Coming Home to Roost: Build Your Own Backyard Chicken Coop

Chicken Coop

The homesteading movement in the United States represents a return to “first principles,” chief among which is self-sufficiency; and two of the cornerstones of this burgeoning movement are “do-it-yourself” and “grow-your-own.” Now that Spring is just around the corner, what better time to put both these ideas into action at once than to build your own backyard chicken coop?

Farm-fresh Eggs

It’s easier than you might think! More importantly, the overall benefits far outweigh the initial investment and effort. The endless supply of farm-fresh eggs alone is worth the price of admission. Without the added chemicals and hormones you might expect from mass commercial egg production, they’re healthier for you, they taste noticeably better, and they’re available at a moment’s notice just a few feet from your kitchen. Likewise, if you use the birds for meat, they grow fast, don’t take up much space, and more than pay for themselves in reduced grocery bills. Last but not least, it’s fun to raise your own chickens—it’s something that you and your whole family can learn from and enjoy in its own right.

A basic setup need not be an elaborate affair. This article will help you get started. Continue reading

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Literary Dogs

Argos

Argos and Odysseus

Among the very first dogs known by name in Western literature is Argos, who appears near the end of Homer’s Odyssey. In that great Greek epic of ancient times, he is depicted as the very epitome of faithfulness: waiting patiently for 20 years for Odysseus to return home from the Trojan War, he immediately recognizes his old master at first sight. Only then is the sick and feeble dog able to pass away in peace. Thousands of years later, we in the modern world can still recognize and appreciate this common bond between human and animal.

That is just one of the many reasons dogs are called “man’s (and woman’s) best friend”! Since the time of Homer, many more books have been written and stories told about the canines we love who love us back, entertain us, provide for us, work and play with us, protect us, inspire us, teach us the virtues of kindness and wisdom, and keep us company when we are lonely. Here are five of our favorites. Continue reading

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Dog-friendly Over-the-Counter Medications [Infographic]

When your canine friend suffers minor physical distress, did you know you can often administer safe “people meds” to treat the problem? This infographic provides guidelines for treating your pet when it is in pain, motion-sick, gassy, etc. Click the link below to download a printable PDF (Safe-Dog-Meds.pdf) of these guidelines. NOTE: Always consult your veterinarian as to appropriateness and proper dosages of these medications before administering!

Safe Dog Medications

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Ten Reasons NOT to Get a Puppy This Holiday Season

Christmas Puppy

Today is Black Friday. With Thanksgiving over, many American families turn their thoughts to the next big celebration of the season: Christmas. And often, this is the time of year we think about buying a puppy to join the household.

As any dog-owner knows, our canine friends are highly intelligent (some would say “sentient”) creatures, with a surprisingly sophisticated emotional and behavioral life. For that reason, you should think long and hard before buying a puppy for the family this holiday season. Here are ten reasons why: Continue reading

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Literary Quotes About Cats

Cat on Books

Of one of his feline companions, H.P. Lovecraft—famed author of the fantastic and macabre—once wrote: “In its flawless grace and superior self-sufficiency I have seen a symbol of the perfect beauty and bland impersonality of the universe itself, objectively considered, and in its air of silent mystery there resides for me all the wonder and fascination of the unknown.”

What is it about cats that has so fascinated and mystified the world’s greatest writers throughout history? That is another mystery that may never be solved. Nevertheless, here we present some of our favorite feline quotes—some witty, some philosophical, but all insightful—from some very notable authors. Continue reading

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Autumn Pet Safety Tips

Autumn Scene

The last of the summer’s harvest is being gathered in, the kids have returned to their classrooms (oh joy!), and already the leaves in some places are starting to turn. That can mean only one thing: fall has arrived!

September 22 marks the autumnal equinox, when the hours of daylight and dark are equal. With this shift in seasons, we should also shift our thinking and habits regarding our beloved dogs and cats. Here are a few ideas, apropos for this time of year, to keep your pets safe and happy.

Continue reading

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Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat

summerdog

With temperatures and humidity rising now that we’re in the peak of Summer, it can get downright uncomfortable for us. Doubly so for our pets, where the hot weather can prove to even be dangerous for our furry friends. Here are some tips to help you and your pet stay safe in the Summer heat.

NEVER leave your pet in a parked car

Like with babies and young children, never ever leave your pet parked in a car. Not even if you leave the car running with the a/c on full blast. On a warm day like today the internal temperature of a car sky-rockets and can increase by over 50% in under 30 minutes. So, if it’s 90 degrees outside, the car will reach 108 degrees in 10 minutes, by 30 minutes, the internal temperature of that car has already hit 120 degrees.

Limit Exercise on Hot Days

While exercise is good for your pet and for you, take care when exercising your pet on hot days. If you still plan on exercising with your furry friend, make sure it’s during the early morning or in the evening hours, so that the heat of the day isn’t there. Additionally, take care if your pet has white colored ears, they’re at higher risk of skin cancer. Also, make sure to keep your pet on grassy areas if possible as the asphalt could burn the pads of their feet.

Watch the Humidity

It’s not just the temperature you have to keep an eye on with your pet, but also the humidity as well. Animals pant to evaporate the moisture in their lungs, which helps them to cool down. If the humidity is too high, they won’t be able to cool themselves because of the ambient moisture levels being the same or greater than that of their body. So keep that A/C and dehumidifier running and don’t rely on a fan, as animals react differently to heat than humans do, and a fan won’t cool them off as effectively as you or me.

Provide Shade and Water

Finally, if your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from the heat and sun as well as plenty of fresh, cold water. During heat waves, add ice to the water when possible. Tarps or tree shade are the best way to provide shade as it doesn’t obstruct air flow.

Well, hope this helps keep your pets cool when the heat is high, now if you’ll excuse me I have to go turn up the A/C!

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Keeping Your Backyard Chickens Cool This Summer

Well, it seems the weather in upstate NY has decided to skip Spring yet again and the Summer heat has already started to make us sweat. While this can be easily solved with A/C and fans for us, our chickens aren’t so lucky. Consistently high summer temperatures can cause your chickens to suffer from heat stress, overheating, and can even stop their egg laying process. For heavier breeds, high temperatures can even cause death. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to beat the heat and keep your chickens cool.

chickens at play

Add electrolytes to their water

Electrolyte tablets are important for when the temperature reaches the high peaks in Summer as they help prevent dehydration. You can find them on Amazon in bulk.

Avoid foods such as corn and scratch

Corn and scratch take a longer time for chickens to digest, which creates higher body heat. Instead, feed your chickens fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content, like watermelon to keep them cool.

Keep cold water available 24/7

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but is also the most important. Cold water will help the chickens to regulate their body temperature and keep them cool. Make sure it is always available to them and change out the water as needed.

Put a fan in the coop

This one might not always be possible without damaging the structure of the coop. However, if you’re able to do it, a small fan can circulate air and keep your flock cool in the summer months. One word of caution though, be careful about exposed wiring. Accidents can occur if exposed wiring gets wet or if your chickens break the wiring as you could end up with fried chicken.

Leave them alone

Interacting with your chickens can cause them to be more active and in turn, create more heat. On extremely hot days, try to leave them alone and only check on them as necessary.

Spray around the coop with cold water

Spraying around the coop and the roof can cause evaporation which will help cool off your chickens. You can also create small pools of water (or use a kiddie pool) for the chickens to wade in and keep themselves cool.

Frozen Gallon Jugs

If you don’t have a kiddie pool that you can use to keep your chickens cool, you can always make your own portable frozen water bottles. Take a spare gallon jug (milk jug will work), fill it with water, and then freeze it. Once it’s frozen solid, take it to your chicken pen, and bury it in a shallow hole in their favorite dusting spots. Place a small towel over the jug and let your chickens perch on it to cool down. Bonus points if you make sure to bury the jug in the shade.

We hope this helps to keep your chickens cool during the dog days of Summer. Be sure to let us know what tips you have yourself in the comments below!

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