Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Sledding Chickens On Video!. . .

I had fun taking pictures of the girls in my previous "Snow Day" post, but my mom, who is visiting with my sister in Texas right now told me that I should have video taped it.  She wanted to see.  So yesterday, I had the girls show everyone via video how their Henny Penny's like to go sledding.

Here's part one:

And this is part 2:

Now isn't that so much more fun than sitting in front of a gaming system or a T.V.?  My children just love to play outside.  They do like their new XBox Kinect that they got for Christmas, but they really like playing outside more.  And they get plenty of fresh clean air living in the country.  We also made home made Maple Sugar Snow Candy yesterday.  It was delicious!

You know what I hope that everyone will take away from my blog (where chickens are concerned)?  It's simple, Buff Orpingtons are an amazing breed of chicken.  They are so sweet and friendly.  They love children and people in general.  They are extremely patient and absolutely full of personality. They thrive on human contact and make it simply impossible not to love them! I have 2 hens molting (since January), yet my 3 girls consistently give us 14 eggs per week.  If you don't have any chickens but are planning to start the wonderful chicken experience this spring, then I highly recommend the amazing Buff Orpingtons.  If you already have chickens and don't have any Orpingtons, then you need to add them to your flock.  We are going to add 2 more to our happy little flock this spring.  I can't wait!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Day!!!

Today was a snow day. And even better, it was a Friday snow day. Really now, is there anything more fun than a snow day when you're a kid? I don't think so!!

Our neighbor Riley came over in the morning, and the girls started sledding first thing. Before long, the Henny Penny's were sledding along with them!

Here's how country girls spend a snow day!!

Then it was on to snowman making. . .
I love the snow hat!

They had lunch, and afterwards the chickens had some more fun with the girls:

And then they all made Snow Ice Cream.

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 cereal bowls of clean snow
Warm the milk, vanilla and sugar (so sugar will melt) on the stove top.
Put that into a container in the fridge or out in the snow to cool. When cool, it's time for Snow Ice Cream!

Put 4 cereal bowls full of clean snow into a big mixing bowl:

Add the cream, sugar and vanilla.

Stir, stir, stir. . .

Smile for your crazy camera mommy. . .

. . .and come in the house for the first taste. All three girls had a pajama day. That's always cozy fun!


Snow days are so much fun, and I always try to make them really special. Don't you wish you could come over to play too?!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chicken Wire Isn't Just For Chickens!

First off, I want to apologize.  I should have taken a before picture.  I am constantly taking pictures and for the life of me, I can't believe I forgot to take a before picture.  Anyway. . .here's the after photo:

The before photo "would have" revealed a hideous picture frame with an old ugly oil painting in it.  The frame was really dirty and had that gold gilded finish.  After I cleaned it up, I spray painted the frame and then washed over it with a very diluted brown tempera paint so the carved wood could be highlighted and it's beauty revealed.  The frame is big. . .35"x29".  I have been keeping an eye out for a large ornate frame especially for this project.  I used a staple gun to attach the chicken wire and it was not an easy task.  It was hard to get it to lay flat.  In fact, I didn't get the chicken wire to lay perfectly flat, but I just kept pulling hard on the wire as I stapled away, first on opposite ends, and then on the sides.  Trust me, if you plan to do this for yourself, and you're using a large frame, that is how you need to do it.  I did it wrong the first time and had to start all over.  I backed all the photos with cereal box cardboard to prevent curling over time.  I then attached them to the chicken wire with a few dots of hot glue.  The little clothes pins are just for looks.  They aren't really the main mode of securing the photos.

So there we have it.  How fitting to have a chicken collage with a chicken wire backing!  See? . . . .chicken wire isn't just for chickens!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your Horse Drawn Carriage Awaits, Miss Daisy. . .

Earlier this week, Tara and Madeline bought this from a local garden/store keeper where we live.  We love supporting local business when we can.  When we brought it home, we decided to let Daisy try it out first.

She wasn't totally fond of it, but the alternative. . ."jumping off into the snow". . .wasn't very appealing either.

Bawk. . .bawk. . .Well, this is quite a conundrum. . .

Bawk. . .A little help here please?. . .

Awww heck!  Bawk. . .sometimes you've just gotta take the plunge!

Which she gracefully did!  She pushed her way through the snow over to Tara so she would pick her up and put her back into her run.

Then the carriage came into the house for it's intended purpose:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chickens In The Snow

Well, lets just say that they DON'T like it! 

Especially when the outside temperature is -2 degrees!  As you can see, Dixie was not a happy girl.

Jasmine and Daisy were not up for any winter games either.

Tara and Madeline tossed them into the freshly fallen snow, and they literally just sat there.  Looking at us as if to say "Are you KIDDING me?!!"  Pick me up and put me back into my heated coop!!

Chickens aren't like kids after all.  They don't have warm boots on their feet or fleecy hats on their combs.  Madeline was totally okay with laying on her soft bed of snow.

Tara, who's not feeling well at all (she's been running a fever on and off since last night and has a persistent cough), was totally fine in the snow. . .for a little while.

Even when Dixie had a little pathway to walk on, she just flapped her wings indignantly while saying "Pick me up!  Pick me up!  Pick me up!!"

Which Tara did. . .
And then she put her in her chicken run, while Madeline followed with Daisy and Jasmine.  All told, the chickens spent about 7 minutes in the snow and they Did. . .Not. . .Like it!!  But I can't blame them.  Dixie and Daisy are molting and with the brutal temps, how could they enjoy it?!

Snow is for kids, not chickens.

This is one of only a literal hand full of snowfalls we've had all winter.  It has been so unusually mild temperature wise as well as precipitation wise this year.  I can't even remember in my lifetime ever having such a mild winter.  The chickens have not had much exposure to snow and they clearly expressed to us that they prefer spring, summer, and fall far better than winter.   I feel the same way as them!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Coop Management

I spend one minute per day cleaning my "coop".  No Kidding!  I really do!!

It has sand in it, so cleaning is super easy.  I used to use a large kitty litter scoop, but I recently made this:

It's a stall rake, which I zip tied 1/4 inch hardware cloth to.  It acts as a wonderful sifter.  Sand sifts out, and poop and straw stay in.  It takes a minute at the most to clean the inside of the coop.  Here's how it looks:

I have construction sand in both my coop and my run.  It is soooooo sanitary and just a snap to clean.  In the extreme heat and humidity of summer, the poop would hit the sand and dry right up.  Because I took that one minute each day to clean it, there was NEVER a fly, or bad smell in my coop.  The girls have very sanitary conditions which protects them from illness.  I use construction sand, and that is more sharp and jagged than play sand.  Because of this, it is a less habitable environment for ticks, fleas and mites.  It's also great for my chicken's feet!  They sell 50 lb. bags of construction sand at Home Depot and Lowe's (CHEAP).  It only took 3 bags for my coop interior which is 4x4.  I don't have shavings falling all over the place and we all know how nasty it is to clean a coop with shavings.  I also don't have the extra expense of buying new shavings.  The Henny Penny's love the clean sand.....

Dixie and Jasmine came up to inspect my work.  Trust me, they approve.  They love having a wonderfully clean hen house EVERY day.  They have expressed to me many times how nice their house smells.  I tell them I do it because I love them. So while Dixie and Jasmine cooed their approval to me, Daisy was busy in here:

As I cleaned, she cooed words of kind encouragement and gratitude.  I told her that I wanted to get a better picture of her.  I asked her to give me her prettiest smile and I'd put her on my blog.  I walked around and opened the egg box for a better shot.  She didn't disappoint. . .See?

And then she left me this:

Now since this time, I have added dividers between the nest boxes.  The Henny Penny's have let me know that they needed more privacy.  You can see that modification here:

My run on the other hand is another story.  In spring, summer and fall, my girls free range all day and rarely go in the run except to get a drink or to go in the coop to lay an egg.  In winter, they still free range, but rely on their "organic" commercial feed more.  Cleaning the run is a weekly chore which takes me all of 5 minutes.  When I have the kids do it, it takes "me" no time ;-).  We use the stall rake and easily sift the poop out.

With weekly cleanings of their run, they are in very clean and happy condition's.  You'll notice how all of my roosting boards are 2x4 with the wide side up.  I live in Michigan, and this allows them to sprawl their toes out when they roost and when they settle down on their feet, their bodies are able to completely warm their feet protecting them from frostbite.  See how happy my girls are?

You'll notice that Daisy and Dixie have chosen the months of JANUARY and FEBRUARY to begin their first molt.  Seriously?  The middle of winter?!  Silly hens.  I want you to notice their combs.  We are well into our first winter, and not a patch of black from frostbite.  Wanna know what I did to prevent frostbite?  

Here's another look:
Don't fret about the white tips.  That is there depending on whether they have laid an egg yet for the day or not.  Sometimes they are fully red, and others they have the white tips.  It's an egg thing.  So my key to frostbite free hens in the cold temperatures of winter is this:




The culprit of frostbite in chickens is not cold.  The culprit of frostbite, is humidity.  If your coop is well ventilated (and cleaned), the humidity level is very low and thus the risk for frostbite is gone.  Those who use the deep litter method create a very moist environment thus increasing the incidents of frostbite.  I rarely use a heat lamp (Buff Orpington's are super winter hardy), but lately since my 2 silly girls are molting, I have added the extra heat for them.  You'll also notice that I don't have food or water in the coop.  I keep that in the run so they are are encouraged to spend their winter days outside.  My girls LOVE to be outside.  They only go in the coop to lay an egg and to go to sleep.  Sometimes, they don't even go in to sleep!  I'll come outside to close the pop door only to find them sleeping on the roosts in the run!  I of course carry each sleepy girl into the coop on those occasions.  So all told, it takes me a total of 7 minutes per week to clean my coop each and every day, and only 5 minutes per week for the run.  It's gotta beat the job it must be to clean a coop once or twice a year!!  My girls are worth it though.  

I don't add any artificial light to the coop (aside from their red heat lamp on really cold nights, and during this molt), and my girls have been faithfully giving me 2 eggs per day.  Today, I got 3 eggs for the first time!  I am so excited.  My happy hens don't care that it is cold out with shorter days.  My girls are doing a great job laying.    

I can't wait for spring.  We are going to get 2 more Buff Orpington babies.  It's my hope that I'll have a broody hen at the time we pick the babies up.  Tara, Madeline and I would love to see one of our Henny Penny's be a mama.  I could just slip the newly hatched babies under her, for her to raise.  If not, we'll hand raise them, but we are really hoping that we will have perfect broody timing.

On a little side note, I'm home alone while daddy and girls are at the Daddy Daughter Dance.

Their hair is so pretty.  It was a rush getting them ready, knocking out homework, eating dinner and snapping a FEW photos.  This is the best I got of the hair.  

I know it's been a long time since I've posted, but I've had a rough winter.  I had a staph infection in my throat which turned into walking pneumonia which developed into kidney issues and then finally I had surgery.  I'm still recovering from the surgery but hope to be feeling better in a couple more weeks.  Prayers for pain relief would be greatly appreciated!

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