Two things I have been meaning to follow up on. First, many people have been asking after the chickens. They are doing well, and laying more eggs than I would have expected. They recently passed their fourth birthday, which is longer than most chickens get to live.
(I have not been able to . . . → Read More: Chickens and mayo (and mayo on chicken)
Every afternoon I can, I go outside, let the chickens out, and spend about half an hour either reading or sketching. I always have a small tub of chicken scratch (i.e. treats) handy, to call the chickens back if they start wandering too far.
All I have to do is reach towards the tub, . . . → Read More: Sketch Wednesday: Evolution of a Chicken Head
Another exercise in working fast and loose, and trying not to get caught up on the details.
It’s so funny to watch an animal clean itself with dirt! They really love a good dust bath, but alas, in our climate you can go months between times when it’s dry enough to indulge. (And chickens do not seem to enjoy mud baths.)
Here’s hoping your holiday weekend is as blissfully balmy . . . → Read More: Chicken Dust Bath Video
Yesterday was a rainy day, another 2 inches in 12 hours. For crying out loud, that’s an entire month’s worth of rain in some parts of the country. And frankly, those parts of the country are welcome to it, if they want. Mucky!
But today – as promised – started off beautifully.
It . . . → Read More: Chicken Shepherd
Part of the equation of deciding to let the chickens roam free occasionally is their new set-up. Previously, they lived in a smallish enclosure (4′x6′) which was moved to a new patch of grass every day. Now, their tractor has been sort of plugged into a big chain link dog kennel, which my neighbor/landlord . . . → Read More: The Chicken Tractor Is Parked For Good
Circumstances change, sometimes for the worse, and sometimes for the better. Sometimes a change is bad for one faction, but good for another.
Changes over the last few months have been difficult elsewhere on the property, but they mean that I can start letting my chickens out to roam in a very limited . . . → Read More: Chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka-Changes
Oh man, I’m so tired and hungry, but it’s going to be another 20 minutes before dinner is ready. That’s a good time to sit down and write a blog post, right? Pfft, coherence is overrated.
* I was winning the “chicken sleeping situation” battle, until tonight. Tonight, Dolly managed to work her way . . . → Read More: Random Monday
I know that Gayle is with me on this one, because she has been struggling for ages to get her chickens to stay in the right coop. Somehow they keep escaping. Let me tell you: it is humiliating to be outsmarted by an animal with a brain the size of a lentil.
My chickens . . . → Read More: Losing A Battle Of Wills With A Chicken
The chickens are moulting, which means that they have stopped laying eggs, and they look very shabby. I took some video today when I went out to give them some leftover rice. I love how Dolly (the black one) starts by swiftly picking out all the pieces of carrot and setting them beside the . . . → Read More: Chicken Snax
Fourth day in a row I didn’t get a picture of my completed sock before it got dark. And there is just so very much darkness at this latitude, at this time of year. It’s 6PM and the sun is almost gone.
Last night it was supposed to get down into the 30s. . . . → Read More: Why Is It Dark Already?
It’s not too hard to confuse a chicken. (After all, this is an animal with a brain the size of a lentil.) Just change something! Anything!
For example, I recently changed their ramp. From a now-mostly-rotten and utterly concave slab of particle board to a nice fresh and tidily straight length of cedar.
They . . . → Read More: How To Confuse A Chicken
Elizabeth (Hi!) and Franz (also hi!) brought up the issue of chicken costs. This seemed like a good time to post a complete breakdown. Which isn’t very hard, because Excel is my favorite thing in the whole entire world, and I have been tracking every expense from the beginning.
I also write the date . . . → Read More: The Chicken Financial Report
Everybody knows, the tallest chicken is the boss. If you’re a chicken, it’s okay to cheat and stand up on your tippy toes and stretch your neck out to make yourself look bigger. Heck, you can even gain a few inches by standing on the ramp, instead of on the ground.
As far as . . . → Read More: Harriet Makes Herself Big
Thank you, everyone, for your kind words about Ethel. I know it may seem silly to some to be sad about the passing of a chicken. But pet owners understand – a pet is a pet.
I’ve had literally dozens of pets in my life – so many, I’m not sure I could . . . → Read More: Spring Marches On
Ethel didn’t make it. I put her out in the coop overnight, since that was where she would be safest. When I went to let them out this morning, she was only barely still there. She literally died in my arms – or rather, in the crook of my left arm – as I . . . → Read More: Goodbye, Ethel
Poor Ethel. I noticed she was looking a bit poorly yesterday. But I thought maybe the other hens had been picking on her (as they do).
Today, though, it was obvious something was wrong. She could barely be moved to stir, and when she did, she waddled with a tail-down posture (called “penguin stance”) . . . → Read More: Ethel the Egg-Bound Hen
Last week on Twitter I mentioned that Harriet, my Rhode Island Red hen, is starting to take on rooster characteristics. Then I promptly forgot to follow up on that.
Harriet has always been the most aggressive of the hens. Even so, I had noticed she was getting more aggressive lately. So that’s the first . . . → Read More: Chicken Matters
By popular demand! And because I can’t think of anything better!
First of all, they all finished molting by mid-December or so. Look how fluffy they are! I swear their new coats grew in even thicker and more lush than the first year.
“You bring grain, human, yes?”
Boy did they get . . . → Read More: A Chicken Update
The chicken tractor glowed in the darkness of 6AM.
And look what I found tonight!
It’s the first egg of 2011! Which means that it cost $14.99, since I just had to buy a bag of chicken feed last . . . → Read More: That Worked Better Than I’d Have Hoped
A pretty apple! It’s an Aurora. It tasted really good. A+++++++++ WILL NOM AGAIN.
Other round things: I bought some LED stick-on tap lights for the chicken tractor.
Will they stick on? Will they provide enough light to wake the chickens up early and reset their biological clocks? Will they make the chicken tractor . . . → Read More: Minimalist Thursday
I took the camera into the chicken tractor with me this weekend, when I went in to dust them for mites and give them each a general inspection. Harriet did the best job at being a chicken video star.
That’s the sound of a chicken who’s not sure what’s going on, but pretty . . . → Read More: Funny Chicken Noises
That last primrose may be a goner.
Note to self: chives still viable for next year. Do not discard.
How are the chickens? Um… I’m not really sure.
I followed chilisweet’s suggestion to, quote, “tarp the hell out of it.” Makes it a little hard to check on them, though.
Today when I . . . → Read More: Optimistic Flower Is… Maybe A Little Less Optimistic Today
My dear little hot-pink-with-bright-yellow-accents primrose finished flowering, just in time for today’s dose of winter weather.
The chickens are windproofed with extra tarp action, and I put out a lamp for them to help keep them warm.
For my part, I have a pan full of water on the wood stove with a handful . . . → Read More: Optimist Flower is Optimistic
The heavens parted and sun shone down and everything was… well, okay, it was still soggy and cold. But at least it was better-lit.
What is that perplexing, ugly object? It’s Dolly, who has lost about a third of her feathers all at once.
The poor thing is clearly miserable. All hunched up and . . . → Read More: Welcome To Molting Season!
Last week, Northmoon asked if I’d show off the shawl itself. The pitiful thing is? I did.
Here’s the pitiful shawl, atop the pitiful, late-season chives.
Every year I think, “Oh no, that’s so sad, all my chives have died. I really enjoyed them, too.” And every year, my chives come back in . . . → Read More: Other Things Which Are Pitiful
Moulting season is in full swing. I’m only getting one egg every other day now. Pretty sad!
One way to tell if a hen is laying is to check her comb. A laying hen will have a bright red comb.
As you can see, Harriet’s comb is fading to pink at the top. . . . → Read More: Chicken Check-In
I’m still plinking along on the Lava Cowl. I haven’t been able to knit much for the last week, because my wrist (the one I broke last year) aches with the weather. Which, despite being completely unscientific, is still a thing.
And so I present to you, Three Random Non-Knitting Items:
1. I taught . . . → Read More: Stupid Chicken Tricks
Along with the molt, Ethel has gone broody again. When hens “go broody” it means they develop a sudden urge to sit on the nest and incubate eggs. They will sit there in the dark, staring into space, blissed out on the oxytocin their bodies produce, for about a month.
You generally want . . . → Read More: Hens Brood Cluckily
Once a year in fall, chickens shed all their old feathers and grow new ones. They generally stop laying when this happens.
(In fact, many commercial egg farms slaughter their hens at their first molt, because it’s not economical to keep feeding a hen that isn’t laying. Other, less humane commercial facilities starve . . . → Read More: Moulting Season
To bring my non-American readers (I know there are many of you) up to speed: the last few weeks has seen a MASSIVE egg recall for salmonella contamination. Last I heard the recall affected half a billion eggs.
I have learned a lot about eggs since I started keeping chickens.
1. The United . . . → Read More: Egg Truths
Ethel is limping much less. In fact, you would have to be some kind of crazy obsessive chicken owner in order to notice the limp at this point.
I still notice the limp.
But it’s getting better, and I’m sure it will be gone soon.
(Sorry for the crappy cameraphone picture. I . . . → Read More: The Chicken Report
For the moment I decided to hang the hanging feeder from a cross-beam with a spare dog leash. With a knot tied in it, to bring it up to the right height.
Last week I noticed that Ethel was limping pretty badly. Her lame foot was also totally filthy. And so it . . . → Read More: Chicken Drama
I finally decided it was time to step it up a notch, and buy the chickens a grown-up feeder they couldn’t knock over, and a waterer they couldn’t crap in. Because they do that; crap in their water dish.
I’ve kept rodents as pets that never crapped in their water dish. A four . . . → Read More: Not As Useful As I’d Hoped
Today’s project is to make yogurt, which has to sit for 12-24 hours at between 90 and 110 degrees.
Outside, I have 2 broody chickens. (Martha and Ethel, the Buff Orpingtons.)
A “broody” chicken is one who’s decided it would be nice to sit on a clutch of eggs and stare into space . . . → Read More: Hmmm….
I had never spent time with chickens until I bought four adorable little chicks this time last year. In fact I had only seen chickens up close once, the year before, when I stopped in at Schuh Farms and wandered away from the selling area.
I had always imagined them clucking quietly and peacefully . . . → Read More: BRK BRK BRK BRGAAAWK
One of these things is not like the other One of these things is called a fart egg.
Whenever I run out of stuff to talk about, that seems like a good time to post a chicken update. Plus I had another ocular migraine this afternoon, and my brain is feeling too tender to be exercised any further than bok boks.
Over the last few weeks, they have been eating more and . . . → Read More: BrGAWK!
The chickens have stopped laying almost entirely (I get an egg every other day, more or less) and have started to molt.
But not Harriet, of course, because she is the prettiest and she insists on staying that way.
I think if she starts to molt, she will sneak out at night and . . . → Read More: Speaking Of Livestock…
This is the same purple I matched with the persimmon in the last dishcloth, plus “Lime Stripes.”
I worry that, with yet another dishcloth (12 in 17 days) I may start losing members of the audience. And yet I am helpless to stop.
How about some chicken news? People seem to like chicken . . . → Read More: Dances With Dishcloths
Fellow Pacific Northwesterners, despite what the local newscasts would have you believe, low twenties/upper teens is actually not that cold, relatively speaking. There are huge swaths of the country (much less the planet) where this weather is considered “balmy” for December.
That being said, we’re having our annual run of chilly weather, and who . . . → Read More: But How Are The Chickens?
I solved the problem with the leaky chicken coop several weeks ago, but I wanted to be sure before I blogged about it. We have had plenty of rain in the last few weeks, and the coop has been staying dry, so I guess I can tentatively consider the problem solved.
The solution was . . . → Read More: It’s All About The Pitch
Well, we made it through another week. In this week’s Plus column, I hit and then surpassed my Work Writing target numbers for the week. And still managed to spend the hours I planned for career development – writing pitches, scouring job sites for freelance writing positions, writing cover letters. All that drudgery you . . . → Read More: Bleh.
Someone remind me why I spent so much time agonizing over which breeds to buy? Carefully chosen to provide a spectrum of shades of brown egg? Because they’re all exactly the same color.
I laughed when I opened this picture to crop it in Photoshop. I briefly considered deleting the poop from the eggs . . . → Read More: These chickens…
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how the chickens will fare once winter really arrives. Well that’s one answer – in the Pacific Northwest, winter never really arrives, at least not the sort of winter that people think of when they think “winter.”
Temperatures here rarely fall below freezing, and then . . . → Read More: Winter’s Comin’
Don’t we all need to just sit down with the chickens for a few minutes’ rest? I shot this video because I wanted to capture the hilariously weird crunching sound of chickens pecking at pumpkin meat.
You can’t really hear the crunching, of course. But there’s still plenty of chicken action.
(I’m . . . → Read More: Chicken Moment of the Day
Harriet is proving to be the watchdog of my mini-flock. She’s the only one who even notices when the neighbor dogs cruise past.
(That’s not even a dog, really – it’s a very large five-month-old puppy.)
And when the big scary great blue heron landed near the coop last week, Harriet is the one . . . → Read More: Chicken Update
Once or twice a month, I get an egg that’s so tall, I can’t close the egg carton.
Although judging strictly by the weight, this isn’t any bigger than an egg you’d see at the grocery store. At 77 grams, it would technically be a Jumbo egg.
Ever since my TV died, I . . . → Read More: Things That Don’t Fit
1. The firewood guy was supposed to drop off a load of wood last week, but he didn’t show. You’re either puzzled by this announcement, or busting a gut at the deadpan humor. (Hint: the firewood guy never shows up on time. Ever. Also, he’s usually an ex-felon or a late-stage alcoholic, or both.)
. . . → Read More: Seasonal Updates
I set out a bowl of plain yogurt, as a treat and to help with the egg-making. (Even though they’re getting layer feed, and free-feed oyster shell. Call me superstitious.)
WE ARE NOT TOO SURE ABOUT THIS NEW THING. But when I went back a few hours later, the bowl had been licked pecked . . . → Read More: Chicks Dig Yogurt
A lot of people expressed surprise at the idea of shell-less eggs. Since getting chickens, I have learned a LOT about How Eggs Are Made. And that the process isn’t nearly as error-proof as you might think if, like me, you’d spent your life eating store-bought eggs.
Most of the shell-less eggs get . . . → Read More: Shell-Less Eggs, And Other Freaks
1. I was entering my receipts yesterday and came across this fellow.
Last weekend I went to Whidbey Island (the next island over) for a birthday party. I stopped at the Greenbank store, which is a tiny general store with bare wood floors, and the Greenbank post office is in the back. I . . . → Read More: Two Things You May Never Have Seen
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the eggs are starting to be laid on a regular basis. I get at least two a day, sometimes three. However, they are all still quite small – about half the size of a regular egg. It’s kind of annoying to have to crack five or six eggs just . . . → Read More: Chicken Update
Just as a refresher, here’s the original picture again:
A lot of people commented that it could be double knitting. I can see why – a lot of the pattern blocks have the colors reversed. But considering the time crunch of a knitter working for a television show, and considering how FREAKIN’ AWFUL . . . → Read More: Liz Lemon’s Scarf
Harriet (the red hen) is the loudest of the four of them. She wanders around talking loudly for the first half of the day, for no discernible reason.
I have no idea what she’s on about.
I went out to fill their feeders, and when I opened the coop, look what I found!
Look how little it is, compared to store-bought eggs! (That’s normal – it takes a little while for their systems to get fully online.)
I’m not sure I can even bear to eat it. It seems so . . . → Read More: FIRST EGG!
The chickens are just… just HUGE.
You may have noticed that I updated the tally on the sidebar this morning. I decided to add in my medical bills for the doctor and the radiologist, since my broken wrist was directly chicken-related.
No eggs yet. Any day now! I have been saying that for the . . . → Read More: Hot Chicks
It feels like I’ve been working on the third chicken tractor for years. Even though, checking through my blog archives, it’s only been a month. I probably would have finished it sooner, except that I broke my wrist halfway through, and had to complete construction with just my left hand.
But it turns out . . . → Read More: Chicken Tractor Launch Party and Coop Tour
As a knitter, I’ve learned that if I have a bad feeling about some aspect of what I’m knitting, I should go with that feeling. And I’ve learned that if something isn’t working, you just have to close your eyes and rip it back.
Turns out, carpentry is just the same. Who knew? . . . → Read More: Ripping Back Always Stings
First, two facts:
1. Harriet, my little red hen, is at the bottom of the pecking order.
2. I gather that standing up tall and flapping your wings is how you say “I am the boss,” if you are a chicken. (If you do this while Ethel is around, she will run over . . . → Read More: Chicken Vignette
In loosely chronological order:
* If you put the brooder box on your living room rug, in the name of all that is good and true in the world, set it on a tarp. Otherwise a slurry of spilled chick starter and water will seep unnoticed into your rug. Two months later, the smell . . . → Read More: Things I’ve Learned So Far About Owning Chickens And Building Coops
Everything about chicken ingress/egress has been a problem. The floor of the roof coop has a hole, through which they are designed to pass, according to my specs. (Don’t even get me started on my woes with the chicken door.)
The chicken door is four feet off the ground. I just assumed that . . . → Read More: Ramp Woes
I’ve spent the last two days finishing off the chicken tractor. On Friday my dad happened to be in Seattle for a visit, so I shanghaied him into driving the extra 3 hours round trip to give me a hand. I couldn’t have finished the coop without his help. Big round of applause, everyone!
. . . → Read More: Sims Sunday: Postponed Due To Chicken-Related Activities
Last weekend I updated my Stash page on Ravelry. While I was sorting through all my Cascade 220, I discovered a note to myself that I had bought a skein of Cascade 220 and a skein of Noro Silk Garden, specifically to knit a Turn A Square hat for someone in particular.
“I did?” . . . → Read More: Stripey!
Phase 2 of chicken tractor construction is to build a roof on the chicken tractor, which will also be a coop for them to sleep in at night. After researching architecture on Wikipedia for the better part of last Saturday morning, I decided to go with a gambrel roof.
The coop/roof needs to be . . . → Read More: Building A (Very Tiny) Gambrel Roof
But then again, isn’t every Saturday a Chicken Saturday lately?
This picture cracks me up. I can’t look at it without mentally adding a pair of librarian glasses perched atop her beak.
Also nicely displayed: Martha’s feather pants. Oh how I envy their feather pants! Everything you see below the wing is 100% . . . → Read More: Chicken Saturday
Since I haven’t yet built the “bedroom” onto the chicken tractor, every day the chickens have to commute via cat carrier. Martha and Ethel, the Buff Orpingtons, are the most passive in hand. As soon as I scoop them up, they turn into fluffy footballs.
Harriet (the Rhode Island Red) and Dolly (the . . . → Read More: The Chicken Commute
I made a little perch for the chicken tractor, and the chickens like it quite a lot.
Chicken owners, a question: do chickens always look so terribly pleased with themselves?
Here’s a group puppy shot, taken on their first day.
It’s not easy to wrangle puppies. Oh no, he’s getting away!
I’m still . . . → Read More: Chicken Smugness, Puppy Squirminess, and Slow Knitting
I know, no one cares about the chickens anymore. Told you this would happen! But here is some video anyway.
In between building the first and second chicken tractor, I kept the chickens busy by hanging bundles of dandelions in the brooder. Kimble makes a brief cameo appearance at the end.
(Can’t . . . → Read More: Hey, Remember The Chickens? And Shameless Self-Promotion
Inspired by last week’s Chicken Shawl, a friend whipped up an actual Chicken Sweater for me! I am beholden not to reveal her identity. Also, I am unable to confirm or deny that she is the knitter responsible for the sweater on Dirty Biter’s statue. (Which by the way was recently a front page . . . → Read More: Chicken Sweater
Your wish is ever my command, my darlings. Without further ado, I give you the Chicken Shawl. This triangular shawl is worked in garter stitch with DK yarn on size 7 needles. The front two corners are tacked together, because chickens can’t use shawl pins.
FYI for those who may care to make one . . . → Read More: Free Pattern: Chicken Shawl
I’m trying to wrap up a lot of loose ends before NEXT WEEK. I could tell you what happens NEXT WEEK, but where’s the fun in that?
Ethel asks, “Are you staring at my feet again?”
A nice little springtime . . . → Read More: What’s Up?
If you were watching my Twitter stream on Saturday, you would have been treated to a series of incredibly bad cameraphone pictures. I will say this: it is very hard to take pictures of a parade when you’re actually IN it. Particularly if you’re wrangling a very large puppy, who wants to snatch the . . . → Read More: Projects Under Way
1. Always have at least one extra clamp lamp and a box of extra light bulbs on hand. Neither item lasts as long as you would expect. I’ve gone through one lamp and five light bulbs already.
2. Never put more than two days worth of food (about two cups) into the feeder. . . . → Read More: Things The Chicken Books Don’t Tell You
First – Brady would like you to know that he, too, prefers to settle down into a nest. Of his own devising. This had been a nice tidy stack of newspaper the night before.
I bought a bag of chick grit last weekend, so I figured the girls were ready for their first encounter . . . → Read More: Chicks Dig Bugs
I wasn’t going to write up a blog post tonight, I was going to use one of the “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards which I mentally dispense to myself every week. But I wouldn’t want to cause Debi to seek her chicken updates elsewhere.
However, I will be typing quickly, because “House” . . . → Read More: Teenagers Are Ever So Difficult
I’ve been cranking away at the second pair of Combo Sox. I’m very pleased!
The chicks are bigger every day. They chatter to each other softly whenever they are awake, all day, all night. It’s a quiet noise, easily ignored. But it sinks into the consciousness. Yesterday on my way to the grocery store, . . . → Read More: They Grow Up So Fast – Chicks And Socks Both
It took me a long time to finally get a video that was worth posting online. I tried to get video of the chicks flapping, but they resolutely refused to do so. e.g. in one video clip, Martha simply waddled around my hand rather than flapping, and then she pooped.
There is no flapping . . . → Read More: Chick Video
When I awoke this morning, I discovered that Harriet had sprouted wings, seemingly out of nowhere.
They have all been practicing their flapping this morning, but Harriet’s definitely best at it. I tried to catch some flapping action shots, but my digital camera moves too slowly. I was only able to catch half a . . . → Read More: Today’s Fad: Flapping
The chicks are six days old now, and they have all sprouted hilariously ineffective tail feathers. Harriet was first with the butt fluff, but Dolly is giving her a run for her money, tail-feather-wise.
Ethel* and Martha are last in line. They’re so ridiculously fluffy right now that I’ll be sad to see their . . . → Read More: Tail Feathers: All The Cool Chicks Are Growing Them
Everyone knows – chicks dig The Sims 2.
Have you ever wondered if you were the first person ever in human history to do something? I wonder if I am the first person ever in human history to hold a three-day-old baby chick up to a computer monitor in order to take a picture . . . → Read More: Sims Sunday: Chicks Dig It
You guys are making me wish I had a webcam! Maybe I’ll run out this weekend and try to find a cheap one, if I have a chance.
Until then, a video clip will have to suffice. The chicks are still a little leery of The Hand, so they huddled against the far wall . . . → Read More: Chick Video: Your Wish Is My Command
Allow me to introduce the ladies. Can someone play some suitably grand and sweeping piano music? Thank you.
This is Harriet, a Rhode Island Red.
Dolly, a Black Star.
Martha, a Buff Orpington.
And Abigail, another Buff Orpington.
They were day-old when I bought them, which is kind of mind-blowing. They’re fully functional, if . . . → Read More: Chick-utante’s Ball
When a 360 area code call came up on my cell phone I almost answered, “OMG DO YOU HAVE MY CHICKS???” I decided to go with a nice sane “Hello” instead.
And here they are!
We all find them quite fascinating.
Are you going to eat them?
Despite the fact that they . . . → Read More: I Has A Cute
Still awaiting The Call from the feed store announcing that the bebeh chicks have arrived. I broke down and phoned them this morning, just to double-check. (We are on Island Time out here. Sometimes it’s best to double-check.)
I’ve occupied myself by setting up the brood box in the living room. The brood box . . . → Read More: No Cheeps Yet