Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Homemade Life: Chicken Saddles!

I'm so excited to start up A Homemade Life again--I've missed it! I hope you will enjoy it too, as I post about various homemade things we do throughout this year. Some of them will be "everyday" things, while some will be just random stuff I make. I think this one would fall into that category. :) Chicken saddles . . . probably not something I'm going to make every day! What are chicken saddles, you ask? Well, a week ago I had never heard of them, either. But probably you other ladies who have chickens will know what I'm talking about! (And for the rest of you--contrary to the name--chicken "saddles" are not for riding chickens. :))

As you know, we got a rooster about a week after we got the chickens. He has been a good rooster overall (except for the time he attacked Sam for picking up the chickens too much) and he is a good protector for the hens. But last week, Jim noticed he's been getting a little too "loving" with them, and some of them were starting to lose feathers.

{the culprit}
Poor Marilla even had skin showing on her back. Hence the need for saddles (which I've also seen called "hen aprons.") Being the do-it-yourself kind of people that we are, it was a no-brainer to make them rather than buy them . . . although you can find some nice ones at this site. But spend that much on something to protect a hen's back?? No thanks, not when I can make it out of scrap fabric for free! We searched the web and found this pattern and instructions which we used to go by. We did end up modifying it a little bit--I didn't get so fancy with the ones I made. Our first attempt actually turned out too big, so then I resized the pattern, and the second try worked much better. We used some of Jim's old Carhartts and added a bottom layer of fleece, and 1/4" elastic for the straps to hold them on. They work great! There was definitely some excitement in the coop when we first tried to catch Marilla to put hers on. The poor thing tried to back out of it, and apparently she succeeded during the night, as Jim found it laying in the coop the next day. (That was with our first attempt which was too big. We had only made one so far, as she was the hen with the most damage.) Even after she had the proper size, she was quite embarrassed and hid behind the water container most of the time--it seemed that if she ventured out, the other hens got too curious and kept pecking at her new apparel. So, we decided to give them each a saddle so they would peck at theirs and leave hers alone. It worked like a charm. :)
{modeling their new duds}
Now they're all sporting Carhartts and seem to have gotten used to them. Well, all except Josie Pye--the speckled hen. We didn't make one for her since she has no damage at all, and leaves the other hens alone anyway. I don't think she feels too left out. :)

While I was researching chicken saddles, I came across this post with a video of what happened in one lady's flock when she put them on her hens. It is hilarious! Our "girls" didn't react quite this much (thankfully) but if you want a good laugh, you should definitely watch it. :)

So, there you have it--A Homemade Life for January! How about the rest of you? Any fun homemade projects to share? :)


Alicia said...

Chicken saddles? Your blog is so informative, Carrie! :) Great job on sewing them up -- very stylish and functional. :)

The only homemade thing I've done this month is some hemming and helped Chloe sew a little stuffed elephant. Haven't been inspired to do much sewing lately though I should start thinking about Easter outfits for the kiddos.

Mary Ann said...

Ha! I never knew there was such a thing! Your 'girls' are obviously well taken care of :-)
I haven't done much of anything homemade lately other than cooking. And I do have a couple of new recipes to try out but I just haven't gotten to them. I keep telling myself that I need to make a list of all the sewing projects I want to attempt & then get to work gathering supplies & planning the time to do them. Motivation, where have you gone?! :-)

Mrs. Doug said...

Heehee... yup we've had those on our hens. Somehow they've lost them all and I need to make some more. One of our hens is expecially picked on. Thanks for the link. said...

I'm so glad you found our chicken saddle pattern helpful. You did a great job on yours!