Sunday, February 26, 2012

Manicure #2

Most people would never bother to wonder if chickens like having their claws trimmed. If you by chance are one of the few who do, let us tell you...........They dont. Thanks to a recent article in "Chickens" magazine (March/ April 2012 issue), we learned a super useful technique for trimming their claws without drawing blood and unleashing coop cannibalism. The trick is to shine a flashlight through the claw to see where the "quick" (the vein in the claw nail) stops. Once you try it, you can see it clear and distinct, and see exactly where to cut. It worked like a charm. The flock is now neatly manicured and their scary, t-rex-like claws are back under control.

Having your flock living in a coop that is surfaced with pine shavings on top of linoleum doesnt allow for the natural wearing down of the claws that would otherwise take place from scratching around in dirt. We learned that we have to pay extra attention to claws getting too long, and the price for negligence is a not-so-happy time spent trying to hold onto a flapping, flailing chicken while your assistant tries to cut the wickedly overgrown claws without injury to chicken or human. As usual, after a generous serving of treats, all is forgiven....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Backyard Chicken Supplies

The world of backyard chicken keeping has officially changed for better!!! Today Jeff and I were picking up bedding for the girls, when feed in "backyard poultry" sizes caught my eye. Now the girls would go throw this way too fast to make it worth it for us, but it is still an exciting development .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Egg eating?

As we approach the chickens' second birthday, one thing we have learned during our many adventures with indoor chicken keeping is to always expect the unexpected. The girls haven't eaten their eggs in over a year and half...until last week. We came home twice in one week to find half eaten eggs in their nesting box. There is nothing like seeing dried egg yolk in their pin to remind you that they are here to be productive and useful not just pets. If we wanted an animal that was for companionship, we would have a cat or dog, but we have chickens. Chickens who have a job to do! The egg eating seems to have stopped for now, but I hope it doesn't start up again. At some point, we will have to face the possibility of having to eat the chickens which would be hard after living together for two years, but I hope that option doesn't have to come any sooner.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Molting Mania

Even after almost two years with the girls, they still manage to surprise. Last year we missed the bulk of their molting as we were on our honeymoon. (Sorry Mom and Dad for having to deal with that in our absence.) So a few days ago we began to notice the tell tale feather collection and realized that molting had begun. Molting is a winter once a year occurrence when chickens drop most of their feathers and make new ones- kinda of like a chicken reset. All their energy going to making feathers means there are minimal to no eggs and the girls are basically PMSing. They are moody, irritable, and LOUD!

This wouldn't be so bad if it was for the fact that we had a couple over for dinner over the weekend. Cluck walked right up to the wife and pecked her hand. I offered a few treats to the girls hoping that would smooth things over but alas she did it again. Our friend was very kind about the whole thing but still how embarrassing. I really thought Cluck had out grown that bad habit, but I think the molting stress overtook her manners. Ah, the life of an urban farmers' dinner party..... at least I will have plenty of feathers to re-stuff our couch pillows.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Video Tour of Chicken Coop

Happy New Year to all our readers! With the arrival of winter and the holiday season, we have been super busy getting the last of the garden vegetables and herbs harvested and dried, pickled, preserved, etc, etc. The garden beds have been turned over and mulched for the winter, and seed garlic is planted.  Little green shoots are already peeking up through the snow (garlic's awesomeness never ceases to amaze!). This fall's apples have all been crushed, pressed, and bottled, and are bubbling away as the yeasts work hard fermenting the apple juice into next year's hard cider. Finally, the beehive had to be bundled up and prepped for winter. It was so tempting to take some of the sweet delicious honey, already dripping from the frames, but that is what the bees need to live off while holed up all winter in their hive until spring. Beekeeping is turning out to be all about patience. This is the first winter with a beehive so we are anxiously awaiting to see how they fare this winter. Fingers are crossed!

Luckily for our micro-flock of indoor chickens in the basement, no such preparations are needed. They are warm and dry and sheltered from the snow and cold in their basement coop to await spring.

To make up for the sparseness of blog postings this winter, we have put together a video "virtual tour" of or clandestine coop. Enjoy!