Saturday, November 12, 2011

Speaking Southern Out West

I've lived out west for almost six years now. It has been a challenge for me to get used to a different manner of speaking. In the south, we have short, to-the-point conversations. In the west, conversations are longer and less direct. Neither way of speaking is bad, just different.

I went to the local cowboy, tack and feed store in town. I needed my Layena Crumble for my girls. Imagine my surprise when I met someone else, who spoke "Southern".

I had a normal western conversation with the girl at the register. Taking my receipt I handed it to the guy who loads the food. I noted he was outside with a pink bag hanging over his shoulder.

He said, "Layena?"
I said, "Yes. Is that Layena Crumbles?"
He said, "Yep."
I said, "The bag is different, it's usually blue, this one is pink."
He said "Breast Cancer."
I said, "thanks", after he loaded my food.
He said, "Have a good day."

'nough said!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How To Catch A Chicken

My chickens are free-range chickens. I've tried to allow them free-range in our backyard and garden. I've grown plants for them to eat, mulched areas for them to dig and scratch in and have put out scratch grains in the dirt. The only problem is they get tired of my mulch, plants and scratch. Leaving our place looking for alternatives, like my neighbor's yard. Leaving me trying to catch them and put them back.

Chickens foraging in the garden. 
Chickens foraging in the garden.
Foraging in the mulch in the blackberry bed. 
I've did what I could to catch the girls before they get over the fence. I've discussed options with my husband on how to prevent their excursions. And of course I've went catching, chasing and scaring chickens back into our yard. In my experience with my flightful fowl,  I've learned a few things that has helped me, (sometimes.)

Chicken in the front yard, close to the street and chicken eating dogs. 
Catching a chicken depends on her response to you when she sees you. In my tiny bit of knowledge on catching my little wanderers, here the ideas I've tried.
  • Chicken Response; just stops foraging and looks at you; try talking softly as you move slowly toward her, if she doesn't move you can catch her. If she moves you can attempt to herd her back. (Good luck on the herding)
  • Chicken Response; looks at you and keeps foraging. Just go pick her up and put her back. Talk softly to her and make sure her wings are tucked in or you may get smacked in the face with one. 
  • Chicken Response; looks at you, stops foraging and squats. Walk over slowly, reach down and rub her back. (she will think you are a rooster), after petting her back pick her up, wings tucked and place her back in the yard.
  • Chicken Response; looks at you, stops foragging and runs or moves away. Good chance your not going to catch her. Things I've tried; calling them by a pet name, herding them, running after them (look around to make sure neighbors aren't gathered around laughing at you), running to try and get in front of them to turn them in the homeward direction, or act like you're lunging at them to scare them and hopefully they will go back over the fence. Or just wait until a neighbor calls and states your chicken is in their house foraging in the house plants. She will be easier to catch then. 
Chicken at the neighbor's, making a mess for me to clean up.  
She enjoys scratching in the neighbor's mulch. (I have the same mulch. Why can't she stay home!)
Yes all these ideas I've tried. I think I will call the vet in the morning to learn how to clip chickens wings!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Working Hard

We've been diligently working on the new chicken house attempting to get the chickens in this weekend. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate, it snowed, and my husband became sick. At least it's about 85% of the way complete. A few more boards on the inside, a separate door for the turkey and duck, the door for us, the door for the vent, plus the staining is all that is left.

Side facing house. 
Side facing back fence.
Window by roosts and duck and turkey door in bottom right corner.
Roosts with window view. 
Nest boxes, still need railings for chickens to jump onto, to get to boxes. 
Nest boxes with railings on other side. 
Checking out the new boxes. 
Turkey and chickens enjoying their future home. 
My husband has been taking apart the old chicken house to reuse pieces of it. This unfortunately has left a place where critters can dig at night and gain access to the chickens. I had to place bricks in the hole and place a cement block on top to ensure the birds safety.

The hole. I found scratch marks around it. 
Filled in with bricks 
Covered with cement block.
Hopefully this will stop the neighborhood critters from trying to get a chicken dinner,  while the chickens and our family sleeps.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Custom Chicken House

We're on the homeward stretch with our new chicken house. It's going to be amazing. More new nest boxes, roosts with a window view, separate duck entrance and a garden on the roof. My husband drew up the plans and is building it all because he loves me! I have the greatest husband.

Just to give you an idea of our progress I took several pictures, and if you are interested in seeing other projects we are still building you can view them here.

Chicken house under Cherry Tree.
Outside view of nest boxes and window fan.  
Hardware to keep chicken nest box closed. 
Hook to keep chicken nest box door open for cleaning and gathering eggs.  
Open nest boxes.  
Roosts with a window view.  
Nest boxes ready to use. 
Nest boxes to be finished. 
Checkers looking over the new nest boxes.
Duck entrance being used by a chicken. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Egg Hiding, and It's Not Even Easter!

Chickens are funny. They like to play little games, like hiding their eggs for us to find. In the last couple of months I've found eggs in several places: dog house, on shelves in the shed, chicken house floor, under a ramp, under a wood pile and behind garden tools. Today, for example, I found 14 eggs under the wood pile! They are clever little girls.

Floor of new chicken house being built.  
Old chicken house floor.  
Under wood pile.
And sometimes in the nest.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gone Visiting

This morning, my husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, before church. As we talked, someone came and rang our doorbell. We both looked at each other, because we never have company on Sunday mornings. My husband answered the door and a lady with three kids asked us if we had chickens. My husband said yes.

She then explained one of our chickens had been "crying" for 30 minutes in an alley and her children had found her. They had been playing with her and watching over her as she foraged. Little did we know, as the nice lady and kids were talking to us, our friendly chicken (Checkers) went visiting another neighbor.

The other neighbor and her husband had been working in their yard. They went into their house to get a drink, leaving their door open. The next thing they knew, Checkers was in the house, foraging in the house plants. 

My husband went with the lady and children to find Checkers and found her at the house. My husband picked her up thanking our neighbors for their help. As he was holding her, she must have been one tired chicken, because she fell asleep in my husband's arms.

Our friendly, visiting Checkers. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rockett's Friend

Rockett is an unusual chicken. She makes friends whereever she can, especially if they are male (my husband, our male duck for examples). Her newest friend is our Thanksgiving Dinner. (We purchased turkeys to raise for Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Rockett likes the male turkey best. She can often times be found whereever he is.

Happy together.
Turkey, "Rockett, We've been discovered!"
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