Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Show Time Part 3- Preparing Chickens for the Show

It's Show Time! Part 3~
Preparing Chickens for the Show
 In our first poultry show post, we talked about showmanship, which is about preparing us/the kids for the show.  We're going to continue learning, studying and practicing for the showmanship portion up until the show and in between each show therafter.  The more you learn, the better you'll not only perform but the better chicken keeper/farmer you'll be. 
In our second poultry show post in this series we gave you some ideas about selecting which of your birds to take to the show.

Our competing chickens need to be prepared for the show also.  No, not by studying and asking them questions, of course!  We want to talk about testing your birds and bathing them and giving them their salon treatment!  We didn't paint their nails but we did help them to look amazing!

In order to participate, each registered bird is required to have Pullorum Testing.  My children were concerned because pullorum testing requires blood to be drawn with a needle.  Alyssa was particularly ansy because even learning about anatomy- chicken or otherwise- in our homeschool makes this poor baby nauseous.  Once it was over, however, we realized it was more of a concern for the kids than it was for the chickens! 

For the pullorum testing, it was pretty simple.  The tester gently lifted their wings and pricked them underneath with a needle.  She took a bit of blood and mixed it with an antigen and then awaited the results.  The kids helped out by holding towels under their wings until the bleeding stopped. 

Thankfully as suspected, all of our chicks tested negative.  The chickens then had a silver numbered band placed on their legs.  This seemed to irritate them much more than the blood test at first but they quickly seemed to adjust to the bands and now ignore them.  The kids each recieved their certificate for the negative tests.

Now that the chickens and children were all registered and ceritified, we needed to get them in thier best, tip-top show shape!  That required us to bathe and style them!  You'll want to bathe your chickens about 3-5 days prior to the show.  This gives their body time to work some of the natural oils back into their feathers.  It's much easier than it sounds, trust me.  Having never felt the need to bathe my chickens I was a little intimidated by the thought of angry, flapping chickens wanting nothing to do with water.  I was wrong!  It's so much easier than I pictured it and some seemed to enjoy it!
My Daughter, Bri wrote for this post! <3
My 9 year old daughter, B, wrote out the steps for bathing the chickens.  Here are her instructions.

To make your chick look nice before a chicken show,wash them good.  We filled three tubs. One with warm water and Dawn dish washing liquid, one with only water, and
one with water and vinegar. 

When you wash them you only put the water to their neck do not get their face in the water.  Do not scrub them, you move them back and forth in the water. You may gently rub them if you're careful not to push the feathers in the wrong direction.  You probably at least want to rub around their vent area.  Do the same with all of the tubs, wash them in the same order as when you filled the tubs.

Next, you wrap your chicken in a big towel (ensure you leave their heads out of one end) for a minute or two. Sit down with the big towel in your lap, hold them close to you but let their feet touch your lap so they dont panic as much. 

While you have your chicken wrapped in the towel, take the time to wash their legs, feet, and nails old toothbrush and trim their nails if needed. Rinse the soap off with your rinse bucket or running water. Ours did not need it so I apologize, we don't have photos of that. Please be careful when trimming the nails. You may want to have someone with experience help you or show you how the first time. As you can see from Jordan's photo, the feather leg chickens especially benefit from washing their feet. 

Find a plug outside your house then get an extension cord (if you have one) and plug a blow dryer into it. Blow dry them on the cool setting (make sure that it's not too hot). Wash your next chicken the same way. Our chickens enjoyed their bath and even drying experiences and I'm sure yours will too!
Keep in mind we prepared for this show when it was still warm/hot weather outdoors.  Now that Hurricane Sandy has passed through and brought cold weather here to Virginia, we will wash them in the house for our show in November.  We will follow the same steps but using warm water in the house.

There are some other tips/tricks to preparing your chicken for the show.  We change thier diet just slightly about a month before by adding Ultra Kibble to their food, it just seems to fill them out and help them feather nicely.  Many of our friends who show poultry also rub their feet and beaks with Vet Rx.  It helps them look nice and shiny :) and also helps prevent colds and Scaly Legs.  Both of these products are shown below in our Amazon store. 

Many serious poultry showers also cage their birds separate from the flock a few days before a show to keep them clean and in tip top shape.  We have not done this, our birds are so closely bonded with their flock, we decided not to do this out of fear of stressing them to much with the added stress of the show.  I do understand the reasoning, however, especially with our white silkie girl.  She seems to want to walk through any mud she can find as soon as she's bathed!

Our first show was fairly small, the show they're competing in on Nov. 17th is a big show so we may try separating them into clean caged areas once they are washed, especially those that went to the last show and weren't stressed by it.  I truly believe it helps that all of our chickens- layers, breeders, show chicks, pets are ALL handled often and still hand fed treats by the kids and I.  They trust us in their own chicken way to provide and care for them!

Alyssa will be adding to the next Show post about their experience at the show.  We'll cover some of the questions the judges asked them and what their personal thoughts were about the experience!  We look forward to posting again soon!


Tiff & Bri


Friday, October 12, 2012

Hug A Chicken Day!

Hug A Chicken Day
Just saw this fun post over at Tilly's Nest for Hug A Chicken Day! :) Now we hug our chickens all of the time but they sure do deserve a day to make it official! Our chickens provide so much for us,
excercise (in my husband's case for keeping up with me always expanding)!
Mark your calendars and check out her post about Hug A Chicken Day so we can all take part!
Love & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars w/ Cream Cheese Frosting- Happy Fall Y'all!

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Happy Fall Y'all!

Here in Virginia, Autumn is in full swing!  It seems like we went from a hot, humid summer to cold, rainy winter overnight so I'm so excited to wake up for some Gorgeous Fall Weather this morning!  Woo Hoo!  Fall is my FAVORITE time of year so I'm a happy farm girl today!  Autumn weather puts me in the mood for all things Fall related which always starts with thoughts of PUMPKINS!  Since it was our week to bring goodies for the teacher's lounge at our homeschool co-op, I thought it was a great time to teach my girls about baking, and of course, we started with a delicous pumpkin recipe!
When I think of great southern cooking, one of the first ladies that comes to mind for me is the beautiful and creative southern chef, Paula Deen!  I love that she's so successful and still stays true to her roots, right Y'all?   I'm a big fan!  When I was wasting   spending time on Pinterest I just happened across a yummy Paula Deen treat!  Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars with the most buttery, sugary, creamy, cream cheese frosting you have ever tasted!  If I'm going to teach my girls how to bake goodies, Paula's recipes are the way to ensure success!  *By the way- if you're a fan like I am, Paula actually has a Pinterest page of her own with more dreamy recipes and country ideas!
The best thing is, although it's made from scratch, it's a simple recipe!  My favorite combination: homemade, delicious, and easy to put together!
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.
3. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.
5. Spread the batter into a greased 13x10 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

To make the icing:
6. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

7.  Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again.

8. Let cool completely before frosting.

9. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars

10. Cut into bars.
 Oh so yummy!  I must tell you these bars melt in your mouth!  Obviously, there's another goodie on the plate with the pumpkin bar.  I have twin girls and since we needed to make goodies for the teachers' lounge I decided to let them each make different recipes.  Beside the bread is Briana's baked good, Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread! It's delicous also and I'll be posting that recipe next week!
 I'm so proud of Alyssa for baking these Pumpkin Bars all by herself!  Everything was made from scratch!  It warms my heart to see my daughters taking an interest in homemaking and learning to provide.  It's perfect for our Keepers at Home lessons and it's a joy to share the time and energy together!
The Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars were a great hit in the teachers' loung also! Alyssa was all smiles when my son reported back to her that his teachers were raving in HIS classroom about her bars!  She blushed and grinned so wide when he told her his teachers were in awe that a 9 year old baked it on her own!  I bragged in front of her that my only assistance was placing the pan in the oven (I worry they're still too young to reach it without getting burned).  
  The Bible commands every Christian girl to "Use hospitality one to another without grudging," ~I Peter 4:9, so it was such a blessing to be able to homeschool and share the opportunity to provide hospitality to our friends at co-op with my daughters!  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Free Ranging in Photos...

Free Ranging in Photos...

I realize I haven't posted our next link in the show series, have been a bit under the weather here...Fall :)... I finally was able to spend some "quality" time with my flock and kids today just hanging out (and it wasn't pouring rain! yay!) and letting the chickens free range in decent weather.

When they're not in breeding season or currently breeding, we have a mixed flock for the most part.    I love letting everyone free range together and enjoy so much time outdoors to forage, hunt, peck, run, and just be chickens however they please!

Since photography is another of my hobbies/passions I thought I'd share some of the photographs I took today while relaxing with my family- feathered, furred, and human!   I hope you're having great weather and enjoying the fall where you are!

This last photo is blurry but the BEST moment!  Our four new Paint Silkie Chicks were free ranging for the first time and Victoria SCORED a tiny little worm!  Of course, the others were running behind her to take it, just like the "big guys!"

What a needed day enjoying our flock and the outdoors with my kids!  Tommorrow is suppose to be even nicer! I can't wait!