Monday, April 20, 2015
I must say I am pretty amazed by how many people have viewed my blog. I really appreciate it. It amazes me how many people want to learn more about chickens and other people's experiences with chickens.
It has been two years since I've last posted on this blog. There are several things that have changed over these years. For starters, I got married! I was lucky to marry my best friend on a beautiful July day. I moved out of my parents how which is where the chickens are located, got a new job which had more difficult hours and unfortunately I couldn't take care of the chickens like I did before.
However, my father and sisters continued to care for the chickens as I had before. Our group has held steady at 19 hens even through the tough New England winter we had this past year. We had several blizzards with dark gloomy days. The egg production decreased drastically and there was only a few eggs a week from the 19 girls. However, since the weather has warmed up the chickens have started to lay more eggs again. They are approximately two years old now and are doing very well.
My father decided to not get more chickens this spring and rather keep the ones we have now until they stop laying eggs.
Therefore, I will not be writing anymore about chickens but encourage those who want to know more to continue doing research. Backyardchickens.com is the best place for that.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Spring is in the air!
|Ruined Front Garden|
My sisters let the chickens out while I was at work and were kinda sorta keeping an eye on them but obviously not well enough since they managed to get into the garden in front of the house and kick all of the bark mulch out onto the front pathway. Needless to say I was not a happy camper and it took me an 1hr and 30 mins to shovel all of the bark mulch back into the garden and rake everything back into a nicely even blanket across the plants. (The pathway is very long and there is two long gardens in the front of the house) So this got me thinking, how can I have a nice garden while also having chickens. I've been trying to "train" them to not go into the pool area by only opening the run door which leads to the back yard and that has been working. They don't fly over the fence or anything into the pool which really is great! I'm trying to prevent the accumulation of chicken poop in the pool area its not fun in the summer to step in chicken poop while barefoot.
|Chickens in back of the shed hanging in the throne bushes|
|Chicken digging behind their run|
|Behind their coop digging for worms!|
|Turkean digging for worms!|
It amuses me how they can be creatures of habit and for the most part will stick to their routine! With this in mind I figured if I made the chicken areas more "appealing" maybe they would like it more and stay away from the front garden! So when anyone, me or my family wants to give them treats like berries, rice, bread, lettuce etc I've been having the treats be put into the woods or the grass in front of the woods. So this way rather then putting stuff in front of the house where they are being teased to go into the garden they will be kept away from it all. The only thing that really is an issue is that we have a bird feeder in the garden in front of our window because we like to 1) see the birds but 2) also tease the cats and it helps stimulate them and keeps them entertained. The chickens love going heading to the bird feeder cause they know there will be sunflowers seeds that may have fallen for them to eat. So I try to give them sunflower seeds in the woods or by their coop to keep them out of the garden!
|Chicken scratch by the coop AWAY from the front yard|
|3 out of the 5 original birds! Almost 1 year old!|
|Chickens in the woods in FRONT of the house|
|Me & Mantequilla. This rich dirt is from a compost pile that used to be there!|
|I ALWAYS have water available for the chickens while they are outside. I put it right where they are so they are always encouraged to drink drink drink!|
So in order to make my woods/backyard area more appealing I decided that I was going to get some more fresh dirt/sand which basically is loom and I am going to make a chicken "bathing" area because they are digging holes in places that holes should not be dug! I basically don't want to DISCOURAGE my chickens from their natural ways but I want to encourage them in ways that won't kill my fathers yard.
|Chickens in the front yard woods|
From the National Gardening Association and it is actually a weed but can be used for cooking and has some really great health benefits. My mother and I actually used to pull this weed out of the flower beds and throw it away into the woods but not I am going to transplant them so the chickens can enjoy them! You can read more about it here
I also found this forum on backyard chickens that mentions some other plants that are friendly to chickens as well its called Planting a Chicken Garden It is a very fitting name!
I would encourage everyone to look for other forums on BackYardChickens and to post some interesting ones that you find in the comment section! I would love to see what you found!
|Enjoying the woods in FRONT of the house|
|Mantequilla enjoying some fresh water splashed with some apple cider vinegar|
|My ugly chickens with their BLU-KOTE butts!|
P.S. While the chickens were moving to their usual spot around 6PM in the backyard they stopped dead in their tracks and starting making their warning call. I was right behind them and I started looking in the sky thinking they saw a hawk and were alerting the others to hide but I COULD NOT see one so I started to get really worried. Then I looked right in front of me and there is was a BEAUTIFUL white tail deer just looking at me dead in the eyes. I could not believe how close it was. I immdeiatly took a picture and then called my dad so that he could come down and see the deer. It was an amazing site and it always reminds me of how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful location!
|Can you see the deer!? They blend in sooo well!|
Sunday, April 7, 2013
|My drive way. December 2012|
I live in Massachusetts (not sure if I have mentioned that before) and we had such a bad winter! Of course it also happened to be my first winter EVER having chickens and so it was a new experience for me and my family. Needless to say I was very nervous about how the chickens would handle the cold winter months. However, they did a good job and we actually only lost one chicken (which I think was due to an egg being impacted in her).
|The shed that all of the chickens are kept in.|
For example: I would buy a couple heads of cabbage, drill a hole through them and then tie them up in the run. This way the chickens would have something to peck at during the day.
I also got them a "flock block" which allowed them to have something else to peck at.
I know I have talked about treats before and I just wanna say they were very helpful during the winter months.
I also used Blue-Kote wound spray to help keep the girls from pecking at one another and it did help quite a bit. My main issue though is that I have a couple aggresive breeds for chickens and they are just mean to the more docile, gentle birds. However, once the weather warms up more I intend to separate the gentle ones from the mean ones so that the gentle birds will be able to have a more easy time growing their butt feathers back.
I would like to add though that in most cases when chickens start eating feathers it is because they are low in protein and you can help give them more protein by adding some game bird food to their daily food since it has more protein in it.
1) tired of shoveling a path to and from the coop
2) actually just shoveling in general
3) babysitting them in the freezing cold
4) being worried all day thinking that they were all gonna freeze to death (which was just me being irrational)
On an ending note I would like to include that I have had two seriously close calls with the hawk these past few months. My first close call goes as follows:
It was late in the afternoon maybe around 4pm and the sun was setting around 6pm this time of the year and my boyfriend let the chickens out before coming inside to get some fresh water. As I am standing by the door talking to him I hear this really weird sound coming from outside. I listen closer and it is one of my chickens making this very unfamiliar clucking sound so I got super worried and told my boyfriend I needed to run outside and check. So I threw shoes on and ran so fast to the sound of the crying and sure enough there was the hawk on top of the my chicken. It had flew into a thorn bush that my chicken had been hiding under and he had her pinned. I threw a 5 gallon bucket at it and started screaming and yelling at it. It released my bird and flew up 5 feet above me and just sat there. I grabbed my chicken looked around to make sure my others were hidden well and ran up to the house. I flew my front door opened and yelled to whomever was in ear shot to get outside and to get rid of that damn hawk. My boyfriend ran outside and so did my little sister to handle the hawk. I brought my chicken to the sink and thoroughly inspected her. Thankfully I had gotten their in time and he had only manged to make a 1 inch slice underneath her wing. I put some neosproin on the cut and fed her some blueberries. I then left the chicken with my other sister and ran outside to help the others with the hawk.
It took 45 minutes for us to scare the hawk out of the yard. My little sister found all of the chickens deep in the woods under a very thick brush and stayed with them while me and my boyfriend threw rocks at the hawk. I have never seen such a stubborn hawk not give a damn about two humans throwing rocks at it. It literally just flew into different trees around the yard for 45 mins while we threw rocks at it.
My second encounter was this past Friday! My sister and I were on the front steps reading a book while we had the chickens out. It all of a sudden got really quiet and I felt really uneasy so I picked up my book and told my sister I thought something was wrong. I started to walk towards the chickens which were a few yards away when all of a sudden BAM! The damn hawk flew down at like a 90 degree angle from some random tree and started attacking one of my chickens! I yelled for my sister and I started running full speed at the hawk, yelling and waving my hands like a mad women. Thankfully the hawk let go and flew up into the trees. My chickens wouldn't come out of hiding for an hour but the hawk had flown into some open areas in the woods were the crows then spotted him and chased him out of the yard.
The crows have literally become my heros. Usually the hawk isn't even able to get into my yard when the crows are outside in the area. I think they have a nest in one of the trees by my house because they are very protective of the area which I do not mind at all because they keep my chickens safe!
Has anyone else come in contact with a predator? Share your story! I am glad that no one was injured during these attacks since I've already lost one chicken to the hawk I really do not plan on giving him another!
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Chicken Girl Problem # 4
My chickens have finally reached the perfect laying age and it was probably one of the happiest times of my whole chicken raising experience. Since we have 28 chickens we were very excited to be getting several eggs a day, however, we were very hesitant since we knew the winter months were fast approaching and their egg production would drop.
I am happy to report that we have been getting about 14 to 16 eggs a day! As a family, we figured that it is safe to assume the chickens are laying about every other day! I am also very proud to say that out of all the eggs we have harvested there has only been one soft shell. We do not have an egg breaker (cross my fingers) and no animal has stolen them! However, we have had the issue with our chickens laying their eggs in random places outside.
This is my beautiful girl Pearl and she is a sweetheart. But (yes their is a but) she has been escaping the safety of our yard and running to our neighbors house (yes I literally mean running) and laying her eggs underneath our neighbors swing set! It is easy to spot her missing from the front yard since she is our only white chicken but it has not been fun venturing to our neighbors yard 5 to 6 times a day to retrieve her.
I wish I could tell you that we have found a way to keep her in our yard but that would be a lie. Instead, we have found out that if we keep all of our pool gate doors closed she isn't smart enough to either fly over it or just walk around to the back and sneak out one of those doors.
I have found that there are several things that have contributed to us having healthy chickens and delicious eggs. These things go as follows:
- Clean Water
- Adequate Food
- Adequate Supplements such as Oyster Shells
- Clean living environment and adequate space
- Free Range time whether it be for a few minutes to a few hours
- Healthy Treats to keep their treat obsessed minds occupied. The best treat chart is this one from backyard chickens
- Love and Attention, dead serious. I have some very cuddly chickens whom love being loved
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Chicken Girl Problem #3
Good Afternoon Everyone!
Since my last chicken girl problem was dealing with death I figured I should go back to the topic of predators. I know I briefly talked about it on my last post but it is so very important that I feel I need to go over it again.
Backyardchickens.com is literally my favorite website for anything & everything chicken! I recently read a post that was put on a forum and it goes over in detail what every kind of predator will go after and how you can figure out who is stealing your chickens or trying to. This is the link Poultry Predators this forum helped me understand what I was going up against and how I could try to fix it.
I understand that some people like to be a bit more aggressive when it comes to revenge for their killed chickens but that is not the way I like to operate. However, for those of you that do here is another link that talks about state/federal laws on eliminating hawks or owls. It is important to keep in mind that laws will be different in every state so it is important to do more research if you don't find your answer on this forum. To Eliminate or Leave alone?
Because of our recent hawk attack our chickens are no longer able to free range all day long. Instead after working a 10 hour day I come home to sit in the yard and let my chickens free range from anywhere to 1-3 hours. I honestly think the more time the better but if that cannot be done then an hour would be great for there overall health. I couldn't imagine being stuck inside all day!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Chicken Girl Problem #2
One of the things that I have always hated about having pets is that eventually they do have to die. However, sometimes its nice to know that when a pet dies it is because of natural causes and that they had lived a wonderful life before their time was up. Its kind of a different situation when a pet is taken from you before its time was due. I guess my issue is that I have never had a pet long enough to have it die on me, besides the occasional fish death.
Septemeber 10 that all changed for me when I came home to find my sisters and mom surrounded by the baby chickens outside! However, they aren't really babies since they are 15 wks now but they are 7 wks younger then our older group of chickens. My family told me a story of how a hawk payed a visit to our chickens today while they were outside free ranging. Unfortunately, the hawk was able to get one of our chickens and we could not save her. Her name was Buttercup and she was the most beautiful, fluffiest, sweetest golden bantam ever and she was be deeply missed.
The hardest part of Buttercup passing away was telling my boyfriend mostly because this was his favorite chicken and he truly loved her with all of his heart. My boyfriend is an animal lover by nature so honestly any kind of animal death is very hard for him to handle. I couldn't blame him though because I had a really hard time dealing with this as well. For me it was because I felt like I had let my children down because I wasn't there to protect them from this predadtor. We literally have never seen a hawk in all of the months that these chickens have been free ranging. It really caught all of us off guard but it was a great lesson learned.
Just because you do not see a predator does not mean he/she is not there. Hawks are very good at what they do and it is mostly because of their outstanding eye sight and great hunting skills. This terrible event has helped us become more cautious and aware of the surroundings in the environment. Another positive aspect is that only one of our chickens passed away out of our original 30. We do have a crippled chicken Hops which I mentioned in a previous post and it would have been even more devasting if he passed as well. I am sad about the death of Buttercup but glad that is all that it was if that Hawk had wiped out more of our flock it would have been even more difficult to handle.
The one thing that saved the rest of the chickens though is that they had an adequate amount of space to hide and our reaction time to saving them and throwing rocks at the hawk helped to get him out of the yard.
So everyone please be very careful with your flocks of chickens and be very diligent about looking out for them. Predators will catch you off guard and kill all of your chickens if they can. It can help to you so be prepared.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
They Grow Up So Fast
Before I knew it I no longer had 26 chirping babies but instead I had a group of young toddlers who were up to causing trouble!
Unfortunately, I am the mother to a special chicken named Hops. He was always a very fun loving chicken that would "hop" on your hand when you would play with the chickens. However, one day we noticed that Hops could not walk very well and was having a hard time standing up. What we found out was that Hops had been born with a defected hock joint. The hock is the back of the chickens leg, to the naked eye its the ball on the back of the chickens leg. The growth plate in that joint was off to the right side of where it should be. This was causing Hops tendon to not be able to stay in place. Therefore, this rendered Hops right leg to be useless.
$200 later I had an x-ray and some tape around this little guys leg to hopefully fix it! Unfortunately, it did not do anything which as the vet had told me what could happen. We put another splint on but this time he used a popsicle stick, cotton balls, and more tape! We hoped that this would do the trick this time but unfortuantely it did not do anything! After a month of going back and forth to the vet and draining my savings account the vet informed me that all I could do is give Hops the best life and hope for the best. That is exactly what I have been doing and he is doing great now! His leg is still very much deformed but he has grow up so much and can get around on his own.