Friday, May 21, 2010

Chicken Chat, the coop...

I used to have a chicken coop. It was 6 foot wide and 12 foot long with a 12 by 12 chicken yard, no nest boxes because the previous owners of the place took them with but it had roosts and a little sliding door and a people sized door for the coop and the little yard. My pygmy goat lived in it, since i didn't have chickens. After Sarahgoatkin died my ex dragged the coop out back one night while he was having a party and torched it. *sigh*

Well, the new coop will be in the same place, once i and the goats get it cleared out. You can still see the remains of the chicken pen here, if you look REALLY close:


because i am cheap and i want to spend as little money as possible i am going to use as much stuff around here as possible. SO... Instead of spending several hundred dollars for a prebuilt coop or going all out and building something fancy i'm taking a page from my uncle's playbook and using junk (literally) that I have on hand. *snicker* The basis for my coop? this:



There is my roof, with built in windows, and ventilation I can open and close when i want to. Some walls built out of scrap wood or plywood seconds with a simple door and i have a servicable coop that clearly tells all who see it "the woman who lives here is a complete hick". I don't care if the plywood has a knothole or two, I can patch those, and it will save me money (did I mention i am cheap?? Oh, wait, i was told I should call myself FRUGAL).

For roosts... well... i was thinking of using this... it is the frame for a toddler bed that someone who used to live here left behind in the barn:

but they are metal and even though I intend to keep a heat lamp in the coop in the winter I don't think I want them on metal roosts. So while I was looking around i found THIS:


again, someone else's crap left to clutter up my barn, so free game for me to turn into one mighty fancy chicken roost!! I'll probably cut out every other bar and put it in the coop at an angle.

I'll probably paint the walls to match the pickup topper. If it turns out to meet my needs I may ask on freecycle for another old topper and use it as the basis for a more permanent goat hut, hahaha! Then the goat hut and the chicken coop would match. My back yard is going to be delightful. lol.

Speaking of the goat hut... before and after pictures...

before the goats:


after the goats:


I can't look at that without laughing my butt off. Seriously.

Chances are the goats will spend the winter in the horse barn where the hay used to be, but by next year i will need something much more substantial for them in their pen. I can use the panels from the current hut to double the size of their pen and put the new hut far enough away from the fence to make sure they can dance on it all they want and not risk them jumping out!!

And just because i have been only sharing the bad about goats recently and not so much the good... some cute...

Happy boy!! I guess cute is in the eye of the beholder, eh? lol.


She may be a stinker but these ears just delight me.


Chicken chat.

Pull up a stool and grab a cuppa, friends. Today the topic is next years big project.

Chicks, dude. Chicks.

The topic is in the front of my mind because yesterday I wasted half the day watching a chick-cam someone Tsu works with set up to watch her new chickies. SOOOOOO CUUUTE!!!! Not sure what kind they are, it looks like maybe a few different kinds, since there were a couple of lighter coloured ones in with the darker ones. Anyway, it got me planning again. And in between times of reading my current brainy book ("The Sociopath Next Door: the ruthless versus the rest of us" by martha stout) I am reading this charming little tome called "Chicken Tractor: The Gardener's Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil" by Andy Lee. I want to build me some chicken tractors now. lol.

Anyway. What i want out of my chickens: eggs (obviously) and meat. And replacement chickens. Now, i am not an egg eater any more than I am a milk drinker. Eggs and milk gross me out. I mean... you know where they come from, right? *shudder* But I find that the idea of eating (or drinking) something that was produced by my own animals and processed by my own two hands doesn't gross me out. It seems that what grosses me out the most is eating what came out of a stranger's cloaca or teat. If I have a personal relationship with them it doesn't disgust me. I know, I'm not entirely normal. But that is the fact.

My secondary needs out of chickens are that they make me smile, which means that, dad-gum it, I want multicoloured eggs and some pretty hens. So this topic will be the breeds i am considering... next topic will be coop related.

OK, so short list (pictures scavenged from the internet, because otherwise I'd have to hand sketch them all, lol):

eggs, meat, broody and coloured eggs. To get everything I want I plan to have a mixed flock. My choices have narrowed down to three breeds.

Breed Number One (WILL HAVE!):


they come in a lot of random colours, some with butts


and some without, lol.


Easter Egg Chickens. They lay eggs of varying shades of green and blue. After a couple of generations mixing with brown egg layers you can end up with eggs of almost every shade of blue, green, pink and brown. *jumps up and down clapping like a little kid* They are supposed to be calm and non-aggressive. My rooster will probably be an Araucana.

Breed Number Two (WILL HAVE):

Buff Orpington.


Big, gentle, good egg layers, and broody. they will sit on their eggs and raise their own babies. Also supposed to be calm and non-aggressive (you will note a trend here). also, pretty, IMO.

Breed Number Three:

Black Australorps.


Because they are REALLY pretty. Do I need another reason? *grin* OK, same reasons as the Buff Orpingtons, basically. These were started using Black Orpingtons so they have similar stats. I just want a couple. Because they are pretty.

Others Of Interest:

I may get one or two Cuckoo Marans just because they lay super dark eggs.


But I have heard they tend to be a bit more high strung than my other choice and i don't want jerkish chickens, lol. However they are supposedly almost obnoxiously broody (remember, being good moms is a high priority) so that may make their attitude worthwhile.

Also might get one or two Golden Polish.


...because they lay white eggs and i have no white egg layers on my list, plus they look hysterical but still pretty. They are NOT broody and are supposedly a bit more flighty so they would be more for entertainment and less for adding into my muck up of a mixed breed flock.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just a couple of pictures, ok... I lie, just LOTS of pictures!!!

Mary was asleep with her nose in the dirt and was whinnying into the ground, with her eyes closed. lol. Unfortunately by the time I got the camera set to video she had stopped. Booo. She is in her "diet paddock" and is NOT happy about it.


Sparrow and Brego are stuffing their faces on hay while the grass has a chance to rest in the pasture for a few days:


This is the guy I was actually going out to get pictures of, though.

Hm... he is hard to get pictures of... because he wants to be in your face all the time. hello Parsley, my dear. Are you close enough yet? lol.


Not sure if you can see in these pictures but all of the red hair from when he was copper deficient is slowly shedding to reveal glossy black underneath.


he was talking to me in his funny little voice.


Not sure if he looks better to anyone else, lol, but he is looking much better to me. he is out on a stake out hooked to a tire for the afternoon and i am keeping an eye on him. He has been munching the leaves off of picker bushes for me. his water bucket in inside the tire so he can't knock it over.


When i went out later he had been chewing his cud and i got a good shot of how he foams at the mouth. he has done this since I got him. At first it freaked me out thinking he was either bloated or had Goat Polio... but he has not shown any sign of either aside from the foam, and he only does this when he chews his cud or when he knows it is almost dinner time and they are going to get their yummies. It's so gross, lol. I just wish I knew what was causing it but no one seems to have any clue since he isn;t bloated or low on B1.


The girls were napping, sage was in the hut and stood up before i could get around to see her:


The twins were napping under their table.


sage wanted to see what was going on with them.


Thyme was exhausted from trying to drag her tire around when they were out in the yard browsing, so she had a big yawn, hehe.


back to the ponies. *happy sigh* I love this horse so much.


Mary's time in the diet paddock was done for the day.


But Brego didn't really want to share.


i tried to get pictures of Sparrow but he and Parsley have a lot in common temperament wise:




Recipe: Pony's Kitchen Sink Meatloaf.

I am making some of my World Famous Meatloaf for dinner tonight. I've never ever had anyone try my meatloaf and not like it, even confirmed meatloaf haters. My daughter literally BEGS me to make meatloaf. I've had people beg me for the recipe. The problem is, I don't HAVE a recipe. That is why I call it "Kitchen Sink" meatloaf, lol. I just toss in everything... you know how they say "she brought everything but the kitchen sink?" Well, yeah.

So today as i was making it i paid attention to what i was doing and while i didn't measure anything I did make a point to note what all i threw in there... this time.

Pony's Kitchen Sink Meatloaf

Ingredient List**:

*Pound or two of some sort of ground meat
*Couple of eggs (about 1 to 1/2 eggs per pound of meat unless you have more people to feed than meat, then go extra on the eggs and crumbs and less on the meat)
*grated onion
*BBQ sauce
*Worcestershire sauce
*Soy sauce
*garlic salt or powder or crushed
*some sort of crumb type thing... bread crumbs, crushed corn or potato chips, crushed crackers... and old stale grain or potato based crispy thing you want to be rid of. I've even used unsweetened high fiber cereal.

Mix all the wet ingredients, just guess according to your personal taste. This includes the eggs and grated onions. Once it is mixed into a disgusting looking slimey mess add spices, then mix in the meat a little at a time. If it starts to get thick or dry or hard to mix add more liquidy stuff, which ever of the liquidy stuff you like the tastes of most (I usually add more BBQ, Sweet Baby Ray's to be exact, and a little Worcestershire sauce). You want it pretty sloppy before the crumb stage. Once that is mixed really well add in whatever crumb thing you are using until the mixture is a firm thick meaty looking lump. I usually save the heels of my loaves of bread and before meatloaf day I dry them in the oven on warm for a half hour or so then add in any stale chips and crackers and mash the whole thing into a powder using a potato masher. If it gets too dry and the crumbs don't have any more liquid to soften them up i add a dash or ketchup at a time until all the crumbs are soaking up some liquid.

This mix needs to sit in the fridge for at least one hour. Once it has sat (I sometimes leave it for several hours) it needs one good mixing then put it into your loaf pans. I usually warm the pans first then wipe the inside with some lard or bacon grease before putting the loaf mix in. then pour bbq or ketchup over the top and spread it around. Pop it in the oven. I usually put it in at 350 and cook it until the center has been at around 160 for like 10 minutes because i am paranoid about making sure it is well done. Once the center hits 160 I turn the heat in the oven down to about 200 just to hold it there without burning the bottom.

When you pull it out of the oven you can either serve it right away (It will likely fall apart but will be delish anyway) or let it sit for 10 minutes then serve and it will hold together really well and won't burn the roof of your mouth.

**almost everything on this list is optional or can be substituted. I've made this and used oatmeal and grated potato instead of meat. It wasn't very good. but it was edible and darn it i was hungry! I called that Faux Loaf.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Win a chicken nest box! Or buy one, either way these are NICE!

OK, I normally don't pass these things along but this is too nice a deal to keep to myself! I know some of my friends here are into the "home raised food" thing too, so if you want chickens, check these out!

Win a HenPals chicken nesting box!

Follow the instructions in the post, but don't dawdle, as the contest ends at midnight EST on Wednesday May 19, 2010.

And even if you don't want to enter check out their store... hand made right here in the USofA by a hard working fella. Spend your dollars where they do the most good, going right to the person who makes the product instead of having half of it go to some middle man. Hen Pals Chicken Nesting Boxes.