Monday, March 31, 2014

Antsy to do list:

I have so many things to get done... argh!!

  • The chicken house needs to be cleaned, sawdust spread and "freshener" sprayed all over.  In both cases it will take more time than I have available to me right now with Little Frog sleeping only a short time per day and my sister & mom only being willing to watch him for a short time per day.
  • Get more sawdust from the saw mill: 2 pick-up loads
  • A heat lamp hanger to build:  PVC pipes or wooden dowel rods
  • Build another hen house:  Using chicken wire left over from Lisa, 2x4's etc for the frame work around the doorway. 
  • Find another form of nesting boxes; old plastic milk house sinks perhaps?
  • Redesign a former rabbit cage into a brooder, (for later when I have hens sitting on eggs) by wrapping the rabbit cage in chicken wire & some sort of material to make it dark and warm.
  • Nesting boxes to tear out clean, enlarge & reinstall; which in lehmans terms means I need to find some old crates, square liquid containers to cut in half, or something like them.  Something large enough for my brahma's & jersey giants.
  • Another pallet stand to hang from the ceiling, as well as a chicken swing.
  • Suspend the chicken water & feed buckets so they can't kick dirt and poop into them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cleaning the coop & "seeding the nests"

Everyone is sick of hearing about my birds.  They just don't get it that those birds are comical and useful in their own right. Anyway... 

As the weather improves outside I am becoming more and more antsy to get outdoors.  Of course it isnt anywhere near warm enough to get Little Frog out for any extensive period of time.  I was able to get him down for his nap this afternoon and thought since my sister hadn't gotten out to get the eggs yet that perhaps I should do so...  It was a good idea, although it took longer than I planned on, since I got distracted with things I wanted to get done in their house, (imagine that) such as removing the unwanted nesting boxes and scraping the floor of all excess garbage so it isnt so messy looking in there.  I got some of it done but there is still a lot to be done.  

One of the guinea hen's escaped, stupid bird, so I had to chase it down with the net, and try to get it back into the pen without getting pecked to death by that blasted excuse for a bird... I got it accomplished but only because I just picked her up through the net then set the net on the ground inside the pen and tipped it up so she could go out. Dumb bird.

As I was removing the nesting boxes that weren't nailed down, Rose came up on the roost and poked her nose in the way like "Whatcha doin? whatcha doin? Can I help?"  then climbed into the new nesting box I was experimenting with (a square tub similar to a dishpan).  Dishpans would actually probably do quite well actually, but trying to make do with what I have.

After I finish writing down my thoughts here I need to go locate the plastic eggs I bought for the purpose of seeding the nest.  I need to fill them with sand, or something else that might make them feel more realistic so the hens won't kick them out of the nests.  The hope is that by seeding the nest that they will begin to use the other nests instead of just the one.

I'm contemplating getting an incubator to try and raise chicks from eggs that way, but I think perhaps I'll postpone for right now.  We'll let my new chicks come, we'll see how it goes, and then we'll go from there.  The reason being for even considering it is 1) I've got day olds coming, and it will be simpler if I were to get an incubator and hatch some more if they were all the same age and I could just introduce them all to my current birds at the same time.  2) I had hoped to get at least 1 easter egger, maran & olive egger, but all those were sold out so in looking online at the eggs available on e-bay and so forth, there are several available, I just would have to either drive to go get them and have an incubator, or have 2 batches of birds of two different ages.

My husband pointed out that I should be thankful for what I have rather that wishing for more than what I already have.  He's right I suppose, but I just think the maran and easter egger eggs are really pretty... that it might improve the appearance of my egg basket... but it will work out like it's supposed to.  Perhaps Rural King will have some some time or something like that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Comical behaviors

Walking into my coop this morning to water the Isa's, I was hit by a wall of chickens attempting to get out.  They have been locked inside their coop off & on most of the winter, and the poor birds are going crazy.  It would be comical, if I didn't relate to them quite so much.  My family & I are also going crazy with all of this winter weather, and being "trapped" in the house for so long without being able to easily get out and do things as we would normally do.  

What is comical is how Ginger behaved day before yesterday.  I had two buckets of table scraps and garbage for them, but Ginger didn't know that so she slipped out of the coop between my feet as I went in.  Then when I tossed the garbage on the ground and put the chicken feed & oats in their feeder tray, she realized I had FOOD for her so she was trying her HARDEST to get back into the coop.  LOL!!  It was so funny.  She was running around, back & forth, but wouldn't let me catch her.  I had to get help from my sister, who held the door open while I chased Ginger back in.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Introductions & newbies

My mom was to blame for my introduction into the chicken world when she was given 8 Isa Brown hens.  I never would have thought that I would enjoy these birds quite so much.  They're comical to say the least, and most importantly, they are small, don't eat a lot and can be fed table scraps at our convenience when needed like a pig, but don't take up as much space.  However, mom has lost 2 of her birds, 1 to an unknown predator, and the other to the unusually cold temperatures we've had this last winter, so on February 22, 2014 I ordered 12 new chicks from

I'm not overly fond of the looks in the Isa Browns, they're comical enough, and seem to be fairly sweet tempered.  They do their job as far as laying eggs reliably (approximately 300 eggs in the first year of life) but they aren't supposed to be very good mothers, and being that they are a hybrid created back in the late 70's, they're not "heritage" which means they would burn themselves out fairly quickly (the 2nd season is when you see the egg numbers begin dropping) due to the high (semi-unnatural) egg count they produce.  They also are reportedly prone to becoming "pecky" & bullying the other chickens as they get older.  Ours are still in their first laying cycle, and although I expected a full, messy, molt out of them, it never came.  Nor did they ever stop laying eggs, regardless of the subzero temps we experienced here in Indiana.  I was pleased about that aspect of the breed, but thought perhaps I might as well investigate other breeds that would be more prone to being good mothers, so if I were to get a rooster, my chicks would be more likely to survive. 

Heritage breeds (like I've ordered) can sustain themselves, and produce young, for long periods of time.  Some living for as long as 15-years, although this life span is rare with the average life span being between 8 & 12-years. 

I am extremely excited about this new leg of our chicken adventure to say the least.  I cannot wait for "the babies" to come.  My husband tolerates my new found obsession, although he has also expressed a passing interest in them as well.  His portion of my obsession includes the unusual looking breeds though, not the utility breeds.  My son doesn't really care at this point, but he is an infant so I expect at a later date he'll show an increased interest.

The plan is to house the new babies in a large rubber maid container left over from packing our house up and moving.  It measures approximately 36"x24" with a heat lamp suspended above it by a chain so as to not cause a fire hazard.  I am expecting the following breeds & quantities when my order comes April 21 - 25, hopefully the sooner the better, for their sake as they will be healthier the quicker they come and the sooner I get them into their new home.

If the rubber made tub didn't work, another option would be to use a dog crate, or even a cardboard box as the container for the brooder.  Pretty much anything would work as long as you can contain the birds, suspend your heat lamp, and have easy access to refill their food & water. 

 Another idea to help keep the chicks warm, as well as minimize their stress & anxiety, was posted to the "Fresh Eggs Daily" facebook page today.  I may have to try this, but you take an old feather duster, cut the handle down and suspend it above the ground so the new chicks can "hide" under their "mom's" feathers.  I like this idea.

 For those who are wondering, this is my current order from the poultry company:

1  Buff Orpington
2 Australorp
3 Silver Laced Wyandottes
3 Black Jersey Giant (hen)
1 Black Jersey Giant (Roo)
3 Light Brahma

All of these breeds are supposed to be gentle, with some, like the australorp becoming "broody" every so often.  This term means that the chicken's hormones shift so she believes it is time to raise some offspring.  The human version of this would be "baby fever" or the like. 

Because I have ordered these through the mail, there is the risk that some won't make it.  Sometimes shipments get bashed around a little too roughly, sometimes the chick just isn't strong enough for transport and they simply die from the cooler temps or the stress of being shipped across the country, but I realize the risks and am hoping it all turns out O.K.

Here are some google images of what the breeds look like.

 Buff Orpington - Hen
 Australorp - Hen
 Jersey Giant - Roo
 Jersey Giant - Hen
 Light Brahma - Roo
 Light Brahma - Hen

Silver Lace Wyandotte - Hen