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Baltimore, MD
USA

Cat and Milk Studio: artwork by Caroline Devereaux.  Illustration, commissioned art, comics and sketches from an artist in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Cat and Milk Studio news, and anecdotes from artist, Caroline Devereaux. Illustrations in progress and sales and discounts on commission portraits are posted here. 

Filtering by Tag: chickens

Ways to Warm Up Your Chicken (Not the Oven)

Caroline Devereaux

It is our first winter with chickens, and already I've learned a lot. We insulated the coop with thick plastic sheeting, and built a water heater that would make MacGyver proud. (According to my research, dehydration is the leading cause of backyard chicken mortality.)

Mingo, our smallest chicken, has already been through some rough winters; she lost several toes to frostbite in up-state New York, where she was a homeless beggar-bird. A few weeks ago, she started molting, and watching her go bald in the blustery cold was more than I could bear. On the advice of several chicken-health blogs, I busted out the ol' knitting needles and made a her tiny chicken sweater. The result was adorable.

I am a "jazz knitter" so I make up my pattern as I go. Mingo's sweater was based on this idea >> 

In case you ever get a mad hair to make a chicken sweater of your own, I will share some tips:

1.  Don't use super-bulky yarn.  If your chicken is as minuscule as Ms. Mingo, she will not be able to walk too well under the weight of "so much" yarn.  She also couldn't fold her wings down flat, which is why I decided that she should not actually wear the sweater outside after all. 

2. Use safety pins instead of velcro or button-closures.  Who has velcro lying around?  And buttons are more likely to fall off/get eaten up by the birds. 

3.  Have a good camera ready.  You're gonna wanna document this. 

I am happy to report that Mingo the tiny chicken is over the hump. She has really perked up since her feathers have been coming back in. 

Chicken Poop Lasagna

Caroline Devereaux

Baltimore City ordinances dictate that our chicken coop must be mobile. However, Baltimore City rats mandate security modifications that will make the coop immobile.  Like burying wire 12" into the lawn. 

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In order to thwart our furry neighbors, we wrapped 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom of our coop.  The result is a rather unpleasant industrial-style floor for the ladies ("rage cage"), but the added weight was negligible.  This week I will cushion their tootsies and learn about COMPOSTING as we try out "Deep Litter Bedding Method.

A sketch from Kauai.  I sold these for $15 a pop -- more than enough for a day at the beach. 

A sketch from Kauai.  I sold these for $15 a pop -- more than enough for a day at the beach. 

The deep litter method, according to my research, involves making the floor of your chicken coop serve double duty as the compost bin. The bedding breaks down,  giving off heat for the birds in winter, and this method is way less maintenance pour moi (bonus.)  The coop will probably not be "mobile," when filled with lasagna-like layers of wood shavings and chicken poo, but we can call a bunch of friends over to lift it if the inspector comes to call. 

I've always been leery of composting, as it seems to entail a lot of science. Tracking 'greens' and 'browns' and having just the right depth for the heat and weight to break things down. In short,  I don't really want to think about garbage that much. But the great thing about being unemployed is that I have all these extra brain cells laying around, and all the time in the world to research garbage, so all I have to do is muster some motivation.