Category Archives: urban chickens

Crop Failure

I wish I would have taken a picture.  But, I didn’t.  Molly has had a gigantic, enlarged crop for at least a week. 

You’re probably wondering, “What the heck is a crop?”  I imagine it like this: Hamsters have pouches to store food, right?  A crop is like a storage pouch to hold a chicken’s food before it moves to the gizzard to be ground up.  It’s normal for the crop to change sizes during the day as the chicken eats and then digests food. has a diagram of a chicken’s digestive system if you are interested.

Back to the giant crop.  I’m not sure what caused it, but I have some ideas: Too much popcorn?  Bunches of kale that we wouldn’t eat?  Too much roaming about the yard eating grass?  Eating straw out of her coop?  I don’t know for sure, but a hen doesn’t usually have a crop so large that it starts losing feathers, does she? 

When I found the large, grapefruit-sized blob on my hen, I started freaking out.  I Googled, “chicken tumors” and narrowed it down to either sour crop or impacted crop.  There are all sorts of remedies online for both, but the most drastic is surgery.  I’m not up for doing chicken surgery myself, and as much as I love my hen, I’m not ready to lay down $100+ to have it surgically removed by the vet. 

So, I started trying other “remedies”.  I started with crop massage.  Some sites say to do it, others advise against it for fear of choking the chicken on her vomit.   I massaged Molly and inverted her several times on Sunday hoping that she would vomit and clear her crop.   She dripped quite a bit, but never vomited. 

I continued massage for several days with no success.  Instead of getting better, she actually seemed to be getting worse.  Her crop was so full that  she even started “dripping” when bending down to eat grass.  Still, after all this, she seemed in good spirits and wasn’t lethargic in the least.  Despite her cheerful demeanor, she stopped laying eggs.

Time for drastic measures (but still not surgery).  First, I stopped putting her in the yard where she could eat grass.   I added apple cider vinegar to her water.  I took away her food.  I tried to feed her yogurt.  (She wouldn’t eat it.)  Two days ago I scrambled an egg in copious amount of olive oil which is supposed to lubricate her digestive tract and served it to her.  She tasted it, but didn’t love it.  Finally, she got hungry enough to eat the egg.  The next morning, her crop was smaller, but still pretty large and filled with grain considering she hadn’t eaten solid food in a day.   So, yesterday was day two of scrambled eggs in oil.  This morning her crop was almost completely clear but still had a ping-pong ball-sized lump.  It didn’t seem hard which would indicate impaction and didn’t feel grainy like it had before, but after two days of almost no food, I was hopeful that it would be clear.  Today I let her pick the sweet corn off our eaten cobs and gave her some watermelon rinds.  I think the pieces are soft (and small) enough not to worsen her condition. 

She still hasn’t started laying, but I’m hoping for a full recovery.



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Traverse City’s Most Famous Chickens

I’m joking, but only a little. Yesterday I overheard a familiar face at the Farmers’ Market say, “She has the most famous chickens in town.”  The ladies have already made the Northern Express and will soon be featured in Traverse City’s first Tour de Coop, but today the girls and I make our debut in the Record Eagle.  Pick up a copy.  Or ten.  I’m out to get mine now.


Filed under Coop Loop, urban chickens

Chicken Run

Okay, so really it’s a chicken tractor, but look what hubby built me today:

Brand new chicken run.

Isn’t it amazing?  The traditional anniversary gift for twelve years is silk and linen, but I’m diggin’ pvc and chicken wire. 

Now my dear Molly (and soon the chicks) can forage around the yard eating grass, weeds and bugs to their hearts’ contents.  Molly loves it. 

Molly enjoying the sunshine in her new run.

Even Dylan loves it!

Dylan and Molly in the "porto-coop".

And, if you haven’t read the comments here, guess what?  The girls are going to be in the Record Eagle on Sunday!


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It’s been awhile since I did a chick post, so when I saw this post at Grow & Resist and then this post at Traverse City Urban Chickens  I decided it was time to show you some more pictures of my little ladies.  It seems like only yesterday they were little, fuzzy fluffballs. 

My three little chicks in the brooder.

Day old chicks!

Remember these little cuties?  Starting at top left and moving clockwise you can see our Dominque, Bella; Luna, the Easter-Egger and Hermione, the Golden-Laced Wyandotte.  They change so quickly I wish I would have taken more pictures but you’ll have to settle for my sporadic time-lapsed photography. 

Luna, Hermione and Bellatrix

Happy Easter!

Here on Easter Sunday, the girls were six days old.  You can just see their wing feathers starting to develop.  Top left is Hermione, Bellatrix is in the center and Looney Luna is along the right side.

17 day old chicks

The girls at 17 days perched on Mr. Hippie (who was playing camera-shy).

Hermione wouldn’t stay turned-around but at least from this view you can see her tail feathers.  Luna is center and Bella on the right.  You can see their feathers starting to come in but they still have a lot of downy fluff.

The girls in the brooder

The girls at twenty days.

Don’t they look strange?  Their bodies are mostly feathered, but their heads are all fluff.  It makes their necks look extra spindly.  Luna (in the center) is way ahead of the other girls in feather development.  She reminds me alternately of a hawk and a road runner.  Bella (on the left) is still my favorite, but I think once Hermione’s feathers come in she is going to be beautifully marked.  She is the most skittish of the three.  If I put my hand into the brooder, Hermione runs into a corner, Luna mostly ignores me and Bella jumps right into my hand.  All three will tolerate being held once they are caught, but Bella seems to want to be held.  Luna is the most confident and tries to escape the brooder to explore if the lid is left open. 

The kids and I put them into the chicken run to introduce them to Molly yesterday.  It went ok.  Not well, but ok.  They all just stood there.  Nobody moved.  And then. . .  Molly started pecking at the chicks to see what was going on with them.  Once both Luna and Hermione had been pecked once I decided it was time to go back inside.  We’ll try again soon.


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A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

Urban Chicken Parade of Homes

Are you chicken enough?

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Filed under Silent Sunday, urban chickens

Look Who’s Here!

I was going to write a post about my friend Stephanie’s visiting bantam chicks.  I mean they’re tiny.  And super cute.  See:

Stephanie's chicks

Spring Break visitors: 8 bantam chicks

But, ever since the demise of the roosters, I’ve been waiting for the day we could have chicks.  That day is today!  Tony over at Traverse City Urban Chickens coordinated the chick order for us.  We placed the order a long time ago but because of the numbers and varieties of chicks we selected, we had to wait until now for the “stars to align”.  Our chicks hatched yesterday and arrived this morning.  Nine little girls in a box. 

Little box of baby chcikens.

The box the babes popped out of.

The little box is so cute.  Tony let me take it to transport my three girls home from his house.  He has pictures of all the girls in the box and of the girls shortly after their arrival here.  He also has an amazing brooder that I’m sure he’ll share some pictures of when he gets a minute.

We’re reusing the guinea pig cage brooder that we used for our first four chicks, but I gotta tell ya, day-old-chicks are so much cuter than month-old-chicks.

My three little chicks in the brooder.

They like to stand in the food to eat but the chick feeder is way too big right now.

Our day-old chicks are already as big as Steph’s banty chicks but they are all fluff.  It will take a while for their feathers to come in.  I’ll post pictures regularly, but don’t count on daily a la “Three Chicks a Day“; that’s been done already.  However, these girls are different varieties so the pics’ll be different even if I did opt to follow in Josh Elliot’s footsteps. 

When I ordered my chicks I chose them based on the characteristics of the adults.  I had forgotten what the chicks looked like and was surprised at how dark my little ladies are. 

Are you ready to meet them?

Hermione Granger

This is Hermione, a Golden-Laced Wyandotte.

"Loony" Luna Lovegood

Here's Luna Lovegood. I named her that because she'll lay "Loony" blue, green or pink eggs.

Bellatrix LeStrange

Bellatrix LeStrange. I hope she isn't evil like her namesake but she'll be black and white.

And, that is why I had to rename Chicken Cacciatore.  After we culled the roosters from our flock I started calling her Ginny for Ginny Weasley because she’s a Rhode Island Red.  But then I decided that  since she’s much older than all my new girls she should have a more mature name.  So, her permanent name is Molly Weasley after the matriarch of the Weasley clan. 

Molly in all her glory

Molly loves a dust bath.

I’ll introduce the girls to Molly when they’re a little bit older but for now they’re safe in their brooder.


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Dwindling Dark Days

Can you believe it’s nearly spring already?  When I started this challenge it was cold in Michigan but still unseasonably warm.  Now after eating local meals all winter, the seasons are about to change again.  And, here in Michigan it is, once again, unseasonably warm.  It’s only the middle of March but all the snow, aside from the areas in almost constant shade, has melted.  Saturday night I’ll “Spring” the clocks forward (well, Mr. Hippie will but they’ll be sprung regardless) and next week I’ll start seeds for my spring garden.  It’s almost too hard to believe. 

Asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries will start showing up at the Farmers’ Market in the next few months but until then, the storage cupboard is nearly bare.  If I had been eating locally all the time, we would have run out of stores long ago.  If I was only eating the salsa that I made and not supplementing with store-bought salsa, I would have been out since October.  To make a real go of eatting locally next winter, I’m going to need to can and freeze a lot more food. 

If I want to eat a jar of slasa a week (and that’s a conservative estimate) I’ll need 52 pint jars.  I have that many, but I’ll need jars for jam and tomatoes and pickles (and you get the picture). 

Freezing is easier.  I have many freezer containers but space has always been a problem. We have a fairly large refrigerator-freezer and have had a small chest freezer for several years, but there were times that all the space was full.  I wanted to buy half a pig last year but there wasn’t enough room.  However, for my birthday, Hubby got me this:

My birthday present!

The new stand-up freezer Mr. Hippie got me for my birthday!!!

Now I can start dreaming of frozen food!

But, this post is supposed to be about the Dark Days meal I made.  I haven’t been motivated to bake lately.  I think that’s partly due to the increasing temperature and partly to the fact that I’ve been so busy lately.  I wanted to bake bread to go with dinner but just couldn’t bring myself to do it so here it is, all by itself, Chicken Corn Chowder.

I started with the rooster from last week’s Dark Days meal.  I threw it into a pot with some diced potatoes an onion and three wrinkle-dy parsnips from the refrigerator and boiled the whole mess until I had a nice stock.  After that I pulled the parsnips out and ate them. 🙂  Then, I removed the bones from the meat and strained the stock into a bowl.  I added some spelt flour roux (flour and butter cooked together), some thyme from the garden (that I didn’t even have to dig out of the snow!!!)  and some milk to the stock pot to make the base creamy.  Once I had a creamy base, I returned the stock, potato chunks and the chicken meat to the pot and pulled two ears of corn from the freezer.  I cut all the kernels off the cobs and added them to the pot.  The soup was essentially done at this point, but I seasoned it with a little more salt and pepper before serving it (without bread 😦 ). 

Chicken Corn Chowder

Rooster-Corn Chowder

Even without bread it was a delicious meal.


Filed under Dark Days, food, urban chickens

Got Chickens??

The finished backside of the coop~shingles and all!

Last September, Traverse City joined a number of forward thinking communities that allow city residents to raise chickens.  To celebrate, I’m joining a few other city chicken farmers and chicken enthusiasts to plan Traverse City’s first Tour de Coop.  Imagine, a parade of homes for chickens!  It’s sure to be a great time and is tentatively scheduled for June.   

Molly, the soon-to-arrive chicks and I are participating, but we’re on the lookout for other Traverse City Urban Chicken Farmers. 
Live in town?  Have chickens?  Want chickens?  Just like chickens and want to help?  Join us at Higher Grounds on Sat. March 20th at 10am for the first planning meeting.  This guy will be there.  So will this guyShe’ll be there too.  Will you?


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Dark Days Week 16 Am Edition

I meant to make this meal last week, but I got wrapped up in other business.  (Conferences, typing and formatting brochures, you know, the usual stuff.)  You’d think breakfast wouldn’t be a big deal, but I didn’t have any local bacon and had to go to the store before I could finish the meal.  ‘Cause breakfast isn’t breakfsat for the boys ’round here without meat. 

Most of you know that my Rhode Island Red hen, Molly, started laying eggs a while back.  If you didn’t know that, where the heck have you been?  Go read this post and get caught up already!  And yes, I have changed that poor chicken’s name three times now.  I promise I’m finished now.  But, I digress.  I didn’t know what to do with that lonely egg, so I waited until I had enough to do something with.  Here they are in a bowl waiting to be scrambled:

Molly's first five eggs.

Look at the golden yolks on those babies!

The eggs were so beautiful.  There really is no comparison between home-grown eggs and grocery store eggs, but the color of these eggs is far superior to even the eggs I usually get from my egg-lady.  But, egg quality and why you should have chickens is a completely different subject so I’ll get back to the point.

Breakfast was more than just beautiful eggs.  As I mentioned before, there was meat.  Local bacon.   Hash browns from the sacks of spuds in my “root cellar” and homemade French toast rounded out the scrambled eggs.   The French toast used up the rest of the local hamburger buns from our burgers and fries meal last week and one of the remaining eggs from my egg-lady.  Local syrup, jam and honey were available as toppings for the yummy French toast.

Scrambled eggs, hash browns, French Toast and bacon.


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Filed under Dark Days, food, green living, Uncategorized, urban chickens

My First Egg!

Look what I found today: 

Our Very First Egg!

The first egg from our only hen.


I’ve been checking the coop frequently to see if Chicken Cacciatore Ginny Molly (I’ve recently re-christened her that; more later.) has been laying.  Each time I looked only to find an empty nest box.  This morning I was so surprised that I ran back into the house practically dancing and shouting, “Look what I found!”  

And Ginny, good girl that she is actually laid the egg IN the nest box!  She pushed all the straw out of the way, but it was in the box.  The egg is smallish, but they should get bigger as she figures out the whole egg-laying thing.  

Once the egg was washed, it looked like this: 

My first egg.

What to do with this new egg?


Filed under urban chickens