Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Smelly Situations!

Things were starting to get smelly everywhere in our house today! The basement chicken coop was about a week over due for a cleaning, so we began there. We went through the normal cleaning routine, but I decided to take a quick picture of the girls while they waited for the pin to be cleaned (tough chicken life, huh?). I thought they looked so funny in the dog carrier. After a closer look I realized that I only saw two of the girls. I knew we had put all three of them in there so where in the world could the last girl be? I could see Big Crown and Cluck but no Scabby. I began looking around all the sides and saw the Cluck was sitting on top of Scabby. Somehow I wasn't surprised!
Scabby is on the lower left side- this is right after she got out from underneath Cluck!

The other smelly culprits of the house were the ducks. To be fair, the smelly situation was more my fault. I got the idea that it would be interesting to see if I could raise the ducks solely of the urban waste stream. There is a local bakery a few blocks from our home, and I am figuring they must through away plenty of bread products so that could be their urban food source (once they are old enough) and then I thought I would make bedding from shredding junk mail. I find the idea of shifting "waste" into a valuable commodity fascinating and an excellent commentary on the surplus of waste. So the bottom line of this is that I tried the shredded junk mail bedding. It took less that 24 hours for the paper to absorb all the spilled water, pee and poop to make a horrid smell. I think I may bag this idea! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ducklings Adventure to Grandma and Grandpa's House

As we have mentioned in other posts, my parents are fans of the indoor farm. So I wasn't surprised when I asked if I could bring the ducklings for a visit they were fine with the idea. The duck's box fit nicely in the back seat of my car, and we made the ten minute drive over without any issues. (Could you imagine if I had gotten pulled over for any reason- how would I have explained the squawking cardboard box to a cop?)

They enjoyed sitting on my dad's lap and hanging out with us. After lunch, we decided we would try another swim lesson. I read that if you teach them to swim they imprint you as the "mom duck" so of course I wanted to try that. I tried the night before in our bathtub, but they got scared and flipped out trying to crawl out of the tub. This time we decided to try in the kitchen sink, figuring that being smaller it would be less scary. So we filled out one side of the sink with enough water that they could still touch the bottom and the other side with enough that they would have to actually swim. (Kinda like the kiddie swimming pools at the park!) We gently lowered them into the first side, and they just loved it! It was no time before they were splashing around and having a great time. We gave them a minute in the deeper water and they were able to swim but seemed to get scared so we got them out of there. We put them on the counter on a towel and put a space heater near them just to be sure they were warm, and they used their bills to squeegee the water off. It was fun watching them learn to swim and to see them look goofy all wet.

Amazing how much less duck there is when they are wet!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This is a powerful video reminding those of us who live the homesteading lifestyle why we do this and encouraging others to consider homesteading practices. It doesn't matter where you are on this journey, today is the perfect day to just try one thing. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chicken Poop Bingo Contest

Just a reminder, the chicken poop bingo contest is still running. If you are interested in getting a square,  here's the link for more details.

Bullet Egg and Mini Egg

I think my chickens are on strike! It had been over a week since they laid an egg. To be fair, they just finished molting so we think that is why the egg production stopped. Either way, they finally laid an egg and it has to be the most unusual shaped one I have ever seen. It looks just like a bullet! The next day we got another egg and this one was micro sized. They had better start working on making dinner or they will be dinner!


I laid out all my seed packets getting ready for the new garden season and was stuck by how beautiful they all are lined up.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Special Annoucement!

We are deviating from our normal Sunday night posting schedule to bring you a special announcement! A new addition has been made to the basement farm- ducks!

Ironically, it started at the "birthday party" when my mom mentioned that, when she was picking up her present of freeze dried worms, the local farm supply store had ducklings. This of course interested me and a few google searches later, I was set on getting ducks. Jeff wasn't so sure about this idea. He does have a good point about having more animals to clean up after and the noise but it was Jeff's idea to get the chickens so once that flood gate opened there is no stopping it. Regardless, after promising that I would take care of the new "livestock", he reluctantly agreed. Not wanting to miss my opportunity, the very next day on lunch I stormed off to the store. The second you walk in you could hear the chorus of peeping. There were about fifty of the ducklings in a bin together under a hot brooding light, just a big yellow fuzzball of cuteness. The store supplied me with a little cardboard box that reminded my of a Happy Meal box to bring them home in. I was totally overwhelmed by which two birds to bring home. Luckily a little boy of about seven and his mom walked up to look at the ducklings. The boy asked if I was getting ducks and I told him yes and asked if he would help me pick out two. His sticky chubby hands grabbed onto one unsuspecting bird and he squeezed a little tight before putting it in the box. Then he grabbed another. I was grateful to have the decision made for me. Eight dollars later, and I was on my way. The girls did not appreciate the car ride back to the house. Every time I stepped on the gas or break, I could hear them fall down onto the wood shavings.

Upon arriving home, I put their little box on the kitchen table and began collecting items for their new home. Well all their peeping could be heard by the chickens in the basement who went crazy squawking! I got them all settled in and had to go back to work.

After work, my parents came over to see the new little guys. We decided on names. One will be  Quack (in the same vein as Cluck is named) and the other Louie (per a coworkers suggestion, after the ducks from the cartoon Duck Tails). Yet again, we can't tell either of them apart but that worked itself out last time so I am not going to worry about it. We decided to, under a careful eye, introduce them to the chickens. We put them in the chicken coop right by the door just in case we needed to get them out quickly. The chickens slowing came towards the ducklings to investigate the loud little fluffy creatures. Out of the blue, one of the ducklings charged at the chickens. Scabby of course ran away but the other girls didn't seem to much mind. Generally the chickens are disinterested in the ducks.

It is interesting to have babies in the house again. They are much more cuddly than the chicks were at the same age. For example, one of them crawled up my shirt and got on the back of my neck where she moved around so much that she got tangled in my hair and Jeff ended up having to rescue her.

It will be exciting to see all the new adventures this new addition to the farm brings.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Girls!

It is hard to believe that this Wednesday will be the girls first birthday! I honestly cant decide what is more worthy of celebration: The three girls reaching their first birthday..........or that we have managed to keep 3 chickens living in our basement for a whole year now. When we look back on the last year it has been a roller coaster of ups and downs and trial and error. Overall, I am glad we decided to embark on this crazy journey of clandestine chicken keeping. While we have had our moments of "why the hell did we ever decide to do this?" (the disastrous first attempt at improvising an indoor coop, for example) the benefit of the chickens has by far outweighed the negatives. The sense of accomplishment of having our own fresh eggs and the amusement of all the girls' antics makes it all worth it.

To celebrate, we had a small birthday dinner with their grandparents. Yes, I realize this is totally insane, but I do have 3 chickens living in my basement here in the 'burbs, after all. I decided to make them a birthday cake but the question was..... what for goodness sake do you make a chicken's birthday cake out of? Well, I started with peanut bird suet and put black sunflower seeds and ham (their latest favorite treat) over the suet. Then I took three worms out of the compost bin and put those on top.

Before my parents came over, I took my old hamster pin and set that up over plastic from my last dry cleaning order. Then I ran down stairs and grabbed each chicken and brought her upstairs and plopped her in the hamster pin. As my parents came in the door, I pulled out the cake and we sang happy birthday. They seemed bewildered but excited by the worms. They stayed in the cage pretty well and also enjoyed a present from grandma and grandpa of freeze dried mealworms. All in all it was a nice evening for both humans and chickens alike. However as Jeff put it as we were cleaning dishes, "You know it stinks that you spent all day preparing that birthday dinner and one of them ended up pooping on you." I guess it is just a part of being a mom.

The birthday cake- I swear they liked it. Just in this pic they are all looking away!
The cake right before the worms went on.
Seriously, one of them had the nerve to poop on me!
Their present from my parents.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Goats in basement?

For awhile now Jeff and I have been talking about getting goats. Okay if we are going to be more honest, I have been attempting to talk Jeff into letting me get goats, but lets not get caught up in the details here. So this weekend we decided to start planning our garden for the season (yes, we know it is insanely early but when you live somewhere that the Weather Channel comes to do broadcasts from a parking lot that is only two blocks from your office because the late season storms are so impressive you gotta create some hope for warmer weather) anyways..... we are at the store picking up seed packets when, right next to the beans, was a book on getting started with goats. Now you see Jeff has a weakness for all thing reading (hey we found each other at a bookstore on a Saturday night what can you expect?) So I picked up the book and pretended to be really amazed (okay I have read at least five books on goat keeping and wasn't surprised by anything I read in the book but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do). Jeff picked up another copy and also began reading..... this is very promising! Fingers crossed for me.... oh and if anyone has any info on keeping indoor goats please drop us a line.... we (me) could use any help....thanks

I hear a chicken fight brewing in the basement so off to break that up.....