Friday, December 17, 2010

Q&A: Decorating the Hen House

Ms. Lizzy gives the final "Okay"

Ms. LiZzY - 
You are so incredibly smart! I really look forward to your column and wish that you would write more often. Tell me, do you have the hen house decorated for the holidays??
Signed: Khris-Kringle 

Dear Ms. Kringle-
oooooOOOOOOOOoooooooo!  Ms. Lizzy thanks you for your compliments!  How SWEET!   Right now it is all one can do to manage the Girls excitement over this Christmas season.  They've been gearing up since Thanksgiving (after EGG-spressing relief that they weren't 'the guest of HONOR' on the table), and were ready to kick it in high gear.  Ms. Lizzy exorcises RESTRAINT - as I'm sure you can imagine her horror at seeing the over-kill with light displays on the human's abodes!  Blinking Santas, Chaser Lights, Flamingos pulling sleighs - The Girls were ALL for these types of displays, but Ms. Lizzy demanded a toned-down version (utility rates are jacked up this time of year, you know), and so she had to avoid the disdainful glances of the flock as they dutifully hung up their stockings last week in lieu of Chaser Lights.  Here are photos.

Wishing a Great Weekend to All!
Signed, Ms. Lizzy

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Q&A: Dear Ms. Lizzy

Dear Ms. Lizzy,
I have a question for you...I see many of my blog buddies putting hay in their chicken run. We've never done that. Do you recommend it and if so why?
Thank you :) 

HaySeed in Hicksville
Dear HaySeed,
ooOOOoooo!  This question is LoADed with several pros/cons, and Ms. Lizzy perceives you might be trying to TrIcK her!  oooOOOoooo!
  There are some that say putting hay in the runs for the chickens might be a good idea.  For extra warmth (in bales to block snow), or for extra traction/to prevent mud and mucky footing (spread around the yards), or for something for the hens to kick and scatter about, preventing boredom.  Ms. Lizzy suggests CAUTION, whatever the reason for putting down hay or straw.  The reason is a NAASTY 4-letter word.  M-O-L-D!
  MOLD can cause illness in your flock.  If you have decided to scatter hay or straw around the chicken run, rake it up and replace with fresh in a day or two.  Yes, us girls love to shift and scatter it, looking for bugs and seeds and what not.  Breathing in molds is just BEGGING for respiratory diseases, so RAKE RAKE RAKE!  RePlaCe, rEpLaCe, rEpLacE!  (Another warning Ms. Lizzy will advise to heed - - us hens may ingest long tough pieces of dried grass and stems, and that will sit in a craw for many a day, causing SOUR CROP!  Nasty Nasty Nasty, and has caused many deaths, as it can go easily undetected!!!)
  Some folks opt for a winter coop-keeping program known as Deep Litter Bedding.  Again, Ms. Lizzy advises: Proceed with CAUTION!  The Deep Litter System has also been suggested for horses and other livestock, to cut down on winter chores for the keeper, and if done PROPERLY, should pose little problem.  If done without consideration for the animals in their care, and some steps are skipped, this can cause ammonia build-up, M-O-L-D, respiratory illness, and compromised health in any animal kept in such a situation.  Instead of the Deep Litter System, Ms. Lizzy would advise spending a few minutes a day or perhaps 30 minutes a week to keeping those coops and nest boxes Spik n' Span and  clean and tidy for your working girls!  They do SO much for you, so give a little time back, keeping them in good health and cheer!
  As always, thank you for your questions!
Chicken Pecks and Hugs,
Ms. Lizzy

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Q&A: Entertainment for Chickens?!?

Dear  Lizzy,
I have a flock of 15 chickens, and in winter there isn't much for them to do.  They are confined to a pen this time of year because I don't want some hungry coyote eating them for a snack. Normally, they free-range the garden plots in summer, but I feel bad because they seem to need an activity to keep them from being bored.  Do you have any suggestions to keep them entertained?
Hen Lover in Ohio
Dear "Lover",
   ooooOOOOOooooo!  Ms. Lizzy appreciates a thoughtful keeper of the flock!  Not many folks out there are as in-tuned with their chickens as you seem to be!  You get a 5 Star Rating from Ms. Lizzy!  oooOOOOOooooo!
   Extra sprinkles of cracked corn are a favorite  around here.  It's good for adding some fat to the diet - and assists in fueling the internal combustion chamber to warm us girly-birds!  Some owners will attach a nice cabbage to a rope, and the gang can keep busy playing with that large green orb, swinging it back and forth as they try to snag a bite here and there.  It's a great game, trust me - sort of like your Volleyball game, without a net! Another favorite snack is the meal-worm.  You can raise them indoors in a box quite easily - they require little care - and are a tasty treat.  Meal-worms can be bought at your local bait shop, too.  Sprinkled around in the litter, the worms will attract hens by their movement, and once we realize they're available, some serious hunting will commence!
  Another idea you may not have considered is the wood ash dust baths.  50% sifted wood ash to 50% fine sand makes a good bath for hens.  Placed in an open litter pan, this offering will attract all of us girls, and helps rid us of mites and lice too!  In addition, if you collect some of the cooled wood coals from your woodstove, you can attach them to a sturdy plant with zip ties, and there are vitamins in that coal which enhance the health and vitality of the chickens as they peck and ingest it!  Wire cages filled with suet blocks give the girls something to do out of doors as well.  Use your imagination, and perhaps you can comment with some suggestions that Ms. Lizzy has not listed here!
Love 'em and Don't Leave 'em bored,
Ms. Lizzy