Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eggs... they aren't just for breakfast anymore

So, we have a lot of eggs... I mean, A LOT... so, we've been having eggs of some sort for dinner about once a week.  Below is my "go to" recipe for quiche.  In the photo, it is crustless, but usually I use a roll of pie crust from the refrigerated biscuit section of the grocery store.

  • 2 small or 1 large frozen box of creamed spinach, thawed
  • 4 slices of American cheese
  • 1/2 onion, sauteed in olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or may substitute other type)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (or part half-n-half)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

For crustless version, spray deep dish pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.  For traditional version, start with pre-made crust or rolled crust dough in deep dish pie plate.  Dot half the spinach and half the onion. Top with sliced cheese.  Add remaining spinach and onion. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Mix eggs and milk along with salt, pepper & garlic powder.  Pour into pie plate.  Bake at 375 for 45 mins.

Options:  Add bell pepper (saute with onions) and/or sundried tomato or any other veggie left-overs you may have.


The Chicken Chick

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Time for introductions...

Ok, so at six weeks old with weather in the mid-70's during the day and around 60 at night, I decided it was time to introduce the chicks to the coop... and the big girls to the chicks.  Last time I went through this process, I added a shelf to the coop to fit my wire dog kennel.  This helped keep the run space beneath open for the big girls and kept the little ones up off the ground at night.  It also keeps the big girls from roosting on top of the dog kennel and pooping on the babies' heads.  I'll keep it this way for 2-3 weeks, with some supervised "play together" times as we progress.  I set the babies down in the coop while I got things situated, and Opal came to investigate.  I'm not sure what she thought of them, or what they thought of her... but they'll have time over the next few weeks to figure that out.  I use pine shavings in my coop, but I'll use Koop Clean in the dog kennel... because, well, baby poo stinks!


Clever Chicks Blog Hop #135
with a Baby Chick GIVEAWAY
courtesy of Valley Hatchery!

The Chicken Chick

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Check out THE CHICKEN CHICK's Clever Chicks Blog Hop, for tons of interesting and creative links.  I always find a new idea or a new twist on an old idea.  It's worth the click!

You can also
Enter to WIN this gorgeous, Sunflowers & Sussex Tin sign, a $68 value,
Chicken Art Tin Sign Giveaway at The Chicken Chick®

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Adding some fluff...

So, a couple of weeks ago we decided to add some fluff to our feathered friends.  A grad-student at Vanderbilt was about to leave school and couldn't take this with him, so we gave it a home.  This is now ours... an 8 months old bunny named Ali (Alley-oop).

I haven't had a bunny in over 30 years, so any bunny care tips you might have are certainly welcome and encouraged.  I am hoping that the bunny will make friends with my new baby chicks and they might live together in a tractor style coop.  We'll see how that goes.  For now they are next to each other in the garage, getting acquainted.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Meet the grass...

Such a beautiful day, slightly overcast, just warm enough without being sticky hot... so I thought it would be a perfect day to introduce the babies to the outside world.  Here they are in a kennel outside the coop.

Purdy Gerdie

This is my pretty girl, Gerdie, a Black Australorp... the Australian version of a Black Orpington.  She is a black beauty for sure.  The largest of all my hens and so fluffy-cuddly.  She is the hen seen with me in my profile picture.



In March we added two babies.  My first "little" chicks.  A breed I've been wanting to add for a long time.  These are English Lavender Orpingtons from Chicken Feathers, a breeder in Shelbyville, TN.  There is a lot of discussion about determining sex in young chicks.  I can only speak from my experience, but I really didn't have much trouble seeing the difference after a little research, but I know it isn't always this easy.

Dust bath

Chickens love a good bath as much as any girl.  Here they are enjoying a nice dust bath on an especially sunny day in the middle of winter.

Winter eggs...

So, it has been said that hens don't lay eggs very well in the winter.  Well, not in our coop!  We added NO extra lighting or heat, but my girls are laying like gang-busters in the middle of a hard freeze, snow & ice.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, from our coop to yours!


New additions

We lost Miss May in August, apparently from the same thing that her sister, Olive died from.  I took her to the state vet for necropsy, and it turns out she had lung tumors.  She was becoming such a beautiful lady; I would have loved to have seen her develop further, but such is the life of a chicken keeper.  So, in mid-November we added two new girls.  They are S.B.E.L.'s  (Super Blue Egg Layers), also known as Sapphires.  They are a hybrid of Legbar and Leghorn, and lay large light blue eggs prolifically.  These came from Double D Ranch. Their names are Lily-Belle and Daisy-Mae.

Sing along...

Can you sing the "I Just Laid an Egg" song?  Opal sure can!

cell phone video, please forgive the quality
After just two weeks of laying, I was actually able to get my first glimpse of an egg being freshly laid.  Opal didn't know what to make of my peeking in, but didn't seem to mind too much.  As you can see, we used plastic Easter eggs to train our girls where they were supposed to lay.


When October rolled around, we finally got our first egg when my girls were about 25 weeks old.  I was so excited I screamed when I looked inside the next box.  I couldn't believe it and yet had been waiting and looking for it every day.  Now we have eggs coming out of our ears, but there is nothing like the first egg... which was given to us by Gerdie.

Opal and Nelly

It wasn't long after getting my first group of pullets that I fell in love with Orpingtons.  Opal and Nelly, my two buff orpingtons, are always first to greet me.  We discovered that one of their favorite treats is clover.  This year we will be overseeding the backyard with clover.


To replace the loss of Olive, we purchased a Chocolate Orpington.  We named her Birdy (after my Aunt Bird).  Not knowing it at the time, we soon discovered she was a bantam and not a large fowl.  This created tension that never really resolved within the flock... because she was small, but I think also because she was a single new girl and the current girls in the flock were still teenagers.  Again, live and learn... now I know!  She was fun and easy to handle, but didn't make it through the summer.  On one particularly hot day, she stayed up in the coop, afraid to come down for some water and died from what I believe was a heat stroke.  Sorry Birdy; we miss you!

Birdy trying to make friends with Nelly and Gerdie... what a process!
Birdy, enjoying the pool

Birdy... along with Miss May, Gerdie, Nelly, Penny, Opal @ 15 weeks old



At the same time that we added chickens to our lives, we (I) decided I wanted to live a little more of a sustainable and self-sufficient life... so we built garden beds.  Well, we didn't build them, but we hired someone to build them for us.  He was a great little handyman, fun to talk to, a new dad who lit up when talking about his baby boy.  Everything was going well until one evening when he was working on the third and final raised bed after dark, and cut across his hand with the Skil saw.  I was sitting at the computer and all of the sudden there was a panicked banging on the back door and I saw him standing the shirtless, with his shirt wrapped around his hand saying he had cut his hand.  I called 911, got some towels and sat with him to calm him down.  There was a lot of blood... I mean A LOT!  The ambulance took him away to the hospital and I spent the next couple hours hosing off blood stains.  He had surgery later that week and was out of commission for quite some time.  A friend helped us finish the garden bed, and my boys shoveled the dirt to fill it and before long we had a lush looking and lovely garden growing.  We got a late start that first year, but better late than never.  We certainly enjoyed its bounty and look forward to an even greater bounty this year.

Our first loss...

About four weeks after we got our pullets, we had our first loss.  Olive (named for my paternal grandmother) was always the smallest, shiest, and hardest to catch.  One day I found her just sitting under that hanging waterer and not running away when I tried to handle her.  This was not a good sign.  I brought her in and set her up in a little pet carrier.  I gave her extra water with electrolytes in it by feeding her with the end of a straw.  She ate and drank and made it through the night, but didn't seem to improve significantly.  A friend and fellow chicken chick brought me some antibiotics and I gave her a little, but the next morning she was gone.  Goodbye little Olive.  I'm sorry I was so inexperienced at this point and didn't know more about caring for sick little girls.

Meets the girls...

These are the first six pullets I got and their first introduction to the coop.  They were about 9-10 weeks old when I got them and really seemed to love their first experience with fresh grass.  I got my first group of girls from Poultry Hollow Hatchery in Carthage, TN.   We decided on two each of buff orpingtons, black australorps and silver laced wyandottes.

My first group of girls were named for matriarchs in my family... grandmothers and great aunts... with the exception of Penny.  Because everyone needs and Henny Penny.

Left to right:  Miss May, Penny, Gerdie, Olive, Nelly and Opal

The scoop on my coop...

So, the first thing on the agenda once we (I) decided to get a few backyard chickens was to get a coop.  Many things were to be considered, but for me one of the most important issues was mobility.  I'm not sure why that was so important to me, but when considering the freedom to move to fresh grass on a regular basis, this seems like something I needed to do.  So far so good; the mobility issue has worked out rather well.  Although during the winter, I considered a stationary coop with sand or something similar in the bottom run might be a good thing too, all in all, I am very happy with the coop decision that I made.  Lots of things are important... square footage per hen, run space, ventilation, nesting space, cost, and (of course) cuteness.  When it was time to make the final decision, cuteness swayed the vote.

Below is a picture of the selection I made.  This coop was built by the gentleman at Heritage Ways Farm.  He delivered it, set it in just the right spot and was wonderful to work with.  His craftsmanship is awesome and I highly recommend him and his coops.  He makes a variety of sizes and a few different styles.  This is his barn style and the smallest size 6'x8'.  I added a weather vane and the star and some wooden hens on the nest doors.