Backyard Chickens: Meet the Newest Member

February 26, 2014

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After we lost Olive Snook in January, we weren't sure how to proceed. Our options were to: A. Do nothing and hope the three remaining hens would provide enough eggs for the two of us this year, B. Purchase and raise a few more chicks in spring, or C. Find someone selling or giving away a pullet near the same age as our girls. For us, the choice was cut and dry.

With three hens left, our backyard flock was feeling lonely, so we scoured through local Craigslist ads and found a lady who was selling her seven-month-old Black Copper Marans pullets. These particular girls didn't meet breed showing standards for whatever reason, yet they were perfectly healthy, and were just starting to lay those beautiful, dark brown eggs the breed is famous for, so we sent her an e-mail, and came home with one of her girls two days later.

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Her name is Milly, and after spending some time in isolation (to ensure minimal contamination of disease), and very slow and supervised integration, she is now one of the flock. From what I can tell, she ranks #2 in the pecking order (below Starbuck, our Buff Orpington, of course), even though she's a little younger and a little smaller than both Seven and Amelia. It'll be interesting to watch how the flock politics play out over the next few months.

Aside from the stress and anxiety that comes from introducing a new bird into the flock, I'm really happy with Milly. She has a quiet yet active personality, and she's getting more people-friendly by the day. And, as of Friday, she's laying eggs! I'm definitely a sucker for those dark brown, speckled eggs.

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A couple nights ago, I went out and took a shot with my phone's camera of the girls sleeping on the roost. Milly is the small black bird on the right. She's squashed between my big Buff Orpington and my little Easter Egger. You can see she still has some growing to do.

Sidenote
I wanted to mention one thing I've noticed since losing my Welsummer: the flock is much quieter now, even with the addition of Milly. Welsummers make beautiful birds with beautiful eggs, and I was very fond of Olive Snook, but she was definitely the loudest of the flock, which is something people tend to say about the breed. It's something to keep in mind if you're worried about upsetting your neighbors.

Weekend Snapshots

February 24, 2014

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 View of PDX from W+K
Delicious pizza with gluten-free crust from Mi Famiglia.
Sleepy Wren
Little flower bouquets.

This weekend was full of good friends, good food, and some surprisingly decent weather. Up until it snowed two weeks ago, I was still in winter mode, enjoying all of the coziness and stillness that comes with the cold. I wasn't even looking forward to planting my garden, or picking fresh flowers. All of this has changed abruptly.

Now I'm longing for sunshine and fresh air. I want to get my hands dirty and plot out this year's garden (because last year's system definitely won't work now that we have our chickens), and I'm buying flowers from the store to make little bouquets throughout the house. I'm definitely ready for a change.

Anybody else feeling spring fever?

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2014

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Happy Valentine's day, friends. Have a lovely weekend!

Weekend Snapshots: Snow Crafts

February 10, 2014

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Friday's snow day turned into an epic snow weekend, so I decided to take advantage of our rare wintery weather with some fun snow related activities, including my first snowman in 15 or so years. We call him Handsome Devil, and built him near the chicken coop out back to keep the hens company.

On Friday evening, I stumbled across a tutorial for snow candles from Bear Mountain Botanicals, and decided to try it the next day if the snow was still going strong. It was, so I did.

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For the wax, I melted down a bag full of old candles, and mixed in a cup or two of beeswax pellets. Once all of the waxes were melted, and the old wicks fished out, I brought it outside, along with a small jar and some wicks, to an area where the snow was at least 8 inches deep. I used the jar to make impressions in the snow, poured the wax into the impressions slowly, and had Matt hold the wicks until the wax was firm enough that they could stand up on their own. With the below freezing weather and surrounding ice, it didn't take long for the outer layer of the wax to harden.

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Once the wicks were set, I let the candles remain in the snow for another 30-40 minutes before digging them out and bringing them inside to dry. I cut the wicks an inch above the wax, and voila! They were ready to burn.

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In my opinion, this snow craft is pretty neat. I really like the texture the snow leaves on the outer edges, and it's the perfect way to re-purpose the wax from old, used up candles. I'll definitely be making more of these on our next good round of snow.

Also, I think they'd work really well in this snow craft, which I will definitely be trying ASAP.

A Snow Day

February 7, 2014

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I wasn't sure we would see a real snow day this year, but here it is, an exciting novelty if you're lucky enough to experience it from home in the proper setting, with a barrier of cozy blankets, a cat curled warmly upon your lap, and a hot beverage at your side. Commuting, on the other hand, is full of minor terrors. I was unlucky enough to experience the roads last night, and I'm not in any rush to put myself through it again today if it can be helped.

This inclement weather is also a first for the chickens, and although we've left the coop door open for them to come and go at will, they've opted to remain under cover. I'm curious to see if they get restless as the day progresses, and how they might behave in the snow. They seemed to enjoy themselves during the minor snowfall on Tuesday, but I haven't seen so much as a talon-print in the inch or two (or three?) layer that currently coats the ground. Do any of you chicken keepers have experience with snow-loving hens?