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Posts Tagged With: chickens

Something Scary!

There is something quite scary on our farm!  And I’ll warn you; its a little gross too.  So if you’re brave enough to keep reading, here ya go!

Something scary on the farm!  {DaddysTractor.com}

I told you.  Gross.

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But don’t worry.  Nothing is actually wrong with any of these chickens.  Believe it or not, this is actually healthy and normal.  Well, normal for chickens.  I still think its just scary looking myself.

These ladies are molting.  Most chickens do this in the fall; they drop old feathers and grow new ones.  During this time they stop laying eggs and put all their efforts into growing new wardrobes.  And well they should because this look is really just disturbing.

For comparison sake, here are some non-molting pics.

Scary chickens on the farm.  {DaddysTractor.com}

You can raise your own eggs

Picture of chickens growing up on the farm

Nice, sleek, smooth with full tail feathers and, well, clothed necks.  This is how chickens should look.

But this time of the year?

Well, chickens are just scary.

 

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Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Two Tips for Hard Boiled Eggs

I have soooooo many eggs right now.  Literally thirteen dozen in my fridge.  And more in the coop.  Of course, there will be more in the coop tomorrow and the day after, and the day after.

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

Which means I’ll be forced to workout this afternoon so I can take my farm fresh eggs to the Y to sell.  But, it also means I’ll be pulling out all my tricks for using eggs!  We’ll eat them scrambled, as omelets, in quiche, as egg salad, but my family’s favorite is deviled eggs.  Which is great.  Except that hard boiled eggs can be such a pain!

Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things about the science of eggs.  Nearly all of it has been confirmed by the girls at the Y too, so you can be sure these will work!

First, use old eggs.  A fresh egg is “full”, making it difficult to separate the cooked egg from the shell, but an old egg has lost water through evaporation.  This creates an air pocket at one end of the egg.  You can test eggs by setting them in water.  If they lie flat, the eggs are fresh with no air pocket.  If one end floats up at a diagonal this egg is older and will work great for boiling or baking.  If the egg stands perfectly on end, well, you’ve held on to that one too long!!!

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

Then place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water.  The water level should be at least one inch above the eggs.  Turn the heat on and allow the water to reach a rolling boil, then cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat off.  Set a timer for 12-13 minutes.

Two tips for hard boild eggs  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is important!  When the timer goes off, don’t ignore it!  Its okay to finish changing the baby’s diaper and all, but don’t think that no burning = no foul!  Cool the eggs quickly in cold water.  Once they’ve cooled to the touch lightly crack the entire surface of the egg.  Under cold, running water carefully find the film under the shell and peel the egg.  Try to find that air pocket and start there.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

If you are Martha Stewart or the Pioneer Woman and have a whole kitchen just for your food show, you will have a beautiful, smooth, perfect egg ready for deviling!

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

If you are a crazed, homeschooling, foster parenting, goat caring, chicken wrangling, blogging mom who didn’t bother to test the eggs and then left them cooking for 45 minutes, you’ll probably end up with something not quiet that perfect.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

So that’s where my two best tips for hard boiled eggs come in.

First, let you kids peel the eggs so you can proudly show off your creations as something your adorable offspring accomplished.

Two tips for hard boiled eggs.  {DaddysTractor.com}

And second, cook twice as many as you need and make egg salad with the worst ones.

There ya go.  Two tips for cooking hard boiled eggs, from my home to yours. 😉

Categories: Animals, Science | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

The Chicken Palace

*Sigh*  Sometimes it really is the little things!  Actually I think my husband would argue that this really was a big thing, but either way,  I’m excited about it just the same.

Chicken fence {DaddysTractor.com}

This… is the new chicken fence!

When we I first ordered our baby chicks I had these quaint visions of happy hens pecking and scratching about the yard.  I would shut the birds up in the coop at night, but during the day I opened their pen and they would run like first graders to recess out of that little door.  Then they would meander about the shed and backyard during the day and put themselves to bed when the sun set.  It all worked very nicely… for a while.

Free range chickens

Our formerly free chickens.

First it was the neighbor’s dog.  Apparently he liked chicken dinner as well as anybody.

Then it was the rye grass newly planted in the field by the house.  I guess it just kept calling them to explore further.

Next it was my garden.  Which was fine as long as they were fertilizing it, but not so much when it came time to plant seeds.

And when they discovered the dirt bath under the bushes and began to fertilize the sidewalk up to the front door, well, then Daddy had just about enough of the “picturesque” birds.

But the final straw was loosing three birds in three days to an unmannerly coyote.

The chickens needed a fence.

Actually, the girls are loving their new space.  Its more than 500 square feet, but I'm pretty sure they're also grateful not to be eaten...

Actually, the girls are loving their new space. Its more than 500 square feet, but I’m pretty sure they’re also grateful not to be eaten…

Which is easier said than done, of course.  It took Daddy nearly a month to complete this project, squeezing it in between his other farm jobs.  But when Daddy does something, he does it right.  We live in tornado alley, and the fence was designed to be as Brett-proof as possible, which means it should hold up to the tornados just fine.

The new chicken fence on the farm {DaddysTractor.com}

Now all we need is a goat pen!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Public Bathing

A little privacy please!

I was outside shooting pics of the dump truck when this photographic opportunity popped up.  And despite the fact that bathing should really be a private matter, I couldn’t resist snapping this girl in the middle of her bath.  Dust bath that is!

chicken habbits {DaddysTractor.com}

Chickens won’t bathe in your typical bird bath, but coating themselves in a layer of fine dust actually helps them be hygienic.  They roll about until their feathers covered because the layer of dirt suffocates any mites that might be looking for a permanent residence.  When they are finished they’ll run their feathers through their beaks to lock the barbs on the veins together like a zipper.  If you’ve ever found a feather on the ground and pulled it apart you’re doing the opposite.

chickens on the farm

And while chickens, like the Romans, seem perfectly fine with public baths, the look this hen is giving my camera just screamed annoyance.

A little privacy please!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Spring Growth

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

“Baby” chicks, almost grown!

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

Red Delicious apples

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

Abundant spring rains have been good for my roses!

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

Hoping to harvest a couple of peaches.

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

Beans coming up through the rye grass

The farm at springtime  {DaddysTractor.com}

Last night’s beautiful sunset!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Spring Field Work = Happy Plants

We have been busy the last week trying to get lots of spring field work done before the storm.  Not the thunderstorm or rain storm or even hail storm, but a snow storm!

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Observe: Tuesday– Thursday

Besides putting seeds in the ground there is a lot of field work to do in the spring.

Spring time on the farm! {DaddysTractor.com}

Admittedly, driving chickens around on a toy tractor isn’t one of them…  But it made me laugh!

Actually this week Daddy hired a local cooperative to come spread plant food on several of our fields.

Spring time on the farm! {DaddysTractor.com}

This three-wheeled contraption spreads phosphorous, potassium and a little bit of nitrogen on fields that will grow soybeans.  Soybeans, like all plants, need nutrients from the soil.  We try to help them out as best we can by leaving corn stalks and other dead plant matter in the soil to break down into food, but they also like the extra snack the fertilizer provides them!

Spring time on the farm! {DaddysTractor.com}

From this view you can see small bits flying through the air.  (Look close!)  There is a wheel at the base of the truck’s bed that spins.  As a chain pulls the N,P, &K (those are the chemical expressions for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) down, the wheel spins and sends the plant food all across the field! In this photo you also see what looks like tall grass.  That’s rye and Daddy planted it last fall so it could be more food for this year’s plants, as well as keep the weeds to a minimum.  He’s so innovative ;-).

Spring time on the farm! {DaddysTractor.com}

The cooperative (know by farmers as the co-op, which gets confusing if you’re a homeschool family also participating in a co-op!!) also sends out a guy in a semi truck full of more N,P, & K.  When the spreader is empty it drives over, the guys swing the auger out over the spreader and fills the tank again.

We’re all about happy plants :-).

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baby Chick Theme Unit

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but Monday morning I realized we needed to started getting ready for our baby chicks, and hey! why not learn about chicks for school too?!  So that morning I scrambled about for a few minutes (thanks Google and Pinterest!) and came up with this baby chick theme unit!

The best resource I found was this one from Missouri Farm Bureau.  It is an online Egg to Chick Web Quest which shows pictures of chicks developing in the egg!  It also had a chart to fill out, which Brett loved doing since we printed pics from one of their links instead of drawing.  He loves glue, drawing– not so much.

baby chick theme unit worksheet

The Web Quest also provided an egg to print and label, which Brett did with a bit of help.

Baby Chick theme unit worksheet baby chick theme unit worksheet

Sorry about that last photo.  Please excuse the mom in me…

We also made chick cookies.

baby chick theme unit

We discussed “habitat” and what a baby chick needed to survive.  We set up a real brooder, but you could easily make a “brooder” in a shoebox!

Caring for Baby chicks, day 1

We watched many YouTube videos of chicks, chicks hatching, eggs incubating, and whatever else YouTube provided.  Seriously though, who videos some of this stuff?  You can watch OUR chick video we made last year– it really is stupendous 😉

I found this pic on Pinterest with no valid link, so if it belongs to you let me know and I’ll give credit where credit is due :-).  We haven’t made ours yet; hopefully we’ll get it done today!

Baby chick theme unit life cycle

This baby chick craft from Rockabye Butterfly also looks like fun, but alas, Brett isn’t into art and doesn’t want to make crafts.  But I’ll post it cause I really want to make one!

baby chick theme unit craft

We also wrote in our journal, checked out chick books from the library, colored a Little Red Hen page, and welcomed real baby chicks!  So overall the thrown together baby chick theme unit turned out to be one of Brett’s favorites.  Go figure, right?!

Categories: Animals, Science | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Caring for Baby Chicks, Day 1

Caring for baby chicks, day 1

The baby chicks are here!  (Obviously!) Wednesday we spent several hours setting up the cattle feeder we are using for a brooder this year.  We lined the bottom with paper towels and pine shavings, cleaned up our waterer, and most importantly, set up the heat lamp.  It took several tries to get the brooder to stay at a comfy 98 degrees; we had to adjust the lamp, let it set for  while, check the temp and try again, but we were ready this morning when the call came from the post master!  Daddy pulled on his coveralls and braved a path to town through the snow that came down in buckets yesterday.  He came back with this!

Baby Chicks, Day 1

Caring for Baby chicks, day 1

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Oh my!  I had forgotten how tiny they are!  I wasn’t able to get the bantams I wanted, but when I saw these it was hard to imagine a smaller chick.  They are just SO little!!!

Well, anyway, the first order of business was to get them warm and teach them to drink!  Just after Daddy left for the post office the kiddos and I turned on the brooders lamp.  Then we heated water to about 90-100 degrees as well.  Since the chicks are SO TINY (did I mention that?) the water they drink can actually change their body temperature enough to make them sick or even die.  But first they have to be shown how to drink!  It’s quite simple, actually.  You hold the chick like a baseball,

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then dunk its little beak into the waterer.

Caring for baby chicks, day 1

They were so thirsty!  Usually our chicks come in 24 hours, but this year it took 48 (snow storm?) so I was surprised to see how they went after the water.  Poor things!  I should add that I am very pleased someone obviously took care of my chickies as they were traveling in the horrible weather.  All arrived alive and seem healthy!  So if you work for the post office, Thanks!

When everyone had water I added a paper towel with a small amount of chick starter feed.  They went after this with a vengeance as well!

Caring for Baby Chicks, day 1

And then the really difficult part.  If anybody asks we were observing them to make sure they were comfortable and everyone was eating and drinking, but really we were just having so much fun watching the funny things they do!  My favorite is when one of them is running around, eating or drinking or whatever, and then decides she is tired.  They pretty much just fall down where they are, head out, sometimes wings out, and fall asleep!  They also scratch and peck just like the big birds do, but its hilarious to watch these itty, bitty girls trying it out!

Caring for baby chicks, day 1

I didn’t let the kids hold them today, too much stress for day 1!  Finally they got tired of “observing” so we shut the door and left the chicks in peace.  The cheeps have died down and I imagine they are all snoozing in the warmth with full tummies :-).

Caring for Baby chicks, day 1

Sleep tight little girls!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , | 7 Comments

You Can Raise Your Own Fresh Eggs

What you need to know if you are thinking about raising your own fresh eggs

I’ve wanted to raise my own farm-fresh eggs for years now, but the hens on our farm (and the delicious eggs we get from them!) are a relatively new addition.  Why?  Because I was not sure about actually keeping chickens!  Would I have time?  Would I get tired of them?  Would it be worth I?  So if you’ve ever wondered if you could raise your own fresh eggs, read on!

Photo of farm fresh chicken eggsAs it turns out, I LOVE having chickens!  Odd as it seemed at first, they are fun.  AND they provide wholesome food you can feel good about feeding your family :-).  Totally worth it!  Plus raising chicks was an amazing learning experience for my kids.  Still on the fence?  Let’s talk logistics!

To begin I’d say that having chickens is about as much work as having a dog.  Of course, if you are like my sister who spends hours each day with her spoiled well-loved golden retrievers, then chickens will be way less work!  Daily they will need food and fresh water.  You will check for eggs and scan to see that all is well.  You may open their door in the morning and shut it again at night.  Pretty doable really.

My best tip for quick care is to purchase two watering containers so you can fill one up in the house before you head out and bring the empty back in for next time.

Weekly I clean the coop a bit.  I use the deep litter method, meaning that by adding clean bedding over the soiled stuff, the decomposing straw adds heat to the coop.  How cool is that?!  Not everyone likes this method, so if cleaning out the coop is your thing, go for it.

Seasonally you will have other chores.  The down-side to deep litter is clearing it out in the spring and fall.  I winter-proofed my coop for cold weather and I don’t have electricity so when temps are below freezing I supply the girls with water often.  In the summer I fill a plastic pool for them.  Some people spend lots of time babying their hens– me, not so much!You can raise your own eggs

(Warning: once you have the chickens you will inevitably spend more time just watching them.  They. are. hilarious.)

The biggest investment in time and money is setting up.  If you can afford a pre-made chicken coop, that’s the route I’d take.  I spent a LOT of time making a cheap coop because I wasn’t sure of the whole thing just yet.  My project was more than I expected because I needed to rethink the design to thwart predators.  Still, it was fine for starting.

In the beginning you’ll also need to acquire and set up feeders, water dishes, bedding, feed, grit, calcium, scratch grains, and nesting boxes if they aren’t included in the coop.  Now that my flock is established all I really do is stop by the farm store once every couple of months and get a few bags of feed.

If you chose chicks instead of full grown hens there will also be several weeks of taking care of the fragile babies!  You can order chicks online and they come in the mail for you to pick up at the post office.  They need somewhat intensive care for a few weeks, but they are SO cute you won’t mind ;-).  Setting up a brooder in the house cuts down on work too.  Unless you have to send all your time guarding your chicks from the kids that is…

I’m hoping this break-down of the time and effort it takes assures you that you CAN raise your own fresh eggs.  Start by getting a how-to book from the library, or try this guide from Orscheln’s Farm and Home store.  After that the internet provides all the info you’ll ever want to wade through.  Or leave me a comment or question and I’ll be sure to answer!

Categories: Animals, Science | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Organizing your New Year’s Resolutions into goals you can actually DO!

Its time!  The New Year is almost here and many of us, farmers, bankers, or candle stick makers, are planning our New Year’s resolutions.  And in about 45 days all that planning will account for nothing since most of us won’t stick with the  goals we’ve made for more than six weeks.  So today I’m going to show you a way to organize your New Year’s resolutions into goals you can actually do!

First, forget about your goals being for the “new year.”  These are goals for your life!  Sure, start today, but being flexible with your resolutions helps you to overcome setbacks.  Instead of waiting for next January when everything heads south, just pick a date and start again.

Second, break down your goals into steps.  “Get Healthy” is a great idea, but how are you going to do it?  Will you diet? Exercise?  Cleanse?  Take vitamins?

Third, get out your calendar.  I like the cheapie month-in-view from Wal-Mart, but chose what works for you and your life.  Cell phone, pocket calendar, desktop, kitchen calendar, whatever!  Then assign the steps to your goals to each month.

For example:

Organizing Your New Year's Resolutions into goals you can actually DO!  Going to keep them this year!

In the “notes” section of each month I wrote down a reminder of the steps to take towards my goal that month.  I divided my goals into various areas of my life, such as financial, spiritual, homeschool, etc.  My January goal for the farm is to research and pick out my new chicks and garden seeds.  For February I plan to build covers for my current garden boxes to protect the seeds from the chickens we already have and research and pick out a breed of sheep and guard dog.  In March I’ll build trellises for the garden boxes  and create pens for the sheep and dog, hopefully to be added to the farm soon after.  In April I’ll need a more permanent chicken coop and in May I want to purchase and set up rain barrels for both the animals and the garden.  All of these steps are aiming at my big goal of “Raise More of Our Own Food.”

In the next few weeks I’ll also take you through the steps we use to organize our life, farm, homeschool, and other obligations, so stay tuned, but in the mean time I’d love to hear your ideas for New Year’s Resolutions you can actually do!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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