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Chickens have arrived

After reading everything I could get my hands on, I bought baby chicks from my local feed store.  Four Ameracanas and four Black Austrolorps came home with me in a brown cardboard box.  Although, we had chickens when I was a kid, I have never raised chicks in a brooder situation before.  Lost one of the Ameracans the very first night.  This didn’t hurt me as much as loosing one of the Austrolorps would have since I got the Ameracanas mainly to amuse BG.  (Ameracanas lay blue eyes, which will be fun for BG, as I am also planning on getting green (Olive Eggers) and chocolate (Copper Maran) layers as well.  (Check out a quick google search for egg colors and you’ll understand why I’m doing it.  Its going to be fun!)

The first thing I learned is that the feed store where I bought my chicks had it right.  Wood shavings cut down on the smell and didn’t need to be changed as often as paper.  I also read that the ink in newspaper can be bad for your chicks.  As I know for a fact that chickens, along with other birds, are very susceptible to smells, I decided to avoid the newspaper, but paper was all I had for the first day, so I can honestly say…  Eww!  It stinks.  The wood shaving absurd more moisture and drier is less smelly.

The second thing I learned is that chickens are still the same;  they are some of the filthiest animals I’ve ever encountered.  I’ve never known another animal to make such a mess.  They poop everywhere; in their feed, in their water, everywhere!  That being said, I cleaned their waterer everyday.  Their feed dish less so, but it still got a good scrubbing at least once a week.

The third thing I learned is that while keeping the chicks in the house the first couple of nights was nice for my piece of mind, it did not work for my nose or anyone elses’.  Therefore, they moved to the back porch.  There was an old water tank that had rusted through in several spots that worked great for a brooder.  The holes were small enough that the chicks couldn’t escape and I wasn’t worried about another crawling in because of the kitties.  I made a lid out of hardware cloth and some old cabinet doors.  Add a brooder light and some wood shavings and wah-laa: chick home.  (I also had a thermometer to keep an eye on the temp, so that they didn’t get to cold.)

One of the things that was a problem was that the wood shavings kept getting into the food and water dispenser.  One really large broken tray from one of my pots and that problem was solved.  Basically, one of the terra-cotta dishes from under my potted plants broke.  I used one piece under the feeder and one under the waterer.  This lifted them up out of the shaving and kept them much cleaner.

Something else that I did different from what I had read was that I did not trash the food when shavings and poop got into it.  I poured it out in a pile in a corner of my brooder.  Those little chicks had a high ol’ time scratching and pecking.  It was quite entertaining for BG and myself to watch fluffy little chicks trying to learn to scratch and peck.

IMG_0021Alas, the brooder got too small and my young birds were moved yesterday to their new home.  Thanks to my uncle and aunt, I now have this hen-house.  Having reached the age, when they want to go and do without having to worry about animals, they no longer wanted chickens and the coop has stood empty for quite some time.  I was told that I could have it, no charge.  (Woohoo!)

Along the way, I lost one of my Ameracanas and picked up two more chicks that are supposed to be Silver-Laced Wyandottes.  The total at the moment is 9 pullets.  I’ll also be picking up six roosters this Thursday (hopefully).  I intend to raise them up, pick the best one and add the others to the freezer.  I’ll also be getting some Copper or possibly Cuckoo Marans, Oliver Eggers, and some more Black Austrolorps.

Black Austrolorps are going to be the majority because they make a great dual purpose bird.  They are great layers and meat producers, but they also tend to be great sitters.  I intent to start raising my own chicks to replace my older birds, but also to put in the freezer.  This is why I really wanted a good all around bird.  From my research that was the Black Austrolorps.  My opinion might change at a later date, but for now we’re going to give it a try.

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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Impatiently Waiting

“I wanna sale out and move back to the country. I’m gonna get me a goat and some chickens!”

I’ve been telling everyone that for ages it seems. Well, we finally did it! As I posted before, the house sold very quickly and for more than we were asking. That means that we finally had the money to make our dream of a small homestead a reality!

As soon as we had the signed offer, I was dreaming of farm fresh eggs, homegrown veggies, and cold raw milk. Literally, dreaming of them. Many would call me crazy for that. I probably am crazy, but that is not why. Who wouldn’t want fresh, unpolluted food and a sky unclouded with a brown haze?

We decided to head back to my home country of East Texas, where the humidity is horrific to someone who has become use to the dry of the mountain desert. Oh well, I’ll just have to adapt because the pros by far outweigh the cons in this situation.

The property we’re buying seems tailor-made for our needs. There is a pole barn with a workshop that can be converting into a tiny house. Electricity, well, and septic system already in place. (Hallelujah!) A small shack for my gardening shed that I’ve been wanting. There is already some fencing in place for a goat pen.  It just needs a little work. There is also a pond that is spring fed and no one in the area no matter how old can remember it ever running dry.  In fact, it actually produces enough water to feed a second pond that is also on the property.

image The down side is that it has become completely overgrown, as in the blackberry vines and Sweetgum trees will cover you too if you stand still long enough. Of course, that’s also part of the reason for the great price.

Of course, now that we’re finally doing it, CC and I want it yesterday, so we fight to be patient. The upside of it going slowly is that it gives CC and I time to think though our moves, so that things happen in the right order. For example, I was surfing craigslist.org the other night and found 15 Black Astralorp pullets ready to start laying. These are the chickens I’ve researched and wanted all along. I’m not getting them because I have no place to put them yet. Sigh!

Hopefully, they will still be available when we get the coop put together. If not, I’ll order chicks from an on-line site that a friend recommended.  (I’ll let you know how they do, if I end up going that route.)

So here I am waiting (not so patiently) for the day to come when we sign on the dotted line and I can get started full steam ahead. Stay tuned for all the highlights, hilarity, and humdinger disasters to come!

And if you have any suggestions for getting rid of Blackberry vines that are taller than a 6′ person, do let me know!  Yeah that’s 6′ plus tall CC in the picture.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

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