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Chick Update

June 1st, 2013

The chicks are doing really well, they are now outside 100% of the time. Dailon built a movable chicken coop, following the instructions in the back of Harvery Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. So far we like it, there roosts inside and nesting boxes with outside access. We don’t really need to worry about eggs any time soon, these chickies are just about 5 weeks old.
chicks roosting on old swingset
I love that they’re roosting and acting like little tiny chickens. They scratch, dust bathe, chase insects and they are even establishing a pecking order. It is nice to have them be fully outside and more or less taking care of themselves.
chicks roosting
It has been fun to watch these little guys/gals grow up, we’re looking forward to the upcoming months to watch their transformation into teenage chickens.

What’s your favorite animal to watch grow up?

Guinea Eggs

May 4th, 2013

When I got my new guineas, we also picked up two for our neighbor.  A few days later, she mentioned that they had found a guinea egg in their coop.  I headed out and checked in the guinea room, sure enough, there were a few eggs.
guinea eggs 1
They’re tiny, about half the size of chicken eggs. We’ve been finding two or three every day since.
guinea eggs 2
I’ve never met an egg I didn’t like and guinea eggs are no different. I’m wondering if they’d hatch a clutch if I left the eggs in the coop. They’re not laying them in one dedicated area yet, so maybe I’ll set up a little nesting area to see if they’ll hatch a few.

Have you ever tried eggs other than the ones from a chicken?


March 9th, 2013

I’ve been wanting to add more chickens to our flock for a while now. We average about 6 eggs a day from our flock of 7, that’s just enough for our breakfast. Mr Chiots and I each eat two eggs and the chiots gets two as well. This summer, we’re supposed to have a strapping young fellow living with us (more on that later), so I started checking Craig’s List for chickens a few weeks ago.
New Chickens 1 (1)
There was one lovely flock of 12 that I missed owning by only an hour. Then I came across a listing for 2 roosters and 4 hens. They were close, only about 15 minutes away. I contacted seller and we met Thursday night. I handed over $20 in the parking lot of the local Agway and she handed over 6 chickens. What a bargain!
New Chickens 8
This flock is a rescue. She works at a local animal shelter and from what I gather this flock showed up one day. They’ve been living in her barn for a while, she was making sure they were healthy and that the roosters weren’t mean. She guesses that they’re about 9 months old or so.
New Chickens 2 (1)
I ended up with 2 big roosters that are pretty docile so far (let’s hope that trait stays). The lady I got them from said her and her 12 year old daughter were picking them up and handling them every day to make sure they weren’t aggressive. They’re big handsome fellows, white and black with bright red combs and bright yellow feet.  We’re so happy to have a rooster once again, they do such a great job of protecting the ladies.
New Chickens 9
Along with these two handsome fellows came 4 hens. A big ginger one, a mostly black one, a buff one, and a reddish one. The lady I got them from guessed that they’re Wyandottes, though the ginger one might be a Buff Orpington. It’s hard to say, they could all be barnyard mutts.  I don’t know my chicken breeds very well. They lay four eggs a day though, so it doesn’t really matter.
New Chickens 4 (1)
Most people like to start flocks with chicks, I’d much rather start with older chickens. I don’t care if my chickens aren’t tame and don’t want to sit on my lap.   It’s also nice that I don’t have to feed and care for these chickens for 6 months before they start to lay, they’re already doing that.  Eventually, I’d like to get a few ladies that are skilled at raising their own, then they could raised chicks much better than I ever could.
New Chickens 6 (1)
I did a lot of research on how to integrate these birds into our flock. There are all sorts of ideas on how it should be done. Finally, I settled on the advice of an old-timer who said, “I just put the new chickens in the coop at night and in the morning they work out the pecking order.  I’ve been doing that for 50 years and have never had any serious issues.”
New Chickens 7 (1)
The new chickens were introduced into the coop on Thursday evening around 7, there was a lot of clucking and boking going on, but all of our current chickens pretty much stayed on their roosts. The next morning, I was up with the sun to check on them and make sure things weren’t getting out of hand.
New Chickens 3 (1)
Amazingly, there wasn’t much besides clucking, boking, and crowing going on. It was a loud day in the coop for sure, there was a constant hum of noise coming that direction. Every hour I headed out to check on everyone and all was well on each visit. There was a little big of pecking, chasing and fighting, but nothing worse than I’ve seen between the ladies in our current flock.  It looked like fairly normal behavior for establishing the pecking order.  Towards the end of the day it seemed everyone had worked out their differences.  I’ll continue to watch them closely for the next couple days to make sure nothing does happen.
New Chickens 5 (1)
Now I’m wondering when I can let them all out of the run to free range. The weather looks to be nice for the next couple days so they would certainly enjoy it, I just want to make sure they’ll all make their way back to the coop at night.  I certainly do not want to be hunting for chickens at dusk!

How many eggs, on average, are consumed per day in your home? 

Book Review: The Small Scale Poultry Flock

November 23rd, 2012

If you don’t listen to the podcast, you didn’t hear my review of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers. Since I love this book so much, I wanted to make sure to sing it’s praises here in case you didn’t hear my glowing reviews on Cultivate Simple.

Just about every chicken related book in print has come across my coffee table, many of them were good, this is the best overall. Most other chicken books I’ve read are what I would call “fluffy” full of useful information, but to a lot of meat. With this book it’s chocked full of just about everything you want to know. There’s definitely a lot more substance to this book making it well worth it’s cost.

How good is this book? Good enough for me to buy for my library. No other chicken book has received a place on my bookshelf. If you’re at all interested in raising chickens, ducks, or geese I cannot recommend this book enough. It covers everything too, from rearing chicks the all natural way and mixing your own chicken feed, to how to use chickens to till your garden and how to butcher them when the time comes. This book has it all!

The funny thing about this book – I purchased a copy right after we moved and accidentally forgot to change my address at Amazon. Since I was so keen on getting the book and didn’t want to wait the month until I headed back to Ohio, I purchased a second copy. The Ohio copy was given away as a prize on the podcast. We had the listeners comment and use the word chicken or one of it’s derivatives in the comment and we chose the most creative one. If you didn’t listen or read the comment head on over to this post to read them, some folks were very creative!

Do you have any great reference books to recommend that are worthy of a place on the library shelf?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.