Chickens, Journal Style Posts

Eggs For Days!!!

I love going outside every afternoon and collecting eggs from the coop. It makes me smile each time I see a pile of eggs.They are so pretty. I thought Barred Rock hens laid white eggs, I googled it because I thought my sweet girl wasn’t laying, NOPE, she lays the most beautiful dark brown eggs.

I get every shade of brown and I love it.

They even lay eggs in the blue barrel that I filled with bedding as a spot to escape from the sun. This is by far the hardest spot to get eggs from because they lay them all the way in the back of the barrel so, I have to crawl in there to get them. I will eventually cut out a flap and put it on hinges so I can get the eggs a bit easier.

Hubby has decided that we need to expand when Autumn comes. It’s way too hot to do anything until then. He has decided that we need to extend the run, fix the shed next to the coop and turn it into the new coop and then, rip out the old coop. I am okay with this because I wanted to make the shed into the coop to begin with, but he wanted to build one. In case you are completely lost because this is the first post you have ever seen, this is our current setup.

These pictures are rather old so I will also include more pictures of the inside of the run.

They have of course been digging since I took these pictures because they like to dig holes and get down to the cooler Earth and just lay all sprawled out in these holes they dig. I will take some new pictures when I get a free minute. The tires were supposed to be dust baths, but they prefer to make their own, which is fine. This is their home and I want them happy and comfortable.

We also flood one half of the coop almost daily and they absolutely love it because they can walk around in the puddles to cool off and then once all of the water soaks in, they go digging for worms and bugs. They also turn the compost piles because all kinds of insects surface when the piles are nicely soaked.

I keep eggs on the skelter (the actual name of the rack I bought, which happened to arrive the day they started laying.)

I get some crazy big eggs, this one was a triple yolk egg. My very first eggs were double yolks.

They always investigate when I come collect eggs. They don’t seem to care that I’m taking them, but I think they want to know if I brought them some goodies so, they come check. I usually give them some kind of treats when I come collect eggs. It keeps Chicken Little from being a major jerk.

He’s ridiculous. He hides under a hen because he knows I am the boss, but he has been a hormonal teenager lately and starts puffing up and coming after me when I am not looking.

He got me pretty good today. When he acts crazy and aggressive, I have a lovely trick to put him back in his place in the pecking order. I usually tote him around under one arm and make sure his women see that he’s not able to boss me around, but that just wasn’t cutting it today. Today, I did what he does to a hen when he puts them back in their place. I grabbed him pressed him to the ground holding the feathers on the back of his neck. I want to be VERY clear, he wasn’t harmed at all. He wasn’t happy, but he settled down. I let him go and about 10 minutes later as I am raking up the run, he fluffed up again, I started flapping my arms and stomping my feet and he walked away and pretended to eat a stick. Since then whenever he decides he is a big bad rooster, I just do the rooster dance and flap my arms and stomp my feet and he remembers that I’m bigger, but I am not going to hurt him or the hens he is so good about protecting. He crows at every bird, the mailman, the UPS driver, the FedEx driver, and he crows every single time the back door opens. Even if it’s 2 am and I’m letting Miss Mia out to go potty. He crows. I never have to worry about him being lazy and not watching out for his girls. He even brings them goodies he finds and he has a special little chirpy sound he makes when he’s happy or has found something tasty.

A few hours after I put him back in his place, I went to put them to bed because someone’s field was burning and a storm was rolling in and it was calling for hail. He did his usual crow at me once I entered, but then he saw I had oatmeal muffins (I make these specifically for the chickens so there is no sugar in them.) He got all chirpy and when I held one out, he came and started eating out of my hand. I scooped him up and put him inside of the coop with his muffin and all the girls followed. Once they were secure for the night, I brought the rest of the muffins into the coop for everyone else to enjoy because I put them to bed before their normal time. They have a window and I moved the feeders into the coop for the night because it will be raining all night and all day tomorrow. They have water both inside and outside of the coop. So even if they stay inside the coop tomorrow’s because of the rain, they won’t go hungry at all and their food won’t get soaked. I really need to find a covered feeder that won’t get nasty when it rains. If anyone has suggestions, I am in need of suggestions.

Chicken Little is my sweet boy normally. He just gets feisty sometimes. He’s a Buff Sebright Bantam so he will never really be big. He will also never be slaughtered for behaving like a rooster. He does an amazing job protecting his girls, but he will eventually get spurs and his beak will become sharp enough to break skin and draw blood. So, I nip his bad behavior towards me in the bud the minute it starts. I am not going to be intimidated by a tiny bird, but I am also not going to hang him upside down because this could collapse his lungs and harm him. I am never going to hurt him before I am quite attached to him. He was the tiniest little chick and he was adorable.

He was so small. He still is small, but he is still my favorite because Hubby swore up and down that teenie tiny little chick would never survive the night. He turned out to be my only rooster. The other suspected rooster laid an egg in front of me one day and I was absolutely shocked. She’s a total sweetheart now.

Also, if anyone is curious, my accidental Cornish cross is still alive. She is still able to walk and run. She is also still in the laundry room until fall rolls around because it’s just too hot for her. She’s laying regularly, one egg a day and they are the coolest eggs ever. The first egg was almost white, then she started laying brown eggs. Some are speckled and some are just brown. When we upgrade the shed into the new coop, she’s getting her very own section of both the coop and run. I don’t trust the flock to not bully her. She goes outside and I let her visit and I give everyone grass and scratch grains so they eat right next to each other. Sometimes I bring her in the run and as long as they aren’t pecking her backside I let her get integrated into the pecking order SLOWLY. She will never be able to live unattended with the flock because they see her as injured because she prefers to lie down and eat and is quite lazy. Instead she will have her own space right next to everyone else, but with fencing in between. She also doesn’t roost and sleeps in a burrowed out sort of nest in the bedding. I will also be able to regulate her food intake if she’s separated from the flock. She will eat until she cant walk. I have been regulation her food intake and she does get treats just like the rest of the flock, but she doesn’t get to eat all day long and she doesn’t have access to a large full flock feeder. She would eat the entire thing. Once she does get to a point where she’s not living her best life, we will put her down as humanely as possible. Until then, she’s a happy girl and loves chasing grasshoppers around the yard in the early evening just as the sun is setting. If she goes broody, I will get her some fertilized eggs to sit on. She has already outlived her normal lifespan. I spoke with a few other homesteaders who kept Cornish Cross hens because they accidentally ended up with them. One lasted a year before her health started to go downhill another lived 5 years in the same setup we are planning on giving her, and another lived until she was 3 years old. So, I’m hoping for the best and prepared for anything. She loves being outside, but she can’t be in the current temperatures without struggling and likely dying from it. I make sure she gets fresh air every single day. She’s friends with the cats and Miss Mia loves to sniff her. I can leave the crate door open and she doesn’t try to run out. She stands in the doorway clucking at me to hurry up with her food, water or cleaning up her home. She has a dustbath (a low sided cat box with the same soil the flock dustbathes in in the run) she has a nest box, she sleeps in it and lays her eggs there. Then she has the rest of the extra large crate to scratch for scratch grains or freeze dried mealworms. She’s got her own ac vent and loves to sit next to it when it’s hot outside. She will NEVER be food. I don’t eat meat. Hubby agreed with me since she greets him every day after work she clucks her happy clucks at him and he talks to her. I am home all day so I go sit with her so she isnt lonely. Sometimes she comes out and sits next to me and we chat. I will be extremely sad when her time comes, but she’s had a good life no matter what.

I’m hopeful that when she molts, all the purple from the Blu-kote will be gone and she will be beautiful and all fluffy white again. She was inside of the run and the rest of the flock was doing their own thing and leaving her alone. It was nice. I think she will be much happier once we get the shed converted and she can be outside with the flock, but protected from the flock. When she’s gone, the space we make for her will be used for new chicks, quarantine for injuries (sick chickens will come inside in the laundry room in the dog crate)

Well that’s all the news I have, except for replacing the well pump… yet again. It was under warranty and now the new one has another 3 years of warranty so, we won’t have to pay if it happens again as long as it happens before 3 years are up.

Until next time…

Reviews of Products and/or Companies

Panda Planner Review

I have been looking for a planner to help me keep track of everything, life related and Homestead related. I saw an advertisement for a planner on Facebook and they had a 10% off coupon deal going so I went to look at it. For some unknown reason, I could not, for the life of me, get that code to work from the Facebook post. I decided to contact the company for assistance and I had honestly just given up and messaged them a second time saying never mind about the assistance because it just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. The following day, they messaged me back with a link for a free planner. I was absolutely shocked because I had planned on paying for it, but had just gotten frustrated with the discount code. I clicked the link and they shipped me a free planner. This is seriously amazing customer service to start with, but the planner arrived today and oh my goodness it’s perfect. I want to make it very clear that I receive absolutely nothing for posting this review. They sent me a free planner because I couldn’t get a discount code to work (I sent screenshots of the error messages from Amazon. I really couldn’t figure it out.) So, let me show you this awesome planner.

They come in different colors, but this was the one they had the Facebook special on that day. I don’t care what color it is.

If you look really closely you can see the panda head logo is embossed into the cover. This is a hardcover planner and it’s really well made.

The very first page has tips on how to use the planner and the website listed at the top. It is printed on 100% recycled paper!!! Yay!! No wastefulness and recycling makes me happy.

It has 3 sections (the pages do fold flat, but I was doing this with one hand so they look like they aren’t bound properly. I assure you they are bound straight and this is my weirdness.

So there’s monthly, weekly, and daily sections (daily only has pages for 90 days, but monthly and weekly are 6 months and 14 weeks) so. If you are the kind of person who wants as new planner on a regular basis like myself, it’s absolutely perfect. They have weekly planners and yearly ones as well. So, if you want one, I would strongly suggest looking at the specifics for each. Some people prefer an entire year in one planner, but I would get bored with that quickly. I actually like the 90 day planner. Hubby wanted a yearly one.

It is completely undated, which is really nice because I really suck at keeping up with a planner.

Each section is divided so you can easily find where they begin.

They even included bookmark ribbons to mark the month, week, and day and each is a different color so, it’s easy to see which is which.

I am excited about this because I may actually be able to keep up with this planner because it has everything I need and it is easy to make lists, add in reminders, appointments, and even a spot for daily notes.

There are a handful of blank note pages in the back, with grid dots, which I love because I sketch out designs for garden beds, additions to the coop, and other stuff for the Homestead. I keep a stash of graph paper in my purse, but this is so much more convenient.

This is an amazing thing right here. Pockets are always helpful, but this one has fabric instead of just paper. It will actually last through being crammed full of receipts, warranties that are waiting to be filed away, and even scraps of paper with doodles. Additionally there is an elastic strap to hold the book closed when it’s tossed in a bag, a drawer, or wherever you keep a planner.

I have always been a journal keeper and I have kept up with them religiously, but my journals are completely blank so I can draw, paint, or jot down my dreams when I wake up or my goals, thoughts, feelings whenever the mood strikes. With a planner, it’s more about organization and time management and I have always had issues with time management. I have lists everywhere to remind me what needs to be purchased, tasks to be completed, I have a calendar on the fridge and another in my phone, but that’s the furthest thing from organized. This is exactly what I have been looking for during my search for a planner. There are oodles of different colors, some planners are dated, some are un-dated, but they have so many options available.

Panda Planner was also kind enough to give me a discount code for ALL of their products (this is NOT the same code I used and had issues with when I tried to order.) The code is entered at checkout on Amazon (I tested it prior to this post.)

Please feel free to share it. I have already filled out all of the months and weeks for my planner. I have also filled in birthdays, holidays, appointments, special occasions and everything else I need to keep track of for the year. I ordered another one for hubby for racing because he has a spiral notebook he has been using and he hates it. He has already said that this planner looks like it will hold up better being tossed about in the trailer and the toolbox at the track. Again, ai receive absolutely nothing for writing this review. I truly believe that this planner is amazing and extremely well made. If you are looking for one, I highly recommend this one. I do wish it had sleeves for business cards or something like that and an address book section because I am constantly losing everyone’s addresses. I will probably suggest this to them, but I am happy without those things because I can easily shove business cards into the pocket in the back and write addresses in the notes section.

Until next time…

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

First Eggs

I went out this evening to check water levels in the waterers before putting the flock to bed. I had about 45 minutes of light left before the sun fully set so, I went out to the coop. I opened the coop door and thank goodness I was paying attention because I found an egg on the coop floor. I immediately checked the nesting boxes, which are kitty litter buckets with the lid cut off at the hinged part. The remainder of the lid keeps the nesting material inside of the bucket when it’s laid on its side. Inside one of the nesting boxes was the second egg. I didn’t have my phone with me so, I grabbed both eggs and actually ran inside. (well, sort of ran) I showed hubby the eggs and he was just as shocked as I was to see eggs.

They are apparently large according to the members of the Homesteading groups I am in on Facebook. They weren’t dirty and they were just perfect and smooth with no weird flaws. The brown smears are mud from my hands because I grabbed the waterer before I saw the eggs and the waterer is always muddy because of the spot where I fill them being somewhat muddy.

I had purchased an adorable egg rack for the kitchen counter on Prime Day on Amazon and it arrived today as well. Absolutely perfect timing for it’s arrival.

My first two eggs fit perfectly in the rack. I plan on numbering or dating them with a sharpie as they do not need refrigeration unless I wash them. I want to make sure I know how old they are. The brown paper is unbleached parchment paper and covers the built in grill area of my ancient stove to keep crumbs and dust from gathering in that area, which means I don’t have to clean it daily. The other section is a ventilation fan and hot air from outside blows in through the vent so, I keep it covered to avoid the heat coming inside.

Hubby also brought me home two 55 gallon black plastic barrels today from work. I will have to clean and sanitize them of course, but they will become rain catchment barrels, which will become a gigantic chicken watering station once I get everything set up.

Friday is Hubby’s birthday and Saturday is race day, (he races Racesaver 305 Sprints) so, I will have to work quickly to get the coop cleaned up, new roosts installed as well as additional nesting boxes. I also have a roll of shade cloth that my lovely mother in law randomly brought me so I am going to create some shady spots for them to hang out under because it is just way too hot.

Hubby’s truck measures the heat index and he took this after his truck had been running for a few minutes and the air conditioning had cooled to ice cold. (It was reading much higher before the truck was running) this is just too hot to be out in the sun. The run has the entire top covered, which does create shade, but they hang out in the coop or under the coop door during the hottest part of the day. The coop does have a rather large window, which is covered in EXTREMELY thick fencing with square holes. It’s too big for rabbit fencing so, I think it’s called hog fencing. No clue honestly but it is nice and secure. I will shutter the window when colder temperatures start, but right now it creates a nice airflow and the temperature of the coop isn’t sweltering hot.

This is an old picture. We completely secured this piece of fencing with weird screws that have washers secured to the screw head. I have no idea what they are called, but they work great. We also attached a shutter so the coop doesn’t get soaked when it rains. I can easily run out and shut it within a minute or two and when we get strong winds, I shut it and make sure they are not being battered by the wind.

Originally I repurposed an old wooden ladder as roosts because the flock was still small. Now they are much bigger and they fight a lot over who gets to roost on top or on the paint can shelf of the ladder. Our solution is to take “L” shaped shelf brackets and use planks of wood we already have and have everyone roosting at the same height. No more fights about who is up higher.

These fights resulted in poor Chicken little ending up with a blood caked comb.

It scared me until I took a closer look and realized it was blood and dirt. Much to his dismay, I took him inside and gently cleaned him up with some warm water and a bunch of q-tips. I then applied Vetericyn (no purple dye), which is a first aid spray. (I sprayed it on a cotton round, not directly on him.) He’s all healed up now, but one injury is too many.

I have learned a lot about chicken first aid and like the Vetericyn spray much better because it doesn’t contain dye and it’s safer than Blu-kote from what I understand. I am not an expert by any means, but I do prefer to NOT have purple chickens.

He still crows a lot and still sounds rather ridiculous. I know when the UPS truck pulls in, I know when the garbage men come, I know when FedEx comes, I even know when the neighbor’s dog comes to pee all over our yard. He greets me and hubby every time we are outside. I know if I hear him crowing, something is going on outside and I peek outside to check on them. He is still snuggly and still adorable. I love them all.

Until next time….

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

Homestead Update

It has been nonstop busyness on the homestead. First a chicken update. The are getting so big and should start laying soon.

It has been extremely hot so, ai try to give the flock lots of fresh fruits and veggies with a high water content after they have had breakfast, which is regular flock grower feed. They love it and I know no one is going to dehydrate because of the high liquid content of watermelon. Now, to be clear, they don’t get a chicken smorgasbord every single day. They do get something to help hydrate and get them plenty of fluids. Some days it will be a block of ice with corn or berries, other days a tray of veggies and fruits. Every single day it’s really hot, I pop a frozen bottle of water into their waterers to try and keep it cool. I also freeze gallons of water and place them inside the coop so they can lean against the frozen gallons if it’s just too hot.

Sometimes, they just get half of a nice cold watermelon. (I slice the bottom so it sits flat and stays a bit cleaner.)When they are finished with their treat, it goes directly into one of the two compost piles that are inside of the run. This is their favorite activity because they can dig through these piles and discover all sorts of tasty little morsels. Everything from scratch grains that I raked up to juicy little insects. Grasshoppers are their favorite crunchy snack.If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know about the two accidental meat chickens. If you haven’t, when I bought my chicks from Tractor Supply, all of the straight run chicks were mixed together, meaning the straight run bin contained layers, bantams, and even meat chickens. I ended up with two accidental meat chickens, which were brutally bullied by the rest of the flock. One died of either heat exhaustion or her heart gave out and the other is living her best life in an extra large metal wire dog crate in my laundry room/mud room.She goes on a daily adventure outdoors for fresh air time and grazing time. This is what happens when I take her outside.

She’s very spoiled and very sweet. She wouldn’t survive the heat. We got up to 110° F (43° C) this week and she would have died in that heat because she would rather dehydrate than walk the couple of feet to get water. I keep a waterer with me when she’s outside and it’s moved around so it’s always in reach. Inside she has an ac vent right next to the crate and she has a piece of cardboard directing the airflow into the crate. The corner next to the vent is her favorite spot because she can watch me when I’m in the kitchen from that vantage point. She has also made friends with Fizzgig and Gizmo and Miss Mia goes to check on her every time she makes any noises. She’s officially a pet now and will never be food.

Other projects that have happened on the Homestead include sprouting seeds, grains, and lentils for the chickens. (and lentils for my own enjoyment)

I purchased these sprouting trays on Amazon and have been soaking everything in old sauce jars in the kitchen window.

I am even trying birdseed out of curiosity.

The next project will be fermenting the chicken feed. The reasoning behind fermenting involves multiple reasons. The first reason and the reason I know fermented chicken feed exists happened because it rained and the feed in the run got soaked. I wanted to be absolutely certain that it was safe for them to eat this wet feed. So, I dumped it out of the feeder onto a metal baking sheet after doing my research. While searching for an answer, I came across hundreds of posts about fermenting feed and I was intrigued.

What I learned was this, not only is it safe for chickens to eat wet feed as long as it isn’t moldy, fermented feed has a number of benefits when done properly. The chickens absorb more nutrients from the fermented feed and get probiotics into their system from the fermented feed, but it also saves money and cuts down on the amount of wasted feed from them kicking, scratching, and generally knocking feed onto the ground below the feeder. To ferment the feed, you fill a food grade 5 gallon plastic bucket a third of the way full, add water, stir, wait a bit, add more water, stir, and then loosely cover so it can release the gasses formed by the fermentation process (think of it like bread rising, the feed expands while absorbing the water.) Let it sit for 3 days and then feed to the flock. There’s a little bit more to it, but I will make another pot and I may take video so you can watch the process step by step.

I will leave you all with a picture of Fizzgig (white and gray) and Gizmo (calico) and the wonderful news that our youngest of seven kiddos graduated from high school on June 1st, 2019. He graduated with honors, president’s honor roll (3.5 to 4.0 GPA), and membership in the National Honor Society. We couldn’t be more proud of him.

Until next time….

Chickens

More Chicken Adventures

I have been so busy trying to keep the coop clean, keep the run clean, and finding ideas for shade for my chickens. So, I am going to share what I have learned.

First, Sweet PDZ is freaking amazing.

I purchased two bags from Tractor Supply (I bought all they had) and sprinkled about two cups in the problem areas of the coop I sort of mixed it into the bedding so it was spread from the floor to the top by the time I was finished. I was being attacked by flies, mosquitoes, and gnats while I was doing this. An hour later, I went back into the coop because I had to spread some fresh bedding before Cheep Cheep Bedtime. Oh my gawd. The difference was beyond amazing. The smell was gone, the flying annoyances were gone, and I smelled absolutely nothing except for the pine shavings. I will never be without this amazing stuff again. This bag was around $8.00 I believe. It worked so quickly to reduce odor and moisture.

I also built the flock a hidey hole.

My youngest kiddo helped by cutting half of the bottom of the barrel off and then filing down rough edges. Then, he drilled holes in the bottom in the 5 pattern on dice for drainage just in case rainwater blows into the hidey hole.

When that was completed, I washed the barrel thoroughly with soap and water and then dried it. I added a nice fluffy layer of fine cut pine shavings and sweet PDZ. Then we put it in place in the run and added a cinderblock on each side so it would stay in place and no rolling away. I think the best part is that perching on top of it is rather difficult because it’s both rounded and a smooth surface. They will eventually figure out how to perch on it, but for now, it will stay poop-free. I also added a nice flat rock in front of it so they had a bit of a step to get inside easier. A few jumped in and right back out, but they were all interested.

While all of this was being inspected, I scooped up Chicken Little for a quick snuggle. He was so mad at me when I put him down. I think I may have embarrassed him in front of all of his women.

While I was at Tractor Supply, I picked up the next two stages of feed, oyster shell for added calcium, two 5-gallon buckets so, I can start fermenting their feed, and another waterer because temperatures are rising in Oklahoma.

I also grabbed a bag of scratch grains because the run is pretty much just dirt now and I wanted them to have something to scratch for. I bring in oodles of weeds and grasses every day for them.

I made them a dedicated dustbath from a sprint car tire, which hubby was kind enough to fold in half for me because these tires are HUGE. This folded tire will not collect water at all. I have to get some sand, gather some ash from the fire pit, and add some peat, but it is getting there. They love the tire because it’s nice to perch on.

I raked the run and put everything into a pile, which they essentially compost for me because they dig through it and I rake it back up and then, this cycle is repeated until there’s nothing left except for soil.

They chase the rake back and forth through the run as I am raking because I usually end up causing grasshoppers to jump or worms to be above ground. They go absolutely crazy for grasshoppers.

At the end of each raking they have a fun pile to dig through to find bugs and other tasty bits.

I FINALLY GOT VIDEO!!! Chicken Little is developing his crow and he sounds like a squeaky toy when he crows and it is just freaking adorable. (This was taken before the run was raked so you can see just how messy it is)

They have so much personality and seem to love my phone. They are also very attracted to my mint green nails and constantly trying to eat them. My toenails were also amusement when I made the mistake of wearing flip flops one night to put them to bed. My toenails are Tiffany and Co blue so I’m guessing they looked tasty too because I had a lot of beaks pecking at my toes. I normally wear my muck boots or tennis shoes, but I was tired and too lazy to put on real shoes. Bad idea.

They also love to perch directly on my back or shoulders and peck at my hair ties. (Hubby mowed the yard the following day so it no longer looks like a jungle outside of the run)

We still need to finish mowing the property, but a storm was rolling in so he had to stop mowing.

I have a few more projects for the chicken run to include planting inside of the run so they always have access to fresh plant matter. This will help me because I wont have to collect weeds every single day for them to eat. I will be trying out a few different methods for planting inside of the run so, I will be sure to document the process. I am also going to attempt to transplant some bushes that are planted around the front porch to inside of the run. I know theh won’t eat these bushes and I am hopeful that they will take root and will be a nice place to provide shade for the chickens. If you haven’t noticed yet. My chickens are completely spoiled. I am doing everything possible to make sure they live happy, healthy lives while providing me with fresh eggs (they aren’t laying yet). I have been informed about bobcat, coyote, stray dog, hawk, owl, and raccoon attacks to friends with chickens who all live near me and they are all free ranging their chickens. I want mine to be completely safe so I am doing everything possible to keep them safe while also finding ways to provide them with fresh plants, plenty of crunchy bugs and squishy worms, and whatever else they need to have happy healthy lives. I don’t want them stuck in an existence of dirt and bedding so, I am looking for ways to plant inside of the run. I will be planting peas all around the run tomorrow so they will climb the fencing and the chickens can munch on fresh peas. I am looking for a way to do the same with other climbing plants so they have all sorts of tasty snacks at their disposal. Any suggestions for planting inside or right outside of the run are always welcome, just leave a comment or send an email.

Until next time….

Adventures, Chickens

The Coop Building Has Begun (Oops I forgot to publish this) from 2018

So, my whole body hurts and I am sunburned in weird places like the tops of my hands and the backs of my legs, but the chicken coop is starting to take shape. (Yes, I was nicely coated in sunblock and reapplied it several times, but I still burned.) Last weekend, we set the support posts into 3 foot holes, which I dug rather crookedly and we didn’t notice until after the posts were set.

I hate Oklahoma clay when digging is involved. Those holes may not look like much, but it was similar to digging through rock with a shovel. Hubby kindly explained, after I finished digging, that it’s easier to dig if you dump water in the holes. I worked really hard on those holes. It killed me when he told me just how crooked they were.

I mean, seriously, that’s a LOT of dirt. The wheelbarrow is bigger than I am when it leans against the garage. I am 5 ft. 1 in. In height. This was a huge accomplishment for me.

Hubby also decided I needed shade after taking one look at me. I became a lobster rather quickly. Those posts are shockingly level. The ground is not level, but the support posts are level.

Once the posts had a chance to settle for a few days, we started building the coop to line up with my crooked posts. None of us wanted to dig new holes. So, the walls went up first.

Remember how I said I was going to frame it with pallets, well Hubby decided that he was taking over my project and went out and bought a ton of plywood. Also, remember how crooked that cut on the compost tumbler door was, you will know exactly which parts I cut as you continue through the pictures. I was fully supervised with the power tools and saws freak me out. I wore my gloves and safety glasses because I don’t want splinters in my eyeballs.

As the walls went up, Hubby was walking around the coop slowly asking me how I planned on roofing it. I explained I wanted a slant roof with a slight overhang and a gap between the walls and roof, which I would close off from predators with construction fabric or this roll of fencing that has 1 inch square holes. This roll of fencing is extremely thick and he’s guessing it is meant for goats. He was thrilled I didn’t want a normal roof. I don’t think he wanted to try to frame out my crooked little square building.

See how uneven the ground is? He made the coop door for the chickens rather large. His reasoning was, what if two chickens want to leave at the same time? I couldn’t argue with that reasoning. Please, don’t panic about those gaps. The floor has not been built yet and this coop will be safe from predators. We are burying fencing almost 2 ft. out from the building walls and the floor will start with concrete pavers and then, plywood on top of the pavers secured to the walls with those L-shaped brackets used for industrial shelving. There are a few reasons behind this flooring design, but the main reason is to keep the inside of the coop dry. Because of the slope, rainwater would run right through the coop. With the concrete pavers, there will be space for water to flow through, but the coop floor will not get wet. The pavers we are using are almost 6 inches thick. They will also deter predators who manage to get past the fencing while digging. We will also be digging out the floor a bit to make it level prior to installing pavers.

I wanted a rounded top door, but once I tried cutting it with the jigsaw, I got maybe an inch cut and told hubby to make it a triangle. (I draw crooked too 😂 He was not happy when he realized I drew a crooked triangle for him to cut out) I’m not sure if you can see it, but each wall is two pieces of plywood, stacked on top of each other. This was necessary because the coop itself is about 5 1/2 feet tall. I can comfortably walk through the door, but everyone else has to duck.

The triangular topped door has some 2×4 boards as support because a plywood door is kind of flimsy. There are also 2×4 boards on the inside around the doorway because he wanted to make sure an animal couldn’t pull the door off easily. Also, the door will have to withstand Oklahoma winds, which can be 70 mph and higher. My neighbors were outside while we were building. (You can see their house, which is an acre away, in the 7th picture.) Her hubby will be over next weekend to assist and learn (He has never built anything either) because his wife decided she wants chickens over on her property. So, he’s going to help and then, when he starts building, we will help them because they are fabulous neighbors. We don’t have any other neighbors aside from a concrete prefabrication place (which is a little bit south of us, past her property and across the street from her and I have the School’s Agricultural Farm north of me.) So, we always help each other out whenever help is needed.

Hubby lined up the t-posts for the run just to see how big he wanted it. He wants it to go to the first tree right next to the nose of the truck. I know what you are thinking, that’s way too short of a fence for chickens and they will jump or fly over it. Not to worry, the run will be fully enclosed. I am taking pvc piping and arching it over the run area then, I have two dump truck covers (they are heavy duty mesh material) and they will go over top of the pvc arches. The run will be fully enclosed and the cover will provide shade because it is black. If you have no idea what I am talking about, think of a dump truck hauling sand, rock, or gravel, they have a tarp like cover over their load. That’s what I am using. Hubby brings me home the coolest things. He works on diesel engines so, he has access to some weird stuff, like dump truck covers that have minor fraying at the edges and are no longer deemed safe by the company. They throw them away or let mechanics take them for projects such as my chicken coop and run. He also brings me blue plastic 55 gallon drums, pallets, and I have a dump truck liner as well. (I am using that for another project.)

In between the coop and the shed that needs a new floor and some other minor repairs, I am building a greenhouse. Eventually, the shed will also be a chicken coop with both coops sharing a run. One coop for meat birds and the other for laying hens. I have all sorts of projects planned. They just take time and money so, I am building them slowly. I am extremely grateful I have a husband who can weld, has tools, and while he laughs at me because of how bad I am at building things, he is always willing to help me so, my projects end up being useful instead of junk. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. I couldn’t even lift a sheet of plywood on my own. The kiddos (two adults and a 17 yr old) are also willing to sacrifice their weekends to help their Momma. Their reasoning is, “Momma, you never ask for anything so, when you ask for help, we are all going to help you.”

Our 21 yr old daughter’s boyfriend was extremely helpful because he can lift plywood sheets and he was happy to help. He’s looking forward to helping with the fencing because he does fencing as a side job. So, it will definitely be done right since he knows how to build fences.

An unrelated update, the horses we were boarding have moved to their new home. Their dad bought 20 acres after falling in love with the quiet on our property. He was so excited about owning his own land, but promised to bring them by for visits when he takes them to the park, where the rodeos are held (it’s a beautiful set of arenas) because it’s free to use. He also promised to give them their favorite treat once in a while. (Brown sugar and cinnamon poptarts) Yes, they are junk food as far as horses are concerned, but they were skittish and would run from him every time he came to feed and groom them. Then, I gave them each half of my poptarts and he would pull in and they would be at the gate by the time he got out of his vehicle. They got excited to see anyone. They mostly got apples, carrots, pears from the pear tree, and other fruits and veggies, but on rare occassions, I would either hand him the poptarts if he was trimming hooves, or bring them out myself. They have turned into extremely social horses and never run from him anymore. They were lovingly spoiled while here. All animals are spoiled here because I can’t help it, I have to spoil all of the animals.

I will continue to post updates on the chicken coop and run until it is completed. Then, the greenhouse build, and the updates to the shed. I will be ordering chicks from the hatchery once the last freeze date passes. (Mid to late May) I will be posting oodles of pictures. I have to find a way to tell them apart because the hens and single rooster will have names. Any suggestions for identifying chicks and being able to tell them apart prior to feathering out? I thought about coloring a wing with food coloring, but I would need multiple colors and I would feel bad because that may be a shock to their little systems seeing their wing blue or purple or whatever. What do you name a chicken anyway? I thought about the seven dwarves, snow white, the queen, and the rooster as the huntsman, but my daughter wants to make one or two of them. We may name them after Harry Potter characters. I have still not decided on a breed either. Any suggestions for both extreme high temps and low temps? I want hardy chickens that can survive in snow. I will insulate the coop once it’s fully built.

Until next time….

Gardening, Journal Style Posts

The Homestead is Blooming

Remember those wooden shipping crates hubby brought home for me? Well, they are painted and have been planted.The salad blend is already sprouting. I planted this on Friday and it is Monday. I am so excited for fresh salad.I set aside two for benches for the front porch and this is one of the benches. The crates contained foam sheets because they were used for shipping windows and the foam protected the windows in transit. Well, a plastic coated tablecloth made the perfect cover. The benches are quite comfy.I have an entire bed dedicated to wildflowers and my lilies of course. The wildflowers are blooming, but I only have one bloom so far from the lilies.I love these. They are always some of the first to bloom each year.Not sure what these will be but they are everywhere to include the front yard.I took this picture because it always makes me happy to see this spot. This is where the air conditioning condensation overflow drains and I have a nice group of toads who love this spot because of the moss and the water. That hole in the middle looks shallow, but it is almost a foot deep with cool, clear water. There’s a 5 gallon bucket underneath this spot with holes drilled into the front in order to redirect the water away from the foundation of the house, which is basement walls in this spot. It works rather well and the spot retains that deep hole of water, which attracts the toads. I may create a fairy garden in this spot.I was very excited to find this in the wildflower bed because it is not something that I planted. This is bee balm and is also known as horse mint or wild bergamot. I left these where they were because I have a huge patch of it at the back of the property and I have a bunch currently drying for tea. Here are a few pictures I took when I started drying some I had gathered last week.I love finding ingredients for teas across the property. Fresh tea is so much better than boxed up little bags of chopped herbs and flowers that are who knows how old once you purchase them.

Chamomile, yet another flower for tea. (I planted these last year and again this year.)

A caterpillar was munching on this wildflower.

These are really tiny and grow in almost a tower formation, kind of like delphinium. I have no idea what they are called, but they are pretty.

Something was munching on these. I’m glad the caterpillars are getting fed.

A yellow wildflower in the Aster family.

This hasn’t fully bloomed , but it is cardinal flower. (I zoomed in so it looks much larger than it really is.)

This is everywhere in the pasture, but I found a lone plant in the wildflower bed. This is poison Hemlock. It’s pretty and is often confused with Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot). I have both growing on the property. I have to be very careful around this plant because I am particularly sensitive to the sap and it causes blisters to form on my skin almost immediately.

This lovely plant has been ripped out multiple times by my own hands and it just keeps coming back. It isn’t flowering, but it looks like a form of ivy and it definitely is not ivy. I let it grow because I thought it was ivy. Big mistake. This lovely aggressive little vine is actually mouse melon and it just popped up one year. The rabbits and birds love it so I try to tame it each year just enough to keep it from swallowing my bushes.

My solitary lily bloom.

This is the side of the garage. Every year, I dig up and transport these lilies to another spot and assume that they won’t come back again. Every year I find the side of the garage just like this.

Do you see the hornworm? (Hint hornworms are green)

I also finally got a picture of the tree branch we had to chop down with a chainsaw and a photo explaining why half of the tree had to go.

The half of the tree is currently drying out and the barn kitties have built little nests in the weeds and grasses under the branches. We will cut it into manageable chunks later.

It really was a huge chunk of tree.

So this is a hackberry tree. As you can see, it split down the center the section we cut down was to the right and the branches did not grow leaves when spring came. The section to the left is alive and well with plenty of leaves. The tree was hit by lightning and it split into two trees one died and one lived. We will eventually have someone come out and cut the entire tree down, but that dead section had to go before tornado season came. It was a threat to the dairy building, the garage, and the stalls. It’s down and no longer at risk of falling on anything. If the other side falls it will fall and hit another tree. No danger to buildings. We are looking into trees to plant for shade trees. (Hackberry trees suck so bad because they will completely dull a chainsaw blade.)

We also did the youngest kiddo’s graduation on Saturday and that was just insanity, with 1,204 graduates.

There were so many kids.

The crazy part was that this was only part of the class of 2019. The rest of them will participate in the second ceremony in Tulsa on Saturday.

Our youngest completed junior and senior year with Epic Charter Schools, which is an online homeschool program that falls under the public school system. He thrived in the program and I wish we would have pulled him out of brick and mortar schools sooner.

Until next time….

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

An Overview of the Recent Insanity and a Chicken Update and a Bit of Bad News

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while. We had the in laws in town for two weeks, our youngest finished high school, Graduation happens this weekend, it has been just absolute insanity around here.

Where to begin, well I will start with the mixup that happened when we purchased chicks at Tractor Supply. They apparently had a mix up where meat chickens and bantam breeds were mixed in with the layers. Basically, all of the straight run chicks were mixed together on accident. I ended up with two meat chickens who were revealed to be Cornish X chickens. This news was rather upsetting to me because I definitely didn’t want meat chickens, only layers. I quarantined those two chicks because they were being brutalized by the rest of the flock and were bald in certain places. Well, they feathered back out and I tried to integrate them again. Everything went fine and no one was bullying them. We went to go buy a new dryer because mine finally bit the dust. (This was a nightmare in itself) Lowe’s was our first stop, I picked out a dryer, paid for it, and waited for it to be brought out so we could load it up and go home. That should have been a simple process. Nope. I am not that lucky. Lowe’s sold me a dryer that was NOT in stock. Then, they told me I had to wait 7-10 days for a refund because of their screw up. I lost it. Hubby took over the whole process when the manager of Lowe’s said if I didn’t leave he was calling the police. (Yes, I yelled at him. They screwed up, NOT me. I was not threateningly cussing, just yelling rather loudly. Had I been alone, I would have had police called on me all while trying to just get a refund because they were trying to get me to choose a different dryer instead of getting a refund and were refusing to refund the purchase of a dryer they didn’t actually have.) Approximately 20 minutes later Hubby came out to the truck and we drove next door to Home Depot. They had exactly one dryer in stock. Not one style, ONE dryer. At this point I didn’t care as long as it worked. I made that poor sales woman physically show me the dryer before I was willing to pay. Hubby explained the nightmare that had just occurred at Lowe’s and she completely understood why I insisted on physically seeing the dryer. Then, of course, something else went wrong. I end up having to stand at customer service for almost a half of an hour while they try to put an extended warranty on this dryer. The woman FINALLY figured it out and added the extended warranty. By this time, we had spent almost 3 hours trying to buy a freaking dryer. I just wanted to go home. We stopped and grabbed food on the way home. It was HOT, muggy from all of the rain, flooding, and multiple tornadoes that have battered the state of Oklahoma for the past two months so, I was miserable.

Finally, we got back home. (An hour drive each way to get to a city big enough to have a home improvement store is never fun.) It was also Memorial Day so those home improvement stores were having holiday sales. Total nightmare. Anyway, we get home and I go to Refill the chicken waterer and I am filling the pitchers I use to refill them and Hubby says, well it’s dead. I have no idea what is dead exactly so I’m hollering and asking. I lost a chicken. 😔 One of the Cornish X chickens was dead next to the door of the run and of course it’s being pecked by another of the chickens so he thinks this chicken killed the dead one. Nope, not enough damage for that to be the cause. Just a few feathers missing. Then, I go check the other Cornish X and she’s panting like crazy and refusing to get up and go drink water. Whoever bred this breed into existence sucks. They will literally dehydrate and die rather than get up and go get water. So, I remove the deceased chicken, bury it and take the other Cornish X back inside to the dog crate. She has air conditioning and can reach water without much movement being required of her. So, the other one died of either dehydration and the heat or her heart gave out because of her weight (they are HUGE birds and just eat and eat and eat.) I don’t see the remaining one lasting much longer because of her sheer size, but I will NOT be killing her for food. She will pass naturally on her own. Until that happens, she is comfortable, living the high life with air conditioning and an extra large dog crate all to herself. I didn’t get chickens to have meat, I got them for eggs. I am not a meat eater. Hubby and the kiddos would rather not eat chicken so I rarely purchase it unless it’s in preformed nugget form or chicken strips. I feel awful about the first one passing from the heat and being too lazy to go get a drink, or her heart giving out from the heat, but I know she was comfortable during her short life.

I spoil the remaining one with ice cubes in her water when I have to run the dryer. (It gets really hot in the laundry room when I run the dryer.) She has air conditioning and when the dryer runs, she has a small fan blowing so she can lie under it or not, her choice. Usually she lies directly under it.

This photo was taken shortly after I placed them in quarantine. They were pecked bald on their backs.

As you can see here, her feathers grew back, tail feathers not so much.

She really is HUGE for a 10 week old chick. I make sure she gets plenty of sunlight. I have a small planter with whatever weeds and such grows outside in her crate so she can forage without really having to move far from the water. I open the windows when the temperature drops before the storms so she gets fresh air (70s F and 20s C) I bring her tiny grasshoppers and she gets mealworms (plenty of grit if she chooses as well) She’s probably the most spoiled meat chicken ever. I would love for her to be able to be outside and happily foraging outside, but she just can’t handle the heat. I have been told by the hatchery that she probably won’t live very long so, she can stay inside in comfort until her time comes. I realize this is very strange, but I didn’t set out to buy meat chickens. I don’t eat meat. I eat eggs and knowing exactly goes into those eggs is far more appealing to me than a month old dozen eggs from the grocery store.

Now that you know about the mixup with meat chickens, I had a few more questions for the hatchery. They were absolutely wonderful and answered every question I had with zero judgement on my keeping a meat chicken indoors and pampered. Chicken Little is NOT a leghorn or an Ameracauna. He, yes “he”, is definitely a rooster, and a Buff Sebright bantam. He was not supposed to be in that particular bin of straight run chicks either. He has begun to practice his crowing and I haven’t been able to catch it on video yet. It took me a week to find out who was crowing. I heard him all the way upstairs at the front of the house. (Chickens are out back.) I honestly thought something was wrong and a predator was inside. Nope, just Chicken Little trying out his voice.

He’s got an awesome little personality. He rules the coop even though he is half the size of everyone else. He has a rose comb, which is interesting to me because I have never seen one before. He also has green feet. He loves to flap his little wings and gets some serious height.

Rocky is out other surprise. Rocky now has feathers growing on her legs. This picture was about 2 weeks ago. So, I will need to take a few better pictures of her legs, but the hatchery has a strong belief that she is not a barred rock, but in fact a Barred Cochin. I will keep you posted on any updates regarding her breed identity. She is very curious and LOVES my phone.

They all love perching on the coop door.

My mother in law brought me these fabulous signs for the coop and brought two of each so when one sign gets sun faded, I can replace it with a new one.

She also found an egg basket for me. She always brings me the random things I cannot seem to find, but bring up in conversation when I talk to her. She’s amazing at her random gift giving because it’s always something I have been hunting for and cannot seem to find.

The cat litter boxes as nesting boxes have worked out rather well as far as durability and being able to keep them clean. I think I will take some wood screws or maybe bolts and bolt them to the coop walls because they tend to fall over when everyone loves to sit on top of them.

As for roosts, I got kind of lazy there because I couldn’t find an effective way to put in roosts and still have plenty of room for them to move around and enjoy the space. So, I had an old wooden ladder that was not capable of holding my weight, but they absolutely love it. The waterer hangs underneath the ladder on 550 cord (paracord)

It is also tied to the coop itself until hubby can go bolt it to the wall for me. I didn’t want it to fall over so 550 cord to the rescue. They love it because they can go up on the paint bucket shelf and look out the window. I am always greeted each morning by a handful of them peeking through the window at me when I open the coop each morning.

Chicken Little is still snuggly.

This also happens when I go to refill food and water. I become the best perch, I have had chickens on my shoulders, one loves to get on my back when I bend to clean up the feeder (bedding gets everywhere). The particularly love to perch on my thighs as I squat down.

In addition to the chickens, we have had some other feathered visitors. One has taken up residence in the sugar berry tree.

Before you yell at me about the red liquid in the feeders, I stopped filling them with the premade nectar and use just sugar water now. I didn’t know that it was harmful and was immediately made aware when I posted pictures and video on my Facebook page. I have fixed that issue.

My new phone takes really good pictures compared to my old phone.

This guy was found in the ditch heading towards the highway. I had a talk with him about how dangerous it was to cross that road and told him he would be squished and needed to turn around and go to the back of the property where he would be safe. Hubby of course laughed at me for lecturing the snapping turtle, but he listened and turned around and headed towards the back of the property. He was almost 2 feet long and lunged at me a few times. I was too close, so I don’t blame him. I am just glad he didn’t get squished.

I am thankful that we have not experienced any flooding, extreme weather, tornadoes, or anything else that is scary and involves the weather. We have been really lucky. I did have to completely empty the coop bedding after one really bad storm because it was soaking wet near the window. Hubby is making a shutter for that window this weekend so it can be closed for bad weather. I just cleaned it out, used an old mop to dry it and put in new bedding. The old bedding is in the compost pile and the compost tumbler that hubby made for me when I began this blog.

I have it next to the coop so I have easy access to it for adding old bedding and chicken poo scraped off of the coop door. Yes the grass needs to be cut, but it is just way too wet. We need a few dry days in a row so the mower wont get stuck in the mud. You can also see my makeshift clothesline that I used when the dryer broke. Another instance of 550 cord to the rescue. It worked really well and held my king size duvet, which was dry in about 30 minutes because we had some insane wind that day. Hubby promised to install a permanent clothesline for me so I can hang up linens to dry. I love the smell of line dried sheets. I grew up without a dryer so, I guess I just got used to that smell and the crisp feeling of clothes that are line dried. We definitely have enough wind and sun for it.

Finally, for those of you who love my kitties, here are a few pictures of Fizzgig, Gizmo, and a few of Miss Mia (she’s an honorary kitty).

Until next time….

Chickens, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Chick Update

The chicks are getting so big. They are fully feathered out and going outside during the day and back in at night.

It was super gloomy the other day and rain was on the forecast, but I didn’t want them stuck inside all day so, I sat outside and when it started sprinkling, I gathered them up and brought them back inside.

They really seem to enjoy all of the space in the run.

Hubby brought me a tire crate home. The gate is made from the top and bottom of the crate. I still need to paint it white to match and repaint the shed. The coop got a fresh coat of paint.

It looks like there is no fencing at all and there are two layers. One layer is chicken wire and the other is hog fencing. Hubby also built them a swing.

This is one of the sides of that tire crate. They are rather large tires. When he called and said he had something for me, I figured it was another window shipping crate. Nope, he brought me readymade fencing. 😂 He had no idea what I would do with it, but he knew I would have been upset if he had told me about it later and hadn’t brought it home. They seriously just break these apart and toss them in the dumpster. The wood is heat treated and I make sure he doesn’t bother with anything that doesn’t have a HT stamp. Chemical treated wood is useless to me.

I took a close up of the fencing. It really is two layers and the green fencing is buried 2-3 feet under the ground, to prevent anything from digging under the fencing and getting into the run. The coop is built, but I am still working on security and don’t want to take any risks. I will be laying huge stones around the coop itself to prevent digging even though the coop has a solid floor and pallets underneath the floor. The floor was raised to prevent flooding because of water runoff. I am EXTREMELY protective of the chicks because our friends put their chicks out and lost every single one within a weeks time. They had 50. I only have 15. I am taking my time and making absolutely sure that NOTHING can get in.

I also got the bird feeder out and it doesn’t swing in the extreme winds here. I secured it to the tree with electrical fencing wire. It was heavy duty enough for the job. We also finally mowed the property for the first time this spring. (still need to weedeat). We also took down a HUGE tree branch that was threatening the powerline from the old dairy building to the stalls. I will get some pictures of that later. Oh, I almost forgot, I started painting the planter boxes (window shipping crates.)

They still need holes drilled in them, but they are ready to be drilled, filled, and planted. Hubby also bought me roses. Three bushes. I LOVE roses.

Two will go in the large window shipping crate and the third will go in a large planter that was used for tomatoes a few years ago. (It’s pretty large. I can’t lift it when it’s full.) I made sure to get three different kinds of roses. I know one is Oklahoman, but I can’t remember what the other two are.

Until next time….