Unlikely Friendships – Lucy and the Blue Cochin Chickens

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blue cochin chickens

It’s been seven weeks since we brought home our trio of blue cochin chicks and we are having so much fun with Blueberry, Bluebell and Blue Cheese.

blue cochin chicks chickens

These are by far the most gorgeous chickens we’ve ever owned {well, besides Pablo — he was a true show bird if there ever was one}.

puggle puppy blue cochin chickens

The thing is, Lucy thinks these 3 chicks are her babies. Recently we’ve been keeping the chicks outside during the day {they live in the garage at night} to acclimate them to the outdoor temps before we move the chicks out to the big coop 24/7.

backyard chickens dogs

Once we get the chicks set up outside, Lucy lays down next to them for about an hour. I can’t tell if she’s just sunning herself or if she’s there for the company but the chicks come up to the fence and peck at her paws and she lets them. She’s even give them a kiss or two. How odd is that?

puggle puppy backyard chickens blue cochin

The big chickens want nothing to do with Lucy the puggle dog, but these babies are another story entirely. It’s a good thing the chickens are outdoor animals otherwise I’d have to buy them all chicken diapers so they could stay indoors and pal around with Lucy all day.

Do any of YOUR pets have unusual friendships with other animals?

~Mavis

Unlikely Friendships
Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom

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Mavis Mail – DIY Chicken Coop Made From an Old Play Set

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DIY Chicken Coop Plans

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer. Keep them coming!

Check out this story {and awesome photos!} Candace from His Mercy is New sent in:

DIY Chicken Coop Old Swing Set

Here is what Candace had  to say:

We are SO new at all this…but my husband just turned our old wooden swing set into a chicken coop!! It took him a little over 2 months, just working whatever pretty evenings after work and some weekends he could.

DIY chicken coop designs

“The first thing he did was take every.single.piece. apart. Yep. Long, tedious process. But when he was done he had a gazillion pieces of wood that he didn’t have to purchase! And he really did end up using a lot of it…plus purchasing some plywood, metal for the roof and chicken wire.

He had no plans, which might have been a mistake…but I’m so proud of him for working so hard to get this done! He put hundreds of hours into it…a lot of time! And, when you are in the rainy season (ha) and then spring and then snow (yep) it’s hard waiting for pretty days when you can get out there for a few hours after a long day of work!  So, it took around 2 months to finish.”

backyard chickens

Candace your husband did a fantastic job and I think any chicken would be happy to live there. Thank you so much for sending in your photos and have fun collecting all those fresh eggs.

~Mavis

chicken-coop-ideas-kids-playhouse-into-a-coop1

Turn a Kids Playhouse into a Chicken Coop

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts - Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Egg Labels and What They Really Mean

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Egg Labels - What Do They Really Mean

Have you seen the egg aisle of the grocery store lately?  Wowza, there are a lot of different choices for eggs.  And in case you have decided being a backyard chicken farmer just isn’t for you, here’s a quick overview of all of your egg choices–each of them appear to be clearly labeled on the egg cartons:

Omega 3 Enhanced Eggs:  These come from chickens whose food has been enhanced with Omega 3 enriched supplements {think flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, etc.}.  The resulting eggs have a higher amount of Omega 3 fatty acids {you know, the ones they say we don’t get enough of}.  They also have a higher amount of cholesterol, so if that is a concern for you, be aware.

Humanely Raised:  These eggs are from hens that have been humanely raised, as opposed to conventional eggs where the hens are kept in tiny pens.  The carton should have a certified human label.  The chickens may or may not have access to the outdoors.  There are some regulations on this label that limit the density of the birds in their barn/warehouse.  They must also be allowed enough space to “perform natural behaviors”.

Organic:  Organic eggs {certified organic, at least} come from chickens that have not been given antibiotics, hormones, and their food has not been exposed to pesticides.  The thing to remember with these is that “organic” does not necessarily mean the chickens have a nice happy life–the chickens must be cafe free with some outdoor access, but federal regulations does not define that amount.  Conditions for the chickens can be awesome–or not.  It just depends on the producer.

Free Range:  Chickens are not in cages, and might roam freely for part of the day, but there are no regulations whatsoever on this label, so it is hard to say whether you are flushing extra money down the toilet.  Also, there are no restrictions on the birds’ diets.

Cage free:  This one is similar to free range, but chickens do not have to have access to the outdoors.  Conditions can be a bit abysmal for the chickens and still get this label.

Animal Welfare Approved:  This label is much harder to find.  It is for independent family farmers with up to 500 chickens.  The chickens are free to spend unlimited time outside on pesticide-free pasture.  The chickens cannot have their beaks cut {ALL of the previous labels can and typically do cut the chickens beaks}.  The best place to find these is to contact your local farmer’s market and/or go out to the farm to check out the conditions.

how to raise chickens

What kind of eggs do YOU buy?  How do you feel about how the chickens are treated?  Do you wish the better options weren’t so dang expensive?

Feel free to “lay” your comments out below,

Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Raising Backyard Chickens – Awkward Martha and Squirrely Go Broody

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what does a broody chicken look like

It’s been a wee bit difficult getting eggs lately.

broody chicken

Awkward Martha our Plymouth Rock chicken and Squirrely our tiny bantam we picked up for free at last years Mother Earth News Fair have gone broody and won’t give up the eggs without a small fight.

When chickens go broody they tend to sit on their “eggs” for about 30 days and wait for them to hatch. Now that we have a good sized flock of laying hens I anticipate this is going to be a long spring, summer and fall in terms of wrestling chickens off the eggs to collect them.

fresh eggs blue and brown

I feel bad because they don’t know their {and the other hens} eggs are not going to hatch. The odds are zero to none for live chicks now because we had to say goodbye to Pablo the rooster a few months ago.

Poor chickens. I feel bad for them.

Do you have chickens? Do you do anything special for them when they go broody?

Do yours puff up like a giant turkey and cackle at you when you try and steal their eggs too?

~Mavis

If you would like to learn more about raising chickens and all the fun and excitement it brings… Check out The Joy of Keeping Chickens. By Jennifer Megyesi. 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Raising Backyard Chickens – Blue Cochin Chicks

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blue cochin chick 4 weeks feathered legs

Our trio of blue cochin chicks are now one month old and thriving. There was a bit of a mean girls club going on the first week we had the chicks but our sweet little blueberry toughed it out and is quickly catching up in size with the other two chicks.

blue cochin chick

Normally around four weeks chicks start to go through the ugly duckling phase and look a little goofy as their feathers grow. But these cuties are just giant puffs of blue grey feathers and are absolutely gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

blue cochin chick

Look at the sweet little feathers on their legs.

blue cochin chick 4 weeks

The chicks look like they are wearing pantaloons. Ahhh they are so stinkin’ cute I can hardly stand it.

baby chicks in a stock tank

The 4 week old chicks are still residing in a stock tank in the garage and have about a month to go before we introduce them to  our big chickens.  By then the weather will have warmed a bit and they’ll be large enough to climb or fly up the ladder into the chicken coop.

Baby chicks are awesome! With some luck, once these birds start laying, we should be getting about 15 eggs a day by this fall.

Weeeee!

~Mavis

If you are thinking about getting a flock of your own baby chicks be sure and read my How to Care for Baby Chicks post. It’s full of everything you need to know to get started.

And if you are looking for a great chicken book, check out Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English. I think it’s pretty awesome.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Raising Backyard Chickens – Mean Girls Club

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puggle puppy baby chicks{Lucy the Puggle Dog checking in on her chicks}

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting too much about our latest round of baby chicks.

That’s because we thought one of them was going to die.

2 weeks ago we brought home 3 blue cochin baby chicks. Blueberry, Blue Bell, and Omelet.  A few days after we brought the chicks home, our dear sweet Matilda died as a result of being egg bound for four days.

blue cochin chick chicken 2 weeks

As the baby chicks grew and started to feather out a bit, we noticed one of them {Blueberry} was about half the size of the other two chicks.

She was a runt.

And they picked on her.

On more than one occasion either the Handsome Husband, The Girl or I found poor little Blueberry on her side, struggling to stand up. Then on Tuesday, as I was leaving to go run errands, I noticed not only was she on her side, she was near lifeless and her beak was open as if she was gasping for her last breath. There was nothing I could do for her.

So I picked her up, and placed her in a small box and propped her up about 18 inches from the heating lamp. I thought, well, at least this way she can die warm, and in peace without the other chicks finishing her off by pecking her to death.

I thought she was a goner for sure, and was trying to decide if I should bury her before The Girl got home to spare her after what had happened to Matilda.

And then I left to go run errands.

runt small baby chick

Long story short, I came back about an hour later and Blueberry was up and walking around her box cheeping like a mad woman and trying to figure out how to get out.

I’m not sure if she was playing possum or what, but she is one tough little bird.

Since I’ve never really had to deal with baby chicks picking on one another to this extreme before, I was hoping some of YOU might have some advise. I know chickens are very social creatures, and I would hate to separate them and cause anxiety among them.

What do you think I should do?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Ask Mavis – How to Maintain a Chicken Coop

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black australorp chicken{Mavis and Black Fatty}

Kathy in Chicago writes:

Mavis – you obviously love your chickens… but I don’t think I’ve ever have seen you blog out the mess they make & what you need to do in terms of cleaning their pen… I would love to have chickens, but no one ever seems to talk about… scooping…. Is there a delicate way you can discuss how you need to maintain their cleanliness for their health? Perhaps show what really needs to be done? 

taking care of a chicken coop

About once a month The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird or I go out and give the chicken coop and chicken run a good cleaning. One of the ways I am able to garden without using chemicals is by using chicken fertilizer to enrich my vegetable crops. It’s not pretty, but I think it’s worth it.

pine shavings chickens

Pine shavings. I love them. Here in the Pacific Northwest it can get pretty muddy in the winter and spring months. Since our chicken run is uncovered, about once a month we spread 2 bags of pine shavings in the chicken yard.

Not only do the pine shavings help keep the chicken yard from becoming one giant mud pit, but they entertain the chickens for a few days as well as they work the pine shavings into the soil.

pine shavings chicken bedding

I also use pine shavings in the chickens nesting boxes. When the shavings get dirty, I just toss them out and add clean shavings.

fresh eggs

That is how I am able to keep our eggs so clean.

1 gallon water for chickens

We place the chickens watering cans on a little bridge in the center of the chicken yard. These typically get filled every 5 days or so, and each time we fill the watering cans we clean them as well.

chicken feed

Chicken feed. Because we have so many chickens now, we fill up their orange chicken food bin about every 3 days. The chickens also feast on free produce scraps from the local grocery store and every few days I like to give them a little cracked corn for an afternoon treat. We keep their feed in mini trash cans {that have super tight lids} outside near the coop.

mavis butterfield raising chickens

It can be a messy job {especially in the winter} but it’s worth it. We have a happy, clean flock and they lay some pretty awesome eggs if I do say so myself.

Let me know if you have anymore questions and I will try and answer them in the comment section below.

Peace Out Girl Scouts,

~Mavis

If you are thinking about getting a flock of your own, check out the book Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock. Amazon currently has the book in stock and ready to ship.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Raising Backyard Chickens – Egg Bound Hen

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chicken legs

UPDATE : Matilda died late last night. :( The Girl said… At least she got to die at home all nice and warm. She was a great pet chicken, and I couldn’t agree more. At least she got to die at home with us near her side.

************************

This morning I called the vet  and made an appointment to have our dear sweet Matilda euthanize. The Girl and I talked about it and decided it was the best thing for her. Matilda legs have basically been paralyzed for 4 days now, she won’t open her eyes, hold her head up or really even make any noises. We wanted to put her out of her misery. I thought she might have Marek’s Disease.

On days 2, 3, and 4 we used a syringe to give her food and water. As much as I would have liked to have taken her to a vet, the HH pointed out that Matilda was a chicken, and spending hundreds of dollars on one chicken that was likely going to die anyways, was not something he wanted to do.

It’s a chicken. I know it’s your pet chicken, but it’s a chicken. 

So here I am, a suburban housewife, with this dying chicken. As much as I want to think I could tough it out on a real farm, I don’t think I could ever cull a chicken. Nor would I want the HH to do it either.

He offered, but I said no. I would rather pay to have a vet put her to sleep for $50 then have my daughter know her dad {basically} killed her pet chicken.

So this afternoon, I grabbed a box from the garage. I placed a towel on the ground and started to clean Matilda up {she had a little dried oatmeal around her beak and in her feathers and I didn’t want to show up at the vet with her that way}.  I wiped her sweet little face down, and then poured warm water over her vent to remove anything that may have been there.

And then it happened.

soft shelled eggs egg bound chicken

2 soft shelled eggs dropped from her weak little body.

Poor Matilda was egg bound this whole time.

I checked her over the first night I brought her into the garage and there were no signs that she was egg bound. 2 eggs had been stuck inside her. The poor, poor thing.

As soon as those eggs dropped to the ground, she wiggled her legs and I started crying.

Matilda!

sick chicken

I immediately cancelled the appointment for the vet.

The way I see it is this. There is nothing a vet can do for her {I asked}.

Yes, she will probably die.

But as long as I can keep her clean, warm, hydrated and fed, who am I to give up hope.

~Mavis

 

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Mavis Needs Your Help – Any Chicken Doctors Out There?

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warming a chicken up

This morning I went to let the chickens out of the coop and noticed poor Matilda did not make it back in to the coop before curfew. The chickens were locked up just after dark, and none of the chickens were out wandering the chicken run so I’m not sure where Matilda was.

As I was turning to open the door to the coop I almost tripped over a near lifeless chicken on the ground. I’m not sure if she flew out of the coop at some point during the day, then came back really late to find the door locked up tight for the night or what, but the poor thing spent the night outside where the temperatures  hovered around 35 degrees.

We hurried her in to the garage and placed her in the stock tank with the baby chicks where she is resting under a warming light right now. She won’t open her eyes by she is alive. The local vet does not treat chickens.

This have never happened to us before, and I’m not sure what else to do.

Does anyone know?

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Raising Backyard Chickens – Baby Blue Cochin Chicks

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blue cochin chick

Yesterday I stopped by The Garden Sphere in Tacoma to pick up 3 new baby blue cochin chicks. I special ordered these a few months ago and I think they are going to make a neat addition to our feathered flock. Do you see the feathers on those tiny chicken legs?

Once I got the chicks settled, Lucy and I sat on a crate in the garage peering into their make shift coop. She is in love, and thinks the chicks are hers. Each time we have gone out to the garage since bringing the chicks home Lucy dashes over and sits next to their bin, waiting to say hello. Ahhhh it’s so cute I can hardly stand it.

blue cochin chicken{photo credit}

This is what the hens are suppose to look like once they are fully grown. Aren’t they gorgeous? Talk about a show bird. I bet I could win some blue ribbons with these babies. The Girl hasn’t named the chicks yet but I’ll let you know as soon as she does.

baby chicks

I would have take a few more pictures to show you but the lighting is bad in the garage,and the chicks seemed pretty tired from their journey. I didn’t want to stress them by handling them to much.

But I promise more pictures in a few days.

Will YOU be bringing home new chicks this spring? If so, what breed are you thinking about?

~Mavis

how to care for baby chicks
If you are thinking about getting a flock of your own, check out my How to Care for Baby Chicks guide. It’s full of all sorts of goodness.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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