Rescue hens: 5 special benefits December 19, 2014 No Comments

This is the time of year chickenistas all begin dreaming about birds and breeds they’ll be adding to the flock for next year. It’s also the time of year to celebrate kindness and charity. A good way to combine the two would be to adopt rescue hens. Consider adopting battery farm survivors next year. Not only will you be helping the rescue hens, there are five special benefits to YOU.

baby chick in hand

You won’t be getting fancy breed baby chicks if you rescue hens; chances are they’ll be adult White Leghorns, Sex Links, or Rhode Island Reds.

 

When I was a child and my family adopted animals, they were always from the pound—or rescued from the street. Even now, aside from my flock (nearly all of which were hatched here at my home), all the animals we have are rescues.

Our cat Spider was rescued as a stray kitten from the street, where he was being poked with sticks by a group of children.

rescuespider

Spider is now about 18 years old

 

Our cat Spooky showed up at our farm a few years ago, skin and bones. What remained of his fur was full of burrs and briars, and he even had a broken tooth.

rescuespooky

Spooky now has a full, soft coat

 

We adopted our dog Reggie through a rescue organization, Cavalier Rescue USA, after he had been crated most of his life .

rescuereggie2

Reggie now has acres where he can run around, and plenty of love and affection

As those of you who follow our blog probably already know, conventional egg production in factory farms involves keeping hens caged for their entire lives, in an area slightly smaller than the size of a sheet of notebook paper. The birds can’t stretch their wings, have nowhere to nest privately for laying, cannot roost to sleep, dust bathe, forage or lay in the sun—all natural instincts of chickens that are frustrated by the unnatural and cruel conditions. Next year, consider rescue hens. Give some of these factory farm survivors a good home.

5 benefits of adopting rescue hens

1. Science says acts of kindness, such as adopting a rescue animal, make you healthier 

Read the rest of this entry »

6 Ways to Improve Your Chicken Photos December 15, 2014 No Comments

Who doesn’t love taking photos of their beautiful chickens? Be honest, if you’re reading this blog, most of the photos on your camera and social media are of your feathered friends, whether they are eating some treats or laying an egg. My Pet Chicken has shared some tips on getting good chicken photos before. Now I have some additional pointers… so if you’re interested in learning how to improve your chicken photos, it’s your lucky day!

Chicken photos - silver laced wyandotte Stormie

This photo of my Silver Laced Wyandotte hen, Stormie, was taken using Shutter Speed Mode.

6 Ways to Improve Your Chicken Photos

1. Use a fast shutter speed. If you’re using a camera with Read the rest of this entry »

Four Important Feather Foot Concerns December 12, 2014 6 Comments

Feather foot chickens: there’s just something about the magnificent feathered legs of breeds like cochins or silkies. Fancy feathered chickens in general—including those with crests, beards, tufts and/or muffs—can be fun to keep as pets, simply because they’re so showy and spectacular. Many people have never seen feather footed chickens before. Sometimes even the chickens themselves seem surprised.

Feather foot buff brahma rooster looking at his feathery feet

What in THE WORLD do I have on my feets?

But before you consider keeping feather foot chickens, there are a few issues to consider. Just as you’d want to know about any special issues with a prospective pet dog or cat breed (Long hair that needs frequent grooming? Pushed-in snout? Heavy shedder? Hard to house train?), you want to be aware of the issues associated with feather foot chickens before you acquire any, so you can be prepared.

4 main concerns when keeping feather foot chickens:

1. Leg mites

Chickens with feathered legs are generally more vulnerable to scaly leg mites than chickens without Read the rest of this entry »

15 great chicken stocking stuffers and gifts December 5, 2014 No Comments

Chicken stocking stuffers: this has a double meaning, if you keep pet chickens! Firstly, it refers to what chicken-related things go into your stocking. And it also refers to the things that go into your chickens’ stockings.

Yeah, you heard me. CHICKENS’ STOCKINGS. That’s how we roll around here.

We, er, chicken roll so hard that we made up a list of some great chicken themed gifts and chicken stocking stuffers. If you’re a chicken lover, you can use this list to get some ideas about what to put in your pet chickens’ stockings, and what you can make or bring to holiday parties for a kick. You can alsosend this blog post to your friends and family, or share this post on Facebook, to give them some ideas of what to get you. Oh, honey? HINT, HINT.

First we’ll take a look at some good stocking stuffers for the chicken lover.

Since they’re fairly inexpensive, these would also serve as great gifts for younger kids to buy their chicken-loving parent, too.

1.Chicken Poop Lip Balm

chicken stocking stuffer chicken poop

.

 

No actual poop involved, of course. This is also a cute gift to give to kids who like gross-out humor, or as Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 ways to prepare the flock for winter December 2, 2014 2 Comments

I like to prepare the flock for winter, and I like to do it early. I’ve always found being an early bird and preparing well in advance for new seasons, or even batches of chicks,  is a good idea for a few reasons. Firstly, by the time some seasonal items are really necessary, they can be sold out. But if you purchase your supplies a month or more in advance, not ony will you be prepared, but in some cases it can also save you some money. Secondly if you’re not properly prepared, for example, with a heated waterer, if freezing temperatures hit before expected, you’ll really regret not thinking ahead. You may have to scramble at changing and defrosting waterers like mad, rather than sitting back and letting the equipment do the work! But lastly, if you don’t prepare the flock for winter prior to winter’s arrival, you’ll find yourself pushing a wheelbarrow full of partially frozen chicken poop through a foot of snow to wherever your compost pile is… only to find that it, too, is covered in a foot of snow. Then you could be forced to look at a poop covered snow pile until next spring—ugh.

Now that I’ve made your aware of all the very unpleasant situations you could be in if you don’t prepare the flock for winter, please read my Top Ten list and make sure you know what you need to get so your flock will be ready for what comes.

First Snow For chickens and sheep 077

My chickens stick to the path in the snow!

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 7 Ways Mother Nature Decorates for Winter November 28, 2014 1 Comment

I loved seeing all the coop decorations from my colleagues for the Coop Giveaway with Fresh Eggs Daily. I didn’t submit a coop photo, though. I confess that while I go a little mad with inside winter decorations, I don’t decorate outside for winter. For other seasons, I do! For fall, I like mums, and pumpkins, and hay bales. (Also Halloween eggs.)For spring, I’m all over the daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and forsythia.  My fruit trees are covered in blossoms. (And colored eggs, of course.) For summer, it’s roses, marigolds, mullein, spider flower… and fruit from the trees, veggies from the garden (which was fertilized by the chickens). Even beyond our own feathered flock, our trees are filled with all sorts of colorful birds like indigo buntings and orioles. Of course there are cardinals–this is West Virginia, after all. But as I was considering why I didn’t really decorate for winter–is it just because I don’t spend as much time outside?—I realized that I do decorate. Or someone does, anyway. I realized that Mother Nature decorates for me, just like she does in other seasons.

The flowers, the fruit, the pumpkins and berries and veggies: clearly, I take my inspiration from nature. So, while I don’t want to pretend that my coop is decorated for the holidays in the same way as the lovely coops of my colleagues, I thought I’d share some photos of the way Mother Nature decorates our coop, and our home. I have a feeling some of you may enjoy the raw beauty of the season the same way I do.

Seven Ways Mother Nature Decorates for Winter:

1. Icicles

Mother nature decorates with icicles

Here is a row of real icicles decorating our coop roof.

2. Reflected light Read the rest of this entry »

COOP GIVEAWAY and The Great Holiday Coop Decor Extravaganza! November 25, 2014 597 Comments

The lights are shining, and the garland is being hung. At My Pet Chicken, we’re all definitely getting into the holiday spirit, whatever holiday you celebrate with your loved ones. I’m MPC’s Shannon. At our place, we always get the house all done up and shiny for all to see, but this year, our chickens get to join in the fun. We’re going to share some of our families’ coop decor with you and get you in the swing of things, or maybe inspire you to take your coop decor to the next level. Afterward, we’ll let you know what surprises we have in store for you, from us—including a big coop giveaway to get YOU into the holiday spirit.

Bring out the lights, set them to twinkle, add a wreath or two; just bring on the spirit of the season. My Pet Chicken would like to show you how the mood has hit us here by first sharing some photos of our employees’ coops, decorated for the season.

My Pet Chicken Peep’s Coops:

Coop 1 – Deb’s

Deb's Coop During the Day

Deb’s Coop During the Day

Deb's Coop All Lit Up

Deb’s Coop All Lit Up

 

Coop 2 – Shannon’s (mine!)

Shannon's Decorated Poultry Pens

Shannon’s Decorated Poultry Pens

Coop 3 – April’s Read the rest of this entry »

Top 3 reasons to have a second coop November 21, 2014 7 Comments

Let’s talk luxury. After all, there are chicken needs, and there is chicken indulgence. I’ll be the first to admit that most people view a second coop as an indulgence, not a need. But there are certain circumstances where the second coop can quite literally be a lifesaver for your flock.

second coop with chickens and child

Because you just don’t want anything to happen to your family’s pet chickens!

Top 3 reasons to have a second coop

1. Second coop as a broody coop: If you’re having your hens hatch and/or raise chicks of their own, Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected Coop Visitor: the Cardinal November 10, 2014 2 Comments

On a snow covered winter morning, to my surprise, I found a wonderful but unexpected coop visitor in my coop’s window. This darling little red cardinal, in all his genius, found his way into our silkies’ coop through an opening in the run wire. Our unexpected coop visitor then came in an open door in the floor to get inside where it was warm. With the ground covered in snow, and the bird feeders were iced over, he found an easy meal from the chickens’ feeder. Surrounded by hay and pine shaving he must have gotten in the day or evening before, and spent the night warmed by our little silkie chickens.

unexpected coop visitor: cardinal

Look how beautiful our unexpected coop visitor is!

This lucky little cardinal got a warm meal, a nice bed and great view of the melting snow. But he couldn’t stay. Sadly, I spoiled his free ride opening the coop door and shooing him out.

He didn’t go far though, just flying over and landing on the bird feeder across from the coop. I’d found him back a few times in the mornings. I see him in the chickens’ run snacking on scratch grains that I put out for everyone in the morning. It’s funny how well the chickens tolerated him. Maybe they had daily discussions over their morning breakfast with their new-found friend. I wonder if they also discuss the crazy lady who gave him a good scare that morning of the deep snow when he tried to move in unnoticed with my girls.

My mother loved this story when I shared it with her, and told me she believes it is my grandfather coming to visit me to see what we’ve done on our land. He always loved gardening and was really the one who got me so interested to begin my gardening adventures and the keeping chickens. My heart swells at the thought that he may have wanted to look in on my chicken keeping, because his adventures never got so far as to add chickens to other animals to his gardening list.

My Grandfather with his corn in 1976

My Grandfather with his corn in 1976

With this in mind we added another bird feeder and fill it with sunflower seeds to just keep the cardinals visiting all year now.  I kind of hope it was my grandfather’s spirit, because he’d love the chickens’ company as I much as I do.

Any strange, but much welcome visitors to your chickens?

Artsy way to preserve autumn leaves November 7, 2014 No Comments

When I was a kid, one of the things I loved to do in the fall was to find and preserve autumn leaves. When I walked with my grandpa, we’d identify each leaf before we picked it up. I learned about simple and compound leaves, and how to tell if they were toothed or lobed, and so on.

ROYAutumn

A warm rainbow of colors in our forest

So when I walked to school and back, I also often picked leaves up on my own. Because of grandpa’s instruction, I knew my favorites were usually sugar maple leaves. They could be so brilliant and vivid: reds, oranges and yellows.

preserve autumn leaves: spotting an autumn maple

This looks like a good candidate

My mother would help me preserve them: we’d Read the rest of this entry »