Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trash to Treasure

Today over on the Crafty Corner section of this blog I have a tutorial on how to take some simple second hand store items and turn them into a cute tiered stand.  I use mine in my bedroom for all my nail polish.  I first seen the tutorial on pintrest and followed the link to the tutorial.  It seemed easy enough, so I got the stuff to make my own.

Step on over to the craft corner to see how you turn this:

Into this:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First Snow of the Year

The east coast got hammered with our first snow of the year.  Where I live did not get hit as bad as some places, thank goodness!  I am so not ready for winter and all the snow.  I am just not a cold weather person.  I know - why do I live in Pennsylvania then?  Well I tried to leave, was gone for a few years, but life brought us back.  I can't see us staying here forever - it is just the nature of the job market these days.  Hopefully we will land some place warm next time!

We got about 4" of snow, not too bad considering that it snowed all day long.  This is a picture of the first of 3 times I shoveled off the ramp.

The chickens were not too impressed with it all either.  The heavy wet snow clung to the netting and created a snow free haven of mud for the chickies.  They were not excited but then again the snow was not reaching them.

This morning turned out to be a beautiful morning.  I set out with my camera to get some shots of the snow.  It was warming up a bit and the snow was already starting to melt.  It created a cool mist across the yard.

The sun rise was pale and pretty.

I like the early mornings when everything is still and most folks are still asleep.

The netting on the nursery run did not fare well under the weight of the heavy snow.  We planned on taking that all down anyway so nature was just giving us a hand.

The netting over the main run is supported with beams so it was still sound.  It created a pretty cool roof over the run.  The floor of the run is a mud pit and I have to figure out something to do with all that.  The chickens are complaining and asking for the tractor supply company catalog so they can order some goulashes.  I told them to calm down it was going to be nice all next week and things should dry up some.  I don't think they believe me.

Some of the chickens still lay their eggs on the floor in the corner of the coop.  That means that I have to go into the coop every day to gather those eggs.  It is one of biggest fears that I am going to fall flat on my back in all this mud and stink one of these days.  I think I seen the hens taking bets one day when I went in there.

I would like to apologize to my readers, for being missing in action here lately.  Things have been crazy here.  I don't have hired help to do my house work and everything else, we do everything ourselves.  With me working full time outside the home, them coming home to help our son with his cyber school work there is little time for anything else.  I do try to keep up with things, and  have a few more posts working up in my head, so hopefully as we fall into a better routine, I can get back to blogging more.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

That Chicken is not Chicken!

As I mentioned I was in a business trip all last week.  I got home Friday late afternoon and let the chickens out to free range.  We do not let them out when we are not home to keep an eye on them.  We were all settling in to our normal routine when we heard the chickens having quite the time outside.  I happened to look outside, and that is when I saw a dog in the chicken run!  I yell DOG! and run for the mudroom to get my boots on and scramble outside.  My son and husband rally the weapons, ready to strike should this dog harm my chickens or me.  Outside I start yelling and waving my arms around like a crazy woman trying to distract the dog so the hens can scoot into the pop door and be safe in the coop.  It was a tense few minutes but I managed to scare the dog away, unharmed, and all the hens were safe and unhurt.  We did not make a big deal of it - we live in the country, dogs slip off their collars/ happens, so we watched toe dog and learned who it belonged to and went back to our lives.  Fast forward to yesterday, we had the windows  open since it  was a nice evening.  We were just about to watch a movie when I heard the hens cry for help.  Apparently, the cluck line is out of order in the coop so they just yelled for help.  I will have to look into that.  I look outside and again see that same dog after my chickens.  I am very irate at this point.  I tell my husband to get the gun and run for my boots and out the back door.  When I rounded the corner of the house, there was a child in my yard watching the whole ordeal of this dog and chicken do a dance of death.  I distracted the dog and the hen got away.  The small boy was able to get the dog and drag it back home.  We later stopped at the family's house and my husband talked to the parents to reinforce that they need to keep their dog tied or inside because it now immediately comes to our yard after our chickens.  Hopefully that is the end of that situation.  No dog or chicken was harmed in these incidents....yet.

Yesterday I heard the girls having a fit and thought oh no not again.  I peeked out the window to see a hen on the roof of the coop!  This coop is 8' high at the front and it slopes down to about 6' in the back.  There on the top was a Whyndotte happy as you please.  She was probably the one that the dog was trying to get so she devised an escape route.  You know just in case it comes back.  Who said chickens were stupid?  ok they are pretty dumb but they learn and can be cleaver.

This hen hopped up on the feed barrels, then up onto the next box roof.  There she looked, paced, and planned.  Finally up she went to the roof of the coop!  What a goofy chicken.  Now if she can remember how to get up there when danger presents itself on the ground again will be the question.

Since the other seen this chicken who was not chicken to jump up on the roof, they all want up there.  I was in the coop filling their food and I heard this "THUMP!"  I walked out of the coop to see an Easter Egger on top of the nest box roof.  I said, "Get down from there!"  she she pouted and replied, "But SHE did it....!"  "Nope - get down"  and she flew down.  Then the Whyndotte was up there again.

Oh these chickens are something else!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miniature Eggs

My new hens have been laying for a few weeks now and things are progressing nicely.  I am now getting 15-20 eggs a day.  I seem to be in the miniature egg business now.  I am not complaining at all, mind you.  I would much rather have my girls lay small tiny eggs and slowly progress to larger normal sized eggs as their bodies can handle it, than have them start laying huge eggs right off the bat and prolapse.  My Comets did that - it was not pretty.

Thing do seem to be progress very slowly.  The first Easter Eggers layers are still laying tiny eggs.  Some have not caught on to the concept of laying their eggs in the nest boxes.   I am finding a cluster of 3 to 4 eggs in one corner of the coop every day.  I even found an egg under the hedge bush yesterday!  I try talking to the girls and telling them in a gentle tone that they need to start laying their eggs in the nest boxes and ask if anyone has any questions.  They all nod their head in agreement they they got it and no one ever asks any questions so I think I am getting through to them.....maybe not.

I had one hen hop up on the helper perch below the egg boxes look around in each nest box nod her head, look up at me and say "Oh!  I see. Nope I still don't get it."  and hop down.  Goofy bird.  Most of them are getting it and doing well with laying in the nest boxes.

I was on another business trip all last week.  I had to go to our site in Virginia to so some audits.  I got to meet some of my co-workers for the first time.  I work with some fantastic people and we have a very busy productive week.  I came back home to a full egg fridge!  Almost all of these are the miniature eggs.  I am still getting a few regular sized eggs from my old hens.  Now I have to scramble and fry up several dozen of these to give back to the hens.

I also have to make cupcakes next week for a school picnic.  I have to figure out how many mini eggs equal a regular jumbo egg.  I think I will go with 2 to 1 ratio.  Since it is still early here and my boys are not up yet I could fix breakfast for them as well.  "Here honey, I fried you up a half a dozen eggs for breakfast!"  :o)  We are used to it here, but it is a funny scenario to suggest to someone who buys our eggs.
Have a great day everyone!  Maybe I should approach the egg council to do some recipes/promos for them.....hummm...    :o)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Free At Last

I have kept the chickens all locked up in the coop and run for a few weeks after we introduced them.  I went out to the garden by the coop and all the chickens were out in the run clanking their little tin cups on the bars of their run crying "Atticus!!"  I think it is time I  let them out.

I went to the door of the run and they all came running over dropping their cups in the mud.  I could see in their eyes they were staring at the green lush carpet of foliage that lay just out of their reach from inside their incarceration.

I opened the door and all the hens tumbled over themselves and threw themselves down on the green grass right outside the door.   I heard sighs of pleasure and freedom.  Goofy birds!  They just went right outside the door and immediately started pecking and going crazy over all the green stuff to eat.  I had to shoo them to get them to move beyond the doorway!

I really like these birds.  They do not wander off like the Comets did.  They all stay in our yard and don't wander into the neighbors.  They also come running when they see me round the corner of the house on my way out to see them.

These birds are very chatty also.  They like to talk and talk and talk.  Sally will talk your ear off if you stay out there long enough with them.  yack yack yack!  I love them all.  I am still dealing with some pecking issues but nothing like I had previously.  They are doing much better now.  The ones that were pecked really bad are healed and are starting to grow their feathers back.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Macaroni Salad

Yesterday I made Macaroni Salad.  Except I did not use Macaroni, I used 'Nuggets' instead.  It turned out really tasty.  Sweet pickles add a crunch, and a tangy bite to this really easy to make salad.

Head on over to the What's Cookin?  page to get the full recipe!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pressure cooked Green Beans, Potatoes, and Ham

The other day I picked a bunch of green beans from the garden.  I was then rooting around in the freezer and found a bag of leftover ham.  I scooted to the store to buy to potatoes and I was on my way to a yummy dinner.

Scoot yourself on over to the What's Cooking?  page to get the scoop on this tasty super easy dish.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finally Getting Along

Well I think the worst is over with the hen pecking.  I still have one of the Wyandottes being a little mean but I think all will survive.  They all seem to be getting along better.  Some Still hang out with just their own kind.
Others will mingle with the old hens.  The reds seem to be generally pretty mellow about the invasion of the new hens.  They do get a bit territorial and possessive if I throw a tomato into the run for them.  I hav to make sure I toss in several so they all can share.
They are starting to develop their personalities as as they do I have started to name them.  This is Sally.  She is a Wyandotte that has a wonky toe.  It does not seem to bother her and she can move it so I am not worried about it being bent sideways.  Sally likes to talk and talk and talk.  Quite the gossip she is.
Fuzzy of course is one of my oldest hens.  She is one of my first Easter Eggers.  She got pecked some so I sprayed her butt with the purple spray then she just had to preen herself so now she also has a purple face.  Goofy chicken.

Honey is a sweet Easter Egger that is inquisitive.

I keep checking inside the coop every few hours for eggs.  A few of the new layers have caught on and are laying in the nest boxes while one insists on laying in the corner of the coop under the nest boxes.   So far I have 3 Easter Eggers laying.  I suspect it will be any day now for the rest of them to start.  They Wyandottes and Australorps are as big as the old Reds.  Any day now....

The grass is coming back nicely in the brooder run.  We plan on putting in permanent poles and extending the existing run out to include what was the brooder run to give them more room.

I try to spend time with the hens every day.  I spend time inside the run and coop with them so they get used to me and will come up to me.  Taming them will make thing easier if I have to doctor them in any way.  It also makes for a more fun flock.  I have two chickens now that will submit to me.  Fuzzy and now one of the Wyandottes submit to me by squatting in front of me and spreading their wings out inviting me to climb on as a rooster would do.  I generally just pat their back and pat them in the butt when they do this to me.  They seem satisfied with it - or disgusted with me that I have no clue how to hit home with this open invitation!  I am going to go with satisfied...yeah thats it.....  They shake and fluff out and go about their merry way.

Silly silly chickens.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crazy Mushrooms

I got home from work the other day and noticed this HUGE mushroom growing wildly by the blackberries.  I thought to myself where did this thing come from??  I went on inside the house changed my clothes, plopped my hair up into a pony tail, grabbed a glove and headed back outside.
After now having any rain for so long I almost forgot about the insane mushrooms we sometimes have pop up in the summer.  We finally have started getting some rain again and like magic these things start springing up from nowhere.  I generally catch then when they are relatively small, but they grow quickly.
I pick them, placing them in a bucket then dump the bucket over the hill where hopefully the spores will not find their way back into my yard.  I used to pick mushrooms for a living.  Interesting job I will say.  It was underground in old limestone mines that were converted into the mushrooms mines.  These mushrooms are nothing like the ones I used to pick for a living!
I wandered all around the yard and picked these crazy things and a few other run of the mill toadstools and mushrooms.  Then I seen it again......the huge looming crazy mushroom.  I snuck up on it so as not to scare it away.  I plunked down the 5 gallon bucket next to it and had to take a picture  - this thing is big.
Then I picked it and took another picture of it in my hand.  All this thing needs is eyes and a mouth and it could be a new species of rodent.
I have no idea what kind of wild mushrooms these are, but I know if left alone the tops turn black and open up for the spores to escape.  If you hit one with the tractor or lawn mower you can't breath for 15 minutes from the black cloud of spores that explodes from them.  That is why I try to keep them picked before they break open or can get hit from the mower or tractor.  These things are downright crazy and something out of Alice and Wonderland.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alls calm on in the chicken

Well it has been a rough few days.  I merged the flocks together and expected some pecking and ordering to be going on.  I did not however expect to see what all had happened as was posted in my last post.  This has never happened to me before.  I watched the flock and seen first hand what was going on.

The Comets were taking pecking order to a whole new level.  I was never too fond of the Comets and this behavior just sealed the deal for me.  As much as I do not like killing my chickens I could not stand by and let them kill the new hens.  They pecked apart 4 of them and 1 of those actually died as a result of the pecking.  They pecked her complete lower back/butt clear through to her bones.  At that point I had enough and started rounding up the 4 Comets.  One of them seemed ok so I let her live.  I took each one out of the coop and killed her using the broomstick method.

I do not have any pictures of this process, as it is a two hand process and I was alone doing it.  It is part of chicken ownership so I will describe it here.

Once the chicken perp is sentenced to death and caught, lay the perp down on the ground on their belly. Place the broomstick or other thin board (I use a furring strip of lumber) across their neck.  Stand on the stick on either side of the perp's head and pull up on their legs.  This stretches their neck under the pressure of the stick and kills them.  You will feel and sometimes hear 3 pops.  You can stop after the 3 pops.  If you do not stop you will rip their head clear off and that causes a bloody mess.  I quickly grab the perp's wings and hold them close to the body until the flapping and jerking stops.  Some folks will just lop their heads off and let them flap or run around.  To me that is a terrible thing to inhumane.  I try my best to treat the bird with dignity by not decapitating them, and also holding their wings tight until it is all over.

I seriously do not like killing my birds.  I have finally gotten to the point that I no longer cry over it, but I do sulk and brood over it for a while while I dispose of the body and move on.  I killed 3 Comets and the rooster that day.  I really hoped that taking these bullies out would calm things down.

I went out the next morning and watched the last Comet, Phyllis, go around to several of the new and a few of the old ones and just peck them all hard in the butt.  My patients were shot!  I was so infuriated with Phyllis, I stormed into the coop grabbed her and broomsticked  her so fast the youngins did not even know what happened!

I sprayed the hurt one's areas with the purple spray again and checked on the ones I sprayed previously.  Again my hand is stained purple.  That is ok - at least I know I am taking care of my birds.  I am now down to 1 old easter egger, Fuzzy, 3 old Rhode Island Reds, Red, Lucky, and Curious,  and 23 new birds - a mix of ester eggers, astrolopes, and lace wyndots.  I am sure I did not spell those correctly.

To end this post on a good note - things do seem calmer in the coop now.  Everyone seems to be getting along and the stress is leaving the girls.  I am only getting 2 eggs a day now from the 4 old hens that are left.  Two of the new girls have started laying now.  I am getting a tiny green egg and now a tiny blue egg from the easter eggers. They all kinda look green in this picture but the are different colors.  They are  so small they knock around in the carton.

It is just a matter of time before they all start laying.  All we can do is take care of them and wait.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hen Pecked

WARNING!!  Pictures that follow in this post may be disturbing to some.  View at your own discretion.  

With the hens getting moved over into the big coop, there is a certain amount of discourse to be expected in the flock.  They all battle for the pecking order and who will be top bird.  That is a fact of chicken ownership.  And just like dealing with pasty butt when they were peeps, one has to deal with the aftermath of the pecking.  I had noticed that one new hen was pretty beat up yesterday, but I did not have anything to put on her wounds.  I send my Hubby and Son to the store today to get some spray for them.  The boys brought home this stuff:
It sprays on purple and is an antiseptic so it should help with healing the birds while camouflaging the wounds.  Chickens are crazy about anything that resembles raw meat and will go nuts pecking and pecking and pecking at it.  I suspect the rooster for inflicting most of the damage.
This spray is handy to have on hand.  I should have had some way before this time but pecking was really not that big of a problem with my previous 2 flocks.  I set out to the coop in my snazzy insulated purple boots.
I took some before pictures of the beat up hens.  THESE ARE GRAPHIC.  Fair warning.

I took my time and caught each hen one by one and calmed her down.  I held her down with one hand and sprayed the raw area with the spray then released her...moving on to the next one.  One poor hen had a hole pecked clear through her skin into her back muscle.  I sprayed her extra good but it would not surprise me if she did not make it.  Hopefully she will.
I sprayed 3 or four hens total and they were pretty cooperative about it all.  Now I have a purple hand.  I did not realize this would stain my hand just as it did the hens.  I thought it would wash off with soap and water......nope.  Not even using hand cleaner with pumice.....
Some have a green thumb... I have a purple thumb.  Lesson learned....wear gloves when spraying this stuff!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moving Day

I went about my normal routine that I do every weekend.   I am always up by 630am if not earlier, the product of having to get up at 4am every day during the week.  I do my thing and head out to the chickens.  I give both the old hens and the babies scratch grains and we all chat about what is new and the latest gossip.

I got around to the babies nursery building and I peeked in and what do you know....way in the back of the  nursery I spied this:

Well this sparked  a whole laundry list of things to do!  I had to call the U-Haul company, call the phone, water, and TV companies to have service stopped.  So much to do!  I had to scramble eggs!  So much to do so little time.  Not to mention it is hotter than all get out.
I finished chatting with the chickens and hand feeding them some grass and then headed inside to start things rolling.
I  cooked up a little more than a dozen eggs.  Why you may ask?  There is a good reason.  I gave the older hens the scrambled eggs to fill their bellies (ok ok their gizzards) with protein.  This will discourage pecking when we integrate the babies into the big coop with them.  The eggs and protein also  seem to make the hens a little more docile and easier going.  This will help the introduction go smoother.
I woke up my hubby, and son and had a good breakfast, while we talked about how to move the babies with as little trauma  as possible.  We devised and plan and out the door we went.  First we had to get all the babies into their nursery.  Then we had to keep them there while we closed off their pop door.  To do this we just stapled some chicken wire over the pop door opening.  Then I picked up all the bricks holding down the big blue tarp and took out all the stuff from inside their nursery.
Together the three of us slowly picked up the nursery and we walked it to a new location out of the mud and chicken poo.  The babies were not too cooperative so we decided not to try to walk them around to the big coop door as we had planed.  Instead we took off the top of the nursery and I started grabbing birds.  I would quickly grab a chicken and hand her off to my Son who would carry her over to the coop where Hubby was manning the door.  We did this over and over, one by one, chicken by chicken for all 25.  It took some time and I only got pooped on once, and bit once.  Not too bad considering I was really scaring them.  No chickens (or people) were harmed during this process.  Although, I was wing slapped in the face a few times.  Thankfully I did not loose my glasses!
Once we had them all in the main run, I filled their waters while the boys mixed their feed.  Just like changing a dog's food you want to mix the old with the new  - we had to mix the chick feed with the layer feed.  I then slowly corralled all the birds from the run into the coop, and we shut the pop door for about an hour.  Since our babies were used to using a pop door they knew how it worked and knew that beyond the pop door was either shelter or a yard depending which way they were going.
They were hot and they duked it out a little bit but all in all the hour they were locked in together with the old hens seemed to go well.  While they were locked up, we quickly dismantled the nursery and set the pieces behind the coop to wash off in the rain - should we get any- and to get it out of the site of the babies.  Out of site out of mind.  They will forget they had a different home and will only know their new home as their only home.  We left the fencing up for now.  It was too hot by this time and I was melting into a gross puddle in my insulated boots.
We also found out that our one mystery chick in indeed a roo.  He has been crowing for a few weeks now.  He is aggressive when I had feed them grass but he has not tried to attack - yet.  He seemed pretty docile when I grabbed him to move him.  Maybe he will be a nice roo.....hey a girl can hope!

Now I have to find some of the golf balls we have laying around to put in the nest boxes.  Why golf balls you ask?  Well the golf balls with look like eggs to the chickens and it will teach the babies where to lay their eggs - in the nest boxes.  It works quite well.  This way using golf balls I can keep collecting the eggs several times a day so they don't get trampled but still leave a visual learning aid for the new hens.

 I only have one new hen laying so far but the rest will start soon.  This is kinda early for them.  We got these peeps April 4, 2011, and today July 31, 2011, 3.5 months later, they are starting to lay.  The new eggs will be pretty tiny bit totally whole.  Soon they will start laying huge eggs and double and triple yolks while their bodies figure things out and they settle into a laying routine.  Now a new issue starts for me - soon I will be getting up to 32 eggs A DAY!  I need to order some egg cartons....and make a sign for the road.....and buy a bigger fridge...make more cookies, cakes, and goodies.  oh my.