Hope you've all recovered from last week's Farm Friday post. Now sit up. Wipe that little bit of drool off your chin.
This week's FF isn't so juicy. Not juicy at all in fact. All it is is a bit of a chuckle for you. A chuckle about chickens.
A chicken chuckle.
Anway, I have no idea where I found this years ago, but I've dug it up from my archives and dusted it off and I present it here to you for your reading enjoyment. And to whomever I stole this from, my heartfelt apologies. I beg your forgiveness.
Chickens 101: How NOT to Raise Chickens
Chick: A hatchling
Pullet: A female chicken under one year old.
Hen: A female chicken over one year of age.
Rooster: A male chicken over one year of age.
The longing for fresh eggs from your own happy free-range chickens can lead down the path of temptation. Be cautious. Your dreams may become scrambled. Raising chickens for the first time is a humbling experience. When I first called my local feed shop, I was trying to sound like a pro. I asked, "Do you sell pullets?" "Yes", the man replied. "Are they all females," I added. It's been an uphill battle ever since.
Pullet parenthood is as much of an adventure as child rearing, only with more feces per pound of body weight. However, I've been reading quite a bit on poultry matters. (Yes, my coolness just turned over in its grave.) So if I am correct and I am quite certain I am not, here is how chicken rearin' goes.
Go to your local feed store and purchase $10 worth of chicks and $50 worth of food and supplies. Don't forget the water dispensers. Buying the metal ones, never plastic is always advised. Must be country humor. I have yet to see a metal water dispenser.
Next, place the chicks somewhere sheltered, like a bedroom closet. Toss in some highly flammable straw or wood shavings and promptly dangle a glowing heat lamp just above them. Note to self: Update homeowner's policy.
For the next several weeks feed them 3 lbs of food per day and remove 4 lbs of manure per day from the closet. Despite all logic the birds get bigger. As the adult feathers grow in be sure to clip one of their wings. That is one per bird, not just one wing total. If clipping is done late chicks will nest in your toilet. This is a bad thing.
Clipping can be accomplished by tossing your scissors and yourself into the heaping mound of chicks, feces and straw. Grab a wiggling screeching bird from the bile pile. Restrain it with one hand. Stretch the wing out with your second hand. Clip off 50% of the wings outer ten feathers with your third hand.
As the birds grow adjust the heat light temperature down by one degree per day. No, this is not actually possible. That's not my point. You start at 100 degrees for hatch lings then continue down by one degree per day until your bedroom is a minimum of three degrees cooler than the spring blizzard outside your window.
Once you have frozen your ear to your semi-cannibalistic down pillow and the chicks have grown their adult feathers, they can be moved outside to the coop. I estimate the initial closet rearing stage to have taken five years.
Before the move, experience the Joy of Wing Clipping one more time. Feather clipping never works the first time. No one knows why. Still, after all the hassle you probably don't want them to fly the coop in under sixty seconds. Of course, if you're like me, by this time you may be inclined to pack them each a lunch and leave a stack of Greyhound tickets by the open coop gate.
Regarding habitat construction: Hen houses and chicken coops are a competitive art form. Pampering pet birds can be a passion. There are a myriad of websites showing off architectural designs from Chicken Chateaus to Bird Bordellos. The meticulous craftsmanship makes my own home look like, well, like a chicken coop.
Always fashionable, I went with a shabby chic motif for my coop. The nesting boxes are an eclectic mix of stolen milk crates affixed to the wall by anything in arms reach. As for the coop itself, there is a gift for tight chicken wire which eludes me. Quite frankly, my first attempt at a coop looks like Dr. Seuss dropped a hit of acid, blasted some Jefferson Starship and rolled around on the wire with every Who in Whoville. I think I'll keep it.
Inferior design aside, I ultimately learned a thing or two. The nesting boxes are supposed to be up off the ground. That is correct. For those of you keeping score you just spent two weeks cutting back the birds flight feathers only to hang their houses in the sky. It's just sick.
Higher than the nest boxes, you are to build a roost. This is where the birds poop at night so they do not poop on your breakfast eggs. Of course, the roost is usually OVER the nesting boxes, so whatever you do, don't use those perforated (stolen) plastic milk crates.
They say for young birds you should maintain a heat light in the hen house. Then on cooler nights an animal with a brain the size of a bulimic toe nail clipping will make the conscious decision to forgo your nest boxes, bypass the instinctual roost and leap into a tanning bed.
And finally there is the feed regime. I asked several experts and read up on feeding as well. Make sure to give your chickens starter formula, mash, growth formula, start & grow, brood formula, grit, no grit, scraps, no scraps, goat placenta, nothing suggested on the internet, tetramyaicn, no antibiotics, medicated starter, non-medicated starter and never, ever switch in-between.
I may not be Queen of the Coop yet, but I'm working on it. Though I am a zoologist and I still know Birds 101. You do not need a rooster to get eggs. Most folk, especially those who have never kept chickens, will advise you all about chickens. Each will insist you need one rooster to do his manly duties.
Roosters are only needed to make fertile eggs. Hens are all that is needed to make breakfast eggs. Fertile eggs are just peachy if raising chicks was such a joy the first time you want to repeat the whole freakin' process. Years of therapy will follow.
To keep it straight in your mind consider this: You are going about your life. Suddenly massive balls of calcium start stacking up inside your abdomen. They want out. Are you going to hold on to them just because you have not had a date lately?
Yes, I realize my eggs are not all in one basket. Delusional, close-minded people who insist you need a rooster to fertilize your eggs drove me crazy! So did my chickens. And I love every one of the little buggers.
Yes, I can attest, It is all as crazy as the writer suggests.
For that little rhyming action there, you owe me one (1) vote. [By clicking this brown button, of course!]
Like Mr. Rogers used to say (paraphrased), Won't - you be - my Followers?
A Little History
Quite frankly, I don't know what I was thinking at the time. We went from 3 kids by birth to "oh, let's adopt a 4th" without a whole lot of deliberation.
While adopting said 4th (in Kazakhstan), we met a young man of 8 yrs by the name of Borya. Thought he was a pretty nice kid and years later found out we could adopt him too. Only thing was, he came as a 2-in-1 package with his younger sister Ylia. What the hay, said we, and rushed headlong into the adoption process. Again. To adopt two kids that were 10 and 13 at the time.
Started a blog to keep track of where my head was in this adoption game. When Borya and Ylia arrived home, we were suddenly the proud parents of six kids, ages 9, 10, 11, 11, 13 and 13.
That was back in 2009, but I still blog. I figure what doesn't make us laugh makes us cry, and I'd rather be laughing.
Also? We live on a farm(ish) with a few dozen critters. You're just as likely to read a post about the farming side of things as you are the parenting side. Thought you might want to know in case you have allergies or something.
As for the structure of this blog, I pretty much post on a daily basis, and I tend to be all over the place in what I write about, so if it's nice, neat and compartmentalized you're looking for, be off with you now, you won't find it here.
I do have some structure, though, I'm not a total bohemian. I roll like this:
Mon: Mirth Monday. A little somethin' to make you chuckle.
Tues: Sometimes Adoption Tuesday, sometimes A Tip For Tuesday, sometimes random thoughts.
Weds: Wordless Wednesday. Usually a photo or some artwork from myself or one of my oh-so-talented children.
Thurs: all random, all the time.
Fri: Farm Friday. Speaks for itself.
Sat, Sun: More random musings.
Feel free to explore and don't be shy -- drop me a line to say hello, and be sure to add yourself as a follower. Feeds my ego in a big way. I'm very insecure.
Cast of Characters
Meet the fambly:
Our Family in 2009
I'm on Top Mommy Blogs!
An award? For ME?
The Lazy Mom Award for Most Popular Lazy Mom Tip of 2011 is.....