Chicken Run Ideas: Simple Shade and Wind Block November 6, 2019 No Comments

Whether it’s sun, wind or rain, our flock has limited protection in their run. On the worst days, our chickens will hide in their coop and not come out at all. Maybe, like us, you’ve tried planting a tree, and found that it’s too slow-growing and doesn’t protect much from the rain and wind. Or maybe you’ve used tarps, only to have them disintegrate on you after a year or two. After several years of testing different chicken run protection ideas, I’ve finally got a great solution.

Silkie got caught in the rain.
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Tragedy to Artistry: Appreciating Chicken Feathers October 11, 2019 No Comments

It was crisp and cool, with the pleasant smell of fall in the air, as I walked to my chicken coop. The sun was shining, birds were chirping and the leaves were just beginning to morph into stunning shades of red, gold and orange. What a fantastic morning! My daily routine begins with a quick rake of the run before letting my girls out. As I opened the door to do this, I stopped dead in my tracks. There were chicken feathers EVERYWHERE!

Chicken feathers in the run
Chicken feathers all over my run
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The Story of Little Chicken Explorer July 31, 2019 No Comments

Once upon a time, there was a little chicken. She was young and her world quite limited by the barn and walls of her run. Little Chicken had many friends inside her coop, but she dreamed of the world outside with sunlight, bright green grass and delightful, skittering bugs to chase. “Stay inside where it is safe,” advised her sister. “There is nothing out there but danger – hawks, owls, raccoons, and opossums. Here it is safe and nothing can hurt you.”

Little Chicken thought, and thought, and thought about what her sister said, but it didn’t seem all that dangerous looking out at the big, wide world through the windows of the coop. In fact, it looked downright appealing, she thought as she watched a swallowtail fly past the window in the early morning light. “Why do they settle for this little coop when so much more is right outside?” she wondered.

Little Chicken decided to look for a way to get out and go exploring. The fence was high, a full six feet or more, but she was a determined little bird and flapped her wings hard, taking a running start. She managed to get halfway to the top before she hit the fence, falling to the ground in a humph of ruffled feathers. The others stopped looking for bugs and bathing and laughed at her, calling her “silly bird” and “ruffled butt”, however, this only served to make Little Chicken more determined to succeed.

Little Chicken Explorer escapes the fence
Up Up and Over! Little Chicken Explorder’s Great Escape.

Again and again Little Chicken tried to fly over the fence. She was making one last attempt when she flew a bit too upright and her chest hit the fence – her toes grabbed at the fence as she flapped her wings desperately so she wouldn’t fall again, and, as she did, she began going up! Her toes grabbed at the fence and her wings gave her lift as she went up… And up… And over!

With a little squawk of joy, Little Chicken was suddenly FREE! Finally, she thought, I’m not Little Chicken anymore… I’m Little Chicken Explorer! Only… It was a bit scary and lonely out here and she suddenly didn’t feel so safe as a dark shadow passed over her. Little Chicken quickly ducked under a blueberry bush in the garden to hide, grateful for the cover.

Little Chicken Explorer in the vegetable garden
Little Chicken Explorer enjoying her garden adventures.

For a time, Little Chicken scratched and chased bugs and nibbled on the garden veggies, but she was always having to run and hide. “This isn’t so much fun after all,” she thought. “I miss my sisters and our safe little coop.” Little Chicken huddled by the coop as the sun began to set, listening to her sisters arguing about who would get the best spot on the roost that night, wishing she was with them instead of lonely and cold.

Suddenly, Little Chicken heard the familiar “crunch, crunch, crunch” of the farmer’s feet coming to tuck the flock into bed. “What have we here?” the farmer exclaimed, peering down at Little Chicken and back up to the top of the six-foot fence. “We have a Little Explorer today! It looks like you have had your fun and would like to go back home, don’t you?” the farmer murmured as she reached down and gently scooped up Little Chicken. Cradling Little Chicken in her arms, the farmer carried her into the coop, sitting her on the roost with her sisters. Little Chicken was so happy to be back home and safe that she clucked and cooed gratefully to the farmer.

Little Chicken Explorer in her nest box at home.
Little Chicken Explorer is happy to be home and snuggling with her sister hen.

After that, Little Chicken was much happier in her coop and run with her sisters, but every once in a while, when the sun was shining bright, she would venture outside for a while knowing her farmer would come and tuck her back into the coop at night.

This story inspired by hens in Forest and Jordana’s flocks, “Merry” and “Gertrude”. Do you have a chicken in your flock who loves to escape and go on adventures? Comment below and share.

4 Ways to Prepare for Incubator Hatching March 28, 2019 No Comments

I know what it feels like to anxiously stalk tracking info so you’ll know the very minute your hatching eggs arrive. The wait is awful! Quite a lot of prep and planning goes into successful incubator hatching. And because I’ve done this a few {cough} times before, I thought I’d share my four simple steps to successful incubator hatching.

First thing you need for incubator hatching: fertile eggs!
First thing you need for incubator hatching: fertile eggs!

Step 1: Read, read, read

If you’ve never tried incubator hatching before, your first step is to do some research. While it’s more gratifying to just grab some eggs and stick ’em in an incubator, that rarely leads to a successful hatch. Remember, you’re planning on developing living creatures that need special care. It’s not quite the same as baking a cake that doesn’t turn out. A great place to begin your research is on our free Guide to Incubation and Hatching.

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Raising Waterfowl for Eggs March 26, 2019 No Comments

While you might think that chickens are the easiest way to backyard egg laying success, ducks and geese also produce tasty and nutritious eggs. With their own distinctive qualities, duck eggs and goose eggs can add a unique flair to your farm stand or small egg business, or they can just make breakfast a little bit different. Read on to learn about the best duck and goose breeds for egg laying.

Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs
Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs
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6 Justifications for Feeding Your Hatching Addiction March 8, 2019 No Comments

I know you’re sitting there dreaming about hatching, but if you’re like me, you’re glancing over your shoulder at your significant other, considering how to explain just why you needed to go buy eggs. Assuming you have one of those really great partners who enables your hatching addiction, this could be as simple as saying “I have to test the incubator out.” Boom. Done.

But for those of us with the slightly more “responsible” partners who actually count how many birds are in the coop on a given day, we may need some good reasons to explain the small dent in the checkbook. Not to fear — I’ve got experience in this area! Here’s some lingo that’s sure to sway your significant other.

Newly-hatched chicks: a primary driver of hatching addiction.
Still-wet chicks: a primary driver of hatching addiction.
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Grocery Store Eggs: 4 things to look for February 26, 2019 No Comments

Welcome to winter! Are your girls being stingy with their eggs like mine are? I live in New England, and it is bitter cold. The wind makes it just plain ole raw. My girls are also getting older. Right now, I am getting barely any eggs, and when I can trudge through the weather into the coop, the eggs they have laid are frozen and cracked. So after a few weeks of being egg-free, I broke down and bought grocery store eggs. So I thought I would share with what I look for at the market.

Summer eggs are gone. Time to buy grocery store eggs
Gone are the plentiful eggs of summer
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Which Goose and Duck Breeds are Right for Your Farm? February 16, 2019 No Comments

It’s time to start thinking about spring birds! If you are considering adding waterfowl to your flock, here are few tips on which duck breeds and goose breeds to consider, and what these fun and entertaining birds may bring to your farm, homestead, or backyard.

A sebastopol goose is a good addition to your farm
A Sebastopol goose stretching his wings
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What happens when frostbite strikes February 8, 2019 No Comments

Last week, with the windchill, it was 19 below zero here in Connecticut. I secured our coop and tucked everyone in for the night. The next morning, I was shocked to see one of my roosters, Luigi, with the worst case of frostbite I have ever seen.

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When A Predator by the name of Weasel Comes to Visit January 29, 2019 1 Comment

Predator attacks are part of owning chickens. There are many informative help topics, blogs, social media posts, books, and even podcasts with great tips for protecting your flock. Most folks study this information and do everything possible to prevent the inevitable. Yes, I said inevitable. No one really wants to hear or think about attacks by predators like a weasel, but they happen. In this line of work, I meet and or talk with very few who don’t shed at least a few tears when a predator comes calling.

The Story of Lily 

Lily the hen belonged to a neighbor of mine who had recently acquired her and brought her into his flock. Lily was stressed and scared. She never fit in with the new flock and their resident rooster was aggressively determined to have his way with her. Therefore, it was decided that Lily needed a new home and so this sad, thin, and bedraggled loner joined our flock of four.




 

Lily's green egg, before she was attacked by a weasel

Lily laid a beautiful green egg

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