Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Blog is Interrupted By

a cat at the desk! While I wish I could blame my lack of updates on Mr. Winkles here, the truth is, along with getting sidetracked by work and a fun horse event this past weekend, I haven't had anything very exciting to report. It has been raining in Los Angeles for about a week (very unusual for this time of year) so the chickens have only gotten out a couple of days when the weather has cooperated.

All in all, the ladies have really become just a part of my routine. They get let out and fed breakfast scraps in the morning, then I give them a snack of flax and sunflower seeds if I'm home in the afternoon, and then it is time to herd them back inside with an old hummus tub of layer mash. Occasionally Maude will stubbornly refuse to go in the cage, but for the most part I've got her number now and can herd her in within a matter of minutes.

I have to laugh when people ask, "Aren't chickens a LOT of work?" They were at the beginning, but not anymore. I think they take as much work as a cat. They're pretty self sufficient, self exercising, and you just feed them and clean up their poop!

My horse, Africa, is the most time consuming of all my pets, but she is also the most fun! (And I get help with her care since she doesn't live at the house.) Here she is after I gave her a haircut the weekend before last, right before the dismal weather rolled in:


Monday, September 27, 2010

Progress

We finally have all three garden beds done! Are they filled with soil? - No. But, they are finished. With the heat wave in LA we weren't able to do as much as we anticipated this past weekend. In fact, I think we may have contracted heat stroke just from moving the one raised bed frame from the back patio to where it rests now.

The good news about the heat wave is that our pumpkins and watermelons are going crazy! I planted two different types of pumpkins this year - white and some kind of French heirloom variety. I got a late start on them, but I'm hoping if the warm weather continues we'll have normal-sized pumpkins in time for Halloween. My husband has been trimming the pumpkin plants, which is supposed to allow for more nutrients for the existing pumpkins, so hopefully this strategy will work out and we won't have to display mini-pumpkins on our front step.

I've also let the hens out of prison now that the plants are out of their delicate seedling phase. You can see Wanda lounging behind the not-so-effective chicken wire fence at the top left. They are very happy to be roaming free again, and we've been getting two eggs a day, which is fantastic. Check out the three beds and one of our pumpkins, below:



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hilarious Craigslist Ad for Chicken

I saw this on another board and had to post it. So funny!

House Chicken...thinks she is a cat. (Everett)


Date: 2010-09-14, 9:34PM PDT
Reply to: sale-qekqa-1954715309@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


This is difficult to do, but I have to rehome my beloved house chicken Milkshake.
She is about 9 months old and a white silkie bantam (if you are not familiar with what that means she is not the right bird for you).

Adopter must-haves:
1. Experience with chickens & cats: My partner and I adopted her and raised her by hand thinking that once the cute chickie look wore off she would just go out in the coop with the rest of the girls, but, alas, she thinks she is a cat. She refuses to go in the coop and will meow/squak at the back door when she wants to comes in.

2. Time and deaf or distant neighbors: Sometimes I have to go outside and grab her after dusk because patheticly she has little chicken skills and doesn't realize that chickens should not hang out outside in the dark. She thinks since the cats do it she should be able to as well. She does not really care to be in her cage, but rather wants to roam around the house. She will let you know this loudly in the morning, at night, and when you have company or get on the phone.

3. Hard wood or easy to clean floors: During the day she likes to come and go as she pleases, sometimes 'dust-bathing' on the carpet. She likes to hang out in the kitchen when you're cooking in case you drop anything and makes a better vacume than a chicken. We tried the whole I'm-an-urban-chicken-farmer-retard technique of making her wear a diaper, but she gets very angry and tempermental and would much rather shit everywhere as she pleases. Free useless diaper included.

4. Patience: She may like you, or may not on some days. She was incredibly prone to my (ex) partner and loved to cuddle on the couch and shit. She is nice to me when I feed her, but will bite my ankles if she doesn't get what she wants.

5. Thick socks

6. Room for a big ugly bird cage - big ugly bird cage included. I fill it with hay. There is no need to have a laying box because she doesn't get why there's a box taking up room in her cage. She would rather just pop out mini-eggs as she pleases, and wherever she pleases.

7. Must like Easter Egg hunts.

8. Must have a blowdryer: Because of her lack of chicken skills, she is not great at the dustbathing idea. She likes a warm bath followed by a complete low setting blow dry.

9. Lastly, must be willing to provide a forever indoor & outdoor home: she would make a horrible dinner - don't even think about it.

I have tried to incorporate her into the hen house but she doesn't give a damn about other chickens and refuses to cooperate. She likes shag carpet, raspberries, clean laundry (to poop on), dirty kitchen floors, and talking. If this sounds like a pet you want for some reason, maybe you're a stay at home dad with too much time on your hands, or a mom whose kids left the roost, or a cat-loving old lady that's allergic to cats, or maybe a geeky hipster that wants to be 'original' and 'hip' with a pet house chicken - whatever, just keep her forever and don't eat her. For consideration, send an email stating why you would be the best candidate to adopt my dear Milkshake. As stated she comes with a big ugly cage, a waterer, food dish, and some food crumbles. I can also provide some thick sock, but if you can't afford socks, you really shouldn't be getting a pet house chicken.
  • Location: Everett
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
image 1954715309-0

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hot Chicks

My friends just got some baby chicks and placed a webcam above their temporary digs to document them. So fun!

Check out this link: Hot Chicks

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fancy Chickens

I originally saw this beautiful home, located in Santa Barbara, California, in my print edition of House Beautiful magazine, but saw the link on my Facebook page this morning and thought it would be worth posting. It looks like chicken-keeping is really taking off! (As an aside - I so wish my backyard looked like the photo at right from this home!) This exchange from the article was particularly giggle-inducing for me:
Interviewer Mimi Read: Hey, you've got interesting chickens! I hate to inform you, but raising fancy chickens is officially a hipster trend. Susan Orlean even wrote about it in The New Yorker
Home Owner Penelope Bianchi: I guess Martha Stewart started it. Mine are Mille Fleur bantam chickens. They're just so beautiful, with feathers on their feet! I had them sent to me in a taxi from San Diego.
I'm just picturing these squawking chickens in the back of taxi, rolling up the 101. I wonder what lucky employee got to make that trip with those birds?

Here's the link to the complete article and photo slideshow on the House Beautiful website:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bad Neighbors with The Bad Chickens


Thanks for the suggestions re: the deer netting and the discount soil. This project just seems very overwhelming at times, but I feel better knowing other people have had the same issues. We did get a second bed built last Saturday (photo left) but haven't had a chance to place it or buy the soil for it.

I know it will eventually get done, but it is frustrating looking out and seeing both my front and back yards in complete disarray. My neighbor asked my husband the other day - "Are you EVER going to plant anything in the front yard?" (Sigh, yes, but we either have to pay someone $$$$$ to do it for us or have the time and $$ to do it ourselves.)

I think I'm going to investigate using the deer netting over the chickens' area so they can't fly out. We first have to secure the bottom of the chicken wire so they can't dig or duck under. Railroad ties would be perfect for this, but I don't like the fact that they've been treated, so I'm on the lookout for something else at the moment. The chickens have been on lockdown since they escaped their pen and went on a seedling-eating rampage. (See photo of decimated seedling at right.) Grrr... I feel terrible they have to be confined, but hopefully we can finish the enclosure this weekend or next week. Their coop does have a small run, but I know they're happier with more room to roam.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Urban Farming Frustrations

AKA "Building Your Own Raised Beds"

This project seemed so simple at the beginning. We plotted out exactly where we wanted the beds, their sizes and wrote down the building materials. Then we want to the local hardware/building supply center on the Saturday of Fourth of July weekend. We thought we could buy all the materials and have the beds finished over the holiday weekend - ha ha ha ha ha ha....

First it took us forever to get someone to help us. Then we realized we couldn't fit the boards for the long sides of the beds into our car (16 feet long into a CRV - I don't think so!) so I arranged for delivery on Monday morning. I still had hopes we could build these suckers Monday afternoon. Well, Monday morning comes and I pull out from my car the small boards that did fit into my car, and noticed they are the wrong size. I wanted 2x6s, they gave my 2x4s. I had to call Anawalt, as they were going to deliver the wrong size long boards in the next few hours. I got the lumber issue sorted out and all the correctly sized lumber arrived that afternoon, along with a bout of the flu for my husband, resulting in instant building postponement as this is definitely a two person job.

So, last weekend we finally completed ONE bed! Yes, one. This one bed took 40 bags of organic potting soil ($$$$) so the resulting vegetables will officially be known as the "world's most expensive vegetables" - that is, when we get vegetables. We have so many other things to do that our slow progress and the overwhelming expense of this project is really annoying! We have to lay down wood to secure the bottom of the chicken wire fence (those little monsters keep escaping under the fence) and we haven't even begun to landscape the front yard. Arghhhhhhh!!!

Enjoy this slideshow detailing our pathetic journey in building one raised garden bed:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Line at the Ladies' Room


Looking out the back door the other day, I witnessed a line up at the door to the Eglu! It seemed all the ladies had to lay an egg at the same time. :) Maude was in the nesting box and Wanda and Lottie were waiting their turn outside. Eventually everyone got their time in the nesting box and we got three eggs that day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Neighbors' chickens ruffle feathers in Bishop - latimes.com

Interesting article on chicken-keeping in the LA Times. I can't believe Bishop of all places is up in arms about this! It's in the middle of nowhere.

Neighbors' chickens ruffle feathers in Bishop - latimes.com

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hen Habitat

So, what started out as removing dead grass from our front lawn turned into a whole yard landscaping project. I mean, once you've rented a dumpster you might as well get rid of EVERYTHING you don't want, right? (...and install new sprinkler systems, and add manure, etc. :)

So, the hens have a new habitat. Instead of running amok and pooping on our patio, they are now confined to their own special area at the back of the yard. Don't feel too sorry for them, because they will soon have a hen paradise back there! All the dead sod has been removed and composted material has been rototilled into the soil. They have about 500 square feet of dirt bathing heaven now. The other half of their back area will be planted with alfalfa so they can graze to their heart's content. We'll rotate them between the two areas, giving the alfalfa time to grow before it is pillaged by the ladies. Here's the new setup:

We're going to put two raised beds in the area in front of the hen habitat, and also plant a bed next to the garage at the right of the front area. A gravel path will extend between the two raised beds to the hen habitat. This place is REALLY starting to feel like an urban farm!

The front yard is getting new, drought tolerant landscaping, consisting of lavender, rosemary, sage and an orange tree. Yippee! I'll post before and after photos once there's something to look at.

Although I'll miss the ladies' little faces at the back door, I won't miss their big, messy poops on the patio!

P.S. - If anyone else is interested in taking out their sod or putting in a new sprinkler system, Mike the Rototiller Guy is AMAZING! Here's his website: http://www.rototillerguy.com/ and he has a ton of positive reviews on Yelp.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Spell Has Broken

I got two eggs this morning! Woot Woot! (And I haven't even received the "good" food yet. This is very promising!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Picky Chickens

Okay, the chickens made liars out of me, but only with TWO measly eggs. The same day as my last post, 5/31, we got one egg and we got one today. (outlined at right)

Although I can't fully explain these new slacker egg-laying practices, I think it has to do with Lottie going broody and the fact that the ladies aren't exactly excited about their feed.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I ordered the organic feed from Purina. They only had "crumbles" and the ladies had previously been only eating "mash." I foolishly thought they wouldn't really mind trying something new, but they seem to be partial only to the mash. I find leftover food in their feed bin every morning, which never happened when I was feeding the mash.

I tried to order mash today at East Valley Feed since they don't charge me shipping, but apparently Purina only makes organic in crumble form. So, I broke down and ordered the expensive organic layer mash from McGeary Organics through My Pet Chicken. Although $26 doesn't seem like a lot for a bag of feed that lasts several months, the shipping ends up costing an additional $29! This better pay off in some serious egg laying!

Monday, May 31, 2010

No Brooding Yet No Eggs

Lottie seems to have snapped out of her brooding, but we seem to have some kind of protest going on. We haven't had an egg from anyone since 5/28. This is horrible! I actually had to buy eggs to make cupcakes this weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Still Brooding

This has become our daily ritual: Lottie refuses to leave the box. I extract her from the box. I then ply her with treats and hope she is motivated to stay outside the box, which doesn't work, so I repeat the same process the next day. How long can this go on?

Lottie Extraction:



Lottie & the other girls eating their sunflower seed treat:


By the time I posted this and looked outside, Lottie was back in the box.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brooding

Brooding is the new black for Lottie. Starting last Monday, she decided to become a hermit chicken, sitting in the nesting box and refusing to move. If you take her out from the box and put her on the grass, it takes her a few seconds to even respond. She just sits there, sad and sloth-like. She'll then get up, run around, have a snack and return to the nesting box. We have been removing the eggs she sits on daily, but it doesn't seem to matter. Egg or no egg, she wants to sit in there.

We thought she snapped out of it this morning as she voluntarily left the nesting box, but she has now returned. I've heard you can trick hens by placing a chick in the nesting box with them so they think they hatched it and then they will stop their broodiness, so we may need to resort to this soon if she doesn't cheer up!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Farmyard Chic

Is the title of this post an oxymoron? Why, no! Not when you can find such cute farmyard accessories as the ones below! Made by Simrin (more about them on my GGG blog here) and available online here, they are cute but not too "country" looking. I think the round red hen tray (pictured below) would look especially good in my house!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicken Scratch

Lottie and Wanda scratching around. We'd just moved their coop so there was a large rectangle of extra long grass where the coop was sitting and they just HAD to investigate it.


video

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Chickens

Posting to this blog has taken a back seat to "real life" stuff like traveling for work and getting a wisdom tooth extracted, but I'm back! The ladies are doing well. Some days we get three eggs, some days only one, but we haven't had to purchase eggs in months!

The photo at right is of Lottie and Wanda enjoying my husband's juice "sludge" - the leftover stuff that spews from the juicer. We've also started feeding the ladies sunflower seeds and flax seeds on a daily basis. I put them back on organic feed again, which they protested against for a day or two, but seem to be eating it with gusto now. I was ordering from McGeary Organics, but the shipping was killing me and I couldn't justify paying that kind of expense, so they had to go with the non-organic food I found at the local pet food store. Luckily I found that East Valley Tack & Feed, where I purchase equine grain and supplies, will special order Purina organic feed and they don't charge me ANY shipping as it comes in with the rest of their Purina order.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Poop


While most people were attending church or hunting for eggs, we conducted our own Spring service - gathering horse manure for the garden. (see containers at left) I should clarify that my husband did the gathering, but it does have to ride in my car, so I can claim SOME credit for it, right?

We're getting ready to do some planting! While last year we had a frighteningly large pumpkin patch, this year we're going to devote that space to tomatoes. We haven't decided what else we're going to plant, but we need to start the seed trays soon.

This year we have the added challenge of keeping our feathered friends OUT of our planted areas. They love "nesting" in our herb boxes, leaving chicken "dirt angels" between our basil and parsley. They will take up so much dirt that they expose the plant roots. BAD CHICKENS.

Below are the chickens enjoying some sun on Easter. They are difficult to photograph because as soon as they see me they come running!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dobbies


Dobbies.com just included Now and Hen in their list of "Chicken-keeping blogs we love." Sweet!

There are some great blogs on the list, some I'd heard of and some I had not, so check it out! Lots of great tips, photos and humor.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maybe?


So, Maude's eggs are getting lighter in color. Does this mean we MIGHT have a chance at colored eggs after all? I'm going to have to do some research into this. Above is a photo that shows her two smaller, lighter, whiter eggs (the two at lower right) next to the big brown ones the other two ladies are laying.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good News / Bad News

The good news is that Maude has FINALLY started laying eggs. The bad news is - THEY'RE NOT COLORED! They're brown. Boring brown. I had no idea an Easter Egger could even lay brown eggs. Now, I know I've been whining about her lack of laying, so I should just be thankful, but I was so looking forward to some nicely colored eggs. :(

Friday, February 19, 2010

Good Chickens!

(except for Maude) Two eggs a day this entire week! I'm going to have to do some baking this weekend.

There may be some hope for Maude yet. I've observed her fighting for more food AND spending some time in the nesting box. Either she's just mimicking her friends OR she's getting ready to lay us some beautiful blue and green eggs!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Golden Spangled Hamburg

So, we've been thinking of getting more chicks, but just THINKING. We would definitely have to make some improvements to the yard so the chickens couldn't have access to our patio. Three chickens pooping on the patio is bad, six would be intolerable! (There is a 3 chick minimum when ordering online.)

In researching new chickens, I came across the Golden Spangled Hamburg available from mypetchicken.com and was intrigued. I love the way they look, and they are supposedly excellent egg layers, but they are fliers and may be able to exit our yard.

(Isn't this a fantastically unusual looking bird?)

The other option would be to buy one or two chicks at the feed store, which is probably the better option. We really just want to introduce some new blood to the flock so poor Maude isn't picked on so much.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pecking Order


I think the photo says it all - chickens first, dogs second.

Dinnertime at my house involves everyone (sans cat) giving me pleading looks from outside the screen door. The chickens know they get a scoop of food when I lock them in at night, so they've taken to running up to the door when they see me come home at night to beg for food. The dogs always get let out while I prepare their food, so now there are five sets of eyes beseeching me for food as I attempt to get settled in, feed the howling cat, prepare the dog food and then take a scoop outside to get the chickens herded back into their coop. Good times.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hailing Hens


Yes, the white stuff is hail. HAIL. In Los Angeles. Luckily the hens were smart enough to run for cover in the Eglu. Wanda and Lottie are peering out from the entrance but it isn't really visible in my blurry photo. (I wasn't going outside for a better shot!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Get IN the coop.


Every night, without fail, I have to herd, toss or coax the chickens from the top of their coop to the inside of their coop. This has grown old. (Sigh.)

Note how sad and alone Maude looks (facing away from the camera.) I think she's depressed and that's why she won't lay eggs.

Your Moment of Hen

Lottie and Wanda go crazy on some brown rice. Maude looks longingly on, too afraid of Lottie to help herself to this tasty treat.

video

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gobble Gobble

So, my husband ran into our next door neighbor. In the midst of catching up on neighborhood news, etc., she says to him, "Oh...I think someone has a turkey around here. I've heard him!"

Now, this is one of our next door neighbors, whose yard we can clearly see into, and we always assumed could see into ours. We've had our Omlet set up for about 9 months now, so we just figured she's looked into our yard and seen the coop and the three feathered hens running around. Apparently not. However, she has heard noises resembling a turkey. :)

My husband gently pointed out that WE actually have THREE chickens, and hastened to invite her grandson over to see them the next time he came over. (He's good at managing potential problems.) I don't think she quite knew what to say, but I'm happy to report that our three chickens have gone unnoticed (but not unheard) by one our neighbors for the past 8 months. Take that, urban chicken opponents!