Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Urban Tour de Cluck May 10, 2014

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:35 am
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wpid-20140510_005829.jpgI have been a badly behaved blogger. Our house is on the Urban Tour de Cluck, and here I am telling you about it mere hours before the event. See, I’ve been writing a book, Passionate Soccer Love, a Memoir of 20 Years Supporting US Soccer. It has taken up every moment of spare time in my life for a very long time, but it’s taken up all the moments for the past several months. You want to know where all my Hatton House projects went? Now you know…

I digress. The TdC people called me because our house is near another house on the tour and they wanted two stops in River Bend. If I didn’t have two hundred things going on right now, I would totally be down with being a stop on the tour. And my answer to her was “I think we can. What time do we have to be available? ” thinking there was no way I’d be able to fit the tour schedule into our insanity schedule of soccer games. She answered….but here’s the thing….her answer came in an avalanche of email that I ignored. I saw it but really figured if she didn’t bug me again, I was off the hook.

Then this packet of stuff got dropped off at my house on Thursday with a shirt and sign for Tour de Cluck and a map printed with our address on it. All I could do was laugh.

So yes, we are on the Tour De Cluck. Sorry to everyone I told we were not on the tour! Ours will not be the prettiest, but our chickens are pretty funny and our kids have created their own Roxaboxen like in the book by Alice McLerran. It should be something to see. See you on the tour!

Information about the Tour can be found on their Facebook page here. 

 

Chickens Love Compost for Dirt Baths May 8, 2014

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 11:02 am
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Stay of Execution – Chicken Style December 9, 2013

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 6:28 pm
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wpid-20131209_123546.jpgIt’s been a while since I wrote about the chickens. They did well over the summer, but had a serious drop off in egg laying, going from 9-10 eggs a day to 3-4 eggs per day, with a major disturbance in late October, when a hawk took off with two of our girls, including one of our two Ameraucanas (we didn’t see it, but heard about it from a neighbor).

Trouble is, we haven’t had a green egg since mid Summer, which has led to discussions that our surviving Ameraucana had perhaps lived out her laying days, and maybe she should be harvested for soup. This plan did not sit well with the kids, and was really a plan we should have ahem…executed… while it was warm out. We tabled the discussion for a while.

Imagine my surprise today when I went out to feed the chickens the party leftovers from the weekend and they pre-emptively rewarded my treats with four eggs, including one green one! I forgot how beautiful these eggs are. I’m not really sure why there was such a long break, or if she’ll keep laying, but I’m happy to have a green egg back, and convinced that when we get chicks in the Spring, we’ll pick up some more Ameraucanas.

Delicious party leftovers! Everybody gets to celebrate!

Delicious party leftovers! Everybody gets to celebrate!

Sing it with me..."I will survive! Oh as long as I know how to lay I know I'll stay alive!"

Sing it with me…”I will survive! Oh as long as I know how to lay I know I’ll stay alive!”

 

A Chicken Screams “Hawk!!” February 9, 2013

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 9:34 am
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hawkA few weeks ago, my husband reported that there had been a hawk over our backyard, terrorizing our chickens. The hawk had gone so far as to capture a squirrel and eat his snack while glaring at our chickens, who were cowering under the back steps. We considered moving them under better cover, but they seemed to do a good job of protecting themselves, so off we went.

Then yesterday, I’d had a long day of appointments and kids home from school for conferences, and by 4:45, I was exhausted, and came to my back office and stared at my screen, trying to will myself to write. That’s when I heard it, the panicked screaming of my chickens, clearly freaking out about more than a laying box squabble. I leaned over to pull my curtain back just in time to see a hawk swoop down into the yard to more chicken freak out noises. I couldn’t see where it had landed, or if there were victims, so I jumped up, leapt over my Kindergarten son, yelling something about hawks and chickens, and ran for the back door.

In my head, there was a voice pointing out that perhaps I should have a plan. Was I going to wage war with the attacking hawk? Maybe I should find safety goggles if that was the case. The other voice in my head yelled that there was no time for goggles and plans, to just get out there….but stop long enough to switch shoes for slippers. No way that hawk’s going to take you seriously with sheepskin lined slippers on.

I got outside, and 11 of our 12 chickens were cowering under a leaf-naked bush, but they were unharmed, and apparently glad to see me. The 12th chicken was a bird my daughter named “Featherless,” because she is half plucked from other’s fighting with her. She lays huge eggs, so we keep her, and hope that she’ll one day feather out again, but so far…no luck. Apparently, her lack of feathers had made her an easy target. I concerned myself with getting the others to safety. They didn’t have any interest in my shooing them across the yard, so I started to carry them, two by two when I could manage it, back to the coop, while the hawk watched from a tree two houses down, apparently threatened by my very shiny Danskos. Take that, Hawk!

I got all but two of the chickens cooped up when out came the 12th chicken, Featherless! I’ve never been so happy to see our most ridiculous looking bird. Another 20 minutes of chicken-around-the-lilac-bush later, and all the girls were safe and sound. And I had gone in to open a nice bottle of red wine…

 

Guyere Cheese Ring….So Much Better with Backyard Eggs September 15, 2012

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:19 pm
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We’ve wanted to raise backyard chicken eggs for a long time, and one of the things I was most looking forward to making with our egg overstock is my mother’s Guyere Cheese Ring recipe. It’s one of my favorite easy cold weather recipes, and it’s so heavily egg based, I knew it would be amazing with the richer flavor backyard chicken eggs. It finally turned cold enough last night that I whipped this up for dinner, and it did not disappoint. Our 10 year old even said she doesn’t like it with industrial eggs, but she claimed dibs on the limited left overs with our chicken eggs! (Recipe to follow!)

 

Chickens of the Corn July 20, 2012

imageWe are in a drought in Iowa, and I’ve almost completely given up on growing corn this year in the garden. All is not lost, as the chickens love taking their dirt baths among the (pathetic) corn and tomato plants. I’m told by one of my fellow backyard farmers that chickens like a take baths in the dirt to clean their feathers and get cool. This is definitely the place for them!

 

A Sad Day for Urban Chickens July 11, 2012

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:26 pm
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image  I’m starting this post with a photo of the chickens happily munching on our peach cuttings from our peach tree. They’re happy here, and I need to focus on that. It’s taken me a few days to write another post after the last one, where my nine chickens looked so happy running around our yard. A couple days after I posted that, someone broke into our fenced back yard, tore apart our chicken run, and terrorized our girls with a hack saw that the criminal(s) brought with, and a sledgehammer we’d left out from some construction. When my husband found them, our girls were still loose in the yard, two were out of the yard, and one had been either chased or beaten to death (it was during the 100+ temps heat spell, so chasing a chicken to exhaustion wouldn’t have been impossible). I can only call this devastating to all of us, humans and chickens alike. As our nine year old daughter put it “This is awful two ways, one because they look so lonely, just the six of them, and now they’re going to be harder to mother.” (Yes, I could not love that child and her animal loving heart any more).

We reported it to the police. In our city, animal cruelty is an aggravated misdemeanor on the first offense, and a felony on the second, but that only helps if we catch these people. We have our neighbors keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground, but so far, we’ve had no word on who might have done this.

The chickens are recovering slowly. They aren’t as outgoing as they once were. In my last post, you can see that they’d walk right up to me without any treats offered. They’re not as afraid of humans as they were right after the massacre, but I don’t know if they’ll ever be as loving as they once were. I’d love to add more chickens, but we’re trying to regroup and let the coop emotions settle before adding more chaos…..chicken shiva, if you will. We’ll get there, eventually.