Blog posts categorized as: Backyard Chickens

Passiflora incarnata, Maypop!

Apr 13, 2012

As my chicken coop and chicken yard continue to evolve in their needs, I've started adding blooming vines to the fence we built to keep them out of the veg garden. I planted three of these Maypops, or Passiflora incarnata, (plus a couple of P. caerulea 'Blue Queen') along the fence to not only provide some shade for the girls, but also to camouflage the fence dress things up a bit with the showy flowers.

Passiflora_incarnata

Passiflora
After an application of recycled chicken litter fertilizer, these beauties have taken off and are starting to throw off a number of blooms. Maypops also produce small orange edible fruits (hence the name), which will make great treats for the chickens!

Butterflies love passion vine so planting one or two is a great way to attract them to your garden. There are many different species and varieties to choose from. In mild winters they may keep most of their foliage...in colder winters they'll die to the ground, then re-emerge in spring. Passion vines are perfect for a sunny location, but they will tolerate some dappled shade or late afternoon shade.

New Baby Silkie Update…

Apr 11, 2012

After much nursing, antibiotics (for CRD which they all came with), babying and such...the four surviving baby Silkies that I'm fostering are thriving. Boy have they grown. Of course they'll never compare in size to my other big girls, but they sure are fluffing out. They are most likely around 5 months old at this point, maybe a few weeks older than that, but no way to be totally sure. I also still can't be sure whether they are boys or girls...or which are which...but I do have my suspicions about at least one of them..

Silkierooster
I think this one may end up being a boy...mostly because "he" is bigger than the rest and always has been, plus he has more distinctive colored feathers down his chest. Which can be a characteristic of a rooster. Plus, his tail feathers that are growing in seem to be more pronounced. But still...who knows.

Beezsilkie
This partridge colored bird was the runt of the litter. "She" was pretty tiny when we inherited her, and she's still a bit smaller than the rest, but has managed to catch up pretty well (and she's still bigger than Beezus, lol). Beez is not to thrilled with the co-lapping in this photo...but don't they color coordinate so nicely? I know. I have a problem.

Hopefully, given another month or so, I'll be able to better tell the girls from the boys. If I have girls, I am going to try to keep them...although integrated them in with the rest of the larger flock could be very challenging. Any roosters will have to be re-homed, as Dallas city ordinance prohibits us from keeping roosters. I may have one taker already but if not, and I have Roosters to re-home, I'll post an update to see if any of you have a home for them!

Baby Silkie Update…

Feb 25, 2012

Well, despite a week of intensive nursing...nose, eye and rear-end cleaning, applications of VetRx, several doses of antibiotics...this poor little baby passed away last night. I do describe details of this kind of chicken care on my blog, so that those of you who are either new chicken keepers, or are thinking about it, get a broader perspective of the things you'll have to deal with once you own a backyard flock.

Babysilkie
For those of you not in the loop, this was the box of baby silkies dropped off at the garden center a week ago, that I've taken home to foster. This particular bird was already sick when they were left with us. It wasn't severe yet, but I could tell just by the way it hung back from the rest of the birds, and was a little "crusty" around the nostrils, that something was going on. I had to separate him/her immediately.

It's not ideal to have to isolate a young bird like this. They are social, and rely on eachother's body warmth for good health and vigor. But you can't risk the rest of the flock with any kind of respitory condition, like this baby had. After the first night we had him, he took a nosedive. Poor thing was barely able to breathe and you could tell there was probably fluid in the lungs. Based on symptoms, I figure this was probably CRD (chronic respiratory disease) or penumonia. It did not appear to be coryza, and it has as of yet not shown up in the remaining birds, thankfully.

It took me a couple of days to get the antibiotics, so there's no telling that if I'd been able to administer them earlier if it would have helped. He may have just been too sick from the get go. I cleaned his nostrils and eyes daily with VetRx, an herbal oil...and had to do some extensive vent (rear-end) cleaning due to build up. Now look, unless you are prepared to clean chicken butt...which is a pretty nasty thing, you shouldn't get chickens, lol. I even trimmed the feathers around his rump so that no more would get caught up in them. Poor, poor baby. Yesterday, I started administering a .1 ml dose of Tylan 200 (antibiotics). He got 3 doses, and appeared like he just might be improving last night...only for us to find him gone this morning. Now, you take a risk treating any bird with antibiotics, as it's hard on their liver, etc. Some birds can be allergic to them, although its rare. It's hard to know if he was just too far gone, or if the Tylan put him over the edge. Normally, this antibiotic is administered via needle, but this bird was just too tiny, too thin, and without enough breast muscle to support repeated injections. While oral doses aren't as effective as injections, they can still be effective.

All I can say is I tried my best. We even kept him inside in our warm office, where he at least had company and someone to chat at him in his/her last few days. What a heart breaker.

Bon voyage little birdie!

Now, the rest of the gals/guys are trotting along just fine. They are putting on weight and fluffing out. They've also gone crazy for the dried mealworms I've started feeding them (thinking about carrying those up at the garden center). I'll post some video of them tomorrow... smile

Baby Silkie Update…

Feb 25, 2012

Well, despite a week of intensive nursing...nose, eye and rear-end cleaning, applications of VetRx, several doses of antibiotics...this poor little baby passed away last night. I do describe details of this kind of chicken care on my blog, so that those of you who are either new chicken keepers, or are thinking about it, get a broader perspective of the things you'll have to deal with once you own a backyard flock.

Babysilkie
For those of you not in the loop, this was the box of baby silkies dropped off at the garden center a week ago, that I've taken home to foster. This particular bird was already sick when they were left with us. It wasn't severe yet, but I could tell just by the way it hung back from the rest of the birds, and was a little "crusty" around the nostrils, that something was going on. I had to separate him/her immediately.

It's not ideal to have to isolate a young bird like this. They are social, and rely on eachother's body warmth for good health and vigor. But you can't risk the rest of the flock with any kind of respitory condition, like this baby had. After the first night we had him, he took a nosedive. Poor thing was barely able to breathe and you could tell there was probably fluid in the lungs. Based on symptoms, I figure this was probably CRD (chronic respiratory disease) or penumonia. It did not appear to be coryza, and it has as of yet not shown up in the remaining birds, thankfully.

It took me a couple of days to get the antibiotics, so there's no telling that if I'd been able to administer them earlier if it would have helped. He may have just been too sick from the get go. I cleaned his nostrils and eyes daily with VetRx, an herbal oil...and had to do some extensive vent (rear-end) cleaning due to build up. Now look, unless you are prepared to clean chicken butt...which is a pretty nasty thing, you shouldn't get chickens, lol. I even trimmed the feathers around his rump so that no more would get caught up in them. Poor, poor baby. Yesterday, I started administering a .1 ml dose of Tylan 200 (antibiotics). He got 3 doses, and appeared like he just might be improving last night...only for us to find him gone this morning. Now, you take a risk treating any bird with antibiotics, as it's hard on their liver, etc. Some birds can be allergic to them, although its rare. It's hard to know if he was just too far gone, or if the Tylan put him over the edge. Normally, this antibiotic is administered via needle, but this bird was just too tiny, too thin, and without enough breast muscle to support repeated injections. While oral doses aren't as effective as injections, they can still be effective.

All I can say is I tried my best. We even kept him inside in our warm office, where he at least had company and someone to chat at him in his/her last few days. What a heart breaker.

Bon voyage little birdie!

Now, the rest of the gals/girls are trotting along just fine. They are putting on weight and fluffing out. They've also gone crazy for the dried mealworms I've started feeding them (thinking about carrying those up at the garden center). I'll post some video of them tomorrow... smile

Chicken Drama…Hawk attacks and abandoned silkies…

Feb 20, 2012

What a week of chicken drama. Yes...chicken drama.

As I posted last week, I lost my favorite and oldest chicken, Phyllis the Polish hen, to a hawk attack. With the drought of last summer, there seems to be a lack of small prey to go around for the big birds of prey.

Early Sunday morning, I got a call from my store manager at the garden center...someone dropped off a box of 5 Silkie chicks on the doorstep...no food, no water, left overnight. SIGH. The box said 3-4 months, but I'm not sure they are quite that old. Of course, he wanted to see if I would take them...we can't keep them at the nursery (we're already full).  How do I say no? Now, this was not what I was planning to do with what I thought was going to be my one precious day off...but back up to the garden center I went.

Silkie_box
Now, back to that hawk that did Phyllis in. She's a beast...big and fast. Talons about the size of my hands. Just as I was getting ready to leave to go up to the garden center, I heard a pretty big ruckus outside...so I RAN. There was the hawk dive attacking my silver Wyandotte, Kim Deal, inside their run.  I managed to get the hawk off and out without chicken in talons. What was left behind was a huge pile of chicken feathers and a traumatized Wyandotte. She let me pick her right up. After inspection, I realized she had a couple of big gashes down to the muscle, but no punctures through the body, that I could find. Not cool, but I was amazed she's survived at all. I treated her wounds with BlueKote...then decided she would need stitches or sealing. I opted to seal her wounds with super glue...yep, super glue. I watched her for a while then put her back in the coop. She eventually ate and drank a little, so at that point I figured I'd just have to wait and see. She seemed more energetic today, but I'll keep cleaning the wounds and may start her on antibiotics in a couple of days if there appears to be any sign of infection.

Back home I arrived a bit later with 5 baby Silkies to foster. It's hard to say no to baby silkies...I mean, how cute. Here's problem number 1: I don't have room for 5 more birds. I can probably hang on to two of them, but the other three would have to go. But here's problem number 2, the bigger problem with silkies: It's almost impossible to properly sex them...until they start crowing, or lay eggs. There are some physical characteristics that can lead you to assume male or female...but even then you can be proved wrong. Roosters are illegal in Dallas. So you see my dilemma. There is one buff chick that is significantly smaller than the rest, so there is a chance she is a she...but the rest could be boys.

Babysilkie

I don't know if this person who abandoned these babies decided they just didn't want them or decided they are all boys...in which case it's now my problem-I'll have to raise them for months to get to a point where I'll figure this out for sure..then if I do find I'm stuck with 5 roosters, I'll be in violation of city code and be responsible for trying to find them all homes. Even worse, I'll be attached to them. NICE. Really? Really.

Babychicks
So I set the babies up in my small mobile coop with a heat emitter. They'd obviously never seen the outside before, and it took them about a day to figure out they could walk on the soil and learn how to scratch. So cute. Unfortunately, when I got up to check on them this morning one of the babies was showing obvious symptoms of bad respiratory distress. Sick baby chicks are not a good thing...it usually means they're on their way out of the world. And you have to separate them from the rest of the gang so whatever they have doesn't spread. So now the poor sick baby is in it's own box in the garage, but it's not doing great. I've treated it with VetRx to try and relieve some of the breathing problems, so we'll see how it's faring in the morning. I'm sure I'll work some kind of magic that enables it to pull through...and then it will turn out to be a rooster, LOL. This is how these things work.

We'll be covering the entire chicken yard with bird netting, in hopes of keeping the hawk out...hopefully, she'll move on or find herself otherwise occupied...she ain't takin' any more of my gals!

Whew....I'm tired.

RIP Phyllis…you rocked.

Feb 14, 2012

So we lost Phyllis this weekend. You may have known her from her newspaper articles or news footage...she was my "show girl". Always ready for the paparazzi!

05-21-2009_NHG_21HenPhyllis_GLG2KHSJE_1Phyllis in her younger days, before her waddles came in...

She was the last of my original gang of girls, a Polish hen. I always figured Phyllis would be the first to go. She just seemed daintier and gentler than the rest...she was fine hanging out by herself and I'd often find her puttering about by herself in a corner of the yard. She was quite the independent.

Phyllis was a good layer, usually an egg a day. Unless she was feeling broody, which she often would; meaning that she just wanted to sit on everyone elses eggs. She would get quite perterbed with me when I'd roust her out of the nest, or snatch all the eggs from underneather her.

She was practically blind due to the volume of "hair" that eventually hung down to cover her entire face. Not to mention, that big puff of white feathers on her head made her a pretty easy target. I always had this uneasy feeling that someday her lack of speed and that big white target might just be the end of her.

And that's exactly what happened this weekend. I had noticed that Cooper's hawk lingering across the street several days before. Not that hawks are an unusual sight when you live so close to a lake, but when you keep chickens, you keep one eye on the hawks. Sure enough, she didn't survive the attack. Poor, poor Phyllis.

It might seem silly to some to love your chickens. But I loved Phyllis and am so bummed she's gone. Yes, yes, they are livestock. But dang if she wasn't just the funniest character...Miss ya Phyl!

Upcoming Gardening Classes!

Jan 13, 2012

January is when educational gardening programs really get into full swing. So make sure to mark your calendar for some upcoming opportunities.

I will be teaching a "Water Right Workshop" Tomorrow (January 14th, 2012) at North Haven Gardens from 11am-Noon (learn about watering restrictions and how to work within them), Then I'll do a "Spring Vegetable Garden" overview from 2:30pm-3:30pm. Both free! It's going to be a beautiful gardening weekend so be sure to stop by!

On January 18th from Noon-1:30pm, I'll teach you the basics of how to grow Fantastic Tomatoes!

Then, Don't miss the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association conference coming up Feb. 17-19th. On Saturday the 18th, I'll be giving a programs on Edible Ornamentals at 1pm, and then Backyard Chickens at 4pm! http://www.tofga.org/2012_program

I have more programs listed at www.lesliehalleck.com

FINALLY, the new baby chicks have moved outside…

Sep 8, 2011

You might remember me posting about the surprise packet of three baby chicks that showed up the week of July 4th...Well, due to the extreme heat this summer, they've been living in my upstairs office up until just this last weekend!

Cochin
I am SO glad to have finally moved them outside with this break in the weather. They are much happier as well..They were such a cute bunch of chicks and are growing into quite lovely specimens. The Cochin has turned out to be black, as well as the Polish you see behind her. I haven't named these two yet, well, because you just never know what will happen...

Here is the Silver( blue) white-crested Polish...she looks just like Phyllis, so we're calling her Phyllis Jr. lol..She is a HANDFULL. Quite animated and likes to get into trouble. I'm really hoping she doesn't turn out to be a HE...the hairdo is a bit more spiky and swept back, which tends to be an indicator of a male, versus females, which have a more rounded fluffy head of hair. We'll see, fingers crossed.

PhyllisJr

They are set up in the separate A-frame chicken tractor until they get bigger. The older girls have been dying to get at them and are fascinated...We'll keep them housed separately until they are close to equal in size to the existing flock.

 


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