Category Archives: Living Tiny in a Big House

Lesson 1268 – Chickens in the rabbit hutch

You’ve heard me go on and on about the value of having a wire dog cage to use in chicken care.

Dog crates come in handy as a way to isolate sick or injured birds and as a way to protect young chicks until they are ready to be introduced to the rest of the flock.

I’ve also discovered the value of a rabbit hutch (for one, there’s a roof, and for another, there’s much less bending at the knees.)

We, like many others, raise our chicks in the house and then we transition them outside once they are fully feathered. A problem arises when the chicks are technically old enough to be outside, but they are not big enough to defend themselves from the older and wiser birds’ inevitable pecking.

What’s a chicken owner to do (especially when the chicks are being raised in the dining room this year and despite our best intentions – even though we clean it, the crate becomes immediately ripe – yuk.) Continue reading

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Lesson 1266 – Down on the farm

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Charlie, our Black Coper Marans chicken liked to come into the house and head straight to the dog’s bowls of food and water.

When she was a chick, Charlie lived in our house for 6 months (I know, I know) and as our dog Pippin was her closest flock member, she quickly discovered that eating what he was eating was far better than eating what we wanted her to eat (chicken feed from the supply store.) For months our dog and chicken ate out of the same bowls.

Eating kibbles

Eating kibbles

Whatever, hakuna matata, we rolled with it. Continue reading

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Lesson 1265 – Tiny miracles

Because I know this is something you’ve all wondered about – here is a photo of that abandoned House Finch egg compared to one of our standard chicken eggs. Pretty amazing, huh?

eggs

What I can’t for the life of me figure out is how a creature that small when born can ever survive. But they do. They sure do and then they follow that magic act by growing up and eventually flying off to live their own lives. Continue reading

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Lesson 1264 – Simplicity

After a few weeks’ of careful watching, I’ve figured out that our little House Finch Family has, as they say in the bird world, flown the coop. The parents and babies have moved on to greener trees.

We are getting ready for a graduation party around here (Go Logan) and so I decided that with the birds out of the nest, it was finally time to take down our Christmas wreath (and the sign warning people to BE QUIET!!!!) Continue reading

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Lesson 1263 – Putting a chicken down

Warning: this post is about putting a chicken down using a killing cone. I know that this is not something everyone wants to read about so I’m putting a break here.

Continue reading

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Lesson 1260 – The lot of the tiny ones

One of our new chicks died this weekend.

We knew it was coming. By Saturday night, she was wobbly and had difficulty standing. She wasn’t eating or drinking.

We knew it was coming.

We also had a pretty good idea of what was wrong with her.

She was a runt.

When my son went to get our new chicks he chose her because she was “so darn adorable.” And she definitely was adorable – all tiny and cute as a button.

But as her sisters started growing, this little one couldn’t keep up. Her wings grew, but her body didn’t, making it look like she was constantly dragging a coat around that was much, much too large for her.

I fear my kids have picked up my “save them all” philosophy. My son chose the tiniest chick because he wanted to give her a chance. He knew that if he brought her home she would be taken care of, fed, watered, played with, and protected.

He knew that although small, she just might make it if she came home to live with us.

To be perfectly honest, I would have done the same thing. I *have* done the same thing. Over and over. We’ve been able to save a few over the years.

But it’s tough, because often these end up being the chicks that don’t make it.

If you want strong healthy chicks, you pick the large, active, bright-eyed, chirping ones that scurry away from your hand. If you want your chicks to live, you stay away from the smaller, quiet ones.

You save those for people like me, who are willing to give them a chance, even knowing it’s very likely that instead of living, these little ones will only end up taking away a tiny bit of your heart with their passing.

IMG_20150509_135721090

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1259 – Chickens and writing

Here is a piece I wrote for a writers’ blog. Just goes to show that chickens have a lot to teach us about many, many things – all lessons learned from the flock.

What Chickens Can Teach You About Writing

I write about the lessons I’ve learned from living with a flock of backyard chickens.

Oh sure, you can learn things like:

  • A freshly laid egg does not need to be refrigerated due to something called the bloom that protects the egg from air/water loss and bacteria.
  • The pecking order is a real and sometimes heart-breaking reality.
  • Unless you have a heart of stone, baby chicks will always make you say “awwwwwwwwww.”
There's a story in this photo.

There’s a story in this photo.

I’ve certainly learned a lot from my chickens, but it doesn’t end with their care and maintenance. I’ve learned some parenting lessons (pecking order is alive and well amongst teen girls) and I’ve learned a thing or two about best practices in writing from my backyard flock.

Chickens? Writing?

Okay, listen, I can hear you clucking all the way from my little writer’s desk. Chickens? Writing? Surely that one is a stretch for even those with the greatest imagination.

But hear me out.

Chickens have different points of view

Chickens constantly take different points of view. A chicken’s eyes are located on the sides of their heads (not facing forward like ours.) This means that when a chicken wants to see the world (or that lovely green bug traveling up a stem) she has to constantly adjust her head, by viewing the world from first one side, and then the other, she is creating depth in her vision field.

Learning to view from different perspectives is an invaluable skill for a writer.

Chickens work at scratching all day long

Chickens use their feet to constantly scratch at the dirt in order to unearth insects and yummy goodness. The resultant etchings are referred to by what many of our early school teachers called our handwriting – chicken scratch.

Chickens live to eat, when you are producing (an egg) on a daily basis, you need to really work at it. Just think if we put that much effort into our scratching – we just might be able to also produce an egg a day.

To be productive, you’ve got to work at it.

Chickens take breaks

In the warm afternoon sun, you’ll often find chickens taking what is called a dust bath followed by a quick nap in the sun.

The dust bath consists of throwing dirt over their bodies; believe it or not, it’s a way of cleaning out mites and insects from their feathers.

And the nap is simply a way to enjoy the sunny day.

A good writer knows how to take care of herself and when it’s time for a little break.

Cross that road

Finally, here’s a good writing lesson from our friends the chickens. You know that old joke:

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“To get to the other side.”

As a writer use that advice to get on with your work. Do whatever it takes (butt in chair, finding a room of your own, writing in a favorite notebook) for you to get to the other side of your project.

And when you reach that other side (publication or just satisfaction from your work) do yourself a favor and take one last bit of advice from my flock – be sure to crow loud enough about your accomplishment for all to hear.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1258 – Potential lost

And just like that, the nest in our holiday wreath is deserted.

The parent birds are gone and the three little chicks have flown far, far away to start lives of their own.

Even still, I’ve been keeping an eye on the nest, hesitant to take the wreath down in case one or more of the family wants to come home, a small respite from a busy life, a place to catch your breath. But I’ve seen no activity.

Nothing at all.

When these guys leave, they leave and apparently, there is no turning back.

Yesterday I placed my camera above the wreath and this is what I saw.

IMG_20150517_105142619

It’s either an egg that didn’t make it, or a second attempt at a family that was later reconsidered.

In any event, it’s a haunting picture of potential lost in what was once a vibrant, but is now an empty home.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1256 – Update on the porch House Finch family

Yesterday I took a photo of the bird’s nest in the holiday wreath on our porch. To take these, I sneak up when the parents are not there and angle my phone so that I can quickly snap a shot. This is what I got.

IMG_20150514_100032815(1)
What??!! These must be the fastest growing birds in the world.
Just the other day they were tiny balls of fluff and now they are fully feathered. They almost look like adult birds and very soon, (too soon) they will be getting ready to leave the nest. Continue reading

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Lesson 1255 – Such magic

My kids play a video game called Portal. From what I understand you compete in a world where various round openings (portals) suddenly occur and when you step through them you are transported to a different place in the game.

portal

Mind blowing.

I was recently reminded of this game due to Charlie, our Black Copper Marans’ behavior.

Lately Charlie has been doing this little trick (also called training me) where she stands on the front porch and screeches in order to get my attention.

When I go to front door and open it in order to see if she is okay (as I would do for any of my chicks who screech), Charlie boldly saunters into the house and immediately heads over to Pippin’s dog dish for a snack. When she lived in the house with us (for 6 months), Charlie much preferred dog food to chicken food and I can only assume that once you’ve had dog food, you can never go back. She sure remembers that the dog bowl means yummies.

IMG_20150509_172405164

When Charlie’s had her fill, I open the back door and she gracefully exits into the backyard to join the rest of the flock.

From the front yard to the back yard simply by way of opened doors (and with a tasty snack along the way to boot!)

Such magic by which these featherless flock members seem to live.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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