Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chicken Workshop with author Terry Golson

My son and I spent a beautiful day at Little Pond Farm with author Terry Golson, her flock and other chicken enthusiast.  We learned lots, it's nice to see how other people set things up.
First of all, Little Pond Farm does have a little pond. One of the residents is 'The Beast' Terry blogs about him often. 
Terry blogged about our visit too!  Please check it out at her Hen Blog. She has great information on her blog and a hen cam.
We learned how Terry uses her chickens to turn her compost and how she protects her girls from the hawks in the area.  We did have a fly over of one of them when we were there. Terry showed us her compost system. She sets up palates with 3 sides. One side is open for adding to the pile & so the girls can climb in and scratch away.  She dumps her weeds, chicken poop
  & other ingredients.  I love this idea! The chickens scratch & peck turning the compost for her.

The CDs hanging help keep flying predators at bay.  Photo in the right is Papa Chick(PC) listening attentively to Terry.  He had such a great time.
Here is one of the stars of the show.  This is the Tillie bird.  The original Tillie went to the big chicken coop in the sky.  This is Coco. She goes with Terry to schools and to a little show called the Martha Stewart Show.

 Terry's garden was beautiful with bits of whimsy here and there.

PC had a blast hanging out with the girls. They really seemed to take to him. We learned all about how to spot chicken ailments, what to do & dealing with a broody hen.

        We also meet Buffy, one of the original girls from the book.                                       
We met Candy, the resident rabbit and diva of the yard.  Candy is all about the attitude and as a result, 
all of the girls respect her space.  A very Zen rabbit if you ask me...
We then had ice tea and cookies on the covered porch and learned more about chicken keeping 
and had time for questions and answer.
Everything was just lovely...what a nice way to spend an afternoon.
The grand finale...
The author signing the book for the boy.  This was the book a few years ago that started chicken fever in our house and inspired us on this journey.
 A very memorable day for this chick and her boy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Staycation Vacation Bucket List

For too many reasons to name, it is a staycation for us this year.  I can't remember the last time we stayed home on summer vacation.  My oldest son will be away so there will only be 3 of us home...Here is my vacation bucket list.  I plan on before and after pictures at some point, I guess to make myself feel better about what I accomplish(I know that may be borderline pathetic...just work with me people)

1. Have breakfast at Carl's Dinner. (when you see the pictures you will understand why)
2. Clean my scrapbook area and actually scrapbook.(when you see the pictures you will see why it is impossible for me to get any scrapbooking done)
3. Clean out my kitchen closet(again the pictures will speak for themselves, it isn't pretty)
4. We have sworn off movies to save some cash. There is a theater that costs $5 a person.  Who can pass that up? We will be going to Pirates of the Caribbean.
5. Help my youngest pack his footlocker for his first week at away scout camp.
6. Bring our meat birds to the butcher(their bucket list to follow)
7. Walk my dog everyday, the good long walk, not the short one that I have been doing(total slacker I am)
8. Try not to make a fool of myself when I meet Tillie and her owner tomorrow.
9. Sit by my pool for a minimum of 1 hour a day to read or relax(no talking on the phone or txting)
10. Finish Eat, Pray, Love(I have been so slow with this one)
11. Take my youngest to check out archery lessons(I think he might have some talent for it and he has passion for it...worth exploring)
12. Go somewhere and do something we have never done before.

We will see how it all goes...stayed tuned!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our impending brush with the quasi famous...

I had to chuckle when I read this blog(I usually do) but more so today...
See I get excited about kind of famous people(...errr chickens) too.
My youngest son and I are going to Tillie's Coop on Sunday and we
are going to meet the author of Tillie lays an Egg.
We are two of the lucky 15 people who will be there for an afternoon
with Terry Golson for her
chicken keeping workshop at her Little Pond Farm.
If you didn't know, she has been on the Martha Stewart Show
so, she isn't only a published author with
a very cool hen cam...she is one degree of separation
from Martha to me and
sometimes that is all this simple chick needs.

This is Tillie from her world famous book Tillie Lays an Egg, in't she cute.  Hoping she can sign our copy of the book,
is that an opposable thumb I see?  No?
Oh well, maybe Terry will sign it for us.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tips to help your chickens survive extreme heat

Some tips we found to help beat the severe heat with our large Cornish x rock chickens. 

We are not chicken professionals and learned the hard way how hot is too hot for our large meat birds.  We thought we did everything right and followed everything we could find about dealing with the heat.

What we didn't know was what to do if all of that didn't work and your chickens start to die from the heat.  If your chickens are panting and trying to cool themselves off give them a dip in water.  This saved our flock!  I have only found this on one web site and it isn't in any of the books I have or have referenced.  I thought that the water would shock them, but it didn't and it almost immediately cooled them off.  We tried it because they were all going to die if we didn't do something. 

Just be careful of a few things... chickens will drown so fill up the water in your container so it comes up to just below their wings; once they feel a little better they may try to fly out of the water so do not leave them unattended and keep your hands on their wings to avoid injury.

You will see them feel better so quickly.  Even our hardest hit birds perked right up.  Each spent about 5 minutes in the water.  Some needed to go back in for a little more cooling.  We used ice cold water and our chickens were fine with it. 

Now, if we are going to get extreme heat again like last week, I will be looking to do some preventative cooling by giving our large chickens a dip a little while after the heat sets in.  We will also continue to use homemade frozen blocks of water to keep the water extra cold, keep the fans going, run the hose on the tin roof of the coop to help keep the coop cool that way too and given them a boost with Broiler Booster or Quick Chick from McMurray Hatchery.  The vitamin boost helps them to be prepared for and deal with the stress of the heat.

Our little girls, who are about 6 weeks old were completely unfazed by the heat with the measures we had put in place before the heat crisis(Black Stars, RI Reds, Golden Polish and Ameriaucana) and did not need a dip in the water.

Again we are just backyard chicken keepers and not professionals...just don't want anyone to have to go through what we did last Friday.

Good luck and stay cool!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A sad day for our coop...

As temps hit 100 degrees here, we lost 5 of our Cornish X Rock birds.  They are big birds and the heat just got too much too fast. Two were gone and within minutes 3 more.  We had fans(4 of then), tons of cold water, shade in their covered run and their coop is huge with good ventilation and space.  They just couldn't take it. My husband left for the store with my youngest to get more fans and to see if he could rig up some kind of mister to cool them after the first 2 died and my oldest came running in to tell me, I was up working in my office.  He said we were going to loose them all.  He is smart for a 13 year old and he was right.  We quickly filled our recycling bins full of cold water to height were the birds could stand in them and the dipping began and, you know what? We saved all of those birds.  Some look stressed still, but for the most part they are doing well. A few, one in particular looked a little put out about the entire dip but she sure looked better after.  One of the big hens loved it and stayed in the water dip for 15 minutes. 

Granted, we were going to butcher these birds in 2 weeks, but dying from the heat is no way I wanted one of my birds to go by.  I feel responsible to care for them well and have them killed humanely when it is time.  My boys buried them and said a little prayer for our lost souls.  I am proud to say that I think my kids getting this farming animal thing.  No tears, just heavy hearts for the way it all went down.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stick a fork in me...this chick is done!

After a hellish week, I'm outta here!  Just for the evening but I am leaving this crew behind and their Friday night fire...

I'm meeting my friend for a little Uno's and to get my girl time on!  I have had my fill of testosterone.  I plan to then head over to my mothership (a.k.a. Barnes & Noble) I have an abnormal attraction to Barnes & Noble and would really go there any time I can.

I have been having problems with blogger this week and haven't been able to comment on some pages but for those pages that I follow, thanks for keeping me entertained and making me smile.  It has been a rough week!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Is 67a lucky number or are we just crazy?

Well it has happened again...
The 6am call from the post office "your chicks are here!"
Such an exciting time but a little worrisome.  Last time I could hear the chicks peeping on the phone and the second we walked into the post office. Not this time, they were much quieter.  We did have one that did not survive the trip, but all of the others are doing well and settling in.

Here is a little video...

We have 25 Cornish, 1 White Crested Black Polish, 1 Americauna, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Light Brahams, 1 Buff Orpington, and 1 Silver Laced .  In addition to the chickens we have, that is a grand total of 67!  Our first batch of Cornish X Rocks are 5 weeks.  We have 23 of them and will have them for another 3 weeks.  The hens, we have 18 and are going to have some serious eggs on our hands. Most are brown egg layers though we have one white layer and two that will lay colored eggs.  It has been fun having them all around.  I do think we are a little crazy and do not recommend this many chickens if you don't have the space.  The Cornish eat and poop a ton!  We live on 14 acres so neighbors aren't an issue and as long as you keep up on the coop and it is big enough the smell isn't a problem either. 

The older Cornish males have started to crow.  I heard one this morning.  It is still young and kind of sounded like a sick cow than a rooster.  I am sure they will be sharpening up their cock a doodle doo's over the next few weeks.  The Cornish X Rocks are just really easy going chickens with great dispositions, just don't get in between them and their food...they are serious eaters.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Simple Pleasures...

Some may think I am a complicated chick, but when it comes down to it I am a simple chick who enjoys some of the simpler things in life...

I love seeing my dog lay in front of the door and look out the window.  We adopted her.  She came from TN.  She had a hard life before she found her way to us.  It makes me happy to see her just being her...

I picked the "to market" bag up off of Esty...I just love it.  It is the perfect Farmer's market bag.

I love the inside of the bag when I get home from the farmer's was strawberries, eggs, local honey with roasted almonds in it and local maple syrup...yum...yum and more yum.

I love that the milk man comes to my house every Monday morning and delivers milk in glass bottles.  The glass keeps the milk so nice and cold and local milk doesn't get much better.

I do not love frogs but I do love how excited my son gets when catching them at my parent's pond...

I love drinking my coffee from mugs that remind me of special places or times. My fav right now is from Vero Beach.  We went there last February and had such a great vacation.

I bought these sheets from Kmart. The are by Country Living.  They fit a king size bed and I paid $40 for them.  They have cute trim and are the perfect weight with a little sheen to them.  Good sheets cheap make me very happy and the crochet trim is like a cherry on top.

Lastly, one of my simple pleasures of late is going to my chicken coop, I love my window box though the flowers have been a little slow going.  All in good time.

There it is...just some of the simple things that make me happy. 
I hope you are able to enjoy the things that make you happy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

As the Chicken Coop a gender neutral world.

Leave it to my coop to go gettin' all timely with the talk of the Storm from the great white north...for those of you who haven't heard there is a poor child in Canada who's parents aren't telling it or anyone what it is...a girl or a boy.  Now, mind you, I am not one to get all politicky on gender issues, but leave it to my coop...they have other plans...without further ado...the second installment of As the Chicken Coop Turns...

There was talk around the water cooler...

and talk over dinner...

"I'm not one to stand on my soap box, or roost for that matter and preach, but something must be done..." one of the Rhode Island Reds was heard to be saying.

"What is it?" they whispered.  The whispers could be heard in the brooder out to the coop and beyond...

Some understood the hushed question...

Some just didn't get it.

One bird on the shorter end of the bird brain stick asked, "What d'ya mean 'what is it'? Do you mean like that show, 'It's a bird...It's a plan...No, It's Superman!" 

"Afraid not" the others advised and quickly went back to scratching and pecking so the bird couldn't see them laughing at her and not with her.  They were all quietly thankful that they had been on the longer end of the bird brain stick than that one.

Meanwhile, a hen was heard to be asking...

"Why can't Perry come in for a spell.  We just freshened up the coop, the grain is on and the fresh water is oh so cold with a refreshing hint of Broiler Booster in it.  The night is young, it isn't even dusk.  We were going to watch that fly try to find it's way out of the coop again tonight.  It was a great show last night and maybe it will get tired and we will have a little dessert."

"No hen of mine is going to hang out with the likes of that!" the pecker(at the top of the pecking order) at the door was heard to be saying.

"What on earth do you mean?" as the girl looked up hoping to reason with the bird brain at the door of the coop.

"You know what I mean!"

"Just because Perry isn't one of us, doesn't, I'm not going to pretend to understand all this 'gender neutral' talk.  All I know is, pullet or cockerel Perry is the 'go to bird' in this coop.  When we all couldn't decide how to arrange the grass clippings, who was there with helpful advice? When me and the other girls get to feeling overwhelmed with our weight, who has a kind and motivating word for us all?"

The conversation continued throughout the coop...

"Alls I know is the feathers on the head say hen"...
"and yes, those pointy tail feathers, can you say cock a doodle doo?"
"I don't care what McMurray Hatchery calls it... exotic free chick or not, it is just down right odd!"

Meanwhile as those 3 chortled on... Perry did have one friend in the coop and they ran into each other...

"Hey, you don't think I hear what they say about me?  Do you ever see it get me down?" Perry said casually strolling down the ramp from the coop.

"I know. I just don't know how you do it.  I have a hard enough time when they look at me sideways cause I might have the occasional poop on my butt. I don't know how I would take all that 'gender neutral' talk."

"Oh it's's a little thing I like to call karma...cause while I am laughing my way on over to the egg layer side of the coop.  You will all be on your ride to camp freezer locker, which sorry if you haven't heard, is a one way ticket...and that my friend is how this chicken coop turns..."

Like grain through a feeder...
These are the days(albeit limited) of their lives.


Starring Perry       The gender neutral Golden Polish

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 4 - Chick Status

Disclaimer Alert... I do know that you spell meat with an "eat" at the end.  Don't know what I was doing spelling it 'meet' when I was uploading the video (oops, whateva..)

2 week old hens(8 RI Reds, 3 Black Star, 1 Ameraucana)

Meat Birds outside at 4 weeks

Inside the coop...

hope you like the video updates.  I was able to take them after
a refreshing, MIL free weekend.

Thanks to all of you for your support and comments about
my MIL and job situation.
I am rallying at this time.  I am putting plans into
action to make things better.  I am not one
to sit around and complain...I got it out of my system,
now it is time for action. 
Fingers crossed, wish me luck cause
"nobody puts Baby in a corner"(couldn't help that movie reference)
But no one is saving me, I'm saving myself.

over and out

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just Say No...and see what happens.

Small miracles happen... like this was buried under 6' of snow after our New England winter snowfall, then getting all the snow from the snow blower.  I didn't think I would see one had other plans(thankfully)

Anywho...back to the blog...

The slogan as I remember it was "Just say no." Well I did.
I said "no" to my mother in law.
To clarify I said "no"to my husband about my MIL coming for the weekend.
I just couldn't do it again...she would be here from Friday afternoon through Tuesday.
Keeping in mind that from Sunday to Monday we have no children at home.

My husband is the baby of 6. When he was 8 his mom "checked out" for a while. He doesn't talk about it, I hear bits and pieces about it from his family, including his mother.  Being the youngest I think made it really difficult.  He missed out on the things that made his family the family they were(for better or worse).  I think that early experience had a big effect on him, how could it not.  

His mother was remarried and her husband became very sick.  She cared for him for 10 years until he passed this last November.  After that time, we didn't want her to be alone and wanted to help her through the holidays.  She stayed with us every weekend from before Thanksgiving through New Years.  I didn't mind at all.  It was wonderful to have her and share the season with her as she found her way in a new life alone. 

The visits slowed, but didn't stop and then picked up speed again. I do love my MIL, but she can be tough.  There is always a comment for something and she does know everything.  Just an example...I struggle with my weight and so do members of my family.  When my son was a baby and I was breastfeeding, he was a plump little one.  She said to me,"I breastfeed some of my babies but they never were like that, but they didn't have the fat gene." I swear I didn't even know what to say at the time.  It wasn't the first time and not the last of her comments.  She is also one that seems uncomfortable with silence and will fill quiet with her constant chatter.

So as I blogged earlier, work is not good and it isn't getting better.  I really needed this 3 day weekend to recover.  My man for the first time in a long time was not only on a different page, but a different chapter.  I asked him that his mother not come.  He had been upset about it since.  He isn't a mamma's boy, he is the fixer.  In my opinion(in a non-trained layman's analysis) he has been trying to fix things since they fell apart when he was 8. I think he wants to show what a family should be.

I worry when we have fundamental differences like this.  It shakes me to the core.  We have always been such a strong team, together 20 years.  We had a conversation, it wasn't pretty.  I held my ground, I had to. After about an hour of weeding the garden he came back in and apologized, thankfully.

It wasn't so much the apology I needed...I needed to know that we are back one the page, that we are good...and we are.

It is days like this that I am very happy to have an anonymous blog...