Friday, July 30, 2010

Taking a life

Until owning chickens, I never imagined I'd someday be put in the position of "playing god" - deciding who gets to live and who dies.

It's awful, I hate it and yet it's part of being a good flock mommy... I just wish it wasn't so heartbreaking.

I love each and every one of them so much, and so fast.

From the minute they are born, from the minute they arrive here from other places: they are all unique, beautiful, endearing creatures that I hope, I wish, I pray will live forever...

...until they get sick and I have to be cruel to be kind.

Born with an incurable deformity that would not allow them to live a pain-free life. Accidental injuries that lead to paralysis. Incurable diseases or sickness that meds won't cure. Cancer. Failing organs. Predators that maim fatally but don't finish the job.

If you're considering getting chickens I advise you to think really hard about this dark side.

Would you be willing and capable of taking a life out of love and kindness, to ease suffering? If not, do you know someone who can help you with the deed (like my husband Vegas, thank goodness for him because culling breaks me into inconsolable pieces)?

Because this is real life, and this is real death.

And you will be faced with it.

How will you handle it?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scratch for thought

I have often noticed that
when chickens quit quarreling over their food
they often find that there is enough for all of them.
I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.
~Don Marquis

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Favorite treats

Includes the below, but not limited to:
  • cooked pasta, specially spaghetti
  • cooked rice, oatmeal, any grains really
  • bread, any kind
  • dinner leftovers, any kind - mmm cold pizza!
  • black oiled sunflower seeds
  • meat, cooked or raw
  • chunks of fruit: melons and grapes are favorites
  • most veggies (cabbage head, lettuce and bean sprouts are a hit)
  • grass and weeds
What they don't like:
  • cooked potatoes (but they love fries)
  • big chunks of hard cooked veggies
  • raw fish
  • citrus
So basically I have about 50 little composting machines in my back yard, some of whom give me nice tasty eggs in return - how is this not cool? LOL!

-Technodoll aka Foody Mama Hen

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hen Of The Day

Meet little Cupcake:

She is a Sultan x Silkie cross, about 4 months old now.
I should have named her "Poofy Head Snow Shoes" - LOL!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chicken fact #84

The chicken is T-rex's closest living relative!

It's true!

Scientists have at last uncovered the closest living relative of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, the most feared and famous of all the dinosaurs. For the first time, researchers have managed to sequence proteins from the long-extinct creature, leading them to the discovery that many of the molecules show a remarkable similarity to those of the humble chicken.

Curious? Then click here to read the rest of the article!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Aurevoir little nuts!

Peanut and Cashew went to a new family this morning, they should be very happy and spoiled there - I will miss them but I cannot keep so many roos, it's sad that they didn't turn out to be girls... In exchange the lady gave me a lovely white pullet (young hen) so I'm quite happy about the whole thing.

Aren't they cute? :)

I also re-homed another young, mixed roo that I wasn't fond of so that makes a bit more breathing room for the remaining flock.

Updated on the newly-hatched babies: we kept four and they are doing super well! I'll try to take pics tomorrow and post them up, total cuteness overload! They were baptized Clover, Muffin, Honey and Cheddar, LOL.

-Technodoll aka Adventurous Mama Hen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loved, forever

A very sad event happened on Sunday... we lost one of our beloved and very special roos, Phoenix... I still am not over his death :-(

I posted about him in my other blog, please click this link for more: Goodbye, sweet boy

Heaven has gained another angel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

16 babies and counting :)

Here are our early arrivals!

Aren't they the sweetest?

They're under a heat lamp and snuggling up to a stuffed toy, hence the yellow coloring - I'll try to take pics of them in natural light soon:

We may have a couple more hatchlings today if all goes well.

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The babies are coming!

Wheee!

We have a bunch of eggs already pipping in the incubator, a whole day early!

So exciting!

Will take pics of the newborns once they're here and share all the fluffy love with you guys - stay tuned!

-Technodoll aka Excited Mama Hen

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I love my roos

I love my boys, but I just wish I didn't have quite so many - sigh. Now comes the time to make the very difficult decision on who stays and who goes... And no, I cannot keep them all as they fight over girls, they crow and bother the neighbors, they eat and poop without ever laying any eggs - sad, but it's the way nature made it.

This is Ti-Lou, one of my favorites - he stays!
(in the background is Jericho, he stays too)

Mom? Am I not sweet and cute?

It looks like we're heading into a week of rain, a welcome relief from the sweltering heat and pounding sunshine - but with that comes soggy chickens and flooded runs.

I hope the water drowns out all those annoying flies! Yey!

-Technodoll aka Mama Hen

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is this egg fried enough for ya?

I've been having abnormal cravings for fried eggs lately, but not just any kind of fried egg.... A DEEP fried egg... Mainly, one of these... I've never had one but oh! I'll bet it's delicious! CRAVING!

It's a Scotch Egg... a hardboiled egg encased in sausage meat,
rolled in breadcrumbs and then fried. fried. fried.

I would accompany the meal with one of these,
cuz you need "some" greens - LOL!

I'd end the meal with a deep-fried Cadbury Cream Egg :-D

So... anybody wanna come over for dinner?

Tee hee!

Monday, July 12, 2010

On hard-boiled eggs

Ah! Summertime!

When humans flop around in pools like fish and chickens pants like dogs - what's not to love? LOL

No dramahs to report: the cute two new peepers Mango and Peach are starting to show their personalities (rambunctious!), half the big girls are still slacking in the egg-laying department but I can't blame them in this heat... nobody wants hard-boiled eggs popping out of their butt.

Speaking of eggs and boiling water, did you know that the fresher an egg is the more impossible it is to peel? Yep, s'true. You have to wait for an egg to "age" a few weeks before hard-boiling it or good luck trying to peel the sucker without losing half the white!

I found this on the innernets, if you care to read...

"With eggs that are just a day or two old, the membrane beneath the shell sticks tightly to the shell making peeling the egg almost impossible. After a few days in the refrigerator the egg becomes easier to peel. Why is this?

In fresh eggs the albumen sticks to the inner shell membrane more strongly than it sticks to itself because of the more acidic environment of the egg. The white of a freshly laid egg has a pH between 7.6 and 7.9 and an opalescent (cloudy) appearance due to the presence of carbon dioxide. After the protective coat is washed off the egg shell the egg becomes porous and begins to absorb air and loose some carbon dioxide contained in the albumen. This reduces the acidity of the egg which causes (after several days in the refrigerator) the pH to increase to around 9.2. At higher pH the inner membrane does not stick as much to the albumen so the shell peels off easier. In addition, as the egg gets older it will shrink and the air space between the egg shell and the membrane will get larger.


Research shows that the reduced acidity helps with peeling. The tradeoff, however, is that in older eggs the yolk tends to move further from being centered. This happens because the white gets thinner and is less able to hold the yolk in place. The best compromise is to use eggs that have been stored on their sides in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days."

Note that they say "7 to 10 days" but that is taking into account that the eggs you buy from the grocery store are already a couple (if not more) weeks old when they hit the shelves - I know, I know - yecch!

Hope you enjoyed today's little lesson!

-Technodoll aka Teacher Mama Hen

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Well...!

It looks like Mango could be a girl, which would be AWESOME! Two girls are what we need for our little roo Tyler... Ah, crossing fingers!

Have to be patient, wait and see.

Today the weather is granting us a bit of respite between two massive heat waves... It's humid but it rained last night so it's a few degrees cooler, plus the skies are semi-cloudy today - makes chickens happy, very happy indeed!

I grabbed this chance to clean out all the coops and put down fresh bedding, I won't tell you how many buckets of crap I hauled out to the compost heap or how many gallons of sweat flew off my brow but it's done now and everyone should be a bit drier and those legions of flies can scram now, the buffet is closed! LOL

Stupid flies.

I'll post more pics of the cuties soon, do stay tuned!

-Technodoll aka Sweaty Mama Hen

Friday, July 9, 2010

Look at these baaabies!

Meet my two new arrivals, a pair of partridge bantam cochins:
Mango and Kiwi

Aren't they the cutest, tiniest things? :-D

They were supposed to be two girls though, so I'm not sure if I should keep Mango or swap him out for a girl... or two... I wrote to the breeder and will see what he says. It's a long drive but I have too many roos here - sigh. I love them both already, so heartbreaking!

Life is like a box of eggs... you never know what chickens you're gonna get!

-Technodoll aka Mama Hen

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stables: 1, chickens: 0

Well, that was a fiasco!

Yesterday morning, because of the sweltering heat, I moved a flock out of their boiling coop into one of the horse boxes in the stables, thinking they would be cooler there. Which they were, for a while.

Since the whole week is sweltering hot I wanted to leave them there for a few days but they share the space with horses who generate a lot of heat.

In the evening, because of predators, we had to close all the doors and the stable windows don't open... so... hot, no air circulation despite a box fan near them, blah hellish!

The poor birds were panting and pacing, no roosts to perch on for the night (since this was an improvised move nothing was set up properly...) - and this is when the problems started!

Some of the chickens had the brilliant idea of flying up to perch on the rafters - how they got up that high I have no idea - and two of them managed to escape through the 2 x 4 wire mesh into the barn. I found them in time, put them back in their area, set up some temporary plank perches with the help of the neighbor and thought they'd be OK for the night.

Never bank on a chicken's brain when instinct takes over :-o

At 10:30pm something told me to go check on them so I asked hubby Vegas to please come with me, the dark isn't my thing with all sorts of creatures going bump in the night.

We found two birds firmly tangled up in the wire mesh wall, panting and overheated, struggling to get free.

Idiots!!

Imagine if we hadn't found them in time?

I'd have lost two birds to an agonizing death :(

So after freeing them both and cooling them down (they're fine by the way!) Vegas and I carried the whole lot - about 16 of them - back to their coop which at least has predator-proof windows to let some night air in. They'll just have to endure this heat one way or the other, what else can we do?

I put a box fan on the floor of their coop in the hope it would help cool them down and I've got some blocks of ice chilling in the freezer right now, I'll set those down in a big bowl for them later this afternoon.

Weather extremes are the pits!

-Technodoll aka Worried Mama Hen

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This heat can eff off!

OMG, it is soooo hot!!

We're suffering through a super long and super aggressive muggy heat wave for about 10 days, we haven't even hit the worst of it yet and I don't know how we're all going to cope...

Chickens are fragile and can die of the heat, I'm terrified of losing my babies!

If the heat doesn't let up they'll all soon look like this!

This morning I had to move one of the flocks from their sweltering coop to a corner of the stables, where it's a tiny bit less hot. In the process of hauling birds from one place to another (7 trips, tiny plastic dog carrier, bla bla bla) I got heat stroke myself and feel nauseous from a too-high inner core temperature.

Now I'm lucky, I have the luxury of hopping into a cold shower... but my poor birds, how to cool them off? They won't go near water like ducks do so all they have is shade and bowls of water that I try to change often.

I think I got a couple of hard-boiled eggs in the nests this morning.

Is it autumn yet?

-Technodoll aka Worried Mama Hen :(

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Can you say cute, or what!

This blog isn't all about drahma, rotten eggs and cock wars, oh no!

It also about the cute, the way cute and the ├╝ber-cute! For example, this little sweetie was a late Valentine's baby (hatched February 15th), we were sure it was a girl so named her Phoebe:

Even at three weeks old we were still on the fence...
Boy or girl?

But then a bit later Jericho told us
to ditch the name Phoebe cuz he was all roo!

And look at this handsome boy today,
not even 5 months old and such a romeo!

He still has a bit of growing (and crowing... oh gad the crowing) going on so it will be interesting to see what he looks like when fully mature by the winter. Thankfully he's a real sweetheart so he gets to stay chez Techno Flock!

And that's my story for today :-)

-Technodoll aka Mama Hen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Subterfuge!

It looks like I've been duped...

I hatched three wee ones on Mother's Day (terrible birth rate, don't get me started...) and I was celebrating the fact that I had three gorgeous girls! We love girls! Lovely Annabella, Peanut and Cashew :)

But alas, Peanut is definitely a boy and Cashew is probably one, too...

*sobs*

I have to wait a few more weeks for final confirmation but it looks dire, folks. I need a miracle! I can keep only one roo from this breeding as the genetics are exceptional - but which one?!

Little Peanut, posing cuz he can:

Typical boy, so impatient - LOL!

My lovely sweet-as-sugar Annabella on the left,
gorgeous Cashew on the right:

I don't have a choice but to wait it out, time will tell who's really a boy and who has the sweetest temperament. Both nuts have the same parents so it's gonna be super tough deciding WHO to keep if they're both roos.

Ah! Drahma!

-Technodoll aka Mother Hen

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bye-bye, bad boy... sigh :-(

I got a phone call yesterday for Casper - yey! Looks like Mister Badass is going to a new home later tonight, the guy has a yard full of hens looking for a big macho roo... Well, they're going to get their feathers' worth!

It does sadden me though... Casper was THE sweetest roo, I mean look at this cute baaaaaby! Gentle as a lamb!

He was always super friendly and sweet, followed me around like a puppy and loved to climb on my lap for cuddles... Oh, those were the days. Sniff.

Then he grew into a huge screeching biting t-rex with raging hormones - I just cannot trust him anymore, he scares me (and I have the scabby welts on my legs to prove it). Only four months old with lots of growing yet to do, too - he's better off with someone who can handle such a beast. Zero tolerance for aggressive animals here, too bad so sad :(

Still... isn't he so handsome?

I can only hope that his new owner treats him with kindness and respect, but there is no way to know anything for sure. If he's destined for the stew pot, at least I'll have done my very best to give him a good and spoiled life until then.

Owning chickens... not for the faint of heart.

Sigh.

Anybody got a box of tissues for me??

-Technodoll aka Mother Hen

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's the jail-box for you, Miss Violet!

Yep, my blue cochin girl, Violet, has got raging hormones... again!! Third time in less than two months! Gooaaaaahhhh! Stinkin' broodiness!

She's on PMS, folks!
Grrrrr baby grrrr!

Stink eye: she gots it!

So, when a hen goes broody* she walks around puffed up like a feather duster, makes deep-throated cluck-cluck-cluck noises which turn to high-pitched screeches if another girl approaches her (Oh don't you DARE get close to me, bitch, na-hah!), she won't get out of the nesting boxes, she stops laying eggs but tries to steal everyone else's - and this can last for weeks on end if not... corrected.

The fastest and most humane way to snap those hormones back in place?

Jail. Yep, sad but true.

You build a small cage with a wire bottom and let the silly hen fester in there for three to five days with nothing but food and water. No free-ranging, no cozy nest, no bedding - just cold air hitting her butt 24/7. Stubborn cases take up to a week but Violet's hormones have been re-set twice before in about five days... I hope this time isn't longer, it makes me feel like such a crappy mom :-/

The cherry on the cake? Broodiness is contagious. When one sets off you can bet your cracked egg there'll be another one or two in the lot whose hormones also go bezerk.

I have a lineup waiting for that jail box!

*going broody: hormones dictating that it's time to sit on a clutch of eggs until chicks are born, which takes weeks!

I need this hen! LOL

That's it for today's drahma... Besides my mean roo Casper nearly biting one of my fingers off as I refilled his food last night - yey for garden gloves - little does that little bastard know that bite cost his sale price to drop by half!

Anybody want to buy a huge, biting roo for $5???

*crossing fingers and toes that someone responds to my online ads! PLEASE!*

Happy Thursday!

-Technodoll aka Mother Hen With Zero Tolerance For Mean Birds