new baby chicks!
April 28, 2014, 5:18 pm
Filed under: chickens | Tags: ,

Five years ago we drove to Ohio to pick up some chicks. Today we did it again! Five new baby chicks came home with us. A Welsummer, a Barred Rock, a Partridge Rock, a Rhode Island Red and a Golden Laced Wyandotte.

Hey, we're here!

Hey, we’re here!

tiny fluff balls

tiny fluff balls

It took a couple of days, but we did manage to name them. Meet the new five:

Violet (Barred Rock)

Violet (Barred Rock)

Goodge (Partridge Rock)

Goodge (Partridge Rock)

Phillipa (Pippa)

Phillipa (Pippa) Welsummer

Lilikoi (Lily)

Lilikoi (Lily) Golden Laced Wyandotte

Daisy (Rhode Island Red)

Daisy (Rhode Island Red)

I probably need to look them up again, as I’ve probably misidentified them. I’m surprised that the Rhode Island Red has so much variation on the color, perhaps we didn’t get one of them at all? Time will tell!

Daisy is much bigger than the others

Daisy is much bigger than the others


the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?


goats in coats 2014 edition

This morning we woke up to this:

looks like minus 10!

looks like minus 10!

This am, both of the goats were shivering. Time for the coats.

sydney can't believe she got the coat too.

sydney can’t believe she got the coat too.

We checked on them later, and alas, the Dongo was still shivering. Time for a new tactic. Enter the sweatshirt.
(Note for Mom: for Christmas next year, Roppongi probably takes a large not a medium, but maybe with 3/4 length sleeves!)

she probably takes a large--but with 3/4 sleeves!

she probably takes a large–but with 3/4 sleeves!

She looks a bit dashing in that shot, don’t you think?
But no, she was glum. This pic captures her mood.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

She knew what was coming, the big blue sheet went on over top of the sweatshirt.

We did manage to cheer her up a bit though, with her favorite winter treat–hot molasses water. Mix about a tablespoon of molasses into about 3 litres or a gallon of water. Some people say that their goats really like the water hot and not warm. Today I tried that, and sure enough, Roppongi drank most of the bucket. They love it, and it’s a nice energy boost and vitamins for them.

In other winter news, note to self–this is why they made plastic chicken waterers.

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

I always wondered why people made the plastic ones, the galvanized ones would seem to last much longer. I like this nice big one in the summer in their run. It’s big so I don’t have to keep refilling it. Our plastic one was leaking last night, so I had to use the galvanized one, and lo and behold–you can’t get the frozen ice chunk out of it in the morning. ARGH. So we went out and bought a new plastic one today.

Other than a few small gripes, we’re all doing ok in the big cold. Just waiting it out until tomorrow. The kids had no school today, and they’re on a two hour delay tomorrow. But it should be up to the 40s maybe by the end of the week. Whew!

my pet chicken had cancer

Liz the lap chicken

As you know, we took Liz to the vet to have her put to sleep. It cost 124.95, but the peace of mind was worth it. I opted for the shot and not the gas chamber. It was nicer for her I think, and it was nicer for me too. She got a shot of sedative and then fell asleep as I petted her. Not that I think all chickens like to be petted (cause I don’t think they do) but Liz was our lap chicken. We knew that she had some kind of terminal illness. She was finding it hard to swallow and it was getting worse.

The vet offered to have a necropsy done. Apparently Penn State will do them for free. Anyhow I got the results back this week…she had cancer of the crop. An adenoma (though I’m not sure if that’s the right thing–reading around it sounds like that’s an ovarian thing?–dunno.) It was a relief to know that it wasn’t worms or something we could have helped her out with. We didn’t get her body back for burial, but I thought the opportunity for learning was important.

While we’ve been sad about Liz’s departure, someone I think has been more sad….
We went away for the weekend after I took Liz to the vet and when we got back, we saw this….

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

Yep that’d be Bubbles. We used to say that Liz was Bubbles’ be-otch. The two of them used to hang out. They were best buds. And Bubbles would come over and try to attack me if I was holding Liz. Sheesh! Bubbles is a mean bird.

But she is a pretty one, and I haven’t really posted pictures of the birds when they’re not at their best. And yeesh, Bubbles you looked a mess!

one molty Bubbles

one molty Bubbles

I’ve never seen her molt so fast and so much. She lost all the feathers on her back at once. Weird.

Bubbles' bare back

Bubbles’ bare back

One thing that’s neat about a Bubbles molt–her feather shaft things look BLUE when they come in. Kind of neat. (If you have an aversion to those scenes in the Black Swan–cover your eyes!) Of course, chickens are due for a molt, they haven’t been laying any eggs for a bit and it’s common in the heat of the summer. But they do say that chickens can molt if they’re really stressed out. And I do believe, that she was. Poor girl.

my blue swan

my blue swan

One other finding from the necropsy…Liz apparently had some testicular tissue in her ovaries! I don’t really know how common that is, but it probably explains why she never laid any eggs. Poor girl had a lot going on. She really was one special bird!

sure to be a double yolker!
February 17, 2012, 11:29 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens | Tags: , , , ,

I heard a lot of yelling coming from the coop this morning. Someone was making a big announcement of some kind or another. Who knows what they’re saying but I know it’s time to go and see what’s going on.
Bubbles in the box. She has that dazed look she often has and is just standing there. I figured the egg from the last guy was under her and that she was getting ready to have a sit. So I reached under her to get it. And voila!

a huge green egg!

She had laid the most enormous egg ever!! No wonder she looked shocked. I put it out to compare with the barred rock eggs. I thought the double yolker was a young chicken thing, but apparently the older girls can still surprise themselves! This is Bubbles second egg since she started again after the winter. She laid her first–smallish egg when we were away. Maybe around Valentine’s Day.

cocks comb

Sometimes you have a day of strangeness at the acres.

Yesterday was that day. Spent the morning with the plumber. He’s a nice guy, and he loves chickens. He has 25 of his own. Correction: He started with 25. Now he has 10. On a one acre lot. He talked about losing them in traffic, losing them to hawks, losing 5 to the 2 jack russell terriers next door, losing them to rooster attacks. Ugh not pretty. Then he was talking about how he wound up with 5 roosters. Warning–if a lady at a farm show is selling straight run and you want pullets–do not buy!! Especially when she says, hey i’m really good at sexing chicks. She used a a key and a thread, he said. I’m thinking huh? about all the ways you might use those things to sex a chick, and then he says, yeah the males will run over to the shiny object. OMG!! Yep he bought it, and wound up with 5 roosters, who later terrorized his kids, jumped on the back of his neighbor, attacked each other, ugh, terrible.

So he has to kill them. No one wants them. He tries. But no one wants them. They’re 2 year old roosters. And they’re mean. So he dispatches them with a hatchet, and then has his wife cook them up. He said it was so traumatic (and this from a guy who gets most of his protein from deer that he bow hunts and dresses himself??!) that he will never forget it.

Ugh. That’s for real man.

So…on to dinner. Or, the unreal! We have a work dinner with an out of town guest and we go to a fancy new place called Salt. Except that it’s NA/CL, you know. And that really sets us up. This is one of these places with lots of the latest ingredients and techniques going on. Foams, home preserved weird things, no substitutions on the menu. No tea on the menu, because they can’t get local tea, no decaf coffee on the “coffee programme” but the coffee (tasmanian peaberry in a french press) is locally roasted so that’s ok. Anyhow, lots of stories about lots of ingredients. Peach shrub? Apparently a shrub is not a bush but an old method of preserving fruit and vinegar to make into a soda syrup (this one was unripe georgia peaches). On and on it goes. These waiters earn their keep for sure. And then the mains menu features cockscomb. Guy next to me says, what’s cockscomb? I say well you know there’s a flower called cockscomb, but that’s not what they’re serving. It’s you know, the floppy thing on a chicken’s head!!! Ohhhhh. The waitress informs us, yes that’s what it is, we cook it for three days!! Oh, you’d have to, says me. Sheesh. I think someone ordered it. It came on a rectangular plate as a row of jewel like pink slabs. I believe all the offending pointy bits had been cut off.

Sniff sniff, all those cute little points that help you identify who’s who. To tell the difference between spanky and knuckles our two barred rocks. Sniff sniff. At least five little chicken heads served to one guest at an overwrought pretentious restaurant in the burgh. Sigh.

We’re so precious, I know. And living in a precious time. Here’s a funny video that captures some of this. It’s pretty funny!! And yes we actually have TWO of those shopping bags featured at the end. Picked up during our visit to San Fran in the spring! No prius here, but we have that weekly parking lot experience for sure!! (Also the 80.00 for six items thing too. sheesh)

Finally of course this whole evening reminded me terribly of Portlandia. What a great show. I just heard that they’re being picked up for another season. Last night’s dinner indicates that there is still a lot of crazy material from our precious yuppy world.

morning noises–noisy chickens
June 10, 2011, 1:12 pm
Filed under: chickens | Tags: , , ,

Those little goofballs get up to some crazy antics in the egg laying hours. At least I think it’s the egg laying hours. Ok I don’t really know what it’s all about, as we have no eggs yet. But….this is what goes on when the people are not about…

This is a thirty second clip, but they can keep it up! Earlier there were multiple chickens involved. I wonder how much the neighbors can hear them. Sheesh, girls, keep it down out there!!