In Memory of Andrew Wordes – The Chicken Man

This was a long drawn out story that ended in the death of a kind and gentle man. I first met Andrew last year when folks in our city were fighting to get backyard hens legalized. He was a constant source of information, always answering my emails and helping us put everything together for the city council. All the time he had his own battle on his hands. The media covered only parts of his story. In the end he was portrayed as a whack job who fought the law and the law won. In actuality it was the worst case of a city tormenting someone that I have ever witnessed. I’m not going into detail here, as it’s a long drawn out saga and I’m weary from talking and writing about it. I just want to pay tribute to a fine man who was beat down and destroyed by hateful, mean people. Shame on them.

On the wings of angels Chicken Man, I’ll see you on the other side.

 

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6 Weeks In…

This is a small coop for just 4 hens. The coop itself is no bigger than a doghouse. It has 2 roosts inside and an egg box. While they’re still pullets there’s plenty of room to roam. Today we did a cleaning, added soil because they do scratch the dirt away from the corners. When we finished we threw in a piece of sod for good measure, they love it! We use pine shavings under the coop for odor control and it gives them something to scratch in. Powdered it all w/ DE before I let them back in.

The hedge view is approaching the coop from the yard. We use our natural landscaping to conceal it. You can’t see or hear the girls until you get to the entrance to the garden. Even then, it’s just quiet chirping. The bottom line is the only way anyone would know we actually have chickens is if they saw them. You can’t smell them, you can’t hear them. If you were to walk directly up to the coop to ┬ásee them, well you’d hear them chirp. They smell like pine chips. While we cleaned the coop today what we heard were wild birds and neighborhood dogs. Please take the “they smell and they’re noisey” rant and forget it. It’s a non issue w/ 4 hens.

The learning curve

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Being new to raising chickens, we’ve learned a lot in trial and error. For those of you who haven’t started your own flock yet I thought I’d share some of what we learned along the way.

Starting with the coop all I can say is that it helps that my husband is an avid carpenter. Some people buy a prefab type coop, which is what we did. Some start from scratch with their own materials. Either way it’s inevitable that in the end you’ll have to make some modifications. For us it was moving some doors around on the run area to make it more accessable. We also had to reinforce some areas with more chicken wire as something is digging around the run area at night (armadillo?).

One of the girls was showing some blood in her stool so I did some research and found it was likely to be coccidia. Coccidia live in the ground all the time and the young and sick are succeptable to it. I ordered Sumlet online (probably could have gotten it at the feed store) added it to their water and within a day things were fine.

My husband made an automatic feeder from old gutters, it turned out great! He still needs to put up some kind of roof over the run to keep the food dry but the girls took to it right away. Food for 4 pullets has lasted 4 days now. We will install automatic watering system eventually but for now we purchased some chicken nipples, yes folks that is what they’re called, and used a 2 liter bottle inverted with the nipple in the lid part. It works amazingly! FYI, you must poke a vent hole in the bottom (once installed it’s actually the top) of the bottle or else no water will come out. The learning curve, remember! The one problem I have with a complete watering system, one hooked up to our spicket, is that I won’t be able to medicate them through their water. I think with 4 hens we can probably use two 2 liter bottles and it will be plenty of water for several days.

Getting them used to their coop didn’t take long. We started by just putting them in the run area on sunny days and opening the coop door. They ignored the coop and the ramp and just scratched around all day. Then we moved on to putting them in the coop first and opening the door. They’d run and fly as fast as they could out the door and down the ramp. Eventually they explored the ramp and within 2 days they were using the coop. Phew!

The girls will be 5 weeks in two more days. The weather is easy now and as long as another cold front doesn’t come through they should be in the coop full-time tonight or tomorrow.

On the stealth end, so far no one even knows they exist. So much for smelly, loud birds annoying the neighbors and fowling up the city. On the other hand the barking dog tied up in the neighbor’s back yard is driving me crazy!