Chicken First Aid Kit

Are you prepared to deal with a chicken emergency or health issue?  Sometimes it’s not convenient to run off to the farm store.  You need what you need, and you need it NOW! You can’t be prepared for every situation, but you can be ready for most of the common conditions and ailments that you might run into when raising chickens.

Putting together a first aid kit for your chickens isn’t something that has to be a huge, expensive deal.  You don’t need to run out and plunk down big bucks all at once.  It’s better if you make a list of a few essentials that you want to have on hand and purchase those now.  Then make a “wish list” of things that you’d like to have on hand, but don’t need immediately.

Small first aid kit.

Small first aid kit.  Sorry, my scissors are in the basement.

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Adding to the flock: Want vs Need

and Considering Flock Dynamics in The Decision

When we built our coop and run, we figured in a small buffer of space in case the need for more hens arose.  Granted, our wiggle room is only for two more hens.  But it is getting close to Spring, and Spring means chicks! I really *want* to get a dark egg layer like a Welsummer or Black Copper Marans.  I’d also like to get another Easter Egger, for the love of blue and green eggs.  We have the space. We wouldn’t need to do any major building on our coop and run.  The renovations that I’m planning for the summer would be more than enough to allow us to have two more hens. Then what’s holding me back?

Flock Dynamics.  Yes, flock dynamics are keeping me from getting two more chicks. Flock dynamics don’t seem like a big deal, but they are…to me, at least.  I don’t want to have hens just for eggs, or because they make my yard look pretty when they’re out foraging (they do, though!).  I want the hens that I have to live as stress-free as possible.

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Tour the Coop

I love the coop and run that we built for the girls.  As I’ve said in past posts, it took a LONG time to build.  I think the result was totally worth it!  I’m going to give you a little coop tour and tell you about the renovations that are going to be happening this spring and summer.

Our coop was inspired by about 100 other chicken coop plans.  It’s similar to a lot of coops, but we did many things to customize it to our girls’ needs and our bitterly cold winter climate.  So far it has been a wonderful place for our girls to live.

South-facing side of the coop.

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Pasta with Feta and Olives

Things are moving pretty slowly with the ladies.  They’re all in “Winter Mode”, which consists of eating, laying, dust bathing, and waiting for the weather to warm up.  I’m in the same mode, except for the dust bathing and laying.  I just eat and wait.

So, what is a hen blog when you have no hen stories?  I guess for today, it’s becoming a recipe blog!  I’m making one of my favorite pasta dishes.  It is so unbelievably easy.  If you don’t try it, you are really missing out.  No, I’m serious!  There isn’t even a sauce to make. You just make pasta, saute the garlic, put some ingredients in a bowl, and mix it all together!  You can’t lose with this one.  Especially if you have an affinity for Greek food.  It’s so yum!  Let’s get started!!


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The Best Fried Rice, Ever

Happy Chinese New Year!  In honor of the Year of the Horse, we’re making Pork Fried Rice.

I’m not bragging when I say that I make the best fried rice, ever.  This is not opinion. This is a stone hard fact.  Well, according to my family…and of course, myself.  We can’t eat at Chinese restaurants because my daughter has a peanut allergy.  It’s just too much of a risk for us to go out, so I have learned to make a few Chinese restaurant dishes.  And over the years I’ve tweaked them to become very, very good.  This is one of those dishes.

What I love about this dish is that it’s extremely versatile.  You can change out ingredients, but it’s always delicious!  I love to make it with leftover rice or meat that we had the day before.  This time I made it with pork that I had made a couple of days ago for pulled pork sandwiches.  I took a 3# pork butt, put it in the crockpot with a couple bottles of rootbeer, and let it cook on low for 10 hours, turning it every couple of hours.  We used some for sandwiches, but it made so much that we had lots of leftovers.  It worked out really well in this dish.

Don’t be deceived by how simple this dish is.  It’s very easy and quick to make, but it rivals fried rice from any Chinese restaurant out there.  I think the secret is the sesame oil.  I love sesame oil in my Asian dishes.  YUM!  Let’s get started! Continue reading

An Off Week

Things have been all off this week.  It all started last week, actually.  My husband was home sick with the flu.  Not the full-blown flu, as we’ve all had our flu shots.  But it was bad enough that he was achy, fevery, and sick.  He was home for 3 days.  Not fun for an adult. Luckily, he recovered nicely and has been fine since, with just a cough here or there.

Friday started our weather woes.  Cold, wind, and snow.  They didn’t come all at once, however.  It snowed.  The next day the sun was out and it was windy.  Then it was cold and snowy.  Then it was cold and windy.  It was a trying weekend.  We all ended up staying in the house for the entire weekend.  Cabin fever much?

Sock is just kicking back on this sick day.

Sock is just kicking back on his sick day.

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Way to go, Tilly!

Selfie!

Selfie!  Wait, don’t post that!  I don’t think it’s my good side.

Being at the bottom of the pecking order has its privileges.  Unfortunately Tilly has yet to be told what those privileges are.  She is oft picked on and sometimes overshadowed by the other girls’ drama.  “Flora’s molting…or is she pulling her feathers out?  Buffy’s a bully! Buffy wears diapers!  Blah, blah, blah!”  It’s always something.  This time, the drama isn’t going diminish Tilly’s great accomplishment. Continue reading

Just a quick shot of good news!

Since last we talked, Buffy was reintroduced to the flock.  It was touch and go for about an hour.  LRH was none too happy that Buffy had returned.  She chased her around the run and pecked her head a few times.

Flora decided to assert herself!  She is now #2 hen!!  She was very adamant that Buffy not be allowed into the coop unless she said it was a-ok.  Buffy was at a serious disadvantage with the Pinless Peepers on.  She couldn’t pull Flora’s feathers or peck her head.  Flora was never mean to Buffy, but she did give her major stink eye every time she was within proximity. Continue reading

Never!

I’ve heard myself saying things that I never though would cross my lips prior to owning hens.  I can’t believe that I’ve said any this!!  What does owning chickens do to a person?

  • “Grab some cereal and milk, I have to take this bowl of oatmeal out to the girls.”  

I have actually told my kids this.  I’m not a mean mom, I promise.  When my kids go outside to play, I make them toast and cocoa when they come inside.  When my kids get out of a warm bed, in a warm house, and put on their warm slippers and bathrobe before breakfast, they can have cereal.  Particularly when the temperature in the girls’ coop is close to or below zero.  My girls get homemade cinnamon-raising oatmeal.  I am not a crazy chicken lady. Continue reading

Veggie Beef Noodle Soup

I make a lot of soup in the winter.  A lot of soup.  Yesterday we had Cheesy Broccoli Soup. If you haven’t tried this soup yet, get over to the recipe and make yourself some.  It is delicious!  Tonight we’re having Veggie Beef Noodle Soup.  Why?  1.  Because I love soup.  2.  Because I thawed stew meat.  3.  Because I’m slowly freezing to death and soup warms me up.

My husband hates me.  OK, not really.  But he’s not a huge soup fan.  He puts up with my soup obsession.  My kids love me.  OK, not really.  Nooooo, really, I was just kidding!  My kids love me because they love soup, too.  My husband is sick today.  As I said, we had soup last night for dinner, my husband had soup for lunch, and now we’re having Veggie Beef Noodle Soup for dinner tonight.  He’s sick and pissy now, to say the least.  I tried to tell him that he’s sick and he need soup!  He told me that I was just making soupscuses…excuses to make soup.  Nevermind.  You want the recipe for Veggie Beef Noodle Soup, don’t you?!?!  Fine, I’ll stop talking and start talking about the recipe.  Here we go! Continue reading

Chicken Anatomy: The Uropygial Gland

My chicken has an ingrown feather, weird bump, clogged pore on its rump.  Help!!  What is that thing?  UGH!  Gross!

Why does my hen keep picking at it?  It must bother her.  I have to remove it!  I have to take her to the vet!  It has to be an ingrown feather!  It’s weird and strange, I don’t like it!  Make it go away!!!!!!

Calm down, fellow chicken keeper.  Don’t worry, your chicken is completely fine and totally normal.  That weird little protuberance, that strange little protrusion is…wait for it….it is your chicken’s uropygial gland.  You.are.welcome! Continue reading

What a difference a day makes!

Flora’s sweater, although cute, was not so effective.  I’m not sure if jealousy ensued over Flora having such a lovely frock, or whether it just drew attention to the fact that she was having feather issues.  When I went out to check the girls yesterday afternoon and Flora’s neck was bleeding from being incessantly picked and plucked.  That made me mad!  I stormed back to the house, set up the dog crate, organized it as a temporary hen home, and rescued Flora from the little cannibal dinosaurs with whom she was living.

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Stuff Happens

Sometimes things don’t go the way that you have planned.  I know that.  It doesn’t keep me from questioning why everything seems to happen at once.  I had lots of ideas for posts this week.  So far, none of them have happened.  But other things have happened that have kept me busy!

Here are a few things that happened since last we talked:

  1. Our dishwasher decided to jump off a cliff.  OK, not really.  But it did break.  I’ve been doing dishes by hand for two days now.  There are a lot of dishes.  I know we’re only a family of 4, but I usually do 2 full loads of dishes per day.  Ridiculous! I know.  As a family, we have become much more conscientious about how many glasses and plates we use.  It’s nice to know that everyone is willing to take it easy on the new dishwasher (me).  Don’t fret, the part for the dishwasher should be here tomorrow. Then I will be demoted to dishwasher assistant, again.  A role which I gladly accept. Continue reading

Busy, busy!

I apologize for not having a new, exciting, interesting post to put up this week.  I am busily preparing for my baby’s 12th birthday.  I’m making him a root beer cake.  Hopefully, barring any mishaps, I will post a recipe for that next week.  I am also in the process of concocting some other posts.  I’m debating on the subject matter of these posts.

When I started this blog, I had planned on it being strictly a hen blog.  That’s all well and good until you run into winter and your hens stay in their coop for three days straight and you don’t have a lot to say about them.  I can gripe about the cold, but that gets stale, too.  I could post more recipes, but I tend to forget to photograph my steps.  That makes for a real exciting post. Continue reading

Split Pea with Ham Soup

This recipe is my spin on Ina Garten’s “Parker’s Split Pea Soup” from her cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa.  I defer to Ina on most things, but I can’t have split pea soup without ham.  Split pea with ham soup makes me so happy!  I can’t explain it.  It makes me happier than chocolate.  It makes me happier than photos of smiling Corgis.  It makes me happier than watching a Breaking Bad marathon.  Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that. Breaking Bad makes me pretty happy.  Regardless, this is an awesome soup.  Easy to make, delicious to eat.

Let’s gather what we need for this soup!

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2013 Reflections

2013 was a huge learning curve for us chicken-wise.  In the Spring we started with 4 peeping fuzz-balls bouncing around their brooder in our living room.  As a completely unplanned surprise, I’d gone to the feed store and purchased the girls, a chick feeder, a water bottle, and a small bag of chick crumbles.  I am not normally a completely spontaneous person.  I like to plan, research, consider, and re-plan things.  Our vacations have a lot of time and planning put into them.  For some reason, the backyard chicken bug bit me *hard* and I just had to make a move.  We enjoyed those little peepers so much.  There were so many nap sessions, holding them until they fell asleep and then oohing and ahhing at how cute they looked while they slept.  Shortly, they began to grow and grow.  It was like Clifford the Big Red Dog in a chickenly sort of way. Soon they had to move out to the garage and into our large dog kennel.  Summer was upon us.

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It’s all good in the ‘hood!

Today was a remarkable day here in Minnesota.  It was substantially above freezing for several hours!  It’s not unheard of for the temperatures to rocket above freezing in December.  But it has been such a cold December that it was quite unexpected and extremely welcome around the coop.

I brought the girls their Flock Block to relieve a bit of boredom and caught them all in mid-dust bath.  It was so good to see them flopping around, kicking sand up on their backs and under their wings.  It had been so long since I’d seen them really enjoying themselves and not hunching, pitifully puffed-up, standing on one leg because it was so miserable outside.

LRH calls the ramp meeting to order.

LRH calls the ramp meeting to order.

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Minnesota has Broken Me

This morning when I went out to bring the girls their food and water, I opened the people door of the coop and they were all huddled in the corner, trying to keep each other warm.  I did my routine of bringing them some worms and black oil sunflower seeds to help warm their bodies from within.  Later I went to check on them with some cinnamon-raisin oatmeal and they hadn’t moved, they were still all huddled.  Nobody came to eat the oatmeal.  It was too cold to move.

I read the temperature at -2F in the coop.  The thermometer is just below the height of their roost.  I couldn’t take it.  We wired the coop for a light so if I needed it I could have it on to clean the coop and check the girls.  So far, I hadn’t put a bulb in the socket, I just dealt with the light in the run.  I couldn’t stand to see my little girls suffer, so I went back to the house and grabbed a 60W bulb. Continue reading

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

My 11 year old son has been bugging me to make broccoli cheese soup.  I know, that’s not a very kidley request, but my kids are weird.  They love broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, all of those yummy, green veggies.  Yet, my son refuses to eat green beans.  I don’t know what to tell you. Continue reading