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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.

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!

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