Friday, February 25, 2011


What a day...  It's so dreary out, it's dark and grey, raining and windy.  Classic weather for this area.  I was so pleased that it was decently warm out and that my hens were happily scratching around in the yard.  I went outside and checked for eggs and was so happy when I had two this morning.  I went back out in the afternoon to check for more and I almost died.  There in the nest sat Zoe... she was drenched from the rain and because of that I could see she had been injured several times by my rooster.  Her back is bare now, she has gouges and scabs in several places, some that look extremely deep.  I ran back inside to get Matthew.  When I came back out she was gone.  I watched her for a bit then coaxed the whole flock to come over to my woodhouse for a treat (bananas and of course... Cheerios).  I coaxed them right over to me and snatched up Zoe before Bill could even react.  She is now in Belle's old dog kennel (so glad I didn't sell it or chuck it), it's filled with clean straw and she has food and milk.  When I picked her up and saw the damage I started bawling.  I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed this.  It hadn't rained in so long I never saw any of these wounds.  My poor girls have been so severely overmated that almost all of them are missing feathers in spots.

I'm getting rid of Bill.  He's going to be given away as soon as possible.  I can't have him doing this to my girls.  There are too few of them clearly because they are waaaaay overmated.  I like watching Bill in the yard, he's interesting, he keeps the girls away from hawks, he hides them from danger, I like that.  But I can't have him around if this is what is going to happen.

To top all of this off I think my kitten is sick, he pooped on the floor twice last night while I was sleeping.  He stinks and so does my kitchen even after cleaning it all up.  My parents dog, my childhood dog is probably going to be put down on Monday.  What a frigging day...  at least my chicks are okay.  I've been reading about some horror stories that went on with people on the backyardchickens forum and I'm glad to say that mine are thriving.  They just had a treat today, bananas for the first time and boy did they LOVE them.  I tried grapes last and they really didn't like those much.  But the bananas, it was like a party in there.

Giacomo is crying his head off.  I feel like it's a bloody zoo in here.  My friend is coming over for wine later thankfully.  First though I will have to clean up Zoe even if she is here...

PS:  BB is doing excellent.  Her eggs still look flat and ridiculous but my lovely lady left the egg be!  She didn't eat it or peck it!  Way to go BB!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mostly pictures

My means of breaking BB's egg eating habit are so far diet (more calcium) and scolding and swatting her if she pecks an egg.  A lot of people think you might not be able to get through to a chicken this way but they are actually quite intelligent.  They were the first animals to be trained with a clicker.  I am thinking if things get real desperate, I might try to add clicker training.  Maybe like... she pecks the egg she gets swatted.  She leaves the egg, she gets a treat and a click.  That might work.  Yeah I probably sound absolutely insane but I'm a little desperate. 

Here's what you're all looking for though.

 All different shades.  If you have Aracuanas you can get blue, green and lavender coloured eggs.  Matthew had a few of those once.  My Rhodies lay brown and my SLWs lay beige.

 Stripes on the back like this mean these little ones are female!

 Macky, my husband's favourite and the runt of the bunch, stretching her little legs!  She is also in a teacup!

 This handsome fellow is Vincent.  He already thinks he is cock of the walk :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the subject of egg eating

First off, I had an extremely successful hatch rate. 6/8 is really good!  I am so surprised by this that I actually don't know what to do with them now. So if anyone would like a trio (two hens and a roo), then let me know!  I'll raise them up for you and you can have them for the low low price of $30!  Anywho, I have five girls and one boy!  I named the little guy Vincent and I know I can't keep him... well unless Bill does something particularly bad, then he can certainly be replaced, but I have to tell you, Vincent is the cutest chick out of all of them.  Though my husband would disagree, he thinks our newest one Macky is the cutest.  She was stuck in her egg and needed a lot of help.  I tried "zipping" the egg for her but by the time I intervened she was too tired to do anything.  Matthew then basically hatched half of her egg off.  The next day she managed to get out of the rest of the egg but she still had membrane stuck to her down.  So I had to soak that off of her.  It took her another two days to actually dry off completely.  She is such a runt but then again she and the oldest hatched basically four days apart.  My oldest, Elle, already has tiny feathers on her wings! 

I will post some new photos of everyone tomorrow.  I took some this evening and I have a little photo shoot planned for them tomorrow.  Gotta keep up with my 365 photo challenge, I am a photographer and not a farmer after all.  So yes, on to the subject of egg eating.   Well my special chicken... BB, as you know has had some struggles.  She is at the bottom of the pecking order and was a late bloomer.  She finally started laying eggs and I was so pleased.  But then she started eating them. :(  This is terrible.  It is almost impossible to break a chicken of this habit and they will teach it to the other hens and even the rooster.  I separated BB immediately and I prayed that the behavior hasn't caught on.  I don't think it has because I have seen no evidence of more egg eating.  Because she is new to egg laying, I have to wait for her to lay another to see exactly what is happening.  But I know she is the culprit.  I was told to give her a blown egg full of mustard, apparently chickens hate it.  I brought it out to her and she immediately started pecking at it.  She got to the mustard and loved it.  She gobbled down half of it.  I was stunned.  She even sounded like she burped when she was finished.

So I guess filling the eggs with things isn't going to work.  I had some people tell me that they scolded their chickens when they pecked the eggs.  I don't want BB to hate me, she is my fav and lets me carry her around and stuff... but maybe I can scold her and shoo her away from the eggs.  I'm also changing her diet up.  I think she didn't realize the oyster shells I put out were food... they are full of calcium and chickens will often eat their own eggs if they don't have enough calcium.  So it's down to trying to turn the behaviour around with praise and scoldings and with nutrition. 

Wish me luck.. I don't know what I'll do if I can't turn this around.  I don't want to clip her beak, I think it's cruel and I don't want to cull her either... ugh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Yesterday my chicks started hatching.  I was really excited but I had to leave the house for an hour and  a half.  When I came back I watched one egg that I could hear really loud chirping from.  I watched probably only 10 minutes and the chick practically exploded out of the egg.  That wasn't enough for this chick though, it laid there for a minute to rest, then it kicked the egg shell away and tried to get up!  Within a half hour it was walking/wobbling around the incubator and using it's brother's and sister's eggs as jungle gyms.  I think that this chick may be a girl.  She has finally dried off as of this morning and is looking quite reddish.  If they are red/brown they are girls.  So here is hoping!  If that is a girl, her name is Elle :)  Did I tell you all that my names are all inspired from Quentin Tarantino movie characters?  I love Tarantino to death.  I am a huge Pulp Fiction fan, I love True Romance and Kill Bill Vol.1 and 2.   2 especially.

So here are some pictures of the adorable little peep!

Last night I had an accident.  Right after I saw a third egg pipped (pipped means there is a small hole in it) I tried to make myself some Indian Rotis.  I made one without olive oil and then decided to try to make one with.  I dropped the roti, it hit the pan and the oil splashed up into my face.  The result is here:

So they are pretty nasty.  It was quite awful, my husband is gone so the result was me screaming and crying, running around trying to get the oil off my face.  I ripped my glasses off and thank God I was wearing them and not my contacts, I ran to the sink and put my face under the water.  Giacomo and Belle ran away and Fawkes followed me around watching me cautiously and crying a little.  He was upset that I was upset.  Anyway, I am lacking a vehicle so my Dad took me to the hospital and they fixed me up.  They made sure there was no oil in my eye, put numbing cream on me, put shrink wrap on me basically and gave me a prescription for cream that my Dad got me.  I think it was second degree or so I heard my doctor mumbling.  Glad he was on call. 

So then this morning I found another adorable peep running around!  They are both in the brooder right now.  You're supposed to wait for them to dry entirely but they were having a hard time because they kept running into damp cloths I had in the incubator to keep it humid.  Haha way to go team.  So now there are two more that have pipped and I can't wait to see them!  :)  My current babies are nearly dry now!   So looks like my plan worked!  They even started eating the food without help.  I will keep you all posted!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chicken Saddles and Lockdown

I'm super nervous.  People on who have the same hatch date as me have already had chicks hatch or they can hear them peeping at least.  I am nervous about mine.  To be quite honest, I don't know what I'm doing with these guys... if they don't work out well maybe I'll buy a little incubator instead of going homemade.  You can get these little ones for about 60 bucks online.  They hold like 6 eggs or something.  So here I am on lockdown.  I opened the incubator once to add moisture.  I'm using a large wet rag to keep the humidity up so that nobody drowns in the incubator if they hatch.

So chicken saddles... well when I first heard the term I was a little weirded out.  But I have since discovered that they are a necessity sometimes.  Young roosters can be a little over eager and will often break and rip feathers out of hens while mating with them.  They have claws and they cause issues when they mount the girls backs.  So someone invented chicken saddles and I've ordered some for my girls!

I have some coming in the mail from a lovely woman on Etsy!  So I can't wait to protect my poor girls backs!  And they'll look pretty cute while they are nice and covered!  Of course my husband thinks I am half nuts.  And I kind of picked out what I would call "country chic" patterns so that really didn't help the situation.  I should probably head to bed before I drive myself insane worrying about the chicks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Art of Dust Bathing

A lot of people don't know it but chickens keep themselves clean by dust bathing. My chickens are not happy about the snow and have barely removed themselves from the coop/surrounding area to go to their usual dustbathing area. I tried to remedy the situation yesterday by bringing them some ash. They didn't know what to think of it. I picked one up and stuck it in the ash and fluffed it all around the chicken. It thought I was killing it as usual (chickens always think death is near) and squawked to the point that I was afraid Bill might hurt me. Then they all started. The ash remained untouched this morning in the corner of their coop. I was beginning to think they were all going to have mites and things and then I was going to have to bath everyone in the tub or dust them with mite powder but lo and behold they scratched down to the dirt next to a tree near the coop and started rolling in it. If you haven't seen this, it is just about the cutest thing in the world. I can't show you my girls doing it because they think I'm evil right now due to the ash incident and I don't want to disturb them to take a photo but I will show you a video of chickens doing this.

See what I mean? It's adorable and so funny. In the summer mine spend the better half of the day doing this. They just roll around in dirt and fluff themselves up. Then they go around and peck bugs and that's their day. They are the happiest chickens around. They start doing this really young too. When you first have chicks you usually keep them on paper towel because they need to know what is food and what isn't so you don't give them woodchips right away. Then later on you give them wood chips/shavings and they'll try to dust bath in them sometimes. It's really funny watching the chicks do this.

My eggs are going in to lockdown tomorrow which means that you no longer turn them daily. You leave them be so they can get oriented and peck up to get out. Once in a while I've been told they'll peck the egg open the wrong way. Some say let the chick die if it does that but I have a feeling I'll have a hard time letting any of them go if I can help them. But we'll see what happens. I hope at least some of them hatch and there are some girls.

I can't wait for chicks. I want to tell a funny little story. I was cleaning the brooder box one day for my chicks this past spring and I put them all in a box while I did this. I heard a crazy amount of peeping and so I looked in to make sure everyone was okay. Well... apparently a little tinsel star had fallen into the box and one of the chicks had grabbed it and started running around with it while all of the others chased her! She wanted it for herself but like all birds, they all go for the shiny. I ended up reaching in and taking it because I didn't want anyone to choke but that was a battle in itself getting it out of that little stubborn thing's beak!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who am I?

I'll start this off by saying that Bill and I are getting along much better. You see, a rooster is a good rooster if he is a gentleman. How could a rooster be a gentleman you ask? Well yesterday in an attempt to win back his trust I held out a plate with left over quiche. Bill reached up, took the quiche and held it out with his beak for the girls. A good rooster will give the food to his girls first. Bill was willing to work with me if that meant that he could look like a hero and get brownie points with his ladies. So Bill and I are getting along again which makes me happy.

So who am I and why am I doing this stuff? Well I grew up in a fishing village about 15 minutes from this one. I lived next to the ocean and next to a marina where people park their cabin cruisers, sailboats, yachts etc. I didn't grow up on a farm or in the woods or anything like that. My neighbours were so close I could almost touch them. I have moved a lot in the past few years. I was in Saint John's, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Yarmouth. My husband and I inherited his family house and we are currently trying to fix it up. It definitely needs it. I juggle several jobs but currently I'm pretty bored. I'm a professional photographer, heritage interpreter, and a photography assistant. Right now I'm lacking in work however and it won't pick up for another couple months.

When I moved out here I spent a lot of time alone and didn't like it. I had a cat which was ours, then my mother in laws and then ours again, he sort of came with the house. He wasn't enough though so I got my golden retriever. When I first got Belle I thought we'd never get along but I'm just not so used to dogs. In May I got my first chicks, six silverlaced wyandottes and 6 rhode island reds. I fell in love with them. Then in June I got Giacomo, my little orange tabby cat. He's the most loving cat I've ever had.

There is something completely satisfying about getting my own eggs. I didn't realize how awful the egg industry is until recently and same with the factory meat industry. I have since stopped eating any meat or eggs made in a factory. This all started to come together right before Christmas. We realized we had an extra rooster in the flock and my husband and I looked up a way to kill him humanely and cleanly. We picked Marcellus up (he was a mean bird!) and carried him into our wood house. We cut a 4L milk container up so the bottom was gone and there was a larger hole in the top. We put Marcellus in it upside down. I held his feet and the handle of the milk container. My husband cut his throat and inserted a knife into his brain, killing him instantly. I cried. I cried even though I hated the stupid thing, he bit me and squawked every time I came near the flock. I realized though that what we did was humane... and that what was going on every day, certainly was not. Now I'm not a follower of PETA or GreenPeace and I especially don't like the Sea Shepherd. I actually have no issue with hunting or small farms. I do have an issue with how we treat and respect our animals if we are going to eat them. I read an article about eggs and PETA actually said that there was no way to humanely farm eggs which is completely untrue. If you keep chickens as pets like I do, they will produce eggs like a normal bird and you can eat them. How is that inhumane? My chickens don't stay in a pen all day. They have access to the entire yard :) We have 3 acres of land. They stay on about 2 acres. The rest is woods.

Anyway, I hope that explains me and my attitude a little bit :)

Enjoy some photos of my babies as babies!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Hens One Nest Box

Okay, sorry for the naughty title, I thought it was funny. Two days ago I went out to check on the chickens, Alabama was screeching her dramatic little head off. Turns out she wanted the middle nest box... but lo and behold there were already TWO chickens in the nest box. There are three nesting boxes and not everyone lays at the same time. What silly things! Alabama then gets into the nest box next to them and peaks her head up over the side, looks down on them and squawks at them even more. They're obviously not protective of the nest boxes but she certainly is.

Yesterday I missed church... I wasn't feeling well when I woke up but I knew my mom and my husband's mom would be out for coffee after so I started scrambling around trying to get things clean and get coffee on the go. I ran to get the eggs turned and hydrate the incubator, it looked dry in there and so I was panicked thinking something had happened to the eggs. I spilled some water by accident and in my haste to keep the eggs from getting wet I dropped one. I could have cried. Egg white came out and it wasn't bloody so I am assuming it wasn't fertilized. I candled again last night and came up with a better way to hydrate the incubator, I wet a facecloth and put it on a plastic top off a container. When I woke up this morning the incubator was still hydrated and humid. When I candled last night, everything looked as it should. This will be last the last time I'll really be able to see anything. I only candled 3 of them. One of them seems to have a blood ring which means it probably died. This has been present for several days. If it died... well at least it didn't struggle. :(

I think I've won back some hearts. I brought treats out yesterday but today it's wonderful and warm out! They ran with me to the shed (they haven't done that for days) and peeped and chirped while I fed them. I think the snow just put them in bad moods and now they're happy that the sun is shining! My favourite girl, B.B. followed me around chirping all the while and even Bill seemed happy. I had three eggs today, that's the most I've gotten in a while! :D Yay chickens!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Yesterday... I almost said today but I suppose it's 1:30 AM. Yesterday Bill bit me. My rooster and I have never clashed before and although I don't pat him unless he is in the coop, we seemed to have a pretty good relationship. Especially in comparison to the rooster my husband once owned... Roy. Roy was evil. Evil roosters become supper, it's quite simple. We had one roo we thought was a chicken and he turned out to be an evil thing, my husband and I killed him and ate him. Killing him was my first experience with anything like that, but I will post about that another time. I think if I have any readers they should understand my views on animals and meat etc, so there will be a whole post on that sometime very soon.

Anyway! Back to Bill! My hens were hiding out in their coop during this horrible snow storm we had. The coop we have is not exactly meant for chickens to live in. It's for sleeping and laying eggs. So yesterday/today I determined that I was going to get the chickens out of the coop. Bill and B.B. were already outside and two girls were in the nest boxes so I went in the coop to shoo the last two out. I didn't touch the girls but one of them usually gets her feathers ruffled very easy and started screeching when I walked towards her. Bill ran into the coop and jumped up and bit my hand! I had a glove on but it still bruised and broke a little skin. Had I not had my gloves on I'm sure it would have been a nasty bite. When he bit me, I swatted him and knocked him sideways. Then when I went outside he gave me the cock eye and made noises like maybe he might do it again (noises like Roy used to make) and I swatted him again for it. I knew I couldn't let the rooster think he was the boss so I chased him to the shed and paced around in front of him for a bit not letting him go anywhere. Then I left him alone. I came back out and cheerfully gave everyone some treats and water and then proceeded to shovel for them so there would be a clear space by the shed, one by the coop and a path to each. Well apparently shoveling is evil because Bill, Arlene and Go Go got themselves stuck in a thorn bush trying to "escape" the "evil" shovel. After that I was public enemy number 1.

I earned back a little trust when I came out with everyone's fav snack... Cheerios. When I buy Cheerios, I buy huge boxes because they are my breakfast cereal of choice and their favourite snack! So anyway, I hope I won back some hearts. I haven't written Bill completely out. He was likely grumpy from being in the coop all day and thought I was hurting one of his girls. But as I've said before, evil roosters turn into supper so, I hope he's a good boy or he may have a replacement and a long walk off a short pier heading his way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I need to remember to post in blogs more. Gosh I can be so slack about things like that sometimes! I have eggs in the home made incubator right now! I am so excited about them. There are nine in there but I think only seven at the most are fertilized and viable. I am excited to see these red sex links. I just hope I don't have all boys or I will be heart broken.

I was very paranoid yesterday because there was an awful snow storm and I was afraid the power would be knocked out and then what would happen to my eggs? They are still 11 days from hatching and I'm sure the result wouldn't have been good.

My chickens have spent the past two days in the coop. I feel terrible about it. I open the door for them and they won't come out. I really don't blame them. The snow is so deep, I can barely walk at this point. But the coop isn't really meant for living in. It's there for sleeping and laying eggs. None the less I brought their food and water to them. Poor things are so confused though... I shut the door tonight a little later and when I did I poked my head in to check on everyone. B.B. thought it was morning and therefore breakfast time so she peeped and jumped right off the roost and over to the food bowl and peeped some more. Super cute but I picked her up and put her back on the roost and left. We plan on making a covered run for them... it was mostly in case we had to go somewhere overnight and couldn't shut the coop... guess it will be useful for snow too.

We've also got some bad frostbite going around. I love my Rhode Island Reds, they are definitely more friendly than my Silverlaced Wyandottes but their combs get so frostbitten. Makes me feel terrible for making them live in such a harsh climate. I was going to get Austrolorps and SLWs but the farm gave all of the Orps to the 4H kids. I was highly unimpressed.

Anyway, sleepy time! I'll post some photos of the eggs!