Showing posts with label Chickens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chickens. Show all posts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hidden Treasures

Can you see the two little guys peeking out?

The first day of October brought along the discovery of some new little chicks peeking out from under a hen this morning.  Now comes the challenge of moving them all into the barn and off the top of the haystack where she decided to brood them.  I'll wait until Saturday morning though, to give them all time to hatch.  She has anywhere from 8-12 eggs under her.  I didn't count them for fear of losing a finger or two - she was so vicious while sitting on them.  Good mama.

Happy October to All ~ A

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The chicks have landed

Hello farm-loving friends! Some very cold weather is headed this way for the coming weekend.  Actually, Sunday is the really bad day.  They are forecasting a high of 3 degrees, and a low of  minus 6 degrees.  The good news is the bad weather falls over the weekend, so no rushed morning commute into the city for my job.  I like to take it slow, and guzzle a few gallons of hot black coffee before I head out for barn chores in that kind of weather, and the work week just doesn't allow time for that kind of indulging. 

I am really missing burning wood in the stove to heat this winter. Totally my fault because I didn't schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning.  I suppose I could burn wood, but my mind would panic thinking I might catch the chimney on fire.  As soon as spring comes around I will have it inspected and begin stockpiling wood for next winter.  Financially its killing me too, because the furnace is electric. Again, my fault.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday the baby chicks arrived.  It was a cold morning too - at a whopping seven degrees.  Thanks to technology all the chicks were warm because under the hay in the box was a heat pack, good for up to 3 days of heat.  All eighteen of them are in good health and in my bedroom.  I don't trust the new cat not to go on a midnight hunt while I'm sleeping.  The soft red glow from their heat lamp is a little annoying to fall asleep to, but other than that they are remarkably quiet at night for the most part. In a week or two I will think about moving them out to the mud room, so long as the cat behaves...

BiBi the dog keeps watch over the chicks

A sweater has been set aside for a baby goat...should one arrive.  Still debating whether there is actually a pregnancy going on with Chiba.  Only time will definitely tell the answer to that mystery.

The horses are all well, and one has been sold and will be picked up sometime in the next 2-3 weeks if the weather cooperates. That will free up stall space for the two baby pigs that will be arriving around that time.  Can you sense the chaos starting to build here?

Hay is starting to run low, there might be three weeks worth left.  This weekend I will make time to find a source and restock.

Twenty-four days until Daylight Saving Time begins, and things will start to look better.  And I won't have to come home to a dark farm...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New stock

A friend desperately needed to rehome three chickens.  So I took them in.  I don't know what the breed is.  If someone knows please tell me! Here is one of the trio... I wonder where she gets her" hair" done?


 Anyway, they all seem to be adjusting to the other chickens and turkeys and are holding their own just fine.  Odd as they are...  I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday.  ~A

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The first batch of chicks have started hatching out yesterday and today.  With a few winter power outages and some issues controlling the temperature in the incubator, I half doubted any would hatch.  This morning it looked like about 50% were out of their shells so far.  After tonight I think I can assume what's hatched is final.  Little dog BiBi cannot be torn away from them, as it is always with a new hatch.  She's so motherly.

A little blonde Turken

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekends on the Farm

A quiet weekend, with more snow and more brutal cold. The "norm" this year so far.  Even with the cold, I did manage to get a full day of work accomplished on Sunday, shoveling the stalls and cleaning up the barn a bit.  And of course there was the routine visit to the feed mill for the week's rations. 

Chiba the goat is still waddling along.  She did manage to get out and get a bit of exercise, even with the deep snow and cold.  Still no signs of a baby on the way.  I'm no longer sure she's pregnant.

I wonder what the conversation was about?

The chickens are still hanging out inside (or very close to) the barn.  Its still far to cold for their liking.

Louie and the horses still seem not at all bothered by the snow or cold.  Lucky bunch.

I peeked into the "Bunny Hotel" to check for babies.  None there either.  My guess is that the boy bunny is still just a bit too young to get the job done.  He's only four months old, which is still considered young for the larger breeds. 

The only thing there was left to do after the barn work and errands was cook, eat and drink some wine.  Ahhh winter...

Pumpkin-Spice Cookies sounded like they were in order to offset the winter blues...


Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello February, Good-bye Ethel...

A lovely, quiet weekend on the farm made for a great beginning to February. Saturday was a day for butchering two of the Turken (aka "Naked Neck") hens that had approached the ripe old age of two years.  But really I was in a hurry to butcher them, because they are constantly eating everyone else's eggs, and because they are just plain mean to the other chickens.  Roosters included.

So the deed was done, and on Sunday I made a nice dinner of roasted chicken with a side of au gratin potato. The butchering chore was preceded that morning by a breakfast of French toast sprinkled with summer blackberries pulled from the freezer.  I even tossed a chunk of butter on top.

Mmmmm.... French Toast

The potatoes were easy; one potato-sliced thin, grated parmesan and heavy cream...

The dogs needed to get out and run, so I took a nice walk late afternoon to check fence lines and have a look around. The creek back in the woods was frozen, but I could still hear the little waterfall underneath the ice and snow. The dogs very much enjoyed the walk and slept well in the warm kitchen the rest of the day. Although, they seem to be confused as to which bed is in tended for which dog.

Louie on the hunt...

Checking the Fence

There's a waterfall under there somewhere...

Later in the evening when it was time to bring the horses in for the night and feed everyone else, I ended up needing Louie's assistance to help catch the turkey hen that escaped her pen.  She's done this three times now, so last night I clipped her wings. Hopefully this will put an end to that.  Her name is now "Lady Houdini..."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What (almost) a year can do...

A little flashback to some of the farm babies, showing how they've grown over the past year (or less).

June 2013 (We're focusing on the little yellow guy here)

Remember that little yellow guy?  Here he is in December of 2013

And how about this cute little man back in March of 2013...
 Here he is now in December of 2013.  (With a suspicious turkey watching from behind....)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Life on the farm feels madly stuck in a sort of "limbo" stage at the moment.  Everything is frozen. And still. And nearly lifeless.  I rode one of the horses all over the property last weekend to inspect everything and see what was new.  Not much.

In the garden, the garlic had poked their little heads through the soil at some point during this winter and the little green tips were frozen solid.  But I'm not concerned, the same thing happened last year and everything was fine come July. The only thing that appeared to show tiny signs of life were the blackberry bushes. They seem to be growing a little, like the buds on the trees.  But it could be my imagination.  Or just my lust to see something green and growing!

The goat is still waddling around looking like a small pregnant cow. The woodpile continues to shrink.  I'm worried about the goat because if she is actually pregnant and does go into labor please, please, please, don't let it be in the next ten days when the temperatures are in the low "teens" and dipping below zero during the nights.  Otherwise, I will have to bring her and any babies into the house.  No question there!

January 13, 2014

The sun sets today at 5:29 p.m. here in Northeast Ohio.  How I long for the month of May when things really start to green up and the sun sets at a more respectable time!

On another dismal note, I've discovered lately that one of my racehorses has come to despise chickens. He's bashed a few around now, but this latest outburst was downright savage! Not only did he crush this hen, but then proceeded to tear into her, toss her around a bit, and then finish her off by stomping her to death. Maybe the horse is suffering from cabin fever as well...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Poultry Plans

Okay so I was dreaming about hot chicks the other day.  For those of you with dirty minds, I was thinking about the kind with feathers - as in poultry. I do hope I didn't crush anyone's fantasies...

Anyhoo, I decided its time to start the flock planning for the new year.  Last weekend I did a head count and came in at 29 hens, 4 roosters, 1 Blue Slate Tom Turkey, 1 Bourbon Red Tom Turkey, and 1 Bourbon Red Turkey Hen.  And last, not lonely female Pekin Duck.  Hey, she lays an egg nearly every day, so she gets to stay. Most of the others will be headed toward the freezer over the next several months.  Hence, the "plan" to add to the flock.

It looks something like this...

Two scheduled hatch dates - March 1st and April 5th.  All eggs are going into the incubator because my hens suck at doing the job themselves (I won't go into details unless someone asks). I currently own and use the Farm Innovators Model 4200 Pro Series Incubator and have excellent results with it.  It's great for hatching forty or less chicks. So that is the way I do it.  Oh, and I schedule the hatch dates on the weekends because I like to be home to watch. I can't help myself.  I'm like a kid at Christmas! Now for the goal...

Hatch #1 (March)                 Hatch #2 (April)
25-30 chicks                         25-30 chicks
1-10 turkeys                         1-10 turkeys

Why so many??? Some for the fox, some for the hawk, a few for the weasel.... and the rest for me!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Teaching a city kid where chicken dinner comes from.

Here I am cleaning them up while Brother and Grandma look on...
Some believe that eating meat without regard to where it came from, how it was cared for, or how it came to our plate, or that even eating too much meat, can cause physical and spiritual damage to an individual.

Some also believe that meat is “made” in the store, and always comes from plastic or cardboard packaging.

As a child, I was not ignorant to where meat came from because I lived on a farm.  We raised two beef cows that I can remember were so small when we brought them home, my father could carry them in his arms.  We fed them bottles of bovine formula and crinkled our noses as they slobbered all over us during the process.  Cow slobber is gross.

When it came time to butcher them, I remember being directed into the house as the butcher showed up to shoot them.  We were spared viewing the shooting, slicing and dicing, but I do recall how fascinated I was when the meat came home all nicely packaged in butcher’s paper.  It was hard to believe these little white packages contained the two cows (though mean little bulls they’d become) that were just out in the pasture not long before.  I had no reservations eating the meat.  And I wasn’t sad to see the cows go.  I understood what their purpose on the farm was.

Also, when I was a young kid, I was taught to catch and fillet fish.  So I knew that fish did not start off in the form of a perfect fried square on a McDonald’s bun with tartar sauce, or finger-food friendly “sticks” in a box in the frozen food section.  Real fish started off with gills, guts, bones, scales and fins.  And slime. Slime is gross.

This past Saturday, I had family visiting the farm.  And I had some chickens to butcher.  After some discussion between the grown-ups, and then finally with my five year old niece, we decided to let her take part in (whatever way she chose) the butchering process.  We all thought it would be good a good experience for the “city kid” to see first-hand how a chicken makes its way to her dinner plate, start to finish. 

My chickens are free range, and my niece gets the opportunity to hold the little chicks, and observe how the older ones make their way around the farm eating bugs, laying eggs, and roosting at night.  She loves to collect the eggs.  She sees what a happy, good life the chickens live, so I was curious to see how she would react to their lives ending. 

She chose to help select the three chickens we corralled into the trailer to wait for processing time.
A determined little girl choosing the first chicken to process

My husband decided on the “break the neck” killing method that day, and once the first chicken was dispatched and hung up to bleed with its head severed off, my niece was okay with it all. I believe it was the first time she had ever seen an animal die.  We had to explain carefully why the chickens continued to move even without heads attached.  Whether she had nightmares about any of it that evening I have not heard, but somehow I think she was fine. 

Proudly, my little niece went home that day with her chicken that she helped butcher, a lot more knowledge about where meat comes from, and one hell of a story to tell her kindergarten classmates.

Standing beside her beheaded chickens, with one left to go!

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