Saturday, June 27, 2009


It hit 108 and is cooling off right now - 6:49pm.

The mister worked perfectly and it the chickens never had that gaspy - chokey look... I guess we'll call it panting.

I tried to dig the water line for the automatic feeder, but it was too hot. I will try tomorrow.

Need to feed the family now and BBQ...

HEAT WAVE - Chicken Mister

Well, had no idea we were traveling to the surface of the sun today. The temperature is 95 in the shade and expected to hit 100+. We are in drought conditions here in the West and are not suppose to be wasting water... So, it was a choice between water or chickens, chickens or I flipped my 1750 two-sided chicken coin and well, it came up chickens. So, I ran down to ACE and bought a mister. Hooked it up and mounted it to the coop. Chickens should be feeling about 15 degrees cooler.

Dirt Baths Run Amuck!

Good grief - We are letting our chickens out more and it is like they have landed in Las Vegas and being ladies, wanted a spa treatment. You know the mud-bath thingy and then wrapped in seaweed and kelp with slices of cucumber in their eyes. No need of lip or teeth treatment since chickens don't have lips! and teeth are scarce... Oh my side... I am too much... anyway.

We let them out last night...and my goodness they hit the dirt like I hit the buffet. It was like a ballet of sorts and absolutely hilarious. once we put them back in the coop, they stood longingly a the door, waiting for their next visit to the spa.

I truly wonder what this does... elephants do it, rhinos do it, chickens do it. I assume without research it is some sort of coating to ward off ticks, mites and may act as actually a cleanser of sorts. Dirt and cleanser, I am sure Palmolive or Oil of Olay is loving this concept.

More postings soon. Specifically on a new program - nationwide called L.E.N.S. (Local Egg Nutrition Standards).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Backyard Tilapia and Chicken Farming!!!!?

I am not sure whether to cluck with glee or make fish sounds with my mouth or describe what these sounds, sound like - not sure where to go with this now.. anyway

So to all you chicken farmers who have the desire to get off the grid. Get this; people are beginning to put "Tilapia" farms in their backyard's too. Tilapia has been described as the "Aquatic Chicken" (coooooool) because it possesses many positive attributes that suit the fish for a varied range of aquaculture systems. For one, tilapia tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions and is highly resistant to diseases and parasitic infections. Other good traits of tilapia include excellent growth rates on a low-protein diet, ready breeding in captivity and ease of handling; and, more importantly, wide acceptance as food fish. And it is harvested around the world due to it's ease of raising, reproduction and low protein diet. I have seen tilapia used extensively on The Food Network and eaten with joy by Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on The Travel Channel. I always wanted a water feature in my backyard, why not make it a food source!?

And further more there is a symbiosis to this as well. In order to get your pond ready to take fish it needs to be "fertilized".... And guess with WHAT? Chicken 'nure is the promotes algae which the Tilapia loves! So here the process;

Site selection: Select a site where water is accessible throughout the year. It should be well exposed to sunlight, which hastens the growth and multiplication of small aquatic plants called algae, which serve as food for the tilapia. More important, it should not be flooded during rainy season.

Pond preparation: The size of the pond should be determined by the number of fish you want to raise. A good guide is 5-6 mature fish per square meter of water (39" x 39") surface. So a 10' x 10' pond could raise 9 fish. I think based on growth rates this could be cycled through fairly quickly. The depth of the pond should be one meter as wel with water not less than three-fourths meter deep. A BIG WARNING HERE; the deeper and the wider the pond, the less likely it will be that predators will be able to reach and pick them off. It is allows the fish to swim to the center keeping them out of harms way, either by land or air.

Pond fertilization Since the pond is newly constructed, you have to apply fertilizer. Do this one week before stocking. Apply chicken manure on the pond bottom with water depth of about 6 centimeters at the rate of one kilo for every lo square meters. Fertilize the pond once a month to insure good production of algae.

Securing fish fingerlings: Obtain your first supply of young tilapia from any reliable fishpond owner. I located one in Florida. You will need to plan on about 5 to 6 fingerlings per square meter of water surface area. The most common breeds of tilapia available are: Nilotica, Mozambique, and GIF (genetically modified - not sure I like this one). But the link above will give a better understanding of the breeds.

Stocking the pond: Fertilize the pond one week before stocking. Stock the pond either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the water temperature is low in order to avoid weakening of the fish. Allow the water in the pond to mix gradually with the water in the fish container before putting the fish into the pond. So set the fish in the pond, in the bag they came in. This will allow for the water in the bag to slowly acclimate to the water in the pond. Also, slowly mix in pond water into the bag, this will allow the fish to not become shocked...

Care and maintenance- Feed daily during morning and afternoon at one portion of the pond. Supplement feeds with fine rice bran, bread crumbs, earthworms, termites, and others at an initial rate of 5% of the total body weight of the fish.- Maintain the natural fishfood by adding more fertilizer (Chicken Manure). Place chicken droppings in sacks and suspend in the water at every corner of the pond. Put 2.5 kg of chicken manure per bag.- Maintain a water level depth of 1-1.5 meters. Gradually remove excess fingerlings after the third month of stocking. Retain six fingerlings per square meter. It is recommended to plant at one side of the pond to provide shade for the fish during hot weather and to serve as growing media for natural fish food. Water lily also provides shade. However, do not totally cover the pond with plants as this will interfere with the natural food production process. ( I am using metric here, because it makes me feel international and intelligent!, Actually it is because I am adapting it from a website

Harvesting - You can harvest tilapia by using a dip net or a lift net. Lower the net down to the bottom of the pond and spread a small amount of feed on the water just above the net. Lift the net as fast as possible to prevent the escape of the tilapia. After harvesting, stock the pond again.

You can make your fish pond more productive ( you pig-raisers) and profitable by raising a pig at the site of the pond. Pig wastes go directly to the pond and help to fertilize the tiny plants that serve as the tilapia's main food. Tests have proven that tilapia cultured in this kind of pond can be eaten without any harmful effect.

Uses of tilapia: Tilapia is a good quality food and has a firm and delicious flesh it has few fine bones. Tilapia is suitable also for processing into dried, salted dried, smoked or pickled products. It is a good insect and worm predator and is known to help clean many injurious insects from ponds. To a certain extent, tilapia can help in keeping down the number of mosquito larvae, thus preventing them from developing into troublesome and harmful mosquitoes.

Get digging!!!!! Eggs, water, fish!!!!

Foster Farms

Good grief - What a quandry.... off to the right are Google Adsense ads. Most of these are topical and relevant to the blog and, based on keywords, pick off advertisers using their "keywords". So, I am fumbling around on the site and notice "Foster Farms". OK.. so a click on this tosses $.50 or so into the Le Coop booty... which I like, but man I hate the fact I cannot control it. I cannot block Foster Farms from appearing. While chicken is good eat'in and there is nothing wrong with a little chicken picatta with that wonderful lemon & wine with capers sauce dancing all over the pollo!!! slrrrrrrrrp..... I know, in good conscious these chickens are treated like food! Nevermind, bad analogy.... I know they are handled so poorly that it makes me want to only buy range fed birds and not accept monies from Foster Farm clickies. Although I am taking money from them versus paying them for their product which is good. Oh the confusion!!!

In the end, chicken is a great source of food, eggs and meat. How they are killed for meat is a question - but humane-killing seems like an oxy-moron. I just want to know the meat is great quality, that while the birds were strutting around they did so like Bo Derek and Dudley Moore greeted each other in "10". These makes me feel better.

Interesting fact - Jobs in the poutlry industry are the most awful descriptions anywhere. "Kill Technician"? I fainted reading it, hit my head woke up clucking...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stamp Of Approval

So, I am looking for a way to make my eggs standout. Not in size or color or education... not in shiney new shoes or jewelry, but in nutrition. The basic egg is 90 days old before you get it. It is raised in miserable conditions, so unnatural, that the chicken doesn't even produce to its normal capacity, but to at best 80%. Then the egg producer needs to get more chickens to make up for the 20% loss and then crowding kicks in. I mean awful shanty-town crowding where the chickens don't even look like chickens anymore, but toothpick models made by kindergarteners.... creepy, weird looking chickens. They end up living FEMA housing, with no medical insurance no nothing and then when they are at the end of their egg laying years, their legs break, their feathers fall off and get pneumonia and die.

So my goal to to prove to the consumers that my, all of our backyard chicken, eggs are different. Higher in nutrition therefore better for you and all the while living like a film star...with feathers, like a boa... and a posse'.

Therefore my goal is to locate a food tester and have these eggs evaluated for nutrition and size. Then stamp on the egg the values. Approximate of course...

I will check with Chuck Norris if he is OK with his fist of fury approval on eggs.

Omnivores Dilemma

A friend of mine - we'll call him "Joe"... recommended a book. While I will avoid appearing like the Oprah's Book Club although you can call me the "Chicken Whisper"..., I think this could be a good recommendation. I have also read a few reviews and this seems to be right up our ally... Here is a quick review written by Beverly Crumpacker (I hate chuckling over some one's name - but Crumpacker slays me - what is the derivation of this name? Crumpacker? Was it Crumbpacker? Did it have to do with some one's job in Elizabethan England?) I digress...

"We've lost touch with the natural loops of farming, in which livestock and crops are connected in mutually beneficial circles. Pollan discusses the alternatives to industrial farming, but these two long (and occasionally self-indulgent) sections lack the focus and intensity -- the anger beneath the surface -- of the first. He spends a week at Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley, a farm that works with nature, rather than despite it. Salatin calls himself a grass farmer, though his farm produces cows, chickens, eggs and corn. But everything begins with the grass: The cows nibble at it at the precise moment when it's at its sweetest and are moved from pasture to pasture to keep the grass at its best height. Their droppings fertilize the grass, and the cycle is under way. There's a kind of lyrical symmetry to everything that happens on this farm. Even the final slaughtering of chickens is done quickly and humanely, in the open air. It isn't pleasant, but compared to the way cattle are fattened and slaughtered in meat industry feedlots and slaughterhouses, it is remarkably reasonable."

Whew - Time Is Flying And Chicks Are Growing!!!

UPDATE - June 25, 2009. I took these pictures this morning before flying off to work. Loa (Arcauna) is on the left. This bird is looking good. Gold with brown and white markings. Loa has this weird little trait where she, tilts her head in 20 different directions in order to check you out. I understand I am confusing and she does not understand my sense of humor...sometimes I don't pick up my shoes or leave soda cans around the house... wait am I still talking about Loa...? Anyway, Loa is great fun and very curious. Millie (RIR) is a spaz, but taking on the typical reddish coloring and flat back of a RIR. Hoot (Arcauna) is on the far right and is getting some nice coloring as well. Gray and white, she is looking like an Eagle, but flies like Eddie The Eagle - remember him from the 1988 Calgary Olympics?

Not sure what language they are speaking, it has to be Scandanavian or Jibberish...

Here is another picture with Millie in the foreground, Loa on the left and Hoot in the back. Hoot is always the first to the dinner table, the first one out of the coop and the first one to fly AT me.
By the way, the ABM bedding material is working out great. At first there were some "drive-bys" and I could smell the stench, and then it seemed to level off and become non-existent. Thank goodness, nothing like having trailer trash farmer wanna-be's living next door to you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grass Fed Chickens

Seems adding some natural grasses to the food along with legume scraps and other natural non-meat makes chickens much healthier and thereby able to produce much healthier eggs. Here is some common sense... and an excerpt from

"Very few commercial chickens really get to eat grass or scraps. Chickens, being birds, naturally need to eat grains along with their grass, so free-range chicken is not as high in Omega-3 as is grass-fed beef or lamb. The best Omega-3 levels in chicken come from a poultry diet to which abundant fish meal has been added. By marketing chickens with "all vegetable diet," we are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Chickens need bugs and animal protein! Fish meal brings about great poultry health ~ English farmers who feed their chickens fish meal report their chickens live and lay eggs for over 10 years. In some leading-edge restaurants in the US they are beginning to use the "grass-fed" label in their menus. Many big-city chefs and butchers have heard a rumor that "chickens cannot eat grass." Pastured poultry farmers just love to hear about things like this ~ they roll around laughing ~ it makes their day. Chickens that are really free range will consume about 30% of their calories from grass. Since grass has very few calories, that translates to a LOT of grass.

Omega-3 Eggs:

Eggs with the highest levels of Omega-3's come from chickens raised on grass and/or fed fish meal, with the grain component greatly minimized. But lacking this, some commercial enterprises are producing eggs from chickens fed on flax seed. They use the words "Omega-3" on the egg carton, and state the Omega-3 levels in their eggs. If your heart health is important to you, try to get fish-meal-fed, grass-fed eggs. Better yet, raise your own. Most cities allow 5 "domestic" animals. If you keep your 5 chickens clean and in a large, caged area, with lots of grass growing behind wire so they can't kill it, just eat off the tops, and feed them fish meal and good bugs along with their regular diet, you will have some really good Omega-3 eggs.

So off to get some fish meal....!

Buying Local And Health

As I have blogged previously, backyard, locally farmed eggs sell quickly at Farmers Markets. Perusing the web and asking people, in my sphere of influence (which are all the personalities in my mind - so at least 100 people) who are more locally focused, about whether they would buy eggs from backyard farmers, it is apparent they will and do and pay more for it. I have a cadre of people who know we have chickens and are lined up for the extra's. I realize I am not going to have enough to bring to a farmers market and that is OK, cause I need more things to do like I need a virus. Economics may dictate my change of mind, but then so could sleep. So, I was curious about the eating local food issue... Is it better to eat local and what factors are effected in eating local. I am not talking about the local BK or California Pizza Kitchen... I mean locally grown food. So here goes -

According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London (I know it is around the world, but economics are economics), a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction. Think about this - going to Safeway or Piggly Wiggly... sends your money off to another state or part of the state, where this money is then sent to suppliers around the country. It is likely your $5 worth of strawberries just went to Chile. Nice... so my $5.00 is not going to be spent by a local grower who could put their profit back into the local economy?

While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer's market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time. OK, there! Its quite possibly healthier.

Ever tried a tomato that was picked and eaten right off the vine? No argument here!

Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be "rugged" or to stand up to the rigors of shipping. This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic.
Which gets me to eggs - with the average egg being 90 days old by the time you buy it at your local grocery store... and the way in which hens are kept in hatcheries, how in the world could these eggs be healthy? There is nothing natural about the way eggs are produced versus those in backyards and on true - Cage Free farms. Higher Omega 3, protein, Vitamin D and E...
I might become like Rocky Balboa and start drinking eggs....! Or vomit in my shirt pocket.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hand Augering Wells

So, one of the benefits of living where I do is... the water table is at 15ft. Yes, 15ft... So, this gives me the leverage to "hand auger" a well versus paying someone to come in drill a well in my backyard. The price differential is about $3000. After researching this, I found a company on the East Coast, who specializes in hand-augering equipment for wells. The coolest thing here is; they are a Christian organization who's mission is to provide the means and the tools for countries where fresh water is miles away and where the water if not boiled, could make them deathly ill. HydroMissions provides the parts or a pre-packaged unit for hand-augering your well. The beauty of a well, is... our earth acts as a natural bio-filter for water, thereby extracting all the nastys that will keep you on the Johnny On The Spot... The water should still should be tested for microbes and alkalinity, but for watering your yard, crops and tapping it into certain household needs is very doable.
So, here is the link to HydroMissions:
The steps will be; get the equipment, casing, pump and begin drilling. A 4" casing will be used and I anticipate hitting water at 15ft. I will need to drill to 30ft, as you need to double the distance to compensate for head pressure and usage.
Usually, outside of coastal locations, the water will be very high in mineral content and good for your crops and lawn. I would not recommend watering your chickens with this water unless you have the water chemistry tested. There are a number companies on the web or in your local area who can test your water for less than $50. To me this is worth I have kids and animals, sometimes hard to tell the difference and peace of mind for health's sake is worth it.
I will report more later, but in the meantime ask around and find out where your water table is, see if you can't hand auger a well in your backyard and get off the grid.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I am sorry, but this is a world of discovery for me. All of you have probably hit this site and seen the great information it has. Everything I am trying to do wrapped up in a neat little magazine. And now, Urban Farms? - How cool does it get? I am dizzy from excitement. Having been raised with an entreprenuer mind-set and "control -issues"... I rail against authority - mainly government intervention. I loathe it, find it to be the most fruitless form of transactional relationship anywhere in the world. I digress, Urban Farm is more my speed, as I am trying to turn my lawn into a place where we as a family can forage. I know, we'll be competing with the chickens and possibly other neighbors, but that is why I've purchased a shotgun.
A couple of tips in these sites -
1. Great chicken description pages in HobbyFarm.
2. Great ideas on gardens in both; including composting, seed starting...etc.
3. Great ideas on "Out-Buildings"... every home needs one. I built the Simpson Strong-Tie shed, using it's plans and connectors, yet added some of my own features - windows, dutch doors and evetually, water and electricity - Man's Got To Have Some Peace!
Check these out... very nice sites.

Coming Soon "Le Coop" Cam

OK.. so I am going to do it... I need to find a deal on this thing first, but I am going to install a coop cam.

This will enable all to pan, tilt, zoom the camera from the web and even hear them clucking. The nice thing is; you will be able to control - one at a time, but it will enable you to have some fun. I need to run my CAT5 cable to the router, as I am NOT going wireless, too spotty and a long way from the router...with a lot of house in the way. Wireless technology likes "line of site", so this cam will not be line of site to the coop. I am going to mount it about 10 ft up on our chimney so you will have a nice perspective. So... hang in there... The Chick Cam is coming!!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We Blew Past 1500 Visits!!!

Really cool - we have blown past 1500 visits in just 16 days.

Rhode Island Reds

Great article I discovered on Rhode Island Reds (RIR). We have one of these - Millie. She is a cool little hen and is turning out to be stunning. This is an excerpt from a radio interview I grabbed from "Living the Country Life" Website. Another nice website.

One of my favorite chicken breeds is the Rhode Island Red. It's the chicken of choice for those who want quality egg-layers and good fryers.

Bud Wood owns a hatchery and says Rhode Island Reds are one of the earliest breeds developed in the United States and are among his best sellers because of their production qualities.

'They're a fairly gentle breed, and they lay a nice big, dark brown egg," Wood says. "They're a hardy breed, and easy to raise. Rhode Island Red is probably the beginning genetics of all of the commercial brown egg layers today."

At peak production, the hens are egg-laying machines. Just one hen will give you five to six eggs a week.

The Reds have a larger body type than other breeds. Wood recommends feeding them a commercial layer mix, which gives them all the nutrition they need. You can also provide a place to forage. It cuts their consumption of commercial feed way down, maybe even in half. Grubbing around the yard for plants and bugs makes their yolks a brighter yellow color.

We attempted to let them out in the garden yesterday, but they are as trepiditious as a kid is eating brussel sprouts.

Happy Father's Day