Tag Archives: chickens

Stuff and things and whatnots

Ah, yes… here we are in that familiar blank spot where I had been posting with regularity for a good week or so and now we’re back to near-radio silence.  Par for the course, I blame it on too much work, too much fun, and picking up some new volunteer work.  Travis and I have coordinated our calendars and discovered that we’ve pretty much scheduled our weekends out through October.  We’re not the only ones whose schedules fill up this quickly, are we?

Read on for bullets, bullets, and more bullets!

pets and dinner

I bet you think I’m going to talk about the difference between raising animals as pets and raising animals as dinner. Like, we have dogs as pets but would never consider eating them, but we also have chickens as pets – are we going to eat them? BUT! I was actually going to talk about Pets. And Dinner. Not pets as dinner.

Side note: While we do expect to eat the eggs from our chickens, we don’t plan on turning any of them into dinner. If one turns out to be a rooster, becoming dinner is completely dependent on T’s willingness to, er, process it. We could go either way. But we don’t intend to ever raise chickens for the purposes of eating them.

Here’s the pet update: the dogs are fine. The dogs are the same. Nothing ever changes with the dogs. We’ve watched our friends’ dog a couple of times and I’m happy to say that she melded into our dog-chaos perfectly. She even holds her own protecting treats and other doggy valuables. The cat is fine. She was getting kind of skinny for a while, so we started feeding her some canned kitten food in the morning. That kind of bulked her up, but now she expects morning breakfast (and gets very vocal if it’s not there) so I’ve just cut back the amount she gets. The chickens (because they are pets, really) are growing up quite quickly, but I’m happy to say that they put themselves to bed on a perch in their coop (if loose in their run) once it gets dark, so I don’t have to chase after them. They love grapes, mealworms, and crickets; they are undecided on tomatoes and cantaloupe. Corn is a winner, as are the parsley trimmings from the garden. I fed them steak trimmings the other day, but I don’t think they really went after it. I’m feeling pretty confident that Bunny will lay eggs; Buffy’s comb has started to turn a bright pink but her back feathers still look round and fluffy. I guess we’ll just have to see.

Now, for the dinner update. My mom went to Maine recently and, in return for watching 3 out of 4 dogs, she shipped live lobsters back. Not just for us, but for our friends, too! Nice, big lobsters – about 1 ¾ lbs each – all packed into a Styrofoam containers and checked as luggage. She was supposed to join us for dinner, but got waylaid in Chicago. Somehow, her checked luggage got out of Chicago to San Diego, though. It was my first attempt at cooking live lobsters, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting or dramatic as I’d been led to believe. I thought the lobsters would start fighting to get out or stick a claw out or something. Nothing. You toss them into boiling water, put the lid back on, then set your timer for 12 minutes. Come back, pick up a bright red lobster, crack the tail off, whack the claws, and get your melted butter ready. They were delicious! I even went through the tedious step of squeezing out all the leg meat. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make a lobster scramble for breakfast. Leftover claw and tail meat got turned into lobster corn chowder… I suppose I could have saved the shells to make stock, but since I don’t even intend to make lobster bisque, I’m not sure why I would need quarts of lobster stock around. Chicken stock works just fine for me, thank you.

So, thank you so much, Mom, for the lobster dinner. It was delicious and we had a great time. I’m just sorry you weren’t there to dine with us. But, I’m glad you did eventually get into San Diego.

Fort Knox, but for chickens

I apologize for the lack of pictures lately (not like I’ve ever been a fountain of visual aids here), but they’re all still on the camera memory card. I think I meant to show pictures of the chickies as they were growing up, and then they went and got all grown up too fast! They’ve been moved into their coop and we (by we, I mean T) have spent a lot of time trying to secure their run area from the dogs.

While they were just in the coop, the dogs took to staring at them through the open hardware cloth and then scratching at it, making a lot of noise and scaring everyone in the process. I tried to add boards to block the chickens from their field of view, but it didn’t really work. So, enclosing the run area became a priority. Originally, we were just going to close it in with wire fencing and hardware cloth, but as the coop experiment showed, the dogs are kind of relentless when they can see the chickens. We bought cement fiber board panels from Home Depot (I think they’re siding panels) and used them as walls all around the coop and run. Wire fencing is above that so no one can jump or fly in. T is going to build me a gate using part of a panel and we also buried hardware cloth around the perimeter to discourage digging.

The solution isn’t as open-feeling as I’d envisioned, but this will keep the chickens safer and prevent the dogs from going crazy (and making so much noise). Of course, the downside of this is that the chickens look so small in the big space! I have to remember that they’ll probably grow to almost twice the size they are now when they’re full grown, and that I don’t really need more than 2 chickens. Two chickens will provide more eggs than we can use, we’re not going to sell extras, and we’ll probably just give some away. So it’s not like I need more layers to provide a constant stream of eggs.

For the longest time, the chickens weren’t interested in any food other than their feed. I was beginning to think my chickens were broken… the internet was full of people whose chickens ate everything in sight! Now I think they just weren’t old enough. I recently gave them mealworms and crickets and they went nuts! The chickens make a funny noise when presented with something new (kind of like “Whoa! Suspicious item! Stay back!”) and they make a different noise when chasing after food (“Whee! Being predatory!”) Either pet store crickets are kind of slow or the chickens are pretty quick, because they clear the field rather quickly.

I also gave them a small dish of yogurt (we’re a Fage household) with some ground flaxseed on the side. Bunny loved the yogurt; Buffy was quite offended. She would go to peck at it, then get upset that it stuck to her beak. There was a lot of head flinging and beak wiping. And then she would go back, maybe to see if it was still as disgusting as it was 5 seconds earlier? Bunny, meanwhile, would just go pick up the specks of yogurt that were being flung onto the floor. Buffy seemed to like the flaxseed, but not the parts touching the yogurt. And, at the end of the day, the dish was pecked clean.

They’ve also enjoyed a tomato that was half eaten in the garden and a fig that was split open (or maybe pecked open by a wild bird). They have not touched the pineapple guava I gave them when I was testing it to see if it was ripe (it wasn’t).

I really like our chickens. They’re different from the dogs and they’re interesting to watch. It’s been a lot of work getting them set up to live outside and they probably won’t ever pay for their coop and run through eggs alone, but I still think they’re worth it.