Calves, Journal Style Posts

Very Bad Day on the Homestead (warning dead snake pictures)

So, Saturday was just a typical blazing HOT day in Oklahoma. I went out to give the calves their sweet feed (basically treats that supplement the grass they graze on) and I was walking towards the small gate I normally walk through because I don’t like using the large gates because I am small and they are a few hundred pounds and well, I don’t want to be plowed over by excited baby cows.

Anyway, I was about 4 feet away from the gate when I realized that something had wrapped around my foot and I jumped to get it off of me and realized very quickly qhat was on my foot was now under my foot. NOT GOOD, Not good at all. Yep, my dumb ass walked to the corral wearing flip flops and ended up stepping on a snake. I ALWAYS look down when I walk specifically for this reason. I saw the snake and made a mental note of coloring and such. Tan-ish green back with a yellow belly and round eyes. I looked at my foot where I felt it bump into me, wiped off some dirt and the snake I had stepped on zoomed off to the area behind the garage. I assumed I hadn’t been bitten.

I fed the calves and was informed that I was bleeding by the kiddo helping me. She was freaking out so, I checked both sides of my Achilles tendon and sure enough I saw blood.

After I got inside and got it cleaned up
Little Fucker bit me twice
Before I had a chance to clean it

Before you assume I’m absolutely insane, I didn’t feel it bite me. Zero pain. It was a yellow bellied racer, a non-venomous, harmless snake. They eat mice, lizards, and small reptiles like toads and frogs. One of the first things I did when we moved to Oklahoma was to learn to identify the snakes. I am not a fan of snakes at all. Hubby did freak out. He immediately went looking for the snake and of course a King snake was spotted near the garage side door and zipped out of there quickly and avoided death by shovel.

Hubby also immediately started mowing a pathway away from the little gate because the grass near the little gate is dead and snakes blend well in dead grass. So he mowed some of the green grass low enough for me to comfortably walk through to get to the gate that is the size of a driveway because he’s terrified I’m going to get bitten by something venomous. We have cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnake and copperheads along with a plethora of other snakes.

I went to put the chickens away and heard the telltale sound of a rattle. My coop is dark and unlit now that the temperatures aren’t dropping below freezing. I had hubby come help me because I can’t kill anything and I didn’t want a snake killing my chickens or myself. I was not thrilled to see the type of snake once it was out in the light where it could be seen because it was a rat snake (nonvenomous and harmless, but they can rattle like a rattle snake.) Stop here if you don’t want to see a dead snake.

That round lump is an egg. I have been getting less eggs than normal lately and now I know why.
The shovel is a little over 4 ft and my darling husband chopped off the head entirely when this dead snake was still trying to bite. You can clearly see the egg it stole before it decided to fake rattle.

So, that’s 3 snakes in one day and one bit me, twice. I’m up to date on all of my shots, I just got a tetanus shot last year when I cut my leg on some rusty barbed wire so, no medical care needed. I just need to treat it like a puncture wound and keep it nice and clean. If that were the end of my nightmare of a weekend, it would still be a nightmare. Nope, not the end. Today, I went to get feed for the calves and some nifty buckets that hook onto the stall fencing and I went to feed the girls and enclose them in the smaller, well lit area with the stalls. Stepped off the back patio and found the ONLY hole in that section of the backyard. The sound my ankle made caused hubby to whip around and with a blank stare, he immediately asked, “How bad did you break it? Do you need help to the truck?” I am still shocked it isn’t broken. It made this awful crunching popping sound that was so loud. It hurt really badly for about a minute and then it stopped. I have broken enough bones in my lifetime to know that it’s not broken just because I can put weight on it and it isn’t bruised, several hours later. It’s a little swollen and the soft tissue is a little tender, but nothing is broken. I hope my new boots get here soon because I can’t be walking around in tennis shoes or flip flops anymore.

I normally wear Dr Martens for everything, but with the no shoes inside rule, it’s a major pain in the butt to unlock and then lace these things up every time I go outside and they don’t look right at all with shorts. I ordered a cute pair of Ariat Fat Baby boots. These are the exact pair . They have actual grip on the soles and they won’t come up to my knees. So, they won’t look absolutely ridiculous with shorts. Also, they are super easy to slip on and off and they are comfortable. I ordered a pair with steel toe and a pair without steel toe. (The steel toe pair has purple instead of blue and actually come up mid calf instead of being short boots.)

I’m not a big fan of “cowboy boots” because they never have any grip on the soles and I need that grip. Also I have wide flat feet and with most brands, I have to go up 2 full sizes before I can even get the boot on my foot. This style is amazing and super comfy right out of the box. That’s pretty amazing in itself because leather boots are the absolute worst shoes to break in. (I usually get them sopping wet and wear them until they are dry (two pairs of thick socks) but these are actually comfortable right out of the box. So, if you are looking for a comfy pair of boots (this is my second and 3rd pair of Ariat FatBaby boots) I highly recommend them. No insoles needed because they come with good insoles in place. I am looking for a place to get my old pair re-soled because they are really that comfortable. I love my Docs, but these are far more comfortable and provide great support for my arches and my pathetic ankles.

Pajamas and flip flops….

The girls are doing great. They have been released and absolutely love grazing on the 8 or 9 acres of green grass every morning. They come running when they see me walking towards the corral because they know I have treats. We lock them in the corral area every evening and I am hunting high and low for a dokey to help keep them safe from coyotes. They tend to stick close to the stalls during the hottest part of the day because they have plenty of cold water and the stalls provide some much needed shade. There are a handful of shady spots around the property, but they haven’t fully explored the whole 8-9 acres available to them. The whole property is 10 acres, but I don’t know the exact amount they have fenced off for their use. I am honestly not even sure how to measure it. During my search for a donkey, I keep coming across pygmy goats and I keep trying to convince hubby that I need them. He hasn’t quite gotten to the point where he agrees with me, but he has talked about how he would keep them contained for me once he does decide that he’s ready to build them a home.

The flock of chickens are the very first chickens for him and the calves are a first for both of us. He’s starting to warm up to the idea of having a “mini farm” as he puts it. He is still dead set against pigs unless it’s a potbelly pig and a pet. He’s had one of those before and I don’t think he has it in him to help raise a pig just to eat it. They have way too much personality and they are too much like dogs in his mind. I swear I married a big old softy who refuses to admit it. He always talks about the turkeys and deer that cross our property and talks about getting tags for the deer and hunting both the deer and the turkeys, but we’ve been here for years and I don’t see him ever even getting a hunting license because I don’t see him being able to take their lives. I think he’s content just knowing they are there. He will take down a coyote with no hesitation though. They are a threat to our animals to include Miss Mia. I think that’s the difference between the coyotes and animals like deer and turkeys.

Anyway it’s late and I need to ice my swollen ankle and attempt to sleep like a normal human. Until next time…

Calves, Journal Style Posts

Calves

So I have had my girls for 3 days now and I have been socializing them as much as possible because I want them tame and friendly when they are at 1,000 pounds and able to trample me in an instant.

They don’t have names yet because I just haven’t decided on names. They are going to eventually be in my freezer, but they will be the most spoiled heifers ever to exist. I will make certain of that.

Day 1

Day 1

They are confined to the stall area until they learn to come when I call them. Then they will have free reign of the property and will be called back to the stalls each evening.

They have water inside of the stall they seem to stay in for most of the day as well as a HUGE stock tank outside of the stalls but still inside the fenced in area where they are being held at the moment.
Day 2
Day 2
Day 2

On the second day, I got to pet them both. They are still super skittish, but getting used to the crazy lady who brings yummy cubes.

Day 3
Day 3

They are tagged, have the insect repellent tags on their other ear, and they have been branded (the brand is for the guy we bought them from and if they somehow get loose, the entire town knows his brand and he will return them to us.) They have been vaccinated and vetted and I didn’t have to do any of those things thankfully. I am not physically able to hurt an animal. I just can’t do it. When the time comes for slaughter, they will be loaded onto a trailer and then I will get back boxes filled with white paper packages.

I honestly wouldn’t be able to handle seeing them slaughtered or anything of that nature. I don’t eat meat so, I am basically making sure that hubby eats the most well loved and well cared for beef. I am okay with this because I would much rather cook beef from an animal that was able to play, run free, wasn’t confined to never see the sun, and was treated with love.

They are approximately 3-4 months old and one is 250 pounds (the slightly fluffy one) and the other is 300 lbs. They are black Angus heifer calves and they are so scared of me. They are coming around slowly though. I was head butted while being thoroughly sniffed for more cubes today so, I will consider that progress. I look forward to them running to me when I call them and getting ridiculously excited for cubes. They will be grass fed, but cubes are treats. I am still deciding between grass finished and grain finished, but I have plenty of time for that. We are already lining up hay, alfalfa, and Timothy hay bales to be delivered in the late fall when the grass is no longer available. They will be completely spoiled rotten by me and I will love them until it’s time for the next calves to arrive. I am hoping for bottle calves next time. They are even smaller and it will be much easier to have them tame and friendly because I will be bottle feeding them.

They fight over cubes.
Day 3

I brought some chickweed to them as well since they are confined and it’s quite hot today. They inhaled it and of course wanted more. They have plenty of grass to munch on until tonight when I bring them their other serving of cubes and some more chickweed. I give them half of their daily serving of cubes fairly early in the day and the other half just before the sun fully sets. Full tummies before bed seems ideal to me. Until next time….

Calves, Journal Style Posts

Prepping For Calves

In our corral area, was basically half of a tree that we had cut down last year because the tree had cracked in half. Well, it needed to go because hubby decided to give me my birthday present early, two heffer calves. I didn’t know the difference between a heffer and a cow before this happened. Therefore, I will take a moment to explain the difference. A heffer is a female cow that had never calved, a cow is a female that has calved. I am learning things 😂

The branch started where you see the cut on the tree to the left.
The branch (it was half of the tree) tookup the entire area and the grass was almost 4 ft tall.
Cleared out the fence line where the frost free hydrant is located.
This was the before picture
All cleaned up and ready for calves.
This is the 102 year old dairy building right next to the corral area. Pay attention to the hole in the brick

I love finding nests in strange places. I will be taking pictures of the calves when they are delivered. They are being vaccinated and vetted before they are delivered by a friend of hubbys. Until next time…..

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

Chicken Update During Quarantine 2020

During my hiatus, I lost another chicken. I lost one of the Rhode Island Reds to a broken neck. She fell from the roost and I assume she smacked into the waterer inside the coop before hitting the ground. I honestly don’t know what exactly happened, but her neck was definitely broken. That dropped my flock down to 13. Chicken Little has become quite feisty and it is still hilarious when he fluffs up his feathers and goes to attack me by launching himself at me feet first.

He’s still tiny and adorable

If you are a first time reader, he is a Buff Sebright Bantam rooster and he is half the size of a normal sized hen. He is very sweet most of the time, but some days he gets his feathers all ruffled and tries to fight me. I usually scoop him up and love on him and he calms down. He gets really mad when I wear anything with the color red so, I try to remember that when I put the flock to bed, but sometimes I forget and I am wearing red pajama pants and he decides I must die and launches himself at me feet first repeatedly. I can’t help but laugh at him because he’s so small it looks ridiculous when he puffs up like he’s the biggest baddest rooster out there when he is actually teenie tiny and adorable.

His women are looking a little rough because he has decided that fertilizing eggs is an Olympic sport lately, I have no idea why he had this sudden desire to fertilize everything because none of the hens are broody. He is just crazy. The flock will be moving to the new coop very soon. I am hopeful that Miss Chicken (my accidental Cornish cross meat chicken) will be able to handle living with the flock again.

Miss Chicken socializing with the flock

So, Miss Chicken is a Cornish Cross or Cornish X, which is a breed specifically for meat production. When I bought chicks last spring, I ended up with two of these meat chickens. One died from the heat and I brought the other one, Miss Chicken, into the laundry room to treat her for heat exhaustion and some injuries from being bullied by the rest of the flock. I honestly expected her to die shortly after bringing her inside. This breed grows rapidly and they are meant to be slaughtered around 6-10 weeks of age. Well, I couldn’t do it, hubby didn’t want any part of it, so she’s been inside ever since, living her best life in an extra large dog crate. As long as the temperature isn’t too high or too low, she goes outside and socializes with the flock from the safety of the other side of the fencing. They still peck at her and bully her. I can safely bring the girls out one or two at a time and they are not mean to her that way. Sadly I can’t let them roam free because there are too many predators and I want them safe.

This doesn’t mean that they never get to eat bugs or grass, weeds, etc. I collect huge amounts of the things I know they like (I watch closely to see what they go after first when I do let one or two out while supervised.) They love dandelions, chickweed, henbit, certain types of grasses and other specific weeds that I have not yet identified because they are new to the property this year. I have a section that doesn’t get mowed down and I collect their daily green stuff from this section. They also get mealworms, I collect grasshoppers for them when they start hatching and hopping all over the place, I also bring worms from the compost pile and other caterpillars and bugs I come across when I am pulling weeds or cleaning out a flowerbed.

They also get fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, scrambled eggs, leftover plain pasta (they go crazy for angel hair and spaghetti noodles)

An example of a daily treat tray.
Miss Chicken found some scratch
Miss Chicken and Chicken Little
Popular hangout spot is a sunken sprint car tire
“I see the worm now give it here”
Hungry girls
The reward for spoiling them rotten
Plenty to do and lots of holes have been dug

Until next time….

Gardening, Journal Style Posts

Covid-19 Quarantine Day # 46 (2020)

I have been slacking I know. I am so bad about keeping up with writing. I have been home since March 1st, 2020 and no one is allowed over. The handful of people who get eggs from me are picking them up with zero contact. I place them in a plastic bag on the porch and they return washed egg cartons in a plastic bag on the porch. I have had zero human contact aside from hubby. We are kid free and that has been a huge adjustment, but I am enjoying the quiet and peaceful time with hubby.

Remember my posts for Emergency Preparedness kits? If you followed the instructions and created one, I hope it has helped you out during this time. Since most of us are home, now is the time to prepare even further. Did you know that the drought affected the bean crops last year or that Oklahoma almost lost the wheat crops from a hard freeze and unseasonable snow? I already expect food prices to go up. So, if you want to spend less at the grocery store, plant a garden. It’s not hard. Really. If you suck at growing plants and are anything like me, you kill plants. I have a solution for that too.

I have multiple seed trays in my kitchen sprouting up right now. I have lettuces and spinach planted in planter boxes on the front porch. They will get the morning sun, but they will be protected from the mid/late afternoon scorching sun because of how my house is situated.

The two above planter boxes are filled with lettuce and spinach. I have since swept the seed pods for the trees up and have already laid a lot of them at the back of the property in an area we don’t mow because I have milkweed planted there for the Monarch Butterflies that pass through each year.

Oklahoma is fairly green right now. We did have snow on Monday night over to Tuesday morning, but everything is still nice and green.

Now, here’s how I started the seeds.
These very inexpensive little seed trays hold 72 seedlings each. I planted 2 and sometimes 3 seeds per each little pot. I watered them well and covered them up. They didn’t fit in my greenhouse window, but I have a grow light and once I switch them over to plastic cups they will have full accesstothat grow light. Right now they justhave my sunny kitchen greenhouse window giving them light on the counter. (I will reuse the same cups when I start seeds in the fall and next spring. This is why I chose plastic instead of paper.)

I sprayed them with water every single day, twice a day. I used a glass spray bottle. Not because I am against plastic, but all of my plastic ones have held cleaner at some point and I don’t trust them to not be contaminated.
These pictures were taken 3 days after I planted the seet trays. The two early sprouting sections are okra and cucumbers. Okra was first and it shocked me how fast it has grown. I have 3 different kinds of tomatoes in these trays. I planted cherry tomatoes (for salads), Roma tomatoes (for tomato sauce and tomato paste) and an heirloom variety of slicing tomato for sandwiches and hubby’s burgers. I also planted yellow squash, some herbs (different pots) chives (in a pot) Martin house gourds, zucchini, bell peppers, 3 kinds of cucumbers (I LOVE Cucumbers) some green beans that grow on a bush. I will plant snap peas and snow peas directly into the ground because they don’t transplanted well from my experience. I have pie pumpkins to plant around mid July, garlic & onion sets already planted. I will know if my asparagus survived soon enough. I have more seeds coming from Baker Creek. The one I am most excited about is baby bok choy. They are so tiny and cute. I also ordered peanuts for this year because I have tried multiple times to purchase green peanuts in the shell (goobers) from local farmers and every single one wants to see me green peanuts that have already been shelled. I can’t make boiled peanuts without green peanuts in the shell.

The tomatoes are at the bottom of the picture and cucumber is at the top. The cucumber is just about ready for transplanting to a plastic cup they are quite leggy. And I want to make sure they have plenty of strong roots. I will also begin placing a gentle fan near the plants to help harden them off. Oklahoma is rather windy and planting season is also tornado season so the seedlings need to be tough enough to survive come May when they go outside. The okra is very leggy too. Notice I planted way more than two people could possibly eat, I expect to have some plants die because I am a terrible gardener. 😂 If they somehow all survive, I can easily trade them for veggies or fruits that I am not growing this year. I can also freeze, pickle, or can excess. The green beans are starting to sprout as well.

Now, these pots are herbs and chives. I have what I use the most in these pots. One is oregano, one is chives, one is cat nip because my kitties love their nip, and one is chocolate mint, which is for my tea. Once I get the multiple aloe plants out of my kitchen, I will plant basil, marjoram, and maybe another kind of mint or something else for my teas. In the cup is a cutting I got from one of hubby’s friends. We did a no contact egg drop off / trade for something having to do with welding and he has this amazing succulent in his flowerbed so, I  texted him and asked if I could have a cutting. It’s starting to root so, I will plant it soon. In the pot just out of frame is an aloe baby from last year. I have tons of babies that need to be separated and repotted from my giant aloe plant that I received from a friend in a ziploc bag and it was 3 inches tall when I received it. Now it’s HUGE. I will take pictures of it once I bring it back out to the back porch where it belongs. It’s not too happy about wintering in the mudroom.


This was hubby’s quarantine project. He welded a tire rack for the race trailer. It has a tray that sets in the empty spot on the top section, but I didn’t get pictures of that because I was busy planting seeds in seed trays.

I still have to decide where exactly I am going to put my garden this year because I filled the concrete block bed that is permanently attached to the house with flowers. The hose doesn’t reach that spot very well anyway and it is a lot of energy wasted with me dragging multiple 150 ft heavy duty hoses to reach it. The flowers I planted there are native to Oklahoma and include a type of daylily that is orange and multiplies every single year so I thin them out every fall and transplant them elsewhere to ensure they have plenty of room to spread out.

My roses from last year do not look like they will come back. I also want to get rid of the hideous bushes in front of the house because I hate them with a passion. They have these obnoxious things that grow straight up into the air and look like they haven’t been trimmed in years when this happens. If they flowered, I wouldn’t be so bothered by them, but they are just blah and ugly. Thet will be replaced with something that flowers. I wish Magnolia trees would stay small and make good bushes. I may put some kind of rose that grows like a vine or a big giant bush there. I have no idea. I will have to wait until it is safe to go to a nursery to find something lovely to put there.

I will do my best to remember to keep updating and writing. I always forget. Maybe I need to put WordPress on my homescreen of my phone to remember to keep updating.
Until next time…

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…

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….

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….