Well, kind of. This facility — with the darling little Poulet Chalet surrounded by a spacious, well-protected and partially shaded chicken run — is the future home of my seven hens:
Right now, they are living in my office. Until their feathers come in. And you know what? Animals are gross!
Whoever it was who said when my adorable little chicks got older, they’d suddenly exude clouds of dust and feathers? You were right, my friend. There ain’t enough canned air at Staples to blow all the crap out of my electronics. And speaking of crap, when I went in to check on the chickens awhile ago, I noticed one of them had taken a fresh dump right on the feeder.
After delivering a short lecture on etiquette and basic table manners, I whisked the offending barnyard equipment out of the room to wash it. The chicken turd was fresh enough to slide off the plastic surface, and my two boxer dogs leapt over to lick it up the moment it hit the floor.
Jesus H. Christ, I’m catatonic with disgust. Can dogs get salmonella? This isn’t as bad as the present Tunch gave John last night, but fuck, animals are gross…[X-posted at Rumproast]
So, I guess they’re not the best coworkers ever, anymore…
Of the things Matt Yglesias lists as a better choice for the American economy than manufacturing is…finance-
Because that has worked out so well over the last 30 years…
comrade scott's agenda of rage
We’re doing the same thing only our coop is an antique: built back in the 1870s.
Our 5 pullets are in a nice cage in the basement (we used to have 6 zebra finches). They are a mess.
It’s all part of our B&B’s angle on marketing: we grow our own eggs.
I’m glad I’m on hold at work, because I have a massive case of the giggles right now. Chickens will poop anywhere and everywhere. There is no point in cleaning up after them until it gets too bad, although they do grow out of pooping in their food.
I was thinking of getting a few chickens for my own eggs too, but you guys are talking me out of it. There’s enough farmers around here for me to just buy them I guess. But good luck…
Anything with protein or fat, they’re all for it. Dogs have strong stomach acids and short digestive tracts, so they can tolerate carrion and similar stuff. My dog is the sweetest thing around, but I’ve seen her eat stuff I wouldn’t want to step in.
Okay, can we declare a full stop to posts about the fluids and solids that come out of animals?
@salvage: And the ones that go into them too?
Forum Transmitted Disease
Looks just like those
cagescells at Gitmo.
We need a “not suitable for eating or coffee swilling” warning for this blog.
That said, charming Chateau Chicken.
If you live in more northern climes, how do you keep the hen house warm in the winter. Do they need to be heated?
@comrade scott’s agenda of rage: I guess things have changed, we had special heated nursery in a chicken house for hatching and egg laying. Opening into caged chicken run. Later they were let out to graze on the weeds. Best eggs ever.
Chickens are stupid, smelly, dirty, and noisy.
Did I mention stupid?
I guess the delicious stewing hen I had a few weeks ago was once an adorable, cheeping, shittalicious little chick.
She was tasty, though.
comrade scott's agenda of rage
No they don’t (need to be heated) once they’re adults.
If you provide decent brood space and shelves wide enough for them to sit on and let their bodies flop around their legs, they do well in the winter. Well, not if you live in Canada.
Heat lamps can be used with care.
Your use of wooden lattice work instead of straight chicken wire is interesting and might be something we do (we’re still working on confining the run).
If dogs could were susceptible to salmonella (or e coli) none of us would have a dog that didn’t have chronic diarrhea.
@Yutsano: Do you think she will go crazy when she finds it on fresh laid eggs?
Well, this is a good time to post a link to the latest of Herman Cain’s surrealist videos. They always involve animals and something dying: first, a (real) goldfish got dumped on the ground, then a lame-cgi-bunny got catapulted into the air and shotgunned, and in this one, a farmer gets pecked to death in a chicken coop. And always, always, the creepy Satan’s-daughter girl.
Culture of Truth
Who guards the henhouse?
grew up adjacent to my grandfather’s farm in the 60s and 70s. am continuously amused by suburbanites romantic notions of farming, farm animals, and subsistence living.
farming sucks. it’s hard, dirty, dangerous, and thankless. there are cool things about it like when the baby lambs come in the spring. but only if you are willing to forget the gross stuff like afterbirth and the fact that grandpa is going to be chomping on their curly little lamb shanks come Easter.
my grandparents kitchen sink always had, shall we call them, surprises? depending on what was getting butchered or processes or rendered.
and FTR convenient store pork rinds suck compared to the ones my grandmother used to make.
but i get the wanting to keep egg hens thing. there is nothing like minutes fresh, fried chicken embryos (well albumen really)straight out the hens vajayjay!
@comrade scott’s agenda of rage: It’s entirely enclosed in chicken wire, with stronger wire fencing reinforced by the lattice around the bottom section. We’re thinking the lattice will afford a little more shade (we’re in FL — it gets wicked hot) plus extra protection from predators.
Forum Transmitted Disease
Apparently not, mine eats dead rats with impunity – seems to be her favorite snack food – and then promptly walks over, with carrion breath from Satan, to attempt to lick me. She’s 14 and been doing this since she was a young thing.
Also drinks out of the gutter, but man, compared to eating huge dead rotting rats, that’s a positive development.
Hahaha! We went to a chick lecture at the feed store last week, and they described exactly what you’re dealing with.
We will have to build the secure run and coop before I bring home some chicks, and they will probably spend a lot of time in the garage when they reach the stage yours are in. We have so many predators here that I am more than a little paranoid about safety; everything here thinks chickens are yummy. I’m a little worried about raccoons being able to figure out whatever latches we install. A friend in Seattle put in a double set and darned if the little buggers didn’t team up to get into her duck pen.
Your chicken posts make me want to hurry up and build our chicken palace.
@artem1s: I ain’t no suburbanite — I grew up on a farm (well, part of the time, anyway) with chickens, cows, etc. It was just along time ago. And I never had to share an office with them.
I still say the chickens are among the most pleasant co-workers I’ve ever had, though, despite the shitting and feathers.
@Forum Transmitted Disease: What we call “rotted” our dogs call “pleasantly aged”.
@artem1s: If there’s no rooster, there’s no embryo. And there’s really no point in keeping a rooster unless you want more chicks. And I grew up next door to my grandpa’s egg ranch which was no longer in operation, but we always had a small flock of chickens.
My parents have two wonderful tibetan terriers whose only flaw is their love of goose poop. They can’t get enough of the stuff. I’ve nearly lost my arms trying to hold them back on walks at the local park.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
Apparently, the chickens are not free ranging. You can dress them in stripes and pretend you have your own chain gang. You get to be the evil warden. It’ll make up for pooping in the house.
Chickens, like all other birds, have cloacas rather than urethras/anuses. Whatever is in the cloaca dumps out wherever the bird happens to be, whatever the bird happens to be doing. So, they aren’t shitting on the feeder purposely – they don’t have any control over their excretion.
Are you going to build any of those cool feeder cages that you can move around to different spots of grass/pasture for them to forage? They really like insects, and with a wire cage that allows access to the ground & grass that can be moved, they can forage a different spot each day.
They may not get salmonella but they can get giardia if they like chomping on decomposed wildlife. Very easily. Leads to lots of leakage at both ends. And it’s very contagious. My vet counseled me to very careful with the cleanup, cause dogs can easily give it to their humans. Charming.
I’m getting chicks in June. I currently have a flock of 12 hens, aged 2-10 years old (10 hens aged 2 and 3 years, 2 10 year olds)
Production on the 3 year olds is dropping, hence 7 more layers this year.
My coop is taller than your house, and my hens like to roost about 4 foot off the ground inside the coop. I suspect if you were to put a 2×2 diagonally mounted on the central frame boards of your run that your pullets would use the house for laying and sleep on a perch.
BTW, do you know why chicken coops have 2 doors?
If they had 4 doors they’d be chicken sedans.
@Jennifer: I think those portable feeder cages are pretty cool. We might build one for the chickens to use while we’re in the garden with them. I know their eggs are better if they can forage.
@Jennifer: I plan to let them roam the yard whenever possible, i.e., when my dogs aren’t outside and I’m around to keep an eye on them. I imagine they’ll get plenty of bugs.
Raccoons were a problem for me in the past.
I’m now diligent about closing up the coop. That helped some, but night time electric fencing on the coop put a stop to raccoon (and skunk) predation.
having no pets, I respect you all for taking good care of yours.
Has anyone here tried cooking hot dogs, and just hot dogs, with maybe a little water, in a slow cooker, particularly on low since it will need to sit for at least 3 1/2 to 4 hours?
@wmd: I saw an article a couple of years ago that showed nesting boxes made from those big square cat sand containers. We have been catless for a year and all of our containers were recycled for use in the garden, and then sent to the recycler.
IIRC, salmonella in eggs and chicken has more to do with the conditions on factory farms than with the chickens themselves. So if you keep your coop reasonably clean and wash and store your eggs correctly, you’ll probably be okay.
That’s hilarious. At least you can have simultaneous chickens and dogs. I want chickens but I have an insane terrier mix with a Napoleon complex who would go out of his little walnut mind at prey animals sharing his back yard with him.
Just as well, husband who grew up in the country doesn’t want them anyway. Says he lives in a city so he doesn’t have to step in shit all the time.
@Napoleon: Hot dogs are already cooked. I’m curious why you’d need to cook them and just them in a slow cooker? They heat up in no time.
@wmd: We may have to resort to electrifying the fence. Last spring a huge raccoon ran across our property in broad daylight. I think one of the neighbors had disturbed him, but damn he was huge! And the coyotes are out in the middle of the day here. They’re absolutely brazen.
no offense intended to you specifically, more pointed to the US love affair with the great American Gothic trope. farmers taint quaint ner wholesome by nature. just long suffering cause the only alternative is starvin and dyin. ;D
i loved my grandfather’s farm but only realized it in retrospect. it was far from a Jode existence but i could tell it wasn’t fun or clean either. it just seemed normal to me at the time to be constantly dodging shit piles and whatnot. i didn’t realized until graduate school that i experienced a quickly disappearing upbringing.
for those interested the BBC site has an article on the new book about Lewis Hine who documented the building of the Empire State Building and child labor. He helped get child labor laws changed with his work. some nice examples of his photos in the video linked.
To quote the domestic partner, “They’re ANIMALS”. But you know you’re having a ball.
@waratah: There are voyages of self-discovery best left to the voyager.
conehead reference, not meant to be factual!
Who else is getting hungry for lunch?
Good luck. I am extremely impressed with that modular coop moderne feel you got there.
Maybe a commenter already mentioned it, but an alternative to moveable coop, or letting chickens roam, is just to dump grass and chicken edible garden clippings into coop periodically, if the coop floor is accessible and easy to sweep up. Plenty of bugs come with the clippings. You have to make sure any clippings don’t have some chemical or other crud on them first, though.
That is what we did on my family’s farm. Actually it was a daily thing to go scythe a few swaths of alfalfa or timothy grass and throw it all into the coop.
Chicken coop we had when I was a wee lad was a huge thing next to the barn, which big wooden chicken coop laying house on two sides. The wire fence had been patched so much over decades that it was an indecipherable maze/fence. Full of secret passageways that the bolder chickens would crawl through to FREEDOM. Meant we had to go around at dawn or dusk periodically and grab escapees off of low branches where they were dozing. And there was a small population of feral chickens wandering around the farm. Could never get them all back into the coop.
@artem1s: Ohhhhh. Missed it.
Betty, that’s why we call them dogs! My 90 pounder has been breaking our agreement about mule shit with regularity. I finally agreed that he could eat it if he just stopped rolling in it. He has been pretty good for a couple of years, but this spring the rolling in it has become almost a daily event. I think a few cold-water, garden-hose baths might remind him of his contractual agreement.
When I get aggravated at him, I try to remember that my Carolina Herrera perfume is just as offensive to his nose (probably more so) as mule shit is to mine—and he never complains!
I know they are cooked but we will be at a picnic shelter for a pot luck dinner w/ 40 people. Its not practical to cook them in a traditional manner, and there will really not be enough time when we get back to fire up the grills at the shelter. I have seen on line people say they have used this method before (altough they tend to heat the dogs on high for 1-2 hours instead) and some of them swear by the method as really turning out a good dog.
If you are going to wash whenever a chicken shits on the feeder/waterer, you are in a world of hurt. Chickens stand on anything and shit wherever they stand, like ballplayers spitting.
Hang the feeder above the floor of the pen.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Heh heh heh… She said…
Yes, animals are gross. My cats let me know that daily.
Also too, we had a special compost pile that included the chicken poop we gathered when cleaning the coop. Made great fertilizer for fruit trees, especially citrus.
I don’t get this whole chicken thing. Are eggs really that expensive where you live?
Home grown grass fruit and veggie fed chicken and eggs are infinitely better than what you can get in the store, unless you want to shell out for a premium free range brand that you know can produce something similar to home schooled chicken.
@burnspbesq: What jl said. Fresh eggs are ten shades of awesome. Plus, chickens are funny as hell.
Several breeds of dogs that I have had the honor to live with all have one thing in common. Loving poop from creatures large and small to roll in or eat depending on the freshness. Roll in the new stuff, eat the old. Living on a farm is pure heaven for both man and his constant companion.
@Betty Cracker: Except even the perfect fresh egg gets old if you have an overly efficient supply chain. Standard breakfast conversation from my youth between kitchen and dining room follows:
‘You want just two eggs? We got plenty of eggs.’
‘Thanks, but two are fine.’
‘Got plenty of eggs this morning, never be so good again.’
‘I’m full, thanks. Two are fine.’
‘OK, I’ll make some more eggs. Just take a minute or so.’
Compost pile?!? Seems to me she has discovered a great way to cut down on the dog food expense!
I remember some summer days on the farm, butchering chickens. Its enough to make a vegan out of you.
You can have them checked but I bet Salmonella will not be a problem unless the chicks came with it. We ate raw eggs fresh from the chicken many times & never a hiccup
My feed store has a new kind of nest/perch, it’s molded plastic like those rubbermaid-looking mailboxes, about the same size. It has a perch bar in the front, and is open in the back, you just mount it on the wall. It might be a good way to get into chickens without a lot of trouble, to see if you like it before you do a lot of construction. They were $20.
Gad I have heard variations of that conversation a million times – I thought it was a Scandinavian thing. That scene in Fargo where the Sheriff gets called in the middle of the night & her husband offers to make her something to eat. She doesn’t want anything because of morning sickness but he keeps say, “oh, I’ll just make you something”. She keeps saying “no, thats OK” and he just keeps insisting.
It rang so true.
@jl: Keeping too many chickens results in more eggs than you can handle, reminiscent of Lucy trying to keep up with the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory.
@Schlemizel: Norm: “You gotta eata breakfast!”
(I have the dialogue from all Coen Bros. movies memorized, and so does my husband. It’s amazing how often it comes in handy for conversational shorthand.)
I worry about that wooden lattice: any determined varmint could chew through it. Apparently, even your chicken wire is suspect:
Electricity teaches raccoons to stay away. It doesn’t even need to be used every night, just when there are signs of predation.
I found local raccoons have a preference for livers, often leaving birds to flop around a bit after removing the preferred organ. This seems like cruelty (it’s not cruel, raccoons like the concentration of nutrients in liver).
Traps for predators can work if all else fails. I’ve done live trap followed by .22 short from point blank range, as transporting raccoons does not work and they return to their home range.
@Larryb: Yeah, we worried about that too even though we’ve never seen a raccoon around here. On the lower half of the hen house, the lattice is on the outside, then there’s heavy-gauge wire fencing, then the chicken wire on the inside.
Unless the raccoon climbs up the side and tears through the bare chicken wire up top, we should be okay. Also, I plan to shut the chickens in the coop at night, so a raccoon would have to attack in broad daylight without attracting the attention of my two big, slobbery dogs. It’s possible, but not likely.
Yup, plus it just sounds so natural. It is the way we talk. Even Fargo, you won’t find anyone today that talks that way around here but you can still hear the faint traces of it. I had many anunts & uncles that sounded EXACTLY like Fargo.
My kids and I have entire conversations from the Simpsons – it drives my wife nuts!
Cat vomit may be gross, but they are fussy about what they eat, while dogs will eat anything … I have met many dogs that love cat shit – will literally race down the hall at my house to get to the cat box to see what goodies have been deposited since their last visit … also, I had a husky mix years ago who threw up, then sniffed the vomit, thought “Yum!”, and then ate it. A cat will never do that.
Another thing on chicken predators: I’ve read that skunks will kill and then skin chickens and leave the skins turned inside out while eating all of the insides, so that it looks like the chicken has been attacked by aliens. Too weird but apparently common.
Sorry – I just did a little research and apparently the inside out chicken skin story is rae, if not an urban myth. According to the intertubes the preferred skunk method is to bite the head off and then drink the blood. That’s bad enough. But only the striped skunks can climb, so chickens roosting up high would generally be safe at night.
Free-range chickens are constant entertainment. Better when you have a rooster, because the rooster and chicks provide most of the interest.
We did however have one hand-raised banty hen who thought she was a dog and a family member and patrolled our dining table, snagging pasta.
She would also come with us on walks, her feet and comb turning bright red as her feet propellered along to keep up.
Once to give her rest we but her in a backpack on the malamute. Then malamute saw a bobcat. Chicken got a rocket ship ride.
If you’ve ever had a farm fresh egg, there’s no comparison.
For all you chicken keepers. When a hen stops laying, what’s their fate? Do they live out their lives in the chicken run. Or is it into the stew pot?
For a very real, very funny look at running your own egg business, check out Betty MacDonald’s book ‘The Egg And I.” (PS. It’s nothing like the 1947 movie.)
Also: The Egg, bu Sherwood Anderson
” One unversed in such matters can have no notion of the many and tragic things that can happen to a chicken. It is born out of an egg, lives for a few weeks as a tiny fluffy thing such as you will see pictured on Easter cards, then becomes hideously naked, eats quantities of corn and meal bought by the sweat of your father’s brow, gets diseases called pip, cholera, and other names, stands looking with stupid eyes at the sun, becomes sick and dies. A few hens, and now and then a rooster, intended to serve God’s mysterious ends, struggle through to maturity. The hens lay eggs out of which come other chickens and the dreadful cycle is thus made complete. It is all unbelievably complex. “
@jl: That made me laugh, but we never had a bit of trouble raising them from fluffy chicks to adult hens (and too damned many roosters). Only one hen died before her time, during a terrible heat wave. She was about three.
We lost a banty rooster too early when the fowl ran afoul of a couple of hoboes. We found his feathers and bones and the fire he was cooked over, behind a big black walnut tree on the “back forty”. We only had him because someone in the neighborhood didn’t keep their chickens penned up and my mother got mad because they were eating the baby vegetable plants, so she penned them up until someone came looking for them. No one ever did. One of them was a large red hen that my grandfather used to carry tucked under one arm, when he walked around the neighborhood. She seemed to enjoy it.
Posolé is good for older hens, as is coq au vin.
When I get a chick order the minimum number is 25 chicks. I buy some layers, and the remainder Cornish X meat birds. Once the chick are old enough to share yard space with adult birds they all get organic feed… this goes on until all the meat birds are slaughtered – usually about 3 months.
Raccoons will definitely climb – I’ve got a strand of electric fence wire about 3″ above ground, another about 15″. Once they learn not to go near coop you don’t need to energize the fence at night.
Chickens are yard critters, NOT housepets. Sorry if you weren’t clear on the difference. :-)
Chickens are yard critters, NOT housepets. Sorry if you weren’t clear on the difference. :-)
Chickens are yard critters, NOT housepets. Sorry if you weren’t clear on the difference. :-)
Cats are, still, predators. Dogs are scavengers. Yes, they are descended from wolf predators, but then we are descended from boreal apes, and it ain’t hard to tell the two apart. Quite possibly dogs come from wolves who decided that hanging around human settlements, eating our garbage — distinctly including our inefficiently-digested waste products — was a better living than hunting for themselves. They gave up a big chunk of their dignity and some of their personal autonomy thereby, but if you look at the global populations of dogs versus wolves, it’s clear which clan made the better bet numerically at least. Kind of like working for FOX News instead of free-lancing…
I’ll pension mine off with well-earned grain for their service. I couldn’t possibly eat a chicken I personally know.
That was me :) I don’t know what that dust is, but it is fine and like a paste. I would still suggest hanging your heat lamp in the coop and moving them out there. Since you are in Florida, and they must be 3-4 weeks old, they probably don’t need it.
They will want to roost soon. Anything that can perch a bird in your office will become part of the brooder. Mostly, they will perch on the sides of your brooder walls and poop on the carpet outside the box.
Raccoons were never a big problem for me. I think having dogs in the yard discourages them. Hawks took a few. Most kills were by neighbor dogs that were running loose or had broke out of their yards.