My 2013 Funny Chicken Stories

After a Snow Fall

As 2013  draws to a close, the media will  be releasing their top 10 year in review headlines.  For the most part, these stories are generally filled with tragedy, whether it be human or environmental.  Well….., here at  City Boy Hens, I ‘d rather  close the year off with a few laughs rather than dwelling on the more difficult times in 2013.

So…I’ve gone back into my archives and pulled out a few “chestnuts”  from earlier this year.  I hope they will make you smile.  Better still, I hope they will make you laugh.  Happy New Year to all!  I hope that 2014 will be kind to each of you and that the next 12 months will be filled with lots of great experiences and tons of fun!

City Boy Trapper:

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Don’t You Take Your Chickens On Vacation?

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Bigger Is NOT Always Better!

Rosie's first day at City Boy Hens

The Dreaded Egg Song!

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Driving Miss Swifer: That Damn Hen Is Causin’ Trouble AGAIN!

Are We Almost There?

Getting Your Backyard Chickens Ready For Winter

After a Snow Fall

Winter is knocking at the door up here in Southern Ontario.  The leaves on the trees have pretty much disappeared, daylight hours continue to decrease and the night-time temperatures are toying with freezing.  With that said, this City Boy needs to make a few changes to our coop/run in order to keep “the ladies” healthy and productive through the long cold months ahead.

1)  Minimize Drafts063

My 3 hens have a 60 square foot run that is enclosed with hardware cloth.  This makes for a great predator-proof and airy environment in the warmer months, but too much wind does not bode well for chickens in the colder months.  Like you and me, they also really start to feel the cold when that Northern wind starts blowing.  Even with that thick  coat of down feathers, too much energy will be used to keep warm in winter when those prevailing Northern winds continue to blow.  In order to remedy this problem, most of my run is covered with plexiglass in the winter.  I emphasize most, because you still want some fresh air to circulate throughout the run in winter.  You just don’t want the strong cold winds to accompany them.

The upside to plexiglass is that it is transparent.  In other words, I can still keep an eye on the chickens in the comfort of my warm home as I write this post.  The down side is that it is expensive.  If this is an issue, then consider using plastic vapor barrier as an alternative.  The down side is that it is not really transparent, but it is relatively inexpensive.  Just make sure not to seal everything up too tight and prevent air from circulating within the run.  I recommend securing the vapor barrier on the outside of the hardware cloth with some 1×2 strapping.

2) Heat & Light In The Coop092

I heat and light my coop with a 100 watt incandescent bulb that is screwed into a secured brooder lamp (note: the safety screen on the lamp was temporarily removed in order to show the entire coop in the above photo).  I didn’t go to the effort of running electricity out to the shed in order to keep the hens warm.  I did it so that the drinker and eggs would keep from freezing.  The cost sure outweighs schlepping water out to the coop a few times a day because the drinker has frozen again.  I am also a believer in getting eggs all year-long so I do provide my hens with additional “artificial” light in order to stimulate their pituitary gland and keep those eggs coming every day.  I also went to the trouble of completely insulating the coop with 2 inch Styrofoam when I built it a few years back.  Between the insulation and the light bulb, I have never had an egg or the drinker freeze in the last two years. * Note:If you choose to light your coop, make sure to wipe the cooled bulb from time to time and NEVER use a “coated (shatter-resistant) bulb”.  I read that the chemical that is used to coat these bulbs gives off a toxic gas that can become lethal to chickens who are confined in a small area.

3)  Make a Dust Bath

Honda demonstrating for you!

If you let your chickens free range, I’m sure you are aware of their need to tear up your favorite garden and enjoy a dust bath.  You can’t blame them.  It’s ingrained in their DNA and they perform this incredibly euphoric act to not only clean themselves, but also rid themselves from the potential for lice and mites.  Don’t know about you, but free ranging is severely curtailed in the winter at City Boy Hens and the ground becomes hard as a rock. So..in order to satisfy their need,  I made the chickens a dust bath for their run.  They use it daily and wait patiently to take their turn!  If you would like a few ideas on making a dust bath, CLICK HERE.

4)  Keep Them Busy.

Snackin'

Snackin’

Chickens are always on the move looking for the next blade of grass or bug.  It’s pretty hard to find either when snow is covering the ground.  Unfortunately, idle time can sometimes lead to bullying and this can open a whole new can of worms.  So why not give your hens some extra treats in the winter in order to keep them occupied?  Every morning, I scatter a handful of scratch onto the floor of the run.  The scratch gets “lost” in the wood shavings and the chickens spend lots of time “scratching” for it.  This serves a few purposes.  First, the scratch metabolizes fast and gives them a quick energy boost for heat.  Second, it helps “satisfy” their need to forage.  Lastly, it helps keep their toe nails trimmed which will prevent overgrown  nails and potentially distorted feet in the future.  But remember, scratch should only be used as a treat.  It does not have the same nutritional requirements as regular layer feed.

I also supplement their layer feed with chopped up spinach, carrot peelings and tomatoes.  This is a great “nutritional” treat that will help to keep your chickens healthy in those non-free ranging months. I’ve also strung a cabbage up in the run from time to time and the chickens love to peck at it for hours.  Just remember, these foods should be given as “treats” with the primary food still being layer feed.

5)  Humidity

Animals in confined quarters that poop with the frequency of chickens can sure raise the humidity level in a coop.  Unfortunately, this can lead to frost bite on combs and wattles if the temperature is too low and the humidity is too high.  As stated earlier, it is essential that fresh air is circulated in the coop.  You don’t need a lot, just a bit of movement that replaces the stale moist air with fresh “drier” air.

Humidity can also be decreased by regularly cleaning up of poop in the coop.  Some folks use a drop board under the roost and that works great.  I just pick it up with a cat litter scooper every morning before heading off to work.

But if you really want to keep track of the humidity level in your coop, you could purchase a portable weather station and keep a sensor in the coop.  This will, not only let you read the relative humidity, but also inform you of the temperature in the coop.  I’m not embarrassed to say that I have checked the read out a few times on those nights when the temperature dipped down well below freezing!

-10C outside and 6.4C inside the coop at 7:54pm.  Nighty night girls!

-10C outside and 6.4C inside the coop at 7:54pm.

So….there you have it………..my 5 recommendations for healthy & productive hens throughout this coming winter.  I’m going into my second winter at City Boy Hens and I’m glad that my experiences from last year have taken a lot of the surprise out of Old Man Winter’s bag of tricks. I’m no expert, but I’ve learnt a lot from the Winter of 2012.  “So……… bring it on Old Man Winter!  We’re Ready!  Oh…and ladies….don’t you be worrying.  Just keep pumpin’ out those eggs……I ‘ve got you covered!”

*If you would like would like more information on my coop/run CLICK HERE.  Feel free to drop me a line if you have any further questions!  I will do my best to get back to you in a timely and knowledgeable manner.

Tucked and Hidden Away

Driving Miss Swifer: That Damn Hen Is Makin’ Trouble AGAIN!

Fall is in full swing in Northern Ontario.  It’s a great time for the family to head up to the cottage for a relaxing weekend and enjoy the colors of the changing leaves, cool crisp nights by the wood stove and some hearty comfort foods.  So off we went, beloved wife, dutiful son, non-egg eating daughter, protector dog and……..of course,…….the chickens.  If you are new to following City boy Hens, you may not be aware that we take the chickens to the cottage.  There’s no better way to get the freshest of eggs for a Sunday morning brunch!  Besides…….they too, according to my daughter,  have become part of our family!009 - Copy

For the most part, the hens are no trouble to take to the cottage.  They travel well in their homemade crate and generally rest during the 3 hour trip……….that is until…………….last weekend.039

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That weekend started out like every other weekend at the cottage.  The trip up North was uneventful and the hens spent their weekend roaming around the cottage property or down by the beach.

Running Down To The Beach.

Heading Down To The Beach.

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010When it was time to pack up on Sunday, I found Swiffer my herself behind the chicken ark in the run.  Generally, the 3 hens are inseparable, but I didn’t  give this too much thought as I picked her up and put her in the crate with Honda and Rosie.  After “buckling” them in, we headed South for the return trip home.

The drive was going along smoothly as beloved wife and myself shared some casual conversation until I heard a piercing scream from endearing daughter!

“Oh my God………..Swiffer laid an egg!……….AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH…………It’s splattred everywhere.    Holy $#!*…..Some of it got on my leg……….Oh my God……..they’re eating it!   Oh….this is sooooooo gross!”  Mom………I’m gonna’ puke!!!!!!!!  Dad…pull over RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!…….

  It turns out that Swiffer had, once again, managed to create pandemonium by just…… being Swiffer!  I guess it’s really not her fault.  It looks like she too is going to be following Honda’s lead and begin molting shortly.  As I learnt a few weeks ago, soft-shelled and crinkled eggs are generally a good sign that a hen will begin molting.

“Alright Swiffer, I just gotta’ know……….why’d you have to lay that “softie” in the van?  Couldn’t you have laid it in the coop like you do every morning?…………. Come on Swiffer…..ANSWER ME!……………Ok……don’t want to talk???????………..Hey Swiffer…….., look over to your right.  See that truck beside us?  Take a look at what’s in the back!  Yes, you are right…those are chickens, but they aren’t coming back home from the cottage like you.  They’re goin’ to visit the bad man called The Butcher!”111

On second thought, maybe I was a bit too hard on poor Miss Swiffer.   Maybe I scared her a bit too much because this soft-shelled, crinkled Ping-Pong ball was what she left me  the following morning.  “Ok Swiffer……I was just jokin’.  There really isn’t a bad man called The Butcher!………..Well…….there really isn’t one………… at least RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!”002

Guess Who Made It To Chickens Magazine This Month?

020If you guessed this City Boy, than you are correct!………..(ROARING APPLAUSE FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT)  ” I want to say thank you to the members of the Chicken Academy,………..  to my beloved wife, who has continued to step around chicken poop on the deck for the last year,………. to my dutiful son and non-egg eating daughter for tirelessly listening to “chicken stories “around the dinner table,……… to our dog Stanley, who continues to protect the  “flock” even in his senior years,……… and, of course, to Honda, Rosie & Swiffer for providing entertainment to you, the reader,  for the last 8 months.  But most of all, I’d like to thank Chickens Magazine for choosing my submission for the November/December 2013 issue”.

So without further adieu, here’s my submission:

Urban Renewal

A city boy finds solace in keeping chickens.

The 4 Amigos

I think of hens as pets that provide their owners nourishment every day. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my family’s dog, turtle, crayfish or deceased budgie and hamster. Don’t get me wrong, the dog does his job, but I’m not interested in eating what he leaves for me to pick up! As for the others, I never did see the purpose of getting additional pets, except to satisfy my kids’ pleading during momentary lapses in my own judgment.

Midlife Crisis

It’s fair to say that I am in the midst of a midlife crisis. For the first time in many years, the kids don’t require the attention they once did, and I now have some time to discover and pursue some of my own interests. However, I don’t want a tattoo. I don’t want a vintage car (I sold my sweet 1965 Ford Mustang a few years ago and don’t miss it for a moment). And I don’t want another woman, because I love my wife (and I don’t want to give up half of what I’ve accumulated over the last few decades!).

With that said, last year I found myself daydreaming about getting a few chicks. Looking back, I think it had something to do with the onset of spring combined with an early Easter.
I mulled it over and then started to sneak around the Internet to see if keeping chickens was something I could realistically pull off.

To further complicate matters, I didn’t have any agricultural experience, except for a three-week stint bailing hay on a farm in the summer after 10th grade. There weren’t even any chickens on that farm, just some cows and a headstrong bull. Anyways, a farmer I am not, though I did manage to speak to some people who raised chickens in rural areas. For the most part, they were polite, but there were a few raised eyebrows. I think I heard a few inside voices laughing at the “city boy who wanted to play farmer.”076

My Obsession

One day, I discovered a local garden center that sold day-old chicks. I left work that same day and headed straight to the garden center to take a look. I remember walking into the store and hearing the faint sound of peeps. I followed the sound until I came upon two brooders packed with tons of fluffy yellow chicks. I was totally hooked the moment I saw those chicks, and 10 minutes later, I was walking toward the front counter with two chicks, a brooder lamp, a waterer, grit and feed.

I like to think that I partially made the decision to get the chicks because it would be a positive learning experience for the kids. The reality is: I would have gotten them with or without the kids!

The Chicken Man Cometh

Fast forward four months to a hot morning in July when Honda, one of those fluffy chicks, now a hen, laid her first egg. I carried that egg around like a proud papa, waiting for my family to wake up.

When my daughter emerged from her bedroom, I showed her Honda’s accomplishment and told her we could share the first egg for breakfast. My daughter — the one who begged and pleaded for me to get chickens in the first place and who tenderly cuddled “her babies” in a blanket when they were young — looked up at me with complete disbelief and said, “I’m not going to eat that egg! Do you know where it came from? Besides, these are our pets, and I am not eating something that came from our pets.” (I know those rural folks are no longer laughing on the inside; I can hear them loud and clear!) To this day, my daughter “thinks” she doesn’t eat eggs from our hens; my wife tells her that her breakfast is made from “store-bought” eggs.109

More than a year has passed since that day in March, and we’ve covered a lot of ground. In that time, I built an extensive run and coop; trained Stanley (our Labrador Retriever) not to eat the hens; took the girls to our summer cottage for the entire season; successfully introduced Rosie (a third hen) into the flock; and survived owl, raccoon and hawk attacks. Winter is now in full swing, but the hens continue to each lay an egg every day. I never get tired of walking out each morning to fetch those eggs!

My extended family and friends think I’m a bit crazy to raise hens in the city. They’ve made plenty of jokes at my and my hens’ expense. I received a plastic egg-carrying case on Mother’s Day, some kind of gadget that makes hard-boiled eggs without the shell on my birthday and a baseball cap with a rooster stitched on the brim at Christmas. Friends and family seldom call me Rick anymore; I automatically respond when someone calls out to the -“chicken man.” It’s interesting, though, how all these hilarious people keep asking me for fresh eggs …

I can’t say for certain why I am so enthralled with my hens. As I mentioned before, maybe it has something to do with a midlife crisis, or maybe it’s just a need to step back into a simpler way of life. But, whatever the reason, I can tell you this: I’m having a blast!

Rick Andrews hales from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, two kids, dog, turtle, crayfish and three ISA Brown hens. Follow his urban chicken-keeping adventures at http://www.cityboyhens.com.

The BEST Sign That Your Hen is DONE Molting!

018I’ve been bragging about my chickens for over a year to pretty well anyone who will listen.  It has definitely become my favorite obsession!  The talk always turns to egg production and I start spelling off about how great these 3 sex-link hens are at pumping out eggs almost every day.   Well…low and behold, …..doesn’t Honda, our starting pitcher, stop laying eggs!

At first, I  thought it was a temporary slump.  Every Major League pitcher gets in a rut from time to time and maybe Honda just needed a bit of a rest from producing those large brown eggs each day.  But,…..as the days turned into  weeks, my concern continued to grow and the number of eggs in the egg carton continued to dwindle.  In  a momentary lapse of judgment, I even consider rationing my 83-year-old neighbor from the 3 farm fresh City Boy eggs that she receives each week.  Okay…listen……..before you start sending those off-color comments, I’ll have you know that I dismissed this panicked thought and Philomena continued to get her eggs.  Let’s just file that one under   “concerned ‘father’ not thinking too clear”.

Anyways, as the days turned into  weeks and my anxiety continued to grow, it was finally determined that Honda was in the process of molting.   Well…..7 long weeks later I am happy to report that my starting pitcher is back in business!  This morning I went out to the coop and there, nestled in some wood shavings, was THE BIGGEST FREAKIN’ EGG I HAVE EVER SEEN at City Boy Hens! 003 This egg is ginormous!  It weighs in at just under a quarter of a pound and is over 3 1/2  inches long.   Though I am not a Mother and I  did not give birth to our two children, I feel I may have enough common sense rattling around in my head to know that this must  have hurt like hell!

“Ok Honda……..listen…….you don’t need to be making up for lost time.  I understand  you feel that you may have let City Boy Hens down in the last 7 weeks, but rest assured, you couldn’t have helped it!  You ARE suppose to molt and take some time off in the process.  Don’t you be worrying that Philomena never got her 3 fresh eggs each week.  Rosie and Swiffer had you covered.  But, more importantly, don’t you be worrying that Swiffer is trying to move up in the rotation and dreaming of becoming the starting pitcher at City Boy Hens.  Sure, she hasn’t missed a day of laying in the last 5 weeks, but between you and me, she doesn’t have what it takes.  Besides,……look at the way that crazy hen is always acting…….laying those eggs in the garden, sometimes doing the “egg-song” at 5:30 am……..she’s crazy I tell you!  But more importantly, take a look at those Ping-Pong size eggs that she offers up to City Boy most days. They’re nothing compared to those beauties that you’ve made before.  Now,………. go hit the showers and take a nice long rest in a relaxing dust bath.  You’ve deserved it!

Oh….and Honda…….welcome back to the Majors………….  It tastes GREAT to have you back!044

The Case of the Mysterious Molt

Summer is winding down and the best season of the year is just around the corner.  Canning is in full swing,  cooler nights will make for great sleeping,  local produce is abundant in home gardens and farmer’s markets and……………THE EGG COUNT IS DOWN AT CITY BOY HENS!

018“OK Honda……….What’s going on?  I’ve only ever asked you to provide this City Boy with 1 farm fresh egg each day.  So what’s the problem?  I know that you take the occasional day off, but this is quite a stretch!  What is it?  Was there not enough watermelon on those extremely hot days?  Did you not get enough vacation time at the cottage this summer? 105 Are you jealous because you 3 ladies now have to share the limelight with the honeybees on the blog? 070“Come on Honda….out with it!   You did sooooooo GREAT over the last 12 months since that most excellent day back in July of last year when you laid your very first egg while vacationing at the cottage.  Since that day, you’ve hardly ever taken a day off and I know I wouldn’t be stretching the truth by telling everyone that you laid over 340 eggs in those 12 months.  You are a champ among champs! You always lead by example and Lord knows, Swiffer could sure use some learnin’ from those examples!”

“So what’s the problem?  You know that school will be starting up again shortly and those teenage kids of ours will be looking for some farm fresh eggs in the morning.  You know it’s important that they start their day off right so that they can hopefully absorb some of the lessons that their teachers are teaching.”

“Oh…and by the way……what’s up with those eggs you were laying just before you shut down the factory?  Were you gettin’ bored laying those beautiful large brown  eggs each day?  Just so you know…..I’m not impressed with the crinkled light-colored eggs or those soft-shelled ones that Swiffer has taken a liking to eating!”  Well…As Desi Arnaz would say… “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do”.002

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It turns out that Honda is the first of my 3 hens to go into molt.  During this time, the hormone levels in the hen dramatically change and enormous amounts of energy are used to produce new feathers.  Because feathers are made up of around 85% protein, something else in the “protein using department” has to suffer and egg production always takes the hit.  As a result, hens in molt generally ceases or dramatically slow down producing eggs.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was concerned in the beginning of this change.  At first, I thought Honda was sick.  You’ve got to remember that these hens are ISA Brown sex-links and they were bred to pump out eggs.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that these ISA Browns easily produce 340 eggs each in their first year of lay.

My biggest stumbling block  in not being able to recognize molt was that Honda was not loosing many feathers.  Sure, there were a few here or there, but nothing like I had read from other folks.  So after fretting for about a week (Ya…I’m ok with letting you know that I did worry about my chicken!) I contacted an acquaintance of mine who just happens to be a Chicken Vet.  Mike helped me rule out disease, suggested the strong possibility of molt and offered the following info on the change in Honda’s egg shape and color:  “The color is the last thing to be added to the egg, so the mottled egg, as well as the wrinkled shell indicates an interruption in her lay cycle….the egg didn’t travel through her reproductive tract at the speed it should have…..it went too quickly.  Eggs start out as membrane covered sacs of yolk and protein, then get filled with water and “plumped” out.  If the passage through the oviduct is too quick, the plumping out is incomplete, and this results in wrinkled eggs.  The excess speed also messes with pigmentation, explaining the color.”

In a nut shell, Mike was informing me that Honda was “rushing” her egg development on the days when her body was trying to muster up enough strength to create an egg during this stressful period. As a result, she ended up laying eggs that were either soft-shelled, crinkled, or lighter in color.  I guess this is a testament to sex-link hens.  Even amidst such  dramatic hormonal changes, my girl still tried her best to come through with the goods!

“Well Honda…..It’s been around 7 weeks since we’ve had one of your delicious offerings.  In case you forgot……here’s what you looked like when you were the starting pitcher at City Boy Hens………….  In the mean time…Rosie’s warming up in the bull-pen and Swiffer’s Ping-Pong ball contributions are lookin’ pretty good from here!  Oh…..and Mike….thanks again for your help.  You are “just down the road” from City Boy Hens.  I hope you’ll stop in and I can re-pay you with a beer or 2 and some homemade salami, olives & cheese.

Honda gettin' busy!

Honda gettin’ busy!

Keeping Your Chickens Cool In The Summer

069Summer……….  A time to hopefully slow down, take a vacation and BEAT THE HEAT!  As I say to most people, I like the summer when there is no humidity.  Unfortunately, many summer days are accompanied by high humidity in Southern Ontario.  On those days, it’s hard to want to do much more than stay in the house where the air conditioner keeps us cool.

For the chickens…….it’s a whole other story.  Imagine someone telling you to go outside in 90 degree heat, continue your daily routine AND WEAR A DOWN COAT that must cover you from head to toe.  Oh…I forgot to mention…lay an egg while you’re at it!  Whew… I’m getting hot just thinking about it.

So….here’s a few tell-tale signs to let you know that your chickens are getting over-heated.   When you see them walking or resting with their wings spread out, you know they are hot.   When you see them this way, they are trying to expel some body heat from  underneath their wings.  This is definitely a place where heat collects on a chicken. If you don’t believe me, stick you hand under the wing next winter and feel how toasty that spot is on a chicken.

Secondly, they will continue to keep their mouth open as another way to dispel heat.  It’s kind of like the way a dog  pants when he/she becomes too hot.  Below is a picture of Swiffer who is definitely hot.  She has found a spot on the deck where she is attempting to cool off underneath a deck chair.

Holy @$#! It's HOT

Holy @$#! it’s HOT

So here’s a few things you can do to make your chickens more comfortable during the dog days of summer.

1)  Make sure that they remain hydrated by providing lots of fresh water.  You may be surprised at how much water they will drink on a very warm day.  The volume can almost double on such days.001

2)  Make sure they have somewhere to go in order to get out of the sun.  Our backyard has plenty of shade from large trees and the hens spend a lot of their free ranging time in this location on those days.001

3)  Substitute daily vegetable treats with some watermelon.   But, remember….the treat is only a supplement to the daily feed.  Too many treats and the egg count could go down.  As well, too much watermelon and you may have a chicken that gets the trots.  In the picture below, my hens breezed through the watermelon wedge in a few minutes.015

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4)  Withhold from giving any scratch on hot days.  On most mornings, I like to throw some scratch into the run because the hens do not have the opportunity to free range.  This thing called work  gets in the way. Anyways,   the scratch allows the chickens to do some foraging throughout the day.   But, scratch is high in calories and has the effect of increasing internal body temperature.  Hence, it is great to use on winter mornings and evenings to help your hens stay warm, but it is not a good option for hot days.

5)  Head up to the cottage for some R&R.  You’ll continue to get fresh eggs and the hens will get the chance to hit the beach.  What????  What else am I suppose to do with them?   Leave them behind????  For more on taking your chickens on vacation, click HERE.050

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6)  Finally, when the wife isn’t home……..let the girls in for a little free ranging in the comfort of your air-conditioned home!  Before you know it, they’ll be up on the couch consoling you as you watch  The Blue Jays blow another attempt at The Division Championship..  Ok……I was just joking about the chickens in the house.   ” I promise Hun, the chickens have never been in the house! I was just writing this for dramatic effect.  You know…..A great way to keep your reader interested…………………….  I know there was that time when Stanley (our dog) managed to open the screen door by himself …but I’m working on training him to close it!”.001

Death to the Horse Flies!

030A decree has been sent out from the Lord Of The Cottage Manor.  He has grown tired of the horse flies inflicting pain on his loyal subjects and himself as they frolic around the rejuvenating waters of the cottage lake.008  “From now on….. the Horse Flies will no longer be allowed to feast on the King and his loyal (well…mostly loyal) subjects. 039  There will be NO MORE free lunches while the family and I are out frolicking in and around the cottage waters.  No more swatting, shooshing, or pleading for your departure.  From this day forward, ALL horse flies who are caught feasting on the King or his subjects will meet their demise via………………………………..041

DEATH-DEALING,……………….BLOOD-THIRSTY…………..

FEROCIOUS……………………………….CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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Whew…..I feel better already.  Now just another 5, 653, 241 more to go in order to rid the kingdom of these pests!

 

Don’t You Take Your Chickens On VACATION?

“Ok, lets load ’em up.  Honda And Swiffer….You know the routine.   Help Rosie along and make sure that she doesn’t get the spot beside Stanley.002  OK….everyone , stop fighting over the window seat.  Everyone strapped in?   Okay……lets head NORTH!”

The chickens are coming up to the cottage with us for the first time this season.  For Rosie, it will be a brand new experience because she wasn’t a member of City Boy Hens last summer.  Maybe it’s a brand new experience for the veterans as well.  I’m not sure what level of memory retention can be had when you only have a brain the size of a cashew nut.

So into the van we all went.  Wife, son, son’s friend, daughter, dog, 3 chickens and myself.027

The upside to bringing the chickens to the cottage is that I’ll have something to write about for  the blog and we will continue to enjoy farm fresh eggs at the cottage.  The down side is that 5 people and one dog, crammed into tight quarters with 3 chickens who are known for frequent defecation, may not be the best recipe for a pleasant 3 hour  drive on a humid evening.  It’s not too bad for my wife and myself because the chickens will be positioned behind our seats and our windows will be WIDE OPEN.  For the kids…it’s another matter.

Those rear windows in a mini van are not designed to roll down.  All that you can get in terms of ventilation is a slightly cracked window that only opens up an inch from the side.  I’m sure it’s a safety feature, but the person who designed this van was definitely not thinking of the possibility that MAYBE someone some day might want to transport a few chickens to the cottage in this vehicle!

In order to help with the poop volume, I tried something different this year.  I intentionally withheld feed for 3 hours prior to  our cottage departure.  I read in a post by a chicken vet that it takes 3 hours for food to move from beak to butt in a chicken.  My girls must be Olympic gold medal contenders because, when we  stopped halfway through our journey for refreshments, I was met with numerous demands from the “rear passengers”  to pick out the chicken turds in the bottom of the cage.  Okay…we’re not talking a dozen or so…..just 3-4 turds.   Boy…those city kids!

Are We Almost There?

Are We Almost There?

Are We.......Almost....There.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Are We…….Almost….There…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anyways, transportation was successful and the chickens hunkered down in their cottage ark for the night.004

The following morning, I was up bright and early to let the girls out of the Ark into their pen.  There was no way I was letting anyone out for some free ranging until there were 3 eggs in the nest box.  If you’ve followed me before, you may remember  that Swiffer has taken  to sometimes laying her eggs in the backyard.   Here at the cottage, there is almost an acre of land for the chickens to roam and there’s no way that I’m looking over the entire property for an egg!  But, much to my surprise, nestled tightly together,  were 3 warm eggs in the nest box.044  The chickens just looked at me as if to say “Well…..what else did you expect?”. I’m not sure, but I think I heard someone say “Ok…..now can we finally get out and head down to the beach and explore????????????”072

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Ah….Hello???? Easter was a while ago SWIFFER!!!!!!

002The egg count has been a little low for the past  few weeks and guess who’s not putting forth a regular contribution to City Boy Hens.  If you guessed Swiffer.. then you are correct.  Now, I know there’s going to be a few of you out there who will be sure to defend Swiffer by asking how I know that it is she that is not laying.

Well…as any self-respecting chicken owner will attest, I can tell which hen lays each particular egg. It also helps that I only have 3 hens on my urban homestead.   At City Boy Hens, Honda lays a large egg that is slightly elongated.  Rosie’s contribution is gigantic (extra-large) and Swiffer lays an egg that is not too far off from the size of a Ping-Pong ball.  Okay…I may be exaggerating a bit, but it is definitely the SMALLEST egg each day!011

So.. in the last few weeks, some of the “smallest” eggs have been missing from the coop. Initially, I thought it was odd that Swiffer would be slowing down so soon, considering that she only began laying last October.  But then again, nothing that Swiffer does is too surprising because she has always been a bit of a strange chicken.

Anyways, this morning I went out to feed the hens and collect the eggs.  As I walked past the cedar hedge, something caught my eye.  There, nestled around some dried leaves was…..an egg….THE SIZE OF A PING PONG BALL!!!!!!   There was no second guessing.  This was Swiffer’s egg!002

Well…Swiffer, you’ve managed to lower the bar AGAIN!!! Now….. you’ve taken it upon yourself to not even bother to lay your egg in the coop.  What’s the problem?  Are the “digs” not good enough for you?  Feel like your slummin’ it at City Boy Hens?092It’s bad enough that you won’t use the nest box, but now you’ve taken it upon yourself to just start dropping your eggs around the backyard where ever you see fit!  Ah…..Hello???? The backyard is not even that big.  I’ve seen how far you can run when I come out with some vegetable snacks.  Surely, you could waddle your lazy ass back over to the coop in order to deposit your egg.

Is this some kind of joke??????  Do you think I’m going to start a covert operation every day in order to find your egg?????  Is this some kind of Easter Egg prank????  It’s bad enough that you picked on Rosie for a month, that you took forever to actually start laying eggs and that you lay the SMALLEST EGG every day, but now you are going to hide them for me to find.  Let me tell you what’s coming down the pipe.  Look into the crystal ball.  Do you see a large soup pot with a fresh free-range chicken flavoring the broth?  No???????????……………..  LOOK CLOSER!!!!!!

In the mean time…all free-ranging for you will be strictly curtailed until one Ping-Pong sized egg appears in the coop each day.  No egg………no recreation time!  The decision is yours.  Man…I can’t believe you……….even after I wrote a great post about you last week!006