Working in the Chicken Coop

The past couple weeks I have been picking away at little jobs that have been adding up in the chicken coop. A good friend, Mr. J, suggested a new roost idea as well as moving the brood box and he even helped me hang the new nest boxes! The brood box is now under the window, with a poop tray under the new roosts that are now above the brood box. Mr.J, also looked into fixing my water system and even went with me to get the necessary parts and put the first one together!

It was interesting standing in my local farm store discussing fittings and bushings with their maintenance man who was kind enough to follow along with my idea and helped me get the correct pieces to make it work. Today I finished the second waterer all by myself! Once I was shown how to do it, it was not a difficult project, but I would not have figured it out by myself. So I now have 2 waterers put together, one that works beautifully, the other I will test as soon as the Cement has a good chance to dry thoroughly.

Mr.J and I were talking and I mentioned how nice it would be to have a cabinet to keep a few things in the chicken coop. One of which was lightbulbs, the chickens go through lightbulbs like crazy, because they break them. Now I have a place to put them! Mr.J sent this home with my Dad and I hung it a few days later!

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This little cabinet has a small latch on the top to keep the door closed. It is the perfect size for my coop! It is a perfect place to keep my antiseptic spray medication, lightbubs and I put my PVC Primer and Cement in there today so if I need it to work on the water system it is right where I left it.

I have another idea for a roost that I hope to implement within the next few weeks. I am also planning to let a hen sit on a few eggs starting this week! I thought I had enough chickens but I decided I did not!

I enjoy all the time I get to spend with my chickens and my little flock! The diversity among Guineas, chickens, ducks and even turkeys is amazing. Hopefully I can let the Brahamas and the Turkeys out in a couple weeks to be introduced to the larger birds.

Garden Time!

Friday my wonderful Grandpa was nice enough to come down and help me with my garden. When I got home from work, he was dragging it by hand with a manure rake. I quickly took it from him and after a field trip to look at a hayfield and a round baler, I finished raking the garden. It worked up very nice thanks to him and dad plowing and discing the area.

Grandpa showed me how to make rows with his push tool that I do not even know the name of. Grandpa made the first few rows and showed me how to plan the corn that I selected. I planted 4 rows of corn and still had some left! But Grandpa decided that 4 rows would be enough. Then he put the seeds for the green beans into the seeder and then the peas. So I have 1 row of white half runners and 2 rows of peas.

After that Grandma showed me how to hill in the garden for watermelon, cantalope, squash and cucumbers. We would have done the tomatoes also, but I forgot to get them. So I had to do them on my own yesterday, but I did it! I got a total of 12 tomato plants, 6 better boy, and I got 6 of what I thought were Rutgers, but they are something else, so that could be interesting come harvesting time.

My original plan with the tomatoes was 6 plants for eating fresh tomatoes from the garden and 6 plants for juicing tomatoes. My mom requested 12 quarts of tomato juice and Grandma said 6 plants should be enough to get that.

I am really curious to see how my plants do for my first attempt. Time will tell, just got to wait, be prepared to weed and water as necessary and hope it works out well. I am excited to be able to eat veggies that I raised myself! And I cannot wait to learn to can, green beans and tomato juice. I know it will be a little more work, but I am looking forward to learning how to do this!

 

Peeps are Growing!

I deleted the wrong pictures this evening, I will have to take more tomorrow of the chicks that have grown! All of them grew a large amount within the past 2 weeks.

The oldest pullets are Americana, they are 10 weeks today, and they spent their first day out of the brooder Saturday. It took them a couple days to venture outside of the henhouse itself, all but one or two that were more adventurous. It has been a few days and they are all enjoying their time outside playing and eating bugs, grass etc.

The next oldest are the Light Bramas. They are about 6 weeks, give or take a little. Most of their feathers are now in. My mom did a very good job petting them and they enjoy being handled and petted. Several have names including ‘Polly.’ Polly has quite the personality, she is the boss of the others in that group. So far everyone is stil getting along between them and the turkeys. The exciting news with them is they now occupy the brooder in the henhouse, not the living room!

That brings me to the youngest birds, my white turkeys. They have almost all of their wing feathers. They are close to a month old, and are about the same size as their chicken companions.

It is a bit of a change, not having any live poultry in the house to check on as I walk by. Mom is happy to have the mess out of the house and the chicks happily where the mess is easier to clean up.

I have enjoyed watching the babies! The Americanas this weekend have been rather entertaining. Even today one was out hopping and flapping trying to fly a little. There are several new colors in my flock and I am excited to watch them mature the rest of the way. I cannot get over how nicely they are getting along with the older hens, even Roy is being good and the Guineas do not bother them. I was a little worried about turning them loose, but my older poultry are doing very well. The littler chickens are even drinking out of my waterer, which with some help from Mr.J we got the 2nd one put together. I am excited to see how things go the next few weeks as the chicks learn to roost and the pecking order is established amongst the girls. Springtime on the farm is always enjoyable with little ones!

Daily Prompt: Uniform

When I think about uniforms, the first thing that comes to mind is the Christian Acadamy that I went to for a portion of my elementary school. Unfortunately I did not enjoy much of my time there, but I did learn a lot and to this day I retain much of it and that was nearly 20 years ago.

We were told that the uniforms made us all equal, that we would see each other as the same. Uniforms do not make that statement. All that I remember is how uncomfortable they were as I was not built for their cut and style. We may have all had the same wardrobe, but there were many differences in all of us. There were still clicks, popular kids, athletes, book worms, teachers pet etc etc. The uniforms did not change that.

I was not one of the popular kids, nor was I athletic, so I focused on doing the best work I could and keeping my grades as high as possible. I did not feel as though I fit in well, so I was more of a keep to myself book worm than anything. It was still an experience that helped to make me what I am. WIthout the few years I spent in that school, I would not have had the study habits or test taking abilities that I needed to get through high school and college as I did.

I remember the uniform pants, that were too long waisted and funny fitting on me. I have never been much of a dress wearer, but nearly everyday that year, I wore a skirt because of the pants being that uncomfortable as my body changed and grew. That may be why to this day I am choosy about the jeans and slacks that I wear. Never really thought about that before.

I remember the dress shirts had ‘Peter Pan’ type collars, and I thought it looked kind of cute on the younger kids, but I hated the way the blouses looked on me. I stuck mostly to the polo type shirts.

Oh the childhood memories that are brought up at the craziest of things, something as simple as the word uniform brings back many memories. My favorite Spanish teacher for one, studying Astronomy and Ohio History, the hardest teacher I had, that turned out to teach me more than I think any of the others did. Wish I could tell her now how much I appreciate her, but I do not even know where to start looking. You never know the impact or influence you have on someone, especially when it does not even seem like it.

via Daily Prompt: Uniform

Celebrating Spring

My Grandpa has been after me to purchase turkeys to feed out for Thanksgiving and CHristmas dinner. I did some research about when to buy for optimal maturity etc etc. They were on sale yesterday at the local farm store, and I could not resist.

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The white and black chicks are my Mom’s Light Brama pullets purchased as an early Mother’s day gift. My how they have grown! They were fast friends with the 4 new turkeys! I enjoyed just listening to them chatter last night. They are settling in and getting along nicely.

The older Ameracanas are hopefully going to get to be free ranging within the next week or two! So excited I cannot wait for that!

Been a rough couple of weeks around here, and instead of focusing on the patience trying and frustrating things going on, I am trying to focus on the bright side of things. I have so much to be thankful and this latest picture is just another reminder of that!

God has been so good to me especially the past few weeks. He opened up doors for hayfields for this year! It is looking like I will have enough that I do not have to purchase hay again next year.

Several doors are opening in the horse world for me including horses to train, shows to judge and my colt even had a great out this past weekend! Exciting opportunities, meeting new people, working with new people and horses, expanding my horse knowledge and experience!

My Grandparents came and helped me get the garden ready to plant which I am hoping to begin in a few days. The ground is ready! That is a whole other experience for the first time. I am eager to see how the plants do, what grows well and what I struggle with.

One of my friends posted today and it was an awesome reminder that no matter what storms come in our lives, whatever challenges we face, praise God through it! My wonderful Pastor tells us all the time to “Put a praise on it!” That is what I am trying to do. God has a plan, and my frustration is part of it. I am looking forward to what he brings me to next!

Hopefully this encourages you today, to praise Him regardless of what is going on, or what happens yesterday, today, tomorrow. God is right there through it, giving us thing to rejoice about, even if it is something as simple as turkeys being on sale at the farm store!

My Lifestyle

Life is all about choices, and how the choices we make affect us and those around us. Every aspect of my life has been chosen, my job, my hobbies, my horses, my chickens, even my vehicles and relationships. The best part is it is mine to choose, mine to change and mine to live.

I feeel I fall into the farm/agriculture/horse lifestyle bracket. Most people do not realize that having horses is a lifestyle choice, not just a hobby, but when you get serious about the animals and the sport, it truly becomes something you eat, sleep and breathe.

An example, two years ago I purchased a cute little Ford Aspire, ‘Matilda’ as ┬ácalled her. My daily driver at that time was an F-250 Super Duty and the fuel mileage was eating a ginormous chunck of my paycheck. Tildy paid for herself within the first 6 months I had her! I loved driving her, in fact I started going more places because I could afford to. She got nearly 4 times the mileage the truck did.

Due to an old injury, my hip pops out of place, and her 4 speed transmission was not easy on it. Other than that, when I had to pick up feed or anything, she was not handy and ‘Big Red’ had to make the trip. I was still way ahead and was actually able to save some money.

About a month ago, I started looking for a smaller pickup. Tildy was getting harder and harder on me to drive. Not that she was any harder to operate, but my body did not take it as well. I have dealt with hauling bags of grain in her and wrestling them in and out was crazy. I could only get 1 square bale in her, and I worked one day at getting even a second one, it just would not fit.

My Grandpa found a Toyota pick-up, it is an ’88 model and still currently searching for a name. That little truck has been the handiest thing ever as I have already used it several times to haul grain, hay, potting soil, bedding, even lumber and tools, and the ease of loading and unloading is unmatched. The gas mileage is not quite as good as Tildy, it does save gas, especially when considering I can run the big truck even less than before.The best thing about the little truck is it does not hurt me to drive but still allows me to care for my livestock and run farm errands. If it were not for having the animals, I probably would not have looked at replacing the car, but it was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time!

Hoping to enjoy both the Toyota and Big Red for many years to come as they help me complete farm chores and errands, haul me and the horses to shows and events, and take me to work. I am looking forward to it!

via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

Starting the Seeds

Almost 2 weeks ago, my sister helped me start a few seeds in degradable starter trays. We used a complete potting mix with fertilizer and nutrients so that I would not have to add any. My Grandma was nice enough to go with me to the local farm store and pick out the correct seeds for what I was wanting to plant.

Grandma helped me decide on two kinds of tomatoes, Best Boys and Rutgers, Cucumbers, Squash, Cantalope and Watermelon. I also started some lavendar plants. Grandma took me to her favorite plant store and greenhouse to pick out corn, peas and green beans to direct sow into my garden.

I was concerned at first that my seeds were not going to start at all. Doing more research I realized I had forgotten a few vital things…. one being a plastic cover to make a greenhouse type enviornment. Ooops… so I improvised! The chicks needed to be kept at 85 degrees, with light on them, so I moved my starts into the chicken coop and put it up on the nest shelf that the meat birds were not using. Waited a few days and viola! My seeds sprouted!

I was relieved when I noticed the first few shoots peeking out from the soil. I kept them in the with the chicks, which kept them warm and made sure to keep them moist. Finally after 2 weeks, I am confident I am off to a good start!

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All but 2 of my tomato plants have sprouted, and luckily it is one of each that seem to be dormant. I am not hopeful that they will sprout later, but for my first attempt at this, only have 2 tomato plants out of a total of 30 starts is not bad!

Things are coming along for the garden, Dad plowed up the plot Thursday. It has been raining since, so things are on hold until they dry out a little. Crazy to think I got excited over a few small sprouts, but for my first time I think it has gone pretty well, thanks to my sister! She has always had a green thumb and she helped me out a lot with getting these guys started!

On another note, the chicks are 5 weeks old Wednesday! 3 more weeks until they are ready to dress out. And I ordered the next batch to arrive on the 24th. More peeps! I can not wait! Something about spring that allows me to enjoy the animals and babies! I also found a really nice stud for my mare today! Such an exciting morning on the farm!

Feeling Accomplished

This morning got off to a rough start. I tried to shake it, but the harder I tried, the tighter the gray cloud seemed hold. Dealing with the public, I pushed most of it aside and kept the customers smiling and laughing, but underneath it all I wanted to do was scream. It was no one’s fault, nothing that anyone did, I just could not shake it.

Even when I got off work and started stuff on the farm, I was still under this cloud. Even this evening when I went to work my latest project horse, I could not shake it. Flicka did really well today! My mood started to improve, just being in the saddle lifted my spirit.

When I got home, Miss M was here riding her horse. She ended on a much better note than she started on and many better days ahead. Seeing her ride encouraged me enough to get Bart out. All week I have been working on his canter. To the right he does not always want to hold his lead, and to the left he has been short strided and choppy. I have been using a training martingale on him the past few days and it has really helped to balance him out. Today he rode better than he has all week! His right leaded canter was flowy and nice and he only broke lead once. It was a somewhat quick fix, but he did not break again. His left leaded canter had choppy moments, but for the majority of the tim,e, he used himself properly and started rounding his back which lengthened his strides and soothed them out.

He was doing so well, Miss M had the poles set up, so we went through a couple times. He actually did flying lead changes! I am beside myself! He is weaving nicely and while his end turns still need some fine tuning, they are coming along nicely! Tonight I felt as though all the extra work I have done with him paid off. I feel like he finally understands what he is supposed to do and how he is supposed to move to maintain his balance!

My rough day quickly turned into a wonderful evening tonight! God blessed me through my colt tonight and I would not trade a single second of it! I look forward to the next couple of weeks with him, not to mention the upcoming summer!

Rainbows: God’s Promises

The past couple days have been full of reminders for me. I have noticed some of the most wonderful things.

This evening, I heard thunder crack, and decided it best to bring the horses in and get the evening feeding chores done before the storm started. While this did not happen, fortunately the storm was just thunder and rain, so nothing worry about other than damp clothes when I was finished. As I was outside working, I looked up and saw this big beautiful rainbow that stretched far across the sky. I instantly was reminded of God’s promise to Noah, to never again flood the earth. The rainbow was His reminder to Noah, and He has sent me several reminders the past few days.

I have posted in the past about God’s promises, but I want to share for a moment about Him fulfilling one to my mother. Several years ago, I had a bad horse accident. It was a miracle I lived let alone that I can walk, talk, etc and especially ride. Before the accident, riding horses was my life. I rode almost every day. Me and my horses showed well, competed well, and placed a lot. Needless to say, the accident was quite a setback.

A couple years after the accident, I went to college. Several things were still out of kilter a bit, one being my balance. I chose a horse degree which included riding classes and breaking and training class. The program focused a lot more on English discipline riding than I was used to, and the first quarter I struggled. As I started learning to jump, one day I lost my balance as the horse was over the jump. Had he not been the good saint of a horse he was, I would have landed hard on the ground, but he was nice enough to shift his weight and land under me.

The few years since then I have ridden more and more and even done bareback riding to improve my balance. I noticed improvement, but yesterday it was obvious how far I have come. I used to be able to hang off the side of the horses and everything else, flying dismounts you name it. If it had legs I could just about certainly ride it. Problem horses were among my favorite mounts. After the accident I have been more careful.

Yesterday I was trail riding a project horse that had never been through the woods like that before. At first she was nervous about being away from her buddy, then a little about the branches and brush touching her. After a few minutes she settled down, but I had been leaning and ducking around and under the low branches on the trees and the prickly brush. I never lost my balance!

God promised my wonderful Mom that I would be restored to 100% of what I was before the acident. I am claiming and standing on that promise! Yesterday was a great reminder of the progress I make every day! God is an awesome God! He keeps his promises and He holds each and every one of us in His hands!

White Feathers are Coming!

The lil chicks continue to grow! It has been neat watching them change even over the past few days! The meat birds are getting bigger and bigger. They are taking less management as they are able to regulate their body temperatures more on their own now. Makes my life a lot easier.

Their yellow chick fuzz is giving way to their white plummage more and more everyday. Everyday they look less like baby chicks and more like chickens. They are bred to grow quickly and that is exactly what they do!

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These little guys are 4 weeks old Wednesday, and all but George, I bet are pushing a pound and a half. I so enjoy caring for them! They are eating more than 7 pounds of feed a day and drink probably 2-2.5 gallons of water every day. Their ideal temperature is right around 80 degrees this week.

The Americanas are also growing! They are changing colors more and more! They do not eat near as much feed as the boys, or drink nearly as much water, but they are right on schedule just the same.

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The girls seem to enjoy their new pen. I plan to incude pictures and how we assembled it in one of my next blog posts. The girls are much more skittish than the larger boys. Whenever I open the lid on the end to refill the feeder and waterer, they all run down to the other end, as far away from me as they can get. I can already see a couple different color variations in these new members of the flock. I am excited to watch as they continue to change and grow! The larger hens enjoy eyeing the new girls. Even the Guineas enjoy sitting on top of their box and watching the younger birds run around nervously. Eventually the new girls will get along with their older flock mates.

I thoroughly enjoy everyday I get to watch these babies grow! Hopefully you will check back to keep up with their progress and watch with me as they grow!