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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: chicken

I’m running late again – even later than last week. It has been busy with spring happening here on the farmette. So, this will be a quick one for all those current and potential chicken keepers.

Here is a simple recipe, variable, which will help get your hens laying.


Kitchen Leftovers – Chicken Bonanza Feed

  1. Old, dry (not moldy or rotten) Bread
  2. A few spare Fried Eggs
  3. About a dozen Egg Shells
  4. Oats
  5. Water

Put all but #4 in the blender and blend on CHOP setting.


I added WATER to get it all

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For a variety of reasons, which I have decided to keep private, our little Farmette was dismantled. We re-homed the two ponies – to great homes and caregivers. The last bantam chicken, a hermit crab and a parakeet, that were lingering here, also got new digs. Our two, now senior, but surprisingly energetic canines, were all that remained.

So, it has been three+ years and it is 4:30 in the morning. In this article’s featured image, you can see the yellow-tinged light coming from my office. It shines in the darkness of the cold night that permeates my pajamas, as I stand outside to take the picture (photo: Canon PowerShot A1300). I have gotten to the age where insomnia comes often and I now choose to take advantage of it. I get the quiet work done. The type that won’t wake up the whole household. This morning that work is writing, which I just adore.

The experience with farm animals; from horses to goats to pigs to sheep to chickens to guinea fowl to ducks to turkeys to quail to geese to bees, has been so enriching. We learned so much! And with all of that behind us, and a wealth of knowledge, we have decided to remake our mini farm, on a small and easily manageable scale.

We now have our two existing dogs, two new young cats and four Swedish Flower chickens. These are our two pairs of new chickens:


Swedish Flower Chickens – 16 Weeks Old (photo: iPhone SE)

Swedish Flowers are a rare breed that has only been in the United States since 2010. I was browsing craigslist in the farm sales section and happened upon them. After looking them up online:, I decided to go ahead and get them while they were still available. That means that they are currently residing in a four chamber travel cage while I construct the ultimate predator proof coop and run. Whenever I am outside working on the new coop, they get to hang out in the temporary outdoor pen.

The following is a photo (also taken with an iPhone SE) of the base of the coop in progress. There are nine old boards screwed into three old 4x4s that will be drilled with holes for pulling/moving the cage. Since taking the photo, I have removed the corner braces from the frame (This suggestion came from my brother J. He is helping me via pics, text and talk from Baltimore, MD). Most of the materials are being cannibalized from other cages and shelters on our property. So far, the only new materials I plan to purchase are metal braces, paint and some sort of repair material(s) for the aluminum roofing.


As you can see, the base is solid wood. I will be drilling some holes for drainage and using pine shavings to line the bottom. But, we will not have to worry about foxes, raccoons or weasels digging underneath and in to eat our future egg-producing, clucking, crowing residents.

PS – Welcome Back Readers!


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Last week’s storm #1 of Winter 2013 was wet and got extremely windy, but by the time the temperature dropped below freezing the precipitation stopped. Better to be safe with extra weather-proofing!

The ponies were out early in the morning, even though the sleet had already started

The ponies were out early this morning, even though the sleet had already started

Hard to see start of the storm sleet building on the ground

The hard to see start of the storm sleet build-up on the ground

This week’s storm came in icy. It has been running below 32 degrees at night this week, so at least it did not start off warm & wet with that potentially fatal drop in temperature that quickly becomes wet & flash frozen.

Rocky - Still out in the weather

Rocky – Still out in the weather

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

Our Shetland pony “Rocky” is made for this type of weather, but I still tempted him into the shelter with snacks (“Bigs” had already given up on standing out in the ice storm).

They will do anything for treats

They will do anything for treats

In the morning, one of the ponies had apparently made their way through the iced surface to the water. The troughs and chicken drinkers sometimes have to have hot water poured on/in on days like this. If need be for your area of the country, you can get special water heaters to use during cold spells.


Ice forming a shiny coating on items like branches and roofs always looks interesting. I took the rare opportunity to take a few quick pics before escaping back inside.


Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

If the ice gets heavy on the electrical lines we could lose power. I do not mind losing TV or electronics, but our heating and well water runs off of it, so I hope it stays on.

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We had a surprise visitor this week on the Farmette – a falcon graced us with her presence. Luckily she was smaller than our free-ranging rooster. He made it safely to the cover of the bushes. Our other chickens, after screeching up a storm, huddled in the nesting boxes of their coops.

I took this pic through the window of our master bedroom;

Hungry falcon on main chicken coop

After flying to the maple tree

Peregrine Falcons are part of the wildlife of North Carolina and help keep nature in balance. If they are persistent and you need to scare them away from a free-ranging flock, firing with a shot gun works. Don’t aim at them. They are protected birds of prey. The noise will be enough. And who would want to harm this magnificent creature?

Surprisingly, the falcon did not attempt to pull our injured chicken from her pen on the ground. It was likely just too close to the house. After the falcon left, I thought of that hen and checked in. She was managing to eat and drink. Mostly, she remained slumped in the corner.

When a chicken damages a leg (especially in two spots), its fate is decided just as that of a horse. If it cannot hold itself off the ground, the earth reaches out to take it back. Splints and wraps did not work.

We had kept her in the garage in a box of pine shavings for a while, but she complained a lot and often called to her buddys outside. She was moved out front and seemed more content, but the inability to roost & groom took its toll. It was time to make a decision.

Euthanasia is an unpleasant but necessary option when injury or disease overpower us. It ends the suffering of a lost cause where the will to survive has managed to lengthen the dying process.

I talked to our son about it. “We need to kill this chicken in order to end her suffering.” Not thinking of my selfish avoidance of being the one to kill her, I continued and said. “Or, should we let the falcon take her for a meal?” He said “NO!” – not wanting to see feathers/leftovers strewn about our property. This also was the smart response, since the falcon would likely come back for more – and more.

After witnessing the botched injection of “eternal sleep potion” for a deathly ill pet at the vet’s office, humane euthanasia, in my mind,  has become “the quickest lethal method”. Blunt force, neck snapping and shooting are all fast and painless when done correctly.

I was still feeling selfish and managed to wrangle my husband into carrying out the unhappy task. I have been the poultry’s grim reaper before and will be again, just not today.

We told her that she was a good, strong girl and stroked her feathers. We told her that her pain would soon be gone.

On a farm, animals are keep in herd or flock form. Cost/practicality are crucial to the survival of a homestead that keeps livestock. Many would argue that a farmer’s methods of destroying livestock is not humane. It is an obvious subject of ethical debate.

My own take is that you do your best to make a choice and live with your decision. We wondered if her death was truly instant. We had to watch our son cry. We must look at the empty cage. And now we go back out to feed and water our beautiful flock.

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This boy was finally caught on his evening roost. I managed to get a few good pics of him this am. Aside from his battle wounds (still healing from his territorial fight), he is a very good looking bird.

The nice thing about Cochins is their mild mannered nature. This guy never tries to skewer (with his spurs) or bite people. Once you catch him, he is a cooperative model.

Bantam Birchen Cochin Roo:

His imitation of a Bald Eagle.

SG Silkie x Bantam Polish Cockerel
(just plain missed getting his pic yesterday)

This young roo has not been plucked nor is he molting. He is actually part of our ugly breeding project.

Chick Magnet!

This growing adolescent is actually quite full of himself. Our lady’s man proclaims to be quite a stud.

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