Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chickens have arrived!

This has been a busy week! I made a few tasty meals for Eric including turkey gravy, chicken and broccoli quinoa bake, and today will be tacos! We decided that we need to start eating healthier so I'm going to work on cutting carbs out and exercising.

I practiced my homesteading skills by making my own laundry soap. Eric is allergic to normal laundry detergent so I wanted to try making my own. I'm also trying to use vinegar as a fabric softener and once we use up the Bounce sheets that we have, I'm going to make my own with old rags and essential oils.

Recipe: 2 cups of borax. 2 cups of washing sode, and grate one bar of natural soap. Mix and store in an airtight container. Apparently, you use 2 tablespoons per load, but we have hard water so I will need to play around with the amount. 

The chicks have arrived from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. Their hatch date is 2/6/2017. From what I can see, I have my three Jersey Giants that I ordered, 4 Leghorns (1 died in transit), a handful of Barred Rocks, and a few Buff Orpingtons. There is one mysterious all-black chick and I'm still trying to figure out which breed that is.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Starting Up Again!

I'm glad to be back. This last 10 months or so were chaotic but things are going much more smoothly now. For a short time, I sold all the birds and am starting up again next week. I ordered 23 birds and they will be here by Friday, 2/10/17. I have quite the assortment of chickens coming: Black Jersey Giants, Leghorns, and a surprise mixture of heavy breed pullets. I plan to order or buy ducks at the end of March or so.

I plan to order meat birds this Spring for butchering to keep me busy and to fill up the freezer. I recently became a full-time housewife and have big plans for the birds and my garden this year.

In addition to the meat birds, I will get ducks for butcher and for egg laying. Duck eggs are my personal favorite and the meat is very tasty! Stay tuned for the opportunity to buy some eggs and meat!

I'll keep you all posted with pictures and stories about being a hobby poultry farmer!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Killer Dog

It's been a busy couple of weeks.

We've been having problems with the neighbor dog lately. I'm not sure if I've mentioned in previous posts or not, but the neighbor dog killed one of my chickens at the end of February and dragged her back to his yard. The neighbor called and COMPLAINED to the city about a dead chicken being in their yard. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? Your STUPID dog came onto OUR farm, KILLED MY chicken and stole it....and YOU'RE going to complain about it?! Idiots.

I called the Sheriff's Department and made a report that day so they were aware of it. I also attempted to contact the owner by knocking on the door for several minutes, as I wanted reimbursement for my chicken, but they wouldn't come to the door.

This week, I got home from work and started caring for my baby ducklings and Eric came quickly from the farm saying that two of my ducks were just attacked and to bring my hatchet. He said that ma was calling the Sheriff's Department and dad was going to talk to the neighbor about his dog.

I went to the coop to find my precious Delilah, a Silver Appleyard duck, laying flat on the ground trying hard to breathe. She couldn't lift her head and she was breathing loudly out of her mouth. The poor girl's neck was broken. All I could do was pick her up and hold her in my arms. I gave her so many kisses and told her that I was sorry this happened to her and that I loved her so much.

Eric and I sent Delilah to ducky heaven and then I went to go see how badly injured Karen, my White Runner, was. Karen was in rough shape too. She was bloody all over and had several puncture wounds on her head and all over her body. She had an eye injury as well. The poor girl was in a lot of pain and in shock. She likely had a brain injury with the puncture wound to the head and so I thought the kindest thing to do was to also send Karen to ducky heaven.

My heart is so broken. Yes, they may be "just ducks" or livestock, but they are my pets and I love them. I definitely have my favorites. Delilah was one. I have a few favorite chickens and thankfully, Susie and Pepper were able to get away from the dog and hide. I love my girls and take as best care of them as I can.

So as a result of all of this, the neighbors were issued a "Notice of Dangerous Dog". I looked it up in the Minnesota Statutes and it looks like in order for them to keep their dog, they must pay a fee to license it as a dangerous dog within 14 days, they must also have it neutered within 30, and they must also build an enclosure for it to ensure that it does not run loose. When the dog is out for a walk with the owner, it must be muzzled and it also must wear a special tag that indicates that it is licensed as a dangerous dog.

Knowing the individuals that it belongs to, this will not happen and they will likely dump it off somewhere out in the country, which is sad for the dog and sad for any farmers there. The dog needs to be trained and to be kept tied up/enclosed in a yard. I can tell you that the dog will end up at the pound if I find it by my chicken coop again.

On my end to better protect my chickens, I'm putting up a NICE chicken run to keep them all enclosed. They keep escaping and have been free-ranging on the farm. When the new run is up, it would be difficult for any future dogs to get at my birds.

Thankfully for Dave Ramsey, putting up a 1K chicken run isn't going to kill me. I love how taking the Financial Peace University has taught my husband and I skills to budget and get out of debt so I can be a responsible poultry owner.

That's all for now, folks!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Is Here!

Things have been going well over the last month. They have been busy as well, along with the busy comes change. I accepted a job offer and will be starting a new position this month.

The baby Leghorns are growing like weeds and I'm just waiting for it to stay warm to boot them outside. They are too big for their brooder. I think I will clean the one side of the coop and move them out there this week. The ducks I brought home from Tractor Supply are too big for their little brooder so I will upgrade them to the chicken brooder.

I brought home 4 blue and black splash Marans a couple weeks ago and I brought home 4 white crested ducklings yesterday. I love the little ones! They are SO cute!

I also brought home Dave a couple Guineas to help with the mice, ticks, and rats around the farm. They sure make a lot of noise, but they are interesting little birds. When I brought home the Guineas, I also brought home 3 Magpie ducks, and a Khaki Campbell mix. I have 9 laying ducks right now and the eggs are wonderful!!! I wish I could get more buyers, though. I don't know what it is that's so scary to people about duck eggs. They are so yummy!

Today, we cleaned out all the old fencing behind the coop to get it ready to build the new run and that was a lot of work!

The chickens have been escaping every day and free-ranging all day (which they LOVE). I don't know how  Dave feels about it, but the chickens are loving the opportunity to eat the bugs and feed scraps left around the farm. I sat outside for an hour or so today just watching them scratch and be happy chickens.

Dave's Guineas

My new girl, Rowan

Dave's steer, Sir William

Jack and the chickens free-ranging

My new ducklings!

The black and white one is Maddie, the two gray and white ones are Millie and Maggie. All Magpie Ducks.


The ducks were happy to get their pool back for the year.

The baby Leghorns got a taste of the outdoors today.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Attempt at Butchering

Well, today was interesting.

I paid the neighborhood farmworker kid to clean my coop this week, which was awesome. He did an OK job and the chickens love him for it. I went out to do chores this morning and it was a BEAUTIFUL morning. You can't beat a 50 degree day in February. Seriously, it's the best.

I got everyone their water and brought them some leftovers from the Legion's fish fry last night. I joined the town's Auxiliary last year and we host fish frys along with the Legion to raise money for the organization. It wasn't "my" night to work, but I figured since it was Lent and I had nothing going on AND I actually felt like being social, that I would just show up and work. It was fun and my birds directly benefit by eating the scraps that we scrape off people's plates. It's amazing how much waste there is! Thanks to my chickens, they will turn that waste into delicious eggs!

Anyways, I collected eggs and hung out with the birds for a little while. I noticed that BBQ had a lash egg....which is bad news. Long story short, it is from a bacterial infection of the oviduct. You can read more about lash eggs from the Chicken Chick HERE.

When I saw that she had that issue, I decided today would be a good day to get a start on butchering my flock to make room for my new babies. I put BBQ in the Chamber of Doom and then went back to catch Petey. Petey was being a total asshole. Excuse my French, but he would NOT let me catch him. I chased his little punk ass around for 20 minutes. I caught Piper and then I grabbed a Barred Rock for good measure.

Petey was the first to go because I was pissed at him. I've never been so satisfied to cut something's head off. He is currently soaking in a cooler with ice water.

After Petey, things got weird. I chose to butcher BBQ next, but after I dipped her in the boiling water and started plucking her feathers, I noticed that her vent was prolapsing like crazy. Well, knowing how curious I am, you all know I couldn't just let that stick out without my investigating it. I cut it open and her guts practically shot out at me. She had ascites (water belly) and infection going on in her guts as well. Ew. Not eating her. So I tossed her in the junk bucket and went on to butcher Piper.

Well, I found the SAME THING with Piper! I was highly annoyed. So, I pardoned the little Barred Rock and brought her back to the flock. I decided that with all of the old flock, I am just going to put them down and not bother with butchering them. I suspect many of the older hens will have this issue. I think the original flock that I bought in September 2014 was sick with something. Sigh.... Both of the hens today were from that flock. The other hens with similar issues that have previously died were from that original flock. At least I am finally pinpointing who the sick ones are. It's the original 12. Most of them have died. I think I have like 3 left, if that. I KNOW one is laying, so she must be OK.

But alas...What an interesting day. I decided that I've had enough of the butchering of non-meat birds. I'll butcher ducks later this spring and summer when I get some but no more chickens unless somehow meat birds come home with me in my purse. That sometimes happens. I don't know why!
The pardoned chicken and I

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chick Fever!

It's been a while since I've posted, but there hasn't been a whole lot going on around the Duffield farm.

Free Range = Death
I've had one chicken die since Leenie and it was over something stupid. One day, five of them decided it would be a sweet idea to fly out over the fence and free range for the day. Four of them survived the adventure. I found one of my newer Easter Eggers dead on the side of the coop. The best I can figure is that she got her foot stuck in the logs and freaked out and died from a heart attack. She was a healthy weight and had no signs of a predator attack. I keep telling them that free range is not all that it is cracked up to be...GRRR

Coop Revamp Plans
I have plans to revamp the run this spring as soon as the ground thaws and dries up. I am going to make the run go around back the coop and then make it covered so no one can fly out of it anymore. I also am planning on butchering all of the birds with the exception of the ducks and 3-4 chickens. The chickens I am saving are my favorites and have never been sick, but I am keeping them separate in their own little coop.

I also will need to completely clean the coop out and disinfect the entire thing this spring. I am getting a truck topper as a temporary shelter for my ducks to live in while the disinfecting is taking place. All of the straw, poop, sawdust, etc will need to be removed. I will also need to pressure wash the entire coop from top to bottom to ensure all poop and chicken dust is cleaned off and then I need to douse the place in disinfectant. It will need to sit for a week empty so the disinfectant can completely dry before I can put birds back into it. While that's drying, the run will be changed around and fixed up for my newest additions to my flock.

I might even get out there and butcher a few birds today, but that depends on how motivated I feel after coffee....hehehe.

New Chicks!!!!
I purchased 15 chicks from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri and they arrived on Friday. They are Light Brown Leghorns, so come July/August, my egg business should be back up and running at full speed! Cackle sent 2 extra chicks in case some died in transit to Browns Valley, but thankfully everyone survived, so I have 17 healthy baby girls. Leghorns are known for their excellent production of large white eggs- just like the ones you buy in the grocery store!

I currently have 2 White Leghorn hens and they consistently lay an egg per day each. So, if these little babies are anything like those ladies, I will have eggs coming out of my ears this summer.

I haven't even thought about planning my garden yet. I should probably start thinking about that. Last year I made the mistake of letting Eric pick out pepper plants and I planted 49 and we had a crazy amount of peppers. I don't think I will plant any this year as we have several jars in the pantry. I might have to plant one plant so we can make bacon wrapped stuffed jalapenos...but that's about it. Those cherry tomatoes I planted last year were the bomb diggity, so I will need to plant more of those.  My brussel sprouts and cabbage got eaten by those stupid cabbage bugs last year, so I might try those again and I would like to try to get more carrots. Maybe I could specialize in cool carrots this year to sell. I need to do some thinking!

We are still well on our way to being debt free next summer. Unfortunately though, we have to pay in $1400 to taxes this year which fricken SUCKS, but whatever. Crap happens and thanks to the Dave Ramsey plan, we are prepared for this kind of set back. Seriously, everyone needs to go through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. We have learned so much. After I get done blogging, I'm going to get to work on our March budget. Budgeting works, We were able to put about $2500 towards debt this month. This is awesome.

Trip to Duluth
Eric and I went to Duluth for a little mini vacation last weekend and that was a nice little getaway. We went on lots of dates. We like getting back up to Duluth every year. This year marked our 5 year anniversary of when we met. We tried a few new things and enjoyed hanging out with each other.

Well, that's all for now folks!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chicken Cancer?!

My chicky chicks have been enjoying some mild weather lately. They still aren't laying with the exception of one of my Olive Eggers. I get a nice green egg every other day or so. I decided that I'm not going to be one of those people who put artificial light in their coop to make their chickens lay all year around. They need 12-14 hours per day to keep laying every day.

I was out at the coop yesterday and one of my Black Copper Marans was walking around like a penguin and she looked ill. I finished up my chores and went to examine her. She had massive ascites, which is fluid build up in the abdomen. She took horribly uncomfortable. When I saw how bad it was, I knew she needed to go to chicken heaven. Chickens don't get ascites for nothing- it's their bodies reacting to something that is seriously wrong with them. I was very curious as to what made her so sick.

I sent her to chicken heaven and then I put on my gloves, grabbed my knife and went to work. I was not going to pay $80 plus $75 shipping on a necropsy for a $15 bird.

She had A LOT of fluid. I kid you not- at least a quart of fluid came out of her. It would not stop coming out! She was SO skinny too. Poor, poor girl. All that fluid was so painful for her. It breaks my heart.

She had so much fluid build up that her gallbladder was a blown up little round ball. It was the weirdest thing. Upon further inspection, her intestinal walls were thickened....and then I found her reproductive tract. It looked like cauliflower! It was a clump of tumors. Hard little tumors. Some were really, really little and some were a little bigger, like half the size of a marble maybe.

I initially figured Marek's Disease was the cause, but after doing my research, I've read that ovarian cancer is thought to be very common in chickens. It is not a very well researched condition because most hens are butchered prior to two years of age. Most hens seem to get it after the age of two. My hen wasn't even a year old yet, which makes this even more unusual. I suspect this is what killed my Buff Orpington this summer. She developed ascites and died shortly thereafter.

I was sure to give my little Maran lots of kisses and told her I loved her before she died. I was sad that she had to go. She was a calm little bird. It was a shitty morning on Saturday, but a very interesting one at that.

Just a day in the life of a chicken lady.....