Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicks and pullets available for delivery June 7th!

Hello hello!

I'm getting all geared up for a big swap on the 7th where I will be able to get a bunch of chicks and pullets (young hens) from a bunch of local breeders, so place your orders and reserve your girls now!

All birds listed here can be delivered to your door on July 7th (email if you need other arrangements), and will come complete with the Chickeness guarantee - I will treat any that show signs of illness within a month from delivery, and any bird you get from me that decides to start crowing will be rehomed for you as soon as possible.  Totally free.  :)

(Please note: anything less than 8 weeks old will need a brooder setup with a heat lamp, anything less than 16 weeks old will need "starter" or "grower" food depending on age, and if you are introducing new birds to an existing flock you'll need to take the same care as with any other new animals.  Ask me if you have questions!)

Pullets generally start laying around 4-6 months, so any that age or older should be laying for you very soon!

Here's what I either will have available or can get by breed, color, age (as of July 7th), and cost.  Click on the breed name for a link to the MyPetChicken info page on that breed, and check for pictures of the actual birds at the bottom, where available.  Prices may be adjustable for combined orders, especially for the younger ones.  :)

White/black pullets - 5 weeks - $15 each

Mixed colors, pullets - 3 weeks - $15 each

Red pullets - 9 weeks - $20 each

Buff pullets - 8 weeks - $20 each

Plymouth Rock
Barred pullets - 12 weeks - $25 each

Red pullets - 5 weeks - $15 each

Salmon Faverolle
Salmon hen - 1 year - $35
Salmon hen - 1.5 yrs - $30
(These two are possibly mother and daughter and are currently living together here at the Menagerie.  Both are very sweet, and so fluffy!  The younger one is currently regrowing a large patch of feathers on her back from where her previous flockmates were picking on her...  poor baby.)

Black bearded pullet - 10.5 months (show quality!*) -$40
Splash bearded pullet - 10.5 months (show quality!*) - $40
Black bearded pullet - 10.5 months - $30
(These top three bred by Bad Azz Silkies)
Mixed pullets - 4 weeks - $15 each

Black pullets - 5 weeks - $15 each

Barred Plymouth rock pullets - 3 months old
Bearded splash silkie pullet - 10.5 mos.
 Bearded black silkie pullet - 10.5 mos.

That's it for now!  I'll update this post as the list changes, so stay tuned!

~The Chickeness~

*What the heck does "show quality" mean, you ask?  Similarly to purebred dogs, it means that these birds are excellent examples of their breed, as dictated by that breed's Standard of Perfection.  For more info, check out the American Poultry Association website, or the website of the breed club for whichever breed you are interested in.  If you have no interest in showing or breeding your birds, then it really just means you're guaranteed a very pretty bird.  :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's too darn hot...

Every time I hear that phrase (or similar), I hear Stacey Kent singing...

Hey y'all!  How goes?  Want to come hang out in the AC with me at the Artisan's Asylum tonight?  I'm teaching my Urban Poultry 101 class from 7:30-9:30 in the classroom (and I hear there may be some cocktails in the social area if you get there a bit early).  There are plenty of spots left, so come on out and learn everything you need to know about keeping your own chickens!

In other news, it's hot!  I spent 10 years in the great state of Texas, and down there this lovely combination of heat and humidity is standard fare from about late March through September, but here in the Northeast it's not something we, or our birds, are used to at all!  And while we can go inside, maybe turn on an air conditioner, drink something with ice in it, take a nice cold shower, or go swimming to deal with it, our darling little down-coat-covered fluffballs only have whatever options we give them.

So what can we do to ensure they don't overheat?

FIRST - WATER!  Make sure they have PLENTY of water.  This is crucial.

SECOND - Make sure they have shade!  If your coop is in an exposed area, and especially if it doesn't have a roof or something they can get underneath, I strongly recommend creating some form of shelter for them that will provide shade.  They will likely not go inside the coop to get out of the sun, and it's probably hotter in there anyway!

THIRD - Inside.  Make sure you have the maximum possible ventilation going on in your coop.  Open all the ventilation holes and whatever other doors you can safely leave open for them.  If you have electricity to your coop, set up an exhaust fan to pull hot air out of the top of the coop somewhere and increase circulation.

FOURTH - Nighttime is a tricky one, because they all pile into the coop and THEY WON'T GO OUTSIDE, even if they are overheating because they're all in there building up body heat.  So, if it's safe from predators to do so, I recommend leaving the "chicken door" between the coop and run open to allow for even more ventilation at night.  If you have a light inside the coop, leave it off.  Also see #5 for keeping the coop cooler overnight.

FIFTH - ICE CUBES!  Put ice cubes in their water before you leave in the morning.  Better yet, freeze water in a water/soda bottle, then put the giant ice cube in their waterer (I wouldn't freeze the whole thing b/c you want to be sure they have plenty of water).  You can also freeze a gallon jug of water and place it inside the coop to cool off the temp in there (it will condense and drip a lot of water, so put it on a tray or bag or something to keep your bedding dry).

SIXTH - Frozen fruit.  As an extra treat, my girls got frozen watermelon rinds yesterday and today, and you can do the same with any melon and many other fruits and veggies.  I don't recommend small things they can swallow whole (blueberries, etc), but rather larger things that they need to bite off smaller chunks over time.

SEVENTH - Either early in the morning or later in the afternoon (to reduce evaporation and thus water waste), I also water my plants that are around the coop and hose down some larger areas of dirt/fence that the girls can get to.  This cools down the whole area a bit, creating little microclimates of cooler temps they can use.

So there are a few ideas for how to give your girls plenty of help dealing with heat this summer.  If you have other ideas, experiences, or questions, please share them in the comments!

Stay cool, kids.  :D

~The Chickeness~

Here's a nice, cold picture of my coop in winter to chill you out.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Yes, hi... I'd like to place an order for delivery?

Three things from the Chickeness to you on this lovely Friday afternoon...

My next Urban Poultry 101 class at the Artisan's Asylum in Somerville is NEXT FRIDAY!!  I'll be covering all the basics you'll need to know to keep your own chickens, with plenty of time for questions and discussion, a chance to meet some of my Chicken Ambassadors in person, and a few fresh eggs to take home with you as a bonus.  Click on the link above to register, and check out the Asylum's other awesome classes while you're there.  Hope to see you in a week!

If you can't make it to this class, but would like to attend another in the future, please let me know!  If we have enough demand we can run another class sooner rather than later.

I gave a presentation to the City of Somerville a few weeks ago, and we got to meet a number of City officials, including the mayor!  This event was just featured on the City's urban ag blog today, so check that out for a few pictures and such.

Are you planning to get chickens?  Do you already have some and want to add to your flock?  Would you rather support a local breeder than a big hatchery?*  Would you rather know that your chicks are being hand-transported from a beloved small flock than airmailed from a place with 1000s of birds who may never have interacted with people?  Do you want to be more connected with the source of your food?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, did you know that I can get locally bred and raised chicks and hens for you?  No?  Well guess what... I can!  (And I want to!)  :D

As I've talked to more and more city folk about urban chickens, I've realized that most urbanites think that ordering chicks from hatcheries is the only way to get chickens.  But I've been attending regional poultry events for the past few years - competing at bigger poultry shows and attending smaller social events known as chickenstocks or chickenswaps - and I've met many lovely, dedicated people within an hour or two of Boston who keep, breed, raise, and show poultry of all types.

Then one day I had an epiphany! 

(picture me staring off into the distance with a surprised look of wonder on my face...)

I thought, "I can provide a connection between all of these fantastic local breeders and raisers-of-chickens with all of the city folk who have NO IDEA that these people exist!  And in doing so, I can help some of the "country mice" find good homes for the birds they've lovingly bred and raised while providing a local, small-business source of high-quality chicks and hens for the "city mice"!  How awesome would that be?!!"

And thus, the first eggs of a new bid'ness were laid.  (N'AMEN)

SO... whatcha want?  Cuz, ya know... I know a guy.  (A few guys, actually.  And a lot of girls too.)

The next big event is coming up on July 7th, so get your orders in now! 

(If you'd like to see what these events are all about for yourself, check out all the info on the July 7th "Sharkie" chickenstock forum thread.  Let me know if you're planning to attend so I can say hello!)

And now... Lemme snooze oo-oo-on, like a chicky in the sun... :D

*Disclaimer: not all hatcheries are bad.  Some are great.  Some are doing a lot to preserve rare heritage breeds.  Some are doing what they can to cater to the new wave of small-time, urban poultry keepers.  That said, I think smaller and more local is generally better, and I don't think that my facilitation of a connection between regional breeders and buyers is going to put any of the bigger hatcheries out of business.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Next Urban Poultry 101 class at the Artisan's Asylum!!


My next Urban Poultry 101 class at Artisan's Asylum has been confirmed for Friday, June 22nd from 7:30-9:30pm in the Artisan's Asylum classroom at 10 Tyler Street, Somerville, MA, 02143.

The class is $30/person and includes a presentation on all the basics you need to know to keep your own chickens (housing, feeding, cleaning, illness and injury, laws and zoning, etc.), plus a guided Q&A discussion followed by playtime with a few of my gals.  AND, depending on how they've been laying recently, you'll hopefully get a couple of tasty, home-grown eggs to take with you!

Go to the Urban Poultry 101 class listing on Eventbrite to reserve your spot, and let me know if you have any questions!  (While you're there, check out all the other amazing classes offered at the Asylum as well!)

And now, here's me an' Lucifer, down by the schoolyard... :)

(Yeah, I'm an Aggie.  It's awesome.  :D)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Let's talk about poo..., let's talk about you an' me, let's talk about all the good things an' the bad things that may be...

(This post brought to you by Salt'n'Pepa and the color three.)

I had a call from a client the other morning who wanted to know about chicken poo.  Specifically he wanted to know what the best thing is to do with it once you have it, but I'll get back to that in a moment. 

First I want to share this lovely page all about chicken poo.  If you aren't sure what normal chicken poo is supposed to look like, in comparison with non-normal poo that might indicate some illness or other issue, check out that page for reference.  Thanks to the My Pet Chicken newsletter for that marvelous little link.

And now back to the issue at hand - whatever to do with the poo.

The answer: COMPOST! 

This, ahem, "$hit", is like GOLD to a gardener.  If you don't garden (though if you have chickens it's probably likely you do), then find yourself some folks who do and offer to have them come pick up your dirty laundry (...bedding)(...from your chicken coop) on cleaning day.  Make sure you let them know if it's fresh manure or has already been composted - fresh manure is too rich for most plants to handle, and you don't want to put it on anything edible.  Once it's been composted it's fine to use anywhere.

If you do garden, just toss your poo-laden shavings into either an open pile (my preferred method) or compost bin and leave 'em for about 6 mos and voila!  You have free-and-fantastic compost for your garden.  The mix of bedding (carbon-ilicious"brown" matter) and poo (nitrogen-rich "green" matter) is already very well balanced to make good compost, and you get the bonus of a great place to toss your kitchen and yard scraps too.  If you'd like more info, there are a bunch of great websites on the hows and whys of composting your chicken waste (like this one), and of course you're always welcome to send me a note or comment!