Tag Archives: chicken care

Lesson 1282 – Puddles of sunshine

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No, this is not a chicken that has been attacked by one of our neighborhood hawks.

It’s not an injured chicken and it’s not a dying chicken.

It’s a very smart chicken who is out in the yard taking a dirt bath in a puddle of sun while she can.

We’ve had a lot of wet weather lately, showers, storms, and even tornado warnings. Continue reading

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Lesson 1149 – A living Hidden Pictures puzzle

My life is a living Highlights Hidden Pictures puzzle.Yesterday we had people on our roof fixing the flashing on our 13 (yes 13! skylights) because, well, around here, when it rains, it pours, if you get my drift.

The girls were not happy with the leaf blowers the workers used to get all the pine and leaf debris off the roof and then there were especially not happy when they saw large, hulking shapes moving around on the roof above them for most of the day.

After all, a hawk by any other name is still a hawk (especially when you don’t have the best eyesight.)

I found our chickens hiding in the back:

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Ahem, the girls are supposed to be on *this* side of that fence.

I found our chickens hiding in the front:

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Poor little chickens, while I ran to find my pencil so that I could circle all I could find, the girls huddled in the woods, not daring to come back out until the big, bad, men had gone away. Better safe than sorry – a very rational philosophy if you’re a chicken who wants to live to see tomorrow’s morning.

 

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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 1146 – One smart chick

Yesterday while I was covering this event:
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I kept getting text messages from my daughter about our Silver Sebright: Isabelle, our little bird who recently had that pox-like infection.Isabelle was cold and lost, so I have her inside, warming her up.Although I knew the wind was teeth jarring and very strong yesterday (I was concerned that some of our chickens might even blow away), how on earth was our chicken lost? I asked my daughter.She was just sitting in the middle of the backyard, not moving.

Okay, I replied. Keep an eye on her.

Next she sent me a photo with this text:

Continue reading

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Lesson 1144 – Where oh where could those little eggs be?

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We have been letting our chickens free range all spring, summer and now fall. It worked out well, the older hens got some exercise and the youngsters got to explore (and boy did they explore.) The problem is, however, that because they are free ranging, now we can’t find their eggs.

With the older crew I had set up nest boxes outside that they used without fail, but nope, no one is using them now. This could be for several reasons:

  • The older ones are too old and the younger ones are too young. Although I think that this is a general trend with our flock, I find it hard to believe that NOT ONE chicken is laying. Not one. Some of my older hens are only a few years old, they still have it in them. And my youngsters are at right at the point where they should begin laying (in fact, a few weeks back I had found some smaller eggs which I assumed were starter eggs from the kids.)
  • Predators, those darn predators. Marc and I have carefully inspected the coop. We can’t find any place where the chicken wire has failed or where anything has tried to burrow under. Based on a Facebook photo I had once seen, I still scan the entire of the coop for large black, hulking snakes (and I have my phone set to dial 911 if I ever find one, not for them to take care of the snake, but rather for them to take care of me after I’ve had the heart attack I’ll have if I ever see a large, black, hulking snake.)
  • Just the wrong time of year. It takes roughly 16 hours of daylight for a chicken to lay an egg. We all know that their egg production slows down when the days get shorter. But all 27 birds have just stopped? For a few weeks? I don’t buy it.

My last guess (and this is the one I’m putting my money on) is that somewhere in the back woods of our house is a large cache of eggs. I think that our birds have found their own private nest boxes and are using them.

Marc and I walked the property looking for a clutch, or at the very least broken egg shells, but we’ve found nothing (it’s sort of like an adult Easter egg hunt without the jellybeans.) It doesn’t mean that those eggs are not out there, it simply means that if I’m right, we just haven’t found them yet.

So for now, the flock is on house arrest. We’re keeping them cooped in the coop for a few days to see if they are laying and to perhaps retrain them to use an indoor nesting box. Our flock hates the snow and stays in the coop and enclosed hen yard all winter so nest box training will be coming soon anyway, but for now, we need to find those eggs.

I’m missing my scrambled with bacon in the morning.

 

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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 1143 – Radio in the coop? I think not.

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The other evening when I was giving my second chicken workshop (the first covers from chick to coop – the second covers from coop to soup) one of the participants asked me a question that was a first.

Should you leave a radio on in your coop?

I stopped and thought. I know that leaving the radio on for cats and dogs is fairly common practice but for birds? She then told me that she had two parrots and would leave the radio on for them during the day.

It sounded logical for her situation – parrots are verbal birds, but, and with utmost respect to my flock, chickens are not parrots.

My initial response was no. Chickens do not need a radio – whether it be talk radio or music – and here’s my reasoning.

Chickens do not have the greatest of eyesight. Not only that, but the eyes are on either side of their head which is why they keep moving their heads back and forth to see you (and why it’s so darn hard to get a good facial shot.) It makes sense that if an animal were given poor eyesight, it would be compensated in other areas.

Besides being given lovely personalities, I’m willing to bet that chickens have been blessed with very good hearing. I know that they can hear me inside the house in the morning – all you have to do is look at the coop to see that they’re all ready at the coop door when they hear me up and about.

So if they have good hearing, it might stand to reason that they would really enjoy a good Brahm’s or even an occasional Brittney, but because they rely on their hearing for safety, I would think that having constant background music would eventually stress them out. Chickens constantly listen for activity around them, it’s how they survive – that little chipmunk over there is fine, the dog passing through the yard, however, is not. They can hear the difference (and if you have a rooster, he’s going to crow when he hears sounds of danger.)

If chickens cannot constantly audibly scan their environment, then they don’t know where danger comes from and if they get used to not exercising this skill, when they are released they just might not remember to pay attention.

So my answer is no. No matter how bored you think you chickens might be when you are at away, they do not need a radio or music to cheer them up. Besides, they’re happy enough, if you have a flock then you already have a few birds who are ready to talk with each other, peck, challenge, and simply interact with each other at all times.

My non-musical answer, however, will not be stopping me from singing an occasional “You Are My Sunshine” to my flock on a sunny, warm day when we are all playing in the backyard.

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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 1139 – A matter of time

 I finally caught up with our neighbors on the *other* side of our property. As the juveniles (delinquents) get braver and braver, they roam further and further from home, right into, you’ve guessed it, our neighbor’s property where they’ve found a wide open grass lawn just ready for yummy insect picking.I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to keep these hoodlums from their property but just like human teens, as soon as you designate something as forbidden, the kids will test you on it. Say no and they are on top of it – see you later.

Sure enough, my young flock has passed the natural boundary of the woods and is fully into the green, green grasslands on the other side.

I apologized. “I’m so sorry,” I told our neighbor. “We shoo the birds back whenever we see them nearing your property.”

“No problem at all,” she told me. “Your chickens can eat all the bugs and ticks from our lawn that they want.” This is another neighbor that has not seen a tick on any of her outdoor cats this summer. She enjoys our chickens and looks forward to seeing them scratching in her yard.

Do you know what a difference it makes when your neighbors accept your flock? (and yes, our neighbors will be getting eggs as soon as the brats start laying)

She did warn me about the large female falcon she has seen in her yard (and which she blames for the death of one of her cats.) I’ve seen the falcon twice in our yard, and my flock (even the obnoxious juveniles) knows to take heed (they all rush to hide under bushes or low hanging areas.) Our neighbor also warned me about a large fox that she has seen pacing our property line.

I know it’s just a matter of time. As I tell people in my chicken classes, if you make the decision to free-range your chickens, you make the decision to lose a few to predators. As long as you understand that, all is well.

Because I’m one who likes to have her cake and eat it too, I physically get up from my desk and check on the chickens several times a day, thinking that maybe I can keep them from harm. But I’m also a bit of a realist. Roving chickens are targets.

And I know it’s just a matter of time.

Continue reading

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Lesson 1136 – Two little black and white birds

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Two little black and white birds sitting on a hill.

One named Jack and one named Jill.

Fly away Jack. Fly away Jill.

Come back Jack. Come back Jill.

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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 1135 – Update on our sick chicken

still swollen but open eye

still swollen but open eye

Just a few days ago, I wrote about our little Silver Sebright, Isabelle and how she was dying.Isabelle had developed a solid growth on one eye (it looked like a large wart/tumor that was completely shutting her eye.) She went around for a while with the use of one eye and then her other eye started to swell shut.

What we ended up having was a blind chicken and no matter how much you love your birds, a blind chicken is not going to last long, especially during the winter months when she needs to be able to find her food and water while maneuvering around the coop. No one would have blamed me if I had put her down.

Even still, Isabelle did not seem to be in any pain, so I decided to give her a chance. Though she was completely blind, I decided to hold off and instead put her in isolation in an unused rabbit hutch. I placed food and water in a heavy ceramic dishes in the cage with her (she tipped over lighter dishes when she’d try to find them with her feet) and patiently showed her where they were located. I went out several times a day to make sure she was okay and each time I could tell that she could hear me but didn’t have a clue as to where I was. Normally a skittish bird, she sat quietly and a little scared while I stroked her feathers and talked quietly to her.

Quite frankly I didn’t have much hope for Isabelle. I gave her my version of chicken TLC – protection, water, and food (which included her favorite foods like fruit) and waited. I had my killing cone ready in the event that she started to show signs of distress. I love this little bird too much to let her suffer.

But Isabelle is a smart bird and she had other plans. Soon she figured out how to find her food and water. She nested inside a cardboard box that offered a little protection and warmth and she kept making it to the next day.

After a few days her less swollen eye surprisingly started to open up. She had plenty of bubbles in the eye and would shake her head with wetness (preventing her from rejoining the flock) but a half-blind bird is a bird that *might*, with assistance, make it through the winter. I became cautiously optimistic.

This morning when I went out to check on Isabelle, the “tumor” on her other eye had receded and that eye is also opening up. Like the other one it is wet and filled with bubbles, but now when I put my hand into her cage, she backs away from me.

Isabelle can see.

Continue reading

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Lesson 1129 – When a chicken gets sick

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Our beautiful, beautiful Isabelle is dying.

It’s not unexpected. She is a bantam Silver Sebright with very little body fat on her and quite frankly it’s a surprise that she’s even lasted this long during our long and bitterly cold New Hampshire winters. There is a reason the “state” birds are so named. Rhode Island Reds, and New Hampshire Reds are all larger birds that carry more body weight than the bantams, the reds tend to easily glide through the colder months, bantams not so much.

Even still, Isabelle persevered and came out the other side of each winter into a warming spring, 5 times in a row.

Isabelle is one of the original members of our flock and when I got her, she was already a year old. In NH chicken years that currently makes her, about 100. We had already started our first batch of chicks and I went to the local chicken swap just to see what was there. In a cage, stood this magnificent creature – “That’s a chicken?” I asked, thinking that perhaps some kind of exotic pigeon got mixed in with the lot.

Not only was she a chicken, but she was also for sale.

I immediately purchased her and brought her home to the family. “You are not going to believe this chicken,” I told everyone, as I opened the box for them to see.

“Let’s name her Belle, after Beauty and the Beast,” offered one of my daughters.

“No, let’s name her Isabelle, so that we can reply “yes” when we hear the question – Is she a beauty (belle)? – (Isabelle?),”  said my son who was taking French lessons in school.

And so with humor and respect, we named our newest flock member – Isabelle.

Isabelle opened our eyes to the world of exotic chickens. I credit her with us looking at and actively seeking different breeds of chickens, not just going for the standard egg layers.

She brought welcomed diversity to our flock. Isabelle is the standout in our flock that *everyone* first points to. “Look at that one,” children constantly say to their mothers. Our little chicken is a teacher to all.

And now Isabelle is dying. She had a growth (it looked almost like a wart) on one eye and now there is one on her other eye. Isabelle is currently blind.

But she’s not in pain and so I haven’t brought out the killing cone yet (but the second she does appear to be in distress I will have it ready, I love this bird too much to let her suffer.)

Although she is not sneezing or having trouble breathing, she is in isolation. We’ve placed food and water in her cage (she’s actually in the ex-rabbit hutch which makes a terrific chicken-ICU) and we’ve shown her where they are located. She can find both and she’s eating and drinking.

But she’s still blind.

A blind chicken will not be able to leave the coop. A blind chicken is not going to make it through the winter. A blind chicken is not going to last long.

For now, I’m leaving her in the rabbit hutch. Several times a day, I go out and check on her, speaking her name gently before I put my hands in the hutch to stroke her beautiful feathers. We’ll all be watching our Isabelle closely and have promised to take care of her, a member of our flock, for as long as she needs us to.

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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 1124 – Smelly Chicken Coop – what a neighbor can do.

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I recently got this email from a reader who is having problems with his close neighbor’s smelly chicken coop. Read the letter, my reply, and if you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Problems with backyard poultry smell

I’m hoping you can help me with a desperate quandary I have regarding my neighbors.  They have a coop and it is SO smelly.  The backyards are not big and they do have it as far away as they can, maybe 50 yards away from my backyard (maybe less), but the smell is so atrocious that I can’t use my backyard, screened in porch or even open the windows in the back of the house because it smells so bad.  I spent the evening yesterday cooking in the kitchen with the only window in the kitchen shut because I couldn’t take the smell anymore.  It was barely perceptible last year but this year it seems to be omnipresent especially in the afternoons and evenings.  It is especially rough lacking any central a/c as we need to be able to open our windows. Continue reading

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