How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

So I’m a huge fan of Halloween! I think it’s so fun for kids and I love the costumes, the pumpkins, and all of the fall decorations.

However, especially if you’re raising chickens in an urban or suburban area, Halloween can be a pretty stressful and scary time for your chickens. So today we’re going to talk about how to keep your chickens safe on Halloween.

Now the thing about Halloween, is that it’s really fun for us humans, but for animals it can be kind of a scary time, especially if you have domestic animals. There’s going to be a lot more activity in your neighborhood during Halloween and that can be very stressful for chickens and other pets.

 

Trick-or Treating People

The number one thing to remember during Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, is that not every neighborhood Trick-or-Treats at night.

Usually chickens will go in their coop at night and you’ll keep them safely cooped up all night long night, so you might think you don’t need to take any extra steps to keep them safe.

But some areas tend to have Trick-or-Treating hours during the day, or at dusk, right before sunset, which are times when your chickens might be out and about and hunting and pecking instead of safely in their coop.

So you definitely want to make sure that you coop your chickens up during the hours of Trick-or-Treating, especially if they’re during the day.

More and more neighborhoods are shifting more towards day hours to protect kids. And so younger kids who might go to bed earlier, can still enjoy Trick-or-Treating.

So definitely make sure that your chickens are cooped up. And make sure that the coops are secure. You’re going to want to make sure that other people can’t easily get into your coop. 

I would also consider keeping your chickens cooped up the night before Halloween because that tends to be mischief night. Mischief night is a big deal in some areas.

It’s not such a big deal in our area. We live in a very rural neighborhood, and I grew up in a rural neighborhood where we actually never got Trick-or-Treaters.

But in some areas that I have lived in, mischief night has been a big deal, especially if you have a lot of teenagers around or young adults who might be impetuous.

It could be a pretty disastrous situation for your chickens. So my suggestion is just all Halloween, the night before Halloween and Halloween day, and that block of time around Halloween, just keep your chickens cooped up, or if you do allow them to forage and run around, supervise them just for the sake of safety.

It’s not worth somebody possibly harming your chickens, to let them roam around free.

My recommendation is that you keep your chickens cooped up or make sure that they are being supervised, so that you can make sure they stay safe.

 

Dogs

This is another reason why you should coop your chickens up on Halloween. A lot of people, as they’re taking their kids around Trick-or-Treating, bring their dog with them. And we all know that even the most family friendly dog, when it sees a chicken, can turn into a killer.

I know this from personal experience. Our dog was a great family dog. Loved people and was so friendly, but the second he got around a chicken, he turned into a chicken killer.

Not every dog out there is going to be like that, obviously. But you really don’t want to take the chance that’s somebody’s neighborhood dog could get at your chickens. That’s just another reason to keep your chickens cooped up earlier on Halloween.

 

Predators

Because of all the candy and all the food around during Halloween, predators might be a bigger issue. Namely, things like possums and raccoons.

Raccoons are pretty nondiscriminatory when it comes to what they eat. If it’s there, they’re going to go for it.

So because of all the candy and food around, raccoons are more likely to be out than they would any other night. They’re going to be out every night, but they’re probably going to be out in droves on Halloween (and probably a couple days after too).

So I recommend that you double check that your coop is secure, so that your chickens will be safe from predators.

Traffic

Another reason to keep your chickens cooped up around Trick-or-Treat time, is because of higher volumes of traffic. I remember when we were kids, my parents didn’t want to walk with their kids from house to house. It’s not fun. It’s tiring. You’re an adult. You’ve been working all day. So what do you do? You get the car out.

The problem with this, (I’m sure you’re already put it all together) is that chickens sometimes aren’t the brightest when it comes to traffic. I know mine aren’t. We’ve actually never had a chicken get hit, but it can happen because people aren’t paying attention. They’re watching their kids. They’re watching the dog. They’re not paying attention to what your chickens are doing.

Then there’s the people who’ll hit your chickens on purpose. So best advice, during Trick-or-Treat hours, after Trick-or-Treat hours, and on mischief night, just keep your chickens cooped up.

Your chickens won’t be harmed in any way by keeping them cooped up. Just make sure that they have plenty of food and water. You can give them extra treats and boredom busters to keep them entertained, but I would recommend you keep them in their coop.

Candy

Don’t be tempted to give your chickens candy. As we all know, chickens are curious creatures, and when given the opportunity, they’ll taste anything. If you’ve been thinking about giving them candy during Halloween, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. They don’t need it.

There are plenty of other healthy treat options you can give your chickens if you want to spoil them on Halloween. You could give them corn (real corn, NOT candy corn!), lettuce, Black Soldier Fly Larvae, mealworms, or one of my treat mixes, but please don’t give them candy.

Now another thing to keep in mind, is to make sure that you keep your trash cans lidded up tightly, so that your chickens can’t scavenge in the trash cans.

For the most part they’ll pretty much eat whatever they can find. Candy can mess with their blood sugar and it can mess with a whole ton of other things.

The other thing is that certain candies, such as hard candies, gumballs, or candy corn, can be choking hazards for your chickens. Once they swallow the candy it goes into their crop. Eventually it hits the gizzard. The gizzard has rocks in it and it grinds everything up.

But in the meantime, as it’s going down the esophagus, there’s a chance that they might choke on it. Especially if it’s something big and hard.

Don’t give your chickens candy and try not to throw candy in your yard. You just want to make sure that your yard is fairly clean before you let your chickens out of their coop again.

Chances of them choking on candy are probably slim (they could also just as easily choke on a piece of hard corn) but for the sake of making things easy on ourselves, just avoid giving your chickens candy.

The final thing that I’ll say about candy, is to not give your chickens anything that’s been unwrapped. As an example of this is, some families prefer to give out healthy treats, so they’ll give out apples, or oranges, or bananas.

My suggestion is although it might be tempting to throw them in the compost pile, or to feed it to your chickens as their Halloween treat, don’t feed them anything that’s come from another person that’s been unwrapped.

It’s the same reason as we don’t give it to our children. You don’t know what somebody’s put in it. You don’t know if they’ve put poison in it. You don’t know if they’ve put pins in it.

We all hear the stories every year of somebody where someone found pins or other stuff in their kid’s Halloween candy. It can happen. My suggestion is stay safe, don’t feed your chickens any unwrapped fruit or vegetables from other people, because again, you don’t know what’s been in them.

Candy Wrappers

So as we all know, chickens are opportunistic eaters. They might very well go ahead and try and eat candy wrappers. And that’s definitely not good for them.

So just make sure that when your kids are eating the candy that all the candy wrappers get cleaned up so your chickens don’t accidentally ingest them.

Candy wrappers are something that could very easily mess with your chickens digestive system. It might not hurt them immediately, but it could cause some serious problems later on.

Make sure your chickens can’t get at any candy wrappers and be sure that you keep your trashcans lidded so that your chickens can’t get in them and dig around and accidentally ingest a candy wrapper or anything else that they really should not be eating.

It’s good to keep the raccoons away too, so I highly suggest you lid your garbage cans.

 

Can your chickens eat pumpkins or gourds?

We’ve talked about all of the scary stuff, so now let’s talk about feeding your chickens pumpkins! If you have unpainted pumpkins or other sorts of gourds, go ahead and chop them up and feed them to your chickens.

They will absolutely love you for it! If the pumpkin or the gourd has been painted, I probably would not feed the peel itself to your chickens. We don’t really know what’s in those paints so it’s not good for them. And as the person eating their eggs, you don’t want to ingest any of that either.

Go ahead and cut away the painted part, then feed it to your chickens. If the whole outside has been painted, maybe just cut it open and scoop out the interior.

There is a belief that pumpkin seeds can help your chickens with worms. I don’t really see any proof of that, but at the end of the day, the chickens love the seeds. They think they taste great and they’re good for them. And the pumpkin itself is very good for them. It has a lot of nutrients in it!

My one tip when it comes to pumpkin and gourds, is to wait to buy them until the day after Halloween. The grocery stores in our area heavily discount gourds after Halloween, so I will often buy like 10 gourds for only five bucks.

I feed them to my pigs, I feed them to the chickens. We even feed them to our goats too!

It’s a perfect opportunity for people like us to go score really inexpensive food for our chickens and the other livestock on our farm. It’s super healthy for them and they love it! They get to dig through it and they’ll just have the best time ever.

So yes, your chickens can eat pumpkins and gourds. They will love it, and it’ll be very nutritious for them. So go ahead and feed them away to your flock!

So that’s all folks, I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about how to keep your chickens safe for Halloween! Let me know in the comments below what you do to keep you chickens safe for Halloween!

9 Tips To Afford A Homestead: How We Do It

9 Tips To Afford A Homestead: How We Do It

I think there’s a lot of misinformation and myths that are around regarding homesteading, namely that it’s an expensive process, or it’s too hard to afford a homestead or you have to have a lot of land to start.

 

While a homestead, like anything, can be an expensive process, it doesn’t have to be, and I certainly know a ton of urban homesteaders making it work in tiny apartments and 1/4 acre plots.

 

I’d like to share with you how we afford to homestead. And we’re regular people, like you. 

9 Tips to Afford a Homestead. Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! Here's 9 tips! From FrugalChicken

1. Make the most of what you have

You can homestead anywhere – there’s purists out there that insist if you’re not doing it off the grid and on 50+ acres, you’re not a homesteader (I get those criticisms too).

 

But the truth is you can homestead in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn and you can homestead on a 100 acre plot of land.

 

It’s about knowing the homestead skills to produce more than you consume.

 

Work on learning how to make bone broth to use every bit of a chicken in your urban homestead.

 

Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) to assist in reaping a bountiful harvest (some CSAs will let you volunteer your time or work off some of the cost of your membership if it’s hard for you to afford). 

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2. Look for opportunities to buy land – inexpensively

We live in the middle of nowhere. And coming from DC, that was quite a change. 

 

But one reason for the dramatic move was the price of land – I bought A TON more land at 1/3rd of the price than our condo in DC cost us. 

 

And it meant we could afford to put down a bundle – over half the cost of the property. 

 

Now, before you think you can’t do the same, I have something to tell you. I’ve seen land for sale in certain states for less than $5,000 – and the owners would trade that land for a truck. 

 

Does that mean it’s glamorous? No. Affordable? Yes. And I would have snapped it up if it wasn’t 3 hours away.

 

The deals are out there, if you look.

 

READ NEXT: GET STARTED HOMESTEADING TODAY WITH THESE HACKS

3. Add what you can, when you can

If you have a bit of land, add fruiting bushes and trees, and harvest what you can. Plant as much as you can afford (hint: we only buy 2 trees at a time. You don’t need to spend a ton at once to start an orchard.)

 

Grow as much as you can. If you’re able to keep rabbits or chickens, do so for the meat and eggs, and make fodder on your homestead to reduce the feed costs.

Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChickenIf you live in an area that doesn’t permit chickens, perhaps city statues don’t mention rabbits. Perhaps they don’t mention quail. 

 

We have 10 acres. There was nothing when we got here except the house and two run down machine sheds.

 

We’ve started transforming the barns (mostly for free) and added dairy goats, chickens for eggs, and a small orchard.

 

Realize it’s a process.

 

Take tiny steps, no matter your living situation, to become more self-sufficient, and you’re well on your way to having a homestead.

 

4. Earn money through homesteading activities

Let’s say you own your home (even with a mortgage). Take a look at your expenses and your income. Are there activities you can do that will help pay for expenses so you can build a homestead?

 

This year I’m looking into hay and straw investment. It’s a little risky because I’ll have to store it, but since we have our own animals, we always have a need for it.

 

I know I can buy hay between $2 – $2.50 a square bale, and I can sell it over the winter for $5 or so a bale. The straw I can produce myself from a local source, and sell for around $2 a bale.

 

I know plenty of women who have a homestead and make soaps, beauty products, and other goods to afford their dream.

 

I’m working on my soap making ability, and might sell goat milk soap in the future if it seems like something for me.

 

5. Cut expenses where you can

Look at your budget – are there expenses you can cut?

 

One way we cut costs on our homestead was by selling a financed truck.

 

We could afford the payments – but we wanted to downsize our expenses. 

 

We switched it for older trucks that we can resell. We then purchase another truck, and sell that one. Rinse and repeat.

 

This brings in a healthy amount of money every month.

 

By producing veggies, cheese, and meat, you’ll save a ton on groceries and also eat healthy, real food. We save A LOT by raising our own groceries.Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChicken

You know how big corporations increase their quarterly earnings by decreasing their costs? Well, it works for us too.

 

That’s how our homestead began producing income – by cutting the expense of groceries.

 

To afford a homestead, I suggest this is where you begin, because it’s easy and accessible.

 

We’re able to partially feed our pigs from produce a local grocery store would otherwise toss.

 

It’s a win-win situation – they can get rid of their unsaleable produce without having to toss it, and I can feed my pigs fresher food than just hog grain. 

 

And now we can afford sustainable pork.

 

READ NEXT: 11 SECRETS OF SAVING MONEY ON THE HOMESTEAD

6. Become a DIY expert

Ok, maybe expert is a little too lofty of a goal. But you get my point.

 

Both my husband and I have had really bad experiences hiring out work, so we do everything ourselves, and it’s helped us afford a homestead.

 

Yes, sometimes that means hard work and things move at a snails pace.

 

But instead of spending thousands, we’ve spent much less to transform our homestead to afford what we have.

Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChicken7. Look at certain expenses as investments

At this point on our homestead, there’s not one animal or machine that doesn’t produce.

 

The one time I’ve allowed a monthly payment this year is on a new tractor (well, new to us).

 

Why did I break my rule about monthly payments?

 

Because it allowed us to add a new piece of equipment that would make us money – and the payment is extremely low, with no percentage on it. We can completely afford it.

9 Tips to Afford a Homestead. Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! Here's 9 tips! From TheFrugalChicken.com

Remember that straw I talked about?

 

Without the tractor, we wouldn’t have a prayer of producing straw.

 

The benefit we will get, and the money we will save and be able to bring in, made me reconsider my otherwise very hard and fast rule.

 

The more we run our farm like a business, the more we can afford, because no expense is a waste.

 

8. Look for deals – and wait until the right one comes along

I spent 2 years dying for a goat for our homestead so we could produce cheese and yogurt from a sustainable source (remember, you can produce cheese from store bought milk too!).

 

Every opportunity was just a little too much money or not exactly what I wanted – the wrong breed, not in milk, you get the point.

 

Then along came Dahlia, who was perfect – a great breed, a good age, in milk and very affordable. And healthy!

 

Next, we’re looking for a cow.

 

The advantage to waiting (and to having a tight budget) is that it gives you time to consider whether what you want is actually what you need. In other words, I was dead set on getting a dairy cow.

 

Now that we have Dahlia, and we have lots of milk, I’m wondering if a meat cow might work better for our homestead. (We’ve already decided against a bull – this is one situation where I’ll use artificial means to produce calves).

 

READ NEXT: YOU CAN RAISE MEAT CHICKENS (AND ACTUALLY GO THROUGH WITH IT!)

 

9. We barter

My famous phrase around our house is, “can you trade something for part of the cost?” and I make my husband crazy at times with it. 

 

But you know what? Sometimes it just works, and we’ve been able to knock the price off items because of it. 

 

As a concrete example, earlier this year, we purchased a certain car part at an auction.

 

We got a really good deal (which is why we took the chance), but when we got home, we realized it wasn’t going to work for anything we needed it for – until one day we needed an engine.

 

We were able to trade our “useless” part to reduce the price of what we needed.

 

My husband is color blind, so welding is difficult for him. When we need something welded, we have a friend we can call for help, and we usually trade services. 

 

Yes, cash is usually king, but sometimes a trade works just as well.

 

Do you still think you can’t afford a homestead? I sure hope not! As you can see, it’s a goal that’s easily within your fingertips!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these tips will you try to implement today? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!

 

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How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

For years, we simply purchased laundry detergent from the dollar store, not ever thinking about making our own. When we moved to our homestead, and as the desire to produce more than we consumed became greater, I researched how to make laundry detergent at home, and found that we could save more by producing our own. It takes a little more leg work, but it’s super-easy, and I get a lot of satisfaction creating my own.

I like knowing that we aren’t using the chemicals in mass-produced laundry detergents! And the bonus is that I can choose my own scent!

If you’ve ever been interested in making your own laundry detergent at home, and it’s an important skill to have as a homesteader, then this post is for you. I decided to make powdered detergent over liquid detergent because liquid detergent takes longer to make.

Here’s how to make laundry detergent at home. Any of these ingredients can be found at your local big box store, so no excuses why you can’t produce your own, even if you’re an urban homesteader.

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Shredded Fels Naptha soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar laundry soap (I used Fels Naptha, you can also use Ivory or Zote or your own)

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soap (like Arm & Hammer)

Essential oils (if desired)

Shave your laundry soap until it’s shredded. (You can use a cheese grater. I purchased one especially for this project.) Mix with the borax and washing soap, and store in a clean, air tight container.

That’s it! It’s really that easy to make laundry detergent at home. As a homesteader, you can go all out and produce your own laundry soap too. I plan to do this the next time we burn a bunch of wood. I have the fat sitting in the freezer! (Stay tuned for the tutorial.)

You can use your own laundry detergent at home in both regular and HE washing machines.

So, how to make laundry detergent smell good? Well, the good news is the ingredients, as they stand, smell like clean linens. But if you want to add your own scent, simply add essential oils. I personally like the scent it already has, so I leave it alone.

What scent will you use?

Links to: Simple-Lives