Posted in Animals/Chickens

Chickens (rock star babies, paper mache eggs, roosters, and enclosure needed)


The lambs have taken over the job of farm dogs, the goats are having adorable kids, the ducklings have added a whole new level of freaking cute around here, and the cats are still their goofy selves.  There are three indoor kittens here, a madhouse.  A. Madhouse.  The chickens haven’t been getting a whole lot of attention lately except for praising them for their contribution of eggs each day and the untimely death of one.  But, now it is their turn.


Meet Pat Benetar, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Chaka Khan, and Janice Joplin (names courtesy of Shyanne and Doug).  My dear friend, Jamie gave me five chicks that she hatched herself using a good looking Brahma dad and Araucana mamas.  They have the beautiful coloring as well as feathered feet!  Stevie Nicks enjoys standing on top of the waterer as we sing, “Just like a white winged dove…” for her.

The dream chicken enclosure!
The dream chicken enclosure!

The landlords have decided that they prefer that the chickens stay locked up.  So, they are going to have to stay in their coop and small yard.  I would like to build a bigger fenced in enclosure.  There is no money right now but maybe we can scavenge enough stuff or find donations.  That space is too small for them and with two roosters?  The hens will never find peace.  So, what do I do with the roosters?  I love hearing their singing.  They are beautiful and have done no wrong.  The girls haven’t gone broody with them there so there are no new chicks from our farm.  They are not needed for protection if they are in an enclosure.  And their singing voices aren’t enough to allow them to have their way (kind of violently) all day with penned up females and eating at the all day organic chicken feed buffet.  There is a locker plant down the way, or someone might like them as a pet.  Or…oh I don’t know.  They need a job.  And their job is about to be eliminated.  Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for this.


On a brighter note, look at this egg!  This is Peep’s egg.  She was our first chicken (also named by Shyanne) and continues to lay these outrageous paper mache eggs due to her age.  It’s a lucky egg!  Should you find it in your carton think of sweet Peep.

Emily, Shyanne, and Peep
Emily, Shyanne, and Peep 2012

Problem solving and dilemmas are always a part of the joys and memories of farms but at least we will be serenated by five rock star chickens while doing so!  No matter what comes up, this is still the good life!

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 from 10-? on the farm we are having a work party day if anyone can help we would be ever so grateful!  Extra fencing, creative minds, helping hands, donations, anything welcome.  I will feed all helpers!  7080 Calhan Road South, Calhan, CO, 80808.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

Keeping Chickens (glamour, ew, green eggs, and opera singing)


It was my turn to see if there was an egg stuck.  Ew.  If you didn’t read The Embarrassed Chicken and need a laugh, you ought to check it out.  That was Doug’s turn.  So, I found a produce bag because we didn’t have any gloves and went in to see what was the matter.  Oh, the glamours of chicken farming.  There was not an egg stuck but I do not know how far up you are supposed to reach!  Her vent was swollen and she seemed to be clogged but I couldn’t find anything.  So, we stuck her in a pot of warm water.  See if we could soften things up a bit.  She laid there like it was a hot tub and she’d had a hard day hiking, or fending off boys.  We took her out and put her in a warm corner of the coop.



Daffodil was one of our last three chickens from our original flock.  She laid eggs religiously for three years.  She was tired.  I had read that chickens lived twelve years.  Seeings how Doug and I are not really the ax wielding, chicken beheading types, we figured we’d see these girls for a long time!

Daffodil and Peep, two of our first chickens.
Daffodil and Peep, two of our first chickens.

My friend Sandy’s chickens (she and Bill are not really the ax wielding, chicken beheading types either) lost almost all of their three year olds last year.  Just dead, face down in the dirt.  Sandy commented that she understood now why the farm women in the past culled two year olds in the flock.  You didn’t want to waste meat and if you waited too long you’d find them dead!

Daffodil lay on her side, barely breathing, her feet sticking out.  We moved her to the rabbit hutch because Owl wouldn’t stop humping her.  Teenage boy chickens, I tell you…

She died overnight.  We had known something was wrong because she was floofed up, sitting in corners, head down, eyes glazed.  But what exactly was wrong could have been anything from being constipated, a virus, or old age.  ‘Tis the life of a chicken.  She had a pretty good one here though.


On a positive note, we have an interesting chicken.  I had looked at the local feed stores to see if they would get Olive Eggers but did not see them on the list.  The next day we had an egg in the coop that was a beautiful olive green.  The green against the blush, beige, blue, and chocolate colored eggs was breathtaking.  Our own Easter egg hunt each day.  Reeses, who was assumed to have been an Araucana like her sisters, must be an Olive Egger.  Does anyone know?  She is very friendly as well as showy.


And our final surprise was when Owl started crowing alongside Christopher Robin.  There is a lot of opera singing going on around the chicken coop!


Ups and downs and ins (ew) and outs, having chickens is fun, entertaining, sometimes sad, mostly fabulous work.  And the dozen plus eggs we are getting each day isn’t a bad reward!



Posted in Animals/Chickens

Romanticizing the Rooster

He is a symbol.  The voice is symbolic to me. He is the ambassador to the farm.

Growing  up in the city, as children our own only knowledge of him was in pre-school songs and storybooks. In movies set on a farm.  In fine art depicting rural and culinary arts.  He is inextricably linked to farm life.


Bad boys come with an image, even if they aren’t all bad.

Doug told me in no uncertain terms early on in this journey, “No roosters, they will wake me up!”  You can have hens in many cities, but no roosters.  Rumor #1 They are too loud. (And Chihuahuas aren’t?)  His voice sooths me.  I hear him in the morning from the chicken coop singing to the ladies.  More of a wah-wah-wah-wa-waaaahhhh.  Doo wop style.  His song becomes part of the back ground.  The neighbors from inside their houses can barely hear him.  He is greeting the day.  A prayer of sorts.


Rumor #2 They are aggressive and will attack you, talons flying, Bruce Lee style.  Roosters are the protector of the flock.  The bodyguard.  Sometimes they get mixed up and think you want to eat Henrietta.  My rooster is quite docile.  I can’t go up to him and snuggle him but he has not turned on us at all.  He knows we are giving him food.  If a rooster does becomes vicious, then he becomes sustenance.  But, should he behave himself (which is often the case) he will warn the flock about predators, shoo the girls under bushes to protect them from hawks.  He will throw himself in the way of a coyote so that the girls have time to escape.  This is a chivalrous dude and a there is a real place for him in a back yard flock.  SAM_0807

Rumor #3 (Okay, not rumor) Roosters are a tad frisky, but as long as you keep an eye on the ladies for cuts or anything, you might just end up with baby chicks come spring.  Teenaged boys are a bit frisky too, but we don’t ban them!

There are more pros to having roosters than cons in my humble opinion.  He is symbolism to me.  He is the ambassador to the farm, the beautiful early morning operatic voice welcoming the day, the dawn, reminding me where I am.  On a farm.  I have arrived.  Rooster in tow.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

The Unlikely Guard Animal

Pop quiz!  Who is the best guard animal here at Pumpkin Hollow Farm?

a. Bumble the greyhound


b. Henry Higgins the rooster


c. Aretha the slightly off chicken?

This is Aretha's identical twin. I don't have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.
This is Aretha’s identical twin. I don’t have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.

Our new neighbors were a little worried when the alpacas came to live in the back yard.  They were concerned that their dogs would never stop barking.  They have an Akita mix and a Pomeranian.  Sooo, probably a good guess.  They aren’t out all that much, so it doesn’t seem to bother anyone when they are out barking.  Their parents always stand out there with them to make sure they don’t find their way out of the yard.

Doug went out to talk to them yesterday and show their daughter, who was visiting, the farm animals.  The dogs weren’t making a peep.  Our neighbor explained that last week the Pomeranian was barking her little head off at the fence when along came Aretha.  She came running full speed to the fence barking herself!  Her full eight inches of stature topped with the crazy mop of white feathers flying everywhere must have been terrifying for the pup.  A barking chicken.  The Pomeranian ran behind her dad’s legs and hasn’t said a word since.  You tell ’em, Aretha.

To read more about our confused and slightly crazy, but pretty darn cute chicken click here or here.

Posted in Our Family

Ten Things You Should Know When Moving to a Small Town

kiowa library

We  live in a small town in Colorado.  Actually three small towns act as one community out here.  Elizabeth is the first town where our shop was and where the most stores are.  More and more hoity toity houses are being built on the outskirts but the town is still holding its own charm and friendliness.  Head seven miles east and you will find our quaint town of Kiowa which has more friendly people than Santa’s Workshop.  Population 750.  A lot of that population lives in the mobile home park lovingly referred to as the Trailer Park.  No one cares where you live out here.  No one looks down on you, whether you live in a trailer, forty acres, or a cute rental on 2/3 of an acre.  Nine miles south of us is Elbert.  Another tiny town full of nice folks.  I could not imagine moving back to Denver where I grew up.  Small towns are the way to go.  Everyone knows your business, but they also know where your kids are at all times, if you need help, and are often your best cheerleaders.  Now if you are ready to move to a small town (or if you already live here, you can just read and nod your head) here are some things you should know.

baby deer

1. If an oncoming car flashes their lights at you it doesn’t necessarily mean that a speed trap is ahead, it usually means there are deer about to or crossing the road.  Slow the truck down.

2. Chickens outnumber squirrels here.


3. A rooster crowing is lovely ambience.  Do not move here and complain about people having livestock.  We all moved to the country so we can have farm animals.

4. Do plan an extra hour per errand.  It is fun going into the bank, the library, or the grocery store and stopping in each aisle to chat with folks you know.


5. When I first moved here, my only viewing of a gun was the one that I saw on my dad’s hip before heading to work (he is a sheriff).  Here, you might trip over one in the kitchen at the neighbor’s house, or have to move one out of the way to put your drink down, or find a few rifles lined up in their kid’s room.  (I’ll never forget when I saw my future son-in-law, Bret, carrying a ginormous black shotgun (or some kind of big gun).  “Is that real??” I exclaimed.  The look he gave me was of concern as he nodded yes and wondered if I lived under a rock or something.  I don’t think Maryjane is going to have many boyfriends.)

6. As a long, long time vegetarian (who may have recently slipped) be prepared for your friend’s cute little animals to possibly make an appearance on the table.  It takes a bit of getting used to.

7. Be prepared to know everyone at church.  Lots of people are religious here, but no one will try to convert you. You can do what you want.

8. Some of my friends really do drive around with a beer in the console.  This is probably not recommended though.

9. Be prepared to meet the best people you could imagine and have better relationships and connections once you get out of the city.  Be prepared to listen to old timer’s fascinating stories in the local saloon about what the town used to be like.


10. Because it is Christmas time, I’d like to add a footnote.  If you intend to move to a small town in Colorado, don’t expect snow everywhere (unless you are in the mountains).  There are a lot of misconceptions out there like Denver is in the mountains (not true) and that we wade through snow all year.  We have roughly a handful of snows and they melt the next day.  We rarely have a white Christmas but rejoice when we do!


Saying Merry Christmas in a small town is not only acceptable but encouraged.  So Merry Christmas Y’all.  Thanks for reading!

Posted in Animals/Chickens

To Love (or shoot) a Rooster


From the beginning, when the little bundles of fluff arrived home, they received kisses and hugs.  It makes them tame chickens.  When we figured out that Louisa was now Henry Higgins, he got doubled the kisses.  I have heard the horror stories of roosters.  I wanted a nice rooster.  He now runs from me yelling, “Noooo, mooommm!  No kisses!”  But, at least so far, he hasn’t shown a lick of aggression and doesn’t want to attack us.  Which, considering his size and the talons on that dude, I’m glad!  I am afraid though, that Henry has become quite the perv as of late.  He prefers the younger sect, as the older girls give him a good glare and tell him what he can do with himself.  The younger girls don’t stand a chance against his charms.  He is a good looking guy.  But, he is the abusive boyfriend none of them ever wanted.  There are no abuse hotlines for chickens.  They seem to be living with it.  (And perhaps we will have baby chicks running about next Spring!)


Not all of us are so lucky.  My friend got a rooster that was a scary son of a gun.  He would charge them, talons blazing, ready to take them down just because they were outdoors.  She’d had enough.  With her gun on the counter at the ready, she stalked him waiting for him to shed the company of the others and come out alone.  He never saw it coming.  While cradling her cell phone on her shoulder while talking to her mother, she took aim and fired.  Her mother (who lives in a city in California and probably not used to gunfire by telephone) exclaimed, “What was that?!  Was that a gun shot??”  I can imagine my friend blowing off the end of the gun, one shot.  “I just killed my rooster,”  she replied calmly.

I can see how if Henry came running at us every time we tried to use the back yard ready to maim us, that I would be about ready for my first chicken dinner in 25 plus years.  But, luckily, so far, he is a sweet, (though with a one track mind) adolescent boy.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

The Odd Chick Out


Let’s play a game, “Which one doesn’t belong?”  I think I used to watch that game on Sesame Street.  This game involves small puppet like creatures as well.  The three Cuckoo Marans that I brought home were very tiny and adorable.  The smallest melted my heart from the get go.  She was smaller than the other chicks and kept getting her bottom mucked up.  I had to clean her backside so much her tail feathers didn’t grow in for a long time!  She waddles around with the other nine chickens, smaller and prettier.  After the first few weeks I noticed that Louisa was lighter colored than Liesel and Brigitta.  While Liesel and Brigitta have decidedly rich dark brown feathers with little white spots, their little sister has white and almost blue feathers.  I told Doug, “I don’t think she is a Marans.”  Yesterday I noticed the cute little comb forming….Wait a ticket, I think we are on to something here.  The other girls do not have their combs yet.  Nor their wattles.  And this darling little girl is already growing both before all of her feathers are even in.

Hello handsome.

So, my chicken folk out there, am I right?  Is Louisa really a Louis?

His daily kisses have been doubled as I want the most spoiled, friendly rooster out there.  I thought we could name him Capt. Von Trappe, since we have all the Von Trappe singers over here (except Louisa apparently), but it was nixed almost immediately.  “Mr. Higgins!” Shyanne loudly called out.  “His name must be Henry Higgins.”  Andrew and Emily quickly agreed.  Doug wanted the name to be Colonel.  He was outvoted in a loud teenaged manner.

My Fair Lady is Shyanne’s favorite play.  When pronouncing Mr. Higgins’ name, one must take care to keep the H silent and you must have a bit of an English accent when addressing him.  “Allo, Enry Iggins!”

Meanwhile inside the coop, when the big sisters are out to play, the babies have a hey day.  Should you peek into the coop mid-day you will find what looks like the inside of Santa’s workshop with toys flying lopsided in circles.  Little toy chickens flying here and there, crash landing, then stealing their big sisters’ food.  Adorable.

We are not afraid to admit it, we are officially Chicken People….and I think we have a rooster.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

13 Goofy Chicken Myths the Ladies Want You to Know

Ethel, Laverne, Peep, Daffodil, and Mahalia would like to start the new year by setting the record straight.  There are a lot of funny misconceptions and mis-information out there about chickens.  I know, because I believed every one of them, even Number 13, that was debunked for me just two days ago.  Who started these ideas?  Well, anyways, let’s set the record straight!


1. Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs- Give a pat on the back to some executive out there, this was pure advertising genius making this up!  Millions of brown eggs were sold in the hopes for better health!  Turns out the color of the egg is determined by the color of the chicken’s earlobe.  Nothing else.  So, Ethel, the California White, lays white eggs, the buffs lay brown eggs, and Laverne, who is all black with brown ear lobes, lays petite light brown eggs.  This year we would like to get Araucanas for their green eggs.

2. Chickens need a rooster there in order to lay eggs- I get quite a few people who look confused when we say we don’t have a rooster.  “How do they lay eggs?”  I think I may have asked this during the barrage of questions I followed my chicken friends around asking before I got my ladies.  You need a rooster to fertilize the egg to make babies, but just like mammals, the egg cycle goes on, man or not.

3. Eggs go bad quickly- The eggs that you get at the grocery store were laid many weeks ago.  They will stay good in the fridge for another few weeks.  Farm fresh eggs have their natural coating on them (we don’t wash ours until we are ready to use them and only if they really need it) so they will stay good on the counter for 3-4 months.  Pretty impressive, huh?  How to check for a bad egg.  Place egg in a cup of water; if it floats throw it out, if it hovers in the middle, eat it right away, if it sinks, it is still nice and fresh.

4. The yolk is the baby- The yolk is the feed sack for the baby as he’s growing.  He/she will use the yolk as nutrients and food until he busts out of his shell in search of other things.  So, when you break into that delicious yolk, it was not going to become a baby!

5. Eggs from a factory farm are the same as the ones out of your coop- The chickens that lay eggs for the grocery stores are in tiny cages where they cannot get up or even turn around.  They get their beaks lopped off so that when they go crazy (you would too in that situation) they don’t hurt themselves or the chicken inches away from them.  They eat genetically modified grain all day, no yummy plants.  Whatever they eat, you eat when you eat the egg.  Aggression and fear releases cortisol which transfers to the animal products we eat.  Happy chickens running free in the back yard produce healthy, better tasting eggs!

6. It is difficult to have chickens- From Denver to New York and many cities in between are allowing coops to go up.  Did you know that it was Martha Stewart who spearheaded the change in government policies so that she could have chickens?  Chickens are no trouble at all.  I let the girls out of the coop in the morning into their run, or if I am supervising, in the yard.  I check their food and water and collect their eggs.  At night, when the girls get tired and go into the coop to roost, I go close the door (and give kisses). I use organic chicken feed and it costs less than dog food.

7. Chickens are noisy- I know a lot of little dogs that create a lot more racket than chickens!  They strut around and squawk when they lay an egg, or in the mornings when they want out of the coop, but otherwise, not a sound.  They are deliberate creatures, looking for food in all places and don’t have much time to talk.  Roosters will crow several times a day but I am still at a loss as to why that is considered a nuisance in cities.  I know many children and dogs considerably noisier.  By the way another myth-Roosters crow at dawn- is a bit deceiving too.  They can crow at dawn, but they crow when they want to say something.  I actually hear the guys across the street at lunchtime more than dawn!

8. Chickens don’t fly- Most do.  If you read my post about Ethel flying the coop, you know the little bugger flies wherever she sees fit while her devoted followers attempt but can’t really get off the ground yet.  Many chickens will roost in trees if you let them stay out in the summer. (Not recommended; invites chicken dinners!)

9. Chickens are dumb- The girls see me coming.  If they hear the back door close they know I am about to open the coop and start hooping and hollering.  They run to their little chicken door to go out.  They jump up and down in front of the food.  They are at least as smart as my Greyhound!  Ethel finds every hole in the fence and the exact spot to fly out of the run.  Peep has a bad habit of getting stuck in the snow.  She runs to the bird feeders only to realize that the whole ground beneath is covered in icy snow.  She jumps up on the bench and tries to figure out how to fly over the snow.  Soon, she will turn towards the back door and starts squawking until I come out and get her to clearer ground.

10. A red dot in the egg means it is fertilized- Another beauty I was told at a health food store and believed until the occasional one popped up in my eggs, and there is no man in sight!  It is simply a little bit of blood from a broken blood vessel when the egg was forming.  It won’t kill you and it’s not a baby!

11. Roosters are mean- Just as some men can be nasty, so can some roosters.  But it would be unfair to say all men and roosters are bad!  We love all the good ones!  A rooster’s job as the man of the coop is to protect the ladies.  He keeps a sharp look out for predators and keeps the girls safe.  If the rooster knows you, if you raised him from a peep, he could be as cuddly as a kitten.  Some will take their job seriously and be more aloof.  And there is a percentage that will be jerks.  I would like a rooster though.  I love their sweet crowing and I would love help keeping a lookout for chicken eaters!

12. Chickens love lush yards with lots of ornamental plants- My mother told me that the chicken run will be just dirt quickly.  I wasn’t sure until I saw it.  The girls are so busy aerating the chicken run, that indeed, no plant will survive their tiny beaks and claws.  However, the manure and its nitrogen will make a lovely garden if replanted.  I keep an eye on the girls in the rest of the yard.  They have done wonders for the ailing lilac bushes we inherited when we moved in.  They have aerated and fertilized and the bushes are just bursting with new growth.  The yard wasn’t full of lush grass when we came in, so the ladies can’t do too much damage but I make sure we don’t concentrate on any one spot too long.  If I keep them moving and they only graze the top layers and fertilize, the yard ought to look pretty good next year.

13- And the one I just learned, A rooster can only make babies with the same breed- A rooster can make babies with any breed, that is why there are cross breeds of chickens.  So, make sure you get a breed of rooster with the qualities you want in a hen, good layers, cold hearty, etc.  I think I may get an Araucana rooster.  I am still researching and I still have much to learn!


Now that we have cleared up the main fallacies going about, a word on Mahalia.  In case you were wondering what ever happened with Mahalia and the egg dilemma, she laid an egg the other day.  It looked as if a goose broke into the coop and laid an egg and ran out.  It was the size of my palm (poor girl)!  It also had something really gross inside the shell.  It has been in there for a bit too long.  She is good, probably feels a lot better, and we’ll see if she starts laying an egg a day again!  Thanks for reading, folks, now go pick out those chicken breeds!