How I beautified my coop–cheap! February 15, 2015 1 Comment

This winter I finally decided it was time–and I beautified my coop–for next to nothing! Now it’s a bright, cheery spot in the brown winter landscape.

Don’t get me wrong; I love winter! I love all seasons, but the magic in a newly fallen snow-covered landscape is especially appealing. Sadly, I live in the warmer south now and we get very little snow most years. Instead of that sparkling beauty as the sun comes up we have brown… and more brown, with a spot of green from a pine tree or ground ivy.

A rare winter snow is lovely near my newly decorated coop.

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Six Kid Favorite Bantams February 13, 2015 No Comments

When you’re looking for pet chickens for your family, don’t forget the bantam varieties. There are lots of kid favorite bantams!

If high production egg laying is not your top priority, there is plenty to recommend these little cuties. While the eggs laid by bantams will typically smaller than the eggs of large fowl varieties, there’s something about the adorable little eggs that they do lay that appeals to kids (imagine tiny little devilled eggs).

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Size comparison: bantam chicken on left, and large fowl chicken on right.

 

What’s very cool is that many kid favorite bantams look very little like regular old “boring” chickens–or they have beautiful plumages that really make them stand out! When raised with affection, chickens are as friendly as cats or dogs. And for those allergic to “regular” pets, chickens make a great alternative… and bantams in particular take up little space. There are a ton of benefits to keeping chickens, no matter their size (and if you can manage to adopt rescue hens, there are even more benefits).

Six Kid Favorite Bantams to Consider

1. Belgian Bantams

If you prefer a breed that looks a LITTLE more like a bird, Belgian bantams are lovely. First of all they’re friendly and easily handled, but they also have some “fancy” feathering, with beards (and some varieties with feathered legs).

kid favorite bantams - Belgians

Self-blue Belgian Quail D’Anvers

 

2. Frizzle Cochin Bantams

Cochins in general are great friendly birds for the family… but kids often like the frizzled varieties especially. The frizzling causes the feathers to curl up, so the birds look as if they’re in a constant wind storm. They come in many different color varieties–and in fact you can get frizzled feathers in a variety of breeds, although the cochin in probably the most common.

kid favorite bantams - frizzles

White frizzle cochin bantam

 

3a. Silkies Read the rest of this entry »

6 Most Important Rules for Home Hatching February 6, 2015 1 Comment

Home hatching projects can be a great project to enjoy with your family. There are many things you will want to consider BEFORE starting up your incubator, though… and if you’ve never hatched before, there are some things you may not think of. If your vision of home hatching consists solely of how cool it will be to have baby chicks in the house… well, take a step back and consider these six issues first.

If this is what you're picturing when you think of pet chickens, it's easy to achieve!

I’m counting on you!

Hatching baby chicks shouldn’t just be an exercise in biology. It can also be an exercise in problem solving, thinking ahead, taking responsibility, accepting disappointment and making hard choices. After all, a hatching project doesn’t begin at incubation, it begins long before when you start taking responsible steps to care for the living creatures you are hatching—they are totally dependent on you to provide them care. Just like you wouldn’t have a “birth project” with a pregnant dog without making responsible arrangements for any puppies, you don’t want to start a hatching project without making responsible arrangements for the baby chicks . If you can teach your kids about responsibility in the process, it’s still a successful hatching project in our book, even if you don’t hatch a single solitary egg.

Rule 1: Be educated about home incubation

Incubating chicks in a home incubator is often more challenging than humans expect. Aside from shipping issues, Read the rest of this entry »

The Snotty Little Red Hen January 30, 2015 8 Comments

When I was a kid, I loved all my “Little Golden Books.” I had a lot of Disney—and a lot of folk and fairy tales. One of my favorites was “The Little Red Hen.” Remember that one?

little red hen golden book

Do kids even have books anymore, or do they just have screens?

 

In the story, a Little Red Hen finds some grain which she plants, harvests, mills, and so on–eventually baking it into bread. Each step of the way, she asks her friends for help, but they all say no. “Then I’ll do it myself,” she responds each time. However, when all is said and done and she finally pulls the fresh, steaming loaf of bread out of the hot oven, Read the rest of this entry »

Burns Night Scotch Eggs January 23, 2015 No Comments

Burns Night will be here soon–and we always celebrate at our house. Traditionally, you’d serve haggis at a Burns Supper… however, in the US you just can’t get real haggis (it’s an issue that some hilariously attribute to the obesity epidemic in the US. Instead, we serve one of my favorite stand-bys: Scotch Eggs. We have Burns Night Scotch Eggs, Burns Night Rumbledythumps, Burns Night Stovies, and Burns Night Bannocks. It’s a Scottish-y feast in celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns.

I live in West Virginia, where a Scotch-Irish background is common. Myself, I’m Clan Douglass (with two Ses). My husband’s Clan Campbell. (I cannot blame him for the Campbell role in the tragedy at Glencoe! ;-)) So for us, Burns Night is typically just a reason to eat Scotch Eggs and  Rumbledythumps–rumbledythumps is more or less tatties (potatoes) mashed with cabbage and onions, and topped with cheese. Sometimes I like to mash in neeps (turnips), too.

Burns Night Scotch Eggs and Rumbledythumps

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But Burns Night Scotch Eggs? That’s what I’m getting to. Traditionally Scotch Eggs are hard-cooked eggs, wrapped with sausage, then breaded and fried. However, I find that if Read the rest of this entry »

5 top plants to grow when you keep pet chickens January 16, 2015 No Comments

It’s seed catalog time! If you garden, you’re probably already being tempted by all the things you can order… but you have to do extra thinking when deciding what plants to grow when you keep pet chickens.

Easy Does It rose: plants to grow when you keep pet chickens

My eyes drink these colors

There are some good steps to take to combine chickens and gardening–you definitely want to think ahead. Chickens want to eat your landscaping, and what they don’t eat, they will scratch up!  So, while you’re using our special trick to keep your chickens from scratching out and scattering your mulch, you’ll also want to plan what you’ll be growing in your beds.

I thought I’d share my top favorites. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please share yours in the comments!

5 top plants to grow when you keep pet chickens

1. Roses.

Chickens are Read the rest of this entry »

3 simple cold weather treats for your flock January 9, 2015 3 Comments

When it’s cold outside, we stay huddled up by the fire. We have hot cocoa, or maybe a splash of Irish cream in the coffee. For dinner, we make a spicy pot of chili, or sometimes a delicious curry. But our chickens? They aren’t able to cook up their own treats (since I haven’t equipped the coop with a kitchen—yet). So I often cook up some cold weather chicken treats for them.

Yeah, I hear your chuckles and snickers! Some people would say it’s a little weird to cook for your chickens. But when your chickens are your pets, it’s no different than giving your dog or cat a special treat. Don’t judge me! ;-)

Prissy the Rhode Island Red begs: cold weather treats for your flock

Prissy, like my other girls, loves to be spoiled. You’ll enjoy making cold weather treats for your flock.

Want to make some cold weather treats for your flock? I’ll share three easy options right here.

3 simple cold weather treats for your flock

1. Porridge.

Something warm on a cold morning is a treat for us—and it’s a treat for your chickens, too. My chickens love oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat—made without dairy or added sugar. (Too much sugar can cause diarrhea.) Dairy, aside from yogurt with active cultures, is best avoided when cooking for your flock, since chickens are not mammals, and can have some trouble digesting milk. Here’s the recipe I use: Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Hottest Chicken Trends of Spring 2015 January 2, 2015 17 Comments

Are you a watcher of chicken trends? Okay, maybe not. There aren’t many people who do that… but I’m one of the few. (Sometimes it does feel as if I’m a paparazzo hovering around the red carpet, just waiting to see which birds will go into the premier—the premier being, in this case, the New Year 2015.)  I love to see what breeds and varieties chickenistas are drawn to, particularly since I’m in a position to make recommendations from personal experience. Do people enjoy the same breeds I do? Is there a breed I should take a look at–but haven’t? What are the top 10 hottest chicken trends of Spring 2015?

Chicken trends: olive eggers

Hot chicken trend 2015: Olive Egger baby chicks

Determining which chicken breeds and varieties are trending certainly depends on how you measure it, though. By bare quantity sold, the chicken trends list will look different than it does when you’re look at which varieties sell out fastest. There are some rare breeds that are all reserved within just a day or two of our posting availability dates.  Since we have fewer of these rare breeds to begin with, if we go by quantity alone, it won’t really reflect which breeds are the most wanted. (To see the breeds listed below—and to see what is still available to reserve for the coming year, go to our home page in the menu above and click on “Day Old Chicks” on the left side of that page. And remember, you can still get “sold out” rare chicken breeds in a couple of ways!)

Cream Legbar

Cream Legbars are the 2nd trendiest chicken breed of Spring 2015

 

So, the list I composed takes both aspects into account. Read the rest of this entry »

Rescue hens: 5 special benefits December 19, 2014 1 Comment

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 »