Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Chicks Have Arrived!!! The Chicks Have Arrived!!!


That's right, you heard it! We are once again the proud parents of 20 baby chicks! There are now 31 chickens living on the Shawhan farm! I thought this happy news needed to be shared in a special Saturday edition of The Chronicles of a Chicken Lady.... and there could MANY extra posts in the weeks to come since chicks are only so cute and fluffy for a short time!

Our new chicks, which I have dubbed Flock 2, are made up of five different breeds than that of Flock 1. Flock 2 consists of 5 Golden Comets, who I call my Golden Nuggets, 5 Araucanas, which we saw last year and didn't get any of. This bred we are very excited about because they lay the "Easter eggs." Their eggs are blue, green and my favorite! We also have 5 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 4 Speckled Sussex and 1 White Plymouth Rock. Why only one of these? It's simple. My precious Cadburry from Flock 1 ran away the morning I discovered the weasel massacre. Dan and I both saw her that morning and we haven't seen her since. My guess is she said "SCREW THIS!" and ran away from home. So I wanted a new Cadburry and got a big yellow chick that I could identify from the rest and this is the New Cadburry, or Cadburry 2.0.

I have a few other names picked out, but sometimes you just have to be around them and see which ones stand out, then you start calling them things, like Prissy and Chatty Cathy....who ARE still with us.

Well, I'll be taking pictures, videos and blogging away! Happy chick days!

"Our chicks lay the best!"

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake!


It's hard to believe that it is almost March!!! That can only mean one thing in the chicken world....SPRING CHICKS! That's right, we are getting very, very close to welcoming our future little balls of fluff. Dan has already cleaned out the old watering tub we are going to use and has moved it into the garage.

So I'll have to be careful when the little bundles of joy arrive and not play favorites between Flock 1 and Flock 2. I'm slyly trying to butter them up (HAHAHAHA that sounds bad...buttering chickens...sounds like I'm going to bake them!...Sorry, it's been a long day) so I went to TSC this week and got the chickies a treat. Every time I walk in there I picture myself picking up the bag of meal worms. YES they do actually sell bags of meal worms....I think they are dried.... but I can't ever seem to get myself to do it. Not only because it's kind of gross, but I know the chickens are finding grubs on their own. So if my yard and steer lot provide this for free, why should I buy it?!

I purchased a forage cake. It looked like bird seed formed into a loaf and is supposed to supplement their diet. I meant to provide more nutritional information about the forage cake, but I forgot the wrapper in the barn...and it's late and I'm tired and I don't feel like walking all the way back out to the barn to get it! Besides, I think its all bird seed anyway. I don't really feel like my chickens need supplements for their diet...I just felt bad for all the trauma they've been through and felt like spoiling them a little.

Hopefully they enjoy it. It will be interesting to see how much is gone in the morning as I gave it to them this evening. We have been getting around 5 to 6 eggs a day. That's not bad since we are down to 9 hens. Ah, but how all that will soon change!!!!!

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

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's Getting Political Up In Here.....


Well we have successfully reached and passed the one week mark of weasel safety. I say this because the weasel attacks were basically one week apart. This morning was the true test, and I am happy to report that all 11 survivors are still with us. I am not, however, ruling out that the weasel(s) will never succeed again, but with each passing night, I am feeling better about the chickens' safety.

Last night I was again questioning the point of owning chickens when Dan and I were outside after dark trying to get three hens out from in between the walls and of The Fortress and the old coop. We were throwing rocks, using sticks and I was debating if I could fit between the walls myself in order to go in after them. Chickens are crazy and so are the people owning them! (So poor Dan spent part of yet another a cold Sunday making coop adjustments.)

Now to take a different course. I found an article in a publication that Dan gets called Ohio Country Journal. An article about egg production caught my eye. In summary, Congress wants to pass a bill called H.R. 3798 that makes changes to living conditions for laying hens in big commercial egg productions. Did you know that Ohio is the second-largest egg producing state?

These changes include larger spaces for laying hens, giving them luxury items in their cages to allow them to act like chickens, all egg cartons will have to be labeled as to how the egg was produced, such as free-range, cage-free, caged hens, etc. Other changes include sanitation changes and euthanasia standards.

This sounds a lot like what Issue 2 was dealing with a couple of years ago. This is the agricultural world allowing government, and other groups, to come in and set standards for livestock. The National Pork Producers Council isn't very happy about the idea of allowing federal government to decide such regulations. They fear that it wouldn't end with just the poultry world, but would eventually lead to pork, beef and dairy industries.

Personally, I think the government needs to stay out of the agricultural world. I think it would allow other groups, PETA for instance, to start butting their noses in an area that they don't know anything about. For example, more than once in the month of October people ask me if Jimmy and Charlie have a nice warm barn to live in during the winter. I say yes, of course, if they need the barn. Everyone ASSUMES Jimmy and Charlie would be better off with a warm blanket, hot mash dinner and 65 degree heat all winter long. What those people don't know, is that the ideal living conditions for a horse are outdoors 24/7. Keeping them closed up in a barn all winter long is begging for respiratory problems and probably colic too.

Accordingly, we can't let groups come in who don't know the animals and their sciences and tell us how to raise something we probably spent either our whole lives studying, or at least 2 to 4  years studying at universities. Not every animal out there is a house pet, yet A LOT of people out there think they are. It's really scary to think these things can happen. If so, the prices of raising these animals will most definitely go up, and so will food in general. Not everyone out there can afford a $10.00 broiler chicken at Kroger's....Oh wait, we won't be able to afford GETTING to Kroger's because gas will be too high, but that's a whole new blog in and of itself.

I don't want the government to tell me how to do my job if I know more about it than they do. I don't believe in animal cruelty, and I was heart-broken to find my massacred chickens. BUT I do believe God made animals different than us for a reason. Please just be educated about the issues and topics out there that we get to vote on!

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

Reese, Matt. "Have the United Egg Producers cracked under political pressure?" Ohio's Country Journal Mid-February 2012: 6.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Introducing..... COOP 2.0 aka The Fortress!!!!


I want to begin by expressing so much love and gratitude to everyone! I have been completely blown away by every one's support and concern after last weekend. It really means a lot to us. I never thought so many fluffy feathered fowl could mean so much to so many people, including myself. Last weekend was horrible with my beloved chickens' deaths and being so sick that I couldn't help Dan with the new coop....

It's still depressing and hurtful to walk down to the barn and not have the rest of the flock there. Their presence is greatly missed. Sometimes I can still see their lifeless bodies dead on the floor. BUT, we do as many farmers have done before and will continue to do. We carry on and re-build. IF this had to happen, it did so at no better time. In about a month we will buy 20 more baby chicks and go on bigger and badder than we did before. A new coop is here and a weasel trap is on the way. The Chicken Lady is back. So watch out!

I want to introduce to you, COOP 2.0. Or as I call it, The Fortress!

Coop 2.0 is 8 feet wide, 12 feet long and 7 feet high. It literally sits in the old one. It is framed in by 2 x 4's and the box-like effect is created by particle board (OSB)/plywood.

Windows accent on two sides, and feature Plexiglas in the winter and this cool metal stuff you use for lath and plaster. (For you non-carpenters out there like me, it reminds me of chain mail or the stuff they use on shark suits.) The door to Coop 2.0 has this chain mail as well, along with chicken wire.

Since The Fortress sits in the old coop, the door we close at night that leads to the kennel area needed some slight adjustments. Dan made an enclosed tunnel for the chickies to walk through that is predator-proof and still works for the door he added the weekend before.

Some slight adjustments will have to be made to accommodate the seasons and I think we'll have to add more roosting places once we get more hens. But for now, The Fortress should be a safe place for the cluckies to lay their heads down at night!

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

For Once, I Don't Want to Post....

Sorry I didn't do my normal Sunday post on here last night. It has been a ruff weekend. Saturday morning I went outside to feed all the animals and let the chickens out, when I discovered the weasel had struck again. This time he took out FIVE of my chickens. Our numbers are very low now and we have only gotten about half a dozen eggs a day. So if anyone asks/needs eggs, there won't be near as many to pass out, if any at all. 

Saturday at noon I was waiting at Urgent Care to take care of this croup or whatever it is that I have and ever since I've been on the couch, in the same clothes for two days straight watching nothing but Lifetime movies. Dan spent all day yesterday and half of today basically putting in a new chicken coop, this one being weasel-proof (HOPEFULLY!!!). I call it Coop 2.0 and it will be unveiled later this week, probably in Thursday's post. I felt AWFUL yesterday. Here was Dan spending his day off from dawn till dusk in the freezing cold, building a chicken coop. I was ordered to stay inside. Thanks go out to Tom and Janet for coming and helping him out when you did. I want the world to know that I have the best husband ever.

It's incredibly depressing losing something you took care of for 11 months. The thought crossed my mind to give up chickens all together. Yes, we've decided to forge on and next month we will welcome more baby chicks, which I plan to post/write about their journey from chicks to chickens. But I won't forget Flock 1 and how they would run up the driveway to greet me as I pulled in or stepped out of an evening to put them back in. Sometimes it's not all fun and games. There is nothing funny or joking about this post. I'm truly upset and depressed about this.

Just a few weeks ago Dan and I bought the couch and the salesman asked if we had kids. At first I said no, then I said yes we do, 18 chickens, 6 steers, 2 horses and 2 cats. Our kids. Our family.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Chronicle Interview: Foghorn Shawhan Talks About Weasel Attack


It has been a depressing couple of weeks here on the Shawhan farm. For one, we had to acknowledge the fact that M.I.A. was not coming back. She has been presumed dead. Then, the attack in the coop by a weasel, who claimed the life of poor Molt. Molt was a good little chicken, and I know she was a layer since I'd see her sitting in the nest box. We have had chickens for almost a year and have had three deaths. Since the tragedy of Molt, we have made several repairs and fortifications to the coop, and knock on wood, everyone has been safe and sound ever since.

I'm someone who likes to give credit where credit is due, so I thought I'd dedicate this post to Foghorn and Chaz, who were found defending the hens against the intruder. I wanted to conduct a joint interview, but Foghorn swears up and down he did more of the defending and refused any questioning at all unless he was the only rooster interviewed. (He also threatened legal actions, so we compromised and I said if he can keep his language clean, I'd only talk to him.)

Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: How are you, personally, handling the death of Molt?
Foghorn: Yeah, yeah, it's sad you know? The death of one of my ladies is pretty ruff. 'Specially when you see somethin' like that happen, know what I'm sayin'?
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Were the two of you close? What were your thoughts on Molt?
Foghorn:  Yeah we was close. Molt was kinda an ugly broad, know what I'm sayin'? But I'm still gonna miss her.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Don't you think that's a harsh statement to say about someone who is deceased?
Foghorn: Baby you wanted the interview.
 Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Okay. So you were seen defending the hens. Where you scared?
Foghorn: Nah I wasn't scared, know what I'm sayin'? I was pumped up and sayin' things to that weasel that you won't let me say here. That's why he was shaking in that corner. I swear if that weasel comes back I'm gonna kill him. It was kinda a rush, know what I'm sayin'? All my chicks was rootin' me on. Made me feel real good. I can screw up somethin' in a fight, know what I'm sayin'? I might even start some UFC fightin' stuff. I think I'm good enough to do that.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Actually I think that's illegal for you to do.
Foghorn: I can take on anything.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: So I hear. You seemed on edge later that day. My husband reported that you tried to attack the power drill he was using to put on the new coop door.
Foghorn: Yeah, yeah I was a little on edge, but in a good way. Not in a scared way, know what I'm sayin'? I've been pumped up for days now. Don't sleep at night no more neither.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Is that because you're scared?
Foghorn: I ain't scared of nuthin'.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Has the weasel tried to come back?
 Foghorn: My attorney don't want me answering questions like that without her here with me.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Ooookaayy... how did the weasel get in the coop?
Foghorn: I dunno. I was dreaming a sweet dream and then I'm woken up by my chicks screaming and wings was flappin' and feathers was flyin' all over the place, know what I'm sayin'? It was kinda crazy for awhile. I didn't see Molt get her head bitten off. I think that happened real quick when all the chaos was happen', know what I'm sayin'. When I realized what had happened, I just got real mad and we had a face off for awhile. Till your hubby came in and I was finally able to relax. Say, Prissy's got it real bad for him now.
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: She does, does she?
Foghorn: Yeah, yeah. Says he came in to save her life or somethin'. And that got me thinkin'.....
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: Is that your wing on my leg?
Foghorn: ....maybe you'd like to meet me some day out behind the stuffer....
Chronicles of a Chicken Lady: I'm going to stuff YOU if you don't remove your wing from my leg!!

(This interview could not be concluded due to lack of cooperation by one or more parties.)

(Photo by: Bombird)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Death, A Weasel and A Super Bowl

Death Strikes Beloved Chicken Farm on Eve of Super Bowl
Written By: Jack Kelly of the Manhattan World

As the sun peaked over the foothills of southeast Ohio, all seemed like a normal Super Bowl morning to farmer, Dan Shawhan.

"I got home from doing the morning feeding at the dairy and saw that the animals still needed taken care of here at home. My wife has been fighting a cold so I decided to do it for her this morning."

Soon after entering his barn, Shawhan noticed that things were array. "The chickens were agitated and the waterer was overturned. Feathers were everywhere."

Shawhan had just stepped onto the set of his own personal horror movie. Upon entering the chicken coop, several hens fled the scene and movement in the corner of the coop caught his eye. "It was a weasel. I tried to catch him but he was too fast and got away." Had the suspect been caught, Mr. Shawhan would have made a citizen's arrest.

The suspect has been identified as Mr. Weasel and if caught will be found guilty of the murder of Molt Shawhan. Molt was pronounced dead at the scene. The body was found decapated, which is Mr. Weasel's signature trademark. Mr. Weasel will get no trial and will be immediately sentenced to death. A punishment that fits the crime in the eyes of Dan Shawhan.

"It comes at a bad time. We just observed the death of another member of the flock. It was awful telling my wife. She was inconsolable and stayed in bed most of the day."

Credit is due however to Foghorn and Chaz Shawhan. Dan says he observed the roosters standing between the hens and Mr. Weasel. Who knows how long the two stood their ground and defended their ladies in their own home.

A neighbor, Charlie Percheron, was observed looking rather interested in the direction of the coop last evening at around 8 o'clock. Although he did not show signs of being scared, he did seem rather interested, which is out of his character. Perhaps he saw or heard something sneaking it's way over for the deadly visit.

Manhattan World Obituaries

     Molt Shawhan, partner of Foghorn and Chaz Shawhan, loving constituent of Daniel and Rebecca Shawhan, companion of the late Ms. Fluffy Feathers and M.I.A. Shawhan, was found dead in her home February 5, 2012. She has been buried at Manure Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Feather Loss Fund of Shawhan Farm, Hillsboro, Ohio. A moment of silence during Super Bowl XLVI will be held in her remembrance. The family asks for privacy during their time of loss.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Chronicle Mystery: The Case of the Missing Chickens

It was a dark and balmy February night. I stepped outside in only my gum boots and a hoodie. A trench coat was not needed in the imitation spring air. It was odd. Very odd. To be so warm and wonderful on the first of the Love Month in the Buckeye State. For the past five or six years we would be under two inches of the White Death. But not this winter. I'm not one to complain about unseasonably warm winters, even though it makes the stock act a little crazy. Hey, it's all Bush's fault anyway, right?

I had a job to do that night, like any other of my existence. I was the caretaker to some very needy and V.I.P. patrons. Under my hoodie I disguised an innocent looking egg carton to make the exchange with my clients. Liquid gold they give me in exchange for food and shelter. I felt bad for this. I was robbing them blind day after day. It was like taking candy from a baby.

As I walked my guilt weighed me down heaver than the boots on my feet. I tried to find a reason...any reason to make this job easier on myself. "That d@*n Bush! It's all his fault!" I told myself. Amazingly enough, it worked. I was steely enough to do my job by the time I reached Cooptown and walked through the squeaky door of the Kennel Bar. To my relief it was empty. I looked over my shoulder and saw down the alley the gang of Beefy Boys. I've had run ins with them in the past. Six very immature "males" of their species, who thankfully lacked the size and balls to do anything to me or my clients. Still, when they get a little older they may pose more of a problem. I'll deal with that issue when and if I ever get to it. And then, it will all be Bush's fault anyway.

Quickly I sealed the entrance to Cooptown from Kennel Bar and locked up the lounge. Next I walked through Cooptown and counted my clients. The guilt that Bush took away came slamming back to hit me like a ton of bricks as I looked into the women's eyes. So trusting and needy. I tried in vain not to think about the crazed ladies who meet me halfway to Cooptown and desperately follow me back screaming at me to let them back in. They are so desperate, they GIVE me their babies. I am a horrible person.

The usual client count is nineteen, but that night, that unseasonable warm night, I was missing five. "What the crap!?" I thought spinning circles, checking hootches and retracing my steps to the Kennel Bar. "How can there be five missing!" I kicked myself for not bringing my cell phone to call my partner for back up....and the walk back to the office was just too far. I wouldn't have been able to make it. I spun around in another circle. The Beefy Boys were still lurking in the corner chewing that God awful chew and passing that God awful gas. They taunted me. Bush was taunting me. "For the love of God, my five clients have been stolen! I didn't see them on the way in from the office. They are gone!"

I ran through my list of suspects and only one came to mind. That big guy from the slums of Harriett...he had to be the one! He stopped by the office and asked if I sold any of my beloved clients and now he's come and stolen them!!!! How else would FIVE be missing! I imagined what the big guy would say when I confronted him about it. He'd probably say that Bush made him do it.

Right before I was going to leave the bar I heard a snicker from behind me. A Beefy Boy, the one they call Ernie, was chewing that God awful chew and laughing at me. "Are you laughing at me!?" I yelled.

"Hee hee, I know where your chicks are at." He said.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, though an idea was coming to life in my frantic mind.

"Yeah. Pass me over some of that grass and I'll tell ya."

"I can't." I said, already moving and shoving past him through the small alley door and onto Beefy Boy turf. "You know we only make morning exchanges. Besides you boys are on contract and that doesn't include evening pay."

Ernie ran off to join the rest of the Boys in the shadows. But I hardly noticed them. I was too busy feeling relief and anger at my five clients who were loitering around the Beefy Block. Some were cooperative and willingly went back into the bar. A few others fought me. They went kicking and screaming over the fences. I was cussing out loud by the time the ordeal was over. I too decided it was safer to scale the fences than it was going back through the alley and taking my chances with the Beefy Boys.

By the end of the night, I didn't feel so bad for taking the payment. My partner just laughed at me when I told him the story. I think he was just glad it wasn't his night to walk down to Cooptown.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. Sometimes we are forced into circumstances we don't feel comfortable doing, but we have to do them anyway. It's a tough world out thanks to Bush.