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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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Leeks All Summer

So one of the things that you can grow from kitchen scraps is leeks.  All you have to save is the smallest part of the white with the attached roots.  You know, that part that you cut off and throw in the trash or compost pile.  Put it in water and watch it sprout.  Once mine sprouts up good, I moved them to a raised bed outside that gets lots of light.

Now when I want leeks, I simply walk out my front door and snip off a plant or two about an inch above the ground.  Within days, it had already sprouted right back up from the stump.  With four plants, I’ve had all the leeks I’ve wanted this summer.  However, I didn’t really understanding how to cook with them.  Since I’ve had them and learned how they flavor food, I’m going to need more.  With that in mind, the next time I go to the grocery store, I’ll pick up a bundle and pop the scraps into water, which brings me to my next thought.

I’ve already started noticing a yellow tinge to the leaves, which is always my first cue that fall is here.  I’m going to want leeks this winter.  Instead of adding this new bunch to the established bed in the yard, I think, I’ll try to start them in a planter in the window.

Once, I get the ones started in the window, I’ll probably try to bring the ones in the yard into the house.  We shall see how that works out for me.

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in In the Garden

 

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Wishy Washing

One of the ways I’ve reined in our spending is soap making.

Have you recorded how much you spend on what and how frequently? $4 per bar, $10-20 for laundry detergent, 88 cents for the cheapest hand wash dish soap and another $4 for the dishwasher detergent. I hate to bean count, but at some point I have to treat my family to wise business practices. When something that literally goes down the drain rings up $300 of the grocery budget every year I have to take notice. That’s a month’s worth of groceries!

I started out in January 2013 with Super Laundry Sauce (blender method). Then DG found Rural Spin’s Green Tea Blender Soap and we’re turning out bath bars. And we found recipes we want to try for dishwasher detergent, too.

But once I’ve been at something for a few rounds I invariably start tinkering. Really, it’s all a part of learning, and I hope that you’ll do some creative learning and tell us about it. That’s how complex evolution and higher thinking continue. Evolve or die.

I looked at making my own powdered laundry detergent but found that aside from weight, pre-packaging and spill clean up there aren’t many advantages. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But then again, Super Laundry Sauce isn’t perfect either. It can be messy, doesn’t dissolve and leaves smears on DG’s uniforms; the process is mildly inefficient and while sweltering through summer insomnia I discovered that the chemistry behind it is flawed (sorry, no links)- more on that once I’ve finished my trial runs.

And just so you’re aware, it looks like a meth lab or explosives if you don’t keep your storage cabinet, containers and loose chemicals well labeled and cleaned. Hit up google, it’s entertaining and educative. Various chemicals and some weird stuff in old peanut containers with a crust around the lid. Yeah. Too bad I can’t turn this into an amusing continuing ed opportunity for the local fire department any more.

But the goal is making it better, right?
First I threw a measure of SLS in an old jar with a cup of water and shaking. And hey, it was an improvement over plain paste. It’s just a little messy and time consuming, especially when BG only needs 2 seconds to sneak down stairs and set the water heater to self destruct.

Next up, diluting it via counter top blenders and stick blenders. OK, except for the time and noise – the Basement Troll works nights, and frankly I’m too lazy to spend half an hour every week on something so mindless.

Enter Home Depot. Or as I hate to call it, the Tim Taylor Method.
DG, in her infinite and varied wisdom, pointed out that Gnome Depot has 5 gallon buckets, lids and drywall mixers – paint stirrers on steroids.

A quickly drilled hole in the lid and a drill chuck adapter for the mixer and I was set. OK, I lied. I tried 2 gallon buckets – messy and not enough output. And I already had a 5 gallon with a hole from my failed hand washer project.
Oh, and use a siphon because pouring is messy and means dealing with a fourth of a jug of foam.

I tried my neighbours discarded laundry detergent dispenser/container for storage, but it was tough to clean out and I had to shake it every time. If you haven’t read elsewhere, home made liquid laundry soap separates. I’m working on a cure, but in the mean time I use a 1 qt peanut container, marked per load. For the bulk I just use a well rinsed gallon milk jug.

Now I can muck up a month’s worth of laundry soap in 5 minutes.
Stay tuned for the sciency stuff and hopefully a video to come.
-Cappy

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in A Penny Saved

 

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