Archive for the Chickens Category

Sweet Pea’s a Mom

Posted in Chickens with tags , on October 21, 2010 by PickMeYard

Our little banty chicken is broody.  She tried incubating a couple of duck eggs, but they ended up not being fertile.  We switched out the duck eggs for 4 fertile chicken eggs.  Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch. 

Sweet Pea incubating her clutch.

Early this afternoon I heard a strange noise when I walked by Sweet Pea.  She had an unmistakable wide-eyed, confused expression.  I probably wouldn’t have stopped what I was doing if I hadn’t noticed her behavior.  When I tried to get under her to get a look at the hatched chick, Sweet Pea went into protective mom mode.  I know that mode well so I decided to give her a little time.  I went back to her with a glove on one hand and a camera in the other.  I was able to get my picture but she knew which hand to peck…  and it wasn’t the hand with the glove.  This time she had an expression that said, “OMG… I’m a mom”!  She’s so happy and content.  This chicken has been broody for so long and I just know she was praying for some babies to lead around.  How do I know this?  Her box is right next to our most-used door, on a gardening bench.  We talk to her a lot.

Not only is she broody, but she’s bossy too.  She used to be the leader of her flock until she found a new priority.  She’s a tiny little chicken that is the boss lady of all our animals.  This chicken has personality… she’ll make a great mom.  Click here  for some great photos of a chick hatching.

First photo of Sweet Pea's little chick. Can you see it under there? She was attacking me while I took the photo.

The chick keeps peeking out from under her.

I called my friend right after the chick hatched.  I never thought about what to do when they actually hatched.  She said that Sweet Pea knew what to do and to give them a quiet, safe place.  So I did.

I made them a tent on our screened-in porch. I was worried about snakes, but really, I feel sorry for any snake that gets near that bird.

There are three more eggs to hatch.  We can hardly wait!

 
Come grow with us!
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Beautiful Buff Orpingtons

Posted in Chickens with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2010 by PickMeYard

We received our baby buff orpington’s in the mail on August 30, 2010… eight of them.  They were only 2 days old when we picked them up from our local post office.  OMG, they were so cute and still are.   One of them perished just a couple of days after we received them, but the other seven survived and have flourished. 

We purchased them online from mypetchicken.com.  I highly recommend this company if you decide to delve into the world of backyard chickens.  You can read the descriptions of all the different chicken breeds and then pick the ones that have the characteristics you’re looking for.  (The heritage breed, banty chickens are adorable.)  You can choose to purchase only hens (no roosters) and can order as few as three chicks.  Some online chicken hatcheries have a minimum number of chickens that must be ordered.  Some as high as twenty-five chicks.

Baby buff orphington chicks from mypetchicken.com.

I wrote in an earlier post that we were content with our 8 hens and we wouldn’t be getting anymore.  Let me just say that is very tough to do.  Chickens make such wonderful pets and they provide us with delicious eggs!  We decided it was time to add some youth into our flock.  It’s a win-win situation. 

One of our older girls fell over dead for reasons unknown to us (no signs) and our little banty chicken is broody.   She doesn’t lay eggs anymore and only gets up to eat and drink.  The rest of her time is spent sitting on eggs that came from somewhere else.  She was sitting on 2 duck eggs, but they didn’t hatch.  Now she’s laying on some fertile chicken eggs that a friend gave us.  I really hope they hatch because it will make her so happy.

It’s important to always quarantine new chickens that are brought into your yard.  We had some cuckoo maran chicks that we were so excited about.  They came from a friend’s backyard flock.  We kept them quarantined from our yard and other chickens and we are so glad that we did.  They ended up getting really sick with a contagious virus  they came to us with and they didn’t survive.  We would have been even more devastated if they had spread it to our other girls.   Click here for a list of poultry ailments from the University of Florida IFAS website. 

Our baby buff orphington’s are growing up.

Our buff orpington’s are just beautiful.  They’re so soft, fluffy and incredibly sweet-natured.  They always come running up to us and they love to be picked up.  I don’t know if they will like to be picked up when they’re older, but they sure like it now.  They’re super docile.  We let them forage by themselves outside in the yard all day and they get put back in their cage early in the evening.  They’re almost ready to be put in their own coop.  My husband’s building them a new chicken tractor.  This one’s going to be very portable.

Come grow with us!

Polish Chickens

Posted in Chickens with tags , , , on September 15, 2010 by PickMeYard

Why did the two polish chickens cross the road?  Well, if they’re our girls… hopefully, they’re going to get their hair done.  Seriously, they can’t see very well and need a trim. 

One of our floofy-headed Polish hens.

We have two Polish hens and they’re almost identical.  But, we know how to tell them apart.  One hen has a slightly different “do”.  My husband says one looks like Phyllis Diller and the other looks like Tina Turner. 

This is the other floofy-headed twin. Can you see the difference?

These two chickens are our all-time favorite birds!  They follow us around talking to us, begging to be picked up.  They live to be cuddled and make cooing noises when you play with their feathered hair.  They are lap birds that could sit in our laps for hours.  Is this normal?  I don’t know. 

They lay beautiful white eggs.  The other chickens tend to push them around a little, so they’re low in the pecking order.  They look like they would be the boss ladies, but the opposite is true.  I’ve read that this is usually the case with the Polish breeds, though our girls hold their own.  

Our Polish twins.

Whenever the chickens hear a door to our house open, they come running!  I had to stop painting my toenails red because they seem to believe they are cherry tomatoes.  I would scream, “stop pecking my toes!”  I suppose I could try another color… or wear shoes, but it is sorta’ the city gal vs. the country gal thing. 

Come grow with us!

A Stinky Situation

Posted in Chickens, Solutions with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by PickMeYard

We have been adding and removing plants from our garden every week.  The sunflowers grow tall and then need to be pulled and thrown into the compost pile… along with the old flowers and herbs.  Florida summers are hard on some plants and new plantings usually take the place of the old ones.  This summer we’ve mostly planted black-eyed peas, okra and callaloo.  They grow well in our hot Florida summers and we enjoy them on our dinner plates. 

A row of black-eyed peas. I've planted them all over the garden. They fix the nitrogen in the soil and are a great plant for Florida's extreme summer.

Black-eyed peas.

Giant sunflowers.

We painted the chicken tractor the same color as our house. The kids had a blast painting it...for about 30 minutes. A little help is better than none at all.

The stinky situation is not our compost pile though.  It’s the brown marmonated stink bugs that have shown up.  I kept noticing them on our young watermelon, squash and cucumber plants.  I sprayed them with a poison which made Grayson frown at me.  I used the insecticide against my better judgement, but I wanted to see these bugs disappear off my young plants.  The bugs just laughed at me and increased their numbers.

We decided we needed to figure out a better way to rid our garden of these pests.  Grayson put a specimen in a jar for us to study.  Our conclusion is that it is indeed the brown marmonated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) that has come over to the U.S. from Asia.  It is an invasive pest that was discovered to have made its way into the U.S. in 2001 and is spreading throughout the states.  It sucks the life out of many trees, fruits, and vegetables and is extremely difficult to eradicate. 
We are taking our specimen to our local Florida County Cooperative Extension Service Office  for a positive identification.  I am really hoping that I have it confused with another bug.   I’ll update you on the results.
 
Grayson and I recently bought twelve little chicks from a friend.  Nine of the birds are Cuckoo Maran chickens that lay dark chocolate eggs.  Three of the chicks are guinea fowl (babies are called “keets”).  We added the three little guinea fowl to the mix but did not tell my husband.  Nine of the chicks are black and white and three of the chicks (guineas) look remarkably different with stripes all over them.

Baby Cuckoo Maran chicken and guinea fowl.

My husband kept commenting that he couldn’t believe how different in color three of the chicks were.  Grayson and I couldn’t keep the secret and eventually told him that we secretly slid 3 guinea fowl in the box.  He said we were crafty and that they would never work out because they’re loud, boisterous and like to fly.  I said they will work out because they’re vocal, entertaining and I want them.  So there. 
 

Guinea Fowl. I think they're adorable...and they have yummy eggs with a very hard shell.

A great website with information about guineas is poultryhelp.com.   Did you know that guineas can completely rid a yard of ticks? That means there is a much lower risk of getting lyme disease.  They also eat fleas, lice, cutworms, spiders, roaches, termites, grubs, snails, mosquitos and… stink bugs!  They eats thousands of insects in a day.  They might just be our solution.  They also enjoy eating bees, but I’ll figure that one out later.  For now, I am most inclined to get rid of all the bad bugs.
 
Come grow with us!   

Our Girls, Part I

Posted in Chickens with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2010 by PickMeYard

We have eight hens.  No roosters.  Roosters are lovely and they help keep their girls safe.  They find bugs and then call out to their girls to come and get it.  They warn everybody when there is danger.  We don’t need a rooster though and it wouldn’t work for us here on our “somewhat urban” property.  They are too noisy for our neighbors and you don’t need a rooster to have fresh eggs every day.  You do need a rooster to have fertilized eggs that will provide baby chickens.  If we lived on a farm we would have baby chickens and roosters running everywhere.  Since we don’t, we will limit ourselves to our eight hens.  Eight hens provides us with more than enough fresh eggs for ourselves and neighbors.  The Polish chicken in the picture above seems to be in every picture because she demands to be picked up and cuddled. 

This is our chicken tractor.  This is how we keep our girls out of the garden when we don’t want them “helping”.  The top opens up for gathering eggs every day.  It has several windows that can be opened for ventilation or locked shut.  It has wheels so that the coop can be moved around the yard.  We move it about every two weeks or so.

 The grass looks dead under the trampoline.  After a few rains, the dead grass spot becomes greener than the rest. The trampoline has chicken wire around the bottom of it so the chickens can forage during the day and stay safe.  We have a five gallon bucket between the trampoline and the chicken tractor that the girls use as a tunnel to get from one side to the other.  To close off the trampoline, we put the top on the bucket.  (We bought a bucket that came with a top). 

The chicken tractor has wire on the sides and bottom.  It is predator proof.  The trampoline is not, so we lock up the girls in the coop at night.  Chickens will put themselves to bed, they just need help closing the door.  They have a nice view of the Intracoastal Waterway.  I have a string of white Christmas lights on the outside.  They’re solar lights so they move easily with the tractor. We have happy chickens.  Our eggs are the best in the world! 

Everybody should be so lucky to have a job they love.  Grayson is the sole caretaker of the chickens.  He takes pride in his job and he gets paid $1.00 a day.   When his friends come over they enjoy playing with the chickens.  The chickens love it too.

I called our local zoning department to get permission before we got our chickens. We live in the country, but for some strange reason the zoning department couldn’t give me a definite “yes or no” answer. The neighbors weren’t sure if they wanted us to have chickens.  The calls to the zoning department went back and forth.  Finally, a woman from zoning  told me to just do it.  She said, “nobody’s gonna come take away your pet chickens”.  I love this town. 

The girls have toys in their coop.  They play with them daily.  My absolute favorite website for checking out other people’s clever chicken house ideas is citychickens.com.  Even if you don’t have chickens, it’s fun looking at the pictures. The pictures on this chicken tractor gallery site are great for inspiration too. Did you know it is your right to be able to keep chickens in New York City?  The blog, Urban Chickens, is a great site to learn more about chicken ordinances. 

We have lots of eggs to share with the neighbors.  Although they may have been skeptical at first, I believe they like our chickens.  They really like them.  When the egg production slowed down, one neighbor suggested we play some nice music.  Not a bad idea.  Once you have a steady supply of fresh eggs, you’ll do anything to keep them.

Come grow with us!