Mama Hen

Mama Hen

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Quail Condos, cages for the backyard flock.

In our city we are limited in our chicken family size to 10 chickens. There is however no limit to quail. I did a ton of research at and decided that it was something I could handle. After a little begging and pleading and some amazing dinner and desert bribes my husband caved to let me have Quail.
 I Picked up 10 A&M quail yesterday and thought I would leisurely build the quail condo.  Wrong! In all my research I did not read that Quail stink to high heaven! After one night in my bathroom I and my husband had had enough and I set to work building the quail condo. Why not DH? Well he is amazingly handsome, brilliantly smart (we call him the walking encyclopedia). How ever he was not blessed with the ability to constuct things like quali condos. 

So with my limited skills I set to this task.

We started with a bookcase that was roughly 2x3. I used what Home depot called firring strips to build up with edges first. This created about a 2 inch deep spot where I plan to fill with sand. This will be the flooring of my condo. I have seen people who built chicken coops and use sand and they are able to scoop it like a kitty litter box, so I am hoping fo the same effect. 

I built a framed door that will open down. My husband suggested a little chain to keep it from flopping open, Go Honey! Thats a great idea and I will add that after my next trip to Home Depot!

Next I added a little hok and eye type closure. Now as I mentioned my quail are going to be kept in a garage or my back yard which is fenced with a 6 foot block wall, so there really not much of a chance that they will get eaten. We dont have raccoons or possums here. If you live in an area with these types of critters you would want to rethink this type of closure and go with something more safe. 

Next step is to paint and add the hardware cloth, 1/2 inch to the door and the back of the Quail Condo. I had to stop for the day because my little princess( baby Zen who is 8 months) had had enough of daddy.  Im only planning on finishing 2 condos right now but I plan on building out 4 of the shelfs to condos and then leaving one shelf for supplies. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One chilly day James heard the doorbell ring. Expecting something interesting to add to an other wise boring afternoon, he jumped up and rushed after his mom as she answered the door.

Waiting on the porch was a brown box. A Package! Packages always meant something interesting and fun! Last time a package was delivered it was a train set from his grandmother who lived in Taiwan!

James could hardly contain himself, he thought about all the fun things that could be in the box, a toy truck, candy, maybe a magic lamp with a genie inside?

“Oh mom, open it please!” James begged .

“ Alright James, lets take it to the kitchen table and we can open it.” Mom smiled.

James bounded to the table and jumped on a chair as mom gently set the package on the table. The box was labeled with big red letters that read, F-R-A-G-I-L-E. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but it looked important.

Mom carefully opened the box with a pair of scissors. Packing peanuts spilled from the carton as she carefully lifted a carton from the box.

“EGGS?!?!?! EGGS!!! Why are you getting eggs in the mail mom? They sell those at the grocery store. “ James exclaimed with surprise trying to hide his disappointment.

James could not understand why mom got a box with a carton of eggs in the mail, they had plenty of eggs in the fridge. This afternoon was not going to be as interesting as he thought.

“These are special eggs James.” Said mom. “These eggs are going to go into our incubator and after 3 weeks baby chicks will hatch from them.”

James wasn’t so sure, “They just look like regular eggs to me” He muttered as he returned to his toy cars on the floor.

James tried not to act interested as he watched his mom carefully unwrap each egg from its wrapping, placing each egg carefully in the little yellow incubator.

“Mom, those eggs are upside down!” James exclaimed, pointing in the incubator.

“When we hatch eggs we put them in the big side up so that the baby chicks can hatch better.” Mom said as she poured a cup of warm water in the incubator.

James watched as mom carefully set the incubator on the bookshelf and plugged it in. The incubator made a soft humming noise and it slowly started moving back and forth.  James was not impressed.  There was no way that chickens would come out of those dumb eggs, he had eggs for breakfast lots of times. There was only the white part and the yellow part, he’d never seen a chicken in an egg.

Each day James would peer into the incubator as he walked by the bookcase.  The eggs just sat there and did nothing. The incubator rocked them back and forth, dumb old eggs, why couldn’t it have been something neat in that box? Hmmph! Mom was crazy, there were no chickens in those eggs!

One morning mom unplugged part of the incubator.

“What are you doing mom?” James asked as he looked up from his coloring book.

“Its time for Lock Down, the chicks will be born in 3 days.” Smiled mom as she poured more water in the incubator.

Lock Down? What the heck was that? James imagined mom putting the eggs on a on a rocket ship to mars where aliens would eat them for breakfast. James giggled as he imagined little green Martians eating Mom’s eggs. 

 Mom just smiled at James as he drew aliens  eating  eggs.

One snowy morning James awoke to a strange sound. It sounded like a bird in the house.

Sleepily he crawled out of his warm bed and followed the sound.

Peeep… Peeep. ….peeep!! The sound got louder and louder as James approached the incubator.

Peeep…. Peeeep!

James peered into the incubator  looking for where the peeping was coming from.  Nope no chickens, bummer! Then he saw an egg move! The little egg rocked back and forth. Then he saw it, a crack in the egg!

“MOM!! MOM! MOM!” James wildly flew up the stairs and jumped on his parents bed.

“I heard a noise and followed it to the eggs and there is an egg moving and its broken!” James exclaimed.

Mom and dad looked at each other and laughed.

“It sounds like today is the day for those chicks to be born!” Laughed dad.  “ GO down and watch them, and eventually one will zip right out of those eggs.

“Awesome!” Yelled James and he ran back down stairs.

All day those little chicks pipped and zipped their way out of the incubator. 

Every time a new baby chick was born James reported to his mom.

“A black one!”

“A grey!”

“Another Black!” He called from his position in front of the bookcase. James kept watching that first egg, waiting for a chick to push its way out of the shell. It kept rocking and peeping, but still no chick.

Finally all the other eggs had hatch except that first egg.

“It looks like we have a quitter.” Mom sighed. “Time to clean out the incubator and put the chicks in the brooder.”

“No mom, wait, this one still needs to hatch!” James cried.

“ I just don’t think that one was strong enough to make it out James.” Mom said gently. “ Come on its time for bed.”

“ Just give it more time mom.” James begged.

“Ok, we will give it until morning.”

James couldn’t sleep all night. He hoped that little chick made it out of its shell. 

That morning  James rushed to the incubator. He was sad when he saw the incubator was empty and not one egg or shell left to be seen.

Wiping tears from his eyes he walked into the kitchen.

“Good morning James!” Mom sang as she flipped a pancake on the griddle. “ I have a surprise for you! Go look in the brooder.”

James wandered over to the plastic container with the red lamp. He heard chirping coming from it and he looked inside.  Fuzzy little baby chicks ran around pecking at the ground .  Then he noticed it, a chick that wasn’t there last night. A tiny fluffy yellow and brown chick.. He could hardly believe his eye! He counted just to make sure, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,  10, 11, 12!  They were all there!

“It hatched!” James exclaimed as he gently picked up the tiny chick.

“Yes it did.” Dad grinned from behind his newspaper.

James held the tinny little ball of fluff to his cheek and smiled. Its was so soft !
“Can this one be mine?” James asked his dad.

“Sure why not!” Said dad.  “It will need a name, what will you name it?”

“Poco, because it was the last one to hatch. That’s the Spanish word for little.” James smiled proudly

“ Poco, hmmm, I like it!  Poco it is.”

James grinned as he gently stoked the top of the chicks head.  Those eggs turned out to be the best package to arrive EVER!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hopeful for a great hatch!

Well my husband, Gd love him, unplugged my Brinsea incubator and I did not notice for 7 hours. The temp had gone to room temp of 73 by then, but I have high hopes that these little chickees will hatch out alright. It was easy to get the temp and humidity back up. With in an hour everything was back to normal. So heres hoping for a happy new years!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

MIA but back...

I have been MIA for a bit after a devastating miscarriage and a surprise pregnancy after which resulted in the worst morning sickness I have ever experienced. To call it morning sickness is an understatement. It was all day sickness feeling like I was riding the Tilt_A-Whirl at the Carnival. Or perhaps the worst cruise in the world.

But I am back, and feeling pretty well at 18 weeks preggo. I got a wild hair and decided to give chickens a try again. My last hatch actually did go so bad considering I used Trader Joe's eggs and we had a 20 hour power outage, I still managed to get 2 eggs to hatch! That is nothing short of amazing. Go Brinsea! I did wrap my incubator in a blanket and it did the trick.

So I am about ready to try out my Brinsea again. This time I am setting 17 silkie eggs for the New Years hatch a long at Back Yard Chickens. I am super excited to see hwo this goes. I already love my Brinsea Eco and the ease of the auto turner. I wonder if the folks at Brinsea Eco could come up with some different egg holders, those wire one a tough to use, I fear breaking an egg using them. While I have not broken an egg yet, some thing flexible might be nice.

So here we go! Check back for more updates.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I lost the bet!

Last night began the drama that ended in complete shock today.

All I wanted to do was go to bed. First I had to make the bed, I hadn't quite put the fresh sheets on the bed and it was getting late. I tromped upstairs to throw the sheets on the bed so I could snuggle in bed and read my book.

Of course my lovely wonderful husband who could care less about clean sheets was plopped in the center of the bed with his laptop.

I whined for him to get up for a moment so his exhausted wife could make the bed.

This started the endless teasing from him. Rather than give up I told him I would make the bed right over top of him if he didn't move.

This is when the first bet came.

"I bet you can't." he grinned at me.

"I will too and I can." I growled at him.

"I'd like to see you try." He laughed.

"I will!!" I grew more and more irate by the moment.

I grabbed the sheets and I made that bed right over top of him! Threw on the pillows and blanket and plopped my self on top of him.


The next comment floored me.

"Baby, are you pregnant? Your late and really emotional right now" He got even more of a kick out of this, because this made me even more upset.

Fast Forward to this morning. I can't remember what it was, but I apparently was acting more irrational than I was the night before. My husband kept teasing that I was pregnant and glowing and how proud he was of him self for knocking me up, oh yes I was his little conquest!

This of course led to my next bet.

"I am not pregnant and I will prove it! I bet you a 100 bucks I am not pregnant!" I howled in dismay and I grabbed my purse and zipped out the door in my PJ's to get a pregnancy test.

I was going to prove that man wrong! I raced to the store right when they were opening up, grabbed the first pregnancy test I could find, and marched to the counter.

I was met with a knowing grin of the clerk to which I responded to by rolling my eyes.I grabbed my bag and zipped home.

I rushed through the door and straight to the bathroom with my husband calling after me..

"Honey you don't need that test I already know your pregnant!"


I was never so happy to pee on a test in my life. I would prove that man wrong.

I set the test on the counter and watched and waited and my pee wicked up that little stick. Pee which is normally so gross had my full attention at that moment.

Then I saw it, one line and then two. WHAT!! HE WAS RIGHT!!! I screamed. I thought he would come running with me screaming, he didn't. I peeked my head out the door to see him laughing.

So he won the bet and here I am.

I know this has nothing to do with chickens, but had to share non-the less.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Picking a Breed.

Choosing a breed of chicken is not as easy as I thought. I pictured those fluffy yellow little chicks that you see for Easter. Picking a breed of Chickens is a whole lot more involved. i had no idea that eggs came in other colors besides brown and white. Oh yes, there are Blue eggs, green eggs, olive eggs, and yummy chocolate colored eggs too!

My dad told me as a child I was so indecisive. Once I was taken to the store and told that I could choose one toy. I agonized over the choice for so long, and then finally chose one. As we were leaving the toy isle I burst into tears. Sobbing I cried, I can't leave the other one she will be sad with out me! I let the store that day with 2 My Little Ponies.

I learned today that that same little girl still lives inside me. Deciding what breed of chicken to pick has been agonizing! They are all so neat. I decided I wanted 2-3 breeds. I can legally have up 10 chickens so that choice has been made for me.

To decide the breeds I wanted I made a list of what I needed from me chickens.

I need..

Heat Tolerant, yeah it gets hot here!
Quiet (No target practice for the neighbor)
Lays fairly well
Tame enough or the kids to play with
Has pretty eggs.
Fun to look at. Ok I am superficial, or maybe its the artist in me, but I want to look at something pretty.

Based on these requirements I have narrowed it down to these breeds...

These Fluffy butts are so flipping cute I can hardly contain my self. They are supposed to be docile and quiet which is a plus for me.

Ameraucana~ Also supposed to be gentle and quiet, but even better they lay super cool blue and green eggs! I can resist the coolness factor of having blue eggs, t will be like and Easter egg hunt every morning!


These are supposed to be very heat tolerant, which is important for the desert. Although I can't quiet figure out how with the black feathers. These were developed in Australia, so I think they could survive our heat.

While these are a bantam breed, I fell in love with their look. They look like fuzzy little cotton balls with legs. A plus for me is that they are great with kids and they make good chicken mommies. the eggs are smaller, but eventually I want to hatch eggs and, well my nerves just can't take hatching chicks!

So if I can make the hard choice which ones I want, I think these are in the top running. Knowing me I will find something cute that I will have to have and will have a variety of cute fluffy butts!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Are you crazy?

The shocked look on my neighbors face said more than her snide comment and she wasn't the only one. Many of my neighbors were not as excited as I was about raising chickens in my backyard. The police office next door gruffly mentioned something about not wanting to hear a rooster crowing. Ok so he works the night shift, but was that comment about using my chickens for target practice really necessary?

Am I crazy to raise a flock of Hens in the backyard of my middle class neighborhood? I don't think I am. Chickens are some of the best pets that I have ever had; they are cute and have funny personalities and best yet they make you breakfast every morning!

Although I think my chickens will be the only chickens on this planet with a pool to sunbathe by. Join me as I start my journey in to the world of urban self sufficiency and my back yard chickens! I will be posting about my journey from my coop, to buying my chickens, and more.