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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Why Can't You People Just Get Eggs at the Store!"

Chickens are a Hot Topic at City Council Meetings:

The Domino Theory has reared its head again. At a city council meeting in Salem, Oregon this spring, one of the residents strongly objected to allowing backyard chickens in the city, by arguing a unique theory: Allowing chickens will eventually lead to meth labs.

Barbara Palermo of Salem, who has been forced to give up her backyard hens until the city council decides this issue, is producing a video about her efforts to legalize backyard chickens. She couldn't resist creating this rap song:

Outlaws, outlaws, what'cha gonna do? What if you find out they're living next to you?

You know they’re out there somewhere, hiding chickens in the yard. So you better watch your back, don’t let down your guard.

‘Cause the next thing you know, this will lead to other crimes. The hood goes downhill, we see it all the time.

Roosters on the stoop throwing up gang signs, hens on the corner flippin’ tricks to earn a dime.

Prostitution, meth labs, gambling and more. Why can’t you people just get eggs at the store?

The Chicken Revolution!

Chicken Aunt

My friend Pegi has joined the backyard chicken movement and recently got 7 adorable chicks. I'm so excited--I feel like I've become a sort of chicken aunt.

Her husband built a beautiful chicken palace next to their garden shed and my girls are jealous. They originally planned on getting 6 chicks, but the feed store threw in an extra one. I guess it's the updated version of the baker's half-dozen. Although lately she said one of the chicks has been acting strange and is a little larger than the others. This could become interesting....

The Chicken Palace

The chicks are growing fast. They are Black Australorps, a large heavy breed from Australia. Apparently this breed is the Australian's take on the Orpington breed (my Roxanne is a Buff Orpington). They are friendly, gentle and winter hardy. They also hold the world's record for the most eggs laid in one year - 364! With my inconsistent layers who seem to drop an egg only when they feel like it, I can see that hen envy could become a real problem for me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Lulu of a Couple Weeks

On the Mend

I can't believe some of the things I've done in the past 2 1/2 weeks since Lulu went to the vet. Trust me, it wasn't what I signed up for when I decided to get these three girls.

The first day that I gave her meds was quite a trip. I wrapped her in a towel (like the vet tech did), tried to get her to open her mouth and got lots of medicine on my hand. I'm not so sure how much went in her mouth and when we were all done I found out she had pooped on my pants. I had nine more days of this!

She's now on a regimen of probiotics in the form of plain yogurt with live active acidophilus and bifidus cultures to add good bacteria to her gut. She's also getting her protein supplement, like a real athlete, in the form of meal worms. Live meal worms in the fridge is not something I do lightly; it really grosses me out. Luckily a friend told me about the freeze-dried meal worms that Mills Fleet Farm sells in the wild bird section. Naturally, the chicks preferred live worms but, as I'm calling the shots, they're getting the dried ones for now.

Probiotic-Protein Afternoon Snack

Lulu is now back with the rest of the clan, but each morning I still take her in, wrap her in a towel and clean her bottom with warm water. I then blow dry her feathers with a hair dryer, rub a little Preparation H on her vent area, rub the rest of the no-feathered area with Bacitracin for good measure and let her go back out with her friends. Whew!

What's interesting about this whole episode is the change in Lulu. She's always been my obstinate one. She embodies the problem child in every family. But early on in this process she seemed to understand that I was trying to help her and has been very gentle and cooperative through it all. She also seems to have gained a little humility. She no longer attacks the other two chicks or pecks at them as they try to eat. She has lost some of her cockiness.

I thought perhaps she'd even let me hold her in the yard now that we had become buddies, but no such luck. She still runs whenever I approach. But come morning, she limply snuggles into the towel as I try to help her recover. After all, she's a survivor. She's also my best egg layer--an egg a day--even through this ordeal!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sick Chick

I was once told by a large animal veterinarian to never take a chicken to the vet. "Remember, they're only chickens," he said. At the time it seemed to make sense. That was before I had my chicks.

I just returned from taking Lulu to the vet. The reason? She's missing all of the feathers under her tail. They inspected her and ran some tests and determined her bacterial count was high. The doctor put her on two antibiotics that I have to give by syringe into her mouth. We don't know exactly what's wrong and won't unless they run more tests, but the vet seems to feel whatever it is the antibiotics will take care of it. They did rule out mites and other parasites which is great because I was really starting to feel a little creepy crawly.

The Patient

I'm actually feeling guilty because I think her problem has been going on for some time. In my defense, she's been acting fine, eating well and laying eggs almost every day. Even the vet thought she looked quite healthy (except for her bottom). Plus, as you know, Lulu doesn't let me get anywhere near her so I had no idea she didn't have any bum feathers.

She was actually quite a hit at the vet. They don't examine chickens often although they do see a lot of other birds. The staff and other patients' owners kept telling her how pretty she was, which I think she liked. She even had a little dog visit her although she wasn't as keen on the compliments the dog tried to give her so the puppy had to be taken away.

I'm keeping her separated from the other two chicks for a couple of days to keep her calm and to keep track of what she eats. This afternoon, when I get up the courage, I'll try giving the drugs. The vet technician made it look so easy....

I guess to a large animal vet who is used to dealing with cows, horses, sheep and goats, chickens may seem inconsequential. But when you've only got 3 hens and they've become family pets, everything is different. The bill was a lot larger than I expected so she's now become the golden chick that lays eggs, but I guess it's just what we do for our pets. It's just like when we rigged up intravenous feeding for our cat at home every night or brought our son's rat in for surgery. Even though the rat died during the surgery it's nice to know you've done everything you can to help the animals that do so much for us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Traveling Chicken Show

The chicks and I have been very busy lately so we took a short break from posting to this blog. We hope to keep at it a little more regularly from now on.

Well, I know I’ve been busy and I guess the chicks have been busy...
laying in the sun.

This past week the girls and I were on the road with the Traveling Chicken Show, as my friend Barbara calls it. The chicks put on a class about raising chickens and cooking eggs for the Garden Interns and Conservation Interns from the Community Design Center on the East side of St. Paul. Cleo and Roxanne helped in our talk about raising chickens, how an egg is formed and how to determine what color eggs a chicken will lay.

Outside of Cleo escaping the fenced-in run, the electricity going out, and rain as we were setting up, it all went smoothly. The chicks loved the attention, especially all the treats they were given.

Some of the interns were brave enough to hold the girls, for many it was their first time holding a chicken. It’s amazing the smiles these chickens bring forth.

(Roxanne being sweet and putting up with it all)

The chicks had help from Barbara along with Cindy and Diane, my fellow Les Dames d’Escoffier members, who taught the interns simple egg recipes they could make at home. The Do-It-Yourself Deviled Eggs made from whatever combination the kids decided to throw together resulted in some crazy concoctions that some of the kids loved and others were not so sure of.

The classic Toad in the Hole recipe was a big favorite. Of course what’s not to like with double-buttered toasted bread surrounding a fried egg?

Finally, the Scrambled Egg Breakfast Wraps were also a hit. Softly scrambled eggs topped with cheese, sour cream and a homemade salsa all wrapped together in a soft flour tortilla. The interns kept wanting to add more serrano chiles to the salsa—we went through lots of chiles and 2 bottles of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce and regular Tabasco Sauce for this recipe. Some like it hot!

It turned out to be a fun afternoon for all, but once it was over Cleo and Roxanne were happy to forgo the limelight and return to their own backyard. They have a lot of sunning to catch up on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Chicken Gardening

The chicks have become garden groupies. Every time one of us goes out to do a little something in the garden, the chicks come running. They've finally connected the dots and realized that when we dig in the soil, wonderful goodies get turned up.

Roxanne gets the closest to the shovel--dangerously close, but then she loves worms and has an eagle eye. If I find a worm I’ll throw it to her and before it hits the ground she has it in her mouth and down the hatch. The other day she spied one on her own, a big fat one, and before I could blink she slurped it up like spaghetti---eeeewk!

Roxanne Gets in Close

Checking it Out

They've also taken a liking to one of my favorite plants, a beautiful white and green plant that adds a bright color to the shade garden. They must think it’s tasty or it’s had a run of bugs because they've nibbled it down to quite a bedraggled state.

My Once Favorite Plant

The girls do their part for the garden by providing great compost and turning the soil plus eating the nasty slugs and bugs in the garden, so I hate to complain when they get in the way of the shovel or nibble on the plants. According to the Omlet experts, chickens like a shaggy garden--that suits my gardening style perfectly!

Luckily my rhubarb plants are out of the chicks' territory as I've been on a rhubarb binge lately. There's something about the tart taste of rhubarb that I can't get enough of this time of the year. I've been making lots of old time favorites from my childhood such as rhubarb sauce, rhubarb crunch and rhubarb custard pie. But this past week I've been longing for something new: rhubarb ice cream. Even though I'd never tasted it and didn't have a recipe, it sounded so perfect I simply had to make some for myself.

Last Saturday I turned on the ice cream machine and began creating. The results? A creamy light vanilla ice cream with swirls of tart rhubarb running through it. Fabulous!

Unfortunately, it has a drawback. It tastes so good you can't stop indulging. It's like having a freezer full of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, and no one's keeping doesn't last long!

Rhubarb-Swirl Ice Cream
Print This Recipe
I always think homemade ice cream tastes best the day it is made. Or, maybe we just have a hard time keeping away from it once I've made it and it never lasts around here much longer than one day.

Rhubarb Sauce:
8 oz. rhubarb, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
8 oz. strawberries, sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
1/2 cup sugar

Ice Cream:
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half and half cream
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pile the rhubarb and strawberries together in a large saucepan and pour 1/2 cup of sugar over the fruit. Gently stir the mixture together and begin cooking over medium heat. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. (Don't be tempted to add water, the fruit will eventually begin to soften and the sugar will melt creating enough liquid.)

Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook gently until the rhubarb is soft and the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled.

To make the ice cream, whisk together all of the ice cream ingredients in a large bowl until the sugar has melted. Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the directions that accompany the machine.

Remove the ice cream from the machine and place in a large bowl. Immediately add the chilled rhubarb sauce to the ice cream and fold in lightly, leaving the rhubarb in swirls throughout the vanilla ice cream. Scoop into a freezer container and freeze for about 2 hours before eating. If frozen longer, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to slightly soften before serving.

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups)

Tip: You do need an ice cream machine to make this recipe. It may be worth it to buy one as they're really quite inexpensive and all the big box retailers sell them. However, I don't know why you couldn't just fold the rhubarb sauce into 1 quart of softened super-good purchased vanilla ice cream for a similar result. It won't be quite as good as totally homemade and I haven't tried it, but it should work. If you try it, let me know how it comes out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rescue Chickens

An update to the Chicken Run Rescue story.

A few days after my visit, they suddenly had 60 birds on their waiting list. The need for adoptions is high -- those of you considering adding chicks to your home, please think of adopting!

I also feel honored that one of their latest arrivals is named Janice, a beautiful 4 month old red sex-link. (Sex-links are a breed of hybrids where the sex of the bird can be determined at hatching by their color.) She sounds delightful and if I had a bigger coop I’d have to adopt my namesake. I may have to get a bigger coop just to do so…..

Also, a new class if being offered by the rescue group for those thinking about owning chickens and those for who already have chickens. Make plans to sign up:


June 20, 2009, 9 to 1 pm
pre-registration required

Introduction to the basics of living with chickens with an emphasis on the practicalities of costs and commitment required and the rewarding
bond that develops between humans and chicken companions. This workshop will furnish information about providing an enriched environment to meet their instinctive interests, needs, and activities
and relevant state and local laws that protect them and their predators.

Presentations by local experts on chicken history and behavior, vet care and zoonoses (diseases that an be transmitted from animals to humans), animal law, shelter design specific to the Minnesota climate, non-lethal predator protection and landscaping for forage.

Appropriate for those who currently care for chickens or are considering doing so, animal control professionals, shelter staff and veterinary technicians. CE credits pending.

To register, contact
Put Class Registration in the subject field of the e-mail.

Also, please subscribe to The Chicken Run Rescue Adoption Chronicles.

The notices contain a link to personality profiles and photos of the birds who are available for adoption and contain information about chicken care from the perspective of those who respect and advocate for them. We average about one message a month.

To subscribe, contact
Put Subscribe Adoption Chronicles in the subject field of the e-mail.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicken Run Rescue

Police Break up Cockfighting Ring in Minneapolis
Chicken Escapes from Slaughterhouse
Abandoned Chickens Found in Alley
Whoops--It's a Rooster
Abused Chickens

What happens to all these chickens? If they're lucky, they're brought to Chicken Run Rescue, the only urban chicken rescue facility in the United States. Mary Britton Clouse and her husband Bert Clouse open their turn-of-the century home and their hearts to care for the most abused species on earth: chickens.

There's no sign announcing Chicken Run Rescue but as I walked, on one of the busiest streets in north Minneapolis, I knew I was there when I heard the calls of contented roosters through the dense shrubbery barrier. Inside, is a beautiful peaceful area devoted to chickens--a type of chicken retreat. Happy contented birds roam the landscaped backyard. It's hard to believe that some of these same birds were once inflicted with abuse and pain.

Chicken Run Rescue Backyard
Early Spring 2009

Summer 2008 with Amaranth in Bloom
(good plants for chickens)

Pierce Butler

One of Mary’s favorite roosters is Pierce Butler. This stately black bird with a giant red comb has nerve damage. He’s been near death three times recently but comes fighting back each time. His beak has been clipped so far back that pecking hard surfaces causes pain. Mary places a folded towel in his food dish to soften the surface when he pecks.


Hannah, a tiny little girl, hobbles around on stumps--she lost all but two of her toes. She was left outside in frigid temps and frostbite did the damage. Mary takes the time to give her special care and she lovingly responds to anyone who comes to visit.

Hannah's Two Toes

Luckilee, the escape artist from the slaughterhouse, was found wandering the streets. A concerned neighbor called Mary.

Chicken Run Rescue began in 2001 when Mary heard about a cockfighting ring the police had uncovered. She inquired as to what would happen to the 15 roosters and hens recovered in the bust. She was told they had no facilities to house the chickens and therefore they would have to be euthanized. She said “Bring them here, I’ll find homes for them.” Mary had no experience with chickens. She’d never even held a chicken.

Cockfighting Bird

That was the start of a life-changing decision. Last year Chicken Run Rescue took in 234 chickens. The number of chickens in their care changes at all times. Eight hens and three roosters are permanent pets. Any of the special needs birds, especially roosters, always stay. (In addition to the 5 rescue budgies and 2 doves that now live with them.) The day I visited there were 5 foster chickens, birds that are up for adoption, but more were being dropped off that afternoon.

New additions have to be quarantined to make sure they're healthy before being allowed outside with the rest of the flock. At Chicken Run Rescue that means they spend time in an upstairs shower stall that’s softened with straw. Vet visits are arranged if necessary and any health or sanitary issues are dealt with. By the time these birds are ready for adoption they're happy, healthy beautiful chickens.

For a list of the birds currently up for adoption, including Luckilee, check out Chicken Run Rescue Adoptions. If you’re not able to adopt but concerned about the plight of these animals, consider giving a donation. Chicken Run Rescue is a nonprofit funded solely by individual donations.

Hannah and Friends

As I left, the birds were busy munching on the heads of romaine lettuce Mary buys in bulk as treats. Come nightfall they'll line up and march downstairs to the spacious pens Mary and Bert built in their basement. "Why build heated coops outside and worry about the cold when I have an unused heated basement available?" she said. That's love. When you look at her birds, you can see in their eyes they know how lucky they are.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parade of Coops - A Success!

In spite of the rainy weather, the Parade of Coops was a success as chicken lovers from around the Twin Cities toured local coops. The misty rain and chill didn't stop the chickens from strutting their stuff. They preened and showed off their homes to all of us who stopped by.

A huge thank you to everyone who opened up their coops. If you missed the tour, here's a few pictures from the day.

I didn't get to all of the stops on the tour, but the owners of one of the coops I missed kindly provided photos of their coop and construction process.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Parade of Coops!

Mark your calendar for the Spring Parade of Coops this weekend!

Parade of Coops!
Sunday, April 26th 2009 2-5 pm

Welcome to the Parade of Coops! Explore some of the Twin Cities' finest coops and meet dozens of fans of those flocked and feathered.

Further Information: Peat W. 612 719 1988

If you are currently keeping chickens/poultry/livestock or would like to start, join our
TwinCitiesChickens listserve. It is closely controlled to prevent excess spam. It serves not only as an information forum but also as a social platform for poultry keepers in the Twin Cities Metro area as well as Duluth and Mankato.

There will be printed versions available at Coop "A" on Sunday, but get your transport logistics figured out now!

Coop "A": Peat Willcutt, Rocky Gordon, Phyllis Kahn, Leslie Ball, and family

115 W Island Ave
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "B": Aimee and Jeremy McAdams

3441 18th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "C": Stephanie Oyen

2521 29th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "D": Rebecca Miller

3145 Colfax Ave (Uptown)
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "E": Devin Quince
533 Sheridan Ave N
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "F": Michael, Emily, Grace, Ezra Scribner-O'Pray

2419 35th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN

Coop "G": Theresa Rooney
Garden Chicken at Birdnest Cottage
3510 37th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN

Get a head start by checking out the coops in last year's parade.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Goat Cheese Stuffed Eggs with Fresh Herbs

(photo taken by Stafford Photography)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Eggs with Fresh Herbs
Print This Recipe
This recipe of mine was first featured in the April/May 2008 issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine. Goat cheese adds creaminess and a slight tang to these deviled eggs.

6 hard-cooked eggs, halved, separated
2 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann's)
2 teaspoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, chives, chervil, dill and/or basil
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch freshly ground pepper

Mash egg yolks in a medium bowl with a pastry blender or a fork until well-crumbled. Add the cheese and continue to mash until blended. Blend in the mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the shallots, herbs, salt and pepper.

Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites using a pastry bag and star tip or spoon the mixture into the whites.

Makes 12 deviled eggs


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