RuPaul: A Day In My Life

The drama ensues… It’s been a year since the eye injury that left RuPaul blind in his right eye. Life for poor Ru has been a bit difficult, despite getting spoiled rotten by the Humans. RuPaul agreed to keep a journal of a typical day for him to share with you all.

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Rupee’s Diary — May 18, 2017


I wakes up at around 4:00 AM when I hears Uno next door moving around. I waits for him to sings. Then I sings. I sings louds. Very louds. But it’s louds and darks insides my apartment. I takes turns sings with Uno when I waits. I always hopes Lady Human comes sooner to lets me outs. I am bored.

Yay!! Freedoms! Lady H lets me outs early todays at 6:15 AM. I dances a littles for her, then I dances for my girls and find some hens to chase. Lady H laughs and said she likes my fabulous behind when I runs.

8:15 AM – Hawks! Hawks! There was just a hawks sighting. I didn’t sees it, but little mini Willy and some hens did. Everyone sings alarms. I did too. I sings eggstra louds. I watched overs hens when they were hiding in bushes and stood guards outside of hidings place.

9:00 AM – I am sads now. I had breaksfast and some times with the ladies. Then about 15 minutes ago, Lady H announced that she’s letting Uno outs. So, I goes to my patios, where Uno isn’t allows to go. It’s my special safe places, so I don’t have to hides in the hills, hungry and thirsty, but it makes me sads because I cannot be with the rest of the flock. This always makes me sads.

The suns is really highs now. Earlier, I invites myself into human coops twice when Lady H leaves door opens to go into yards. I sings into human coops. I gave Lady H cutes face when she comes backs and she gives me hugs and treats. Today is pumpkins seeds and dates. I also got some rices. I stays for a little bits, then I goes backs to patios and talks to my ladies through the fences. We naps togethers in the shade. Later it got hots and so I moves spots to dust bathe. I also snacks on some of my patios veggies that I make Lady H grows for me. Then I go watch the ladies. Repecka always comes to talks to me daily. We’re BFF. She always tries to visits me on patios. Newton always tries to come to patios too, but Newton only wants to dig in the dirts and mess up stuffs Lady H grows.

It’s a few hours before bedtimes, and sun is starting to sets. Uno is a bigs jerk. I disowns him as my son. He keeps coming to fences to prevents me from talking to my ladies. He gives me staresdown. I stares back. But earliers, the winds blow gate open a littles and Uno sneaks in with the ladies. Ladies are welcomes, but not Jerkface. Uno comes to my patios and chases me away. I tried to hides in human coops, but the coops door wasn’t open. So I just hides in the fars corner by the lemongrasses. Sometimes I can sneak out the gate and hides in the hills in the yards, but today, Jerkwad blocked my ways and I could not run out and hides. If I tries to runs and he sees me, he likes to attacks me from my blind side. Makes me scared and I shakes, but I don’t let the hens know. Lady H knows because she always try to makes me feel betters.

7:30 PM – Waitings to go to my apartment. I like to go to the yards and hang out with the ladies before I go home, but Uno is stills in yards. Sometimes he goes into coops early, but lately he goes very lates. So, I have to waits on patios. I complains to Lady H. She gave me back scratches. Sometimes she gives me more treats even when I don’t give her cutes face, but she didn’t today. She just tried to hugs me. I didn’t want hugs.

It’s about 8:30 now. I comes to my apartment about 20 minutes ago. Lady H walks with me. She just went and moved Uno from the coops to his apartment next to mine. Bad Uno doesn’t go to his apartment by himself. He makes Lady H or Guy H move him every nights. Ok, sleepy. Night! Night! I hopes she lets me out earlier tomorrows and Uno much later so I can spends more times with the flock. Maybe she should rehomes my good-for-nothing backstabbing jerkface son so that I can be Flock King again.

Thanks you everyone for alls the loves and wells-wishes to Lady H's post about my eye. Sorrys I was not ables to respond to alls comments. Lady H reads every comments to me though. You alls are a bunches of good Humans. Today my eye is still watery and weepy, but I'm not as grumpys. My day wasn't too bads. Lady H gave me sunflowers seeds, pumpkins seeds and dried cranberries. Yum. She says it look like I poked open whatever was lefts of my bad eye, like popping a balloons. She sprays medicines stuff but says no signs of infections so fars. I hopes for more pumpkins seeds or almonds tomorrow. Maybe fishes too. Maybe you Humans can brings me some? Anyways, thanks you again for your loves. — Loves and 😙😙, Rupee . #RuPaulTheRooster #blindchicken #specialneedspet #rooster #petfirstaid #eyeinjury #firstaid #crazychickenlady #chickens #ilovemychickens #chickenlove #chooks #backyardchickens #freerangechickens #freerange #pastureraised #fresheggs #farmfresheggs #chickensofinstagram #chickensofig #urbanfarm #urbanfarming #backyardfarm #sustainable #sustainableliving #homestead #thedodo #urbanhomestead #realhensofoc

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Herb and Parmesan Savory French Toast (Gluten-free!)

If you are on a special diet, whether by choice, or by medical necessity, you know that it is sometimes it’s hard to find good and tasty food to satisfy those food cravings. Of course homemade is always best, but we don’t always have a lot of time either. This is where French Toasts come in!

I find that French toast is a quick and delicious go-to, not just for breakfast. While I love a basic cinnamon French Toast covered in delicious dark maple syrup almost any time of the day, there are times when I just want something savory.

Savory French Toast is relatively easy to make and requires little prep or cook time. It makes a great meal or snack any time of day! Plus, most of the ingredients are always readily available in my kitchen or garden. I grow my own herbs, the chickens provide me with fresh eggs daily, and I make my own almond milk. While you may not keep chickens or make your own nut milk, eggs and milk are staples in most kitchens, no?

For any French toast recipe, I prefer to use gluten-free bread from Canyon Bakehouse, Ener-G or Schar. I’ve tried other brands too, but they don’t always perform well as a French toast. Let’s be honest, some GF breads and pastries are downright terrible! (I had a string of terrible GF experiences when I realized I that wheat and gluten could never touch my mouth ever again. I may or may not have cried a few times out of frustration.)

I highly recommend these 3 things for the best flavor and results in my savory French toast recipe:

  1. Use the freshest eggs you can find. Luckily, the hens provide us with an abundance of fresh eggs daily. If you don’t have chickens, try to find fresh farm eggs, or at the least, buy pasture-raised eggs from your local grocery store. Seriously, eggs from happy hens make a huge difference in taste and nutrition. Read more here.
  2. Use fresh herbs. I used herbs cut fresh from my garden. If you don’t garden, or grow these herbs, ask gardening neighbors for some! Gardeners are usually happy to share things like herbs. Or, buy fresh herbs from the market. You can certainly substitute dried herbs as well, but I just think the flavor of fresh herbs impart a special flavor I don’t get from dried herbs.
  3. If you have a cast iron skillet, I highly recommend using it over other types of skillets for this recipe. Cast iron skillets just have this magical ability to impart good flavor and texture in the cooking process.

Gluten-Free Herb and Parmesan Savory French Toast Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large shallot, or 2 small ones, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large eggs (fresh farm eggs if possible)

3 tablespoons milk or nut milk

1/2 teaspoon, approximately, chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon, approximately, chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon mustard seed powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

4 slices bread (used Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White gluten-free bread)

3/4 to 1 cup shredded aged parmesan cheese, divided evenly into 4 parts

Instructions
  1. In a 10 or 12-inch skillet, sauté chopped shallots over medium-high heat with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shallots are translucent and browned at the edges. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. In wide bowl, beat egg and milk with fork or whisk until blended. Then add the rosemary, thyme, mustard seed powder, and salt and beat together until mixture is a little frothy. Dip and soak bread slices in mixture.
  3. Pour another tablespoon of olive oil into hot skillet and put in 2 slices of soaked bread. Cook until browned. Flip bread over and cook for about 30-60 seconds. Lift a bread slice and place one part of the parmesan underneath it. Repeat with the second slice. Cook until parmesan is melted, crisped, and browned. The parmesan should stick to the bread and become crusty. Transfer to plate.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for the remaining two slices of bread. Eat and enjoy!

Step 1: Sauté shallots.

Step 2: Beat egg and milk. I used homemade almond milk here.

Step 2: Add sautéed shallots, herbs and salt to egg mixture.

Step 2: Beat egg mixture with herbs until frothy.

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Step 3: Brown soaked bread, flip, then place parmesan under bread and cook until brown.

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Plate and enjoy!

I like the toasts by themselves, or with a salad or a side of sautéed veggies.

Substitutions: You can use any herb combination you wish to change up the flavor. For example, try basil/ oregano, fennel/ chives, or parsley/ tarragon. For those who don’t or can’t eat cheese, I don’t know how a vegan cheese substitute will work in such an application. I often skip the cheese when I don’t have it.  It’s pretty delicious without the cheese too. If you’re skipping the cheese, and want to increase flavor a bit in its absence, add a little more salt, sautéed garlic, paprika and/or a third herb. 

Nest Wars

The approach of Spring also means that more hens are resuming laying eggs. Yay! The funny thing that many chicken keepers cannot figure out is why hens insist on laying in the same nest boxes. Is this the chicken version of “The grass is greener on the other side”? They all seem to want to occupy the same nest box that another hen is in, despite any space issues, and despite the availability of many other nest boxes. The hens currently have EIGHT nest boxes, but they usually still squabble over the same one or two. Silly hens.

The ladies of the Real Hens of Orange County are no exception. They frequently squabble and squawk at each other!

You’re in MY box!

No, you’re in mine!

I got here first!

I’m the senior hen. Both of you shut up and get out of my way!

First come, first served! I’m about to lay. Give me some privacy! There are many other empty boxes. Go to those.

But I’ve been in this box since I started laying! I always lay here. Y’all are so mean.

They push and shove, and cram together uncomfortably.

AND they get really loud sometimes. Sometimes for a long time too!

And sometimes, accidents happen. What kind of accidents, you ask, dear reader? Well, the most common are broken eggs in the kerfuffle. The worst incident with the RHOC occurred when one of them got poop on Sofie. Poor Sofie got poop smeared all over her head and comb. And no, it wasn’t the dry and neat kind of poop. It was the sticky, super stinky, will make you gag kind of poop. Poor Lady Human had to help Sofie clean off all the nasty poop. Ewww.

Why yes, that's POO on Sofie's head! This happened last year. Am still grossed out thinking about it. I thought I'd share the story with y'all, so you can laugh with (at) me over this memory. Seeing @alchemistfarm's hatching egg contest reminded me of this story. They're giving away hatching eggs for rare breeds people! Go to their page for contest details. What's even more fitting about the story is that Sofie is a rare landrace breed — a Swedish Flower Hen. Story below 👇🏼 . 🥚Nest wars. You chicken keepers know what that is. For you non chicken keepers, it's when silly hens fight over and insist on using the same nest box, as if there are no other empty boxes left for them to lay. They're usually are a ton of spots available, but they just like to fight over the same one. The grass is always greener on the other side I suppose. 💩 So on this particular day, Picasso and Sofie decided that they both wanted the same box. There was lots of squawking and squabbling. In the end, Sofie finally kicked Picasso out, but not before Picasso left a nasty present on her head. I don't think Picasso actually shit on her, but in the kerfuffle, Picasso probably kept going in and out, and managed to use Sofie's comb and fancy crest as a foot-wiper. 🤢😷 As you can imagine, the cleanup was loads of fun. NOT. It was so gross and stinky. Because of the location of the poop and how it was smeared well into her feathers, comb and skin, I had to use my bare finger and hands to wash the crap off little by little. I had to use cotton swabs too. So gross! I didn't want to accidentally drown Sofie under a stream of water running water, nor did I want to get poop in her nostrils and eyes. I literally am shuddering at the memory as I write this. Eww. . #chickenshit #poopeverywhere #nestwars #chickens #swedishflower #swedishflowerhen #lovemychickens #chickenlove #chooks #backyardchickens #petchickens #urbanchickens #chickensaspets #freerangechickens #freerange #pastureraised #fresheggs #fresheggsdaily #farmfresheggs #chickensofinstagram #urbanfarm #urbanfarming #backyardfarm #sustainable #sustainableliving #homestead #urbanhomestead #biodynamic #realhensofoc

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Sometimes physically putting a hen in an empty box works, but many of the RHOC are stubborn and will just hop back out and continue to fight over THEIR box. Oh well. Let’s just hope that there’s no poop-head hens this year! How do you handle nest wars?

Setting up a Mealworm Farm

In our previous chapter, the residents at Urban Farm OC (Real Hens of Orange County and the humans), agreed to restart a mealworm farm. Lady Human ordered 10,000 worms from Rainbow Mealworms

Wondering what an order of 10,000 worms looks like? The post office drops off a box labeled “Live Animals,” and if you listen carefully, you hear all sorts of scratching and creepy crawly noises before you open up the box. Inside, is a heavy bag full of the creepy crawlers.

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The mealworms are dusty, and many people are allergic to their dust and frass (poop), so make sure that you protect yourself with at least a dust mask (a respirator rated for dust and mold is better) prior to handling them. Lady Human was sexy in her get-up:

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Lady Human recounts her thoughts and how she began setting up the mealworms in their new homes:

I first examined our old mealworm farm, neglected for at least 6-8 months or more in a dark corner of the garage when we set it aside to clean up the area it was in originally and to deal with pesky invasive ants. I had already assumed that the entire colony had perished, because at first glance, the entire surface was littered with tons of dead beetles and shed skin on top of all the frass. As I was closing the lid, I noticed some pulsing…this is a sign that there is life. I knew that any remaining worms would be hungry and thirsty, and probably kept going by feeding off the carcasses of the dead worms and beetles. So, to tease them out of hiding and to see how many worms were left, I put in lots of banana peel and squash. They were thirsty and almost immediately climbed on top and into the goodies!

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Photos above: Left – old colony littered with dead beetles, shed skin, and no readily apparent sign of life; Right – about 5-10 minutes after offering some squash, the first mealworms emerged

Using the vegetables and fruit bits, I lured as many worms out of hiding as possible and set them aside to be integrated with the new worms once the set-up was complete. I fed the remaining carcasses to the chickens, and sprinkled the frass in the garden — make sure you wear a dust mask or respirator when you do this!

Setting Up the New Farm

Materials

  • Containers for the worms’ habitat. I tried to recycle and use containers I already have, but they were all too small for what I wanted. So I purchased 3 shallow 28 qt. storage bins ($5 each, 23″ L x 16″ W x 6″ H) for the new bigger and better worm farm.
  • Wheat bran for the worm bedding. How much you will need depends on your container. I fill each container with the wheat bran until the level is about 1/3 to 1/2 the height of the container. I buy wheat bran from the bulk bins ($0.99 per lb) of my local grocery store, or I buy them from Azure Standard. As an alternative, you can also used rolled oats.
  • Mealworms! Lots and lots of them!
  • Vegetable or fruit scraps – kale/ broccoli ribs, banana peel, apple cores, carrots, potato skins, beet tops, etc.

Preparing the Container

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mealworms mealworms

I started by drilling ventilation holes into the sides of the containers (photo top left). There’s really no hard and fast rule. Just what you feel is appropriate for your climate and how/ where you want to raise them. I went through the trouble of covering the ventilation holes with scrap fabric, using duct tape to hold them in place (photo top right). The reason I do it this way is because I want to minimize and control the entry points for ants in case they invade. This also prevents fruit flies and other unwanted critters from entering. FYI, ants can go through the tiny gaps under the lid regardless of what you do. Instead of drilling holes, some mealworm-keepers cut out a large section off the lid or sides of the containers and they suggest buying or finding fine-mesh fabric or window screen to over the large hole. Again, do it based on your personal preferences. Instead of buying new material, you can use lightweight gauzy fabric scraps like I did, or recycle the netted bags used for packaging from onion, avocado or other produce (photo bottom left).

Once you’re satisfied with the ventilation, add the wheat bran to fill the container about 1/3 to 1/2 full, add worms, then add veggie and fruit scraps (photo bottom right). I also throw in some toilet paper rolls and scrap paper so that the worms have a place under which to hide.

Maintaining the Mealworm Farm

Worm Maintenance

After setting up the worms, it’s important to find a nice shady spot for the mealworms. I keep mine outside in a semi-shaded area of the patio. Some people keep their worm farm in a shed, garage or some even keep indoors (um, not for me). While the garage would be a great place to keep the worms, it’s not convenient for me, since I also grow fodder on the patio, and the maintenance of both in the same area is just better for me. When it gets too hot, I cover the worms to shield them from any direct sun, or I temporarily move them into the laundry room until dusk. Heat will kill the worms, so keep this in mind when you are trying to find a place for them.

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Once the bins are set up, I only check the worms about every 3-7 days. I check for development, to remove old veggie scraps and to add new scraps. The frequency at which I check depends on the weather.

Pretty soon, you will see lots of shed skin and maybe even some pupae! It gets pretty exciting once the worms start to pupate, because soon thereafter, beetles will emerge, mate, lay eggs, hatch into worms, and so forth.

Life Cycle of a Mealworm

When you order mealworms, I recommend that you get ones that are as full-grown as possible, because they will be closest to pupating (do not get “super” or giant worms, those are usually treated with growth hormones).

The mealworms are the larval form of the darkling beetle. They start out as a tiny egg, about the size of a period. When they hatch, the worms are so tiny that you probably won’t be able to see them at all, until they get to about 1/4″, especially since they’re about the same color as the wheat bran. As the worms grow, they go through several cycles of molting and shed their exoskeleton. The worms will then pupate and turn a white and off-white color in a C-shape. The pupae don’t move much and may even appear dead. However, if you touch it, it should wiggle. After pupating, the flightless beetles emerge. The beetles first look light brown, then darken to black over time. After they mate and lay eggs, they will die, and the life cycle begins again.

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Photo above: The dust on the beetle and around the pupae are bits of wheat bran and frass.

Some mealworm farmers go through the trouble of separating the pupae and beetles. You can if you’d like. However, I go by the motto of “simple but effective” in this regard. I don’t want to spend tons of time separating them. I just keep them all in the same bin. The only picking I do is to pick out the dead carcasses of worms, pupae and beetles to feed to the chickens first. When there is a large population of the worms and beetles, I just scoop a cup or so to feed the chickens, regardless of their stage in life. The chickens are happy to eat any of it!

Keeping the Ants Away

In Southern California, we are plagued by very invasive non-native Argentine ants. They love to attack and invade the mealworms. They go after the veggies and the worms in the mealworm bins. Once they invade a colony, it’s very hard to get the ants out, and if you do, you will have tons of ants crawling all over you. It’s not a pleasant experience at all. Ask me how I know.

So this time, I constructed a simple shelving unit with PVC pipes. I upcycled pipes dug up from the old sprinkler system and simply just purchased the fittings.  It’s a little bit wobblier than I’d like and I will reinforce it later. For now, it works just fine to hold the mealworms and keep the ants away. As you can see in the photo below, I submerged the legs of the shelving unit in containers filled with water. This acts as a barrier and prevents ants from accessing the colony.

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Fresh mealworms!

Important decisions about spending at the farm…

The cast of Real Hens of Orange County help pay for their rent and some of their living expenses by laying eggs and employing the humans to sell some of the extra eggs, particularly in Spring and Summer when the hens lay particularly well. The flock recently convened a family meeting with the humans to discuss spending.


Basically, the flock wants more mealworm treats. “Woooormmms! Wooooorrmmmms!!” was the resounding cry. However, the humans explained how expensive that can get. A bag of dried mealworms costs about $20-$40, and the flock can go through a bag rather quickly, even if they only get the treats once a week. And while the egg sales contribute to the feed cost, it most certainly doesn’t cover it! At $40-$44 per 40 lb bag (with tax), and a large flock, the feed gets expensive fast! There are other costs, like organic barley seeds for fodder, supplies, etc.  (In case you’re wondering, the flock eats Scratch & Peck’s Naturally Free Grower (an organic, non-GMO feed with no soy and no corn), which Lady Human ferments for them for optimal health.) 

Chatting about mealworms!

Flock queen Barred-Rock Obama understood the dilemma, so she lobbied the humans to restart mealworm farming. The humans were a little reluctant at first, because it adds more work… they already spend lots of time farming the backyard, cleaning up after the chickens, fermenting feed, picking up and chopping chickens’ veggies, growing chickens’ fodder…the humans’ list of duties was long. Plus, the last time the humans farmed mealworms for the flock, ants attacked and nearly devastated the colony. Warding off the persistent, invasive and non-native Argentine ants was quiet a lot of work and stress. There are also a few (ok, more than a few) mealworm addicts among the flock and they have been known to try to raid the mealworm colony for their own selfish gains.

Nonetheless, Lady Human caved to the beak-poking and the “bawwww-bawwww-bawwwwk” of the chickens’ pleas. While it will be more work, it isn’t all that hard once things are set up. It’s healthier, more economical and more sustainable than freeze-dried packaged mealies from the store. Fresh mealworms would be a fantastic healthy treat for the chickens, and the frass (mealworm poop) is an excellent natural fertilizer in the garden.

Chatting about mealworms!

Now that the humans and chickens were in agreement, the next hurdle had to be overcome: how many mealworms to order. Newton (pictured below) and several of her buddies lobbyied for 100,000 worms to start. Lady Human strongly objected to that many worms.

Chatting about mealworms!

Barred-Rock Obama then suggested 50, 000 mealworms, but Lady Human still balked and put her foot down to an order of 10,000 from Rainbow Mealworms. Afterall, she will be the one managing the worm farm and should have final say. The flock had no choice but to agree reluctantly, because the alternative would be no worms at all.

Stay tuned: Follow up posts later about the mealworm farm set-up.

Keeping Cool with a DIY Mister

In this post, due to the interest some Instagram (@realhensofoc) followers showed, we invite Lady Human to demonstrate how other chickens and keep their cool like the Real Hens of Orange County.

 

While Southern California has great weather, we are plagued with some nasty heat waves in the Summer and Fall. After shopping around, I decided to DIY a misting system instead of purchasing a commercial mister like this one because DIYing allows me to make it according to my needs cheaply. An added benefit is that I can adjust it as needed, and it won’t take up space. Plus, I already had some tubing and connectors from doing drip irrigation for our veggie beds.

I like to mount the mister under the shade of some trees in the chickens’ favorite hangout area. It significantly decreases the ambient temperature and will prevent your animals from overheating.

My DIY mister is made out of materials found in the irrigation and/or plumbing section of your local hardware store. You may have to go to more than one store to get everything you need (c’mon, it’s always the case when you DIY). Don’t let the DIY intimidate you. It’s actually really easy. Putting the mister line together is like building something out of Legos or Knex, and you just screw it to your garden hose! If you don’t already have some supplies, buying them new is still cheaper than a commercial mister, and you can adapt and adjust as needed (you probably will if you have a chicken math problem) for only the additional cost of $2 per misting nozzle! So, without further ado…

Materials & Tools Needed:

(Note: I’m only listing the materials I used and their cost in the Greater Los Angeles area. Obviously you can build this using other sizes or parts; just make sure you get the correct fittings for your project.)

  • 1 pack of 1/4″ irrigation tubing ($ 4.27 for 50 ft) – a 50 ft pack is more than enough, unless you intend to run your lines really far and long.
  • 1 pack of tee barbed connectors to fit 1/4″ tubing ($1.67 per pack of 10)
  • 1 to 6, or as desired, of 2 GPH extra fine misting nozzles with 1/4″ memory flex tubing ($1.98 each) – select ones that spray at 2 gallons per hour or less; misters that spray at 4-7 GPH are release too much water and just end up being too drippy and wet
  • 1 hose thread faucet adaptor with filter for 1/4″ tubing ($2.48)
  • 1 pack of 1/4″ inline shut off valve (optional, $3.59 per pack of 10)
  • scissors – to cut tubing
  • wire, twist ties or gear ties (optional) – to help position and mount mister

FullSizeRender_4  FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender easy DIY misting system for chickens easy DIY misting system for chickens

 

Instructions:

It’s easy peasy, like putting together Legos.

  1. Put together the hose adaptor and filter as instructed on the package. Using scissors cut the 1/4″ tubing to desired length (I like about 4 ft –  6 ft long) as straight as as possible. Insert about 1/2″ of the tubing into the tube of the hose adaptor.
  2. Select the mister you’d like to make from the diagrams below and connect as indicated. Or, make up your own configuration. Make sure you cut all tubing pieces as evenly as possible and push in the connectors as far as you can go (see photo below). I didn’t indicate length for the tubing, because it’s all a matter of preference and what you need for your own space. When in doubt, cut each section a little longer than you think you might need.  Use a towel or gardening gloves to help your fingers to push in connectors and tubing together. Doing this can hurt your fingers!
  3. Mount to a tree, outside the coop or whereever! I used galavanized wire and gear ties to help secure some of the tubing in place. Then adjust and direct the nozzle sprayer as desired.
  4. Hook the hose adaptor to your garden hose and let your chickens or other animals enjoy!

mister assembly
DIY mister - diagram

Project Cost (if everything purchased) for Simple Mister for 3 to 6 chickens:  $10.40

DIY mister - diagram

Project Cost (if everything purchased): Mister for 5-10 chickens:  $12.38; Mister for 10-16 chickens: $14.36

DIY mister - diagram

Project Cost (if everything purchased) for Mister for lots of chickens with shut-off valve: $20.97

Basically, this is a very affordable project, and the configurations can be endless. I’ve made almost all the configurations I have shown you in the diagrams. I have a 2-nozzle configuration mounted in the coop to keep any hens laying eggs cool, though technically, one of the nozzles is directed outside of the coop, at the entrance. I have a single-nozzle mister on the patio, for our special needs chickeny rooster. The most complex one, shown in the last diagram, is strung up between two trees. The shut-off valve allows me the option to run just 3 nozzles when it’s not super hot, but yet I want to keep the chickens somewhat cool. And of course, when it’s piping hot, I run all nozzles and all misters.

The water cost is not high either, because these nozzles only emit 2 GPH. You just turn on your hose and mist! If you are not home and don’t want the mister to run all day, or just to be lazy, you can purchase a hose timer (about $15 – $50, depending on brand and model) and program the mister to run itself. Mine can run up to 4 hours each time, repeating every 6 hours.

I even made a 2-nozzle one for a friend and installed it using twist ties:

Stay cool!!

Evolution of an Open Compost Heap

The humans share the transition and remodel of the open compost pile…

There are 2 compost piles at Urban Farm OC. One is a closed pile, where access is denied for the chickens. The other is an open pile, where the chickens can dig and work as much as possible.

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In late 2013, when the humans moved in, the compost area was just a planter area full of hard, impenetrable clay soil where nothing would grow. They began building veggie beds and other growing areas, but never got around to working this weird little spot.

After adopting 4 chickens, and another 6 shortly thereafter, they decided to convert the area into an open compost heap. Having an open compost area allows the flock to eat, scratch and dig for scraps, bugs and worms. The breakdown of compostable matter (kitchen scraps, leaves, garden debris, paper towels, cardboard, chicken poop, etc.) thrown into the heap makes a very nutrient-rich compost, aka gardeners’ black gold, that can be an excellent fertilizer for the garden.

The humans first started by using pallets they obtained for free to use as walls and barriers. But anyone living with chickens knows that these little birds are very, very fierce diggers! Things were getting tossed all over the place through the spaces in the wood slats. This especially became more problematic as new members joined the flock.

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In the next evolution of the compost pile, the humans enlarged the area, though they ran out of material to make the lip higher. The lip is basically a shortened wall that helps contain the debris and makes it easy for the humans to get in there to turn the compost and remove any finished compost. Actually, the humans don’t have to turn the compost as often because the chickens do a great job of turning, but they’re too good. As you can see in the photo below, lots of scraps still got kicked out in the enthusiastic digging and turning.

open compost file

In the latest evolutionary stage of the open compost heap, Lady Human finally purchased some cinder blocks and stacked them so that the lip is high enough to hold in the compostable matter, but still low enough to safely step over to turn and harvest. Well, “safe” is relative…Lady Human is known to be a little klutzy at times. Perhaps she should install a step-up ledge or stair in front of the lip.

open compost file

open compost file

I’m a Beard-o-holic

Hi, my name is Walnut.

I am being forced to confess my alleged crimes as part of a plea deal. My flockmates have rallied against me and want to vote me “off the island,” as if our lives at UrbanFarmOC are like an episode of Survivor. Geez!

It’s so humiliating. They even made me post my confession to social media. So freakin’ embarrassing! Oh well, I’m not ready to be voted off, so I must do this too…

 

Confession 1:

I am a beard-o-holic. I LOOOOOVE beards. Specifically, I love eating them. I’ve “cleaned” off the beards of every bearded member of the flock, except Newton, because I’m really scared of her.

To RuPaul, Uno, Lavender, Colonel Rock, Betty White, Yolkahontas and Bocktoven: I’m sorry for eating all of your beards. I’m also sorry that you have no more beards for me to eat, and that my beard is awesome, compared to yours. If I could reach it, I’d eat my own beard too though. So, um, sorry, not sorry? But think about it this way… not having a beard means less maintenance, right?

Uno used to have an awesome beard RuPaul used to have an awesome beard

Bocktoven used to have an awesome beard... Betty White used to have an awesome beard

Yolkahontas used to have an awesome beard... Lavender used to have an awesome beard

Colonel Rock used to have an awesome beard.

Photos Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Uno, RuPaul, Bocktoven, Betty White, Yolkahontas, Lavender, Col. Rock

Confession 2:

According to the humans, I’ve turned into an egg hoarder and a free-loader. I used to lay my pretty olive green eggs in the nest boxes like all the other hens. But why should I? The humans want me to help contribute rent with my eggs, but dammit, they’re mine, right?!!!?? Apparently the humans and the rest flock disagree with me. I don’t know if I’m ready to reveal all my hiding places….one step at a time. I’ll try to lay in the nest box at least once in a while.

Confession 3:

I frequently trespass into the humans’ patio area. It’s supposedly a chicken-free zone. But it’s such a nice area! I mean, there are no other chickens there, the floors are poop-free, and the dirt area is soooo awesome to dig in. There are so many bugs and worms living on that side of the fence. Plus, it’s an ideal dust-bathing spot. Sometimes, there are delicious tender plants that grow there for me to eat. I mean, it’s my own little goldmine! Nonetheless, the stupid humans say that it’s their territory and I’m not allowed in without permission. They’re never around when I am trying to ask, so I don’t really know what they’re complaining about. Oh well…

It’s a long way down…

The old King falls from grace, literally….

For consorting with the King’s harem and imposing into the King’s territory, RuPaul is always fearful of getting jumped by Uno, his son and new King of the Flock. RuPaul spends much of his free time hiding amongst the brush in the hills at UrbanFarmOC. Sometimes, he will find sanctuary in the human’s patio area as well. Concerned about his health, the humans tractor him for at least a few hours daily to ensure that RuPaul is getting properly hydrated and nourished. However, King Uno always intimidates him through the barrier with his stern gaze.

When not safely tractored, RuPaul avoids Uno like the plague. When feeling a rare moment of bravery, he will come out of hiding to flirt with the ladies of Uno’s court. However, he literally runs for the hills whenever King Uno comes near.

And while we worked in the garden, RuPaul was in the hills hiding from and avoiding Uno. 🙄

A post shared by Real Hens of Orange County (@realhensofoc) on

 

Running for the hills all the time is not a good idea either. Uno is a fast runner and climber and likes giving RuPaul a good chase. In a recent effort to run away, RuPaul attempted to fly down the hill, except his depth perception is rather impaired with only one good eye.

 

RuPaul misjudged his flight path and flew into and onto the protective hawk net that’s stretched over part of the flat area of the property. Luckily the humans were on site to provide assistance and get him out of his little jam. Uno stalked from below with his stern stare: “You know who’s boss, don’t ya? I’m watchin’ ya!”

Part 2: Escape from Uno. Trying to free RuPaul from the hawk net after he misjudged his flight. Uno stalks and mocks from below.

A post shared by Real Hens of Orange County (@realhensofoc) on

 

Extracting RuPaul from the net was a stressful challenge for humans and chicken alike, as you can see in the video above. It certainly did not help RuPaul’s nerves with Uno parading below.

Confidence-breaking moments like that make poor RuPaul feel very vulnerable and he seeks out comfort and hugs from the humans. Sometimes he gets some extra comfort food in the form of mealworms and nuts like almonds and cashews. The extra love makes things a little better, but poor RuPaul is really having a hard time rebuilding his confidence.

 

Related backstory…

Usurping the King, Part 1

Usurping the King, Part 2

Usurping the King, Part 3

Usurping the King, Part 3

The Takeover

In this episode, a new King of the Flock is crowned and the usurped struggles to figure out where he fits in….

In his short term as King of the Flock, Pip acted with great contempt and aggressiveness towards RuPaul, the unseated king. While RuPaul had already conceded the loss, Pip continued to launch terrible sneak assaults on RuPaul. While Uno was not happy about Pip’s underclawed tactics to hold the title of King, Uno accepted Pip’s new rule to avoid further battles and to keep peace within the flock.

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Pip

While Pip was a good cockerel to the humans, his tyrannical rule was of great concern to everyone. Also, his sheer size was a bit difficult for some of the smaller hens, particularly Betty White. You see, Betty has a bum leg and a permanent limp from breaking her leg about 1 year ago, and it’s hard for her to balance and bear the weight of a rooster, let alone a super-sized one like Pip. After much debate, the humans decided it was time to intervene. Pip has now been exiled from the flock, and no one is happier about it than RuPaul.

Uno

Uno

After Pip’s exile, RuPaul integrated back into the flock. By this time, Uno, as the Prime Minister, ascended to the position of King. RuPaul’s first day of reintegration was a rough one. Adjusting to life with just one eye, dealing with the fact that one’s own son planned a coup d’etat, and then losing one’s harem and kingdom…it’d be hard for anyone to take. Furthermore, Uno was a little rough the first few days because he needed to assert his position as the newly crowned King of the Flock.

While Uno made a few more aggressive maneuvers to intimidate and secure his position, he was far from being the tyrant that Pip was. RuPaul, still heavily traumatized under Pip’s tyranny, often retreated to the hills and to take cover under some thick brush. A few times, the humans had to assist RuPaul and convince him to come out of hiding. His confidence was clearly shattered.

RuPaul escaping to the hills

RuPaul escaping to the hills

RuPaul in hiding

RuPaul hiding in a corner

After a few days, it seemed that Uno loosened up on some of his more aggressive intimidation tactics, and RuPaul regained a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of confidence back. For example, instead of hiding all day long, he would spy the yard for Uno, and would come out of hiding if Uno wasn’t in sight. Of course, he ran back into hiding whenever he spotted Uno, or when Uno saw him.

 

Uno takes his job seriously

Uno takes his new job seriously.

 

 

Usurping the King, Part 1

Usurping the King, Part 2