Follow our adventures

Follow our adventures as we raise a tiny flock of chickens in suburban Bexley, Ohio.
Our chicken bloggers include Tami Taylor, a Welsummer, and Tyra, a Jersey Giant.
RIP, Betty, Joan, Sally & Peggy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not so stinkin' cold today

It's a little warmer today, perfect for cleaning the coop & taking some overdue photos.

Notice Peggy in the back of the one up top: "What you talkin' about, Willis?"

And Betty here has mastered the disapproving glare.





Thursday, December 9, 2010

SUCCESS!

A giant THANK YOU to the citizens of Bexley & our City Council for passing an excellent set of revised pet ordinances last night. Our chickens are now legislated.
Here's the rules (more details to come soon, when I have more time):

-No roosters
-No selling eggs
-Must have a coop that's shielded from the street in front of your house
-No more than 5 combined dogs, cats, chickens (with not more than 3 dogs) per household
-Must get a permit within 6o days

The permit process is TBA, but it'll be free and most likely low key. Basically, if you have the good sense to figure out how to keep your chickens healthy and happy, you'll be fine.

HOORAY!
This was not the most important issue that Council discussed yesterday, so it was dealt with pretty quickly and matter-of-factly.

This new pair of ordinances makes Bexley one of the most chicken-friendly suburbs around.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snow Chickens

Did Disney ever make Snow Chickens? They should've. It turns out the girls love the snow. I'm pretty sure they think the flakes are falling bugs - regardless, they're into it.
So far winter hasn't fazed them. Their water is often frozen by morning, but a gravity-waterer full of tap-hot water in the morning seems to stay liquid through the day.

Yesterday I stopped by the feed store and bought the last chick-feed these ladies will need. Next up: layer mash! I also got 50 lbs of scratch (~$15) & a heated dog bowl (~$25) in case it gets really cold. I'm not sure how the dog bowl will work, exactly. I'd envisioned setting the chicken waterer into the bowl, but the bowl is too small. And just setting water out in the dog bowl would result in fouled (fowled?) water in about 20 seconds flat. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raising Chickens is like Chairing an Academic Department

A friend at work sent me this link--perfectly appropriate, since I am, like the author of the article, an academic department chair and a chicken farmer. I can't say I've thought of the one role illuminating the other, but perhaps there's something to that thought.

Enjoy!

http://chronicle.com/article/From-Department-Head-to/125431/

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bexley Soon May Allow Urban Chicken Farming | NBC 4i

This is a brief story on our progress with chicken regulation in Bexley. All is going very well, thanks to the excellent work of the Bexley City Council. You can see me and Jessica and (less visible) Dana sitting in the city council audience.

Bexley Soon May Allow Urban Chicken Farming | NBC 4i

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another reason not to buy grocery-store eggs

The Dispatch reports: One of the nation's largest egg distributors has issued a recall after evidence of salmonella was discovered at an Ohio farm that was the source of the eggs. 288,000 eggs from Ohio Fresh Eggs were recalled after a test showed salmonella at one of the barns at the company's Croton complex near Hartford in Licking County.
Read more here.

While we're waiting for our ladies to start laying, we'll continue to buy our eggs from farmers we know & trust (like the guy who sells eggs on Wednesdays outside the Bexley Food Coop).

p.s. Our hens were on channel 10 last night around 6pm!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Awesome Meeting! Tons of support for Bexley chickens!


The city council zoning commission meeting tonight was a great success. Over and over again I'm impressed with how open to creating fair legislation our City Council has been. The process has, thus far, been shockingly amicable. For 45 minutes council heard from citizens who came to show their support (no one spoke against allowing chickens). I bet there were over 50 people there. Not everyone got to speak, but everyone listened respectfully.

Cathy (a new friend that we met at the meeting) gave Andrew & me the most awesome, most hilarious, porcelain music box with a woman & a man holding a chicken. She found it at a thrift shop and brought it in case we were there tonight! I think the man looks just like Andrew ;)

(First blog contest: A special gift of eggs--once we have them--to the person who can correctly guess what tune this music box plays. Place your entries in the comments section.)

I am not exaggerating when I say this Chicken Issue has made me feel, for the first time, like a real, grown up member of this community.

Councilman Lampke asked that speakers comment on 4 probable ordinance points:
  • Sex of the chickens (Hens only, everyone agrees)
  • Number of chickens (Council seems to be leaning toward limiting the number of hens to somewhere between 3-5 per family to stay in accordance with rules for dogs/cats)
  • Coop (Getting a permit will probably require having a coop -- otherwise the chickens can get out and would probably get eaten by predators, anyway)
  • Setback from the property line (This, to my mind, is the only tricky issue. A resident can have a dog anywhere on their property, of course, and cats can roam. But in Columbus and many other chicken-allowing places there are strict rules about how far from the property line the chickens must be housed. If we have even modest property-line setbacks in the new Bexley ordinance that will probably mean that Andrew & I can't keep the chickens. We've picked the most secure spot on our property which happens to be the dog run directly abutting the property line on the side. City Council seemed inclined to search for a reasonable compromise on this issue -- possibly required setbacks from the front of the property, effectively disallowing coops in front yards.
After dinner with Dana & Brent (fellow chicken owners), Andrew & I were positively misty-eyed about the sensible workings of small town government. Not until the woman got up to talk about the goat did even one council person up there crack an ironic smile. God love 'em.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tomato plants worth jumping for...

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Compostapalooza

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These are our make-shift compost 'bins'. It's like chicken Disney World.

An indelicate moment with Betty

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You can't really see what's going on here because the video cuts off at just the right moment. But Andrew & I recognize the telltale squat and the shadowy blob that results.
That's right, folks. I've gone there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

South Bexley Open Coop is a success!

Thanks to our friends and neighbors who came out for the open coop tonight. We had 35ish people stop by to meet the hens, including 4 city council members. It's awesome that City Council-folk took the time to come. Not surprisingly everyone that came was positive about our chickens (we didn't really expect a mob of angry nay-sayers) -- but for many it was their first time seeing backyard chickens up close. That made it fun.

The highlight for me was the couple, out for a walk, who wandered in after seeing our "open coop" sign. At first they were shocked to hear that the "infamous Bexley chickens" were right there under their noses, but after they'd met our chicken ambassadors and asked a few questions, they were ready to talk to council on our behalf!

Another highlight came on reflection: There are a lot of people in Columbus doing a lot of cool stuff. This is a great place to be living these days. There's the Franklin Park Demonstration Gardens. There's that beautiful new magazine Edible Columbus. There's Local Matters. There's that new local food restaurant in the Short North: Knead! And there's a whole quiet scene of people who care about eating well (in every sense of the word). It's exciting! Exciting enough to get me through the winter? Maybe. A fresh egg or two every now and again might just tip me in the right direction. They're like sunshine in a shell (I think I heard that somewhere - or did I just make that up? They do have more Vitamin D then most anything you can find on land).

As the sun went down and the chickens tucked themselves in for the night we had a nice little gathering of family & friends in the backyard. The kids, especially, had fun daring each other to pet the hens -- I didn't have the heart to tell them that after the sun goes down chickens are pretty much zonked out. I think that would've ruined the game.

If you missed tonight, there's another chance to meet the chickens over on Parkview on Monday night. Or drop us a line & we'll invite you over for a private tour!

The past few weeks have been non-stop busy, but I hope to get some new pictures up soon. The girls are growing up so fast (sniff, sniff).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Enjoying some Tomato Plants

The girls have, as Jessica posted yesterday, discovered the roof of the coop. They like it particularly because they have access to some of the neighbor's tomato plants that are coming through the fence. They are uninterested in the tomatoes themselves, but rather in the greens, which are apparently the tastiest things these young ladies have had in their entire lives.

Being up on the roof of the coop gave me some opportunity to get some good pics of them as well. Enjoy!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Chickens caught in the act


The girls, lured by the neigbors' delicious tomato plants, have figured out how to hop to the top of the coop. I caught them in the act through the dining room window.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Come meet the chickens!

Have you noticed the media coverage in the last few weeks about Bexley residents raising chickens in their backyards? Doubtless, many of you have questions: How noisy are a few chickens? What does a small coop smell like? What is the point of people having chickens in their backyards? And mostly: Will it be a nuisance to me if one of my neighbors has some “backyard chickens”?

We are three Bexley families who keep chickens in our backyards, and we would be happy to have our friends and neighbors come over and have a look at our hens and their living arrangements.

We are hosting two Open Houses (or “Open Coops”, if you prefer!) before the Bexley Zoning Commission takes up the issue at its meeting on October 26th at 5:30pm at Bexley City Hall. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, we hope you will agree that it makes sense to learn more about this issue, see the chickens and their housing in person, and talk to your neighbors who have backyard chickens!

Please drop by, talk to us, meet our hens, and see their coops. Bring your kids for a mini-lesson on where eggs come from!

-The Adlers, Cooks, Mills/Garretts, and the chickens

Meet the South Bexley Chickens at the Garrett/Mills Coop

Friday, October 22nd 4:30pm-7:00pm

2400 N Havenwood Dr.

+ Havenwood Dr. is a one block street spanning between Cassingham & Euclaire

+ The coop is in the backyard; enter the backyard through the gate at the left of the house

+ Call Jessica at 325-4279 or Andrew at 327-6295 for information


Meet the Central Bexley Chickens at the Adler/Cook Coop

Monday, October 25 3:30pm-7:00pm

375 & 365 S. Parkview Ave.

+ Park on Parkview and walk down either driveway into the backyard, towards Westland

+ Or park on Westland Ave and enter the driveway next to the Red Barn

+ The coop is just off the barn's driveway, across from 363 Westland Ave.

+ Call Dana at 425-1189 or Allison at 580-0571 for information

IN CASE OF RAIN, EVENTS WILL BE CANCELLED.

Common myths & facts about backyard chickens

“Chickens suffer from a PR problem. People think they are dirty, noisy and smelly. The truth, a few cared for hens are cleaner and quieter than one big dog or the three neighborhood cats that poop in the flower bed. Plus you get eggs...” The Wall Street Journal

Myth: Chickens are noisy.
Facts: The main rule for keeping urban chickens is “no roosters allowed.” Hens do not make a ruckus in the morning like their male counterparts and they are fast asleep in their coop by the time the sun goes down. (Hens do lay eggs without the aid of a rooster. Roosters are only needed if you want to have fertilized eggs for baby chicks.) Hens make a soft clucking noise that is less noisy than a barking dog or even a yowling cat.

Myth: Chickens are messy and smelly.
Facts: Chickens themselves do not smell. This is a fact. It is only their feces that has the potential to smell which is also true of feces from dogs, cats, rabbits or any other animal that is outside. According to the US Poultry & Egg Association, a hen produces .04 lbs of litter per day (manure + wood shavings). According to FDA, an average dog generates 3/4 of a pound of manure a day. That's about 18 hens to do the "business" of one dog. And dog manure should not be composted, whereas chicken manure becomes excellent compost!
The reason people fear an odor problem is because their only experience with chickens, if they have any at all, is on a farm or commercial poultry operation. Under these circumstances, hundreds if not thousands of chickens are sometimes kept in crowded conditions with poor ventilation and without proper cleaning. As a result, these facilities can stink. There is a huge difference between these environments and the the very popular and rapidly growing hen movement. A backyard chicken coop housing half a dozen chickens does not create the odor issue that may concern some residents.

Myth: Chickens attract rodents/predators.
Facts: The truth is that rodents already exist in Bexley and are attracted to any unprotected food source like bird seed, dog food, cat food, open trash cans, fruit trees, and even koi ponds. There are preventative measures (chicken feed containers and coop designs) to nearly eliminate this concern.

Myth: Backyard chickens will decrease property value.
Facts: There is absolutely no evidence that keeping pet hens within sensible ordinance guidelines would have any affect on property values. If property values decreased with backyard chicken keeping, why would major cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Madison, WI, Denver, not to mention Columbus, support backyard chicken keeping?
Urban chicken keepers, like all good pet owners, are concerned about how their chickens might be affecting their neighborhood. They want their chickens to be a positive experience for everyone and they make an effort to keep an open dialog with their immediate neighbors to ensure any concerns or issues are addressed. Chickens can be kept in a yard so inconspicuously, that it may not be apparent that chickens are even around. There are eggs to share, and a chicken coop in the neighborhood can actually be a conversation starter, and thus it can enhance a neighborhood community.

Come see our coops, meet our chickens, and ask questions!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

There's a new queen in town


A few nights ago there was a coup -- Joanie has taken over as top chicken. This means she gets first rights to all treats and to the coveted sand box. Long live Queen Joan.

--

What do you call a coup in the coop? A chicken coop coup?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Girls go broody?


They're way too young to be broody; they must just be relaxing today.

Urban Chickens now OK in Springfield, Mo.

City council in Springfield, MO., just passed some legislation that covers the same points that Bexley is considering!
"The new rules have a limited range. The new ordinance still prohibits roosters, and no more than six hens are allowed in each brood. The birds' housing also have specific guidelines."

Welcome, New Readers!

Last night the Bexley News arrived at our doorstep and the chicken "issue" is on the front page. Somehow, it seems, we've become the face of chickendom in Bexley (okay, so it's not "somehow." It's because I opened my big mouth at the Zoning Commission meeting where they discussed the topic last week).

It's kind of weird. Here we just thought we were getting a couple of pets and now we seem to be a part of something bigger. Though, I hope, not that much bigger. The article reinforced our impression that the Zoning Commission seems predisposed to have a light hand in drafting a new chicken ordinance.
  • No roosters, probably (which I think everyone can agree on! Roosters are noisy, so existing noise ordinances would cover this, but I don't see any problem with making it explicit. And no, you don't need a rooster to get eggs. You only need a roster to get fertilized eggs.).
  • Possibly a fee to register chickens (also fine by us - maybe the city makes some chicken scratch (har har) to help cover the photocopies for the public forum on chickens).
  • Limiting the number of chickens allowed (a-okay, though we're already explicitly limited to 5 pets, so this seems to be covered by existing ordinances).
  • Requiring a coop (good for the chickens, important for keeping critters out - I don't think the chickens would last long with out one).

We're hoping (as I'm sure the Zoning Commission is, too) that this can be dealt with quickly & without too much drama, and that whatever new rules are ratified are simple to follow and don't place an undue burden on the city or its residents.

For those of you just visiting this blog, you'll find it's mostly just pictures of our three ladies doing chicken-y things. We're no experts. It's only slightly more interesting than a blog about someone's new puppy. But I've read just about every "urban chicken" book available at Barnes & Nobel -- surprisingly, there are quite a few -- and we're happy to answer any questions you have. Go ahead and post 'em in the comments.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oscar worthy movie, edited for your pleasure

I figured out how to rotate the movies (in 28 easy steps)! The quality is bad, but it's noon now and I'm giving up.
This is three short clips (including the one below) of the girls out back. It's a beautiful day and they're scratching around, doing their chicken business -- chickens are surprisingly busy little creatures.

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p.s. Why is it that chickens inspire baby-talk from an otherwise normal person (aka me).

Our first issue of Backyard Poultry has arrived.


Thanks, Dana & Brent, for the thoughful Chicken-warming gift! (Who would've ever thought I'd be anxiously awaiting its arrival!?)

Peggy eating some oatmeal I threw down as a treat:

video

Chilly morning


The ladies were not anxious to come out this morning.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The fine line between taking this seriously and taking this TOO seriously

Chickens in Bexley. It makes for funny headlines and fills some gaps in the local news cycle. Apparently we made the radio yesterday and two local TV news channels called me to ask if they could get some video (the answer was kind-of-no since I didn't call them back).
I think it's cool that backyard chickens are getting some press -- albeit partly tongue in cheek. BUT, I think most people see chickens as no-big-deal, slightly quirky pets. That's how we see our ladies, and that's how everyone I've talked to personally sees them, including neighbors and skeptics. It seemed on Tuesday that that's how city council is inclined to see them too (though they're being understandably cautious, taking their time gathering info, and gauging the temperature of the community).
So, if these are just quirky pets, I'm reluctant to help in splashing it all over the 5pm news (I can hear the puns now).
If Bexley goes ahead with a new ordinance controlling chicken-pets, we're rooting for the most low-key version possible. Ideally, a few backyard chickens can just be explicitly rolled into existing rules governing other pets. If they're smelly, they're already not allowed. If they're noisy, they're already not allowed. If there are too many*, they're already not allowed.
So are we helped or hurt by engaging the media? My gut says keep it low key. But we also want as many sane chicken supporters there at the public forum on Oct 26th as possible.
What do you think?

*In Bexley, you're currently allowed only 5 pets. We're maxed out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Evanston passes chicken ordinance - chicagotribune.com

It seems while we were at the Bexley meeting, the city council in Evanston, IL approved backyard chickens. I haven't seen their ordinance in particular, but the description of what they are requiring--a small fee, neighbor notification (not approval), and guidelines on coop maintenance, etc.--seems reasonable. Maybe a model for Bexley?

Evanston passes chicken ordinance - chicagotribune.com

We're in the News!

The Columbus Dispatch was at the zoning commission hearing last night, and here's the story. The girls make it in by name, though I don't. (At least not directly. Indirectly, I'm 'Mr Garrett'.) And Jack and Ben (il cane e il gatto) are described as "unusual". What did Jessica tell the reporter, we wonder, that led her to that conclusion?

Click on the "Share me" link below to read the story.

Share me

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Zoning Commission

Today the Bexley zoning commissions addressed the issue of chickens. Nobody made any motions, or took any action, but the commission spent a good 20 minutes talking about the issue. The chief question on everyone's mind seemed to be whether the existing laws regarding animals and pets would apply to chickens. Apparently there is already an ordinance that limits a household to 5 pets. So with the cat and the dog, Betty, Joan, and Peggy make five. Any issues that people might have with unsanitary conditions, excessive noise, and other sorts of nuisance issues can be handled (it would seem) by existing noise and nuisance issues.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the general tenor of the opinions expressed by the members at the meeting: they were mostly curious about the trend, but in general wary of extending the intrusive hand of government. If there are no problems, or if potential problems can be solved by existing ordinances, then (or so it seemed to this observer) let's not go around banning anything. Or, at least, that's the vibe I was picking up. It's clear that roosters will be banned--and I have no problem with that--and it could be the case that there is some sort of licensing procedure (again, I can live with that)--but, at least so far, the committee members seemed cool with backyard chickens.

Jessica was not planning to speak before the commission, but after some other member of the public spoke out against allowing chickens in Bexley, she stepped up and put in a good--and eloquent--word on behalf of backyard chickens. Whatever nerves she was feeling did not stop her from being a reasonable voice in favor of the newest members of our family.

The zoning commission will take up the issue again at its October 26th meeting (5:30, Bexley City Hall) , so spread the word, loyal readers, and let's make sure that Peggy, Joan, and Betty can stay just where they are!

Friday, September 24, 2010


The cool thing about watching them run around with a little more room is that they seem so much like chickens! They're scratching around in the gravel and stretching their wings and I heard a few grown-chicken Bawks! from Peggy.

Not happy to be excluded...

The whole time I'm in the run with the chickens Jack is outside the gate crying and pawing at the mesh. Poor old guy, first a cat and now chickens!
Ben was at the window watching the chicken-happening veeeery closely. If Jack & Ben ever join forces, those chickens are toast.

All 3 ladies



Hanging out in the yard!!

That's Betty: always the first to go explore new territory.

Who's a big chicken?



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blurry, but you get a sense of the attitude!

Joan has mellowed out considerably now that Betty has taken over as Alpha Chicken. She's always very curious about the camera.

Friday, September 10, 2010

View from the inside...



Chickens check out the new digs


It's getting harder to take pictures of the ladies - they move faster than my phone can focus. They haven't figured out how to get from one level to the next in the coop, but under Joan's brave leadership they've dispatched with a few bugs.
Today's field trip will end once the tub dries from the scrub-down. Then it's back to the garage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Updates from the garage

Well, the girls are almost three weeks old, and, as Jessica puts it, are looking more and more dinosaur-ish every day. They are well on their way to having a full set of feathers, and are definitely more feather than down right now. Good sized wings on all of them, tail feathers, and much more defined necks. We've got a screen over the top of the tub to prevent them from flying away, something they could certainly do if given the chance.

We introduced them to the coop a couple days back, now that it is set up. They were uninterested in going up and down the ramp, but rather stayed put in the roosting level. I think they didn't know what to make of all their new room. They are not staying in the coop--they're still in the tub in the garage, and will be for a few more weeks--but we thought since the coop is just sitting vacant (the squirrels have yet to discover it), we'd let them get an advance look at their new digs.

Speaking of the new digs, we are well on our way to having it move-in ready. The coop itself is all wired up, so that nothing can get in once they are locked in for the night. We have to make a new roosting bar: the one that came with the coop is too square and mounted too low, making clean-up a little problematic. We also need to build a run for them so that during the day they can have some more space to wander around, as the coop is, well, a bit tight to be the full-time home for the three ladies.

Finally, as Yom Kippur approaches, it is perhaps relevant to link to this post which explains "kapores", a somewhat controversial custom, of using a chicken to help cleanse one of one's sins during the Jewish high holy days. Faithful readers of Bexley Chickens can be assured that neither Joan, nor Peggy, nor Betty will be participants in this practice.

Friday, September 3, 2010

King of the hill, chicken-style

Genius camera work:
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The coop is in the run!

On wednesday Andrew critter-proofed the coop (hardware cloth stapled over every opening) and we put it in the dog run. Now we have to figure out how to keep hawks out of the run and chickens inside the run. While the girls are small they'll be pretty good fliers. They're flying all over the 'brooder' (aka Rubbermade tub) this week.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slate Run Chickens


Over the weekend we visited some chickens from the past at the Slate Run Historical Farm. These chickens are from the 1800s. The speckled one in the top/left of the picture is a Wyandotte, like Joan.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Turns out we're not in it for the money

In case the dee-lux chicken coop wasn't a tip off, it looks like we're not about to make money off these little ladies any time soon.
Josh Levin at the Good Eater Collaborative did the math. If we hadn't spent all that money on the coop, we might break even in about a year. With the coop? Probably never. And considering these ladies will only be active layers for 2 years or so (after that, as Betsy says, we'll be running a chicken retirement home) we'll probably never be able to quit our day jobs and survive on the backs of Joan, Betty & Peggy*. There goes that plan.

*This from the girl that just spent $50 on 2 week's worth of canned dog food hoping that 'ol Jack'll eat any of it.

Hi, Babies

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Note the miniscule wing action.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Salmonella outbreak is another strike against factory farmed eggs

On Aug 18th Wright County Egg, an Iowa factory farming operation, recalled 380 million eggs after some of its facilities were linked to a massive salmonella outbreak. The FDA is recommending that "if consumers are unsure about the source of their eggs, they [should not] eat them and [should] discard them immediately." This is especially true if you're fragile: young, old, or sick.

Wright County Egg is a bad actor, to be sure. According to the NYTimes, the company has had "run-ins with regulators over poor or unsafe working conditions, environmental violations, the harassment of workers and the hiring of illegal immigrants." They also keep their chickens in the kind of CAFO conditions you're used to hearing about: grossly overcrowded cages, artificial lights, ammonia fumes that could knock you over. A 2008 survey by the UK Soil Association, which certifies food in Britain as organic, found large flocks of caged hens were 19 percent more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella than organically raised hens and 17 percent more likely to be contaminated than free-range or pastured hens. Whether the same would hold true in the US egg industry is unclear, but the Association did find that rates of Salmonella were directly proportional to the size of the flock. The larger the flock, the more likely the hens were to be contaminated.

So, even though Peggy, Joan & Betty will have only the teeny tiniest chance of laying salmonella contaminated eggs, I've started learning about proper sanitation to prevent even that tiny chance of getting ourselves or whomever is lucky enough to eat our eggs sick.

How to prevent salmonella in your backyard flock

  • Collect eggs often.
  • Keep the coop clean! Salmonella is passed around in chicken poop. So get the poop out as often as possible.
  • Keep the ladies healthy by feeding them well, keeping the dry, and finding a good vet to help.
  • Practice biosecurity.
  • Wash, wash, wash your hands, for the love of god.
  • "Don't wash off the bloom from the egg. If the egg is soiled, you can use a dry, stiff nail brush, fine sandpaper or a rough pan scour pad to remove manure that might have caked on. Only wash the eggs before you use them and in warm water. Do this only as a last resort. Dirty eggs might be covered with bacteria, which have trouble getting through the shell so long as it's dry. As soon as the shell is wet with cold water, the pores of the shell opens and germs pass through more easily. And then, as the egg cools even more the contents shrink a little, causing a partial vacuum inside that tends to suck foreign matter into the egg."(from Barnyardsandbackyards.org)
And, now back to the chickens.

Chicks enjoy The New York Times

video

The chicks on their first full day in their new home. That's Joan, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, just to the left of the feeder, who gets a good closeup, Peggy, the Black Australorp, who's enjoying her chick food, and Betty, the Barred Plymouth Rock, who's over by the water bowl and having a go at the Times. As usual, she can't stand Thomas Friedman.

Chick Flick!

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They don't really do much yet, but they're endlessly watchable!
(I can't figure out how to rotate the video. Ideas?)

Baby chick set up: less than $70



Our baby chicks are snug in their set up in the garage. 60 bucks covered the following supplies:

  • Lamp w/ infrared bulb (to keep the box at ~90 degrees)
  • Chick feeder & 50 lbs of chick feed (though with just 3 of them, an empty, shallow can probably would have worked just fine as a feeder)
  • Waterer (we got one big enough to work when they're full grown)
  • Pine shavings for months
  • Electrolyte powder which was completely unnecessary
  • Day 1 gel food that they didn't touch (went straight for the chick food)
  • We had the big plastic tub already
  • We had a digital thermometer, too
I can't believe that's all you need to take care of tiny lives.

We can start to feed them treats in a week or so, but nothing that would require grit in their gizzard, yet. That limits us to yogurt and hard cooked egg. Something feels wrong about feeding them egg, though. Right?

How to worm a chicken!?

I just read this blog post from a fellow columbus-ite with a backyard flock:
How to worm a chicken in five simple steps. She seems like a pro!
I, on the other hand, am more than a little freaked out by this -- though, not nearly as freaked out as I am about one of the chickens eventually become "egg bound." Barbara Kilarski explains in Keeping Chickens!: Sometimes an egg gets stuck in the chicken's body. If this happens, the backyard farmer must help her relax & sometimes she'll be able to pass the egg. But, if that doesn't work we'll have to "massage some vegetable oil very carefully around her vent while gently massaging the hen's stomach." For the uninitiated, the vent is code for "lady parts." Other books recommend KY. What have we gotten ourselves into!?

Monday, August 23, 2010

No car seat?


They let us take home these day old cuties in a box. I began their socialization almost immediately (pretty much couldn't keep my hands off them).

OMG Chicks!!


Today we headed to Meyer Hatchery and picked up 3 baby chicks and chick supplies to last us through the first month. Total bill: $70-some dollars. About $7 of that was the chicks.

They're just about the most adorable things you've ever seen! From the bottom, they're Peggy, Joanie, & Betty.

Peggy is a Black Australorp.
Joan is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.
Betty is a Barred Plymouth Rock.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Neighbor update

Neighbor Update: Our neighbor closest to where the coop will go was very cool about the impending new neighbors! Yay! I haven't gotten up the nerve to knock on doors and talk to the other neighbors. That's on the list for this week.

The Coop is purchased, now on to the chicks....

We ordered a coop yesterday, which is, other than a couple books and magazines, our first real investment in our chickens. Here's the coop we ordered:

http://www.chickencoopsource.com/chickencoopdeluxe.cfm#

We liked the shape and size of it, and the fact that the shipping cost was only $10! We saw a similar coop that cost $100 more, plus $150 shipping charge. The reviews are pretty good, though, according to most of them, we may have to put in a roosting bar, which shouldn't be too difficult or costly.

We head up to get the chicks this week. More updates (and pics of chicks) when we have them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

T-1 week to chicks

We've narrowed down the breeds to about 10:
It's definitely, maybe, going to be Australorps, Delawares, Dominiques, Golden Comets, Buff Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, or Speckled Sussux. Word on the street is that Plymouth Rocks are dumber than your average chicken, which is saying quite a lot. Andrew says he doesn't want to raise no dummies, so they might be out.
Meyer Hatchery is about 1.5 hours north of Columbus, and I'm hoping to make a visit early next week. How will we pick just 3!?

I have yet to talk to the neighbors, which, of course, should have been first on the list...well before naming the chickens. But I'm not quite sure how to tell my fine, upstanding neighbors that we're planning on starting a barnyard in the backyard. Incidentally, Barnyard in the Backyard is an interesting read available at the Bexley Library.