Until next time….
It’s been a while since I have posted. I would like to say, “I blame the Pandemic.”, but the reality is that life is just hectic and I rarely have a free moment to sit still and write. I last posted in May and so much has happened since then. So, I will start from the beginning.
Miss Chicken, who was my accidental Cornish Cross that lived in my mudroom/laundry room, passed away in June. Then I lost another Rhode Island Red to a snake. This year was insane for snakes, I don’t even remember how many were found inside of the coop, but thankfully all of the snakes I saw in the coop were non-venomous, but I did run over a copperhead and four rattlesnakes while mowing. The Rhode Island Red was killed by a rattlesnake. Hubby dealt with the hen and the snake before I even knew what had happened. He also had a hole dug and ready for Miss Chicken before I even woke up. He was so worried that I was going to lose it when I found out, but I didn’t. I had been expecting to wake up to her being gone for a while because she was a Cornish Cross and they grow so fast and are meant to be dispatched at around 8-10 weeks of age. I didn’t want meat chickens so she got to live out her life as a very spoiled house chicken. She had a good life and I am happy that she didn’t have to live the life of a normal Cornish Cross. She was a happy chicken.
Now that the bad news is out of the way, time for some happy things.
My calves are no longer little. They are a bit ridiculous and feisty. I can’t bring out cubes without a fence between myself and the girls anymore because they have decided that they can headbutt me and food drops. Not a fun time.
They love to shove their heads through the fence to try and lick me. If you have never been locked by a cow, it’s like a cat, but much bigger and slimy and it smells like grass. (Huge slimy sandpaper tongues) Calf kisses are just gross.
As you can see, their feed buckets have moved. Now, I can safely dump cubes in the bucket with zero fear of being headbutted or trampled.
No, they aren’t actually siblings, but we call them sisters. The feed movw also meant more water sources because of the heat. We put the feed buckets in the shade and added four halves of 55 gallon plastic barrels. They also have two mineral buckets full of water and an actual water trough that holds something like 200 gallons. We haven’t used that one much because I haven’t figured out how to keep algae from growing in it in a matter of hours. So, the smaller ones are easier to scrub and much less water is dumped. I have a few experiments going on avoiding algae. If any of them actually work, I will share the info.
So, onward we go….
I have a granddaughter who is expected any day now. She has decided to be fashionably late and her due date has already passed. I FINALLY learned how to use my sewing machine that I have been toting around the country as I have moved from place to place the past 17 years. Yes, I know how insane that sounds, but I was detergent to learn to use it. One of the kiddos brought his fiancée he is an adult now) and she taught me how to thread it, troubleshoot tension issues, etc. and sat down with me daily for a full week and taught me everything I needed to know. Well, my first project was a baby quilt for my granddaughter. It is my first quilt sewn on a sewing machine. (I have been sewing by hand for years)
I used 1930s reproduce prints for the top and pink flannel with a polkadot print for backing, sashing, and binding. I hope she loves it.
I am currently working on a quilt for my grandson, who is almost three.
Hmmm…. what else has happened…
Ah, yes, I killed yet another washer. This time, I managed to find one with the center agitator, it fills all the way up, and I can wash a king size duvet without any issues. This made me very happy because getting motor oil, grease, brake fluid, and brake dust out of hubby’s clothes was almost impossible with a high efficiency washer. They always looked dingy no matter what I did. I strongly dislike HE machines.
My darling father in law absolutely hated my 1970s ,cast iron burner, dinosaur of a stove and he surprisingly me with a glass flat top stove (he specifically looked for one I could use cast iron on and I could also use for canning/pressure canning) it had to be reinforced because it’s a drop in, but he made absolute certain I wouldn’t have any problems doing anything I had been doing prior to the surprise of a new stovetop. He loves making breakfast when they visit and he couldn’t take it anymore. I woke up to him installing it. I guess it’s a good thing he consulted my mother in law because she knew exactly what I had been searching for in a new stovetop. I swear that woman takes notes during our conversations.
Hubby races IMCA 305 Racesaver sprint cars and this year he finished 7th in points. All we wanted was a top 10 finish. He even missed a few races. I don’t go to the track. I’m bad luck and I’m also immunocompromised so I would have had to wear a mask for several hours in the Oklahoma heat. Methanol fumes also give me a migraine and these cars run on methanol. I am always miserable at the track so, I stay home and do my own thing on Saturday nights. I have been sewing since I learned how to use my machine.
The only other occurrence was a nightmare. We had a pipe break in the basement. I woke up at around 4 am to use the bathroom and heard this weird sound. I realized it was coming from the bathroom sink faucet, turned the faucet on and no water came out. I ran downstairs, flipped the breaker for the pump, opened the basement door, looked down the stairs and saw water so I flipped the breaker for the air handler for the downstairs unit as well. Left hubby a note since he had to be up in an hour anyway. Woke up at 7 and he had already pumped most of the water out. Air handler was undamaged. We tossed anything soggy that couldn’t be washed and filled the dumpster. Fun stuff. Basement needed cleaned out anyway. Fixed the pipe. Basement is dry now. Thanks to the Oklahoma heat. We left the basement window and the doors on the inside of the basement that lead to the outside stairs open. The large and super heavy outer door was closed, but just enough air could enter for nice air circulation. It was completely dry the following day.
So, I think that is everything major that has happened. I am going to make one more post that will be photos only. I have been on the ball about snapping pictures.
Until next time….
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 what 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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 😂
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…..
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.
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.
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)
Until next time….
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…
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…
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….
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….