Tag Archives: Poultry

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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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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100% !!!!

This is my second year of incubating eggs. Last year I was using a Little Giant Styrofoam incubator and had gotten to where I was getting about 80% hatch rate. Then events beyond my control (see Chickenshit) led to me getting a Brinsea Incubator and my hatch rates plummeting to less than 50%. In fact my first hatch of the Fall season was a dismal 33% hatch rate.

Eggs

I set these 12 eggs on September 25th

Eggs

These 4 Fluffy Butts were hatched on October 16th

Finally I think things may be coming together between the Brinsea and me.

Eggs

These 6 Eggs were set September 30th

Chicks

These are the first 4 along with 6 that hatched October 21st

Those 6 new Fluffy Butts made for my first 100% hatch rate in my new Incubator. Now all I got to do is figure out what to do with all these Chickens!

 

 

 

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Steam Triumphs over Modern Technology!!!!!

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post about boiling fresh eggs, I have hunted diligently for that post so I could link to it here but ain’t had no luck. Anyone that has chickens has run into the age-old issue of cooking hard-boiled eggs, FRESH eggs just wont peel after being boiled! It is frustrating. irritating, and ultimately enlightening. I don’t understand all of the science and ain’t got the motivation to look it up, but suffice it to say that if you leave your FRESH eggs in the fridge uncovered for 3-4 weeks they will boil up and peel fairly well. The older they are the better, what does that say about store bought eggs?!!!!! They are all labeled “farm fresh” but they sure peel good even straight from the store!

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I had read all sorts of sure-fire process’ that are guaranteed to make your FRESH eggs peel reliably after cooking. In the past I had tried most of the ones using traditional egg in boiling water techniques, lots of salt, baking soda, vinegar, starting with cold water and rapidly chilling when done, cracking the shell once the water came to a boil to name some of the most popular. None worked reliably for me. Recently I had read that steaming your eggs worked like a charm so today I decided to find out. Additionally my wife had bought some funky device called “Eggies” for boiling eggs outside of the shells, she insisted I try them so I ran a head to head test to compare the methods.

The Software: 11 FRESH eggs (less than a week old)

The Hardware: Karen’s “Eggies” kit on the Left and a Pot, Colander, and Lid on the right.

For the Steaming method I put the colander in the pot and put enough water in to leave about a 1/2″ of space between the water and the bottom of the colander. The pot was put on the stove and brought to a full boil, then I placed seven eggs in the colander, placed the lid on, and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer went off only 1 had cracked egg. I separated them and left 3 to cool on the counter while the other 4 went into ice water.

Next I proceeded to set up the Eggies, What a pain in the ASS! After thoroughly reading the instructions, I cleaned the cups, lubed them, assembled them, then carefully cracked an egg into each of the 4 cups. They were then sealed, placed in the pot which was filled with warm water and put on the stove. When the water came to a boil I reduced the heat to a gentle boil and set the timer for 15 minutes as suggested by the chart on the back of the instructions. All went well which then led into the peeling and evaluation phase.

These are the steamed eggs after peeling. The shells slipped right off of the warm and chilled eggs alike.Above are the eggies after boiling, cooling, and opening. As you can see I broke the yolk on one of the eggs while filling the cups, that was my fault, I had forgotten how tough the membrane in duck eggs can be!Based on the results I would have to admit that both steaming and Eggies create a hard “boiled” egg that peels easily. But if you take into account the effort put into each method along with the aesthetics of the finished product Steaming wins hands down! The original recipe I read for steaming eggs said to steam them for 20 minutes but then I read several posts on the forums at Backyardchickens.com that claimed excessive cracking at that length of time and recommended cutting the time in half. More posts reported slight undercooking at the 10 minute mark, I like HARD boiled eggs with no iridescence left in the yolk but no green ring either, so I settled on 15 minutes and got perfectly cooked eggs with only one cracked.

I highly encourage all of my fellow backyard chicken owners to give steaming eggs a try and start enjoying easy to peel hard boiled eggs again!

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When does then become now and vise-versa?

When your putting a little bit into a project on a regular basis you can lose track of progress. I lost a hen last night, not to anything scary or alarming, she fell into the duck pond and drowned simple as that. I’m not sure how she joined my little circus but I do know that she contributed in her own way and now there’s room for more. That’s what struck me when I found her this morning, six months ago losing a hen would piss me off! Thomas, the devious son, and I had a major rupture in our relationship over a chicken killing dog. That episode finally drove it into my thick head that animals are gonna behave like animals whether they are pets or livestock. We as their keepers have a responsibility to take care of them. The reality of that episode was that I wasn’t being a responsible chicken keeper by letting them free range on a 1/2 acre sub-urban lot, and Thomas wasn’t being fair to Michone (his Husky puppy) by just letting her run free on that same lot. We both blamed each other and felt as if the other had let us down but the truth was that we had both failed in our responsibilities to our animals. The hen I lost last night was an accident, nothing more, it was not a judgement on my skills and the realization that losing livestock to accidents is part of having livestock is something that I needed to learn.

The following pictures are from earlier this year when the trees were just going in and it was all one big space with chickens and ducks running everywhere. I thought I had everything all figured out and it was gonna run like clockwork.

 

 

Then came the itch of all of that nice ground between my fruit trees. From somewhere the idea for sunken beds came along, which eventually morphed into half-assed huglekulture beds. My head is filled even more now with ideas to squeeze even more outta my little 1/8 of an acre.

 

 

Things started greening up, more ideas formed and then surprises started showing up. Low and Behold maybe some of this stuff is gonna work! And most of all it feels good doing it, even on a miserable monsoony 114 degree August afternoon, I look forward to working in my orchard/chicken corral/garden.

 

 

I’ve come to realize that old ideas inspire new ideas and working through a problem really does require work. But the fruits of that labor, be it a fence that helps create harmony with your son, goofy nest boxes and separation that bring eggs to the table, or patience that helps develop a new friendship, is what life is really all about.

 

 

And then their are Black Copper Marans Roosters! Is anybody looking for one? or maybe 2 or 3?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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