Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Outdoor home for silkie

Our silkie is finally sleeping outside -- in the greenhouse. He's got a box with a heat source and his feather duster inside. After 4 nights he finally started going up the ramp by himself (he was a little slow figuring it out...)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silkie chickens -- freaks of nature

Here's a new photo of our silkie -- its feet are getting more feathery every day! I'm thinking I'll give him a trim as soon as his feathers are done growing so he can walk better. People also recommend trimming silkies around their eyes.

He's 14 weeks old and still is indoors most of the time.  He's so friendly and mellow it's like having a pet llama or something. We think of him as a "he" but there's no crowing yet, so fingers crossed that we've got a female.

Update: today I posted photos of this guy on Backyardchickens.com, and the consensus is that he's a male....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg chicken photo

zuckerberg chicken
Going back to basics and getting involved in what we eat seems to appeal to people no matter what their income. I think this is a really interesting photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg getting ready to process a chicken. Zuckerberg has said publicly that this year he has made a commitment to only eat meat from animals he has killed personally.

When I started raising chickens, I had the philosophy that I should be willing to raise a bird for meat since I'm not a vegetarian. We've only processed 5 birds over the years and every time we've had to do it we agree that if we had to do this every time we ate meat, we'd hardly ever have it. Anyhow I admire someone like Zuckerberg who is willing to see what eating meat is all about. He has also done other animals -- I don't know if I could!

Mark Zuckerberg, Who Just Killed A Goat And A Pig, Responds To Concerned Friends
It's time to fix those security flaws facebook...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Major predators

Up in our neighbor's trees there were two eagles today. I hope my chickens aren't on their radar!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silkie outgrowing his indoor home

This guy we've been keeping in the house has about grown out of his brooder tank. Silkies don't mind being confined so much, but we've got to figure out the next step. He's getting so tall that when he's curious he can poke his out the top. Here are a couple closeup shots -- one is of his feathered feet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How are the chicks?

We have two hens from the chicks we hatched in the spring: Ginger and Amy. Both are at the point of lay -- we're expecting eggs any day now. Up close is Ginger -- looking fine.

Next there are the two that have been out in the coop since they hatched in early September. The one on the left with the curled up feathers is a Cochin Frizzle, on the right a Cochin that didn't get a dominant Frizzle gene apparently. Both will be quite small -- not sure if they're male or female yet.

Finally there is the silkie who lives in the house for now. We do take him out when we're working in the yard or greenhouse. The other day I had him in the coop with me, but the other chickens attacked him. Maybe he'll be able to assimilate when he's bigger? (But we're guessing he's a male, so what's the point?) Anyhow for now he's working out fine inside and still likes to sleep under his feather duster. Silkies are strange chickens and sometimes the males don't crow much. I really hope we'll be able to keep this guy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crisis in the coop -- we've got an egg eater

This morning I found a half-eaten egg in the coop -- the second this week. It has been several days since anyone has found one to bring in. I even had to buy a carton at the store this week.

Egg eating is a very bad habit for a chicken to get into -- and difficult to break from what I've heard. We still don't know who the culprit is, so we're taking drastic measures to stop this before it is too late. I took out the nest box they've been using and moved the fake eggs (golf balls) back up into the top of the coop where they were laying eggs last winter. Maybe it will be out of sight, out of mind? And we're checking often for eggs to hopefully take them before they get eaten. Also for the past couple of days I've been putting out more "treats" -- produce, chicken scratch, leftovers.

If none of this helps, I guess we'll have to set up a chicken-cam or something.

Update: Moving the nest box up into the coop seems to have helped -- I haven't found any more broken egg shells.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Feather duster buddy for lonely chick

I was looking for something to put in the cage for our indoor chick to cuddle up with. We had tried a stuffed bear, but it wasn't working out. I looked up what people do on BackyardChickens.com, and when I came across the idea of putting in a feather duster, I thought it was right on. Our little guy has had a one for a couple of weeks and he loves it! Yes it is homemade.

During the day it is a toy -- he pecks at it and tries to pull the feathers out. I've had to put it back together three times.

The feather duster is in the heated end of the tank. When he's resting he sits under it like he would a mother hen. The photo on the right is of him settling in for the evening.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daddy's little helper

The little silkie we're taking care of gets to spend a lot of time outside in this great weather we're having. If you have to do a little yardwork, he's great company. Just put on the Crocs and he'll follow you around. He hasn't gotten stepped on yet, fingers crossed!

Extended summer weather great for little chicks

With all this warm September weather, the chicks are spending every day out in the yard. Pictured here are the two littlest, a cochin and cochin frizzle. Fancypants works like crazy to scratch for bugs for them, which they prefer over regular chicken feed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rooster's last day

Our lovely 4 month old rooster has started to crow, so this morning we .... Here are the before and after photos. He's going into the freezer.

Even though we're not vegetarians, it is still hard to do this.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pampered baby

Our little brown silkie has been living inside for a week. We separated him out since he hatched early and the mother would have left the nest to take care of him instead of sitting on the remaining eggs.

He's getting held a lot and will fall asleep in your hand. We often take him out and he'll follow us around, and will peep loudly when we leave the room.

I do think he likes this little bear -- this morning the bear was inside the tank and he was sleeping against it. This has been a lot of fun for the family, but in about a day he'll have to join the other chicks outside.

Update: This one is not assimilating with the others and will be raised inside for now.

Two more chicks

I'm wondering if we're only going to end up with three chicks this time. Two eggs still show no signs of hatching. Here are the two that hatched Friday and Saturday -- this morning they followed their mom out of the nest.

Update: the other two eggs were undeveloped -- so this is it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First silkie chick hatched

Fancypants Johnson is sitting on five eggs -- the first one just hatched. The breeds should be brown silkies and cochin frizzles. This little guy would be a brown silkie -- it was already incubating when the breeder gave it to us. The other eggs should hatch in early September.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two roosters rehomed

The chicks we hatched in May are now maturing and two of the roosters started crowing last week. The two pictured here (in a very roostery stare-down) were sold today to a family who wants to breed chickens that lay dark eggs. These guys are very lucky that they'll get to go live on a farm.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Five eggs set today

One of my chickens (Fancypants Johnson) is back on the nest for the third time this year, so I'm finally letting her hatch some eggs. Today we all went out to a farm where they raise bantam chickens and got 5 fertilized eggs. The chicks should hatch on around Sept. 3. The breeds are silkie and cochin frizzle, which are small, fluffy and very tame.  Do I really need more chickens? No -- I'll probably have to sell these.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One hen off to a new home

Today we sold Penguin to some people in Cloverdale who are just starting out with chickens. For the past several days, she had a trial separation from the rest of the chickens; this seems to have resolved the pecking order problem we were having. The younger ones are now integrating well with the rest of the flock. Penguin was always such a sweet chicken -- we hope a change of dynamics will do her good.

So now we're down to 5 hens and 3 young roosters. The roosters are also advertised on Craigslist. It would be great if they also sold soon -- they'll probably start crowing this month. We won't be able to keep roosters with our neighbors so close.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life without Mom

Penguin, the mother hen who was so faithful to her eggs and chicks, made a dramatic transformation back to a regular egg-laying hen this week. She laid her first egg in three months and now chases her chicks away. Here's a photo of them on their own.

Update: She's getting quite mean -- even tackling them to peck them if they get close to the food. I'm having to put food out in multiple places. This can't go on for much longer...

Don't let a chicken get this close to your eye!

I was happy that this guy jumped up on my shoulder when I was in the coop so I tried to take a photo of  "us".  Just after I snapped the picture, he pecked me right in the eye. It still hurts!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update on chicks

The chicks, pictured here with their mother, are almost two months old  now -- they run so fast that its hard to get a picture unless they're eating. Four are Black Copper Marans.

The one on the left is a cross between a Maran and one of the red hens  that the breeder had on the property (we wanted 6 eggs and he didn't have enough from the Marans). This was the little yellow chick that we helped hatch -- see previous posts).

It looks like we'll have 2 females to keep and 3 roosters to eat or sell.(I only want to sell them to someone who wants this breed, not someone who's just going to eat them.) Black Copper Marans are known for their dark brown eggs. They'll also get pretty black, copper and green feather colouring when they mature.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time out or time up?

The aptly named "Vulture" has always been the meanest hen and is pictured here with telltale feathers in her beak. They say that if you hold an aggressive chicken periodically it will mellow them out, but it doesn't seem to work with this one. She has always had it out for Penguin and she shows no mercy for the chicks either. We're thinking that she'll go into the stewpot next month if we have a female chick to replace her.

This chick shown below looks like a female so far. At this age they're so feisty -- this one jumped up on my shoulder.

Baxter foiled

Our favorite neighborhood cat spends a lot of time watching the chickens through the new netting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Netting over chicken run

This week the chicks -- 3 weeks old -- are joining the others in the coop. To keep out the neighborhood cats and other predators, we put a net over the whole run. Covering every gap was a lot of work. We've been meaning to do this for a while -- it will be safer for the full grown birds as well.

Second photo: Chicks still get warm and sleep under mom.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First outing

The hen and chicks spent some time outside today. Mom is teaching the little ones how to follow her around. I was surprised when she headed down the stairs, so I lured them into the chicken tractor (with food) so they could stay out for a while.

Indoor chickens

It was raining yesterday and we wanted to be able to watch our hen Penguin and her brood, so we set up a rubbermaid bin and brought them inside for the day. Most of the chicks are 3 days old.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yay -- Mom and 5 chicks!

Helping a chick hatch

With 4 chicks hatched, mother hen Penguin left the nest yesterday to take the babies to the food and water. The last 2 eggs were abandoned. One had a pipped shell and chick peeping inside, so we took it to take a closer look. This egg, which was the largest of all of them, was pipped on the small end of the egg (the wrong end), which maybe was the problem. We brought it inside, but without a proper incubator set up, we decided to help it hatch.

In the photos you can see where we chipped off the shell without removing the membrane. We were trying to keep plenty of warmth and humidity -- and ended up pulling out the steamer pan! We used a washcloth and spray bottle to keep the membrane moist. Finally the chick hatched out of the membrane and we put it under its mother. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

More chicks

As of this morning we have 4 hatched chicks, one egg pipping, and one egg with no sign of hatching yet.

When Penguin was just sitting on eggs, we could lure her off the nest with food, but now she won't budge. To show the kids the chicks this morning I had to lift her off, wearing gloves since she has a mean peck now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


We're getting the coop and run ready for little ones, so we cleaned it out and brought in new straw mulch.

Are you my mother?

New chick and Charlie (our bearded dragon). The other 5 eggs still show no signs of hatching yet. They are due to hatch Friday or Saturday, but for some reason this chick hatched early.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Starting up a brooder inside

We've got the little guy inside in a heated brooder now. We'll put the chicks in here as they come out one by one, then return them to their mother when the last ones are hatching.

First chick -- quick photo

Mom got off the nest to chase another chicken away, so I got a quick photo. With this unexpectedly early hatch, we're scrambling to separate the mom and chicks from the other hens. Just now I shut the other chickens out of the henhouse and set up a roost and nesting box for them below.

This afternoon, I'm taking a crash course by reading on  BackyardChickens.com about this kind of situation, (called a "staggered hatch"). This can be a problem because the mother will want to leave the nest with the first chicks to show them where the food and water are, leaving the other eggs to get cold.  So to keep this from happening, we'll need to remove the chicks one by one as they hatch and bring them into a heated brooder. Then when the last eggs are hatching, we'll put them all back under their mother. 

WTF! Chick hatched early!

We just heard peeping from the henhouse and a chick is hatched -- 5 days before we expected! When I finally got my camera, I couldn't get the hen out of the way for a pic.

How did this happen? When we got the eggs from the breeder, he got 2 from the henhouse. Maybe this egg was already incubating?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another broody hen

 Spring is in the air ... another hen (Fancypants Johnson) stopped laying eggs and wouldn't leave her nest. When they go broody like this, it's like they're in a trance and can't think of anything except the nest. You remove them and they go right back. 

Since we don't want any more chicks, we are taking measures to "break" her out of it. This involves removing her from the coop so she can't get to the nesting boxes. The chicken tractor (pictured) is coming in handy for this. This cage can be moved around the yard. At night it's warmer and safer for her to be in a cage in the shed. Last time she was broody, it took several days of keeping her away from the nests for her to return to her normal self and start laying eggs again. I guess this means she would be a good mother so hopefully someday the timing will be right to give her a turn.

Meanwhile, we have about 6 days til Penguin (pictured in previous posts) hatches her chicks!