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Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken Talk

I've come in for a break. The weather is just too perfect to waste being indoors so I was out as soon as it was daylight thinning limbs, piling brush, raking up leaves and shoveling charcoal into the compost bins.

Last week, when Greg was here, it rained--almost everyday. It was horrible because I had plans on turning him into slave labor, but there you have it, even ogre slave mistresses get the shaft from Mother Nature sometimes.

Greg dodged a bullet because we were going to raise the chicken coop and re-drape my naked greenhouse. All we could manage were the four posts to the chicken coop. It's not much right now, but I can promise you, it is going to be AWESOME.

Since we were housebound most of the time while he was here we brainstormed some future projects and drew out various plans for a chicken coop and yard.

The last chicken health club Greg built was pretty cool for our first time building animal shelters. Greg made a large coop with a cement floor and beautifully built nest boxes of the kind I've never seen replicated elsewhere. The guy just has a craftsman's touch with everything he builds, even if it's just a box. It was a snap to clean and disinfect and I always had nice clean eggs since the hens loved their nest boxes and would lay nowhere else as some chickens are apt to do.

After being taught a lesson by a particularly ravenous raccoon, we turned the chicken enclosure into an aviary. We lost several chickens to that rascally raccoon but it took us a while to figure out what was killing our chickens. Thanks to Greg's inventiveness, he rigged up a silent alarm so that we could catch him in the act. I swear to you that coon was so shocked to see us, he stuck his hands up in the air in surrender.

Since there are even more predators where we live now, a completely enclosed yard is already in the plans for our future chickens.

Our fowl enclosure should be ready this year, though I doubt I'll be getting chicks before January. We'll see. I am debating between several breeds since I want them to be dual purpose--eggs and meat.

I am partial to americaunas, barred rocks and australorps. But I'm also game for trying new breeds to see what they'll produce. While I'm partial to green, blue and brown eggs for aesthetic reasons--the quality is no different to white-shelled eggs. The difference comes from how they're fed and raised. Yard chickens will produce supreme tasting eggs compared to commercial egg producers.

Expect to see future posts on chickens as we prepare for a lot more clucking (not necessarily my own).

8 comments:

Angela James said...

There was a lot of talk about chickens on Romance Divas a few months ago. I wanted to keep chickens SO BAD. I even had my husband talked into it, which was no small feat. Unfortunately, our city prohibits any chickens within city limits. Oh, if only I could sell this house and move out of city limits, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Sadly, I can't and it appears I won't get my chickens any time soon :(

Maria Zannini said...

There was a big news item not too long ago highlighting people who keep chickens in the city limits of Dallas. I don't know if they allow roosters, since they can be noisy, but hens like australops or orpingtons are quiet and very gentle.

I really enjoy chickens. It's so relaxing and they're easy to raise. My neighbor used to bring her grandkids over to pet the birds.

Angela James said...

I would be very tempted to do it, and just hope no one ever reported me, but I have a very cranky neighbor who calls animal control (not on my dogs, just on the neighborhood dogs in general) three or four times a week. I'm now on a first name basis with animal control, so I don't hold out much hope my chickens would go undiscovered.

Someone did say they think you can get special permission if your child is in 4H, but I'm not sure I can justify putting B. in 4H just so I can have chickens. Heh.

Marianne Arkins said...

We had aracaunas, Rhode Island reds and bantys. I loved the little banty babies! LOL...

Wish I could have chickens, but DH says no. I'm still trying to wear him down.

Enjoy yours :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Angie: Yeah, you don't want to get on the bad side of a cranky neighbor.

Down here there are special dispensations for 4Hrs, but I think yours might be a tad young. LOL.

I wonder if your cranky neighbor can be bought with free eggs...

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: Mean old husband. LOL! Tell him you'll just keep a couple. He'll never know they're around. Think of the omelets he'll have!

Shelley Munro said...

I look forward to photos and news of your progress, Maria. Hubby and I would both like to have chickens, but we're also in town. In NZ it's much easier to have free range chickens because we don't have the predators you do over there.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Shelley,

Free range is the best. The only problem is when you have hens who prefer to lay in the field rather than a nest box.

We tried free range for a while when I lived in east Texas but it was a bit time consuming to hunt for eggs.

Aside from predators and hunting for eggs, the plus side was that I didn't need to feed them pellets for most of the year.