Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sheep mauled by wolf or coyote, donkey a hero!

One of our sheep was attacked and savagely mauled by a wolf or coyote. Brian found it lying in the field, bleeding to death and almost a goner. He and his brother loaded it into the van and drove it to the vets. Its throat was ripped open and it was in bad shape but after 4 days at the Vets it came home -- the miracle sheep!

Our donkey Burr had his front legs covered in blood and the opinion is that he's a hero, probably stomping and kicking at the wolf/coyote til it ran off.

The Livestock Protection Agent who claim to verify our claim for expenses, said it is the FIRST time he's ever filed a report on a LIVE sheep that survived a wolf or coyote attack. He does about 40 a year, and they're all dead. We're in a high risk area, lots of wolves and coyotes around attacking livestock.

We shouldn' t be suprised, we bought the donkeys (one died last Christmas) to protect the sheep but they didn't seem too keen on that job. Burr seemed to actually dislike them, and is always chasing them away.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Forgot to close the barn door last night

Well the chickens are happy today as I forgot to go out after supper last night and close the door to the coop. So they were out nice and early today. Normally I don't let them out until about mid morning. I was lucky nothing got in to the coop overnight. We have a lot of coons around the farm and they love chicken as a midnight snack.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ran out of feed yesterday.

Well not a lot to talk about on the farm today. I have to go to the Co-Op and get some feed as I ran out yesterday. The birds get a bit cranky when I am late with breakfast.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sex Link Chicks

A sex link chick is a baby chicken that can be sexed by its color. Most breeds of chickens are very hard to tell the sex of when they hatch. It takes someone who is skilled and has good eyes and even they get it wrong on occasion.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sebright Bantams

The seabrights originated in the early 1800s and are the only breed of chicken that has no pointed sex feathers.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Baby Poultry Guide for Care

For Chicks or Bantams use 18% commercial starter feed, QUik Chik Water Additive, 90-95' heat at floor level, put extra light in the brooder room, they need 1/2 sq. ft of space per chick and be sure to use commercial litter or wood shavings.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Four killed in cockfight attack in Mexico

Gamblers angry over losses, threw two hand grenades into a crowd of over 300 at a cockfight in the town of Tonala. Tonala is a small town in the state of Jalisco in western Mexico, killing four men and seriously injuring 15 others.

"Two men died at the cockfight and two more died in nearby hospitals," said Jose Ramirez, spokesman for the Jalisco attorney general's office. "It appears that some men lost money and then they lost control."

Cockfighting is popular in Mexico, especially in rural areas, and huge sums of money are often gambled on the outcome.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My donkey thinks it is a chicken.

I think my donkey has lost his mind. Yesterday afternoon I decided to cut the grass in the pasture. So with this in mind I opened the gate to drive the tractor in and to my surprise my donkey ran right through the open gate. Now some of you might wonder what is supprising about this so I will just tell you that donkeys are usually a bit wary of something that is different. So normally you can open a gate for a minute or two and the donkey will just stand there and look at it while he trys to decide whether or not the open gate is a good thing or not. So as this gate is almost never open and the donkey in question has not been through it in about five years, I figured I had time to drive the tractpr in. Well I was wrong. As soon as I had opened the gate and got back on the tractor the darned donkey trotted out as nice as you please.

This behavior may be a little unusual but what happened next is the strange part. Now you should now that I have one hundred acres and wile that may not be the biggest farm in the world it is a good sized chunk of land when you are standing in the middle of it.

So I am sitting there on the tractor wondering what the donkey will do now that it is out and has the run of the entire farm when to my surprise he runs all the way over to the chicken barn and settles in to eat the grass amongst the chickens. There it stayed contentedly munching on grass with the chicken milling around underfoot as if it too was chicken. I had a hard time getting him to go back to his pasture and eventually had to entice him with food. So either the donkey thinks it is a chicken or that the chickens are donkeys, either way its nuts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is a Bantam ?

A Bantam is a miniature chicken. They are usually about 1/4 to 1/5 the size of a regular chicken.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Leghorn Chicken Breed

Leghorns are most often white but they do come in other colours. They're a hardy breed of chicken but their combs can get frostbite in the really cold weather. I don't like the leghorns much as they are really skittish. I know, I already confessed that I don't like birds at all, but some like the "zebra" are kind of okay.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Jack Attack Part 2

I looked around Left and Right. Where is it. I can't see it. Then in an instant a shadow came over me and with terror in my heart I began to realize the true depth of my situation. It was above me.

Whomp! It hit me Right in the back of the head. I felt its claws digging into the back of my neck as it beat me fiercely about the head. With a scream I let the pail drop to the floor as I fought to get the creature off me. I flailed about with my hands like a wild man, hitting it hard in the chest. It fell to the floor with a thump raising a cloud of dust as it scrambled to get back on its feet. Seeing my chance I turned and ran for the door my feet slipping in the soft dry dirt of the barn floor.

I turned and looked over my shoulder as I ran. It was right behind me relentlessly persuing its prey. I poured on all the speed I could muster as the barn door was now in sight. I hit the door still running nearly wrenching it off its hinges. Again I looked over my shoulder sure the mad creature would be close behind. To my great relief it was nowhere to be seen. I had made it. I had survived.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed

Plymouth Rocks are the chickens I call Zebra Chickens. They are black and white striped (or barred). They used to be a favourite for North American chicken farmers.

They are friendly and passive, and good foragers, they like to range free. We lost all ours to a mink one year and haven't replaced them yet

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Roosters Crow Whenever and Wherever...

Most folks think Roosters crow at dawn. They do start then but the truth is they crow all the time! It seems to be a male territorial thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Chicken Farming and Chickens in Feed Barrels

You have to watch if you are a Chicken Farmer - chickens are really tame and sometimes they even get smart and figure out where you keep your feed.

If your back is turned and the lid off the feed barrel, the smart one(s) will jump in when you're not looking. Then you put the lid back on without looking and you've trapped a chicken in what might be called Chicken Heaven....

Some of my chickens used to jump into the feed barrels and end up spending 24 hours in them before I'd find them in the morning. It's a shock to lift the lid up when you're half asleep and have a chicken come flying out at you.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Keets (Baby Guineas) Bred on Farm Need Warmth and Dry Spaces

Lorine has good luck with breeding her guineas on the farm. We found out that baby guineas, called Keets, often die from getting damp in the long grass. So as soon as they are born, or soon after, you have to find them and take them from the mother bird.

We have been lucky enough to find and gather quite a few hatches. We keep the day old birds in our shower stall downstairs. It's easy to rig up heat lamps, and keep sawdust in the bottom to keep the little ones dry. It's also easy for Lorine to get to for cleaning. You also have to be careful the baby birds can't slip, so don't use newspapers - their little legs are fragile. In fact adult guineas have very fragile legs too.

These keets are one week old and all survived.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Rhode Island Red is the best chicken of all time

One of the most famous chickens of all time is the Rhode Island Red. It was developed back around 1910 in Rhode Island.

I say it is the best chicken of all time because it combines the best features of all the other breeds into one great package. The Rhode Island Red is very hardy it handles hot and cold temperatures well and they almost never get sick. It has a good temperament.

It forages well out side on its own in the barnyard. It lays lots of large brown eggs and is large enough to make a nice bird for the dinner table. If you are going to have only one kind of chicken on the farm this is it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jack Attack

Beads of sweat ran down my forehead as I crept silently through the barn. Carefully taking just a few steps then stopping to look around and listen for the sound of death which I new could be hiding anywhere amongst the old farm machinery or bales of hay. OK so far so good, a few more feet, stop, watch, listen. Satisfied for the moment that it was nowhere to be seen I made my move, I could see my goal just a few feet away -- the old 45 gallon drums of horse feed.

Earlier in the day when my uncle had asked me to feed his horses as he was going to be away, I had been to embarrassed to tell him of my fears. After all I was 10 years old, that's practically a grown up.

I moved quickly now. If I was fast maybe I could be gone before it returned to its lair. I dashed the last few feet to the feed barrels and flipped the metal lid off the drum with one hand and reached for the feed scoop with the other. Frantically I scooped the required amount into the green plastic bucket all the while scanning left and right for any sign of its return. There that's it, four scoops, I can't believe it, Im going to make it. Then I heard it, the sound that brought terror to my soul. The sound of death.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Children and Chickens on the Farm

My grandson loved holding this baby chick for the first time. It didn't seem to bother the chick either.

All you wanted to know about Chickens & Chicken Farming

Today I want to tell you about the Leghorn chicken. The Leghorn is a white-feathered egg layer that lays white eggs. It's the most common chicken used for commercial egg production.

I don't know how long they've been around, but at least 50 years. At maturity they weigh about 4 pounds and they start laying eggs at 4 to 5 months of age. They've been bred to have a very high feed to conversion rate, meaning you don't have to feed 'em much to get lots of eggs.

On the down side, it's been my experience that Leghorn chickens are very very high-strung. They are very exciteable, easily agitated, and a minor disturbance in the hen house can send them into a frenzy. This can put them off their lay for a day, so you lose a day's worth of eggs.

It's also been my experience in farming that Leghorns are more prone to eat their own eggs than other breeds. They're also not as hardy as other breeds so if you're looking for barnyard chickens running around the farm on their own, Leghorns aren't the best choice.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chickens Can't Fly

Did you know that chickens can't fly? City slickers think they can because they have wings. But chickens are too big and heavy for their wing size so they are flightless. Sure they can lift off for a few feet (but not very high) if they try really hard, but they can't actually fly.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Plymouth Rock & Rhode Island Reds

I used to call this chicken on the right a zebra chicken. Their real name is Pymouth Rock. The reddish brown one is a Rhode Island Red.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Singapore Makes Plans for Bird Flu

The government Singapore has said that if a bird flu outbreak strikes again, it may resume health screening of all visitors as it did during the SARS crisis of 2003 and deter its citizens from traveling to countries that are infected with bird flu.

The Health Ministry unveiled its contingency plan Wednesday in case Singapore suffers cases of the H5N1 avian flu strain, which has killed 54 people in Asia since 2003. The city-state so far has reported no bird flu infections.

Friday, July 01, 2005

More Bird Flu in China

The World Health Organization has urged China to step up testing of wild birds, as well as the humans who've come in contact with them near a lake in remote Qinghai province where 5,000 birds have died. Health officials from the World Health Organization are afraid the bird flu might mutate into a form that could spread directly from person to person, setting off a pandemic.

Officials from the WHO say at least 54 people have died in Asia this year after becoming infected by sick birds.

Tests show the birds died of the H5N1 strain that has proven fatal in Asia's latest outbreak. All over Asia, authorities have slaughtered tens of millions of birds to contain the virus. That step has not been taken Qinghai province because many of the birds are from rare, protected species. Most of the slaughtered birds have been chickens and other poultry. Tests show the birds died of the H5N1 strain that has proven fatal in Asia's latest outbreak.

In Tokyo Japanese agricultural officials said they suspect cases of bird flu at a farm in northeastern Japan may have been part of a larger outbreak that has since receded. The Agriculture Ministry said Sunday some of the more than 800 chickens that have died since April at a farm in Mitsukaido City had been infected with the H5N2 strain of bird flu. H5N2 is considered less dangerous than the H5N1 strain because it is not yet known to infect humans.

On Tuesday, lab tests found chickens at the five farms closest to the infected farm had developed antibodies to the virus in their blood. Chickens at the remaining 11 farms tested negative.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

144 Arrested in Tennessee For Cockfighting

In Newport Tennessee the police raided an illegal cockfight and arrested 144 people attending what may have been one of the largest such gatherings in the nation.

SWAT teams, helicopters and dozens of state troopers participated in the raid on Saturday on the Del Rio Cockfight Pit. They seized about $40 grand in cash and killed more than 300 roosters. I do not get why they killed the birds.

The 144 were each charged with being a spectator to cockfighting, a misdemeanor in Tennessee. If convicted, they face up to 12 months in the slammer and a $2,500 fine.

John Goodwin, of the Humane Society of the United States, who took part in the raid, said it served notice on those conducting such illegal operations. "I wouldn't want to be a cockfighter in East Tennessee right now,"

David Webb, a gamecock owner, said he lost more than 20 chickens valued at $150 each during the raid. "I've been around this stuff all my life. Everything I've ever known is a chicken fight,"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Life on the Funny Farm, or how NOT to be a chicken farmer

I should explain that Farmer Brian lets all his animals run loose. He doesn't believe in keeping them penned up. We used to have 13 ducks, about 75 hens, several roosters, about 30 guineas (male and female), a few turkeys, over 40 rabbits, and dozens of homing pigeons, all set free on the farm.

Of course they don't recognize house property versus farm property so they roam anywhere they want... even the sheep. We have 2 of them - Ewe-Lysses S. Grant and Legolas. Yeah, we name some of our animals because really they are pets. We should be running a petting zoo!

The pigeons tend to sit on the house rooftop, while the chickens range everywhere. We had to put a gate at the end of the driveway to keep the guineas from crossing the road to the only neighbours we have. Yes, they can fly over it but they don't bother.

That's a little trick if you own guineas - put up barriers and make the inside so hospitable that they don't leave. I'll talk about how to make your property guinea friendly another day.

The rabbits were so tame they would laze about on the driveway, lying in the sun and enjoying the warmth. It really freaked visitors out. And the guineas of course are all over, running, flying, pecking for worms and bugs, fighting or displaying, or sitting on the roof of the farm vehicle.

Each animal or bird has its own barn, except the bunnies which are free to sleep anywhere they want. They tend to choose the bigger barn although some go in with the guineas at night. Most of them do go in at night on their own. It's kind of like recess at school. At dusk all the animals start heading to their barns so that Brian can close them in for the night.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Farms with Hostas & Guineas - they don't mix!

Yesterday I put some hosta plants in my garden. Last year my guineas destroyed every hosta I planted. They didn't eat them, they just tore the leaves to shreds. I don't know why they do this but if anyone knows, write a comment to this post so I can figure out how to put a stop to it!

The chickens don't bother with them. The sheep don't bother, even the rabbits leave them alone, but my guineas either hate or love hostas.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I hate Turkeys

Turkeys are really stupid. And big. Every year Brian gets baby turkeys to raise for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Then he proceeds to tame them and try to make pets of them, which is not, in my mind, what being a farmer is all about. One year he let them run loose with the chickens and guineas, but didn't tell me.

If you read my first post here on Chicken Chat you know I'm afraid of birds. Well, I was in the barn with my 2 year old grandson and one of the turkeys trapped me in the corner, pecking at me and crying out "Veet, veet!". He was quite fully grown by then and his beak was at my neck height. I kicked, I pushed, I hit, I screamed but the stupid thing just kept pecking and crying out. Finally Brian heard my cries and came out to rescue me. Turns out my farmer husband had been encouraging the stupid bird to eat from his hand.

That turkey was delicious at Thanksgiving though.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How to solve all the problems in the whole world according to Farmer Brian

Well I just do not have a lot to talk about today. I cleaned out the coop yesterday and put in a nice bunch of fresh wood chips. One of my sheep has a bad infection in its face. It got a small cut under its eye that I did not see and first thing I knew it was all swelled up like a balloon. It is amazing how fast infection can set in, one day it was perfectly healthy and happy and then 24 hrs later it is in really bad shape.

I went down the road to the vet and got some penicillin to give it. I do not like giving the poor thing a needle each day as it does not understand that I am trying to help it. All it knows is that each morning I come in and jab it in the butt. Sheep are very susceptible to maggot infestations for some reason so it is important to keep the wound clean. This is a little easer for me than some people as I only have a few sheep so there are not a lot of flies around.

It is amazing how much you learn from looking after large animals. Like a lot of people, I did not have a lot of know how when it came to what I would call practical medical info. I had never given a needle in my life but when you have a sick animal that is depending on you to take care of it, you have to learn how to deal with the problem. It is to the point know that I do not generally have to get the vet to come out and deal with a problem. I just go get what I need and take care of it myself.

It makes a person feel kind of good to be able to take care of problems themselves. I think that if kids in schools in the city could have the opportunity to look after large animals like kids on the farm do it would go a long way to building a sense of responsibility and self-worth that a lot of kids need. I feel that a lot of kids are to egocentric and wrapped up in things that they think are so important but in reality are just a bunch of unimportant silliness that in 20 years they won't even remember.

I know that kids will be kids and they will always be into the latest trends and the newest music and that is OK. But one has to balance that with the real world. What my grandfather would have called a dose of reality. And looking after animals is a good way of getting it. But that is just my opinion and what the heck do I know. Well I had better get going as it is time to go give the poor bugger its shot.

Guess I did have a lot to say after all.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Guinea Bird is in Love with my Toyota Corolla....

One of my guineas (a male) goes out every morning with the rest of the flock when Farmer Brian opens the guinea house door. Off he runs to my car, where he checks himself out in the hubcaps, then lies down happily nearby. He doesn't move all day. He doesn't hunt for worms or flies or bugs. He doesn't eat grass. He doesn't drink. He just lies there.

Occassionally he will get up and wander around the car, looking at it the whole time. He has been doing this for over a year now. We finally figured out that he thinks my Toyota is his mate, and that it's sitting on eggs - nesting. So he won't leave her side....

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gimpy Chicken, the Runt of the Litter

Brian once had a chicken that had some problem with its legs. Apparently that's often a chicken problem area. This chicken couldn't walk, it dragged itself along the ground as a baby, trying in vain to keep up with the other chickens.

Brian started physio on it. Every day he would take it outside and sprinkle rice on the ground in front of it, then he'd help it walk, one chicken leg after the other, til it had gobbled up all the rice. One day Gimpy, as we called him, walked on his own - well he teetered really, but he managed to shuffle, lurching from side to side, and gobbled the rice up. He collapsed exhausted at the end but it was a pretty exciting day on the farm.

Gimpy never got better, and he never could do more than lurch a few steps before he'd collapse. Brian did that physiotherapy on Gimpy Chicken for weeks, then one day Gimpy died. That's life on the farm, eh?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Farmer Brian's Egg-cellent Barnyard Tips!

We bought a new freezer because our old chest freezer was 30 years old and it was time to replace it. Not knowing what to do with the old chest freezer, I hauled it to the chicken coop. It makes an excellent feed storage bin!

I cut up some pieces of plywood with my chain saw and made dividers for it. I have it sub-divided for corn, guinea food, and wheat. It's mouse-proof and works way better than the old garbage pails I was using.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chicken History - Which came first?

Nobody really knows when the first chicken was domesticated. Indian history places the date as early as 3200 BC. Egyptian and Chinese records show that fowl were laying eggs for man in 1400 BS

It is believed that Columbus' ships carried the first chickens, which are related to those now in egg production, to this country. This brings a whole new meaning to genealogical research!

Farmer Brian declares that wood is better for Chicken Coop & Poop

Over the years I have been experimenting with various substances to put on the floor of the chicken coop. When I first got my chickens I was working in a factory. Every day they would throw out lots of large sheets of cardboard and being the cheapskate that I am I used it on the floor of the coop. It worked fairly well but you have to replace it each day as it is non absorbent.

Slippery surfaces are not recommended for chickens as they can develop leg problems. I did not have any such problems but my chickens are outside most of the day and as they roost at night the time they spent on the cardboard was minimal. Warning! Do not use cardboard for heavy breeds of chickens. They are far to prone to leg problems as they get so fat.

Now the cardboard worked fine but as I said you have to change it every day and that got to be a pain in the butt so I swiched to using straw. Straw works better than cardboard as it stays cleaner longer. The reason for this is that as the birds dig around in the straw the heaver poop tends to work its way down to the bottom as the lighter straw comes to the top. Straw also has better absorption properties and does not have to be changed every day. However straw is not the best solution as it is hollow and this provides a great spot for vermin to hide.

The best thing I have found is wood shavings and sawdust. I like pine myself as it is non toxic to the birds (yes they will eat a bit of it) and it makes the coop smell nice. I have found a mixture of about 98% shavings and 2% sawdust workes best for me. The sawdust has great absorption properties and the shavings allow the droppings to work there way down from the surface keeping the birds nice and clean.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Why Some Hard-Cooked Eggs are Hard to Peel

Fresh eggs are hard to peel when hard-boiled. Those that have been stored 7-10 days before cooking are usually much easier to peel

Friday, June 10, 2005

Farmers call it a Chicken Watch?

The dependability of the rooster's early morning call, and the regularity with which newly laid eggs appeared may have inspired the Chinese to describe the chicken as "the domestic animal who knows time"

Tornado a sure way to cool your chickens

There was not much happening in the old chicken coop this morning. When it is this hot the birds get a little quiet.

However things got a little livelier later on as we had a good blow. Thunder, lightning, lots of wind and a tornado went through a few miles down the road.

It is getting hot again though. It is supposed to go over 100 tomorrow. The birds will be laying hardboiled eggs.

What's A Jacuzzi for if not for Birds?

Keet in the Hand
Originally uploaded by Lorine.
The first time Brian picked up baby chicks after we got married (and remember - I'm a city gal!!) I had no idea what happened once they came home with us.

I figured that Bri had everything ready for them - heat lamps, cages, whatever... in fact I asked him several times if everything was set. His reply was always "yup".

When we got in with 50 cheeping peeping day-old chicks, he proceeded to run around looking for lamps and extension cords. The chicks went into my laundry basket in the living room. Bri hooked up lamps and extension cords and made a real mess of things in the house and I realized this wasn't a temporary measure. He planned on those birds living there til they didn't need their heat lamps anymore. I wasn't happy so he moved them. To my jacuzzi.

Our bathroom became a nighmare of cords and heaters and lamps. The Jacuzzi was, he proclaimed, the perfect spot for these chicks. He laid down cardboard and put their feeder and waterer on it, then he carefully placed 4 lamps hanging down to provide the warmth they need. Then he instructed me to be sure and keep the door shut to keep the heat in. Well, those chicks stink! No matter how often he cleaned 'em and changed the cardboard, it was all I could smell. Besides they're noisy.

He kept them in the Jacuzzi for 10 days. Every morning I got my shower in the stall next to 50 noisy stinky birds. I deserve a medal!

But I never learn. When my old female guinea nested outside and had 30 baby keets, Brian and I gathered them up and put them -- you guessed it -- in the Jacuzzi!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Egg Trivia - Eggsactly how long does it take to lay an egg?

It takes 24 - 26 hours for a hen to make and lay an egg. Then the hen rests about 30 minutes before starting to make another one

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Chicken Farming

A life-long city man, tired of the rat race, decided he was going to give up the city life, move to the country and become a chicken farmer.

He found a nice used chicken farm and bought it. Turns out that his next door neighbor was also a chicken farmer. The neighbor came for a visit one day and said "Chicken farming isn't easy. Tell you want. To help you get started I will give you 100 chickens."

The new chicken farmer was thrilled. Two weeks later the new neighbor stopped by to see how things were going. The new farmer said "Not too good. All 100 chickens died." The neighbour was astounded. "Oh I've never had any trouble with my chickens, but I'll give you another 100"

Another two weeks passed. The neighbor stopped by again. The new farmer said "You won't believe it but those last 100 chickens died too!" Astounded the neighbor asked "What did you do to them? What went wrong?"

"Well" said the new farmer "I'm not sure but I think I might not be planting them far enough apart"

Monday, June 06, 2005

Chicken on a Hot Tin Roof

The chickens are still off their lay. I figure it's the heat. It's been hot and muggy here - 90' in the shade and the humidity is really high. I didn't look at the thermometer in the chicken coop but it must be at least 20' hotter in there.

They were pretty glad to get outside when I let them out today. It's supposed to rain this afternoon, that should cool them off and maybe we'll get some of those eggs Lorine wants for potato salad.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Egg Trivia: Stringy White Bits in Egg Whites

Those stringy white bits you see in egg whites are called CHALAZAE (ka-LAY-zee). They aren't imperfections in the egg. They aren't the start of embryos. They are a natural edible part of the egg. These rope-like strands keep the yolk centred in the thick white

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Crook Beak in Guinea House

Crook Beak in Guinea House
Originally uploaded by Lorine.
This is Crook Beak. This chicken's beak was mangled when she was young and the poultry farm de-beaked her. She had trouble eating so Brian often fed her by hand.

Crook Beak grew quite tame, in fact Brian trained her to land on his head or shoulders when he was outside. Unfortunately he neglected to inform me, and since she hung around the Guineau House a lot, and I was in there a lot, she once flew up and landed on my head. I wasn't impressed.

When I was working, she would try to get into my car in the mornings. I told Brian about it, as she was becoming quite a nuisance! I would shoo her away and even kick gently at her to keep her out but she was pretty determined to get IN.

Looking sheepish, Brian confessed that he had taken to letting her ride into town with him in his truck... and she loved it! She apparently would sit on his shoulder or the steering wheel as he drove. Like a good little girl she'd wait patiently in the truck, perched on the steering wheel, while he ran into stores doing errands.

Great. That's all I need - more folks in town thinking we're a couple of nut cases!

More Egg Trivia - what's in a ear?

White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes

Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and ear lobes.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Blood Spots on Eggs (an indication of freshness)

Blood spots are also called meat spots and sometimes found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular opinion these spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. They are caused by the rupture of a blood vessle on the yolk surface during egg formation, or a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Only about 1% of all eggs produced will have this blood spot.

As an egg ages, the yolk draws water from the albument to dilute the blood spot. So a blood spot actually indicates that the egg is fresh! This is the reason that farm fresh eggs tend to have more blood spots - they are fresher than store bought. The eggs are fine to eat, in fact they are chemically and nutritionally quite good.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Egg Trivia

About 240 million laying hens produce approximately 5.5. billion dozen (5.5 x 12)eggs every year in the United States.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Grading of Eggs - What it Means

GRADE AA egg stands up tall. The yolk is firm and the area covered by the white is small. There is a large proportion of thick white to thin white

GRADE A egg covers a fairly small area. The yolk is round and upstanding. The thick white is large in proportion to the thin white and stands fairly well around the yolk

GRADE B egg spreads out more. The yolk is flattened and there is about as much (or even more) think white to thick white

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Free Range Eggs and Chickens

True free-range eggs are those produced by hens raised outdoors or those with daily access to the outdoors. Few hens are actually raised outside due to seasonal conditions. Some egg farms are indoor floor operations and these are sometimes incorrectly called "free-range operations". They aren't!

Due to higher production costs and lower output per farm, free range eggs usually cost more money. But many of us agree that the taste is worth it. Health benefits are an additional plus for naturally produced free range eggs.

I used to sell eggs, but that was back when I had approximately 75 laying hens. I lost the flock to a mink, and now I only have 4 hens, just enough eggs for our own needs.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Chicken Tipping - Is that Cash or Visa?

No, it's not that kind of tipping. We were talking about cow tipping one day and Brian informed us that Chicken Tipping is possible. You have to do it at night when the birds are asleep. Then they're dozy and don't move.

Brian claims he's never participated in Chicken Tipping but he has caught birds at night because that's the only time they just sit on their roost and you can grab them easily. So this is one to file with "More than I ever wanted to know about chickens"

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hen House Mosquitoes

Well it is that time of year again. I went out at dusk last night to close up the coop for the night and just about got carried away by the mosquitoes.

There were literally thousands of them all over the outside of the coop. I had to run and hold my breath while trying to close the doors to avoid breathing in the nasty little things.

I do not know why but for some reason mosquitoes are very fond of chicken coops. It may be the gas given off by the droppings that attracts them. I say this because the coop seems to attract them even when the birds are outside.

Much of our acreage is an environmentally protected, ecologically important wetlands (which my wife says is a fancy word for swamp) so we probably have more mosquitoes than most folks.

All I know is it is a real pain in the neck (literally) trying to do my work.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Squawking Guinea, No Sleep For Us!

Well one of the Guineas spent the night out last night! It was a bright night as the moon was out so it kept up quite a racket squawking and carrying on. I am surprised one of the neighbours did not come down and shoot it. It is amazing just how much noise one very upset Guinea can make. What possessed it to stay out is beyond me as the rest of the flock went in just fine.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Fat Chickens Don't Lay Eggs

The chickens are not laying too well the last few days. They may be dropping some of their eggs outside so I will have to have a hunt around the barnyard and see if they are. I cut off their corn ration as of today as too much corn can also put them off their lay. It is ok to give them a little corn in the winter as it helps them with the cold weather but now that it is fairly warm I do not figure they need it. Fat chickens do not lay well.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Guineas and Geese and Turkeys, oh my!

A short time ago Brian and I bought 2 guinea roosters and decided to keep them in the little shed near the house so I could help a bit with their care. Hubby built them a very nice caged home inside the shed, with a door to their outside run.
Since guineas have to be kept insided for 6 weeks to get used to their new home, hubby set the coop up so my part would be easy and would not involve an y touching of guinea parts. So far so good!

A week later my hubby ordered 10 baby turkeys and 10 baby chicks. Since he was going away for this entire weekend, he put them in two separate cages inside the little shed that houses the guinea roosters. He filled their water dishes and food dishes and set up separate tubs of food -- one forturkeys, one for guineas, and one for chickens. I was shown how to open all cages and re-sto ck the food supply,plus refill waterers.

I stocked the shed with a supply of long gloves. If you recall, I have a bird phobia and can't have them touch me. I was sure I was almost mentally and physically ready to tackle this. Then Brian came home with 3 baby geese (the night before he
left for his 4 days away). Their mother had died and he couldn't leave them to die so home they came. He partitioned the chicken cage so that the geese could be in one section. He set up their food and water dishes and reassured me that they would be NO trouble! All I needed to do was pick fresh greens for them (dandelions, grass, etc) a "few" times a day, and toss in some turkey pellets.

I don't like geese. These geese were cute to look at but destructive little buggers. They knocked over their food dish. They pulled at their sheet (all the babies have sheets on the floor of their cages) until a corner fell into their water dish. Did you know that a sheet acts like a wick? Within a few hours of his leaving, the geese were soaked,their water was gone and their food was knocked out the bottom of the cage.

The guineas shrieked almost constantly. They wouldn't eat the blades of grass I was bringing them several times daily. They kicked and threw their pellet food out of the cage.

The turkeys grew and as they grew, they began jumping and pushing against the lid of their cage. It had no lock, and no mechanism for keeping it shut. Men don't think
precautions are necessary I guess. I had to put a heavy brick on the top to stop them from getting out.

The geese continued to misbehave, and tried to jump over the partition separating them from the baby chicks. be continued in Part 2

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Guineas and Geese and Turkeys oh my! (part 2)

The first time I tried to change the water for the chicks and geese I realized that hubby, in his wisdom, had not show me how to prop open the lid. Its a big cage, with a lid nearly 3 feet long and 2 feet deep. He can lift the lid with one hand, hold it up AND get the waterer out. I couldn't. The lid fell several times, each time nearly decapitating me.

I tried to change the turkey's water and carefully lifted the infra-red lamp to hang it by the nail on the guinea cage as shown by hubby before his departure. This nail also holds the key to the guinea cage, and without it, I cannot unlock their door to open it to give them fresh water. In true Murphy's Law spirit, as I tried to place the lamp cord on the nail, the key fell.

As a tiny preface, let me explain that the shed is full of junk (Correction: I mean full of "things that might just come in handy one day!" according to day being that day far in the future when dinosaurs once more roam the earth or a nuclear holocaust begins) The shed is tiny and there is very little room to move between the cages and the junk (oops -- "things that might come in handy one day"). It's a dark and scary
place! But I digress.

I could not see the key on the floor. Now, I'm not a very scientific person, but I seem to recall that the law of gravity does not allow objects to fall in curves or angles - only straight down. So why wasn't the key on the floor directly under the nail?? It's dark, it's cramped, I don't have a right knee so I am unable to bend, kneel or crouch to try to spot the key. I doubt there's enough room for me to bend or crouch anyway!

I scan the floor surface visually. Lots of guinea doo-doo. Lots of dried up grass that they've tossed out of their cage. Lots of feathers. Lots of guinea doo-doo (Yes I realize I am repeating myself but there was LOTS of guinea doo-doo!!) Lots of food pellets. No key. In despair I turn back to the turkey problem, wondering how long guineas can last without water. As I turn, I spot a tiny glitter amidst the doo-doo. The key! It has fallen, hit the edge of the cardboard under the guinea cage and bounced on the floor about two feet under the cage.

But how to retrieve it? I can't kneel, and my arms aren't long enough to reach it. I finally hit on the idea of using the pond net to scoop it out. After several sweating and cursing tries, I end up with the key, pieces of dead flies, bees and wasps, lots of mouse dirt (Hanta Virus springs to my mind!), and enough guinea doo-doo to fertilize a garden 10 acres in size!

Sweating, I find a new home for the key and turn back to the turkey cage to open their lid to refill their waterer. That's when I discovered I couldn't reach it. Their cage is set so that I can only get to the narrow end, and hubby, who is 6'4" tall with correspondingly long arms,had put the waterer W A Y at the back. I couldn't reach it. There was no way to get to any other place of entry other than where I was. The turkeys kept nudging at my hand and arm as I tried to stretch to my limit and beyond. Gotta wash another pair of gloves!

Finally I hit on the idea of getting a tiny stool so I could stand up and reach further back! Eureka! Another few lives saved.

...continued in Part 3

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Guineas and Geese and Turkeys Oh my (part 3)

By the end of the second day I had the situation well in hand. All babies were being fed and watered, and my morning mantra chanted over and over in the style of a skewed Om Mani Padre Hum became:

"Turkey food in the green tub, chicken food in the plastic garbage can, guinea food in the clear plastic container, give the geese some turkey food."

"Get the gloves, get the pail, grass clippings for the chicks, the geese like strawberry leaves and dandelions, the guineas only like the tall grass, don't pick poison ivy"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Birds of a feather....

I have a bird phobia. Some have suggested it's a feather phobia but I don't tremble in fear when I lie down on my pillow.

Others have suggested it's a winged creature phobia and I confess to not being fond of bats. All right, I'm damned terrified of them! I have been known to dive under the
nearest table if a bat appears.

But I digress.

My husband loves birds. His motto appears to be "You can never have too many fowl". We have almost 100 feathered creatures on our 'farm'. They all free range which is a
laughable euphemism for "They run and crap wherever they want"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hitchcock's "The Birds" Freaks Me Out Too

Part of my bird phobia involves having them touch me, or vice versa. I can't bear the thought of a feather or beak or bird claw ON me. Part of my phobia involves their flying anywhere near me, and possibly landing on my head. I once had a seagull land on my head in a park and I was rather hysterical -- but that's another story.

When we started with birds, it was with a small flock of 30 day old chicks. The deal was that I was never to have anything to do with them. That wasn't quite how things
worked out, so out of necessity I discovered that if I wear gloves and have every inch of skin covered, I can handle them until they're fairly big.

I can be outside when they're outside as long as they don't gang up on me. If any more than 6 come around, I'm freaked. I've been known to make a stumbling dash to the house that if seen by the public would make the Government revoke my Handicapped Sticker for those good parking spaces!

About Brian & Lorine

When I was a child my grandparents had a small old-fashioned farm with an odd assortment of animals. A few horses some mink, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons, a ferret and of course a dog. It was here ware I spent my summers as a child that I was bitten by the bird bug. I would spend hours in the hen house trying to get the birds to take food from my hand. It was then during those summers on the farm that I
resolved to someday have a farm of my own.

Years later when I was finally able to get a place of my own in the country it did not take long before it began to take the shape of the farm my grandparents had lived on so many years before. It started small at first, just a few pigeons that I got from my uncle. Then a couple of chickens from the Co-Op. First thing I knew it was like my own privet zoo with chickens, ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, donkeys, sheep,rabbits, pigeons and of course a dog.

The farm that I have created is a source of great enjoyment for me and as well for the folks at the local Co-Op as I empty my wallet to pay for it all. A psychiatrist might say I am living in the past or trying to replicate my youth. All I know is when I am tired or the pressures of day to day life are stressing me out there is nothing I find more relaxing than sitting in the hen house feeding the chickens
from my hand.

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