Archive for the ‘hens’ Category

Hello friends

April 17, 2014

IMG_3899It has been a long, cold winter, but despite yesterday’s snowfall, Spring has arrived at Henbogle in the form of… you guessed it, baby chicks!

On Friday, a few more chicks will join these five cuties. I am looking forward to the fun of new chicks again!

There has been a lot going on at Henbogle despite my silence, but I miss blogging and all my blogger buddies, so I’m making a concerted effort to get back to regular posting. Soon I’ll share some exciting news, but for now I need to get off to work!

Frosty weather

January 24, 2013

This morning it is a crisp -5°F at Henbogle.  Not as cold as we’ve seen in the past, but still damn cold.  We are having a little blast of arctic air hit Maine.  Yesterday morning it was -1°F, but with a brisk wind that brought temps down into the dangerous range of about -25°F.  The NOAA website is forecasting today’s daytime temps  to reach 10°F, and tonight go down to -7°F.  Tomorrow, the temps will moderate a little, with a high of 14°F and a low of around 2°F.  Good times.

Our beloved hens seem unphased by the weather.  The nipple waterer is working great, and this morning they had a nice bowl of warm oatmeal for breakfast.  The hendome keeps them out of the wind, and the thick layer of straw provides some good insulation from the freezing ground.

While the cold temps are no treat, gardeners will see some benefit from it.  The scant snow cover offers less protection to insects and diseases such as late blight and the hemlock wooly adelgid.  I hope the cold weather down the east coast will kill off the late blight spores in warmer southern states, and slow their travel up north to my garden.  It has been too long since I tasted a truly delicious tomato.

Chicken hero

December 31, 2012

No, not a sandwich!  An heroic chicken who saved the lives of her owners.  Cluck Cluck, a pet chicken belonging to a Wisconsin couple, awakened her owners by loudly clucking and squawking when their home caught fire.  Thanks to Cluck Cluck, the owners and 1 of their 2 cats escaped injury.

Never underestimate a chicken.

DIY Nipple valve chicken waterer

September 13, 2012

For some reason, hens love to perch upon the fonts, and with perching comes the inevitable poop.  Ick. They start as soon as they can fly and their skills improve with age, thus the founts need very frequent refreshing, and regular scrubbing out with a brush to keep them clean.  When one of our founts developed a leak, we decided to look for alternatives.

Noodling about the interwebs, I saw the idea for a nipple valve fount using a five gallon bucket online.  We will make one, but with winter and freezing temps on the horizon, we needed a heated solution so I opted for a heated bucket.  I looked at several options and finally selected a flat-backed livestock bucket made by Allied Precision.  It is supposed to be safe from cracking due to cold temps, and I liked the way the heating element was hidden in a false bottom that secured over the bucket with screws.  It also seemed to have a sturdy handle and a divot on the handle for hanging from a hook.  I ordered the nipple valves from Amazon.  We got 5 valves and used 2; we are saving the remaining three for a non-heated fount for next summer.

Dan made the fount in an hour or so last weekend. He removed the false bottom and with the jigsaw, carefully cut away a section of the bottom to allow access to the nipples.  He then drilled two holes in the bucket, installed the valves, put the false bottom back on the bucket and called it good. 

So far no leaks, but it will be easy enough to add some silicone caulk should leaks develop.  It took the girls a couple of hours to figure it out.  We sped up the process by sticking a piece of straw into the valve causing it to drip.  A few of the girls thought it was a shower, but eventually they figured it out.

To keep the water clean, I added the cover to the cheap turkey fryer pot that came with the big propane burner I use for lobster cooking.  It fits almost as though it were made for the bucket.

I love it, it stays much cleaner, and it easy to swish out when it does need cleaning.  We’ll hang it in the coop during the winter months and will be able to get rid of the old heater, giving the girls that much more floor space.  Total cost was a bit less than a new galvanized fount.

A little chicken

August 26, 2012

Looking out, but not venturing out, yet…
This morning, we set up a smaller hen pen for the girls right outside Henbogle Coop.  Bucky raised the girls in a large barn, and the girls are therefore not used to being outside.  A small pen will give them room to explore, but make it easier for us to herd them into the Coop at bedtime.

Meet the new girls

August 26, 2012

ImageOur fabulous neighbor/mechanic, Bucky, decided to retire from the egg business.  Fortunately for us, he started a new flock of chicks earlier this spring.  He offered us eight and we said you betcha, especially since the girls were our favorite Golden Comets.  They were hatched on May 24 so should be laying in a few weeks.

The girls are still a bit shy, but they will get used to us I am sure.  No names yet, but that will no doubt change as we get to know them.

Since the weeds had overtaken the hen pen, Dan weed-whacked then mowed, and yesterday we picked up some very nice mulch hay to suppress the weeds, and give the girls something to scratch through.  It looks so much more inviting.

I so missed my hens!  Hooray!

Sprucing up Henbogle Coop

August 24, 2012

Henbogle Coop was beginning to look a little sad.  The yellow stain had faded and the Coop was in need of a thorough cleaning.

Dan Man power washed it last week when he did the decks.  Now that it has had a chance to dry, time renew the stain and paint the white trim again.  New hens are on the way!

We also mowed the weeds and will spread a giant bale of mulch hay for the new girls to enjoy.  Eight Golden Comet pullets, 12 weeks old, will be arriving this weekend.  They’ll be laying before you can say eggs for breakfast!

Chicken ran

June 11, 2012

Our big adventure is drawing near.  Dan’s mom is taking care of Henbogle House, and we are very, very grateful, (as are the kitties since they won’t be left to starve) but the chickens were too much to ask, so they needed to find a new home, or go to freezer camp.  Lucky for them, they found a home.

Sunday, a friend from work who wants to keep chickens formally adopted the Henbogle girls.  I am so pleased that Ellen and her family have offered the girls new digs and will provide a wonderful home for them, full of new places to make dustbaths and search for delicious bugs.  Of course we will miss them, especially Bea and Lily, but I am certain Ellen will be a great chicken mom.

The transfer was not without drama.  We left the girls in Henbogle Coop until Ellen and entourage arrived to collect them, and then caught them one at a time to place them in their deluxe paper box for transport.  All was going well until one of the Barred Rocks escaped from the Coop.  She was obviously stressed so we left her to hide in the yard while we secured all the others.  Then, Ellen her son and I brought the girls down to the driveway for loading into Ellen’s truck, and Dan and Ellen’s husband caught the hen on the run.

Except they were not able to catch our hen on the run.  No, she flew the coop, and flapped and hopped her way over the fences into the overgrown bramble patch that is our back 40 feet.  Once out, there was no hope.  She was off and running through the puckerbrush. Sigh.

So we left the gates to the chicken run open, and Henbogle Coop open, and as dusk set in, Dan and I went to see if she was in the Coop.  Oh yes, she was, but promptly flew the Coop again upon hearing us arrive.  So I scattered some scratch grain and we left her again.  After dark, we went down to check and she was alone on the roost sleeping.

This morning, I loaded her into a cat carrier and brought her to Ellen.  Earlier this evening, Ellen e-mailed me to report they got 4 eggs and all hens appeared well and happy.  Thanks for all the good eating, girls, and be generous with your new henkeepers!


And thanks, Ellen, for the photos!

The NYTimes on backyard Henkeepers

April 4, 2012

Julia Moskin of the NYTimes on the backyard henkeeping movement.

Spring chickens

March 13, 2012

The hens are enjoying the spring weather.  Their run is muddy, but their hendome is nice and dry.  The layer of hay and straw is about a foot or more thick, although in some places they have scratched down to the bare soil.  We will leave the hendome up until late spring has dried the muddy ground.  The dome has served very well over the winter as a warm, snug run for the girls.  We will in future years use heavier plastic is this plastic tore easily, but it worked well enough this year.  When we remove the dome, the thick layer of bedding will feed the compost piles and will serve to really get the compost cooking.  The dome itself could be used in the garden to cover heat loving plants or as a nice warm place to raise baby chicks.

The hens are now brave enough to venture across the diminished snow pack to find bare ground and look for bugs.  Any stray plant or weed is quickly devoured, and green treats from the house are relished this time of year. Sunday, while partaking of the fabulous weather, I noticed we had lots of chickweed in the garden.  This is one weed I don’t mind.  It goes dormant in the hot weather, but greens up early in the spring and late in the fall providing an excellent source of greens for the hens, who love it.

Another early spring green is sorrel.  The hens love it and it is one of the earliest spring greens.  Last year I planted some in the hoophouse, hoping for some early green Dan and I could enjoy and share with the hens.  It is coming along nicely and might even provide enough leaves by the weekend for some soup, and a few leaves for the girls.

Spring is on the way.  The nights are still cold but the days have been warm and what little snow we had is rapidly disappearing.  I’ve started some sweet pepper and chile seeds, and will be starting some tomato seeds later in the month.  Winter is on its way out, and I’m ready.  I have a lot to do before summer arrives!