The Chicken Keeping Workshop

On Saturday sixteen people arrived here at Little Pond Farm for a Chicken Keeping Workshop. One came from just two miles up the road, and another from New Jersey – 300 miles away! There were young boys and grandparents and people in-between. Some attendees already had chickens, and some were planning on getting them. Everyone came with a happy enthusiasm, and that mood of good cheer lasted the entire afternoon.

Here Agnes is showing how calm a chicken can be, despite laughter and being in a crowd of on-lookers.

It was hot, so we discussed coop design while standing in the shade.

Siouxsie provided a live example of one of the breeds that I talked about.

I showed how to look for lice.

I checked several hens but didn’t find any. No one seemed too disappointed.

Buffy showed how placid and gentle an old Buff Orpington can be. Lots of people held her.

And then we had the iced tea and cookies as promised, (including cranberry-blueberry shortbread that I made on the spur of the moment to round out the menu) while I continued to expound on such topics as what to keep in a chicken medicine cabinet and what makes a broody hen broody.

After the workshop, people who wanted to stayed awhile longer visited the goats. Pip and Caper said it was about time that they got the attention.

I’ll run another workshop in a month or so. Which is better to schedule it on, Saturday or Sunday?


A Kiss From Ursula

Yesterday we took a family vacation day and went into Boston to the New England Aquarium. My favorite tank in the aquarium holds the cuttle fish, which come up to the glass and eyeball the visitors. Wiggle your fingers and look at them with right attitude and they change colors, with patterns sweeping across their skin in patterns more complex than the most high-tech LED billboard. There’s also a large tank that you can put your hand in and rays swim under and over you. Silky, gentle and magical. We were at the aquarium in time to see the Fur Seal Training Show. Although what these animals are taught look like “tricks” – the behaviors are essential for giving them care and keeping their minds active and bodies fit. Still, seeing a seal swim in a circle on cue is cute. When the trainer asked, “does someone from the audience…” my hand shot up before she could finish saying “… meet Ursula.”

I got to touch Ursula’s flipper, which felt like rubber.

I got a kiss,

and I smiled the rest of the day.

On the way out, we passed the rehab and veterinary area. A sign said that a moray eel was being treated for prolapse and egg binding. Who knew that eels had the same problems as our chickens?!

Giveaway Winner!

The random number generator (one of those freebies on the web that is ridiculously simple and fun) picked Shannon.

I wish I could send each and every one of you a prize. Caper says it’s time for a goat-themed giveaway. I’ll have to think about that.

Cookies and Weeds

I wish that I had the time to respond to each and every one of you who have entered the t-shirt giveaway! The great chicken names! The affection for your flocks! It’s so much fun to read. But, I have things to do.

The Chicken Keeping Workshop is full. I’ve promised cookies, and so I’ve been baking.

I’ve made Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies, Rosemary and Ginger Cookies, and Molasses Spice. I’ve hidden most of them from my sons and husband, but I might have to make more.

What with the hot weather, I’ve fallen a bit behind in garden upkeep, but with so many people coming to look around on Saturday, I thought I’d tackle this mess of weeds by the Little Pond.

It has to be done by hand.

The good thing about having let it go is that crab grass is much easier to pull when it is in large mature clumps. At least that’s what I tell myself. The big surprise to me is that I’ve yet to find one grub. My girls, even with limited free-ranging, have decimated the Japanese Beetle population.

I do have a supervisor out there. Here she comes.

The Beast might be underwater, but she keeps an eye on everything.

I’d better get back to work.



Chicken T-Shirt Giveaway!

At the end of the winter, my friend, Lauren Keller Johnson, emailed me about the death of one of her chickens. She didn’t know what killed her hen and asked me to do a necropsy. Some girlfriends go shopping. Some open up diseased birds.

Like me, Lauren is a writer, and, like me, thinks through events by crafting them into words and essays. She wrote a thoughtful piece about her chicken’s demise. I wrote a companion article about the necropsy. Both are published in the August/September issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine.

You can’t make a living writing about chickens, but you can get a t-shirt. I received a women’s size large, blue, Backyard Poultry Magazine tee, which I’m going to pass along to one of you. I’ll also include the issue that has the articles in it.

All you have to do to enter is to comment below and tell me how many chickens you have, if any. I want to hear if you have other poultry, too (have I mentioned lately how much I’d like a pair of Pilgrim geese? No? Tell me about yours, because we’re full up here.)

One entry per person, please. The contest closes Wednesday, July 27 at 10 PM EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner.

Do post this on FB and retweet on Twitter. Thanks!

The contest is now closed. Winner announced on Thursday.