Friday, May 30, 2014

Upcycling: Repurposing an Old Dog Crate

Underneath our play structure we have a large sandbox for Little Chicken Tender and Bitty Bantam, but unfortunately the Goldhen Girls have taken it over for their pleasure of dust bathing.  I love watching the chickens take dust baths, but I don't want them to bathe where my kids play if I can help it. I understand why they have chosen this of all places for their daily cleanse because it's dry sand. In the Pacific Northwest dry, dusty soil is hard to come by.  (If you are curious about why chickens take dust baths read The Chicken Chick's Chicken Dust Bath: The Ultimate Spa Treatment.)

The Golhen Girls Dust Bathing in the Sandbox

In order to stop the Goldhen Girls from using the sandbox as their "day spa" I decided I would put a cover over it and create a new dry dust area for them.  I was determined to use something from around the house and after digging around in the shed I found our old, worn out dog crate. This isn't just any old crate.  It originally belonged to my family dog, Lucy, who we got when I was 15 years old. The crate was then passed on to good ol' Kramer boy, who has since upgraded to using our entire house as his crate.

The old, worn out crate

Lucy, the original crate owner 

Kramer, the second crate owner

I was pretty excited to repurpose this crate because not only did we save it from going into the landfill, but we also gained a ton more space in our storage shed!  After purchasing a can of spray paint and using some leftover outdoor fabric from another project, redoing the dog crate into a dust area for the chickens only cost me about $5! After completing the project I was pleased with the result, but started to wonder if my time and effort were worth it.  Were the Goldhen Girls going to use their new dust bath? About a day after putting the crate into their run, the girls had booked their appointments and were happily using their personal spa.  Bathe all you want now, girls!

Welcome to The Dust Room!

  Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday's Tip from Our Junior Blogger: Protecting Your Blueberry Bushes

We are having a bit of a problem with the chickens snacking on our blueberry bushes.  The bushes were planted by the previous owners otherwise we would have located them in our garden that is protected by a fence.  It's time to call on Little Chicken Tender for some help!

Tuesday's Tip From Our Junior Blogger
Chicken tending tips straight from the mouth of a 5-year-old!

By Little Chicken Tender

How to stop your chickens from eating your blueberry bushes:
First try and shoo them away.  If that doesn't work put a fence around your blueberry bushes or build a wall made of bricks and a door.  If you can't build a fence or brick wall just put out a bunch of dried worms every day because they love to eat dried worms.

Thanks for the tip, Little Chicken Tender!  Sounds like we better hire a mason or stock up on a lot of dried mealworms.  Right now I am not sure if I want to go with any of those methods so we may end up transporting the blueberry bushes to the garden after the season is over.

Stay tuned for another tip next week from Little Chicken Tender!

In case you missed it, here are more tips from our Junior Blogger:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Upcycling: Repurposing a Crib Railing

My babies are growing up quickly and this time I am not referring to my feathered ladies.  I can't believe my Little Chicken Tender and Bitty Bantam will be in Kindergarten and Preschool next year. Where did the time go?  Now, the only thing I have left from their baby days are memories and one recalled drop-side crib.   

Currently, the crib has been converted into a toddler bed for the Bitty Bantam, which means we just took off the dangerous front drop-side railing. Once we are entirely through with the crib/toddler bed we can't donate it or give it to anyone which means the crib is destined for the landfill. The idea of it sitting in a landfill did not sit well with me so I became determined to figure out a way to repurpose it. While working outside and chicken proofing fences I got the idea to repurpose the railing into something for the garden.

Before: The Drop-Side Crib Railing

Viola!  An Herb Garden Ladder!

After: An Herb Garden Trellis

Now Every time I look at this little area of my garden it makes me smile for a couple reasons.  One, I did good for Mother Earth and kept a part of the crib out of the landfill.  Two, now I have a part of the girls' baby days right in the garden.  In addition to "up-cycling" the crib railing I also repurposed Little Chicken Tender's old, worn out rain boots into planters for a pop of color.

I am very pleased with the results and have already started to brainstorm what I am going to do with the rest of the crib/toddler bed once Bitty Bantam outgrows it.  Maybe another trellis, a storage for crafts or possibly a garden bench. I can definitely wait on those repurposing projects though because I don't want to rush her growing up. Time has already gone by too quickly.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday's Tip from Our Junior Blogger: Feed your Flock

Tuesday's Tip From Our Junior Blogger
Chicken tending tips straight from the mouth of a 5-year-old!

Feed your Chickens
The most important thing in taking care of chickens is that you have to feed them and give them water everyday. If you don't then they will die.  You feed them in the morning and then when it's almost your dinner time.  Give them a full cup of food if you have 3 chickens.

This week's Tip from the Tender is pretty special because Little Chicken Tender would like to include a short video of what it's like to feed chickens.  If you have never had the pleasure of feeding them, it sometimes can be a bit like the running of the bulls. Before you watch the video I would like to point out that Little Chicken Tender chose to do the video herself and made up the commentary without any prompting.

After hearing Little Chicken Tender's "Feeding your Flock" commentary, I think she may have a bright future as a sports announcer!  What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

In case you missed it, here are more tips from our Junior Blogger:

Friday, May 16, 2014

From the Robbins' Nest

I have become very interested in other people's chicken stories. The other week I featured a story about my sister and her beloved, late rooster, Albert.  This week you will read about my cousin's wife and how she got started raising chickens.  

Please welcome our guest blogger, Erin Robbins!

From the Robbins' Nest

I have to start by saying I was not raised a country girl.  I grew up in Portland, went to a big University after high school, and never had a second thought about the in's and out's of what I ate and where it came from.  After getting married and moving to a small town with my husband and children, we purchased some property of our own. I saw an article about chickens that had a picture of a blue shelled egg and was so intrigued by the color that I quickly came to the conclusion that I just had to have chickens.  

With little research, I purchased my first 3 hens on Craigslist.  I didn't know their breed or age - just that they laid brown and blue eggs.  About 3 months later, my first blue egg was laid and I instantly knew I made the right choice in purchasing chickens.  I kept that egg in the fridge - not wanting to eat it and would constantly go look at it, amazed at it's beauty.  Once I cracked the shell and saw the amazing orange colored yolk and tasted the egg, I knew I had made the right choice!

Our first four eggs

Since then, I have spent countless hours observing and researching chickens.  We have quite a variety of breeds in our flock (with Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Australorps, Silkies, Jersey Giants, Copper Marans, and Speckled Sussex) and currently have 25 hens and 1 rooster.  Our family wanted my birds to be as natural as possible so we allow our birds to free-range on our property and do not medicate (and knock on wood, have not needed to) for anything.  Our chickens are apart of our family now and will get to spend their lives pecking at bugs and dust bathing under trees.

Hungry chickens getting warm oatmeal during 
our freezing weather this last winter;
Months after getting the first birds, we got my first "broody inclined" hens, 3 Silkie sisters as we wanted to expand our flock.  That first summer all 3 sisters wanted to hatch eggs.  I allowed all 3 to sit at the same time and several eggs each.  After researching every article and book on candling eggs, I went to the coop at dusk with my flashlight.  Minutes passed before I figured out how to hold the egg and if I did hold it just right, I could see it - the baby chick with all it's attached blood vessels moving inside the egg!   I was so excited and each night I couldn't wait to go out and check the progress of my eggs and eventually, the first egg hatched!  And then another.  And another.

Our recent hatchlings

The 3 sisters raised their brood all together as one big group and this year their daughters are laying eggs.  It has been so rewarding and exciting see them grow and noticing how each chicken has their own personality.

A Silkie mom raising her three chicks

As exciting as it is to each new chicks hatch, we unfortunately have lost a few chickens as well.  I always read that it is "a matter of time" before a chicken owner loses a chicken but I didn't realize how upset I would be when it happened to me.  Last winter, we had a pesky raccoon family who found our chickens and made a quick meal of several.  We also had a hawk who grabbed a few young birds.  Since then, we put a tight door on the coop and are careful about what food we leave out.  We have also gotten some goats and their presence seems to defer any predators. 
After having chickens now, we can't stand to look at store bought eggs, and worse for thought, how factory chickens are treated and housed.  Our chickens give us the most beautiful eggs and we try our hardest to reward them with the best life possible.  As I look out the window in the mornings and see the sun coming up, I listen for the first sounds of the rooster.  And when I hear him crow, I know all is right with the world.

Our main rooster “Brutus”

Thanks for sharing your story, Erin.  I hope we get to hear from you again!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday's Tip from Our Junior Blogger: Canine Coop Patrol

After her first blog post last week, our Junior Blogger has taken this new status quite seriously.  So much so that she decided to create a journal to write down her tending tips as she thinks of them.

The other day I decided to turn to Little Chicken Tender when we developed a bit of a problem at Shady Pines. The coop has become Kramer's new snack shack.  I am at my wits end trying to keep him from going inside and eating the Goldhen Girls' leftovers.  I know I could remove the feeder during the day, but I would rather not if I can help it.  

Tuesday's Tip From Our Junior Blogger
Chicken tending tips straight from the mouth of a 5-year-old!

By Little Chicken Tender
How to Keep the Dog Out of the Coop:
If your dog gets into the chicken coop and eats all the food, grab him and pull him inside the house.  If he keeps going back then you have to watch him when you let him outside.  You can't close the door of the coop because the chickens might want to go in and eat or get a drink of water.  Or you could just put up a "No Dogs Allowed" sign.

Thanks, Little Chicken Tender for the tip!  Maybe after some time Kramer will learn not to go in, although I don't have a good feeling about it.  If you know labs, they think with their stomach. Wish us luck!

Stay tuned for more tips from the Tender on Tuesdays.  Thanks for reading!  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Confessions of a Chicken Obsessed Stay-at-Home-Mom

I dedicate this post to all past, present and future stay-at-home-mothers.  

I have two obsessions in life that help keep my sanity as a stay-at-home-mom of two young, energetic girls: running and my chickens.  I am sure some of you have wondered: "Why in the world would she create a blog and Facebook page dedicated to her chickens?" To be honest, sometimes I wonder that myself.  Have I started to lose my mind as a stay-at-home-mom?  Am I turning into a crazy chicken lady?

All stay-at-home moms can probably relate when I say it's a hard, but very rewarding job.  It's especially hard when you don't have family close by for support and you need an hour break for an uninterrupted shower and a bit of silence.  At times I feel like there is no escape from the constant needs and wants of my girls. I have days that I fight crying because I am so tired.  I have days where I feel like all I do is yell.  I have days where I feel like I am going to break if I hear one more poop joke. With all that said, at the end of the day I love my girls with all my heart and I am extremely grateful that my husband works hard so that I can stay home with them.

The Goldhen Girls and the chicken blog have become my outlet. They are a way to make me feel like I haven't totally lost myself while putting my family's needs and wants before my own.  My mom put it perfectly when she said this is something that is mine, but fun for the whole family.  Watching the chickens free-range after a long, tiring day relaxes me.  They are my zen and this helps me maintain balance as I try to raise happy, healthy, kind, independent women.  So please bare with me and my chicken obsession.  I am just trying to keep my sanity as a stay-at-home-mom.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday's Tip from our Junior Blogger: Proper Holding Techniques

Our 5-year-old has taken an interest in the ChickinBoots blog. After I write my post for the week she likes me to read it out loud to her and look at the photos.  Just recently it dawned on me, why not allow her to write a post each week about the chickens, too?  I told her about  my idea and she was thrilled so from here on out our 5-year-old daughter will be our "junior blogger" every Tuesday. She would like to provide you with one chicken tending tip each week.

So without further ado, welcome to...

Tuesday's Tip From Our Junior Blogger
Chicken tending tips straight from the mouth of a 5-year-old!

Ways to Hold a Chicken
There are two ways to hold a chicken.  You have to hold one hand over one wing and one hand over the other wing. Or you can hold your chicken like a football.  If you don't hold them right they will peep and you will have to put them down.  When you are done holding the chicken you take a squirt of hand sanitizer.

Stay tuned for more tips every Tuesday from our Junior Blogger!

More chicken tips from our 5-year-old Junior Blogger:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Welcome to Shady Pines!

Welcome to Shady Pines!

The home of the Goldhen Girls, where the water is flowing, the grass is green and the sun is shining...well, that is at least July through September.  I, ChickinBoots, will be your tour guide today. We will be making 4 stops along the Shady Pines property: The Main Gate, The Coop, The Water System, and The Warden.  Don't hesitate to ask questions during the tour and please, sit back and enjoy the ride!

The Gate
Our first stop is The Gate which is the barrier that keeps the Goldhen Girls within the property lines of Shady Pines when not free-ranging. Expertly installed by our very own Rooster, only once did we have escapees.  This problem was quickly solved with a bit of hardware cloth and zip ties.

The Coop
Follow me as we proceed to our second stop, The Coop. It is a lovely "Saltbox" design by My Pet Chicken, again, constructed by the Rooster.  Hardware cloth was installed to the bottom to keep pests and predators out.  This coop has been a pleasant safe haven for the Goldhen Girls.  Read here for a detailed review of this coop.

The Watering System
Moving right along; our third stop is The Watering System.  The Goldhen Girls are provided with 5 long lasting gallons of fresh water from Drip-Chick 1 "Basic" from AutoWaterKit.  The chickens drink from this system using the convenient poultry drink cups that are gravity fed by the 5 gallon water bucket.  If you have time, visit to learn more details about this great watering system.

The Warden
Our last stop along the Shady Pines tour is a very important one, The Warden.  Meet Yoda, our almighty guardian owl.  Recommended by The Chicken Chick, Yoda keeps predators away such as hawks and owls.  From the start Yoda has done his job well.  Upon introduction, he scared our resident dog Kramer, causing him to bark and his hair to stand on end.  Luckily, since their first encounter Yoda and Kramer have made peace with each other and realize they are on the same team safe guarding the Goldhen Girls.

That concludes our tour of Shady Pines today.  I hope you enjoyed yourself.  Please visit again for updates to Shady Pines and bring a friend with you, too!

Thanks for reading!