Lumberjack Snack!

I have this horrific Bradford Pear tree in my front yard.  The lower limbs are like shark’s teeth.  Every year I trim them, then new ones follow gravity down into their place.  It’s impossible to mow under the stupid tree.  Honestly, it’s way past its normal life span.  I keep waiting for a big wind to split it in two.  I would like to have the space for more actual fruit trees.

Anyhow … I cut some limbs today and my goats were just across the fence.  A captivated audience.  So I had an idea.  I thought that I might toss the limbs into the goat lot and let them snack a bit.  When they’re done, I’ll just drag them to the burn pile in the back of the lot.

Well … let’s just say that the pear leaves and little tiny pear nuggets were a big hit.  They’ve been feasting all day!


Muncha, muncha, muncha ...

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A Feathered Six-Pack!

This is my daily view in my “robbing door.”  Six lovely pink to brown eggs from my Golden Comets.  All in one big pile!


Six lovely henfruits!

There are three separate, private boxes in the coop.  But, wouldn’t you know it?  They all lay in the exact same box.  It’s almost comical … they line up like women at a bathroom in a football stadium!  They pace back and forth, like they’re going to bust wide open if they don’t get in that one box.  Indeed, they’ll drop an egg on the coop floor before they’ll climb into one of the other private laying “rooms.”

That’s my girls!  🙂

Categories: Chicken Coop, Eggs, Hen House, Hens, Nesting Boxes | 5 Comments

Feeder Cheater!

Don’t you know … there’s one in every crowd.


Puttin' that long chicken neck to some good use! 

As soon as I topped off the feeder, this little lady started skimming right off the top.  Doesn’t seem fair to her more portly sisters … but whatever works!

By the way, I was doing some internet surfing and discovered that my ladies are not the “mutts” that I supposed them to be.  The Amish lady called them “Brown Commons,” but with her accent she may have, indeed, said “Comets.”  By comparing my ladies to some online pictures, I have successfully identified them as none other than Golden Comets!

Which explains why they are such incredible layers!  My first lady lady her egg forty days ago.  Since then, they have given up 188 eggs.  And they’ve ALL been laying daily for over three weeks now.  Wow!

Categories: Chicken Coop, Eggs, Feed, Hen House | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Goat Escape

So … we decided to get a couple of goats for our pond lot.  It is about one acre, fenced, and brimming with tasty vegetation.  I’m actually tired of keeping it mowed and clean, so I thought I would “go green” with a couple of new chlorophyll-devouring machines.

On a fateful Sunday afternoon we purchased Bella and Penny, two recently weaned nannies, from a nearby farm.  At $60 each, I thought they were quite a bargain.  They’re mutts, a mixture of various goat varieties. And they are absolutely gorgeous.


Bella and Penny

So … we released them into the lot and they ran off on their merry way.  They seemed quite content.  About three hours later I was headed out the back door to let the chickens out for some free-range time.  My wife was doing her Bible study on the back deck.  Then, to our shock and dismay, we heard a cattle stampede in the pasture behind our house.  About forty heifers and calves, and one very large bull, were all baying and running. I’d never seen anything quite like it before, and I had no idea what they were running after or from.

Then I heard this horrible, woman-like scream coming from two little white specks running in front of the cows, and my wife exclaimed, “Good Lord, those are our goats!”

Indeed, they were our goats.  They had probed the fence and found a weak spot and made their escape.  Ungrateful hussies!

So I jumped the fence (Jackie Chan style … still don’t know how I did it, especially since I couldn’t even climb over the fence after the crisis was over.) and set out to capture my goats.  My older daughter joined in the fray.  About an hour later we had them cornered in the pasture.  Bella (the black-headed one) made a wild jump between my daughter and me … and I snagged her in mid-air.  No kidding.  Old-school goat wrangling style.

So she screamed and wagged her tongue at me.  Right in my face.  And she needed a breath mint, for sure.  After I handed her over the fence to my daughter so she could be housed in our garage overnight, Penny decided to try and follow.  She stuck her head through a hole in the fence.  And that’s when I knew I had her.  When I approached her she jumped and her horns snagged on the fence.  So I captured her, as well.

They spend a couple of days in “the hole,” a rather large dog kennel cage, while I added a few new fence posts and secured all loose fence bottoms between the posts.  Once the goat lot was declared secure, I released them back into their habitat.

They have been wandering happily ever since.

So that was our first adventure with goats.  Total peace transformed into complete pandemonium in just a matter of hours.  But, then, that’s what life on the farm is like, isn’t it?

Categories: Goats, Other Animals | Tags: | 2 Comments

What the Heck is THAT?!!

That’s what Maggie, my daughter’s five-month-old Schnauzer pup was thinking when she came nose to nose with one of the hens.  It was astounding to see the curiosity that each had for the other.


Maggie gets in a good, long sniff!

They were both good girls.  No pecking, squawking, barking ,or biting was involved.

Though I know for a fact that Maggie enjoys eating chicken quite regularly …  I guess she only likes it when it can’t bite back.  🙂

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Beyond all Egg-spectations!

Just nine days after bringing my hens home, I went out do do my daily cleaning of the nesting boxes. (They sleep and poop in them every night.)  I also wanted to top off their feeder and check their water.

I stole a quick glance into the hen house and was absolutely floored to see a gorgeous pink orb tucked away in the corner right up against the clean-out door.  I ran to that door (warp speed), threw it open, and this is what i saw …


Our first gorgeous egg!

I grabbed it and ran screaming into the house, thrilled to show it to the family.  They weren’t quite as excited as I was.  But, oh, well …

I expected that it would take six to eight weeks to start getting eggs.  But the girls started laying in less than two.  Within ten days all were laying, and they have been giving one egg each every morning before 10:30 ever since.

Like I said … Beyond all “egg-spectations!”

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Do My Lips Look Funny?

Back in March I went in search of hens.  I opted to bypass the chick-raising stage and try to find some pullets that were a little closer to laying.  After scouring my area, I finally located an Amish family about fifteen minutes away with pullets for sale.  Asking price:  $8.  I thought, “What a bargain!”  Seriously … that’s almost what a whole chicken costs out of the meat case at the grocery store!

So I bought six of them.  I was quite impressed as I saw the young Amish woman dive into the mass of pullets and come up with four at one time … by the legs … two in each hand.  Like I said.  I was impressed.  When I asked her the name of the variety, she replied that they are, “Brown Commons.”  Which means, I think, they are basically “mutts,” a mixture of several breeds, produced for heavy egg production. (In the Amish world, if you fail to produce, you wind up sold or eaten … rapidly.)  I helped her load six of the brown-read beauties into my borrowed rabbit cage, forked over the cash, and header for home.

After I released them into the coop and watched them for a while, I noticed that their beaks looked really funny.  Indeed, their little mouths seemed to always be open and their tongues flicked out a lot.  I suddenly realized that they were missing the hooks on their beaks!

What a beautiful smile!

Sadly, my little ladies have had their beaks clipped.  This is a rather cruel procedure performed on chicks in a production setting.  The idea is that they are rendered unable to peck, cause bleeding, then cannibalize a fellow chicken.  But the side-effect is that they cannot bite anything, or even crack larger seeds.  They basically eat by sticking a wet tongue to their target.  It’s kind of sad.  It leaves them defenseless.  But they make due.

All the more reason for me to provide our ladies with a safe environment.  Now they will get to live out all their days in the comfort of our luxury “Hendomenium.”

Categories: Beak Clipping, Hens | Tags: | Leave a comment

Just a lookin’ for a home …

Before I introduce you to my ladies, I need to introduce you to their home!

The Infamous "Hendomenium"

I invested all thirty minutes of my architectural and engineering experience in this lengthy, detailed, sometimes frustrating, way-over-budget project.  But I think that the end result is nothing short of perfect.  (It is, to me, anyway. Plus, my girls seem to love it.)

I built this 6 x 12 enclosure on the rear of my property under a nice canopy of dense pine trees.  They get nice sunshine in the morning, then have cool shade throughout the day.  You can see that the entire thing is sloped downward to the left.  That’s because my land is on a gently sloping hillside.  I just built it to match the contour of the land and natural drainage.  It’s working quite well.

The actual house is just a 4 x 6 enclosure, but will easily provide room for up to 12 hens if I decide to add to my little “flock.”  It is fully equipped with two bars for roosting, three laying boxes, and a lamp for heating on cold winter morning.  It is also elevated to provide a nice “lounge” underneath.

Here are a few features of my deluxe luxury chicken condo:

  • The posts, supports, and exposed lumber are treated to withstand the elements. Posts are 18 inches deep.
  • The roof is all recycled metal roofing, left over from the roof job on my home.  I had to work something of a puzzle to get it all covered, but I managed to make it happen.  I added a gutter on the left to keep rain water off of the nesting boxes.
  • The wire is wrapped over the top of the framing and underneath the metal roof.  There are no gaps for any unwanted predators to gain access.
  • The wire is also sunk six inches deep below the bottom plate and trenched with rock and concrete.  No diggers allowed, either.  If they do make it past my concrete and wire “moat,” they’ll never get through the tangle of pine roots that lie just beneath.
  • The window is recycled … a gift from a remodeling friend.  If you look closely you’ll see that I have turned it around (backwards) so that I can open and close it from the outside.  There is, of course, a protective screen of chicken wire on the inside.
  • The screen door is also a recycled element, donated from a fellow farmer who had it stored in his shed.  I simply added a protective layer of chicken wire.
  • Just below the window is a clean-out trap door.  I can lock it in place and rake all of the straw, pine shavings, and poop into my wheelbarrow without ever entering the house.
  • On the left are the nesting boxes, easily accessible by a “robbing door,” a lockable trap door that allows me to reach right in and grab the eggs. (I also have to scoop the poop every morning since my ladies seem intent on using the laying boxes as their bedrooms, as well!)
  • Inside there are plenty of roosting bars to rest and play on, as well as a private “escalator” into the hen house.  The roosting bars are all recycled handled from old, broken garden tools.
  • A thick layer of pine and wheat straw in the run keeps things clean and gives plenty of matter to scratch and throw around.

My girls really seem to love their home.  And a daily delivery of six beautiful (all girls are laying), yummy, farm-fresh eggs tells me that they are both happy and healthy.

Here are a few more pictures for your enjoyment.

The Chicken Run ... B.C. (Before Chickens)

Roosting bars to play on. They get a LOT of traffic.

Plenty of food & water, and an "escalator" to the Penthouse.

Nesting boxes. Not quite as private as they should be, but the ladies all use the one on the left. They sleep in the other two ... go figure ...

Categories: Chicken Coop, Hen House, Nesting Boxes | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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