Category Archives: Cluck

Jubilees and Hen Labor

I’ve got some adoption thoughts brewing, but waiting to have a moment to actually process them and so this is what we’ve been getting up to.

Bean and the hens weeding the easement. Well, maybe that should be encouraging the hens to weed the easement. They need to earn their keep damn it.

I’m thinking we should have an easement party, perhaps a Jubilee easement party, complete with bunting and sarnies. Sounds like a fab idea don’t you think? Maybe a big bowl of quivering trifle (I hate trifle, something about all those textures mixed together, but it is appropriate street party food for the Jubilee.) I think I’m going to invite all the neighbors. Do you think they’ll know why it’s a Jubilee Party? Will someone be offended? Perhaps they’ll throw a Boston Tea Party.

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Blatant Cute Chick Photo Post

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Cute eh?

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Two out of Twelve Ain’t Bad

Okay, it isn’t great either, but check it out: Last Friday our broody hen became a mama hen to two chicks- a white silkie bantam and a Partridge Penedescena chick. We’ll see how it goes. It is hot in Tucson. Heading toward 110 degrees Farenheit. While chicks like it warm, in the 90s, 110 is rather high. It is wonderful though to watch the mama hen with the chicks. For an animal with such a small brain Mama Hen has a surprising number of behaviors specific to being a mama ex. the sweet different clucking noises for different foods.
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No news yet on the homestudy and the stack of materials from our big agency remains untouched. I really need to get a better pattern going with work and exercise so that I can get everything in.

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We’re Hatching a Plan Here

Or at least some eggs. Remember that birthday gift a few months ago? Well, we now have a dozen eggs being tended to by our broody hen, Gretchen.

She is a faithful brooder, only being teased off the nest by wiggly mealworms. (I’m trying to raise mealworms in hopes that it will lower my worm costs.

The chances of actually getting chicks out of this is low. A fifty percent hatch rate on mailed fertile hatching eggs would be high. I’m just hoping for a few. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Mad Dash AKA Home Study Minus Three Days

Yep, three days until the first home study visit. I think I’m supposed to be washing walls, or baseboards. Honestly, our house is just not going to look like a model home ever. It is a cute, dainty, modest first home bungalow from the 1950s. Our furniture is mismatched and recently some pieces are puppy chewed (Waaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllace ). It has the feel of a house is in lived in, which of course it is.

So what are we doing? We’re putting up pictures that have been sitting behind the sofa since we painted the living room last year and removing the stickers that a certain four-year old likes to stick to every mirror surface. Bean and I are sanding down the beat up dining room chairs that don’t match the dining room table and I’m spraying them white so hopefully they don’t look like something we just dumpster dived or left them out in the sun too long (the latter is true). We’re finally getting the towel rack and toilet paper holder up that have been sitting in their packages for five years in the master bathroom. I’m decluttering every flat surface in the house, and the sloped surfaces. Bean can dust then. Oh, how she loves to clean, must be something she gets from her father’s side, or perhaps just skips a generation. She also hums when she eats (totally me) and wakes up like a cranky pants (not me, but someone sleeping right next to me).

Do they look in your closets? I may have to do a little organization there.

Finally, we’re making an addition to the chicken coop. A hatchery/infirmary. We also have an isolation ward set up that Bean and I made last week while Green was on the mountain doing the telescope thing. We’re having some pecking problems. Yeah, I don’t think that the social worker will give a crap about the hatchery either, but we have eggs arriving today and luckily a broody hen who’ll love to sit. We hope. A little more distraction from our work.

Will post pictures when it is all good and clean and my camera is fixed : (. Pictures of the chicken hatchery AND the house. Wish us luck. We certainly need it. Maybe we should just have the whole home study meeting outside in the back yard. Just have to cover up the beer making equipment and the zip-line so as to not suggest delinquency and reckless behavior.

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Filed under Adoption, Cluck, Domestic Diva, Homestudy

Language of Love

Yesterday morning I woke to find a vase with flowers on my nightstand, and a basket with a fake rooster, some tissue paper and half a dozen plastic easter eggs on the bed. Inside the easter eggs? Chicks. Not real chicks, paper chicks. But those paper chicks? They represent the real chicks my crazy partner in crime is giving me for my birthday. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

The questions now:
To hatch or not to hatch? Eggs or day olds?
And what chickens? I feel the need for a Silkie Bantam or two and a couple of Partridge Penedesencas. Oh, how I want Cadbury chocolate brown eggs.
When? Summer is too hot and this Spring is already beginning to feel like summer. Hello, 87 degrees on March 16th.
Anyone any ideas as to where you can get Silkie eggs?
Has anyone hatched eggs? Used an incubator or a broody hen?

I should mention that Green isn’t known for his gift giving. Or rather, I’m known for being a sulk every birthday when there isn’t a gift because I can’t push past the idea of an actual gift. Then Green wows me every Mother’s Day (after being made to feel horribly guilty – I hate myself for this emotional blackmail) with some awesome creative thing that makes my heart sing. This year, this year he wowed me for my birthday. It was simple, it didn’t cost more than about $10 for the flowers and the plastic eggs. The fake rooster, the basket and tissue paper were already here, which makes it even better. He created something I’m really excited about. The thing is he wows me pretty much everyday. I mean beyond just being hot, cos he is. And brilliant, cos he is. Green shows love through action and I don’t just mean I get some action. I mean he spends time and energy on things that are important to me, like Swap-O-Rama this past weekend. He lifted, he hauled, he smiled, he greeted, he entertained, he wore the t-shirt, he got his face painted on, all in the name of raising diapers for families in need something important to me.

Photo Credit Melissa Haun

More pictures from Melissa and sharing about Swap-O-Rama soon.

I didn’t expect or want anything yesterday, and for the first time in nine years was at ease with that. The lesson from my friend Trish about understanding that people show their love in different ways is finally beginning to sink in, helped by a loving speech in Green’s languages of love, action and quality time this past weekend. And then he went and surprised me with a gift that represented thought and time.

Do other folks deal with this? Recognizing and coming to terms with this difference in how we show affection (specifically around birthdays) is the one not particularly important thing that we’ve had to work on within our relationship. Anyhow, yesterday was a lovely day. Thank you my dear.

ps. If you’re in Tucson and you haven’t been to HUB down on Congress…totally worth a trip. Yummy Bourbon and Almond Brittle ice cream.

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Filed under Acting Up, Celebrations, Cluck, Diapers

Desert Chickens and their Hen House – Lessons Learned

Chh Chh Chook Tuesday
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Where are you going to put those hens in the desert?

Apparently, for us it is in the Palais de Poule aka Hen Palace. Seriously, this thing is large enough to accommodate our dozen hens and a family of four. Okay, maybe not the family of four, but certainly a little craft room for me. Our hen house is a veritable palace. Those chickens live in the lap of luxury. Perhaps Will and Kate might want to move from that cozy cottage near Anglesey to the Palais de Poule?

Chicken Coop w/ chickens

The hen house was built primarily by Green and his parents, and because they’re from Nebraska and are all farm folk, they do the farm thing in style. Now, a hen house does not have to be this large, but I do have suggestions based on our experience. Some of these things we didn’t think much about when we built the hen house (Hey, I was up there on the roof nailing in the roof covering stuff so I get to use technical terms like stuff and the royal we.)

First things first. What are you going to build?

Architectural Plans
We used a plan from mypetchicken.com and expanded on it. The original plan was for a hen house about half this size. There are loads of plans out there and according to Green and his dad who are well versed in such matters, the one from My Pet Chicken was straightforward and easy to adapt. And for desert dwelling chickens, adapt it you will.

Issues to address before you start digging and building that coop:


Location, location, location AND orientation.

Important in real estate and of course, chicken coops. Now if you have a yard the size of a postage stamp then there might not be much discussion, but we live right in the middle of town in an area that actually has relatively large lots. Check out my fancy architect impersonation. Totally at all to scale.

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We placed our coop on the east side of the yard. It runs length ways, north to south. What you need to consider: In the summer is this going to be a home for my chickens or a boiler?

We’re lucky, we have a fair bit of shade thanks to trees in the yard, so that the afternoon sun which pours in the west side of the coop isn’t horrible, but we also help cool the area off with shade cloths, misters and bottles of ice (I’ll share more about that another time). If we were to do it again, I think we’d move the clothes line and shift the coop further into the shade of the mesquite at the back of the yard. As it is, we have trees growing that will provide substantial shade within the next few years. Where in your yard would you get good summer shade?

Orientation
To run it north south or east west?
I question the wisdom again of having the afternoon sun shine along the long side, but what is of more concern is the aspect of the nesting boxes. Check out the picture again. See, the nesting boxes are right there on the north west side of the coop? Nice little cooking crates for both eggs and hens. Make sure your nesting boxes are located on the North East corner of your structure in a nice shady area. When one of our Buff Orpingtons was broody this summer I worried constantly that I was going to find baked chicken in the coop one day.

Adaptations

1. Make sure your nesting boxes are on a shaded area
2. Build your hen house is located in a manner that makes adding misters easy, if necessary
3. Consider adding one of those twirly vent thingees (rotary attic vent) to the top of the actual coop area. No matter the orientation or shade, that coop is going to be hot in the summer. A vent will eleviate some of this I imagine. We’re going to add one to our coop.
4. We extended the roofing beams to provide more shade, and actually covered the run unlike the plans which show a translucent roof for lots of light. I figure we have excess of light here in the desert. No worries about them getting enough, plus our ladies get to free range it for a fair bit of the afternoon. The thing with light is that the length of day does impact egg production. It hasn’t effected our egg production though I think.

If I think of anything more I’ll share. I’m sure there is a really cool adobe hen house you can make, we just didn’t.

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