Tag Archives: Chicken

I’ve got a headache

Headaches, do they really need to rule your day? or are they more just a symptom of apathy or depression? Today mine is all about the weather drying out and my sinuses protesting the change. Looking back though I realize that just maybe “i’ve got a headache” has been my internal excuse for just veging out rather than getting to those projects that need to get done.

Just about my biggest “headache this past year has been attacks on my flock. If my recollection is correct my flock has been hit by no less than 3 dog attacks, 1 coyote attack, and one disease infection. This repeated building up and then having my flock decimated has taken it’s toll, while still maintaining that my chickens and ducks are livestock it is very disheartening to see their lives wasted.

To that end I have been working to build housing that is more secure for them at night and also more aesthetically pleasing (gotta keep Tuey happy now that we’re up on the hill).

coop

Sample Design

Tuey saw this coop in Fernley last year when picking up some Crested Cream Legbars and liked it so much she took a picture and sent it to me. Since last summer I haver been supposed to build a prototype, but that damn headache kept interfering.

Escape Hatch?

Escape Hatch? 

Last weekend I finally got started by building the floor and run.

The Floor

The Floor

Overgrown Nails?

Overgrown Nails?

The above pic shows what happens when you forget to flip off the repeater switch on your nail gun after sheathing your shed roof.

Today I started on the framing for the hen house.coop8 coop9 coop

Tomorrow I hope to get the sheathing on (I am not gonna turn that damn double tap back on!!) Then my Sweety, Karen, can start painting. Having a project going sure does push those pesky headaches into the background.

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Woo-Hoo!!! My Silkies are Broody and My Sweety ain’t!

Nobody likes to brood on things and it sure ain’t pleasant when someone you love gets that way but when it’s your Silkie Hens that are broody it’s GREAT!!

This was a couple weeks ago. They had been laying in the container I put in as windbreak rather than the nest box.

This was a couple of weeks ago. They had been laying in the container I put in as wind break rather than the nest box. You can just see the second hens face peeking out behind the other girl.

This Mornings discovery!
This Mornings discovery!

Broody02 Broody08 Broody07 Broody06 Broody05 Broody04 Broody09 Broody10 Broody Hens

This is my buddy Mark, he is always broody.

This is my buddy Mark, he is always broody.

As of this evening 4 chicks had hatched out, all of them have 5 toes and black skin so they are probably from the pure silkie and not from the mixed hen with the red comb. This is my first batch that have hatched out under a broody hen and it is taking all of my willpower not to scoop them up and put them in the brooder.

 

Karen was worried that Gooey wasn't eating enough Hay........

Karen was worried that Gooey wasn’t eating enough Hay……..

 

Easy fix,just put the hay on the other side of the fence!

Easy fix,just put the hay on the other side of the fence!

 

 

 

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Indigenous Organisms in my Chicken Feed

My chickens get a fairly diverse diet. Is that because I’m all into optimum chicken health? or is it that I’m obsessed with maximizing egg production? The answer to both of the above questions is an absolute resounding definite kinda maybe. Yes I care about my chickens health and yes I get bummed on slow egg days but neither of those issues independently drive my choices in feed. I find that as I get older I am becoming more concerned about sustainability. The most fascinating thing I have discovered about sustainability is that it meshes nicely with my deeply ingrained cheapness. The best lesson my Grandpa taught me was it is better to buy a good thing once rather than replace crap constantly. For some reason that lesson transmorphed in my head into a system that classifies things as either things that are “worth it” or “luxury” items that aren’t. Refined processed expensive Lay pellets have found their way into that “luxury” slot in my noggin.

Scratch and Grain Feed fermenting in IMO

Scratch and Grain Feed fermenting in IMO

Scratch and 8% feed grain mix fermenting in Lacto from Braggs vinegar

Scratch and 8% feed grain mix fermenting in Lacto from Braggs vinegar

About 50% of my flocks diet is coming from fermented feed. I have a 35 gallon Rubbermaid garbage can with a tight-fitting lid that gets filled up with whatever falls into my “worth it” slot while wandering the feed store. Currently there is Scratch, a little sweet feed, some 8% Grain Feed mix, and a little whole grain pigeon feed in the can. Sometimes my Sweety, Karen, gives me a bag of parrot food of one kind or another. It doesn’t really matter it just all gets dumped in. My fermenters are two sets of two 5 gallon buckets nested inside of each other. The inner buckets have a butt load of 1/8″ holes drilled all over the sides and bottoms to turn them into large colanders. Each bucket gets loaded with 5 scoops of the custom designed mix in my Rubbermaid garbage can, the scoop I use is that nifty one from Starbucks that I told you al about in my post Starbucks Rewards and the Outriders of the Alien InvasionThe hooch in the buckets never gets dumped out it just gets replenished with dechlorinated water when necessary. The orange bucket was originally inoculated with my homemade IMO and Lacto-Baccillus culture, while the blue bucket was inoculated with Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar which has the “mother” or active Lacto-Bacillus cultures. You can definitely tell that there is difference in the micro-organisms working on the feed in these buckets. The Braggs one has a very strong sourdough smell while the IMO one has a bit of an earthy sweet hint to the strong sour smell. Neither one has an off, bad, or funky smell though. According to my very basic understanding of fermented feed the idea is basically to predigest the feed to make the nutrients more bio-available to your chickens. The blog Scratch Cradle some very informative posts on the science of this process. I have tried fermenting other stuff but always find myself drifting back to whole grains, why? I don’t really know other than that mash and pellets get really gooey. In the winter I do add cooked rice I get from a local Asian restaurant but once it warms up it seems to jump-start the brew a bit much.

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What’s up wit dat?

Spring has sprung and my incubator is cranking, 20 of the first 24 I set hatched. I did lose one after the hatch, no clue about why, so there are 19 little fluffy butts eatin, drinkin, poopin, and growin in my new-found brooder.

What a mess of chicks

What a mess of chicks

Lexi waiting for her new favorite chicken to hatch

Lexi waiting for her new favorite chicken to hatch

Lexi swears that this little guy looked right at her when he popped out of the egg and said "momma"

Lexi swears that this little guy looked right at her when he popped out of the egg and said “momma”

The new brooder is working out great!

The new brooder is working out great!

So far my list of barnyard critters is limited to chickens and ducks, I have wanted to branch out into bees but my sweety Karen is adamant that ain’t gonna happen. It always gets pointed out how many chickens I have, in fact just last week I got asked “what in the world are you gonna do with all of those baby chickens?” See if you can spot the irony in the situation when you look at the following pictures taken at the time that silly question was being asked.

Tuey's new baby "Gooey"

Tuey’s new baby “Gooey”

Gooey and her bottle

Gooey and her bottle

Gooey and Annabelle

Gooey and Annabelle

Karen says that Gooey is the foundation of her new venture into making goat cheese and goat soap. Gooey is now two weeks old, walks on a leash, lives in a kennel in the living room, drinks her milk from a 2 liter pepsi bottle with a nipple on it, runs to karen when she hears her voice, head butts the fridge to tell you it’s time for her bottle, and goes for car rides “just for fun”. Yeah goats are so much more practical than bees.

Gooey a week ago

Gooey a week ago

Gooey Yesterday

Gooey Yesterday

Isn’t it amazing how much Gooey has grown in just one week? She drinks about a third of that 2 liter bottle three times a day along with eating hay and weeds in the front yard. Lest you think “Tuey” just went off half cocked on this goat thing she did do a pretty good job of researching and choosing the proper breed of goat. Gooey is a Nigerian Dwarf Goat, she should only get about 20″ tall and weigh somewhere around 75 pounds when fully grown. From what I have read the “dwarf” part of their name is just a label that has been hung on them because they are small. They weren’t bred specifically for size but just turned out that way as a result of breeding for good milk production in a harsh environment. Nigerian Goats are one of the best goats for feed to milk conversion and have sweet milk that is very high in butter fat. Obviously Tuey weighed these factors and made a rational decision rather than falling in love with a “cute little goat” at a feed store in Escondido. Tuey would never track down a breeder of “cute little goats” and convince them that she was an expert at bottle feeding animals and could be trusted with a week old baby. Additionally Tuey would never pester a breeder of “cute little goats” so much that he made he regular phone calls to update her on the status of her becoming a “goat momma”. Yeeeeeaaaah Tuey would never do something like that…..would she? Of course she did! Thats what Tuey does, and in truth one of the things I love so much about her. So you would think with my indulgence of Karens fascination with Nigerian Goats and African Grey Parrots (last count was 10) a few little bees wouldn’t be such a big deal.

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2013’s First Chicks

3 weeks ago I set 6 eggs in the incubator, they r second row up from the bottom in the picture below.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

They started hatching last night and as of now I have 5 cute little fluffy-butts.

Newbs

Newbs

The 5 newest members of The Fruity Chicken flock

The 5 newest members of The Fruity Chicken flock

One egg still hasn’t pipped but I’ll give it a couple more days just to be sure. So far it appears that I have two Golden Cuckoo Marans (the light colored ones) one Black Copper Marans (on the left in the upper picture) one F1 Olive Egger (came out of the one green egg) and a mutt (BCM daddy and Red Sex Link momma).

These next 6 are due Friday

These next 6 are due Friday

Pictured above are the next batch of eggs that went in the hatcher tonite and should Friday. From left to right is a Golden Cuckoo Marans, then Two Easter Egger X BCM crosses (should yield F1 Olive Eggers). Bottom row is Olive Egger X BCM( should yield F2 Olive Egger) on either end with another EE x BCM in the middle.

That leaves the outer two rows in the incubator that go into the hatcher on Sunday. Maybe next week my sweety Karen will make a run to Utah to pick up those Cream Legbars and Basque hatching eggs she’s been promising me.

Check out the latest Critter to be caught in the act of egg thievery!

Check out the latest Critter to be caught in the act of egg thievery!

 

It's Lexi!

It’s Lexi!

 

 

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Look what I found!

Digging around in the barn for something I decided to see what was in the loft and lo & behold look what I found!

What is this thingy?

What is this thingy?

It's a brooder!

It’s a brooder!

And it works!!

And it works!!

I had been using my Sweety, Karen’s, bird hospital cubicles as both hatcher and brooder. This practice had led me to rush my chicks into the juvenile pen after 2 or 3 weeks in order to avoid complaints about the odor. Now I can set up this brooder in the office of the new house for this season and then find it a permanent location when we move up the hill. I do need to figure out exactly how to set it up properly, temperature I get but this has a curtain that I ain’t quite sure what purpose it serves.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

This find couldn’t have come at a better time. The half dozen eggs in the second row up from the bottom go into lockdown this friday, the next half dozen just above go into lockdown 3 days later, and finally the outer two rows go in a 4 days later. Hopefully within the next 2 weeks I’ll have a brooder full of fluffy butts and an empty incubator ready for the Cream Legbar’s and Basque hatching eggs Karen is teasing me with AGAIN.

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Olive Eggs!

My Very First Olive Egg!

My Very First Olive Egg!

Eggs5

The same egg but no flash.

I had read on BYC about Olive Eggers, chickens that lay olive colored eggs. The idea is simple, cross a dark brown egg layer with a green egg layer and Voila! Olive Eggs! I had hatched out pullets from green eggs that had Black Copper Marans roosters for daddy’s. I was a bit underwhelmed by what I thought was the results, some kinda dusky/dirty looking green eggs that didn’t even merit a picture. Today showed me what all the fuss is about. The BCM and GCM dark brown/red eggs are impressive but this true olive egg takes the cake.

None of these are white

None of these are white

Todays Haul with no flash

Todays Haul with no flash

 

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Rooster Reduction

My whining about lack of egg-production and repeated Ah Hah posts about finally figuring out the root cause of the issue has been a recurrent theme for about the last 6 months on my blog. This month I am blaming it on to damn many Roosters! ImageA large group of my hens had been hiding in the Hen House and looking pretty sad. So I decided they needed some fresh air and tossed em out into the run, boy oh boy did I find out quick why they were hiding! Chicken Orgy, them damn Roosters chased the poor girls down and lined up taking turns going for “piggy back rides” as my granddaughter Alexa called it.ImageIt was past time to cull some Roos, and no I still ain’t worked myself up to “completing the circle” and putting meat on the table. The intention was to pull out all of the Barnyard Mutts and take em to the feed store. ImageAs you can see there were a couple BCM x Production Red crosses and then BCM x Easter Eggers. I thought I had gotten down to 2 BCM, 1 White Cochin, and 1 GCM for a total of 4 roosters, the other 5 went to the feed store where I got a bag of lay pellets and a crisp $5 bill. A couple days later I realize there was some crowing goin on in the Hen House and discovered that the White Sport GCM wasn’t a hen after all.Image

Three days later and I’ve gotten 6 eggs a day 2 days in a row! Image

I’m not crowing yet though, we have been hit with a hard freeze that is supposed to continue for the next 3 days which will probably knock down my egg production again.Image

My two favorite hens, my sweety Karen and my cutie pie Alexa.Image

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Blahhhhhhhhhh………..

Well I think the title pretty much sums things up right now. (note: Blahhhhhhhhhh is pronounced properly with a full extension of the tongue ). Busy season has hit hard at work, the remodel is trying to absorb every spare minute , I am the secretary for our clubs Field Trial in February, and trying to find time to finally close out my Pop’s Trust has been just about to much. But on the bright side the Holidays were wonderful! All of my sons were here along with my sister Lorri’s annual pilgrimage (which I secretly look forward to every year) making things complete.

This weekend I was supposed to be working on plumbing at the Clayton Annex,

The new drain stack

The new drain stack

 

but I kinda played hooky and messed around at The Fruity Chicken instead. It was refreshing to start getting some of the things done that have been hanging over my head in the orchard. The first thing I noticed is that my Hen to Rooster ratio is way outta whack again! Just a rough count turned up 8 horny Cocks trying to mount anything that moved and half the hens hiding in the Hen House. Those poor girls are seriously underweight from stress and hiding out. I chased down four Roosters and headed up to the feed store (the Santa Ria Priest didn’t answer his phone) only to find out that they are closed on Sunday now (maybe they go to the same Church?).

Rooster behaving badly

Roosters behaving badly

 

 

Plan B: Lock them suckers up. All of the Roosters are in the area where I tried to grow winter wheat. That plan didn’t work out to well due to shade. Hopefully it will work to confine these horny bastards for a few days and give my hens a chance to recuperate. Who knows I might even start getting some eggs again. Two of the girls in my juvenile pen are laying now and all I can figure out is stress keeping the other girls from getting it in gear.

 

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

My baby ducks, The Ducky Ducks, got turned out into the main run last weekend. They immediately went and tried to make friends with The Kool Krew,

Poor Ducken

Poor Ducken

right off the bat the Buff Tufted drake in the Kool Krew grabbed the black tufted baby by the beak and held it’s head on the ground for about 30 seconds! Now the Ducky Ducks are allowed to follow along respectfully but not get to close. Poor little Ducken still aint sure what he is.

 

Planting Boxes

Planting Boxes

 

Last Year I lost several trees to wet feet. I hadn’t taken into consideration the slope of the ground and most of the trees at the bottom of that slope succumbed to root rot. To rectify this situation I am creating raised bed’s for the replacement trees, these are being suspended at roughly the same level as the last healthy row. The plan is to fill these suspended boxes with compost and soil then heavily mulch around them. Over time the surrounding area should form a gentle swale up to the level of the trees so that the boxes can be removed.

Compost

The Orchard in Winter

The compost pile is shrinking

The compost pile is shrinking

Overall it was nice to get back into the orchard/chicken ranch, it kinda gave me my focus back a bit. Those couple of hours inspired me to come home and start reading The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, Lorri got me this book for Christmas. I can’t say that I would have bought this book for myself but that’s why everyone needs an intuitive sister. After the first hundred pages I am already searching for unpasteurized liquid fish and cold pressed pure Neem oil.

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Expansion or just more work?

A year and a half ago we found out that our neighbor at the Fruity Chicken was putting his house up for short sale, and for various reasons my sweety Karen and I decided to try and purchase it. For anyone who has never experienced a “short sale” the term does NOT refer to time frame! After a long, arduous, and highly frustrating process we finally took possession of the Clayton Annex to the Fruity Chicken 3 weeks ago.

The Fruity Chicken is a 1/2 acre corner lot with a 1200 sqft. house and a barn on it, the Clayton Annex is the 1/2 acre corner lot with a 1600 sqft. house and a pool directly behind The Fruity Chicken and sharing a common back fence. So effectively we now have a full acre peninsula with 2 houses, a pool, and a barn on it.

Kitchen Remodel

Karen has been watching to much HGTV

Kitchen Remodeling

When all else fails apply brute force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Remodel

Brawn wins out over Brains!

 

 

 

A/C Installation

Karen making sure the guys get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Destruction

Karen makes the mess and Alexa cleans it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destruction

Sensible shoes? Alexa says “what can’t I do in heels?

 

 

 

 

 

Pool Replaster

Pool replastering 101

 

Pool Plaster

All I need is a hammer and a little time after school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the midst of all of this destruction I remembered that I had duck eggs in the incubator. When I checked on them I realized that my auto-turner had broke sometime, I started turning by hand but didn’t really hold out much hope for my chances of hatching out any ducklings. A month before 6 eggs had been put in my incubator, 4 green and 2 white ones. What breed are they? I have no clue, one of the females looks kinda like a mallard and the other is black with a white belly and a funky little poof ball on her head. After the first day of Kitchen destruction we came home to find 2 of the green eggs had hatched out.

Baby Ducks

The first 2 both outta green eggs

Baby Ducks

4 ducklings 2 outta green eggs 2 outta white, can you tell the difference?

Due to all of the work going on at the Annex I haven’t had a lot of time to get things straightened up and ready for the 10 new bareroot fruit trees coming this winter. The plan is to create some mini raised beds to mitigate the wet-feet issue that plagued the orchard last year. Things at The Fruity Chicken haven’t been totally on hold though, the fodder plan is progressing, fermented feed is still a hit, and the damn evil egg eating aliens are still plaguing me! But I got a plan……my next blog post should contain pictures of the perpetrator in the act, I borrowed my buddy Hoss’ trail cam last night and set it up in the coop today.

While feeding Friday one of Alexa’s Silkie Roosters snuck out and the next thing I know we had a battle royal join on.

Chickens

Squaring Off

Roosters

Spurs Flyin

Roosters

Back to your corners

Our winter catch up season just keeps getting fuller and fuller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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