Thursday, May 26, 2016

Introducing the roo

I never had to integrate birds into a flock before, and certainly had never introduced a single bird to an established flock. I was bound to make mistakes, and I did straight away.



I had read numerous stories where people successfully slipped a new bird in the coop after all were in for the night and roosting, and then the next morning things were great.

I tried it. It failed miserably.

They beat my little guy up. It's completely normal for them to establish their new pecking order, but they weren't letting up even after he had submitted. I had to break them up and snag him. The poor little guy was even playing dead and they were pecking him!

I brought him inside and snuggled him a little bit, and decided that I had to do it much differently. I set up a metal dog cage inside the enclosed part of my chicken coop and added a bit of cardboard to offer some protection from not only the elements, but a way to hide from the girls if they were overwhelming him.

There is still plastic on the western side of the enclosed run since weather is unpredictable here!
Each night I brought him inside since he was still young and it was dropping to freezing here. While I wouldn't have worried about him inside the coop with the other girls for warmth, by himself in a drafty cage is a different story!

After about a week of the above set up, I let him free range a bit with the girls. He wanted to be with us more than the girls...



He flew up into our window to be with us instead of the girls. Squiggle didn't mind this at all!



He tried to stay there for the night (as you can see above), but this was the night I put him back in with the girls and crossed my fingers. When I woke up, he was hiding behind the food in the enclosed run, but nobody was attacking him. The next day I found him backed against the wall of the enclosed run ready to get out with the girls all staring at him, but no fighting. I don't know where he slept that night, but I assume in the dirt again. Both nights I had the metal cage open in case he wanted to roost in the cage, but it also gave him access to the coop.

Night 3, he decided to follow the girls into the coop to roost a bit after them. They chased him out twice. A bit later, he decided to try again. This time was a success, and he roosted on the bottom of the two roosts in the coop. The next night was the same, but the girls were not all clumped together on the top bar, but rather a couple of them were right in front of him.

On the third night, I saw this:


and about 45 minutes later, this:


He still runs away when they get too close to him, but they aren't trying to hurt him anymore, and they let him roost with them.


Sadly, he won't let me near him anymore. When they would attack him before, he would fly up onto me for protection. Now he seems to be equally wary of the girls and us. I'm sad because I loved holding him, but so long as he doesn't become aggressive towards us, he won't become dinner.

He's still young, so he hasn't tried to do any of the typical male duties with the hens, but once he comes into maturity I'm sure we'll see a temperament change a bit. Hopefully he steps up as protector, and remembers that we (the humans) are family, not foes.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Count Your Chickens! (game review)

One thing we noticed when we first started playing board games with the kids was just how competitive Bobble was. That doesn’t really come as a surprise to me since I’m a very competitive person, but the display he put on when he lost a game was absurd. When he won, he’d boast and brag. I get it, he’s proud he won. Still, getting him to understand sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t was hard. The games from Peaceable Kingdom help eliminate that sort of issue.


Count YourChickens! is a cooperative game where everyone works together to win. You either all win, or you all lose. Nobody is better than anyone else in the end, so you all feel good, or you all are determined to try again to succeed as a team.


Although it might be a minor thing, I love how the instructions are on the inside of the game box. The lid contains the instructions so you can't lose them, and there isn't excess waste from adding more paper to the game packaging. Save trees, and don't lose your instructions at the same time!


Count Your Chickens! has 40 little chick chips or tokens, a mother hen game piece, a spinner, and the board. To set up, you put the mother hen at START, and you scatter the chicks all across the board (anywhere except in the coop). The goal is to get all the chicks into the coop before the mother hen gets to the coop.


Actual game play sees everyone playing as the mother hen. The players take turns spinning, and each spin determines the number of chicks placed in the coop. If you spin the cow, for example, you count the number of spaces you move to get to the next cow space. If you moved 4 spaces, you put 4 chicks in the coop. If the space you move to shows a chick atop the animal (in this instance, a chick atop a cow), you get to add one extra chick to the coop. If you land on the fox, you take a chick out of the coop and place it back on the board. If you get all the chicks in the coop before you reach the end, you win! If you don’t, better luck next time.

Bobble got a dog for the first spin, so he added 6 chicks to the coop because the first dog square was 6 spaces from the start.




The great thing about this game is that there is no singled out player, and you can use the set up to teach lessons about nature. I like that you can add story to it if you want to give a reason why the chicks should be in the coop. Maybe your kids are learning about predators, so you could pretend there was a hawk spotted. Maybe it is feeding time and the chicks need to get back, or it’s getting near dark and they need to roost. If you don’t want to, then you just have a fun game that helps children learn to count. No reading is required for this game (provided someone can explain the instructions the first time to the children).



Count Your Chickens! is for children ages 3+, for up to 4 players, and takes around 15 minutes to play start to finish. You can find Count Your Chickens! at select retail stores (Target carries Peaceable Kingdoms games) or online at Amazon.com for approximately $16.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. Count Your Chickens! was purchased by me and all opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A protector for the flock

After the unfortunate event that happened with my hen and the dog up the block, I decided that my girls needed a protector. I scoured our local city ordinance and found that roosters actually aren't  prohibited here like I thought they were. In fact, there was nothing at all stating the number of chickens allowed or the sex of the chickens!

My daughter and her friend giving the hens some treats
We're not out to be the people that encourage the city to set these limits, of course, so we are quite content with our tiny backyard flock. If we can have a rooster, however, we might have some more security for our girls. 

I don't want a rooster that is going to crow all day (and night), as much for my neighbor's sanity as our own. Roosters are good protectors in that they will call the hens in if they are roaming too far away as the sun is setting (call them home to roost), they will alert them to predators in the area and let them know when it is safe to be out again, and they will fight to protect the flock. The last point could mean the sacrifice of their own life. No, I don't want another chicken death... but I'd honestly rather lose a rooster than a laying hen.



A local person was giving away two young easter egger [EE] roosters for free as she wanted only hens, so we took in two with the intention of only keeping one. We just didn't want him lonely before he got to join the flock. We planned on keeping the white and black, and gave the brown and black to a friend that was in search of an EE rooster. 

They both enjoyed their gated area, roosting on the side of the gate at night.


Sometimes they would join me at my computer!


Before you ask: yes, they both pooped on me. Yes, it was gross.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Attack (part 4)

Sadly, our hen didn’t pull through. She wasn’t eating or drinking, and so we had to force a bit of liquids in. She wasn’t moving around, either. Exactly a week after the attack, we lost her.

The kids were getting ready for school when it happened, and both had come in the room to see her before they left. She died right in front of them. They weren’t too upset, but they did have some questions as to why she was in the position she was in, why she isn’t breathing, will she get back up, etc.

R.I.P.
While the kids were gone, I cleaned up the set up and laid fresh paper. We decided we were going to get chicks! We need to replace our layer, but we also thought it would be nice to have some started chicks to offer to others if they have a similar situation. You can’t just buy a singular chick from a store, and even if you could, they need a companion. That makes it difficult to replace a hen when you only need one.


It will also be a great learning experience for all of us since we’ve never had chicks, so stay tuned to follow us on our chick adventures!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Twister (game review)

On days where we can’t get out much, it can be hard to keep the kids active enough to exhaust them of that ridiculous amount of energy they have. Games like Twister, however, can help that.

If you haven’t played Twister before, it’s really simple. The game mat has many circles in four different colours, and there is a spinner that determines what you place where. One person spins the spinner, and it lands on commands and colours like “Left foot Red”, then everyone has to put their left foot on a red circle. You can’t share a circle with someone else, and you can’t be resting on the ground (like sitting). The fun part is getting tangled up with other people!

I remember playing Twister as a kid, and I remember having trouble with it because I am short and had trouble reaching sometimes. The kids don’t mind, though. They like that they get to play so many times in a short period. You could also implement something like “3 falls and you’re out” if they have a lot of trouble reaching. 

The new spinner

The most challenging thing about this game for Bobble is that he doesn’t know his left and right yet. Obviously it’s a 50/50 chance as to whether he gets it correct or not, but thanks to this game he is stopping and trying to think about what left or right is.



The game, like many of them, has evolved a bit since I was a kid. It is no longer only a hand or a foot on a colour, but now it has random things like “in the air” and letting the spinner call something random. Honestly, I am not a fan of these additions. I thought the game was challenging enough as it was, and it is especially not needed for really young kids. I can see it being more fun for very flexible people, like gymnasts, if you add in things like raising an arm/leg in the air, but it’s unnecessary for young kids. I just call out something random when it lands on those.

Actually, the spinner sometimes takes a long time to spin and the kids get impatient, so I tend to just call out random things without ever spinning. Also, they left the spinner out and it got stepped on (and the plastic snapped), so we sort of have to do that now, anyway.

While I find the changes to the game unnecessary, it’s easy to just not implement them. The game is easy to store, teaches directions (left and right), and colour recognition. It also helps them use up some of that seemingly endless energy!

The game is recommended for ages 6+, and that makes sense due to average height and ability to tell left from right. Still, with a bit of patience (or improvising) you can play with kids much younger.

Twister is sold for approximately $15 at most retailers.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. Twister was purchased by me and all opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Undercover Mama nursing tank (review and giveaway)

A long time ago, I wrote about maternity clothes and what items and styles were still flattering to wear post-pregnancy. One of the items I mentioned was Undercover Mama Nursing Tanks.

I fell in love with Undercover Mama tanks because they were useful beyond nursing. Yes, the sole purpose of these awesome tanks is to make nursing more convenient. Many mothers do not like using a cover over their child while nursing, and let's be frank: most kids don't like the covers either. My son hated the cover because he overheated quickly, and I hated it because of the attention.

Yes, that's right: the attention.

In my mind, as a new mother, the nursing cover would make it discrete. Nobody would pay any mind to me, life would go on, etc. Nope. Here in the real world, people were drawn to the cover. They stared at it. They tried to guess what was going on under it. It made me stand out more!

Christmas 2011 - Brown Undercover Mama tank under a red sweater
Complete opposite of what I wanted to happen! Sadly, not all shirts are easy to nurse in. There are those that are able to pull down enough to nurse, and that's great. Not all necklines are that accommodating, though.

Pulling a shirt up to nurse was easier, but left my stomach exposed. On cold days, that would be extremely unpleasant for me, and on nice days it was still not very pleasant because, despite what much of the world seems to think of breastfeeding mothers, I'm not an exhibitionist. I just want to feed my child.

Undercover Mama tanks solved the problem. They attach to your bra in one of two ways:

A loop around the nursing bra and reattach the nursing bra:



A hook that slides over the bra strap:





My nursing bras got lots of use. LOTS of use. I nursed Bobble until I dried up when I was pregnant with Squiggle, and they got worn my whole pregnancy because they were the most accommodating bras I had, then they were worn up until Squiggle was 30 months old and we stopped nursing.

Undercover Mamas were a wardrobe staple for that entire time, and still are. See, while nursing Bobble (and while pregnant with Squiggle), I still worked. My work environment was casual dress. Nursing gave me a significantly larger chest than I had before pregnancy, and Undercover Mama tanks became lifesavers for my work wardrobe. They covered up all the cleavage that was now exposed in my nice work shirts, saving me from having to buy new work clothes.

Better yet, I didn't have annoying straps slipping over my shoulders. With the tank attaching directly to my bra, I had one strap, but all the benefits of the layered shirt.

I gave up on trying to get a decent picture when Squiggle kept yanking on me (head seen in lower half of picture), so I just cropped. You just care about the Undercover Mama tank in the picture anyway, right? :)
Now that I don't nurse, I still use my Undercover Mama tanks for extending length of coverage for those shirts I adore but are just a bit short on me (safe to bend over without exposing my back or raising my arms without exposing my tummy!), and to provide that chest coverage without having to have additional straps to fiddle with.

These tanks are honestly one of the best things I've discovered since becoming a mother. In fact, though I don't plan on having more children and I no longer nurse, I still plan on purchasing more of these tanks when I get my next job. They have a variety of colours, and they are very well made. My oldest Undercover Mama tank is nearing 5 years old now, and the only change in it is that it is a bit shorter now than it was when I bought it. 5 years of washing and drying finally shrunk it a bit. It's now short enough to where it fits in length like a normal shirt would on me, so I can't use it to provide coverage under a shirt that is too short on me, but it still works great when the purpose is to cover extra cleavage.

Mother's day 2012 - White Undercover Mama tank under a t-shirt
You can adjust the tank to cover more or less based on where you have it placed on your bra strap. The above picture is from Mother's day 2012, when Bobble was just over a year old. You can see the top of my Undercover Mama tank there, and it was much needed with this shirt since Bobble stretched the neckline of it out so much it wasn't funny! (He'd tug on the shirt when he wanted milk instead of just waiting patiently.)

While I just have basic tanks, you can also get some with lace trim on the bottom. The basic tanks, though simple, come in 14 different colours, and one print (black and white polkadot). Basic tanks are $24.99 each, and the Lace trim tanks are $26.99. Keep a look out for special deals on their site, though!

So, really, these are pretty much a must-have for any working mother, and any nursing mother. Actually, they are a must-have for any female, mother or not, that layers shirts and is sick of a tank top strap slipping over their shoulder, or sticking out of their shirt neckline!

Because Undercover Mama is so awesome, one of my readers is going to get one of these shirts FOR FREE! Yep, they've offered up a shirt for me to giveaway! One lucky winner will get one basic nursing tank in their choice of size and colour! (US/CAN only.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent the above product for review. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Thoughts of Fluff is not responsible for prize shipment.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Attack (part 3)

One thing I didn’t realize about chickens is that they should be fully healed before putting them back with the flock. That means separation for around 2 weeks. Those two days inside weren’t enough.

After a few days of not spraying Blu-Kote on her wounds, she wasn’t doing as well. I don’t think it’s because she didn’t have the spray to help her heal so much as to mask the wounds and bare area from the other hens. She was getting picked on a lot, and we had to separate her again. Her wounds were looking in poor shape again, her comb was darkening, and she was limping if we got her to move. All in all, not so hot.



Our weather has been dipping back into some winter habits, and we’ve had a couple snows and quite chilly temps the week this happened to her, and part of it is quite likely the featherless areas making her get too cold. The rest would be the wounds being visible to the other hens and they started picking at them.

I wasn’t in town for a couple days, but my friend was going to check on them and noticed her looking quite poorly, so she took her home with her to keep her separated from the other girls. My spoiled little hen was getting to sleep indoors again and offered fresh berries. At first she wasn’t interested in food or water, but as she warmed up her comb started turning red and she started taking food.


I do regret not leaving the Blu-Kote out for her to get sprayed while we were gone, but that wouldn’t have fixed the really cold temperatures. She’ll just have to be a house bird for a while. I’m sure she won’t mind that too much… as long as the cats stay away!

TO BE CONTINUED

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.