Poultry Pen News
Hi from the farm! Lots of fun developments in the poultry realm these days.
We moved my hens from their little gypsy cart coop in the round orchard to the big old chicken coop out back. At first, I wasn’t happy at this prospect, but the landlord, who is truly a dear, served their eviction notice so that he could spray the fruit trees. I do like seeing my girls strutting around right outside the house and having them near enough I can literally step out the side door and toss them kitchen scraps from the porch. Plus the fact that the old coop is an ancient pieced-together thing that had us joking about haunted buildings when we first moved in…not very appealing.
But the old coop was given quite the makeover, with a new tin roof, running water, fenced yard, electricity for a winter heat lamp, and my dear husband spent most of last Saturday installing a roosting bar, ramp for the doorway, nesting boxes and generally cleaning up the place. So it has been effectively rid of its ghosts. 🙂 Plus, I think I’ll buy one of these cute, retro tin signs to further cheer it up.
I can’t decide between the two, so let me know in the Comments which sign you like better!
Well, the girls must be happy in their new digs because yesterday I checked the nesting boxes and found an egg! They hadn’t been laying all winter, ever since the days got cold and short. I’ve been buying local free-range eggs from my favorite market / bakery / cafe in town, Great Earth; but availability is spotty and it seems silly (and spendy!) to pay for eggs AND organic chicken feed. I just came in from the coop and found a second egg today, this one a nice olive green color. I suspect it’s the younger white pullets who’ve started laying because the size is slightly smaller and the color is different from the pale pistachio eggs I collected last fall. The little free-loaders are starting to earn their keep again. Good for them–I was starting to wonder if they’d be more helpful in a stew pot! Just kidding, I could never do that…or could I? More on that later.
So the haunted coop is rid of its ghosts, but unfortunately I have a new reason to fear going out there. The tom turkey has decided that I am a threat to his flock’s safety and has been acting aggressively toward me. We used to have a great relationship–I would tell him he’s a pretty bird and he’d puff up his chest, fan his tail feathers and be a show off. But now he comes at me like he’s going to attack and I have to keep a stick between us to defend myself from thirty pounds of butterball fury. Why the sudden change? I think I know why. These boots:
My mom & sis picked up these fun Kate Spade wellingtons on sale for me, thinking they’d be great for traipsing around the farm. But when I wore them into the poultry pen, ol’ Tom saw the animal print and his internal predator alert went wild. After a couple times in the boots, now he’s convinced that I’m the enemy even when I’m not wearing them. Not sure what we’re going to do about this issue. I think someone needs to find a new home. And it will probably be the boots.
And the last item in our poultry news update is that, with the bigger coop, Seth and I are considering taking our poultry husbandry to the next level. But I’ll save the ins & outs of that for a later post. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to having our own farm fresh eggs again. I think I’ll make a tasty cheese omelette for our Saturday morning breakfast tomorrow.
FARM GIRL TIPS
URBAN FARM GIRL (OR BOY, FOR MY GUY READERS): Want farm-fresh eggs but don’t live on a farm? Most city ordinances allow you to keep 2-3 chickens on your property. Certain rules apply (no roosters, must be a certain distance from neighbors’ property line, etc.). Urban poultry keeping has become quite popular as people discover how fun and easy it is to keep chickens, and there’s a lot of good info out there on how to get started. Chickens do require daily attention, but it can be just minutes a day. Farm fresh eggs from hens on a free-range or varied diet including fresh greens cannot be matched. Try them once and you’ll never want to go back to those pale, insipid things from the grocery store.
OUTSOURCING FARM GIRL OR BOY: Not into keeping your own flock? Finding a good source for farm fresh eggs isn’t too hard. Check with your local natural foods store. Or, call the number on one of those hand-written roadside signs that advertises eggs for sale. Or, check out Craigslist by clicking “Farm+Garden” and type “eggs” in your search. Be sure to ask about the hens’ diet and pen, if organic is important to you. (By the way, just so we can laugh at ourselves, have you seen this hilarous Portlandia “Is it local?” skit? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2LBICPEK6w) But seriously, don’t be fooled into thinking that the eggs marketed as “free range” at your grocery store are what they seem; the space requirements for that certification are only a little better than the horrendous conditions that most commercial laying hens are kept in. So supporting a small-scale egg producer is a good way to direct part of your grocery money, and your tastebuds will thank you.
Have a great weekend!