Several observant Hencam viewers have asked me where Candy’s hutch has gone. It’s been moved to the side of the coop, out of view. Rabbits are heat intolerant, in fact, getting too hot is fatal for them. In the wild, rabbits have upright ears that act as natural air conditioners. Hot blood circulates close to the skin, and cools off in the breeze. But domestic lop-eared rabbits can’t pick their ears up off their furry bodies. Their air conditioners don’t work. And they don’t have a cool dirt tunnel to spend the hot afternoons in. (Although, Candy does her best to dig one, the dirt is too packed in the chicken yard.)
In the winter, Candy’s hutch is positioned so that she can take a sunbath at 9 am (have you noticed that she does that?) In the summer, the hutch is moved to the coolest place in the yard. I’m sorry that you can’t see it, but her health is more important than fame.
I’m always on the lookout for childrens’ books that feature chickens. There are a lot out there – but I’m fussy. I expect them to get the basic facts right. Recently, I was told about a book, so I checked it out at the bookstore. The illustrations were nice and the chickens looked like chickens. But the text! It said that one character was a “rooster, not a chicken.” Did the author, the illustrator, the editor, the designer, and the many other people who work on a book to get it published not know that a “chicken” is a term that covers both males and females?
I did recently come across a charming and exuberant book, Chicky Chicky Chook Chook, by Cathy MacLennan. It has the sort of writing that is fun to read out loud to very little people. “Chicky, chicky chook chook. Chick, chick chick. Chicky, chicky, chook chook, peck..peck…pick.” The pictures are silly and colorful. There’s even a story line. Sort of. I love it.
For more book ideas, check out my annotated bibliography.
Email me if you have a book I should add to the list!
In the back of the backyard, I’ve got an expanse of thin, sandy soil. I’ve put up a temporary chicken wire fence around a 15 foot diameter area and dumped in all of last year’s compost. I’ve set up an old patio umbrella, put out a waterer, and when the weather is good – like today – I take three hens out there. They turn over the old leaves and grass clipping and garden scraps, eat up bugs and level it out. They’ll have about 7 weeks of glorious scratching, and then I’ll kick them out and plant pumpkins. When the growing season is over, I’ll have a lovely plot of dirt. Last year’s pumpkin patch is ready for wildflowers. I bought 3 packets of seeds today.
As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a lot going on around here. The inside of the barn was stained this week. Now it has a light gray wash so it doesn’t look so yellow and raw. The fence for the new chicken run is going in. Not an easy job, as we’ll be burying part of it 6 inches to keep out predators, and since this is New England, you don’t dig through loose soil- you make a trench in a mix of packed dirt and granite gravel. Also, I’ve got some non-standard porch doors from a salvage yard going in. And a new vegetable garden being installed on a slope, so we’ll have to put in a stone retaining wall. That’s the royal we. I don’t do any of this. For close to 15 years, I’ve relied on Mark from Rudy’s Tree and Landscaping.
The outside of the barn will be stained tomorrow. Amazing what some friends will do when you offer BBQ!
And then it’s time to divide the flock. Seven hens – the ones that will be photographed for the children’s book, will go in the new barn. Snowball, of course, will be one of that flock. Who else? Tell me which is your favorite hen.
Lastly, I’m sure you’ve spied the two new, pretty as can be, Bantam White Leghorns. I bought them from breeder (and poultry judge) Don Nelson. I know some of you out there say, “I don’t have room for a flock.” Well, go to a local breeder and buy two hens for your backyard! You can buy gorgeous pullets of just the breed your heart desires. Check the American Poultry Association for a list of shows near you. Go, look at the birds, and connect with a breeder.
When you have a Web Cam running from your chicken coop, figuring out technical glitches isn’t as easy as looking in a manual. We’ve been experiencing intermittent stoppages of the signal. This morning, my IT guy (and wonderful husband) Steve, went out to the coop in the middle of a blowing, raining, Nor’Easter to announce that he’s solved the problem. Well, at least figured it out. The problem is Candy. She found the only exposed wire in the entire backyard area and did what bunnies love to do – she chewed through it. The fix will require a bit of rewiring and a new, metal conduit. It’s not going to happen today. Take a look at the weather out there!
Compared to that bunny, the new puppy, Scooter, is no trouble at all. He’s got the best, sweetest, temperament.