Tag Archives: chickens

Lesson 702 – Getting into the act

How do we know that backyard chickens have become a trend? Continue reading

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Lesson 701 – Order in the flock

I recently taught one of my chicken workshops and as some of my students were getting ready to buy chicks (some for the first time) and to add chicks to existing flocks (some for the first time) I got a few questions on combining birds of different ages.

“I’ve heard that other birds will attack the young chicks, how do you keep them from not killing each other?”

I thought about this question the next night as I watched my 3 kids jockey for position in the back seat of our SUV. No one wanted the dreaded middle position.

“I call shot gun second seat,” one called. Continue reading

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Lesson 699 – After the storm

Here it is, we’ve made it through to the other side of the storm with nary a scratch.

While we did get a boatload of snow, we never lost electricity – to which the kids are saying “awww” because they think it’s an adventure whenever we lose power, and to which the adults are saying “yeah!” because we always have to do a ton of extra work taking care of those very same kids when we lose electricity.

Some of the animals fared quite well, here is our dog; Pippin staying warm in the yellow reading chair in my office.

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While others in our flock didn’t get it near so easy (or comfortable). Here is the hen house and coop when Marc went out to check on the chickens this morning. We had been getting a little lazy at night and had not been locking the birds inside before we retired for bed. Our coop is fully enclosed and some of the girls seem to enjoy staying outdoors, why not let them, we figured? But I assure you this will end the day a predator figures out how to breach our wire fencing. Continue reading

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Lesson 697 – Bumpy rides and heat

It looks like we are in for a big one here in New Hampshire. The weather forecasts for our area are calling for from 24-30 inches of snow.  (That’s roughly the height of 3 chickens standing on top of each other.)

The kids are all excited because they think it means there will be no school. I don’t have the heart to tell them that the most recent forecast has moved out the start of the storm to Friday afternoon – I’m going  to let them sleep with spoons under their pillows and their pajamas worn backward tonight.

There’s not much we can do in preparation for the storm.

We’ve got food and plenty of water set aside for the chickens. We even have a comforting seed block for when the winds really howl.

As far as my other chicks? If we lose electricity, we lose electricity. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before – this is New Hampshire remember?  We’ll just pull out the paper plates and heat our food on the grill.

The only thing is that when we lose power our old house can get cold and I’m talking bitter cold. It’s not so bad for the occupants (that’s what polar fleece was invented for) but it’s brutal on the pipes. This time, though, if we lose electricity, I’m going to line our fireplace with a reflective space blanket and I’m going to fire up two of these things – Kandle Heeter which bills themselves as an “energy conservation device.”

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Apparently, through an ingenious design of graduated clay flowerpots, the heaters can get VERY HOT from the heat of a candle and they “collect, retain, and radiate” that heat.  Sounds good right? We’ve tested one on our dining room table and I can assure you that those clay pots do get hot. Now, whether we can direct that heat is another story, but I’m willing to give it a try.

If Kandle Heeters help to heat the house enough so that pipes don’t freeze, I’ll be one of their biggest fans. And you know, me, I’ll definitely be reporting back how it goes.

(I know, if we have a fire place why aren’t we building a fire? It’s because we have kids with severe asthma aggravated by smoke – we’ve never been able to use our fireplace and we’ve also never been able to justify a generator when we only lose electricity for a few days at a time. Hardy people we are. )

So tomorrow, when you hear about the crazy snow in the Northeast, keep not only our flock, but the flocks of all who live in the Northeast, in your thoughts.

It looks like we’re all in for a bumpy ride.

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

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Lesson 696 – Mama hens throughout the ages

When you receive a box of old family photographs, you go through them one by one trying to find any family similarities. Trying to see if a quirky trait of yours was passed down, a half smile the result of genetics, or even whether there is photographic proof that your best friend was a white and black spotted stuffed dog toy that stood forever, silently at your pillow waiting each night for you to come to bed.

The older you get, the more you wonder about where it is and from what experiences it was you came from. What molded you and what tiny seeds of your life sprouted in your youth that were carried over to adulthood.

Oh some things are undeniable; all of us Thomas girls were gifted with wide, large cheeked English faces. No amount of “fish-lips” could ever hide those vast areas of flesh (forever to be pinched by visiting relatives on holidays.) It’s pretty clear where those came from.

Thanks mom. Continue reading

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Lesson 695 – Chicks and dresses

Parents of many children have tricks they use to cut costs, and to keep order and sanity. When I was growing up in a family of seven children, one trick my mother used was to dress the girls all in the same outfit.

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While it made for a great family photo, it also meant that that little pudgy one on the end (me) ended up wearing the same dress passed down from above for the next decade. Continue reading

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Lesson 694 – Photos and chickens in the blood

This past weekend, not only did I accompany Trevor to his gymnastics meet at West Point (where he did well enough to qualify for finals in pommel the next day) but I also got to spend time visiting with my brother – Larry, his wife – Sue and their son – Chris. I also got to check in on my folks who have moved to Connecticut from Virginia.

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Pommel and the Army. This says it all.

It was a great visit with lots of reminiscing about “the good old days” (and can I just say that it starts to get a little scary when the “good old days” are *your* childhood.)  As we were getting ready to leave, Larry gave me a box of photos that he had rescued from my parent’s house during the move. He knew that Marc is interested in genealogy and he also knew that Marc would diligently scan every photo and put them in a share box for the rest of the family to enjoy. Continue reading

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Lesson 691 – A nesting box of her own

Although chickens can function well without one, most hens very much appreciate having access to a nesting box when it’s time to lay their eggs. It’s where the ladies go to literally produce what it is inside that is yearning to get out.

Quiet leads to focus and focus always leads to production.

Everyone needs a little space to call her own – it’s part of human nature and it’s also part of the creative process. I see it constantly in the hen house where if some of the birds don’t have immediate access to a nesting box they will, instead, improvise by using a hidden corner, an overhang in the rafters, or even an overturned bucket – whatever it takes to create that private little space to do what needs to get done.

Anyone who knows me, knows that this nesting-space force lives strong in me. For years I have been fascinated by tiny houses – not much more than bitty play things – my very own place that I could call mine. Continue reading

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Lesson 690 – More lessons learned from the flock

Good news for those who like to read about lessons learned from having chickens in your lives. I’ve recently been asked by Grit magazine *and* by Community Chickens – which is a jointly-run site between Mother Earth News and Grit magazines at Ogden Publications –  to write blog posts about our adventures with children and chickens in New Hampshire.

Although I do write (and teach classes) on the care, feeding, and maintenance of a flock, it is the life lessons we’ve all learned from living in a combined flock of children and chickens on which I will be concentrating.

I learned valuable lessons like no matter which species you belong to, all flock members have to fed, guided, entertained, taught, and tucked safely into beds at night. Continue reading

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Lesson 687 – Photos from a Poultry Show

What’s the number one thing that people do when they go to a poultry show (except of course sneeze from all the dust at the end of the day)?

Why it’s take pictures! Chickens are notoriously difficult to take photos of. This is because they don’t have stereo vision like we do.  Instead, they sense depth by constantly moving a focused eye. It’s like taking snapshots from a whole lot of different angles and then crunching all that information into a scene that lets them evaluate a possible threat.

And let’s face it, a million people walking by your cage is a pretty big threat. People who try to take pictures of chickens end up getting a lot of blurry photos, it kind of comes with the job.

I did get a few clear shots. See this guy checking me out with his eye? He’s doing that threat evaluation thing.

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Here’s another one. He’s asking “Are you lookin’ at me?” in a gangster voice. Continue reading

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