Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coop Maintenance - June 20, 2009

OK, so I did not post earlier because I was at Alamo Feed today buying some straw and some new bedding material.

So, with family in tow we traveled down to Alamo Hay and Grain. As I have mentioned before this is really an awesome feed store... You actually drive "through" the store. Ducks, chickens, rabbits, geese, pidgeons and every kind of hay, straw, bedding and feed is available. I need to take a picture and post it, which I will. Not only is this a feed store, it is in a very tawny neighborhood, which is weird since this place is a throw-back to 1920... with the fake horse on the roof and all.

Anyway, we grabbed a bale of straw and two bags of some stuff I was recommended to buy called ABM bedding. We let the chickens out to roam and they were like ducks out of water... (hmmm let me think about the analogy) anywho.. they roamed about freaking over the raking sound in the coop. I guess it is like us hearing a table saw in the house... loud, sawdust, destruction, mess. I raked it all up, dumped in the wheelbarrow and then replaced it with this ABM material. Please check this stuff out. I strongly recommend this. As you can see from the picture above the consistency is awesome, the smell incredible and its components allow for healthier environment for your chickens. I put some in our kids bedrooms and the family room, figured it couldn't hurt. I paid $8.95 for one cubic foot. This ended up being a very easy clean and by using this material I can use a stall rake and pick up the "swollen" pellets , which bond with poop and urine and then throw another bag on as needed. Wooo-Hooooo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicken Eggs - How Much?

I am not sure what this thing is in the picture - it appears to be a chicken, as knitted in a junior high sewing class. However "Nest Egg" is apropos' here
So, in acquiescing to my daughter to raise chickens, I have also opened up the world of people asking if they can "buy" any extra eggs we have. So, as I estimate the production - 200 per year per chicken, I get 1200 eggs per year. I am guessing we consume 360 eggs per year - and upon research it says we consume 276 eggs per person per year. NO WAY!!!! Maybe in cakes, muffins and breads, but in just eggs? No way.... so let me think I bet I consume 3 eggs a week. WOW, that is still 156 eggs a year. Which means, my family will consume 624 eggs a year, which is a little over half the gross. So, this means I can sell... 500 eggs, assuming some spoilage. I see from (which is an awesome site) that prices are all over the board. Based on the sampling; it appears people in a more rural location are getting $1.50-$2.00 per dozen, whereas people in more suburban areas are getting as much as $6.00 a dozen and $12.00 a dozen for duck eggs (guess what Dad is coming home with tomorrow!!!!?). Although I hear ducks are waddling garbage trucks and destroy yards - and I have not see studies on duck intelligence, duck manure, foreign ducks attitudes - I don't need a snooty French duck, giving the English chickens a hard time. Anyway, back to my math... 500 eggs at $4.00/ dozen (slightly conservative given my location) = $166.67. DOH! That's right everyone, living the high-life now. Oh yeah, Wailea Four Seasons, here I come. Good grief, $166.67 A YEAR!!!! And it is saving me, $156 at the grocery store, so my net is $323.00. Not bad - really... but ducks can make you rich. Ducks lay all year round, are coveted for their taste and are - well ducks... beloved in cartoons and good eating. I think in metropolitan areas more can be attained... and no doubt more money in ducks.

Chicken Intelligence

Again, I am completely blown-away by this. I see it coming out in the chickens we have, they are getting familiar with us, realize we are not a threat and are actually coming to us when we enter the coop.

Dr. Joy Mench, Professor of Animal Science at University of California at Davis
“Dr. Joy Mench, Professor and Director of the Center for Animal Welfare at the Univ. of Calif. at Davis explains, ‘Chickens show sophisticated social behavior….That’s what a pecking order is all about. They can recognize more than a hundred other chickens and remember them. They have more than thirty types of vocalizations.’”

It is funny, my daughter asked me last night, do they understand each others chirps. I said, "They must". I have observed some on the roosting rod and others wanting to fly up, but some may need to move over and the one wanting up, clucks a few times and they "MOVE".

Flock Update - June 19, 2009

I love having these birds (famous last words). They are becoming very friendly, very curious, seemingly happy, but who would know... I don't even know if they know their happy. Honestly, if this was the case celebrities with chickens would need to spend their money on chicken counselors and chicken play days and some other insane regime for the birds and for them to spend their money. I will research this and find out what celebrities do with their chickens, maybe I can get a guest interview...! Maybe not.

I still need to order the Never Auto Wata... which I have neglected to do. I need to finish painting the coop and putting on some new cedar shakes. I also need to build a little stop on the upper nesting shelf, since the hay and shavings I put up their get's scratched down.

I also am scheduled for some trips to Sweden and Denmark for business and I will make chicken farmers a focus, so I can make this an international blog. Pretty important stuff here.

(Hoot (Arcauna) is pictured above with Millie (Rhode Island Red) in the background)

More to follow - we have big day tomorrow... chickens are going to roam free while I clean and alter the interior of the coop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So now that buddies know I am keeping chickens, they find humor in chicken jokes...

Chicken Quake!!!

We just had an earthquake here in Northern California - which don't bother me, being a native, although Loma Prieta in 1989 was unnerving.
I am curious to know whether chickens telegraph a nervousness from the ground dogs do...
Not sure what this has to do with chickens playing soccer.

They May Not Drink Coffee, But They Know Their Chickens!

Utah State University has a great article here on correlating a hen's egg production with her physical appeareance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baltimore = Chicken-Haters!!!

OK.. a little rash, but come on, the quote from a Paul Kowalski (Environmental Health Dept in Baltimore) is "When you live with your food, there is something wrong". How removed do you need to be? What is a safe distance as intimated here? Is it better to be a long way away? Oh maybe in big factories... Yeah that's it... big salmonella breeding, sunless, chicken on top of chicken environments is good! The same environment where all the bacteria-killing investigations have been linked back to! I can tell Paul is a bright, pro-active thinker, one who belongs in government. Here, my friend, is the reason why individuals and communities will make better decisions than any government desk jockey could ever make.
Thanks Mr. Kowalski your an inspiration and fountain of truth.
Pictured above is the poor chicken farmer being beaten down by a bunch of myopic neighbors and government officials.
I need to go listen to my chickens cluck... it is like a babbling brook or a roaring fire or even a Zamboni of tranquility.

England And Flight

It is fairly well known the British were not the most innovative, adventerous, poineering air-travellers. Don't get me wrong, they had some minor victories, but for the sake of this blog... they were WAY OFF THE BACK... compared to the United States, France, Germany and even Australia. I think the Hondurans were flying before the English.

This leads me to their chicken breeds - The Orpington

William Cook of Orpington County Kent in England is credited with the development of the 'Orpington' variety of chicken. In 1886 he introduced a fast growing, dual purpose (good for both eggs and meat) chicken that was black in color, had white flesh, and slate (grey) legs. He developed the breed by crossing Langshan, Minorca and Plymouth Rock chickens. Continued development eventually resulted in a Buff color varierty, introduced in 1894. Over time, a number of other color variations have been produced, such as the Spangled, Cuckoo and Blue, but none of these has achieved the popularity of the Buff Orpington. The hens can be good layers, laying some 200 eggs a year, and lay well into the cold weather. 200 eggs!!! I have two of them. This means I am going to 400 eggs a year!?

What is not mentioned here is they are tenative fliers, like to sit, eat, talk about victories in WWII, debate how awful French chickens are. How they smoke, rarely take dirt baths and think all chickens should cluck like them and how Princess Di's untimely death was a national tradegy.
Which makes this news all the more fun - Our Orps (Sunny and Scat)... took flight and made it to the roosting rod last night. It was quite the celebration - all the other chickens golf clapped for them and threw back some tea in honor of it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chicken's On The Lamb

I get home tonight and run over to the chickens like it was Christmas morning only to see the waterer looking like a commode. I quickly open the door to the coop and Kapalua the Arcauna decides to make a run for it. They have gotten very use to us coming in the coop. They know when we are there = food and actually don't run off like it is a bomb scare. I also left the gate open to the backyard which opens her world like an Amish boy at a toy store - she decides its movie night and she's off to downtown. Fortunately the nickname "chicken" was accurate. She walked 10 steps out the gate and looked around like she just walked into the Lion's Den and runs back into the backyard as fast as possible. The grass is always greener theory is bunk... and this chicken realized it quickly. She tried everything to get back in the coop with the others... of course the others look at her like she was a convict. "Weirdo!!!! You always were the unstable one". Of course the two Buff's, sat back and mumbled something about "Americans always running off to better places! It took some chasing to get back in because as we got close to her, she decided to try her martial arts skills on us. We managed to get her herded back in where she promptly laid down.
More tomorrow on the waterer... Ebay'ing it.


Use the Ebay tool to the right and viola' - $18.95 for the Auto Wata Waterer... Wata Deal!

Waterer Extrordinaire - Found!!!

OK.. expensive, but honestly traipsing out to the coop twice a day to make sure they have water is tough. We all live busy lives, mine as a super-model and my kids professional wife managing our careers.. who needs to be watering the chickens? I know it builds character but so does sleeping.

Actually I like tending to the chickens it makes me feel like Laura Engels or Opie Taylor (I don't think he had chickens) but he should have. It keeps me humble too.. there is something to cleaning out a coop and watering the chickens... eventually collecting the eggs and then eating, sharing and maybe selling them. Lord knows,
in this economy we could all use some extra scratch! Get it!... scratch and money, looking for money, chickens scratch.... eh.
So, I will buy this Auto-Wata system and hook it up. Funny it is made by the same company who makes the gas cans... Blitz.. OK.. but really, who is the marketing genius who came up with Auto-Wata? I don't get the play on words if there is one. How about Auto-Wat"er"? Or The Infini Water System, Never Foul Waterer? or Never Auto Wata? Just "Auto-Wata?" Exactly! Wata? Wata did you name this? Anyway, it appears it simply hooks to standard hose bib and allows water in on a float system. PetMart has this for $52 UGH! I will find it cheaper, if someone has a link to a cheaper spot let's post it. BTW, this will need to be lifted off the ground a little, chickens are not careful about where they make dirties....

Coop Improvements and Garden

A. painting the coop, red with white trim, building a gardening and staging shelf on the side and adding cedar shakes to the roof. B. Garden is in process... with bush beans, peppers, arugula, carrots and more corn coming up in the foreground. C. New decomposed granite path will be put in to the left with control valves in 4 locations. D. Fence to be prettied up E. Small fence surrounding the garden so the chickens do not lay waste to it.

If you'll remember a neighbor gave this coop to me...and while I love building things, taking time away from landscaping my backyard and finishing up the remodel on the house to build a coop would have propelled me to making the coop liveable for me, therefore electricity, AC, heat, HDTV and the internet. Tough in a 4x8 space and chickens. My wife would have thought it was "cute". Me? No so cute.
I am looking into an automatic waterer and I not talking about the kind you fill-up.. I want something based on a float mechanism.. gets low, it fills...without me being there. I know me... me can be forgetful, me can be A.D.D. "Oh look a squirrel"... and off I run. Just ask my family. Ultimately I am going to need Jetson's like egg collector...something that the egg drops into a hole which triggers a conveyor belt which then delivers them into a soft little blankie in our kitchen...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Avian Virus

OK... I did not get hit with it nor my chickens, but my computer got smoked by some virus which took me off-line for most of the day...

Sorry... back up now and "Clucking"

The New "Le Coop Du Jour" Logo

The unveiling of the new logo... coming to a computer screen soon! Logo'd waterers, Chicken Compostable Diapers, Egg Date Stampers, Chicken Vests (for nice ocassions), Logo's pellets for beddings, faux feathered caps and belts, feathered tassels and ear-rings... Oh when will it stop? OK, now!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chick Flick II

Great little movie with Loa the Arcauna trying to figure out what I am doing. Loa has great markings, I am just unsure on what carry's through to adulthood. If her markings come through she is going to be a beauty. The two Buff's are hilarious. As all the chickens rest on the rod, the Buff's sit on the ramp and look longingly at them.

Flax and Chickens

So we surpassed 1000 today, which is very cool thanks.
Something I wanted to share today is something I picked up from an organic egg producer. This producer sells two types of eggs; 1. Organic eggs and 2. Omega-3 eggs. It is classed as an Omega-3 egg for one reason, they feed the chickens flax seed. Purportedly, when chickens are fed flax seed the conversion process within the chicken is the equivalent of putting a putting a dish in the dishwasher and pulling out a Wedgewood china vase. So, pictured to the left is flax. A super easy plant to grow, propogates like bamboo and produces beautiful flowers that when finished blooming turns into these little tan balls of 6-10 seeds in each. These balls become completely dry and once crushed in the fingers, simply blow away the chaff , collect the seed and add to the chickens food. You see my daughter holding the remnants of two bulbs. We simply add this daily to the chickens food. Viola' the chickens dawn capes and begin flying from one end of the coop to the other shooting Omega-3 eggs out like a machine gun. Their mental acuity becomes so good, they actually place their eggs in their own cartons and sign the package.
So, here is the challenge... plant some flax, feed it to the chickens. WOW not an Olympic moment here, but a challenge nonetheless.
By the way, eat these yourself too. They taste very wheat-like, but - as my daughter thought, watermelony. Which, in retrospect is very accurate. Enjoy!

Nearing 1000 Visits

WOW, this blog has been open for 10 days and it is almost at 1000 visits.