Tag Archive: Just A Couple Of Chickens


Silver Laced Polish Chickens love Just A Couple Of Chickens

My Silver Laced Polish chickens were some of the sweetest in the flock, and the easiest to catch and snuggle, maybe because they couldn’t see or hear as well as the other chickens. But hey, this is a fabulous face. That is it’s face… all those fabulous feathers are the face.

100 years ago, I wouldn’t have had much choice in chickens.
I would have been limited to whatever chickens my neighbors raised.

Today I can choose my chickens based on all kinds of preferences:

  • big or small,
  • brightly colored or monochrome,
  • weird combs or standard,
  • old breeds or new,
  • mellow or feisty.

Now, I know enough to choose a bird that is well suited to my climate – but only because I didn’t choose properly the first time around.

My fancy top-hat Polish chickens were not comfortable in the minus 10 degree winter days of Northern New Mexico. They would spend all day under the low hanging heat lamp, regularly torching their top hat feathers into little puffs of smoke.

I also didn’t realize that the kinds of chickens that lay lots and lots of huge, perfect eggs are not always the same kind of chickens that sport fantastically decorated feathers.

Since my egg and feather business at www.TheFeatheredEgg.com offers blown eggs and natural feathers that were raised with love and care in my own small flock, I wanted exotic feathers from my hens, and so my second flock was full of exotic wonders.

They didn’t lay well at all.

And I learned that heritage breeds of chickens, ducks, and turkeys were definitely healthier, hardier, and more able to beat me at chess.

I learned that if I want eggs… I should choose a heritage egg layer.

If I want meat, I should stick with the broiler breeds – which will also lay eggs, and some of them will lay very well.

And if I want feathers, really special feathers, I’m going to have to compromise on both eggs and meat.
Beauty comes at a price.

There is a super-cool chicken selector tool at www.MyPetChicken.com to help with this process… I could spend hours on that thing!  It’s so fun!

Faverolles, Chantecler, Minorca, Australorp – ah, that one I had, White Leghorn – great chicken although not heritage – mega egg layer, Cubalaya… whassa cubalya?,
I should stop….
maybe one more spin on the chicken selector tool… really, I should stop… just one more time….

 

Me, Myself, and I are taking advantage of our opportunity to interview the author of “Just A Couple Of Chickens,” a book we wrote and self published. We’re not sure who that fourth duckling is…

The Westchester Press is pleased to present this exclusive opportunity to interview the author of “Just A Couple Of Chickens,” a funny and informative book about chickenistic and economic adventures that has sold over 1,500 copies so far and counting.

The author, Corinne Tippett, is here with us today – mainly because this is her blog and she is writing it. But enough about us, let’s get to the questions!

The Westchester Press: Thank you for being here with us today, Corinne. How is your book doing now that it has been out for almost two years?

The Author: You’re welcome! Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book. It’s still selling pretty well, which is great for me and my publisher – I mean, for you, but one contributing factor is that the book talks about economic struggle and hardship, and I really thought it would be out-dated by now. But the theme is still current and all of us would like to see that change. Economic change.

The Westchester Press: We hear you there! High five on that one. Are you really working on a sequel? What’s taking so long on that?

The Author: Okay, so high five from self publisher to author is kind of more like clapping, don’t you think? And yes I really am working on a sequel and it takes as long as it takes, okay? For one thing, I had to finish my grandfather’s aviation history biography which I was supposed to write first but I did the chicken book instead, and for another thing, I really want a happy ending of total economic healing and it’s taking the whole country a while to get that going.

The Westchester Press: A new book?  An aviation biography? Who is publishing that? Are we publishing that?

The Author: At this time, I am in the process of submitting my grandfather’s aviation biography to a traditional agent or traditional publisher. Because I think it’s a project that may be well suited for traditional publishing, and I’d welcome the team approach to producing it. But if that doesn’t come through, then I will certainly self publish, and you’ll be my first choice.

The Westchester Press: But you ARE a self publisher!  You ARE The Westchester Press!  How can you do this to us?

The Author:  I don’t believe that self publishing and traditional publishing have to exclude each other. And once I self publish a project, I will continue to submit it to traditional publishers along with a sales count… and we’ll see what happens.

The Westchester Press: We need a minute, sorry for the delay. We’re looking up the word “fidelity” in the dictionary.

The Author: This seems to be going just as well as our quarterly company meetings. There’s no “i” in team, people. Okay, now you aren’t talking to me. So, now I’m not talking to myself? Isn’t that a good thing? arrite. Two can play at that game. I mean, one can…

okay.
fine.

 

 

 

Just A Couple Of Chickens tells about Buff Laced Polish Chickens

This Buff Laced Polish Rooster features in today’s scary Halloween chicken story… he was one of…. “Just a Couple of Chickens” (bwahaha!)

To celebrate October 31st, 2012, which is Halloween, I am going to tell you a story of a very scary chicken.

Only it wasn’t a chicken, was it?
How scary is a chicken?

It was a …………ROOSTER!

Now that’s scary.

By the time this true story took place, I had come to terms with the death of my rooster loving dreams.
I had raised several roosters, due to an unfortunate straight run order from a hatchery, and tried very hard to counsel them out of their brutal, blood-letting ways.

And I’d failed. I’d gotten scratched, pecked, slashed, and ambushed. I’d given up and perfected my rooster mole recipe.

But there was one guy left. My gentle, sweet, bumbling, slightly unsteady Buff Laced Polish.

He was a beauty. With a weird horned comb.

The day that I was down in a crouch, trying to collect eggs from the farthest corner of the hen house, I thought he was coming over to tell me a knock-knock joke.
Or show me a particularly good juicy bug in the straw.

It was therefore a complete surprise to see him, as if in slow motion, leap into the air like a nasty ninja and stretch out his wickedly sharp spurs in a full-out attack.

He could have laid open my face to the bone… if he hadn’t clotheslined himself on the hen house door.

It was kind of funny, but I was shaken. If he hadn’t collapsed in a whomping crunch on the hen house doorstep, I would have been in big trouble.  His spurs were over two inches long.

Pretty scary…

I acknowledge that there are lots of people out there who have good rooster stories, but I haven’t lived them myself. At the end of the day, there’s a reason the rooster is free....

Happy Halloween!

 

Just a Couple of Chickens tells How To Raise Chickens

My unscientific egg tally shows the amazing production of today’s modern hens, but not the amazing collection abilities of today’s modern backyard farmers.

Just how many eggs will I get from my hens, once they start laying?

Well!  I’m glad you asked. Because I happen to have an egg tally from 2005 and 2006 when I was knee-deep in my first flock. My flock adventures are described in my book, “Just A Couple of Chickens,” and because I was learning by doing, it’s pretty funny.

Not every egg that my hens laid made it to my egg collection basket. Sometimes, the hens laid on rocks or while strolling over little cliffs in the pen, so those eggs broke. Sometimes – which gradually became many times – the hens would eat their own eggs, and sometimes, I tripped on my own big plans and fell flat on the egg basket… so,

The actual egg count is probably about 10% greater than these numbers.

I also had not only chicken hens, but also duck, geese, pheasant, and chukar partridge. It was a very interesting adventure, which is why I wrote the book.

I had a flock of over 100 birds, about 80 hens of the various species.

In 2005, my hens laid enough eggs for me to blow 1,527. The following year the total was almost half that, 847 blown eggs.

The chicken hens laid half as many eggs in their second year as they did in their first. The molt was the dividing line between first and second year production.
The duck hens, who laid more eggs than the chicken hens, laid 1/4 as many eggs in their second year as they did in their first.
The geese laid half as many eggs in their second year, but the eggs were bigger. Bigger goose eggs are more valuable, and each year the geese will lay larger and larger eggs.
The pheasant hens were mad egg-eating fiends. Nuff said.
The Chukar Partridge hens laid a tremendous number of eggs but were very very fierce in protecting them. I almost lost a hand. They kept producing well in their second year but died of old age in their third  or fourth years.

Imprecise as it was, it was a big success, and the eggs and feathers from my flocks, and birds raised by good-hearted backyard farmers, are still available for sale at www.TheFeatheredEgg.com.

It was an amazing time, and I miss my flock. I look forward to writing the sequel book… titled “Just a Couple More”… and I’ll keep a more scientific record this time.

 

 

Just A Couple Of Chickens by Corinne Tippett and fugly chooks

This half-naked hen is trying to find the section of my book that will reassure her that her feathers will come in time for cold weather. Don’t worry Hen, they will come in time.

Raising chickens, especially urban chickens, has some built-in exciting days.

Sometime, on or around your hen’s first birthday, you may come out to your backyard coop one morning and realize that your chickens have exploded in the night.

Because there’s so many feathers in the pen, it must be the only explanation.

But then you’ll count your hens, and they will all be present.

But seriously, the feathers are everywhere.
And the hens look fine.

Well, maybe not fine.

Summer chickens are fugly chickens.
Half naked, sometimes sunburned, often raggity scraggity … unlovely. And this is normal…
Plus, your ugliest hen might be your best layer... see my post at www.TheFreeRooster.com about this issue… it’s an important part of How To Raise Chickens…

The good news, other than the fact that one or more of your backyard chickens has not actually exploded, is that this is the annual molt, and from here, the chickens will begin to feather up, and they’ll do it in time for cold weather – even if it seems that they won’t.

The not-so-bad news is that this molt signals the end of one-egg-a-day from your hens, as they move into the egg-every-other-day-or-so maturity. Each molt from here on in will signal another drop in egg production, but the eggs they lay will be bigger. There’s more about egg production and egg handling in my book, Just A Couple Of Chickens, available here and on Amazon.com

You have to see it to believe it. I can tell you that the feathers will be everywhere, but words do not suffice. The first time I saw the molt I simply couldn’t believe that I wasn’t missing a hen. It’s a fun milestone in raising backyard chickens.

Coming soon to a coop near you…(boom!)

 

 

How To Raise Chickens and Introduce New Chicks

My book “Just a Couple of Chickens” is about learning how to raise chickens the hard way… and these Cuckoo Maran chicks are riveted.

It’s true that chicken raising is easy, kind of,  – and it’s also true that chickens have a pecking order. And it can kill.

Once chicks are fully feathered and growing out of their brooder box, it’s time to figure out how to add them to the existing flock.

In the olden days, (and one modern day on our old farm) the hens would lay the eggs and hatch the chicks. The chicks would shelter in the hen’s body feathers for warmth and protection. She would show them good things to eat and protect them from the other chickens.

When we buy chicks, or hatch them in an incubator, we become the mother hen, and so the flock introduction falls to us.

No amount of counseling can change this aspect of chicken behavior and no chickens are exempt.
Not even ones that are really really sweet and kind.

In larger flocks, we chicken farmers fence off part of the coop with chicken wire and put the new kids behind the wire, with their own food and water. The flock can see and smell them, but not beat them up. We take advantage of the quiet and drowsy nights by putting the new hens in with the whole flock once everyone is roosting, but make sure we are up early enough to separate them before sunrise.

But there’s another possibility with very small flocks…

If the new hens are going into a flock with only a couple of other hens…
and IF the new hens are the same kind as the others (like not bantams with regulars)
and IF you aren’t trying to introduce some bizillion-dollar-rare-breed chick that you can’t afford to lose…

Then it may be possible to just chuck them in, if you start the introduction at night…
and can give the flock plenty of room in the day…
and you can be present to dab wounds with vasoline through out the day…
and can give all the birds tasty and interesting things to distract them…

I know two backyard chicken farmers who have successfully done this, and one of them describes her method in her blog about frugal living – of which I am a big fan.

Managing the introduction carefully will pay off with happy, healthy, not-pecked-to-death chickens.

 

Pacific Northwest Poultry Association Winter Show 2012

The PNPA Winter Show is VERY worth the visit. Only an hour from Portland, Oregon, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. It’s a great show!

The Pacific Northwest Poultry Association (PNPA) is holding their annual Winter Show this year in Salem, Oregon at the Oregon State Fairgrounds and that means…

Fairy Chickens!

also known as Modern Game Bantams….

Gorgeously, seriously, far-out weird chickens that I have fallen in love with.

We joined the PNPA when we first came to Portland in this way:  Andrew visited Pistils Nursery to see if they wanted to stock my book, Just a Couple of Chickens, in 2010. There he met Michelle Koppe, who is a chicken-networker-raiser-expert-healer of extraordinary skill. Michelle invited me to give a presentation at the PNPA monthly meeting, which I did – about the small business, called www.TheFeatheredEgg.com, that I started in Santa Fe, New Mexico to sell blown eggs and natural feathers from my chickens, which I had ordered in the mail… a bookworthy adventure. That’s what my book was about, and the PNPA gifted us with a membership and we were hooked. We attended their spring show, out in Stevenson, WA, and now their show is down in Salem, in the much larger venue offered by the state fairgrounds.

By attending these shows, masterfully presented by the PNPA, I learned what a good chicken show can offer.
First, surprisingly, is chickens.
Just kidding.
It’s not a surprise, but the range of breeds and their colors and shapes and sizes and glamor is surprising. It’s a great place to learn more about the breeds. Second, it’s a great place to meet people who are doing interesting things in the chicken world, and network, learn, source, discover.

There are ususally birds for sale at these shows, and if not the breed you want, there are people’s phone numbers to collect. There are vendors, selling chicken-related gifts, crafts, equipment. There’s a lovely social scene with family-friendly food, and a raffle that is hard to resist. The breeders auction is a place to buy chicks and older poultry that are not usually available for sale.

This winter show, on October 13 – 14th, 2012, is special because it hosts multiple breed associations as well. A chance to see so much variety under one roof (literally) that it’s a must-see.  For backyard chicken farmers, poultry shows are the very best place to go see what backyard poultry can be. A great place to get a chicken, a great place to learn about chickens without getting a chicken. Or duck. Or Turkey. Or Goose. I love poultry shows, but I especially love THIS poultry show.

(Headsup, if there’s a live rabbit in the raffle… the cage is usually not included…)

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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