Friday, November 27, 2009

The coop cam is now outdoors!!

Hi everyone. I updated the website and moved the coop cam to the chicks' outdoor run.
Lots more action now. Check it out!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chickens feast on pumpkin on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday, and, for this year at least, the chicks are enjoying it too.  I went out early this morning, let the chicks out into the yard, cleaned the coop, and hung a pumkpin in the run.  The chicks were wary at first, but, once Penny Zoe started eating it, they all joined in.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicken Nipples

Some of you may have noticed the new waterer hanging in the middle of the coop on the coop cam.  It's called the Avian Aqua Miser, and it provides water to the chicks via a small push-in nipple that the chicks peck at.

The animated gif on their website summarizes it pretty well:

The advantages of this type of watering system are many.  Unlike the open-trough style waterer I was using before, the chicks can't get wood shavings and poop in this waterer so their water stays clean. And that means that they stay healthier, and I don't have to change the water as often.  Further, because it's a closed watering system, the waterer can be removed, refilled, and replaced, with zero chance of spilling, and that means that the coop stays dry, and I don't have to clean it as often. 

It took the girls about 10 minutes to learn how to use it.  The trick was to get one of them to use it, and the rest followed suit.  The only one in the coop when I first installed it was Henrietta, so I held her head underneath and pressed up on the nipple so that the water dripped on her.  She figured out how to get the water pretty quickly, and, ten minutes later, the other girls came inside to see what was going on and joined right in.

The Avian Aqua Miser cost $30 (shipping included), but it's really just a dollar store plastic pitcher with a $2 nipple installed in the bottom.  If I could do it again, I would buy a nipple and pitcher and install it myself.


Monday, November 16, 2009

We are Front Page News!!!

There's a story about our chicks today in our local paper, the Salem Evening News, and guess what? 

They made the FRONT PAGE!!

Here's the full text:

'Coop cam' offers a live look at Marblehead family's hens
By Alan Burke
Staff writer
MARBLEHEAD — Want to see four young Marblehead chicks strutting through their daily routines on the Internet? There's plenty of drama, including watching statuesque Zoe establish her dominance over the shy Henrietta.

Imagine the emotion. Imagine the feathers flying. Imagine the eggs.

On second thought, you don't have to imagine. The whole feathered soap opera is available on Joe Selby's Web site, In fact, a webcam monitors his backyard chicken coop and four stars, including Juliet and Penny Henny. It's "The Real World" with chickens, and none of the fowl language is censored. There is no sound, but lip readers — make that beak readers — will have a field day.

Accompanying these glimpses of chicken life is a blog that covers the history of the birds since their arrival at the Selby home (by mail) as tiny chicks in September.

Joe and his wife, Ariana, have three children, Jackson, Talia and Nathan, ages 5 months to 5 years, who are also featured on the blog. The family hopes to reap a nutritious harvest of eggs — up to half a dozen per day. The excess will be given to friends and neighbors.

"They'll start to lay eggs when they're 20 weeks old," Joe says.

Yet, with their online claw print potentially attracting viewers from all over the world, you get the feeling there's more involved here than subsidizing the family budget.

Joe Selby, 35, is a tax lawyer who grew up in Swampscott. He rejects the stereotype of the staid attorney consumed by numbers and legalisms.

"There's a whole generation of young lawyers where some of us aspire to do fun stuff with our families," he says.

The kids love the hens, agrees Ariana, a Marblehead native — although they loved them a little less when they realized you can't play with them. Instead, Mom sees the backyard coop as a chance to teach them a no-nonsense lesson about where food comes from before the packaging.

In addition to his passion for poultry, Joe is a bit of an electronics enthusiast, which led to setting up the camera, taking it online and even arranging some advertising with Google.

Of course, his ad earnings will amount to chicken feed — at least that's what he's hoping.

"Joe is doing all the work," Ariana says, "because I am busy with the three kids."

Having chickens was something the pair had long discussed, and she believes their little coop harkens back to a time not so long ago when Marblehead still had small farmers.

"I imagine my grandparents had chickens," she says.

Meanwhile, the birds, two Plymouth Rocks, a Rhode Island Red and an Orpington, are developing personalities and establishing a pecking order.

"Zoe is the biggest bird, and she certainly appears to be the head hen," Joe says. "Henrietta is not the smallest, but she appears to be last in the pecking order."

The Selbys won permission to put the chicken coop in the backyard of their Clipper Way home by explaining things to the Board of Health. Neighbors raised no objections.

"We promised no rooster," Joe said. "We live on a quiet street."

The ultimate fate of the four chickens remains in doubt. Joe Selby explains that once you name an animal you can't eat it. Ariana isn't so sure. After all, there's no telling how hungry a growing family can get.

"We're tough," she adds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Free ranging in the backyard!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

FLOCKS A-PLENTY: A tale of three Jewish chicken coops

From the Baltimore Sun. 

The notion of raising chickens is foreign to those of us raised in suburbs in the past half-century or so. Most of us only know eggs from the supermarket refrigerator aisle and are unfamiliar with the particular variety of chicken that lays them — until recently.

Read more ...


Monday, November 9, 2009

USA Today Article About Backyard Chickens

Chickens come home to roost in backyards around the USA

PORTLAND, Maine — For months, Daniel Strauss has looked out the window of his home on busy Stevens Avenue and noticed as many as six chickens pecking at the soil of his backyard.
The hens' owner, Jennifer Rudin, wasn't sure at first whether her city neighbor would appreciate the chickens' free-ranging, which has become routine for them since Portland approved backyard chicken farming earlier this year. But having seen how adaptable chickens are, Strauss is planning to get a few of his own.
"They eat insects, they fertilize the yard – I don't really see any downside to them," Strauss says, adding that he'd also welcome fresh eggs. "The more food you can get from your own backyard, the better."

Full text after the break

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Warm November Sunday at Appleton Farms

A calf at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, Mass., the oldest continuously operating farm in the United States.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday morning

Nice day for a dust bath and to get your little helper to clean the coop!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We are the lucky ones ... (not for the squeamish)


Thanks to Happy Chicken for showing me this.


Fixing a broken fax machine

The fax machine where my brother works needed some small repairs.  So my brother took care of it.


No flash photography please

While my hens have amazing instincts hardwired into their bird brains, dealing with a camera's flash is not one of them.

Halloween was the first night they were in the coop without the heat lamp and, accordingly, the first night the spent entirely in the dark.  I went to check on them at one point, and they were all snuggled up on the roost in the window, looking out at the night.  I had a camera with me as I'd been taking pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes, so I tried to snap a quick pic of the chicks on their roost.  Zoe and Henrietta handled it fine, but Juliette and Penny were so startled by the flash that they flew backwards off of the roost and landed on their chicken butts.  Luckily, everyone is ok.  It was pretty funny.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Pics!


Jango Fett, a witch


Little witch!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The end of summer?

Summer's been over for a while from an astronomical and meteorological standpoint, but today's the last day of summer as far as the harbor launch service is concerned.

I'm at Winter Island in Salem, Mass. Helping my brother-in-law take his boat out if the water for the season. Beautiful fall day here - sunny, temps in the 50s.

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