Cluck Blog

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Jake Tollakson showed us how to bathe a hen on Sunday, June 23, at CLUCK the Chicken Store.

It was a perfect day for washing a chicken - hot and humid and partly sunny in the coop garden at CLUCK the Chicken Store. That meant the lukewarm water felt good to the hens and helped keep them cooled down. Lemonade and ice-cold water helped keep the rest of us cool.

This beautiful Polish was one of three show birds Jake used for his demonstration.

You could tell Jake's birds had been handled a lot because they were cooperative and docile almost though out the entire hour of the demonstration except . . .
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Jake got a face full of feathers when his Polish hen got tired of being the bathing beauty.

Jake is used to washing his hens and they are used to being washed because they have to look their best when they go to the fair or swap meets and have to compete. Washing not only keeps them clean, but helps keep their feathers soft andlustrous.

In addition to showing us the right way to hold a chicken and how to calm a fractious chicken, Jake even demonstrated the right way to clip a chicken's toenails. Who knew you had to do that?

NPR logo.pngThere’s a movement afoot in Maine that folks in Wisconsin might want to keep an eye on, as reported today by NPR. It’s called food sovereignty, and it’s designed to protect the rights of farmers to sell directly to consumers without a license, whether that’s raw milk or home-slaughtered chickens.

One of the first local food sovereignty resolutions, passed in 2011 by the village of Blue Hill, was inspired in part by bureaucratic bumbling over chickens.

As NPR reported: Maine had passed a law that allowed small-scale poultry producers – those selling less than $1,000 per year – to slaughter the birds on their farms instead of at a slaughterhouse. The goal was to help more farmers get into the poultry game, but when state regulators wrote up rules for how the home slaughtering would work, they came up with a scheme that would cost a poultry farmer some $30,000 to $40,000 to implement.

You can read the whole story here.

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Jennifer Aniston, friend to chickens

We all know about Martha Stewart’s passion for poultry, but she’s apparently not the only A-list celeb to welcome a few feathered friends to her palatial estate. E! Online reports that Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are among at least five celebs who have gone cuckoo for coops. Recent aerial shots of Jennifer Aniston's new $21 million estate in Bel Air estate revealed that she has erected a lux- looking chicken coop. Some, like Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, even seem to be pretty savvy about the comfort and security needs of their hens. You can find the full E! Online report here.

And speaking of Grey’s Anatomy, reports that former Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl also is building a coop. breathlessly added: “The blonde actress was so thrilled about the addition to her home that she went on a tweeting spree about potential names. 'If anybody has any clever suggestions for my chicken coop please tweet them! Looking for a fun play on words that involves eggs and chicks!' she tweeted, and among the suggestions she got from fans were Buckingegg Palace, Eggminster Abbey, The Yoke’s on You, and Coop de Ville. We love them all.
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What should Katherine Heigl call her coop?

So we are wondering, if chickens are legal and welcome in some of the most chi-chi locales in the USA, how come some of our neighbors still aren’t allowed to have poultry for pets?

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Isn't this a beautiful chicken coop? It arrived Sunday from Jeff Jicinsky and it has already attracted lots of attention. We love having it in the coop garden at CLUCK the Chicken Store because it really shows how classy a chicken coop can be, but we're sure it would also look great in someone's back yard. It is sized for 4-6 birds, with removable roosts, three nest boxes and a large access door. And, unlike the coops you see on some of the online sites that are hardly big enough for a chicken to stand up in, this coop has both height and volume. The peak of the roof is about eight feet high.

But, unfortunately, some people still can't have chickens where they live. We talked to a young couple on Saturday who are organizing a pro-chicken group in Verona. Sorry, we didn't get their names or contact information, so we hope they will stop in the store so we can help put them in touch with other chickenistas in Verona. We also heard from people in Belleville that they are trying to get a new ordinance passed. Please get in touch with us if you know anything about that effort. We like to keep up to date on the legal landscape.

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We love our backyard birds and frequently invite them to sit on our laps when we’re relaxing on the back porch, but we also have always thought that they have a little bit of Tyrannosaurus rex in them. They have that fierce, unblinking gaze and relentless prey drive that must have driven the smaller dinosaurs bonkers back in the Jurassic. And deep down, we know that, if we were the right size, they would have no problem gobbling us up!

So we were pleased to see that we’re not the only ones who think that way. We found this quote in a recent blog called 10 Fascinating Chicken Facts, by Leah Zerbe, online editor for

“Chickens are dinosaurs. It’s not that they’re closely related—they are actual dinosaurs,” explains Ken Lacovara, PhD, associate professor of geology and paleontology at Drexel University. “One lineage of dinosaurs survived the mass extinction 65 million years ago, the birds. So every living bird, from a parakeet to a penguin, is literally a dinosaur.”

Leah goes on to write, OK, so all modern birds are technically dinosaurs.

“But of all modern birds, chickens are among the most ‘primitive’ or ‘dinosaurlike,’” paleontologist Matthew C. Lamanna, PhD, assistant curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, told me, noting that chickens and other familiar birds like geese and ducks belong to an evolutionary lineage known as Galloanserae. In fact, scientists have found at least one species belonging to this Galloanserae lineage—a ducklike bird from Antarctica called Vegavis iaai—in rocks that date to the Mesozoic Era, aka the Age of the Dinosaurs. “So, although today’s chicken species certainly didn’t evolve until much later, its lineage can be traced all the way back to the time of Tyrannosaurus rex,” Lamanna explains.

Her other 9 fascinating facts about chickens aren't nearly as dramatic, but it's a blog worth reading.

big bird.jpgBig Bird by Jim Billmeyer is one of many new pieces of garden and coop art on display at CLUCK the Chicken Store from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday, June 7. Enjoy refreshments, meet the artists and discover new ways to beautify your garden, coop or backyard. The event is free.

Meet the artists:

Susan K. Brucks has created a wide assortment of imaginatively painted antiques, “coop quilts” and practical items repurposed for display and decoration. Found object sculptor

Jim Billmeyer has a great collection of welded chicken sculptures made from old teakettles, shovels and other treasures saved from around the farm and home.

We’re also delighted to have an excellent selection of artist Kathryn Akbik’s ceramic work, including her popular “coop head” pieces and a nice selection of functional, decorative planters.

We’re also pleased to have some new work from Kathleen D’Angelo who is always inspired by the garden.

In addition, we’ve got a new shipment of beautifully designed and weather-safe signs from Bainbridge Island Farm Goods in Puget Sound. These terrific signs look great in any environment.

You don’t have to have chickens to find something cool at the Garden and Coop Art open house event at CLUCK.

City councils and village boards all over the nation seem to be all a-cluck about whether to legalize backyard chickens. Some, like Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Paul, Green Bay, etc. etc. have welcomed chickens with no reports of ill effects. But others, like Verona, continue to reject hens in the city, often citing the usual suspects: noise, stink, vermin, and objections of the neighbors.

Sometimes the problem is simply the unshakable opposition of a council member who grew up on a farm and has vivid memories of cleaning up after 300 Leghorns. That's enough to scar anyone's opinion of chickens. But in other cases, people do raise legitimate questions. As the petitioners, it is up to us chicken advocates to present a strong case for our hobby and then to make sure our birds do not become the neighborhood version of Dennis the Menace.

This article on offers some good advice about how to keep peace in the neighborhood before and after you install your coop. Of course, sharing fresh eggs with the neighbors also goes a long way toward making friends for hens.

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It was starting to look very bare in the coop garden at CLUCK the Chicken Store this week. Everyone who got chicks last month seems to be looking for a coop in May and, we're sorry to say, it's not easy to find a good quality coop at a reasonable price right now.

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