Friday, September 30, 2016

One of a Kind

My husband loves the Belgian Malines because they are huge and ever so gentle.  However, we noticed that one of these wonderful hens started to act peculiarly about 6 months ago.  She kept going away from the others and always seemed to be calling chicks.  It was as if she had hatched some chicks and lost them.  She didn't want to be any part of the group of Malines either.  First we noticed that she was always away from the crowd.

It wasn't long until we would find her roosting with the cats.  Our two barn cats, Nala and Sandy, always lay around on the staircase in the barn.  We even feed them on the staircase.  Eventually we noticed that LuLu (the crazy chicken) would go get on the staircase with the cats to spend the night.  The cats didn't seem at all bothered by her strange behavior.  My husband would try to reintroduce her to the Maline flock.  She would go off alone and for the longest time would come back in the barn to sleep with the cats.

This phase passed and she moved into what we call our "Secret Garden".  Our chicken house and the Serama Runs are connected to this little sitting area underneath a shade tree.  She moved into the Secret Garden.  She decided she loved it there with the little chickens.  My Silkies run free there as well.  She likes being with them and a few Serama that have also moved into that area.  We have some cages that the Silkies and Serama are kept in at night (for safety).  She now has taken over one of those cages.  She is very nice though and shares it with a little Serama hen.  During the day, she comes in and out of the chicken house when we go in to feed the Serama.  She pretty much defends all that live in there with her.

LuLu posing for pics!
I decided I needed to take some pictures of Serama I have for sale.  I had my son bring a pair of Serama at a time into the Secret Garden to take their pictures.  He would set them down and they would scatter.  He would gather them up and pose them again, and off they would go.  LuLu watched this behavior for a while and then decided she could be of assistance.  She came over near them and posed for the camera.  I got a fantastic picture of her.  The Serama took a while to convince even with LuLu's help.  She is such a sweet strange hen.  She thought they were crazy for not posing, especially when the reward was meal worms.

A few days ago, my husband decided it was time to try again to reintroduce her to the Maline flock.  She came to my gate and stood and cackled at me until I opened it up and let her come "home".  She is now back sharing a cage with a little Serama hen at night and guarding and directing traffic in the daytime.  LuLu is definitely one of a kind!  She is more like a dog or cat than a chicken.  I suppose she will remain with my Silkies and Seramas until she decides otherwise!

The Secret Garden

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jubilee Orpingtons - the Orpington of many colors

These wonderful chickens are known for their easy going sweet temperament.  They are stunning to look at as well.  Their base color is a bright mahogany with white tipped black spangles.  Their shanks and feet should be white and they have red eyes.  When purchasing Jubilee Orpingtons, be very attentive to their coloring to be sure you are in fact getting Jubilees.  There are some crosses to mottled Orpingtons that have a more black base color.  Jubilees are very fluffy in appearance, like most Orpingtons, making them appear larger then their actual weight.  The roosters will average  8 1/2 pounds when mature, while the hens will be around 7 1/2 pounds.

The Jubilees were introduced by the William Cook family in 1897. They were named for and presented to Queen Victoria for her Diamond Jubilee and have been in England for many years.  Being relatively new to the United States, they are more rare here causing the chicks to sell for around $35.00 each straight run.  We sell ours for $25.00 each when we are fortunate enough to have some left to sell.  They are greatly sought after and sell quickly.  

Jubilees are a dual purpose bird.  They are good layers and good meat birds as well.  The hens are good brooders and mothers.  Their eggs are a creamy light brown color.  Jubliees are cold hardy and mature quickly.  Again it is worth mentioning that they are the sweetest birds to have around.  They are extremely friendly and will eat from your hand. We have had them for a while now and never have had an attitude problem among them like with some other breeds.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Tiniest of Chickens

One of my favorite breeds of chicken is the Serama.  Who wouldn't love a miniature chicken?  These tiny little chickens originated in Malaysia and are the smallest breed of chicken in the world.  They fall into the following weight classes for competition.  They compete in cage and tabletop competitions.

          Roosters:                                                             Hens:
    Class A  up to 13 ounces                                    Class A up to 12 ounces
    Class B up to 16 ounces                                     Class B up to 15 ounces
    Class C up to 19 ounces                                     Class C up to 17 ounces

There are also some Micro classed birds with the Roosters weight falling up to 13 ounces, and the hen's weight up to 8 ounces.  The Micro are not viable as layers or for type normally.  They are mostly a novelty.  Everyone searches for Micro and Class A Serama before learning about them.  I have a little Class A hen who is precious and a valued pet.  However she has only laid about 4 eggs in the past year and only one hatched.  The chick that hatched was a class C at least and grew into a larger rooster.  I mention this to point out that class A won't always lay. When they do they won't always give you class A chicks and it's rare for their eggs to be fertile. For breeding purposes, most Serama breeders recommend a class B or C bird with B being the favorite weight class for breeding.  A class B bird will give you A,B and occasionally C class chicks.  

A Serama will eat approximately a pound of feed per month making them very affordable (unless of course you have as many as we do).  The size of a Serama is not nearly as important as the "type" of the bird.  The "type" refers to the bird having large chest that is held high, a high tail (coming straight up behind the head when the bird is posing), a short back, and a "V" shaped profile (meaning the back and the tail form a "V" from the side view).  The wings should point downward nearly vertical when they are alert and posed and the legs should be long enough to keep the wings just above the ground (showing the feet).  Type is very important in competition. Temperament is also a desired trait for these competitions.  The birds that are accustomed to people and other birds will tend to do the best. There are points given for each of the following categories in a tabletop competition.

                                                                    Type: 30 points
                                                                 Character: 25 points
                                                             Tail Carriage: 15 points
                                                            Wing Carriage: 10 points
                                                            Feather quality: 10 points
                                                               Condition: 10 points

 Originating in Malaysia they tolerate 90 - 100 degrees fairly well, but they do not tolerate cold well.  We cover our coops and runs with plastic in the winter and even use heaters when necessary to keep them at around 50 degrees minimum at night.  They come and go in and out of the coops during the daytime hours and do fine here in Texas

Now that I have shared all I have learned about these birds, I'd like to add that they are such friendly chickens.  They are easily trained and love human attention.  If you are wanting a pet chicken, find a pet quality serama that someone is willing to part with.  You will not regret having a Serama.  They will lay eggs and many of ours lay an egg a day.  However, the eggs are very small and if you want to eat them, it takes about 3 Serama eggs to equal a large store bought egg.  Still, how many people have a pet that lays breakfast?  


Sunday, September 18, 2016

East Texas Poultry Trades Day

We brought our son home from the hospital just in time to start thinking about the East Texas Poultry Trades Day at Gilmer, Texas this coming Saturday.  It will be held in the Yamboree Livestock Pavillion on Hwy 271 next to the Civic Center and Walmart.  The event will start at 9:00 A.M. and last until 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 24, 2016.   Our East Texas group held our first such Trades Day last May in Gilmer.  It was such a hit with the vendors (we got to visit and shop among ourselves) and our customers that our good friend who planned it all decided to go again in September.  We are looking very forward to this next event.  Our vendor list has grown considerably as has our customer list.  The show will have everything from chickens, ducks, turkeys, guineas and such to chicken coops, meal worm kits (so you can grow your own), cages, and much more.  We may even have some rabbits and goats.  It's a very enjoyable day for all.  If you live near Gilmer, Texas and can make it out to see us, we would love that!

The Singleton Roost will have Serama pairs for sale, Serama chicks and juveniles for sale, Guinea keets, possibly ducklings and young Eastern Wild Turkeys.  We are also hoping to bring some Belgian Maline chicks and roosters.  We will be there around 7:00 A.M. to get set up and ready. 

There will be many breeds of chickens represented at the event.  I know friends who are bringing Silkies (be still my heart).  I got my beautiful Blue Cream Silkie Rooster at the last Trades Day.  If you can find the time and live in the area, come on out and visit with us.  You might just find a chicken or two you cannot live without.  We all know how that goes!  

Check out the Facebook Page for this event - East Texas Poultry Trades Day.  There you will get a better idea of who all you can hope to see and what they will be bringing.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Never a Dull Moment

While our son has been in the hospital, my poor husband has literally had the weight of our world on his shoulders.  He has not only spent as much time with us at the hospital as possible, but he has also run errands for us, brought us food, AND cared for all of our birds.  Have I mentioned we have nearly 400 birds total?

Each day I gave him Tristan Updates (we came home late last night finally), and he gave me Chicken Updates!  We had 22 Silkies due to hatch the day after Tristan was admitted to the hospital.  We keep new babies in ten gallon aquariums with tops made of hardware cloth so that we can maintain the appropriate temperatures.  We currently have three of these full and a large one that he built.  My husband is very serious about our chicks and chickens having the best possible care!

He would occasionally call or text me about something funny a certain bird had done.  For instance, our broody cochin hens (who had no eggs of their own) have begun hatching the guinea eggs they were given to hatch.  It is funny that neither they nor the guinea keets seem to notice the difference.

The next day, one little Serama hen and her two chicks were let out to range.  Come nightfall, they were no where to be found.  He looked and looked and could not find them.  Our only hope was that they found a place to roost and went to roost.  Yesterday he called to say he had found them.  They went to roost with our silkies and were apparently UNDER the silkies when he checked!  All were well.

We had baby ducklings in the duck crib.  He let them out with the juvenile ducklings to roam around in the pen for the day.  They too went missing.  He found them completely outside the pen all huddled up.  This took an extensive search on his part.  He could not find how they got outside the pen fences.  They are fine as well.

Even during a family crisis (and we have had a major one), the chickens keep up with their antics.  There truly is never a dull moment at The Singleton Roost!

Monday, September 12, 2016

About my Son

Today's blog, my first in almost a week, won't be about the farm or the chickens or the ducks or turkeys.  Today's blog is about someone much more dear to my heart - our 18 year old son, Tristan who helps us on the farm.

Last week at this time we were enjoying Labor Day, with our family, cooking hamburgers and having fun.  We had no clue what was about to happen.  That evening, Our son started feeling a little "off" or "weak".  He just thought he'd worked out at the gym too hard.  Tuesday he awoke with a fever of 101 but not really any other symptoms.  Still we made an appointment and took him to the family doctor.  They didn't find anything specific and gave him a steroid shot and a Z-pack and sent us home.  This seemed to help and by Wednesday morning he had no fever and felt a little better.  He had a quiz at college (they are not forgiving on missing college) so he went and took the quiz.  By the time he reached home, his head was hurting really bad.  I took him back to the doctor when Ibuprofen and Tylenol could not stop the headache.  They tested for Strep throat and it was a positive.  He was given an antibiotic shot and sent home again.  All evening the headache worsened no matter what we did.  We fought it all night.  Thursday morning I loaded him up and took him back to the doctor's office not waiting on an appointment.  He was given a pain shot for the headache and still no affect.  Then they decided on blood work to check his white cell count.  It was high but not terribly high.  I had already asked about meningitis the day before and it was not high on the list of possibilities since he had his vaccine before high school and one last spring for college.  The decision was made to send him to the ER to do a CT Scan and a Lumbar Puncture to test for Meningitis.  The CT scan was clean but the Lumbar Puncture proved our worst fears - Meningitis.  They started treatment for bacterial (the worst possibility) but were leaning more towards it being viral (still horrible but not life threatening like the other).  The shock set in.  We were told they would send it off for cultures to be done to see if anything grew indicating Bacterial.  It was going to take 48 hours or more for this to be done.  They were treating for the worst and hoping for the best.  Viral Meningitis, although still extremely painful, will normally run it's course in 7 to 10 days.  They will treat the symptoms such as give you fluids, nausea medicines and pain medicines but there is not much more they can do for viral meningitis.  All day we braced ourselves to deal with viral meningitis.  Late that evening we were still at the ER waiting to be admitted to the hospital when a doctor from the hospital came in and rocked our already shaky world.  He said it was most likely bacterial and we would all have to have shots and until the cultures were negative we could assume it was bacterial.  He told us horror stories about worse case scenarios of losing hands, fingers, feet or limbs or even possible death.  He did NOT have a good bedside manner and scared our son to death.  My entire body went cold.  I could not feel anything, nor think.  We were horrified of the fate our son might be facing.

We were finally transferred to the hospital into the Progressive Care Unit and into isolation.  Anyone entering the room had to keep a mask on at all times.  All of this was in addition to our son's extreme level of pain in the form of a headache and occasional nausea. The nurses in that unit were amazing.  They were reassuring and very knowledgeable.   It still took them most of the night to get his pain to a manageable level.  They tried various pain medications including Morphine that did not work.  His pain level was an 11-12 on a scale of 1-10.  He is not a whiner and NEVER cries.  He begged for help.  Finally they found something that would bring it down gradually until it was a 3-4 the next day.  Three different antibiotics were given in the beginning.  The next day was great only to return to excruciating pain that evening.  Again they gave everything they could and ended up back to the same pain medication  as the night before (they had avoided it because it made him itch).  They added Benadryl to the mix for the itching.  He rested all day at a level 3-5 pain.  That evening, yesterday and last night his pain level has been down to a 2-3 with very little use of pain medication.  He is eating and moving about.  We have been moved to a regular room, no isolation and at long last yesterday we were informed that the cultures grew nothing and there was no need for us to be treated as well.  However, they will continue treating for bacterial as a precaution due to him having antibiotics in his system when the Lumbar Puncture was done.  This could possibly alter the cultures.  Our nightmare is easing up and although recovery could take a little while, he will recover.

My point in sharing this is to let others know to be persistent with their kids doctors and treatments.  You know your child better than ANYBODY!  A headache that cannot be managed with normal medicines accompanied by a fever are symptoms of something more serious.  Take the Meningitis shots recommended for high school and college.  It can be more serious without them.  Although our son's neck was not stiff to begin with it was sore.  This is another sign of meningitis.  Meningitis is not common and therefore not the first thing checked for.  Do not ignore your parental instincts.

Most importantly, we could not have gotten through this without the hundreds of church friends, friends and family and all their friends constantly praying for us.  It is our faith in God and His never ending grace and mercy that gives us the strength to get through this.  We hope to be recovering at home in a few days.  Thanks to all those who have called, texted, messaged, visited and most especially to those who are praying for us!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Web full of Information

The World Wide Web can be a source of great information.  There are numerous websites for gaining information on the various breeds of chickens, their characteristics, and care.  Once you have chosen a breed to add to your flock or start your flock, research extensively BEFORE you buy if possible.  However, if you already own them it's never to late to learn.

"Google" your chosen breed(s).  There will be many pictures to view showing standards for each breed.  Each breed has a "standard of excellence" as many call it.  This will tell you what you need to look for in a particular breed and what you need to breed for as well.  There are many sites to suggest feed for certain breeds including plants and vegetables that are good for the chickens.  Flowering plants exist that will not only beautify your coop areas, but also be healthy for your chickens to snack on when they are allowed to range.  One such site that we have found particularly informative is  She shares wonderful advice, tips, projects and more on her site.  Another great site is  This site has forums that allow you to discuss things with other chicken owners.

Social media is another alternative for information.  Facebook has numerous groups for the different breeds of chickens, show and tell, selling and just discussion.  Go to Facebook and type in a specific breed in the search box.  Many groups will appear.  Click on a group to see what it's purpose is and to find out if it interests you.  Ask to join.  It's as simple as that.

Having Seramas, I have joined numerous groups about this breed.  One group that I find extremely helpful is "Serama Housing, Hatching, and Care"!  It is a wonderful group of Serama folks with a wealth of information.  Ask anything and they will be happy to offer guidance.  There are also Rare Breed groups and probably groups specific to your home area.  We are members of "East Texas Poultry Trades Day".  This group started to share information on our local East Texas Poultry Trades Day held twice a year in Gilmer, Texas.  We also allow buying and selling in the group.  Another wonderful group of very helpful folks.

Venture out and take advantage of the friendly people who have websites, blogs and more.  They are normally very willing to help.  Our website, is currently under construction but will be updated any day now.  We are always happy to help in any way possible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Photographing Feathered Friends

As a small chicken farmer in the "Age of Technology", there are many reasons to have good pictures of your birds.  In this day and age, you can sell your birds from many venues online.  Choices include - but are not limited to - websites, social media (which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to name a few), blogs, and online sales sites such as Craigslist.  All of the above are much more successful with pictures.  I must admit that I do not always have pictures with my ads.  This is due in part to the trouble I go through each time I try to photograph my feathered friends.

In the case of the Serama, who are known for posing, the minute they see the camera there will be NO POSING!  Chickens are like children.  When you need them to cooperate, invariably they will not.  I carefully choose the chickens to photograph based on the type and form they show while free.  I can set them up and pose them, UNTIL I pull out the camera and then the games begin.  Normally, I have to involve my son and my husband to herd and pose them.  The minute I get ready to snap the photo, they squat, fly or turn their back giving me a rear view.  For each twenty pictures I take, maybe three are worth keeping.  I am ALWAYS thankful for the good ones.  I have beautiful birds, but none like to be photographed.  Well I have to take that back.  We have one Belgian Maline hen that is different from the other Malines in that she does not appreciate their company and chooses to live among the Seramas and Silkies.  She is part of my camera crew.  She gets upset when they get upset and tries to show them how it's done.  She is a chicken diva!

Part of the Camera Crew
The larger chickens are ironically easier to photograph.  I try to get them in their natural settings.  I can use a telephoto lens to get good pictures of their usual antics without disturbing them too much.

The main thing I have learned is that "perfect" pictures present themselves when I don't have a camera handy.  I try to have a camera of some description with me at all times.  I might just have my phone with me, but I try to have a way to catch the "perfect" shots.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Chickens' New Clothes

Once we became chicken farmers, it wasn't long until some of the chickens started losing feathers.  This is startling for new chicken owners.  Feathers were everywhere and the egg laying stopped.  We were wondering what on earth this could be.  We found that at about 16-18 month old, chickens will have their first molt.  Molting normally occurs when the days grow shorter and the temperatures start to cool off.  Stress can also cause a chicken to molt.  With some chickens, molting is a gradual thing.  The other chickens just start dropping feathers. First of all, feathers all over the place normally means "fowl" play!  We once had a Jubilee Orpington hen that lost almost all of her feathers in a day or two.  She was almost naked and looked horrible.  We were afraid this had to be more than a molt.  Almost as quickly as the feathers fell out, they began coming back in.  She was very strange looking for a bit, but soon had her feathers back.  The new feathers were bright and pretty.  It amazed us that the old feathers looked normal until the new feathers came in.  We had not realized how dull they can become.

During molting, the hens will typically stop laying as well.  Even though they are not laying, the recommendation is to feed them a higher protein diet to aid in feather production.  Feathers consist of mostly protein!  The recommendations are to have at least 16% protein in their feed.  We normally feed at 20% protein year round.  We mix our feed with scratch, oats, minerals, probiotics and black oil sunflower seeds.  The sunflower seeds are another excellent source of protein for the birds.  We have found this mixture to keep them quite healthy along with allowing them adequate time to roam around and forage for insects, seeds and grass.

Soon enough the chickens have their pretty new feathers, and they look like school kids with their new fall clothes.  Laying gradually starts back up and all is well on the farm!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hide and Seek

My husband normally opens up my Serama House early each morning.  He also opens the coops and let's the others go.  Several mornings he has commented about finding a little hen (Serama) in the Serama house when he went to open everything up.  He figured she just got left in there from the evening before when we closed it up for the night.  We generally leave the back door that leads into the pens open during the day so that there is some air circulating in this hot humid weather and turn a fan on the inside chickens.  Some of the Seramas from outside have learned that they can visit inside.  They do this from time to time. We just thought she was one of the "visitors" who occasionally got locked in at night.

Today my son, Tristan, went in to feed and water and noticed her still in there.  He tried to "shoo" her out, but she just hung around.  He noticed out of the corner of his eye, that she jumped on a bucket we have in there to use when changing out water.  He then saw her jump into an open bucket behind it.  For some reason, this little bucket had some pine chips in it and there she was.  She had been sitting on 7 eggs.  Three of these eggs had hatched, and three tiny little chicks were in the bucket with her and the other eggs.  She had to sit on those eggs, unbeknownst to us, for 21 days. She would be out of the bucket waiting on us occasionally.  When we opened the doors, she went out and got a bite to eat and got a drink.  She had access all day to come and go at will.  We would close the doors at night and she would be there in her bucket brooding.  We just thought she kept getting caught inside when we closed up for the evening.  We had one little rooster that made a practice of sleeping inside (loose) at night.  This just goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way.  She and the chicks are now resting comfortably in a nice place.  We placed the remaining eggs in the incubator to finish hatching.  

My little Serama hens have got to be some of the broodiest chickens in the world.  We have nest boxes all over the pen outside, yet she chose a hidden bucket inside the chicken house to lay and brood.  Once they decide on something, you are not changing their mind! One time we had a little hen that laid an egg behind the sink and decided to brood there.  She finally gave up on that idea because the sink is a very busy place in the mornings when we water and feed.  These adorable little chickens never cease to amaze me.