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Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Never fear, we’re still alive and well over here.  The farm is drying up with a lack of significant rain fall since the end of May.  Our pastures have turned brown, and the only thing growing well are the weeds.  I’m glad we were able to cut enough hay the first go-around to get us through the year.  Second-cut hay on our farm will be hard to come by.

I had hoped to have pretty new pictures to post, but I can’t seem to find our camera.  I think it’s still in the truck.  I’ve focused a lot of my free time on my horse lately, and so some of my other past times have fallen aside.  I recently took him to his first show, which was a big deal for us.  We’re coming out of nearly a year of rehab for some old muscle injuries in his back.  He was excellent and we even brought home a few ribbons.

The goats are doing well.  They’re so much fun.  Somehow we’ve ended up with very socialized wethers, but our doe kids are still a bit … wild … when in the pasture.  You can play with them, but only if they approach you first.  In the barn though, the doe kids are a delight.

We’ve sent in a very basic plan to our contact at VDACS for our creamery with living space above it.  This is one of our very first steps towards making this happen.  We would like to eventually move out of the barn we currently live in (and give my in-laws their “guest house” back), so I had suggested to HB that we design the creamery with living space above.  Hesitant at first, he warmed to the idea quickly.  It makes doing everything slightly more economical, in that there is no way we’d be able to afford loans for a creamery AND house.

We live in less than 600 square feet, and our creamery apartment would be bigger – I think closer to 1000 square feet.  We plan to live above the creamery for at least 10 years, depending on how everything goes before building an actual house (and hopefully at that point, the creamery apartment would house interns!).  At some point during that time we would start a family.  And I know we can handle the space my effectively planning it’s organization from the start.  And getting rid of a lot of stuff we never use and/or don’t need.  Speaking of, I took 4 trash bags full of clothes to the Goodwill a month ago.  Clothes that I haven’t fit into for at least 2 years, I said good bye to them.  Now if HB would do the same, we’d have so much more room in our closet!!

Our chickens are growing up, becoming gracious feathered ladies.  I spent last Sunday afternoon clearing the “jungle” that had grown up in their run while they’ve been indoors, protected from predators.  With hawks swooping around the farm daily (and living in the surrounding woods), we’re protective of our flock.  They’re only allowed outside to free range when absolutely full-grown.  I figure hawks are less likely to take down a full grown hen, but realize the risk.  At this point, they’re confined to their run.  Eventually we’ll start to let them out in the evenings when we get home from work, so that they learn to return to the coop at night.

Whilst clearing the jungle in the chicken run, I found huge volunteer tomato plants!  I left them alone for the hens to enjoy their small yellow fruits.  I also left a stand of tall lambs quarter to provide some shade in the fun.

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Can you spot the chick that’s different from the others?

Need a hint?

It’s not based on color (we have a variety).

It’s based on size.

If you picked this guy, who in the first picture is the one standing in the corner, you are correct!

When we received the latest shipment of baby chicks, it took a few days for me to realize that one was a little different.  As the others grew, this little fellow (hopefully, fellowette, as we ordered pullets — females — and not straight run — a mix) didn’t grow.  I’m not sure if she’s malnourished in some manner of if she’s a different breed of chicken. We’ll continue to watch her grow up.

The chicks are going through their awkward teenage stage – the one were as humans our hair would be straggly and we’d have acne and braces and that sort of thing.  Some of them are pulling through okay, like this silver-laced Wyandotte

or even this Columbian Rock is looking pretty good.  But the poor Aracunas and Red crosses are looking a little rough!

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Wow, there is so much to say with the latest events over the past few weeks since the last post.  Forgive me, dear readers (hello?  anyone?), but let me indulge you in the latest from Spring Mill.

Chicken: It’s What’s for Dinner

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, we processed our old laying hens.  I debated about if it was something I wanted to share with the blog, but have decided there is nothing to be ashamed about.  We received these hens as day-old chicks, raised them with love and care, and in return they (unknowingly) provided us with eggs for nourishment.  I sold their eggs to my co-workers last year, so they provided nourishment not just to HB and I, our in-laws, but also to at least 50 other people when you count the eggs eaten by our neighbors, co-workers, friends and their respective families.  Amazing the impact of 11 little hens, isn’t it?

The hens were getting older, laying less, and eating what eggs they did lay – a habit we tried hard to break, but never could.  So we set up one Sunday morning, and processed the hens.  The first one was the hardest for me, and after that it became a respectful thanksgiving as we did each hen.  The processing wasn’t that difficult and it was actually pretty interesting.  In their death, these birds will continue to provide nourishment, and that’s another amazing aspect.

A New Beginning

The day after we processed the hens, the next set of chicks arrived.  This time we ordered 30 pullets, half of which are Americanas that lay the beautiful “easter” eggs in shades of blue and green.  The other half are a mix of brown egg layers, Columbian Rocks, Red crosses, and Silver-Laced Wyandottes.  The picture above is taken at one week of age.  They’re living in their brooder in the coop and thriving.  We ordered them from Mt Healthy Hatchery in Ohio.  We ordered our previous set of laying hens from them as well, we love the quality of the birds.  Now, if only I could find a few meat birds to raise as well… 😉

A New Addition

Last week Xenia kidded a beautiful little doeling, who we named “Bette Davis” to keep up the year’s theme.  She is a sweet, spunky little girl.  Despite wanting to bottle-raise, we’ve decided to let Xenia raise her.  Our work schedules just don’t allow time for midday feedings.  Now I’m trying to decide when to introduce her to the rest of the herd.  Bette is so much younger than the other kids, I don’t want them to bully or injure her with their roughhousing!

The Never-Ending Project 😉

The goat barn is coming along well.  We’ve fenced in the small barn lot surrounding it and putt up two of the three gates.  We’ve started some of the interior wall work, and once that is finished will complete the outer front wall.  Then! we will be able to move the goats out there.  How strange it will be to not wake up to them “baaaaa”ing out my back door!

A Bit of Beauty

Our rose bushes are in full bloom and I’m in love with them.  Every year they get better and better.  These were $6 tea rose hybrids we picked up on a whim at WalMart a few years back.  I love the blooms – one blooms a buttery yellow, the other blooms a pale yellow with pink-tinged petals.   Walking out to the chicken coop and seeing these lovely plants makes me smile.

An Education.

Today is the first day the dairy goats and kids have been turned out with the wethers in the big pasture with Huck.  There were some antics at first, but now everyone has settled down and enjoying the field.  Yes, and I said with Huck, my horse.  After nearly 9 months of stall rest and controlled exercise we got the “go ahead” after his last ultrasound to put him out in the pasture!  Last Wednesday was his first day out, and he is LOVING it.  I think he enjoys the goats out there too.  Sweet Roll and Donut stay with him full time – in the pasture during the day, in the barn lot at night.  They often curl up together (the wethers, Huck doesn’t curl up with them) and sleep in the stall at night.  Huck must be picking up skills from the goats – when we climb a big hill/mountain on the trail he breaks out his “mountain goat walk” and cruises up them. 🙂

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I guess the grass is readying itself for St. Patrick’s Day?

We’ve been blessed with a week and a half of warm weather.  Overnight lows in the 50’s and daytime highs in the 60’s, sometimes nearly 70!  It’s wonderful!  I’m always amazed by how quickly the grass rallies when warm spring days begin to appear.  The horses have set aside their hay and search out tender sprigs of grass.  The chickens, after a few days of a warm steady rain, are having a heyday going after bugs.

The doe’s bellies continue to swell, as do their udders.  Memphis, in particular, has an udder becoming more bulbous every day.  Abba, in accordance with her petite size, has an appropriately sized udder.  Both girls are now displaying a little discharge.  I’m patiently waiting, but becoming more excited every day.

Spring’s almost here!

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Today, work was just one of those days.  One of those days where you say to yourself, “I’m going home and drinking a beer.”  And here I find myself, not one, but two, beers later.

Jenna wrote on Monday about a similar situation.  Maybe without the beer.  She didn’t mention it.

I came home this evening to HB making dinner and all the barn chores needing completion.  I started with feeding the dogs, since it was raining and Hershey was outside (Chester, with his bad back is on indefinite cage rest and attends work with me daily).  Then the chickens, then letting Huck into the barn lot for exercise.  I fed Huck,  milked Jacqsonne, fed Abba and Memphis, fed Xenia, fed Sweet Roll, cleaned Huck’s’ stall.  Then I fed the cats and wrapped up the night putting down fresh bedding.

It’s amazing what having 20+ mouths to feed does to your perspective.  It gives you something worth doing.  Otherwise, like Jenna, I likely would have come home, curled up with a snack and a beer (well, pre-HB, that would have been the case), and snoozed the night away.

So to all the animals out there on the farm that depend on me, thank you for keeping me in line. 🙂

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Monday of this week was absolutely gorgeous.  Highs in the low 50’s, the sun shining brightly.  Despite the fact that I screwed up and went into work on my day off (and subsequently spent half my day off working as a receptionist to earn a little extra money), the animals and I took advantage of the weather.

On our way home, I  rolled down the windows so Chester could stick his head out and enjoy the breeze.

Once home, I was greeted by my darling herd of dairy goats with their queen, Jacqsonne, at the lead.

I myself took advantage of the afternoon by taking Huck out for a ride in the woods.

The hens rejoiced in the warm weather and scattered across the barnyard.

HB and his dad spent the afternoon finishing the placement of posts for our goat shed.  And yes, this is a lesson in farm UNsafety.

While the horses in the front field supervised the building and equipment.

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