Chicken privacy March 10, 2017 9 Comments

I was ready for many adventures when I decided to start keeping chickens! I imagined us all in the garden working and snacking together. I envisioned us napping on the hammock under the summer sun. I knew we would have many interesting conversations, even though I don’t know how to cluck! The one thing that I failed to see was the loss of my privacy. Chicken privacy is something different—-something I didn’t expect!

Buff orpington hamming it up for the camera

Buff Orpington

MY privacy started to turn into “chicken privacy” little by little. First with little peeks in the window: ‘Hello, hi, are you busy? Got any treats?’

“Yes, I have treats… and how can I refuse? Look at you, so cute peeking in my window asking politely.”

Of course, I opened the door to give her the treats.

The was the first moment I began to experience chicken privacy

Fern peeks in to check for treats.

Here’s where it got hairy. Or maybe feathery. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken Coop Fire – Moving On After Tragedy March 8, 2017 12 Comments

I killed them all.

Eighteen faithful hens, some very old, from our original, first flock.

One beautiful Buff Orpington rooster: Captain Fluffybutt!

It was all my fault. I cared too much! February 15, 2015: it was really cold,  about 5 degrees. It was also really windy, and it had been dry for a long time. Surely they needed an additional heat source, right? At least enough to keep their water from freezing?

Sure, I thought. So I mounted the heat lamp lower to the ground than usual, closer to the waterer.

Big mistake…

chicken coop fire

Read the rest of this entry »

Snow on a Texas Flock February 2, 2017 1 Comment

Like many of us with backyard flocks, I’ve been anxiously tracking the forecast. In Texas we don’t get much snow, but our temperatures can drop low! I had been hearing all week that the snow and ice would miss us, so I wasn’t expecting much outside of freezing temperatures. Little did I know there would soon be snow for my Texas flock!

Snow on a Texas flock

Snow in Texas? What should I do to prepare my Texas flock.

For that reason—and in true procrastinator form—I waited until the day before the cold front hit to winterize my coop and prepare my Texas flock. Read the rest of this entry »

Decorating Blown Eggs–and Giveaway! January 25, 2017 29 Comments

Decorating eggs can be year-round fun—and decorating blown eggs means you can keep your egg art in the long term.

Decorating blown eggs: steps

Blowing and decorating eggs is super easy!

Decorating blown eggs is a great project for all ages and abilities. With a simple and inexpensive egg blowing tool and some art supplies, you can enjoy year round crafts with your chickens’ eggs.  You’ll also be enjoying lots of quiche, scrambled eggs, frittatas… Yum!

And we want to encourage you by giving away three of our one-hole egg blowers. (We’ve also put this on sale for our readers if you’re not lucky enough to win!) Read on to see how to win a blown egg tool for your decorating project.

How-To: Decorating Blown Eggs

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Small flock guidelines for FDA’s new rules January 22, 2017 No Comments

If you keep chickens and haven’t yet heard about the FDA’s recent rules and standards changes please take a moment to read them. In this post, we’ll provide some small flock guidelines and reminders to help you understand what this means for your pet chickens.

New rules set in place for increased food safety and security have changed the accessibility  of many medications for your backyard chickens. Previously, you might go to your local farm and feed store to pick up antibiotics, but now, a licensed veterinarian is required to diagnose your chicken/s and prescribe antibiotics for your flock.

Small flock guidelines: pictured, a small flock

My small flock

The changes and rules that make it easier for factory farms, now present challenges to small farms as well as people who keep pet chickens in microflocks. Veterinarians who see poultry are not easy to find in many locations.  Many small flock owners are now realizing they may not have a vet service to go to in case of flock illness. So what to do if your flock becomes sick? Read the rest of this entry »

Salt-Cured Eggs January 20, 2017 2 Comments

I am always excited to try a new egg recipe, and I thought I’d share this easy recipe for salt-cured eggs with you, too.

Salt-cured egg yolks are solid, dry cured discs that can be used grated, sliced, or crumbled, almost like a cheese. They add a salted creamy flavor to any dish. It’s simple to do and will make any dish seem gourmet!  So don’t let those egg yolks go to waste.

How to make salt-cured eggs

Salt-cured eggs  are easy and delicious!

How To Make Salt-Cured Eggs

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The First Favaucana Dozen December 20, 2016 4 Comments

One of my goals with this year’s spring chick order was to add some color to my egg basket. Up until now, I’ve only had brown and cream egg layers. So the first bird on my wish list to help me accomplish this was My Pet Chicken’s exclusive Favaucana, with sage green eggs.

Two Favaucana eggs

These look a little blue in the photos, but IRL, they’re a sagey, minty green

Why Favaucanas? Because besides the plentiful sage green eggs that I was anticipating, the Favaucana chicken was everything I look for in a breed: they’re hardy, friendly, and docile. Also gorgeous!

I didn’t need to wait long for my Favaucana girls to produce eggs, either. My black Favaucana Maisy Read the rest of this entry »

MPC Folks and Their Flocks of Chickens November 18, 2016 No Comments

Whether you are new to My Pet Chicken, new to chickens, a chicken breeder, or an old pro, you’re probably very interested to learn about the flocks of other people as soon as you hear someone say they have chickens. Flock of chickens, you say? Tell me more!

Sometimes people ask me what I have because they want to compare flocks, and other times they ask me because they want an idea of what breeds I have and why I chose them. All chicken people eventually have this conversation with someone, and most of the MPC crew has this conversation daily!

For those who know us or want to get to know us, you can tell a lot about each of us by the flocks we keep. Here is your chance to meet MPC employees and their flocks that can tell you a lot about them!

I’ll start us off on this journey through the lives of the MPC family, and their feathered friends:


Shannon’s Flock of Chickens

I’m Shannon from North Carolina and I currently have a flock of 17 chickens. We keep ducks as well. Our chickens don’t free range as we seem to have a serious coyote problem.

My birds range in age (1 year to 9 years old) as I add a few every year. Occasionally we keep a rescue, hatch our own birds or buy directly from MPC. However, we do trade birds sometimes and rehome birds that just never seem to fit into the flock dynamics. We need to keep the peace.

Currently we have one rooster, a splash Olive Egger named Pongo, and a mix of bantams and standard breeds. Cochins are our absolute favorites. I fall for birds with fuzzy feet every time. The rest are a mix of silkies, cochins (standard and bantam), Olive Eggers,  Cuckoo Bluebar, Lavender Orpington, Welsummer and Black Copper Marans. We of course don’t stop with chickens. We keep ducks, a bunny, cats and our bird loving dog, Porsche.

Porsche protects her chicks

Porsche protects her chicks


 

Julie’s Flock of Chickens

I’m Julie and I have 5 chickens in my flock (but will be adding more as soon as I can!). I have…

Read the rest of this entry »

DIY Phoenix Feather Wand October 31, 2016 No Comments

We’re just a bit geeky over here and we’re especially fond of Harry Potter. My middle daughter wanted to be Hermione Granger for Halloween this year. We already had the robe and hat in the costume box, but she really needed a proper wand. What’s a witch without her wand?

Behold the power!

Behold the power!

We had a few magic wands hanging around, but she wanted something special and she whittled this wand herself using a butter knife on a stick from our yard. She absolutely loved it, but left it on the floor downstairs one night. I accidentally stepped on it and broke it in half. (In my defense, I was carrying a HUGE load of laundry and never saw it.)

materials for DIY phoenix feather wand

Oops.

I fessed up as soon as she woke up the next day and my dear, sweet child wasn’t angry at her mother. She decided that what her wand really needed was a special, magical core, just like a real wand and we settled on a Phoenix feather for her wand core.

Where does one get a Phoenix feather in this day and age? Why from our Easter Egger hen, Phoenix:

Meet Phoenix, our favorite Easter Egger

Meet Phoenix, our favorite Easter Egger

Of course, Hermione’s wand uses a dragon heart-string, but we weren’t able to find any dragons in time. Still, chickens are related to dinosaurs, so that’s close, right?

If you have a phoenix breed chicken, that would work, too. Or you can use something for your own unique core. For our wand, we were lucky! Chickens lose a lot of feathers this time of year, so Phoenix didn’t even miss it.

DIY Phoenix Feather Wand

I carefully drilled holes in either side of the wand:

Don't tell my husband I borrowed his drill

(Don’t tell my husband I borrowed his drill)

Added our Phoenix feather:

phoenix feather wand: adding the feather

Wonder how Ollivander does it?

Used my magic glue:

Gorilla Glue is magic

Gorilla Glue is magic

Abracadabra! A real (real?) Phoenix feather wand!

phoenix feather wand wielding witch!

“Hermione” with her phoenix feather wand

Saving the Flock from Hurricane Matthew October 28, 2016 2 Comments

Natural disasters are among most flock owners’ worst fears. Actually, they’re among our worst fears, whether we have a flock or not. They are sneaky, they surprise us with their intensity and power, and no matter how hard we try to prepare,  at some point anyone could be a victim of a natural disaster.

Recently Hurricane Matthew devastated many in the eastern United States and beyond. In fact, it hit home for some of our own My Pet Chicken customer service specialists, me included.

Matthew worked his way up the eastern coast wreaking havoc in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, finally hitting North Carolina before heading back out to sea.

Where I live in eastern North Carolina we expected about 5-inches of rain and a lot of wind, but by the time it reached us it was only a Category 1 hurricane. For my family, and many others in the state, we had no clue about the level of devastation that was coming. We prepared as usual, most of us having experience with strong winds and rain along with the usual flooding. On my property we’ve hit the highest recorded flood levels multiple times in the last few years, but we knew our animals were well outside the danger zone on high ground, so we battened down the hatches and prepared to enjoy some family time.

Saving the flock and the animals

On October 8th, 2016 Matthew hit us with pounding rain.

It was windy, but we have certainly seen worse. Power flickered some, but we were not particularly worried. Around 2pm I went outside to do another check on the animals. I had been out only a couple hours earlier and other than rain our swamp was pretty dry, there was no standing water. I had my cell phone out (y’all know you would have too!) getting some video because now, just 2 hours later, the water was nearly as high as we have ever seen it and getting higher as I watched.

I walked toward the poultry yard and was soon running; our rabbit hutches had water in them!

I ran in and grabbed the bunnies, glancing at the chickens as I did so. They were wet from rain but that was the extent. The silly birds seemed to think their bugs are better wet, but the ground wasn’t flooded in that area. But by the time I had the rabbits in a dog crate 10 minutes later the chicken yard was flooded.

My young birds were trying hard to keep their heads up as they started floating. Thankfully they still like their brooder house which has wheels and they were gathering inside. I grabbed the handle and ran for higher ground, pulling against the water that was getting deeper by the moment, finally getting them out and locking them in at the highest spot with our bucks. The older birds were trying to get on roosting bars in their coop but the wind had knocked open doors and windows and they kept getting blown off into the water which was quickly filling the coop. I grabbed legs, wings, whatever came within reach, running them to higher ground in groups of 3 or 4. The water was shin deep and I was barefoot; once I fell over debris I couldn’t see in the churning water, dousing myself and chickens. They were shaking with cold and soaking wet but I got them all to higher ground. And still, the water continued to rise.

Breathless, I tried to catch my bearings when I heard the pigs bellowing in fear, and the goats crying. I realized our barns were about to flood!

I stood there stricken, not knowing what to do. There was no way to fit all the animals into our house. Hoping the chickens would be fine we started moving the goats and pigs from the slightly lower barns to our garage after quickly fashioning a makeshift pen. It was exhausting, carrying frighted animals one at a time, sometimes dragging them, screaming at them to move so others wouldn’t die. Neighbors saw our efforts and joined in.

At 8pm it was pitch black out, the rain was still driving hard and the last animals to move from the highest pens would be the chickens… but we could no longer get through to save them.

We had been working in the cold and wet for 6 hours. There was nothing more we could do.

Bruised, bleeding and exhausted we stood in the rain and flood water hoping it wouldn’t come up to our house. Roads were closed, we were stuck with no way out and praying the rain would stop. My heart was breaking, I had no hope left that my beautiful flock could survive the flooding in the barn. Even with the partitions being above flood level that they could fly up to, it was dark, they were cold and wet, and I had no hope they would figure out how to survive. We quietly went inside to wait.

The rain slowed, by 1 am the waters had receded quite a bit. I still couldn’t get into the barns safely. We went to bed with heavy hearts to wait for morning.

Saving the flock: coop in the water

After the water went down, our coop had flooded to the roof.

I woke and hesitantly walked to the barns. The world stank from the flooding and debris littered the ground. The water was still high and projections were that the flooding would get worse for those near rivers.

Tears ran down my face but I had to look, to see if there was life.

There, in that little pen at the top barn, all my little birds were running to greet me! Following them I saw my mature hens an a rooster; I could hardly believe my eyes! I ran in and counted… we didn’t lose a single life! Every bird was there; Captain Munch, Mr. Flowers, Mr. Fancy-pants, Sweetie… they were all there!

They found a high spot where hay piled up in the water, and huddled close for warmth all that scary night. I can’t describe the emotions that ran through me at that moment, and then later as the days passed.

It’s been hard, hard to have been lucky, hard to see the pain of others.

Saving the flock: survivors enjoy breakfast

The girls enjoying breakfast, happy to be dry again.

Slowly we are cleaning up. Heartache is everywhere with flooded homes, pets lost, family and friends swept away in the flood waters. We feel lucky to have not lost a life on our farm.

At the same time, we have a taste of the dread, the fear, the hurt that many are facing. There is a bit of survivors’ guilt for many of us, and yet an overwhelming relief that this storm is over and we can recover. Its been two weeks since Matthew left. Roads are finally opening up, people are getting back to work, kids are going to school, homes are being repaired.  On our farm the nasty smell is fading and we have been blessed with many lovely days of sunshine and fall breezes. The chickens greet me each morning, clucking and cooing as I fill their feed and water. At the gate the wind chimes make sweet music and the world feels right again.

Nothing will make us forget the feeling of helplessness during that storm, but many of us can look around and know that after the storm the sun always comes out again.