An Apology To Swiffer

006“Ok Swiffer……..I’m gonna’ do the right thing,…….take the higher road………and say……………I’m sorry!  I’m sorry for all the times I cursed your name, for all the times that I  labeled you as the trouble making hen in my small flock of three……………but most of all……..I’m sorry for making fun of those  Ping -Pong ball size eggs that you laid for almost 3 years. 

But…come on….you got to cut me a bit of slack……..It’s not like you were the picture of innocence.  Wasn’t it you who would start squawking the ‘egg-song’ at 5am on those summer mornings?   Wasn’t it you who splattered that soft shell egg all over endearing daughter’s leg as we drove back from the cottage in a van packed to the gills? 

Damn straight it was you!  And……as for those Ping-Pong size eggs that looked more like they came from a quail than a chicken……………. I say…………. THANK YOU!  As it stands, you’re my only girl who continues to lay after 3 years of age.  I don’t even care that you now take some pretty long breaks between your streaks.  It’s just nice to go into the coop from time to time and find one of those Ping-Pong size eggs sitting all by itself in the nest box.  Way to go girl.  You’ve now been given the role as the designated hitter at City Boy Hens………..Congratulations!

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Raising Backyard Chickens -Italian Style!

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What started out as a short video about raising backyard chickens really grew into an elaborate production from its inception 18 long months ago.  In the fall of 2012, I asked my cugino Davide (cousin Dave)  if he wanted to make a short video on raising backyard chickens. He not only accepted, but took the project to a level that I had never imagined.  What follows is a 9 minute video on how to raise backyard chickens – Italian Style.  Why Italian style?????????????  Well…….I’ve got Italian blood runnin’ through my veins; though it has been thinned out over the generations and I thought that some humor would bring a bit of flavor to the topic.

If you are just starting out with backyard chickens………… than I hope I can help you along the way.  If you’re a seasoned veteran…….well……… I hope I can bring a laugh to you day!

Thanks to cugino Davide for making this video.  You did a fantastic job!  Thanks also to cugino Dino for playing the mandolin, accordion and drums in the opening number.  You are a multi-talented musician.   Thanks to cugino Damiano for his rendition of an old family folk song at the close of the video.  That song still cracks me up!  But most of all, thanks Nono for the memory of those backyard hens you kept when I was a small boy.  Who would have thought that this childhood memory would have grown into City Boy Hens!!

I hope you all enjoy!

City Boy Cartoon

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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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A Year in Review

Well…..we made it through a year.  The hens have officially been at City Boy Hens for the last 13 months.  For me…it’s a big deal.  Not because the hens are 1 year old, but rather, I or something else, haven’t managed to kill them in that time.   In the last 12 months, they have survived cat and owl attacks, an attempted break in by a raccoon, one weasel close call at the cottage and two red tail hawks that continue to circle the backyard at home looking for a take-out chicken dinner!

The hens have also moved from their first accommodation – The Chicken Ark- which I made last Spring, to  permanent swanky digs that didn’t have to be moved around the yard each day. They, like the Jeffersons, were “Movin’ on up!”

Portable chicken ark.

Portable chicken ark.

The Run

I kept the new digs toasty throughout the Winter by constructing a well insulated coop which generated heat via a 100 watt lightbulb.  The light was on for the better part of the day and this kept the eggs and drinker from freezing. If you would like more info on these accommodations, check out my page: https://cityboyhens.com/laying-eggs/coop-run-requirements/

There are still no signs of  lice or mites on the hens and our dog, Stanley, has yet to develop a taste for raw chicken.  The transition to the cottage in the summer was pretty easy except for some stinky poop on the way up and some aggravated hens who wouldn’t stop squawking when we stopped for a burger.  As I have said before, they love meat!

As Spring continues to tease us with the expectation of warmer and dryer days, I look forward to returning to the cottage in the months to come and watching the hens free ranging down at the beach.  In the mean time, the neighbours at home continue to get the freshest of eggs when there’s surplus and my friend Ted continues to call me the Chicken Man.

I guess it’s like anything in life.  You reap what you sow.  With that said, wouldn’t it be easier to just get some eggs, salami, cookies, pickles or whatever at the grocery store?  From a time perspective, the answer is yes.  But, I’ve learned a lot in my trade-off with time.  Satisfaction, pride in accomplishments, successes with small failures, and the opportunity to share with family and friends have made every moment worth while.  I’ve also met a lot of great people all the way and it is great getting to know you all.

My blog has been up and running for the last few months and I am amazed at the interest.  It has gone to places in the world that I will never reach.  Thanks to all for spending some of your valuable time at City Boy Hens.  As Spring unfolds, I look forward to sharing the progression of my  vegetable garden at the cottage and  some canning posts on making jams and preserving asparagus, peaches, pears, olives, peppers and more as we move into summer.canning

So….the hens are one year old.  Though they all started laying at different times, I think we’ve received around 650 eggs and counting since Honda got the ball rolling last July!  In the end, we’ve all survived.  In fact, I believe we thrived!  My only regret…….the odd Saturday sleep in to 8 o’clock would have been great!

1 Week's Work!

1 Week’s Work!

Making Salami

018I have waited patiently over the last 4 weeks to taste the salami that Mike and I made 4 long weeks ago.  During the last 4 weeks, I have nurtured those “babies” in my cantina; making sure to provide the correct temperature and humidity that will create the right environment for curing these delicious insaccati treats.  Well…the tasting time arrived last night and I am proud to say….. “Home run!”

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Week 4

It was definitely worth the wait and effort.  A big thank you to Don for all his patience in my emails during the last month.  As you fellow bloggers have discovered, we meet great people on our road to success.  Don, you were a great source of knowledge to me and I am grateful for your help.  I hope you take me up on the offer of a dozen fresh eggs from the “girls”.

If you would like a detailed explanation for making City Boy Salami click HERE.

Well….I can now tick off salami from my list of foods I want to make!  Maybe next year, we’ll try our hands at capicola or prosciutto.  Until then, I look forward to sharing these delicious treats with family and friends, over a glass of wine with some cheese and homemade olives.   Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how you made out with this great tradition from our past.

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