Adding New Chickens to the Flock

I am not an expert. Let me be clear. I have heard from the experts, though, and found that there is great value in taking their lessons to heart.

Backyard chickens are awesome. They don’t live forever, though, and for those of us that want productive chickens, you need to keep adding new chickens into the mix to replace those that die or “go to the farm.”

Anyway, I have heard the horror stories from many backyard chicken raisers that have had new chickens killed by the existing flock.


The new chickens that you just got might be sick or carry a disease that could spread to the others. It is very hard to tell that a chicken is sick. A prey species, like chickens, hide their illness and injuries really well, so they are not singled out.

It is best to keep new chickens separate, in a completely different area, until you are sure they are disease free. The time frame may vary, but most people say between a week to a month.

Buy from a reputable raiser, and you should be OK, but better to be safe than sorry.

At Least Two

I have found that you should always add at least two at a time so that the new chicken has at least one friend in the mix. It really helps vs having one chicken singled out by the existing flock.

Keep Separate but in Sight

Provide a space where the current flock can see the Chickens Separatednew chickens, but not get at them to attack them. I keep my new chickens in a separate coop and run where they can be seen, but not hurt. I even added a net so that I can net off a section of my yard for the new chickens and they can free range near the others without them physically interacting.

The last time, I let them all exist alongside each other for almost a month. By then, they were all comfortable with each other, and my existing flock didn’t endure any stress. Stress will lead to the chickens to stop laying.


By wait, I mean, let the new ones grow until they are similar in size and can defend themselves. Make sure that the new chickens have the ability to get away and hide, if needed, too.

Treats can also be a huge help when it comes to that physical introduction. I spread around some black oil sun flower seeds to they all forage for them and focus on the treats vs each other.


Keep an eye on them when they first start physically interacting in case things go poorly. I haven’t had any issues other than a little pecking order changes when they all fully interact.

What is funny is that the new chickens will, at first, continue to return to their coop at night and the existing flock will return to their coop. That will change, and you may see some visiting between coops overnight. It is like chicken sleepovers.

After a week or so, I will close off the coop for the new chickens and supervise and move some chickens by hand into the existing coop. Every now and then, one of the lead chickens will try to keep the new ones out of the coop by guarding the entrance.


Keep them separated until they are ready to be together. Smile

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Winterizing the Coop at 10,000 Feet

I must admit that I am not really at 10,000 feet, it is only 9,608 feet where some of my Chickschickens live. I have a small flock in Aurora, Colorado, and another small flock in Como, Colorado.

In Como, I have “some” chickens (remember the first rule of chicken math, we never admit how many chickens we have), all were hatched on April 1, 2018, and have been together since they were hatched and shipped to me. They include EEs, Cuckoo Marans, Welsummers, Black Australorps, and a Speckeled Sussex. All are currently laying. Some of the others in the picture stayed in Aurora. I do not look forward to adding more to the flock in Como, next year. They are a pretty tight knit group.

Anyway, they have been out in their coop/run for about four months after making the trip from Aurora. I took some pictures of the initial work done on the coop/run back in June.

I had some available time, so I figured that I should winterize this coop/run kind of like what I have done for my coop/run in Aurora. I made some major changes this year, in Aurora, too. I will get some pics posted, soon.

Anyway, Como can be a huge challenge not just because of the altitude but because of the high winds that we get which lead to some ugly drifting for snow. I made the following changes to the coop/run.

  • Gray tinted panels to block wind and snow drifting – I have learned that the polycarbonate Como Coop3panels are easy to work with and are pretty durable. The only time I have had an issue with then was with some really large hail, which would damage most materials. I use the clear panels on the roof to help capture the heat from the sunlight. In the picture, you can see the one side is lined with these gray panels. Three of them, on their side, gave me 6 feet in height and 8 feet in width. It is a nice clean look, too. Of course, underneath the panels is the welded wire, the hardware fabric for about 3 feet up, then chicken wire for the rest. You might notice that there is some plywood and clear glass panels that were put there by the previous owners. I decided to leave them as is.
  • More sand and PDZ – If you aren’t doing this, start. The mix of sand and PDZ provideComo Coop5 great flooring for them as it provides drainage if water gets in, and the PDZ helps minimize ammonia. The biggest benefit, though, is the additional thermal mass helps keep the temperature more moderate in the extreme cold.
  • Another PVC feeder – I found that I just couldn’t get the right “cup” angle to minimize them “billing” the food out onto the ground, so I mounted them at an angle and kept them high enough to keep any rodents that might get in from eating all of their feed. I added the third feeder to reduce the squawking when they compete for access.
  • Waterer heater – I have two waterers, but I only got one de-icer because I wanted to make sure it would work. I have heard from many people Como Coop2that they do not work with bottom nipple waterers. As you can see from the picture,  I have both the side nipples and the bottom nipples. I started with just the side nipples, as an experiment, and found that they just didn’t like them, and would take on very little water. they were getting dehydrated, so I had to do something. As soon as I added the bottom nipples, though, they were very happy birdies and would drink as much as needed. They are well hydrated, now. They almost never use the side nipples. Smile 

Water Heater – I want to spend a couple of minutes on this option. I have used some of the commercial heated waterers in Como Coop7the past with good success. However, what I found with them, even when raised off the ground a bit, was that the water became very dirty very quickly. This year, I went to nipple waterers just because of the cleanliness of them, and I want to keep using the nipple waterers in the cold weather.

Anyway, I thought that a de-icer would be good enough to keep the water flowing in the nipple waterers. I decided to give it a try. The model that I got has the option to be used as a floating unit, or to be set on the bottom. I took off the top of the unit, and placed it in the bottom of the bucket, as shown from above. When I checked, the outside temp was around 12 F, and the water was not frozen on the bottom or sides. If you look closely at the picture, above, you can can see water droplets on the nipples from where the chickens were just drinking. There was just a tiny film of ice on top of the water. I will check on it later when it gets even colder, but it looks like it will be a success. BTW, please, if you are going to get a de-icer, make sure it is safe for plastic buckets, like this one.

In Closing

Please don’t heat your coop/run. There are way too many examples of people burning down their coops, losing their chickens in the fire, and burning down their houses. It isn’t worth the risk. Birds are very capable of handling cold weather. If you doubt it, just look at the little birds flying around out there in the freezing weather.

That said, there are steps that we can take to protect our chickens from extreme weather, keep them happy, and keep them producing. I have addressed some options, here. As a result of my work, I checked the temperature, multiple times over really cold days, and I was seeing about a 20 F difference between the outside temp and the temp inside the coop/run. The chickens are definitely warmer.

What is funny is that I did all of this work knowing that “Winter is coming” soon. However, I didn’t know that we were supposed to have freezing weather with snow so soon. 

Yep, I had some lucky timing, and my chickens got the benefit just at the right time.

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Busy? Yep, Just a Bit.

I have always extended the plate analogy as a way to explain how busy I am from day to day. I would say that my plate is more than full, and stuff is falling off my plate and onto the floor, and on bad days, I would stomp all over what fell off onto the floor.

In the past, I have also used the balls in the air to illustrate how busy I am from day to day. Just last week, my boss used it and told me how good I am at keeping all of those balls in the air. I explained to him that it just looks like it, but I have kicked a couple of those balls down the hallway.

The other day, one of the guys at work and I were talking about the analogies at lunch, MongolianBBqand we took the plate one a bit further. Instead of a plate, it is a bowl, and you are trying to get as much as you can into the bowl and on top of the bowl like when you are at a Mongolian BBQ and they want to charge you more for a second bowl.

I stack the food, and I compact it. I keep pushing it all down and keep compacting it as I add more and more. I balance some more on top, and push down to compact it some more. Just when I think it is way more than full, then I pile on the noodles. Anyone that is good at doing the Mongolian BBQ knows that you always put on the noodles last, and then balance the egg on top of the noodles. If needed, you can always put the egg, or two, in your pocket until you get up to the counter.

The example on the right isn’t the best, but this would probably result in two good bowls of cooked food.

It is a really bad day, though, when you trip, and it all hits the floor!

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Yogurt in the Instant Pot–3 Quart

I know many people that are in the “Instant Pot (IP) Cult” all around the world. I caved in and joined the cult. Amazon helped out by making the Instant Pot DUO Plus 3 Qt 9-in-1 model, which sells for around $100, for a huge discount of 33% off on an Amazon Treasure Truck deal. I just told my boss, “I need to run and meet the Amazon Treasure Truck. I will be back when I get back,” and I took off to buy it.

Anyway, back to yogurt. I watched several YouTube videos, and they all had lots of the steps in common. But here is what I came down to, and made my first batch of yogurt without any trouble. Since then, I have done this four more times. I combined several good recommendations, and came out with the recipe/process that is described, below.


  • 1/2 Gallon of Milk – I don’t think it really matters if it is whole milk, 1%, 2%, or skim. I use 2% milk.
  • Approx 2 oz Yogurt w/Active and Live Cultures – I have been buying Greek yogurt. They key is the live cultures, so make sure you get something that has live cultures. Anything that is pre-mixed with fruit or something will probably kill off those live cultures.
  • Flavoring – Your choice. I like a couple of teaspoons of vanilla and about 1.2 cup of sugar.


  1. Sanitize IP – I put in a cup of water, and use the sanitize button. When it beeps, I release pressure, and dump out the water. I have no idea how long it takes as I am usually reading, writing, or watching some crazy TV or Movie at the time.
  2. Scald Milk – Put in the 1/2 Gallon of milk and set the IP to Yogurt, then hit the adjust button until it says boil. I let the IP do its magic while I return to whatever it was that I was doing. When it finishes, I release pressure and check the temperature of the milk. It is supposed to be about 180 F. If it is too low, you can always turn the IP to Sauté and monitor it until it reaches temp.
  3. Cool Milk – I take the inner pot out of the IP and let it cool on a wire rack at room temp until it is about 110 F. Some people will put the inner pot into water or an ice bath to cool it off faster.
  4. Add Yogurt Culture – I scoop out a few cups of milk and mix it with some yogurt, then pour it back into the rest of the milk and stir it all in. I have seen, and read, that you should not scrape the milk off of the bottom of the pan, but many other seem to disagree.
  5. Incubate – Put the inner pot back into the IP, close the lid, and push the magic Yogurt button. I think the default in 8 hours. I up mine to 10 hours because I saw many others doing it and getting thicker yogurt from it.Yogurt
  6. Cool and Drain – There are many ways to do this. I am a bit lazy, and very cheap, so I do it all in one simple step. I use a few coffee filters and line a colander with them, then set the colander in a bowl so the whey can drain off of the yogurt. Once it drains, which takes a few hours, I scoop the yogurt out and put it in a large bowl to mix it up and smooth out the resulting yogurt which is a very thick Greek style yogurt, at this point.
  7. Add Back in Whey (Maybe) – I have found that if I put back in about 1/3 to 1/2 C of the whey, it comes out just the way I like. Others like it super thick, and don’t add anything back. Your mileage may vary.
  8. Add Flavor


I have used a few different add-ons like granola and blueberry jam to get the most enjoyment possible from my yogurt. Assuming that any is left when I go to the fridge.

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Show Mode Docking Station for Amazon Fire 8 HD


Yes, I recognize that I have always been a techie to some degree or another. However, I was late to the AI area, and I didn’t get my first Alexa device until I won an Echo Plus at Cisco Live last year.

At first, I did the basics like ask it to tell me jokes, give me the weather, and so on. I love the horrible jokes. Then, I took a risk and bought some KMC outlets, and hooked up a lamp, a fan, and a router that always needs to be rebooted. Then, I did something stupid and signed up for the Amazon Truck. They had a deal on Sengled lights and a hub for an incredible price, so I called my boss and said, “Hey, I have an emergency and need to go meet the Amazon Truck at the Whole Foods store.” Oddly, he didn’t blink an eye, he just said, “OK, I hope everything is OK.” Just to be clear, my current boss is not the one that I asked, it was a former boss. Smile 

Today, I have the following in the Amazon Alexa world:

  • 1 Echo Plus
  • 4 Echo Dots
  • 2 Echo Spots
  • 2 Fire HD 8 Tablets
  • 9 KMC Plugs
  • 2 Sengled Bulbs
  • 1 Amcrest Outdoor Video Camera
  • 1 Ambient Weather Station
  • 1 Moto X Phone
  • 1 Dish Network Integrated System
  • 1 DirecTV Integrated System

Buying the Dock

When Amazon started taking pre-orders for the Show Mode Docking Station, I, immediately jumped on it. After all, the price of a Fire HD 8 tablet, plus the docking station, is considerably less than an Echo Show, even when it is on sale. Besides it being a less expensive solution, it is much more flexible in that I can always grab my Fire tablet out of the dock and take it with me.

Setting up the Dock

It was pretty easy. I mean, really, it took a couple of minutes. I had already been playing with Show Mode before, so it was nothing new, but the dock is pretty easy. So here is what you get:

  • 1 Charger Plug
  • 1 Charger Cable
  • 1 Stand
  • 1 Case for the Fire Tablet

I was really curious how it would charge and recognize the tablet was in the dock, but it is pretty obvious once you see the parts.

I already have a case for my tablet, but, I guess it is just the way it goes in life. I have to either use the one that comes with the dock, or I have to switch back and forth, and I am too lazy to do that.



On the case, there is a plug that connects the case to the tablet. It is a pretty simple mechanism that slides out and can then be inserted into the tablet’s charging port.

On the back of the case, there are two contacts that align to the pins on the dock.



Once set in the dock, the tablet automatically recognizes that it is in the dock and switches to Show Mode, and it starts charging.


So far, I don’t see any major issues, but I do see the following:

  • The microphone is no better than it was before, but that is just common sense. I hope nobody expects the microphone to suddenly get better.
  • The case is less than… Well, let’s just go with it it is “less than” and leave it at that.
  • Alignment is not exactly idiot proof as I found out, being the better idiot, so it doesn’t work unless you align the tablet properly in the dock. Again, that is common sense, but it would have been fantastic if they had used stronger magnets to snap it into place.


Yeah, it is nice. It is a pretty interesting step forward, and I am going to probably buy another dock for my ranch location, too.

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Fixing up the Old Coop/Run

We bought some property in Como, Colorado two years ago. One of the goals was to fix up the coop that was already on the property and make it more secure and more hygienic.

We feel were are close enough, so this weekend, 9 of the chicklets were moved in. They are 8 1/2 weeks old.

The bones were there. But it took some significant work. First, we removed the existing roof, which was made up of 24”x24” glass window panes. Why they used repurposed windows like that, I have no idea, but they had to go. So, I removed them and put in the clear polycarbonate roof panels that I have used on my coop/run in Aurora.

Existing Benefits

Welded Wire – The previous owners put in welded wire for the first four feet up, Coop5which is incredibly strong. The main issue with using welded wire is that the holes are fairly large and many predators can get in through them, like weasels, rats, and other small vermin. The benefit is that dogs, coyotes, and such will not be getting through the welded wire without working on it for a long time and will likely leave for easier pickings. At least, that is the hope.

Chicken Wire – Chicken wire is not for keeping predators out, but works very well for Coop2keeping chickens in. Chicken wire is run the entire length and width of the exterior walls, and it will keep out predatory birds, and most other wild birds that might carry disease, while keeping the chickens in their run.

Solid Coop – The coop, inside the run, is incredibly well built, and is draft free. It does need some more ventilation, so we will add some more venting this coming weekend. By the way, I love the old wood. You can see the coop to the right and in the back of the run, in this picture. Well, you might not be able to see it very well. Smile 

Secure Entry – The door is large, but is well built and secure. No predator is going to get through the exterior door to the coop/run.


Polycarbonate Roof – Lots of metal roofing screws were used to lock the panels into place, with good overlap. I expect the roof will keep out the rain and snow, except that blows in the sides. We have had great luck with the polycarbonate roofing, but I am a bit worried about the high winds we get up in Como, and them being ripped off. If that happens, I will replace it with metal roofing.

Predator Apron – This is the term that I have heard Coop1used, and I like it. Basically, rather than digging into the ground a couple of feet and burying welded wire or hardware fabric, you just bend it and secure it against the side of the run and run it along the ground and out a couple of feet away from the exterior walls. Most digging animals will try to start digging closer to the wall, and will give up if they can’t get through. Of course, the rocks also provide some protection, too. So, we combined them.

Electric Fencing – Yeah, we went way above and beyond. We put in two lines of electrified Coop4wire. The first is about six inches off of the ground. The second is about eighteen inches off of the ground. It is hard to see the two wires in the picture, but they are there. The lower wire should be a nice shock to smaller predators and the higher wire should be about the right height for dogs and coyotes. I may change the height, but I think it is a good start.

Waterers and Feeders – This is my first attempt at doing my own side nipple and bottom nipple waterers. Hygiene is pretty important, and using these nipple waterers will make a huge difference when it comes to a clean water supply. So far, the chicklets love these waterers and needed no training in using them.  The feeders are PVC feeders. I will have to get some good pics of them. They don’t work too well for crumbles in that it is easier to “bill” the feed out onto the ground, but this isn’t a big issue for the crumbles. It is almost a non-issue with pellet feed. I will get some good pics in the near future.

Diatomaceous Earth – I know many people are against its use, but with the wild birds in the area, I feel the benefit outweighs any negatives. I feel DE is great at keeping mites and lice at bay, so it gets a good sprinkling in all wood joints, perches, and nesting areas. Of course, it also gets a sprinkling in their dirt bath areas.

End Result

I think this will be a good secure run and coop. However, only time will tell.


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Tortilla Recipe

I have been testing different recipes for the last couple of decades. I think I like this last one the best.


  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/3 C Vegetable Oil – I have only tried corn oil, so far
  • 1 C Warm Water


  1. Mix the dry ingredients together, well.
  2. Add the oil and water and mix them using a large spoon or something along those lines until the dough forms.
  3. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Knead the dough a few times until all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Let the dough rest about 10 minutes.
  6. Portion the dough into 14-16 small balls of dough.
  7. Let rest about 10-15 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough to about 7-8” in diameter, it should be nice and thin and almost translucent.
  9. Cook on a flat griddle, or a Comal for those that have one. It may take awhile to get the heat right. The tortilla will begin to bubble, at that point, flip it, and cook the other side for about 10-15 seconds. Both sides should have small light brown spots of them.
  10. Place the finished tortilla into a warmer, I use a dish towel folded in half, and then move them to another container after I am done.
  11. Roll out the next ball of dough and repeat until all are done.
  12. Eat


Once the tortillas have cooled off, you can place them in a plastic bag, a gallon bag is about the right size. You can reheat them on the stove or in the microwave as needed.


If your tortillas are too crunchy, it is probably because you cooked them too slow or too thoroughly.

If the dough is sticking the rolling pin, flour the rolling pin a bit.

If the dough springs back when being rolled out, that means that you didn’t let the dough rest long enough.

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