Tonawanda News

Features

February 18, 2014

Reading the 'Chook book'

(Continued)

Tonawanda News —

My last two chickens are very similar. One is a Cochin and the other is a frizzled chicken, which is almost a Cochin but with a gene that makes her feathers grow backward, giving her a “Farrah Fawcett” hairdo. My Cochin’s name is Hen Stefani and the frizzled is named Feather Locklear. The book says that Cochins are a heavy, placid breed and make excellent pets. They have been bred for show and may have lost some of their egg-laying abilities. “The big feathery ‘trousers’ and feathered feet will require clean and dry conditions, but these birds can live happily in a run as they are not particularly active.”

So what I have learned is that all of the chicken breeds I have purchased are not the most prolific when it comes to egg production, and that since they were hatched later in the season, they may not begin egg production until spring.

“Around fourteen hours of daylight are required for laying — most hens stop or slow down in the short days of winter,” the book adds. Other reasons why there could be a lack of eggs include: disease, parasites, egg eating, too many treats or lack of water. I blame the polar vortex!

If you have chickens, eat eggs or are thinking about keeping chickens, this book is great for the whole family. It is titled, after all, “A Family Guide to Keeping Chickens.” Each chapter ends with “Key Points” and a Kids’ Corner with a short quiz that can be as valuable to the children as to the non-children in the household. In addition to the quiz, there is also a Chicken Chat — a section about chicken sayings, chicken jokes and something to do for the kids to get involved in these fundamental feathered critter companions.

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    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink.

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    At 35 years old, I may be the oldest person ever to record an out in a kids’ T-ball league.

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    This past week, our lovely neighbors went to the beach for their annual weeklong vacation.

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    More than 90 private gardens throughout Western New York, and a number of public ones, are open to the public for select hours Thursdays and/or Fridays during July as part of the National Garden Festival’s Open Gardens program, now in its fifth year. The program is separate and distinct from local garden walks, and the gardens range from Gasport to Holland. They’re organized into districts of about five to eight gardens each, including Northtowns West (which includes gardens in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda) and Niagara Trail (which includes gardens in Lockport, Gasport and Lewiston).

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    Sara Johnson lives surrounded by green and growing things. Showing a visitor around her apartment in North Buffalo, she pointed out the plants in every room, the balcony and even in two small greenhouses — houseplants, flowers, vegetables, even carnivorous plants.

    "I try to keep as much growing in the house as I can," she said.

    Another goal of hers is to show others how to do the same — and to that end, Johnson is offering a series of workshops this summer in connection with her business, Sylvatica Terrariums, and Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, teaching people how to bring a piece of the outdoors into their homes in the form of a terrarium or other greenery.

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    “They will be running outside and playing in the grass and going swimming,” said Cheryl Flick, a fund representative of the Northern Erie and Niagara Counties chapter of the Fresh Air Fund at a picnic for the host families and kids. “They won’t be cooped up inside, they’ll be outside, getting fresh air and being active.”

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