Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blue Cochin as a pullet

"Soldiers returning from China brought the first Cochin bantams to England in the 1860’s. They were known as “Pekin” bantams then and are still referred to as “Pekins” in many parts of Europe. Cochins are heavily feathered down the shanks and toes and appear to be much larger than they actually are. They are very gentle, excellent setters, rdquire little space, and with their many color varieties are absolutely beautiful to look at. Cochins are the most popular of the feather legged bantams and one of our best setters. The true blue color is perhaps one of the most difficult colors to breed for in the poultry world. We have a nice blue that will vary from a bluish white to a beautiful black laced dark blue. (Please see "The Color Blue" under Blue Andalusians for a description of our Blue Cochin chicks.)" From Murray McMurray

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So you are about to get baby chicks. A few Tips.

My blue cochins as chicks. That is Peach.

If you are planning on getting chicks this spring here are a few tips:
1. Make sure you have extra time on the day you pick up or receive your chicks. You will want to be with them of course, but you will also want to check in on them every few hours to make sure they are ok.

2. You can certainly mix different breeds together, just be aware that different breeds have different personalities and each bird has a unique personality. Every flock has a Boss. In my flock it is Paprika a white Brahma, she is big, loud and always is the first to greet me at the barn.

3. Choose a location for the "brooder" (this is the hen nursery). It must be predator (including house pets) proof! And also must be draft free. Babies need to be warm.

4. For the brooder you could use a big box with holes in it, a big plastic tub, a cardboard box unfolded and rolled into a pen. You get the idea. Just make sure there is plenty of ventilation and that each chick has 2 square feet of space. This seems big, but watch how fast they grow!

4. HEAT! Babies need to be hot. For the first week of life they need the brooder to be above 90 degrees. Then the temperature can come down about 5 or 6 degrees each week after. I use a 250 watt infrared heat lamp. I hang it over my brooder (which has a thermometer in it) and am constantly checking to make sure it is the right temperature. Here is one thing to look for - if the chicks are all huddled together under the lamp, they are cold. If they are at the edges of the brooder they are trying to cool off. They should all be simply walking around and exploring with each other.

5. Line the brooder with newspaper under pine shavings (NOT CEDAR - too perfumey). Deep shavings though because just plain paper can make for a slippery surface and the chicks can hurt their legs with only newspaper. Change the bedding often.

6. Water. Use a specific chick waterer. A dish can be dangerous. You will also have to teach your chicks how to drink. When you first get them gently dip their beaks into the water.

7. Feed. Get a chick feeder. I actually used a little bowl once and they tipped it over and trapped one of their flock mates. Luckily I was right there. I would recommend an organic chick starter (Not Layer). Starter has more protein. Feed them as much as they want.

8. By about 6 weeks your chicks should be able to go out. It should be above 65 degrees.

9. "Pasting up". This can kill your chicks so look for it every time you are at the brooder. Inspect each little hen. It is when the poop cakes up on their booty, over the vent. Which means they then can poop anymore. You should try and pull it off immediately. Apply warm wet paper towel to soften it up then peel it away.

List of things you need:
Brooder pen (box, tub)
Heat lamp, 250 watt red lamp
Pine Shavings
Chick waterer
Chick feeder
Organic Chick "Grower" feed

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My interview with cookbook author Mollie Katzen, in ChopChop

All You Need Is Love
Cookbook Author Mollie Katzen tells how she started
By Orren Fox, age 14

I’m a big fan of Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook and her other books, so I was excited about the chance to speak to her in person. Mollie and I started our conversation talking about our love for soft bread dough. We both just love it. Mostly we would never cook it, instead just play with it, making different shapes over and over again. It just feels so great. Try it! Another thing that just feels great, we both agreed, was when people liked our cooking. It makes you feel very accomplished, useful and independent. Here are her tips for beginner cooks.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

*: How to be Happy

*: How to be Happy: "Back in December I talked with Orren Fox of @HappyChickens about 12 things kids should learn on their own about food. Orren, a 14-year..."

Read the rest here

Bee Update. Bees out and about. 45 degrees

If you are thinking of getting hens this spring.

A few things to think about before your hens arrive.

1. Have a plan if you happen to get a rooster. Every time I get new baby chicks that are all supposed to be hens I get a rooster. If you cannot keep a rooster be sure you have a happy place to have your rooster go. Good places to check are other chicken owners, a local farmer. Just a warning, it can be difficult because no one really wants the roosters. I had someone call me once, she had ordered 12 chicks and 6 of them were roosters and she was trying to find homes for them. Roosters fight and cannot usually be in the same coop.

2. Have your coop all prepared before hens arrive.

3. Each hen should have 6 square feet of space.

4. Make sure the coop is completely predator proof - neighborhood dogs, coyotes, hawks, racoons, fox and rats etc. It needs to be very secure.

5. The coop should be well ventilated but not windy or wet.

6. 5 hens can share a nesting box. A henhouse should always have nesting boxes and roosts.

7. Your chickens should have access to sun. They need roughly 14 hours of light to be good layers.

8. Hens need a place to take a dust bath. This is their natural way to keep pests down. Lice make your hens very uncomfortable and unhealthy.

9. Fresh water every day.

10. Feed should include greens, feed, grit and I add coarse corn and black sunflower seed.

11. Perches or roots. Hens need them I use an old thick broom handle.

12. Any questions email me:

If you are getting baby chicks that's a whole other process.

Don't let your chickens get bored.

During the cold icy winter months stay in their coop, they only go out to the field for a short period of time to forrage. They have an outdoor run that is enclosed with clear corrugated plastic so it is quite warm and sunny, but by the end of the winter months the outdoor coop is well worn. I try to add things to the coop to keep the birds occupied. I don't think it is good for them to be bored. Here are a few things I add to the coop to keep them entertained.

1. Butternut squash cut in half and put into the coop. This occupies them for several days! Just watch out if you have white crested birds, it will stain their feathers.

2. Scratch. This is essentially a special treat for chickens. It is mostly made up of oats and seeds. I love to sprinkle it on the coop floor and the hens "scratch" around for it. It helps dig up the floor and keeps them occupied for hours. Scratch should not replace regular feed, it isn't as nutritious as regular feed.

3.I also go to the local farm and get their leftover tops from beets and carrots and put that in the coop. Both of the tops are different textures and flop around so this is very entertaining. The hens also need greens during this time of year.

4. Tennis balls. I put tennis balls into the coop. The hens think it is hysterical.