Tag Archives: Coop care

Lesson 1152 – Why did the wild turkey cross the road?

Why did the wild turkeys cross the road?

2 of many

Because they could. In our town we have flocks of wild turkeys and they absolutely own the roads. If a turkey wants to cross the road, he’ll give you that sideways penetrating glance and you’d just better let him do it – it’s kind of like living with a local fowl mafia.

Everyone stops for the turkeys, some people have even put up those yellow diamond warning signs, “Wild Turkey Crossing” in order to warn those new to the area that these birds mean business. Want to be the bad guy? Don’t stop for the turkeys – word will get around soon enough. A dead turkey on the side of the road is cause for a collective town sigh. One of our turkeys is gone. Darn.

turkey crossing

Saturday morning, I was in the car with Emma and sure enough, we came across a turkey parade. About 20 turkeys were lined up to cross the road.

One. At. A . Time.

But we didn’t mind. Just like everyone else in town, we like the turkeys, oh sure sometimes they come into your yard to eat the feed you had put out for your chickens, and sometimes you have to stop to let them pass (even though you are late for your appointment), but all-in-all, in a time when kids text each other because they are laughing about a video and when a hand written letter is a cause for celebration, our turkeys are a constant reminder to our town that there’s a whole big world out there that is never really that far away.

All you have to do is look.

 

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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.

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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 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.

Leave a comment

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Lesson 614 – Wasps in the hen house

Photo credit: computerhotline

On my post about mucking out the hen house, a friend left a comment about how he had a wasp’s nest in his henhouse. There were three complicating factors to this wasp nest.

  1. It was inside the hen house where the chickens nested and because of that he was reluctant to use any pesticides.
  2. He had contacted the local “critter” company who said they could get rid of it for $150 (yup, you read that right) which would have made for some very costly eggs.
  3. He is highly allergic to insect stings.

A conundrum if I ever heard one.

I reached out to my fellow chicken owner friends and checked around a bit and these are the suggestions I got:

  • Leave it be, wasps eat other pesky bugs and are not such bad company to have.
  • Wait until night time and spray the nest with a high pressure hose.
  • Wait until night time and spray the nest with an orange oil containing product like Orange Glo.
  • Tape a bag around the nest (a clear bag so you can see what’s going on) and in a small hole insert a wasp killer spray and let the nest have it. You’ll know it’s worked when you see no more activity behind the bag.

I also got these comments from my facebook page:

“We had a bad infestation of wasps a few years back, but it was on the outside of the house. We just went to home depot and get got wasp spray. I suppose you could get all the chickens out first, bomb the coop and then remove all the hay, etc. We had fleas too and we removed all the critters from the house plus us for 3 hours on a Sunday morning and then just washed all the critters. Like I said, good luck.” Continue reading

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Lesson 613 – I see a big mucking-out in our future

We are at mid-August in New Hampshire and while we still have (sweltering and humidity-packed) summer heat, our evenings are starting to cool down.

And of course that means that we have a very big muck-out coming our way in the next few weeks.

Although we’ve been taking out the old wood chips over the summer, we’ve also been added new chips each week. This has resulted in some parts of our coop being covered in a high layer of chips. Not necessarily the worst thing in the world until they push against wires or get in between door hinges.

See the buildup? If we don’t remove that before it freezes, we’re going to have a lot of wire damage.

The first cool weekend that we have this fall (I’m guessing mid-September) we’re going to have an old-fashioned muck-out in the hen house, you know, out with the old in with the new. In preparation for winter (when we only add chips and do not remove any) we are going to take them all out and put down a fresh, clean layer on which to add. Continue reading

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Lesson 598 – Those darn flies – Part 4 (Last one, I promise)

 

For the record, that’s Marc-Lord-of-the-flies taking this photo, not me.

Because I find this morbidly fascinating and am obviously not done with this topic, here are some more fly photos. We emptied yet another full bottle of flies yesterday and this is what our trap looks like from being hung for just a few hours this morning.

Yup, that’s me with the long, long legs in this photo.

I know, crazy, right?

Can I be the first to say that this is just ridiculous? I have no idea where all these flies are coming from and why all of the sudden there seems to be such an influx of them (and why they hadn’t been bothering us at dinner – polite flies, maybe?)

I’ve sent email to the UNH (University of New Hampshire) Agricultural Cooperative Extension (they’ve been very helpful in the past with both tick and chicken questions) asking them if they’ve gotten complaints of flies from around the State.

I also asked them if they have gotten complaints, might the mild winter be a factor in all this. Basically, what is going on in New Hampshire with regard to flies?

I have yet to hear (the woman who usually answers questions is on vacation) but when I do you can bet I’ll be posting the reply.

In the meantime, we’ll carry on with our fly traps (but I promise you, no more dead fly pictures, enough is enough.)

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Lesson 597 – Those darn flies – Part 3

Boy do I have news for you about fly traps!

Last week Marc had gone to the TSC to get some traps because we have a neighbor who is complaining about flies. (Note, although we had seen some flies near our coop, we did not see “problem” numbers and in fact, we eat dinner outside every night without any interruption from flies – so we didn’t even known this was an issue but *sigh* you do what you have to do for neighbors.)

Last week I told you about the useless yellow trap (that is already in the garbage.) In short, don’t bother.

This week I’m going to tell you about  the fabulous Starbar’s Captivator Fly Trap. Captivator is a large plastic jug that comes with a tube of yellow liquid. You mix the yellow liquid with water and hang up the trap. (Hang the trap away from where people will be congregating – tables, chairs, etc.- the reason becomes very evident after a few days of that liquid maturing in the hot sun.) The flies enter an angled black tunnel in the lid to get to the goods. Once inside the bottle, because of the design they can’t figure out how to escape. It’s a deceptively simply and yet ingenious design. One part of me feels sorry for these bugs that are being sent to their death but then another part of me reminds myself (while I’m eating a slice of bacon) that we are talking about flies here.

The first few days we got only a few flies – not entirely impressive.

But then something happened. On about the third day, we noticed that flies were really getting excited about this trap. On a visit out to the coop we saw a single solid layer of flies covering the surface of the liquid inside the bottle. Now, we were beginning to approach impressive.

Then each time we went out to check on the trap, literally an inch of flies had been added. Those insects were going CRAZY over the trap. By the end of the 5th day, we had to close the trap because the flies had filled the bottle and reached the top. Marc left it shut overnight in the hopes that it would kill the ones that were still alive so they wouldn’t fly away when we opened the trap to dispose of them. Continue reading

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Lesson 596 – Those darn flies – part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s discussion on coop fly control. The reason I said that we might have a fly problem is that although we have some flies, it’s difficult to know where they are originating from. Our property faces woods and runs along a river, with the mild winter last year and the many trees that came down during the Halloween snowstorm, there is a lot of decay out there right now (let’s not even add in our neighbor’s dogs, cats, flowers, and that dead thing out by the road.) We’ve never had flies before so it all leaves us wondering, which came first? The chicken or the fly?

Anyway, in order to keep neighborhood peace, Marc went out and got a few chambers of doom.

This first one is called EZ Trap and the product description is:

Revolutionary design provides 3 times the trapping surface of leading sticky fly traps and is insecticide-free and odor-free. Ideal for stables, kennels, gardens, homes, patios, porches or anywhere flies and other flying insects are a problem. The special long-lasting adhesive is rainproof, so they can be used indoors or out. Easy to use, can be placed on any level surface or suspended.

Basically it’s a riff on the old sticky tape fly catchers found in every horse barn around (not exactly revolutionary in my book), except that now they’ve put the tape on a pretty bright yellow Escher-like decoration tasteful enough to be displayed at a get-together in anyone’s back yard. The trap is insecticide and odor free, and as an added bonus is rainproof! It all sounds really good right? Continue reading

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