Kristine Keeney

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since Mar 15, 2019
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"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
- Robert A. Heinlein
So far, I haven't had the chance to plan an invasion, conn a ship, design a building, set a bone, or die gallantly. I hope I'm not called on to do those things soon.
I have survived things that probably should have killed me, and seem to serve as a good example of "What *Not* To Do" for certain situations.
I have a black belt in Ishin Ryu and Tang Su Do that turned into a more MMA version a few years back when my instructor decided that he wanted to learn Krav Maga. I earned that Dan and I'm going to see if I can get another.
I tend to "write a book" every November for the NaNoWriMo self-assigned challenge. I almost earned a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries, which has made me an expert in Natural Science trivia.
I have done historical costuming, am refreshing my skills at handwork, and am debating whether surgery for cancer is a means of The Powers That Be to slow me down enough to improve my skills at certain crafts, or learn patience with myself and human limitations.
I was an active member of the SCA Inc., and enjoy a wild variety of medieval things and stuff.
I am married, have no children, and currently share my home with The Most Wonderful Husband in The World (TM) who has been with me for more than 30 years.
I have managed to keep all the fully-feathered poultry in the backyard, though I do brood them in the kitchen. I'm sure I have other questionable habits, but they seem to center around handwork and crafty things, books, plants, and critters.
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South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
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Recent posts by Kristine Keeney

I have a flock of active, free-range chickens and three very bossy geese.

You have your choice of two options, unfortunately. You can fence your chickens in - keep them in the run and only let them out when you or someone else is there to watch them, to make sure they don't eat something you would very much prefer they left alone. Or you can fence them out of either your garden spaces or a larger space that would be your "chicken free zone".

My birds will happily hop over the 4 foot chain link fence we have to keep them safe from wandering predators, but are very polite about *not* hopping the 2 foot fencing I have around my garden spaces. It's a hassle for me to have to either step over the fence or make some sort of gate area so I can walk through, but it's worth it to not have Swamp Rabbit, one of my roos, showing off for his lady friends by offering her a ripe tomato. Or losing all of my potatoes to three very industrious, and apparently hungry, hens who promptly taught the teenage chicks where they found their snacks.

Raised beds were just a signal that it was a good place to dig. After a goose ate my mint out of it's pot, roots and all, I gave up and put all my herbs in the ground. I haven't looked back. I may lose some of the herbs to annual winter kill or just being annuals, but I've been able to get a decent portion from harvest before that happens. My peppermint is starting to challenge the lawn, and the mint-eating goose has taken to nibbling at it, but not the full-on assault she did earlier this year.

If you have a large enough run. you can plant an area for the chickens in something like rye or a scattering of wheat, then put some hardware cloth on top of it, maybe held off the ground with a bit of stone or concrete or wood, the chickens will be able to eat the sprouts that come through the hardware cloth, and the hardware cloth will keep them from completely digging the planting area up.

The little feathered rototillers are very useful for preparing garden/planting beds when you first start them and I have a few that are well-rewarded by the grubs and worms that always turn up when I'm digging, but they tend to lose interest rather quickly, especially since I tend to put up the short fence, then offer treats far away, in a chicken mind, from where I'm trying to grow things.

I hope you have fun! Gardening with and for chickens is a very interesting side-hobby that easily works into a fun time for everyone involved!
1 day ago
I was interested in the ide that fibrous plant leaves or stems could be used like that - informal, unprocessed (basically) strings for immediate use in the garden - so did some quick "one click" research.

I found that New Zealand flax can be grown from garden heat zones 11 to 7, with necessary adjustments for plants in the 7 and 8 zones to prevent plant death - the plants just don't like being frozen that completely. I don't blame them, since I don't either!

There are lots of flax options - of the Linum, not the Phormium variety. I mean, there are lots of Phormium (the New Zealand flax), but there are more herbaceous types if only because annual plants breed and develop different species so readily over time. There are lots of the Linum, flax varieties with a wide range of colors of flowers and that grow quickly. They still need 90 to 120 days of growth to finish their life cycle, but you *could* have a small patch of pretty flowers that you keep going just for string.
They grow from garden heat zones 5 to 9, so they do fill in the places where you wouldn't be able to keep New Zealand flax going past that first growing season.

Both New Zealand Phormium sp. and "regular flax" Linum sp. apparently prefer drier conditions and full sun, neutral soil, so I decided to take a quick look at some other options in fibrous plant leaves and quickly gave up on a "quick look" because there are way too many options.
I had thought that some of the longer leaved, more fibrous of the grasses might be good and ... grass plants are out there that have long fibrous leaves. You can make baskets and cord out of a lot of them, but the sheer number of species in grasses is mind boggling.

So, I cheated and hit up the Britannica website - Plant fibers according to The Britannica
They list what seems to be the commercial species name for the plants grown specifically for fiber, with a breakdown of the type of fiber (stem, leaf, seed puff) so you can get the sort of application you're looking for. Fibrous leaves seem to be a heading dominated by Agave sp. which makes sense to anyone who has ever grown or lived around agave and/or yucca plants.

I now have the thought of seeing if I can get a couple of local natives of the Agave family to set up in my garden. They'd make great foundation plantings for under windows, as part of a dryland garden display, or maybe  just a fun addition to a "might be an edible" garden.

I wouldn't have thought about the possibility of starting a "might be edible" or "for future string" garden, and I'm looking forward to the planning of it!
Wait. This sounds suspiciously like a new hobby. Maybe I don't want to dive in with plant research and sourcing until I finish a few other things first.  

1 day ago
Yeah, I try to stay away from the "fashion" birds until they have a few years in the marketplace or there's someone who's got background trying to make a gene-stable something or other. There are a few waterfowl and chicken researchers I follow, but they tend to be in for long term stuff, nothing fashionable. I did get a few of the "Rock and The Blues" from Murray McMurray a couple of years back, but none of those made it to the first year - too many chickens just don't have the brains that The Powers That Be gave sponges and try to do silly things that make them targets for predators and other things.

So. I don't think your chick is anywhere close to needing a beak trim. Yet. Yeah, read up on it. Read up on whatever you can find that's interesting to you. If you stay interested in chickens, or poultry, or animal care, you will use it eventually.  
So, when they're moved out to the run/yard/whatever you move them out to eventually, they will take care of most of their beak care all by themselves. I've only had to trim one beak, one time, and it was for the badly cross-beaked bird and before all the hospital excitement (which is probably why I remember, even if vaguely).

You can use standard nail trimmers of whatever sort you use on yourself. Just take little pinches off the part you want to trim - you DO NOT want to cut into the quick. You just want to reshape the beak slowly and over time.
It's easy to do and probably more stressful for you than the bird.
Otherwise, give your flock access to a good sized rock or piece of concrete and they'll "polish" their beaks against it by themselves. I have chickens with wildly divergent tastes in how they "wear" their beaks, and I can watch them polish on concrete blocks, good sized rocks, and sturdy things (like metal or wood) that might be useful in a chicken's mind. Some beaks are shorter or sharper or longer or curved. As long as they work, I figure it's a fashion statement.

As long as she's pooping well and regularly, she's eating well and regularly. It might take her longer to eat enough, but if she's figured it out, no sense in thinking too hard about it. You can watch her to make sure she's growing steadily and just space out your supplements that way. Otherwise, if she has developed some coping skills, let her do her thing!

Chickens are amazing in that they don't seem to see things as obvious disabilities. It's one reason I have no trouble with my well-healed frostbite survivors, or the occasional bird that needs time to recover from whatever horrible thing happened. The chickens really don't care.
My cross-beaked girls have never had trouble once they grew up, and I've already told you about the one chick with the severe cross-beak.

You'll be fine. And, yes. Chickens purr. It's rather sweet. Hugs to your little balls of fluff and peep!
2 days ago
Good morning!
Congratulations on your healthy and happy chicks. Now, to keep them that way!

Most chicks sent through mail order are screened better than that, but you do get the occasional "oops". Just like in a shipment of 24 pullets, there seems to be an unfortunate cockerel who wasn't caught by the sexers. Cross beak is usually treated in a similar way by many, if they even bother.
By "treated in a similar way", I refer back to the unfortunate cockerel in a box of pullets - he's probably destined for Freezer Camp, if not just killed earlier, depending on the chicken keeper's personal philosophies and how they deal with things like that.

I have had mild cross beak cases, and a very dramatically cross-beaked pullet. I treat my chicks the same way. I resolve to not breed that chick, then give them the early support they need to live their "best life" and go from there.  I also tend to keep those random cockerels until/unless they cause unwarranted amounts of trouble. I've had situations where that "spare" cockerel ended up a flock-saver of some sort, or proved to be a Good Roo.

The mild cross beak birds I've had in the past managed quite well without help and were able to "sharpen" their beaks once they were older so that the cross beak wasn't noticeable once they were grown. They turned out to be good birds, but not in my "must save the eggs" group.
The severely cross-beaked chick I had grew up well. She looked to be almost as severe as yours. I offered her a range of food items, along with the rest of her group, and she grew up happy, healthy, and a little slower than the others. I would love to have given you a good report, but she was one of the many who disappeared while I was in the hospital two years ago. I suspect a cat (we have bobcats in addition to the ferals), raccoon, opossum, or dog got her.  

While my severely cross-beaked chick did well, I have had others that did not. Even with damp food, porridge/oatmeal, cornpone/spoonbread, and other preparations (I would make a bird safer version of the standard recipes with chicken-centric ingredients), some chicks just don't figure out how to eat. Maybe there's a difference in the amount of "twist" they have to the lower beak/mandible, or maybe there are other issues, internal and external, that aren't as easily seen. It can be hard to tell.

I'm of the "let them try" school, for all my big talk, and will give the chicks as much of a chance as I can, and sorrow if they can't manage. Others will consider it a slow starvation and put the chick down. It's a philosophical decision.

If you decide to try to work with her, I suggest supportive nutrition - yes, she will probably grow slower and not as well. Offering cooked chopped egg, porridges (peas cooked/mashed into a paste, oatmeal, polenta-ish, ...) and other vitamin enriched options can help. You can make a paste out of chick feed and a bit of hot water, let it cool, and see how she does with it.
It looks like her tongue is firmly in her lower beak. That means she will have some trouble swallowing, but how much trouble she'll have is something you need to check. Too much trouble and she will either give up because eating is stressful and does her no good, or she'll try to eat EVERYTHING and choke. Just watch her to see what happens.

Take a little time and think about your options. What are you willing and able to do? Do you have the time and inclination to feed her with an eyedropper? Are you willing to make special chicken foods so that she can eat? If she was intended for your egg flock, or meat flock, is that still a good place for her? Are you more inclined to give her a chance, and what will you do if she can't swallow? Can you put her down and what would that mean to you?

At the very least, I suggest contacting the hatchery and letting them know one of the chicks has cross-beak. They probably won't do anything about it, considering some of the odder malformations and responses I've had over the years, but you're doing your due diligence as a customer by informing them so they can check with their policies and/or employees. It's a congenital malformation, and one that can be scary serious, but also one that can be adjusted for depending on the severity and how the chick is affected. It looks like it's a bad case, but you're right there with her and can make better informed decisions.

Best thoughts!
3 days ago
Beautiful birds! Thank you so much for sharing the pictures! Such a handsome lad and lady.
6 days ago
I saw that this thread was referenced as helpful by another, similar thread and wanted to share that, American Science and Surplus, a mail order/catalog/online store that sells a LOT of surplus and random weird things they get in bulk. They do have some things that have been in their catalog for several decades, including a rather extensive collection of wires, cables, ropes, lines and other things that can be used to hang things.

If you can get stuff sent from the US, and it's a reasonable extra fee, you might consider them as a source. I like their creativity and silliness, and the fact that I can get all kinds of interesting things through the mail in a nice safe brown box that doesn't look interesting - that's where I got my condenser equipment (lab glass), and where I go for microscopes, slides, lab glass stuff, and all kinds of interesting bits and bobs.

1 week ago
I'm glad you were able to introduce them to yogurt!
I'm sure some of the goodness will make it to your hen.

My flock gets all their dairy products out of one of two old metal dog bowls. Since I no longer have dogs, the supplies are being repurposed over to the chickens and do a great job!
The metal is easy to clean, tough enough to stand up to  lot of random situations, and the chickens are used to it being on the back porch.

I've had trouble trying to convince them that containers are Okay, so I just dump stuff on the ground or put it in the dog bowl. It works.
I'm glad you found a way that worked out for all of you!
1 week ago
I know it's hard when you have a plan and Real Life smacks into your plan. I've had to redo so many things, and in less than good ways, that I've started planning for Murphy's Law (Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.) as part of my planning.

My better solution to aerial predators has been adding African geese, and making sure there's lots of tree, shrub, and subshrub shelter in the places the birds tend to go. Since most of my chickens don't go far from their safe area, it's easier for me to cut my losses against hawks and eagles, but I still get a few.

Sometimes the best you can do, in keeping your chickens safe from predators, is the best you can do. You have to do what you can and give yourself grace.
Do what you can with what you have, as you can. When you know more, or have more, you can do more.

If all your chickens are piled up together and relaxed and making happy chicken noises? They're happy. They have other options but aren't taking them. Chickens aren't humans in their need for personal space. They like being part of a flock. They like hanging out, closely, with their friends and family. They don't mind being right on top of each other - when they have options. As long as they aren't being forced into a small space, they're fine.

You're doing things right. Your chickens are happy and safe. That's all they ask for.
1 week ago
I guess I'm confused about the question.

Do I use natural fibers in a twine/string form while doing outside tying-up things? Sure.
I carefully choose what I use to tie stuff up based on the expected use that thing is going to get and where it will be used.  If I'm tying plants to a stake, or making a temporary teepee or something I don't expect to ever use again, I use loose spun (twirled? very splitty?) string made out of something plant based. I have used cotton yarn left over from crochet, jute from the hardware store, cotton string from a kitchen supply store, and other similar sorts of string, twine, or single strand.

If I decide to use something that has a load bearing job to do, expect to reuse the tying material for whatever reason, or intend for the thing being tied to last for more than one year/season, I use plastic zip ties or cheap fencing wire. Cheap fencing wire/baling wire is probably the most useful thing I have around here. I lump it as a Vital Necessity along with hardware cloth, zip ties, clothespins, magnets, and a good pocketknife/multi-tool.

So, what do I think Random Stranger should use on their place? Dunno. I don't live where you live, nor have your thoughts and priorities. If you want something biodegrade-able, keep in mind it *will* biodegrade at it's own rate (as my mom recently discovered about her spiffy biodegrading trash bags). If you want something that doesn't biodegrade, go with an unabashedly non-degrading (or at least not quickly) zip tie, piece of wire, or plastic/wire strapping.

The answer for any sort of preference is always, "it depends".
1 week ago
Pasty butt is probably the most common of easily fixable things with chicks.
I prefer the running water version, but understand that we all have different circumstances. Standing warm water works, too.

I use a tiny trickle of warm water to loosen and peel the poop off/get it to dissolve, then treat the area with a little water soluble gel - triple antibiotic can be used, or whatever skin care works for you. I'm hesitant and can't advise the use of anything with a tint to it, or anything that isn't easy to digest, so use your best judgement. You want to apply just a small amount to any reddened area or where the poop was stuck to the skin. It helps the chick to heal well and prevents another pasty butt episode.

Giving the chicks some dirt to play with, or letting them have some time outside (in a safe area with protection and supervision) can also help. I generally offer grass, weed clumps, and food bits (fruit, vegetable pieces, dry pet food, ...) so they get used to the idea that food comes in many shapes, colors, and flavors. It does help their intestinal flora to offer yogurt, too. Small amounts of whatever you want to try, off to the side of their brooder, can keep things interesting while they're doing the hard job of growing up.
1 week ago