How can we be throwing away so much chicken food? OK not really throwing away, but feeding to the composter. Which is good but not nearly as satisfying as watching a bevy of biddies TEAR into a fresh pile of kitchen scraps with a gleam in their eyes.Read More
I’ve posted that a good coop is THE KEY to happily keeping chickens. What I mean by that is a spot where your chickens roost at night and can be locked up safe when you need them to be.Read More
Here’s a link to a great how-to and handout for building a worm tower from our friends at Midwest Permaculture. This is a way to do worm composting of food scraps directly in your garden. Enjoy!Read More
The situation: We have an over-abundance of oak leaves every Fall. We have a shortage of good topsoil on this rocky Ozark hilltop year-round. How to use one problem to solve the other? Why, chickens of course.Read More
I wasn’t happy with the photos of the Buckeyes I posted yesterday. I’ve been jumping back and forth between doing the blog photos at Flickr, uploading to Blogger directly (hence the small photos yesterday – that is my least favorite method…) and using the Picasa web albums now that there is a new Mac uploader. The last method seems to be working well. The photo size options are not the best – either the tiny 400px like yesterday, or the giant 800px below. (I prefer a nice 600px) But’s it’s fairly speedy and easy, so we’ll go with BIG photos!
So I went out to get some photos of the girls again at 12 weeks old. Tossed out some oats for them to snack on to keep the group close to the camera. Otherwise, they will come briefly to check out what you are doing, then most will wander away, while the handful of particularly chummy birds will stand so close that it’s hard to walk around without stepping on anybody.
Above is a group shot, mostly Buckeyes with a few Black Australorps thrown in. If you missed the post on why Buckeye chickens are pretty special, you can read about Buckeyes at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy page here. You have to be careful though, on that website, or else you’ll find yourself with a new hobby of preserving heritage livestock like I did. It could be worse, I could have picked cows or horses to work with! (I wish I had that much land!) Anyway, it’s a great organization to join and their newsletters are really interesting.
But back to the Larrapin Buckeyes. Note the chicken bloomer shot above. Since I had tossed out oats, it became difficult to get any pics that included their heads, since they were VERY busy looking for those oats in the leaves. This is my sneaky way of making my chickens work for a living. All leaves get raked into the chicken pen, all scratch grains get tossed on the leaves. And presto, a month later the leaves are reduced to a finely ground leaf mold that is exquisite for a compost base or for mulching garden beds! This method words even faster if your chickens are in a smaller coop – you can pile in the leaves and they will work on them all day, every day!
Above is a good representative photo of the pullets at 3 months old. They have huge feet! If chicken are like puppies, these should grow up to be big girls!
Buckeye’s have lovely feathering, even if their coloring is pretty routine. The feathers are very distinctive and textured as you see above. Another characteristic in the literature that turns out to be VERY true is their need for a lot of space. These gals love to explore and wander the whole pen – a series of three paddocks. So I can see they would not like a constrained space. They are the ultimate free rangers it seems. I do note though, they like a long afternoon nap sprawled on the hay in the sun… Smart chickens.
This is one of the personable girls, saying, Hey, got anymore oats in your pocket?? They are very curious and like sparkly things – especially my ring. I switched to oats from cracked corn for scratch since the oats are supposed to be better for egg production. (Though that will be a while for these girls…) I’ll add some corn in over the winter for heat. The Buckeye’s are bred to be fine in Ohio winters, so Arkansas winters – even in the farthest NW corner where we are, should be a cakewalk for these girls. Note the very small pea combs – that’s to avoid frostbitten wattles in cold climates.
And then the guinea hoodlums show up, run all the girls off and the photo session is over. Thanks for getting to know the Buckeyes better. For folks with the room, they are a fine chicken to preserve.Read More