Friday, April 26, 2013


"Rhiannon it's 5am, what are you doing up?"

"The chickens are being really noisy.  Well mostly just Napoleon."

Sounds of a full volume crow.  Followed by another.  And another.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pile o' pullets


(Not really, but it sure looks like it could be)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chickens at the Backdoor

That is the name of the class I helped teach with two others at the Littleton History Museum today.   It seemed to go over well, about 30 or so people showed up and made positive comments on the way out again two hours later.  I brought a dozen eggs in different colors and also some chickens - Snowball (the bantam cochin frizzle hen) and Chocolate (Indica's bantam naked neck hen), Honey (Rhiannon's standard cochin hen) and Chewbacca (a friend's Arucana hen) and a white brama pullet.  I really felt these showed a wide range of breeds available.   We visited the 1890's chicken coop - a fine example of a hen house to be sure.  Having a 3-person panel was great, as we all had different information to share.  There is a second class in May.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Toasty warm inside

It had been snowing most of the day.  The chickens were alternately crowding into the coop or huddling up to the house.  The kale, I am sure, is frozen with the other greens under the white blanket.  Only Riley was truly thrilled.

After dinner Rhiannon asked if I would build a fire.  I told her yes, if she would bring in an armload of wood from outside.  In a blink she had on boots a coat and mittens and headed out to the small woodpile off the back porch.  Soon she was in again with 4 small logs and Riley right behind her carrying a 5th.  I put them on the rack and she was outside again in a shot, Riley again behind her.  She brought in a second armload but did not pause to see the already roaring fire and went back outside.

She did not come in right away so I went out to check.  She was filling the small green wagon with logs.  When full she pulled it the 8 feet closer to the steps and started unloading it.  Bemused I opened the door for her and stacked each piece in the rack.  Thinking all the while that I had the role of Carrie in On the Banks of Plum Creek when Laura and Mary are bringing in wood during a snowstorm.

They brought in all the wood.

I think Rhiannon would have too.  She was rosy cheeked and grinning as she loaded her second wagon with split logs.  But it was close to her bedtime so I told her to leave that one by the back steps.

Her father asked her why she brought in so much more wood than was asked.
Log rack after Rhiannon brought in wood.

"Well, it will come in handy if we get a snowstorm or zombie apocalypse." she answered in that oh so serious tone of an 8 year old.

I can't really argue with that.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Riley

Mother Nature has a bizarre definition of spring.

Boys in the 'hood

Two of our bantam cochin frizzles turned out to be male.  Littleton ordinances clearly state no roosters - but we will keep them unless one of our neighbors complain.

Napoleon is half the size of most of the hens, he is even smaller than Chocolate (Indica's bantam naked neck), but he takes his job seriously.  While the hens are busy eating and scratching he stands off to the side keeping a keen lookout for predators.   He puts everything he has in to crowing - even though when he does he sounds more like a children's squeeze toy than the cock of the rock.

Scrappy is near the bottom of the pecking order.  He does not crow and spends most of his time hiding under one of the standard cochins - for both safety and warmth I think.  He is a frazzle.  The frizzle gene is dominant and he seems to have had 2 frizzle parents, which makes his feathers brittle.  He's kind of sad looking, but he lives of to his name.  If he was a person I think he would be Urkel.

This year I would like to seperate Napoleon with any other bantam hens into a separate coop - possibly recommission the playhouse coop - and see what happens.  Frizzle naked neck or Frizzle silkies would be awesome.

I would leave Scrappy in with the larger hens, to see if as the only rooster he would be allowed to feather out more.  And maybe be Stefan Urquelle instead.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adapting to spring snow

 As I have said many times, the chickens do not like snow.  After waking the girls (unnecessarily) for school I had gone outside to find the hen yard empty.

With now 30 chickens in our coop that is truly maxed at 15, I needed at least the older flock to go outside.

By the house they have a tarp covered area that stays mostly clear - even with the wind blowing the snow around it is protected.  But it was also all the way across their yard.

I have 3 words.  Frosted Mini Wheats.  At the bottom of every box there is an inch or so of "leavings" that no one eats.  Sometimes I use it in apple crisp or a muffin recipe, but sometimes it gets lost in the back of the cupboard and found only after it is long stale.

But the hens enjoy it.

After spreading a couple sections of straw in their covered area I made a path with the crushed cereal.  As you can see, all the hens were enticed out.

Then I made an area for the pullets.

A folding card table, some more straw, and a waterproof table cloth is a little ghetto, but it works.  Because of their age the light is on 24/7 in the coop, but this should encourage them out a bit also.

It kinda reminds me of the annex for the Minneapolis flock.

They canceled school for this?