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Monday, November 28, 2011

I Have Backyard Chickens, by Garden Betty

Want a virtual tour of the farm? Check out our latest write up! I Have Backyard Chickens, by Garden Betty

The author of Garden Betty, Linda Ly, (a blogger awarded Blue Ribbon Blogger Award by Country Living out of thousands of contenders, and a simply Awesome woman!) paid a visit to Dare 2 Dream Farms to get some chickens for her backyard! I had a great time with her here, and she wrote up a really nice article about her visit! Take a peek at the pics and commentary, and then keep reading! Her blog is addicting, I tell ya! You will keep going back for more; but don't feel guilty because its all great stuff!

Also, if you're in the market for chickens, and still looking for some great ideas on how to build your own, you'll want to take a look at her previous two blogs for some tips and inspiration:

Aloha to the New Tiki Coop
The Nuts & Bolts of the Tiki Coop

The Garden Betty tiki coop


Sunday, November 27, 2011


We just finished raising up our first flock of Double Laced Partridge Barnevelders and were able to take pictures of the full grown beauties. We will have to raise these girls more often. They seem very calm and friendly - almost as sweet as Cochins or Brahmas. We recommend them just as highly for families with children, or for beginners. They might not produce eggs like a Rhode Island Red, but they're a stunner in your yard, and make a really nice companion!

Double Laced Partridge Barnevelder Foraging

Barnevelders were developed in the district of Barneveld in Holland. The original fowl was brought by Phoenician traders in the twelfth century, and it was not developed until the 19th century when the locals discovered Asiatic breeds with greater laying ability. They cross bred their Barnevelder with the Malay, Brahma, and Langshan in order to improve its laying performance. The eggs became larger, darker, and the Barnevelders laid more of them throughout the winter.

Traits: Barnevelders are a large, heavy breed with single red comb, red wattles and earlobes, and yellow legs. The only color variety recognized by the American Poultry Association is the Double Laced Partridge which features beautiful rich golden brown feathers with double black lacing in each feather. The head and hackle feathers are all black with a noticeable darker edging.

Double Laced Partridge Barnevelder Posing
Temperament: Barnevelders are calm, friendly, and hardy. They will do well in a backyard flock, with a family, and with beginners. Unfortunately, their gentle nature also means they are easily picked on. Barnevelders are best kept with Barnevelders, or other docile breeds. 

Production: The beauty of the darker brown egg has been bred through on this breed, and has unfortunately also affected the quantity of eggs Barnevelders lay.  You can expect to see approximately 175 eggs per year. Like other dark egg layers, the eggs are darkest when the hen is younger, and lighten with age.

Class: Continental

APA Recognized Color Varieties: Double Laced Partridge

Non-Recognized Color Varieties: Double Laced Blue (gorgeous!), White, and Black

To see more breeds descriptions, follow our blog or visit our website at:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Poultry Lice

It can be hard enough to remember when to take ourselves to the doc for a routine checkup! But its important to do... and its just as important to put on your scrubs and be "doc" for your chickens from time to time as well. Its easy to keep a close watch on the health of your flock. But its hard to narrow down the cause of the symptoms you're seeing.

That being said... we have decided to start compiling all the pertinent information for you including description, prevention, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for many of the major health issues in the chicken world. Our first one is going to be lousy. Literally. :) We chose to write about lice!

Read it, use it, send us feedback, and stay tuned for more! 

Backyard Chicken Keeper’s Guide to Understanding, Identifying and Treating Poultry Lice


Poultry lice are small, wingless insects that live as parasites on the skin and in the feathers of birds. They grow up to 6mm in length and have elongated, flat bodies, 6 legs, and broad heads with chewing mouth parts. They live off their host by feeding on the dry skin scales, scab tissue, and feathers. If a bird’s skin or feather quill is punctured, lice will also feed on the blood that is present.
Lice hiding under feathers, and visible egg clusters

Life Cycle

Lice lay eggs on the shaft of a chicken’s feathers. Depending on the species, the eggs hatch in 4-7 days. The lice mature in 10-15 days, and females will lay anywhere from 50-300 eggs. The total lifespan is 3 weeks. They spend their entire life cycle on the host and will die within a few days to a week of being separated from it.


Chickens are susceptible to lice infestations if they have contact with wild birds, or with infested chickens from another flock. It is spread easily from chicken to chicken when they are in close contact with each other, or even just feathers that have lice in them. The numbers of poultry lice are generally the greatest during fall and winter.
Poultry lice are host specific, meaning they feed only on one or a few closely related species of animals. So poultry lice are not transferrable to humans or to non-bird pets.
Lice eggs on a de-beaked hen


Prevention is difficult, but not impossible. Early detection is the best way to control lice infestations.
  • Keep coops clean by doing regular maintenance on the bedding, and occasionally washing down the floors, roosts, and nest boxes with soap and water.
  • Regularly inspect your flock (approximately twice a month) for signs of lice.
  • Never use hay or straw as bedding.
  • Never de-beak your chickens or order de-beaked chicks as they cannot clean themselves to control lice infestations on their own.
  • Inspect all chickens you purchase for poultry lice, and de-louse them before they are introduced to your flock.
  • Make sure your flock has access to dirt for dust bathing – their natural way of preventing lice infestations.
  • Occasionally (once every month or two, especially in fall and winter) provide a litter box of food-grade Diatomaceous Earth for them to dust in.

Symptoms and Signs

Because early detection is the best way to control lice infestations, it is good to make sure you are always managing your flock’s overall health. Be aware of changes in your flocks behaviors, health, and appearance.
  • Excessive cleaning, scratching, or dusting due to the irritation of the lice on their skin
  • Poor feather condition (dull, broken, or missing feathers) from excessive cleansing, scratching, or dusting
  • Decreased egg production due to stress
  • Increased susceptibility to disease
  • Decreased food intake or weight gain due to stress and possibly other diseases
  • Reduced fertility


Gently holding a hen for inspection
To determine if your flock has lice, you will have to inspect a portion of your chickens. It is best to inspect them during the day. Pick the chicken up and gently turn it over onto its back, with its head slightly lower than its tail. This will cause the tail to fall away from the vent to allow for close inspection. Part the fluff and feathers all around the vent and search the skin for fast-moving, straw-colored insects, or clusters of eggs near the base of the feathers. You will also want to do the same search for different species of lice on the feathers of the thighs, under the wings, around the head, and lower back. If lice are found on even a few birds, you can assume most or all of your flock that comes in contact with them will have it as well.


Complete treatment includes cleaning and treating coop walls, floors, roosts, nesting boxes, and birds at the same time. For best results, it is imperative to treat thoroughly and diligently. Incomplete treatment can lead to a rapid re-infestation as lice can live off of the host for up to three days, and spread quickly.
Lice eggs are resistant to insecticide so it is necessary to treat chickens three times in 7 day intervals to kill the parent population and any newly hatched lice. Because the list of approved pesticides changes frequently, it’s always a good idea to double check before applying any pest control chemicals. Also, please read and follow the pest control product labels carefully.
Each treatment comes with its own set of pros and cons that can include: use of chemicals, levels of effectiveness, levels of stress on the birds, and time required for treatment. You must choose which treatment(s) will work best for your flock and you by keeping your priorities for the health of your flock in mind.  
  • Permethrin found in Garden & Poultry Dust is a safe and excellent pesticide for lice. Use it directly on birds and in the coop.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (food-grade) can be sprinkled in the bedding and dusting areas, or provided in a litter box for dusting.
  • Dust baths are a natural way for chickens to rid themselves of lice, so providing access to an area for dusting will help lower the numbers of lice.
  • Orange Guard is an organic, non-toxic treatment that can be used in the coop, but not directly on the birds.
  • Pet shampoo can be used to wash individual birds to remove most of the lice and some of the lice eggs.
  • Carbaryl found in Sevin Dust is a popular and effective pesticide for lice that is used directly on birds and in the coop. However, Carbaryl is a carcinogen so we do not recommend it.
  • Induce molting to rapidly remove egg-laden feathers from the birds, and clean out the feathers from the coop.


Damerow, Gail. Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2010. 161-163. Print.
McCrea, Brigid, Jeffrey Joan S., Ernst Ralph A., and Gerry Alec C. "Common Lice and Mites of Poultry: Identification and Treatment." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Regents of the University of California, 2005. Web. 11 Aug 2011. <>
Pickworth, Carrie L., and Teresa Y. Morishita. "Common External Parasites n Poultry: Lice and Mitesq." The Ohio State University Extension Factsheet. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug 2011. <>.

Pictures by Dare 2 Dream Farms

Visit our website for lots more information on other chicken health issues!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eat Real Festival 2011!

We are so proud to announce we will have a booth at the Eat Real Festival in Culver City this year, in the DIY section! The dates for the show are July 16 -17. We are bringing a couple different coops complete with chickens and all so that we can show everyone how easy it is to start a backyard flock for fresh eggs. We will also be doing a presentation that you won't want to miss if you want the 4-1-1 on getting started.

So many ideas! So much to prepare! We are really pumped up about this! Hope to see you there - we will keep ya posted on the booth number, and time for the presentation when we know more!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dare 2 Dream Farms' new Flickr Photostream

Little Bit Dare 2 Dream Farms  - Farm Fresh EggsMulticolored EggsWild California QuailI Got Your Back, Love!Harvest
GardenThe Little Chicken that CouldConner and his FlockBarred RockAerial View of Dare 2 Dream FarmsChanterelle Mushrooms

Want to take a look at what we've got going on? We will post pictures to Dare 2 Dream Farms Flickr so you can always stay updated on all the things we are working on! Check them out and let us know what you think. You can leave us feedback at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our First Press Release!

Writing our first press release was a HUGE step for us! We are so excited, and hope to gain a little publicity! Check it out! :D

California's Urban Homes Becoming More Sustainable with Chickens Delivered to their Front Door by Dare 2 Dream Farms

Dare 2 Dream Farms, LLC, a small family owned and operated poultry farm on the Central Coast is helping urban homes attain their green dreams one chicken delivery at a time.

Dare 2 Dream of Fresh Eggs!
Quote startWe want to make it easy for people to start their own backyard flocks with healthy chickens.... Delivering the chickens to our clients just makes sense."Quote end
Lompoc, CA (PRWEB) May 17, 2011
For California’s suburban residents who are enriching their homes and lifestyles to become more sustainable, local, and organic, chickens are the perfect addition. Unfortunately, finding the time to travel to a poultry farm located nearly half a state away is difficult; and finding a quality poultry farm in or around the city is nearly impossible. Dare 2 Dream Farms is pleased to announce they are making it much easier to start a backyard flock by delivering chickens to the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.
The farm is coordinating a trip at least once a month to deliver the chickens for only $20 per delivery. The delivery dates are posted on their Facebook page and their website at, along with tons of valuable information about the breeds they have available, and caring for a backyard flock. For beginners, Dare 2 Dream Farms also carries poultry supplies, and offers to build custom chicken coops.
Dare 2 Dream Farms is located in Lompoc, on the Central Coast of California. For nearly two years, they have been raising and selling truly free-range, or pastured chickens, and also selling the eggs to their local natural marketplaces: New Frontiers and Isla Vista Food Co-op. The farm’s dedication to allowing chickens to live the way they were naturally intended has helped them develop a huge following. However, since it is approximately three hours from the Greater Los Angeles Area, and five hours from the Bay Area, it is a huge trip for individuals to drive to the farm to buy their chickens. The farm’s Co-Owner, Megan Coulter says, “We want to make it easy for people to start their own backyard flocks with healthy chickens. Plus, the carbon footprint of one trip to Los Angeles or San Francisco for twenty homes is significantly smaller than twenty trips from either city to us. Delivering the chickens to our clients just makes sense.”
As the green movement picks up momentum, families, schools, and communities are finding ways to incorporate chickens into their plans to become more sustainable. Since the ‘chicken craze’ began, over 500 cities across the United States have changed their city ordinances to allow backyard chickens. Websites, networks, and forums such as and the Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Meet-up Group have boomed with new members.
Jeremy Raff-Reynolds, the farm’s other Co-Owner, says, “Chickens are an awesome addition to urban backyards because in addition to providing delicious fresh eggs every morning, they also provide their homes with chemical free pesticide, an abundant source of the world’s best-known fertilizer, and unique personalities that bring joy to their owners.” That’s living in harmony!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicken Arks!

Dare 2 Dream Farms is located in Lompoc, on the Central Coast of California. For nearly two years, we have been raising and selling truly free-range, or pastured chickens, and also selling our eggs to local natural marketplaces: New Frontiers and Isla Vista Food Co-op. We are growing fast and needed to find a way to expand our chicken housing, and avoid overgrazing. This is our newest adventure in building the "Chicken Arks."  

This is the first concept drawing I had to help us determine cost and give us a rough idea of what the finished product should be.  There are actually several pages of ramblings and sketches, but this gives the best idea in one page.

Here is the skid base for the first Ark.  We attached the 4'x'6'x14' pressure treated skids to the 4'x4'x8' pressure treated cross supports with 7" lag bolts. 2 lag bolts per connection for a total of 42 lag bolts.  We switched to 6" lag bolts with the next ark; primarily because Home Depot was out of the 7". However, the 6" lag bolts worked just fine.

We predrilled each bolt location and then used a router to make a recess big enough for the bolt head and the socket.  We used both an impact gun and ratchet for when the compressor was ctaching up.  On the 4'x6' skids we cut an angle on each end so when we pulled it the skids wouldn't bury into the ground

This is the second ark.  The first one was constructed on a dirt pad outside the barn.  We built the second in the garage so there would be no stoppage of work when it rained, we could work before and past dark, and it was closer to amenities of home.We added blocking to the sides between each 4'x4' on this one.  It allowed us to put down the wire before the walls. MUCH easier than the first ark.  That's our friend Casey complaining about me taking his picture or something.

Closer view of what the lag bolts fastened look like.

This was the original way of wiring the floor. Meg had to crawl inside and move carefully about to attach the wire to the walls and floor and cut notches around the 2'x4's.  Although it worked we decided there had to be a better way.  The walls are up and framed and Casey is attching the wiggle board at this point.

This is the better way.  We rolled out the 1" wire mesh and used the air nailer to attach it flush to the edges.  

Next comes the walls.  Here is the concept drawing of the second arks after we decided it would be easier to have two nesting boxes on each side instead of three.  Easier to build, looks better, and more functional.  This first drawing is of the side walls and the second is of the front wall. I didn't draw out the back wall, but it is similiar to the first, except it has two windows instead of a door.

This is the first ark. Notice the three openings for nesting boxes on the bottom of the walls. Casey and I are discussing who's idea was going to win the day. 

This is the second ark with walls framed up and ready to nail together.

This is the first ark.  Total rain delay at this point so we decided to finish the roof tomorrow.

Suns out, ground is dry, and the roof is on.  We used 10' metal corrugated panels and cut them in half.

Second ark in the garage.  Roof is on, door is done, wire mesh on front, and now time to start framing out the nesting boxes.

The bottom of the nesting box is framed and from there we just add a few small 2'x4's and they are ready to side.  I just can't seem to find the pictures of that whole process.

So here it the first ark getting pulled to her new home, gleaming in the sunshine ready to be the chickens new home!!

Here is the second ark in her new location.  The chickens are now foraging in fresh territory.

Me giving the chickens their treat of hen scratch.

2 of the now 3 chicken arks in the upper field. 

We plan on making more of the chicken arks to house the chickens as we have plenty of field left in the upper field.  Our lower field is now planted to ryegrass, clover, sunflower seeds, and flax.  We will be rotating the flock back to that field in about two to three months.  We are in the process of converting our permanent coops into breeding pens after the grass grows back and we run underground pvc water lines to the pens instead of having garden hoses running everywhere.  

A couple of things I didn't include above:
  • We drilled 1 3/4" holes into each 4'x6' skid on each end.  We ran a chain through the holes and attached it the tractor with shackles.  We used the tractor because it was convenient but  I am positive a decent sized pickup would pull an ark into the field with ease.  
  • We used 2"x3"s  across the 8' span of the ark for roosts.  We used 2x4 metal brackets so we can take out the roosts when we need to clean the inside or do any repairs.
  • The 1' poultry netting flooring is working amazing.  The poop drops right through and when we move the ark to a new location we will drag it out and fertilize the soil for the next pasture planting. 
  • We are in a mild climate on the central coast of california where it hardly every drops below freezing so we left one side of the coop open for ventilation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Farm Life

It includes roosters, eggs, fresh veggies, and happiness. It also includes communicating with the people who share those things with you. And that's where you all come in... Here we go!