Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some final touches

Happy Sunday friends!

It has been a busy week at Hummingbird Hollow.  I have been busy putting together our First Aid Kit.  I will show you more about our kit and what we have in it so far.  I imagine the items may change as I learn more about the things that we need to have for our girls.
  We have already had a patient in our sick bay.  :(  Our Easter Egger Daphne has continued to have trouble with her left eye.  I put her in the sick bay this morning with some antibiotic water.  She was VERY upset about being separated from the flock and I caved at about noon and released her.  I have been rinsing the eye in the morning and evening and have also been treating it with VetRX.  She seems fine other than a "sore" looking eye.  She is very active and always jumps right in for mealworms so I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will be ok.

On my way out to let the girls out into the run this morning I was greeted with this beautiful sight.

We are lucky enough to often see hot air balloons flying over.  This morning there were two beautiful balloons.  

My husband has been hard at work today building the "porch" for the hen house. 
He is calling this the "last thing left to do".  I hate to break to him that I really want to fence in the area under our poop board so that we have a space for a broody breaker or a new mom and chicks.  

It will be so great to have some steps to the hen house door.  Until now the chair you see in the picture has been my "stair".  I didn't expect anything as fancy as this nice little porch.  But it will be handy to be able to place the "poop bucket" on the porch outside of the coop.  It can be quite smelly to open it in the coop. *yuck* 

Ok, I better get back to spray painting the recycled plastic buckets that I am using for our first aid kit and poop bucket.  I just wanted to share how excited I am about my new porch and steps.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Sunday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A big thank you!!!

Oprah Orpington and all the Hens at Hummingbird Hollow Hen House want to send a big thank you to Kathy, the Chicken Chick!
As many of you already know we are huge fans of the Chicken Chick!  She has an amazing blog and Facebook page that is chock full of information and she has lots of great giveaways.  On September 1st we won a Hen Supplement Kit (Oyster Shell, Grit and Diatomaceous Earth) from Scratch and Peck Feeds and it came in the mail today!  I truly never win anything so this is such a great prize and the new Hens at Hummingbird Hollow Hen House can't thank Kathy enough.

If you haven't visited Kathy's blog I hope you will follow the link above.  And of course visit Scratch and Peck Feeds.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Good Morning from Hummingbird Hollow Hen House

It is truly a beautiful chilly morning here in Kansas.  I thought I would share a short video of our 7 pullets coming out into the run this morning.  

As you can hear in the video I have one pullet that seems to sneeze frequently.  She doesn't have any other symptoms other than the sneeze.  And one of my Easter Egger pullets has been closing her left eye alot the last few days.  She is eating fine and seems pretty active.  I first noticed that the eye was a little watery.  Not sure if she got pecked or bumped into something.  Another thing to worry about and keep an eye on.

Next on the "to do" list will be naming the other 4 Easter Egger pullets and then getting pictures of them so they can be introduced on the blog. :) 

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A problem! Already?

Well, I guess no amount of research will guarantee success.
I must have looked at a jillion plans for PVC gravity feeders for my chicken houses.  Really!  I'm not kidding!  There are SO many different plans out there and I never cease to be amazed at the creativity that people have.  I wish I could thank all of the people who posted different ideas.

I had a few goals in building my PVC feeder.
  1. A feeder that would hold alot of  food and not have to be refilled each day
  2. A feeder that reduces waste
  3. A feeder that reduces the mess left in the coop
  4. A feeder that by reducing the mess reduces mice wanting to make late night visits to the Hen House
Unfortunately my girls LOVED scooping all the food out of the first PVC feeder that we built.
This feeder is made with a 4 inch PVC pipe and a rabbit or ferret corner litter pan.  I used zip ties to attach the pipe to the wall.  I liked this design because I thought more chickens would be able to use it at the same time.  However, as you can see there is a thick layer of crumble feed at the base of the feeder.  It has even buried the broom behind the feeder. :(

The new version uses the same 4 inch PVC pipe.  It had to be cut down a little to give space for the connectors and the T area.  My wonderful husband thought that the feeder would be easier for the chickens to use if it was a 3 inch PVC pipe across the bottom.  And he was absolutely right.  The shallower pipe gives the girls better access to the feed.  My husband used a 2 1/8 inch drill to make 2 holes in each side of the feeder.  The size is absolutely perfect.  The girls can get their heads down in the feeder but they can't get their feet in the feeder to scoop it out onto the floor.  And the circle openings prevent them from scooping the feed out with their beaks.  SO much better than the original design.

**The fine print - I am not saying this feeder design will work for everyone.  I only know that for my 7 pullets it is working fabulously.  I may have to install a second feeder at a later time since I am expecting 5 more girls toward the end of October.  But for now this works great!**

You may also notice my waterer on the right side of the picture above.  My husband made a few improvements so that the cooler could fit in a little cubby area left from the nest box side of the chicken coop.  I love that the water stays perfectly clean in this watering system.  The chickens do allow a little bit of water to dribble when they use the waterer.  So I added a cookie sheet filled with some river rock to catch any overflow.  This keeps the water off the floor and off the sand and allows the water to evaporate.  Works great!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The long awaited arrival!

Ok, so the decision to get a small backyard flock was an easy one for me.  I have had chickens before and absolutely loved cooking and baking with my fresh eggs.  I love filling my Grandma Cox's wonderful bowl with beautiful eggs.  BUT...talking my husband into it was another thing entirely.  I guess I can't really blame him.  He is a city boy through and through and truly had no idea what he was getting himself into.  The fact that he agreed to my pleas for a chicken house really showed me how much he must love me.

I ordered 12 started pullets from Murray McMurray Hatchery on June 5th, 2013.  And I chose a delivery date sometime the week of  September 10th.  I discussed it with my husband and he thought we could have the coop built and ready by then.  And I definitely wanted to place my order early because I very much wanted some Ameracauna's and some Cuckoo Marans and I was afraid that waiting to order could mean those breeds were sold out.  I spent lots of time considering whether ordering started pullets was the right thing to do.  After all I want eggs as quickly as possible.  But I also want the new pullets to be tame and docile and I worried that might be harder with older chickens.  

As the time grew closer for the delivery of the pullets I got more and more worried about whether or not our little coop would be ready.  And who knew that the weather on September 7th and 8th, 2013 in Kansas would include high temperatures around 105 degrees!!!!  To make matters worse, my husband got sick with a fever and terrible congestion and cough.  I don't think he has been sick once in the last 4 years! How were we possibly going to get done?  We hadn't even begun to build the run!  I guess sheer determination got us through.  And luckily my daughter's boyfriend came over and helped us construct the poop board and roosts.  Whew!  What a relief.

I definitely stalked the USPS tracking page beginning on September 10th.  I constantly checked for any updates on where my 7 girls were. (The 5 Cuckoo Marans didn't ship with the 5 Ameracauna and 2 Buff Orpingtons.  They will arrive near the end of October)
On both Wednesday and Thursday morning I was up at 5 a.m. with the anticipation of the post office calling to let me know that the pullets arrived.  I finally got a call on September 12th at 8:20.  I raced out to the coop to add water to a flat dish so the new pullets would have something to drink as soon as I unloaded them.  And I was sure to add a little "Quik Chick" to the water.  I know these girls aren't exactly "chicks" but I ordered a packet from Murray McMurray when I ordered the pullets.  I just think it helps them get a good start with some extra vitamins and electrolytes.  Then off to the post office to get the girls and bring them to their new home.

Having never ordered started pullets I had no idea exactly how they would be shipped.  Here is a picture of the box all loaded in my car and ready for the last leg of their long journey.
And finally, a few pictures of the girls in their new home.  They sure dove into the food and water right away!  Poor girls!  What a long time to travel in a tiny box.  
I'm so sorry for the off center iphone picture.  I was so excited and in such a hurry to get the girls out of the boxes.  There were 3 sections in this shipment.  One box contained the 2 Buff Orpingtons.  One box contained 3 Ameracaunas and one box contained the other 2 Ameracaunas.  Of course after spending so much time in such a confined area some of the girls had lost some feathers across their backs and in the tail feather area.  I imagine there was a lot of pecking and standing on each other happening.
And one more terrible quality picture.  I am so happy to have the girls in their new home.  And they seem to be settling in very well.  I am excited for all of our adventures to come and VERY excited for the first egg to be laid.

And so it begins

Well, really I suppose it all began years and years ago.  Maybe "And so it begins AGAIN" is more accurate. :) 
I had a flock of chickens when my family lived on a farm near Horton Kansas.  My first 25 chicks arrived on May 6, 1996.  I got 25 day old chicks then from Murray McMurray Hatchery.  And those were a combination of Buff Orpington and Ameracauna.  I loved these two breeds then and I obviously still love them now.
A scrapbook page documenting the arrival of our very first chicks!!!
After lots and lots of online research (I am a HUGE fan of the Chicken Chick!  I have learned so much from her blog and posts.) I talked my husband into building us a little chicken house in our big back yard.  (More on this in a future post.  For now I will just say that my husband doesn't know how to build a "little" anything.  And since he is a "city boy" obviously he loves me enormously to follow me blindly into this backyard chicken adventure) Since we have neighbors and neighborhood dogs our new flock will have to be in a chicken run and not free range.  We also quite often see lots of hawks and many coyotes, so the run is safer.  For my new flock we are taking advantage of  Murray McMurray's started pullets.  It is great to be able to order fewer chickens and wonderful that the chickens are closer to laying age.  Our first pullets arrived on September 12th, 2013.  My 5 Cuckoo Marans Pullets will arrive toward the end of October.  Can you tell I am a huge fan of the beautiful eggs?  And I just love the calm and docile nature of the big beautiful Orpingtons so I had to have a couple of those as well.  
Our first 7 Hummingbird Hollow Pullets
So much has changed since my first chicken house on the farm in Horton 16 years ago. (WOW!  Has it TRULY been 16 years?!!?! Time sure does fly)  Back then I hadn't ever heard of anything like a "Poop Board".  Back then I had the traditional three tiered "ladder" roost which meant you needed to be a champion contortionist to clean under it.  Then I used straw as a coop floor cover and begrudgingly cleaned the coop once a month. was truly the worst.  Imagine if you can lifting chunks of straw that have been pooped on and matted down onto the floor and pooped on again.  Sand? Aaaaaah, such a DREAM.  Then I had the traditional chicken waterer that got full of gunk and could stink worse than almost any smell I had ever encountered.  Now I have the BriteTap watering system on the front of a 10 gallon cooler.  Absolutely NO stinky water!  I will talk lots more about all of these things in the future and introduce you a bit more to the current Hummingbird Hollow Girls.

I hope you will join me for this amazing adventure.  I already love these girls so much and have tons to tell you.