Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Have a wonderful 4th everyone.

We have surpassed 2,750 visits....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chicken Breed 101

I am going to, once in a while, drop a blog on a breed...

Today's Breed?

Ameraucana, Arcauna, Easter Egger - the breed is actually from Chile (Columbia - prior to that Chile) and named after a Chilean indian tribe who raised them. They are not a pure breed, but were APA accepted in 1984.

They are known to be fairly calm and not aggressive. Our Arcauna's Loa, Kapa and Hoot... are the most skitish of the group by far, but that may be because we scream a lot.... not true, but they are the most jumpy.

The Arcauna is known for its eggs. They lay real easter eggs, blue, green, voilets, pale yellows among
other pastel type colors. The Arcauna is also known for their hardiness, typcially resistant to disease, cold and addictions - gambling, drinking and smoking... really a good role model for your kids and our politicians!

They purportedly mature early. Ours have definately matured much quicker than our other birds. Here is an Arcauna. Pretty cool bird.

Creepy, but cool.....

Besides the fact our chickens have been free to roam the garden since 8 am ( it is now close to 11), they have eaten every spider along "Spooky" fence there is. Yes, we have one of those. You know, the fence that is slightly rotten on the bottom and has spider webs everywhere. Well one of the chickens pulled out a Woolly Mammoth of spiders. It was the size of the chicken. They all wrestled for it ultimately tearing the spider from limb to limb and devouring it in no-time at all. While this a creepy, nothing compares to this...

Why do we insist on having talking Avatars, are people too creepy? Too expensive? Too large a file? I think this is Animatronic hell. "Hi buy my bird feeders and they will attract pterodactyls and then you won't sleep cause you'll be thinking about my talking head" ( you need to read this with one tone and a little herky-jerky). Why do people think this is cool? Let's think of the market. Outdoorsy people, farmer-like, gardners, possibly older.... 35+ Do we (me included) think this is a sell?

Anyway, I think my point is... chickens are incredible pest control. I have read where farms no longer have flea problems due to chickens...really this is all too cool. Manure, pest control, food and fun. My Aussie is fun, but leaves a lot of poopy to haul, that is worthless and sheds everywhere. Thank goodness he is scary, cause it keeps the creepy door to door sales people from peddling their $100 a pint citrus colon cleanser.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Buff In The Corn!

Sounds very weird. A little Vegas-like, or some strange San Francisco parody of the midwest. We are letting these birds have fun and boy are they. They sit in the corn and act like they've landed in Hawaii for vacation. I need to get back to Hawaii. I love that place. I have been fortunate to have spent, all totalled, 18 months in Hawaii. I highly recommend it. Paia on the island of Maui would work well for everyone on this blog. Or, the Big Island of Hawaii. There is a lot going on in Paia, Haiku and further in to Hana, Maui that is very country. I will try to report on some Hawaii chickens, but they are hard to get to talk, they are always surfing and drinking beer. Sounds fun!

Anyway, the birds are beginning to make clucking noises... they are around 8 weeks and from what I understand clucking comes around 9 weeks.

I rigged up the water line for the Auto-Wata... system... man that is most riduclous name for this thing. I can't get past it...

I need to finish painting this thing and put some cedar shakes on the roof... Enjoy

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Bucolic sounds as they romp off into the garden to be frightened by every wind swept breeze or noise. Since I have 5 days off over the July 4th holiday, I am trying to make it my habit to get some coffee at Peet's, come home, let the chicks out and take a seat. It is better than any entertainment I could buy. Each one having it's own personality and each one fixated on a
different morsel. As soon as one looks like it has scored a sloppy worm, they all run to it in hopes of getting a bite. Most are getting wise to this gang-up mentality and are getting their food and sauntering off like it is no big deal - "I am just heading over here to look for food" as they have a 4 inch worm hanging out of their mouth. Then once out of sight, they sling it around like they are wrestling and anaconda.

They are definately drawn the base of the corn stalks, not sure why, but who cares.. it is fun to watch. All six are in this picture... Loa, Millie, Kapalua (kook), Sunny, Hoot, Scat.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Egg Nutritional Standards

OK, so spent the better part of the day digging a sprinkler trench for the coop and the garden. I was warned by the wife; "Finish the project". I think I am like a lot of husbands or puppys... where I see something shiney and get easily distracted. Literally, I was digging the trench, dug up some brick, got distracted by the "thought" of "brick" and went to my courtyard and began mapping out the new "brick" courtyard. I lost an hour dreaming. My wife had left to visit my sistter-in-law who had some surgery for breast cancer... and I was determined to finish the project and not eat crow... or chicken. Anywho, 25 trips to ACE Hardware to pick up some stoooopid PVC fitting and I had the sprinkler done by 4:00pm with all the drip system in, plus an automatic waterer for the chicks.
This isn't me. I am not this organized or neat. A mat for dirt? This guy grabbed a string line and a tape measure and did it right. I simply dig.
Further to the title of this entry, I have made contact with a lab who will do the testing to the standards for the eggs. I will report more as time allows.

In The Garden

This is so cool. They are free and are acting like Tom Hanks upon returning from his Island Experience, in Castaway, accept they don't appear nervous, pensive or sad because their Rooster married someone else and now have a chick. Anyway, they are happy and eating every bug in the yard, plus they are eating weeds!!!! How cool is this, natural weed control?

Interesting thing happened - they got startled by another bird... Blue Jay and they all hid under the corn and layed perfectly still. I thought they all died at once. With Jacko, Farrah, Ed, Fred Travalena and Billy Mays dieing, maybe the awful trend hit my chicks!!!!

More to come

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Awesome News About Egg Nutrition

This is the news I wanted to see. MotherEarthNews, which I will post a link to on this blog, and their sister publication called Grit did a study on backyard eggs. And as I suspected, backyard eggs are as yoked as Arnold Schwarzenwhosit. Here is the data:

LATEST RESULTS: New test results show that pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry's derriere when it comes to vitamin D! Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs.

RESULTS FROM THEIR PREVIOUS STUDY SHOWED: Eggs from hens allowed to peck on pasture are a heck of a lot better than those from chickens raised in cages! Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may (not sure I like that term, but then you cannot broadcast this over the entire population unless all were tested and confirmed) contain:

• 1⁄3 less cholesterol

• 1⁄4 less saturated fat

• 2⁄3 more vitamin A

• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids

• 3 times more vitamin E

• 7 times more beta carotene

These amazing results come from 14 flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens that are rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators. We had six eggs from each of the 14 pastured flocks tested by an accredited laboratory in Portland, Ore. The chart in Meet the Real Free-range Eggs (October/November 2007) shows the average nutrient content of the samples, compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for “conventional” (i.e. from confined hens) eggs. The chart lists the individual results from each flock.

I am working right now on a project to bring backyard eggs into the forefront of our egg buying minds... the egg produced in the backyard is essentially a super food! I am going to put little capes on all my eggs and stamp them with a super "E"...

Striking The Pose!

They are growing up so fast. It seems like only yesterday they were coo'ing and giggling and now they want the keys to the car and new feathers. No one tells you how tough the teenage years are. They are constantly trying to get out of of the coop, always trying to get away and "Fly The Coop" That cute little saying didn't come about because the chickens love to sit in the coop and stay close, although at bed-time they are quick to return, but boy once they are up and fed... they want OUT! In the foreground is HOOT. Really this is a beautiful bird, never thought I would every write those words. I like to build stuff, play guitar, break things, go to the mountains - Lake Tahoe to be exact, but never, ever...ever utter "pretty bird". Anyway - Loa is in the background, Sunny to the right and Millie in the foreground. Today is going to be spent mostly out of the coop and roaming the yard. I need to go grab a saw and cut something.

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Ultimately Food, But Darn Purdy Right Now!

My daughter planted a bunch of these sunflowers. You can see a couple other heads to the left and at the rear of the main flower. The coolest thing is these will push out hundreds of seeds which we will dump into the coop and scatter around the garden for the birds to pick and eat. There are four more of these stalks to the right of this one. In this picture also, looking towards the top, you will see a white fence. My neighbor has an 8000 gallon pond with waterfall and bridge which he has been keeping Koi in, but is going to begin switching out to tilapia.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Contact Aurora, Colorado

This is ludicrous.... and ignorant.


You have got to be kidding me!!!! Let's see dogs aren't noisy and dog owners have complete control over their dogs barking. If I think about it... I can hear a dog barking nearly every day and nearly every hour on the hour in my neighborhood. And.... volume... seriously, dogs bark in all pitches, tones and ranges and can bark all night sometimes. And to slap chicken owners with noise and predator tag as an excuse to ban chickens is, well... government intervention of the lamest kind. So, lets think about this. Most cities allow for 3-5 birds. 3-5 birds clucking (Roosters not included in this analysis) sound like music, even pastoral in nature. Chickens... cluck at levels which are low, outside of "egg-laying" where the hen can let it fly, but overall they cluck in a very calming manner. And.. CHICKENS SLEEP! They are like well-trained kids. Sun goes down and viola' they are down. Sun comes up and they get up slowly, happily and even with a little bed-head.

(here is a lightening storm over Aurora - maybe they can ban them too since they are so noisy) Argh! I loathe government when it makes a decision in a vacuum. It only perpetuates the fact they can't govern, they are miserable custodians of our money and the time this money affords them to govern and, ultimately, become meddlers in all our business. I am sorry, if I've offended anyone here, but this is a pathetic excuse for banning chickens. How about banning pool pumps? We have pools surrounding us and they hum all day and loudly. How about leaf blowers, mowers, motorcycles... I am spent.

Slate Magzine Article

Many of you probably saw this and many probably did not. I am going to link it here. The author seems to be a of a protagonist, but I think shows we are not going away and with Rob Ludlowl's Backyard Chicken website and his 35,000+ members and growing. As I write this, we just had another earthquake... crazy! Also he mentions the 100,000+ readers of Poultry Magazine.

Here is the article as well...
"In all of God's sweet aviary there exists no bird more diabolical and ruthless than the egg-laying chicken. Despite the darkness of this clucking beast's heart, our nation's press has gone on a rampage insisting that more and more citizens everywhere in the United States are choosing to board and feed these creatures in their urban and suburban backyards so they can harvest the eggs. It's a trend, the press claims. But we know better, don't we? To begin with, keeping chickens is a filthy, time-consuming, and expensive way to keep the pantry filled with eggs. And as this continuing feature has taught its loyal readership, too many of the "trends" reported by the press are actually bogus trends, hyped up by a reporter or her editors to get a lame story into print.

Flaunty bogusity in this morning's (May 14) Washington Post Home section feature, "Hot Chicks: Legal or Not, Chickens Are the Chic New Backyard Addition," which claims to have discovered the "vanguard of a resurgent interest in backyard chicken keeping, especially in distinctly nonrural settings." But the closest the Post comes to actually counting chickens is reporting the press run of Backyard Poultry magazine, a bimonthly: It is 100,000. The Jan. 2 USA Today, which reports a "growing number of city dwellers across the country choosing chickens as pets," measures the hen-keeping renaissance by enumerating the size of the community: It is 19,000 worldwide.

For more all-feather, no-bone journalism, see the May 10 Chicago Tribune Magazine, where "Chicken Chic: The Backyard Bird Is Back in Style" claims that chicken keeping is a "craze," is "[w]ay in," and is "a fresh fad." The piece insists that "[m]any an ordinary citizen of many an ordinary neighborhood owns an actual chicken," but never assigns a number to the "many." This is the paper's second example of crying chicken in recent months. The Dec. 15, 2008, Trib discovers "[s]igns of the burgeoning urban chick movement" in the mere publication of Backyard Poultry magazine, the existence of the blog, and the fact that a local workshop on raising your own birds sold out in 48 hours.

A bogus trend isn't a bogus trend unless the New York Times has signed on. The Dec. 7, 2008, Westchester Weekly section of the paper contributes "Chicken-Raising Trend Takes Hold in County." The well-to-do folks of that region have been sharing chicken-raising stories, the newspaper reports. It also publicizes the claim that a "growing number of people" are cultivating the birds as an easy way to connect with nature. Then, the story soberly acknowledges that "it is difficult to know just how many households are tapping into the chicken-raising trend." In other words, it's a trend for which there are no numbers. The May 9 Arizona Republic makes similar pumped-up claims about chicken mania in "Urban Chickens the Latest Healthful-Living Trend" before deflating the premise with the admission that it "is hard to know exactly how many people are raising urban chickens." And so it continues throughout the land. "Urban Chicken Movement Taking Roost in KC Area" (May 11, Kansas City Star) compiles chicken-raising anecdotes and regulatory issues but never puts a number to the alleged trend. "Hot Chicks: More Raising Own Fowl" from the May 10 Providence Journal-Bulletin cites a growing demand for spring chicks but supplies no numbers. The Oregonian (May 14) backs the trend with a story that marvels at how quickly baby chicks are selling out all over town. But don't chick sellers manage their inventory to sell out quickly? If you're in the business of selling chicks, you don't want to over-order and end up with a bunch of unsold adolescent birds playing video games and smoking cigarettes in the store, right? An April 17 Associated Press story datelined Union, Mo., opens with an exciting scene-setter of 1,200 baby chicks peeping and cheeping at the Clearview Feed and Seed store. But the actual story—titled "More Suburbanites, Hobbyists Raise Chickens" on Nexis—undercuts the headline. "Mostly farm families wait to pick up the chicks," the story reports.

If backyard hen keeping is indeed a trend, it constitutes such a long-standing trend that it has ceased to be one. On March 29, 2002, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about the "McMansion" coops some chicken owners were building for their birds. The April 5, 2004, Arizona Daily Star noted the high attendance drawn by Kim Fox at her chicken-raising speeches in Tucson: "About 50 people attended her last discussion," the Daily Star reported. The Sept. 14, 2003, Seattle Times explored the world of the city's backyard chicken farmers. In the summer of 2003, both USA Today and Newsday profiled the author of Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces. "We sold 2,000 laying hens last year," the owner of a downtown Houston feed store told the Houston Chronicle for its March 30, 1993, edition. Dialing the Nexis machine back even earlier, we find a syndicated Martha Stewart piece in the April 23, 1986, San Diego Union-Tribune oddly titled "Home-Grown Eggs—Can't Beat 'Em." Before you place your Web order for chicks, consider the wisdom shared by experienced chicken-owner Jean Moore with the Albuquerque Journal for its July 26, 2003, article about the art of raising egg-layers in the city.

"On the warmth and entertainment scale," Moore said, "they're better than a snake, but not as good as a cat."
Don't raise chickens to save money, advises the Dec. 15, 2008, Chicago Tribune story "Chickens Earn Keep in Chicago Backyards: More Urbanites Have the Critters for Eggs—and Companionship." One chicken-lover says the coop, chicken wire, and feeders set him back $500. A 50-pound bag of organic feed costs $22. You have to secure the coop to keep out raccoons, dogs, and cats. A hawk or a teenager with a Wrist Rocket can waste a free-ranging chicken in a flash. Generally speaking, urban veterinarians don't know how to treat sick chickens. Hens don't start dropping eggs until about 20 weeks, the Denver Post reports, on average three hens will produce two eggs a day, and the birds reach their peak production at two years. There's no way around shoveling the chicken shit, and who the hell likes eggs, anyway? "


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Straw-Bale of Fun

So here they all are. Prior to leaving this morning, I let them out to roam about the cabin, stretch their legs, have a smoke, or scratch in their case... and poof! They all jump on to the straw bale and begin scratching this thing to crumbs. Whatever is in this thing, drives them mad. Pictured here are Millie, far left rear end pointing due north, Scat (Buff), Hoot (gorgeous Arcauna, white and gray), Kapalua (Arcauna that must have a guilty conscious because she jumps and runs at the slightest disturbance), Loa (foreground, Arcauna) and Sunny (Buff)...

I am looking forward to this long weekend coming up. Getting auto-watering set-up, sprinklers for the garden and planning on the tilapia pond. Oh, yeah and running the CAT5 cable for the webcam. So this webcam will be controlled by you - meaning you will be able to move it left, right, up and down and even zoom it in and out.

The mister saved their bacon again today. It was 104 and a little humid - I am a west coaster, we have no idea what humid is, so I am not complaining - it just had a little more humidity than normal which makes me want to eat more avocado and acai berries and chase celebrities across earthquake damaged roads.

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While teaching someone about chickens, I ended up pulling a snake out of a swimming pool.

Over 2000 Have Flown Through !

Hi Everyone -

We have eclipsed the 2000 visits mark. In 2.5 weeks... not bad. In fact, we are at 2244.

My chickens are happy...

I am taking off to get out of the heat... heading over to San Rafael, CA and to Angel Island. Pretty cool place... used to be the Ellis Island of the West Coast.