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! :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

RIP Crispy

We got about a dozen eggs this week surprisingly because of how gloomy it was. I was so proud to bring my first dozen over to my in-laws last weekend. I'm learning so much about chickens- apparently chickens lay better when there is a lot of sunshine. 
The ducks aren't laying yet and I think they were too young for this laying season. Ducks lay only during the late spring/summer. After the end of August or so, they stop because there isn't enough sun for them. These ducks must have been hatched late spring so they missed laying for this year. I am trying to sell them right now because I would rather have a different breed of duck. They sure are fun to watch but I'm also a little perturbed that I have to wait until spring to get duck eggs. Plus, there is no one around here that processes ducks. There is one place nearby that will process chickens, but they do not do ducks. I'm hoping to find someone that will butcher them for me or sell them to someone. I feel dumb listing them on the FB garage sale websites because the guy I bought them from is on every single one of those sites and he will see me listing them for sale already....ugh. My mistake was not looking into duck processing facilities before I said yes to buying 7 ducks.

I brought home a brand new Ameracauna rooster today. He is a big, handsome boy with quite the crow! I named him Francis. He just looks like a Francis, so that's how he got his name. The ladies in the coop started pecking at him and he puffed up and fought back. He needs to establish that he is the boss of the coop now, and the girls will just have to deal with it. He is really noisy with his crowing...My poor in laws have to listen to him. I told Dave that if he gets too annoying, we can turn him into rooster stew.

I imagine I will have some fun stories about Francis trying to impress the ladies of the coop.  I think Francis and Piper would make quite the handsome couple, but roosters are polygamous... All 11 ladies in the coop with be "his" ladies. What a stud.

Francis
Crispy came down with something this week. She was just sitting in the coop, so I removed her and kept her in the dog kennel so she wouldn't spread anything to the others. I suspect she got an infection from getting bit by a dog in the beginning of the week. It was fun to finally have my house chicken but she became more lethargic and wouldn't drink the antibiotic water I gave her or eat any food. She would poop and pee all over herself. One night I gave her a shower to clean her up and she seemed much more comfortable. Over Friday night/Saturday she got worse. She couldn't stand on her own, refused food, had diarrhea... Poor little girl. We killed her this afternoon to put her out of her misery. I've never killed anything before. It was horrible. I gave her some cuddles and a kiss goodbye before we did it and I feel horrible now. I wasn't prepared for this when I became a chicken mommy.

She's buried in my garden under the peonies. She was loved for the short time she was with me. She got lots of cuddles, kisses, and extra attention when she was sick and living in my house. I feel really sad right now. :(
Cripsy on the day I got her.

Crispy after her shower.

This picture cracks me up. Look at Dakotah in the background.



Let's hope no more of my birds get sick. On to a better week....

Saturday, September 6, 2014

CHICKENS!

No one told me how much fun chickens are!!! I was saddened to learn that you can't keep chickens on less than 1 acre. So one day last week, I asked my father-in-law if he would consider letting me keep chickens somewhere on his farm and he said yes! I was so happy. He offered a nice little granary that is in good shape, so last weekend I spend some time cleaning it up. I sweet talked my wonderful husband into hanging the doors on my coop, as well as help me make a run for the chickens.

It turned out great! I would love to paint the coop one day, but for now, it's perfect. The floor is in great shape- it has a cement floor, and the building is secure. I looked all around the building for even the tiniest hole, but couldn't find one. I hope my chickens are pretty safe from predators. I didn't let them out this morning right away because I heard coyotes yipping outside. I don't want to tempt them.

I bought a total of 12 chickens from a town a few miles away. He asked if I wanted to take the ducks as well, so I took them. I was interested in keeping ducks eventually too so I thought "oh, what the hell!" I have 7 Indian Runner ducks now too. One is a little runt. All of the ducks are pretty timid and don't like me. They always run around in a their little group. Eric calls them the Duck Committee.

I have a few different breeds of chicken- Two are Black Australorps, two are Buff Orpingtons, I have 1 Black Sex Link, two Barred Rocks, 3 Rhode Island Reds, and 2 White Leghorns.

I have gotten 15 eggs so far! All but the leghorns are 7 months old, and the leghorns are 4 months.

I have found that the birds love tomatoes and corn. Tonight, I spent 20 minutes sitting in their run hand feeding them strawberries. They love those! It's really fun to watch the chickens steal the berries from each other. I have one chicken, Sally, who was running the other chickens away when they got near her tomato! I have two chickens named...Sally and Piper. They are my two favorites. Sally will let me hold her. Piper is just really pretty. I am contemplating getting a rooster. Someone in a different town is offering one for free. He would be useful to help protect the flock.
The Coop

Enjoying some tomatoes



All my chickens



Piper
The Duck Committee

Sally is the one on the left.