Tag Archives: Rhode Island Red

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.

Yum!

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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?

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A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

Lonely Rhode Island Red

Poor, lonely hen all by herself now.

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Bittersweet Beginning

If you’ve been following my chicken saga, you are by now well aware that three-quarters of my flock turned out to be of the illegal crowing variety.   So, now what??  Well, the roos have to go.  There are, I suppose, several options.  I could try to sell them.  I could give them away on Craig’s List or Frecycle, or maybe even take them to the humane society.  Or, I could butcher them. 

Butchering was always our plan.  From the very beginning, the children were told that if any of the chicks were roosters, they would be dinner.  And, that when the hens stopped producing, they would have to go too.  Mr. Hippie was researching guillotines months ago when we first started thinking one or more of them might be roosters.  He never got as far as actually building a chicken guillotine, but he was pretty intent on building one for a while.  However, the city ordinance that allows four hens and bans roosters also prohibits the (outdoor) slaughter of chickens in town. 

So, I put in a call to Olds’ Farm.  I get a lot of poultry from them and have purchased everything from their maple syrup to their ground beef.  In addition to produce and ethically-raised meats, Olds Farm also offers poultry processing.  I’ve got a call in to them to have my roos butchered.  As soon as they get enough birds scheduled, they’ll call me back to let me know the drop-off date for my three.  It’s sad, but I’ve come to grips with the omnivore’s dilemma.  I’ve arrived at a place that every conscious omnivore must reach.  If I can’t raise and eat my own birds, why is it okay for me to march into the grocery store and buy an already slaughtered chicken?  If I can’t eat those three roosters, I don’t feel justified consuming meat.   Granted, there is still a separation between me and the actual slaughtering of the birds.  I’m not quite There yet, but I think I will be eventually.

With every yin there is a yang.  When one door closes, another opens.  Whichever idiom you choose, good and bad seem to go hand in hand.  This time is no different.  I may be losing three roosters, but now I have the opportunity to raise chicks.  Day.  Old.  Chicks.  Fellow blogger Tony of TC Bok Bok is ready to start his adventures in urban chicken farming and we’re ordering our chicks together.  This will mean safer, warmer transport for the young chicks, and shared shipping costs. 

I’m paying a little more for them than I did for the last “girls”, but the chicks from My Pet Chicken are guranteed to be girls so as Tony says, the extra cost is hen “insurance”.  Plus I got to pick the varieties of chicks that I wanted!  The order is in and I’m getting three chicks  the last week of March.  An Easter-Egger, a Dominique and a golden-laced Wyandotte are on their way to keep my soon-to-be lonely Rhode Island Red hen company.   I can’t wait to meet them!

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Proof

After hearing crowing from the henhouse over the weekend, I needed visual proof of the guilty party before I wrongfully convicted someone of being a rooster.  I’ve been suspect of the two buffs for a while now.

Roosters?

Are we roosters, or hens?

So, I sent Gwen out there Sunday morning to try and spy the loudmouth.  But, when she returned, she fingered this guy:

The guilty chick

The prime suspect.

I was still not convinced the other two weren’t roosters.  I mean, look at them!  Don’t they look more rooster-y than the red to you??
So, I went out this morning and peeked into the window.  In the dark it was hard to see for sure which chook was which, but they started crowing in turns so at least two of them are.  The red has already been witnessed so I’m pretty sure the other pair are both roos as well.  I’m a little sad to see them go, but after the symphony they played for me this morning, I can clearly see that the end is near.

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A Sad, Sad Day

For a while now, I have been questioning the hen-ness of some of my four girls.  If you’ve been following this chicken journey from the start, you’ll recall that I purchased four chicks of questionable sex at a barnyard-swap-meet of sorts in Whitmore, Michigan.  We did our best to try and select the most hen-like chicks of the bunch in the box, but it was a gamble right from the go.  Every time I think that one of the girls may be a rooster, I find some reason to believe that she is, in fact, a hen. 

For example, compare this photo of a Buff Orpington hen from My Pet Chicken to this shot of my buffs:

Buff Orpington Hen. Photo from: http://www.mypetchicken.com/My Buffs

Now, I realize the photo quality isn’t excellent, but if you compare the comb and wattle development of my buffs to the comb and wattle on the stock photo of an Orpington hen, there isn’t much difference.  My chickens are definitely skinnier than the plump hen in the photo on the left, but you’ve gotta take into consideration the fact that in the pic, they were only three months old.

Cordon Bleu and Parmesan

My Buffs

Also, the guy I got my girls from couldn’t guarantee what kind of chickens mine were.  It’s hard to peg down a particular characteristic to a chicken of unknown lineage. 
Alas, all doubts were cleared up this morning.  At least one of my four girls is, I’m sorry to say, a rooster.  Both my daughter and my husband heard one of my “girls” crowing.  While no eye witnesses were present to incriminate the guilty bird(s), my fears have been confirmed:  There IS a rooster in the hen house. 
Unfortunately, with the auditory confirmation, I’m afraid that both the buffs are probably cockerels and I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reds may be as well. 
Now, what to do with the poor gent(s).  I spoke to one of the Olds brothers from Olds Farm this morning at the Farmers’ Market.  They offer poultry processing.  For $3 a bird, they will slaughter, clean and bag up my rooster(s).  The kids don’t like the idea much, but the plan has always been, “If any are roosters, we eat them.” 
Before I condemn an innocent bird, I need to see which of them is crowing, but at least I have a plan.  😦

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A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

All Cooped up for the Night

Four Chicks in Bed.

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Traverse City Urban Chickens Finally Get Some Press!

Girls on parade

Do you think being famous will go to their heads?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called “Northern Express” about my interview with Noah Fowle discussing my chickens, and the growth of urban chicken farming since Traverse City changed its ordinance to allow residents to keep four hens.  Well, I’m excited to announce that the article has arrived!

Noah interviewed several chicken owners, soon-to-be chicken owners and city representatives, and discusses the many reasons people are interested in urban chicken farming from sustainable food to their novelty as pets.

If you’re in Traverse or the surrounding areas, keep an eye out for the latest edition. You can pick them up FREE all over town but it’s only out for a week, so get it while you can.   I plan to pick up a few copies for myself and my out-of-town family members.  But, you can also read the article by clicking here.  Enjoy!

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Cooped Up

I’ve had some posts kicking around in my draft box for a while and decided it was about time I started posting them before they became completely outdated. 

Hens in the house.

Out of the brooder and into the henhouse.

The girls had been sleeping in the hen house for several days before we finished the run because it rained every day and prevented construction.  But, that was actually  a good thing, because chickens aren’t very smart.  In order for a chicken to realize where her home is, apparently you need to keep her confined for three or four days.  Plus, since it was rainy and nasty, nobody wanted to be outside anyway.

All cooped up

Big girls in the big house.

Despite the weather, we finished the run with nearly perfect timing.  It was exactly four days after the coop was complete.  So with the run finally finished, I headed to the door of the coop to open the hatch.  The girls didn’t even wait for the hatch to open.  As soon as I got the main door cracked, they started trying to jump out.  (They were tired of being cooped up!) So we let them run around their new yard scratching in the little grass that’s growing there and eating what they could find until it got dark.  Despite the fact that they had been confined to the coop for four days, none of them figured out how to get back in on their own.  I tried placing them at various heights on the ramp with no success.  I finally gave up and started putting them in through the hatch. 

In the morning, the girls wouldn’t come down when I opened the hatch.  I tried to prod them toward it a little but they still wouldn’t climb down.  I finally got them to climb down by placing one of the girls most of the way down the ramp and another on the ramp just outside the hatch.  The other two seemed to figure out how to get down from that point.  For the next couple days I continued to place the girls on the ramp every time they needed to go in or out.  After a few days of coaching, the girls figured out how to go in and out on their own as if  they’d been doing it all along.

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