Thursday, September 30, 2010

Q&A: Egg Storage - Which End UP?!?

Another question came in for "Lizzy" yesterday, and this one concerns egg storage.
"This is too good of a question.  It COULDN'T have been asked by Miss Mamie!"
Q:  Is there a best way to position eggs in the cartons after they are collected?  

A:  "Take it from ME, LiZzY - the EGG-spert!  The BEST way to place eggs in a carton is to put the small and pointy end towards the bottom of the containers, and the large end UP.  WHY???  This will "center" the yolk as the albumen cools during refrigeration.  It doesn't affect the taste of the egg, but when deviled eggs are made after hard boiling, it makes it easier to remove yolks and then re-fill the whites with the "stuffing", with less chance of damaging the whites while doing so.  Check your store-bought eggs too, and if they are "pointy end UP", switch them around and save yourself some grief!  They'll look a little prettier when you crack them into the pan for over-easy eggs!"  Have a Egg-sellant Day -

Below are some trick questions -
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To prove to the possum it could actually be done!
Q: Why did the chicken RUN across the road?
A: There was a car coming.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road HALFWAY?
A: She wanted to lay it on the line.
Q: Why did the RUBBER chicken cross the road?
A: She wanted to stretch her legs.
Q: Why did the ROMAN chicken cross the road?
A: She was afraid someone would Caesar!

Have a Egg-sellant Day -
the ChickenWrangler

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Question! The Chicken? or THE EGG!!!

Another question was posed to me the other day...the age-old query which first puzzled the minds of man for thousands upon thousands of years - - "Which came first - the CHICKEN or the Egg?"  (Never fear - - When questions come up, I will never reveal the identity of the Question-er, unless he/she wishes me to, so ask away if you have any questions!)
".....there should be further STUDY and investigation on this topic..."
"Incredulous!  Miss Mamie must have been WHACKED on her noggin with an ACORN this morning to ask a question with so obvious an answer!  Further study INDEED!"
Finally, Scientists have discovered the answer!  It's OFFICIAL!  The CHICKEN came first!!!  It took an entire TEAM of scientists to figure this out, and they have discovered a protein crucial in forming eggshells!!!
The protein, called "ovocleidin" (who came up with THAT name?!?) is produced in a hen's ovaries.  When the albumen and yolk are produced by Said Hen, the ovocleidin kick-starts the calcium carbonate within Said Hen converting it into crystals, which then begin to form around that egg, protecting it and packaging it for arrival from deep within the caverns of Said Hen into the outside world, delivered straight to the basket of the coop keeper!
A Provoking Quote from the lead scientist: 
"It had long been suspected that the egg came first but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first." 
"WHO'S provoking WHO, here?!? -  A Scientist CRACKED the CASE!  Is he more CRACKED than Miss Mamie for asking that question to begin with???
The scientists now hope the breakthrough could be used in industry to help develop new materials.  The wonders of Science!

Hope your day is all you thought it was "cracked up" to be!
the ChickenWrangler

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesdays' Show & Tail - Strange and Woeful Eggs

It's been a while, but I'm joining in the party at West Virginia's Treasures for Tuesdays' Show & Tail.  Anyone can join in with a post about a pet or animal, so come on and sign in to the party!  Click HERE to be transported to the link-up!
Of course I must post something a little henny today - and if you are a chicken owner, you must have seen eggs like these at one time or another.  Young pullets often lay some S-t-r-a-n-g-e eggs!  Among them can be found 'double yolker' eggs.  They are larger than normal eggs and some have even contained as many as 3 yolks!  What a breakfast for a lumberjack!  Crack one egg and you have a huge meal!
Shell-less egg
I've had some young hens lay eggs with NO shell.  Just a membrane, with the white and yolk intact.

How about an egg with NO YOLK?  My old hen (who has since passed on to Glory Land) laid what I'd call "blank eggs" near the end.  They were smaller than the eggs she'd normally lay, but only the white inside - no yolks.  Maybe I could have marketed them for no cholesterol eggs, straight from the hen?  Coulda made a ton of money, I bet!
My young hens have laid eggs with a whirling shaped shell, too!  Looks like someone whipped up the calcium as it was coming out of the hen's chute!  Or, a wrinkled egg?  Goodness - those are a wondrous sight to behold!  
Egg within an egg
And, the strangest egg of all - the egg WITHIN an egg!  No one knows exactly why these things occur, but they are Odd but TRUE Eggs!

Have an EGG-zemplary day -
the ChickenWrangler

Nest Boxes - the EGG-speriment!

Clean and tidy nest boxes!  That's what I like to see each and every morning.  If the hens soil or flatten out their paper shreds, I change the 'sheets' and fluff the bedding...fresh daily, for their laying pleasure!
Shredded Eggs!
Not long ago, we had Critter Sitters help out for a weekend while hubby and I were out of town for a weekend.  One of their assignments was to replace the paper shreds each morning for the hens.  For this chore, I have "Chore Gloves", and a plastic cat litter scoop.  The gloves are for rolling up the bedding; the litter scoop is for raking the pine shavings and sifting the "poultry pudding" out from the salvageable bedding.  Truth be told, I hated to ask them to do this little bit of dirty work (I like to make things as easy and simple as possible for the critter sitters), but it's a necessary and unavoidable part of coop care.
Pickin' and Grinnin - Happy Hens!
Today I came up with an idea that I'm hoping will work to simplify coop keeping even more.  Hens LOVE to lay eggs where other hens have laid.  My girls fight over who will get the "preferred nest box" first, even to the point of hassling a hen who has begun to lay, to "egg her on", getting her to vacate that preferred spot so the others can have a chance to quick settle in!  After all eggs have been deposited for the day, evening arrives, and it seems certain SOMEONES like to sleep in a couple nest boxes rather than roost on their rails!  They do NOT deposit eggs!  In the morning I find chicken poo!  I would like this to cease.  Immediately, if not sooner!
Yummy eggs, straight from the nest box
In each nest box I nestled a ceramic egg into the fresh shreds.  These eggs are the very same that I use to encourage new pullets to lay in the boxes and not on the floor of their hen house.  The color, weight, texture, and size of the ceramic eggs are so much the same as a real egg that I mark the faux eggs with a large purple X to be able to tell the difference myself!  After all, my egg customers might not be too understanding if they buy eggs that are not edible!  It might be funny the FIRST time, but I would not want to make that error repeatedly!

Hopefully I'll have something successful to report soon!

Happy Egging -
the ChickenWrangler

Friday, September 24, 2010

An "Awwwwww!" Moment - have a peek at a PEEP!

Just a quick post this morning - I wanted to share with you the winner of one of the Murray McMurray Hatchery "That's So Sweet" photo contest.  It is TRULY 'so sweet'!
 Winning photo- Murray McMurray Hatchery's "That's So Sweet" contest
Murray McMurray Hatchery has a wonderful array of products for any coop keeper, and you can find anything you might need at their website, from books to supplies to gift items.  I love to get their catalog, even just to browse! 

Enjoy your day -
the ChickenWrangler

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flyin' High!

 Yesterday evening I sold our last "pre-built" hen house over the phone.  The gentleman called after seeing our photo ad and had questions about the features our design had to offer.  He loved the photos of the coop, and was looking to upgrade from the covered tarp and box he kept his hens in, wanting something more substantial for the winter this year.  He was more than satisfied with the answers I gave him, since we not only BUILD  the houses - we actually own the hens that LIVE in the prototype.  I believe this is important, in order to come up with the best design possible for the health of the birds, and the ease for the poultry owner.  Time-tested, not just Time-invested.  That's the KEY.
While driving along an old highway this past weekend, we noticed a sign that said "Chicken Coops 4 Sale"; and off to the side of their driveway were a few cute looking coops displayed.  They sort of looked like cabins, but made out of rows of furring strips.  They were unpainted, as we prefer to sell our hen houses, so you could see the construction clearly from a 'drive-by viewing'.  These, to my mind, were more decorative than useful houses for poultry to live in...more like doll houses.  One was up on a saw horse, and I would guess it would work well for 2 hens, but there were no nest boxes easily accessible for the coop keeper to collect those eggs.  My back could not take that, for egg collection OR for cleaning!  I hope they were insulated for our Michigan Winters!  Because the houses were not built off the ground, the first heavy snow might all but bury those hens in those little cabin-igloos!  I'm sure the asking price was worth the invested time the hobbyist had put into building them, but were they tested over time?  I don't know.  We were only driving by.
 The "hubbs" tells me I'm a great sales person!  I like to think so - but in reality, this hen house basically sells itself with the cute design AND the thought process that went into construction.  I just explain the features, the "whys" and the "hows comes" of each little thing we've tweaked on it.  It makes my "job" so much easier!  I know the new owners will adore their new hen house when we deliver it this coming weekend!

the ChickenWrangler

Monday, September 20, 2010

Freedom of Expression

There are many wonderful things about living in America today, and one of them, around OUR place anyways, is "Freedom of Expression". 
"No more for me, thank you - I'm STUFFED!"
If Looks Could KILL.....Someone's a GONER!
Short but sweet - hope you enjoyed your visit today!

the ChickenWrangler

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bug Me Not....

This is getting to be the time of year when it's essential to prepare for the winter season and get rid of what may BUG your chickens.  There are all sorts of annoyances for poultry, and some may seek to destroy your flock of birds.  Red mites are one of those creepy crawly little creeps!  I've not had that happen with my girls yet (knock on wood!), but they are blood suckers and drain the life right out of your hens by feasting on their blood and leaving poultry anemic, causing eventual death.  Red mites like to hide in corners and the underside of roosts - and they will scatter in groups if bright lights are shown on them.
Scaly Leg Mites are another horror - they are painful for the birds and will get under the skin and lift the scales as they burrow in for their feast.  The toes and legs of the chicken will have a flaky or moldy appearance, where they should be smooth and healthy looking.
Lice (no picture this time!) can also be a concern.  These are usually easy to see if you part the feathers down to the skin under the wing and vent areas, but if the bird is highly infested, you can see them crawling on top of the feathers as well; there will be noticeable "group movement"!  UGGGH!

These are just a few of the bugs to be treating your flock for before winter sets in.  Prevention is the best medicine.  I treat my hens with powder and do a wing clip this time of year.  I'd rather do it while its still pleasant out, and again in the spring, than to have to treat in dead of winter.  I had brought in new hens last winter and had to treat the entire flock because of something the new girls brought in because I was too trusting of the person I bought the 2 hens from and didn't ask enough of the right questions.  I don't want to go through THAT again!!!   
TIP:  It's always best to isolate new layers for a few weeks, worming them and treating them for parasites, before introducing them to your healthy birds!

I've heard a good thing to use year round is called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.  Has anyone had any experiences using it?  Here is some information I found on the on the link below and scroll towards the bottom of the page.  This could be a very useful product for more than just hens! 

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (Fossil Shell Flour)

 Taking Care of Business -
the Chicken Wrangler

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Egg-spert Egg Handling

When purchased from the store, the eggs are all pristine, packaged in containers and ready to buy and take home.  We put them in the refrigerator and think nothing more about them.  When you have hens, like we do, its a totally different matter.  Besides the normal chicken chores, I have to go out each day and collect the eggs.  I do check twice a day, and the girls are generally finished laying by around 3pm around here.  Each young hen can lay once every 22-24 hr period, and as they get older, they may only produce 3 or 4 eggs a week.  And no, they don't all lay their egg first thing in the morning!  That would be way too easy and predictable for their handlers!
Vintage Egg Grader
Eggs come propelling out of the hen because of a thin coating called "bloom", which is natures way of helping to make egg laying more comfortable for the hen.  It is slick when the egg is ready to pop out, and it also protects the egg from dirt and germs.  It quickly dries as the egg is sitting in the nest box and completely encases the egg.  Sometimes wood shavings or straw will stick to the egg when I lift it up, and all I have to do is brush it off and put the egg in the refrigerator.  Other times, if the hens are settling in the nest box, their feet might be a little dirty; as they leave the nest and brush against the egg, it might get soiled.  Again, I brush off the egg and it's okay to refrigerate.  If the soiling doesn't come off readily, I can use slight pressure with sandpaper.  Sometimes, the egg might need to be cleaned with water, which quickly washes off the "bloom".  At times like that, the "bloom" should be replaced with something, and I will warm food grade mineral oil and wipe the clean egg down, and remove the excess oil; the egg is now protected from germs again.
Pullets "belly-up" to the bar!
If you choose to wash your chicken eggs, use water closest to the same temperature as the egg.  Colder water can push the germs to enter the egg, thereby contaminating it, so use care when handling those eggs.

Have a Happy Day -
the Chicken Wrangler

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our Heritage Home - Coop Sweet Coop!

A couple years back, when hubby encouraged me to replace my pet hen that crossed 'the rainbow bridge' (and I came home with 6 pullets!!) he was kind of persuaded to come up with a hen house for my girls.  I set up a brooder, as described HERE, and when they got a little larger, I made them a home in a barn-shaped plastic dog house for a few more months.
3 of my Pullets - Lizzy (front), Marilyn (right), and Cleo (rear)
They would huddle together at night, snug as bugs in a rug!  But as they grew even LaRgEr, they needed something a little more substantial.  Something for Pullets that would soon be ready to lay.  Something more DIGNIFIED!  He did some figuring and measuring, and talking to me to see what I thought about sizes, clean-ability, and what would be necessary and essential to the girls' needs.  Since he was a contractor, building houses was nothing new to him - but HEN houses - well....that required a little different thinking and planning for. 
Our "Prototype"
Above you can see the first hen house he built for the girls...I had 5 names on the house and was in process of making the 6th one at the time this picture was taken.  I was enthralled with this little house!  I began to list them as Heritage Hen Houses - and once people saw the photos, they would come out to see it, and the orders started coming in.  
After using that little house for nearly a year, I came up with suggestions to upgrade the girls living standards - improvements for ease of egg collection, ease of cleaning, ways to protect against frost bitten toes, better ventilation, and even an easier way to move it around the yard.  Hubby went ahead and sold the prototype, and the girls' housing was down graded to mere dog kennels for a week while he designed them their new Chook Castle -
Finished house ready for transport
Advertising Brochure for our Heritage Hen House
Back door for cleaning
Front entry way for the Working Girls
I loved the NEW house, and so did the girls!  An instant hit!  This year we've sold many of these gems, and Hubbs had so many orders this past spring that he didn't know if he was coming or going!  Everyone that came out to see the house in person was charmed by them, and they basically sold themselves.  Hubby finally got caught up on the orders, and even squeezed in time to deliver 2 houses to a couple that were starting their certified organic farm.
Heritage Hen House goes to the Fair!
One day we were contacted by the Fair Board - they offered us an opportunity for free advertising in exchange for displaying our hen house near the Poultry barns during Fair Week.  What could be nicer?! 

Currently I'm writing and drawing up plans to sell, so folks can build a coop like this for themselves.  The dimensions and drawings are intended to be do-able for someone with a little experience working with wood, but that person would not have to be a master builder!  Hubbs has recorded sizes, angles, dimensions, and tips on easy ways to put it all together, and it's up to me to write it down in a form that is easily understood.  This hen house has been the perfect design - so quick and easy to clean, and makes fast work of egg collection!  The roosts are designed so there's enough space for all the hens at day's end, and can be closed up during FOWL (foul?) weather, too.  I think everyone should have something that's so simple to service every day - it takes less than 10 minutes to "change the sheets"!  Hopefully soon I'll have the plans available for folks that live outside of our delivery area, and for the Do-It-Yourself-ers that enjoy a fun family project!

Happy Trails!
the Chicken Wrangler

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Great Egg Recall - Could it be - - just "Chicken Feed"?

Who says Chickens don't show emotions?  Click to enlarge!!
I was reading today about last month's Great Egg Recall of 2010, and how the USDA found chicken feed contaminated with dirt and mold in the Iowa farms that caused the salmonella outbreak, sickening many people.  The article I read reported that the Food and Drug Administration was not notified because of "regulatory gaps" that delayed THEIR department from finding out about the conditions of the feed.

Hmmmm.  Seems the USDA didn't alert the FDA because conditions at the egg farm were "routine".  Supplying and offering moldy feed is "routing".  That angers me!  The "regulatory gaps" mentioned in the story could well have been because they hadn't officially determined if moldy feed + chicken ingestion of said feed = disease.  A STUDY probably had to be conducted before the proper authorities were notified!  Geesh.

Come on, folks!  Common sense tells you that no one wants to eat moldy stuff!  That can be toxic!  Years ago, the Farm Reports were broadcasting the hazards of feeding corn contaminated with molds that were invisible to the naked eye.  Aflatoxin seminars were wide spread, and included demonstrations at local feed mills years ago, showing how an innocent ear corn positively GLOWED with the toxins when a black light was shown upon it!  I remember this from the drought years when living in Illinois, as any plant grown in stressful situations was subject to infestation - beans, corn, hay - anything!  Being a horse owner, we were all concerned.  Aflatoxin causes liver damage and can lead to liver cancer, never mind any other ills associated with it.  Imagine what VISIBLE mold can cause???

When I go to the feed store, I buy Purina Layena.  It contains all the nutrients, vitamins, calcium - everything that my girls need for healthy bodies and healthy egg production.  But, it is also up to me to inspect the contents of each bag I buy.  If I notice fine 'webs' with dust in them near the bag openings, that indicates to me there could be coddling moth infestation.  Bags that have been opened and taped shut are also a 'no no', even if they are offered at a substantial discount.  I don't want to risk life and limb to save a buck - who knows if the contents were exposed to fertilizer or other chemicals in the back room or warehouse storage before shipping.  When I bring the feed home, I empty it into closed storage containers, protecting it from moisture and creatures that could invade the packaging.  That way I can see if there is any sign of feed "clumps" that form when moisture or mold is present.  I hope all readers here take this advice, no matter what kind of animal you own.  Dogs, cats, horses, chickens - all deserve the best food to ensure their health.

Good Feed = Good Eggs!
the Chicken Wrangler

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friday's Freaky "Find"

Love those hens!
I Found it on EBAY!  Isn't this just the cutest???  Such a deal - only $5.00 and FREE SHIPPING!  I've been wanting one of these rubber Chicken Purses for ages!  Why?  To irritate "The Hubbs", THAT'S why!  Usually they sell for around $38.00, shipping extra.  Most of them are sporting red handles. 
Rubber Chicken Purse
I like the natural color handles better - it blends into the purse and you don't notice them as much...more like carrying a real chicken!  Hubby's track record for noticing new hens isn't very good, but one afternoon he invited me out to lunch during the work week.  We went to an Oriental buffet during his noon break from work, and as I was waiting for him at his desk, he said "...and just WHERE did you find THAT?!?!?" indicating my new purse.  I was amused that he spotted it so quickly, but, I had put it dead center on his desk - so how could he have missed it???   I got a lot of looks carrying that bag at the restaurant - bet they were wondering how it would cook up....??? 

Hurray for Rubber Chickens!
the Chicken Wrangler

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday's Show & Tail - - Acorns Keep Falling on my HEAD!

I'm LATE, but I'm  joining in Tuesdays' Show & Tail at West Virginia Treasures.  Show & Tail is all about sharing your pet pictures, creature features, and anything animal you may have heard about or experienced!  To link in at Angela's blog and meet other animal lovers, click HERE!

Wind and rain storms were all over our area yesterday, and the power was OUT!  When you have critters, chores don't end when the electricity does, so I was out checking on the girls - - and they were NOT HAPPY!  There are a lot of oak trees in them there woods - and the girls were getting pelted at every whim of the wind!
The last picture above shows that it knocked the feathers right off of them!  Poor things!  And see below, the Darned Barnevelder hen on the left -  missing some of her tail feathers?  OUCH!  An UN-happy TAIL - for sure!  That's Lena, on the right - she's an Americauna hen, and seems she fared better than the other girl!
Today I'll be working on all the things I couldn't do yesterday - power wasn't restored until the wee hours of the morning.  Time to go collect eggs right now, for starters, and then phone to set up a time to pick up more hay on Friday....
Sassy reminded me that we're nearly OUT!  Leave it to those bossy Corgi dogs - always tellin ya where to go and what to do when ya git there!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies - a GrEaT nEw TwiSt on an Old Recipe!

Who DOESN'T love Chocolate Chip Cookies?!?!?  Last week I made up a batch to use up some extra of my hens' good eggs. 
This Recipe is a KEEPER at our house
Hubby tends to be kind of persnickety when it comes to trying different baked goods or meals that he has never had before, so I was unsure of how it would go over.  When I walked into the kitchen the next morning, the plate was EMPTY - a sure sign that the recipe could be used again!  Maybe you'd like to bake some up to try - here's the recipe - give it a whirl!

Chocolate Chippers with a TWIST
Preheat oven to 375.
  • In medium bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking soda, mixing well.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup butter, softened a bit, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and mix till light and fluffy.  Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir till just combined.  Stir in 1/4 cup of old fashioned oats (not instant oats), 1/2 cup coconut shreds, 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips, and 1 cup of peanut butter chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes.  (I baked for 12 minutes because I wanted the cookies a little more crispy, for dunking in milk).
If there's ever any baked goods that the hubbs doesn't particularly care for, I have no problems with what to do with left overs!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm a STAR!

Star Award
I recently was notified I received an award - the Star award! I received this from Grandpa at his blog "Life on the Farm".

What I'll have to do though is write about my writing style and habit, and then - - pass the star to another blogger!

What I Write About:  As you know, I love chickens..and along with chickens comes country living - and a flurry of all things related to that.  These are the things I enjoy doing - and writing about.  Animals are a big deal to me - I've owned many different types, for pets of course, and recreation (horses/trail riding), and many are featured here from time to time.  Crafts are a great way to pass the time and to decorate my home inexpensively.  I make things for myself and for gift giving, and some items I do sell.  Cooking/Baking is another love - and mostly a fall-winter type hobby.  It gives the house a comforting type of scent when using spices....Love it!
My Writing Style and Habit:  The best time of day for me to write is morning - I'm a morning person - yep!  I write and edit as I go along, and story telling is my favorite thing!  And - I have plenty of stories!  It's not hard to get me started!

I would like to pass this award along to Angela of West Virginia Treasures.  She's an animal lover too, and also a fan of the great outdoors!  Please visit her blog - She hosts Tuesdays' Show & Tail (a meme about animals and nature that you can link into every week!)  Angela, you deserve a STAR today!  Display it proudly, and tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Egg-stra Eggs?

This morning I decided to make Deviled Eggs with some of the week-old eggs in the fridge.  The "hubbs" takes them to work on occasion, and they get devoured in a very short time.  Sometimes his co-workers order them from me - he'll walk in the door and say "I've got an order for De-VILED eggs for you"!
Boiling Eggs
I'll share my recipe today - it's a little different than most, but every bit as tasty!  Great for a picnic or potluck, and wonderful for the holiday weekend!

 Deviled Eggs

1.)  Put 6 whole eggs in a pot covered with cold water.  Heat to a boil, cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain off the hot water.  Rinse the eggs, then fill the pot with cold water (you can add ice cubes to it if you wish), to cool them.  When they are cool, peel off the shells.
2.)  In medium size bowl, mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 Cup sour cream, 1 tsp horse radish sauce, 1/2 tsp. mustard, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, and pop the yolks into the bowl with the mayonnaise and other ingredients, mashing and mixing well.  Using a pastry bag, or spoon, fill the halved eggs with the mixture, sprinkling each egg with paprika or cayenne.  Serve chilled.

TIP:  Hard boiled eggs peel much better when they're about a week old - then the whites don't break off in chunks as the shells are removed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to Our Little Place in the Woods!

Since I write quite a bit about my chickens, perhaps some might have the impression that we live on a farm.  WRONG!  We actually SOLD the farm about 6 years ago and bought some acreage in a woods with trees as tall as 70 ft. or better.  Our house is well off the road and up a long lane in a clearing.  When we moved here, we had only one hen, named Tina.  She was a trick hen - played  concert piano!  Sadly she passed away 3 years ago, and that's when the HUBBS said "...why don't you get another hen?"....and I came home with 6 baby pullets!!!  We're up to 11 now, and that's just fine with me!  We have eggs to eat and eggs to sell!

In the woods we've seen deer, wild turkey, fox, coyote, and one night there was even something that could have been a black bear - we don't know for sure.  We saw claw marks on a tree, and the animals were acting strange that evening.  I keep my hens in 2 dog runs that are connected together to form one large one.  They stay there during the day until all the eggs have been accounted for, then towards evening, we let them roam for a couple hours while we're home to keep an eye on them.  As it begins to turn dark, I call them in to their enclosure to roost for the night.  They love treats to fill their crops before bedtime, and so they get scratch grains, bread scraps, or veggies.  If they ignore those treats and still want to linger on the lawn, I bring out the secret weapon - COTTAGE CHEESE!!!  (That always works, in a pinch!)