Boulevard Farm

Live on our urban homestead

Cornish Game Hen May 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sarahtar @ 2:02 pm

Are you wondering exactly what a cornish game hen is? It is not a game bird. It’s not a hen. It’s just a Cornish bird that you kill pretty young. Wikipedia says 30 days, I’ve read 4-6 weeks. We’ve let ours go too long, I think, but their day is coming on Sunday.

And this may be my last time raising them, unless we do kill them at 30 days. Cornish are really really annoying.

 

Hassles with the City May 5, 2011

Filed under: Other — sarahtar @ 9:01 am

So it has become clear that either the city is out to get us, or one of our neighbors is. Either way, it’s starting to result in lots of trouble with the city. Picky trouble. Like standing in my driveway taking pictures of the broken storm window that was INSIDE our fence and outside the shed where we keep our storms for 3 days. Like standing in my driveway taking pictures of our garbage cans. (I still am uncertain what the trouble is there.)

I mean, last year, someone called the city to complain that we hadn’t mowed. And actually, we HAD mowed. What they meant was we have a hill that’s covered in nontraditional lawn materials (mainly short groundcovers, but also taller plants). Yes, it looks a little messy. No, they’re not planted in clumps and arranged in groups of three with little tiny fences around them. Bite me. The city clarified for me that they consider anything that is not Kentucky Bluegrass to be a noxious weed. Yes, they really did. I wish I were kidding.

So this spring, it’s that I trimmed up the hill (in an honest attempt to keep everyone happy) just before it rained for 2 weeks, and we haven’t had time to run the trimmings out to the dump, so they are in a VERY NEAT pile against our fence FAR AWAY from the public. I was actually going to take care of it this weekend, but technically the citation from the city gives us 21 days, so we decided to put it off, lol. Yes, I fight back in my petty ways.

But all this extreme watchfulness has made me decide – somebody is unhappy with us. I don’t know if it’s because of the chickens, or what the deal is, but we’ve pissed someone off and that person has decided to take revenge on us by calling in anonymous complaints to the city. (I actually half suspect it’s someone not even in the neighborhood.)

The result of this is that I’ve decided I probably need to be more cautious about keeping the animals in compliance. I’m already MORE in compliance than most urban chicken keepers I know. I keep them inside their coops/runs at all times. I try to keep them quiet. Their feed is kept in metal, rodent-proof bins. Etc. However, we’re getting close on numbers of birds allowed. Actually, we’ll end up just exactly where we need to be, but not necessarily on purpose. We have the six layers, then 25 meat birds, which gives us 31, 1 more than allowed. But then one of the chicks died, so we’re down to 24 meat birds… which gives us 30 – our legal limit.

But then add in our second species of animal – the rabbits. We have three. That bumps our total number of animals to 33. While I was initially unconcerned about this, I’ve decided to play it safe and shuffle some of the chickens off to Swinging Goat Farms’ rural half to live out their lives with Sally, our goat.

You know what’s funny, though. The city will not allow birds in the front yard, even if penned up. But if they would let me put a few birds in a portable run on the steep part of our 42nd hill (that the city made too steep to safely mow), the birds would take care of that area’s tendency to be weedy. Even funnier is that I’m sure the city would cite us, but the 42nd street side is NOT our front yard. We have a Kingman address. The front yard is the yard that faces Kingman. 42nd is the side yard, and the law says NOTHING about chickens in the side yard. Once we sell our house, I’ll test out that theory with the city, lol.

 

The cornish hens May 3, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 8:52 am

cornish

They’re growing! When I moved them to the outside coop, it was still pretty cold and they still hadn’t completely feathered out, so I kept the door to the outside shut. This week, however, it’s been warm enough, and they’re old enough, I thought they could use some sunshine (or, um, you know – vaguely bright) time. I had to literally throw them outside once I opened the door, but now they go in and out all the time, and seem to prefer it outside (I know I would).

I’ve been surprised at how quiet they are. I don’t know that I’ve heard them make any noise since I moved them out. Even when I’m messing around in their coop, they don’t protest too much or squawk at me. This is a good thing right now, though, since the egg birds are being super noisy. I think they’re undergoing some sort of change in the pecking order out there, and it involves a lot of verbal banter.

Our original plan was to purchase another six cornish when these cornish were about 4 weeks old, but that’s about the time our mail-order chicks arrived*, and I’m still trying to think through the logistics of this. The cornish are in the coop right now, and the chicks inside. The chicks will be ready to move outside a few weeks after the cornish vacate the coop, freeing up my indoor brooding boxes. However, if I get six more cornish at that time, I’m not sure about where they’d finish growing up. I need to decide if I think there would be conflict if I throw them in with the other meat birds while they finish.

Anyway, the cornish are growing fast, and I think they’ll be ready to harvest in a few weeks. Looking forward to a nice meal of Cornish game hen!

* Most people who order mail-order chicks choose their delivery date. What we actually do is, when we place our order with Sandhill – or, more accurately, when Abby places our joint order with Sandhill – we order their “end of the week special.” Essentially, when they have enough leftover chicks at the end of the week to fill our order, it ships. So we don’t know exactly when to expect it, and we don’t know exactly what we’re getting. I order chickens-only, but Abby orders Whatever You Got, which is always fun to see what comes.

 

Rabbits May 1, 2011

Filed under: Rabbits — sarahtar @ 8:49 am

We drove out to Illinois (and back) yesterday to pick up our rabbits. I decided on Satins instead of New Zealand, and found a farmer in western Illinois who mainly shows rabbits, but is willing to sell her culls to meat breeders. She was super nice, too. So we have one chocolate colored male who is a little standoffish:

rabbits
But apparently he likes chew toys, lol. I did buy them each a wooden chew treat as a Welcome To Your New Home present, and his was pretty chewed on this AM.

Then a black female:
rabbits
She discovered her hay right away, and absolutely went to town. When I went out this morning, she had spent all night, apparently, munching on the hay, as it was all gone.

And a white female:
rabbits
She is super curious, and is exploring her cage vigorously every time I see her.

Generally speaking, the red eyes of the whites freak me out, but this one is so soft, I forgive her.

We got them settled in last night, and this morning, they seemed to be doing good. They had all pooped and peed all over the place, and their water cups were empty, and there was feed missing, so I’m assuming all is well. They’re a little jumpy this morning, but they’re in new surroundings, so I get it.

 

Taking Care of Your New Chicks April 21, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 6:52 am

Our new chicks arrived yesterday! It was perfect timing, since we moved the teenage cornish out to the outside meat bird pen on Tuesday.

baby chicks

Are you considering keeping chickens, but you’re not sure what to do with baby chicks? They’re actually not hard to keep alive, as long as you give them their (pretty basic) needs.

– Food. Chicks need chick food. Chick food is specially blended for the needs of baby chicks. You can get medicated feed if you prefer, which contains a Coccidiostat to help guard against coccidiosis, which is an illness that baby chicks can get. I do not personally use medicated feed, but that’s a decision I’ll leave up to each individual chicken farmer. It’s easiest to give chicken feed in a chick feeder.

– Water. Chicks need water. If you’re buying new day-old chicks via mail-order, you’ll probably need to show them how to drink water. (Just dunk their beak in the water.) Never let your birds run out of water. They’re so little, and they can’t handle dehydration. Many people recommend feeding them sugar water the first day or two. It’s easiest to give water to the chicks from a waterer, since they can’t tip it over. They will still make a huge mess with it, though.

baby chicks

– Heat. Most people use a heat lamp for this. Chicks need to be kept warm – about 95 degrees for the first week, then lower their temp by 5 degrees every week until you get down to ambient temperature.

chick set-up.

– Safe space. Give your birds plenty of room, and give them more room as they grow. We have our 25 chicks in one giant Rubbermaid bin, but as they grow, we’ll move them into two separate bins, and then divide them further as needed.

– Litter. Though this isn’t strictly required to keep your chicks alive, it will make keeping your birds from getting all super nasty and dirty. Change the litter (and clean the feeder and waterer) daily if possible.

baby chicks
Isn’t this one adorable? I hope it’s a girl.

– Basic care. Check to make sure they’re not pasting up, which means that their poop sticks to their butts. This should be removed gently with a warm, wet rag. Make sure they’re not picking on each other, which often results from being too crowded, too hot, or not having enough water.

– Toys. They don’t make chicken toys. They’re chickens. Their brains are the size of a pea. That said, though I don’t know that it does much for the chickens, I personally find it highly amusing to provide some sort of high contrast toy for the chickens. And by “toy,” i mean like a dark spot on the side of their box. First one chick will run over and peck at it, and before you know it, they’re ALL over there pecking at it. Maybe I’m just easily amused.

But that’s it. Chicks are not hard to care for. If you’re ordering mail-order, it’s not unusual to lose a few, which is why most mail order places will send a few extra in every shipment. So, don’t stress about it unless you lose more than 1 or 2.

 

Cornish chicks April 1, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 3:16 pm

Our family will be enjoying some Cornish game hen in another month or so…  These chicks are currently nearly 3 weeks old; they were just a few days old in these pictures. They’re so cute.
Cornish chicks Cornish chicks

 

Chinese New Year at Boulevard Farm February 3, 2011

Filed under: Food,Our Life — sarahtar @ 12:03 pm

On Wednesday, we gathered with friends for a Chinese New Year feast. We wore red, we decorated the house, friends brought us oranges for good luck. We got new haircuts! (We did not clean the house, or wear all new clothes, both of which are also traditions. Nor did I distribute red money envelopes.)

CNY Banners CNY Banners

CNY egg roll fillings CNY egg rolls
Egg rolls.

CNY preparing the feast CNY dumplings
Making dumplings

CNY squid CNY Squid
Wally REALLY wanted squid.

CNY vegetables
Veggies for stir fry

CNY Chicken CNY Beef
Chicken and Beef stir fry.

CNY dinner table

CNY Fellowship

CNY Dessert
Dessert. The gelatin stuff was pretty good – basically plain gelatin with almond and milk, topped with fruit. (should have gone with frozen instead of canned!). The cake wasn’t bad – I think it turned out just as it should have – but it wasn’t my favorite thing to eat.