Category Archives: birds

Chickens On A Shoestring Budget

I have had so many worries about raising chickens through the last 4 years and wondered if I was “doing it right”. Somewhere about the last two years I realized that, as may ways to raise chickens exist, as there is sand on a beach.

I look at the pristine chicken farmers posts with their neatly built structures and think, “SEE! I’m doing it all wrong!”  No. Actually I’m doing this right for Me.

One of the things I did right, but swore I had wrong, was building temporary shelters instead of permanent ones. Everything I have in the chicken yard, is easily dismantled and put up in a different spot.  For my O.C.D. tendency’s and quirky nature, this proves very valuable. Tomorrow, I may wake up and think, “Oh gez this set up isn’t working like I wanted it to”. Then go about redesigning the whole shebang! My husband is usually patient with me and my constant changing.

Below you will see the most valuable piece of equipment in my arsenal of tricks.

IMG_0021 Did you see it?  That black plastic fencing?  Let me tell you, it’s amazing to have when you need to separate birds of different ages. In the front you will see some juvenile Ameraucana, and Cochin in the front and behind them is another group of birds who would not get along with the newbies. This fence gives the older wiser meaner birds time to adjust to the new-comers.

This is something else I use to keep the birds cooler in the blistering 90-100 temperatures here in Florida. Note the temporary used billboard covers. I use them as drapes sometimes to block any sunshine which may reach into the nesting area. Now that I know more of what they need, I have plans ready for a fixed structure.  IMG_0500 Chickens do not do well in Heat. That is without exception.

“A chicken’s normal body temperature hovers near 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not difficult for them to maintain a healthy body temperature when the air is at least 10 to 15 degrees below that.

During times of extreme temperatures, producers must dissipate the excess body heat of their flock quickly. When a chicken’s body temperature reaches 113 to 117 degrees Fahrenheit, it is in danger.

Without sweat glands to cool their skin, birds rely on their respiratory system. Chickens pant to cool themselves, as the panting evaporates water from the throat to lower body temperature.”

( I didn’t type that one part, so I’m putting the link to the information page here).  This is a very good article and a must read!

This photo below, looks really rag-tag, but I wanted to show you how to make use of things you may already have, without going to the local Hardware store and buying the place out. It’s alright to use what you have on hand. You can always upgrade to a better building later, which I am doing myself. We change things at least three times a year, as our needs out there change and evolve.

We are in the process of planning a more permanent structure in this spot (Which means my husband is going to want to slowly strangle me…. ).

It’s hard to see but we have a 9 foot fence dividing the back area from the foreground area where the door is.  That is my brooder for the babies. I actually have birds who can scale an 8 foot fence; so, I made it 9 feet and attached it to the roof. The babies are all grown now, so I have some old ladies now in the brooder area. The “new ladies” (babies) are up front where the nesting boxes and large coop are. The old girls get to enjoy being free to do whatever… Occasionally they even give me an egg!IMG_0334

A Local store had a sale on office type storage boxes, and I bought ten of them. They became the nesting boxes of choice. The girls don’t mind one bit that they cost me a dollar each! I have them Zip-Tied to the support boards. I can move them around quite easily!IMG_0237

 

Well, there you go…  At least a little bit of what I do on a Shoe-String budget.

Time Out

Have you ever just needed “Time Out”, so you can collect your thoughts and have a moment’s peace and quiet? Yea, me too…

Time Out!

Time Out!

When my children were small, I’d run to the bathroom, and hide for a moment. Of course they know where I’m at, because they are banging on the door with hi-pitched yells of MOM!! MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!! MOMMY!! Oh God, I do not miss those days. My Mother said, “It’s payback time for all the ‘cut-short’ visits I had to make to the necessary room”. She’s likely right though. I did bang on the bathroom door yelling for her. I even remember, and that’s something for a tiny tot to still remember doing that. I must have been a ferocious little turd to raise.

Oh yes, Chickens! I’ve not forgotten, really. I’m getting there. So here it is.

Time Out, now means that I get to walk outside and go sit with the girls. Usually, I sit with the 15 new hens, who are now mature enough to lay eggs. They are still young enough to be curious about what I’m doing and they still like to be with people. I’m glad. My older ladies who are separated from the younger ladies aren’t really “into” body contact and they have mood swings. (laughing). They are old and grumpy. They aren’t much fun to sit with really. I talk to them and they look at me and I know they are just really saying, “Piss off”. Sigh…  Here’s a picture of the older ladies (Grumbles a Lot, Stupid Chicken, Sweetie, Boss Lady, Blackie, Top-hat, Mohawk, Soggy-bottom-girl, Crissy, Meanass, Pecky).

The Older Ladies

The Older Ladies

Now, my younger minions looooooooooove me. They come worship at my feet. I mean really… (OK, I’m having a bit of fun at your expense, but bear with me).

They usually follow me around wondering what I’m doing. I have to shoo them out-of-the-way; sometimes shoving them with the toe of my shoe. Falling face first down into a fresh pile of poop would be no fun. They do not understand this! (Yes, that’s the top of my head)

IMG_0007

I call the ladies, “My Minions” or, “My adoring fans”. They know I love them dearly. Most of them want face kisses. Some just prefer to be left alone, and I respect that (mostly). Sometimes, I still grab them up and kiss the devil out of them and put them down. Sort of like you’d do with a rebellious kid. I only have a couple like that from the New Flock.

However, I never have to force Victoria into a lap-time hug. She just falls asleep.  She’s an Ameraucana. Such a lovely little lady who lays the prettiest blue-green eggs.

Lap-Time Nap with Victoria

Lap-Time Nap with Victoria

As the girls grew up and became full-grown hens, I was afraid they would become cold and distant. So far, they have not. Actually, they seem to look forward to my visits and look up at me with such intensity that I wonder what they are trying to convey to me? Food? Likely… Chickens are quite food motivated. One of the ladies whose name is “Cleo”, short for Cleopatra, feels it her given right in the flock to groom me. Any freckle, any  bit of trash on my leg or do-dad that she deems edible she’s going to snag up. If it’s a mosquito, watch out! She’s going to snag that little bugger! I hardly know what she’s up to until I watch her. She can silent and painlessly pick off anything on my body. Amazing. Well, all except the freckles. She’s not been successful at that yet. Usually that ends poorly, and she’s learning that freckles are not meant for eating or picking off.  Photo below of Cleo!  Determined little face, huh?

Cuckoo Maran

Cuckoo Maran

Well, in closing here… It’s just my consensus that, to have a flock of chickens is therapy for Time Out. Usually about 3 in the afternoon the girls and I visit and we catch up on the day. Some just flop down on my foot and go to sleep. Others like to sit there and let me groom them. They love the little feathers in tender areas (rump) picked over. I don’t get very involved there, but I notice other hens do that to each other, so occasionally, I’ll reach around and tug on some of the fluffy feathers like I’m grabbing a bug. (Laughing again here) – They turn and see what I’m grabbing to eat. (Yea Right! Ha, ha! Not..) It is cute though.

♥Chicken Mom♥

 

Hug A Chicken!

If you’ve been reading my blog on a regular basis, you know that I have a new flock of birds which have been maturing and becoming egg laying miracles. They have gotten to know me and I’ve gotten to know them.

These  girls, are so affectionate and responsive. They just enjoy company and really like to sit and talk. Sometimes they talk the whole time you are sitting with them and others just sit passively on your lap and fall asleep, or rest. Then there’s “Little Owl”.I could actually write a book about Little Owl. She’s really funny. As a baby, when she’d find me sitting, she’d hop on my knee and dive under my armpit with her head and just sort of stay there, with her rump end exposed. It was always so darn funny. I never stopped her because she was so determined to do it. If I had on my jacket she’d just hop on my knee and dive right inside my coat flap, settle down and nap. Even now, I shake my head and laugh at the memory.

Little Owl

Little Owl

What Owl did, I never really understood. One day I happened on a video of a Mom hen and her group of babies. They were all happily pecking in the dirt around her, and when they saw something which startled them, they ran headlong into the Mom’s breast feathers found a way under and hid. Some even found a way under the wings and rump. One little Biddy didn’t make it under so far and all that you saw of her was a Rump poking out from under the hens wing. I started laughing so hard. That was exactly what Little Owl did! Oh God! I really was a Chicken Mom.

Little Owl is a big girl now, and she is one of my really good layers. She’s an Ameraucana who lays light aqua eggs. I always sort of dreaded her quitting the actions she use to do. They were so genuine and real that I didn’t want her to stop. I knew she saw me as “Mom” and she was coming to me for a rest and relaxation she couldn’t get otherwise.

I never had to worry about that. Little Owl still does the “Dive”. Here’s a photo of her heading for happy Lap Time.

Little Owl Running for Happy Lap time

Little Owl Running for Happy Lap time

And… Here’s the Dive!  I think she’s loves it as much as I do…

owl-dive

Happy Lap Time!

Have you Hugged Your Chicken Today? 🙂

Hug A Chicken!

 

♥Chicken Mom♥