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!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I went outside to look at my garden. Henrietta our flying leghorn was having an early evening meal in my garden. She tried to hide behind my cabbage when she saw me looking at her.

The Thief, trying to get away.
Henrietta trying to hide.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beauty Queen

We have 37 chickens now. Eight different breeds. The prettiest one of the bunch is my Brahma. She has gold and black feathers. She even has feathers on her legs and feet. We had another Brahma but it ended up being a rooster and we gave him a way.

Our Brahma chicken gave me a surprise the other day. She is normally timid and quiet. But this particular day she was different. I was in the chicken yard cleaning and visiting my birds when my "Beauty Queen" decided to be a little friendlier. She was only about three feet away and jumped up on one of the feeders to pose for me. She would pose, wait for me to snap a picture, then pose showing a different side. She did a complete circle as I snapped each shot and even faced me when she was on the ground.

Left Side.
Rear View.

Right Side.

Front View, with a tilt. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chicken Trap

Recently, our Little Blue got stuck between a pile of lumber and the fence. I thought it was because she was dumb. Well, we either have another dumb chicken or a chicken trap that needs a better fix (we thought we had fixed it already).

My husband and I were out in the yard working. I walked into the chicken yard and just happened to look at the fence and saw another chicken caught. It was anxiously walking back and forth trying to get out. I quickly called for my husband and showed him what happened again. He went to move the lumber making an opening for the the chicken to get out. Instead of coming out, it went in the other direction out of fear (or stupidity). My husband ended up having to take a piece of lumber to block it from the other end coaxing it back in the right direction.

It was a such a happy chicken being free again. I was a happy chicken owner knowing my little bird was safe.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Visiting with Rockett

Ever since Rockett was injured and we brought her into the house to provide her care, she believes she is human. When she sees us, especially my husband she comes to us and begins talking to us with all her chicken sounds. She will walk around us and just wait for attention. If she doesn't get the attention from me she will walk away. If my husband is out there visiting, she will wait for the right time and jump on his leg, shoulder or head. She is a determined bird and wants all the attention she can get when it is visiting time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Little Blue

Earlier this year we purchased what we thought were four White Crested Polish Chickens. We ended up with two White Crested, one Golden Laced and one Blue Polish. We were excited to have a "blue chicken". My husband actually made a card game called the Blue Chicken Game named after the Blue Polish a few years ago. You can read about the Blue Chicken Game here.

Our little Blue is very different from our other chickens. She's smaller in size compared to the others. Very much a loner, she will actually roost on an old chick feeder on the floor or roost on the wood pile outside at night (which if we find her outside we pick her up and place her in the chicken house) to stay away from the other chickens. When in the yard she scratches and feeds away from the other chickens too. 

If I'm outside I will go and visit with her. If she doesn't see me coming, because of all her feathers on top of her head, I will pick her up. She doesn't enjoy being handled and will squirm and squawk in protest. Then when I put her down, she will turn on me peck my foot or charge my leg to let me know she is angry with me. 

Unfortunately for Blue, she doesn't seem real smart. We have found her in some unusual spots, like being caught in our shed and between a pile of lumber and the fence. God must have been looking out for her, because she spent about 24 hours in the shed with no food or water and lived. When caught between the lumber and the fence she was able to feed in a circle around herself because of the bugs she found.

The one thing I find the funniest about Blue is all the feathers on her head. They are not neat and clean as our White Crested Polish Chicken's head feathers are. She looks like she has constant bed head. When she is walking or searching for food you can see her shake her head trying to get the feathers out of her eyes so she can see where she is going. 

As dumb as she is, I've enjoyed having her and I think I may order a few more Blue Chickens from next year. 
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