All the chicks are home. Marc and I typically take the week off between Christmas and New Years in order to spend time with our delightful brood. When the kids were younger, this meant we’d pack them up and go places like Chuckie Cheese and even a movie or two.
Now that the kids are older, they are more interested in sleeping the day away than they are in spending time with the (old) folks.
Which is why we have to work at it a little harder these days.
The other morning, we packed up the kids (in two cars, we no longer have a car (beast) in which everyone fits) and we first went to a local breakfast place where we ate our fill of crepes, hash browns, eggs, and poutine. After we were done we headed over to a local museum – The Currier in Manchester, NH.
Where we got to see masterpieces by artists like, oh Picasso, Rembrandt, and Monet. We also got to see a gorgeous Tiffany lamp, along with pieces of hand carved furniture that are simply impossibilities (seriously how can any artist get wood to look like fur hairs?) Continue reading
My flock remains spooked by the recent falcon attack. Even though they are free to roam about the yard, (especially because even at this late date in December, we have no snow on the ground) more often than not, I find them huddled under the hen house overhang.
It’s dark there. It’s safe. No one knows where you are. It’s a place where you can lick your wounds. I get it.
But there’s also no fresh grass there – no yummy bugs. There’s no space to stretch your wings. The dirt is an uncomfortable place to lay your eggs and in such close proximity even your best tolerated flock mates have a tendency to get on your nerves.
Fear from tragedy is a terrible repressor.
And it’s no way to live your life. Continue reading
Looks like I’m not the only one with misbehaving chickens. Take a look at these “bad boys” whose photos have been sent by readers.
My usually angry BO starting to really abuse the other BO who went broody. I was leaving for a long weekend and couldn’t risk she’d kill the other hen before I returned and couldn’t separate the broody so I put a set of peepers on Ginger to get her to chill till I returned.
And I wasn’t happy with her behavior and wanted the other hens to know it.
Tricky Chick Continue reading
There is an internet trend called “pet shaming” where owners of cats and dogs have their pets confess their bad behavior to the rest of the world using placards – examples of the bad behavior being reported are things like, “I peed on my mom’s favorite slippers” and “I locked my mom and dada out of the truck.”
I thought to myself, why is it that only cats and dogs get to admit their past indiscretions? There are so many other pets that occasionally deserve credit for their spectacular misbehavior.
And so, I submit to you, the first ever (and probably not the last) “Chicken Shaming.”
And you want to know the sad thing? When Marc replaced the keyboard, Charlie went and did it again. Continue reading
It’s President’s Day.
Happy day to all! I guess.
What I mean is I’m not sure how we’re supposed to celebrate the day.
Unlike other years, the kids are in school today. Marc has the day off from work but there’s no special way to spend it (other than going to Tractor Supply on a non-weekend day – which, for him, is pretty exciting.)
For me, it’s like any other day. I’ve got my butt in the chair and I’m writing articles that have deadlines (one blog post I got out this morning is over here.) Continue reading
Meat for the chickens
For some reason, when I first got chickens I had assumed they were vegetarian. After all, they ate the grass and leaves from their coop yard which was augmented by grain feed. An occasional bug? Well that hardly counted as meat, right?
I have since come to learn that chickens love meat. In fact, I’ve seen them go crazy for it.
I first started looking into this when a woman in one of my chicken workshops once told me the story of how her chickens seemed to adore ham. When she would put her scraps in the coop, the chickens would pounce on them. Of course, this discussion gave rise to the question that perhaps the story of Green Eggs and Ham wasn’t so farfetched after all? Continue reading
When we had that recent discussion about providing water to chickens in the winter, I was asked a question from a friend whose galvanized steel waterer had become discolored and rusty over the summer.
Could she still use it? She wondered.
I knew that her chicks were all new this year and was surprised to hear that her equipment was showing so much wear after one season. As it turns out, she regularly adds Apple Cider Vinegar to the chickens’ water supply. Acid wears down a surface thus creating “pitting handles” which are ideal for the rusting process. Rust is formed when oxygen comes into sustained contact with iron in a process called oxidation. Oxygen is delivered to the metal from water, either from liquid water or water vapor. And once rust starts, “nooks and crannies” are created, further contact is then made and more rust is created. Once it starts, it’s a tough cycle to break.
My advice was to cut way back on the Apple Cider Vinegar (an acid strong enough that it can take the enamel off your teeth) and to replace any waterer that had rust.
I used to be a clinical microbiologist for a few years after I graduated from college and in responding to her I made a glib remark about “I know what can grow in rust.”
Someone asked me for more details on bacteria and rust, so here you go. Continue reading
Our Guinea hens have successfully made their transition into the flock and have become full –fledged and fully accepted members (yes, even the one who was so horribly pecked that she was bleeding.)
Although both sit comfortably on the weird side of fashion, I still don’t see any signs of “maledom” which means that we’re probably going to be okay in the rooster department.
(What’s that noise, you say? Oh that’s just our neighbors releasing a big sigh of relief.)
As many of you know, we have chronic Lyme in the house and I got our Guinea hens specifically because they are supposed to be world class tick eaters. In the spring, when they have reached maturity, I’ll release these tick-munching hounds to our back yard and let them have at it. Eat all the ticks you want gals, protect my kids.
In the meantime, as members of the flock, they get attention just like everyone else. I coo to them, point out bits of hidden food in the corners, and you better believe that on Christmas Eve, they’ll get their fair share of our “Suet Cookies for Santa.”
Guinea hens tend to be skittish though and are not very social. I have yet to be able to hold and talk to them like I do with some of our other girls (Charlie.) As Guineas are not bred for laying eggs, I imagine that when they do starting laying, their production schedule will be more like a bantam (whenever I get around to it) as opposed to our layers (time to make the eggs.)
Other than tick eating, it’s not easy to justify having these birds in your flock. Continue reading
Now that the SNAP Challenge is over, we can get back to lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire (which will include thrifty and frugal living just not full time, but can I just say that if more people had chickens, there would be more quality food available – so it does go hand-in-hand.)
I recently had a reader contact me about chicken waterers in the winter.
She had read about our use of chicken nipples and my reservation of using them during the colder months (due to freezing temperatures up here in New Hampshire.)
Although we do use chicken nipples during the warmer weather, we do not use them in the winter. The nipple heads freeze up and the birds get nothing.
Important Note: while we’re on the subject of chicken nipples, simply by the way they work, they have to be suspended over the chickens, use care when using them around chicks that are not tall enough to reach them. In addition to the nipples, I always leave a smaller waterer at ground level as long as there are any chicks in the coop.
Over the years, we’ve tried a few options for getting water to our flock in the winter, we’ve taken the waterer into the house at night (always a big mess on the kitchen floor) and we’ve tried to refill it first thing in the morning (but then it just freezes up and water can’t pass through.) We finally figured out that a simple base heater (think college hotplate) is the way to go.
Ironically, right before this reader had contacted me, Marc had just ordered a new heater for our birds. This is our second heater in about 5 years. Continue reading
Oh look, the frost is on the pumpkin.
I came home yesterday to find these two beautiful pumpkins patiently waiting by our front porch. They were dropped off by a friend who had remembered that a no-longer needed Halloween pumpkin was one that was better served by our chickens than by the local trash.
I’m saving these delicious morsels for Thanksgiving Day. When we sit down at the table to give thanks for that which we have and for the much appreciated opportunity for all of us to come home to roost – if only for a few days – our girls will be able to feast with us as well.
After all, good will shared, is good will shared.