Tag Archives: urban chickens

Lesson 486 – Basic First Aid Kit for Chickens

I recently taught a Backyard Chickens 102 – workshop. The first workshop (101) covers how to get chicks, how to care for them until they can go outside, and how to house chickens. It’s a how to get started with chickens class.

The second class covers, now that you have chickens how do you take care of them.

One of the things I cover is a basic first aid kit that all chicken owners should have ready *before* they need it. (Just like you should be looking for that dog crate now instead of later.)

Here’s my  list based on our chicken experiences:

First aid kit for chickens

  • Betadine – cheap and effective, just be warned that this stuff stains
  • Anti-biotic ointment – Neosporin or the generic similar
  • Gatorade – to be added to drinking water, especially during very hot weather, or if you have a sick chicken
  • Orajel – or generic, I don’t know if it works on chickens but I’d like to think it helps with pain when you need to make an incision
  • Scapel/straight razor – to lance boils or abscesses
  • Non-stick gauze pads – to cover wounds Continue reading

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Lesson 482 – More on chicken dog crates

Yesterday I wrote about how every chicken owner should have a wire dog crate as a part of their standard equipment. Being the thrifty mom that I am, I suggested that you start looking at yardsales and even put up on your facebook page that you are looking for a cage that no one else needs.

A few people contacted me with additional suggestions, you can also try:

  • Craigslist to see if any are available
  • Freecyle to make a request or see if any are posted

One lucky reader even told me how she had found a wire cage on the side of the road set out for free and grabbed it. She said that she’s used it a million times for many different things.

My point is, you don’t need an expensive new one, you simply need to get one (and if it’s free, all the better.)

One of my readers (Stephan-not-Stephen-who-is-really-Modesty) sent me this photo that he found on Craiglist: Continue reading

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Lesson 481 – Why every chicken owner needs to get a dog crate

I taught my Chickens 102 workshop.

My first class; Chickens 101 is all about how to get chickens (chicks and adults) and how to take care of them until they are old enough to go outside and live on their own in a henhouse.

Chickens 102 is about, now that you have adult chickens, how to you keep them alive and healthy. We cover egg health, injuries, and basic first aid for chickens. I’ll be covering all of these topics in future posts but I wanted to put this one out there first.

For your flock, one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can get is a medium to large size wire dog crate. (Start looking for them when yard-sale season begins.) There are a few reasons why I consider this to be an essential item for every chicken owner:

Isolation – when you bring a new bird home to your flock, good biosecurity measures dictate that you isolate the bird from the rest of your flock for at least a week. One sick bird can wipe out your entire flock. Unless you want to keep the bird in your garage (and I do know of a family that did that) you’ll want to keep the bird in a confined, ventilated area where they have access to food and water. A dog crate is the perfect size for a few adult birds (and if you remove the bottom tray, you can put it right on your lawn and your chickens will eat the grass, bugs, and fertilize your lawn all at the same time!) Continue reading

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Lesson 456 – A whopper of an egg story

One of our chicken friends (Stephan, not Stephen – for those who read the comments) sent me the following photos this past weekend with the subject line of “Over achiever!” It seemed that when he went out to his henhouse, this is what he found:

Here’s another photo showing the size.

That is one big egg!

One of my favorite stories when I was a kid was a book called “The Enormous Egg.” It was the story of a large egg, found in a chicken’s nest that when hatched turned out to be a dinosaur (hey, it could happen.) The story ends happily (if you haven’t read it you should) and my entire life, I’ve been waiting and hoping to find a dinosaur egg in a henhouse.

This weekend I thought that maybe there was a chance with Stephan’s egg.

Wonder what’s in that thing, I told him, holding my breath, not even daring to hope against hope.

Stephan cracked the egg and this is what he found: Continue reading

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Lesson 453 – The case of the missing eggs

It’s winter here in New Hampshire, it’s dark and it’s cold. I don’t even want to get out of bed some days and I certainly don’t blame our hens for not wanting to go to a cold box in order to lay some eggs. But enough is enough, even with knowing that egg production drastically goes down in the winter months (simply a normal reaction to the lack of sunlight) we shouldn’t be down this low.

Right now we have about 35 laying hens (including 7 chicks that were born this spring.) During the summer we were getting almost 2 dozen eggs a day, now we are lucky if we get 10. That’s quite a decrease and while I know that to increase egg production I can install a light (roughly 16 hours of light is needed a day for maximum egg production) I think that something else might be going on.

This past weekend we did a little investigating. For the most part our girls lay their eggs in or near the nesting boxes. We don’t remove the woodchips during the winter months so some of the girls make their own nests in the deep chips in the corners. Our first clue that something was up was that we were no longer getting our beautiful small bantam eggs in the nest boxes anymore. Where did they go? Continue reading

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Lesson 441 – Simon the painting chicken’s newest piece – Sunflower

I told you I would show you Simon’s newest piece of art today and true to my word, here it is.

Simon the painting chicken's "Sunflower"

It’s called “Sunflower” (doesn’t it just brighten your day?)

Simon (her twin sister is named Garfunkel) had actually painted the flower part last year but we had never gotten around to putting the “seeds” in so last night, Addy went out to the henhouse and because it was raining she brought little Simon into the kitchen so that she could finish the picture and sign it (in the lower right corner.)

I held Simon who snuggled down into my arms while Addy helped with the paints and canvas. Not a peep was heard from our artist, in fact at one point, I even wondered if she had fallen asleep, but no, it turns out she was keeping one eye open at all times on Pippin, our dog who found this all highly interesting.

I don’t know if you caught that but we had a chicken in our kitchen last night painting and you want the know the best part about that? Not one person in my family thought it was in the least bit odd to do this.

A chicken in the house? We’ve had many before and I imagine we’ll have many more. Continue reading

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Lesson 440 – Simon’s back

Last night I attended a presentation at our local library put on by two debut Young Adult authors (Gina Rosati and Hilary Weisman Graham) It was a great event filled with heart-to-heart advice by writers to writers (and some of the coolest bookmarks I’ve ever seen.) I’ll be reviewing Gina’s book: Auracle – on this blog as it gets closer to its release date. (hey, us chicks have to look out for each other.)

While I was at the library, one of the librarians: Ellen came up to me, “Wendy?” she said. “Wendy Thomas?”

Wondering if I had any overdue fines on library books, I hesitatingly acknowledged yes, that was who I was and waited.

Ellen then went on to tell me a story from a friend of hers who lives in Washington State. Apparently that friend while waiting for a pizza to be ready started reading the free weekly newsletter often found in local restaurants and coffee shops around the town (and I’ve since discovered are also distributed around the United States and in 50 countries.)

One of the “Everybody’s Talking About…” articles in the newsletter was about a chicken owned by Wendy Thomas from Merrimack New Hampshire who had created a piece of art that ended up benefiting a local playground.

Wait a minute.

“That’s your chicken, right?” she asked me. Continue reading

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Lesson 435 – Bring one with them

Well you know it was bound to happen. When one invites and starts writing about chickens into your life, one starts getting lots of very neat chicken things.

I have one friend (hi Diane) who takes great delight in finding chicken jewelry treasures on the internet. She’s a frequent recipient of our girls’ eggs and to thank us (them) she brings over some of the greatest chicken items I’ve seen (over which I oohh and aahh like a little kid.)

Take for example this blue rooster cocktail (get it) ring? How beautiful is that little gem? To be truthfully honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to wear it yet but just look out this holiday season. I will, no doubt, be the belle of any ball.

And then there is this broach which is sort of like one of those triangle puzzles, just how many chickens can you find within the piece? I love to wear this piece when I give a chicken workshop, (which I do for our town and libraries) it kind of identifies me as “one with them.” It’s my badge of sorority with the chicks. Continue reading

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Lesson 434 – the importance of tribute

What does one do with 70 jack-o-lanterns once Halloween is over?

Why they bring them to our house so that our chickens can play and nibble on them to their hearts’ content.

A friend of ours, as a tribute to her deceased mom’s 70th birthday, carved 70 pumpkins and had them lit on the front lawn for Halloween. That’s a terrific and creative way to acknowledge an important person and life event, in fact it sounds like something I might have done (note to self – tuck this idea away for a future celebration.)

There’s just one problem with having 70 jack-o-lanterns on your lawn on Halloween.

And it’s that the day after Halloween, you have 70 jack-o-lanterns on your lawn.

Not to worry, that’s where our chickens come into the story. We agreed to take as many of the pumpkins as would fit in her car and so on Saturday afternoon, my friend came over with dozens and dozens of carved pumpkins (including one very cool albino pumpkin.) Continue reading

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Lesson 432 – Where we belong

Late last night, we found out that power was restored to our house. Oh callooh callay!

Because our town had made the decision to hold school the next day (much to the kids’ delight there has been no school Monday through Wednesday) we made the decision to pack up and move out then instead of at 5:30 the next morning.

The kids were a little upset, they had to be pulled away from a movie that had been set up on a projection screen for all to watch. They hadn’t finished the large cups of popcorn everyone viewing the movie had been given.

The kids were tired, out of sorts and they had finally had it up to here with disruption after disruption. It showed in the bickering in the car on the way home.

Brush your teeth, get into bed, I kept repeating when we got home, we’ll find your math book in the morning.

Today, the kids are at school. Some of them are wearing socks they’ve had on for days, some are in need of an extended hot shower. All had to take cold items in for lunches, apples, granola bars, even the last of the emergency poptarts.

But they are back where they belong, in a routine that feels familiar. A life that feels in control.

While they were away, I walked around the house assessing our home that we had to leave so quickly.

The Halloween decorations are still up but as the town has moved trick-or-treating out to this coming weekend, they will remain up at least for a few more days playing games with my mind – witches and skeletons in the snow.

Limbs in the yard will need to be gathered and chopped in preparation for the wood stove which we WILL be getting. Continue reading

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