Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

November 30, 2010

Updates from the Coop

Well it has now been about a week since Dolly, Autumn and Meesha were introduced to the flock.  The transition has been surprisingly smooth.  They are quickly reestablishing a new pecking order.  I think that Feathers is the happiest.  She is no longer at the bottom of the order.  She is even doing a little pecking herself.  When I do notice the pecking, it is rather gentle, much like a reminder.

Chocolate is thrilled.  He is no longer as bossy to the girls and he seems to be content.  He now has seven girls to harrass at any given time.  He has shown off his rooster dance to every girl.  However, none seem the slightest bit interested.  Instead, they just go about their business.  As far as I know, he has not tried to hop on anyone's back yet.

Tilly still is head hen.  I'm glad.  She is maternal-like to the new girls.  It is nice to see.  She will peck them now and then but it is usually to say, "Hey I'm standing here at the water.  I will not move but you are welcome to stand next to me."

We have also had 2 silkie eggs laid.  I scooped another one out this morning.  I think it is Dolly that is laying.  I am hoping that she will influence the others to lay soon.  They should start anyday now.  It is really just a waiting game.

Finally, tomorrow night is the Barnstable Agricultural Commission meeting regarding rooster regulations for the town of Barnstable.  I have done my best to rally together all the chicken owners that I know.  We are sure to attend.  I am thinking that I will mostly observe at first and try and gauge people's postitions on the matter.  Wish me luck!

November 29, 2010

Book Review: Minnie Lovgreen's Recipe for Raising Chickens

Rating *****

This book is one of the sweetest and most clever books I have ever read about chickens.  In 1888, Minnie Lovgreen was born in England.  As one of 18 children, she learned to work her family's farm.   At age 11, she supported herself by becoming a mother's helper, eventually moving to Canada and then the United States.  While in America she met her husband and together they started a dairy farm.

She lived until 1975 and over the years had experienced the joy of raising chickens.  Her book is a memoir about her life with chickens.  She dictated her book to a close friend who transcribed her every word onto paper.  Her book is charming and witty.  She knew alot about chickens in those days and shares her knowledge with us through this fantastic book.

I read this book in one night.  It is a fast and easy read and highly enjoyable.  If you enjoy keeping chickens, this book is a great addition to your growing library.  I am glad that she took the time to write the book.  It is a terrific piece of Americana in 2010.

November 28, 2010

Our First Egg

Our first egg
I went out to the coop this morning and this is what I found, a small Silkie Bantam egg!   I think that Dolly laid it because I saw her sitting in the nesting box this morning.  I am very excited!  The egg is absolutely adorable and about half the size of a regular egg.  I can't wait to check for more tomorrow.

November 27, 2010

Strawberry Bread

One of my best friends is probably one of the best bakers that I know.  Over the years, she has found and shared so many wonderful recipes with me.  I wanted to share with you her fabulous strawberry bread.  It is absolutely delicious. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups white sugar
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil


Preparation:

1.  Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

2.  Beat together the eggs oil and strawberries.  Then pour into the well made in the flour mixture.

3.  Stir just enough to dampen all the ingredients.  Do not over mix.

4.  Grease 2 loaf pans and pour the batter evenly into the loaf pans.

5.  Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes until the bread is baked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6.  Cool 20 minutes prior to removing bread from pans.  Complete cooling on a rack.  Refrigerate to store.

November 26, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I was worried about the first night for the three new girls.  During the day, the pecking was minimal but when night time came around, would they go up into the coop at night?  Would my old flock allow it?  So as dusk grew near, I kept checking.  Finally they went into the coop.  I did not see anyone in the yard, but I had to be sure.

Outside I went.  As I walked over to the coop, I saw that everyone was up inside.  However, I wanted to get a bit closer of a look.  I climbed into the run and peered into the little half moon door.  Those chickens never cease to amaze me.

From all the horror stories about flock integration on the internet, I was sure that at best I would find my original flock sleeping in the nesting boxes and expect to find the 3 new girls in the opposite corner on the roost.  Instead, I discovered a situation that even I would never have imagined.  Inside mid-coop was Oyster Cracker.  She was pacing back and forth, much like a soldier guarding a castle.  As you know from my previous posts, before we knew that Chocolate was a rooster, she was taking on the role of guard chicken.  Now, she was showing me that she still was a guard chicken.  She was pacing and growling.  So funny.  I instantly thought that she was keeping both flock separate.  I looked in the corner closest to me expecting to find the new girls but they weren't there.  I glanced over to the nesting boxes.  I found all of the chickens old and new mixed and huddled in the nesting boxes together!


I could not believe my eyes.  Was the integration going to be this easy?  Time will tell.  I think that Oyster Cracker was patrolling to be sure that no other new girl would enter the coop.  I promised her not anytime soon as we now have a full house.  I closed the door for the night, feeling confident, successful and incredibly joyous.  We are one step closer to a unified flock.  Even though they are different colors and breeds, they are all snuggled together despite their differences.  What a fabulous reminder of tolerance and acceptance from my girls especially during the holiday season!

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for this year in my life outside of the chickens.  However, I do have a lot to be thankful for regarding the chickens as well.  Our family has been blessed and is incredibly thankful for all of the the wonderful things that the chickens have brought into our lives.  We have had a fabulous times raising them from little chicks and we have learned so much from them since this past Spring.  They have touched all of our hearts and we have learned life's lessons from them as well. We are thankful for their presence in our lives and are looking forward to many more chances to grow together as a family in our chicken adventures.
Have a wonderful Thanksgving!

November 24, 2010

New Chicks on the Block

I found a local woman who is selling Silkie pullets and she lives about 5 minutes away from me. Ironically, our paths have crossed before but I did not know that she had chickens!   This past Spring, she ordered straight runs of various colors of Silkies.  They were born in May making them about 4 weeks older than my current flock.   I had been thinking of adding to the flock since we had to re-home Peanut and Chocolate turned out to be another rooster.  I wanted to have more hens.  Plus, Chocolate is really starting to assert his dominance over my existing pullets.

So after I picked up my son at school yesterday, we journeyed over to her home.  My friend also wanted a few Silkies so within a matter of 15 minutes, my car had 2 boxes of little Silkies.  Last night while my flock was fast asleep, I decided I would integrate the new pullets.  I quickly gave them a dusting of diatomaceous earth and then I brushed them with a dryer sheet.  Yeah, I know it sounds weird.  I thought that I could try and make the new girls smell like their human family.  Some people even spray them with their perfume.  Perhaps, it would make their transition and acceptance easier.  I did not want to have any horror stories like you find on the internet.

This morning, I waited until 7:30 am to go outside.  It seemed like I was waiting forever.  I opened up the coop.  Immediately, Chocolate was the first to dart out.  Then the rest of the old flock followed by 2 of the new girls.  The third remained in the the coop and eventually came out into the run with some gentle coaxing.  Overall, I was pleased.  No one was dead, bleeding or missing hoards of feathers.  In order to spend more time outside, I cleaned out the coop.  It needed it anyway.  Overall, there was some mild pecking but nothing that I would not expect.  I also gave them yogurt this morning and filled their treat ball, all attempts to distract from the newcomers.

So, you ask, who is new?  Well they are lilac or lavender in color with some black streaks.  I would like to introduce to you, Dolly, Autumn and Meesha.

November 23, 2010

Chickens on the Brain

This gave me quite a smile when I reviewed what came home in my son's work folder from school.   I love that he loves the chickens!  I wonder what his teacher thought?

November 22, 2010

It's Official, I'm One of the Girls

I spent this weekend doing my least favorite thing, fall clean-up.  We typically rake the leaves six times during the fall season.  This weekend was no different than any other year except for the occasional chicken that wandered by. 

Since we have had a few hawks in the yard this week, I had tried to entice them back to their coop with scratch and their treat ball.  I was worried that if I moved away from the girls, a hawk could swoop down and catch dinner.  I had finished raking near the girls and needed to move on. Unfortunately for me, they were just not ready to go back.  Instead, they were content under the gigantic rhododendron bush at the top of the driveway next to the garage.  I kid you not, I think it is about about 25 years old and is about 12 feet wide by 10 feet tall.  I could hear them underneath scratching at the leaves and calling to one another to show off their finds. 

So nervously, I decided to rake about 50 feet from the rhododendron bush near their coop.  As I was cleaning leaves and debris to the side, my neighbor who I had not seen in ages struck up a conversation with me.  Distracted by our conversation that had gone on for about 5 minutes, I did not notice a little friend at my feet.  It was Chocolate.  He was scratching, puffing out his feathers and talking.  It took me a second, then I realized.  Chocolate was trying to tell my neighbor that I was part of his family.

I scooped him up into my arms, gave him a nuzzle and a thank you then gently set him down.  He continued to stay by me.  As he stood with me, along came the rest of his flock, no coaxing necessary.  He has made it to top chicken.  Although little, he has gained respect of all the girls.  I was glad that much like a guard dog, I had a rooster by my side!  Who would have thought?  I now know that they think of me as part of their family.

November 21, 2010

Mediterranean Quiche

One of my best friends brought a homemade tomato pie to our house one day.  It was so delicious that I decided to create a recipe based on that dish.   One of my friend's chickens just started laying eggs.  She had six yesterday and was in need of a recipe. May I suggest this? 

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
½ cup milk
1 plum tomato
1 8 oz precooked ham steak-cut into bite size pieces
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese/mozzarella blend
1 tablespoon dried basil or 5 fresh leaves cut into small pieces
½ small onion-finely diced
1 ready made pie crust

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.  Line a pie plate with a the ready made pie crust.

3.  Evenly spread the Dijon mustard on the bottom portion of the pie crust.

4.  In a large bowl whisk together eggs and milk.

5.  Add the ham, cheese, onion and basil to the egg mixture and stir until well combined.

6.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

7.  Thinly slice the tomato the long way. Place the tomato slices evenly spaced on top of the egg mixture.

8.  Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown and the eggs are cooked through, approximately 40 minutes

November 20, 2010

Banning Roosters

I looked on-line this morning to see if anything was going on about keeping roosters in the town of Barnstable.  There was a lot of talk this summer about roosters disrupting the peace.  Thus, I have been diligently monitoring the local newspaper.  Lo and behold, while on-line, I saw it.   My stomach started churning.  Just as I foresaw, the town's Agricultural Commission is having a meeting next week and roosters are on the agenda.

According to one of our local papers, The Barnstable Patriot, the Barnstable Agricultural Commission is going to see if they can regulate roosters, zoning, lot size, flock size, and impose fines for noise nuisance.  Not only was this upsetting to me, but I felt that roosters are taking the blame for doing what comes natural to them.

My chickens are my pets.  Some people have dogs, cats, fish, parakeets, parrots and the like.  I have chickens.  They are members of our household.  We tend to their every need.  They have shelter, food, water, bedding, toys and treats.  We bring them to the vet when they are sick.  I hold the chickens and they nuzzle into me with love.  We carry on conversations.  We sit and enjoy one another's company.  Hmmmm, that sounds just like what dog and other pet owners enjoy.

Does my rooster crow?  Yes.  He typically does not crow earlier than 7am and sometimes will crow during the day.  The last time I saw him crow during the day was when there was a hawk in the yard.  He was keeping the flock safe.  So how is my rooster different from my neighbors' dogs that bark in the night?  What about a colicky baby crying in the summer while the windows are open?  How about my neighbor that has his telephone ringer turned up all the way that sometimes fools me into thinking it is my phone?  How is it different from my neighbor revving his Harley at 7am in the summer when he gets ready to ride to work?  What about my other neighbor who seems to drive a street legal monster truck?  What about my neighbor's house alarm that goes off in the middle of the night?  How about noisy summer parties that go late into the evening?  What about leaf blowers?  The list goes on.  I think you get my point.

There is something called courtesy.  Do my neighbors partake in noisy endeavors?  Sometimes.  It doesn't bother me because I think it is just part of living in a neighborhood.  Overall, we are all pretty courteous to one another.  We try to be courteous with our chickens.  I keep the flock locked up in the coop until 8am.  In the winter, they go in for the night around 4:30 pm and in the summer around 7:30 pm.  We planted fast growing Leland Cypress trees for added privacy and built a low profile coop.  We have even incorporated the coop into our existing gardens. 

Shouldn't those individuals that had roosters and coop set-ups prior to these potential new laws be grandfathered in?  I have now had my chickens for six months.  I have invested a good deal of money and time into creating my chickens' home and a composting system.  I would be deeply saddened to have to get rid of my pet rooster simply because he was crowing.  He is part of my family.  I will not put him up for adoption or give him to someone to make a soup!  As a family member, I will fight for him.  There can be other solutions.  I will try to reason with this commission.  My fear is that maybe the Board members might not understand and have not experienced the love of a rooster. 

My hope is to come away from the meeting grandfathered in before new laws take effect.  We should be allowed to maintain our current coop set-ups. I would agree to annual inspections. I am reasonable.

Please let our rooster live out his life with his chicken family.  After he dies, I would agree to not have any more roosters.  Please don't forget that these chickens are some peoples' pets.  I have had many dogs in the past.  I can tell you that the love I feel for my chickens is the same.

November 19, 2010

Tour de Coops

I am always fascinated when I visit other peoples' coops and chicken families.  I learn something new everytime I visit.  Sometimes my learning has to do with set-up and other times tricks to make your life easier.  I also get to learn about breeds of chickens and issues that have required problemsolving.  I love it! I love to see other peoples' flocks and hear about their experiences.

Thus, I have decided to share with you tours of chicken coops around Cape Cod.  Through interviews and photos, it is my goal to share backyard chicken raising with our audience.  Please stay tuned for our first feature coming soon.  Who knows, we might even be able to start an annual Tour de Coops on Cape Cod.  These occur all over the country in the Spring.  Wouldn't that be fun?

Tours to date

November 18, 2010

Blind As A Bat

Yesterday we had a very soggy, windy and rainy morning.  Knowing that we were expecting the turn in weather, I really wanted to clean that coop out.  So the day before yesterday, it was on my to-do list.

Tuesdays are my busiest days.  Things only became more complicated this week because one of my kids was home sick, my husband had an appointment in Boston and my other child had swim lessons at 3:30pm.  After swim lessons, I hurried home to try and beat the sunset.  At 4:20pm, the sun had already set and darkness was quickly approaching.  It never really takes me more than 15 minutes to clean out the coop, so I decided to go for it.  Little did I know what was about to happen.

Cleaning supplies in hand, I approached the coop. I soon realized that the flock was already inside for the night.  However, I did not think twice cleaning the coop.  I figured that the chickens could just go into the run with the dusky light.  I was wrong.

The chickens who typically run out of the coop when I begin to clean, huddled in one nesting box.  All five chickens were crammed in a 8"x8" nesting box.  As I scooped out the soiled litter, they stood still.  I quickly worked around their one nesting box until there was nothing else to clean.  I gently shooed them out one by one.  They were not happy about it but obliged.  As I walked off to grab some straw, Chocolate jumped out of the coop.  Oyster Cracker followed but then quickly returned inside.  Once all back inside, they went to the other side of the coop and huddled in the corner.  As I began to add the clean bedding, return the clean roosts and food containers, I realized that they could not see.  Those poor birds, were like the blind.  I gently picked each one up and guided their scaly feet to the safety of the roosts.  Once they were all nestled together, I heard a pleasure trill.  I knew that they were once again happy.

I did not think that the chickens would have had such a difficult time seeing at dusk.  I now know differently.  I will think twice about interrupting their natural instincts of roosting when the sun goes down.  I still wonder what they were thinking about my rude interruption.  They must have been so confused when they woke to find a clean house and that they were not sleeping in their pecking order.

November 17, 2010

Organization Tips from Chickens?!

After cleaning out the garage, which was no easy or quick feat, I decided to add some quick organizational tips to my blog.  Funny thing, chickens are great at organizing their lives!  See how they can teach you too.

1.  When in doubt throw it out.  I started adopting this principle with most everything.  Throw out items that are missing pieces.  Toss items that have seen better days.  Donate items that you have duplicates of.  How many spatulas does one really need?  My chickens do this with pieces of bedding that they don't like.  They just kick it out of their coop into their run.


2.  If you haven't used it in 6 months donate it.  Even if it is in fantastic condition, you don't use it.  Let someone else benefit from it everyday.  Be generous.  Good karma returns.  I have donated old feeders and waterers that they have outgrown.

3.  If it doesn't fit now it probably won't fit next year.  Sad but true, through life, pregnancies and medical conditions, most of us hold onto those items of clothing that we no longer can fit into.  Donate them.  As painful as that might be, if you ever do get down to your old size, reward yourself with new items.  The chickens molt their feathers when they need new ones.  I have yet to see my chickens collecting and holding onto their old feathers.

4.  Categorize items in your home.  Keep together all like things.  This makes finding items you are looking for so much easier.  I did this in the garage.  See my older post Getting Organized.

5.  Label everything that you store in bins.  I also recommend clear storage bins that make finding things easier since they are see through. 

6.  Go through your fridge weekly.  Toss out old and expired food.  This helps you determine what you need to replenish at the store and keeps you healthy.  I clean out the chicken feeders once a week.

7.  Try composting your compostable waste.  This decreases your carbon footprint, decreases the amount of garbage you are putting in the landfills and creates great compost for your garden.  We compost our chicken litter, manure and kitchen scraps.

8. Donate toys that your kids no longer play with.  Salvation Army gladly takes donated toys.  Our chickens don't have too many toys.  They are waiting for Santa on that one.

9.  Less stuff leads to a simpler life, declutter and uncomplicate.  Chickens live happy lives with very little.  Chickens are happy if they have shelter, food, water, a clean house, place to roost and loving relationships.  I have learned alot from my chickens.

November 16, 2010

Book Review: Raising Chickens for Dummies

Rating:  *****

This is an excellent book for those interested in backyard chicken raising.  The authors, Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow, are extremely knowledgeable.  Even though I am not a huge fan of the "dummies" books, I have found this book to be an easy read, not too technical and quite thorough.

Topics covered in this book are choosing chickens, purchasing chickens, three chapters on housing, feeding, pest and predator control, flock maintenance, health problems and illness, raising your own chicks, eggs, butchering and useful tips.

As you know, my criticism of the last two books was the health section.  Although limited, this book helps you to determine whether you need to see a vet and does discuss in a bit more detail common chicken ailments.

This book simplifies chickens so that anyone can participate in this fabulous backyard hobby.

November 15, 2010

Treat Ball

Well they absolutely love the new treat ball!  Today it is filled with apples, lettuce and strawberries.  It keeps them entertained for about 2 hours. I think that this is going to be very useful once winter boredom arrives. Plus it is an opportunity to supplement their diet with fresh organic produce. 

 
Tilly, Sunshine and Chocolate

Feathers
  
Feathers, Chocolate and Tilly


You can purchase a treat ball for your flock at www.treatsforchickens.com

November 14, 2010

Crossing the Road

Today I did a major clean out of the garage.  While I was doing this, I figured that the flock could get a little extra time free ranging this morning and early afternoon.  As I was cleaning, I checked on the chickens now and then. 

Tilly, the Australorp, is the head hen.  Wherever Tilly goes, the flock follows.  It is so adorable now to see Tilly and Chocolate dominate the flock's whereabouts.  Through my research, I have learned when chickens free range, they allow the head hen to lead them to new places.  Australorps apparently like to remain close to their coop, never wandering too far.  I thought that this would be a good thing.

Since I have had them, they have never been more than 15 feet from their coop.  They typically are content using the driveway as their barrier and remaining on one side with their coop and run.  Despite all my efforts of coaxing and chicken talk they have never strayed from their usual favorite spots.  However, today something changed.

The flock today stepped onto the pea stone gravel in the driveway.  They were having so much fun picking up stones and throwing them down.  I watched as they picked up their feet staring curiously at the bottoms.  The rocks must have felt different from the the grass, woods and mulch that they typically roamed through.  This lasted for about 20 minutes.  What fun they had!

Then I went over to the lush green lawn, virgin chicken territory.   I squatted down and pretended to be a chicken.  Curious about my actions, they looked up.  Suddenly as if walking across molten lava, they came to me.  The chickens crossed the metaphorical road over the driveway and into the lawn.  It did not last long.  Their time was brief.  When they decided to return closer to home, they fled as if a coyote was chasing them.  They hopped and flew back with poor little Feathers trailing behind.  I wonder if and when they will do it again?  I'm glad that they crossed over the driveway.  It opened up a potentially whole new world for them.

November 13, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This yummy dip is awesome for game day on the weekend.  You may even need to double the recipe!  Serve it with tortilla chips and it is sure to be a hit at your next party.  One note of caution, I do not recommend substituting the brand names listed below.  I have and it was just not the same deliciousness that I remembered.

Ingredients:

14 oz cooked shredded chicken
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
8 oz Frank's hot sauce
12 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl.

3.  Place combined ingredients in a shallow baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.  Stir once half way between cooking.

4.  Serve warm.  Leftovers heat well in the microwave.

November 12, 2010

Well, He's Definitely a Roo!

He finally stood still and posed for me!
I've been back now for 4 days now and there are definite changes in the coop.  Chocolate is definitely a boy!  He has emerged as the leader of his girls.  I feel proud for him.  He was the underdog when Peanut was around. 

Now he is one of the biggest in the flock, developing a beautiful comb, wattle and streaming neck feathers.  I have not heard him crow anymore.  Is there such a thing as a quiet rooster?

Yesterday, I let them free range after 3 continual days of wind and rain.  They were so happy.  Like Pavlovian dogs, every time I walked back and forth from the coop to the garage, they thought that I had scratch for them.  Chocolate and Tilly were always the first to come running.  They are getting braver and are even considering entering the garage after just recently feeling comfortable crossing over the pea stone driveway.   I must have made that trip 8 times before I brought them that scratch.

The two of them make a great pair.  They seem to have mutual respect for one another.  Plus, he is not a bully.  My heart was touched when he came over and spoke to me.  We carried on a 5 minute conversation. Then I picked him up and nuzzled with him on my lap.  As usual, he snuggled right in making little clicking sounds of gratitude with his beak.  Although his feathers were cool to the touch, I could feel his little body warming up as I held him.  Then I smelled his back feathers and gave him a kiss before returning him to his girls.  I have to say, he is a lover not a fighter, and for that I am thankful.

November 11, 2010

Have you heard about Tastebook?

My sisters and I are living on separate coasts of this country.  However, we remain close and are always sharing recipes with one another.  My sister came across this terrific idea!  It is called Tastebook.  It allows members to create cookbooks with their own personal recipes as well as importing fabulous recipes from well known popular cookbooks and cooking website.  She started a Tastebook for our family.  We've had such a fabulous time creating a new family classic!


Each Tastebook can be entirely personalized.  You can invite friends through email to join and share in the recipe swapping experience.  I have decided to create a Tilly's Nest Tastebook.  So far, I have included all 5 recipes that I have featured on this blog.  I thought that it would be place to archive and organize the recipes.  With Tastebook, you have the option of ordering just one recipe, your own book, or the cookbook that I have created exclusively for Tilly's Nest.

Here is the link to find the cookbook:  http://www.tastebook.com/cookbooks/592114-Recipes-from-Tilly-s-Nest?user_referral_id=1167401&utm_campaign=public_book&utm_medium=share  http://www.tastebook.com/ 

You can order the Tilly's Nest cookbook for only $19.95 with a credit for 20 recipes.  Tastebook will send you the book and the 5 current recipes.  You can then add to your Tastebook as new Tilly's Nest recipes become available.  Each Tastebook holds 100 recipes. There is even a free app for iphones that allows you to access your recipes on the go.

This make a terrific gift for the holidays.  Try creating one of your own to help bridge the gap between friends and family.  Nothing makes you feel better than sharing a meal together and creating memories.

November 10, 2010

Patience is a Virtue


Yesterday the flock turned 20 weeks.  They are now capable of laying eggs and having baby chicks.  I can hardly believe that we are finally here.  It seems like reaching this point has been such a long journey.  However,the anticipation is awful!

I guess the best way to describe it is like a child waiting for Santa to arrive.  Remember how hard it was to fall asleep on Christmas Eve and how early you would wake up springing to life with anticipation on Christmas morning?

Unfortunately, the Christmas build-up seems to start earlier each year.  Gone are the days of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas.  Already, store windows are aglow with holiday lights and evergreen decorations are beginning to appear hanging in the shopping malls.   Has Christmas has casted a shadow over Thanksgiving? Has my recent egg anticipation casted a shadow over my chicken enjoyment?

In such an instant society, we are not used to waiting for much.  Long gone are the days when you used regular snail mail for communication and when teachers used carbon paper to make copies.  We are living in the age of pagers, cell phones, email, xerox machines and text messaging.  We are an instant society.  We even have created instant mashed potatos.  Don't get me wrong, I too have benefitted from this instant society.  However, I question what we are missing out on with our constant rush?

I worry sometimes in the rush of things that we are forgetting to enjoy the moments that we are in.   Take time in your day to just pause and relish in the little things; your child's smile, cute scaly chicken feet, the sound of the wind, the smell of breakfast or even that second cup of coffee.  Savor these moments because they are shortlived and hardly noticible in today's society.

One day my eggs will come.  I will probably have anticipation butterflies in my tummy with each day's arrival when I peer in those nesting boxes for eggs.  I might even put an egg decoy in the box! Yet until the eggs arrive, I will try to take the time to chicken watch and enjoy their antics, personalities, language and humor.  Sometimes the best things in life are free, you just need to take the time to find them.

November 9, 2010

Coming Home

I had a terrific time on the West Coast and now I am finally home.  I missed my family and those chickens.  My husband, the chicken sitter, tells me that they all were good and he was able to take care of them without any problems.  I think he actually might have even enjoyed it.

I got in really late and woke yesterday morning to a dusting of snow on the ground.  Even though it was cold, I was excited to see my chickens!  As usual, when I let them out there was a race through the door.  They didn't even seem to notice me.  I was a little bit saddened.  Maybe, they had forgotten me.  No sooner had that thought entered my mind when Chocolate came over and gave a quick nuzzle. However, even he soon left for the scratch that I had just thrown into the run.  Just like I always think my kids grow when I am gone, I swear my chickens grew too.  Their combs are becoming a deeper shade of red as they enter adulthood and complete chicken puberty.  Does this mean that as my chickens age, they too don't need their mother as much?  At least, they won't ask me not to kiss them in front of their friends!

We are expecting rain for the next few days and since the chickens spend the majority of time inside the coop I wanted to tidy things up.  So despite a fine drizzle in the afternoon, I cleaned the coop.  To my surprise, I found no red mites at all.  The food grade diatomaceous earth did the trick! 

Today the chickens are 20 weeks old.  This means eggs any day now.  I added fresh straw to the nesting boxes and even added the nesting blend that I ordered in the mail.  It smells so good, like aromatherapy for chickens.  Who knew such a thing existed?

So, returning to this rainy, cold, soggy weather sure put a damper on the weather high that I was experiencing after returning from Southern California.  However, I do have to say that despite the current nasty Cape Cod weather, my heart was warmed from seeing my families again, and that is something that no matter the place can only happen with them.

November 8, 2010

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 4 of a 5 Part Series

THE FIRST SIX WEEKS


I think that you will be utterly amazed at the pace in which these adorable little chickens grow!  Don't blink because you will miss it!  Take the time to enjoy them.  They should start to develop a pecking order.  Every flock has one.  By watching your flock, you will be able to determine things such as; Who eats first?  Who eats last?  Who seems like an outsider?  Who sleeps next to whom?  Who plays together?  Who is the smartest one?  Who is the fastest?  Your answers will help to determine their pecking order.  The idea of a pecking order is hardwired into every chicken from days when they had to survive in the wild.  Each chicken will have a role.  These roles are fought for or settled on depending on how the chickens jockey for position.  There is not much you can do to change it.  Once a true order is established, it should not change.   The only exception to this is if you add or subtract anyone from the flock.  Of note, roosters are not part of the pecking order.  Roosters are separate from the hens in this manner.  If you have more than one rooster, there will be an alpha rooster and the other will be submissive to him.  They may fight now and then and sometimes it is deadly.  The rooster's role is to be a protector of the flock and to fertilize eggs.  If a predator attacks, it is the rooster that will sacrifice himself for the sake of the girls.

If you have a warm sunny day and temperatures outside are not too far off from the brooder's temperature, feel free to let the chicks go into a small enclosure outside.  We put our chicks in the run.  I suggest starting with small increments of 15 minutes.  As they get closer to six weeks of age, they can spend a couple of hours outside depending on the temperature.  When they do go outside, be sure to provide them with shade, food and water at all times.

It is also a great idea to introduce some toys for your chicks.  Growing larger in a tiny space like the brooder can create chicken boredom.  My chicks enjoyed reading the newspaper.  They loved to scratch away the pine shavings to reveal people's faces.  Then they would peck at them for hours.  They also loved it when I put cardboard paper towel rolls in there too.  They would peek through the tubes at each other and try to roost upon them.  Until they got the hang of it, it was like a log rolling contest.  At about 2 weeks, they will also begin to practice roosting.  Chickens should sleep on roosts.  It helps keep them clean and provides them with a feeling of safety.  Try placing some sort of skinny stick just wide enough for the chicks' tiny feet in the brooder.  I found one outside in the woods.  Initially, I placed it about 2 inches off the brooder floor.  As they grow they will need it raised.  This provides exercise and roosting practice for these little chicks.


Here are the girls enjoying the outside at 3 weeks

SETTING UP YOUR PERMANENT COOP AND RUN


Now is the time to start preparing the area for your permanent coop and run.   The decision that you will first need to make is whether your chickens are going to be primarily confined or primarily free-ranging.  It doesn't mean that they can't do both.  It will just need to be figured into the plans.  It is estimated that standard sized chickens need 4 square feet of living space if they are free-ranging and they need 10 square feet of living space if they are confined.   I am defining living space as the square footage of both the coop and the run.  Bantam breeds like the Silkies do not require as much space because they are smaller.  To determine square footage, take the length and multiply it by the width.  For example, if your coop is 3' by 4' then it is 12 square feet.

We decided that we would keep our chickens confined for most of the day.  They do get to free range about an hour a day in the afternoon but we are always in the yard with them.  We came to this decision because of potential predators in the area.  We live near conservation land.  This land is home to many predators including hawks, coyotes, foxes, fisher cats, raccoon, and opossum to name a few.  If you choose to free-range your flock, you must accept that you are going to lose a member of your flock now and then.    We have had several friends who have lost chickens in both the night and broad daylight.  The chickens were stolen as they were free ranging and also through coop break-ins.  This was too real for us and we did not want one of our pets becoming dinner.  Once you come do a decision on your spacing requirements, you are ready to think about your coop.


You can build coops or you can purchase them pre-assembled or ready to assemble.  There are many great coops available.  Check out these two reputable sites; My Pet Chicken and Green Chicken Coop .  Here are the absolute essentials that you will need, keeping in mind the climate that you live in.  Coops should have easily accessible doors for cleaning and harvesting eggs.  Coops should have ventilation but no drafts.  Coops need roosts and they need to have predator proof hardware.  Coops should be water/snow proof.  Coops may require insulation for colder areas.  Coops should have a window of some sort to let in natural light and also assist with ventilation on warmer days.   Coops should be able to lock your chickens in at night.  Coops will also need one nesting box for four hens and an entry ramp.

The run should be constructed with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.  DO NOT USE CHICKEN WIRE.  Predators can rip right through it and raccoon do nasty things to chickens like pulling them through chicken wire.  Once you have set up the coop and the run,  you will also need to predator proof the perimeter.  This requires burying hardware cloth in a 12" deep trench surrounding the run.  Fold the top edges into the run.  Once this is done, it might be enough to discourage predators.  There are a lot of other predator proofing paraphernalia out there.  It can all be found on the internet.  So far we have had no issues.  I will however, keep you posted.  If you would like to see my coop, please visit Home Sweet Home.

TRANSITIONING OUTDOORS

Once your chicks are fully feathered and day and evening temperatures are close to the brooder temperature of 65 degrees F after 6 weeks, they are ready to transition outside.  If you live in a cooler area, and the evening temperatures are still too cool, let the chickens go outside during the day and return them to the brooder at night.  This will help you acclimate them until warmer weather arrives.   Keep the chicks locked in the coop and run for 3 days before letting them free-range.  This allows them to become very familiar with their home.  As dusk approaches, the chicks should enter the coop on their own and go up onto the roosts.  At first, you may have to help them learn this.  I had to.  Now after the sun sets, the girls go in all by themselves.  I just close the door.  In the morning around 7:30, I let them out into the run.  I wait until all potential nocturnal predators have returned to their homes.  At this point, the girls are pretty self-sufficient.  I refill the feeders and change the water for the day and sometimes do not see them again until they get tucked into bed.  


FEEDING THE FLOCK

Different manufacturers recommend transitioning chickens at different times to the various feeds available.  Based upon your flock's goals, I encourage you to research the feeds independently of this blog.  Please read the labels for clarification.  Chicken feed is created as follows:  chick starter, grower or developer, layer or broiler feed.  The goal for my flock is eggs.  I have all pullets.  They were on the chick starter until about 8 weeks.  Then they transitioned to the grower pellets until about 15 weeks and have been transitioned to the layer pellets.  They will remain on this for the rest of their lives.  Chicken feed also comes in a few forms.  These are mash, crumble or pellets.  I went with pellets because they create minimal waste when the chickens scratch in the feed with their beaks.  However, when I transitioned them, I had to mix the chick starter with pellets that I chopped up with a large kitchen knife.  At first, the girls had a difficult time eating the pellet form.  This lasted about 1 week until they got used to the pellets.  Now, I just give it to them as is.

In addition to providing the flock with fresh water at all times, I choose to give the chickens additional nutrients. I mix about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into their water every day to promote healthy digestive tracts. I also mix about 2% of food grade diatomaceous earth into their food supply as well. For more information on diatomaceous earth, visit Fossils for Chickens.

Finally, I give my chickens organic scratch once a day.  Scratch consists of cracked corn, oats, and whole grains.  I usually feed them as much as it takes for them to eat in about 5 minutes.  I like to provide this in the late afternoon.  This helps to fill their crops prior to their bedtime.  As their bodies work on digestion, they produce heat to keep them warm, especially in the winter. 

In the conclusion of this series, I will discuss eggs, winterization, health concerns and food sources other than free ranging and chicken feed.

Click here for part 5.

November 7, 2010

Getting Organized

It seems that even chicken stuff can build up and start to clutter your life.  I find that I like to save little pieces of wire, newspaper, plastic and metal containers and anything else that might ever come in handy with the chickens.  I also have held onto the chick feeders, chick waterers and the heat lamp.  You never know when you might have a sick bird or when you are going to order more chicks!

I needed to devise a practical storage area that took up very little space in our garage.  I also wanted to have a work table that offered storage underneath.  I also needed to deal with chipmunks invading the garage looking for any dropped wild birdseed, chicken scratch or feed.  They are pretty fearless for their size. 

I must preface this with the fact that I have NEVER built anything in my life other than a ready to assemble IKEA bookshelf.  However, I knew that there were some carpentry genes in my blood and that I had some left over lumber in the garage.  I took inventory of the tools and things that I had and then I went over to Home Depot.  With a little assistance, I was able to purchase the nails, a saw, and some more lumber.

It took me about two hours by myself to complete including all the sawing.  My arm was so tired but I am a sissy for powertools.  My neighbor acted as a consultant, checking in on me here and there.  Finally voila, my work/storage table was complete.  It is nothing fancy.  It measures about 6 feet in length, stands about 4 feet tall so that I don't have to bend down too far and is about 2 and 1/2 feet wide.  My table is far from perfect but it is very sturdy with the crossbeams and serves its purpose.

Underneath, I have stored all the food and scratch in metal garbage cans.  I love these.  They are easily accessible and if neighbors are watching the girls while we are away, I can easily tote them outside.  When the chicken sitters are helping out, I place the grit, diatomaceous earth and the oyster shells in smaller containers then put them into the largest garbage can.   Finally, I secure the lid with a bungee cord to prevent any predators like raccoons from getting at the food while the containers are outside.  It is very important that you never empty any feed or scratch directly into the containers.  The metal can leech into the chicken food and end up poisoning your flock and possibly you by eating their eggs.  I keep the feed in the bags and place those directly into the cans.

On top of the table, I have ample workspace for filling feeders, repairing objects, building things and storing items too.  Items that I store on top of the table are the grit, diatomaceous earth, and oyster shells.  In the pampers box I store things like the newspaper, heat lamps, old feeders and waterers, syringes for antibiotics, hanging chains, spare parts and the like.  Being tight on space doesn't mean you can't enjoy backyard chickens.  Sometimes you just have to get creative.

November 6, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I lived in Southern California for about 15 years and during that time, I fell in love with some of the most fantastic Mexican food out there.  I even became pretty good at cooking Mexican food.  Since, I am in Southern California right now, how fitting for me to warm up my East Coast friends with this yummy soup.  I won't mention that the sunshine is glorious and it is about 80 right now.


TORTILLA SOUP--A Tilly's Nest Original of a Traditional Mexican Classic

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup frozen corn
7 Jalapeno pepper rings (the kind you put on nachos in the glass jar)--diced  Add more if you like spice
1 medium onion--diced
2 cloves of garlic--minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 large ripe tomato diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken--cut into bite size pieces, I use left over rotisserie chicken
1 cup tortilla chips--smashed into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh cilantro--chopped (omit if you do not like it, it is not essential)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese
avocado slices
salsa
sour cream

Preparation:

1.  In a large stock pot over medium heat, saute the garlic, onions, corn and jalapenos in the the olive oil for about 7 minutes.  Do not brown them.

2.  Add chicken, cumin and tomato and let cook for 2 more minutes.

3.   Next add chicken broth, cilantro and tortilla chips.

4.  Simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Serve garnished with a cheese, a few whole tortilla chips, a spoonful of salsa, avocado slices and a dollop of sour cream.

I usually accompany this soup with a garden salad.


November 5, 2010

Are You My Momma?

My poor little chicks, they were so confused in the beginning.  I guess sometimes everything wants a mother.  We all yearn for our mothers even as adults. 

To monitor the temperature of the brooder when we first got the chicks, I used a digital thermometer.  It is silvery gray in color has an LED screen and is about the size of a baby chick.  Well after about a day of the stranger being in the brooder with the chicks, they became friends.  It was so bizarre.  I watched the behavior for hours.  It was Peanut who made first contact!  At first, they peeped at it.  It was like watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  They were dedicated.  They would be in the middle of eating, drinking or playing, then all of a sudden one would walk over and peep at it, staring curiously into the LED screen that was reading 90 degrees F. 

The next day, they started pecking at it.  That poor thermometer was getting a chick initiation.  They would be in the middle of something then just run over, give it a peck a peep and be done.  This went on for a couple of days.  It was so entertaining to watch.  Early the next morning, I peeked out into the garage with the brooder and what I saw amazed me.  The chicks had accepted the thermometer as one of their own.  There were the chicks, and they had knocked down the thermometer and slept with it.  Amongst their soft fuzzy chick quilt made of blacks, caramels, and golden yellows was my sliver hard thermometer.  They had added the thermometer to the flock. 

I kept the thermometer in there for a few days.  But then, I decided to remove it.  It was getting really poopy and I was worried about the day when they discovered that the thermometer was no longer one of them!  After about a week, I finally took it out.  You know, they didn't seem to mind.  They just went on with their day, sort of when Peanut left.  They didn't seem to care either way.  I think I was the one worrying about it too much.  Then again, I am their mother.


The thermometer in her glory top right!


November 4, 2010

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 3 of a 5 Part Series

THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER

As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder.  This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks.  For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F.  This is maintained by your heat lamp.  As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered.  When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside.  At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside.   Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point.  We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks.  After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp.  Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds.  Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage.  Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.

Your brooder can also be a large cardboard box, a wooden box, or a galvanized metal tub.  I used a wooden box on loan from a friend for my six chicks.  It was about 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet and stood about 2.5 feet tall.  Depending on the size of your flock, you may require a larger enclosure.  On top of my brooder, I added an old guard from a screen door.  This prevented them from flying out or into the heat lamp.  Upon the screen door guard, I rested the heat lamp.  Remember that the goals of your brooder include keeping the chicks warm, providing fresh air, protecting them for predators like household cats and keeping them free from drafts.  These all must be taken into consideration.  Line the bottom of your brooder with large thick pieces of cardboard cut to size.  Upon the cardboard, spread newspaper.  Next add some fresh pine shavings about 2 inches thick.

The day before your chicks arrive, fill the feeder and place it inside the brooder.  The feeder should be filled with a combination of about 25% grit and 75% feed.  When my chicks were about 3 weeks, I added a child-size shoe box lid filled with feed and grit.  My chicks enjoyed learning to scratch that way!  It also kept them entertained for hours.  They were practicing being big chickens!!  Remember that the feed will need to be refreshed daily as the chicks poop everywhere.

Next fill the waterer and place it on a level spot.   As the chicks get older they will explore.  They will spill the water and put pine shavings in the waterer.  Thus it will need frequent checking.  It is recommended that you check on your chicks about 5 times per day.  You never know what they will get themselves into!  As the chicks grew larger, I placed the waterer up on two bricks placed side by side.  This helped keep the water clean and they were less likely to spill it.  The waterer should be cleaned daily with white vinegar.  Keep in mind that you may need to change the water a few times a day based on it's cleanliness.  It is very important to have clean water.  Dirty water can make your chicks sick.

Next test your heat lamp.  Place a thermometer directly below the center of the heat lamp in the pine shavings.  Hang the heat lamp about 18 inches above the pine shavings.  DO NOT rely on the clip to hang the lamp.  It must be secured in a different fashion to prevent fires.  This lamp gets HOT!!   Monitor the lamp for about 10 minutes and check the temperature.  If it it 95 degrees F, perfect.  If not, adjust it higher to make it cooler and lower to make it warmer. At this point, you are all set.  Now it is just a waiting game until your chicks arrive.

ARRIVAL OF THE CHICKS

The post office will call you immediately once your chicks have arrived.  I mean this literally!  If your chicks arrive in the middle of the night, be prepared to go and get them right away.  Be prepared to be awake for a little while because you will need to tend to them immediately when you get home.  My call came in the afternoon.  I was so giddy.  When I arrived at the post office, they told me that I had a "peeping" package.  Sure enough, I did.  They peeped all the way home.  I did my best to peep back.

When you get home, do not open the box in front of the kids.   Sometimes, although rare, a chick will perish in transit.  If this happens remove the other chicks and after you tend to the live chicks, you should bury the dead chick deeply into the ground.  This prevents disease transmission just incase the little one was sick.  However, it was most likely the stress of the adventure that caused the death.  Be sure to call the hatchery and just let them know after you have addressed the live chicks' needs.

Plug in your heat lamp.  Next, take each chick out individually.  First inspect the vent area.  If it is crusted over with poop, you will need to remove it.  This is called pasty butt.  Silkies are extremely prone to this.  If the crust is left, the chick will die.  I had to treat quite a few pasty butts along the way.  You will need to check all chicks for pasty butts everyday.  To treat pasty butt, you will need to soak a paper towel in warm water.  Gently moisten the poop.  Do not pull as you will remove the chick's skin.  Gently work the water into the poop by rubbing it between 2 fingers.  Try to remove as much as you can so that the vent is exposed.  After you remove the poop, coat the vent area with neosporin.  You may need to repeat this over the next few weeks.  Think of it as bonding.

Immediately after dealing with the pasty butt, teach your chick how to eat and drink.  Remember, they will imprint on you as their Mother Hen.  Dip the chick's beak into the water.  Make sure the chick drinks.  The chick will tilt it's head up.  After the chick has taken a drink, dip the chick's beak into the food.  Then release the chick and repeat with each additional chick in your new flock.  Watch the chicks drink and eat.  Watch their behavior as well.  Do some seem weaker?  Do some seem tired?  These are the ones that will require close monitoring for the next 48 hours.  It is possible some may still perish.  After they eat and drink they will nap like newborn babies.  Usually, they will nap together like a patchwork quilt.  Nuzzling closely and quietly, you can see their little bodies breathing.  It is so sweet.

You will frequently want to check on the temperature.  If the chicks are too hot, they will stay away from the lamp hugging the edges of the brooder.  If they are cold, they will huddle under the heat lamp.  If they are just right, they will explore and be spread all over.    Listen carefully to your baby chicks.  You might hear a pleasure trill!  It is the utmost sign of chicken contentment.  It is the purr of a chicken and it is the most adorable thing you will ever hear.

Click here for part 4.


Here are the chicks at 2 weeks


November 3, 2010

California Dreaming


I am going away for a few days alone.  This means no husband, kids or chickens.  I am nervous.  I will be 3000 miles away from my Mother Hen duties.  I've done this before.  My husband is awesome at taking care of the kids.  He is a real Mr. Mom when he needs to be.  It's just the chickens...

He has seen me feed them and attend to their needs daily.  He just hasn't learned how to actually do it.  He is excited and has taken to asking me questions.  The chickens love him, as many morning he frees them from captivity and he also tucks them in at night.

Today, he was given a crash course with the waterer.  He will learn about the feed tomorrow and then I'm off.  I know he wants to do a good job so that I don't worry.  Chickens are pretty easy and self sufficient.  I just hope he can round them up when they are done free-ranging.

The best thing are your chicken friends.  When your chicken friends know that you are out of town and a non-chicken raiser is watching them, they are like doting step-parents to your flock.  They stop by to see them daily, even if it is out of the way.  They bring them treats like lettuce and berries.   They talk chicken talk even if they sound ridiculous.  They squat way down to get on their level.

In the end, I know that my entire flock will be fine, including my human and chicken family.  Absence just seems to make the heart realize how there really is no place like home.  Even if home happens to contain a chicken coop!

November 2, 2010

Got Mites?

A nice clean coop, hopefully mite free
Well apparently I did!  I cleaned out the coop yesterday.  While scraping out the nooks and crannies, I saw two areas of red mites, about 20 in each spot.  It took me a little while to recognize what they were.  They were so tiny and microscopic.  I could only tell they were mites because they were crawling.  Apparently, mites like to hide out in the dark corners of the coops.  At night when the chickens come in to roost, the mites crawl up the chickens' legs and bite them.  Aside from driving the chickens crazy, they made me go nuts.

I received an email newsletter about winterizing the coop a few weeks ago.  It said that mites in coops will be on the rise during colder weather.  I scoured the coop and was more careful about putting the diatomaceous earth (DE)  into the crannies.  I pushed it in there!  Then, as I usually do, I sprinkled it all over the floor, on top on the pine shavings and straw, and then I dusted the chickens' roosts!  I also took each of the chickens and dusted under each wings and their fluffy bottoms.  I am putting DE to the test!  I'll let you know if I find anymore the next time I clean out the coop!  This is war.....

November 1, 2010

Farewell to Fuzzy

I got news today that one of my dear friend's chickens passed away.  I am praying and hoping time will heal all sadness and grief.

Fuzzy  April 2010-October 2010



She will be missed dearly.  She was loved by her human family as well as her chicken family.  She was always up for new adventures.  She loved our friend Peanut and had great times helping him escape and "paint the coop red"!  She was a friendly little girl that enjoyed a good stroking of her feathers and was always curious and up for new adventures.  She was gentle with all children.  A soft and quiet soul who is now waiting at the "rainbow bridge" for her loved ones. 

The Rainbow Bridge--Author Unknown


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....