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.

Pet chickens – how much you’ll save October 23, 2016 4 Comments

I started my chicken journey three years ago. With my children glued to their iPads all day, I wanted something that would take them outside: and so came the pet chickens!

eggs from my pet chickens

You can’t buy these at the store!

Some enter into pet chicken keeping with a lot of support from friends and family, but if you’re like me you encountered some Negative Nancies! Raise your hand if you’ve had someone ask you, “Why do you keep chickens when you can buy eggs from the store?” Now keep your hands raised if, like me, you’ve spent more money on your chickens than you’ve saved from buying eggs from the grocery store.

Exactly. It’s not always about the money.

Why We Keep Pet Chickens

We keep chickens them because we love them! The person who asks me why I keep chickens doesn’t ask the person beside me why they keep their Golden Retriever. For people who view chickens Read the rest of this entry »

The grossest egg your hens will ever lay October 21, 2016 8 Comments

While most of the eggs your hens will lay are going to be very normal, to start off October on a Halloween-ey note, I thought we’d take a moment to discuss the grossest egg you’ll ever see from your flock… if you enter the Twilight Zone!

BWA-HAHAHAHA! (That was my evil laugh.) But the tale I’m going to tell you is true.

Hens will lay some strange-looking eggs from time to time in the darkness of their nests. Here’s how it happens: Within their secluded and private nesting chambers, Read the rest of this entry »

Flock Spoilers: Our 5 Faves! October 7, 2016 722 Comments

What’s your favorite way to spoil your pet chickens? We’re going to share with you some our favorite flock spoilers. Let us know about your favorite ways in the comments below for a chance to win one of our new “Flock spoiler” Care Packages for your pet chickens! Read on for details.

Flock spoilers: Ultimate spoiled flock care package for chickens

Ultimate Spoiled Flock Care package

 

My Pet Chicken’s new Care Packages are flock spoilers we put together for you to help your chickens out, or to provide you the tools you need to support the health of your flock.

Since My Pet Chicken knows that the more loved backyard chickens there are across the country, the less we’ll rely on eggs produced by hens kept in battery cages in factory farms, we feel we’re doing our part to help by having our experts consult and share their best recommendations with you.

Our 5 Favorite Flock Spoilers

  1. Natural Chicken Care – This is a collection of some of the best natural poultry supplements available.
  2. Browbeaten Biddy– This is a convenient collection of our best items to help protect a bullied hen.
  3. Boredom Busting – Want to help your flock stay entertained? This is the package for you. It includes toys and treats that will keep your flock engaged and happy.
  4. Lay or Bust – Want to encourage egg production? We’ve got you covered with this package that includes Omega supplements, an egg basket, cartons, egg wipes and more!
  5. Ultimate Spoiled Flock – Special treats, treat cups, and even soothing sounds! This will superty-duperly help with the flock spoiling–we promise you!

To see details about each of our care packages, please follow the links above!

Flock spoiler: "browbeaten biddy" care package for chickens

“Browbeaten Biddy” care package for chickens

Now, to the Flock Spoilers GIVEAWAY!

Spoiling your chickens: we’ve put together some great Flock Spoilers for you… but we also know that there are many, many ways to spoil your girls when you’re a real chickenista! For instance, you might cook warm oatmeal for your flock on chilly mornings, or provide them with frozen corn on a hot, sunny day. You might provide them with ice water in summer, or even decorate their coop for the winter holidays. (Come on… you know they enjoy it, right?) You might build them a special dusting area, put little curtains up to help darken the nesting areas, or simply spend time sitting in the yard giving your favorite affectionate chicken the lap time she demands.

So… what is your absolute favorite way to spoil your flock? Please share in the comments below. We’d like to spread the chicken love with lots of great ideas, so newbies can be inspired.

To that end, we’re giving away one of each of our new Flock Spoiler Care Package! Five lucky commenters–one for each package–will be randomly chosen on October 17, 2016 to receive their Flock Spoiler prize.

Since not all of you can win, we’d suggest putting these on your holiday wish list, too!

How to Enter the Flock Spoilers Giveaway

To enter, you must comment on this post with your favorite Flock Spoiler…  or tag My Pet Chicken on Twitter, and use the hashtag #flockspoiler. Let us know how you spoil your flock of pet chickens at home! Enter by midnight EST on October 14, 2016.

Winners will be notified by email (or if you enter via Twitter, we’ll tweet you), and must email us your U.S. shipping address within seven days of notification in order to claim the prize. If you don’t respond within 7 days, another winner will be chosen. One entry per person.

boredom busting care package for chickens

Boredom-busting care package for chickens

My 3 Favorite Chick Packs September 27, 2016 4 Comments

My Pet Chicken recently started carrying Chick Packs, which are assortments of some of the rarest chicken breeds shipped for FREE! I jumped, leaped, and twirled a happy dance at the opportunity to receive one of these rare and designer breed chick packs.  I’m a customer service representative at My Pet Chicken—my name is Forest, hi!—and you know that anyone working here has GOT TO BE a little chicken crazy!

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A Splash Ameraucana exploring the watermelon garden.

With so many rare and designer breeds available, it was tough for me to choose which chick pack I should order. First I narrowed it down.

My top 3 favorite Chick Packs

Read the rest of this entry »

The Overhatch Madness of a Chickaholic August 17, 2016 5 Comments

Hi, my name is Jordana. And I’m a chickaholic.

It was Monday morning, I was at my office here at My Pet Chicken and the phone was barely ringing. Hesitating, I hovered my cursor over the date selection on our baby chick page, debating if I really wanted to see what was available in our over-hatch.  For over a year I have resisted the temptation to add to my flock, despite helping others fill their baskets with chickens I dream of in fevered chickaholic dreams.

I tried to justify it to myself: “You need to look at the overhatch, because you have to be prepared when customers call so you can help them get that special chick!”

“No, if I look I will be tempted, and if I am tempted… well, I’ll need a larger coop!”

Then, my finger slipped. Just slipped on the touchpad. I pressed a little too hard with my shaking chickaholic fingers… and there, right before my eyes, I see one of the best over-hatches in weeks.

Basket full of chickletts for the local chickaholic!

A chickaholic dream!

Every chick on my dream list was there, ready to Read the rest of this entry »

Gardening with chickens: 4 problems to expect July 29, 2016 No Comments

Gardening with chickens: You may have visions of living the good life, the agricultural life, and being more sustainable by producing your own garden veggies and chicken eggs in your backyard. But the trick is being properly prepared for the challenges. For instance, the pet chickens you love so much are not going to respect your garden boundaries. If they can go in, they’ll go in. And you may not like the results! Chickens are foragers, not gardeners.

Hornworm and hen

Forage this, girls!

That’s not to say chickens won’t help with your gardening efforts, but it’s not a fairy dust and rainbows situation in which adding chickens to your household will instantly make things easier. You have to know Read the rest of this entry »

My Pet Chickens from My Pet Chicken July 24, 2016 2 Comments

I’m a customer service rep here at My Pet Chicken, which means I’ve held the hands of countless beginners. I’ve laughed at your stories. I’ve helped you troubleshoot. I’ve placed hundreds of chick orders for you. I’ve assured you your breed selection is a good one. (You can hardly go wrong, after all!) And I’ve mourned with you at the occasional passing of a chick.

You might think that because I work here, all things chicken-ey have lost their sheen, or that getting a new batch of baby chicks isn’t as exciting as it used to be. You might think that losing a chick of my own might feel more like a dull ache than a sharp pain—but you’d be wrong!

When I get the call from the postmaster saying “Your chicks have arrived. Can you pick them up?” my internal monologue goes something like: “Can I pick them up? YOU BET I CAN PICK THEM UP! OH. BOY. OH. BOY. OH. BOY!” … and my bewildered husband is left to stare in awe at the streak of flames I leave stretching out across the house as I run to my car and head to the post office.

postman with chicks

Greetings Mr. Postman! That is my peeping box and I am definitely ready to take it home!

My My Pet Chicken Chicks

(Say that three times fast!)

This last shipment, the post office was speedy and delivered my chicks arrived a day earlier than normal, so I wasn’t expecting them. Read the rest of this entry »

3 ways to Choose Your Best Chicken Breed July 22, 2016 1 Comment

If you’ve never kept backyard chickens before, you may wonder what the best way is to choose the best chicken breed for you. As we often explain, there is no One Best Breed for everyone. Some people may want only the best layers, while others prefer only the friendliest… or those that are the most cold hardy… or those that lay amazing colors like blue, olive or chocolate, and so on. So how do you choose?

An assortment of chicken breeds

There are so many breeds to choose from… which is the best chicken breed for you?

The truth is there are a few ways to go about choosing the best chicken breed.

3 ways to choose the best chicken breed for you

 

1. Dream over a hatchery website, book, or catalog. When you like window shopping, this method is probably for you. Especially if you like the ultra rare or unusual, Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken feed supplements and your flock July 15, 2016 4 Comments

Recently we’ve been asked about a pretty sensational story: whether the deaths of some chickens purportedly caused by necrotic enteritis (NE) were due to using feed or chicken feed supplements mixed at home. We think there must be some confusion somewhere in the chain of information, a misunderstanding that should be cleared up.

Let’s get this out of the way first: No, the simple fact that your feed or chicken feed supplements were mixed at your home has no effect on whether your chickens get NE. NE has ZERO to do with where your feed is made.

You can certainly mix a healthy, nutritious homemade feed at home–or blend chicken feed supplements that help your flock–if you take the extra time and trouble. Keep in mind that we’re saying this as purveyors of commercial feed and supplements. While we generally recommend a commercial feed—it’s just far more convenient for most people—if you want educate yourself about poultry nutrition and go to the extra time and trouble to mix a custom feed or a custom chicken feed supplement at home for your flock, we think it’s great!
Black Copper Marans rooster and hen foraging for their own chicken feed supplements

They deserve the best, right?

Let me share some more facts with you.  NE has nothing to do with where the feed is made (commercial or homemade). It’s not a nutritional issue either, meaning NE is not brought on by an imbalance in your feed’s vitamin/mineral content. It can be related to diet, sure, but it’s related to a sudden CHANGE in diet. A sudden, drastic change in your feed can bring on NE when there are other underlying stressors or illnesses in your flock, because that change can cause a shock to gut flora.

Read the rest of this entry »