Aggressive Duck Sex (Or, Why I Drink Whiskey.)

Simple-Whiskey

Starting about a month ago our drake (that’s the boy duck), regrew his penis in expectation of spectacular spring-time twitterpation. Oh, you didn’t know ducks lose their penis every year and regrow them? Yeah, duck-keeping is an education like that. Go ahead and watch this. I’ll wait. Okay, are you back? Holy crap, am I [Continue Reading…]

Chicken Rotation: Optimizing For Year-Round Laying From The Backyard Flock

Chicken-Rotation

Disclaimer: if you think of your chickens as pets, if you let them live out their full, natural lives regardless of economics of laying productivity vs. feed, then this may not be the post for you. While there is nothing graphic in this post, it assumes the reader is comfortable with the concept of slaughtering livestock. This [Continue Reading…]

Sand Litter Bed In The Chicken Coop: An Experiment

Trying something new.

We’ve been managing our chicken coop through a hybrid sand and deep litter system. This hybrid system has worked extremely well in our particular coop. Briefly, how that system works is, the chickens roost over the sand, which acts like kitty litter to dry out their overnight poop, and in the morning the poop is raked to the [Continue Reading…]

Can You Seal A Pond With Clay Kitty Litter? Part 2

"Welcome to my pond, ladies."

So we’ve proved you can use clumping cat litter to seal a pond because clumping cat litter is made of bentonite clay. Now, how do you actually do it? In my first post on this, many people pointed out that actual sodium bentonite clay was available at farm supply type stores. I struck out finding [Continue Reading…]

Can You Seal A Pond With Clay Kitty Litter?

IMG_4023

I wanted to build the ducks a pond. In fact, I started on the pond months before we eventually adopted ducks. Now, just so we are clear, our pond isn’t really a pond…it’s more like a very large puddle. It’s about 15 feet by 8 feet and holds about 1000 gallons of water. But for [Continue Reading…]

Meet The Ducks!

Ancona Ducks

Here’s the list of homestead things we were hoping to accomplish in 2014: Install Solar Panels. Plant Suburban Food Forest Build Pond – working on it. Get Ducks. Get Bees – too late; pushed to 2015. The solar panels are churning out a ton of power (nearly 40 kWh on a lovely sunny day), the trees, [Continue Reading…]

How To Feed Baby Chicks + {Giveaway} Chick Feed Starter Kit

how to feed baby chicks

So you’ve got some new little chicks-congrats! Now you have to keep them alive. First job, warmth. Check. Second job, water. Check. Third job, food. How To Feed Your Chicks Ok, chick food. Here’s where it get’s interesting. Layer, starter, grower? Organic, or not? Medicated, or not? What the heck? Do you just buy the first bag with a [Continue Reading…]

Three Steps To Clean, Poop-Free Eggs

Clean Eggs

If you are a chicken-keeping gardener like me, you know that the second-best thing hens give you is eggs. The first best thing they give you is their awesome nutrient rich poop! As grateful as I am for both the poop and the eggs, I prefer them to be gifted separately. Typically if the eggs [Continue Reading…]

Will A Broody Hen Adopt Chicks?

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Our Buff Orpington Goldie was broody. Really broody. I’ve had hens go broody before and they always seem to just get over it within about a week. Because I don’t rely on eggs for my income and the broodiness I’ve seen has been short-lived, I’ve never bothered to “break” a broody hen with a broody [Continue Reading…]

Best Chicken Breeds for Families with Kids

Chickens and Kids

Nearly every backyard urban chicken keeper I know has kids. Part of that is probably my demographic (mid-thirties suburban mom in yoga pants – I’m a walking cliche) but I think part of it is that parents my age want their kids to see where food comes from in a way that maybe we didn’t, [Continue Reading…]

Forced Molt: Starving Hens For Profit

Forced Molt

Lets’s talk about molting. Anyone who has ever kept chickens knows about the molt, that egg-production pause where hens shed old feathers and turn into tiny, ugly dinosaurs for a few weeks. During the molt, a natural response to reduced daylight, egg laying stops. Chicken’s can’t throw energy into making new feathers and eggs at the same [Continue Reading…]

{Giveaway} Scratch and Peck Organic Chicken Feed

Scratch and Peck Feed Giveaway

When I first got hens, I didn’t understand how critical they would become to the entire system of my productive home. I just had that fresh-egg fantasy. You know the one: pastel-hued eggs in a Pinterest-worthy little wire basket. They would be laid by happy, fluffy hens and I would have omelets that were as [Continue Reading…]