Category Archives: Backyard Chickens

Lesson 1397 – First Annual Father’s Day Rib-Off

This weekend, of course, was Father’s Day weekend. We spent the first half celebrating with my brother and his wife over their son’s high school graduation (go Chris!). The celebration included lobster rolls, buckets of beer (I’m not kidding – buckets), a warm sunny day, and reclining seats on the ride home so I could sleep. (Note to self – next time eat a little more, drink a little less.)

And then that brought us to Sunday. In our neck of the woods we usually have a local rib fest on Father’s Day weekend. It’s a wonderful event, well run, and lots of fun. We’ve gone for many years, but when you take 8 people to a rib fest (you have to pay to get in) and then you have to pay about $25 for each half rack of ribs (and let’s not forget the drinks, sides, and ice cream that all goes with that) we found ourselves often taking out a small mortgage just to attend.

The ribs were good, the festival was entertaining, but my pocketbook cried every time we went. Continue reading

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Lesson 1391 – Makalapa Spread

 

 

This weekend I spent some time going through my mother’s collection of cookbooks. She had quite a few of those church and garden club ones, you know the cookbooks that are sold as fundraisers of which you are obligated to buy?  I don’t mind getting those community cookbooks at all, in fact they often end up having the best “handed-down” recipes ever. So nothing (and I mean nothing) was going to be  moved to the discard pile until every single recipe in every single book was looked at.

And low and behold, I found this gem of a recipe from, of all people, my Aunt Diane.

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In reading how and where it was served, I thought it would be perfect as a Memorial Day appetizer. Looks straight forward right? It is – provided you know where to find all the ingredients in the store. I had no idea where to find jalapeno relish (it’s near the hot pepper jellies which is near the mustard/olives condiments) and I honestly had to google Chili sauce because I had never used it before and didn’t even know what it looked like (FYI you can find it near the ketchup.) In any event, once I had the ingredients, it was spit spot and done. Continue reading

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Lesson 1387 – Yellow cake

At a yard sale this weekend I found a treasure trove of old handwritten recipes. Oh sure, there were many recipes cut out from magazines (Robert Conrad’s potato casserole anyone?) but it was the ones written on those 1950’s – 1970 recipe cards (you know the ones with the little flower decorations in the upper left corner) that got my attention.

I have a few of my mother’s handwritten cards and I consider them to be among my most treasured possessions.  (Soon, I’ll be making those chocolate, peanut butter, rice Krispy cookies that I talked about at my mom’s funeral.)

It’s a lost art. Who writes down recipes anymore? It’s more like, if someone requests a recipe we send them the link to where they can find it, time just seems to fly a little faster these days. And even if we had the time to write down a recipe, who has the time to make it other than for a special occasion? Pizza hut to the rescue.

Well I have time (in between everything else I have to do.)

Think about it. When I grew up food was how you showed your creativity. While my mother did work (after the kids had gotten older) most women didn’t, they stayed at home and took care of the flock. Preparing food was how they nourished their families, while the recipes nourished their creativity. When received from a friend, most recipe cards began with “from the kitchen of..” Sharing recipes was the social network of its time.

My kids, who are the sons and daughters of this storyteller definitely know the potential of a good story (or two) when they see it. Helping me sort through the recipes on Saturday night and placing them into two binders, every single one of my kids knew what was coming.

What will we start with first? They asked me. Continue reading

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Lesson 1311 – When a hawk attacks your flock

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Yesterday a local backyard flock owner contacted me because a “big, grey bird” (probably an osprey or a peregrine falcon) had attacked her flock. Although it didn’t get a chicken, she saw feathers “all over the place.”

Naturally she and the hens were shook up.

When your flock is attacked by a hawk, the first steps you need to take are:

Ensure the safety of your flock. That hawk has just discovered an outdoor buffet. You need to get all of your chickens in a secure location (make sure they have access to food and water) and leave them there for a few days.

If there are feathers, then there might be injuries- typically to the back of the chickens as a result of strong talons trying to grab its prey. You’ll need to carefully inspect each chicken to make sure there are no open wounds. If there are relatively minor wounds a little antibiotic ointment is called for. If there are any deep wounds, then the chicken needs to go into chick ICU (use that dog crate I talk so much about.) Clean and dress the wound. Make sure it is healed before you -introduce the chicken into the flock. (Remember that chickens will peck at anything that’s red, which is why a deep wound needs to be healed before other chickens come near.)

It’s been my experience that chickens suffer a sort of chicken-PTSD after predator attacks. They might seem a little off, confused or extremely timid. Just be aware of this and be prepared if it happens. The best way to treat this is to keep to a schedule, talk to the chickens in your normal voice, and keep them protected. Continue reading

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Lesson 1309 – Coming home

I know, as a mama hen you are not supposed to have favorites, (Zelda) but when you have a flock, you come to realize that some birds tend to be a little more equal than others.

It’s not necessarily related to the breed (although I love me some New Hampshire Reds) as much at it’s the roll of the dice. We’ve had some really friendly birds (Simon, Garfunkel, and Morganne) and we’ve had birds that both came with stories and then continued those stories in our backyard.

With all the devastation to our flock this spring and summer, I’m very happy to say that our 3 Marans have made it through the attacks. Rudd (who had been attacked and who then miraculously recovered), Lilly, and Charlie are still alive and well.

And while Rudd and Lilly came to our flock as adults, (someone who took my chicken workshop got them for her flock but quickly found they didn’t fit in and so offered them both to me – because she knew that I LOVED the breed) Charlie came to our house as a day old deformed chick who was going to be put down. Continue reading

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Lesson 1307 – Breaking news

The other day I got an email from a local reporter. She was doing an article about the predator activity in our town, could I send her some comments? I’m also a writer and I’ve done some freelance work for her newspaper. Of course, I’d help her out.

I sent her a few sentences on what had happened with regard to our coyote, fox, and fisher attacks. Gave her some statements on what my concerns were and that I was glad to see the word was getting out to others. We all need to protect our animals and be vigilant was my message.

Next I get another email from the reporter, could she stop over to take some photos of the chickens?

Sure, must be a slow day but come on over. Continue reading

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Lesson 1306 – Will I ever?

Not much news on the predator front.

We’d had some trail cameras set up but they didn’t show anything other than an opossum walking around our yard (and while very interesting, it wasn’t the result we were looking for.)

If we don’t see any predators then we don’t set the traps. And of course the logical follow-up to that is that if no traps are set, then no predators are caught.

My daughter got a text from our neighbor who reported seeing a fox that had been reported all over our they’re out there.

We are still holding at 15 chickens (Gimpy is doing better each day but she still sleeps separate from the flock, mostly because she can’t yet defend herself from the pecking that has already started.) Continue reading

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Lesson 1305 – Once, you are always

Last night Marc and I took the kids to dinner. Marc and Griffin wanted sushi so we went to a restaurant (Sushi half price Monday – Tuesday and Wednesday!) a few towns over. We got to the restaurant around 7:00.

A few minutes after we arrived I got a text from Logan. He had finished work, was anyone going to pick him up? I had forgotten that he needed a pickup. Yikes!

Everyone stayed at the table while I left to get Logan and come back.

40 minutes later I returned and the sushi still hadn’t been served although the girls had tucked into their meals. – “We’re going to be here for a long time, aren’t we?” They asked, as they pulled out their phones to start checking texts, tweets, and playing an online stacking game.

Logan and I ordered our meals, the sushi came. More sushi was ordered, by the time we left it was 9:00.

Driving home, I made one of those inane seasonal remarks like “I can’t believe how short the days have become” and then it hit me.

We had left our chickens outside. Granted they were in a penned in area but they were outside. In the dark. In a yard that has been plagued with predators. When we said we were going to go to dinner, it hadn’t occurred to me that we would be returning *3* hours later.

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Continue reading

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Lesson 1304 – Other than Gimpy

With all the heartbreak and devastation to our flock this summer, there is some good news.

Our Barred Rock chicken who was attacked the night we lost 3 other from our hen house is continuing to make significant progress. At first, she couldn’t use her legs and after a careful inspection that showed some scratches on her back, I thought that she might have sustained some spinal damage. She couldn’t move her legs at all.

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Things didn’t look good, but because she was eating and popping, (she even laid an egg the day after the attack) I decided to give her a chance.

We constantly checked on her and had to right her when she’d fall over and couldn’t get back up (yes there were many, many references to the TV commercial.)

Day after day, we rolled her back onto her stomach after she had fallen over. She would patiently wait on her side, her head sometimes in the feed bowl, for us to come and pick her up. Several times a day I’d take her out for physical therapy sessions where I’d support her body allowing her to move her legs without weight.

Each day, we’d see a *tiny* bit of improvement. Continue reading

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Lesson 1303 – the decision has been made

Well you can’t say that I haven’t done my research on our coyote problem.

I spoke to our local animal control officer.
I spoke to a police officer.
I spoke to the people who work at a gun shop.
I went *back* to the police department to ask a few more questions.
I’ve read every comment on the Facebook pages for our town and our police department.
I spoke to a professional trapper.
I spoke to a person at Fish and Game.

In a nutshell this is what I’ve been told (again and again.) The coyote has discovered our flock (end of sentence.) He is not going to be going away. We can’t “scare” him off. we can’t train him to go away. The only solution for this particular predator is to trap and dispose of him. (Relocating is not an option. We’d just be pushing our problem onto someone else.)

The working theory is that there is a den nearby. It’s my (naïve?) hope that if this coyote is caught then other coyotes would then learn to stay away.

Because, trust me, I really don’t like the idea of “dispatching” any animal (you’ve seen the measures I’ve taken to rehab some of my injured chickens.) The trapper told us that we have to be okay with our decision and I said I was okay, but he then said it’s the “after the trap” part that I have to be “really okay” with. Continue reading

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