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Raven's And Hens

Ian McKay

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This third installment about our raven feeding success is to include a picture of the feeder along with some details about it. Yesterday we had an entire flock of ravens in our grove. By flock I mean between 20-30 ravens! Today it’s raining and I think they must have known to stock up on food.


The raven platform has two feeders, one intended for the smaller birds who visit the feeder, such as blue jays, swallows, robins, woodpeckers, and numerous other small birds indigenous to our area and the larger one, intended for doves and ravens. The larger one is actually a pigeon feeder with every other slate removed so the ravens can reach inside for the feed. As you may remember, we give the ravens the left over feed from the pigeons and any eggs we do not want to hatch. Occasionally we will purchase 11% pigeon feed with corn for the ravens, but we will no longer do this as the ravens do not eat the large kernels of corn and it ends up piling up on the feeder. I’ve been running the corn through my kitchen blender and then putting it back out, which they do eat. The third dish on the feeder holds water that I add to each day. About twice a month I clean the water dish to keep any scum from forming. The fourth dish on the feeder is actually a clay nest bowl we use to put the eggs we don’t want to keep.


The platform is 4 ½ feet across, 2 ½ wide, and 18 inches high. The roof is slanted from front to back to allow for rain run-off. The roof overhangs the front feeding area, which, along with the plastic added to the front, helps keep the feed dry. The entire platform is covered with roofing material to keep the wood from rotting. The wooden sign, “Welcome Ravens†is for our benefit, though we think the ravens are intelligent, I doubt they are capable of reading!


Feeding the ravens and learning about them, has been educational and provides fodder for many interesting conversations with friends. For quite some time, we have wanted to get a few chickens. We now have four hens that have been providing us with eggs just about everyday. We got them young so we had to wait a bit for them to start laying eggs.


I have very little experience with chickens and my thoughts of them were that they were 1) dirty, 2) lacked personality, 3) dumb, and 4) mean. The woman we purchased our hens from hand-raises her chickens for show and for those interested in 4-H projects. When we visited her ranch, I was surprised to find that, though she has hundreds of chickens, she knows the breeders all by name and they were extremely tame. I guess this shouldn’t have surprised me as I have all our breeders named and know who is who. The hens and roosters followed her around the yard much like a dog would. Since we were only getting four, I wanted to pick the ones who were different looking and pretty, so Sunshine is bright yellow ( a Bluff Orpinton), Poppy, a Rhode Island Red (I think everyone knows what this one looks like), Cinnamon, brown/black lace (a Golden Lace Wyandotte), and Sugar, silver/black lace (a Blue Wyandotte Lavender Orpington Cross). Our granddaughter, JB, helped with naming the “girlsâ€.


My husband converted a small unused pigeon shed into the chicken coop and added an outside run for them. Because they are in a building and the run is covered, the dirt stays dry and clean with my bi-weekly raking. I clean and change their water daily. They are very tame, and being handled daily by me, the two younger ones especially wait to be picked up each time I come into their shed. They each have unique personalities, and are not dumb at all. They are very inquisitive and get excited when we come out to visit with them. Because their housing is kept clean, they are also very clean.


I think having pigeons has helped in caring for the hens. I add flax seed and safflower seed to their laying pellets a few times a week which makes their feathers soft and shiny. Twice a week I add apple cider vinegar to their water and have oyster shell available for them which helps make the egg shells harder. Rather than buying “scratch†for them, I use the left over pigeon feed, which they love. Of course, any fruit or vegetable leftovers from the house go to the hens along with fresh oregano from my herb garden.


So, I have hens that are clean, full of personality, smart and tame and very lovable. For those of you who have grown up around chickens all your life, I can imagine the chuckles this is probably providing for you. But, remember, I’ve been a “city†gal most all my life, and only have four hens, not a flock. It’s a given that none of these girls will end up on our table!


From this chick’s point of view, having pigeons, ravens and now chickens on the property is fun, enjoyable and educational, as everyday I learn something new about each. With race season coming, there will be even more activity around here and I’m looking forward to it. As always, happy flying!

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