Monthly Archives: June 2010

Sad News

I know I said no more updates until the chicks came, but while they are still on schedule for delivery tomorrow, there has been a sad development.

My Pet Chicken contacted us today about one of the chicks we had ordered, the Easter Egger.  It seems that the hatchery had something terrible happen, and they lost 17,000 of their hatching Easter Egger chicks.

So we will not be getting Frederica (or “Freddie”) as we had already named her.

The weird thing is, last night I dreamed we had been contacted because something had gone wrong, and they were no longer able to send one of the chicks. I woke up worried about which one it was, and hoping it wasn’t one of the rare and difficult to get ones (we can get Easter Egger chicks locally).

Everyone cross their fingers that everything goes ok with the shipment – we don’t want any more tragedies….

Last Post Before the Chicks Arrive

Lots of work was done on the coop today, and blood was shed. My brother got scrunched by a man-tall roll of sharp-edged wire (scratches over his back), and my mom punctured her head with a piece of equally sharp wire.  Just now, as I’m writing this, she said “I suppose you’re going to tell them about the ice bag!”  Well, yes, now that she reminded me! So after she punctured her head and doctored it up, it was still hurting.  She thought she should have put cold water on it, but because she didn’t want to take more time from building the coop, she put an ice bag on her head and continued to work; balancing it while climbing ladders and nailing.  Is that the chicken-coop way of building grace – similar to how girls walk around with books balanced on their heads?

But here’s the coop, nearly all wired in:

Pretty much all the wiring that’s left is a bit on the run’s door.  Also, the door on the coop itself was installed, as well as the chicken “pop door”.

The human-sized door is obviously the door on the right. The mini door on the left is the pop door.  This will be the exit/entrance for the chickens (there will be a ramp leading down to the ground).

Below is a “chicken” demonstrating it….

The final breed of chicken we’re getting is the Rhode Island Red. These are the chickens we used to have, years ago.  They were so sweet; we’d go out in the pen and they would circle us, waiting for us to sit down so they could sit on our laps and be petted.

My Pet Chicken says:

Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they’re the official Rhode Island state bird. They were once hugely popular in America, though they declined right along with the small farmer. Today they’re making a comeback due to small flock owners (like us!). They’re the do-everything bird: they lay exceptionally well, they’re valued for their meat, they’re extremely cold hardy, and hardy in general.

The eggs are your standard brown:

But marvelous things can be made from ordinary eggs!  I found this website of incredible eggs:

The next post will have actual, live chicken babies in it!!!!!

Ready for Baby Chicks!

No, the coop is not yet finished, but as the chicks will be spending their first weeks inside the house, we’re well on track for finishing by the time they need it.  We did add a decorative feature to the coop: curtains!

Pretty much all the major stuff that’s left to do on the coop is attach the doors and wire in the run.

Since it’s *possible* that the chicks could come as early as tomorrow (though most likely not until Weds), we set up their indoor quarters.  It’s an appliance box of some kind, with a lining of plastic, paper towels, and pine shavings.  We’re working on getting the temperature right, using the heat lamp.

The penultimate chicken breed we are getting is the Barnevelder.

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say:

The Barnevelder originates from the Barneveld region of Holland where it is so well-known that, according to the Barnevelder Club of North America, the Barnevelder name is synonymous with the word chicken. It is sought after there for its dark “chocolate” brown eggs, and while Barnevelder eggs in this country have lost some of that dark pigment, breeders here are working hard to change that. This beautiful bird is hardy and quiet and doesn’t mind being confined. In short, it makes a wonderful pet!

It seems to be quite rare and quite loved in North America; every chicken breeder we speak to is delighted that we’re getting one. We’ve had a couple of people say it is their favorite chicken!  This is the one breed that we almost didn’t get.  There is only a limited number available, and at first we were told they were all sold out.

Here’s two little Barnevelder chicks:

And here’s an egg:

Hopefully we’ll get even luckier and get a hen that lays the really dark eggs.


While I was looking for a cute chicken video yesterday, I got side-tracked into watching cute duckling videos. It doesn’t take much to distract me with ducklings!  Chicks are sweet, but ducklings make me hurt inside, they’re so adorable.  Seriously, ducks are the things I love most in this world.

So on to the videos!

I miss being followed by ducklings….

I miss watching them play in a tub of water.  When they get overexcited, they jump out of the tub and go racing around in circles, splattering water everywhere!  So funny!

I miss watching them play with my dog.  Her best friend was a tan & white Indian Runner duck….

Most of all, I miss just holding them and watching them trust me enough to fall asleep in my hand.

In case you can’t tell, once the chickens are grown up and settled in, we’re also getting ducks.  Ducks are the greatest slug control a garden could ever have!  I can’t find a video to illustrate it, but my duck Bastien used to take walks with me in my garden.  He’d stroll beside me like the old friend he was, chatting away about the plants and the slugs.  Occasionally, his wife would get jealous of his attention to me, and call him back to her.  He’d wait until she was distracted, then sneak away to finish our garden inspection tour.

And this is just simply awesome:

The Roof is On….

Well, most of the roof is, anyway!  It turned out my brother overlapped the Suntuf panels too far, thus making our calculations come out wrong.  We’re one panel shy, but no worries.  We’ll have it up soon!

You can see, above on the far right, the missing panel.  Below are a few in-progress pictures:

We’re getting there…and good thing too – our chicks are coming on June 30th! The Post Office will call us when they arrive, and we have get to go pick them up at 6:30 in the morning.  Even though I will be severely sleep-deprived, I hope to remember to take my camera and record the momentous occasion!

I have only three more breeds of chicken left to describe, and today’s is the Delaware.

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say:

The Delaware is a relatively new breed of chicken, having only been developed in 1940. They’re a cross between New Hampshire Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks with the goal of maintaing the prolific egg production of these two breeds but increased meat value. They’re a lovely, calm white breed with black feathers around the neck and the tip of the tail, and with some black striations also working their way into the back. They perform well in the cold and will fare even better if their combs are protected from frostbite with the help of some petroleum jelly.

Here’s some Delaware chicks:

And here are their eggs:

And lastly, just because it’s so freakin’ cute, here’s a youtube video for you!

This. Want.

I’ve never really been a convert to the whole iPad-desire thing.  If I want to read a book, I want to read a real book.  The texture of reading is just as important to my world as the words.  And I waste spend enough time on the internet when I’m at home – the last thing I want/need is a way to surf the ‘net when I’m away from home.  Nope, I don’t have an iPhone either, and I don’t want one. Newfangled technology, bah humbug!  I don’t even like using my non-internet surfing phone, although I do have one for emergencies and for tracking down lost relatives in Wal-Mart.

That said, I now do want an iPad, just so I can have one of these!

It’s so steampunk!

Starting Seeds

For a long time, I did the whole “stick the seed in the ground and hope nothing eats it before it can sprout” method of seed starting.  Then, I was introduced to the paper towel and baggie method!  It works on everything I’ve tried it on, from tomatoes to beans.

Start with some seeds. In this case they’re mystery bean seeds. I was given them by a friend, who in turn was given them by a friend, and nobody knows what they are.  I call them the “orca beans” because they look like little killer whales.  If somebody has a more official name, I’d be interested in knowing what it is!

Put the beans on a wet paper towel – or I often use a couple of napkins.

Fold the wet towel/napkins over, so that the beans are sandwiched inside, and place inside a plastic baggie.

Be sure to fold the baggie’s top over nice and tight; you want the wet to stay inside, not evaporate!  Put the baggie in a south-facing window, where it will get lots of warmth.

Now forget all about it for about a week.  Depending on the seed, it might be more or less time; you can take a peek whenever you like and see what’s happening inside the baggie. Make sure the towel/napkins stay damp.

In about a week, you’ll open the baggie, and the beans will have sprouted.

Unlike planting directly into the ground, you’ll be able to see if any of your seeds are duds.  Some seeds will actually have their first leaves at this stage, and you’ll want to plant them very carefully with their roots in the dirt, and their leaves above it. If they’re very small or delicate, you can use tweezers to handle them.

Beans, though, are easy. Just fill a pot 3/4 full of starter soil, and lay the seeds on top.

Then, cover them over with more dirt and gently tap it down.  Put the pots  back in your sunny window, or in your greenhouse. Keep them well watered and watch as they grow!

When the beans are about 5 -6″ inches tall, I plant them out in the garden.  At this point the weather is good enough for them to really take off – and they are strong enough to withstand the casual predator.

This method works like a charm!

Chicken Nests

During a time the weather was not coordinating with our chicken coop building, my mom moved the operation indoors – to the kitchen.  The kitchen is fairly frequently made over into a workshop of one kind or another…perhaps this is why I don’t bake all that often?

When she was done, we had three nestboxes ready for the coop,  Two full-sized ones, and one half-sized, for the Silkies.  I hope the Silkies realize they’re half-sized chickens!  *

*Demonstration egg supplied by Safeway.

Our sixth variety of chicken is the Speckled Sussex.

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say:

The Sussex have everything: they are great layers of tinted or light brown eggs–and they lay right through the coldest weather.  They forage well and are economical eaters that are friendly and easily handled. Their curious nature means they will often follow you around the yard if they think they can beg a treat from you. The “speckled” variety offered here has plumage that gives them some camouflage from predators, too. Many tend to get more speckles after each successive molt, so they just get prettier with age. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a chicken?

Here’s a chick:

And here’s what the eggs look like:

We just had the coop’s roofing materials delivered, so hopefully there will be major progress soon!  (There better be; the chicks are coming in a couple of weeks!!!!)