Tag Archive: urban chickens


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…)

 

Biosphere2 Is the Ultimate In Urban Homesteading

The ultimate in attempting self-sustainable farming away from farmland!

Despite being born and raised in the city, many cities, I have been fascinated with farming.

I tried my hand at dry-land farming. That’s the basis of my book “Just A Couple Of Chickens”, which is funny because it didn’t really go well. But it also didn’t cure me of the farming itch. I’m back in the city again, having flunked farming 101, and now I’m starting to look to urban homesteading. That’s farming my urban habitat, no matter what it may be, using ingenuity and science and techniques the neighbors probably don’t want to know about.

Recently, I realized that my twenty-year-long fascination with Biosphere2 was because it is the Ultimate in Urban Homesteading.

Biosphere2 was an attempt to test what is required to have a self-sustaining enviroment isolated from the planet earth. While the facility is certainly on our earth, it could be completely sealed away from the ground, air, and water.  Sunlight pours in through glass, but sunlight would pour on to anything out in space as well, so that’s part of the plan.

In the 1990s, two teams of people were sealed inside on a mission to see how well it would go to be totally self-sustained. Like, including air and water and all food. They had chickens and goats and crops and five biomes of wild plants and animals. The general media likes to call the mission a failure, but it wasn’t. An experiment is a test, and if it doesn’t make the goal, that’s still good information. The biosphereians were not able to grow and produce enough food to sustain themselves comfortably, as well as suffering other problems, but they learned a lot. They learned not to bring monkeys next time, for instance.

I claim the Biosphere2 crowd as members of my distinguished crowd of failed farmers, which includes the Laura Ingalls Wilder clan.

As I begin my sequel to my first book… which will probably be titled “Just A Couple More”, I’m turning my thoughts to urban homesteading more and more. I’m in the perfect city to do it. Portland, Oregon has a fan base of sustainable agriculture in the city.

Biosphere2 is in Tucson, Arizona and well worth a visit. I think it’s very much like what I would do with urban homesteading if I had 250 million dollars to spare, and about 50 additional million dollars a year for upkeep. My farming plans are smaller in scope, but not in impact.

 

Modern Game Bantam Chicken by Tom Anderson

Fairy Chickens! The Modern Game Bantam Club of America has fabulous pictures of these fabulous chickens.

My first chickens were standard, durable, off-the-shelf, “normal” (meaning non-heritage, though shouldn’t normal really mean heritage?)… chickens. They were Buff Orpingtons, which are a hardy, robust, egg-laying meat chicken with beautiful strawberry-blond feathers.

At the time, I didn’t know anything about chickens, and these were a great breed to start with since I was learning-by-doing-it-the-hard-way, which was one of the possible taglines for the book I wrote about my chicken adventures, “Just A Couple Of Chickens”.

My second chickens were a mix of “hatchery choice” and therefore had some rare-ish breeds, most of which were still pretty hardy, like the Blue Andalusian.

But then I reluctantly left my rural adventure and moved to the city. I joined the Urban Chicken Movement (although without any chickens at first). I started to attend regional chicken shows here in the Pacific Northwest and I finally realized that I hadn’t even scratched the comb on the top of the weirdest and most wonderful chicken breeds that exist.

Since city chickens are kept in smaller flocks than most rural chickens, and city chicken keepers tend to have more money to spend on their chickens than rural farmers, the results are “specialty” chickens scratching around elegant coops in urban professional’s back yards. And that means chicken awesomeness for anyone who digs weird chickens, like me.

I’m starting my list for my next chicken adventure. A small flock of three hens in my backyard. Landlord permission, check. Coop prepared, no go. Budget set and saved up for, not at all… so it’s going to be a while. But it will provide the happy ending I am planning for my soon-to-be-available sequel to my first chicken book,  soon-to-be-titled “Just A Couple More”, and if you are interested in being on the release announcement list, please drop me a note on my contact form.

Top of my list are what my friend, Michelle Koppe, calls “Fairy Chickens“, otherwise known as Modern Game Bantams. Also top of my list are Seramas, which are mini-chickens, proud and stunning and fabulous. And expensive.

This is a faboulous benefit of city chickens… the variety and elegance and exciting connections possible. I miss my chicken adventure very much, but I shall console myself with fairy chickens one day very soon.

 

Just a couple of chickens wonder where is tour de coops 2012

Tour de Coops 2012? Where is it? Where? It’s on break for 2012? What? What?

Tour de Coops in Portland Oregon is a fantastic self guided tour of backyard chicken coops throughout the city organized by www.growing-gardens.org. The urban chicken movement is strong in Portland, and urban homesteaders and chicken raising masters in the neighborhoods East of the Willamette River have some of the best backyard coops in the business.

The coops are home made, or manufactured, or customized, or pulled together with frugal ingenuity. They are a parade of homes for backyard hens. Anyone wanting to know how to raise chickens in the city would love this tour. I should have taken a tour like this when I was building coops for my chickens, but instead, I re-invented the concept. The results are some of the ruefunniest parts of “Just a Couple of Chickens”, my book on raising chickens the hard way.

I was all ready to go! The Tour de Coops usually takes place in July, and tickets go on sale a couple of weeks before the event and sell out fast. But then I discovered that the organizers of the fun event decided to take a haitus for 2012 and get their ducks in a row regarding how to do next year’s tour.  So I’ve marked my calendar for 2013 and took a little time to look into the details and history of the event.

Growing-gardens.org is an award winning organization that mobilizes voluteers to build local organic raised bed vegetable gardens in low income neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon. They run several outreach programs centered around sustainable food gardens in city environments. They host workshops that help urban homesteaders get started farming in the city.

The 2011 Tour de Coops was the 8th annual and it’s a well-known Portland event. I was particularly looking forward to seeing how people matched their coops to their house architecture. I noticed some very creative coops last year during my walks around town.

I’ll keep watch for the Tour 2013, and maybe by then I’ll have my own coop stashed in my urban farm backyard… not that I’m counting my chicks before they hatch or nuttin’.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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