Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rescue Ex-Battery Hens!

Did you know that 85% percent of the 30 million chickens in the united states are kept in cruel conditions? Most of them are kept in large sheds, some housing more than 20,000 chickens, without natural light or fresh air. That's not all, they are kept in small 17 x 17 inch cages, where they can barely move because there's usually 4-5 chickens per cage. When many are born, their beaks are cut so they don't peck each other in the cages, and the males are killed shortly after birth because they cannot provide the farms any eggs. After a year when they've passed their egg-laying peak, they are killed in large numbers in terrible ways like suffocation and mass slaughter. Some hens are lucky enough to be rescued from the farms by people with good intentions. But what are those people going to do with all those chickens? They find them homes with caring people who will nourish them back to health and then care for them until they die of natural causes. Read below if you are or know someone who is one of those caring people!
Here are some ex-battery hens at Ark Birds and Bees in Kent,
where they are being nursed back to health.
Are you interested in giving some intensively farmed hens a better life? I was contacted by Pat at Ark Birds and Bees in Kent because she has about 100 ex-battery hens that have been rescued from cruel conditions. Here's what she has to say about them and how you can help!

"Every year we rescue hens that have spent their lives living at egg farms. These hens are often only around a year old, are bald, timid and traumatised from the shock of moving. Within as little as 3 months of TLC and being able to do the things that most chickens do naturally, many of them will have regrown their feathers and will be back in lay. A small number of others might not be as lucky and the stress of such a drastic change of environment might be too much for them and they might not make it."
"We ask for a donation of £5 per hen to cover the costs of buying them from the farm, any treatment that they might need and to help pay towards the feed of any hens that we cannot find homes for. We also give written and verbal instructions on how to best care for them and will be on standby to offer any further help and support that might be needed at any point afterwards."

If you would like to help, please contact Debbie or Pat by emailing the1ark@btinternet.com.
Click here to visit their website and learn more about battery hens and how to help!

NOTE: These particular hens are in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately adopting battery hens in the United States is very complicated, but if you go to your local Craigslist, there are sometimes people who have some in need of a home. An alternative is Petfinder.com where you can find chickens that need homes, although they're not always battery hens. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Peek at the Week {Week of 11/25/13}

We are introducing a new tradition to our blog! We will post a "Peek at the week" where we will post photos from the past week, write updates on how everyone's doing, and events that are coming up. Here's goes the first "Peek at the Week!".

This week was fairly uneventful, because the cold has kept most of the animals inside, and it was rainy most of the week. Today we got a sunny beautiful morning, so the animals all seized the opportunity.

The sheep enjoyed a free range this morning while we had some nice weather and ate the little grass that is left to eat. They mostly just ran around and stretched their legs after staying inside the past few days. This is our first winter with the sheep, and we thought the would be much more cold hardy, but they have been staying inside for the last week staying warm. 




This week we filled up our bird feeder which we finally found a replacement lid for. Now that it's full, there hasn't been a moment where there hasn't been a bird on it! Better there then in the barn harassing the chickens to get their food. We've already seen some gorgeous cardinals on it,  lets hope they stick around!

The Beech tree in front of the barn has finally lost all its leaves, so now the yard is very bare. Probably because of the wind, there's been tons of small Beech tree branches stuck in the aviary netting on top of the chicken run. They're VERY annoying to try to get off, and if we don't remove them, then they will accumulate and weigh it down. This year we'll also have to see how the new posts holding it up do against the weight of the snow, as last year the posts snapped because there was so much snow!

The outdoor chicken feeder we added has recently been the main attraction for the feathered egg machines. They have nothing to peck at or eat anymore so they have nothing to do but peck at it all day! Due to the weather this week they've stayed inside most of the time anyways, and they've been giving us tons of eggs! 

We're happy to welcome this beautiful hen to the farm!! This brave hen has been scratching in the flowers all week, despite the cold! The only downside is she doesn't lay any eggs, but on the upside she doesn't require feeding, housing, or anything! A great chicken for those who can't care for a living one. Click here to find the chicken right for you! Warning; These "perfect chickens" have been known to make a huge dent in your wallet, beware!


Today we hope to organize and clean the barn so we can fit more animals in it and find things more easily, More on that later. This week we hope to make some homemade bird treats to hang in the trees for the wild bird population as well as make some for the chickens. That was our first "Peek at the Week", stay tuned for next week's "Peek at the Week" as well as more posts throughout the week!

5 Chicken Products that will make your life easier

Since there are so many great deals this Black Friday, I thought I would share 5 products that will make your lives easier.
  1. Automatic Chicken Door -{$180}- This door opens and closes at a set time, or by a photo sensor, so that you don't have to change your dinner plans to lock up the chickens for the night. We have this product and it's probably the most useful thing we've ever bought for our chickens.
  2. Photo from http://chickendoors.com/products.htm
  3. Solar Night Eyes -{$19.99}- Nite eyes flash two small lights that look like eyes and will deter predators at night time. These will keep all types predators from making a feast out of your chickens.                               
  4. Chicken Saddle -{$12-17} - These will protect hens who have lost back feathers from a vigorous rooster or have been picked on continuously by other chickens. This will let them regrow their feathers and heal. Available in all different sizes and colors.
     
  5. Heated Chicken Waterer -{$44.95}- This will give your chickens a source of water even in the coldest of winters. 
  6. Chicken Water Nipple -{$7.99 for 5}- These provide a clean water source for your chickens, the same way they make traditional rabbit waterers. These are great for people with ducks who don't want them swimming in the chickens' water.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Free Range Sheep

We let out our sheep nearly every day to free range. They stay in our yard and keep out of trouble, for the most part. We only let them out when we're home, so we can keep an eye on them, but we haven't had any problems thus far. When they can see any people nearby, they graze and walk around like innocent creatures. Then, when they don't see any people nearby they start their "unsupervised children" antics. Ordinarily they will headbutt each other and run around kicking their feet and being goofballs. We have also spotted them feasting on the mums that sit on our back porch, then running away when they see us and pretending it never happened. But recently we noticed they're starting to get bold. They had never gone into the front yard, because we don't let them because of the danger of cars, but when they realized that there was an abundance of flowers and yummy plants up there they had a worthy cause. They've only gone there a couple times but we immediately chased them back to the backyard so they wouldn't get any idea's. It seems to have worked well, because we haven't seen them do it since. One of the good things about sheep is that they seem to learn things from repetition, and that has proved extremely helpful when it comes to free ranging. We have yet to have any problems since unlike free ranging chickens, they have one type of predator, which they can run from for a little while, giving us time to notice and come scare it off. 

What we're most thankful for this Thanksgiving

In honor of thanksgiving, I wanted to post a some photos of the farm residents, and their amazing personalities. We couldn't be more thankful for the feathered and furry friends that call our farm home. They bring us endless entertainment and laughs, as well as pest control, fresh eggs, wool, and so much more!
In June of 2013, we order 7 assorted chicks from MyPetChicken. On a Monday afternoon, we received a call from the post office. They are now nearly 6 months old and laying their own eggs! These 7 friendly fat girls make up a lot of our farm!
The five Red Star hens were the first chickens on our farm, and are some of the oldest residents on our farm. These girls have been here to see the whole farm become what it is today, and how much it's influenced our lives.
Hoppy was the first animal on our farm, and the oldest by far, who turned 9 years old this August! He has been here for everything, and has tolerated all the sick, injured, and baby chickens who bunked in his cage with him while they healed and grew. Although he isn't the same as he was when we was young, he still fills our days with laughs and fun.

These two partners in crime are the biggest animals on the farm, they make us laugh every day, even when they're feasting on our mums! These two twins are definitely some of the funniest and cutest sheep you'll ever meet! They will never leave each other's side, will never get bored of their little headbutt battles, or races around the barn. These two will always we lambs at heart.

These fluffy characters are the newest farm residents, and they are by far the most cuddly! Henrietta is a good sport caring for all her chicks, even though they're probably fine on their own, and that makes their tight knit little family all that much closer. These four are always at each other's side and have made good friends with their current roommates, the sheep!



Happy Thanksgiving to all of our wonderful readers and subscribers as well. We are very thankful to have so many people who enjoy our blog! Have a great day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bottom of the Pecking Order

This past week the silkies were finally let out of quarantine. We knew that we shouldn't just throw them in with the other chickens, so we put them in a dog crate in the coop. While they have their own coop, we didn't think it was warm enough for winter and it still needed some reinforcements before they moved in, so the dog crate in the coop was the warmest option. The silkies became restless inside it so we would occasionally let them out in the sheep stall to peck around and stretch their wings. Then today, when the temperates dropped below freezing, all the chickens were stuck inside, and the silkies were pleading to be let out. I figured they would be fine since they had been seeing each other through the wire crate walls, but boy was I wrong. Almost instantly the big chickens chased all the silkies into a corner and started pecking at them and harassing them, not giving them a break for half a second. They were not only being mean, but they were doing it without being approached or provoked, so I knew I had to intervene. I felt bad the silkies couldn't peck around in the coop, so I had to find some new housing arrangements for the silkies.
Just after putting the sheep out to free range, I closed the door and put the silkies in the sheep stall, so they could at least stretch their legs. I brought them a dog crate stuffed with straw as well as a waterer and a small bowl of feed hidden in the back of the crate, out of the reach of any hungry sheep that could come along. When I opened the door to leave the sheep stall, I found the sheep waiting. I let the sheep into the stall, and then put the silkies in their own little fenced area so they wouldn't be trampled by the sheep. At least the silkies will have this night to sleep in peace. 

UPDATE 11/25/13
We set up this little area for the silkies to stay in for now. We put up the fence so the sheep wouldn't eat the silkies' food and so the silkies wouldn't drown in the water bucket. They seem happy with it, so we may just leave them there for the rest of the winter until they can move into their coop in the spring.