Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sprouting, Fermenting, Fodder and Kombucha Fun

Featured Chicken Enthusiasts:  Marcella, Dave, and Amanda

Last weekend Marcella hosted our meetup for Sprouting, Fermenting, Fodder and Kombucha.  She had a great set-up with an area to project our screen for a little Chicken Enthusiast Blog and seed/sprouting 101 science.  Dave discussed how to sprout the easy low tech way with upcycled nut containers.  What was even more creative was adding a step for inoculating the sprouts with a lactobacillus mixture to further boost the nutritional and health value of the sprouts.  Still writing will finish this up later today. Stay tuned, just need to run a chicken errand.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chicken of the Day: Peanut

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

I'm a fun loving chicken  who just wants to run free to check out the yard.  I love to scratch in the moist soil and find insects to eat.  I ignore the dogs and they ignore me.  I was named because I turned out to be a girl after being a packing peanut for some of my sisters.  I my mommy's favorite. I'm 8 months old and am a Rhode Island Red.  I'm the first out of the coop every time.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Chicken of the Day, Nugget

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Amanda, Brentwood

Hi, I'm Nugget.  My mommy gives me fermented food everyday because she loves me.  Mommy tells everyone I'm so sweet!  I'm a dainty eater but a fierce protector of my turf....  when you least expect it.

Nugget is 18 months old and is a black bantam cochin.
Nugget Just coming out of a molt so still looking a little ragged. Feathered Feet... 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Love Our Granny Chickens

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Laura, Los Angeles and Andie, Los Angeles

Many of us consider our chickens as pets and not "live stock" or "farm animals", they are really family members.  And just like all of us, grow older and eventually retire and don't lay eggs as often or completely stop.  It's natural.  Their cute behavior and willingness to be hugged is all we ask for, oh and their poop for the garden.  Well I asked about Grannies on our message board, 3 of which I adopted from someone.  They hadn't laid at all since i got them and I was keeping them separated from the rest of the flock because I didn't want to bother them with the annoying antics of the younger ones.  Laura had a great response about her older hens.  This is what she posted.
My older birds, who are only about a year older than the younger ones, sometimes seem to be muttering under their breathes "Kids these days with their roller skates and their hula wasn't like this when was that age! We had respect, goldurnit!" and then they aim a vicious peck at the younger hens. 
And then Andie related her hen's story which was also great!
We just got a golden egg! One of our old ladies, Quark (4 yr old Golden Laced Wyandotte), just laid her third egg after a year and a half of nothing! My husband and I keep laughing because her comb has gotten so pink and plump that it's a miracle she can see out from underneath it! Her wattles are so bright red they glow from a distance. Our grannies range in age from 4 - 6 and they haven't pushed an egg out in ages. We assumed they were all in "hen-o-pause" but I can't tell you how amazing it was to taste one of their spectacular eggs again instead of store-bought. The girls are in for the shock of their lives, since we just ordered 6 babies for a June arrival! The thought of going through integration again is very stressful so wish us luck!
Quark, exhausted but self-satisfied after delivering an egg...relaxing on the lounge chair underneath the weight of her immense and glowing comb (and wattles)! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Improving the City Codes for Backyard Hens

During out last legalization meeting we discussed contacting our council members to tell them that we support backyard hens.  Many times council members are unfamiliar with the benefits of backyard flocks and they want to be educated.  The recent paper by Jaime Bouvier is a well written and thorough review of the issue.  Neither pro nor con and is available on the web.  I suggest that everyone read it and email or print this information for their council members, friends and neighbors if there are concerns or they just want to become more educated on the top.

Illegal Fowl: A Survey of Municipal Laws Relating to Backyard Poultry and a Model Ordinance for Regulating City Chickens

September 2012

Citation: 42 ELR 10888
Issue: 9
Author: Jaime Bouvier
As the movement toward keeping backyard chickens continues to grow, many cities are facing the decision of whether to allow residents to keep chickens and, if so, how to effectively regulate the practice. A survey of municipal ordinances in the top 100 most populous cities in the United States that concern keeping and raising chickens offers lessons that may be applied to designing a model ordinance. This survey reveals that chickens are, perhaps surprisingly, legal in the vast majority of large cities. The survey also identifies regulatory norms and some effective and less effective ways to regulate the keeping of chickens. A proposed model ordinance, based on the background information and survey results, could be adopted by a city or easily modified to fit a city’s unique needs.

Jaime Bouvier is Visiting Legal Writing Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

The Contents include:
I. The Benefits of Backyard Chickens
II. Cities’ Concerns With Backyard Hens
III. Some Necessary Background on Hens for Developing Urban Hen-Keeping Ordinances
IV. The Current State of Municipal Ordinances Governing Backyard Chickens
V. Model Ordinance

We had a good legalization meeting which was well attended and at the same time we aren't speaking about hundreds of people wanting chickens, this is really about 10-20 people interested in any particular city who can't keep chickens based on current codes.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chicken Gifts

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Azalea, Mount Washington

I love Azalea and  Marc who have helped me start my black soldier fly composting bin.  They totally get my chicken obsession and find the cutest gifts.  Here's the bobble head chicken they found in Mexico.

And one of the best gifts of all time is the chicken carrying basket from Thailand.  I would have taken a picture with one of the girls but I can't get any of them to stay in it.  Oh well, it's a cute idea.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sidekick and Pip-squeak Find a New Home

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

Earlier this month Rishi posted on our message board that he was looking for chickens and a bunny to grow his animal family in Diamond Bar at the Growing Home.  

Hey friends,
Well with the new coop up we have plenty of room for our birds, and I'd like to add 2 more to our flock. Anyone looking to downsize their laying flock? I'd prefer red/pink egg layers, and I can offer $10/bird. 
Also, I'm looking for a male bunny as a companion to a female that we have who is lonely. 
The Growing Home

Well, I believe that things are meant to be and I happened to have two chickens and a bunny looking for a home.  And now they are with Rishi.  Just knowing that they will be loved is important  and we even helped build their coop.  They were raised by Little Mama who is an English game hen who went broody at just a few months old.  She knew exactly what to do and those chicks turned out to be perfect.  Sidekick would also jump onto our outstretched had but Pip would never let us hold her.  If we tried to touch her she would cry like we were killing her.  But they both ran to us when we came in the room because they knew they would get some special treat.  I miss them but know they have a great home.  

Not even a day old and super duper cute!

A week old and looking pretty like their adopted mommy.

Pip on the left and Sidekick on the right with Little Mamas wings tucking them in for bedtime.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ginormous Yolk

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

It's so interesting to have fresh backyard eggs.  I have loved eggs since I was little.  There is something special about each egg that you don't know about when the factory produced eggs are sorted to have exactly the same size egg from very similar chickens.  The odd ball eggs are sorted out and never packaged.  I cracked a couple of eggs and one of the yolks was ginormous.  The was nothing special in size but this yolk was a big surprise.  I love the yolks so I can't wait for this to happen again.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Chicken Lover's Valentine's Day

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Lauren, Upton (MA)

Lauren is a wonderful artist and author who has written a new book for chicken lovers.  She has a great blog called Scratch and Peck that I love reading.  Today she put up a wonderful Valentine's Day card for all the chicken lovers in the world or at least people who wished their chickens loved them more than the food that we give them....  Read more about her cute chickens on her blog. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easter Bunny Delivery

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

Here is our Easter Bunny helping choose the eggs to deliver to one of our Wrigley neighbors.  We aim for a good selection with the names of the chickens and what breed they are.  I hope the neighbors like the eggs.  Bunny not included.

Ginormous Egg Today

Featured Chicken Enthusiasts:  Roberta, Long Beach

Monday, February 11, 2013

Deep Litter Heats Up!

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

Ok, deep litter for the coop is not supposed to be compost but somehow I crossed that line of perfection.  Probably because I've been giving the girls LOTS of weeds from a neighbors yar.  I was in the coop today and looking at the the serious lack of identifiable litter.

Litter after a 3-4 months of being scratched around and almost like dirt.

There was also a hint of chicken poop ordor which i usually can't smell when mixed with the fresh pine shavings.  Plus the litter was spilling into the nest box so it was time to remove some to the compost pile.  As I pulled out the litter, I could see some crab grass stems and the oat hulls and just a hint of the pine shavings that I add for litter.    Most of the shavings had decomposed into a fine dust.  Definitely no poop in site because the poop had been scratched into the litter.

Up close look at the litter.

The litter is usually a little warm but as I shoveled the litter out I could see and feel the steam of heat rising up for the coop floor.  I pulled out the compost thermometer and I stuck it into the floor and I was amazed as the little needle rose quickly and slowed down all the way to 130 degrees!   And at the time the air temperature was 60 degrees.  So the ground in the coop was 70! degrees warmer.

Boy that's pretty hot.  Good thing, it's not summer!

Whoa, it's really hot composting.  Not sure if it's a good thing or not but I like that the poop is disappearing without any effort.  I found a few eggs that had been pushed out of the nest box and one was almost hot to the touch.  I wasn't sure if they could have started to develop since they are fertilized so I cracked one open and I was shocked to find that the darn egg had been hard-cooked!  I removed about 5 or 6 5 gallon batches into the composter.  This is the first time I've removed the litter after a year.  Usually I just add more on top but it's just a little too deep now.  Each time I left the girls would run into the spot that opened up and they put their little feet into the warm spots.  After bringing down the level about 6 inches I added the fresh pine shavings.

A surprising amount of shavings hide in this package. 

Dump the shavings onto the floor

Mmmm, I love the smell of fresh pine shavings and it looks just like it has snowed in the coop.  I add some grains and weeds so that they get into the new shavings to spread it out.  Watch them eating the nut grass.  In no time they were rolling around in the shavings and the coop smelled sweet.

I don't worry about spreading it out as the chickens have all day to do that for me. 

Peanut is always the first to jump into new things.

Adding a few things to get the litter party started.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sunday Morning Sourdough Pancake Treats

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

In the constant endeavor to learn how to make and do things.  I've started to bake bread.  In order to make a sourdough starter there is a convention of throwing some of it out and feeding the rest to keep the culture going.  Well, I'm not very good about throwing things away so I figured I'd make some pancakes for the girls.   About 1 cup sourdough starter, 1 cup wheat bread, 3 eggs (the shell and all), 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.  These are not real ratios.  I really just threw in this and that until it was a not runny and not think and came up with this.  These have been a big hit, even with our adopted frizzle girls, Marshmellow, Caramel and Brownie.

Sourdough Pancake, mmmm
They are absolutely scared of me but seem to love the pancakes.  I also call them the grannies because they are oldest chickens at 4 years of age, don't seem to lay anymore and have a tendency to fall asleep while doing anything.  I adopted them to be ambassadors but since they don't really like me very much I really running a nice retirement home for them.

Eating the Pancake Layer by Layer

Marshmellow's Cute Frizzle Bottom

Friday, February 8, 2013

Our First Coop Raising Success

Featured Chicken Enthusiasts:  Pearl and her son Rishi, Diamond Bar

We held our first coop raising earlier in the month for Rishi and Pearl's girls.  They have created a home  for learning called the Growing Home.  It's a great location for learning about growing your own food so what a great location for our coop raising.  We had a pretty good turn out for a pretty chilly morning.  Rishi had already started some the frame and we all chipped in to help to build a lot of the hen house and some of the run.  Some of us were still learning how to use the power tools but that's really what this meetup was about.  Learning to do it so people could make their own coops and see what might or might not work for them.

Rishi had to do a lot of work on his own after we left but he got it done and sent us a great video of the final product.  See the video here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kait's Ladies Are Laying!

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:   Kait, Los Angeles

We get great posts each day on our LA Urban Chicken Enthusiast message board and today I saw Kait's post "Our Chickens Started Laying".  I love these posts.

Kait posted:
Hi Everyone! 
I joined the group when we got our buff orpingtons last September, but haven't been very active. I'm proud to say that they started laying about 2 weeks ago (at about 32 weeks) and we've been getting 2 eggs a day 5 days a week! It's such an amazing feeling to be able to pick up fresh eggs every day. Thank you everyone for sharing your experience on the board, it's helped us a lot!

Pete replied:
Yep, every egg is a little miracle to me. And they taste so great! I often find myself thanking my hens when I collect their eggs.

I asked to see these girls and eggs and in no time here's what Kait sent to inspire new chicken enthusiasts.  I know I'm inspired.

One of Kait's Buff Orpingtons

Pretty Eggs from Kait's Buff Orpingtons

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bev's Chicken Heaven

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Bev

Here are pictures of  my other polish...I have two standard buff laced ...they are called thing 1 and thing 2 both only have eyes for each other both hens. I have phyllis diller she is a partridge polish crested and she cannot be without barney rooster. a bantam partridge rooster. I have to give all my polish hens head feather cuts otherwise the would not be able to see I love my hens, they all spend a lot of time with me while I garden so each and every-one of them gets a name and at least 50 % of them come when I call them by their names. My friends are always floored by how friendly they are and how much personality a chicken can have. Most people dont think of them as being able to be pets like a dog or cat. If I leave my backdoor open for a second or window I have a chicken wanting to come inside the house. 

Andy Warhol has an amazing personality.  the moment I walk into the garden she runs up to me , pecks my leg to be picked up and offered a treat . Here is a picture of her with Bandit her husband a bantam cochin rooster . and a picture with my husband, andy warhol and bandit,  these where taken when she was around three months she currently is two now..  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cute Egg Holder

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

I found this cute egg holder in the thrift store for just $1.99 and it makes getting eggs in the morning even more special.

The girls are starting to really pick up their egg laying and I'm getting 6-12 a day now.  I'll need to find a way to give them away.  I've only got so many people interested in them.  I'll probably give Eggzy a try.  Anyone using it?

Backyard Egg Variety Pack

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

I love seeing the variety of eggs that our girls lay.  Small to big, light blue to dark brown.  Some are pink and each is very special just the like the girls.  I'm not 100% sure but I bet some of our bantam cochins are laying the little pink ones, our cuckoo maran and black copper maran are laying the darker brown ones, and maybe our rhode island reds are laying the bigger pinkish ones.  I'm bringing the eggs to friends and they are always surprised by the beauty of how different each one is.    Lots of people at work are saving their egg cartons so I never have a shortage.  Thank-you to everyone who supports our little backyard flock.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christmas Coop and Chicks Surprise

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Janet, Palos Verdes

We got an email from Janet just before Christmas:  

I grew up with chickens and loved it! My duaghter has been asking me for a couple years to get chickens. So for christmas (and as a surprise to her!) we are getting them. I just ordered a chicken coop. Now I am looking for baby chicks. I'm going to start with 2. Do you know where I can go to get them??? 
Thanks so much, 

We exchanged information on email and this is what I sent:

I personally love chicks but it’s harder to figure out their personality.  I’ve gotten more than 30 that I’ve raised from day old chicks to hatching them and they still aren’t people friendly.  I mean they will all run to you but there are only a few that will really want to be hugged all the time but they are out there.  It’s all dependent on their personalities.  The chicks from our super friendly rooster are very friendly.  It’s hard to find chicks right now because it’s so cold so they can’t be shipped but there are some places to get them though I’ve had the best luck raising super friendly chicks by hatching them myself.

It is a lot of work though to hatch and raise chicks.  It’s a very good learning experience.  There is heart ache if you get a rooster that you can’t keep but people in PV keep roosters.  They can be the sweetest.  Ours would sleep in the bed with us.  We also have chicken diapers. 

Do you know which types you would like?  Dare 2 dreams might have chicks but that will be a bit of a drive.  Most places aren’t shipping to feed stores because of the cold right now.
We can talk some more if you have trouble figuring out what to do.  Seeing what’s available will make it easier.  I don’t know of the places in PV but there is a place that if there are chicks available, they would have some.  It’s in Bellflower.  You can call to see if they have them.  The ones I got from them were a little older and skittish so they don’t like to be held but maybe I just had too many chicks at that point!
Give me a call if you need help figuring out what to do.  - roberta

Janet thought through the options and decided on a cute little barred rock and golden sex link.  I would vote for the coop and chicks as the best Christmas present ever!