Tag Archive: Raising Chickens


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!

 

A Chicken In Every Yard by Robert and Hannah Lit

This is a GREAT how to raise chickens book, and I’m pleased to have it in my own urban homesteading library now.

The Urban Farm Store in Portland, Oregon has been a leader in the urban chicken movement and they’ve come out with one of the best, most complete, how to books ever.
It is called A Chicken In Every Yard, and I highly recommend it.

Robert and Hannah Lit started their store on Belmont, right in the middle of the city and have become a resource for the backyard chicken farmers all over Portland. Putting out a book was a natural extension of their work behind the counter, answering every question for every bewildered new urban farmer.

Their advice is uniquely suited for the small flocks that make up backyard chicken flocks, but it goes for big flocks too. The coop section is ideal for city chicken raisers. How to raise chickens is answered by “A Chicken In Every Yard,” and I’d say it is a must for an urban homesteaders library.

This kind of how to book is an essential part of successfully raising chickens. I really enjoy the fact that my book, “Just A Couple Of Chickens” sells well in feed stores across the country, because it’s a fun way to learn a lot about the ups and downs of chicken raising, and while I have a lot of chicken raising in there, my book can’t replace the How To available in the Lit’s book. I own the Lit book myself, because I need the information too.

Stores like The Urban Farm Store are a great place to get chicks for a new, or growing urban flock. They order a variety of breeds and you get to choose one by one. Another way to get chicks is to go to a poultry show, and there’s one coming up nearby, or to contact a local poultry association (like the PNPA) to find a breeder raising the kinds of chickens you are looking for. Portland has all of these resources, and not every place does… it’s a uniquely awesome aspect of this city.

If it is an urban homesteader’s dream to have A Chicken In Every Yard, then this book is a step towards making that happen.

 

 

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…)

 

Farewell My Subaru by Doug Fine, My Book Review

Doug Fine’s “Farewell My Subaru” is an excellent introduction to the idea of transitioning from a gas based economy to alternate fuels.

I discovered Doug Fine and his book “Farewell My Subaru” when a man who had read my book, “Just A Couple Of Chickens” emailed me through this website to say that he had enjoyed my book and that I reminded him of Doug Fine.

I was totally delighted to get that piece of fan mail, and even more delighted to be compared to Doug Fine… once I had googled him and come up to speed on what Doug Fine is doing.

“Farewell My Subaru” was obviously required reading that I had so far missed, since my urban homesteading curriculum is self-complied. Because i’m self-taught. Which explains my motto “Learning by doing it… the hard way”

“Farewell My Subaru” was published in March, 2009… right about the time we began to dismantle our New Mexican lives because our local economy had not recovered from the Crash of 2008, so I was late to the party. Doug Fine’s story was about his transition to rural New Mexican life, and his effort to get away from a gasoline based lifestyle.

Doug’s homestead was in Southern New Mexico, and I was in the North, but that didn’t change the similarity of the culture, climate, wildlife, and experiences he described. It was like he was writing about our place. Except that he started out with solar panels and he jumped feet first into biofuel, which we didn’t do. And his chicken chapter was very short, and not only because his chickens kept getting carried off by the wildlife… but because he was already in love with his goats. I’ve raised a goat. I’ve felt that love. 100 plus chickens cannot compete.

His book is an excellent read, and I would place it at the beginning of my growing library on urban homesteading. It’s perfect for someone, like me, who is just beginning to explore the idea of biofuel, and who has heard of solar panels, but not experienced them. For someone who is well along that path, I think it would be too light, but those folks are not the intended audience. This adventure was only the beginning for Doug, who is currently behind a new book delving into the world of legal cannabis and it’s economic effects.

“Farewell My Subaru” was an important book to me in two ways that I’m quite sure Doug Fine did not intend. He described, in his year of homesteading struggle, the difficulties of raising enough crops and food sources to support himself from the land he was standing on, and he carefully detailed the cost – and longterm amortization – of the alternative fuel sources he was using.

One of the reasons I decided to leave my beloved New Mexico property in 2010 was that I had done the math on my farming dreams and seen that, so long as I had to pay for my water (even if it was just the electric bill of the well pump) and so long as I had to pay for the feed, I would not be able to make my farming support itself, much less me. My real homesteading dream had failed. My urban homesteading dream has now begun.

The book is an exploration, not a solution. It’s not intended to be a solution. Doug makes it very clear that the isolation and climate of his remote ranch were problems to an off-the-grid lifestyle. I add that places where solar panels work beautifully are places where fresh running water is scarce. Places where fresh running water is plentiful are places where solar panels don’t work as well as Doug’s did.

Piece by piece, with prudent combinations and community teamwork, we can make progress on issues like sustainable energy, urban farming, local living, and our impact on our environment. “Farewell My Subaru” is an important piece.

And it’s a super easy, funny, fresh read.

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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