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Showing posts with label chicks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chicks. Show all posts

Monday, December 14, 2009

Think Tiger Has Too Many Chicks?

Mr J and I have neared divorce over his chicks!  It's not that he has the chicks, or really even how many he has...  It's that he's let them run wild around here!  Imagine the grief it would bring to Elin  (and my heart truly goes out to her) if Tiger let his chicks run wild around the mansion, like Mr J or this guy...

OK, maybe it's not the same, but I've also experienced tremendous grief.  Just take a look at the destruction Mr J's chicks have caused in my territory!  (click to enlarge any photo)

  I had started some young plants here to fill in the open space.  They're gone now.  The border and decorative rocks are all but buried in the mulch, while the barrier that's suppose to be buried has been pulled to the surface by the nasty birds' scratching.

Let me interject here that I do not like chickens.  As much as I love animals, I do not consider chickens in the same catagory.  I do not like chickens.  I love fresh eggs.  I like chicken.  I do not like chickens... plural...  as in alive and running around outside my house!

See the big hole right smack-dab (whatever that means) in the middle of my lemon thyme?

No, I didn't put the hole there as an architectural element.  Those dad-blame (whatever that means) birds did it!  They dug holes in the centers of most of my plants. 

My red sedum has suffered the most damage.  Just look at this...  

See the big bare spots?  ...the chunks of bark laying about?  This sedum is much more prone to breakage than the thyme or other plants.  Here, the chickens have removed every bit of it that was above ground.  Fortunately, it is hardy and will probably grow back. I'm really hoping the white spots are just some left over snow flurries that managed to snuggle into some shadowy crevices.

In this corner of the sidewalk and driveway, I had a nice clump of Japanese blood grass... had being the operative word here.
Notice again the revealed weed blocker, and the way the mulch is scattered over the jelly pebbles.  The mulch used to be just around the grass and on the other side of the border rocks.

Now that I've told you what my garden used to look like, let me tell you what the chickens used to enjoy... running free.  They are still free-range.  It's just that their range is smaller than it used to be.

Here is what they used to have...

The big hen house is in the foreground.  The north end of their pen runs between the little red house and the horse trailer.  (That's Benji coming up the drive.)

In this photo, you can see a distinctive line in front of the hen house, but behind the waterer that is sitting on the pile of bricks.  (keeps the water cleaner)

 That is where the fence used to be.  We extended their area up almost to the barn, as seen in this next shot...

Their area actually goes past the side of the barn.  Mr J has a compost pile over there.   It is like a five-star restaurant to the chickens.  So now they have free access to it.  It's full of little critters they eat.

On a sad note, Mr J has lost one of his hens.  She was a beautiful golden lace.  We don't have a clue why she died.  Mr J wonders if she got into something there in the tall grass by the barn.  FIL has dropped a lot of nails around there and Mr J found some broken glass. 

Here is a close-up of the feathers on another golden lace hen...

He will miss her...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eggs, Heaven and Heirloom Quilts

Remember the two eggs Hubby found the other day in the big hen house? If not click here for the story. Since the chicks are all the same age, logic would say that all the hens will be laying very soon. Do the math... Never mind; I'll do it for you. Fifty new hens plus four older hens equals four and one-half dozen eggs a day! Of course, we'll be eating some of them, but even Hubby and his cholesterol club members can't eat that many!

We plan on donating some to our city's food pantry, and we'll sell the rest. Hubby says that will pay for the cost of having them. Yeah, right. Did I mention our hen house has vinyl flooring? Sure, we bought it from the remnant rack, but it wasn't cheap! We did use recycled wood for most of the house, and the shingles came from everyone's left overs. (The roof is patchwork.) We used free telephone poles for the foundation. The door and windows are all free recycled goods, but the siding is purchased, as well as the floor and roof joists.

On top of the building costs, you'd be surprised how much it cost to feed a bunch of birds! They need laying feed, scratch, grit, special things to put it all in. Don't forget the electricity for the heat lamps while they were young. Oh yeah, the fence... I think you get the point. Already we'd have to sell eggs for the rest of our lives to break even!

Just when you think I've covered the expenses... Now we need something to put all those eggs in. People don'[t want to carry them home in Wal-Mart bags. We only have about two-hundred saved, so last night I went online and researched egg cartons. They hatchery we bought the chicks from sell plain cartons for about 3.3 cents per carton cheaper than the printed ones from another supplier. (Would you believe eggcartons.com?) Hubby liked the printed ones. I don't blame him. They do look nice, don't they?
And for just a few bucks difference, why not. So I clicked on eight-hundred and went to my cart to settle it. At about $186 we could have a good supply of cartons. I enter my shipping information and click. Then comes the total... Add another $75 for shipping! OK, so Hubby's going to have to settle for the plain ones that are only 45 miles away! That is, if we can pick them up...

I knew somewhere there was a window to heaven, but I didn't expect it to be a double-hung. This was our sunset last night. Do you see the center bar of the sash?

I guess God wanted to keep out the flies and humidity.

With all the creative bloggers out there showing off their quilts (OK, just Grandma Nina), I thought I'd show off mine. Wish I could take credit for it. My daughter's grandparents made this. They passed away in the 1980's. I've had this in my cedar chest for awhile because it didn't really match my decor. I pulled it out because who cares! It's a work of art. This is it on my queen-sized bed...
It has a unique pattern. They were very serious quilters; they measured their stitches constantly to make sure they weren't spreading apart or cramming them too close. This is the border. (I know - duh!)
Noticed the stitched design in the white area? How about the heart? Here's a close-up... (You might have to enlarge to see the detail. I forgot to correct the exposure before uploading. Stupid camera!)
Every quilt they made was dated upon completion. This one is older than my daughter.
I am so thankful to have this to remember them by. It was such an important part of their lives. They sat together, side-by-side in front of the quilting rack for weeks upon weeks. When the quilt was finally finished, they would put the rack away for a while. Next thing you knew, it was back!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chick Update...

Some of you have been following the story of our baby chicks since day one. Well, actually it was day two. They ship them as day-old chicks. The hatchery is less than 50 miles from here, so they arrived at our post office the next morning. This picture was taken on April 9 when we first got them...

Hubby was pleasantly surprised today when he went to feed the chicks! He wasn't expecting this for another week or so...
You've come a long way, babies!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chickens Can Learn

Well, it took them a while, but the chicks are finally using both their brains and the door. Now, instead of standing in the opening looking at the great beyond, they actually go through the door and down to the grass. Yea! And they've learned to go back inside before dark. It's a milestone. It's the equivalent of your toddler finally going number two in the potty! Daddy is proud. I'm sure if they hadn't been evicted, they would still be standing there, gazing out at the strange green stuff.

Do you suppose they are agoraphobiacs? If they were raised outside, would they be afraid to go in? I wonder if there are other animal species that fear the big world.

I remember the first time our goats saw snow... We had five that we raised from babies. They stood packed together in the back door of their shed staring at the white stuff. One of them finally stretched a foot over the threshold. Woah! What the heck is that stuff? You sink in it! It was fun watching them test it over and over until they finally summoned up the courage to brave it. I don't remember now how long it took them to venture out, but chickens, if you're reading this, it was the SAME DAY!

The four laying hens we have were several months old when we got them, so they were already accustomed to the outdoors. They are over a year old now. Hubby says they have to be kept separate from the young ones until the babies get bigger. In an earlier post I mentioned how the house was divided. When the chicks got too big for their small corner, Hubby moved the grown hens to a separate house so the babies could have the whole big house to themselves.

Hubby's first wife's father (now deceased) built bird houses. That's what I'd always been told. Bird houses. Those cute little things you hang from tree branches, right? Nope. We're talking big bird houses! When Hubby got ready to have chickens, they gave him one of the bird houses. That's where the hens live now. It's big enough for probably a dozen hens. He was quite the craftsman. Hubby added the little chick door on the side, the ladder, handles and wheels. It's a mobile home for chickens!

It's hard to believe that, in another three months or so, the fifty new hens will be laying eggs. I guess they can all live together peacefully by then - the young and the old. That will be fifty-four hens laying eggs every day! Does anyone out there have any egg recipes they'd like to share?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Horses & Chickens & Kids, Oh my!

Yesterday was wonderful, despite having to deal with the nursing home issues mentioned in my essay's blog. I thank God for the good times that balance out the bad.

I gave Maggie a few days to settle in, but yesterday I brought out her old saddle. I was going to sell it since it didn't fit my other horses. Maggie has extremely high withers (horsey tech) and I had to shop for the right fit. I kept putting off taking the saddle to the tack shop. It's been three years and the saddle is still here. I guess somewhere deep inside I knew she'd come home.

She's a lot taller than my other horse and I always mounted her from a rock or fender... whatever was handy. I had taught her a cue that swung her around beside whatever object I chose to climb up on. She has since forgotten the cue, but I will refresh her on that later. I walked her over to my sitting rock in the iris bed. I tried cuing her but she didn't understand what I wanted. She ended up swinging around in the other direction, her hind feet stepping into the irises. As graceful as she ever was, she walked back around out of the flower bed without so much as a bump to a blade. She knows where her feet are and steps ever so carefully. I don't know of many horses that could walk through a flower bed without doing at least a little damage. Hubby came to the rescue and coaxed her to sidestep toward the rock. It felt good to sit astride her again. She's got a super easy walk and trot. I have never used a bridle and bit to ride her... Only a halter with reins clipped on. She doesn't need anything more. I've ridden her in traffic, on trails and the bike path that way. She's what horse people would call bomb proof.

Maggie is buddy sour already. This is when horses don't want to leave their pasture mates; They keep turning back to the barn. She refused to go across the creek, so we ended up walking in lots of circles. (It's kinda like a horsey time-out - they hate little circles) We rode around the front and side yards. It felt like coming home. The memories had become so faint, and now here I was... I'll never let her go again!

Ali wanted to ride her. She had never shown much interest in the horses, and since they had busy soccer schedules, hadn't spent a lot of time learning about them. For her, a ride meant being led around by me. I had other plans.

Maggie is extremely easy to handle and I trust her. She is not the kind of horse to take off on you. I kept her lead line attached where I could reach out and grab it if needed. I told Ali to mount up and handed her the reins. It took her a bit to find the gas peddle. You can see a video clip of her ride on her blog. Let her know you've visited...

Well, the chickens got evicted! FIL got tired of waiting for them to go out on their own and tossed every single one out the door. They really loved their day outside and seemed to adapt well. Here is a short clip of them running away from me:

Our four laying hens always return to their coop at dusk. All Hubby has to do is go out and shut the door so the critters can't get to them. In the morning he opens the door for them to come out. They go back in to lay their eggs in the nest.

We've read and now know it's true... You must let a chicken find it's own way out if you expect it to find it's own way back in! So after a really long day that began at the hospital, and was about to conclude with a campfire, here we are crawling around in chicken poop grass with a flashlight gathering over fifty chickens! The people steps going into the house are just stacked cinder blocks. Some of the chickens decided to roost inside them. Luckily my hands are smaller than Hubby's. It's not easy retrieving chickens from cinder blocks!

Hubby's fishing net made the job a lot easier. He could net four or five at a time, since they like to huddle. I would take one at a time from the net and carry it to the door of the house. Surprisingly, they were very calm as I cradled them against me. I expected squawking and flapping. A few of them sat in the doorway letting me pet them before joining the other rescued birds in the corner.

Too bad I don't have an infrared video camera. I'm sure the scene was quite entertaining!

Tonight the hens went into their small coop while all the young chickens were still out. Hubby waited patiently, and soon they started heading in on their own. All except one. Hubby says he was pretty fast too! Good thing he's got the net.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eviction Notice

FIL is evicting the chicks. Hubby went out to the chicken house this morning to discover FIL had completely disassembled his interior! The corner where the chicks had been isolated from the older birds before they were moved was where Hubby was going to store his feed and supplies. It's gone now. The wood and wire are all thrown outside on the ground! That'll teach Hubby to leave FIL home alone!

FIL decided that everything needed taken out so he could clean the house. So when he gets home later, he is planning on forcing all the chicks out of the house so that he can clean every crack and crevice. Sounds like a photo-op to me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This week on the farm...

We've had some fun and some not so fun days. Ali's 5-yr-old sister Grace came home with us Monday night. One minute they are so loving and kind to one another; the next, I want to shoot them! Fortunately, they've both had more fun than grief. They had planned on swimming non-stop, but the unseasonably cool weather dropped the bomb on that.

We did make it down the bike path today. It was Gracie's first time. Usually, that's an activity we save for the older girls. It's hard for the toddler bikes to crank out the necessary RPMs. Plus we have to go out on the highway to get to it because there is no bridge over the creek that cuts the woods in half between the house and the bike path. It's almost a half-mile trek round trip to get to the road and back down our gravel lane. They found a creature (dead butterfly) to take back and show Papaw.

Our big discovery this week is that the big sitting rock in the iris bed makes a perfect stage for impromptu performances! All you need is a push broom to amplify your voice and a sister with a couple of garden stakes to keep the rhythm.

Mommy came and got Ali tonight to give her a hand preparing for tomorrow. They are having a BBQ to celebrate Gracie's birthday (officially last Sunday) and the 4th.

Last week we had so much hot, dry weather. It was great for the farmers trying to get in their hay. Not so for us. We buy most of our hay from a neighbor two parcels over. He had arranged for the same guy to cut it that cuts the field beside us. Apparently, there was a communication problem because they only cut the field beside us. The guy finally returned our neighbors call and said he would cut & bail this week depending on the weather. I think he meant, "If it's too bad to do anything else... "

The weatherman forecasted rain. He didn't use the words slight, scattered, spotty, chance... He said there would be rain. So the guy comes and cuts the hay. Now the hay is raked into wet piles on the ground. This is not good. For you that are not country folk, would you leave your wet laundry in a heap? It molds.

It sprinkled some this morning, but I think we may be in luck. The guy turned it over to let it dry some more, and they may be able to bail it Saturday. I'm hoping they didn't ruin the hay. We won't buy wet or moldy hay. Barn fires are serious business and horses can't eat moldy hay. But even if they salvage the crop, it's still a bummer for me... Saturday, I was going to go pick up Maggie!

Even though I'm sad for my friend having to give her up, I am getting excited to have her back. Since neither my friend nor I had anything planned for the 4th, Hubby and I were going to drive up that morning to pick her up. If they bail the hay Saturday, we have to stay home and get it in the barn. I could take the trailer myself, (they probably wouldn't miss me in the barn) but hubby will probably need his truck to pull a hay wagon. So everything's up in the air!

Our horses were due for their farrier visit last week. Hubby's gelding has drier hoofs than my mare's, and we've had trouble in the past with them cracking. It was a long battle to get ahead of the problem, but finally his feet were looking terrific. Then our farrier got hurt. He called last week, the day of the appointment, to tell me that he would call back later. His back went out and he was headed to a chiropractor. Well, that was last week. We've heard he's working, but he hasn't returned our calls. And now Buddy's hooves are looking ugly. So far it's just chips and surface cracks, but if we don't get something done soon, we'll have to start all over.

That about sums up the week... Oh, except for the chick report: Nothing to report. The big green yonder is still far too threatening to venture out from the coop. Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One down...

Tomorrow perhaps there will be a new video showing tons of little chickens scurrying around the grass... or maybe not!

I got home tonight right before dusk and there was one chicken outside of the house! One. It probably fell or got pushed. I don't know what the record is for longest time to step out into the real world. Maybe I'll google it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chick Update Part II

I'm having some problems uploading video, so I had to go back and make this one a two-parter.

Today was graduation day for the chicks. Hubby decided they were now big enough to venture into the big outside world. Problem is, chickens get used to one thing and don't want to change. Hubby opened up their access door and they all took turns looking out! One rooster sat with his feet on the edge of the door, but that's as far as he dared escape! Maybe tomorrow...

Chick Update

Well, I waited for Hubby to do the filming and it didn't happen... So today I donned my mask and venture inside the coop for a quick shot of the babies before they were turned out. (sorry about the shaky video... meds) They've really grown since you last saw them! The older hens that are laying have been moved to the small hen house so the babies could have the entire coop for themselves. It's a 10' x 20' house. Hubby recycled old playset ladders for the roosts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

last chick update

Well, maybe... we'll see. It was pretty rough going into the chicken house today. Hubby keeps it super clean, but there are a lot of chicks! As much as I love fresh eggs and being self-sufficient, I want nothing to do with the chickens. I have a medical situation that dictates I should not be spending time in a chicken house. 'nuf said. And Hubby is not one to pick up a camera. Once they are old enough to go outside there will be more pictures, but for now... 0n to the comparison shots.

The top photo is one from April 9th - our 1st day. It's not the greatest, but I wanted to include the gallon waterer to give scale. At that size, they could have used the lip as a bird bath. They were no wider than the trough. The 2nd photo I shot today in the chicken house. That makes them 5-1/2 weeks old. Also note that in the 1st shot the waterer is sitting on the shavings and in the 2nd shot, it's up on large bricks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

moving day - chick update

Yea! I actually have my garage back! Well, we don't really use it as a garage... It's usually to full of junk. But at least I can use the back door again. A couple of days ago I caught one of the babies standing on the tallest waterer, looking over the wall for a landing zone. Yesterday Hubby had to catch one and put it back in the pen. Plus, since they had quadrupled in size, they were starting to create a smell. So the eviction notice was served. Hubby got busy and finished their new home in the big hen house.

He had no plan on how to get them from point A to point B. Yeah, somehow I knew I was going to get stuck with the dirty work. I got a piece of greenboard that was small enough to handle but large enough to almost reach across their enclosure and slowly herded them down to one end. Then it was just reach in, grab one, stuff it in the kitty-carrier... Hubby took some video of me collecting them for the journey, but he's not so good with the camera. Anyway, I cut out this clip of me showing him one of the birds I call angel wings. It looks so beautiful in the sunlight.

Seeing them sleep took some getting used to. At first we kept thinking they had died! They stick their heads down in the bedding and some of them stretch out in such an abnormal looking posture. As soon as a bunch get into a nice deep slumber, one will come ripping through the crowd to wake them up. It's a wonder any of them got any sleep at all!

I still can't believe we haven't lost a single chick! That's very unusual. Hopefully that won't change now that they are outside. It will be a little harder for Hubby to maintain a constant temperature, but before long they will be acclimated to the outdoor temperature. Wonder how the old gals are going to sleep tonight with all the babies chirping...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

3 days old and counting...

Well, the babies have been here for forty-eight hours and all are still alive! Thursday, there was one that we didn't think would make it, but now we can't tell which one it was... That's a good sign. We've read and been told that you can plan on losing a certain percentage right off the bat. So I guess we're pretty lucky. If you call having seventy-five chicks in your garage lucky!