Chickens, Journal Style Posts

First Eggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time….

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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 110Β° F (43Β° 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. πŸ˜” One of the Cornish X chickens was dead next to the door of the run and of course it’s being pecked by another of the chickens so he thinks this chicken killed the dead one. Nope, not enough damage for that to be the cause. Just a few feathers missing. Then, I go check the other Cornish X and she’s panting like crazy and refusing to get up and go drink water. Whoever bred this breed into existence sucks. They will literally dehydrate and die rather than get up and go get water. So, I remove the deceased chicken, bury it and take the other Cornish X back inside to the dog crate. She has air conditioning and can reach water without much movement being required of her. So, the other one died of either dehydration and the heat or her heart gave out because of her weight (they are HUGE birds and just eat and eat and eat.) I don’t see the remaining one lasting much longer because of her sheer size, but I will NOT be killing her for food. She will pass naturally on her own. Until that happens, she is comfortable, living the high life with air conditioning and an extra large dog crate all to herself. I didn’t get chickens to have meat, I got them for eggs. I am not a meat eater. Hubby and the kiddos would rather not eat chicken so I rarely purchase it unless it’s in preformed nugget form or chicken strips. I feel awful about the first one passing from the heat and being too lazy to go get a drink, or her heart giving out from the heat, but I know she was comfortable during her short life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They all love perching on the coop door.

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

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

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

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

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

Chicken Little is still snuggly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time….

Chickens, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Chick Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time….

Chickens

Chick Update

It’s been an eventful week. Chicks are mean. They peck each other and draw blood. I now have purple chicks because we had some pecking issues and blood feathers were hit. The chicks are purple (and blue) because I first sprayed them with an antiseptic spray mixed with blue food coloring while waiting for the Blu-kote to arrive. Chickens are attracted to red and when blood feathers are pecked at, they bleed and well, bloody chicks are an attractive thing to peck.

I woke up to two bloody chicks. I would have plucked the blood feathers and called it a day, but it was more than just one or two. I had two almost completely red chicks because they had all night to beat these two babies up and peck at them profusely. I accidentally forgot to grab Blu-kote when I bought the chicks so I did the next best thing and sprayed them blue after bathing them so they weren’t all bloody and blow drying them so they weren’t soaked.

Blue food coloring fades pretty quickly when chicks are grooming themselves because of their injuries. So, last night they were separated from the rest of the flock so they would not be brutalized further. I ordered Blu-kote from Amazon (They overnighted it, which is awesome and I didn’t pay for overnight shipping. I just used my Prime 2 day shipping.) Today they got sprayed and I made sure to cover any bald spots because they are kind of reddish under their white feathers. I wanted to make absolutely certain they didn’t get pecked at anymore.

They are rather colorful, but they are not being pecked at anymore.

Blu-kote is an antiseptic spray that is really dark violet and this is what it is meant for, but I still feel awful that they were pecked in the first place.

I should have worn gloves. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I determined that the pecking happened out of boredom so, I made some perches and swings from PVC and 550 cord (parachute cord is what I think it’s called outside of the military)

They seem to like the perches and swings.

This is the most amazing thing ever. It’s a PVC cutter. I cut old PVC from when we replaced the entire well system and I was able to cut pieces in a matter of minutes.

It was super simple. It ratchets tighter as you squeeze the handles together over and over.

Chicken little has grown a bit, but is still teenie tiny compared to everyone else.

They also like standing on the food and water dispensers. (This chick is named Little Red Hen. I can tell her apart from the other Rhode Island Reds because she’s always perched on something.) Their beak coloring is also unique to each chick.

They have gotten treats such as henbit, apples, and chickweed. They loved the apples and the greens. They have almost fully feathered out. Just waiting for their heads to be less fluffy.

We will move them to the coop with a heat lamp next weekend. This weekend is just too cold, but next week it will be in the 90’s (30’s Celsius) it’s currently in the 30’s at night(-1 Celsius) so, that’s just too cold. I will turn on the heat lamp in the coop as needed, but they haven’t used the heat lamp during the day for over a week. At night they only have it on if I have the air conditioning on. My house stays in the 60s upstairs (15Β° C) and 70s downstairs (21Β° C) . They have been comfortable. I will post again soon and they should be in the coop by then.

Until next time…

Chickens

Ladies and Gentlemen We Have Cheep Cheeps.

I was a bit worried last month when I went to the local lumber store, which is a hardware store and asked when they were getting their chicks in, since I have no way to pick up chicks to be mailed now that hubby has changed his schedule. (I can’t drive for medical reasons.) The man who runs the hardware store is friends with hubby and I and he had terrible news. The main supplier of chicks for Oklahoma went out of business. We were calling everywhere and then, I received an email from Tractor Supply (an awesome little farm store) They were getting chicks on April 1st according to the email. I was giddy. Well we had to pick up Def fluid on Monday and we were already in Lawton so, we went to Tractor Supply because they carry Blue Def (Def is diesel exhaust fluid) So to explain this for anyone who has never had a diesel vehicle, Def fluid is burned off periodically and it clears out the buildup in the exhaust system. It smells funny when it happens. This is NOT the cause of diesel vehicles that pour black smoke from their exhaust. That is referred to as rolling coal and it is terrible for the engine. Anyway, we were in Tractor Supply and I heard cheeping. I honestly think hubby was more excited than I was, though he will NEVER admit that. I started picking out chicks being sure to pick most from the pullets and only four from the straight run chicks. I have a selection of Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex Links and Ameracauna (at least that’s what the paper sign said for Ameracauna) I am doubtful about the Ameracauna chicks, but we shall see when they are bigger. I got 15 chicks total and only four are straight run.

I have only named one chick. His/her name is Chicken Little because this was the smallest chick in any of the tubs and I wanted it. The guy looked at me like I was insane when I said I wanted the teeny tiny chick. They all have wing feathers so, I am uncertain of exactly how old they are. The guy who helped me guessed about 3-4 weeks.

Hubby took video of me taking them out of their little cardboard boxes.

I apologize for the red photos in advance. I didn’t want to use flash too much and traumatize them. All 15 are still doing great on day 3.

This is Chicken Little and I have some size comparison pictures. I will label those. Chicken Little is also in the first and second photo below.

Yes, I was careful where I put my hand. They are in an extra large dog crate with the plastic pan liner the cardboard is between the pan and the crate so it will not get wet.

Here are the size comparison pictures.

So tiny. 😍πŸ₯🐀🐣

They were vaccinated at the hatchery and are currently drinking a mix of probiotics, electrolytes, and vitamins in their water.

Fizzgig is terrified of them and Gizmo is only mildly curious. Miss Mia has been coming downstairs before I wake up and sitting next to the crate to watch them. She gets upset when they start cheeping loudly and goes to check on them. I will try to get some clearer photos they are just so fast.

Until next time…

Chickens

Chicken Coop Updates

I didn’t take any photos because it started raining and we had to clean up quickly before we got soaked.

I will try to get some photos tomorrow if it doesn’t rain again. Today, after my appointment, which involved two cortisone injections in my lower back, Hubby decided we were going to work on the coop. Okay, I’m game. Let me tell you, I don’t regret getting it to the point we reached but, I do regret not icing my back while working on it. Ouch.

First, we secured the cover with more hose clamps, we still need a few more, but both sides are secure. Then, we buried a bit more heavy duty fencing around the perimeter of the run. That was fun. We also replaced the zip strips that were temporarily holding fencing in place with pieces of plastic coated metal (sort of like heavy duty twist ties.) Fencing is beyond secure. Then, we laid subflooring inside the coop. (I will explain this in a moment) finally we figured out how to close off the end of the coop securely without any gaps or any way for any possible predator to gain entrance. (Fencing overlapping bottom fencing and folded over the PVC arch, but under the cover and held in place with hose clamps and those super heavy duty twist ties at the bottom.

Okay, I’m going to explain the subflooring for those who haven’t been following along. (I am also going to add a few older pictures of the coop just for visual reference. I will get new ones as soon as I can.)

This is the coop prior to today’s additions.

(You will see the white fence I refer to very well in this picture and the coop itself up close.)

Notice how much shade the cover for the run provides. (The cover is a dump truck cover. Hubby rescued two destined for the garbage for me from work. He brings me home the neatest things. The PVC was inside of our well, but we replaced that with flex pipe last year. I of course kept all of the old PVC because I had a plan.)

The coop and run are at the very back of the back yard. Not the back of the property. We have a white metal pipe and cable fence that goes around what would be a normal sized back yard. We didn’t install this fence, it was here when we bought the house. I’m sure it cost a fortune, but it is rather strange how they did it because it is in small sections. It’s just weird. So, backyard slopes downward because of what happens when it rains.

In Oklahoma, we have clay and sandy soil. It turns rock hard in the summer months if it isn’t kept damp (I keep the garden areas damp through daily watering.) It will actually form cracks when it gets really hot and dry. So, because of the location of my coop, we could not just install a floor flat to the ground or there would be some serious issues with water after the rain. Instead, we waited for a really good rainfall to decide how to deal with the flooring. The path of rainwater goes right through the coop. We decided to raise the floor so, rainwater can go under the coop without causing any flooding inside the coop. It goes through the end of the run as well, but I have an idea for that as well so, I’m not worried about having any water-logging issues in the run.

The sub-floor is raised up to the height of a regular red brick on its side. (Yes, I am putting a ramp in for the chickens because I don’t need them getting a broken leg from jumping even though I know a chicken can “fly” enough to jump a fence or get into a tree. So, there are bricks and pallets in the coop waiting for the flooring. The flooring is one of my very random ideas, but hubby agreed that it was a fabulous idea and it will be completely waterproof so, I can rinse out the coop with a garden hose if it gets really gross. We had a rectangular above ground pool in the spot where the chicken coop is currently sitting so, it is somewhat level in some areas still from that pool. (It was one of the easy up type pools with metal braces holding up just the liner part. Not expensive and doesn’t last more than a few years.) I am cutting the pool (thick plastic almost as thick as wood paneling.) And lining the floor and about a foot up the wall of the coop. I will be able to clean the coop easily and we are going to try the deep litter method first so the plywood under the plastic will not rot from moisture in the bedding we use for the coop. If I don’t like the deep litter method, we will switch to sand, which can be scooped and then deep litter for winter because it gets cold here.

I am not currently running any electric to the coop. I have sat inside of it in both summer and winter, there is no need for it in either. In the summer, the run is cooler than standing outside of the run because the cover provides amazing shade while still allowing airflow. I was comfortable inside the run when it was 112Β° F (44Β° C). I was in the shade with the breeze blowing and the coop has good airflow as well, which will change during winter, but not be completely sealed because chickens need fresh air. The plastic will also provide a seal against any drafts coming from under the coop. It’s really thick so even if a snake tried to get in, it would not get through the plastic. I am not worried about other predators because we buried more fencing and it’s NOT chicken wire, which was what we had buried flat. We doubled up by adding what was labeled goat fencing over top of the chicken wire that was buried. (There are hog panels and goat fencing behind the chicken wire all around the coop. I know that animals can get through chicken wire. It is there for extra protection. The cover is in place for multiple reasons, the first being hawks. The second reason is owls, then, for shade, and cats because cats can climb. (We have either a large bobcat or a mountain lion crossing the back of the property.) They aren’t getting into this coop or the run. I have been EXTREMELY anal about the security of the coop because we have four packs of coyotes around us, one pack in each direction and they are getting brave. I watched the neighbors dog chase one down the street in broad daylight. This coyote was in her backyard where her small children play.

The last thing I want is to get chicks, raise them until feathered out inside, then, lose them to a coyote or another predator as soon as they start living in the coop. I waited an entire year to make sure the coop itself could withstand Oklahoma wind. (We had a nasty storm with 70-80 mph gusts and it didn’t cause any damage to the coop. It destroyed the run. This is why I canceled my order of chicks last year and waited until this year. I get chicks next month so, forgive me if I take a zillion pictures. I have been waiting forever for chickens.

I’m sure I sound super overprotective and probably a little like a hoarder because I kept things like PVC from the well, an entire pool, and hubby brings me home things like plastic barrels and dump truck covers and dump truck liners. I also have a massive stack of wooden pallets, which he was also amazing enough to bring home for me. He has learned over the years that I have a use for every weird thing he brings me. It will become something amazing even if it doesn’t seem like it when he brings it home.

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot the best part. He gave me an electrical saw I am allowed to use without him hovering over me. He got me a sawzall!!! (I think I spelled that right.) He also got me a package of blades so I can cut apart my pallets build my projects. I am allowed to use a nail gun unsupervised and I have my own drill so, I have always been able to use that. I have to wear safety glasses (I have a purple pair and a pink pair.) and these weird gloves that are supposed to keep me from accidentally cutting myself when changing the blades. I am apparently terrifying when I use a saw. πŸ˜‚ I doubt I will ever do any actual cutting by myself, but I am not terrifying according to both him and our youngest with the sawzall. To be honest, electric saws terrify me so, I usually let him or one of the kiddos cut things. (all of our kiddos are adults.) He also got me a giant box of wood screws and a big box of nails. (I think they are roofing nails, but they serve their purpose. I call them multipurpose nails πŸ˜‚) I was always complaining that I could not find a nail or a wood screw when I was putting in hiding spots in the rafters of the dairy building for the barn kitties so now, I have more than enough of both. I think I have rambled enough for one post. (I have one more to write, but it has nothing to do with the chicken coop.)

Until next time….