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The Broody Bunch

Chickens, eggs and life in rural Maine

Metro Chickens

Posted by Miranda on Oct-5-2010

I tend to get the same response over and over again when I tell people I have chickens.  ”You have CHICKENS??”  Is there an echo in here?  Yes,I have chickens.  You know, Henny Penny, The Little Red Hen, they say cluck-cluck and lay eggs.  Yes, eggs.  Like you buy in the grocery store.  No, it’s not gross.  All those store eggs come from somewhere, and I can guarantee its from the backside of a chicken just like mine.

It pleases me to see chickens entering the urban arena again.  More and more people are forming backyard barnyards to help with the grocery bill.  A local magazine picked up the story and ran with it.  Here is a link to the article from Bangor Metro.

Hen House is Here!

Posted by Miranda on Oct-2-2010

Our new chicken coop arrived today!  It is so cute that I’m a little jealous of my chickens.  The kids are too.  But I know the chickens will be comfortable in it when we get it all fixed up for them.

The chicken coop needs some work before it’s ready for the hens to come home.  I picked up enough paint yesterday at 50% off.  We need to find a remnant of linoleum to put on the floor to protect the wood from moisture. We also need to fashion some 20″x20″ windows for the two window frames.  And we need to fence in a run.

I found an ad online today that someone has chain link fencing for sale not too far from here.  The price is great.  I just need to find a pick up truck to haul it and some cash to buy it.

Hopefully sometime next week, or at the latest, the week after, we will be able to bring my 10 chickens home to their new roost!

Good News and Bad News

Posted by Miranda on Sep-30-2010

I always like to start with the bad news.  That way I have the good news to lift me up at the end.

Bad News:

Whilli called a couple of days ago to let me know that a fox had gotten into the chickens.  She lost 3 and I lost 2.  My original 6 girls are safe but I lost one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks and one of the Easter Eggers.  Initially, she thought I’d lost both Easter Eggers which really upset me because I was really looking forward to seeing what color eggs they would lay.  They should begin laying very soon.  But I still have one of them.  I’ve lost a total of 4 chickens of the 8 that I brought home in the spring.

Good News:

I bought a chicken coop yesterday and it will be delivered on Saturday.  A couple of months ago Whilli purchased a small building/shed to sell her wares out of at the end of her driveway.  Knowing the difficulty that I’ve been having in locating a chicken coop, she called around to find out who had built her building.  She came up with a name and phone number and then called the man to see what his rates were.

He called me immediately after talking to Whilli to let me know that he had an 8×8 building available right now.  It was originally built as a playhouse (no surprise) but had good ventilation and would make a fine chicken coop.  What’s more is that I could purchase the coop, have it delivered and leveled all for the same price as ordering the coop from Ohio.  But now I won’t have to build it myself, or level it myself.  This man, Lufkin Toys, even asked if I needed any modifications made.  The only thing I asked for was a chicken door in the front.   He’s going to add the door before delivery!

I’m very excited to have such a nice building for my chickens.  As soon as GH and I can get the fencing in, my chickens are coming home!

The Search for a Coop

Posted by Miranda on Sep-23-2010

It’s amazing to me how hard it is to find pre-fabricated chicken coops.  Chickens are not rare, but for whatever reason, housing for them is.

The quote to have a coop built was obnoxiously high… I thought.  But upon looking around I’ve found that sheds and outbuildings are expensive.  It really makes me wish I was more handy with wood and tools.  I located one coop pre-built locally and I stopped by today to look at it.  It was very cute and designed specifically for chickens’ needs, but it measured only 4′x6′.  It could have held 4-6 chickens, but definitely not 12.

I stopped at Home Depot and looked at the sheds they have there on display.  They were only slightly cheaper than the quote from the builder and could be delivered for free.  The problem with sheds is that they aren’t made for chickens.  I would have to modify it for a chicken door, proper ventilation, nesting boxes and a roost.  It just adds to the cost and frustration.

I took my search to the internet and didn’t fair much better there.  A prefab chicken coop just isn’t readily available.  Especially one that can hold more than 4 chickens.  Apparently there are only two types of chicken farmers, commercial and urban.  Either you’re supposed to have hundreds of chickens or less than 4.  Everyone wants to sell me plans, but not the four walls that I need.  I resorted to looking for sheds again, and even playhouses that could be modified.  The cost was comparative but still with modifications needed.

Then I happened to find a site that offers some hope.  Little Cottage Co at www.cottagekits.com.  They sell playhouses but they also offer a few options for chicken coops; two that might actually fit my needs.  I could order a coop pre-built or a kit to build myself.  Both are within $150 of each other.  A major factor to consider will be shipping.  Since Little Cottage Co. is based out of Ohio shipping could differ greatly between packages.  I’ve sent off an email inquiring on shipping charges to Maine.

My girls are still doing well at Whilli’s.  Faith is molting.  She’s embarrassed to be seen in public looking half plucked.  Whilli finished harvesting her tomatoes and has now let the chickens out of the coop to free range.  My older six are among them.  They’ve taken to roaming and stay with their adopted flock.  It’s funny that they still remember me.  When ever I come to visit, they are all on my heels looking for a pat or something good to eat.  I can’t wait to have them home.

Fast Forward a Year

Posted by Miranda on Sep-21-2010

Not long after my last post in 2009, we had a dog attack on the chickens. One chicken, Dolly, was badly wounded in the neck and we thought she might die. A close friend of ours came out to clean her up. It was gruesome and I really had a hard time keeping it together. We had to separate Dolly from the other chickens to keep them from pecking at her wounds. Surprisingly she made a full recovery and even started laying eggs in her tiny crate! She wasn’t the first to give us an egg, but it was definitely a good sign.

In November, on Thanksgiving day, we had gone to a relatives for the holiday meal. Upon our return, I realized that we were missing a chicken. One of the Reds was gone. There were no signs of distress, no feathers, no tracks in the snow, nothing. I thought she might have slipped out of the run and looked for her for the next few days, but to no avail. She never did return.

Down to 6 chickens from the original 8. In the spring, it was necessary to reintroduce Dolly to her flock. The problem was that having been separated from the others for so long, she would not be remembered and they would consider her a new chicken and thus a threat. I took Dolly out to the coop a few times so the others could see her. She was excited to be among comrades but they eyed her with suspicion. Patsy had become the lead chicken and was intent on putting Dolly in her place. A decided peck on the head from Patsy, sent Dolly squawking and seeking refuge. She jumped onto my lap and and hid in my arms from Patsy. I decided it wasn’t time for her to go back yet.

Not long after that, I had gone into check on the hens after dark. Always counting heads, I noticed that Patsy was missing. I looked around outside in the snow and found lots of chicken tracks leading around and around the coop and finally into the trees. I called to her but didn’t get any response. It was disappointing to say the least.

The next day after returning home from work, I heard a clucking coming from the trees. I walked out into the snow, clucking to her. She answered and finally I saw her wandering among the brush. She was agitated and looking ruffled. I went to the coop and grabbed a handful of pellets and scattered them close to the coop door. After recruiting Young Master and Little Maiden to help, I sat in the snow with pellets on my lap, hoping to coax her closer. It was a slow process but I was finally able to get a hand on her. The kids swung open the door and I tossed Patsy inside. She was obviously upset about spending the night out in the cold. Then it occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to add Dolly to the group, while Patsy was out of her element. It worked, both chickens were so eager to get food and warm up, that neither noticed the other long enough to get upset about it.

And so the spring and summer progressed with 6 happy hens. Laying and scratching happily. We decided that it would be a good idea to order a few more chicks. This time I ordered from MyPetChicken.com. I was able to get the breeds that I wanted which were Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Easter Eggers. I ordered 8 chicks total. When they arrived 1 chick was DOA and one more died two days later. I was down to 2 of each breed. They seemed to thrive and got used to handling quickly. With the exception of the Easter Eggers, they are very friendly.

Then it happened. In June we were forced from our home because of foreclosure. The loss of a job and the slowing economy forced us into the situation. Our hens found themselves stuffed into two cardboard boxes and the chicks in another and carted off to Willhi’s house. She very kindly offered not only a home to our chickens but to us as well in our time of transition. A week long stay in her camper was enough time to find a house to rent on a nice piece of property.

It’s September 2010 now, and we are settled in fairly well. Our landlady has been very nice to allow us to build a coop and bring our 12 chickens back home. The chicks have grown so much and should start laying sometime next month. I can’t wait to have fresh eggs again.

I think I’ve found someone who will be able to build the coop for me. It’s a matter of drawing up the plans and scraping the money together. If all goes well, my beautiful flock will be home before snow flies!

Red In The Face

Posted by Miranda on Aug-14-2009

My chicks are really growing up now!  Their combs and wattles are starting to be more prominent. They’re shedding out young feathers and growing new ones like crazy!  And I’ve watched their faces go from pink to pinker to bright red.

Chickens definitely have a unique look.  Handsomely dressed in crisp, soft feathers, strutting on two strong legs, conspicuously decorated with eye-catching wattles and crowned with a bright red comb, chickens certainly have a proud physique.  It seems strange that this commanding presence with her sharp beak and beady red eyes will melt like butter when I pick her up and stroke her back.  With a soft purring sound she closes her eyes and will even let the other chickens eat all the food while she enjoys her aptly deserved pampering.  Oh yes, a girl after my own heart! 

Sleep? What’s That?

Posted by Miranda on Aug-7-2009

Ahhh… home at last.  We had a great week at the camp grounds!  The weather was young-master-at-campperfect!  Lots of sun, warm temperatures, and not on rain drop!  I’m tired but can’t quit now.  We run full speed into four kid’s church services in three days!

Willhi and my helpful, Christian neighbor (HCN) checked on my chickens through the week.  Apparently, the chickens drank a lot of water and ate very little food.  When it’s hot like it was this week, it’s normal that they would drink a lot.  It’s also not surprising that they didn’t eat a lot of food, knowing their attitude toward the pellets.

When I went to the coop, all the chickens came little-maiden-dapper-at-camprunning to see me.  Dolly and Faith both made their way onto my lap.  I grabbed up a handful of chicken food for them.   Normally, with the mash, they would nearly tear my hand apart eating up all the food I offered them.  But the blank stare I received in response to my handful of pellets was comical!

I felt a little guilty now that my chicks were looking for a treat and all I had was pellets.  It was like telling the kids I’d bring home a treat for them only to hand them broccoli.  They will eat broccoli but it’s not a treat.

So I went to my kitchen to put together a platter for the chickens.  I found some leftover mashed potatoes, I added some shredded carrots and crumbled corn flakes over the top.

The chicks weren’t sure what to think about the platter when I put it in the run.  But it didn’t take long for the to taste and see that it was good!  

On The Road Again

Posted by Miranda on Jul-31-2009

We’re going away again.  This time for 4 and a half days!  I feel better with the feeder that the chickens have now.  And our last absence went well.

RI-Red On Monday all four of us are going to camp.  Young Master and Little Maiden are campers and GH and I are staff.  We’ll come home from the campground Friday afternoon.

I want to put some windows in the coop for extra ventilation and maybe I can work out an automatic waterer.

I just switched the chickens over to grower pellets instead of crumble.  I was told there’s less waste with pellets.  Well, as of yet, I haven’t seen any of the chickens eat them.  I mixed the pellets with left over crumble in hopes that they would adjust quickly.  It looks like they’re scratching the pellets out onto the floor and just eating the mash.  By the time we leave for camp the chickens will be on just pellets.  Will they eat them if they get hungry enough or will they starve with food all around them?  I wish I knew.

New Feeder

Posted by Miranda on Jul-28-2009

We installed the new feeder for the chickens today.  It’s simple and cheap but it works great! PVC-chicken-feeder

I can’t take credit for the idea.  I saw it on another chicken website.  But I immediately liked it because it’s just what I’ve been needing.  An inexpensive, gravity fed feeder than can hold a lot of food.

The feeder is made of 4 inch PVC pipe.  It starts with a 2 ft straight pipe.  Then a 90 degree elbow followed with a 45 degree elbow.  It’s hung with galvanized hanger tape.  In all, the feeder cost about $23.00.

Because the piping isn’t holding liquid, just feed, there was no need to seal the pieces.  new-PVC-feederThey fit snuggly together.

We hung the feeder so the lower opening is about the same height as the chickens’ chin.  That way they can reach it easily but can’t really bill out the food.

The chickens love it!  Two of them can eat at it comfortably at the same time.  But they seem to take turns and share pretty well.  And if someone gets impatient she just jumps up on the elbow and claims her turn!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

Posted by Miranda on Jul-27-2009

We made it home!  Albeit a mite later than planned.  We pulled in just before midnight last night.  Little-Maiden

I went to check on the chickens right away.  They were all roosting on the shelf.  I counted them and all seven were there.  I didn’t see any immediate signs of distress or pecking, which can occur if food isn’t readily available.

The waterer was knocked over and one of the feeders had been kicked over and half buried.  There Young-Masterwas still some feed in the large feeder that GH helped me make.

I righted everything and filled all the feeders.  The chickens all came down off the roost and ate greedily.

I closed up the coop like usual.  I’m thankful that everything turned out okay and everyone came through the weekend safe and sound!

P.S.  We had a great time on Sheffield Island with the family!  The sun was shining and the whole weekend was full of fun!

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