Monday, April 30, 2012

Links and Information on Chickens

Over the past few years we have really enjoyed keeping chickens, at first we kept onlying laying hens for eggs.  At one time we bought 5 week old silke chicks and raised them, it turned out that three of the five were roosters, and as we had no plans on eating them, we sold them.

Last year we kept hens and roosters, with one pair hatching out nine cute chicks.  Sadly a fox killed the other hen so that rooster was left alone.

Keeping chickens as pets has been rather fun, and except for when we had the roosters with the hens we have enjoyed their eggs too.  I totally encourage others to keep chickens as backyard pets and wish more cities allowed people to do so - I am lucky to live in the country so there are no regulations in this regard.

I have encountered many interesting questions about keeping and raising chickens had have provided some links here in case anyone is wondering the same thing.

Why Won't My Chicken Eggs Hatch? - This article addresses common reasons why eggs do not hatch.

How are Chicken Eggs Formed?  - Interesting, weird and maybe not good to read before breakfast.

Abnormalities in Chicken Eggs - The eggs you get at stores are often perfect but not all eggs are so perfect. 

When will my Hens Start Laying?  - Usually hens start laying eggs at five months of age, but not always.

Below are some articles specifically related to chicken breeds.  Selecting the right breed is very important, some chickens are friendly and make great pets, others are suited for laying, meat, or are dual purpose.

About Orpington Chickens - A popular dual purpose chicken breed

Araucana and Ameraucan Chickens - The ones that lay blue or green eggs.

Bantam Chickens - Small chickens well suited to being kept as pets.

Silkie Chickens - Fluffy and cute ones common as pets.

Of course there are more breeds than those listed, but these are the ones I am most familiar with and have articles on at this point.  You might also want to read an article on General Chicken Trivia.

Overall I have found keeping chickens to be great, they are not as stupid as people often make them out to be, and they enjoy being out free range in the yard.  Chickens will eat slugs, grasshoppers, and other insect pests too - even ticks.   They do need to be confined in a coop at night for their own safety.  Sometimes they may want to roost in a tree but they may be vulnerable from predators (mink, raccoons, and so forth).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tips on Keeping Goats or Sheep

Many hobby farmers, or acreage owners, have found that sheep or goats are great for pasture control. These small animals are much easier to handle than cattle, and require less space. They can be kept as pets, raised for meat, or as companions when only one horse is owned. There are a few differences between sheep and goats, the most concerning being diet (sheep cannot have copper but goats need it). With many breeds of each there is most certainly something for everyone.

If you are interested in keeping sheep or goats, this article is to provide basic information as well as to suggest other articles for further reading.

Sheep and Goat Diseases

You should speak to your veterinarian in regards to what sheep, or goat, diseases are common in your areas. Two of the most concerning are scrapie, and footrot. As well there are concerns about parasites so you will want to worm them yearly.  If you plan on breeding sheep or goats you will also want to be aware of mastitis, or an infection of the udder.

Breeds of Sheep and Goats

There are hundreds of different sheep and goat breeds, some suited more for dairy, others for meat, and others for fiber. Two of the most popular goats for fiber are the Cashmere goats and a Angora goats.

For sheep there are many hair sheep breeds which are less maintenance for people who do not want to worry about shearing. There are also some novelty sheep such as the Jacob sheep (often having 4 horns) and the rarer breeds such as the Icelandic Sheep.

With the wool sheep shearing is a concern as they can over heat if left with their wool on. Tail docking is usually often done in wool sheep.

Katahdin hair sheep ewe and lambs


If you are interested in breeding sheep or goats, both have a similar 5 month gestation so the billy, or ram, is put with the flock usually in the fall for spring kids, or lambs.

You need to be prepared to bottle feed kids or bottle feed lambs as sometime doe or ewe is unable to do so for all her offspring.


Fencing is also a concern in that goats can climb (or sneak under) many types of fence.  Proper fencing is needed as well to keep predators out.  A 3-strand barbed wire fence will not contain sheep or goats.

Guard Animals

In areas where coyotes, or other predators (even stray dogs) are a concern, many people keep a guard animal with their sheep or goats.  There are many dog breeds for this purpose as well as a donkey or llama. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Designing a Fractal Lamb

Hi Everyone.

Today is sunny out so what am I doing inside?  Well, I had this picture I took of one of the lambs a few days ago and really wanted to do something different with it.  This is one of Favorite Sheep's lambs, and the lamb looks great but the background is distracting.  I am no expert on improving a background the proper way, but I do know how to alter a photo a fun way. 

I am writing this without knowing what the final image will look like, as I will be doing it as I write, so I hope it turns out as good as I expect.

Here is the original photograph, cropped to remove even more clutter.  Cute lamb but she is almost lost because of the snow, so I will add some color, dark ones to make her pop out.

At this stage I know it does not look good, I colored her eyes black and added a twinkle which I hope will turn out okay in the final image.  Which will be produced by tweeking the picture using Corel Photo Paint Redfield effect called Fractalius.

I produced a couple of images I was happy with, one softer and one more arty.  I am going to share the more arty one with you.  You can see the softer one here.  Neither are what I was expecting.  I think I would have preferred a solid background for both - but I will leave that for another day because now I must go clean the barn.  Anyhow here is the image.

Note all pictures are copyright to me, not for reproduction.