Sunday, June 26, 2011

HenSpa - Makings for a Dust Bath!

It's been a couple of weeks now, and the Working Girls have settled into their new Heritage Hen House quite nicely.  The "Welcome" sign is at the door, and they sure love their new "diggs"!  Below are a couple more photos of the new house:

The girls really needed a "HenSpa" - and a dust bath is a necessary thing to provide a good cleaning to get rid of parasites on feathers and skin.  Constructing  a dust bath is easy.  A kiddie pool, an old used tire, or just some boards nailed together to contain THE RECIPE is all that is needed.
And here's THE RECIPE:
One part Sand
One part Dirt
One part sifted Wood Ash
One part DE (diatomaceous earth, available from a nursery or your local feed store)
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix well and fill the wood frame or tire or whatever you have.  Be sure to use sifted sand, soil, and wood ash, as rocks and wood chunks would tear up the hens' feathers!  We want the girls looking nice and refreshed, not torn up and mangled!)
Ta-DAA!  Happy Hens!

the ChickenWrangler

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Using up EGG-stra Eggs - Yummy Recipe!

Looking for a way to use up a lot of extra eggs?  Here's a nice recipe to save when your hens are laying and those eggs are piling up faster than you can use or sell them!  You can freeze this cake and use it at a later date.


3 c. sugar
2 c. Crisco shortening
10 eggs
3 c. flour, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Pet condensed milk*
1 tsp. rum flavoring
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
Cream Crisco and sugar together well, then add eggs, beating very well after each. Add salt, flavorings and milk, then flour. Bake in an extra large tube pan that has been floured and greased. Bake at 300° F for 2 hours. Check after 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cake is done if knife inserted in center comes out clean. Once the cake is completely cooled and ready to serve it could be drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze.  YUMMY!

Note: *Do not use sweetened condensed milk.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Party's Over....

GD and "Lady GaGa"

 My GD left for her home in Illinois on Sunday, and its sure been quiet around here since she and her family headed on out into the warm sunshine.  The week had been filled with tasty strawberry picking, chicken wrangling, vet visits, garage sales, a flea market, tea party with Great Gramma, horseback riding, and playing with the Corgis.  Evenings we spent playing Old Maid and Black Jack gambling for pennies.  I had forgotten how active 9 yr olds can be, but she was very polite and helpful, much credit due to her parents training.

GD learned why chickens need to consume gravel to help grind up the grass and hand-outs.  She learned how to trick-train the young pullets, too!  And, thanks to her daily handling of the young ones, they will be much easier to handle for me later this year.  The only trick that was a little bothersome was the one where they learned to fly to the top of their little plastic house - because from THAT height, they figured out how to flap up over the top of the 6 ft. tall chain link fence!!!  At first I figured that they were digging and getting underneath the fence to the "great outdoors".  But after watching for a while, I noted their wings were long and strong enough to propel them up, up and AWAY over the top of that run, and we'd have to wrangle them back into the pen once again!  We did a little feather clipping, and there's been no problem since that day.
Tee Shirt Painting Craft
This morning it was back to work for me...fondly remembering the fun and activities of last week...
GD and her favorite, "Maggie"
 the ChickenWrangler

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A new Chicken Wrangler in the Family

Last Saturday we picked up my GD (she is 9 yrs old this year) in Hammond, IN and brought her back to Michigan with us.  We've been planning the 2011 version of Camp Grandma since January.  I was able to get a week off (unpaid, of course) from my part time job to spend time with her, doing all sorts of new things, and some of our old favorites as well.
I sold our hen house, and Hubbs built a new one for the Working Girls.  Before the pick-up date I applied a fresh coat of stain on the used house and cleaned it out inside and out, even hosing down the roof.  Hubbs built a new chicken ramp for it, and my GD stained it with a nice Thompson's Solid Oil Base Stain.  (See the used hen house in the back?)  She loves projects, and she did a swell job.
GD and Lady GaGa
GD has been spending lots of time with the hens, collecting eggs, and learning Chicken Wrangling 102 with the new pullets.  She's got some of them trained, but her favorites are Maggie and  Lady GaGa.
"Maggie" and GD
She has Maggie trained to ride around on her shoulder and eat out of her hand, and was able to accomplish that in just 2 short days.  The secret is to work with them a few short times during the day.  And move slowly and talk low and quiet.  And yes, they do eat out of her hand!
Maggie looks contented on her "perch"
I'll show pics of the new hen house soon.  I need to get back out and enjoy my last day alone with my GD - her parents will be arriving tomorrow to spend the weekend with us, and to take her back home again.  They'll see I have competition in the world of Chicken Wrangling!
Signed:  the ChickenWrangler

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Hen House SOLD - right from under the Working Girls!

The other day I had to say "Goodbye" to 3 of my adult laying hens, sold to a new owner that will enjoy caring for them at his new country place.  In another day or two, the 6 remaining hens will be saying "Goodbye" to their Heritage Hen House!  They've lived in the same house for their short little lives, and I sold it right from underneath them, roost bars and all!!!
We had a nice couple drive 1 1/2 hrs from their home to meet us and to see the hen houses that Hubbs designed.  They said it had everything they were looking for in an easy-care unit and loved the style of it.  It kind of looks like something from "Little House on the Prairie", we've been told!  I priced them out a new house, complete with electric, but also offered them a deal on my "used but not abused" hen house, whereby they could save some money and have everything all done and ready to go in a week (after Hubbs built a new house for my girls, of course), and told them I'd put on a new coat of stain too!  It was a sweet deal for them, and they were pleased to save some cash in the bargain.  The only drawback was having to wait a week, but, what is one week when you can own a dream house for your new flock of nine?!?  SOLD!
Hubbs has my new house nearly built.  He still needs to install nest boxes and doors and windows and vents, but it's almost done.  Then I'll have to stain it - that's my job!  The coop I've been using for a couple of years has held up very well, and is just as solid as the day it was built.  Good workmanship!  The only thing it needed was new stain, and I have that part completed.  I know her pullets will settle right in, no trouble.  They should love their Coop Sweet Coop! 
A sad "Goodbye" to the first Heritage Hen House ever, but a warm "Hello" to a new, and possibly IMPROVED version!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time to think about Downsizing the Flock

 A few days ago I listed 3 of my "Working Girls" for sale, and this evening they went home with their new owner, who would like to have fresh eggs now that he has acquired a place in the country.  The girls I selected for sale were a good mix of hens - an Easter-egger, a Barred Rock, and a Rhode Island Red (Marilyn, Priscilla, and Lucy, respectively).  Ya wouldn't think it could be difficult to part with a few hens - after all, I had 29 birds total, which includes the new pullets I bought a few weeks ago. 
When I knew that the buyer was on his way, I rounded up the 3 hens and had a "moment" with each of them before isolating them in their hen house for the last time.  We had a little chat, I told them I loved them and thanked them for the good eggs they have provided us and our customers with.  But now, they were going to a new home and they would be taken care of well at the new place, and hopefully would meet some new hen friends to enrich their lives.
"Lucy" being cuddled by children - baawk baawk!
Reminiscing can be therapeutic during times like this, and we remembered fun experiences with the children who came to visit and to hold a hen for the first time...the kids that were able to collect eggs right from a real nest box....
All too soon it was time for them to leave.  The buyer brought with him a real antique chicken carrier - made in Arkansas!  How cool is that!  The girls seemed to feel secure in the carrier and settled right down for their journey to a new home.  As I tucked the remaining 6 hens in for the night, I could hear them moaning, missing their pals.  I know hens can feel sorrow.  I've heard it when they discovered one of their flock killed by a neighbor's dog - they cluck low and soft, and the moans are sorrowful.  It sounded like that this evening.  They will get over their loss, but it takes a couple of days.  I'll miss my 3 girls too - and I do hope they'll be cherished and taken care of as well as I've cared for them since they first arrived.

the ChickenWrangler