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April 28, 2011     Cheney Free Press
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April 28, 2011
 

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Page 6 Free Press Thursday, April 28, 2011 Chickens before t'00e eggs: Backyard hobby can yield plenty of yokes West Plains chicken keepersoffer advice on how to "the cold Northwest winters, raise feathered fowl for food, profit and pleasure settling on Buff Orpingtons and Light Sussex. Oxrieder said the By RYAN LANCASTER Staff Reporter Jennifer Oxrieder calls chick- ens "gateway livestock," birds so simple to care for that their owners are tempted to bring other critters into the mix. For the past three years, she and her husband Jacob have been raising chickens in the backyard of their suburban Cheney home. So far the couple has managed to contain their habit to chickens, bees and rabbits, but she said it's only a matter of time before they'll need more property. "You put feed out, collect the eggs, clean the coop about once a week...Everybody said they were so easy and they are," she said. Oxrieder and her husband started raising chickens for the eggs and because they wanted an onsite manure producer for their large garden. Their five birds give them plenty of both, laying a fairly consistent one egg per bird per day and a half. She said she does a lot of bak- ing and sells the excess to her mother and neighbors for $2.50 a dozen, which would just about cover the cost of conventional grain feed, although she prefers to use organic. Oxrieder said at the outset it was a fairly simple hobby to get into, even the process of constructing a coop with a run alongside the house. "Chicken keeping wasn't as fashionable when we started, but now you can find coops for sale on Craig- slist," she said. The couple searched out har- dy breeds that could withstand Photo by Ryan Lancaster A Bantam hen and her three chicks strut past a coop in the yard of Angel and Susan Michel. Life jacket season is I0000;re With boating season just around the corner, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commis- sion's Boating Program reminds boaters to be safe, know the law and always wear life jackets when boating. Each year, a majority of boating deaths are a result of drowning, and a majority of these victims are not wearing life jackets. In 2010, there were 18 boating fatalities in Washington state. Reports have shown that many boating accidents are preventable, and by wearing a life jacket, boaters increase their chances of survival. The Boating Program reminds boaters of the following laws and recommends these safety tips: Wear approved life jackets: State law requires all vessels (including non-motorized watercraft) carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-ap- proved life jacket for each person on board. Additionally, vessels 16 feet or longer must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved throwable personal flotation device aboard. Individuals operating personal watercraft, such as jet skis and water skies must wear life jackets. Children ages 12 and younger must wear life jackets when aboard ves- sels less than 19 feet long. Check life jackets: Ensure all life jackets are in good condition. Check for tears, wear and proper fit. Life jacket sizing is based on body weight and'chest size, and children often grow out of their life jackets from season to season. Life jacket loaner program: If boaters do not have the required number of life jackets aboard their vessels, life jackets are available for loan at many boat launches, marinas and state parks across Washington. These life jackets are available for the day or weekend use at no cost. Boating clubs, public safety agencies and other civic orga- nizations that are interested in establishing a life jacket loaner site at a public boat launch or ma- rina should contact Washington State Parks at 360-902-8555 for assistance. State Parks has limited funding to provide life jackets and materials at no cost to help estab- lish a public loaner site in time for boating season. Marine law enforcement agen- cies around the state recognize that life jackets can and do save lives and many have adopted a zero-tolerance approach for boats without sufficient life jackets. A citation may be issued to the op- erator of a boat with too few life jackets on board. POST AND STICK FRAME BUILDINGS "  " " "":   ':** A O Buildings, Darns Shops, Garages Family Owned & Operated 100% Bonus Depreciation on AG Buildings thru 12/31/11 (ask your tax advisor for details) NO HIDDEN COSTS, NOT A THING TO "FIX OR FINISH" Start Date & Completion Date on EVERY CONTRACT! Clean & dy Building Site One-on-One Daily Contact with Your Foreman. Polite, Honest, Cordial Crews Quality Materials from Local Distributors More Control Over Your Project ,.7"//14,.ON ]244-2636 c' I Doing Business since 1999! Finandng Available OAC 1 11515 W. Sunset Hwy.. Mon-Fd 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. STIMSC1930MO www.stimsonco.com birds lay eggs all through the winter, although at a reduced rate. On a more rural piece of land west of Medical Lake, Angel and Susan Michel keep dozens of Black Australorps, Rhode Island Reds and Turkins - all of which are said to be prime egg layers. Angel said he harvests about 15 eggs a day and sells them to his coworkers for $3 a dozen, which is about half the price of many commercial free range eggs. "I never have enough; they don't want store-bought any- more," he said. "Right now I'm getting enough eggs to pay for the feed." But raising the birds is more of a hobby than a money maker for Michel, a habit he picked up from his mother as a boy grow- ing up in Mexico. He buys some of the birds as chicks at the start of spring but also breeds his own. "Where I'm from we didn't have stores where you could go and buy a dozen chicks or anything like that," he said. Cheney Feedand Tack own- er Mary Diamond said chicken keeping seems to be a grow- ing pastime in this area. Some people start ordering chicks as early as February, but many wait until now. Backyard chicken keepers who are just getting started can purchase chicks through a feed store, although some have a limited variety accol- ing to Oxrieder. She again recommends Craigslist as a good source for all things re- Photo by Ryan Lancaster Angel Michel stands in the chicken coop he built on his property near Medical Lake. Michel raises three breed varieties for their eggs, which he eats and sells to suppliment the cost of grain feed. lated to chicken-rearing, chicks included. And her advice for those think- ing about diving into the world of backyard chicken rearing? "Do it, it's hilarious. Seeing chickens running doesn't ever get old," she said. Oxrieder also suggests doing some research online or purchasing a good handbook, such as Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, .and having a backup plan for what to do with. the chickens once their egg production slows down. The birds can live up to eight years, although they typically only produce eggs for about the first three. If butchering them to eat is too much to bear, both she and Michel suggest selling them online. "We stopped naming them after the first round because we do eat them eventually," Oxrie- der said. "We do have one hen named Curious who has a pass from the freezer." While most hens don't make much more noise than the oc- casional loud cluck, Oxrieder said it's always wise to check with your neighbors and local ordinances before committing to chicken rearing. Aside from a brief mention concerning excess animal noise, Cheney's municipal code is vague on chicken keeping, but Oxrieder said Spokane rules generally allow for up to five birds. For some more introductory information on chicken keeping visit www.backyardchickens. com. Ryan Lancaster can be reached at ryan@cheneyfreepress.com. Photo by Ryan Lancaster Curious calf A spring calf takes a break from milking to peer out from beneath its mother last Saturday at the farm of Angel and Susan Michel near Medical Lake. The calf was one of a set of twins born in mid- February. Visit Collins Family Dentistry for a new patient exam, x-rays and cleaning to receive free ZOOM teeth whitening. Call to schedule your visit today. 1841 First Street 15 E. Central Cheney, WA 99004 Spokane, WA 99207 (509) 235-8451 (509) 487-9000 Officia! dentist of the Spokane Shock QI HENE ARDWARE ..... . .....iiii : ......  ,iii:::,: ........ :. o 1111 .......................... .m,