get it from the shop or am just plain worn out. Sure would be nice to get in the house as I am wanting to make up a big batch of old fashioned lye soap on it.  I used to make lye soap a lot & sure miss making it......I do everything from render the fats & so on....been wanting to make my own lye as well since I have the wood ash from our wood stove.  That may have to be something I try this spring since you really need to do it outside.  Will keep you posted when I start that new adventure.

I got a few questions on the Marigold Salve I listed on my last post & if any of you that try to make it & use it, let me know what you think. I have been using it & making it since around 1995 & love it so I want to hear what you all think of it as well.

Well its time for me to get some more coffee & hit the rocking chair so I can hold Willow for a bit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Introducing some of my wounded kids (hens)

The last 2 blogs were hard for me to write since I try to always see a positive to everything. Well, it made me think about what I have done or am doing to help some of my not so healthy chickens, who I refer to as my 'kids'
 I not only have very healthy chickens, but I will take any chickens people can't care for or are injured in anyway. I hope that with my care, I can save some of them, though its not always easy & some do not make it in the end.





I want to introduce you to Bowzer, my rumpless girl who was in my very first batch of chickens way back in 2008.  I noticed when she hit about 2 or so months old, she would have these odd seizures where her head would jerk to one side & her left leg would lift up at the same time.  This would occur almost daily & last for sometimes a minute & after wards she would be unsteady for a bit.  First time it happened, it scared me to death thinking she was trying to die.  Because of this, I decided she could not go out with the other hens because I was afraid they would hurt her either during her attack or after when she was trying to recover. She still has the seizures occasionally but otherwise is healthy.

The hen above belongs to a friend who allowed me to take her & 2 other hens that had a bad case of Leg Mites.  As you can see from the 1st 2 leg pictures the mites had done quit a bit of damage, which had to have been painful.  I researched the web to use a non-toxic solution to help kill the mites, shed the old damaged scales & bring the skin back to a healthy stage. The last 2 pics are 7 days later with the mites dead, scales gone & skin showing through.  The problem with leg mites is you can not solve the problem in one day.  The first day I had to soak their feet & legs in warm Benadine water & take a very soft tooth brush & gently scrub the legs to remove what looks like dried cement.  Then I coated the legs & feet in Marigold salve (Recipe at end of this blog) making sure to get deep into the lifted scales.  Daily the legs were checked & more salve put on.  By the 3rd day I was able to actually wipe some of the old dead scales off with a paper towel before I added another heavy coat of salve.  I also added to their diet of plain chicken feed to: Chicken feed, raw oat meal, wheat germ, flax seed, 7 grain mix & liquid chicken vits as well as add apple cidar vinegar to their water. These 3 hens stayed in my laundry room in one of my ER playpens so they would have quiet plus they can spread the mites to the other chickens. After 10 days I was able to return the chickens to my friend.
Meet Coraline, she was also one of the hens I brought back with the Leg Mite hens.  She didn't have  leg mites, but had been abused by a group of roosters who's claws cut open her back on both sides. One side was so bad the skin was cut through so she had a pocket of loose skin over her back that wouldn't close & could eventually get very infected. First thing I had to do with this little girl was cut her wings back since most of the feathers were broken  & they were scraping against her wounds.  I had to wash her back after trimming more feathers there as well, in peroxide then Vet grade Benadine, that's the reason her back is orange in the pictures. I used a antibiotic to coat the back, wounds & under the lose skin then used a gauze over the 2 bad wounds & wrapped the entire back with cotton gauze that I wove over her back & through her legs so it would not be easy to remove.  I left this on for 3 days before removing & cleaning all the areas again.   somehow today she figured out how to remove the big bandage but the smaller bandages are still on & she is healing nicely.  I will continue the antibiotic ointment & cleaning with the benadine until her skin is completely healed.  I also  decided since the back feathers will never grow back from all the damage, to get her one of those chicken fabric back protectors so that she doesn't have to deal with the bitter cold of our winters.  She also has bumble foot on both feet so I have both feet covered so they can heal & the pressure is taken off the sore areas with a cotton donut I made that slips around the wound before taping them up.
As I write I have gotten 3 other Leg Mite hens from the same friend who I am trying to heal.  These girls were given to me so they are now part of the household ER groups. One of them also has bumblefoot.  As you can see, I am a stay at home wife or I could never do this.  Each time one heals & goes back to being a happy chicken I am pleased that I was able to do something for them.
Now for that Marigold Salve recipe I said I would list for you.  I found this in a turn of the 1900's book & made it up & love it.  It works on people & animals.  I have used it for a dog surgery wound, cut paws, chicken wounds of all types & people minor wounds.
Its very simple but you must watch it so it doesn't burn.

marigold Salve:
Fill a non aluminum pan with as much marigold blooms as you can (dried or fresh) cover in water & bring to a boil, shut off stove & let set for 1 hour of so & remove blooms & keep the liquid.  should smell pretty strong.  Add 3-5 pounds lard (not Crisco!) Put back on stove & heat to boil, now's the time you need to really keep an eye on it cause you want to boil all the water out. this can take hours but to me was worth it.  Once you think you have all the water out turn off stove & let it set til the lard firms up.  Take a knife & stick it in several places all the way down to the bottom of the pan.  If you see water you need to heat it up again & remove the water...the water will cause it to mold & go bad if not all gone. another thing you can do is before it firms up is pour it into a bowl & stick it in the freezer to freeze.  Once frozen, remove the lard from the bowl & the water will have frozen to the bottom which you can cut off.  but please once you do this, put it back on the stove to remelt so any traces of water is completely gone.  let cool but while still liquid pour into jars with tight lids.  I store mine in the cool pantry & usually try to have a jar in the frig because in the hot months the cool salve feels good on scrapes.  its also wonderful if you have cracked feet.  Coat feet top & bottom with it & put on socks before you go to bed.
It has antibiotic & antiseptic properties to it & is not dangerous if an animal licks it or eats it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I hate feeling distrust

I started blogging for 'Grit' this year & after sending them 18 articles which they requested I do 1 a week, I felt sad that they seemed to dump me in June without telling me why even though I emailed them asking them why.
But being a Capricorn, I try never to give up so I found this Blog which won't dump me for the things I write. You know us ole 'Goats' we are stubborn to the bone & will find another way to get things done!
Now I am not saying that I or my blog is that important to anyone but me, I like to write about what is occurring in my life so I can look back later & laugh at some of the things I have either gone through or had to deal with.
My last Blog was about the chicken butchering that got witnessed by a neighbor. I try not to let things get to me & am thankful her house is not close but still next door. I knew this was coming from her eventually because when I had a pig I was sending to slaughter she begged me to let her find it a home. Lovey was a angry Pot Belly pig who was attacking me daily so I called our local slaughter business to have her made into sausage & was dumb enough to mention it to this neighbor. Well, I being who I am, gave in & let her find Lovey a home on a large farm, where I might add she is doing wonderful. So I knew then we were going to have problems in the future, when I didn't cave into her requests or begging. I understand her point of view but I am of a different era & mindset....yes that can mean I am also set in my ways...Hey I earned it!
I also will not take orders from a girl who is all of 35 yrs old (my son's age)just because she thinks all animals should never be killed for any reason. As you can see my poor heart is having a tough time with this, because I never like to hurt someone but this is going to be a on-going problem.
The reason I titled this about feeling distrust is this girl has admitted to me that when she was in one animal rescue group they would go at night & steal the animal they felt was being abused. So for the first time since I have lived here, I had to get a lock to lock up my shop so she wouldn't have access to the coop if she ever decided to try & get the chickens. Please don't get me wrong, I am hoping she never does try, but I am uneasy about what she had told me & now can't trust what she might do. For those of you who don't understand why I have to lock the shop to protect the chickens it is because up here in Massachusetts we have a nasty little animal called a Fishercat, that is related to the mink family & mean as all get out.
Last winter I had one get into the coop area & behead a chicken & kill my 6 yr old rabbit. So I built this last April a Fort Knox of coops in my shop with a small door that opens into their run. The outside walls of my shop are 4 inches thick so it would take a Fishercat many days or nights to eat through it to get to my 'kids'. Plus the outside door of the coop into the run has a steel bar that goes through the handle into the ground so that it can't be opened by any animal. I might have been a bit over caution but they have been very safe from animals but not from humans with the shop being unlocked at night.
I never heard from the police so either her husband talked her out of it or when she called the police told her it was not illegal for me to kill chickens in my backyard. Now, yes animal control could possibly make me get rid of the chickens but if they do she has to give up one of her 4 dogs as we are allowed only 3 dogs in this town.
So far no word from them either so I think she will hopefully leave it all alone, but if I am required to get rid of the chickens they will be all butchered since some of them are lame & they would distroy them. There is a chicken butchering company that will come to your house & do all the butchering, plucking ect for you. I know this sounds awful mean & petty of me, but I feel if it comes down to this, she needs to see what her actions have resulted in. Plus I would want to be able to hold & love each chicken before it goes & know that I, not someone would or might end their life. Just as I hold my dog or cat when it has to be put down & I am sorry to say that even though they say it is painless, the needle going into their vein always makes my animals cry out.
To some this may seem horrible but I have the heart & mind of a farm girl. I know where meat comes from, I have personally witnessed big noisy dirty slaughter yards where the animals are crying & afraid. Yet I also am a meat eater & understand life can be brutal. My animals are very well fed & cared for as you see through my other blog articles. If some have to be killed it is done as quickly as I can do so they do not suffer. I know there is fear involved because they are being brought somewhere they are not familiar with, but I try to do it all fast. No reason to drag out the drama of it for the chickens or me.
I find it sad since I adore my neighborhood, that I now feel like I have to be on guard & watch my step.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Error is human...right?

It has been a busy week for me. Monday I went to help Mary, my Co-op lady finish dusting for mites & treating leg mites also. I ended up bringing 4 leg mite damaged hens plus 1 very beat-up hen that a rooster was over excited with & cut open 2 large areas on her back. My husband & I left around 3:00p.m. so I could drop by the Tractor Supply (a favorite of mine) to get Chicken feed, cracked corn, dog & cat food plus a bag of rabbit feed for a neighbor(not the one mentioned below). Got to Mary's just about the time the sun went down so the chickens were heading for their coops to bed down. I borrowed Mary's husbands head light so I could have both hands free while in the coops to tend to all the chickens. They didn't seem to mind the dusting, only a few disapproving noises but when I had to pick each up to put salve on their legs & feet it got pretty noisy & crazy. I got battered by wings, beaks & feet by most of them but was amazed, when one little hen actually worbled while in my arms. She seemed to think a leg & foot massage was wonderful. Now the 5 I took home, Mary told me to keep as she has close to 70 & is a bit overwhelmed at times. These are very old hens & the legs were in very bad shape so I decided to put them down in the laundry room ER playpen to rest & get over all the moving, traveling ect. I gave them my special feed diet of chick feed, wheat germ, 7 grain mix, flax-seed, oatmeal & mixed it with pumpkin water I had cooked my pumpkins in the last few days. Plus I put Apple Cider Vinegar in their water to help with all the changes they were being put through. Now came the hard part, do I try & heal them or go ahead & butcher them for the freezer? I have 2 coops, 1 has 13 chickens in it, the other has 5 plus a duck. I also had 1 ER playpen with the new ones in the laundry room, 3 chickens in a ER playpen in the dining room plus 1 completely crippled little young hen who sleeps & hangs out in my soft rocking chair...also in the dining room. I decided Thanksgiving day, very late in the afternoon would be a good time to butcher them since everyone in the neighborhood would be gone....or so I thought. I went behind my huge 50ft by 20ft shed near the wooded area at the back of my property. I did not want anyone to witness what I was having to do & even put the chopping block on the ground with a cage near by so after I beheaded them I could put the bodies in the cage to keep them from taking off through the yard. Now you should understand even though I was raised to be a farm girl this is not something I like or enjoy, but I try to do it as quickly & painless as I can for the chickens. Most times I can get a chicken to sleep by holding it by its feet & making sure its head is straight down, this hen decided she was not going to sleep or even relax so my husband gave me the chicken he had carried by its legs to the back area. Well my 32 year old city girl neighbor saw that he had an axe from her back window & watched him raise & lower it, plus saw me wring the neck of the one I had, so it wouldn't see the other die. I had waited til near 4:00 p.m. when it was getting slightly dark to do this plus made sure every ones cars were gone before I butchered. Even though she is about 1/2 a football length away from us she came out yelling she saw what we had done & was calling the police. She is from a big city in Florida, a animal rescuer & a meat eater so though I knew she didn't understand farm ways, I tried to hide this from everyone. Her neighbor on the other side will also be butchering her roosters in about a months time so she should be completely crazy by then. I do understand her point of view but also know that I had to make a hard choice about these very old & damaged hens. If she had known one of them was suffering from old & new blood clots in its lungs & would have suffered a horrible death I think she might have not gone off the deep end. But since she never wants me to speak to her, I can't tell her this or that the other was was pretty messed up from the leg mites & may have completely lost the use of its legs because it was overweight & the stress was going to either break the legs or shut the legs down. So anyway, I did what I could for at least 2 of them & still have the others from Mary I need to decide are worth saving at this time. In the 3 years I have had my chickens this is the first time I decided to butcher them for the freezer, I have 3 chicken cemetaries out in my orchard area with at least if not more than 50 that have either died on their own or were so sick I chloroformed them to put them out of their misery. I really tried to be a good neighbor to protect the others that live in my area from seeing this, but I also feel when she saw the axe she knew what was coming & should have walked away from her kitchen door instead of watching. so I guess the reason for this article besides relieving some of the stress & pain I feel for upsetting her is if you live in an area with sensitive neighbors don't do what I did, either leave a note on their door or tell them you will be doing some chicken butchering so they may want to think twice before coming outside or checking to see what you are up to. I now know that I will have to do my butchering/killing in my kitchen away from prying eyes & leave the axe for the wood. But just to let you know, it can take up to 2 minutes to sufficate a chicken by wringing its neck or holding its mouth & nose closed.....that's why I prefer an axe, fast & they don't know its done. I do not like to be cruel to them just so I can put them in the freezer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hey You! Whats your name again?

I am good with faces but can never remember a persons name unless I see they enough to make it stick in my brain. Now that being said, I have 29 animals running around in my house & yard & yes they all have names. You would figure someone like me would just call them all sugar, sweetie or honey to make it easy. But then I never said I was a simple person.
I have this thing, yes 'thing' that each animal has to have a special name that fits them & no they can't have easy familiar names that we all hear day in & day out. It gets really confusing some days when my coffee level is low or my brain is on the dead cycle. See I don't have just a dog & cat but 2 dogs Hayley & Rosie, 3 cats Big Momma, Einstein & Macy, the bearded lizard is Daisy May.
Now that's the easy part since I see them everyday all day long in the house. But with the chickens its another story. See I love the old fashion names, you know the ones you never want to name your child, but seem to be idea for a animal? I figured Sally, Suzy or bit my tongue Fluffy were just not going to cut it with me. I mean if I want boring I would get an ant farm...
Ok, I admit I have a few fairly normal names for the hens. Rosy got her name because the others are always pulling out her feathers near her tail & she is always red there. Hey it made sense at the time I named her! Prudence is a big black hen who never shuts up, she comes to me & complains about everything. Baby Girl is a blue/lavender colored Orpington that is like a sweet little child. Scarlett is big & beautiful & I could see her walking(?) down a flight of stairs like in Gone with the Wind. But Tilly would be riding the banister down beak first, while Bowzer would be swinging from the curtains.
See I think they all have such unique personalities I have to give them a name that fits. Just so you know Bowzer is really Bertha Bowzer, a tiny rumpless hen with a big attitude. Zelda came to me with that name & it fit her, she is one crazy hen. Gertrude aka Gertie is like that unsteady slighty drunk female relative we don't talk about.
CeeCee, Willow & Sundance got fancier names cause I had to give up their overly violent daddies, so I wanted them not to feel bad. Mercy & Gracie are Gerties sisters, but Mercy is timid & Gracie is always having to set in to protect her from the bossy girls.
Porgie & Bess are a bantam size hen & rooster, but now I am noticing Bess is becoming a lot like Prudence. Porgie is a short out of control typical male but does seem to always come back to Bess at the end of the day. Why she hasn't kicked him to the curb I will never know.
See, even now I am drawing a blank on who is left. should have just given them numbers! Oh yeah, like I would remember that!
Got it, had to write them all down to get it though. Ginger snap got her name because of her color, she used to be a quiet hen until she got broody & hatched CeeCee, Willow & Sundance. That all changed with 3 kids following her every where she went. She can give Prudence a run for her money with the talking....Honestly I think she has a bad case of the baby blues & something in her just snapped with having triplets.
Pippi La'Roo is a pretty little boy who sounds like a wind up toy when he crows. Jasper the duck is his best bud. And there is Madeline, my semi-toeless hen who can get cranky but overall is a happy girl who hangs out with Bowzer. Madeline came to me with the name Gimpy which I saw right away was not her true name. She is a beat up looking girl but a toughy who can hold her own & has a certain type of grace. Pepper & Piper are the newest ones who came here just in the last few weeks & I will be honest I drew a blank with them. But I had hoped I would get one that the name Piper fitted so it worked out well.
Now I do have 3 on loan, they are in my ER until they heal from the leg mites so they don't have names but I do call them all Sugar when I am handling them. Now, please don't ask me to repeat their names again. If I had been smart, I could have done what Michelle Dugger did & start them all with the same letter. Man, how she keeps track of all her kids names is beyond me. There are days when I try to talk to one & call it every name under the sun trying to remember who it is. I think they go in the coop later & laugh at me because they can't believe I forgot their name.
So just know that if I call you 'Honey' its because I remember your face but your name is another story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter is coming & I think I am ready

Hello everyone!
Well I am keeping my fingers crossed that the new coop I built will be warm enough for the chickens this winter. We have gotten our first dusting of snow in the last week or so & the coop with its 2 red heat lamps seemed to be enough. But I am ready to add more heat lamps if needed, hate that they have to sleep with a red light on so am thinking of getting some more of the lizard heat ceramic disks that I have in the basement coop. They are nice because they give off good heat & don't have the chickens always in some sort of light. I have noticed that Prudence has gotten a tad bit more bossy since the red heat lights have been on. She has always come out to talk (complain) to me when I am out there, but now I see that she is also talking (non-stop) to an chicken that gets in her way.
I have at the moment 3 ER's set up in the house....can't seem to ever truly get away from them. Mary, my Co-op lady gave me 2 girls, 1 who had a over friendly rooster abuse her & the other just looked bad. They are in the dining room ER & share space with Gertie. Last week while Mary was in Canada becoming a Grandmother again, I drug Thomas down to her house to help me clean her 2 coops & doctor chickens. I cleaned coops while Thomas pretended to try & get the chickens. Out of about 50 we were able to get about 10! I am so used to my tamed ones I forgot how hard it is to catch unfriendly ones. I was kicked, bit & wing beaten by the time we got the 10 & was too tired after cleaning out the coops to try & get anymore. Now I watch my chickens like a hawk..pun intended! Any outbreaks of mites, injuries ect are caught quickly & taken care of. Well Mary with 8 kids & a huge household to tend to can't always be on top of her 2 legged kids. I found 3 of the 10 had sever leg mites & brought them home with me, who are in the laundry room ER. I have not had this problem yet (thank goodness) so had to get out the medical book to see what to do to help them. One hens legs looked like old tree bark & split when I was holding her....that just about broke my heart. These nasty little mites live on the hens their whole life & lay eggs that can & do fall onto the nesting boxes, floor bedding & perches so its a nasty mite that will get to any chicken with loose scales. The damage is the flipping up of the scales & a hard cement like growth covers the legs which if not taken care of can double the width of the legs. The medical book said to use turpentine & linseed oil, well that seemed to be too painful for the open cracked skin so I got on the web & found people had used regular ole cooking oil. They just dipped the legs in every day until better, well that got me thinking about the marigold salve I had made & how its got all these healing properties to it & it would stick better than the oil & be easier to manage mess wise. Well its day 5 & they girls are doing much better, legs are shedding the icky stuff & nice healthy legs are starting to show up again. Once they are better will return them to Mary late one afternoon just before they go in for the night & try to get some of the others that have bad leg mites to bring to my ER's. I want to also treat all the others that I can so they don't have to deal with this uncomfortable problem. I am sure I will look like something the cat drug in after I attempt to do this but I at least won't have to chase them all over the yard. Wish me luck that I come out of this alive!
The 3rd ER is a beautiful large basket my best friend Anne' gave me, yes its in the dining room as well. Willow, one of the babies who decided to try & out run part of a bale of bedding hay got a leg injured so I brought her in. Well this little girl has now decided not to use the other leg, so she is a bit like Voodoo Moon who couldn't ever use her legs. Willow is just now figuring out how to move using her wings but I try not to let her do that for long as it tears up the wings & causes raw spots on her breast area. so when shes not in the basket she is in my lap or arms in the rocking chair worbling away. Some days its hard to get up & tend to all of the animals but I sure enjoy the rocker time. I think every chicken person who deals with injured or sick chickens needs a rocking chair. Not only does it eventually calm the chicken but you as well.
Things never seem to be totally calm here with all the goin' ons with the chickens but I have learned that somethings are more important than others....like hold a hen or do the dishes...that's a hard one! Fold laundry or hold a chicken...man such tough decisions I have to make (grin).
With the cold weather some days I am starting to feed the chickens their warm oatmeal mix so tonight mixed up 100 lbs of oatmeal, wheat germ & 7 grain & seed mix into 5 gallon buckets so its easier for me to manage. When I head to the feed store this week for more chicken feed will mix up some of that with cornmeal for the really cold days as dry feed for them. I also have my trusty tote bucket of cracked corn for them as well. So I think they are set for part of the winter anyway. I also froze up a bunch of cooked pumpkin for them along with blended up apple peels from when I froze my cobbler apples. Who knew taking care of chickens would require such a diet! Ok, so most just feed chicken feed & cracked corn but I will tell you the eggs they lay are wonderful so as long as they are happy I am ready to give them the extras. At least with them, I get a reward from all the feeds I give them. And its not like the other animals go without, the cats & dogs get no grain food with buffalo in it & Daisy May gets grasshoppers, crickets & mealy worms so everyone has a healthy diet. Now if I can just get Thomas to quit eating junk food!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feeling blessed

Its a beautiful cool sunny Fall day & for some reason my mind is going through memories. You know how when things are really quiet, your mind will wonder & you don't even realize that you are seeing past events or memories of things that seemed unimportant at the time but now come up. I have had an interesting life with a lot of ups & downs, pretty much like everyone else. I have had it comfortable, rough, happy,sad,painful & confusing. But today, I see things run through my brain & realize that is what made me who I am. I am not spoiled, rich or have more than my neighbors but I am content with everything I have & do in my life as of right now. I am not super smart, but have common sense which I find to be the better of the two. I may not always be patient or understanding but I try to be kind. I will drop what I am doing to help someone because I know that what I am doing can be come back to later. I have finally understood that it not the 'Who I am' but the 'What I am'.
Who I am, is a 51 yr old twice married mother of one grown son. I have graduated from College, used the Degree for a while then moved on. I am still an artist, I think I was born to be in art in some form since I see things as art works more often than not. I can do most of the basic skills required to survive on my own when needed. I can live.
But I see that there is am important difference in the Who I am & the What I am, The first one explains me but the second one defines me.
What I am, is a gentle woman who cries at beautiful sunsets. I am caring towards those who I know. I am a good friend who will do everything I can to be there for you. I am a simple women with little needs...a good book...a cup of coffee...my animals to care for. I grew up in my younger days quite poor but never saw it as being poor since my Mother was very good at taking care of us. Yes, others saw & may have pitied us, but I was a happy child who didn't care. That has stuck with me all my life, I don't need lots of money, a fancy car or house, new clothes to feel like I am complete. Yes, I am blessed at this stage of my life of having lots of comforts, a good strong house, a car that drives, a pantry full of food that I canned or froze, a great library down the street & 2 wonderful young neighbors who I can feel like a mother to. I have a wonderful family & extended family that make me happy & proud to be part of. All of these things seem so normal but in reality not all that live have these or will never know what 'normal' represents. I have struggled at times with the 'Who' & the 'What' that I am but I see that I prefer the comfort in knowing that as I still age the 'What' will stay the same since it seems I can now finally say I understand & that hopefully makes me a better person.
Ok, some of you who read my Blog will wonder what in the world this has to do with Chickens? to be honest....Nothing. But if you think about it you will see that in some ways it does relate.....
Have a great Chicken day...M'

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wayward thoughts

Hello everyone!
There are more days than I can count, when I am somewhere inside my mind thinking of what better ways I can do things. I think part of this is my personally for order, that makes me re-hash ideas continuously. This can drive any other person to distraction. I notice my behavior with the chickens brings out the best or worse considering who I am telling my ideas to. Its funny in a weird way, as with my dogs & cats I can give them food, change their water, make sure they have a comfortable bed & be done with it...the chickens seem to drive me to the edge of insanity with what I COULD do for them. I build them a chicken coop, but because I am worried about the winter north winds making them sick, I build it inside my art shop with access to the outside run. do I stop there....Well Duh...NO! I put tarps on all the walls & flooring to help keep out mites & drafts. But this has a benefit as when it comes time to clean it, I can sweep down the walls & scrap the poo off the tarps easier than on the wood floors. I give them not 1 or 2 nesting boxes, but make 6 where as they use only 2. So I put hay in each hoping that they will find they like the extra boxes. The babies do tend to sleep in them at night so I guess it really wasn't a bad idea. I set up 2 heat lamps for the cold days & they also have a low flow fan for the really hot days. I put in 2 air vents, on 2 sides of the coop inside the shop area so they would get some fresh air, but not have it gusting through like a tornado. Now the Run is another brainy idea of mine...No boring run for my girls. It is heavily chicken wired & netted since the problem with the fishercat last year. I have a picnic table umbrella set up where they can get their fed without it getting rained or snowed on. I stuck it in the ground, so I have to bend over & crawl under it to get to the dishes, but they are happy with it I suppose. Well, Prudence does tend to complain about every little thing when I am in there. I know she is trying to tell me she had better ideas if I had just listened to her. I just finished a lean-to up against one shop wall in there with plywood & tarps so they would have a dirt area when the snows come. did I mention I did this on my own without help & whacked my head over & over trying to nail it to the wall. but again they seem to like it...Now will it be strong enough to deal with any snow that doesn't slid down it? I have one hen who never gets over her bumble foot, to us its like a stone bruise on our heel, but with them it will swell & create a scab. I have learned through trial & error, to fit her with little tape booties with cotton inside against the bruised area. She has pretty much lived in these since I got her in the spring, as she still wants to jump off high areas into concrete, wood floors & big rocks. She is so used to them being replaced now she will lay there in my lap & let me take off the old tape, wash her feet, check to see how the scabs are doing, medicate them & re-bandage them. I swear she thinks she has on pretty little shoes cause she will go out & in my mind show them off before she gets them all dirty again. I am just thankful not all 20 of them want these special 'shoes'& dive bomb rocks ect to get a pair of their own. I also get a lot of hens who get leg injures & after many failed attempts to help them finally decided to use a sling they can lay in with the bad leg hanging down below them. This took a while using different fabrics with holes cut out & using a step stool to tie it to so they wouldn't feel left out & could see what was going on in the dining room. A few years back I had bought one of those heavy netted chairs you can hang on a tree or from the ceiling on your front porch (think 1960's)...Well if that didn't seem to be the prefect thing to use once I remembered I had it....that took 2 yrs. Anyway, I can lay down a heavy piece of soft fabric with 2 holes cut out & put their legs through that then place them in the chair so the fabric nestles up against their breast area, but I can pull the legs out through the netting & I hang this whole thing from a plant hook in my ceiling beam. See I told you I just can't seem to let this go! I leave the house for any length of time & I worry about the 'girls'. When I went to my Sister's Reunion in California this last May, I worried every day about whether they were being fed & watered. I never even worried about my son like I do with these chickens, I am sure a therapist would have a lot to say about me. And don't even mention that I can't have them! Those are fightin' words! So anyway, I know I have a slight(???) problem when it comes to the 'girls', but I also wonder if others who raise chickens have these same insane thoughts/actions or if I am just one of a kind?
Have a great chicken day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Preparing for the winter my way

Can you say heat lamps?!
Up here in Massachusetts, USA it can get pretty cold if you live near the New Hampshire & New York borders. Plus we live on a slight hill that when it snows we get huge snow drifts in our yard. Last year since I had to bring all the chickens into the basement because of the Fishercat for the winter I didn't have to worry about whether they were warm enough. Since I built the new coop, even though it is inside the shop its up against the north facing walls so the wind will hit that area...as well as the run. I did line the inside of the coop walls with tarps which should help with any heavy winds but I also know that since its 8 ft high to the ceiling the heat will rise & the chickens need extra heat especially when the run door is open during the day. Today it is cold & rainy, so I have on a traditional light heat lamp in one area & a red light heat lamp in another area. I already have 4 girls who have decided its too wet & cold & are hanging out in the coop. I know that chickens can handle the cold as long as its not below freezing but when their little combs get all purple I worry. I try to clean out the old bedding hay at least weekly but in the winter I let it go longer & just dump more over it if its not wet & icky. The floor is also tarp-ed so when I do have to clean it up its easy for me to get to all of it.
During the winter I try to have the extra grains, dried fruit, oatmeal ect ready in big lined metal trash cans in the shop so that when I fix their warm morning meal its easy for me to get to. I bring out a 1/2 gallon milk jug with warm water in it & mix it up out there so I don't have to battle with feeding dishes through the snow...I have dropped stuff trying to get it to the run before so learned my lesson.
At night when I close them up in the coop from the run area I just grab the feed dishes & clean them for the next morning. I don't use traditional chicken feed containers for this. I found at a thrift shop the lidded antipasto plastic dishes. They have the separate areas for olives,ect...well anyway they work great for feeding the hens special foods since they can all get around it, so less fighting or climbing over the dishes. I have 3 of these I got for .99 cents each & I use the lids as well if I am doing raw vegs or fruits. Plus if I am doing fruit &/or vegs I can do them up the night before pop on the lid & put them in the frig until the morning.
The girls run is on a slight hill as well so when it rains they end up with a muddy mess since it runs down through the run....snow tends to pile up in certain areas as well. During the rainy times I go out & throw down bedding hay so they don't slip & slide every where or if I am cleaning out the coop I just throw the coop hay out there for them to tromp & have better footing. I do shovel out as much snow as I can during the winter, but I can never get it down to the ground so out goes more bedding hay. It has become my new best friend during icky weather!
One thing that I find important is to check all the hens/roosters at the beginning of the cold spells. I grab the medical kit & pick up each chicken, inspecting eyes, beak, comb, waddles, feet, vent ect so any injures or things such as toenails needing trimming or treated. I do this in the spring as well but when they decide not to spend as much time outside I think its a good thing to check them all before they winter over mostly indoors.
During the winter its easy to check on them since you pretty much have to pick them up to get them out the door into the run...well anyway mine have decided if its nasty outside they ain't goin!
I also check the run fencing for any areas that need repair before the snows come since I don't want any unwanted wildlife getting through an area I might have missed earlier on. I do the same with the bird netting I have over the run as well & fix, tie down or replace.
I also make sure the hiding boxes I have in the run are tarped & in good repair so they have a place to hang out if they will go outside & not be in the snow.
I do not have a electric water heater so I try to keep the water in the coop near a heated lamp for them but I do check it often during the day if we get a really cold spell. I tried to put out water in the run last year & they didn't use it they preferred the ones in the coop. I keep a metal tray with hay on it under the water so they can spill the water & its easy to clean up.
Another thing I have found my girls eat like pigs during the winter so I make sure to give them lots of chicken feed along with cracked corn all day long. I also have feed set out at night since they have the red lighted heat lamp on they do get up for a midnight snack.
I also make sure they have apple cider vinegar in their water since they are in more & can get more parasites. During the warmer months I do this but maybe once a week in the winter each time the water gets changed they get a cap full of water per gallon of water. I also try to remember to put chicken vits either in the water once a week if I forget to put it in their warm oatmeal mix.
The two biggest things I watch for in the winter is:
frost bite of combs & waddles
more fighting or picking at each other
My chickens get along really well but if in the coop all the time they do tend to get cranky with each other over nesting box or perch space.
Well I think I have covered everything that I do for the winter months, but you never know I may find something else that I forgot & will surely add at a later date.
Have a great Chicken day!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Animal Medical kit

Like any good Momma, I had to have a medical kit set up for the animals. I already had some basics for the cats & the dogs but with the chickens I needed a lot more. Who knew these 2 legged little things would have to have 10 times the amount of stuff that a dog needed in an emergency. I tend to go over board with things but with this I was glad too, since I have had to use all over it at one time or another with the chickens.
I have 2 medical kits set up now, one in the house the other in the chicken coop though some stuff I have to bring out with me to the coop since here it tends to freeze in the winter & liquids don't do well in there.
Ok now for the long list of items I keep & what I used some of them for. You might as well grab a cup of coffee or tea its a long list!

Gauze: sheet & roll

Sterile bandages

Q-tips

Vetrap (horse) self sticking bandage tape: This is one of my favorites for using on the feet for bumble foot. Its almost impossible for them to remove.
Iodine wound wash

Rubbing alcohol

Witch hazel

Mineral oil

DMSO: I learned about this living at home where it was used for muscle injures on the sheep. It has this weird effect that if you get even the tiniest amount on your sink you taste a garlic taste that last forever! Anyway I use it for leg problems & extended prolapsed vents.

Alushield Spray: I first learned about this when I took care of hoorses in my 20's. I had a colt that went thur barbed wire & the vet had me spray this on the wound to seal & protect it. When Cashmire fought off the raccoon or fishercat his comb got really cut up so I put this on it after cleaning it to help seal it from infection. Please note this is a silver color & the other Chickens will peck at it so you might do as I did & separate the wounded one from the others until the silver wears off or you wash it off.

Styptic powder: used to stop bleeding

Antibactic cream

Hemoriod cream: good for use with extended prolapsed vents

Vicks: great to use for nose, chest, lung colds

Pick-no-more lotion: I use this since I have a few hens that like to peck at the tail areas of the other chickens, they rip out feathers & cause the area to be red & inflamed. This stuff I guess tastes bad so they tend to leave the area alone long enough for it to heal.

Baby Nose suction cleaner: This has become one of my favorite items when the chickens get nose drainage problems, specially it the colder months. It cleans out the sinuses really quick so I can get the Vicks on the beak & help them breath better. Just like babies they will fight you on this, but it really does help.

Nail trimmers: I use this to trim the beaks as well as any overly long toe nails.

Scissors

X-acto blades & holder

Shot needle & syringe: I have used this for draining abcesses so I don't have to cut them open if not needed.

Plastic syringes: these are great if you have to force fed, water or liquid medicate.

Turkey Baster: Same as the plastic syringes but can put more food or liquid into a chicken.

Doggie/puppy pee pads: This is one invention I am very happy with since I often have a sick or weak hen in the house. Dragging hay, bedding ect is so messy & laying down newspapers can cause their legs to slid out from under them. I use these in the ER cages & can change them as often as needed.

ER playpen, dog crates, cat carriers, rabbit cages
: I have at least one of these set up in the diningroom at all times since I never know when I will need one. I have even used a few towels in the bathtub as a temp home for a sick chicken.

Vits: I keep on hand pellet & liquid chicken vits plus I have regular liquid baby vits for the babies or really sick ones that can't handle a dose of the stronger vits. I also mix this with their wet oatmeal in the winter a few times a week since it can get so cold here.

Dry Baby food cereals, baby food jar vegs: These come in handy when you have a sick or listless chicken who needs good type food fast. I have found that when I can't get them to eat if I mix this with their dry pellets/crumble they will try to eat it.

Chloroform: Yeah I know this one is not normally on someones medical list but since I have a chemist for a husband I was able to get a small bottle of it. When I know my chickens won't make it or are too injured to survive instead of the hand over the nose & beak or snapping their necks I can put them to sleep with the chloroform & by keeping it over their nose once they are asleep it will stop their lungs & then heart. They go so much more gentle this way.
Before I ask my husband to get me some chloroform I would turn them upside down then hold their beak closed & fingers over the nose holes. This took forever it seemed & they would fight which tore me up. It only takes a little on a paper napkin but be warned if you inhale it you may end up with a headache. Trust me, I leaned over it while tending to the chicken & got a monster headache.

Face mask: yeah I wasn't using it when I chloroformed that one time! I found some great ones at a drug store that are like the ones they use in a hospital & I like them better than the shop type ones. These I don't have problems with my glasses fogging up as I do with the others.

I am sure you have or will have to deal with bumble foot sometime while you have chickens. If they fly down on too hard of a surface over & over they get a huge bump on the bottom of their foot usually with a scab. messing around with the gauze i came up with a handy idea that lets the chicken walk easier & the others don't pick on it. I cut off a 3 inch piece of the rolled gauze & re-roll it really tight to make a tube then I tape the ends together to make a donut. where the donut hole is I use a bit of cotton ball with some antibactic cream on it. I put this over the bumble foot area so it cushions the area then use the Vetrap self sticking bandage tape to wrap the bottom of the foot to cover the donut & then bring the tape over the top & wrap it around the leg part. I don't go overboard on the tape as I want them to be able to walk comfortably but have the protection from the dirt ect. By the time its done they look like they have an old fashioned men's spat on. I keep this on until its super dirty then change it until the area is back to normal without the scab. I have one girl Madeline who seems to live in them since she is forever having bumble foot on both feet. She has no trouble with them & is so used to them now she no longer tries to tear them off. I also get the different colors of Vetrap bandage tape to blend in with the leg...I have black & also got a cream color. for those of you who don't know where to find this, you can find it at any feed/livestock place that sells items for horses.

I have used everything in my medical kit at one time or another with the chickens but try not to use the rubbing alcohol or witch hazel when I don't need to since it burns & I hate to put them thur more pain. But I do use them to clean the X-acto blade, scissors, ect so I don't transfer any more germs to the chicken.

Most of these items are also used for my dogs & cats if needed, specially the bandages, cotton balls & iodine. I also keep baby farm animal dried milk in my pantry to use if needed along with the extra jars of baby food.

Well I hope this is of help for someone who like me needs a good medical kit & can't find a poultry vet anywhere in the state.
Have a great Chicken day! M'

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The dangers of pesticides

Good Morning Everyone!
Back in June (2010) I had another bout of chicken mites, this time the tiny white ones that were running a muck throughout the hen house. Man, I just hate those things, they are creepy & the only way I know they are there is they end up all over me...brrrrrrr! Someone had recommended I use the pesticide '7 Dust' to kill them & that it could be used on the chickens with careful applying the last time we got mites. It worked wonderfully & quickly with only one dusting of it on the chickens & in the coop. Even though I hate chemicals of any kind, I couldn't stand the fact they were sucking the life out of my chickens...so I bit the bullet & gave in. This time I did the same thing, cleaned out the whole coop & using a bottle I put it in the cracks & everywhere there was wood. I had my husband help me again with the girls so we got it done quickly & carefully. Less than a week later one of my girls 'Miss Christie' looked very very pale even though she is a Buff Orpington, she also would just stand in one place & not move which really worried me. Anytime my chickens show any type of oddness, I bring them into the house where I can watch them & give them first aid. She was not eating or drinking water & was quickly losing weight. She fought me when I tried to feed her with a syringe & finally got out the turkey baster. By this time her crop area was very small, so I couldn't put a lot of food down her at once without her throwing a lot of it up. This went on for 3 weeks with the turkey baster because she would not eat. Well, one day I picked her up & she started pecking like she was looking for food. I got a small dish of food made up for her & put it in front of her. She couldn't find it even though I had it right next to her beak. Oh, I forgot to mention that her pupils were very small & had been for the entire time I had her in the house. Plus I noticed earlier that her eyes didn't move or follow things like they should. Now I can not prove the 7 Dust did this but before I put this on her & in the coop she could see & now she can't. I ended up ordering & shipping 150lbs of the food grade earth someone had told me about. Miss Christie is still skin & bones but I have her eating sometimes up to 8 oz or more of feed a day. I make it moist with baby food, yogurt or mashed fruits & put it right in front of her beak while I hold her. I can move it so she actually hits the food & can fill her little crop up, I also do this with water. Sometimes it's like feeding a fussy baby as her head goes everywhere & I wear a lot of the food, but she is eating & that is all that matters to me. I now get so excited when I have to clean out her cage more than once a day because she is actually giving me messes to clean up. In the beginning I was lucky to get 3 poop's a day from her. My house is a wreck, things that need to get done aren't, but you know what? I don't care. Not everyone has the time or ability to do what I am doing & I am very happy each day she lives. Pippi La'Roo (frizzle rooster) climbs up in my lap when I am feeding her & makes cooing noises which make her eat more. I have also learned that sometimes if I massage her crop gently she will eat more as well, I don't have to do that much anymore since she is doing well on her own. I tore down an old bent up ferret cage & made a nice large domed cage for her in the dining room. The other 2 girls in the house have not accepted her, so I keep her in there when I am not able to hold her. Each day I have to stop what i am doing to put her feed together but I sit in my nice comfortable rocking chair & talk to her while she eats. It's very relaxing & in a odd way comforting. When she is done, I wipe her face for her & she closes her eyes & sleeps on my chest while I rock. Often Pippi La'Roo will jump on the the back of the rocker & Madeline will jump up & sit in my lap as well. It's hard to want to get up when you have 3 chickens who want to just relax & maybe nap with you. I have only falling asleep once with all of them with me because Pippi La'Roo likes to poop on my neck, which isn't the greatest feeling.....that's one of the reasons I keep plenty of paper napkins right next to me at all times!
Until next time have a great chicken Day!

Babies!

Hello everyone!
Since my articles are never in order, by the time you read this it may already be winter, but that never stops me from writing. As you know from a past article, I had to get rid of my 2 roosters because of their aggression. The day before I had to give them up, one of my 2 year old girls, Ginger went brooding. So I put eggs from both roosters coops under her, hoping she would stay on them & not get bored after a few days. Out of the 6 eggs, I am happy to say 3 hatched & I got 2 beautiful Welsummer mix babies & 1 Buff Orpington mix baby. As of today they are about 3 weeks old & just the cutest little things you ever saw. Ginger has proved to be a wonderful protective Momma to them. Since it is now July (2010), the weather has gotten quite hot & humid, so about 2 weeks ago I took out the dividing wall out between the 2 coops & did the same with the fencing in the run so that all the girls could be together. I only had one few second fight between Cinnamon & Abigail, both the lowest of the pecking order on each side. My poor Abigail backed off, so she is now the lowest of them all, but I make sure to give her a bit of attention as well as make sure when there are treats she gets some personally from me without having to do without. I am so thankful I knew someday I would open up the 10 foot by 6 foot coop into one space & only put in a very thin wall between the two. But I should have paid attention to how I put in the nails! Some were on one side, some were on the other so it was a bit tricky to get the wall out. I have a beam in the wall I left so that I could keep both perches.
For some silly reason they are all crowded onto one but with the new babies the other will soon be used as well. I have a small fan in the coop that has two fans in it that you use for a window. It's not super powerful so it works perfect in there for them , no big time drafts are created by it, so I can keep it on at night for them. If its 90 degrees outside, the coop can be close to 100 degrees without the fan. On super hot days I go out to check on the girls in the run & end up finding them all in the coop wings spread enjoying the fan. Since I live in the upper part of Massachusetts near New Hampshire, we don't normally get a lot of humidity but this year we got a lot of rain, so the humidity is higher than normal. I have a neighbor who fed her chickens frozen cooked pumpkin when the temp rose so since she & I froze our pumpkin together I was glad to see her hens loved it & ended up giving mine what I had left in the freezer when it got to 97 degrees one day. I am down to 1 package but have found they also enjoy frozen brussel sprouts, frozen bagels & frozen mixed vegetables as well. I also freeze plastic containers of ice that I can pop out into their run water buckets. Yes, I may be overdoing it but its so pitiful to see all my girls panting with wings spread trying to cool off. Yesterday I opened Gingers big cage I had set in the coop so the new babies would be protected and Ginger was able to get all her kids out into the run. I was so surprised when I went out there to see her & the babies just playing up a storm in the dirt hunting for bugs. Ginger had a few scratches on her comb from probably protecting the kids, but by the time I got out there everyone was calm & going about their business not paying any attention to the new kids. So I took out the big cage from the coop & put in a small rabbit cage with the door open & food & water for them if they wanted to sleep there. When I closed up the run & coop last night Ginger & kids were in there sound asleep. I have gotten 2 more very small chickens, one's a silkie mix & the other is as tiny as a quail, who I might add started crowing yesterday! I gave them the names of 'Porgie & Bess'. I have them in the house in a large rabbit cage since I know they would have a very hard time in the coop. Pippi La'Roo, the frizzle I got a month or so ago is doing well, though Bowzer still chasing him around the dining room, but no longer pecks him now that he is crowing as well. At least with these 2 very small roosters I do not have to worry about the attacks, but Pippi has tried to peck me so I push him away & he gives up. I am also a dog foster mom & just adopted one of my fosters who is a Aust Cattle dog, mainly Dingo in breed. Rosey from day one never paid any attention the the in-house chickens & even follows me into the run & coop. Now the outside girls aren't too thrilled when Rosie shows up with me but they are slowly calming down if they see her. I think they see her as a big cat! Frankie, my 6 yr old cat has wondered into the coop & run since the girls were little. For some reason Frankie thinks she belongs out in the run with them sunning herself while the girls wonder around her. Hopefully that will happen with Rosey as well. I love the fact I have good pets who get along with each other whether they are a chicken, cat or dog....sure makes my life easier. For some reason I was not into my gardening this year like I normally am, but did plant bibb lettuce along with the tomatoes. I just took the last bit of lettuce from the garden for the hens. I tie it up on a piece of plastic clothesline for them to jump at to get the lettuce. I will tell you, it doesn't last long! Nor does the lambs quarter, I planted a few years back. When it gets too tall & tough for us to eat, I break it off & tie that up for the girls as well. Its like watching popcorn pop, especially when I first put it in for them, they get so excited they are falling all over themselves & each other to get to it. Since the hens can't free range here because of all the dogs, cats, hawks & turkey vultures in the area I have decided to extend their 9 foot by 20 ft run since it is now down to dirt. I think doing a rotating run idea where I can plant untreated grass & wheat seeds each fall would work well here. Each year they will have some fresh grass & wheat to eat on when its up high enough they have to work at it. This way one area gets to rest like the way farmers used to do their crops to insure they soil didn't go sterile. It will give me 2 areas for the hens & encourage bugs to come around their area again. Right now with just the one run, they have wiped out everything including bugs. Yeap, I am always thinkin' about what I can do to make sure my girls are happy & healthy. Well until next time ...have a happy Chicken day!
footnote: Porgie & Bess are now in the coop & run with the big girls & are doing fine. I thought with the new babies being small it might work getting Porgie & Bess our there so the 'big' girls would just think they were babies as well. I was surprised at how well it worked.

I had to say Goodbye

Hello Everyone!
Usually I like to keep things light & fun, but sometimes life gets in the way. All of you should be familiar with my 2 roosters; Chatty & Cashmire by now. For 17 months I have raised, loved & spoiled them daily. Chatty though, began to change when he got into the coop with his girls. This is normal as they become protectors instead of just the family pet. And Cashmire, as we all know has always been aggressive. Daily I have had to fight off one or the other when I go to let them & the girls out of the coop. I have been hurt so bad by the spurs that I have come close to passing out from the pain but being bull-headed I ignored it & continued on. Well in January, I started getting sick & found a lump in my armpit that I watched. By May, it hurt & got big enough I went to the doctor. Come to find out, I had a bacterial infection, probably caused from all the daily spur & nail attacks. My 51 yr old body couldn't handle the daily abuse & rebelled big time. Now most people won't think twice about getting rid of the cause, in this case 2 roosters, but for me it was very very hard just to even think about. Finally one day, Chatty hit me so hard & fast I had to kick him across the run just to get away from him & he still charged after me. I HAD to let them go. I have a wonderful food Co-op lady, who let me bring them to her so she could get them to another woman for me. Yes I cried the whole 30 minute drive there, with Chatty sitting next to me & Cashmire in a box in the backseat. It has been 4 days & I still cry over what I had to do because the woman she was giving them to was going to kill them & eat them. I tried Craigslist, but everyone wanted hens or roosters to kill. So I was in a hard place mentally but knew I had to give in & let it happen, though my heart was breaking. I would have not done it at all, but even separating Chatty from his girls to be in the house with me didn't stop his attacking. Whereas at one time he never attacked me away from them. Some of you will read this & think 'good grief the woman is being stupid over some roosters', but the ones who read my Blog know I raised these guys from day old chicks, spoiled them with treats & love. Chatty I had taught to walk on a lead, ride in the car with me & gave him his own chair in the dining room. so for me, they weren't 'just' roosters, they were my pets who i adored. Driving away & leaving them was very hard & all night I fought getting in the car & getting them back. But I also realize, I need to stay healthy for all my other pets who depend on me. I have 2 hens who live in the house because of deformitives. I have a 14 yr old blind dog & a diabetic cat who all need daily care by me & when I am sick its all I can do to get out of bed. So, yeah I had to make a grown up choice & I hated it ever step of the way. I don't see myself as someone who gives up or quits. When it comes to my animals, I will put up with a lot so they have a good safe life.
Until next time have a wonderful chicken day.

Madder than a WET hen

Hello Everyone!
You will notice in the title the words: Madder than a wet hen. By this I mean 'Crazy" on my part. My life is really not busy, I am a stay at home wife who does pretty much what she wants. I have great intentions that sometimes go beyond what they should. You know where logic seems to be missing? Unfortuntely I can not blame this on age as those who know me will say 'Oh yes, she does tend to forget what may happen'.
I got hit with a big outbreak of red & white mites the day before I was to leave to visit sisters in California. Though I hate any chemicals I was in a bind since I was trusting my husband to care for them the 10 days I was gone. So out came the 7 Dust & all 15 chickens got dusted along with the coops & the dust bath containers. I can tell you right now turning hens upside down, sideways & pulling feathers out of the way made them very very cranky. I had bloody legs to prove it! Prudence started it after I was done with her by pecking at my ankles, which of coarse the other girls had to do since it looked like fun watching my jump & yell. Since I create a special dust bath with wood ash, kitty clay litter & wood shavings, I decided to mix some of the 7 Dust into it as well. See, this all makes sense, doesn't it? Problem came about when I mixed the same dust bath for the 2 that are in the dining room & stupidly set the box down on the floor instead of taking it outside in their own run. You can see where this is going, can't you?, Bowzer had a gay ole time shooting this dust everywhere. And I had just spent 2 days cleaning that area! Plus the 7 Dust got into the bloody wounds & made me a tad bit wozzy which of coarse I didn't tell my husband. Now on with the story.....Everyone is dusted, I've showered & decide to give them all a treat for being fairly good at all the abuse. My neighbor had given me some plain kefir she couldn't use up for my chickens earlier in the day. I used 2 big long casarole dishes & poured it in so each side would get some. Prudence had forgiven me so they didn't peck me when I came in to their run. These girls are over 2 years old & treated the kefir like an English Tea Party. Each would slowly go over & get a drink, no mess, no fuss. But on Cashmires side it was like a college Keg party. I had them flying over my head before I could get the dish on the ground. Kefir went flying & landed all over the girls & Cashmire decided he was tired of waiting & dove head first into it. I was lucky to go grab the camera before he shook it all off.....all over the girls of course. So guess who got to go get the wet wash cloth & wash combs, waddles & backsides? Normally I use a french bread pan that is like a long trough so they can't get so messy, but it being one of those days where my brain was on vacation I choose to use something I KNEW would be a problem. Any farmer with animals will tell you some days its not worth getting up, well that was my day & yes, before you ask, I still have those days where I think to do something & then wonder who stole my brain that day. My husband, bless his heart was so worried he wouldn't feed the chickens enough while I was gone, gave them close to 50 lbs of feed & 25 lbs of oatmeal scratch in 10 days! I have 5 hens now who won't lay because I think they ate too much but the 2 year old girls are all laying which they have never done at the same time. Yes, I had the instructions written out for him but the weather got cold while I was away & he worried they would get hungry. All the feed in the coop tray under their food dishes is getting dumped in the runs so they will hopefully eat some of that. So you see, even us old timers can make crazy mistakes but at least find the humor in it & pass it on. I have been checking the chickens daily & have yet to see a mite so the 7 dust did work but man I hated using it. If it made me wozzy I can't image what the chickens went through inhaling or swallowing it. On a different note, tomorrow I am rescuing a 5 1/2 month old female pot belly pig from a guy who has it in her a2nd story apartment. Right now its aggressive but then if I only got to go outside once a day to do my business, I think I would be mad too. Once she has calmed down, had some exercise & a better diet will introduce her to the chickens, cats & dog. That may end up another crazy story you read from me! Until next time, have a great chicken day!
footnote: Lovey, the pot belly pig decided she hated being told what to do by a female & attacked me, bit me & knocked me down so after 5 weeks of this I found her a huge farm in New Hampshire where she has her own area, goats to boss around & a huge paddock to hang out in. At least I tried but sometimes things don't work out the way we want....but she is happy where she is so I did a good thing by taking her, just couldn't keep her.

My love of my 'Kids'

Hello everyone!
I just finished reading an article about how our 4 legged friends (Dogs/Cats) have such healing powers to those who are sick, mental ill, lonely or just needing the feel of being loved. Now, I have heard or read this sort of thing many times over my life & have found that yes, sometimes a dog/cat can help us. Well now I am here to tell you so can a chicken. Laugh all you want, but my Chatty, as you well know by now is not just any rooster. He is also my pet who comes & goes as he pleases in the house. He takes rides in the car with me to get my Co-op stuff, has his own kitchen chair & loves to follow me around the yard. When I decided to build the Fort Knox of coops to replace the one the fishercat had gotten into, I made sure there was a place for chatty in there. The reason being he is a big boy now & needs his own girls, not just his momma. The last day of my building he was out in the yard & started to crow from what sounded like far away. This worried me, so I took off & had forgotten I had just sat down a board that had an inch long nail in it. Running through the shop, I stepped down hard on the nail & it went through the shoe into the foot. Oh it hurt like the dickens, but I pulled it out & went & found Chatty. He hadn't been far, but had his back turned from the shop & his crow echoed through the wooded area. I got half way back to the shop when I couldn't stand it anymore & sat down, took off the shoe & started to cry. Now, I am a very tough woman who hardly if ever cries but after days of banging my fingers with hammers, hitting my face on 2x4 beams I forgot were there & just being tired. I let loose & cried. Chatty came up to me & climbed in my lap & just sat there while tears poured over his back. I held him while I cried & he did not move until I quit. Call me silly, but I honestly think he knew from the sounds coming from me that something was wrong & he needed to be there for me. In the 18 months I have had him, he has never heard me cry so this was something new for him. Because he was there I was able to calm down quicker because I didn't feel so alone. Bowzer, who if you remember, is my little hen who had awful seizures when she was young. For some reason she still wants to be with me even thought she is 14 months old now. When I am tired or just down, she will sit on my feet til I will pick her up & pet her. She likes it when I do the baby pats on her back & will fall asleep within seconds. Her feathers feel like rabbit fur & just touching her has a very positive effect on my mood. I find that, like with my cats or dogs just the petting, holding or talking to them can change how I feel. I spend a lot a time alone because my husband works a swing shift & is also in the Army Reserves, so he is not always there when I need a shoulder to lean on. I think in a weeks time, I have more conversations with my chickens than I do with him.....lol...Now you know why this is called 'The Old Batz Farm'! I know not all chicken farmers have this sort of bonding with their chickens but I love the fact that I do. To have a rooster sit in your lap while you cry is unbelievably wonderful, or to pat a hen so she feels safe enough to sleep. Now Chatty has 5 girls on his side of the coop who are 2 years old & big enough to handle him. When I let him out today into the yard he ran over to the run wanting to check on his girls. It was sweet & I had to put him back into the coop so he could go out & be with them. I may be his momma, but he now has a new job & life with the girls which I find wonderful & sad as well. I have a feeling he won't be running through the house much anymore or want to be free in the backyard if he can't be near his girls. But I accept that cause I know I can still pick him up & love on him if I need to. I just have to make sure he knows I am not taking him away from his new family. Ahhh when our 'kids' grow up.....sigh...Well until next time have a wonderful chicken day. M'

Building a coop, the hard but cheap way

Hello Everyone
If you have been reading my blog, you know about the Fishercat who got into the coop last fall (2009) & killed a hen, hurt Cashmire (Rooster) & also got into the bunny area & killed my 6 yr old baby girl. You also know that 4 hens & Cashmire were put in the basement in a tarp coop from Nov until now, which is the middle of May. I decided to build a 10 ft by 6 ft coop inside my shop that is divided so each rooster & his girls have a 5 ft by 6 ft area. Each side has a door cut out of the side of the shop to the run area, which is also divided. I have had enough of my 2 roosters accidently meeting! I drew out an idea of what I wanted so I could still have a lot of 'my' space in my shop. Ok, now I don't have a lot of free money so I headed to the shop attic & found an old door that needed 2 window panes (Which I replaced), antique wood guttering & some old boards that would need to be cut. I also have a neighbor who gutted out an old pantry area in her basement & let me have all the wood that I wanted. So far so good. Since the wood & guttering was very old, I had to assume they contained lead paint so that was something I had to make sure was never exposed to the chickens. Eight days of measuring & cutting old dry or wet wood was a lot more than I bargained for, but I did it. The hammering nearly did me in, I had wanted to use screws so it would be easier if I needed to take down a section. But no, the wood was so bad it striped nearly ever screw I used. I had said I wanted the 'Fort Knox' of coops well this one surpasses even that! The first 5ft by 6 ft area is all reclaimed, recycled wood but I finally ran out & had to break down & hit the hardware store. Nice thing about that was I got them to cut the plywood the sizes I needed, which by this time I was willing to pay the $1 per cut! I even used some old windows encased in wood frames, so they would get more light. And used a lever door cut in half for a extra vent area up near the ceiling area since the shop is a boiler in the summer. To make sure both sides got the air movement,I used plastic lattice with chicken wire over it as a window between the 2 sides in the dividing wall. It is high enough that the chickens can't climb or get to the window & pester each other. I will tell you right now that I am worn out! I enjoyed doing the work myself, but sometimes when I had to drill holes into 2 fingernails to release blood clots caused by hammer blows, I think just buying a ready made coop would have been much easier on my body. I knew I had to get this done no matter what happened since tomorrow I am getting 5 new 2 yr old girls that have to have a place...not inside my house! Today I got the second part of the run all done except for the door which will be done tomorrow along with building a few more laying boxes for them. I know age is part of the reason it took me so long to get this up, also doing over the head work by yourself can surely wear out the arms. I am a firm believer in making things easier for myself...Ha, Ok well most of the time anyway. So I used cheap tarps & covered the inside of both coop areas, floors & walls. this way it will help cut down on wood mites & can be dusted down with a broom when the kids are outside in the run, plus cover any lead paint on the old boards. The floors will be easy to care for as well. I learned this doing the tarps on the rabbit floor. Once the straw is swept up its easy to wash the floors in the fall & spring. Or any other time it is needed. My big fear also was the old paint on the boards, you all know how chickens will peck at anything & everything. Well if they contained lead paint I surely didn't want them eating it or us eating the lead filled eggs. Cashmire & his 4 girls have been in their side for 4 days & the girls are happy enough 3 gave me eggs today. Chatty & his 2 girls went in last night to their side & Rosy gave me an egg today. So I guess they approve of their new home as well. Tomorrow Rosy & Scarlette will go into a dog kennel in the coop while the 5 new girls come in. I don't need WW3 going on with all the new events, so its easier to crate the 2 girls than crate the 5. I am excited about the new girls cause they are hefty & can handle Chatty's weight when he mates with them. So I am down to 3 hens in the house right now, which is heavon & so much quieter. Even though it has been a mad house with all of them in the house or basement, its been a good lesson for me. I now know that I can handle it when there are emergences with the chickens. I have decided to set up a large dog crate & house with fencing in the basement so I can reclaim my laundry room. Voodoo Moon who is crippled, will always be in the house, but now I can put the others if needed into a safe comfortable space in the basement. I will still keep the ER playpen in the dining room for the hens who need me to check on them often. So the lesson of all this is: if you are doing it on your own & over the age 50, maybe a pre-made coop will be your better bet! I guess for all my time (8 days) my new coop cost me $2500 in labor time, $80 in material, not counting the free stuff. Oh by the way, I cut down a nice wood pallet to make a ladder from the run up to the door for the kids. They love it & don't slide down it like the other one I had built them. Now I think its time for me to climb into a nice hot bath & soak my weary bones. Until next time have a great Chicken day!

Love is in the air...oh crap!

Hello Everyone!
Spring is in the air & how do I know this? Mating attempts has picked up with my 2 very fine boys. Now, growing up on a farm I have witnessed this wonderful time when the animals were feeling the love. Well I am telling you right now, I am greatly disappointed in the roosters attempt to love their hens! Let me go back a ways & tell you about Cashmire. He, as you know is my very aggressive Welsummer which can be a good thing. But when he was just learning he was a male he was like a male dog out of control. Oh no, not with the girls, he decided my stuffed fuzzy teddy bear just had to be loved & loved a lot! When he felt he had done his job he would run over to the dogs bed & love on the corner of it. I must admit in some sick way it was the funniest thing I had ever seen, & he was so proud. He would prance around when he was done just singing like he was the 'Man'. Chatty on the other hand never found anything interesting unless it was breathing & looked like a hen. I got to witness his first attempts & I would say he just didn't seem to get what needed to be done. My hen would watch him as he did what we call the 'Happy Dance' around her, his head & body leaning in towards her. Once he got closer, she kneeled down like she should & he mounted. Good so far. Problem was he didn't know her tail needed to be up & out of the way. He sprayed my floor. Yeah go ahead & laugh, I sure did. After a few times of him doing this over the next few days he finally figured it out. We cheered for the boy & the hen ran away. Seems the 2 boys finally figured out what & who they were suppose to be mating with, so I was pleased. Chatty, being a Buff Orpington is a very big heavy boy & he loves his littlest girls. Poor Bowzer who is as small as a Silky caught his eye on day. She was smart & got down quick but as soon as he put one foot on her a egg shot out! It hadn't formed its hard shell so it exploded as it hit the ground. Bowzer was not a happy camper, I can tell you that. She ran over to the egg & put up quite a fuss. She learned when he does his 'Happy Dance' to run as far away as she can now. Well until yesterday. We finally went & did our taxes & the weather was so nice I put all the girls from the basement coop out into the run with Cashmire. Cashmire woudn't stop crowing so I had to bring him in & thought this would be a good time for Chatty to say 'Hi' to the girls again. While we were gone Bowzer must have forgotten to run. My poor little girl was limping & he had put so much pressure on her part of her vent lining was exposed. Normally I have Tucks for a an old dog but couldn't find them. But I have DMSO which is used on horses ect for muscle swelling or damage. I first washed her back area, then put a warm wet washcloth on her vent area while I held her. She enjoyed this so much she fell asleep. DMSO is very strong so you need very little & you do not want to touch it! Why you ask? Any that gets on your skin will make you taste a strong garlic like favor that takes forever to go away. I learned about this as a teen on our farm, we used it on our cows, sheep & dogs for sprains, muscle tension or swelling. This morning when I checked on Bowzer, her vent was back to normal, but to be on the safe side I fed her greek yogurt & very wet feed last night. I knew I could handle the diarrhea much easier than her having to strain & injure herself more. Now she is still limping, so will retreat the leg with the DMSO & keep her quiet in the bathroom. If you remember, Chatty did this to Mae-Belle also, not the vent injury but the leg injury so bad she could no longer use it. Mae-Belle was bigger but didn't know to get down as quick & suffered for it. Cashmire on the other hand, is still doing fine with his mating, no teddy bear for him now. Though he is very tall, he weighs next to nothing so the girls handle him well. Plus some of the bigger girls just peck at him to chase him off if they are not in the mood. His poor crown area is always scabbed up from the bossy girls in his bunch. I have decided now that Chatty, though a sweet boy, has got to have the heavier girls who can handle him. If you have ever heard the term 'Big Lug' that fits him to a T. So once Bowzer is better she will go back with Cashmire until I get my Silkie male & any other little girls I have or get will be with him. I know chickens really don't have expressions, but I swear Bowzer when that egg shot out of her was in shock & her little face got this distressed look of 'My baby!' You couldn't help laughing but I did pick her up & remove her from the area while I cleaned up the egg. She's had enough stress for one day. I never realized the roosters will mate with whatever size hen that gets in their way. There were 4 larger girls in there with Chatty, but he had to pick on Bowzer. Well I have learned another chicken lesson, fit the hens to the size or weight of the rooster! Even though its entertaining I hate the fact they end up with bad leg injuries. So its another day & I will be getting 5 new hens from my neighbor soon. These girls are about 2 yrs old & big enough to handle Chatty (I hope). But I am sure I will see more eggs fly across the run eventually. Too bad he doesn't understand 'Bad Boy!' Or is a tad bit pickier about who he mounts. Until next time have a great chicken day!
Footnote: I decided not to put Bowzer in with Cashmire as her vent never did go completely back to normal & I was worried with her small compact body he might her her leg again. As of date she has Pippi La'Roo a frizzle who along with Madeline are her companions.

another day with the kids

Good rainy afternoon!
Its a gray rainy day so thought I would work on the pictures I have taken of my 'kids' & realized it was a good day to write as well. Today I don't have anything really in mind that is important, just things running through my mind. Its sort of funny how much I have become attached to my 'kids'. I always thought I'd just get them, feed & house them & that would be it. It now seems I have favorites who have loving (?) personalities. OK, so I am going way beyond the realistic view of chickens, but you know the ones, who you can hold & look up at you with those cute chicken eyes then fall asleep in your arms? Those are the ones I seem to fall head over heels for & they make me realize just how important I am to their well being. I have some who are just chickens, they don't want to be near me except when I bring the feed, but others will come to me & jump up in my lap & talk to me. Bowzer, who had a stroke when she was young, still needs to come see me & tell me about her day. She is content to settle in my arms & just chat away. When she is finished, she will jump down & go on with her business most of the time. But sometimes, she follows me around as I work on the coop or run. May Belle, who never recovered the use of her leg after Chatty pounced on her too hard, is another that wants me to hold & talk to her. Even though she is over 6 months old, she will still worble to me when she is comfortable in my lap. I will sit & read while she sleeps or tells me she wants down. Voodoo Moon who is completely crippled by birth, has a little noise she makes when she is content, it almost sounds like a laugh. Even though she can eat on her own, she gets fed by me once a day with wet food so I know she is getting enough water. She lives in the ER playpen & has a big soft teddy bear she likes to be under. And yes, I make sure she has it over her when she wants to sleep! I have a new girl, Rosy, who came to me last week because she was getting all her tail feathers pulled out by the bigger girls. Now she is cute but very afraid of everything, which I don't blame her. Catching her takes 2 people but once I have her, she will relax & let me tend to her tail area. Last night was the first time she actually stayed in my lap without me holding her. She has never really been held so it will take time for her to become comfortable with me, I think. Well, it does seem I have a theme with all of this....if they have been injured or sick I get attached, guess its all the time spent with them. But I am the type of person who has to be involved or why do it? Sometimes I wish my rooster 'Cashmire' was nicer, but then I won't trust him to protect the girls, which I might add HE is very good at. But my poor 51 yr old legs are taking a beating with him, when he decides momma is too close. Now that Spring is in the air here, both boys have taken it upon themselves to be more aggressive with me at times. I am slowly (painfully) learning the signs from both of them when its time to back off. Even Chatty, my mild mannered boy, gets a little up in the feathers if I am near Scarlette. Can't wait to introduce him to the new girls I will be getting this weekend! I have a feeling I will need to stay clear for a bit until he calms down, if you get my meaning. My neighbor is getting a new batch of chicks & wants to thin out her older girls who don't lay as well anymore. They are all big enough that I think they will be good hens for Chatty to have. I am hoping to find a Silky male for Bowzer since she is so small. My 2 roosters are too big for her & the last Silky male I had for her was the perfect fit. Sadly he died last October so she has been in with Cashmire who leaves her alone since he has 4 big girls to play house with. but I really think she needs a mate again that won't hurt her. Its funny but Cashmire who is very aggressive with Chatty, will leave my male Silkies alone if they are with him. Plus I am smart enough to put the male in when he is small before he crows & that seems to help. I had this plan when I decided to raise chickens to only have maybe 3 to 6 hens & no roosters because I didn't want to hatch eggs. Well here I am 1 1/2 yrs later with 2 roosters, wanting another plus taking in any girls people don't want. The small hen house is now being re-designed from 4ft X 3ft to 7ft X 10ft with a wall down the middle so I can have both roosters on their own side. The 9ft X 12ft run is now also being extended & divided so they also have their own space without the fights. My wonderful art shop is now over run with chicken dust/dander, straw, feed & wood shavings. I keep thinking some day....I just might get to use it to create my stained glass & jewelry again, but for now the chickens get to have my wonderful space & I get to use the kitchen table.
Well until next time have a wonderful chicken day!