Friday, October 30, 2009

Livestock, Pets, or BOTH

A Kensington, Maryland Family has been cited for keeping Pet Chickens. Link after the break:

The girl effect


Check out The Girl Effect.  It's a program from the Nike Foundation, so I was a little suspicious at first, but the message is right on.  I'm surprised I haven't heard of this before.  More info after the break. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Left out in the rain

I came home from work last night to find that Jackson (five years old) had lowered the chicken door while the chicks were outside, locking them out of the coop.  The temp was about 55 or so and it was raining lightly, but the chicks have a covered run.

I think they're ok, but they were definitely a little cold -- I found all four of them on top of each other, at the top of the ramp, pressed right up against the chicken door.  It was very cute.  I wish I'd got a picture, but I let them inside soon as I found them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New and improved Coop Cam - works with all browsers

I've updated the webcam to work with all web browsers, including Internet Explorer.  Click through the frontpage of the blog to see the live Coop Cam!

Mothering Hen

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bad day to be a worm

It was a beautiful day here today, dry, sunny, temps in the mid 60s.  Great day to be a person, but not such a good day to be a worm.  Yesterday's rain brought a bunch to the surface, and Jackson and Lauren Schiowitz spent about 2 hours digging them up and feeding most of them to the chicks.  They saved a few to torment Lauren's older sister Kaylie, who, apparently, is not at all fond of worms.

Jackson and Penny Henny

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rain Rain - Can't Stop Us

Despite the rain, we had a productive day.  Ari worked, Grammy took Jackson and Talia to see a stage production of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Nate and I went to Agway to pick up 50lbs of organic grower feed and then to Home Depot to get some hooks and chain to hang the waterer.  The chicks were kicking up tons of shavings into their water, so I suspended it at the height of their backs and so far, no shavings in the water.  The benefit of the chain is that, as the grow, it will be easy to raise the waterer.

When the rain stopped, I went for a 4 mile run in my Vibram FiveFingers (can't recommend them enough), and then we let the chicks out of the run to free range for about an hour.  They have plenty of room in the run (10 square feet per bird), but they enjoyed their time in the yard.

NYTimes: The Downside of Urban and Suburban Chickens

In an October 23 article in the New York Times, Kim Severson writes about the "dark" side of the increased popularity of urban and suburban chicken keeping, from disease to abandonment to squabbles between neighbors.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top 10 Reasons To Buy Local

Top Ten Reasons
To Buy Local Food from your Neighbors
- Essex County & Merrimack Valley Farmers

  1. Freshness & Taste - Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually harvested within hours of being purchased by the consumer. Whether you buy them at a farm stand, Farmers Market or visit a farm and pick them yourself, you will be getting food with exceptional taste.
  2. Local farmers raise and sell wonderful unusual varieties of products that you will never find on supermarket shelves. That is because local farmers grow for taste not the ability of the product to be shipped great distances.

A chicken in every backyard? Slowly, Marblehead getting there - Marblehead, MA - Marblehead Reporter

A chicken in every backyard? Slowly, Marblehead getting there - Marblehead, MA - Marblehead Reporter

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Right to bed

Due to the warm temps today, we turned the heat lamp off in the coop for most of the day.  As a result, the chicks experienced their first dusk and nightfall -- and, with no artificial light, their first prolonged period of darkness since they were shipped as day old hatchlings.

Amazingly, they did exactly what they're supposed to do at dusk -- climb up to their roost and sleep shoulder to shoulder.

The heat lamps back on now, so I guess it'll be another restless night in the coop.

They've come a long way ... One month old today!!!

Here's video of the chicks exactly one month ago today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wired Magazine: Eggs are gettng harder to peel.

"As an egg ages, it loses some carbon dioxide through tiny pores in the shell, making the egg white more basic. At the same time, it loses moisture, which increases the size of the “air cell” at the bottom of the shell, between the inner and outer membranes. The dynamics of this process are, in the words of a University of California, Davis agriculture publication, “not completely understood,” but the combination of these changes makes an old egg a lot easier to peel than a one that is fresh out of the bird."

Very interesting.

Please consider signing this petition ...

Got a request to post a link to this Petition:

We, the undersigned Citizens of the City of Springfield, Massachusetts, and supporters of this cause, believe that chickens belong within the town limits in residential areas.  The City ordinance should be changed to allow a small number of backyard hens for the following reasons:

Organic? and other questions.

Just want to respond to a few inquiries:

Right now the chicks are getting medicated start feed to prevent coccidiosis.  Once they start to lay eggs, they'll switch to an organic layer feed.  We supplement with organic treats like oats (see video from prior post) and scraps from organic fruits and vegetables.  Organic people food can be super expensive, but organic feed (and oats from Whole Foods) isn't so bad.

Although getting fresh eggs is important to us, the hens are, first and foremost, our pets.  Egg production begins at about 5 months and continues efficiently for two seasons, when it trails off.  Most commercial egg layers are culled (amazing what switching one vowel sound does for a word!) after 2 seasons of laying.  However, the natural life span of a chicken is 5-10 years.  Our birds will be allowed to live out their full natural lives, although we may add younger layers to our flock every couple of years.  Older hens may not lay eggs, but they're still excellent producers of fertilizer!

By the way, you don't need a rooster to get eggs (unless you want fertile eggs).

Here's a video of the girls enjoying some Quaker oats for a late night snack last night. The quality's not great because the only light was the red heat lamp. They sure love oats. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

The best little chicken

Thought I'd add a quick post to show off the pop door on the coop.

-- Post From My iPhone


A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was spotted lurking around our back yard this morning. The girls will be fine inside the coop for the next week or so, but I'm not sure I'll be letting them outside until I have this situation under control. Their run is covered with chicken wire, but I may have to upgrade to some heavier gauge hardware cloth.

Monday Morning

The hens survived a cold and windy night in the coop. It dropped down to about 60 degrees when we got home from swimming and rock climbing yesterday, so I added a ceramic heater to keep things warms. Four-week old chicks should be at about 75 degrees.

We have a wireless thermometer so we can keep tabs on the temp. It was above 80 when I checked at 3 am, so I went outside to make sure they were ok and they were sleeping on their roost, side by side. Very cute!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I've gotten a few questions through email, so I figured I'd post answers for all to see.

Where did you get the chicks?
We ordered day old chicks from They arrived safe and sound and all are doing well at 4 weeks (today!). Hopefully, they're all hens, but we won't know for sure for a few months.

Where did you get the coop?

I was going to build one myself, but anything I build isn't aesthetically pleasing, so I bought it from a farmer in Central Massachusetts who builds coops on the side. So far, we're extremely pleased with the coop. I'll post a picture from the outside later.

Where do you get feed and equipment?

So far, we've bought most things online -- include the chick starter feed, chick feeder and waterer, heat bulbs. There are a bunch of good websites. We also have a farm supply coop here in Essex County, Mass. called (not surprisingly) the Essex County Coop. We also bought aspen shavings at our local Petco and some parakeet grit from Pet Express in Lynn, MA.

When will they lay eggs?

This is the most asked question. Typically, hens begin to lay around 18-22 weeks, depending on the breed. But, in order to reach full laying capacity, they need about 14 hours of daylight. Our girls are going to reach laying age in New England in February, so they might not lay until spring. In the future, we might add artificial light on a timer to keep them laying through the winter, but not this year.

The chicks have moved outside!!!

Today the chicks are 28 days old, so we moved them from their cardboard box brooder to their coop. They seem to like it so far. We're keeping them inside the coop for a week so they get used to it as home. Then they'll have access to the run.

The forecast calls for temps in the 40s and 50s this week, so I hung a heat lamp. Hopefully they'll stay nice and warm. If you watch the webcam and see them acting like they're too cold, please post and let us know, because we can't watch them all the time (like we did when they were in the house).

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