Dangerous Weather

It is the last day of January and it is 58 degrees F. Everyone is sloshing through muck and puddles outside.

Lily feet

Barn windows drip with condensation. As I write this, rain is coming down, a hard wind carrying it sideways.

This is dangerous weather. When it is well below freezing and there’s ice on the windows and snow on the ground, I don’t worry. When the temperature rises, I do. Germs multiply in warm, moist air. Respiratory disease lurks in all barns, but when it is dry and cold it goes into hiding. Manure that has solidified into clumps on barn boards, and frozen hard into the ground outside, thaws. It releases moisture and ammonia fumes, bacteria and viruses.

Pearl, my Cochin, is my only feather-legged hen. I only have the one, and this is why:


Although some people think that feathered legs keep birds warm, around here they get muddy and icy. She carries the wet, cold around with her. Yesterday, knowing that this warm front was on the way, I mucked out the coop and put down fresh shavings, so that Pearl and the others have a dry home.

inside clean coop

I’ll keep an eye on the outdoor runs. I’ve been putting down shavings, to keep the chickens up off the snowy ground. But, in this weather, it could easily go moldy, bringing illness to my flock. If it remains warm, it will all be shoveled out this weekend.

old hens

For now, everyone is safe and dry and breathing clean air in their well-ventilated coops. A January thaw is never a good thing. I’ll be paying close attention to the girls.

Fun & Lovely Chicken Things

I spent Monday at the humongous (no exaggeration, it takes up the Javitz Center and two Piers) NY Gift Fair. This is THE place to go if you are a creator/purveyor of …. stuff! Things for the home, gifts for your friends, artist-designed stationary, clever items for the office, luxury for the bedroom. It’s all there, and more. Buyers from retailers big and small come from all over the world to find stock for their shops at this event. My book, Vintage Chicken Postcards, was there, at the Ellie & Friends booth. (Ellie is a rep, who sells to delightful indie shops.)

Of course, while looking about, I kept an eye out for chickens. There was this teapot.


Take off the top (and use it as a cup) and underneath that is another cup. Under that is a tea strainer.

top off

A Danish company was selling Scandinavian design home accessories. Which I love. Especially the egg cups. Just looking at them made me happy

pear cups

I met a woman who designs and sells temporary tattoos. Did you know that you can put them on eggs? She has this chicken tattoo that I might have to wear at my next Chicken Keeping Workshop.

But, you don’t have to go to the NY Gift Fair to find beautiful chicken-themed items for your home. You could go to a poultry show. This platter was at the Northeast Poultry Congress at the My Chickens and Me table.


So much creativity and talent all around! What have you seen lately that inspires and makes you smile?

A Tribute To Candy

Karen Robinson was one of Candy’s many fans, and like all of us was saddened to hear of the great bunny’s passing. But, since Karen is also an artist who specializes in animal portraiture and wildlife paintings, she was inspired to do more than send me a sweet note (which would have been enough!) Karen was moved to paint a tribute to Candy. I received this in the mail today. It came all the way from Karen’s home near Devon, in the UK.


She painted it from the photo that I took of Candy and Pip conversing.

Karen’s website has a gallery of her work. Take a look at these. What great dogs! She keeps a blog where she writes about her commissions and her artistic process; I always enjoy a peek into the working life of an artist.

Thank you, Karen.

Blowing Out Eggs

Aren’t eggs from you own hens the prettiest things? Even the basic brown egg isn’t so plain when you know who laid it. Of course you don’t want to break them, but, then again, you do want to eat them. Luckily, the expression, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, doesn’t apply to eggs. You can eat them, but still have the shells to keep.

When I was little my mother taught me to blow out eggs, using a big hole on one end, a small on the other, and lots of huffy breaths, which was fun when I was young, but I don’t want to do that now. Besides, I want the blown eggs to look as perfect as when they were laid, so I use an inexpensive German tool, the Blas-Fix Egg Blower.

First, I use the little pointy wand to drill a hole in one end.

drilling the hole

Next, I insert the long needle into that hole and twist it around a bit to break up the yolk. Then I pump the bulb at the end to blow air into the egg. Out comes the egg white, saved into a clean bowl.

blowing out egg

And out squishes the yolk.

blowing out yolk

Once the egg is empty, I go over to the sink, fill the tool with hot water and squirt that into the egg to rinse it out.

washing out egg

Then I set the egg in the holder, hole end down, to let it drain and dry.

egg holder

From there it joins the other blown out eggs in my optimistic basket.

displayed eggs

I’ll be getting some Ameracaunas this spring. I look forward to autumn when I’ll have blue eggs to add to the basket!

Goat Eyes

The goaties are adorable. They’re fuzzy, short, round, and friendly. Visitors always want to say hello.


But, when guests get close up, I often hear, I didn’t know they looked like that!

They’re referring to the goats’ eyes. The pupils are rectangular.

rectangular eye

Other animals have rectangular pupils, too, but what makes a goat’s eye so startling is that the iris is a pale color (Caper’s is tawny brown, but some goats have blue eyes) so that the inky dark rectangle stands out.

This shape has a purpose. It allows for excellent peripheral depth perception – exactly what a hoofed prey animal needs to watch out for predators and make a quick escape. The goats can see about 320 to 340 degrees around them. Unlike horses, they don’t have a blind spot in the front. They have good night vision, too. My goats can see so well that when standing in the corner in their paddock they can spy me, through the screened porch, and then through the kitchen window, to where I’m working at the sink. They like knowing where I am.

There are other animals that also have rectangular pupils, like toads and octopi,


photo from howstuffworks.com

which are creatures that I like very much. However, these are the ones that I am ever so happy to have greet me in the barn.