Sunday, December 28, 2014

Not Too Busy

I've been laid up lately because I had a major surgery on the 18th, so Eric has been the main breadwinner when it comes to chicken care.

I haven't caught my chicken killer and now I'm not too hopeful that I will anymore, so I put the trap away. We also had another scare with the electric coop door, so we made the decision to unplug it and go back to manually opening the door twice per day. One night, after work I found that the electricity got unplugged to the coop somehow. I turned it back on, and got the door to shut, but the door ended up opening up and was open ALL NIGHT long. I didn't lose any birds thankfully, but that was enough for me. We are keeping the door and will use it for when we go on vacation or need to leave for the weekend/day, etc.

Eric made a 5 gallon bucket waterer for the chickens that cuts down on the water on the coop floor and it has been working well....until the other day. One of the little drinkers fell out and we got 5 gallons of water on the coop floor now. Eric spent the morning today cleaning ice out of the coop and re-bedding it for the chickens. He also fixed the waterer and rehung it outside so we won't have anymore wet coop floors. One of the biggest mistakes in the winter is to have moisture inside of the coop. Moisture and cold air will cause frostbite on chicken feet and combs. It's been a pretty mild winter so far, but now that it's getting colder, we aren't taking any more chances!

We just had Christmas and it was fun. We traveled to my hometown to celebrate with my family and we celebrated with Eric's yesterday. We even got invited back over for a lunch of leftovers today, which is awesome because Eric's mom is an awesome cook and I love hanging out with them. I got a new Dyson and ice cream maker for Christmas so I'm pretty stoked about that! I also got some cash....I see more chickens and ducks in my future. Heehee.

I think I'll be needing to take Arnold into the vet....he has had the most terrible breath lately. He's the cat who had to have 6 teeth removed last Fall....and I'm afraid that the bad breath is a sign of dental problems so he's probably in need of a cleaning. It wouldn't be so bad, but he LOVES sleeping right by my face and he yawns all the damn time....blech.

I had an abdominal surgery so I'm literally going to be out of commission for weeks, so I hired a high school girl to be my housekeeper for a few weeks. She comes on Tuesday so that should be interesting. I am a neat freak and sometimes a bit of a control freak, so I'll need to keep that in check when the little lady comes to clean. Eric will enjoy the help. I am sure he is sick of cleaning and I know the added work probably stresses him out. I feel helpless. I want to clean and help out. I get exhausted even taking a shower or wiping down the tables. He gets mad at me if I try helping out so I've been parked out on the couch. I've been leading quite the boring life.

I want to be back at work, but I can't even handle standing up longer than 3-4 minutes without being in a ton of pain. I can't even stand up straight either. I walk hunched over like a little old man, so I hope that starts working itself out pretty fast because my sick leave is over next week already. I'm afraid that I didn't take enough time off of work. :( Thankfully, I have mostly a desk job, so when I do go back, I can try to do most of my work out of the office. I have a follow up appointment with the surgeon in Sioux Falls tomorrow, and we'll see what he says. I'm still draining a good bit of fluid and I'm still majorly swollen. It's been a very miserable recovery and I've been hating life lately. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, each day gets a little bit better though.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chicken Murder Mystery

Friday morning, I went out to my coop to find a headless chicken in my run!

I have only had my chickens for three months and I didn't think I would have a predator attack so soon! I was walking up to my coop and I saw something laying in the run and my heart dropped. I saw my auto door open, and it dropped further. I walked closer, saw feathers everywhere and my chicken laying there with a bloody neck and a missing head. I opened up the coop and was relieved to find 17 birds healthy and alive. With the other birdies OK, I narrowed my suspicions down to raccoon or possum because mink/weasel tend to wipe out entire flocks in a night. Possum/raccoon tend to pick off one or two birds at a time. A fox/coyote/cat would have taken the entire bird with them.

At first I was sad. I am grateful it wasn't one of my named/favorite chickens...but it still was one of MY chickens. This predator picked the wrong chicken lady to f*ck with. I am going to catch it, and I am going to kill it.

I went into rambo mode. I went to Runnings and bought a live trap, lined up a buddy with a gun (Thanks Josh!) who will help me discharge the critter once I do catch it, and enlisted the help of my handsome hubby to make sure my coop is even more secure by changing up the open/close times of the automatic door. It looks like the timer on the door got bumped and the door was opened in the middle of the night on Friday, so one of the chickens got 'nabbed. :(

Once I brought the trap home, I set it up and tested it out in the house...Of course, Dakotah is such a fatty, he couldn't resist the wet food and he found himself stuck in a trap...hahaha. He was NOT impressed. I was pretty happy that it worked!

On the first night that I set it up, it didn't catch anything. Last night, I caught Gertie, Dave & Candy's cat....hahahaha...which is hilarious because she is the sweetest farm cat anyone could ask for. She eats breakfast with the chickens and wouldn't hurt a fly. I actually expected her to be in the trap this morning because yesterday she was TRYING to get into the trap because there was cat food in it, so she hung out in the run ALL day trying to get to the cat food. She probably waited until the trap was live just so she could get some food!!

When I catch the killer, I will let you know. I know he will come back...once something knows where to get a free meal, it will be back! I will proudly hang it's pelt on the coop door to make an example of it to it's peers!

Aside from the killer drama, I found an awesome egg basket shaped like a chicken for 25 cents at a thrift store. It was blue originally, so I spray painted it white. I'm proud of my little purchase!!

My wonderful husband also spent some time this weekend and made my a waterer for the birds that uses a de-icer in a 5 gallon bucket so we have less of a water mess in the coop. The ducks have gotten the hang of using it so far. I hope the chickens learn to use it soon.

My brother came down to visit for a night and it was really fun to have him. We ate pizza and watched Walking Dead, and then in the morning I made a huge breakfast of biscuits, gravy, and fried eggs. NOM!

Well, I have some auctions ending on eBay today and some eggs to collect in my new chicken basket! Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chicken Themed Birthday

I had a birthday this weekend and I got some chicken themed gifts! Eric's parents gave me a card and bought me some toasty boots for chicken chores. Dad and Terri sent a card and cash to buy something nice (which ended up going towards the boots and a necklace), and then Eric bought me a pitchfork, a scoop shovel, a chicken figurine, and he made me an automated coop door! How cool is that?! I have the coolest husband, parents, and in-laws!

He even cleaned out my chicken coop for me because I had to be in training all weekend for my part-time job, The weather was nice so he hung out with the ladies all day and cleaned their coop and made them a door. On my birthday after training, I went to Goodwill and saw a decent looking fake tree and took it home with me, so we have a Christmas tree up too!

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this week so I've been busy tonight baking a cake. I can already tell it's going to be awesome. The batter and frosting are amazing. I hard boiled some eggs so I can make deviled eggs for an appetizer. I'll prep for some other goodies and clean tomorrow night. Let's hope the kitties can keep the house clean in the 24 hours leading up to Thanksgiving dinner! They can be SO furry and so messy!

It's been a busy few weeks with work and all. I can't think of what else to write about. So much has been going on.

Wellllll, and then there was the incident with the doll. I won't get into that too much. I had to get rid of my new antique doll I bought....something was wrong with it. Um...yeah. Back on eBay the doll went, so if you know of anyone looking for a spooky doll, let me know :)

Bought a little vanity to put my dolls on.

Eric's progress on the chicken door
Peanut butter frosting
Chocolate cake

Me and My new chicken gear

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What IS that WHITE STUFF?!?!?!?!

What IS that stuff!?!?!?!?!?!
Well, this has been a semi-productive week. I feel like I have a ton to write about so I will try to keep it interesting,

Last week, I had an ultrasound of my gallbladder and it appears that I have symptoms consistent with cholecystitis, which is the fancy term for gallbladder inflammation so they referred me to the surgeon to look at it. I have an appointment with him on December 3 and at that time it will be determined whether or not I need to have surgery to take it out. I don't think I will need it out, but I'm not a doctor, so we will see. I won't be too impressed if I will have to have a second surgery in December. For those of you who don't know, I am having surgery on December 18th to repair my abdominal muscles and to clean up my extra skin from my massive weight loss, so the idea of putting my little body through anesthesia twice in one month makes me want to puke. Literally and figuratively.

Aside from that, my fibromyalgia has been a mean beast lately- nearly every week I've been dealing with back and neck pain. Thankfully, I had an appointment with the rheumatologist last week and he prescribed a nerve-blocking medication for the fibro pain. I hope it helps me out. I have had little to no rheumatoid arthritis pain since he put me on the RA med, so hopefully this new med for the fibro will help, too. I am starting to feel like a damn science experiment with all of these medications :(

Enough of the unhappy stuff....On to the animals. :) :)

We got snow!! Jack is beyond thrilled. At first when Eric opened the door to let Jack out, he was uneasy, but when Eric pushed him out into it, Jack bolted into the snow and ran figure 8's all over our yard and the neighbors' yards. He is such a goon. He took nosedives into the snow and ran through it...He's just so happy, eating it, jumping through it....omg. He has been SO goofy this week. Yesterday, Eric put on his snowmobile helmet and Jack freaked out and started barking at him in his "big dog" voice...haha.

I also bought a new antique doll for my birthday, as some of you already know since you saw the video on Facebook, and Jack did NOT like her one bit. He was happily chewing his bone on the living room floor until he noticed the doll sitting on the love seat. He immediately jumped up and started barking at her in his big boy voice and would hide behind the arms of the seat and behind it and bark at her...oh, it was so funny!

Jack did not appreciate my new doll Elsie as much as I did.

Lily's condition seems to have improved a bit. We have made a couple changes to help her with her urinary issues. We moved one litter box to the main level of the house- we put it in the entry way next to the bathroom, and they receive two meals of canned food each day to increase their water intake. I have not found any places where she has peed outside the litter box. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I hope this is what it takes. Or maybe we can just keep getting her that shot the vet gave her to help her bladder feel better. Poor little girl. She also seems like she feels better, even. She comes up and lays by me and tries to get attention more as well. Love my little girl!

We got like 7 inches of snow this week and I could not make it to work on Monday because of it, I made one hell of an effort to go to work though...oh, it was such a scary drive trying to get there too. UGH! I made a promise when they hired me that I would try my best to get there when the weather with disagreeable and I really did. It's so frustrating when I can't get to work, but thankfully I can do some work from home. I had a lot of phone calls I could make and got some work done that way. Today, I was supposed to go to CPR training for my part-time job all the way in Spicer MN but I determined that it would just not be cost effective for the company to pay me my hourly wage to drive there (nearly 3 hours with the icy roads) and back, along with mileage, and the training time to be there. I arranged to do the training on an evening after work instead. I'm so grateful that staff with my part-time job are so flexible.

I believe all but 2 of my chickens have never seen snow before and it was so funny to see their reaction to it this week. Francis is over a year old, and I have a hen that was from last year's hatch as well- so they have experienced winter before. A couple of the chickens hopped out into the snow, stepped around a little bit, and then flew right back into the coop. They gave me a look like "what the hell!!!" Every time I came back out to the coop during the day, they all would just be peeking out the coop door and not one of them would be out in the snow covered run....hahaha.

The only way I could get them to go into the run was to throw some straw into it. My mother and father-in-law suggested that idea and it worked. It convinced the chickies the go outside at least for a little bit. It doesn't seem too cold for the birds just yet. I still feel bad for them out there though. Their coop is nice and sturdy and it is not drafty at all. It blocks the wind pretty well. I went out this afternoon to give them some more water and I saw Karen the duck all snuggled up in some straw. She looked pretty comfy (and CUTE!).

I want to buy some fabric and make curtains for their nest boxes to help keep some heat in for their eggs. I'm trying to brainstorm some ways to keep the eggs from freezing and cracking open in my unheated coop. One way that I had seen online was to make those little hand warmers filled with rice that you microwave- which stay warm for a few hours- I could nuke those and put those in the nest boxes and they should retain at least some heat on those extra frigid mornings.

I figured out the hard way that I can't use the 3 gallon chicken waterer for the coop this winter because Kim and Karen are sloppy drinkers and spill more water than they drink. UGH! I went through so much work to thaw the waterer out to find out how much of a mess the two ducks like to make of it. They got the entire corner of the coop wet, but for some reason with the heated dog dish, they don't make any heated dog dish it is. The only issue with the dog dish is that I will have to refill it multiple times per day because I have 19 birds and they drink a lot of water.

Even with the low temps and all of the snow, I still managed to get 7 eggs today and 8 yesterday. I'm pretty happy with that. My girls are good little layers! I'm a grateful chicken lady!!!
Eating snow off my boots.

This is Fluffy, my Australorp. She is sitting next to a Rhode Island Red- both are great egg layers.

I will EAT the snow, but I will not step in it!

Drinking water from the heated dog dish.

It's not so bad out here once the straw in on the snow!

Checking out the white stuff.

Snowball was the first one brave enough to venture outside to check things out,

This is Speedy.

Laying me a brown egg.

Speedy laying me a white egg.

Chillin' in the coop.

Oh yea, we had a fun Halloween. I got Eric to dress up like a cop. I went as Sleeping Beauty and we went to the Halloween ball a little town about an hour away. It was fun to have a few trick or treaters too! I won't post Eric's photo because he would kick my butt...haha. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ducks Finally Have Names!

Last weekend was fabulous. I had nearly a four day weekend (I only worked three hours on Friday) and then had Monday off because of Native American Day.

The chickens started the habit of burying their eggs in the straw for me to find. They especially have been fond of burying them in their straw hut. I got pretty tired of crawling around on my hands and knees (kneeling in chicken crap) to find my breakfast. So on Monday, I took all the straw out and off of the floor so the naughty chickens can't lay in it. Ever since I did that, I've been finding most of the eggs in the nest boxes.

I still only have one leghorn laying eggs. I wish the other one would hurry up. The white eggs are so cute and small! I have been averaging 6-7 eggs per day and I currently have a little over two dozen sitting in my fridge. It's a good thing I love omelets! I haven't sold any eggs yet, but I should probably get on it.

Sally, BBQ, Fluffy, and Fibby have been laying massive eggs. If you bought them in the store, they would be classified as jumbo eggs. I still haven't figured out what I would sell those for per dozen, but I am quite content with eating the huge ones myself. I got one egg this week from Sally that had a MASSIVE yolk. Atta girl!
This yolk was huge!

This is the fermented feed that I like to feed the ladies. They love it!

I finally decided on names for my two ducks....Kim(belina) and Karen....named after the two best friends a girl could ask for. My nickname for my human named Kim is Kimbelina- so that's where that came from. 

My favorite manwhore, Francis, has been tearing up a couple of my chickens. He gets a little rough when he is loving up the ladies, so I bought a couple of chicken saddles for his two favorite hens- Fibby and BBQ. They look quite fancy in their pink, flower-patterned saddles. It looks like they are wearing capes!
Fibby and her new saddle!

I had yesterday off of work to clean my house. My dad and his buddies are here to hunt pheasants and with as much cat hair and messes that the kitties make, it takes me several hours to get the house clean. The only thing my vacuum cleaner sucks is.... at life!!! So thankfully, my wonderful in-laws let me use their vacuum every once in a while. My vacuum cleaner doesn't believe in sucking up cat hair. Candy's vacuum cleaner would suck up a small child if you let it. I love that thing! I'm working on convincing the husband to let me buy a $600 vacuum just like it. He's not convinced it's amazing but I have yet to see him use one.... :)

Last night, Dad's buddy Bob was so kind to take us out to supper. We went to a little bar in the next town over that has pretty good steaks for a small town bar. It was SO good! I'm so grateful for his generosity!  He said he's trying to butter and love me up so I let them stay at my house every time they go hunting...hahaha! I'm glad to have them stay here because it is fun to host guests. I love cooking and doing things to prep for guests. Yesterday I made them some really healthy muffins to take with to snack on in the field. Jack is absolutely in love with Bob's dog Gus. It is so fun watching him play!
Jack and Gus having fun

Yesterday, I attempted to make biscuits by biffed them because I added baking soda instead of baking powder....They tasted like CRAP! Plus, they had an aftertaste that would NOT leave my mouth....Easy chicken food and dog snacks, I guess.... So this morning I made a new batch and they are pretty tasty. I plan to make biscuits and sausage gravy for them this morning. I was up before 6 baking in the kitchen. I love being a little Leighbie homemaker!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

White Eggs!

We were busy last weekend. Eric was kind enough to rig up a light in my coop so I can see the chickens at night when I put them to bed. He also helped me set up a little hide-out inside the coop with straw bales to keep the chickies warm in the winter. The birds love their giant nest...I keep finding eggs buried in it.
The finished product.

BBQ is checking out the new hide-out.

We just basically stacked bales together. The purpose is to keep wind out and to insulate a place so the chickens can huddle and keep warm.

This little lady found a comfy place to rest behind their hideout. She's so cute!

I have two white chickens that I couldn't figure out what breed they were. I'd sit there and research at night and have a hard time falling asleep because I couldn't find a description that matched them. Finally this week, I found a white egg in my coop! That confirmed it! They are leghorns. There are only like three breeds of chickens that lay white eggs and leghorns are one. I couldn't decide whether my birds were young leghorns or if they were white rocks. White rocks lay brown eggs- so that took care of it for me. I'm excited to have chickens that lay white eggs, and the best part is is that these birds are supposed to be excellent layers of large white eggs. They will lay me lots of eggs in their peak laying years.
My first Leghorn egg!

So many pretty colors!

My new barred rocks that I brought home 2 weeks ago are great layers too. I have found a lot of smaller pinkish/brown colored eggs and I hadn't had any of those until I got my new chickens. Trading my ducks for these chickens was a great idea! One of the poor girls is molting- she's losing her feathers so she can grow new ones. It happens once per year in the fall- usually starting after they are 18 months old. She looks terrible. She's missing a big patch of feathers on her butt and on her chest. Her little hiney is all red too from irritation. It must be miserable molting like that!

I hung out inside my coop this morning and watched my birds. I found a bunch of eggs in their little hut and watched two birds lay me some eggs. I found 5 eggs this morning. They are way too much fun to watch. I brought them some cucumbers, eggs, and peels to snack on. It's really fun to see all the food they eat. I started fermenting their feed, too and they LOVE that! The fermenting helps more vitamins to develop in the feed- there are other health benefits but I can't think of them right now. To ferment, I added water to their feed and let it sit a few days. It comes out as mush and has like an oatmeal consistency. The girls love, love, love it.

Having some snacks!

Francis is a manwhore. He keeps trying to hump the ladies....I watched him chase the ladies around this morning, but they weren't having it. Lol! Other than that, he is doing pretty well. He does NOT like when I pick up one of the girls...He gets all butt hurt over it and clucks at me to put them down. It's good to know he's so protective of the ladies.

I cleaned out the rest of the garden this weekend. I finished blanching my brussel sprouts and I canned Eric some more sliced jalapenos. I think it's safe to put my canner away for the year...Unless I buy a bunch of potatoes. Those are awesome canned! :)

It's a three-day weekend for me today and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I've been laying around eating like a heifer...but it is quite relaxing. Eric has an incentive going for me- if I lay off the carbs all weekend, he will buy me a pedicure. I'm totally taking him up on that offer.

I've been cleaning the house a bunch too because my dad and his buddy are coming down to hunt next weekend, so I want to keep the house nice and acceptable looking. It will be fun having dad around. I am probably going to do a lot of cooking and this week, I'll make cookies or something for them. :)

I got a job as a mental health practitioner for an agency near my county. I will be on call every other weekend and when people go to the ER for being suicidal, I will go and complete an assessment on them to determine the severity and make referrals to placement for them. It's much more up my alley than being an EMT would have been. I'm looking forward to starting. My boss and the people there are pretty cool. The lady who interviewed me tried hard to get me to work for them about a year ago. I had been offered a lead position and then later they wanted to interview me for a supervisor position, but by that time, I had already accepted the position working for the state. I can have best of both worlds now!

Jack has been super clingy lately....He's so cute though, so I'll excuse it! Lily has been peeing outside the litter box again and I'm once again on a mission to fixing the problem. She gets bladder inflammation and that's what causes her to pee outside the box. I've tried everything, and now I'm switching them all to primarily wet food twice per day to push more fluids on her. I hope this helps.

Lily, Arnold, and I chillin' on my day off.

Jack is such a Daddy's boy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Busy Weekend!

It was a fabulous day weather-wise on Saturday, so I got a lot of things done. I cleaned up the chicken coop a little bit. I installed new feeders for the flock as the one I had was just too small for so many birds. I made a little step for the birds to reach their new feeders. I also just hung out with the birds and threw them treats a few times in the afternoon.

The plan was to butcher the ducks, but after thinking about it more, I don't feel that it would be worth my time and effort because the ducks are so small. There is not much to them and I might just get a little bit of breast meat, enough for a one-person meal...Not worth it to me, so I worked hard to advertise them. I kept two females so I can get duck eggs for baking in the spring.

I found a lady about an hour away who traded 5 chickens for 5 of my ducks. I'm happy with my new ladies. She was supposed to give me Ameruacana chickens, but she apparently doesn't know her chicken breeds because she gave me Barred Rocks...oh well. Barred Rocks are a good dual purpose breed, meaning they are good for both meat and laying eggs. All of the birds that I have are either layers or dual purpose. I want to get a few meat birds this spring to eat, and I'm looking forward to raising my own food. How cool is that?
My new Barred Rock hens.
One of my new ladies laid me an egg within 20 minutes of bringing them home!

I was pretty busy on Saturday in the kitchen as well. I made apple butter, apple pie, and I blanched and froze brussel sprouts from the garden. We ate some brussel sprouts for supper and they are SO good! I also picked a bunch of jalapeno and banana peppers from the garden for Eric. I think I'll wait until I have a few more to can them.

The start of apple butter!

It is so much fun tending to my chickens and being a little Leighbie Homemaker. I wish I could do this full time. There is so many things to be done around here, but I do enjoy working at my job during the week.

It was a great weekend to get things done. I only have a few more of these left and I need to start prepping for the winter. I will be making a hideout for the birds in the coop for them to huddle in to keep warm this winter. Look for a post about that coming soon. Thanks for reading! :)