Another Weekend Has Come And Gone…

It’s sixty-six degrees on this bright, September morning, and I sure do like it!  Finally, it’s beginning to feel a little bit ‘fallish’ here in the south.  It’s about time!!!

Another weekend has come and gone, and I’m feeling tired.  My tiredness is probably due to our flurry of weekend activities–or it could be due to the fact that I’m getting old[er].  Maybe both?

Ed and I managed to have a little family time with all of our children and their families, off and on, throughout the weekend.  Our daughter and her family ate Friday night supper with us.  Then, on Saturday, our youngest son, Brad, and his family stopped by for a quick visit before heading over to visit Jennifer’s family.  Brad and Jennifer were only here for a couple of hours, but, somehow, all of the family managed to stop by and see them for a few minutes, while they were here.  It’s good that we all live so close!

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Evan- almost 11 mos.

Little Evan, the youngest grandson, is walking everywhere, and now has four teeth.  He has quite a personality, and the only time he’s still is when he’s asleep.  I purchased two baby gates in an effort to make our family visits with Brad and Jennifer more enjoyable.  I think the gates helped a lot.  Oh, if only we could transfer some of Evan’s energy into Ed and me!

Speaking of energy, even though he had none, Ed managed to get over half of the chicken run covered with tin!  I felt bad for him, but he ‘pressed on’ for several hours before he finally gave in and stopped.  If you’ve never had thyroid issues, let me tell you–they suck!  Your energy level is zero, and I won’t even get into the sleep, body temp regulation, or other health-related issues.

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Ed – working on the chicken run

‘Della’, our sick chick, is still with us–living in her own little box, alone.  Unfortunately, she continues to have ‘issues’ with constipation.  I did put her in the box with her sisters (twice) for a short time, yesterday, and she seemed to enjoy that.  She scratched and pecked with the best of them!  Once she began trying to go to the bathroom, I had to remove her, because the others noticed, and wanted to peck her rear end.  (notice Della’s house, next-door, separated by Plexiglass)

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Della (front center) – visiting with her sisters for a moment

All of the chicks (except Della) are growing like weeds.  They’ve grown their wing and tail feathers and are beginning to fly, so we had to upgrade them to a larger, deeper, brooder box.  Ed spent part of Sunday afternoon building a ‘chick condo’ out of two cardboard boxes.  (I don’t know what I’d do without Ed’s help!)  We may have to add on to the condo as the chicks continue to grow, but, for now, it’s good.

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Ed –  working on the ‘chick condo’

In other chick news, over the weekend, several larger chicks pinned ‘Pixie’ (the runt of the flock)  down in a small space in the brooder box (before we upgraded).  They were pecking and attacking her, when I happened to walk by. Had I not been there, I feel sure they would most likely have killed her.  I’ve noticed that ‘Pixie’ seems to have the opposite problem as ‘Della’, and suffers from diarrhea.  I’m hoping we won’t have to add another isolation box!

I’m a bit frustrated with this chick business!  I didn’t have near this many problems with my first flock.  If I had, there probably wouldn’t have been a second flock!  I must have had some ‘beginners luck,’ back then.  I didn’t know a thing about raising baby chicks, and had very few problems.  Now, I’m experienced and educated, but things keep happening!  It seems there’s always a ‘chicken challenge’ around here.

Speaking of ‘chicken challenges’, you may be wondering about my three older hens, aka ‘the girls’.  They’re free ranging, and loving every minute of it!  Our yard may never be the same, since I’ve discovered chickens love to scratch grass and eat flowers…  It’s a good thing our grass is hardy and I’m not attached to my flowers!

The girls only return to their coop to lay eggs (usually 1 or 2 daily) and to sleep at night. Unfortunately, in addition to eating flowers, ‘the girls’ have developed the bad habit of hanging around the front door to wait for treats! (my fault for starting it)  See what happens if we don’t keep a baby gate up on the front porch…

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Do ya’ think I might be a ‘redneck’ from ‘Gooseneck’ since I have a chicken peeking through my front door, while eight baby chicks are currently living in our game room? Nah, I’m just a country gal who loves and enjoys her chicks 🙂

Have a great Monday, y’all!

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Published in: on September 22, 2014 at 10:15 am  Comments (8)  
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The Continuing Saga Of “Our Girls”…

chickens 008

Lately, life with “the girls” has been anything but dull!  In mid-June, our six Rhode Island Red’s came down with a mysterious illness that claimed the life of one, and left the remaining five fighting for their lives.  I consulted “Google”, while husband, Ed, visited our local feed & seed store, in search of remedies for our poor hens.  After a week of medication, plus lots of TLC, the girls appeared to finally be on the road to recovery.  Then a new problem began to present itself!

The new problem began when I started noticing a few loose feathers in the chicken coop.  My first thought was, Oh, it’s molting time!  Each day I’d notice a few more lost feathers, but I then began noticing that all of the feathers seemed to be coming from only one hen!  Before I knew it, this particular hen was missing her tail feathers, as well as most of the feathers underneath her.  Uh oh!  I knew we had a problem!

Once again, I turned to trusty “Google” for answers.  After reading a bit, then observing the hens scratching themselves more than usual, I determined that my girls had contracted a case of parasites!  I had no idea what kind of parasite the hens had, but it really didn’t matter since treatment is the same for lice and mites.

I began by trying to ‘dust’ the hens.  You’ll notice I said “trying”.  Normally, “the girls” are very friendly, and I’ve never had any problems sprinkling dust on them in the past, for preventative maintenance.  However, two weeks of illness had taken its toll on them, and they were no longer friendly and trusting. I dusted them the best I could, which was basically throwing dust toward them, then I dusted their hen-house.

I watched and waited a couple of days, but noticed the hens continued to scratch, and feathers were still falling out. Apparently, it was time for Plan B.  I sprayed the hen-house with insect spray, dusted the floor, nests, and perches with powder, then I waited until nightfall.  As soon as it was dark outside, Ed and I headed for the hen-house.  Ed picked up the hens, one at a time, and held them, while I liberally dusted each one with insect power.  “The girls” definitely didn’t seem to enjoy being held and dusted, and some even put up quite a fight!

Again, I watched and waited.  Almost immediately, feathers stopped falling!  Over the course of a couple of days, their scratching subsided.  Mission accomplished!  Now we just have to wait for “Sister” to regrow all of her missing feathers!  Fortunately, the loss of feathers hasn’t seemed to bother her one bit, and thankfully, the others haven’t seemed to notice her bare spots!

I blame the infestation of parasites on a couple of things.  First of all, the conditions here are VERY WET, and have been for weeks.  There hasn’t been a dry spot in their coop for ages.  Chickens need to be able to dust themselves to control parasites.  It’s hard to dust your feathers in MUD.  I also believe our hens’ previous illness may have been a contributing factor.  I know from experience, a critter’s immune system plays a part in how well their bodies deal with parasites.

All’s well that ends well.  “The girls” are back to their normal, happy selves–for now.  Their appetites are nearly back to normal, and they are continuing to gain back the weight they lost while sick.  They’re beginning to get friendly again.  Egg production has continued, and egg size is getting back to normal.  Their egg count?  As of yesterday, 1404.  It’s been exactly a year since they first began laying eggs.  To be continued… I’m sure!

Published in: on July 16, 2013 at 8:12 am  Comments (8)  
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Thursday’s Thoughts ~ Chickens

Here’s a little chicken info that I recently learned…Did you know that a chicken’s comb is an indicator of their dominance within the flock?   Did you know that chickens have a “pecking order”?  

Sadly, I learned about the pecking order fairly quickly (hens exemplify the definition of “Mean Girls”), but it was only recently that I learned about the comb significance.  I’ve been watching my girls since I learned this info, and have found this to be the case in my flock!  See those two hens in the picture above?  Both are the same age.  Notice how the hen in the chair has a nice, large comb on her head?  Then see the smaller chicken on the ground, with the smaller comb?  Guess which one rules the roost!  The more dominant hens get the choice spots in the hen-house–in front of the picture window!!!

Wow!  The daily adventures with “my girls” continue, and they constantly keep me entertained with their antics.  I’ve discovered  that they like to peck and pull at whatever I’m wearing, whether my clothing has patterns or beads or not!  The bottoms of my pajama shorts always make a handy “target”–and so does the hole in the toe of my Croc!  And in case you’re wondering–yes, I do go out to feed the chickens in my pajamas!  We live in the country, and here, a person can get away with doing things like that!

Yesterday morning I was a little later than usual in tending to the girls.  By “tending”, I mean replenishing their feed, giving them fresh water, and scooping the droppings out of their hen-house.  I’ve noticed that one of the hens seems to be on a schedule of laying every morning at 9 o’clock.  It was getting close to  9, and I was still cleaning out the hen-house.  One of the hens jumped into the hen house–while I was still tidying up– and started singing and acting like a child who has to go to the bathroom really bad…I took her cue, and quickly gave her some privacy.  Within minutes, I had a fresh egg.  I didn’t find a second egg yesterday afternoon, but had one waiting in the nest this morning.  What’s up with that?

I’ve discovered that one hen lays tiny eggs, while the other hen’s eggs are a little larger.  One hen”s eggs are also darker than the other’s.  The second hen’s egg was in the nest this morning.  I don’t know when she laid it, but it was cold.

Speaking of those eggs, I’ve begun to use some of them in the kitchen!  The yolks don’t look a lot different from store-bought eggs, just a little richer in color.  I’m happy about that!  We once had some chickens who laid eggs with dark orange yolks, and that took some getting used to.  I was pleasantly surprised to find these eggs are more normal in color–or should I say more the color I’m accustomed to?  The main difference I notice in these eggs, other than the color of their shell, is the thickness of the shell.  They can be quite difficult to crack!

Before I go, here are a couple of interesting things about my girls, that I’ve failed to mention before.  The girls love sand!  I learned this when they were still tiny chicks, and I’d offer them some parakeet gravel and grit.  They would go crazy pecking and scratching at the sand!  These days, I just buy a bag of white  play sand, and dump it in one end of their coop.  My girls go wild over that sand!  They eat it like feed.  After they’ve eaten all they want, they scratch and dig in what’s left.  When one bag of sand disappears, I buy them another.

My girls also love anything green–weeds, grass, vegetables–they’re not picky.  It gives us something to do with the weeds and grass that we pull from the garden and flower beds, too.  Not much goes to waste, when you have chickens.  They’ll eat practically anything!   Speaking of eating practically anything–you’ll never guess what their favorite treat is!  Freeze dried meal worms!  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  Yeah, they look and smell gross, too…but the girls just love ’em!

Published in: on August 9, 2012 at 9:28 am  Comments (6)  
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Some Tales About “My Girls” And Me…

Just over two months ago, I became the “mother” to six cute, fuzzy, baby chicks, and thus began the adventures of “My Girls” and me!  The first few days and nights of our adventure together were spent within the confines of a plastic storage container located in my husband’s pool room.

A lot of eating, sleeping, and “pooping” went on inside of that box!  A 75 watt bulb was attached to the box, and it burned twenty-four hours a day keeping my new babies warm.  I even played country music for my babies because I didn’t want them to be lonely whenever I was busy!

My babies began to grow quickly, and before I knew it, they were sprouting wing feathers, and trying to fly!  It was time for larger living quarters!  Ed fastened three cardboard boxes together and made the babies a new “chicken condo”.  Their chicken condo wasn’t very wide, but it was long and they seemed to enjoy running back and forth.  They continued to sleep under a light bulb, which was now hanging above the middle of the connected boxes.  By now, the chicks had learned my voice, and would scurry about every time I called “Hey girls!”–which I did several times a day.  By now, “my girls” were no longer quite as fuzzy and cute, but were becoming more feathery…

After three weeks of having “my girls” living indoors, and trying to keep them inside of their “chicken condo” (I’d actually had to place netting over the top to prevent them from escaping), the time finally came to move them outdoors to their brand new “chicken palace” that my husband built for them!  I tell you, that first night was a long one for this “chicken mama”!  I walked back and forth checking to make sure “my girls” were warm and cozy in their new home.

After moving outside, “my girls” continued to sleep under a light bulb in the hen-house because the nighttime temperatures were still cool, and the chicks still didn’t have all of their feathers.  I also put a small section of their former cardboard condo inside of their chicken pen.  During the day, I’d move the light into this box so “the girls” could warm themselves when they became chilly.  Giving up this box became quite “an issue” with my girls…sort of like giving up a security blanket!  

Once “my girls” had gotten all of their feathers, I quickly discovered that they were also afraid of the dark!  Each time I unplugged their light inside of the hen-house, they would chirp loudly in distress!  It broke my heart, and I’d always end up plugging the light back in.  Gradually I kept reducing the size of the light bulb at night until I had “my girls” sleeping under only a 4 watt night-light.  It was a happy day, about  three weeks ago, when “my girls” finally learned how to sleep in the dark!  (Note: It isn’t healthy for hens to be exposed to light 24/7 for long periods of time)

Another happy day was when all of  “my girls” finally learned how to climb the ladder of the hen-house, and go to bed on their own!  This happened about the same time they learned to sleep in the dark.  I can’t tell you how aggravated I used to get trying to catch those six chickens at night to put them to bed!  There was always one rebel chicken every night who refused to cooperate!  I nicknamed her “Renny Henny” because that girl is such a renegade!

After a couple of weeks of chasing chickens at night, I mentioned to Ed that I didn’t think the chickens liked sleeping in their hen-house because they felt trapped.  The hen-house had windows, but they were located up high.  We decided to add a “picture window” to their hen-house, so they could see outside.  That picture window did the trick!  Within a day or two of adding a large plexiglass window, the chickens were voluntarily going to bed on their own, but Renny Henny is still the last to go to bed each night!  At night, I love seeing the hens all lined up on their perch happily looking through their new picture window!

“My girls” still come running whenever I call “Hey girls!”  In fact, they come running, even if I don’t say anything, because they associate me with good things to eat!  I feed them treats several times a day, and I also keep a chair inside of their coop for my frequent visits.  I love to just sit and watch them.  “My girls” enjoy sitting in the chair, too, whether I’m in sitting with them or not!

I’m in the process of painting the chicken coop, and “the girls” currently have several decorative touches located throughout their coop–in addition to the chair and picture window!  They have a “welcome” sign over their door, and two wind chimes hanging from the top of the coop!!!  As the temperatures here continue to rise, they might even get their own fan before the summer’s end!

Thanks to our bountiful garden, “my girls” always have plenty of fresh vegetables to eat–and some weeds and grass, too!  Whenever anyone comments about how fast “my girls” are growing, I always say, “It’s because all they do is eat!”  Fresh cabbage leaves seem to be one of their favorite treats–oh, and grasshoppers, too!

All of “my girls” look exactly like little red hens these days.  They remind me of the story, “The Little Red Hen” as I watch them busily scratching!   “My girls” are growing rapidly, but it will still be several more weeks before they will be old enough to lay any eggs.

They’ve already learned how to “sing” and sometimes I hear the beginning of a “cluck” every now and then.  “My girls” are probably the equivalent to human teenagers right now!  I can hardly wait to see what kind of adventures the next phase of their lives will bring!  I wonder who will be the first to lay an egg?!  Who knew that raising chickens would be such an adventure–and so much fun, too?!

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 9:33 am  Comments (8)  
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Meet Me On Monday And The St. Paddy’s Day Weekend Wrap Up…

Acting Balanced

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’m starting the week off by joining Heather at Acting Balanced for her meme  “Meet Me On Monday”.  Here are Heather’s questions for this week:

1. How do you like your eggs?

I prefer my eggs scrambled, but I also enjoy eating them fried or in an omlet.  Yep, I’m a southern girl!  Love those eggs 🙂

2. Who is the last person you spoke to on the phone?

The last person I spoke with on the phone was my daughter, one day last week.  I believe it was Thursday.

3. Do you have a place you keep ‘junk’ in your home?

I have a small room (built especially for storing my “junk”), but, I also keep some of my “stuff” in Ed’s pool room…(like our six new baby chicks!)

4. What is on your ‘spring cleaning’ list?

Inside, I need to sort through some of the excessive “junk” in the storage room, straighten up my kitchen cabinets, and clean out some dresser drawers.  Outside, I’ve already begun raking and cleaning the yards, but I need to finish.  After that, I plan to paint the outside porches (again!).

5. What blog post have you written recently that you’d like more people to know about? (don’t forget to link it up)

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called “Somebody’s Watching You”.  It’s about our lack of privacy these days.  You can read it HERE.

Weekend Wrap Up:

It was a beautiful St. Paddy’s Day Weekend!  Ed and I didn’t attend a parade or any kind of  St. Patrick’s Day celebration, but we were surrounded by “green”.  Green trees, green grass, and even some green beans in the garden!  Our beans have sprouted, and I’m thrilled!

The weather was unseasonably hot this weekend!  The temperature was in the 80’s both days.  I wore a tank top on Sunday afternoon, and I was still hot!

On Friday evening, Ed and I went to Lowe’s, and bought the supplies to build our “chicken palace”.  Boy have building supplies gone  up!  I couldn’t believe the price of lumbar these days!  How can people afford to build houses???

I call our chicken coop, a “chicken palace”, because it’s costing so much!  Also, because it’s not going to be any ordinary chicken coop! This coop is going to be 16 feet wide and 7 feet deep.  We want our “girls” to live in style, and have plenty of room to move!  We expect plenty of fresh eggs in return!

Ed worked on the “palace” over the weekend, made good progress, but didn’t finish.  He’ll probably finish it next weekend.  Here’s what he got accomplished so far:

You may notice that our “girls” will be living right next to the woods…Ed and I are going to have to work extra hard to make sure the “chicken palace” is varmint proof!  We’ve learned from experience, once you get chickens, varmints will come from far and wide to try and make a meal out of your poultry!

For now, our “girls” are living in Ed’s pool room, and have moved on up to their “chicken condo”.  Our baby chicks have all sprouted their wing feathers, and are now trying to learn how to fly.  As a result, we had to make them a home with higher sides, and more room to run!  We joined three cardboard boxes together, and made a “chicken condo” for the “girls”.  They  seem to like their new home.

I’m enjoying watching the antics of my temporary house guests (chicks are quite entertaining), but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m looking forward to having them move into their “palace”  outside.

Published in: on March 18, 2012 at 10:58 pm  Comments (10)  
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Chickens, chickens, everywhere…part 1

Swimming with the chicks

Swimming with the chicks

         …there are 7 chickens in the picturesee if you can find them all…

Ed and I were so thrilled to be living in the country after 5 years of city living!  We really enjoyed having cows and goats for our neighbors.  At one point, when our daughter Brandy was still a toddler, we decided that we would like to have some chickens.  I can almost hear you laughing…

We saw a sign in the feed/seed store that said they would give you 25 free baby chicks if you purchased a large bag of chicken  feed.  Well, I am the type of person who thinks more is better, so I talked Ed into getting TWO bags of food and 50 free chicks!  What was I thinking???  We brought all of those cute little baby chicks home and the fun began! –Did I mention that there were 50 chicks???

Problem number one was our dog!  He was part lab and he just loved to chase those chickens…

Brandy & chicken killer

Brandy & chicken killer

He would play too rough of course, and several chickens met their demise due to the dog.  It was a never-ending problem, until we got rid of the dog… 

The next problem was finding out just how many varmints in the woods like to eat chickens.  We had a never-ending assortment of intruders breaking into our chicken house at night.  There was a never-ending line of opossums, raccoons, foxes, owls and yes, we even had chicken hawks attack our chickens during the day while they were in our yard! 

Of course there was an enormous amount of chicken poop on the ground.  We kept the chickens shut up at night in a chicken house, but let them run free during the day.  All chickens do all day is eat and poop!

chicken poop

chicken poop

  With that many chickens running in the yard, we had to really watch our step!  More than once I felt a squish under my foot, which is really annoying, especially if you don’t have shoes on!

The biggest problem happened when we discovered that all of the chicks were white roosters!  Anybody who knows about chickens will tell you that one rooster is all that you need!  All roosters do is fight and crow.   We didn’t many chickens left , thanks to the dog and the other varmints– our flock had grown small, but we still had a lot more roosters than we needed.

We asked around and found out that one of our neighbors was interested in our roosters–to eat!  I’d raised these roosters from babies and held them in my lap.  The thought of them becoming someone’s fried chicken dinner didn’t make me happy. 

 Unfortunately, we didn’t have a choice.  Roosters will fight and kill each other if a bunch of them are kept together.  Sadly, we took the roosters over to the neighbor’s house.  Imagine the look on my face when I saw our neighbor  beginning to wring the necks of my pets–before we even got out of the driveway!!!  It was beyond awful!  That was one of my worst animal experiences ever–and believe me, I’ve had plenty of them!…to be continued tomorrow…..

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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