Success!

I’m happy to announce a successful first weekend tabling with my art and handicrafts!

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Next I will be attending the Pacific Poultry Breeders’ Association to bring my work to other like me with feathered fancies!

I’m excited!!!

Right now, I’m offering a fun deal. Hey feather friends! I make feather headdresses (like the one below) and brooches made from collected feathers. I’m looking for people who have collections of feathers that they don’t know what to do with. I will be vending at the show so you can bring me your clean feathers (or comment and we will arrange shipping) and I will use half to create a unique fascinators, headband, wedding garland, brooch, hairpin, or earrings. The other half is your payment for this unique custom creation and I will only ask you to pay for the shipping when it is complete!

If you want to do this, just plan to bring me feathers at the show where I will take your info, or comment with the type of feathers you have. Remember! The more you bring me to work with, the more you get back!

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Our Newest Additions

A week ago we hatched some cochin chicks out of eggs purchased from Aarron Hunsinger. If you ever fall in love with bantam Cochins the way I have, I highly recommend getting in touch with him. He breeds several gorgeous lines of Cochins and sells his hatching eggs at the best deal I’ve yet to see.

We had a very tough couple of months during which we lost three of our favorite birds, each under different and devastating circumstances. When Aarron offered up some hatching eggs, I knew it would be a good way to salve my broken heart.

Out of 29 eggs, 10 hatched. For eggs laid in winter and then shipped from Pennsylvania to California, that’s a pretty good ratio. I have no need for 10 new birds, so I split the hatch with another local urban homesteader, and kept only 4 for myself.

Meet Edie (aka Dame Edna)

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Her passions include standing in the water dish, looking fabulous in blue, and sleeping in people’s scarves. She’s the oldest of the bunch but young at heart.

Next meet Idris

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Idris is a messy girl but makes it look cute. She loves sleeping in the food dish, wearing heavy eyeliner, and is always first to check out anything new.

Here comes Felicia.

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Felicia is the baby of the bunch. She is smaller and younger, but don’t let that fool you. She can scream her head off if she’s unhappy and is only happy when her twin sister is nearby.

Speaking of, here she is. Meet Milla

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Milla is a fierce little red head and is always looking out for her sister, Felicia. She loves staring out the window and long walks on the coffee table at sunset.

Rats!

Rats (excl.) Slang. (an exclamation of disappointment, disgust, or disbelief.)

Rats, rodents, vermin, plague-mongers, bane of my existence. Those of us who keep livestock(and some who just want to grow veggies) loathe these fur-covered, feed-thieving, disease vectors, and they(and their cousin, the mouse) have been known to harrie even the most seasoned exterminators and determined farmers. They eat crops, decimate seedlings, kill chicks, and carry a number of parasites and diseases. And they are infamously difficult to get rid of once they’ve found you vulnerable in any way.

I’ve struggled plenty with what seems like an ever increasing number of rats and I am praying for a wet and cold winter to bring them back down to a manageable population. In the mean time I have tried just about everything to get rid of them. I’ll give you the pros and cons of my experience with various methods I tried and there are a few at the bottom of the article which are still on the roster.

 

Methods I have tried:

 

1. Classic snap-traps

PROS: Cheap, natural materials(wood and steel), non-toxic, minimal environmental impact.

CONS: They didn’t catch a single rat and all the bait was cleaned off each night, however I have heard from others who had great success

CONCLUSION: conditional recommendation

 

2. Glue Traps

PROS: cheap, non-toxic, pre-baited, easy to set in small spaces

CONS: They didn’t catch any rats, but they did catch my dog. Otto tried to eat the peanuts off of it and it got stuck to his face, which he then tried to scratch off, so it stuck to his paw. He was covered in sticky goop and panicked.

CONCLUSION: Would not recommend

 

3. Tomcat II Refillable Bait Station

PROS: pet, chicken, and child-safe, low risk of secondary toxicity (bromethalin)http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.pdf

CONS: risk of poisoning to other animals, possible secondary toxicity to raptors and chickens, rats were not very interested in the bait station blocks caused inconsistent results

CONCLUSION: Results Mixed, conditional recommendations

 

4. Tomcat II modified bait in homemade bait station (mixed bromethalin pellets with chicken food in a bowl under a crate with weight on top)

PROS: rats very interested, effectively killed 1-6 rats per day

CONS: risk of poisoning to pets and livestock, possible risk of secondary toxicity to raptors and chickens, must be refilled daily and removed before letting out pets and chickens

CONCLUSION: Good results, conditional recommendation

 

5. Coyote Pee – 33-day dispensers

PROS: non-toxic, low environmental impact, supports zoos and rescues, natural deterrent, so far this seems effective in my chicken run

CONS: expensive, may attract coyotes, smelly, may aggravate pet dogs

CONCLUSION: Deterred rats for only a few days, would not recommend

 

6. Plaster ‘Grapes’ (made from plaster, oil, and peanut butter)

PROS: non-toxic, low environmental impact, easy to make, cheap

CONS: slow death for rats

CONCLUSION: unquantifiable results, no harm if ineffective, recommended

 

Other methods I have not tried:

Hire the Mongrel Hoard, a team of human and canine ratting experts who work with you in your property for several hours to eradicate rats. Rate is $75 and a 6-pack of beer, but he doesn’t recommend his service in urban areas since rats usually travel between smaller properties.

Some people also claim that barn-cats can be very effective with rats, however this is a heavily debated topic as others believe that cats will only go after mice and have no interest in rats. Unfortunately, with three people who are severely allergic to cats in our house, it isn’t a method I can test.

I have also been told that Havahart humane animal traps are very effective at catching rats. The downside of course is that you then have to dispatch those rats yourself.

 

Obviously prevention is the best way to go about controlling rats, and any deterrent measures should go hand in hand with removing the attractants like accessible feed, produce, and places to hide. And don’t make my mistake. If you find a nest of adorable baby rats, don’t leave them for the elements. Momma-rat will come collect them and raise them up to terrorize you for your mercy. If you must, find them a home, but whatever you do, don’t just let them go because you’re too much of a bleeding-heart to kill fuzzy babies. You’ll regret it. I certainly do.

 

Is there a method that I have not listed which works for you?

Please share it in the comments!

Happy World Egg Day!

Today marks the 18th annual World Egg Day! It is only of the few obscure holidays that is truly celebrated worldwide with festivals, feasts, contests, and commemorations.

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Consider donating $20 to Heifer International to provide a family in need with a starter flock of chickens, ducks, or geese. These flocks offer a stable source of healthy protein to families and can provide enough eggs for a family to sell to others.

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Share this image and one of your own eggs to promote egg awareness!