Category Archives: chickens

Moving Day

Today we put the roof on the chicken coop and moved the stinky, noisy darling chickens out. For good.

Today also marked the day when I bought my first bale of straw. Not a big deal to some, I’d imagine. But I felt like I should start wearing a Stetson and raise cows, I was so proud. Straw. A bale of it. Ha!

Of course, being the person I am, I had to spend 30 minutes with our shop vac cleaning the back of our Suburban after I got home from the straw purchase, but that’s another story.

Anyhow — roof on and ready, we tried to get the chickens to go inside the coop.

For every one we got in, two hopped out. Finally we got them all in there, and after showing them the feeding and watering cans, we shut the door.

It’s 10:30pm now, and I can see the red glow of the heat lamp from out the back window. I sat for an hour at dusk watching them settle in, and I’ll probably go back out just to make sure they haven’t had their heads snapped off by skunks or raccoons or other evil urban predators.

Gotta love those beady-eyed girls!

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Does ANY Food Stay in There?

We had scheduled to put the pullets out in their coop this weekend. And then came news of the rainstorm, so we kept them in the basement brooder box for another few days.

However, I must say that I am way past the “aw, ain’t they cute” phase when it comes to chickens-in-the-house. This is principally because of, oh, how shall I say it politely . . . their digestive habits (and what comes of them).

Number #1 fact about chickens: They Poop. A lot. All the time. In their food. In their water. Everywhere. A lot.

And while still in their (expanded) brooder box, this means that I clean up a lot of soiled newspaper.

So while I am still enamored with my silly chickens and the way they turn their heads and stare up at me with their beady little eyes, I am quite ready for them to go outside now, please.

By the way, I just finished a fun book and informative book called Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn, by Catherine Friend. It’s about two lesbians living in Minnesota who pursue one partner’s dream of owning a farm, and the joys and challenges that brought them. Check it out!

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Entering the Land O’The Chicken

Inspired by Novella Carpenter’s most excellent book Farm City, and her blog about her farm (Ghost Town Farm), the wife and I decided to raise chickens — for the eggs and the manure (we spend a lot of money each spring on good compost for the raised beds).

In the beginning of 2010, I went to a class at Bio Fuel Oasis taught by Novella, and learned the practical realities of raising chickens, and it sobered me up enough to contemplate scrapping the idea. They require daily care, those chickens, and they inspire visits by rats, skunks and opossums, all of which I have a healthy (all right, abnormal and ridiculous) fear of. Novella actually said flies are the bigger issue, and gave really great advice about how to work with all these potential “visitors”.

I signed us up for 5 chicks, to be delivered sometime in March. And then I stuck my fingers in my ears and said “I can’t hear you” to any nagging voice in my head that dared remind me that I had to prepare for these new lives coming our way.

But then the phone call came, and we rushed to get the chicks. We brought them home and put them in their box.

Chicks using water for first time.

They definitely won in the cuteness factor category. Feeding them was a breeze. Cleaning up wasn’t too annoying.

And then, they grew.

They are constantly hungry. And the poop! Sometimes I can’t get the paper down fast enough, and have to change the paper two or three times before I can get a clean box for them.

We feed them greens from the garden as well as mash — and now, at six weeks, I’m also sprouting wheat, barley and alfalfa for them. My son loves to dig up worms for them.

All this results in — you guessed it — more poop.

So we made the coop and run. “We,” of course, means “my wife and brother-in-law”. I’m the researcher and feeder. The wife builds everything. It’s a great combination.

Now we are almost set. The coop and run are built, the chickens are ready to go outside. As soon as we get the flooring for the coop and the run, and we get past this rainy weekend, they are going into their new home.

And I am going to have a basement once more.

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Welcome to My Delusional World

A gal from Brooklyn doing the urban farming thing? Why not? I’m learning as I go.

But first, a bit of history . . .

Growing up, my mom raised a few tomato plants in our backyard in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I loved those hours digging in the dirt with her, and remember her company more than anything we actually produced.

Now I’m married and have a lovely wife and two small kids — and an enormous backyard (over 100o square feet), which contains a Japanese plum tree, two varieties of apples (I have no idea what they are), a struggling peach tree, a pineapple guava, and two orange trees.

Since we moved into the house in 2008, I have been growing vegetables in the back. This year, for the first time, we grew year-round. My goal for 2010 is to grow at least 85% of the produce we eat. (The 15% balance is room for vegetables I don’t have the room or tolerance to grow — onions, squash, etc).

Along with the fresh produce, I can jam, pickles, marmalade, relish, etc. This year, I plan to can tomatoes in various forms, as well (whole and sauce).

Last, but certainly not least, we now have 5 chickens (6 or 7 weeks old): 2 Aracaunas, and 3 black ones that are supposed to be 2 Australorps and 1 Black Sex-link (Black Star), but are turning out to be harder to classify than I thought. So eggs should be forthcoming sometime around August.

Of course, the food production is only one part of the whole idea. Health, self-sufficiency, becoming better stewards of the land we live on, creating more efficient cycles of land and water usage, teaching our kids invaluable lessons about the natural world . . . these are the real treasures of the experience.

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