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I've often wondered why our
chickens don't like bananas and then I saw this video on Youtube and
decided most chickens could care less about a banana.
Image credit goes to Youtube
Mike and Lesley in Washington state wrote in to say, "We are very pleased with your Avian Aqua Misers, both the small and large sizes.
It has been over 100 degrees for the last few weeks and the chickens
are all staying hydrated. We have the small waterer close to their
shade spot so they can stay in the shade during the heat of the day."
Their flock consists of
5-month-old Rhode Island Reds --- fourteen hens and one rooster.
"The rooster just learned to crow this week," the duo reported.
"The fenced yard keeps them safe from the raccoons and skunks that we
have plenty of out here. We trapped three skunks last week, our neighbor
trapped 24 during the month of June."
Mike and Lesley wrote in to share their photos as part of our EZ Miser photo contest. You still have over a week to enter, so don't forget to bring your camera out to the chicken yard and snap some shots!
We did some repairs to our 4 year
old chicken tractor
The next one we make will
have a special trap door to make adding kitchen scraps easier along
with a holder for a 2
gallon EZ Miser bucket.
Our EZ Miser is a bit
over a year old --- time for a contest showing Mark's newest invention
in action! If you've bought either our EZ Miser kit or our premade EZ Miser,
we want to see how your chickens have taken to their waterer.
Have you plugged our EZ Miser spouts into the side of a rain barrel or
taught your show birds to drink? Perhaps you've come up with a
unique mounting method like the Christmas tree stand above? As
usual, we'll judge based on both beauty and ingenuity, so whip out those
cameras and get your entries in ASAP!
The prizes: One first-place winner will receive our chick bundle
--- two premade chicken waterers perfect for getting chicks off to a
good start, or for keeping your adult flock hydrated, a $90 value.
winner will choose between a 2 pack EZ Miser kit or a 5 pack Avian Aqua Miser original kit with drill bit.
The fine print: All entries
must reach my inbox (email@example.com) by Sunday (August 10) at midnight. Be
sure to send photos one at a time if they're larger than 2 MB apiece.
You can enter as many pictures as you want, but all of your photos will
be merged into one entry. All photos and text will
become the property of Anna Hess, which means I might share them
with readers via our blogs or books. Thanks in advance for sharing your shots!
Can cats and chickens get
along enough to play together?
I'm sure if you asked the cat
he would say "chickens are fun!", but the story a chicken might tell
would be more like "who the heck is this furry monster?".
Image credit goes to Dash and
Mark and I enjoyed a tour of the diverse Laughing Water Farm
recently, and of course I was intrigued by the free-range chickens
wandering here, there, and everywhere. We didn't get a chance to
see the Salatin-style egg-mobile,
which had been dragged to a far pasture just the week before we came to
visit, but there were still chickens wandering around the barns and
outbuildings (along with a few eye-catching turkeys).
I'm always on the lookout for which chicken breeds pull their weight under farm conditions, so I made a mental note that Australorps
were winners there just like they are on our homestead. However, I
couldn't quite guess the breed of the small, cream-colored hen pictured
above. When asked, Antoinette replied, "Oh, she's a
survivor." Yep, that's probably the true homestead hen --- a mutt
who manages to rustle up her own grub, raise some kids, and keep happily
scratching through the deep bedding in the pig barn.
always get a kick out of the first pullet egg of the year. In
2014, our young ladies started their productive careers at 18 weeks of
age, seven days younger than when I wrote this post a couple of years ago about when to expect your first eggs.
I liked this shot because Mark captured our new rain barrel
as well as the tiny egg. Rain barrels aren't really
chicken-related...except that this barrel has been primarily used for
filling buckets of water to carry to the chicken coop. It's
astonishing how many steps a rain barrel can save over the course of
just a few weeks. If you're sick of carrying water, adding a rain barrel near (or on) your chicken coop can make your life much easier!
Around the beginning of July, it was as if a flip was switched within our little ponds --- the duckweed
started growing like crazy! Our ducks are too big to be worth
moving back to the ponds to dine, so I figured --- why not bring the
duckweed to them? It only took me a couple of minutes to scoop up
about a gallon of duckweed, tadpoles, and water bugs, and after the
ducks realized the bucket wasn't going to bite, they dived in with
relish. Within minutes, every bit of greenery was gone.
I wrote last week that our ducks are too lazy to produce good-quality eggs since they don't forage much.
However, my duckweed bucket suggests that I'm just not embracing the
duckness of ducks (as Joel Salatin would say). Although you can raise waterfowl on dry land,
that's not the role they're best suited for. Perhaps a bucket of
duckweed a few times a week is a happy compromise that will keep our
ducks healthy and make them a more sustainable part of the homestead?
What's a good way to feed
June Bugs to chickens?
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half
way with water. Place the bucket under a light and leave it all night.
The next morning you should have 10 to 20 June Bug snacks ready to feed
to your flock. Spill the bucket near your chickens and watch them get
A few might get away, but
most will be gobbled up before they can achieve flight.
Image credit goes to
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After whittling down our
replacement layer flock to a cockerel and three pullets, I decided to
merge the chickens with our young ducks. The starplate pastures
where the young layer flock has been browsing is pretty barren at the
moment, since the sward hasn't entirely developed yet and since lack of
rain has slowed regrowth of what herbaceous plants do exist. In
contrast, the duck coop has three lush pastures around it, very little of which the ducks are deigning to eat and almost none of which the Cornish Cross broilers
consumed. Why not move the hens down to eat that greenery, and
also save me from having to manage food and water in two separate coops?
Mark and I always move
chickens at night, counting on the birds' inability to see in the dark
to make the transition go smoothly. Plus, if a hen wakes up inside
a new coop, you often don't even have to shut her inside for a day to
teach her that's her new roosting spot --- she just heads back inside
the next night to eat and sleep. I didn't count on how aggressive
the ducks would be at having their slumber interrupted by gallinaceous
interlopers, though. The ensuing ruckus was so loud that I began
to despair of the two flocks' ability to merge successfully, but I
crossed my fingers and went to bed.
next morning, there was a standoff in the coop --- ducks on one end and
chickens on the other. When I opened the pophole to let them all
out onto pasture, the rooster immediately took his harem up on the hill
where ducks couldn't easily waddle, and he stood guard between his
ladies and the terrifying waterfowl for hours. However, when I
dropped back by after lunch, a hen was walking between the ducks with no
one batting an eyelash, and the other chickens were inside enjoying
their repast --- a good sign for domestic tranquility to come.
Despite the initial drama, it's looking like merging a duck and chicken
flock will be easier than putting two packs of unfamiliar chickens