Kristine Keeney

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since Mar 15, 2019
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"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
- Robert A. Heinlein
So far, I haven't had the chance to plan an invasion, conn a ship, design a building, set a bone, or die gallantly. I hope I'm not called on to do those things soon.
I have survived things that probably should have killed me, and seem to serve as a good example of "What *Not* To Do" for certain situations.
I have a black belt in Ishin Ryu and Tang Su Do that turned into a more MMA version a few years back when my instructor decided that he wanted to learn Krav Maga. I earned that Dan and I'm going to see if I can get another.
I tend to "write a book" every November for the NaNoWriMo self-assigned challenge. I almost earned a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries, which has made me an expert in Natural Science trivia.
I have done historical costuming, am refreshing my skills at handwork, and am debating whether surgery for cancer is a means of The Powers That Be to slow me down enough to improve my skills at certain crafts, or learn patience with myself and human limitations.
I was an active member of the SCA Inc., and enjoy a wild variety of medieval things and stuff.
I am married, have no children, and currently share my home with The Most Wonderful Husband in The World (TM) who has been with me for more than 30 years.
I have managed to keep all the fully-feathered poultry in the backyard, though I do brood them in the kitchen. I'm sure I have other questionable habits, but they seem to center around handwork and crafty things, books, plants, and critters.
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South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
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Recent posts by Kristine Keeney

If you have chickens, you have to worry about predators. It's part of the whole chicken package.

Elevating your chickens makes it easier to protect them in some respects, but protection from predators is something you will need to have in the back of your mind for as long as your have chickens. Any poultry, really.

You could stand the pallets on each other, elevating your roosting/nesting space by a pallet's height. You would need to make sure everything was well fastened together, and that it was stable. Maybe a concrete or rock foundation to help the wood last longer would be a good idea. Not necessary, immediately, but something to think about for later.

You want to protect the bottom of your coop/run and make sure nothing dangerous can get inside, so make sure there aren't any large spaces or holes between planks. Otherwise, making squares sounds like a great idea! You can build each square individually, then put them all together in a fun pattern. The spaces between the boards will help with ventilation, and you can get replacement/repair pieces pretty easily.
It's a great idea!

Goat wire fencing is my strong suggestion for wire fencing in your run. Hardware cloth is strongly suggested for covering spaces. I know if people who line their coops with hardware cloth, but you don't have to go that far.
Chicken wire is only a useful thing if it's lining something else, you're doing a craft project, or there's some other light use for it. Chicken wire is not actually used for chicken keeping.

Have fun building! You'll soon be making changes and your next coop building project will be better with all the things you learn about your local area and how you want to manage your chickens.
I'm planning, thinking about, my new coop project for the spring. You have given me a few ideas to consider. Thank you!
3 weeks ago
Howdy! Welcome to Permies!

Okay, there aren't any hard and fast rules for this because each individual situation is very different.
It all depends on climate, rainfall, where your coop ends up in relation to shade and water use/placement, et cetera.

You want to make sure there's easy air exchange going on, but not a direct breeze on the birds while roosting.
The placement of the "windows" is entirely dependent on too many factors for the rest of us to guess.

According to my husband (who loves playing with fluid dynamics, and considers air just a really thin liquid), having two windows/spaces opposite each other in a way that catches the prevailing wind and prevents a draft along the birds roosting space is probably the easiest thing. Like opening windows on opposite sides of your house allows the air to circulate much better than having two windows open on the same side. If one of the windows happens to be in the same direction as the prevailing winds, even better.
If you don't know which direction the wind comes from, putting a window space on every wall to allow for air flow would work. You could always cover the spaces not needed later if weather, air temperature, or other conditions needed it.
Without knowing what your conditions are, I can't really tell you firm numbers. You want to have enough air flow (however you get it) to allow for trapped moisture to evaporate and not too much air flow that  would make it uncomfortable for your birds. Too much air flow is as potentially dangerous as too little (she says with a nearly completely open-air roosting space that has tarps over it and on the tops of the "walls" for protection from direct wind and rain).

If you need hard numbers, here's some I'm completely pulling out of the air - 4 inches or 10 cm tall and a good 8 -12 inches or 20-30 cm space on each wall to allow for good air flow. Or whatever can be covered by an easily divisible amount of hardware cloth or pre-made vent cover spaced at reasonable distance along each wall.
Or put a 4 inch/10 cm band of hardware cloth along the top, right under the roof of your coop, making sure there's no direct air movement along the chicken roosting space.

One thing I have done is put a tarp up that covered all of an open wall expect for underneath the bird's roosting area. There was no water or air that was on the birds and they were able to make it through both excessive heat and excessive cold just as easily.

We can't tell you what no one knows. We can only suggest and advise that, as long as there's a reasonable turn over of air and there isn't a buildup of moisture and there's no draft on the birds, whatever works for you is fine. Better than fine. It's perfect for you and your situation.
3 weeks ago
Popping my head in here quickly hoping for something light ...

Welcome to Permies!

I haven't grazed blueberries with geese, but I have African geese who do graze in my herb garden.
The odds are high you'd be trading headaches from having to dig out Johnson grass from between the bushes to having to deal with goose foolishness, but I prefer geese to weeding. They keep me company and applaud my efforts at the very least.
Geese are good for grazing grass, but they are much lighter on the grass than sheep, and do no damage to established plants, unless/until you get a Very Particular Goose - one of mine ate an entire pot of peppermint in two days. She even dumped the pot out to eat the roots! This is the only full scale murderous tendency I've spotted in my three, aside from their goose-ish opinions, distrust of large vehicles, and stubborn desire to walk in annual migrations.

I have never had nor heard of geese bothering established ground plantings, but they are fully capable of grubbing stubborn weeds out and leaving "armadillo" holes. They wouldn't eat the blueberry bushes. They might eat a blueberry.
They are great for grazing down grass areas where it's dangerous to run sheep or machinery.
To get the best result, controlled grazing would be advised. As long as you can trap them in an area, they'll graze it down until there's nothing they want to eat.

My geese have not eaten poison ivy. They've had ample opportunity and have decided, "Nah". There was one year they set up the Main Nest in a poison ivy tangle. They might be like clown fish for the poison ivy, choosing to live with it for some reason.
Whether they have an agreement with the poison ivy or not, they have shown no desire to eat tree leaves, vines of many sorts, grape vines, mulberry leaves, acorns, native grape, goldenrod, giant ragweed, native aster, fenugreek plants, and a host of other things I have tried to get them to munch. They do eat dock, spinach, cheese, raw egg, seed heads, sorghum, most if not all grass (we have an assortment including natives in our yard and they might have favorites, but it doesn't show), verbena. They ate all the leaves they could reach off my wild stands of verbena bonariensis and all the wild horsemint and spotted mints they could find.

Without knowing more about the babies they might trample, I would need to know an approximate species. Are we talking about baby humans? Because mine will either threaten or run away (advance to the rear with haste) from anything strange. Humans count as strange. My gander *still* tries to drive my husband away.
Baby plants? Well, the webbed nature of their feet makes them kinder to any vegetation that might get stomped. The only way I can tell where they like to bed down is from the profusion of down they leave behind. They're good to the ground and will taste things, but if it's not something they find edible, they aren't needlessly destructive. Very unlike chickens, to be honest.

In general, while I would love to recommend geese to everyone, because I love mine, I can't tell you that they would solve your weeding problems. They'd help mow the grass and would help with some of the weeding, but they might not be the answer. Not alone, for certain.

They lay in the spring. As of yet, there is no non-seasonal goose laying. The only way I know of to preserve goose eggs with any reliability is to turn them into egg noodles. They make great baked goods. Well, goose eggs are great in baked goods. Geese are great roasted. Geese don't know how to operate an oven, as of yet. There's always the possibility they might learn.
1 month ago
I'm glad you had some success with your very interesting experiment.
I'm sorry the "Marans" weren't and were black sex links instead. That's disappointing, but a small adjustment.

It sounds like you got a lot of good information, and gathered some good resources. I wish I had that much in the way of self-stored animal fats!
Thank you so very much for sharing what you learned, as well as the steps you took along the way!
1 month ago
Egg eating has been a problem for chicken keepers for as long as there have been chickens being kept. Egg eating starts when a hen finds a cracked egg and investigates. It grows logically from there.
Yes, it can be triggered by a calcium, protein, or some other deficiency, or a hungry hen who couldn't be bothered to look for food. There are also chickens who just like eating eggs.

Try to provide calcium free choice. I also provide dried (baked) egg shells that I crunch up so they are easier to eat. I try to watch and see if I'm having problems with any sort of egg eating predator. Rodents are big on egg eating, as are rat snakes. I don't mind "paying" the rat snakes a few eggs every now and then, but I watch to see where they're getting in because they'll take chicks, too.
See if adding protein helps. A small bag of cat food might make the difference and stop the problem.
Offering leafy greens can help, depending on your situation.

I use wooden eggs, ceramic eggs, golf balls, and interesting, vaguely egg-shaped rocks in my nesting areas. My older birds seem to like the assorted fake eggs and some of them will kick the fake eggs out of their nests, but only when they're broody and trying to save space. I've had hens gather all the fake eggs in the area, which is always fun and funny.

As far as I can tell through past experiences, the best you can do is try to monitor your laying birds to keep random egg eating low. I gather eggs once a day and will be gathering, or at least checking the nests, two to three times a day when I fill my incubator. I have heard all sorts of thing to prevent or retrain egg eating. There are such advice as taking a blown out egg and filling it with spices (chickens don't have tastebuds), or using roll-away nesting boxes, assorted fake eggs, and nest box drapes. I figure all advice works for somebody some of the time which is why it keeps making the rounds, much like all the "cures" you hear for hiccoughs.

If you find that additions to their diet don't help and you can't change her behavior, you may have a hen who just likes to eat eggs. All you can do at that point is accept it, rehome her, or cull.
1 month ago
You're asking how long it would take for a new hybrid to become gene stable?
A long time. Several generations of controlled breeding. Many years of controlled crossing and saving whatever you consider the best of the birds produced.

With the variations available from hybridization, until it's done, there is no way to tell what the new hybrid chicks will grow up to be. That's a big part of the fun of crossing breeds. You never know what's going to happen.

Document this as you go along and let us know when you're done. Then we'll all know.

Hybridization and controlled breeding is an exciting way to come up with a chicken that's uniquely fit for your situation. You do that. over years, by deciding what characteristics you want your flock to have and then only saving and breeding the chickens that show those particular traits. If you have found two breeds that you like and you want to save the traits you prefer in those two breeds, great! You're part of the way there!

No one can know, with any certainty, what such a crossing will initially result in.  The chick may have the look of Dominique and the personalities of Araucana. Or vice versa. Or something that's a mash-up of both. Or something all together new and interesting.
Chickens, as a general rule, will all live to be the same basic age and age about the same way. I'm sure there are amazing examples of productive, long-lived chickens of all breeds somewhere, depending on how they are cared for and what kind of life they have. It's up to you to make certain determinations about how you care for your chickens, when you decide you want to breed them to encourage a longer life (saving the eggs from older hens means that you increase the chance the chicks will have more of a tendency to lay eggs longer/live longer) but there's a lot involved in the questions you asked.

There are no easy answers. It's a constantly changing goal, one I hope you can be excited by and look forward to.

1 month ago
Welcome to Permies!

Before I launch into my "Dorkings are AMAZING!" speechifying, you're getting good advice.
Every breed *can* be a good breed for what you want, depending on where you get them and what the parent stock is like. I've had great birds that were from great stock, and awful birds (but good breed reputation) from awful stock. Your birds are coming from a currently unknown source, so that's going to affect what your birds are going to be like. We can only answer in broad generalities and for our own experiences and what we've seen in reading, other's experiences, and our best guesses.

For most livestock, if you get your initial chicks/young birds from a local animal keeper, you'll probably get reasonably good stock that will fit the bare minimum of what you're looking for. If you want to experiment, mail order chicks are the way to go, from a mail order hatchery that's either in your general region or large enough to ship nationally. The older the company, and the better organized it is, the better your initial orders will be treated. There are problems with mail order chicks, so that needs to be considered, too.

I don't know if you have previous experience with chickens, or any other bird, what your housing situation is for the birds, how you intend to brood, .... There's a lot of general information that does affect what kind, age, and type of birds you're looking for.
Hopefully you're considering getting chicks in the spring, which gives you a few months to get your supplies together, decide on a breed, decide on a hatchery, get on the list for that breed at that hatchery, and get your funding together for the order. I suggest chicks in the spring because that's when you get the largest possible options of breed and type. There are chicks available year 'round from hatcheries, so if you decide to get one of the "production" type of breeds (all the hybrid and dual purpose hybrids), you can order them at just about anytime, as long as you're willing to pay for heat/cold packs to help the chicks in shipping.

If you're looking for a breed that's adapted to cold weather, the larger the body, and the smaller the comb, the better.
If you're looking for a breed that's adapted to hot weather, the larger the comb, and the smaller the body, the better.

Any long term temperatures below 0C and 32F will necessitate special care being taken, but that care isn't anything onerous for most people. Most chickens are pretty good at generally temperate (75F/23C to 32F/0C) temperatures with protection from wind and wet. As long as you aren't too far outside those temperatures, any chicken breed would do well.

This website has a list of 100 birds as well as some advice and is something I've recommended to others : Website of "List of Chicken Breeds".
This one has a more complete listing of chicken breeds, but not quite as much information that's useful to a homesteader: The "Complete" list.

There are individuals that will behave in a unique and interesting way. Over my years of "chickening", I have had "production" birds that went broody. I've had "unreliable" layers that laid every day for 6 weeks. I've had "calm" breeds that were absolutely awful for my flock, and "aggressive" breeds that got along fine with everyone. It's best to make decisions based on the known traits and tendencies, but always keep in mind that you are raising tiny dinosaurs that will happily prove you wrong in everything.

There are trade-offs. A large dual purpose  chicken will take longer to grow up but will have a tendency to lay larger eggs than a smaller or faster growing chicken. A small broody will not be able to sit as many eggs as a larger broody.
My Lavender Orpington has handled the freezing cold and impossibly hot temperatures with equal ease, but lays a nice brown egg every three or four days and has only gone broody once in her life. She's also not one of my more adventurous chickens, never leaving the yard unless the gate is open and solidly middle of the flock.
My Gold-laced Wyandottes got frostbite on their combs, but didn't do as badly as the Barred Rock in the cold weather. My Dominque didn't blink twice at the freezing sleet, and handles the heat like a champ, going wading when it gets to be too much.

I only just have the Marans (they're about 5 months old?), have never had Brahmas, and can't speak to the Australorps. I know a few people who really really like the Australorps for their size (which is useful for dealing with certain situations) and their tolerance for wild temperature shifts.

I will join the others in saying that Easter Eggers can be the most wonderful, adaptable, and smartest of my flock. I'm actually placing an order for new additions in the spring since I'm finally looking at the last one in my flock and I need their silliness around. At 5 years, she was still laying an egg every 5 days or so until she went into molt, and I hope she restarts when she finishes molt. The Easter Eggers have proven to be heat and cold tolerant, and didn't cause trouble of any sort. They are the easiest of my flock to train for silly tricks and things.

I will now advocate for Dorkings.
Dorkings are smaller bodied than many of the other dual purpose chickens. They don't travel far but are active foragers. I have never had to worry about where they might get to or if they might bother the neighbors. The roosters are calm and the only roos I have had that consistently Not Attack me, but Do Attack predators. I had a Dorking roo who stood off a Carcara and have had several that defended their flock against dogs, cats, and bobcats.

They have a reputation for being bad layers, but that's in part because a Good Dorking hen will brood. I have had multiple Dorking hens who would only break brood for caring for chicks before going right back to it. One hen was so persistent, she brooded for 75 days straight, only stopping when she hatched a gosling.
Another part of their bad laying reputation is that they lay a smaller (average for my flock is a medium) sized egg roughly 1 out of 3 days. I have found that *where* I get my chicks from really determines how well they lay. Some of the commercial hatcheries have Dorking flocks that are geared toward a production hatchery model, so they lay and don't brood, but the focus is more on conformation than laying so ... They are pretty birds that don't do much of anything except taste good.

What sorts of things are you really interested in for your flock? Would you be willing to put up with silliness for a historic breed, are you looking for something that's more hands off, or are you just thinking about getting started with a flock and want to have good birds to experiment with?
New Hampshire and Rhode Island Reds are great starter chickens, as are any of the English breeds. Buckeyes have a reputation for being easy keepers and are great for colder areas, having been developed for people in Montana and Canada.
Really, there's more than one chicken breed out there for you, or you can go landrace it and just have fun with the chickens that do well for you.  
1 month ago

Chris Vee wrote:

Elena Sparks wrote:
What do your ducks like to lay in?

I was just talking to my lovely wife about this.

To answer the above question, I find a 50/50 mixture of wood chips and duck poop seems to be our ducks favorite place to lay... sorry I'm no help, just here for the ideas as well. BUT I'm rooting for you!

To be fair, I've found a lot of chickens seem to like that kind of laying medium, too. Their favorite places tend to get very quickly soiled, one way I can tell it's a favorite place!

I'm here to get ideas for my geese - I haven't found a structure that would allow them protection while still keeping the chickens away. Given a preference, they move into the A-frame where I keep my nesting boxes and drive the chickens out.
1 month ago
Welcome to Permies, Lin Rogers!
I hope your chickens start laying better as the weed exits their systems.

Since I let mine free range over a decent sized yard, They have a chance to avoid things that might cause them upset, though they do have distinct and individual preferences for different foods and plants.
I'll have to go take a wander and see if there are any questionable plants that have moved in over the course of the summer.
1 month ago
I sorrow for your loss.
Yes, chicks do die and they do it as amazingly high rates, sometimes. I work to remind myself that it's all part of the plan and part of why chickens were chosen to become livestock back in the Very Early Days.

She was well cared for, loved, and had a month of life with you. That's not a bad go of it, all things considered.

Sometimes the best we can do is to do the best we can and make it as easy for the little ones in our care as possible. You did that.  <3
1 month ago