Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Chronicle Obituary


      M.I.A. Shawhan, partner of Foghorn and Chaz Shawhan, loving constituent of Daniel and Rebecca Shawhan, companion of the late Ms. Fluffy Feathers, dear comrade of Cadberry, Henrietta, Stay-Puff, Kailyn, Prissy, Samantha, Molt, Chatty Cathy, Smirnoff, Jacklyn Daniels, Sally Comfort, Jo, Beth, Meg, Amy, Tia and Tamera Shawhan. January 29, 2012. Friends may call Tuesday January 31, 2012 from 12:00PM until 1:30PM at the Shawhan Farm, Hillsboro, Ohio. Memorial contributions may be sent to The Egg Fund of Shawhan Farm of Hillsboro, Ohio. Condolences may be expressed at www.chroniclesofchicken.blogspot.com and on Dan Shawhan and Rebecca Shawhan's Facebook pages.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Egg Info and Something New to Try



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!!!

The chickies on the Shawhan farm are not too happy with all of this rain. I think the little raging rivers in their coop and kennel area freak them out. There have been a few brave ladies running around the yard and horse pasture, but for the most part, I don't think chickens care for water much. I took them some old bread and hot dog buns this afternoon to sooth their ruffled feathers...hahahaha PUN intended!

I received my newest edition of Taste of Home Magazine (Feb./March 2012) in the mail the other day (thank you Grandma for the subscriptions!!!) and I found a small blurp on eggs and a different way to make your morning scrambled eggs.

Everyone remembers the bad rap eggs had awhile ago about being high in cholesterol. Thankfully it seems like eggs are making a come back. Now there is new information backing eggs up in that their cholesterol levels are not as high as previously thought. The USDA says that one large egg has 185 mg of cholesterol which is 14% lower than once thought. Dietary guidelines recommend no more than 300 mg of cholesterol intake a day...so go ahead and eat those eggs for breakfast! The USDA also says that one large egg has 64% more Vitamin D than once thought. Eggs also contain 6 grams of protein and have 70 calories.

I am kind of cheating in posting this recipe and not yet trying it out for myself, so I apologize. All you need is a coffee cup, 2 of my eggs, 2 tablespoons of milk, a microwave and cheese if you so please. You spray our cup with PAM, add the eggs and milk and beat them. Then you microwave everything on High for about 45 seconds. Stir it some then microwave it again for 30 to 45 seconds. Finally, add your cheese if you so please.

I plan on trying it this weekend. Hopefully it doesn't end up looking like that microwaved stuff the school lunch ladies used to serve on breakfast day. Let me know if you try it out and tell me how it goes!

                                                                                       .....cluck...cluck....cluck....cluck......


"Microwave Coffee Cup Scramble."  Taste of Home Magazine Feb./March. 2012: 45

"USDA Study Shows: Eggs Have Less Cholesterol, More Vitamin D."  Taste of Home Magazine Feb./March. 2012: 45

(Photo by: computerclipart.com)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Grandma!

video



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!!!  And Happy Birthday to Grandma Vicki!!!

The chickens have a very special message for you. They all wanted to sing you Happy Birthday. So turn on your computer's volume and enjoy the chorus of the cluckies!

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR GRANDMA VICKIIIIIII!!!!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
AND MANY MORE!"

Lots of love always!

                                                                         ....cluck...cluck...cluck....cluck......

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken Butts Drive Me Nuts!



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!

It's hard to believe we are so far into January and egg production has been ticking away like clockwork. The chickens are happy when its not too cold and they can go outside and enjoy the sun and ice-free steer lot. This exposure also allows the chickies to be more photogenic.

A sight I enjoy seeing are the chicken butts sticking up in the air, especially when they eat from the steer stuffer, like in the picture above. I think my favorite part of the chicken is the butt. (Some of you may find this weird, but if you REALLY know me, you aren't surprised!) I like the soft fluffy feathers on their bottoms, which you can see well on the main picture of this blog. I also love to watch the chickens run away and see their butts waddle back and forth.

I got to thinking about the importance of a chicken's booty. Obviously it's where the egg comes from. If you watch my roosters for any length of time you know it's where he, let's just say, makes a baby chick. It's also used for excretion. I got to looking around a little about the butt and I found either too little information or some person's doctorate thesis paper for Ag students. So I'll share with you all the notes that I jotted down. I found the following information at:
www.poultry/hub.org/anatomy-and-physiology/reproduction/ and www.birdhealth.com

The butt hole, for lack of a better term, is typically referred to as the "vent" or "cloaca". It is the site where the egg and feces are expelled. Sounds kind of unsanitary, right? Actually the vent is made up of 3 compartments, all separated by a membrane that acts as valves. This way, poo can build up for  awhile before the act of defecating so that a hen can sit on her eggs for extended periods of time. The smallest of these "compartments" is called the urodeum and this is where the egg and urine are held. The end part of the vent is called the proctodeum. Here, the poo and urine meet up to pass as chicken droppings. I did learn that the dark color in chicken poo is food excrement and the white part is the urine. You learn something new everyday!

The egg enters the vent small end first and rotates in the vent so it is passed with the bigger end first. Problems can occur with/in the vent. Sometimes a hen can be "bound up" with an egg. In this case she can't pass a large egg and needs help to do so. You can keep her in warm water for 30 minutes to help her pass the egg. Vent Gleet sounds like an oozing nasty mess on what little I read about it. You can also have a prolapsed vent, much like a prolapsed uterus in other animals. This involves pushing the vent back into the chicken, rubbing hemorrhoid cream on her butt, giving her a strong drink and tucking her into bed for the night saying, "Sorry, sweetie, but you REALLY had a bad day!"

I think it's pretty cool to have one hole serving THREE purposes. And everyone thinks humans are so efficient.... So the next time you see a chickie butt, you'll have a new reason to appreciate it other than it being so darned cute!

                                                                      ....cluck...cluck...cluck....cluck....

Choct, Minigan. "Reproduction." PoultryHub.Org 18 Oct. 2010. Poultry Cooperative Research Center CRC). 19 Jan. 2012 http://www.poultryhub.org/anatomy-and-physiology/reproduction/

Marshall, Rob. "Vent Gleet." Backyard Poultry (2010) 19 Jan. 2012 http://www.birdhealth.com.au/bird/chick-fowl/ventgleet.html

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunshine and Reproductive Time!!!! WOOT WOOT!


CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!

As some of you already know, our chickens cranked out 14 eggs the other day! We are so proud of our girls considering it's been in the 20's and it's half-way through January. I know some chicken keepers whose hens have completely stopped laying. Our ladies here on the Shawhan farm don't get a winter break, and some people may actually think this is a cruel practice to make hens lay when they "naturally" wouldn't be. (BLAH, BLAH, BLAH... no greenies here!)

There are some out there in the animal kingdom whose reproductive systems are linked to the sun. Horses for example won't cycle during winter months due to limited natural light. MANY breeders will use artificial light to keep their mares cycling during winter months with the hopes to get them bred and therefore foaling as close to the universal equine birth date of Jan. 1. (Since the gestation length of the horse is 11 months.) Well chickens are very similar in that they need light to keep producing eggs during the dark depressing months of winter.

A chicken has a pituitary gland inside the eye which produces a hormone that is carried to the ovaries. (Which we all know is where those yummy eggs come from.) The hormone is stimulated by sunlight and carried to the ovaries by the bloodstream. It's simple to continue with light exposure during winter months by simply using a light in the coop. At least that is how we do it. Our chickies' light is usually turned on between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It stays on until between 7 and 10 o'clock at night. It's normally around 9:30 or 10 since that is when I go back outside to put Jimmy and Charlie back out. (See my horses DO serve a purpose!) The nights the horses stay in is when the light is turned off at 7. For the past few days the main doors on the barn have been shut, so the light in the coop is on all day. If no light is provided, chickens will go into a molt and stop laying altogether.

Our egg numbers fall into a pattern. There is usually a peak, say 14 like the other day, then it falls off for awhile. Yesterday we only found 7, yet today we had 12. On average we get 10 eggs a day. Currently there are 3 dozen eggs in my fridge, so they are up for grabs for whoever wants to come and get them!!

Check out poultrykeeper.com for more info.

P.S. I realize I need to do some cleaning in the coop. Please don't stare at all the cobwebs by the light!

                                                                             ....cluck...cluck..cluck..cluck......

Daniels, Tim. "Light For Laying Chickens." Poultrykeeper.com (2012) 4 Nov. 2008. 15 Jan. 2012 http://poultrykeeper.com/chickens/general-chickens/light-for-layers.html

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chicken Gourmet Snack Food


CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!!!

Or should I say, BRRR, BRRR, BRRR. Old Man Winter finally decided to show his face tonight. I was thanked several times earlier this evening when I went outside to close all the barn doors and plug in the chicken water to keep it from freezing. Not only did I enjoy the chickie praise, but I was thanked by a dozen eggs laid today. Good job, ladies...good job. (I'm still very pleased with the egg production. Though it has slowed down, the ladies have been very dutiful. This could be a whole other post, so I'll save it for later.)

The other day I noticed how old and wilted a head of lettuce was. I've been told and have read how much chickens love table scraps and garden goodies, such as lettuce, melon rinds, etc.  I took it outside and threw out chunks of lettuce. It was a big hit! Normally when anything hits the floor the girls come running and their evening salad was no exception. All I've ever really given them (besides a summer of freedom in my yard) has been bread crumbs...oh and I diced up those rats for them with the lawn mower...let's not forget that adventure.... I think it's funny though because when this happens the roosters will hold back, like they are letting the women have all the treats. They DO go after the food, just not as hardcorere as the girls do.

I'd say it's pretty bad when I buy a bag of salad at the grocery store and think, "Well if we don't eat it all before it goes bad, the chickens will."

A chicken's diet is very important. No matter the age. Any chicken owner can tell you that enough calcium in a laying chicken's diet it very, very important. This way a hen's body can produce a strong shell for the egg. If calcium isn't obtained through the diet, usually in the form of good old oyster shells, hens will start eating the eggs. Thias is a contagious habit that is not easily broken. Oyster shells are fun and dusty, and I need to get some this weekend.

I.e., ff chicks are fed a layer's feed, it could lead to kidney failure and eventually death.

In my experience, chickens don't just enjoy a vegetarian diet. I've seen one of the roosters eating a dead bird, let's not forget those rats!!!! and chickens are a bird that still believe in the taboo of cannibalism. They'll go after one of their own if he or she is bleeding. (I hope to never witness this!) Some say they have a thirst for blood.

All in all it's not too difficult to keep them happy. I do want to keep in mind more treats for the girls in the future. The picture above was from the other day's feast.

I wonder if the chickens would like popcorn...since I'm eating a bowl right now!

                                                                 ....cluck.... cluck.... cluck.... cluck......

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Easter in January



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!

Or should I say, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!! No...it's not grandchickies...big disappointment there. However, a discovery was made yesterday in the hay mow of our barn.

Dan found 10 eggs, pictured above, nestled in a bed of straw while running some extension cords. When he found them he said the eggs were cold, which I guess it a good thing, but since we don't know how old they are we decided not to collect them for eating purposes. We figure they've been there awhile maybe. (Instead, I now have 10 targets to shoot at with my .410...I blew 3 of them apart this morning!)
Afterwards I was cleaning stalls out and heard some scratching from above. I also saw a lot of straw in Charlie's water bucket, which is odd since he's not that messy with his hay. A black chickie was above me in the mow in little hen heaven. She must have been the one I saw flying the coop yesterday and walking the bridge of tobacco poles to get to the mow on the other side. It's funny when she's up there because straw will just fall from above. That must have been where the debris came from in Charlie's water bucket. Each stall has that old fashioned hole above it where in the old days you could just drop whatever from the mow into the animal pens below.

Last night we kept the eggs there until after dark to see if this was in fact M.I.A.'s brooding nest. I was disappointed to see that the eggs were abandoned. Hopefully I didn't just kill my grandchicks by taking away this hen's stash, but it is a little upsetting when you see 10 perfectly good eggs you're scared to eat and therefore are wasted. Oh well. It will be interesting to see if any eggs are there tonight. Yet another place we need to check daily.

I was also impressed that nothing had eaten these eggs. If you figure she laid an egg an day, that's 10 days nothing has gotten to these eggs. The mow is littered with raccoon poo (OOPS!) and I've seen raccoons in the barn before. Last night the eggs spent the night on the hay bale, which is right inside the barn and the loot was up for grabs. Not a single egg was touched.

Here's to nightly climbs in the mow unless we upset this hen enough she finds another hiding place. That is usually the case when we've stolen their stash in the past.

                                                        ....cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck......

Thursday, January 5, 2012

M.I.A.



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK.....

Ahhhh it was so good to see the sun shining today at the Shawhan farm! The temperature was a warm mid-40 degrees (I know those of you in Florida think that is cold, but us stuck in Ohio will take it any day!). It's nice to turn off the water heaters for once. All the animals enjoyed the weather today, as was evident with half a dozen chickens flying the coop to scratch around in the yard. I can't blame the ladies for wanting a change of scenery, but it's when they don't come back at night that I worry.

So begins the topic of this post. Once upon a time we had 10 black cluckies we would tuck into the coop every night. Occasionally, a white chicken would rebel and spend the night outside, only to been seen freaking out in the morning by the coop door, wishing her walk of shame would be over. It got to the point that if someone was missing at night we would shrug our shoulders and figure she'd show up in the morning. One night, not so long ago, a black chickie decided to do this. Since the animal chores both morning and night are becoming less exciting and we don't wait to do them together anymore, we sort of lost track who we saw what and when. Right now it is official that we are consistently missing a black hen every night. YES, we DO see black hens in the yard from time to time. YES, sometimes they get let back into the coop. YES, there are some nights we don't see the rouge black hen and she does not get put back into the coop. I really have no way of knowing if this phantom hen (I named her M.I.A. for Missing In Action) is still around or gone and lost forever.

Deep down I feel like she's still clucking somewhere. Case in point. I was in the barn the other day cleaning stalls when out from under the low mow, I see a black hen run out from under a big pile of wood and beams. A good place to hide, I told myself. I also counted 10 black hens today between the yard, coop and steer lot. But we all know my mathematical abilities, so maybe I'm off.  (In a way, it's like Sasquatch sightings!)

Since I don't care to put little foot tags on my girls, I've decided to give M.I.A. until the end of January to come back. I have a feeling if I pronounce her dead she'll show up with some chicks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she's gone all broody on me and I'll be a grandma. Remember, it takes 21 days, and I know it hasn't been that long.

So February first I may be posting an obituary...but let us hope it's a birth announcement instead.


                                                                   .....cluck...cluck...cluck...cluck.......
                                                                                       

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodbye 2011... Hello 2012!



CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK

And Happy New Year!!!! The chickens didn't stay up last night to watch the ball drop. They turn into pumpkins as soon as it gets dark, and since Foghorn likes to get up BEFORE the sun, they are all early birds. They did tell me they enjoyed their baby-sitter putting them to bed last night, so thanks Nicole from me and the chickens.

They have a few New Years resolutions I'm supposed to share with everyone:

"I resolve not to tear up your flower beds anymore if I can run around in the yard again." ~ Cadberry

"I resolve to stop hitting on your husband...in your presence." ~ Prissy

"I reslove to lay more eggs." ~ Stay Puffed

"I resolve to be a little nicer and acceptin' to Chaz, know what I'm sayin?" ~ Foghorn

"I resolve to fly the coop less and be my own chicken and not so much of a follower." ~ Sam

"I resolve to lay my eggs in more obvious places so that you can actually find them." ~Kailyn

"I resolve to finally stand up for myself to Foghorn and to stand by my beliefs. I resolve not to be bullied by Foghorn anymore and to beat his buttocks if he doesn't let up." ~ Chaz

I also asked Jimmy and Charlie and the steers what their New Years resolutions are:

"I resolve to not lay in the mud so much."  ~ Jimmy

"I resolve to go on a diet." ~ Charlie

"I resolve to out-live the other guy!"  ~ The Steers

I'll let you know if anyone sticks to these or not. That can be a whole other post! Good luck to everyone in their 2012 goals! I hope this yer brings blessings to all. Have a safe and happy new year!

                                                            ...cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck......

(Photo by: sodahead.com)