Thursday, December 4, 2008

Called back to post

Suzanne has given me a nudge so here goes! Ok to catch up on the lost chicken. Turned out to be a neighbor's bird we kept her in our yard for a awhile giving her much needed food and water. We talked to our neighbors to see who's bird she was. She seemed to be ok after the "dog fight". Her name turned out to be Larry. I have to tell you, our neighborhood is known for attracting strange inhabitants myself included! Larry the chicken (and yes a female) is named after Larry our local wood carver and manager of our little art gallery here in Woody Creek. The locals call themselves woody creatures, strange I know.

Back to the tale of Larry: My neighbor was kind of wandering down the street looking around and I asked her in passing if she was looking for something. She was, her chicken! I was so happy to reunite her with her bird. Larry was a bit shaken up over the whole experience a couple of days in a strangers yard with other chickens to boot! Not even a thank you for care taking her bird! Can you believe it? Strange, very strange. I was raised for the first 10 years of my life in NYC and I have better manners than that. She was kind of spaced out if that maybe explains it... Anyways long story short. Larry and owner walked off into the afternoon Larry riding away on my neighbor's arm like a parrot. It was so surreal like out a strange artsy movie.

Months later now, I have had an extremely successful summer. We had a wedding (ours), a trip to South America not in that order, a trip to Miami for another wedding in July and then work work work. Being a chef is tough. We did a ton of work on our house with upgrades etc, and I did a TON of work in the yard. The girls had a blast. And I have to say our little feather footed creatures are much easier on the lawn and flower beds! They don't scratch as much but they are not proficient layers. They had their molt late September and haven't laid since. Usually molting lasts 6 weeks.

I extended our yard by ripping out a useless deck that rapped around our porch so the girls gained some more lawn. The green house is still producing Swiss chard and herbs and I planted some new spinach and lettuce which is doing really well even in the cold temps and snowy days. I also added numerous fruit trees to the property and a couple of nut trees. We'll see how they do in the high altitude.

The girls are adjusting to the cold well. It's been down to 8 degrees F (-13 C) only a couple nights. The eglu is double insulated and does really well to keep the girls warm. Thy huddle together towards the back near the egg collection door. I changed their shade back to the full sized winter one and it's given protection from the elements. I have the run literally next to a 5' high wooden fence, so they are well protected from drafts and our harsh mountain winds. The girls do just fine. I close them in at night, which occasionally is a pain in the butt! Victoria likes to run out every time she hears the front door open, I guess she's looking for snacks. What a pill! So I have to wait until it gets late to close the door. I guess when she decides she's not interested in snacks. My little piggy!

The little ones, which aren't so little anymore, have started a weird behavior of perching together on their shelf in their wooden coop. Which is outside of the hut. I'm definitely going to hang a bulb in there for them soon. I have to scoot them up their ramp into their house and close the door on them! They are still sitting out there in 26 F (-3 C) degree weather! And they put up such a stink when I scoot them in. So bizarre! You would think that they want to be warm and toasty. I know I do!

My biggest challenge is keeping the water from freezing. We have a system of pulling in the bowls at night and filling them in the am but during the day, on extremely cold days it freezes. The little ones are going to get a warmer base for under the waterer but the eglu glug is a difficult matter. I have given the girls an auxiliary waterer on occasion and I'm thinking that this winter we may have to do a warmer for them as well. Last winter I just emptied it and filled it enough times that it never became dangerous, but it was a pain in the butt!

I will be starting to put Vaseline on the girl's wattles and combs, this helps to prevent frost bite. I also recommend to all the eglu owners out there, get the winter shade. I have pictures posted from 2 winters ago where the shade created a snow cave and the girls were quite cozy in there. Just make sure you don't let the snow get too deep and heavy! We had a leaning run that we had to shovel out.

Ok and on a totally gross note, our blue Cochin had prolapsed with an egg encased in her cloaca. This is not for the weak stomached but I really need to share this experience in case some one else has this problem. OMG! I really had to fight not to throw up. I brought her in to the kitchen sink and washed her bottom. Really assessed the situation, read so many things online and it scared the bejesus out of me. From everything I read, Luna would be a goner. I had to crack the egg to get the prolapsed cloaca to release it. It was have encased and dried around the egg. I couldn't believe I had missed it. I'm sorry to say that I think it was a couple of days that my poor girl was in this state. I felt so terrible, such a bad chicken mommy! I called the local vet and no one would see a chicken! All this farm and ranch land and no chicken vets? Anyway, I rinsed and rinsed with mild soap and warm NOT HOT water. Then, applied Preparation H (with an exam glove on) to the cloaca and pushed it back in. I started them on Antibiotics right away, I had some from a kit I purchased from McMurray Hatchery online. I was so stressed and scared. We had lost two girls before to strange causes and I was beginning to take it personally. I treated her everyday with the Prep -H and pushed it back in (with a glove) and thank god one day the red and irritated cloaca returned to it's normal position! I was so happy! She's doing well, eating, drinking and gaining weight. I have not been able to determine if she has laid since then, so I'm a little worried to see what's going to happen when she goes back into laying mode. But everything looks ok right now (fingers crossed).

I will get around to taking pictures and posting them! I hope I was able to answer some questions or concerns for Suzanne!
There are tons of books out there on care and maintenance my first one was "Keeping Pet Chickens" by, Johannes Paul and William Windham. It's a good place to start.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WEIRD!!! Rogue Chicken!!!

Got a strange message from a neighbor that one our chickens was out in our neighbors yard and being harassed by a dog. I ran to the window and did a triple count. They were all there. I thought how weird, it must be a big wild bird of some sort. Then later I ran into my neighbor Rich and he said that there was a chicken in his yard! I thought he was joking until I followed him around his shed and sure enough there was a beautiful big girl sitting in his yard. I know I've inspired some people locally to keep chickens but not anyone this close in the neighborhood. So, I have no idea where this chicken came from. I went to the post office to report and check the board and Sherri of course knew before I did that "my" chicken was on the run. We laughed when I told her that the chicken wasn't one of mine and it was a lost chicken found. We're going to post pictures that she's been found. Rich and I caught her with a towel and I put her in with our large girls since we had a spot recently vacated by Penelope (RIP). We're thinking LuLu for a name. The girls are figuring it out in there right now losts of chicken talk in the yard. Lulu is a big girl with feathers on her legs. I can't identify her breed yet. I still can't get over it. Our neighborhood isn't the type to have random chickens crossing the road or the river! Our nearest chicken farm is across the roaring fork river and there's no way she made it this far. WEIRD! I think she's a Black Langshan. But who knows I'll post a picture later maybe you have some ideas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We're Back....

After a month long vacation to Peru and Ecuador and then back to work it's been a busy couple of months. So an update of what's gone on, we got back from vacation and all was well. My good friend Gina pet sat for us while we were away and she did a great job. The garden was looking good and the girls were all still kicking.

We had found homes for half the chicks on a farm in Paonia and then one of ours turned into a rooster and was crowing at 5:30am! EARLY!!! So we placed him with our friends down the road along with some other chicks. They're getting so big and are almost full grown. They're combs are coming in and their wattles too.

About a month ago we lost one of our layers. We came out one morning and she was out of the coop on the ground with her head tucked under. Penelope's comb had never come in after a year and a half. So we're not sure if she was just runty. No answeres on that one. We were all really sad about it. Then all seemed to be well. We slowly tried to introduce our chicks which are now huge to the other girls. In the garden they don't pay much attention to each other but when we placed Franny near the other coop she was attacked by Victoria and Sylvia. We're not sure if was stress or a stroke or a heart attack or what happened but she stopped eating and drinking and had a hard time moving her legs. We were completely beside ourselves. We thought maybe she was going lame so we tried oyster shells to treat against calcium deficency, we treated the girls with vitamins and she just got progressively worse. We separated her from the flock, heating pad, hand watered her and fed her mash but she didn't make it. She passed away today and we're having a hard time not blaming ourselves. I've been on some forums asking questions and talking to other chicken owners and the best we can come up with is that she had a stroke and then refused water and food because she was having seizures and then lost her strength. I called vets up and down the valley and there is no poultry vet. We are crushed. We've lost two girls in 2 months and are just distraught. If anyone has had similar experiences we would appreciate some feed back. We're going to treat the girls for worms again to rule out that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lots of Feathers!

We are getting close to putting the chicks outside but it's still a little bit chilly out there so we've decided to wait a few more weeks. It's starting to smell like a zoo in our laundry room! Even with changing the paper and wood shavings frequently it's stinky!

On a beautiful day I captured these photos of the girls lunging for lettuce treats. They've been very happy sunning themselves on pretty days.

I think the girls are very happy with the sunshine and have been producing three eggs a day much more frequently.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Feathers Coming In!

The Chicks have now started to come right up to the camera. We're also starting to hand feed them to tame them a bit. We expanded they're brooder again and they seem excited running around.

I vacuumed in the room because it was getting really dusty with feather dander and feed dust. I also scrubbed all the surfaces with a orange based cleaner because it was getting stinky and musty in the laundry room! The chicks hate the vacuum but it must be done. We are now at 4 1/2 weeks now and the birds are looking less like chicks and more like mini chickens. They're little combs are starting to emerge and they're feathers are really coming in now.

We've also gone to 2 gallon size waterers because they were going through one a day. If the warm weather keeps up then we're going to start to bring them outside for short periods of time. We're also going to assemble their pen and coop. We're also looking to expand our eglu but we're brain storming some ideas about going vertical. But it might just come to buying the expansion piece from omlet. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chicken Littles

King of the roost. I had to move the feeders and waterers back away from the cardboard brooder guard to keep this one in. The girls named him/her Mercutio, yes we've got a high school student reading Romeo and Juliet. I've named the little Batam that I found on his/her back Wee-Man because he's/she's kind of a runt. He/she's still going strong though. Delayed development but it's eating and drinking away. And we have a Houdini that some how escaped to the other side of the brooder guard, thank god it was just for the afternoon. I become accustomed to counting the chicks now just in case.

This little one is trying to get to the heater some how. It's too funny to watch and now the rare breed chick is doing it too. Haven't been able to snag a photo of it yet, but we'll see if I can. Some of the chicks have feathers coming in everywhere!

Since it's the start of their 3rd week we've turned the heater down to 85F. But it fluctuates between 90F and 85F.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bath day for the girls.

I put on a ruddy old T-shirt and I took the girls out one by one, bringing them into the house and bathing them. After they were finished I placing them in dog crates. The Omlet website has a great section in the "guide" as to how to bathe your birds.

Victoria went first, then Penelope and finally Sylvia. They weren't so keen on the idea. I think they liked the warm water rinse the most of the whole experience. Although, Victoria surprisingly enough stood in front of the hair dryer (on low so as not to damage their feathers) and when I'd move it around I swear she was posing. Sylvia was the most unhappy about being wet and held in the sink she tried to escape and managed to scratch me on the arm. Victoria didn't mind so much and Penelope wasn't sure what to make of the whole thing. I fed them some treats after the traumatic experience to ease their stress and they gobbled them up.

I made sure that they were completely dry (even felt under their wings just to be sure). They spent a good part of the day in the dog crates and I gave them some food and water. Needless to say we didn't have eggs for two days because of the stress of the experience. Or they were just mad and getting even!

It's been super sunny this last week and a half and no snow so we've pulled back the winter shade and let the girls have full sun all day. We've been getting 3 egg days again so Penelope is laying again! Very exciting. Tonight it was snowing when I got home so I made sure to cover the run back up again, but tomorrow hopefully it will be nice again. The girls so enjoyed the breath of fresh air and the feeling of Spring coming (even though we're a good 2 months out). The yard has started to thaw a bit and the shed doors are no longer iced up. Yea!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chicks Growing Fast!

It's been a busy week for us and I haven't been able to keep up with the blog. We lost the two sick chicks a couple of days ago. We had know idea what was wrong with them other than one had a bad eye and the other just wouldn't eat or drink for no reason in particular. It was very sad and we explained what was happening to the 6 year old and told her that they probably would not make it.

The other chicks are doing great however and I expanded the brooder using the cardboard ring from Murray McMurray hatchery. We've also turned down the heat from 95 degrees F to 90. I've stopped adding water to the pellet mix and they've finally started to eat the pellets dry, I did have to remove the lid to the feeder to get them to eat out of it. Now they're going crazy over it. The long feeder with the attached lid, they wont touch. There old enough now and steady enough on their feet that I don't have to worry about them getting stuck on their backs in the dish.

They have taken to jumping up and flapping their itty bitty wings about. The extra rare breed has taken to hopping up trying to attack the heater guard. They've also started to peck at the black lines and numbers on the thermometer. It's extremely funny to watch. Some of them have started to scratch and peck at the pictures in the newspaper. I tried wood shavings but they're still trying to eat it so I removed it since it's dangerous if they get it stuck in their crops and intestines. I've also been removing the poop off their buts when it gets stuck. All of us don't enjoy that process.

One of the Blue Cochins is doing a really funny thing I'm posting this video because you've got to see it he/she does it a couple of times at 1min 40 secs and at the end 2 min! He bumps around backwards on the floor!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One's not doing so well

One of the Salmon Favorelles isn't eating or drinking. We found her upside down under the heat lamp. When I examined her she isn't having normal growth, she had an empty crop and one of her eyes is terribly swollen. I'm not sure what to do. I've posted on a couple of sites but no reply as of yet. I'm not sure if I should separate her out of the box with the other chicks but I only have one light to go around. I held her in a paper towel and using a zip lock baggie (since I don't have a feeding tube) I tried to force her to eat. You have to be really careful when you do this because they can aspirate really easily. She took some liquid but any mushy solids she kind of pushed away. Baby Parrots are much easier to hand feed because they almost beg for the food. They open up real wide and "take" the food bobbing there heads so the food goes down quicker to their crops. No such luck with a chicken. I've been using the "dropper" method of bringing her liquid to her beak with my finger and she drinks but she is not well. The eye is getting bigger and I've never seen anything like this. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. Can you take a 5 day old chick to the vet? Or should you let nature take it's course?

The extra rare breed chick that McMurray Hathcery sent us I think is a Old English Game fowl. Taken from McMurray website: They have their origins almost with the beginnings of history. With the outlawing of cockfighting in England, the Pit Game was bred for exhibition. Modern Games were developed from the Old English and have an extremely high station with a rather peculiar style and carriage as a result. Modern Games are dubbed (have their combs cut) as chicks when used for showing.

This is our chick. What do you think?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Growing Fast!

The chicks are growing so quickly and it's only been 2 days. They're runing around the box like crazy. Last night they slept so quietly with only a few chrirps here and there. And this morning they're back at it again peeping less then yesterday but still chirping away. They've been busy eating drinking and eating and pooping! Lots and lots of poop! I keep adding more paper towels down for a fresh clean surface. Still wetting down their food because they haven't seemed to take to the dry feed yet. Checking on them every half hour or so now except when we're and they're sleeping. One of the darker striped Bantams got stuck upside down for I can guess a while, and was quite cold and limp when I got to him/her. I was so freaked out and scared but my old veterinary technician days kicked in! I wrapped him/her in a wash cloth and I held him under the heat lamp stroking it's back to stimulate it and used my finger to drip the electrolyte water on it's beak to get him to drink. He/she took the water and I did this for at least 15 minutes almost burning my hand! But it seemed to work and I placed him/her back under the lamp when the body temperature came back up and after a while (which seemed like hours) of watching and waiting and finally after having to walk away and return 30 mins later he/she was up and eating and drinking by himself. What a relief! It's scary sometimes when I go to check in on them and they're lying down sleeping but it looks as if they may be dead. But I watch for awhile and they're breathing. Such a new mom I am.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


After working really late last night, 8:30am came really early this morning! Our wonderful neighborhood postal officer called me and when I slept through the call, she came to my house! She had let the driver know that they were coming and he called her to let her know that they would be there at 7am. I'll be baking some cookies for both of them and giving them some eggs!

I was so surprised to see how small the box and the chicks were. They were all snuggled up together in the corner all pushing together like a rugby scrum. And they're peeping and cheeping away! I wrapped up the box up to protect them from draft and Linda gave me a mail sorting box to put the bundle in. I hurried to the warm car and drove them back to the house. Niko doesn't know what to make of them.

I had the box ready to go and warm with the heater, thermometer and I put paper towels on the bottom of the box to keep them from injuring themselves by sliding around. I dipped their beaks in the water before I let them go and they all found the corner again. I must have been sitting there for 3 hours just watching them. All 22 survived (they sent 1 extra rare breed). I'm a little dissapointed that they didn't have a successful hatch of the Partidge Cochins so we they sent 1 extra White Cochin Bantam instead.

The chicks have started to run around, a little wobbely on their feet like they were drunk! I swear that they are growing before my very eyes! The little ones opened their eyes and now they're all eating and drinking. I added some sugar to the their water along with the Quick Chick powder, full of electrolytes and vitamins and minerals to give the chicks a good start.

I gave them some food with warm water to mush it up a bit and they love it. I already see a pecking order being established and the Bantams might have to be seperated out from the rest since they're so tiny. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Today's the Day!

I called Murray McMurray yesterday to find out if I'd be notified when the chicks were mailed to give me an ETA. She told me the chicks were scheduled for hatching today, Saturday and that they would be placed into the postal system today! We may get a call tomorrow from the Post office to pick them up. I thought it was strange for a Sunday pick up at the Post Office, but I guess with live chicks they make exceptions. We picked up a bag of Start and Grow from the co-op today as well as a long plastic chick feeder and a couple of new waterers! Tonight we're going to set up the brooder to regulate the temperature and get it nice a toasty in the laundry room for the chicks. Wish us luck for a successful clutch.

On a warmer note:

The girls have gotten some extra special attention lately. We've had two warmer (27-32F) days with bright high altitude sunshine! FINALLY! I strong-armed the girls out of their run to sit in the sun for awhile. They were not happy standing on the hard pack snow and at the first chance they had they scooted back into the run behind my back! Tricky birds! Next time I'll try putting a towel down on the snow. I also pulled the run cover off and aired out their space all day letting the long awaited sunshine in. I replaced their wood chips and replaced the straw in the nest area (my girls are very funny, they like to scratch all the straw out of the eglu). Today after returning from the co-op and the dog park, I coaxed them out of the run with some organic sweet 100's tomatoes, they would come out, grab the tomato and run back in. Penelope wouldn't even come out, she'd just chase Victoria (my alpha hen) around and eat up all the seeds that were squirting out in Victoria's panic of losing her tomato. I swear Victoria was growling. Sylvia I thought was second in the pecking order but now I'm not so sure. I'm going to bathe the girls, I was hoping to do this before the chicks came but that's not going to happen now. I guess I'll wait for the next bright warm day. Or maybe the girls will have a night inside in a pet carrier.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cave in!

Well, we had a little scare the other day, i guess the weight of the snow on the run started to collapse the run! We knocked the 3 feet of snow off and it popped right back into place. I guess we figured it would just continue to hold but I think we were pressing our luck with letting it get that far. Yikes! The girls refuse to come out of the run even for treats. I'll have to send the people at Omlet a picture of the eglu (igloo more like!) It's too funny. Everytime I open the eglu to collect eggs, I'm so surprised how warm it is in there. Tonight it was 2 degrees F outside. We checked on the girls when we got home (super late from making chocolate truffles for a benefit) and the girls were snuggled together, poofed up in the feather coats and it was warm in there. I was so worried about the winter but they're doing great and we've had a hell of a winter let me tell you! The snow hasen't stopped, we've had 19 feet fallen so far, it's really ridiculous. Global warming's extreme weather is in full effect here in Colorado. Niko our Akita Rottie mix is in heaven!

Next week our chicks arrive and I spoke to the Post Office yesterday to let them know they were coming and gave them my cell number to call when they arrive, I think they're excited too. 5 Salmon Faverolles and a mixed bag of Cochins, blue, buff, black and I think white. I was talking to a neighbor about taking some chicks to thin the flock but maybe I'll keep them till they get a little bigger. We're all set up and ready to go. We've decided on putting the chicks in the laundry room because it's the warmest room in the house right now and it has a window with indirect light. I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snow Cave

The girls eglu is starting to look like a snow cave. But I think the added insulation over the run is keeping them warmer. I've left the door open a couple of times and not only will they not roam around they climb out of the snow cave and they turn right around and jump back into their run. We're setting up our new computer so hopefully I'll be able to post some new winter pics of the snow cave. The snow coverage on the top and covering the sides of the run has kept the run nice and dry, but frozen and the girls are looking a bit dusty but they seem very happy. Victoria has now started a new thing where she tries to rip the treat bag (a custom pasta blend) I've been giving them right out of my hand. She's so feisty. A challenge we're having is keeping the eglu turd tray from freezing and making it extremely difficult to remove.

We're counting down to new chicks in a couple of weeks and we're very excited!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Good Lord! It's been freezing here sometimes below 0F! We've been putting vaseline on the girls combs and wattels. The girls have been refusing to come out of their run into the snow. There's a a foot of snow on top of their run cover! This is as far as they'll come out. Victoria comes out and then back in again!