Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lesson 524 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks 

Another vintage chicken card I was able to find.

Movie Name: Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
Katie: In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies.

(Hey it was the only clean poop quote I could find :-)

It’s the weekend, hoo-ray. It means we get to spend time with the kids (and I get to spend time driving them all over the place) and we get to play with Pippin, Charlie, and the rest of the flock. We are going to do several intensive “training” sessions with Charlie – my sister Peg: (“Hey sis”, in the comments) suggested I set a timer for 20 minutes and bring Charlie over to the pad when the timer goes off. While it sounds like a good idea, I fear that in the end, it is going to end up training *me* to go every 20 minutes.

I’m going to stock up on the toilet paper now, just in case.

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As always, happy weekend everyone, health and happiness (and safety) to your flock.


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Filed under Chick Literature, Inspiration, Life Lessons, New Hampshire, Quotable Chicks, The kids

Lesson 523 – What about vaccinations for my chicks?

During my most recent Chickens 101 workshop, I was talking about the fact that chicks from feed stores are fully vaccinated making them sometimes safer to bring into an established flock than by getting chicks from a farm or local breeder.

I want to stress, however, that if you are following proper bio security measures (isolation from the flock for a few weeks prior to introduction, washing hands, clothing, and boots after touching new birds or visiting flocks), and that you are feeding your chicks medicated feed for the first few weeks, you can get your chicks from anywhere.

One gentleman raised his hand during this discussion and asked me what the chicks were being vaccinated for.

Crickets.

I was stumped. Continue reading

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Lesson 522 – Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about chicken poop

Those of you who read my blog – did you notice I went a whole day without mentioning bird poop? Well enough of a holiday, it’s back to business (pun stays.)

Today’s post is going to be a bit of an anatomy lesson.

Let’s talk about humans first. We have something called the urogenital system. It is a separate system in our body designed to clear out impurities from our blood with the end product being urine. It’s a separate system that uses its own exit from our body.

Then we have our intestines which is a pretty nifty way of extracting nutrients from our food and passing on the inedible parts, called feces, out of our body. Again, it’s a separate system. The only time human urine and feces mix (ideally) is in the good old toilet bowl.

Not so with birds, however, they only have one opening from which the kidneys and intestines empty their goods. What comes out is a combined, highly efficient package (bomb.)

Here is an artist’s (mine) rendering of bird poop based loosely on what I’m been seeing from Charlie. Continue reading

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Lesson 521: Chickens 101 and lava lamps

Last night I gave a chicken 101 workshop for the Capital City Organic Gardeners club in Concord, NH.

Concord is running a 21 month probationary program where home owners are allowed to have up to 5 egg laying chickens in their backyard. There are a few restrictions including:

  • Single family residences only.
  • Lot size may be less than 1 acre.
  • The chicken coop must be at least 30 feet from each lot line.
  • Coop must be located in side or back yard. Coop cannot be in front yard.
  • You can have no more than 5 female chickens.
  • No  roosters are  allowed.
  • Chickens cannot be free ranging.
  • You cannot sell the eggs or the meat. On site slaughtering is prohibited.
  • Chicken manure must be covered by a fully enclosed structure or container. No  composting or fertilizing must be removed from property.

While this isn’t a perfect situation, it is certainly a start. Continue reading

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Lesson 520 – Chicken poop and clickers

Pavlov would have been very happy with Charlie this weekend.

Saturday I spent driving the kids to soccer, then to gymnastics, then back from soccer, then back from gymnastics, then off to get shoes, back to college, and then finally to get some supplies at the store. There wasn’t much time left for being at one with our chicken.

On Sunday, however, my schedule cleared (except for a short trip to a Maple Sugaring tour) and I was able to spend lots of one-on-one time with Charlie.

The instructions that I had read said to watch the bird for her poop-tell. I thought it was when Charlie stretched first one foot out behind her and then another but I quickly found out that this was not a consistent signal.  The best thing to do, I figured out was to sit with  Charlie and just wait for the blessed event.

I brought Charlie over to a perch (she doesn’t like sitting on my arm – might be because of her feet or it just might be her) and “clicked” and gave her a meal worm each time she settled down and sat on the perch. FYI – apparently meal worms are the crack of the chicken world, Charlie went nuts for them. I then sat with Charlie, paying an inordinate amount of attention to all the activity going on with her bum. Each little twitch got me tremendously excited!

After a bit, Charlie did poop from the perch onto the pad underneath. Like a young mother absolutely fed up with changing dirty diapers, I clapped, clicked, fed her a meal worm, and promised Charlie a new toy for being so good. Continue reading

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Lesson 519 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks 

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. 

~Stacia Tauscher

I went to a local antiques shop and was able to find a veritable treasure trove of old Easter cards featuring various chicks. For the next few weeks leading up to Easter, I’ll be sharing these with you on my blog.

This weekend starts - Marc and Wendy’s Most Excellent Chicken Poop Adventure. Be prepared next week to learn far more about chicken poop than you ever thought you needed to know (and you better believe I’ll have photos). Hey, it’s how we roll here with our flock in New Hampshire.

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Happy weekend everyone, health and happiness (and safety) to your flock.


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Filed under Chick Literature, Inspiration, Life Lessons, New Hampshire, Quotable Chicks, The kids

Lesson 518 – Becoming one with chicken poop

Yesterday I went to the store and got a clicker (ergonomically designed to fit over my finger, no less.) I also got a jar of freeze-dried meal worms (again, YUM) ready for this coming weekend of chicken poop-training.

While I was at it, I also got some dog treats for Pippin. Hey, why not, right? Maybe we can get him to learn how to do something other than being adorably cute.

Anyway, in preparation, I’ve been watching Charlie for her poop tell (which of course, reminds me of the movie Casino Royale,which of course, reminds me of Daniel Craig, but I digress.) Haven’t figured it out yet, but then I haven’t been able to spend too much time with her.

That old black magic – work, calls my name. *Sigh*

Through Twitter and on Facebook though, I’ve been hearing sporadic stories of house chickens. Yes, apparently they do exist. Continue reading

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Lesson 517 – House training a house chicken

I fully admit and take responsibility for my actions (isn’t that the first step? :-))

I like having Charlie in the house. We’ve had her here since she was a day old and she’s become part of the family. Even Pippin, our dog who lost his two best buds last fall has grown attached to Charlie. The two of them play with each other, like, well, puppies.

And like puppies, when they are tired, they fall asleep on top of each other. It’s nothing short of adorable.

Allowing her to live in the house, is not exactly surprising behavior on my part, as a kid, I was always the one to bring home animals both injured and adoptable. Throughout my childhood, I’ve had hamsters, guinia pigs, gerbils, mice, (I once had 46 mice that all escaped in my bedroom and my mother told me I couldn’t ever eat dinner again until I found all 46 – I did), birds, rabbits, fish, frogs, ducklings, dogs, cats, and even salamanders.

If it was alive, and especially if it needed help, I was there. (Is there really any surprise that I went on to have 6 animals children of my own?)

Yesterday, on a whim, I googled “How to house train a chicken” and, believe it or not, I actually found directions on clicker training a chicken to do her business on demand. It requires watching the chicken for the “poop-tell” (that specific body language that indicates poop is coming – kind of like when a toddler starts wiggling and you ask him if he has to go pee.)

Once you know this sign, you take the bird over to a spot lined with paper (some people used a litter box) and hold her there on your arm until she poops. Once she poops you click the clicker and reward her with a treat (I’m going to be getting freeze dried meal worms – YUM!) According to the directions, the chicken should be trained in about 2-3 days. Continue reading

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Lesson 516 – That Chicken, Charlie

That chicken, Charlie!

I think we’re heading toward trouble with Charlie, more specifically, I think *I”m* heading toward trouble.

I’m having a little difficulty even thinking about letting Charlie join the flock (and remember, I’m the one who holds Chicken workshops and who counsels everyone to let nature take it’s place when putting chickens together and the pecking starts.) This weekend, we introduced Charlie to the outside birds and she was pecked so horribly that I had to rescue her and bring a trembling little bird back into the house.

Now when I open the backdoor, Charlie runs as far away as possible.

As Charlie gets bigger, she gets bolder. No longer content to stay captive in our den, (for the longest time, she wouldn’t step outside of the room, leary of the terracotta tiles in our foyer) she now roams the entire first level of our house (older house, with wood floors.) It’s not unusual to see her scampering around the kitchen or living room, wood doesn’t allow much traction and her method of stopping forward motion is usually just to skid to a stop.

She’s also getting more socialized with the kids, I’m constantly hearing things like “Move over Charlie, I want to sit down” or “That’s a good girl, Charlie.”

Yesterday, as I was walking through the living room, I saw Charlie and Pippin sleeping together. Charlie had her neck stretched across Pippin’s back. Those two are buddies who play together and once she discovered it, now also drink out of the same water bowl. (which makes life for a house chicken much easier because she is so big that she tended to tip over the chick sized waterer.)

Pippin sleeping with Charlie

It’s a good thing having a chicken in the house, I tell Marc. The fact that she’s so close to Pippin means that she’ll be eating all ticks he brings in. Heck, she might even finally get on top of our annual black ant invasions.

Marc just kind of shakes his head and walks away (although I did catch him the other night watching a movie on the Kindle with a chicken on his knee.)

Pippin is our watch-dog for when people approach the house but Charlie is quickly becoming our watch-chicken inside the house. I can always tell when the kids are on the first floor by Charlie’s little chirrings. She’s a child locater of the best kind. She’s a doll, a treat, but when you come down to it, she is a chicken.

Charlie perching near me while I read.

In a world filled with far too much sadness, sickness, tight budgets, and umbrella-wielding gunman, what’s wrong with taking in a little bird and protecting her from those big, bad bullies out in the world? I see nothing but goodness at the idea of having a chicken in the house.

Marc, on the other hand, begs to differ. And this is where the trouble lies.

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, Charlie, chicken care, Chicks

Lesson 515 – Post pumpkin patch

Right after Halloween, a friend who done a holiday tribute in honor of her mother’s birthday by putting a lit jack-o-lantern for each year of her mother’s life on the front lawn, 70 in total, answered my call when I said I would accept all used jack-o-lanterns for our chickens.

This is what our pumpkin patch looked like right after Laura dropped off all her pumpkins :

This is what our pumpkin patch looked like at the beginning of winter, we dumped some dirt from our raised herb bed on top of the pumpkins hoping that it would help break down things. The chickens seemed only moderately interested in the pumpkins, preferring to inspect rather than peck at them. We had visions of slimy, pulpy pumpkins glistening and stinking in our backyard come the Spring. What had seemed like a good idea was beginning to be questioned, but alas, like many well-intentioned plans, it was too late to do much about it.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in New Hampshire. We got all the chickens out of the coop and herded them into the dog pen. What did they do? They rushed over to the pumpkin patch (which had somehow completely disappeared) and spent the entire day scratching in the now fortified and enriched dirt.

Isn’t it nice when a good idea actually turns out to be a good idea?

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