Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Polish Join the Flock

Schwinn and Smirnoff were in the holding zone for a week or so. At night, I'd find them roosting on the fencing. There was some hen pecking once they joined the flock, particularly from Blanche. But now, the flock seems to have achieved harmony. Even Jim noticed that they seem like a happy flock.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Which Chicken Are You?

If you are the kind of Mom who can make a kid stop what they're doing with just a look, you are Hedwig.

Hedwig is the leader of the flock. She leads with a quiet authority with Blanche and Squirt as her wingmen. (Winghen?)

Don't mess with Hedwig and she won't mess with you.

And again, I am using the Hipstamatic app to take these cool photos. I may have to name a hen after the Hipstamatic.

Smirnoff in Full Glory

I am addicted to the Hipstamatic app on my iPod Touch. It takes cool, square, retro photos. I took this one of Smirnoff, saturated the color and added a matte to it in iPhoto. I think it's as cool as the chicken herself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Making a Choice

In The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, dogs are main characters in the plot of the book, particularly one named Almondine. Almondine may be a work of fiction, but one that is very dear to my heart, as is the entire story.

In the book, the author makes it clear that the dogs are able to make a choice at pivotal points in the book.

That's how I feel about introducing new chickens. When they feel ready to join the flock, I want them to be able to do so.

So today, Smirnoff decided she was ready. But she got hen pecked, literally. To the point that there was blood all over her tail area. So, I washed her up and put antibiotic lotion all over her and she is going to have to heal up in the holding area till I let her make a choice again. I have no choice. Once there's blood, the flock keeps pecking and as a middle child, I cannot stand for that injustice.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Introducing the Polish

We're thinking of naming the Polish hens Schwinn and Smirnoff, since we biked them home from the Fair in a vodka box.

They are gentle hens who are more like cats than chickens. We are chicken sitting for the neighbors and brought the Polish down with us. Walked all around the neighborhood with them and they just took it all in stride.

During the day, they're in the holding area. At night, after dark, I put them on a roost inside the coop.

The first morning, I found them in the exact same position as I left them, except that Hedwig was standing above them giving them a stern look.

The second morning, they were in the corner and Hedwig was standing above them giving them a stern look. Sometimes, Squirt and Blanche join in.

My Pet Chicken describes the Polish as gentle and friendly, which we've found to be true. But they can also be hen-pecked, so back out to the holding area they go. This will be a long introduction, I think.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Biking Home with Some Polish

(Yes, another State Fair post.) While officiating the Rooster Crowing contest, I spoke with Haaken, the owner of the winning frizzle bantam. Knowing that Huff and Fetuccini Alfredo were probably roosters, I wanted to get a few more "Poof Heads" into the flock before winter. He agreed to sell me two Buff and Golden-Laced Polish hens.

I had biked over and had brought a bungee cord. Haaken said he had a box. In fact, at the Fair, there were a ton of boxes and most of then were booze related. The Fair must be a 12-day party for some of these people!

I was going to surprise Jim but he decided at the last minute to come along. So, I had to come clean and tell Jim what I was up to, especially because he had the cash. As usual, Jim's reaction was 'no, no, no' but he went along with it once he saw the hens. At 3 pm, when the animal barns close, we packed the hens into the Smirnov box and headed out. No one asked, checked or questioned. We could have taken 10 hens, it was such chaos. Not that I am into stealing, especially not hens.

The hens got to see a little bit of the Fair and enjoy a strawberry from the Strawberries and Cream stand.

They are really cool hens.

Looking back at pictures of State Fair chickens from previous years, Polish are my most-photographed chicken. So I feel no buyer's remorse.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Still More on the Topic of the State Fair

The end of the Fair means one thing: Time for the rooster crowing contest. 11 am sharp the last few days of the Fair. We got to be Judges at the last day's competition, and there was some big money involved. The Judge must count how many times your assigned rooster crows in a 30 minute time period. The scores are cumulative. My rooster had no name, but was a Sumatra. He crowed 36 times. He came in third.
When we sat down to preside the contest, the woman running the show made sure to let us know that we had selected the Large Breed roosters. I told her we were up to the task.

Roosters in our Midst

The Fair also helped us confirm a suspicion: The Crested Top Hat and one of the Silkies are roosters. All three of us humans came to the same conclusion once we were able to compare them side by side in the Poultry Barn. Very disappointing, as I like both of them and will not be able to keep them.
So long, Huff and Puff and Fettucini Alfredo.

State Fair, Two Days in a Row

The weather was so great, we ended up going to the Fair Sunday and Monday. Of course, we checked out the Poultry Barn, where I finally figured out what Blanche is. She is a Red Pyle Modern Game Hen. All along, I thought she was a seagull.
The fair hen:

More Geekiness to Come

This weekend, Saturday, September 10, is the Twin Cities Parade of Coops Tour. I'd like to be on it but cannot for two reasons: 1.) Jim has to work that day and 2.) I never did the spring clean up this spring. It was raining all the time, so I shifted it to fall.
When I mentioned that Marcy and I went on the Coop Tour instead of going to see Jim's Parade Home to some friends (Sam and Dean) who live in the country, they laughed a little and then the conversation turned to other things. About 20 minutes later, Dean says, "What a minute. So you guys actually have an event to go see coops?" It was only then I realized that it might be considered weird by some.
The Twin Cities Chickens google group puts it together and there will be over 40 coops to tour this Saturday. No ticket required!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Geeking Out at the State Fair

Egg / Plant in St. Paul was looking for volunteers to man a Backyard Chickens booth in the EcoExperience building at the State Fair. I signed up for a 9 to noon shift, biked over this Monday and had so much fun! Peoples' questions reminded me of mine when I first started: Do you need a rooster? (No.) Should the coop be heater? (Yes, unless you have winter hardy or a lot of them.) Their general response fell into three categories:
"Chickens." "Chickens?" "Chickens!"
The Poultry Barn was closed the day I was there, so the two chickens there were really the only ambassadors their species had that day. Audrey at Egg / Plant said we volunteers could bring our own chickens, too. Once I figure out how to transport them there via bike, I'll take a few of my favorites over.

Not So Savvy Blogger

Blogs have come a long way since I started this one. As a writer, I look at some of these Moms who blog, save-you-money blogs and other monetized blogs and wonder how they do it. For me, I just wanted to journal the adventure of chicken keeping. But to be forced to write about it every day? Makes my head hurt. So, I'm keeping it fun and posting when I have something to say. It's summer and the little chickens are growing and a few of the hens are laying. It's easy right now. I will get some current photos of some of the pullets. My goal was to get some rare breeds and I have a really good mix right now. A motley crew.