Wednesday, October 30, 2013

They're heeeeeeeeeeeeeere


Oh, well don't be.  Even though Halloween is tomorrow they're not aliens, not ghosts, not even zombies.
Of course I am talking about our 5 new pullets.  Our Cuckoo Marans arrived today!!!!  And now our flock family is least until Spring.

These girls had a much shorter shipping time than the first pullets.  So they weren't nearly as hungry and their feathers were in much better shape than our first chickens.

The pictures really don't capture how pretty these girls are.  And of course they can't completely relax yet.  They have to be introduced to our first 7 girls and find their place in the pecking order.  I am really hoping that the process goes smoothly.  I am surprised at how small these girls look compared to our first pullets.  I guess that just goes to show how much the first girls have grown!

Have you ever noticed in life how everything HAS to happen all at once.  I called the post office this morning to make sure they had my cell phone number and home phone number so they could reach me when the chickens arrived.  And of course I got a call while I was on the way to the Orthodontist Office with my daughter.  I hated to think of the girls being in the box a moment longer than necessary.  Thankfully Taylor's appointment only lasted about 10 minutes.  Whew!  

Welcome to Kansas girls!  We are so happy you are here and hope you lay us some beautiful chocolate brown eggs VERY soon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

1st Dust Baths

Dust baths?  Really?
To get clean you roll in dirt?
Yes!  Well, if you are a chicken.

And watching chickens take a dust bath is one of my favorite chicken activities.  They kick and scratch and the dirt flies.  Today I got to watch a few of my chickens taking their first dust bath and of course I had to snap a few pictures.
Gilda was really into this dust bath.  She had her head turned and turned almost completely on her back to roll in the dirt.  Looks like Oprah Orpington would like to get in on this prime dust bath spot.

Look how much the girls have killed out the grass in the run area.  The grazing box is doing a nice job of protecting an area of grass for the girls to snack on.  That is Hazel on the grazing box.

All of this relaxing dust bathing was happening while I was inside the coop hard at work finally finishing the last of the painting.  Our new chickens are scheduled to arrive sometime this week and I really wanted to have all of the inside painting completed. took way longer to finish up the painting than I thought it would.  But I think it looks nice.

The nest box wall.

View from inside the coop looking toward the door and porch.

We didn't get the wood put up underneath the chicken house to give the girls some wind protection this Winter.  Maybe next weekend.  :) 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Warm Breakfast

I guess it is the Mom in me.  I just feel better when my family has a nice warm meal.  Especially when it is cold outside.  And my chickens are "like" family to me.  :)  So it makes sense that I would feel better when they have a warm meal on a cold morning.  

This morning didn't seem nearly as cold as yesterday.  But after reading a post from Penland's Peeps on Facebook about how they give their poultry a warm breakfast I thought I had to try it for our little flock.  They LOVED it!

I put a dish out in the run area with some of our chicken feed mix (I still haven't shared the recipe we are using.  I will do that soon) and then I added about the same amount of hot water.  Of course it cools down quickly by the time I get it to the run and pour it over the food.  So it is just warm by the time the chickens get it.  Note to self....mix half as much next time.  I think the girls will continue to work on it for awhile this morning, but I mixed entirely too much for the 7 girls we currently have.

Over and over again I saw them picking at each others beaks to help clean off the extra food.  Not in an aggressive manner, but very gently.  Chickens are so interesting.
Gwhen and Oprah Orpington help Hazel clean her beak a bit.  

Gwhen and Layla seem less than pleased that the Herb Planter has been moved out of the run.  Sorry girls, it just looked so picked over and scraggly.  I thought you were done with it.  :) 

I know lots of you give warm oatmeal to your chickens on cold mornings.  And I may add some oats to their next warm breakfast.  I would love to hear about the foods you give your chickens on cold mornings.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nest Box Curtains

If you tell your friends that you are making curtains for your chicken nest boxes you will get a very funny look.  If you tell the lady at Hobby Lobby that you are purchasing fabric to make nest box curtains for the chicken coop you will get an even funnier look.  It all left me feeling a little like maybe I AM the crazy chicken lady.  :)
I still have some painting to do.  But here are the "Fall" nest box curtains.

But honestly they serve many beneficial purposes to the chickens and to me.
1. Curtains "hide" your broody hens.  We all know that what one chicken does the rest of the chickens soon want to do.  None of us need a coop full of broody hens.
2. Curtains provide a dark and private space.  Chickens love to hide their eggs and this helps them feel like they can hide.  Our nest boxes happen to be pretty open so I felt that the curtains would be very helpful in our coop.
3. Chickens often peck at other hens during the laying process.  This is called "vent pecking".  The curtains again hide the process making pecking less of an issue.
4.  When we open our nest box doors from the outside of the coop the chickens sometimes become a little startled.  The curtains have certainly helped so the chickens feel less unsure when those doors are open.
5. I wanted to hurry and get these curtains made before 5 new Cuckoo Marans Pullets arrive at our Hen House next week.  When our first 7 pullets came they liked to have little slumber parties in the nest boxes.  Of course they can leave quite a mess when they "roost" in a nest box overnight.  Now that I have the excelsior nest pads in my boxes I wanted to discourage the new pullets from hanging out in there and making a mess.

So...SEE!  Not entirely crazy after all.  :) 

I may tack back the corners of the nest box curtain openings just until the girls get the idea of the nest box curtains.

It was really a fun day of sewing.  I enjoyed making these curtains and am looking forward to making the Christmas curtains. 

If you would like to make your own, I have created a little graphic showing how I made mine.  Your measurements will vary slightly but hopefully this little pattern will help you get started on your own nest box curtains.  I have 6 nest boxes so the following pattern is for 6 openings.

Remember, you can click on the pattern above to see a larger version.  And you are welcome to right click on the picture and save it to your own computer.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

This last picture is just a view of the top sewing.  I have my curtains hanging on a very narrow curtain rod so the sewing along the top is for that rod.  Many people making next box curtains just staple the curtains to the top of the nest box area.  Because of how our coop is constructed that wasn't as easy for me to do.  The curtain rod worked very well.  And I will be able to easily remove the curtains and wash and store them for next Fall.

Do you have Nest Box Curtains in your coop?  I would love to see pictures.
Are you planning to make Nest Box Curtains?
Be sure to drop by our Facebook page to chat with me and show me pictures.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I could sit and watch for hours

There is something so entertaining about the chickens.  They have such personalities and they seem to always be doing something.  I really could sit and watch them for hours.  And shhhh....don't tell anyone...but I think my husband could sit and watch them for hours too.  He will never admit it.  :)  But we find ourselves out by the run just standing there and watching them.  I want a bench for the run so much!

On Sunday afternoon I decided to give the girls my herb planter.  We have had two nights with frost so it won't last much longer now that cold weather is getting here.  And to be honest my plan all along was to let them enjoy it.  They really seemed to enjoy getting in and around the planter.  They found lots of little treasures.

I love the look Oprah has.  (I think that is Oprah, at little hard to tell from that angle.)

There is something so beautiful and fluffy butts.  :)  And I love how Gwhen's tail feathers have formed.  So pretty.

Gilda (left) and Oprah (right) enjoyed watching the gulls flying around.  I could almost hear them wishing they could soar and fly like the gulls were.

After exploring the herb planter Oprah decided to do more exploring.  Not sure if she spotted a bug up in the run roof or not.  But something was sure interesting.

It is hard to even put into words how much I am enjoying these chickens.  I can't imagine how much more we will enjoy them when we start getting some eggs.  Oh!  And our 5 new girls should be arriving next week!  We are expecting 5 cuckoo marans pullets.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Mornings

Lately it seems like we just never get a moment to sit and relax.  Maybe that is because we are always thinking of new projects to do in and around the house.  And maybe it is because our youngest is very active and social.  We are either at volleyball, taking her to volleyball, or taking her to one of the jillion other activities she has.  Someday I know I will miss it, so I try to enjoy every minute.

When we do finally have a beautiful Sunday morning it is a very special treat.  And today was very beautiful.  We were able to sleep in a bit which is another treat.  And then we enjoyed a few minutes in the hot tub.  After that it was nice enough to enjoy a late breakfast on the deck. felt like a little piece of heaven!

The only thing that could have made this delicious french toast any better is if we had been able to use our own fresh eggs.  C'mon girls!  We are SO excited for your first eggs!!!!

My husband made the french toast using the homemade white bread I made on Friday.  

The birds were chirping, the sun was shining and warming the morning, and I frankly just never wanted it to end.

We even had an unexpected breakfast guest.  No...he didn't eat the rest of my yummy french toast.  I finished it before he visited.  But he didn't seem to mind and made himself at home with my leftover syrup.  

My husband thinks I am crazy, but I love the bees and wasps and honey bees.  "They sting!" he says.  Well, only if you bother them.  :)  This guy and about 50 of his friends were busy buzzing around the grape jelly feeder that I had out for the Orioles.  Well, until they decided to join us for breakfast.

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxed Sunday. 
Be sure to share pictures with us.  It is a bit easier to share pictures on Facebook so visit our page there too.  Our Hummingbird Hollow Facebook Page

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another beautiful sunrise

If you have seen one sunrise you have seen them all!
Wrong I think!
So many factors play into the sunrise and sunset.  And since I can't be enjoying some of my favorite sunsets over the beach on Anna Maria Island in Florida, I have to see all the beauty in these Kansas sunrises and sunsets.  :) 

On Wednesday morning (October 16th, 2013) I was busy getting all my morning chores done because my daughter Meghann and our new little granddaughter Kinnley were coming to spend the day.  
But I had to stop and take a picture of this beautiful sunrise.  Of course I don't think the camera did it justice.  Some things only God can fully capture.  And this sunrise changed quickly due to the clouds.
The layer of clouds overhead only allowed the sun to peek through right at the horizon.  The way the sun hit the tops of the trees was truly amazingly beautiful.

I hope you all take time to enjoy the simple things even at the busiest times.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our first Fall!

I sometimes forget that our girls are only 20 or so weeks old.  There are things that they have never seen or experienced.  And that became so clear today when I took a piece of pumpkin out to them.

They looked at it like it was some alien life form.

 They stretched their necks out as far as possible in an effort to check it out.
 "Stop being such CHICKENS!!!" Ok, actually I want them to be more like chickens and start laying us some eggs.  :)
 And then they attacked!  It was a little like Chicken Week! (Our version of Shark Week) :)

 Just sharing this picture of Gilda to show how beautifully she has feathered out.  The girls have been on the new mix of feed for 5 days and I think I already see a difference in their feathers and their size.

 All at once the girls acted like they heard something and they scattered!  Poof!  It is a bit unsettling to be out with them and realize that they sense something that I can't see.  I still don't know what made them go into hiding, but I trust their instincts.
 And what do you do after a delicious snack?  Find your favorite napping spot of course!  The girls love being under the coop.
I walked back into the house after a fun visit with the girls and immediately panicked!  YIKES!!!!  I forgot that I had Banana Bread in the oven.  Thankfully the bread wasn't burned.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My favorite time of the day

Mornings are my favorite time of the day at Hummingbird Hollow Hen House.
And I have learned to take my camera with me when I go out in the mornings to check on the girls and let them into the run.  And of course mornings are the time for "maid service".
First thing in the morning everything is so peaceful.  I enjoy talking to the chickens and checking on their food and water.  And somehow even cleaning up the poop board from the overnight droppings is very fulfilling.

The last few mornings there seems to be an order to how the girls come out of the run.  Maybe this is some indication of the pecking order?  Then again maybe not.
seems always to be Gwhen.  If she is at the top of the pecking order it would surprise me a little because I would expect one of the Buff Orpington girls to have that role.  On the other hand, Gwhen's nickname when she first arrived at Hummingbird Hollow was "Meanie".  And I guess you have to be a bit mean to be the boss. :) 

I absolutely love the little chase game they play in the mornings.  They seem so happy to be out in the run enjoying the fresh air.  Gwhen sure got her feathers ruffled this morning.

So if Gwhen is first then who is last? 
Hazel always seems to be last.  Maybe she just likes a few extra minutes of beauty rest. :)

Oh, thank goodness the maid was here!
The girls always seem to be so curious about what I am doing.  Probably because anything I am doing might involve treats.  This picture shows Sophia and Gwhen coming in to check things out with Daphne following close behind.

So all is peaceful and quiet in the hen house.

And then.......

this happened.......

My two dogs came busting out of the house with a bark and a bang ready to invade my quiet time!!!  They haven't ever done this before and I still am not sure if possibly the screen door on the deck just didn't latch well.  My guess is Toby (the cocker spaniel in bad need of a haircut!) saw a squirrel that he couldn't resist chasing.  And where Toby goes Jasmine is sure to follow.  Of course the head directly to the neighbors yard.  BAD DOGS!!!!!

Thankfully the dogs have adjusted well to the chickens being here.  The first couple days Jasmine barked and chased around the run.  Now she walks by as if they have been here forever.

Who is at the top of the pecking order for your flock?
What is your favorite time of the day with your chickens?

It is so fun to hear from our friends so leave a comment here or of course look for us on Facebook.  Share some pictures with us too! 

Sorry this post is getting to the blog a day late.  :(  I was busy yesterday baking two free form apple pies.
One was for dessert last night and the other will be sent home with my daughter today along with some homemade Cannelloni.  My daughter and grand daughter are visiting today so I thought it would be nice if she didn't have to make supper when she gets home.

You can find my recipe at this link.

Monday, October 14, 2013


My girls love TREATS!  And even though I try to keep the treats to a minimum so that they get lots of good vitamins and minerals in their food, I can't help but take them some treats now and then.

Last night my husband made me an AMAZING dinner of angel hair pasta with scallop and lobster wine sauce.  It was soooo very good.  When we were doing dishes my husband asked "do we save the pasta for the chickens?"  :)  I just have to smile.  Our girls have been here for exactly a month and obviously they have already won him over.  He has been known to take out an apple core for them.  I caught him on Saturday and Sunday catching grasshoppers and feeding them.  And now he thinks to save the pasta before it even occurs to me.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me!

So this afternoon I took them their spaghetti treat.  I love watching them grab noodles and run off with their "I got it" squawk.  

I have quickly learned that their favorite treats are tomatoes, grapes, pasta, bread, and tortillas. 

I have also quickly learned that Gwhen likes her moment in the spotlight.  
"Do I have something on my face?"  

I guess I should have taken a napkin or two with me.  :)

We are loving this cool weather.  I am hoping Fall sticks around a little while in Kansas before Winter arrives.  Our Cuckoo Marans pullets should arrive in a couple weeks and I hope they have a little nice weather to settle in. 

We got the pool closed yesterday and the hot tub cleaned.  Such a busy weekend!  Now rain has settled in over the chicken coop.  Gwhen is looking out from the area under the coop.  I love that they have a little space under the coop for some protection from the weather.

I hope you are enjoying the wonderful Fall weather in your area!
What treats do your chickens love?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The simple things - Beautiful sunrise

I think I have taken more sunrise photos in the last few weeks than ever before.  

Are there more beautiful sunrises lately?  Or does being out with the chickens help me appreciate the beauty more?

This sunrise picture was taken on Friday morning (October 11th, 2013) and I just had to share it with you.

Do you take the time to stop and enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset?  I think I drive my husband crazy by calling him to the deck all the time to see the sunrise.  

Don't forget my challenge.  Take time to enjoy some simple things.  And even better, come to our Facebook page and share some pictures of the simple things you are enjoying this week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The simple things - The sounds of chickens eating

I think there is just something about chickens.  Somehow the chickens help me slow down for a minute and enjoy the beauty around me. 
 Maybe it is just that the chores need to be done early in the morning and late in the evening.  So I find myself outside when the world around me is just beginning to wake to a brand new day and again when everything is settling in for the night.
I find myself enjoying just the simple things.  Things I never even thought about before.  One of my favorite simple things this week was the sound of the chickens eating the grass first thing in the morning.  Weird right?  But trust me, if you haven't had the opportunity to just sit and listen to the chickens eating grass I think you are missing out.  The chickens "chomp down" on the blades of grass and then break off the bites creating a sort of grass tearing noise.  And when a flock is all busy grazing at the grass together it really is mesmerizing.  Since I am such a stickler for table manners the fact that I am really enjoying hearing the chickens eating is pretty funny.  (shh..don't tell my children ;)  )

Gwhen is sure she is missing out on SOMETHING!  It is certainly true that what one chicken is doing the rest will do too!

I challenge you to stop and enjoy the simple things.  There are so many amazingly beautiful things in the world around us that we miss out on each day in the hustle and bustle to get from one thing to another.  As always I would love to hear about your favorite simple things of the week.  And Facebook is always a great place to share pictures with me. :) 
I have lots more beautiful "simple things" to share with you.  I hope you will enjoy each one as much as I do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken Grazing Box

The very first time I ever heard of a chicken grazing box was on Backyard Chickens and I immediately knew that this was another great item that I had to add to our chicken run!

Thankfully this was a super easy item to build and only took a few minutes to put together.  For our grazing box we just used regular 2 x 4 boards (you could use treated lumber if you like) to make the frame.  We supported the center of the frame with a board for extra support of the wire.  The frame is then covered on one side with chicken wire and the wire is held in place with fencing staples (I think that is what they are called).  Easy peasy!

But why do you need a grazing box?  Well, since our chickens need to be fenced in a run the grass in the run will eventually be dug up by our chickens.  Our girls have only been in the run for about a month and you can already see areas of brown grass.  But the area protected by the grazing box is still nice and green.  The girls graze across the grass that grows through the wire.  And they are able to reach down through the chicken wire a bit for some tasty tidbits.  But they can't scratch up the roots and kill the grass.  At this point I haven't added any other types of seeds but we may do a second grazing box next spring with other types of greens. 

Our girls sure make a bee line to the grazing box every morning when I let them into the coop.  

Do you have a grazing box for your chickens?  Do you plant other types of seeds?  I would love to hear your stories and see your pictures. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Update on Daphne

We have had an amazingly beautiful weather week here in Kansas!  The mornings are cool and crisp and the afternoons have been warming up nicely.  I love Fall and so hope we can enjoy a month or so of nice Fall weather before Winter sets in.
Beautiful sunrise at Hummingbird Hollow Hen House.  The poor grass around the run is still recovering from the construction materials.

The Hummingbird Hollow girls are settling in nicely.  We have established a pretty nice daily schedule and the girls seem to be enjoying their home and surroundings.

Daphne also seems to be doing much better!  Thank goodness!!!  I have spent plenty of time worrying about her but her eye seems to be completely better.  We ended up just doing 3 nights in sick bay with antibiotic water.  I try very hard not to medicate the chickens, but after trying VetRX and rinsing the eye for about 4 days I didn't want to risk her getting any worse.  She is pretty shy around me because of all of the times I had to catch her to put her in sick bay or rinse out her eye.  But hopefully she will forgive me soon.  :)

Daphne on the left and our other "Red Head" Easter Egger Sophia.  It was Daphne's left eye that had been watery and that she had been holding closed.  I am still not exactly certain what caused the problem to begin with  although I still think she may have been pecked during shipping.

And one last picture to share with you.  The fog was so pretty!  This picture shows Oprah Orpington, Gilda, and Hazel.  The girls really rush right out to enjoy some grass first thing in the morning when I let them into the run.  I am so happy that my husband built a grazing box so they will continue to have some grass to munch on.  (more about the grazing box in an upcoming post)

I hope your week has been fantastic too!  High School Volleyball has come to an end so we have just a few weeks of rest before the Club Volleyball season kicks into gear with practices.  Hopefully in those few weeks I can make some curtains for the coop and nest boxes.  Always something to do!

I would love to hear from you.  What projects are you planning for your chickens?  I also think I will make some Peeps Pumpkin Pie for the girls.  I got a couple pumpkins and would love to freeze some treats for them to have this winter.  I think I will also make some Flock Block.  Both of these recipes are from the Chicken Chick.  Do you make treats for your flock?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Morning Maid Service

Maybe I am a little OCD when it comes to cleaning the chicken coop.  Possibly the coop gets cleaned more often than the house does.  :)  I find that cleaning the coop in the morning is kind of therapeutic.  I just feel good doing it.  And I have done a ton of research to learn tips and tricks for making the daily cleaning easy to do. 

When I had my first coop 16 years ago, cleaning was my LEAST favorite part.  I hated it!  I procrastinated having to do it!  With just a few easy steps you can enjoy cleaning your coop too!

For me, sand is really the key to it all.  Each morning when I visit the coop I take a good look at all the girls to make sure they are all doing well and then I grab my trusty cat litter scoop and metal pie server and get to work.  I scoop the floor area to pick up any droppings and scoop the poop board.  All of the droppings are deposited in the poop bucket.  I use a little rake to sweep through the sand.  It is a little like having a sand zen garden.  :) 
Ok, I don't make fancy designs in the sand.  (Yet)

The clean coop

And a little peek at the cleaning supplies in my coop.

My husband made me a small shelf to hold my wipes, ACV, and a roll of paper towels.  I also have hooks for my duster, hand broom, litter scoop, and metal pie server.  On the wall I have a board to hold my small rake, my pitchfork, and my broom.  A little note here...the pitchfork and rake are always placed in the coop with the tines down.  Chickens can be clumsy and have a way of flying into things.  By keeping the tines down I reduce the risk of anyone getting injured.  I still have some painting to do as you can see.  :)  Any volunteers to come help?

Once a week I empty the poop bucket back in our tree line.  At some point I hope to have a composting area but for now this works fine.  Once a week I also use the duster to dust off the feed cans and surfaces in the chicken coop.  Coops have a way of being very dusty. 

I am also pretty meticulous about keeping the run clean.  I have another litter scoop and pie server by the run that I use to pick up droppings.  The pie server really is great for the run area where there is still some grass.

  I read a post yesterday where someone said that it is "wrong" to keep chickens if you have to keep them in a run.  :(  While I would LOVE to be able to let my small flock free range it just isn't possible where I live.  And I think my girls might disagree with the poster.  I work very hard to be sure that they have a wonderful safe home.  How do you feel about keeping chickens in a run?