Keeping Warm on Cold Days

A few weeks ago we experienced below normal subzero temps here in Ohio. We moved the geese and the duck to a straw filled stall in the barn. They complained regularly about their temporary lodging, but sometimes they must do what they don’t want to do for their own sake.

On the windiest and coldest days the mule was also kept begrudgingly locked in the barn. And the chickens were happily stowed away in their coop.

As far as keeping everyone’s water free flowing, heated buckets and water bowls from Rural King and Tractor Supply Company proved very effective at -10 degrees. See our previous post “Tip: How to Keep Water Thawed in Winter”  for more information.

Cream Legbar Chicken: New on the Farm

After searching all spring and summer for the hard to find cream legbars, we finally found them and happily made room for them here on the farm.

The rare cream legbars are fancy chickens who wear fluffy muff hats and lay light blue eggs. These four ladies and their fella will be part of our spring 2014 breeding stock. Three of the fancy girls are named after the Gabor sister’s; Zsa Zsa, Eva, and Magda. The fourth female I named Ingrid after Ingrid Bergman. Ingrid was a gift from one of my best friends, the original Mrs. Chicken Lady of Red Barn Acres and Eggs.  The young roo is named Maurice after the famous classical Parisian actor Maurice Chevalier.

Rhodebar Chickens: Here on the Farm

Rhodebars are by far one of the most friendly breeds of chickens that we have had in our flock. We recently acquired a trio of rhodebars that were approximately eight weeks old. The farmer who sold them to us did not have much time to handle them as he had so many chickens. Even so, they will jump up on higher platforms just to say hello. The little roo allows me to pet him without any concern whats-so-ever and the two little pullets are nearly as brave and friendly. These guys are definitely a keeper in our flock and I can’t wait to add more! An additional benefit to this breed is that they are auto-sexing chickens. This means you can tell males from females at any age by their coloration. Light colored chicks are males and chicks that have a chipmunk pattern are females. Both Rhode Island reds and golden brussbars were used in creating the rhodebar breed.

The two pullets were named Ginger and Doris after Ginger Rogers and Doris Day. The young cockerel is named Rudy after Rudolph Valentino because he is such a sweet little love.

Goodbyes Are Not Easy: Making Room in the Flock

This week we sold 7 of our laying hens and 1 rooster. They included 2 golden laced Wyandotte hens, 2 Welsummer hens, 2 blue copper Marans hens, 1 light brahma hen, and 1 blue copper Marans rooster. Some may not understand, but it is hard to say goodbye to all of those who have been loved and were part of our flock from the beginning.

Unfortunately, business decisions take precedence over sentimentality and we had to make room for the new comers. So it is with bittersweet tears that we say goodbye to old friends and say hello to new ones.

The new comers include 4 cream legbar pullets, 1 cream legbar cockerel, 2 rhodebar pullets, and 1 rhodebar cockerel. We are very excited to add these auto-sexing breeds to our breeding program and look forward to the arrival of their little ones in Spring 2014.

Operation Chicken Rescue, Undeniable Success!

Last week Momma Farmer left for a much needed rest at the beach with her sister, and Mr. Farmer was left to take care of the farm with the help of his grown son. The day before Momma was to come home, one of the chickens named Dot mysteriously disappeared! Mr. Farmer could not find her anywhere!

Momma Farmer arrived home on Sunday, and looked for Dot as well, but she was nowhere to be found. Day after day they looked and counted the flock but still one short.

On Wednesday morning, Momma Farmer was out tending the chickies when she saw Dot hiding under the hen house. Chickens under the hen house was nothing new, but this little one had a hurt leg which prevented her from navigating the usual way out. She had been stuck and unseen for a few days. Poor little thing!

As soon as possible, Momma Farmer cleared an easier path for her escape by raising the fence that blocked her way. Next she placed food near the fence to lure Dot out. Finally the limping little chicken crawled under the fence where Momma was able to pick her up and put her in the hen house. There she was safe to heal and had as much food, water, and comfortable straw as she could possibly want.

This was a very busy and rewarding Wednesday morning! Now off to buy some straw and cracked corn at the local feed mill. 🙂

*Update*

After a few days of protecting Dot from the rest of the flock (in a cage on the floor of the hen house at night and locked in the hen house alone during the day) she was able to rest and heal her hurt leg. She is now 100% better and running with the rest of the pack!

Could Chickens Help Lower Blood Pressure?

Every morning we let our chickens out of their house and allow them to free range in the yard or side pasture, and every morning I find them fascinating to watch. I’ve heard of a few people giving up their television in favor of sitting on their porch and watching chickenvision instead. The longer we are chicken owners the more I understand that frame of mind. I am positive that watching chicken antics in the yard can help to promote lower blood pressure and dissipate sour moods. Here are some pics from the morning. I will try to add a short video at the end.

7:12:13 Free ranging in the backyard

7:12:13 Chickens favorite place to rest

Some of the flock hanging out under their favorite bush. Among those pictured are: gold laced Wyandotte, buff Brahma bantam, Welsummer roo, blue copper Marans roo, and a guinea.

This morning as I was sitting in my living room, I kept seeing a large shadow pass across my window. It was a couple of hawks flying around looking for a free meal. I went out side and found the entire flock huddled under the bush above. Many times, the guineas will sound an alarm and the flock comes running for shelter. The guineas are pretty good at spotting danger or harmless bunnies and letting everyone else know.

7:12:13 Free ranging in the backyard 2

7:12:13 Free ranging in the backyard 3

Some of the flock heard me come out the back door and came running to meet me. They know I am the lady with the food! Pictured all the way to right of the photo is a black cochin (I believe) but I am not sure yet if its a rooster or a hen. I’m leaning towards rooster, but hoping not.

7:12:13 Free ranging in the backyard 4

7:12:13 golden laced wyadottes and black copper marans coming to say hello

7:12:13 Golden laced Wyandotte saying hello

The golden laced Wyandottes are always happy to greet me!

7:12:13 Golden laced Wyandottes and Black Copper Marans

7:12:13 Great Pic of Roos

7:12:13 Great Pic of Roos and Guineas

Three of our roosters are pictured here. The black copper Marans is on the left front, the blue copper Marans is on the right, and the Welsummer is in the back of the photo. We are still weeding out our surplus males from buying straight runs. I think these are our keepers. Also shown is our guinea fowl.

7:12:13 Left, Black Copper Marans Roo, Right, Blue Copper Marans Roo

The Largest and Smallest Chickens in Our Flock

I have showcased Lola, my largest pullet in two other posts. Today I would like to introduce Scout, my smallest bantam chicken.

Scout (left) on the roost is a bantam and Lola (right) on the roost is probably a commercial black standard chicken.

Scout (left) on the roost is a bantam and Lola (right) on the roost is probably a commercial black standard chicken.

We bought Scout as a small chick from TSC. She was sold with other assorted bantams. Out of all my chicks, she looked the most like a chipmunk. She was small, smooth, and sleek feathered. Today she looks like a bird. She is not fully grown yet but as compared to the way the other chicks are growing, I don’t expect her to get much bigger. She is the cutest little thing ever! And so very sweet! Next spring I plan to look for more of these little guys. Does anyone want to venture a guess as to what breed she is? I was thinking at one time she might be a Wellsummer bantam but I’m not convinced of that.

Scout (left) on the roost is a bantam and Lola (right) on the roost is probably a commercial black standard chicken.

Scout (left) on the roost is a bantam and Lola (right) on the roost is probably a commercial black standard chicken.

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

The three Amigos (Scout, Lola, and Spot)

 

New Chickens in the Flock and a Departing Queen

The new white Ameraucana that we named Queen was not doing very well in our flock. Being an older pullet than the rest, she was bossy and alone. A wonderful friend of mine who went to the poultry show with us, traded her for five of her younger pullets. These pullets were bought at the same time that I bought mine and are roughly the same ages. These five are doing much better in our flock. They are hanging out mostly with each other but are mingling more than Queen did. The five included two golden laced Wyandottes (my favorite of the breeds so far), an Easter egger or Ameraucana (not sure yet), a buff Brahma bantie (beautiful bird), and a black copper Marans or black Ameraucana named Crusoe. As a side note: my friend name her Crusoe because she was the lone survivor of our Cream Legbar ordeal.

Liberty, Blondie, and Crusoe

Liberty, Blondie, and Crusoe

Chicken Coop Renovation: Stage 1

Note: This post is a little past due. The chicks have been in there new home for a little while now.

The chicks were quickly out growing their brooder box and needed to be moved to their permanent home. The only problem was that it was not ready for them. Stage 1 of our restoration project on the chicken barn is now complete. That included escape proofing it from the chicks and varmint proofing it from would-be predators.

There are two rooms in the old chicken/goat barn. One that is approximately 1/3 of the building (10X16) and another that is approximately 2/3. It was full of holes and wide open windows. Stage 1 of restoration focused on the smaller of the two rooms. We laid plywood on the floor, covered holes in the walls, covered the windows with 1/2 inch wire netting and screens, installed a new chicken door, made a new roost, hung the brooder light and fan, installed an old screen door reinforced with 1/2 inch wire netting, installed a wall hanging feeder for grit, hung a 30 lb poultry feeder, and set up a new 5 gallon galvanized waterer on top of a concrete stepping stone.

Coop in Progress-Roost

Coop and Roost in Progress

Coop-Roost Completed

Completed Roost in Place

Coop-New Coop Door

New Chicken Door: Not really crooked, just looks that way in pic. 🙂

Coop-Feeder and Grit Feeder

New poultry feeder with red bucket to keep chicks out of food
and at the bottom of the roost is the wall feeder with grit in it. We plan to get another for oyster shell when they are laying age.

Coop- Wire reenforced screen door

Screen door with reinforced wire mesh.

Coop- Waterer

Waterer up on one block. Three more blocks in reserve as the chicks grow taller. We hope this will keep their water cleaner.

Coop- Chicks not exactly loving new home yet

The chicks not exactly digging their new home, yet!

Tip: One thing I learned and will do differently next time is when transferring the chicks to their new home, do not take away their old box too quickly if at all possible. If the brooder is a portable cardboard box, place it in the chicken house with access in and out of it so they get used to their new space and feel safe at the same time. I pretty much shooed them out of the box and snatched it right away. I felt bad the rest of the day. They seemed to bounce back by day two, however, and are all over the chicken house now.

Stage 2 of the restoration will either include fixing up the exterior of the barn with foundation work and new siding or dividing the larger room into two for other poultry needs. Update to follow.

Bantam Chickens: Spot, Blackie, and Penny

Bantie named Spot

Bantie named Spot

We have four bantam chickens that were sold as assorted bantams so we are not sure what breeds they are. The pictures above and immediately below is our bantie Spot. She’s always been very feisty, and it would not surprise me if she turned out to be a little rooster. She likes to jump up and chest bump the other chicks with her feet extended. She does seem to be calming down as she is getting older, though she’ll never be a push over.

Bantie named Spot

Bantie named Spot

Below is Spot and two of our other banties. Lola the full size mystery chicken is also in these photos. From left to right is Spot, Blackie, Lola, and Penny. I guess you could say they are all mystery chickens though Lola is the only full size chicken in these photos. If anyone would like to guess what breeds they are, I would appreciate it. Lola is the only clean legged chicken of this bunch.

From left to right Spot (bantie), Blackie, (bantie), Lola (the mystery chicken), and Penny (bantie)

From left to right
Spot (bantie), Blackie, (bantie), Lola (the full sized mystery chicken), and Penny (bantie)

From left to right Spot (bantie), Blackie, (bantie), Lola (the mystery chicken), and Penny (bantie)

From left to right
Spot (bantie), Blackie, (bantie), Lola (the full sized mystery chicken), and Penny (bantie)

In contrast to Spot’s feistiness, Penny and Blackie are very sweet and gentle banties. Lola is also very sweet. Not pictured here is our forth bantam, Scout. Scout is so small, she looks like a bird. I’ll try to get a picture of her for a later post.