Cluck Blog

first aid boxes.jpgChicken first aid kits waiting to be filled

As all chicken keepers know, many bad things can happen.

What do you do when that raccoon rips into your coop, or your daughter’s bouncy big dog decides your favorite hen is a chew toy? And what’s the remedy when an old hen gets egg bound?

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, and you’d like some good, practical answers, we invite you to register for a chicken first aid seminar at CLUCK the Chicken Store, 6904 Paoli Road, on Thursday, May 23, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Dr. Stephanie Hirsbrunner, a veterinarian from Country View Veterinary who loves chickens and is interested in small, backyard flocks, will walk us through the basics of chicken first aid. Dr. Hirsbrunner will also help each of us put together a chicken first aid kit. She will talk about common injuries and illnesses, how to make your own diagnosis, when to call the vet and how you can learn to care for your chickens' health.

We have about half a dozen people signed up so far and we'd like to keep it to no more than 20. There is a $35 registration fee for the event, which will cover one registrant. Each paid registrant is welcome to bring one guest. The fee covers the cost of a sturdy, well-stocked chicken first aid kit, which each paid registrant can take home. To pay the fee and register, call Susan at 608-848-1200 and provide a credit card number, or stop in at the store.

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Vintage poultry magazines

Our friend Hal Bergan reminded us that yesterday was the birthday of the man who wrote The Wizard of Oz and lots of other books. Lyman Frank Baum was born in Chittenango, New York, on May 15, 1856.

His father was a wealthy oil tycoon, and the family lived at an idyllic country home in upstate New York. Frank was a shy and absent-minded child; he had a heart condition his entire life and was never able to exert himself physically. To instill some discipline in him, his parents sent him to military school, but he had a heart attack at school and returned home, where he turned his creativity toward writing and publishing.

When he was 15 years old, his father bought him a small printing press for his birthday, and he and his brother Harry started a newspaper called The Rose Lawn Home Journal. Frank was also interested in raising Hamburg chickens, and he published what sounds like a "must-have for the poultryphile" magazine called The Poultry Record. His first book was published in 1886 and was called The Book of Hamburgs, A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Here’s some good evidence to throw back at folks who claim chickens are dumb.

The Guardian just posted this YouTube video from the London Pet Show. If you’re an animal lover, you will find it all fascinating. But we really sat up and took notice of the segment that starts at 1:49. Animal behaviorist Chirag Patel shows how he has used a clicker and meal worm treats to train a hen to peck at a red target, and reject other colored targets. He achieved this crazy feat in a single morning with an otherwise untrained hen. If he can do it, maybe you can too.

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This is the time of year when everyone is just dying to get into the garden, to get our hands all dirty and start getting the plants ready for a new growing season after the long - long - long winter and cold spring. Well, guess what? The chickens feel the same way. They beg and beg and beg to come out of the coop, and when we finally let them out, they head straight for the garden to scratch for bugs amongst the lily shoots that are just emerging, or to take extravagant dust baths next to the hosts. Too close for a gardener's comfort.

Gardening with chickens is a lot like gardening with a two year old. Really cute and awfully funny, but very likely to undo your work as soon as you turn your back and guaranteed to be in your face every second. We tried to take a picture of Strider in her dust bath, but she was too quick and curious.

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"Hey! Whatcha doin' with that shiny thing? Got anything for me?"

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One of the things that got the most consistent comment from customers at CLUCK the Chicken Store last summer was our quirky collection of Hens and Chicks plants in – literally – old shoe planters. The planters are the work of our friend and employee, Barb McCarville, and we were most pleased to see that Barb has continued the tradition this year.

Most of our Hens and Chicks are for sale in beautiful ceramic pots and planters, but Barb has put a few in these sweet baby tennis shoes. What a cool gift for mom on Mothers’ Day.

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Cynthia Quinn and Kathleen De'Angelo in the CLUCK Coop Garden.

What a great day for art! Or pretty much anything else.

A thousand thanks to the artists who spend a lovely day at CLUCK the Chicken Store on Sunday painting portraits of chickens. Artists included Cynthia Quinn, Jan Norsetter, Diane Washa, Kathleen D’Angelo and Nancy Markham Troller.

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We are looking forward to seeing some wonderful paintings this weekend. There are three events featuring some of our favorite artists, culminating in an art event here at CLUCK the Chicken Store on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s what going on at CLUCK: Several painters will set up their easels and create their masterworks (with chickens, of course!) on site. The event will take place here at the store in the coop garden. We’re describing it as “Still and Lively Life With Chickens” and it features artists Cynthia Quinn, Jan Norsetter, Diane Washa and John Ribble.

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Rich Joseph from Joseph Staudt Hops in Neosho stopped at CLUCK the Chicken Store last week to suggest that hops and chickens might make good company. Rich is vice president of the Wisconsin Hops Exchange, a cooperative that encourages small growers to get into the hops business.

We have considered growing hops for several years just because we like the smell of the plant and, of course, we like beer. But we never connected hops with chickens.

Rich suggested that hops vines might make excellent shade plants for chickens who live in sunny yards. Hops grows fast and has large leaves. The vines can be trained to follow a wire or trellis, so it is theoretically possible to create a hops arbor without much trouble.

All of us have our own ways of celebrating Earth Day, whether we observe it on April 22 each year, or every day. For thousands of people, the backyard chicken movement has become part of the celebration.

It’s not just about eating whole, fresh and local, although that’s an important part of it. It’s not just about trying to make our food system sustainable. It is also recognizing that we share this planet with other creatures – plants, animals and humans. Learning to treat a chicken with kindness and respect is one small step toward treating all creatures, all people and ultimately all the Earth with kindness and respect.

farm fresh atlas.pngIf you are one of those who celebrates Earth Day by eating whole, fresh and local, we invite you to stop in and pick up a copy of the brand new Farm Fresh Atlas for Southwestern Wisconsin hot off the press this past weekend. It is a fabulous and free source of information about farms, businesses, restaurants and farmers' markets that sell their goods directly to customers in southern Wisconsin.

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Dr. Stephanie Hirsbrunner and Twain Lockhard with Elvis

Horses and chickens just naturally go together. At least my chickens and horses are the best of friends and hang out together all the time. So I wasn’t a bit surprised that among the thousands of people who turned out for the first day of the Midwest Horse Fair at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison on Friday, April 19, a remarkable number were also curious about chickens.

I was graciously invited by the people at Nutrena Feeds to share a booth at the Horse Fair and to help give a seminar on chickens along with Twain Lockhart, a Nutrena poultry specialist, and Stephanie Hirsbrunner, a veterinarian at Country View Veterinary Clinic who has developed her own specialty in treating backyard chickens. I think the Nutrena people were a bit shocked (in a good way) when 175 people crowded into the seminar, but maybe they just didn’t realize how big a phenomenon the backyard chicken movement has become.


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