Deerfield Fair Day!

Fair time is here!! The absolutely awesome Deerfield Fair was held just a little over a week ago (click here if you want to see their Facebook page). Fair food, lots of farm animals, the Poultry Fancier’s barn… it just doesn’t get any better. For me and Mr. Henhouse, it is the highlight of the year and we make sure to spend one of our precious weekend days there. And after visiting the chicken barn, my favorite new chicken is the raptor-looking Shamo.

Since I want to share the joy, enjoy some pictures below BabsHenHouse and make sure you visit the ag fairs in your area. I could post 100 photos and it just wouldn’t be the same as being there.

The holiday season is coming! Click here to visit www.EggCartons.com and get the best gifts for your modern day dinos and the people who love them.

BabsHenHouse Logo

 

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The Beginning of the New Home

It took a little bit to build, but the new, permanent pen is up. Extra added bonus? When we sell the house, it can be positioned as a large dog run.

The new and improved permanent chicken pen.

The new and improved permanent chicken pen.

The A-frame coop fits in nicely, although it’s not there forever. But when a few house projects are completed, we can start on the semi-permanent coop. I say “semi-permanent” as it will be movable (for tax purposes!). I don’t believe we’ll get that done this year, but the chickens can overwinter in the hoop house again. And I’ll be able to move them out sooner now that the pen is up.

We are cutting back the apple trees as they are so overgrown — in the meantime, the logs make a nice jungle gym for the flock.

The biggest concern are the guineas. I don’t want to lose their bug eat capability by keeping them locked up. And, since they spend so many months cooped up with the hens, they want to bed down with them at night. Fortunately, Penny/Marcia/Kelly are able to get out of the pen quite nicely. It’s more difficult putting them back at night — they’re so skittish! But they do go in as they want to go in. I’ve also noticed the entire flock is quieter now they have moved outside. They can go “downstairs” when they wake up and scratch around until I show up to let them out.

Once the new and improved watering system is in place, we’ll be kicking. Oh, and the plastic bags? My theory is that it will discourage the hens from jumping over. Once we get the deer netting up, they’ll go away.

Well, it’s off to mow and enjoy the sun between the rain showers. Dandelion season is here!

The last class for the Master Gardener session in Goffstown, NH. Guess which one is Babs?

The last class for the Master Gardener session in Goffstown, NH. Guess which one is Babs?

 

Don’t forget to visit www.EggCartons.com and show some love!

Blue Hen House

Guineas Day Out

So last Thursday, I got home a little earlier than usual. As we were still in the midst of arctic temperatures, I decided to check on the flock and make sure the water had not frozen over.

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Warmer days!

Imagine my surprise when I went outside and saw Guapo standing in the middle of the path we had shoveled to the hoop house! With the flock around him and the guineas hanging out on the staging on the addition. And the hoop house door wide open. Yikes!

I immediately picked up the girls standing in the snow. I was concerned about frostbite and hyperthermia. I was able to get all the chickens back in, and made sure they had water. The guineas, however, were another problem. I can barely walk past them without their screaming that the breeze of my passing is a sign of the end times. Real drama queens, those three.

So when Mr. HenHouse got home, we tried to physically catch them. As they were completely avoiding the snow and flying from staging to roof to trees and back again, the plan was to try to knock them off the staging into the snow. I HATE that, but you get near them, if you can get near them, they fly away. So we wanted to destabilize the staging and hope they would fall.

We had semi-success. One did fall — the others flew on to the roof. Anyway, I quickly scooped her/him up and got her/him into the protection of the hoop house.

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Guapo and dinner, this past Fall.

Knowing these birds had not had food or water, I opened up the addition the next day and put food and water in there, hoping the other two would fly in. No dice. They continued to fly around the yard to stay in the sun.

The third day, I widened the opening a bit more. I figured after almost three days outside, they would be desperate for food, water, and shelter. I started putting food on the staging so they would at least get something to eat and keep their strength up. The freezing rain came, and they were drenched. I think that’s what finally pushed them into the addition. Once there, I was able to close them in, catch them, and put them back in the hoop house.

Lessons learned:

  • Guineas are hardy. They withstood that incredible cold, including the freezing rain, with no injury as far as I can see. But I don’t want to test their hardiness again.
  • Check the damn door. I thought I had, but apparently I did not close it properly and the wind caught it and blew it open. So now I’m properly paranoid about the hoop house door.

Now on to something different… when I was young, I remember driving through a monarch migration in Iowa. It was amazing. While I hated the fact of all those butterflies dying because of the cars, to be in the middle of this living cloud of orange and black was exhilarating. Because of this memory, I have been planting milkweed in my yard with the hope of attracting them. I have not had a lot of luck and I think I know why. Monarchs have been under severe environmental pressures — pressures created by people — for quite some time. It now looks as though they have reached the breaking point.  I hope not. They are beautiful creatures.

Stay warm!!

Blue Hen House

Winter Prep & Updates

Busy times. I’ve been so busy with my contract job that Mr. Hen House has been putting the the ladies to bed. With the cold weather, we’ve moved the ladies and guineas into the hoop house. They will be spending the winter there. The good part is it provides more shelter than the coop. It has electricity for lights and keeping the water warm (eventually!) We also play a radio at night to discourage predators. Yes, still doing that after the weasel incident this past summer.

Getting settled in.

Getting settled in.

So getting the birds into the hoop house was interesting. Most of the girls went in on their own, but Beulah was weird about it. So after some wrangling, we got her in. Then it was guinea time! It was brutally cold here, so they knew they wanted to go in somewhere, but really don’t like being in the coop but that was the only place they knew.

So after running around like crazy, we got two of them in the coop. I then went in and grabbed, them, one at a time, and moved into the hoop house. That last guinea was a terror to get, though! It took about an hour, but we finally got him into the coop, so I could then move into the hoop house. Chasing these birds around the yard was like something out of the Roadrunner! If it wasn’t so cold, it would have been funny. 🙂 And you’d think after all this time, the guineas would be at least used to us. But nooooo, they still act as though we will rend them limb from limb.

The odd man out.

The odd man out.

To digress a bit, it seems we have two boys and one girl. There’s a pair that always are together and then we have the odd man out. I think I’ll try to get a guinea hen in the spring for the lonely boy. I am concerned the more assertive guinea rooster will take her, too, leaving lonely boy even lonelier. But it’s worth a try. Worst case, guineas are meat birds. Maybe odd man out will become dinner. I don’t know yet. I do know that if I go that route, I will not be there to see it. My enthusiasm for the last bird was greatly diminished when I saw him butchered. Like I said, I’m the city cousin of the Iowa farm bunch.

Winona moved into Guapo’s space. She’s put on weight and is much more normal, including laying eggs. Her eyes aren’t completely normal yet, but I hope they will come back in time. I did make a huge mistake though. I thought she’d be fine in with the rest of the flock since  she was so much better. I was wrong. Beulah beat up on her horribly. So, Winona is back in her area and I’m disinfecting her wounds every day. I feel terrible. But I will never make that mistake again. Winona will remain segregated and safe until she passes. Which I don’t think will be for awhile. I will say it makes me sad that I may never receive the hairy eyeball from her again, though.

Winona giving me the hairy eyeball.

Winona giving me the hairy eyeball.

Guapo was moved into the airstream. We got complaints from the neighbors and had a discussion with the local code officer. So Guapo is in the airstream for the week, and comes out on the weekends. Not the best arrangement, but it will work until we get a better, more soundproof coop built. And since it’s so cold, he goes into his old area in the hoop house while I keep Winona in her crate. When she’s recovered from Beulah’s attack, I’ll have to reconfigure that area a bit as I don’t want her to suffer from Guapo’s love attacks.

 

 

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I have to say, Guapo is pretty relaxed for a rooster. I think the constant human interaction is making him a tamer rooster than the one I had with the first flock. He crows in the morning, and is then generally quiet the rest of the day. A few crows, but not much. He doesn’t try to attack me or Mr. Hen House. I’m hoping this behavior will continue. I don’t like aggressive roosters.

The biggest problem with the hoop house is it still gets colder than I would like. The water is freezing solid. Mr. Hen House has not completed the waterer with the chicken nipples and heater. I think we will be addressing that soon!

Now, show a Hen House some love! The girls gotta eat.

It will be warm again! My next post, I think I’ll critique the incubator I used for those eggs that never hatched.

Blue Hen House

Big Changes

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted. There’s been big changes

First, my computer died. The video card failed and since it’s part of the logic board, that means the whole thing is fried. Unfortunately, I can’t just swap out the video card. 😦   So, I’ve been bogarting Mr. Hen House’s laptop when I can.

Then I picked up a nice, long term contract gig. Which means 40 hours/week minimum. The extended (and unpaid) time off is over! While I’m happy to be getting a steady paycheck for the next several months, it does bite into the blogging time so I’m reworking my schedule to post once a week, most likely Sunday mornings.

On to the much more interesting chicken things! So those two roosters we picked up by accident from the Rumney auction… we took one to be processed. The processor doesn’t have a website, so I can’t link, but if anyone in New Hampshire is near Freedom and needs a processor for their chickens, email me.

I watched… mixed feelings. I called this rooster “dinner” to help keep emotional distance, and intellectually I know where chicken dinner comes from, but for all that I like to call myself an Iowa farmgirl the truth of the matter is I am the city cousin. I’ve never participated in butchering any creature nor do I cook. (Mr. Hen House banned me from the kitchen.) So I am very ambivalent about it. Something I need to work on. I will say he was humane and quick. Very articulate and great with his son. Knew what he was doing and gave a great tip when looking at chicken in the store — buy only chicken that is labeled it was fed a vegetarian diet. You’d think that was a no-brainer for chickens, but no, it’s not. Apparently the big corporate chicken farms feed their meat birds all kind of chicken body scraps to save money. Ugh. Learn something every day. (I was going to link to some web pages, but way too gross for me… I’ll leave you to research on your own if you want to!)

The rooster we’re keeping is named Guapo. Our thought is early next year, we’ll get a straight run of 6 to 12 chicks and at about 3 to 4 months, pick 2 or 3 good looking hens and sell and/or process the rest. We can then raise some beautiful blue lace red wyandottes for sale or food. We’ll see how that goes and maybe take the breeding up a notch. Baby steps.

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Guapo in his temporary outside cage.

Mr. Hen House is building a separate living space for Guapo in the hoop house. I don’t want him to hanging with the girls, tearing up their backs, so he’ll only have close personal company when we’re looking to breed.

The rest of the girls are doing fine and I finally found all the clutches. I need to invest in egg cartons! They’re doing great, which is a relief. Winona is still not well and I think she’s blind. I tried to euthanize her myself and just couldn’t. Mr. Hen House may end up doing it. She’s my only failure.

The guineas, Penny, Marcia, and Kelly, are doing very well. I think we have 2 boys and one girl — which gives us one matched pair and a third wheel. I’ll keep watching to make sure I’m right before I look into getting a female for the third wheel.

They are so funny! I like them MUCH better now that they are outside all the time. They’ve crawled on the roof, explored the perch Mr. Hen House made, and are becoming quite the little uglies! Photos are below.

Next on the list is winterizing the coop. We’re going to attempt to move it into the hoop house so the girls can spend the winter with Guapo (separated by fencing!). They should all be reasonably warm, although I will need to monitor the moisture. Too much humidity may breed disease. But, we are exploring the possibility of putting the girls in the hoop house without the coop. We need to ensure it’s safe enough from predators. We’ll see what falls out.

And the feeding and watering system need to be completed so I don’t need to monitor everyday. I could do it while I was off, but now that I’m working, it’s difficult.

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Guineas on the roof!

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Enjoying the perch!

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Becoming brilliantly ugly!

Show some love! Visit www.EggCartons.com by clicking on the link or the graphic below and pick up some cool products for your girls.

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