Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrapping It All Up


This post is called Wrapping It All Up because I have now blogged about my chickens for one whole year. My first post was last October 27th...the day the Chicken Lady phenomenon began.  This is also my 100th post! Chronicles of a Chicken Lady is the only creative writing project that I have successfully stuck with, setting aside days I would post and sitting at the computer at 10:00 on a Sunday night when I would rather be in bed. I have shared my success stories and my failures, which I might add, is not easy. But I am very proud of myself for creating this project and maintaining the discipline to do it, even when I didn't want to and when I was grasping at straws for something to write about. So, go me!

I also want to thank everyone who reads my chronicles! You all mean so much to me. I am still in awe at the number of people who talk to me about it and really show me that they are out there listening and reading. That is something I'd like to work on in the future, is trying to get Chronicles out there to more than just my Facebook friends.

That being said, I have no plans to stop writing Chronicles of a Chicken Lady. In fact, I have even more ideas and plans for my blog in the next year to come. I have decided to take a week or two off because I want to experiment with the site and make a few changes to give it a fresh look for year 2. Plus, I don't want to ever burn out my readers! (That's why I limited my posts to 2 a week.) I think some people already think I have no life since all I post on Facebook are my chronicle links!

As I have been re-reading my posts over the past year, I see that I have made comments or have posted stories/incidents that I never really cleared up. Or that may have left some people wondering, whatever happened with that? I went back and tried to see where any of those instances may have occurred and will try to touch base on them in this post. (This is something I plan to work on over the next year...making sure I have follow-ups on some of my posts that need it.)

So here goes:

In the post Weasel Trappin' I talked about the few times we set our weasel trap and came up with nothing. Last spring we sort of stopped out attempts at catching Mr. Weasel. So his status is still GUILTY and is running at-large. There is still a warrant out for his arrest and death sentence. Now that the weather is turning colder again, I feel we will have a much better chance at catching him. I plan to do some library research as soon as this afternoon in catching/trapping weasels. I could care less if it is illegal...I will not have my chickens attacked and destroyed. I pay for those, so if I get in trouble, the law can repay me so I can buy more chickens. I will of course let you know what I find out and how the trapping efforts go.

Farmers Don't Want to Come Home to an Omelet...this was a popular post, since most of my embarrassing stories are. I just wanted to let you know I have never tried egg-based homemade beauty remedies since and I have no plans to do that in the future.

Saddle Up! I never did buy my ladies "chicken saddles". I'm too cheap and I figure Laura Ingles Wilder never made "saddles" for her girls either.

A Chronicle Mystery: The Case of the Deposited Kittens this is sort of still ongoing actually. It was scary the number of cats we found in our barn that day. My idea of not feeding them in hopes of them moving on helped. In just a few days we were seeing only 3 or 4 cats roaming around. I had given 2 of them names and as soon as I did, one got hit on the road. Some of them ended up at the neighbors. One in particular, Marshmellow, was never tame enough when it was in our barn. It went across the street and became loveable, but it never grew. Now Marshmellow is back at our barn, tame, but is still not growing. I gave it a Fancy Feast sample this very morning that Kroger's had sent me in the mail.

In Scratch Out at the O'Kluck Corral, I saw Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk going at it like never before. I have never seen this behaviour since. Maybe that was the only time and they worked it out amongst themselves who is boss and who is the lower peon. Both boys seem healthy and no one is covered in blood...or dead.

The Bates Motel...the bottom floors are the only ones used. We can find up to 5 or 7 eggs a day in one box of the main nest box and yet 4 other nesting places are available. Some of the chickens are not so afraid of the Bates Motel to not stand on top of it at night. Also that Zac guy from Ghost Adventures hasn't been out to look for paranormal activity yet.

My First (and Failed) Attempt at Chicken Stew is STILL my first attempt. I haven't tried it with a store-bought chicken yet, but I still plan on making it making it one day. I also recently threw away the other Amish bird. I didn't think anything good would come out of it.

I am very happy to report that we haven't had any other cases of Coccidiosis! Also, this is something all animals can get...not just chickies.

Our Dueling Sitters are longer brooding...thankfully. Two at one time was too much. I don't think anyone sat longer than the others, and I have a feeling either both of those girls, or at least one of them, is going through the molt right now.

And last but not least, Crutchy the Comet is doing well. She no longer limps, but is running strong through the steer lot!

Speaking of the steers, A.K.A. Beefy Boys: this past year their gang consisted of Bert, Ernie, Chum, Jiblet, Big Mac and Chuck. All of the boys besides Bert and Ernie have met their fate in the last month and a half. However, Bert and Ernie's days are numbered. They were a part of our story and the newbies, who will be arriving shortly, will continue to make appearances in my posts.

I think that wraps it up! One whole year of chicken drama, with LOTS more to come! Please keep reading and sharing as I will continue to learn right along beside all of you. I'll be back in a week or two and will be posting again on Sundays and Thursdays!

Love You All and a big THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart!

The Chicken Lady

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Feel Pretty


"I feel pretty,
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and bright!"

Oh goodness...has the month been SO busy that I have not been watching my flock very closely? The other night as I was locking chickies in for the night, I saw something that made me do a double-take. There perched on the bar connected to the nest box, I saw a chicken I didn't recognize. I thought, What an odd looking Silver-Laced Wyandotte I have. Why haven't I seen her before? No...that's not who I think it is. Did this chicken get into a fight? She looks OK.

Then I realized what I was looking at...a molting chicken who was re-growing her pinfeathers! Had I really been absent from the coop that long? Or did this suddenly decide to take place and FINALLY re-grow!? After looking around at everyone else, I saw a Light Buff Brahma going through the same thing (the white chickens with feathers on their feet). But the first chicken...Holy Cow..she looks AWFUL! (Like she's been rode hard and put up wet...sorry for the crude analogy, but I honestly don't know how else to describe it!)

Thankfully, molting is a completely painless process. Molting will occur during a chicken's second autumn, and, like egg production, it's also linked to the amount of daylight hours. The waning sun (daylight savings, anyone?) tells the bird to get ready for winter and re-grow some feathers. Some chickens molt for 4 weeks and can go as long as 12 weeks.  Usually the molt begins at the top of the head and works it's way down to the booty. Some chickies will lose all their feathers at once, and others lose them more gradually (like Prissy). Next, tiny pinfeathers grow in...these make me want to itch for some reason...I don't know why.

Here's a decent picture of whitey's pinfeathers:

Molting takes a lot of energy from the hen and usually affects egg production. The body puts all it's energy into growing new feathers, which are 85 to 90% protein. Chickens help to maintain the heath of their feathers by taking dust baths which helps to rid the body of mites, lice and parasites. After a refreshing romp in the dirt, chickens will preen their feathers. During preening, the chicken takes oil which is secreted at the base of the feather, onto her beak, and distributes it over her body. I guess that are too good for Herbal Essences.

These girls look horrible, but they remain in good spirits. I'm guess from the constant musical numbers from West Side Story they are excited to become pretty again. I was outside this afternoon and I heard:

"See the pretty girl that mirror there?
Who can that attractive girl be?
Such a pretty face
Such a pretty dress
Such a pretty smile
Such a pretty me!"
Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk are excited too. They told me they are sick of some of these older ugly broods. (You'd think Foghorn was back...)
Our first Light Brahma who went through this, is now the prettiest in the flock. I can't wait to see what the end result of this is going to be!
                                                                                                    ...cluck... cluck... cluck...
Urquhart,  Kristine, Mercedes. "Molting Matter." Chicken Magazine  September/October 2012: 10+

Monday, October 22, 2012

Taffy-Apple Bread


I had several requests to share the recipe I referenced in my last post. This yummy bread calls for 6 eggs, so I like to make some when I'm overwhelmed with a large quantity of eggs. If anyone wants to try this recipe and needs eggs, just let me know! I always have some. 15 eggs yesterday alone!

This comes from a cookbook called 500 Treasured Country Recipes. I got the book for $10 at Half-Priced Books.

Technically, the recipe is called Nicki's Taffy-Apple Bread. I hope I document it correctly and avoid plagiarism issues...


25 to 30 caramels
3 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
6 EGGS (from me!)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3 to 4 cups of peeled and chopped apples. (About 3 to 4 medium sized apples)


~ Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 nine by five loaf pans. Unwrap caramels and cut into pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of flour so they don't all stick together. Set aside.

~ In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing well. In another bowl, combine the remaining flour, cinnamon and allspice. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture, blending well.

~ Stir in apples and caramels. Divide batter between the two loaf pans.

~ Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I was nervous to make this for the first time since I feared the batter would be sticky and a mess to deal with. However, it's not and the bread is AMAZING! Of course it's a heart attack waiting to happen!


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

Storey, Martha. et. al. 500 Treasured Country Recipes Mouthwatering, Time-Honored, Tried & True, Handed-Down, Soul-Satisfying Dishes. Vermont: Storey Communications, Inc. 2000.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Freezing Eggs


I remember this time last year that the chickens here on the Shawhan farm hit their peak with egg production. I'm not sure why it took them as long as October to really start cranking, but it did. So of course, I figured this fall would be no different. Though we get a good many eggs a day (at least a dozen to a dozen and a half) it's not quite the number I was hoping for. It seems we peaked a few weeks ago when we were getting no less than 20 a day.

I also wonder why, out of two different "batches" of chickens, that neither time has every single hen laid an egg. It is obvious that someone is not doing her duty. Remember my perfect world of exactly 20 or 30 chickens, running around the yard with gorgeous feathers and leaving my immaculate flower beds alone and steering clear of road? This fantasy also included everyone doing her job! I want 20 or 30 eggs every. single. day. if I have 20 or 30 hens. I don't think this is too much to ask for. However, having chickens is just plain crazy and it makes you go crazy too because I think they have a pact with God and ruin your plan once you feel like you have a good one in place.

It really is wrong of me to complain. I cannot be upset with a dozen eggs a day.That is at least 7 dozen eggs a week and 84 eggs! Talk about A LOT of scrambled eggs and egg sandwiches. I love my eggs, so much that I don't think I could stomach a store bought egg ever again. But lets face it... no one can eat that many eggs. So the question is, what do you do with them all?

Thankfully, a lot of people know we have chickens and I can distribute my extras out to friends and family. I can usually fulfill their egg requests and keep plenty for Dan and myself. All this month I have been stockpiling my eggs then taking them to my grandparent's every weekend, since the Shaw family works there and pass them out. There are always plenty of takers. Once October is over, I'm going to try and get with my neighbor again who was buying a few dozen off of me before the craziness of fall set in.

Sometimes when I have a lot of eggs hanging out in the fridge, I make apple taffy bread. It requires 6 eggs and yields two loaves. It's very yummy! I have some frozen in my freezer in hopes to have a quick holiday treat. Something I haven't done in a while and I should, is hard boil some eggs. The only downfall to doing that is you have wait about a month to hard boil our eggs. Super fresh eggs, i.e., ones you don't buy at the store, don't peel well at all once they are cooked. I'm not sure why, and I really should research that, but they don't. Trust me, I've tried! Older eggs peel much better than fresh.

OR, something one can do, is freeze eggs. Now this DOES require fresh eggs. You have to break them and scramble them a little. Depending on the use you are freezing them for will determine what else you add to the scrambled mix. For example, if you wish to reserve them for baking needs or for breakfast, you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of egg. If the eggs you're freezing are going to be used in recipes for desserts, then you will have to add 1 teaspoon of honey. After the scrambling and mixing, just pour the mixture into ice cube trays. Two "cubes" equal 1 egg. After retrieving the eggs from the freezer for use, be sure to use them within 24 hours. Frozen eggs will be for 9 months to a year. I have not tried this method, mainly because I assume I will never run out of eggs.

Also remember, any farm fresh, unwashed eggs are good in the refrigerator for 6 months.

Or you can just keep finding those people willing to take a dozen off your hands. Once you go farm fresh egg, you never go back!

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

"How to Freeze Eggs." Chickens Magazine Jan/Feb. 2012: 12

Monday, October 15, 2012

Picture Monday


For a total lack of anything to write about today, I added pictures! Sorry for the lack of inspiration!


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

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Don't Hit the Chickie!"


SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SOORRRYYYY for not posting yesterday. October always has been and always will be a crazy month. Mentioned any other time of the year and it is met by a cringe and shudder, and thoughts of pure exhaustion. Getting any kind of sleep/rest at all takes all thought instead of blogging and chickens. My poor birds...I see them maybe twice a day. Once in the morning to let them out and then not until evening to collect eggs and lock them in at night. I'm hardly in my barn right now. This is all due to Jimmy and Charlie's absence, since they are living at mom and dad's until the end of the month. So I blame them...

Anyhoo, "Don't hit the chickie!" is what I screamed to my husband at about 8:00 o'clock this morning. We were driving home from the farm, when we were passing this place in between the farm and our house. This place has a menagerie of animals: horses, cows, ducks and chickens. You really need to watch it when you pass this place since the fowl who live there have no boundaries at all. Most days you pass by and they are milling around in the church parking lot across the street or in the field of the neighboring farmer; and on some occasions, are found laying dead in the road, nothing more than chewed up meat and feathers. It's sad, I know.

Warning: I'm going to pass judgment here. If you have numerous birds getting killed on the road, then keep them in a fence!! It's not rocket science! I say this with anger because why have an animal if you aren't going to take care of it like you should? And why do you come knocking on MY door asking if I sell any of my birds since all of yours are dying?? Yes people, this actually happened. So that is my rant and here is my story:

Dan and I were approaching this morning, driving along our merry way talking about, who knows what. Before we reached this place I could see birds milling around on either side of the road. It all happened in slow motion. I saw a bird in the church parking lot to my right start to make a bee line across the road. Up head, I saw a truck coming towards us from the opposite direction: the chicken's safety window was about a inch wide. As we approached I screamed: "DON'T HIT THE CHICKIE!!!" Leaning forward in my seat and extending my hand. I saw in pure wonder as the chicken lifted itself up and became airborne (i have never seen a chicken fly so high) and pounded its wings with all its might. Thankfully, he crossed safely.

Dan said he would have hit it. I told him how wrong that was since we have chickens and should I remind him of poor Ms. Fluffy Feathers.

The morale of the story is, please fence in your birds when you live a mere feet from the road. Not all drivers care as much as I do.

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

Here Comes Prissy Cluck Cluck!


You know how I say chickens are full of drama? What better way to make some extra Benjies than to give them a reality show! Honesty, I don't see how I haven't thought of this before.

So it all started in the wee hours of the morning. I was notified last night that my milking performance was going to be taped this morning by a guy gathering footage for a complied video that will, I guess, at some point air on RFDTV. (That's a farming/agricultural TV channel.) In my case, I get 15 seconds fame, shared with Old Fart. Anyhoo, as any caring stage mother, I tried to convince the guy that needed chicken video and could come to our house to take a video of the cluckies. However, I needed about another 80 or so chickens to be considered an agricultural facility in Highland County.

(Whatever, I mean, Dan and I could live off our "farm" easily enough if we had to. I even have the plough/wagon-pulling capable horses for crying out loud...Oh, yeah and I come from a line of farmers that dates back over 200 years, so... that's my rant.)

That's OK because we have higher ambitions here on the Shawhan farm. Go big or go home. Who needs RFDTV when we can have TLC, Bravo or MTV?? I approached Neely O'Cluck first, since she has had experience in the entertainment industry. (Her ratings in Hit the Coop were out of this world!) When I talked to her about it she just took a long drag on her electronic cigarette (we don't allow the real thing in the barn due to fire hazards), blew the smoke out in my face and replied, "I got bigger worms to fry than lousy reality TV. That's for has beens and I ain't a has been. I'm Neely O'Cluck for cryin' out loud! I'm packin' my bags, doll, because Hollywood phoned me the other day..." (I then proceeded to listen to an hour's worth of Neely tooting her own horn...ugh, my ears are still ringing!)

Next I asked Jennifer Clucknorth. She was shy about the idea. She said she had no talent at all. I said, "Honey, its OK not to have any talent for reality TV! That's what's so great about don't need any!" I think she was actually going to consider it. I was stoked! If I could get Jennifer Clucknorth on TV, everyone would watch! We might even win an Emmy! I tried to fuel her fire by telling her she's so beautiful, everyone would just HAVE to can't turn your eyes away from Jen. Just when I thought she was going to agree, her cell phone rang. She had a brief conversation and hung up. "I'm sorry, really I am. That was my agent. He just signed me on to do several spreads in men's magazines. Things not suitable fro children's eyes. TLC wouldn't appreciate that."

Disappointed, I scanned the rest of the flock. Freckles is still in high school and needs to graduate. Crutchy doesn't want to go on camera...she has a future track and field career. Everyone else from Flock 1 isn't fit to be seen on TV... except Prissy!

I immediately approached her she agreed! She is all for her own reality show. She likes the title "Here Comes Prissy Cluck Cluck". I tried to tell her that sounds too much like an already existing show name, but she threw a huge fit over it. So "Here Comes Prissy Cluck Cluck" it is. The show is about her entering poultry shows and me being her obsessed mom. (I can't believe she is sharing the spotlight with me!) She will sing as part of her talent competition...songs I write for her of course, since she likes to plagiarize them all anyway. I'm a bit worried though, that she will develop a bugger head than what she already has. I overheard her telling another hen that by her exposure on this reality show, she will not only get a recording deal, but my also finally land the man of her dreams!

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chickens, Chickens Everywhere!


Sorry I neglected to post yesterday, since it was Thursday and all. I was downright lazy and still in my mini-vacation mode. I went to my brother's house and spent the night, thoroughly enjoying not having any chores to do. It's nice to eat dinner by 6:00 in the evening, be ready for bed by 7:00 and still have a couple of hours to enjoy. Not coming home at 7:00 or 7:30, having a barn full of animals to take care of and still need to shower and make dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I love all my animals, but it IS nice when your only responsibility is playing with your two-year nephew.

Having so much free time in the evening, I did have a slight panic attack. I didn't have anything to case I got the urge to grab some literature. I have several issues of Chickens Magazine here at the house that I need to read and possibly share anything cool I learn on here. I was glad that when I ran to Krogers' I found the above issue on their shelves since it's the newest one out.

My nephew Rory wanted to sit on Pappy's lap and look at the pictures. We all discussed chickens at the dinner table. Ironic, that I drive two hours to "get away" and still talk about, think about and read about chickens. Maybe it's a disease...

Whenever I stay the night somewhere I have get used to not hearing a rooster crow and the "clip clop" of horses hooves as the buggies go by. That I don't have to go outside in the dark to close in chickens for the night and put horses back out in the pasture. But I DO have to put in a phone call in the evenings to whoever is taking care of everyone here back at home to see how many eggs I got that day.

That my friends, never gets old.

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Crutchy the Comet Discharged from Brooder Greys


Crutchy the Golden Comet was released from Brooder Greys around 8:30 A.M. this morning. Though she still acts as if her pencil leg is in pain, doctors report she will make a full recovery. Crutchy was in good spirits as she was carried out in Dan Shawhan's arm's and clucked excitedly when she realized she was going to be reunited with all her friends. (Though it has been reported and confirmed that a certain Araucana was sneaking around and making visits to Crutchy's room after visiting hours.) Bless Crutchy's heart...she must have been bored at Brooder Greys because she laid about everyday she was there!

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