Thursday, October 25, 2012

Emergency Preparedness

There's a storm bearing down on the East Coast bringing with a 90% chance of gale force winds, heavy rains, flooding and possibly snow.  Make sure you remember to take care of your furry friends!  Here's a few tips:
  • Make sure water troughs are filled
  • Fill any extra buckets with water
  • Make sure you muck those stalls and clean out those coops before the storm hits. Who knows if you'll need to lock your livestock in or how long they might be "cooped up"
  • Make sure you protect livestock from the weather. I plan on using plastic sheeting to offer a wind and rain buffer for my chickens. 
  • Remove or tie up any loose items- buckets, toys, etc
  • Make sure you have plenty of food- SPCA states 5 days worth per animal
  • Make note of emergency shelter rules and know which shelters allow pets. Plan accordingly!
  • Have current photos of your animals in the event they become lost.
  • Have first aid kit on hand for animals.
  • Have leashes, collars, pet carriers, halters, lead lines, etc on hand
  • Make sure fences, gates, etc are secure  
 Stay safe!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Farm Chic

Boots for the stylish Chicken Herder
My mom bought me these boots last fall.  
I was looking for something that was waterproof and easy to slip on for those early morning and late night dog walks.  
It was the rooster weather vane design that really got my blood pumping in regards to keeping chickens. 
 I could see myself walking out to my chicken coop to feed my chickens wearing these boots.  

The idea of feeding chickens in my magenta boots with gold rooster weather vanes
 lead to reading this book.

Which in turn lead to chickens
And now I spend my early morning and my late afternoons walking to the chicken coop 
and stylin' in my magenta boots.

Best when paired with lime green athletic shorts and a purple shirt.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When You Don't Have a Truck

You make do with what you have.

It might look like a mini van, but it acts like a truck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We Got Eggs

My son checked the coop a couple of days ago and discovered this egg sitting on the ladder to the run. 
 I'm glad I included that cozy nest box in the coop design.  
Since then, we've had an egg a day.  
Those other cluckers better get busy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Barn Cats: Meet Gibbs

He's one of three barn cats.
  He doesn't like barn life and spends most of his time around the house.

He laid in this rocker for 4 hours during a recent party
Never moved except to meow at the party goers walking by
He'd rather spend his days being held like a baby.  
When one of our neighbors came to cut the hay field, Gibbs ran right up to the tractor and climbed in the guys lap where he sat while the neighbor and my mom discussed the goings-on.  

Lately Gibbs has been trying his hardest to sneak into cars.  
Typically cats and cars don't mix, but he's bound and determined to get in them and stay there.  
So far this week he's almost gotten rides to work and daycare.

He also enjoys the chickens- but not in the way you might think.  
He typically just hangs out with them.  
If their run is open so they can free range, Gibbs goes in to lay down in the run.  
Cat on a Hot Coop Roof
He was oh so helpful meowing directions while I was painting the chicken coop.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Coop

This is the final product (minus the painting and a few other finishing touches).

The view from the back shows the external nesting box with hinged lid for easy egg collection.  
Making the nest box external freed up floor space for the chickens.  
The nest box is 1'x2' divided into 2 12"x12" boxes.

The view inside the coop shows the roosting bar, nest box and vent holes. 

I used 1/4" wire mesh to fence in the run and cover the vent holes.  
Most people would assume you should use chicken wire on a chicken coop.  
However, the holes in chicken wire are large enough for predators like raccoons to stick their arm through.  It's also easy to break chicken wire with your hands.  
Imagine what a dog's mouth could do! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Best Little Henhouse in MD: Good Lays Here

There are a couple of points I'd like to stress regarding chicken coopage:

1. Have your coop before you get your chicks.  This might seem silly (which is what I thought) since you're getting baby chickens, but those babies grow up fast and when they get big enough, you'll want them out.

2. Ready made chicken coops are expensive.  You can find a few in the $300 range online, but the quality is iffy.  Best bet in my opinion- build it yourself.  Better yet, get a boyfriend/girlfriend who is handy and knows their way around a saw and let them build it for you (which is precisely what I did).

First, I came up with a plan.  I researched coop designs, found one I liked and altered it for my personal needs (original plans found at The Tangled Nest). The coop design is a 4'x4' floor plan and 3' high.  The coop stands 2' off the ground and the area under the coop is enclosed with heavy wire mesh to provide a run that extends an extra 4 feet past the coop (so the run is 4'x8' and 2' tall).

Next you need to figure out the amount of lumber you need.  Don't quote me here, but I think we used 16 2x4's, 2 1x4's and 2 sheets of 4'x8' plywood siding.  We salvaged 2 large pieces of plywood for the roof and floor and also used left over shingles for the roof. After the wood, heavy screen and all the hardware, I spent about $200.  You could certainly spend less than that if you aren't worried about how the coop looks.  Since my coop sits within sight of the house, it was required to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and because I didn't have to buy plywood for the roof and floor, I was able to spend extra on the wood for the sides of the coop.

All that's left is for you (or your significant other) to take the plans and turn them into an actual coop.

Making the first cuts
If your chickens are able to operate power tools like mine are, that's a plus too.
Couple of the girls checking on the progress
All framed up

Working on cutting the sides

Finally looking like a coop
Stayed tuned for photos of the completed structure!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mother Cluckers

Somewhere, somehow, I developed the desire to raise backyard chickens.  
So, like every other crazy nutty farfetched good idea, I began to research it. 
It wasn't until I moved back to my parents' house with their 6.5 acres 
that I was finally able to set the plan in motion.  

l to r: Fetch, Camilla, Catch, Matilda and Big Berta.
I started with 5 chicks (the minimum required to purchase at the local feed store)- 
Both are breeds that are relatively docile and good "pet" chickens
(a must with a 6 year old boy hell bent on making everything his pet). 
I set the brooder up in the basement using an old 150 gallon rubbermaid water trough, some pine shavings, a brooding lamp and the necessary water and food. 
 A week later while shopping at the local Ace Hardware, I ended up purchasing an Ameraucana chick.  While the other 5 chicks were pullets (or girls),
this one was from a straight run meaning I had a 50/50 chance at another hen. 

News Flash: Chickens grow fast.

It did not take long for them to grow and start looking like grown up chickens.

Time to build the coop!

P.S. I found the book Chick Days quite helpful. 
It's short and to the point and written in a way that makes reading it enjoyable.
The author also has a blog that is both informative and inspiring: Cold Antler Farm

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In The Beginning

Back when I was planning out how my life was going to be, I never planned for wanting to live off the land, harvesting my own eggs and canning my own food.  I don't think anyone would have foreseen me as "Suzy Domestic".
So as I figure out this person I'm becoming (and just how the heck to can veggies and fruits and raise chickens), I'll share my experiences. 

Hope we all enjoy the ride.