Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Pinless Peepers

   As many of you probably know, we have been having some winter-time problems. (You can go to my last post to read more about it). We needed a solution, and fast.

   About two weeks ago, the chickens went crazy again. This time their target was Daisy, my sweet Buff Orpington. Just like Raven before her, they tore her skin down to the muscle. We knew we had to stop this before it happened again.

   So we ordered "Pinless Peepers".

   This is a small, plastic blinder that was specifically made to stop chicken pecking problems. I had heard of them in the past, but never thought I would need them. 

   They were actually very cheap! We were able to get about twelve peepers and the pliers to apply them for under ten dollars. (Some people say you can do without the pliers, but I found them very useful.)

   So, how you actually get these on a chicken is the hard part. First of all, you need two people. One to hold the bird, one to hold the pliers. 

   You use the pliers to spread open the Peeper. This is a lot easier if you soak the peapers in warm water first.

The two little pins on the back should open.

   Then, one pin goes in each nostril. It is easier to get one in one nostril then get the other over the other. Then you can release the tool, and the second goes in. 

   It sounds easy, but the chicken, unsurprisingly, does NOT like it. 

   We only had to put three of these on. One for Piper. One for Raven. One for Speckles. Some people put it on all of their chickens, but we only put it on the trouble-makers. 

   It only blocks the very front of their vision. They can still eat, drink, preen, and scratch. They just can't see bare spots on the other chickens. 

   We finally had a nice day, but Piper was the only one who felt like posing for me (sigh)...

   She looks pretty funny, but all of the chickens got used to the Peepers very quickly! At first the chickens with them on, shook their heads and wiped their heads on the ground. The other chickens pecked at them a bit, too. 

   Although it is hard to tell since they haven't been on long, the Peepers seem to be working! We haven't had an incident since they have been on and even feather-picking has stopped! Our whole flock (including Speckles) can finally all be together!

   As I said, these were definitely last resort. I would never have used them unless we had serious problems. This is the only time I would recommend them. I definitely thing you should try all else before using these. However, they DO work in serious situations.

   I hope this was helpful to you guys and I will see you next week!

Note: Chicken Blinders are very different than "Pinless Peepers". Other types look like these but have a pin that gets pushed through one nostril and out the other. You have to push this through a membrane that separates them. PinLESS are a lot easier and (in my mind) more humane.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Winter: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

   With winter hopefully drawing to a close, I thought it would be good to look back on the past couple months. Let me tell you, it did not go well. Shall we start with good news first?

The Good:

   We got a lot of snow here in New England this year. And I mean a lot. In Boston, they got over ONE HUNDRED INCHES! I am counting this as a good because I personally love the snow. However, I am definitely ready for Spring!

   Another good thing that happened this winter was finding out about new treats. I tested and discovered so many new toys that are now some of the chicken's favorites (for example cabbage on a string and Molt Muffins).

The Bad:

   So much snow. Yes, this is going under good and bad. Even though I loved the snow, the chickens hated it. For much of the winter, they refused to go outside. They've only started coming outside in about the last month.

   Also, Sleepy went broody at one point. It was for a short time, and I didn't manage to get any pictures. We had to bring her inside for a few days and there was some pretty bad fighting when we put her back in the coop.

The Ugly:

   I lost my favorite chicken, Lizzy. Even in winter you have to worry about hawks.

   We had a lot of boredom problems this winter. We have had two seriously injured chickens (first Raven, and now Daisy which I will be writing about soon). All of the chickens look torn, with feathers missing or broken. Most of them have small cuts.
   This was the first time I've had to deal with problems like this. My first flock didn't have any problems in the winter.
   However, I think we might have finally found a solution. I am pretty sure I am writing about it next week so you'll just have to come back then! See you soon!

P.S. I am sorry I posted so late today. I am sick so I slept in a while.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sure as Eggs

   Some people (like my family) eat a lot of eggs. And I am talking a lot of eggs. Just for breakfast, we each eat two eggs. With four of us that is eight eggs a day. And that doesn't include baking or other cooking throughout the day.

   However, I know some people don't eat as many eggs. Especially if you are in a rush in the morning, it may seem too time consuming to cook up an egg for breakfast. I have the solution to this excuse! My Mom showed me this trick a few years ago and I have been using it ever since.

   So here is my trick for the Easiest Egg Recipe Ever!

First find a small glass bowl. If you don't have one a small cup will work just as well.

Don't forget to spray it with non-stick spray! 

   Then scramble one egg and put it in your glass or bowl. Add whatever you'd like. I usually just add cheese, but anything you like in an omelet would be good!

Put your egg in the microwave for one minute. That's it! 

   The egg will puff up a lot, but will "deflate" after you take it out of the microwave. 

   And you're done! You can eat it like this or make some toast and make it into a breakfast sandwich. Either way is fast, delicious, and easy!  

   I know this post was a little light on pictures, so here are some old chick pictures, just because!

They were so small!

I hope this helps you start your day with a great breakfast, and I'll see you here next week!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Molt Muffins

   This winter my chickens have been having a protein problem. I think that might have been what triggered Speckles' feather eating and other evil ways.

   I have been trying to give them lots of snacks not only for this reason but also to keep them from getting bored. (To see my post on fun winter treats click here!)

   However, I have been trying to find ways to give them fun snacks AND give the protein boost they need at the same time.

   That's when I came upon a recipe. It is on a website called The Chicken Chick. (Here is a link to the recipe, ). It is a high protein muffin sized ball meant for molting chickens. (Molting is when a chicken looses then regrows all their feathers. This takes a lot of protein so they often need extra in their diet).

   Here is my variation on her recipe. (Again, it is still The Chicken Chick's recipe, I am just restating it with my own twist).

Makes about 20 muffins.
Oven temperature: 350 degrees
Time baking: 40 minutes (then 10 minutes with the oven turned off; this is for a solid, hard to break apart muffin)

Don't forget to grease your pan or they will be impossible to get out!

1 3/4 cups Mana Pro Game bird/Show bird feed (any high protein feed will do fine)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
3-4 eggs
1 cup water
1/8 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup peanut butter

Addition mix-ins: 1/2 cup
Meal worms (dried)
Sunflower seeds
Anything else you have around

(The original recipe also had 1 mashed banana and 1/2 cup applesauce. I didn't have any in the house so that is why I didn't add these.)

Once you mix all the ingredients, put scoops into a muffin tin and bake! It's that easy!

   These muffins were really easy to make. They didn't take much time at all either!

   One complaint I have about them is that they are very crumbly. It might be that I baked them too long. It is also possible that the banana and applesauce I had to skip would make a big difference. If you make this at home don't forget to try that!

   Here is Speckles enjoying a crumpled Molt muffin.

   Another way I gave the muffins to the chickens was in a suet feeder. I packed in as many muffins as I could and hung it with a piece of wire in the coop. They seemed to like it more this way for some reason. 
   When I put the muffins inside the coop, the chickens weren't very excited. I think because of the brown color, they blended into the bedding and were forgotten. When I put them outside, though, they loved the muffins!

Even Nutmeg came outside for a while!

   Overall, this was a great recipe that I think I will definitely try again soon!

    I hope to see you all next Monday! Have a good week!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Evil Chicken: Part 2

   So continuing from last week...

   Speckles just got moved in with her old friends after isolation. From what I read online, this was supposed to move her down on the pecking order. However, the other chickens welcomed her back without pause...

   I had never seen that before. Every other time we have had to reintroduce a chicken to the flock there is always fighting. Pecking, flapping, something! But not this time.

   We watched them for for a while and all seemed well. Speckles appeared to be cured of her evil ways and ready to rejoin normal chicken life. I was perfectly happy until the next day...

   When I first walked into the coop, Raven was the first thing I saw. What was at first had been a deep cut at best had been turned into a wound down to the muscle! It was definitely the worst thing I had ever seen! (By the way, I will not be including any pictures of her wound.)

   My Dad and I brought Raven in and washed the gash thoroughly. Then we put her in the pen we recently kept Speckles in.

   Well, after this we didn't know what to do about Speckles. She couldn't stay in the coop (that was for certain), and we couldn't keep her in our mudroom for any long length of time. I also didn't have the heart to give her away. I wouldn't want to burden anyone else and I did raise her from her second day alive. 

   But, finally, we found the solution!

   The little red coop. This was the coop my original small flock lived in. It had been unused since their death.

   All we needed to do was get a new waterer, put some bedding in, and find the extension cord for the heat lamp. 
   It is kind of a pain to take care of two coops but it is definitely better than having to deal with a bleeding chicken.

   We are reintroducing Raven today! I hope it goes well!

   See you next week!