Saturday, July 30, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
We have been waiting for weeks for our pygmy to finally give birth. We had a day marked on the calender but that was almost a month ago.
She has been showing all the signs for over three weeks now and I have been pulling my hair out in anticipation. Goats are not like my chickens, I can't candle the belly to see how far along she is. It's a sit and wait if you don't know he got her the first time.
She had dropped her udders about 3 weeks ago and I was convinced she was about to kid. But day after day nothing. Then yesterday.... her udders doubled in size but she wasn't leaking or showing signs of labor so I left her be. I checked on her one more time before we called it a night and nothing. This morning I went out for chores and her him. She had the cuties floppy earned baby boy!! All dry and clean so she must have had him in the middle of the night. She was big and did think she had two in there especially since he is so small buy mommy seems to be doing great!!
More updates coming soon!!!
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
So on the farm we have our two does that are now due any day. We had plans to put up a new separate in closure for the girls but with the weather and one thing after another we were delayed. Luckily I was able to get the help from my fiance and we are on our way to making the new section and I am in hopes it won't take to long but at least with the basic frame up we are on a good start. I will be sure to post more pictures when we are done. I am in hopes the girls pen will be about a 8x14 and there pasture of corse but what idea I have in my head and the end product are usually close but different in some way so we will see what happens!!
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Things have been very crazy the past few weeks. Between battling the continuous changing weather I ended up in the hospital sick for a few days. It set me back some but I still have so much to work on before summer is creeping around the corner.
Aside from all the chicken stuff we have planned, the new coop, a new garden this year, and fixing the goat area. I have my hands full to say the least. But the key thing is to figure out what is our priorities and what can wait. To be honest everything is all falling on the same time line. But I think putting our heads together we can figure out the best plan to have a successful year.
On my list for this summer of what I need completed are
New coop (big big job)
Redesign horse and goat area
Prepare for kids this spring
Make room for new birds
Keeping fingers crossed on starting our underground green house
As well as a few other small jobs!!!
Most of the supply I have been collecting over the past few months. Some I am still saving for little by little. But my goal is that all the waiting the past two years will start to pay off this year. I hope :-)
More projects more pictures to come. Any questions or comments feel free to ask. HAPPY SPRING!!
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The breed that was on the property when we first moved here was a Black Australorp. It is unfortunate that I honestly do not have this breed anymore but she was a pretty one. All black with a greenish tint to her feathers, and a extremely dependable layer. But having just one chicken with such a big coop, I had to fix that so I ventured to find more chickens.
I searched online trying to find chickens wasn't even sure how much they would be. But I found around 15 from some people looking to get rid of theirs. I then had
Road island reds
And the white leghorn
I was luck to find someone looking to re home a road island red rooster and then I finally had my flock. The barred rocks I have to say have been the most skid dish out of the group I had. They are very dependable egg layers, all of them I have to say were laying daily. It was not long before I was over flowing with eggs with no clue what to do with all of them. They all worked well together as a flock and the only complaint I think I had at that point was that white leghorn can for the most part fly. They do not stay contained well and I would find them stuck outside of the coop from time to time.
I have to say I learned a lot in the short span of having them. I never knew the vent was for everything.... Everything exiting them... Not the best method in my opinion but a chicken is a chicken. Having them after time made my love and passion for them grow. So as any newer person to chickens I did the inevitable ... I hatched my own lol. It was fun and exciting all at the same time, mixed in with a little discouragement because hatching is not the easiest thing in the world with no experience and cliff notes from the internet. I do cover incubating in another blog on here. But in the end I hatched two more roosters and three of four more hens. I was ecstatic!!! We used the brooder box in the house (not a good idea btw makes a mess and can get stinky) then moved them to a transition coop we built in the roost. It is all framed out and lined with chicken wire so everyone can see everyone.
I had brought my new birds out to the coop and placed them sin the transition coop until I felt they were big enough to mix. Then came the disaster. My moms dog broke out of her pin and found the coop and killed every single chicken I had except for two barred rocks..... And the ones protected by the transition coop I had built... I was crushed. I did have some in the incubator but hadn't mastered my technique to feel okay with the few chickens I had left. It changed the dynamic of my flock by far and now I had three rooster to 6 hens. Not a good ratio btw. But I gave them plenty of room and worked overtime on the incubator and kept my fingers crossed..... Wouldn't know know they all hatched... I had the incubator full I might of even had my second one at that point and my lunch hatched around 80 babies last spring. I was able to replenish my flock traded the overage of roosters.... Downsized the overages on the hens... Now the breeds I had at that point were
Road island red
And my own mix the tetra tint. When I had the original flock I had my white leghorn hens and my road island red rooster. When you mix the breed you end up with a tetra tint. Now a lot of times mixing is mixing you now have a barn yard mix. But what I love about the tetras is you have the dependability of the egg laying from the white leg horn but now you also have a meatier bird from the mix wight the road island red. Beautiful combination with white chicks with either or both red highlights in feathers or black spots ( kinda like a Dalmatian ) beautiful hens I have to say.
Overall I have fallen in love with all the different breeds that I have and have made plans to add more or have added to the flock over the past few months.
Silver laced Wyandotte
And hopefully bringing back my white leghorns for those wonderful white eggs.
I also hope to expand our farm and the blog to also cover Guinea fowl and turkey's!!! It's an amazing experience going back in time it can feel at times and learning to appreciate all of the simpler things in life. I LOVE my chickens and think to some have already establish the chicken lady. Not the most appealing title but you know what... you are what you enjoy!! H
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The eggs when you decide to collect you can collect for up to 10 days. DO NOT collect one day and put them in the incubator and keep adding more each day. Your hatch will not only fail but not turn out so well. Wait and collect all of them for no more than 10 days then you can set them to hatch. Everyone has there own way of hatching and guidelines they prefer for you to follow. But what I will go over is my preferred process and what I have learned from my personal experiencing to help hatch healthy happy chickens.
I pick a day about 10 days before I am going to set my eggs. The day before I am going to set them I like to put my incubators on at 99.9 degrees for a test run for 24 hours and make sure they are maintaining the right temperature for the eggs. This was probably the biggest thing I have learned with hatching. The first few hatches I did read about the temperature, but I was so anxious to get them going I skipped this first step and fail quite a few times. You may still have them hatch if you do not do this but the success rate of the hatch will be lower. But making sure your incubator is maintaining that 99.9 then you know they are ready for your eggs.
The next thing for you to consider is the humidity. This is another things to keep an eye on and I do recommend using a hydrometer to make sure the humidity does not raise before it's supposed to. The first 18 days the humidity does not need to exceed around 50% you do want some humidity but to much will drown the babies before they even have a chance. So using something to maintain this or at least keep track of it will most defiantly help in the long run. The last few days of the hatch around day 18 you want to raise the humidity in your incubators to 80% and can do it a few different ways depending on the type of incubator that you have. Some have the bottom sectioned for more or less water to help raise and drop the humidity. Some come already with the sponges to help. What I have found useful for mine since my incubators are basic still airs.The last few days for mine I use a kitchen sponge and a very shallow dish. I fill the dish with water and place the sponge in the container that it fits perfectly in. I had a lot of trial and error with this because if chick finds the dish they will go in it and if there is any space between the sponge and the container the babies can drown. The first time it happened to me I was devastated. But just like everything else in life it was all trial and error. Issues related to poor incubation are
- Crook neck
- Deformed toes
- Late hatch
- Eggs that fail to hatch
- As well as many others
The next things that you want to look at with incubating is turning. The eggs need to be turned a minimum of 3 times a day. This is to help make sure the embryo in the egg does not become stuck to the wall of the shell making it harder for the baby chicks to hatch. This can cause a few different problems
- Failure to hatch
- Early death in egg
- Crook neck
- Spraddle leg
For me personally I set a alarm and make sure I rotate around 4 times a day until day 18. When you go to flip the eggs try to do it as quick as possible without harming the eggs. But the longer you leave in incubator open the lower the temperature will drop. The more inconsistent the temperature are the more possible health issues you could have with your hatch. Some people try to skip this step all together by investing in automatic egg turners or even home make incubators I have seen knobs or pulleys that help swivel the shelf to help rotate the position of the eggs. Keep in mind if you are using a egg turner the egg should be placed large bottom up to ensure the air pocket sets correctly to help for an easy hatch. If you are not and are in fact turning the eggs yourself you want to make sure you mark the eggs on one side. You can use X,O,A,B,C what ever shape or letter you choose but it will help when you are turning to make sure you were able to turn each egg. You want to continue your turning schedule until day 18. Once you reach day 18 I call it lock down. You want to make sure you have everything done and won't have to touch the eggs again until they hatch.
Candling the eggs is another point to cover because I made my mistakes with this one as well. It is very anticipating especially the first time hatching. You just want to see if they are growing. Trust me I couldn't stop checking them and that is where I went wrong. I would take a second more than I should have when it came time to turn them and I was fascinated. Honestly being a women who had a kid and all I wanted was to see my daughter growing. This is Mother Nature at its best and it is very hard to not be curious every step of the way. With saying this I have created my own system of checking to try to not disturb the babies as much as possible. You can see growth as early as 4 days, but I honestly recommend only checking them 2 times within your 21 days. The first time I check them is at 14 days, what I look for is dead or undeveloped eggs, and one of the big signs of death is a solid red ring and no veins, that is a definite indications of death inside the egg. I can go over some of these points a little more in later posts. But one of the reasons for checking is because YES a bad egg can explode in the incubator. So day 14 check all the eggs, look for
- Good air sacks
- And good veins
The second time I check them is right before lock down. I look to see that all the eggs are developing the same, again looking for those things listed above, and making sure I do not leave any dead eggs in the incubator before hatch day. I can also post some examples and pictures of all of the above during my next incubation.
This is now also around day 18-20 to set up the brooder box and lamp for your babies to be and make sure the box has had time to warm up before hatch day!!
The last thing to cover is the day of the hatch. Just with like all of the above, playing Mother Nature can be tricky at times. The eggs need to stay at 80% humidity preferable until they have hatched. In the beginning I did not realize how much a drop the incubator takes every time you open it. What I noticed is after it had been opened, pipped baby chicks can dry out inside the egg from the lack of the humidity and completely fail to hatch. I have had hatches take up to two days and have had to open it to takes out some of the babies but you want to try to keep it to a minimum. Once a baby chick has hatched and rested and dried it can become a nuisance to the other hatching chicks and can possibly knock around the eggs to the point of hindering the other hatches. My rule is I wait until I have at least 6 to pull out leaving at least 2 that are wet in the incubator before I pull any of them out. And this is for two reasons.
- Leaving a hatched chick inside the incubator can help promote the others to hatch. The ones outside the eggs will peep to the ones inside the eggs encouraging them to hatch.
- Leaving some inside the incubator helps raise the humidity back up after it has been opened. I'm not 100% on the science of why but after dozens of hatches it's a general observation.
Another note to cover with hatching day is helping them hatch. This is something I have tried but honestly you can do more harm than good with this one. The hatching process itself is a big step into the world for a baby chick. They push and push with there legs till they finally hatch, there for the more you help the less work they do the weaker possible chicken you are now hatching. Sometimes there are just reasons they don't hatch. I have been here I have had the one that sat for so long and I tried to help and once it finally hatched I realized something was wrong with it. Not to mention you can hurt there ability to walk by helping and in the end they end up dying anyways. So my advice is let them do as much as possible with as little human intervention as possible. The same with eggs that have started to dry out, helping can effect them in bad ways, so if anything try to raise the humidity and give it time and hope for the best.
Over all it can be very rewarding and exciting hatching your very own baby chicks. To have a hands on experience and see everything from start to finish is an amazing thing to see. If you have any other questions about this topic feel free to ask!! Happy Hatching!!
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
- Dry Beans
- Dry rice
- Spicy Foods
- Sunflower Seeds
- Oyster Shells
- Corn (for the colder months)
- I add Soy from time to time
- Dried Fruit
When the chicks are little that have very simple needs.
- Safe place
- And some tlc if you want to handle them when they are bigger
I personally prefer my boxes that we built. Solid bottom and sides and a wood top we made with chicken wire in the center for ventilation. I also use pine chips for the bedding; Now you don't have to use pine chips but for me I find it to be the cleanest. You can use straw, sand, pine chips, news paper what ever works for you. I do use news paper when hatching but when you buy them from the store you don't have to because they normally put the baby birds in pine chips already so they are used to it. Just keep in mind because not everywhere will it tell you this but baby chicks will make a mess...not only of the box they are in but they kick up dust so if you plan to keep them in the house it will be messy and dusty.
Keeping you baby chickens clean is also very important for good heal of your babies. Inspect them on a regular basis and look for things that may seem not so right. For example baby chicks and there fluffy little feathers can get pasty butt where the poop can build up on the little ones back end and block it's vent. Now if you have done your reasearch you will know a chicken has one place where everything comes from the waste and the egg both come from the vent. But with pasty butt the poop will dry and harder making it impossible for the chick to go to the bathroom resulting in death. Now sometimes baby chicks just pass away, it can happen but the best way to keep a all of your baby chicks is make sure you maintain there area. Clean food and water is also necessary on a daily basis, the chicks can and will make a mess of both so take the time to throughly clean the containers with a bottle brush and soap to prevent any illnesses.
Now the next question is what to feed these little guys? This is one thing that I feel is very important because without the right nutrition they will not grow to there full potential, you can not feed a baby chick layer feed. Layer feed has calcium for laying birds and baby chicks do not need the calcium until they are at least 4-5 months old. The over load of calcium will kill the baby chicks because there bodies have no way to untilize the calcium. The first few weeks they need to be on a starter grower feed that is portioned just for them and high in protein. After the first few week on a starter grower you feed them the grower finisher which is a little different than the starter grower but better for them at the juveniles stage, they are not babies anymore but not layers yet. Once they are about 4-5 months old you can start to introduce the layer feed. I personally especially if at this point I may be able to integrate them with an existing flock I mix the feed for the first month. I will do half grower finisher and half layer and as the weeks go by I use less and less finisher until they are on the layer 100%. You can decide to do your layer feed one of two ways. You can buy layer feed from the feed store or mill in your area, or you can mix your own. I like knowing what goes into my birds and like the thought of fresh grain so the diet for my birds I have changed and modified over the past year. I also choose to grow fodder for my hens. It is not a necessity but I like giving my birds a wide variety. I am very stern for baby birds but the older hens I have to say are spoiled.
Ultimately how you want to raise your babies can go one of many ways. Weather you have ordered them for food and only plan to raise once they reach weight. Or you want to add eggs and meat to your farm with a variety of meat and egg laying birds. To getting fancy fathered, top hat, entertainment birds to give your family hours of fun and enjoyment. I love my birds and have found so much joy in raising them. If anyone has any questions or topics they have questions about feel free to ask.
Monday, February 1, 2016
The biggest things with getting any animal that you haven't had before is the research. I did soooo much research about chickens and there health. I was almost a chicken textbook by the time I was done. I went from learning to care for hens, cleaning, health,to incubating, hatching, raising, sexing, more learning. I am now hatching well over 100 since last spring. I plan to go over everything I have learned with my perspective and what I experienced. There is so much information out there and so many different ways people want to do things I still change things from time to time just to see if something works better.
My hens I allow to free range. I have the room so for me it is not a problem. I like the fact they have access to insects and I feel having them roam cam be good for my property. If you have them in a smaller area they can tear threw the ground very quickly. My run for instance does not have any grass, the run is the first thing the girls pick threw, but with having so much room my yard has not had any major damage. I have there roost room set up as well as the transition cage we built. I like to allow new birds a place to stay safe but still can see all of the other birds. Since I free range it also helps with training them that this coop is there home so when I do let them out they come back. My nesting boxes are set up with plastic tubs with a bar in front for support and use hay for the nest bedding. For me this has worked great and I have had very clean eggs. I was using pine shaving before for the floor but I have to say when it is time to clean my large coop it was a big job. So I recently changed to sand. I find it works so much better and it can be easier to clean. The best way to keep a healthy flock is to keep a clean area for them. In my opinion free ranging helps, they are not cooped up all day to make such a mess in the hen house. If you do have a smaller flock I would recommend a movable tractor coop just to help give them a clean area every few days when you move it.
Chickens can be such a rewarding addition to your family. Not only for the adults but for the kids as well. Letting the kids learn the simple ways life used to be, where our food actually comes from. The way things are now the thought of where is lost. Honestly anything you buy in the store do you really know what's in it? Do you know what the animal ate? Raising your own you do. I know that when I set my kids down for a meal what they are eating and for a mother it's very comforting. So do some reasearch or read my blogs and I can go over some simple steps to owning your own flock!
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Two years ago we all started over. I started back over as a single mom at 25 with my beautiful 2 year old daughter clueless of where to go next. Over time my now fiancé, my mother, and myself moved away and found a place we now call home. My mother is a retired navel veteran who I care for her and her many pets, and my fiancé is a loving amazing father of two handsome little boys and together we decided to try to live a simple life. We wanted to get away from the hectic schedules and fast pace of the city and moved miles away to the country. We now live on a amazing 20 Acer property I helped my mom find. My fiancé and I take care of the animals as well as the house and anything else she can't. I am a stay at home mom now but trying to go back to school for agriculture, and my fiancé works and goes to school for business. Things can be crazy sometimes with so many people in the house but at the same time it's a joy to have the space and family so close.
Being out here I have learned so much, so many projects we have going at one time one the property it's nice to share what I have learned. We have kennels, goats, chickens, and ducks on our property and hope to add more things as times goes, and to think we only started with one hen and our dogs. I want to try to cover a lot of things I have learned over the past two years as well as share new things we will be doing on the farm. I am always open to new ideas things to try differently, we are always in a state of constant change and always trying to improve things. In the next few months I hope to let this blog grow!!!