This Weekend on The Homestead

Standard

For the first time in a few weeks, we had a full day Saturday to get some work done around the “homestead”.
It was a beautiful day here and I stacked this whole pile of logs myself.

20140406-211610.jpg Yes, my arms are sore, but I feel like Super Woman. Then I mowed all of the grass

20140406-211847.jpg
while Aaron did some more plowing on the new garden we’re starting this year, tilled a section of our garden from last year, made rows for our fellow homesteader neighbor, Tom, in his garden and finished up the new hen house.

20140406-212407.jpg

20140406-212349.jpg I also helped do a little cleaning out of both gardens. Hopefully we’ll get some of our plants we started from seeds, that are patiently waiting in the green house, into the ground next weekend. By evening the new hen house was ready to be moved to the backyard so after some planning and maneuvering we got it back there.

20140407-071318.jpg Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Am I right? Oh and here’s a random picture of this handsome guy just for your viewing pleasure….

20140407-071540.jpg You’re welcome.

Sunday, it rained, and what a nice day of worship, family and rest it was. I hope all of you were productive this past Spring weekend and found some joy as well.

**All photo credits for this post go to Raegan.

Advertisements

Our Chicken Story Part 2

Standard

Now that we had all of the “sisters” ( as Raegan called them) settled into their new home, we were anxious to start collecting eggs. Oh I expected they’d be a little traumatized from the move so by my calculations from zero chicken experience I figured about a week. Well that week came….and went, no eggs. We all watched and waited, I whined on Facebook, threatened to grill them, put a golf ball and even a fake egg in the nesting boxes, but still no eggs. I was told they probably wouldn’t lay until spring ( they started their molt soon after we got them) or even ((gasp)) might never lay again. It was a stressful time y’all. But of course right when I had given up and about a month after we had gotten them ( I promise it felt like much longer) we got our first egg!

20140331-082136.jpg It was a really cold day, Aaron came in front outside and called me over. He told me to hold out my hand. I nervously obliged and he placed something very warm in my hand, an egg, just laid, I almost cried, then I took a picture, posted it on all the important social media websites and of course text pictures to family members. It was a glorious moment.
The next day they laid another

20140331-082522.jpg so I posted a picture of that one too, then I celebrated by making cornbread and a collage to post.

20140331-082657.jpg The “sisters” have been laying almost daily ever since but we like eggs and four hens just can’t keep up, plus I really needed, okay maybe wanted some Plymouth Barred Rock hens. The second week in January we ordered 10 pullets from Ideal Poultry and I had absolutely no idea what to expect, nor was I prepared. The mail lazy knocked on my door with a box full of cheeping chicks. When I opened the box I saw 10 black chicks and 15 yellow chicks.

20140331-083425.jpgWhoa, hold the phone! I ordered 10 chicks, not fifteen, why do I now have 25 chicks cheeping in a box on my table? And better yet, what the heck do I do with them? Well the only sensible way to get your questions answered these days is by Google, so I Googled it and frantically called Aaron at work. After educating myself on day old chick care, and a run to the dollar store for a cardboard box, we were set up, heat lamp and all. After a call by Aaron to Ideal Poultry we found out why we had 15 extra chicks. Apparently when you don’t order enough chicks to fill the box they throw in some extra as “packing peanuts”. So, there we were, the proud owners of 25 chicks. They grew quickly

20140331-084938.jpg and at 3 1/2 weeks they got their first treat, stale bread. Before I knew it they were big enough to be out pecking and scratching in the backyard.

20140331-085134.jpg these days they free range in our backyard with the “sisters” during the day

20140331-085301.jpg and I night we scoop them all up and put them in their cage. By the end of this week we should have a new hen house built big enough to hold them all. Very soon 5-6 of the Plymouth Barred Rock will be going to new homes, because I only ever wanted 4, and the yellow chicks, who I believe to be Buff Orpingtons and are supposed to be roosters, will go to their new home in my freezer. At this point I think I can safely say I’ve been successful raising my first chicks, with the exception of one my schnauzer got ahold of and one mysteriously found deceased in the cage.

Our Chicken Story Part 1

Standard

It all started when I was a little girl. I used to scatter cat food out in the yard so my cats would gather around me and I’d pretend they were my chickens. Sounds like the beginnings of a chicken lady if you ask me. A few years ago my neighbors got chickens, then my husband wanted chickens. I said “no!”, I already had three kids, four dogs and four cats among other things to take care of. Then last year I got the bright idea to be more self sufficient, you know growing our own food and being a producer instead of a consumer. Of course the first thing you need is chickens. I checked out every book the library had on chickens. One day my next door neighbor’s daughter came over and said she was moving in with them and mentioned she didn’t know what she was going to do with her chickens. I didn’t hesitate for a second in offering to take them, but there was one problem, we needed a coop! So hubby got to work

20140329-140024.jpg and we all pitched in.

20140329-140137.jpg

20140329-140217.jpg All of the neighbors thought we were building a deer blind. My husband hated my color choice but everyone else loved it so he lost. I’m always right when it comes to colors, when will he learn? After a couple of weeks it was time for the finishing touches

20140329-142347.jpg and viola! The finished product.

20140329-142535.jpgNow it was time to pick up our chickens. I had read the best time to move chickens was after dark so I set out with a dog carrier and a flash light. When I got there they were roosting in their hen house, happy as can be. Their current owner grabbed one and stuck her in the carrier while I closed the gate behind her. Then he wrangled hen number two and into the carrier she went. As he was trying to put number three in the carrier I heard something rustling behind me in the dark, I looked back and when I did I accidentally opened the carrier gate too far and then ALL of the chickens escaped. We went from almost three to zero in half a second. After chasing chickens around in the dark for what seemed like forever we finally corned one, loaded her up and I took her home. Before I left though we came up with a plan for the following night. Come the next morning our apparently traumatized hen wouldn’t come out. my anxious children waited not-so-patiently in their pajamas until around 1pm when she finally ventured out. We celebrated. That night our plan worked and we gathered two more hens. Then, if we weren’t already the most popular kid hang out in the neighborhood, we were now.
There was still one little hen left back at their previous house and my husband and kiddos made several attempts to catch her. The problem was she was onto us coming into her hen house and capturing chickens after dark, so she found herself another place to roost. We just had no idea where that was. Finally one night the whole family went over there, hunted her down, and my husband captured her out of her new roost in a tree. I swear it sounded exactly like she was shrieking “help! help!” With all four chickens settled into their new home there was nothing left to do but wait…..wait on the eggs.