Have you ever had to perform any sort of chicken surgery/procedure? How did you figure it out? How did it turn out?
When you raise animals, especially ones beyond the average pet variety, you quickly learn how to doctor your animals. At least to a small degree. The more animals you have, the more potential for large vet bills, so having a few skills is helpful.
This weekend I was performing the usual chores. Cleaning coops, cleaning out all the waterers. While I was puttering about, I noticed two birds limping. One, a guinea hen, has always had a limp due to an unfortunate interaction with a dog in its youth. The other, my favorite little chicken, has never had a limp. I noticed her first. Between two of her toes were two noticeable bumps. The guinea, who has always had a deformed foot, was the same only more swollen than usual. So, it was to the books and the internet for me. I quickly, and thankfully easily, was able to diagnose the two as having bumblefoot.
Bumblefoot, or plantar pododermatitis, is an infection on the bottom of a chicken’s foot. Usually noticeable by a bump and a dark scab on the pad of the foot. You may notice either the bump or the limping first. The infection is typically the result of an injury, cut or abrasian to the foot. Injury can also result from the roost (check for splinters), heavy landings from a roost that is too high, or poor litter management. Vitamin deficiencies can also be a cause. The injured area is then susceptible to infection, resulting in an abscess. Failure to treat can result in death.
Making sure your flock has a balanced diet and regular checking for injuries is a good starting point. Whether your flock is in a suburban backyard or free range in a pasture they can get into all manner of trouble.
If you find your chicken has bumblefoot, and can’t get to a chicken vet, there are plenty of tutorials and videos online to assist you. That is the course I took, not having an avian vet. ***Folks, I am not a vet or a professional, just a regular joe chicken wrangler, so as with anything on the internet take it with a grain of salt and when you can get to the professionals for treatment or advice do so.
These are some of the things you want in your chicken medicine cabinet in the event you need to provide care yourself, like on a mellow Sunday morning of chores.
> Epsom salt
> Vetericyn ( I also use Schreiner’s, a great anti-fungal anti-bacterial herbal solution. You can find it in the equestrian section)
> Triple antibiotic ointment like neosporin (do not use the variety with pain medication, it is toxic to the chicken)
> vet wrap
> scalpel (I found sterile disposable scalpels at Jax ranch and home store in the equestrian section. $1.50 each)
> sanitized bucket
> tweezers (optional)
> clean towel (that you don’t mind getting gross!) and some paper towels.
One person can perform the surgery, but two is definitely better. If you are weak of stomach, definitely have help. Or find someone who can perform the procedure. (This is Fort Collins folks, if you spit you can hit a vet student. Just sayin’, but don’t spit. It’s rude.)
First pick a clean and well lighted area. I chose a table outside, cleaning the table with bleach first. Cut strips of the vet wrap, about 1″ wide and 4-6″ long. Have everything you need ready. If your instruments (scalpel, tweezers) aren’t in sanitized packages clean them in a bleach solution before and after each use. Everything I read indicated the procedure would take about an hour.
Clean the affected foot (I did both to ensure more cleanliness) using the betadine solution. Then soak the affected foot in warm water and epsom salt. Spray with Vetericyn.
Wrap the chicken in the towel, making sure the bird can breathe freely. Don’t cover their head. Wrapping them keeps them from flapping and calms them to some degree.
You want to make sure you have gloves on. The procedure can be messy and infections can be passed to humans and other animals.
Take the scalpel and cut the pad in a circle around the scab at a slight angle to get under the infection. The pad will bleed, but should not be large amounts. Keep a paper towel close by to keep the area clean. Under the scab, or attached to it, will usually be a hard yellow kernel like substance. This is the infection. If it is not hardened it may be yellow and stringy. At this point, if there is a kernal remove it. You may want to gently work any swollen areas to see if any remaining pus can be removed. Soaking again in a betadine or epsom salt and water solution will assist. Once the removal is complete, clean and spray with Vetericyn again.
At this point get the gauze and coat the open wound area with the antibiotic ointment. Cover with gauze and secure in place with vet wrap. Vet wrap is amazing. It is self adhesive and stays in place well. Wrap around the gauze, between the toes and around the ankle until everything is covered and secure. Clean regularly (every 24 hours) and spray with Vetericyn each time.
If the infection is extensive, antibiotics may be necessary. The size of the swelling, if extreme, is a good indicator antibiotics may be needed in addition to the procedure and regular cleaning.
If you want to learn more there are a lot of great resources online. There are several comprehensive how to videos of the procedure and proper bandaging techniques if you google “bumblefoot in chickens”. Just don’t wait until you need them! And keep those supplies on hand. I need to head out and check on my girls now. Good luck keeping your flock happy and healthy.
I’ve been a little sidetracked today, researching and conducting chicken surgery. Come back tomorrow to read all about it.
Funk weeks Brewery is hosting four farm tours, one each Wednesday in August. Folks can meet at the brewery at 5:00, 1900 East Lincoln, Unit B in Fort Collins, where you’ll bike to the farm, take a tour and enjoy some brews.
The cost of the tour is free. If you get some farm goodies and don’t have a bike basket, don’t worry, they’ll get your goodies back to Funkwerks for you. Sound interesting so far? Well if it is here’s the lineup.
August 5 – Native Hill Farm
August 13 – Spring Kite Farm
August 20 – Jodar Farm
August 27 – Essex Homestead
Reserve a spot at Funkwerks 970-482-FUNK.
This past Tuesday was a gorgeous day. Perfect for an early evening farm visit. I pass Native Hill Farm often on my way home. I’ve watched it grow over the last couple seasons, most recently with the addition of a honor system farm stand. Nic was gracious to meet with me after a long day. Katie Slota, the farm and Nic’s other half, was at a board meeting for the Food Co-op. It’s hard to pin one farmer down during the season, even harder to pin down two! It’s a busy life.
Nic came to Colorado via Indiana, Texas and Pennsylvania, with a few other locales thrown in the mix. While educated in Bio Systems Engineering, he came across farming through working at the student run organic market farm for three years at Clemson University, where he went to school. Following that he gained another two years of experience working on a farm in Alaska and a mid scale CSA/market farm in eastern Pennsylvania. He was also reading a lot about topics that resonated with him like the works of Wendell Berry and Edward Abbey. He thought about consumerism and the lack of a sense of place many folks have. Long having thought that farmers are the true philosophers, my conversation with Nic led me to believe he definitely fits the profile.
About six years ago Nic took the plunge and leased some land on Shields. He was working as an engineer in town, for what he describes as a great company. It just wasn’t a fit for him. Through farming Nic found a place to apply both his idealogy and his education. Farm work is more than digging in the dirt and harvesting vegetables. There are a myriad number of things to fix and problems to solve. That engineering degree comes in handy with irrigation and mechanical concerns popping up on a regular basis. What Nic expressed that he liked best was that he can be working on pumps, have an opportunity to be creative while also working on the larger issues that he cares about.
With that fateful decision to lease land and take on farming, Nic was also involving himself in the local food movement. He spoke at Matterhorn’s first annual town meeting on food. It was at that event that he met Katie. Originally from Wisconsin, Katie majored in microbiology and holds a master’s in environmental health. Having mutual concerns and passions, they talked after the event. Katie eventually came to work in the greenhouse. The relationship grew and they grew Native Hill Farm together. Two years ago they were both able to leave their off farm jobs and focus on farming full time. As Nic expressed, “When your split, you aren’t doing either job well.”
This year marks the farm’s sixth season. At the corner of Taft Hill Road and 287 they lease six acres. To the east they lease another acre and are just getting ready to cultivate another four acres west of the main farm. The goal is to have three times the land than that in cultivation each year. Growing towards regularly farming ten acres, that would mean thirty acres would need to be available. For rotation, cultivation and rest. Nic explains that they are not motivated to own the land they farm. They are part of the evolution of traditional farming, where land is historically passed down generationally, and they have peace with leasing the land. The motivation is to be viable. And with land prices what they are, owning doesn’t necessarily equate to viability.
Native Hill Farm is lucky to service solely to Old Town. They don’t deliver any further south than Cafe Vino on College. In the farm’s second year they started their market CSA, as the land originally leased when the farm started did not allow for any visitors. The CSA currently consists of 145 members, with an additional 30 trade shares with working members. As a testament to their popularity, they sold out their shares in two days. Nic explained the reasoning behind choosing the market share versus the traditional box share. “While the traditional box share works for the farm, it doesn’t always work for the customer.” Through the market share folks get to pick what they want each week. With the box share, members receive a variety of vegetables based on what the farm has available. While box shares are much easier to plan for, Nic has found many of his customers prefer the free choice share that they can pick up at the market each week at the Larimer County Farmer’s Market in Old Town, and the weekly farmer’s market at Beaver’s Market. In addition to the farmer’s market, they sell to 4-8 restaurants and now have the farmstand at Taft Hill/287.
I asked Nic if they were seasonal or year round. He explained the first few years they experimented with selling at the Winter Market and the Food Co-op. About three years ago they offered a nine week fall share. This allowed them an opportunity for learning and market development. The fall share consisted of 1/2 storage and 1/2 fresh items. This was a great option to extend the 24 week market season. This year they are offering a 26 week fall/winter/spring (November to late March) share in addition to the 24 week summer share. This winter share will consist of storage vegetables and fresh greeens from the hoop houses. Their hoophouses currently cover a quarter acre. The two shares combined will provide 50 weeks of veggie shares, taking only two weeks a year off for both farmers and eaters. Nic stated that they took this as a professional challenge in their 5th year to extend to a year round model. “It’s nice to have some continuity.” As it stands, right now their thoughts and planning are on next spring.
If that wasn’t enough, Nic explained how he and Katie are always looking at the larger picture and how they can impact that greater vision. “Growing food is a powerful thing. We’re able to watch kids grow up on our food. And they stay with you.” The vision includes him still growing food in thirty years . While he says they have no unrealistic expectation of making a living, they seem to be doing pretty good. Having established themselves over the last six years they are currently finding balance and managing their time better. “We’re excited about getting home at a reasonable hour and cooking what we’ve grown. Walking the dog.” It’s impressive that they have found that balance considering the number of things they are involved in. As mentioned earlier Katie is on the board of the Food Co-op. They are also active in the Building Farmer’s Classes. Nic as an advisory and class development participant and Katie as a teacher.
In looking to the future his eye is set on conservation and cooperation among farmers. While many farmers have a willingness to show up and coming farmer’s the ropes, it isn’t always possible. If a farmer is showing you how to till and plant and harvest, it means they aren’t using that time to do their own farming. Always thinking of how to address these concerns, coversation turned toward cooperative endeavors. A recent CSU Specialty Crops Grant was awarded to investigate how to create a multi-farm cooperative CSA, in partnership with Carl of GreenDog Farm. While such cooperatives are not new, this one is particularly interesting as all the farms involved cater to the same geographic market.
In looking at cooperatives like this one, Nic explains that there is great potential to not only share equipment and knowledge and reduce small scale competition. There is opportunity to create more viability for each farm than is available through several small independent and individual farms. The farms involved could also simplify, through specializing in a few crops rather than each farm juggling twenty to forty crop varieties. This type of cooperation would also allow for them to expand the potential market, reducing the small pool competition that can be found in areas like Old Town. While small independent farms may not have the infrastructure and resources to expand up the canyons, to Denver or North, a collective of farmers could. Thereby reaching more customers who want good local food, and again, creating sustainability for each farm.
As the sun started to wain over the mountains, we wrapped up our conversation. Nic ended with this note, an example of his passion for farming and evolving, “I would love to do this forever in varying ways.” Yup. I get it.
If you want to learn more about Native Hill Farms or where you can find their goods, check out their website or stop by the farmstand when the doors are open!
We’re lucky that Northern Colorado hosts a multitude of people that care about food. Good food. Locally grown food. That folks laden their tables with numerous vegetables and pasture raised meats. We truly live in a world of abundance. If you take a closer look, not everyone is at the table of abundance. That is where the “community” rubber hits the road. Sometimes we have to look beyond our own table and see where we can share the abundance. Maybe with someone that we don’t even know. There are a lot of ways to extend the harvest. The Growing Project has found and implemented a few of them.
This week The Growing Project launched it’s Pledge for Produce campaign. Their goal for the Food Finders program is to deliver 15,000 lbs of locally grown food to nonprofits that feed the hungry and to be 90% bike powered.
The Food Finders are a network of volunteers that pick up unwanted or excess produce from local growers and grocers and deliver it to nonprofits that feed the hungry. Most of their deliveries are done on bicycles with trailers. In 2013, Food Finders delivered 10,000 pounds of locally grown produce to hungry people, 85 percent of it by bike.
As they gear up to ride the streets of Fort Collins this season, with trailers overflowing with squash and rainbow chard, they have set a big goal and are determined to increase their impact. The Pledge for Produce is a challenge to the community to do something as well. In conjunction with rescuing 15,000 pounds of food, the Growing Project would like to raise $15,000 to support their organization. Whether that is a penny per pound, a dime, or a dollar, they anticipate your support to helps them immensely.
If your interested in pledging, or learning more about The Growing Project, Food Finders or the Pledge for Produce, you can check out their website.
There aren’t many things I seriously dislike. But weeds. I hate weeds. These insidious little creatures that start off looking benign enough. Manageable even. Then overnight they ravage the landscape coming up like some evil forest from a dark and creepy fairytale. Every year ends with pledges that we will be more prepared. Take preventitive measures to offensively tackle the weed problem. So far it hasn’t happened. We were so focused on irrigation, we didn’t even think about the weeds.
But all is not lost. It will just take a bit of work.
After a couple busy weekends, and some welcome rain in the late spring/early summer, I had such a forest of invasive weeds in my garden. My husband offered to help. But then he couldn’t distinguish the weeds from the plants. We thought the drip irrigation we put in would assist by not watering the walkways, only the rows. But it rained. Often enough for these little buggers to take off.
This was going to take more than hand weeding on our knees (mind you the garden is about 3,000 square feet, we may have finished by October with that strategy). We needed to pull out the big guns. And so a trip to the shed, or arsenal as it has been referred to, was in order. My husband always says life is easier when you have the right tools. Last year I purchased a Hoss ‘lil Double Wheel Hoe. Not having had a chance to use it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We put on the oscillating hoes and went to work. I was so amazed I almost cried. A couple trips down the paths and the weeds were dessimated. In a half day I had clear walkways. It comes with an attachment spreader which allows you to choose your width, so you can expand over rows and hoe each side at once. Closer together and you have a great path cutter. Literally, I heard angels singing. I also have the plow attachments, which are great for trenching rows for potatoes and reversed for hilling those potatoe rows during the season. And we have the cultivator teeth. I told my husband between the double wheel hoe and the hand tools I bought, it was clearly the best money I ever spent.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had ever tried straw mulching. My answer was a definitive yes. Since my early days of growing food on an organic co-op, the straw method has been a tried and true practice. I love it for so many reasons. It keeps moisture in and for the most part weeds out. If a weed does poke through it pulls out easily. If grass comes up form the straw it is usually growing from the straw and not the ground. Again, making it easy to pull out. We used to first lay newspaper (soy ink based, not full color inserts) down as a first layer. Here where it dries out quickly, that hasn’t worked so well. Each year I tell myself I will mulch early. But alas, I was not prepared and suffered the inevitable takeover of weeds.
So now that the rows are significantly less weedy, and my paths are mostly mulched in straw, I can focus on the care and harvest of what is really important. My plants and vegetables. And it’s only July!
If Farm to School initiatives are something you care about or wish to learn more about, the Colorado Farm to School Task Force is a great place to start and learn how to get more involved. Colorado has some wonderful programs throughout the state, and each the number of school participating grows.
On Monday, July 7, 2014, the Colorado Farm to School Task Force will hold it’s quarterly meeting in Chaffee County. Salida to be exact. The quarterly meetings are an opportunity to see what the Task Force is up to, what projects are happening around the state on farm to school, and an opportunity to network with folks who are committed to increasing fresh foods in our schools.
After the meeting there will be a Guidestone School garden and farm tour, followed by a Homestead dinner at the Historic Hutchinson Homestead to support the Guidestone farm to school initiative and Salida’s school garden. The following day will be a host of Intensive Technical Assistance (ITA) Workshops from 8am to 4pm.
The meeting and tours are open to the public and free, but registration is requested so the group can plan lunch and meeting materials. The Homestaed Dinner is just $25 and the ITA Workshops are $15. Registration for all of the events can be found here.
Here is the list, that I hope is not exhaustive.
Garden Sweet - Check the website for hours each month. As the season grows longer the hours increase. For June it’s been Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 – 6pm. The stand is located at 719 W. Willox Street.
Native Hill Farm - In it’s first season this is a self serve stand located at 2100 County Road 54G (The corner of Taft Hill and 287 on your way to Laporte). Signs will be out and the doors will be open if the stand is open.
FoCo F.R.E.S.H. Farm - Another new arrival this season, this stand is open daily from dawn to dusk and is self serve. They also have amazing gluten free goodies available by Cave Girl Eats and Treats. Located at 2225 W. Vine Drive.
Hope Farms - The stand is open Tuesdays and
Fridays from 3 – 5 pm. They are located at 1601 N. Shields.
Jodar Farms - Sundays from 1 – 3pm you can pick up eggs, chicken and pork. The farm is located at 5100 E County Road 48.
On the Vine at Richmond - Located at 3611 Richmond Drive, look for the roadsign sign to see if the stand is open.
Revive Gardens - This Loveland farmstand is open Tuesdays fom 4 – 7pm and is located at 1413 W 57th Street in Loveland.
I was heading out of the Bean Cycle today and saw two familiar faces of folks that I have never met before. Melanie and Taylor of The Silver Seed Food Truck. One of the newest additions to our little local food paradise. I introduced myself and welcomed them to the neighborhood. They reminded me of my all-time favorite community collaboration. Food growers and food makers.
I’m not only excited to have local fresh food on my table. Especially local as in 50 feet from the door of the house. I’m excited when I go out to eat and see local businesses supporting other local businesses. That fresh and local food, especially organic and humanely raised, isn’t something limited to my own kitchen. That it’s also important to the people who feed me when I’m not home. It makes me happy.
There are two collaborations in this category worthy of pointing out. And yes, this small mention is not at all exhaustive of the many similar collaborations in the Choice City. But they do represent something close to my heart. Farm to food truck.
The Silver Seed - Members of Happy Heart Farm and procurers of local food for their unique flair with truck food, this is an amazing match. While you can find them at the Coloradoan, and several other locations through town, they have been regulars serving up yummy faire at the CSA pickups at Happy Heart on Tuesdays. Not only do you eat delicious food, grown merely feet away, you can do it in a lovely location within the city limits of FOCO. If you haven’t visited Dennis and Bailey at Happy Heart, you may want to put that on your to do list. They have an amazing operation and truly love growing food.
The Goodness Truck - I met Abby and Andrew last summer, when they were new to the FOCO Food Truck scene. They made a huge impression. Planning a farm to food truck picnic last year for the blog, that sadly didn’t work out, a collaboration was formed between The Goodness and Luke from Shire CSA that continues to this day. (Everything always works out!) The Goodness is comfort food between bread. On Thursday evenings you can find them at Shire CSA for the weekly CSA pick up, making up amazing food with what’s available on the farm. At other times you can find Abby and Andrew at various breweries and locations throughout FOCO. This collaboration was also recently featured in the Coloradoan.
If you want to find out just how good creativity can taste, check out their websites or like their facebook pages to know where they are daily. You don’t want to miss checking these folks out! Tell them Erica sent you.
Last year I did a profile of Farmer Rosemary at Laughing Buck Farm. I’ve met some great folks doing farm interviews, and Rosemary is one of them.
Laughing Buck Farm is somewhere in between a homestead and a working farm. Rosemary had explained the different cooperatives she started, beginning with the chicken cooperative. She wasted no time bringing her community together to create the co-op. Members helped purchase and select the flock, built the coop and perform chores such as cleaning the coop and yard on a rotational basis. This allows them to purchase the eggs at a reduced rate ($2 a dozen!). Non-members can also come by and purchase the eggs.
Rosemary has her horses and also boards horses, along with providing lessons to folks of all ages and ability. Her facilities are neat and organized. A trait she tells me is in part due to her help when she has it. There are also dairy goats, which provide milk to a number of local soap makers, and pigs. On occasion she also has sheep. Organically raised pork and lamb are available at different times throughout the year for purchase and you can find what’s available from the garden on their facebook page or website. In addition to her own efforts, Rosemary also provides garden space to new farmers. Davis and Nick have a market garden which provides fresh produce to Restaurant 415 and the Chop House.
If you haven’t figured out what to do with the kids on summer break, Laughing Buck may be the answer. Here’s the list of July camps.
July 8th Gardening on the Farm
9AM – 12PM
Ages 3 & older
$20 ($10 sibling discount)
We will be having our hands in the garden observing growth and harvesting of early plants, talking about depending on the plant and their water needs. Exploring edible flowers and weeds. Farm Chores, nature exploring and haybarn fun.
July 9th Horses on the Farm
9AM – 12PM
Ages 7 & older
$20 ($10 sibling discount)
We will do more involved horsemanship and riding on this day. Farm chores, nature activity and Haybarn fun. We will provide snack please pack lunch for kids.
July 17th -18th Level 1 Horse Camp **CLASS IS FULL**
9 PM – 12 PM
Ages 8 and older
$50 for two 3 hour days
This two day camp is for cowgirls and boys who love horses and ponies but don’t have much or any horses experience. We will start with the basics spend three hours each day working with the horses, grooming, exercising, covering the basics of horseback riding and horsekeeping (cleaning stalls, grooming, picking hooves) while we learn how to be safe, strong riders and improve skills and confidence each day.
July 24 – 25 Pony / Farm Camp **CLASS IS FULL**
9 AM – 12 PM
$50 for two three hour days
Ages 5 and older
Pony Camp is a fun way for younger children to spend time on the farm and focus on our horses and ponies. In addition to joining in on a full round of farm chores feeding chickens, pigs, milking goats and playing in the hay barn, we’ll spend LOTS of time with the horses, grooming, leading, saddling, learning about parts of the horse and then learning the basics of riding. And if it gets too hot, we’ll just declare it time for horse baths! We will provide a healthy snack and you will pack a lunch for your cowboy / cowgirl.
July 31 – August 1 Pony Makeover Horse Camp
9 AM – 12 PM
$50 for two three hour days
Ages 5 and older
We’ll start with dirty horses and ponies and transform them into real beauties. We will learn to groom, bathe, clean hooves and then braid mane and tail…then move on to painting nails and deciding on the right hair color for our horses. The transformation will be amazing! Kids will get lots of hands on pony time, having fun and learning about horse care while having fun. Kids will also get to ride the horses / ponies each day.
The August calendar isn’t up yet. I recommend keeping an eye out on their website to see what’s coming.