Sunday, November 4, 2012

Have You Hugged a Chicken Today?

Have you been over to Tilly's Nest? Well, Melissa is holding her 2nd annual Hug a Chicken Day and we had to, well, hug our chickens (and ducks) and join right in! She also has a weekly blog hop, Down Home Blog Hop, for us poultry people or anyone homesteading or hobby farmin' or even just a great recipe and housekeeping tip. 

I know that it's hard to believe (for some) that chickens can be pretty cool pets, but they are. Each one has their own distinct personality and they can even be taught tricks. They're top-notch garden fertilizers and rototillers and debug better than any pesticide could ever accomplish. They'll even eat up veggie and fruit scraps so nothing goes to waste. And they give back with yummy farm-fresh eggs!

We wanted to share a little of our flock with you! We have 6 Ameraucana-Barred Rock hens - Rhodie, Little Rhodie, Mustard, Onyx, Sassy, and Speckles - and 2 Pekin ducks - Olive and Opal. Our hens arrived through incubation (as a homeschool Embryology and Biology study in June 2011) and our ducks from friends (in March 2012).

Our little red and white barn coop is attached to a run with an artificial pond at the other end. The chicken-wired run is covered with plastic weather sheeting and a blue tarp currently. This helps keep the run less muddy. (Soon, we'll be covering most of the run with plastic sheeting for our frigid, snowy winter months.) We've been filling the run with dry, fallen leaves as they make awesome natural "litter" for the chickens to scratch around in...and we've got an abundant supply until the snow comes. ::wink:: Our original tiny orange coop is also inside the run. The chickens like to sleep in it during the day or roost on top. And recently we added tree roosting bars for more chicken fun.

Thinking of getting some chickens? Here's some tips for you:

♥ Choose chickens that are tolerant of your weather and temperatures and are known to have friendly, docile personalities. Handle them gently and often as chicks.
♥ Build or buy a STURDY coop or repurpose a shed bigger than you anticipate needing for your flock with lots of ventilation, 1 nesting box for every 4 hens, roosting bar(s), and wide doors for easy cleaning. Chickens need MINIMALLY 4 square feet of space each and 9" of roosting space. Provide straw, hay, pine, or leaves as a bedding. No cedar or chemically treated bedding!
♥ Plan to build a large attached run to your coop that is covered in 1" or smaller wire. Chickens should have ample space to stretch those wings, scratch and exercise. Bury the wire in the ground 18" to help prevent predators digging in.
♥ Provide plenty of fresh water and quality feed every day along with a small dish of crush oyster shells (for extra calcium needed for eggs) and grit (for helping to grid food in the crop). Do not mix oysters shells and grit into feed!

Now, I would share some photos of eggs, but the chickens are on hiatus right now. The girls are going through their first molts this fall, losing all or most of their feathers and growing in new ones. All their energy is going into making new feathers and not into laying eggs. ::sigh:: We miss our fresh eggs! But the Os are still giving us their eggs!

So, when's Hug a DUCK Day?!


  1. It's funny you posted this. I just posted about the chickens yesterday. The little ladies aren't quite sure what to do with the leaves on the ground yet, as there are soooooo many. But, I think they'll figure it out during those short bits of time they are allowed out.

  2. LOve the duck at the end. I wish we were able to get chicks this summer. Hopefully this spring!

  3. Oh my goodness! I love it! Thank you so much for joining in the spirit of the Day! Yes, I think YOU should start Hug a Duck Day before anyone else does!!! You had better act fast, just pick a day and create a FB event :) You're the best!~Melissa

  4. Love that last picture. So cute!


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