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!

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Growing Chicks!

The chicks are continuing to grow! Not that I expected anythin different, but life never ceases to amaze me. God designed creatures perfectly and watching babies grow is a perfect example!

The meat birds are of course growing much quicker than the Ameracana pullets, but that means things are going like they are supposed to!

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The chicks went on different feeds starting Monday evening, so they needed to be separated. This posed a new challenge… where to put the pullets? Big girls would be mean if i tried to introduce almost 3 week old chicks to the flock, and if I put some kind of partition up, it would crowd the boys. So my awesome Dad came to the rescue!

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Using a single sheet of plywood, 1 2×4, a piece of scrap chip board from the coop expansion, 2 hinges, 1 latch and some chicken wire left over from the stock tank brooder, I helped Dad construct this. The feeder and waterer are housed under the chipboard door to keep the bigger birds from leaving droppings in it if they happen to sit on the lid. I hung a thermometer from a piece of baling wire that I cut down so I can properly monitor the temperature for them.  The box is 6′ x 2′ so they have plenty of room to roam around even as they grow, which they are doing!

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These girls are also growing everyday! 15 new birds to introduce into the flock in the upcoming future. I cannot wait to watch how their persinalities develop. e3ach hen that I have now has their own little attitude or character and it keeps things very interesting.

The babies are always glad to see me as I bring fresh feed with me, and a couple of them, namely George, are getting rather tame. Spring time always brings many good things. This year it has brought baby chicks and baby plants, but more on those another day. Either way I enjoy watching things grow and thrive. There is a sense of accomplishment when your animals do well and healthy and happy.

Baby chicks are enough to brighten your day and your morning. It just makes you smile when you open their door and they greet you excitedly as waterers and feeders begin to be filled. Makes me smile to care for them and make them happy!

My Smallest Chick

I have enjoyed watching the chicks, especially the past couple days as they have seemed to grow almost constantly.  I noticed I have one Super Roaster that is smaller than all the rest, including the Amerucana pullets. I noticed the lil guy had a dirty bum today and decided I needed to investigate.

I am really surprised the little guy is still with us as small as he is, but I am glad to have him despite his size. I was extra extra small once myself, and I am still not a very tall or big girl. The little guy is healthy, just small.

I caught him when I got home from work, and carried the little guy inside. My mom dampened a cloth and I tried to soften the dirt and manure to get him cleaned up. When the dirt etc was persistent, I cut a milk jug and created a chick sized soak. I was surprised the little guy did not even complain when I submerged his bottom half in the warm water. He let me hold him in the water and after just a couple minutes, the dirt and manure easily came away from the skin all except one spot which unfortunately was stuck pretty good. I was worried about tearing his sensitive skin, so we gently snipped a small piece of his chick fluff and released the matt. He is now happily back with his fellow chicks eating and growing. I am hoping he grows more over the next couple days and gets closer to the size of the others, but if he doesn’t that is ok too.

I wanted to get a picture of him wrapped up in a rag as I gently dried him off before taking him back outside. He was cute sitting in my hand all wrapped up with his eyes closed. He did not have a care in the world as I cleaned him up.

It just reminded me as I held that chick that the Bible tells us to be good caretakers of our animals. That is what I did today and what I will do everyday I have animals. God has blessed me with the animals and livestock in my care, it is my responsibility to make the best choices for them that I can. I get a lot of joy from my animals and the farm, despite the expenses, the late nights, early mornings, hard days, all of it is my job right now. I enjoy everyday I get to spend with them!

Cold Night Ahead

Temperatures in Ohio have dropped all day and will continue tonight. The change in temperature affects all livestock. The horses get fresher, the hens were acting like hooligans tonight, the ducks still did not want to go into the coop. Bernie, the littler brown duck walked up the ramp and halfway in the henhouse only to change her mind and turn around. I don’t understand, but as long as she is happy.

The change in temperature brought the babies back inside. This time in the living room, and my mom is being a good sport despite her dislike of baby chicks in her living room. I do not think they would have been warm enough even with the heater running constantly outside. So, Dad told me to bring them in the living room, and even helped me bring them in!

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They seem to be content so far in their stock tank brooder. The thermometer is reading 90 steadily, so that is right where it is supposed to be this week. The challenging part about this brooder compaed to being outside is the waterer. Outside I have a 3 gallon top fill waterer. Easy! But it does not fit in the tank and give the chicks any room, so it stays outside. When the chicks are inside, I use a 1 gallon gravity fed waterer that you flip over to fill. It makes such a mess, but it is only for a couple days.

With any luck this will be the last cold snap for the season and they can go outside for good. I want to do what is best for them, even if it means a little more work for me. They are growing strong and healthy! Means I am doing something right.

I get so much enjoyment from my little farm. Watching and listening to the animals play and talk to one another is so interesting to me. The donkey, Pete, talks all the time. He tells you if you happen to be five minutes late to feed.

Last night Dad and I were finishing the roof on the coop and Roy was perched on the roost when I went inside to help dad adjust the placement of the pieces. He watched me out of one eye, as he knew I was tempted to pick him up and hold him. He did not want to be bothered, at all. So, at first I obliged him and left him alone. When I had to go inside a second time to adjust another piece, the temptation was too great. I lifted him from the roost and held him gently stroking his neck and back as I carried him outside to show dad. Roy just watched me. It was very clear he was not enjoying being a pet rooster, but he has a nice enough personality he let me hold and pet him. I did not keep him long, before returning him to his coop. I just enjoyed him for a few minutes, my rooster, that I raised and watch everyday. He is such a nice boy! I can’t wait for more days ahead just enjoying the time with my animals!

Farmer Thoughts Today

Last week, I watched a college friend eager with excitement that her long awaited, and overdue foal was coming. She soon realized that she had major problems and ended up loosing foal and momma both.

I have been asked for pics of my chicks, so I am including one with this post. But there is something I hope you all think about as you see them. The past 2 nights I have gone almost sleepless. Sunday night, I woke up cold myself, and I ran to the bathroom to check on my babies. Of course they were cold too, all huddled in one big ball. I started working, mind you it was 2am. It took me almost an hour to bring the tiny bathroom up to a temperature that was comfortable for them. Then I was up additionally once or twice an hour to check on them and make sure they were not too hot or too cold. Their precious bodies have such a small window of tolerency, and I as their caretaker had the responsibility to ensure they are taken care of.

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I was very blessed all my chicks made it through the night, and the heat bulb was replaced as soon as I realized it was the problem. Everything was fine Sunday night. I was so glad things went well and smoothly, I prepared to move them outside. As I posted yesterday, the chicks did make it outside yesterday with a heater and a heat bulb working together to keep them comfortable.

Last night, I had been asleep roughly half an hour when I was awakened. My dad came to tell me that the power flickered and we had a storm coming. We talked about the best measures to take to keep the chicks warm in the even that the power did go out and I made it back to sleep a bit later. As 1:30 this morning approached, I was startled by rain pounding outside. It sounded as though it was coming down in buckets. I checked my clock, and the power was on, but there was no way I could go to sleep wondering if it was going to stay on or if I would be needed to tend to the chicks.

I have said all that to say this, farming is not an easy job. Livestock management is no easy task, as tough decisions must sometimes be made and death on a farm is dealt with all too often. The lightbulb I replaced let me loose a couple chicks, and unfortunately, I held 2 in my hand when they took their last breath. Some say it is just a chicken, or it is just a horse, or a dog, or whatever the case may be. I have lost all of the above listed. The bottom line is it is life, and life is precious no matter who it belongs to. I cherish everyday I get to spend with those I love, both humans and animals and I really hope you are encouraged to do the same.

Rainy Tuesday

Today in Ohio is rainy…. rain limits outside work, but that has lessened the desire to be outside instead of babysitting today. However, I have still gotten a few things done! Fortunately, the baby has not been very fussy and it has been a mostly pleasant afternoon.

Saturday, I brought home 3 hens, 2 silky roosters and 3 ducks. They rode home in their coop, which I also brought home. They were quite comfortable in their original home for the evening, but Sunday I helped them join the rest of the flock. Sunday night, a friend, AA, helped me unload the smaller coop as well as wrangler chickens and ducks. I could not believe it when I handed him a silky rooster and he took it to the coop. He is not a farmer and does not care much for chickens, but was willing to jump in and get the job done anyhow. Everyone spent the night inside the henhouse, with the exception of the 2 brown ducks…. they have decided to sleep outside underneath the henhouse. I keep the fence locked up for them so they are safe.

I was relieved to see them all getting along relatively well the past couple days. It has been interesting though, my original flock tends to hang together while the new comers tend to hang out among themselves. At night I am still having to gather and put the new ones in the coop, but I am hoping within a couple more days they will go in on their own. The one Guinea was even trying to make friends with several members of the new flock. I was happy to see that because I honestly figured the Guineas would be the most difficult to convince that the new birds were indeed welcome on the farm.

My small project today was washing the small kiddie pool for the ducks. So I cleaned and hosed it out, before moving it to it’s new location near the henhouse. I put some water in it, but am counting on Mother Nature the next few days are all predicted with rain. Hopefully the ducks enjoy their new home and new flockmates.

As a bit of a side note, Pete is settling in some. He has not gone out with the rest of the herd yet, as I am concerned about a few areas of fencing that will be repaired ASAP so that I can trust him to go out into the main field. I have a side lot separated off which he has enjoyed getting to know the rest of the herd while having a safe place to admire them from. He has made at least one buddy which will be good when he is turned out with the others. He also decided that the chickens are ok, and two or three of them spend most of the day in the side lot with him.

Everyday on the farm, I enjoy. Sometimes it is a little more work, but totally worth it! I can not wait to see what the next couple weeks have in store!

Chicken Saddles

I have been wanting to blog, but my thoughts have been quite jumbled lately. Many things vs on my mind, several projects, along with busy days at work. Sometimes life just gets busy.

I noticed feather Missing on Noodle as well as one other hen, originally I thought it was from the chicken killing Labrador. However it was getting worse not better. So I started researching. The verdict was that my red rooster, Roy, has been too rough with my girls! My research led me to chicken saddles, which I had never heard of before this. Pinterest to the rescue! I looked at several pins that included patterns, measurements, instructions etc. They were all basically the same, Andover that went over the back held in place by the wings.

I found a pin that included a free pattern. Backtobasicliving.com is where I got the pattern, but I made a few adjustments as I ten to do with any pattern.

Noodle tried to take it of initially, however she decided it was better to leave it on. The other hen, now called Doodle, had taken hers off this morning. When I put them up this evening I will put it back on her.

The adjustments I made to this, were I took information and after compiling it decided fleece was the best choice in fabric. This is a self lined/reversible saddle, so I only put interfacing, I used fairly stiff, on one half of it. Also, instead of sewing it inside out and turning it before sewing it shut, since keece does not ravel,I sewed it wrong side together and trimmed the interfacing shorter than the seam allowance. I saw where fellow chicken owners used snaps,Velcro,or just cut holes in the fleece. I elected to use Velcro. This has proven a good choice so far.

I plan to make several more of these to keep the girl protected and healthy. This wet together very quickly. And was also easy to put on. the girls seem to find them comfortable enough that are not terribly bothered by them.

Hopefully this helped someone else make the best decision for their flock! Also hope you all have a happy new year!

Chickens First Real Snow

Yesterday, here in southern Ohio, wd our first real real slow of the season. The big round flakes reminded me of something you would see in a Christmas movie! The chickens got to experience something new.

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My sister, I was not home at the time, said how excited the Guineas got as they realized the sky was falling! When I got home a few of my birds were in the yard, but it did not take them long to migrate to the cozy chicken coop…. That is, all except 1, the little black hen that went missing a few weeks ago.

I discovered the little black hen while I was in the barn feeding the horses. She was hiding under Big Red. I watched as she walked to one end of the truck, looked around and meandered back to the middle, far from whatever that white stuff on the ground happened to be. I tried to shush her out gently, and we went from one of the truck to the other a few times before she made a break for the horse trailer. I was laughing as I followed her across the yard. Ultimately after a few more minutes of my insistant pushing, she did decide that the chicken coop was honestly the best place for her.

I enjoyed watching the chickens flutter and flap around the yard playing in the large snowflakes. Their enjoyment was not as much as mine, but once they were all nestled into the coop for the night they chirped contently in front of the heat lamp. These guys just crack me up when I open the door of the coop and see a hen sitting right above the heater, not enjoying at all the breeze I let into the tiny coop.

I thoroughly enjoy my chickens and it tickled me watching them play yesterday! They will have many more snowy days to enjoy in the coming weeks, and I can’t wait to watch them another day.

Watering The Flock

For those of you following my blog, you have watched me slowly make improvements. The chicken waterer, which I was really excited about, did not work nearly as well as anticipated. I was disappointed when the fixture going from the 1/2″ PVC pipe into my 2.5 gallon bucket leaked, so I cut it apart and my buddy helped me reseal it with silicone…. only to have it leak again a few weeks later. Not much of a leak, but a slow leak that kept the coop wet, defeating the purpose. So I brought the old waterer out that dripped while I puzzled over how to fix the problem.

I tried a different sealant on the bucket, and it still leaked, so now back to the drawing board. My buddy came up with a PVC idea, and honestly I was skeptical, unsure of how the fitting would work, but once we got it all plumbed in and together, it looked promising.

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Because of the catastophic leaking before, I let everything dry over night before testing the waters with this new setup. I filled it today, and NO leaks!!! This holds just under a gallon and a half and fits in the small area in the coop even better than the bucket did! I am kicking myself and wishing that I would have just splurged for this in the first place. The pieces and parts to do this, not counting the threading tool for the 1/2″ pipe threader were around $15, and I had a few inches of the PVC, both sizes, left over.

The top cap is just sitting on, and we drilled a small hole in the top to allow the gravity feed system to work properly. The small pipe is connected to the drinking cups and the fitting that takes it into the larger pipe is threaded in. Best part of all, NO leaks!

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This is a photo of the underside where the pipe runs to the horizontally mounted drinking cups.

The terra cotta pot, was an idea I read on another blog, and I made some changes. It sits directly beneath the water system to ideally keep it thawed out through the winter. I purchased a lighting kit and my buddy helped build the platform which has a hold drilled into which the lighting cord is threaded through. There is a 150 watt incandescent bulb inside which puts off heat. The birds were knocking the top off, which is just a drip pan for the terra cotta pot. The solution there was actually suggested by a regular at the shop, the plumbing strap keeps the lid on and I do not have to worry about it getting knocked off!

Chicken Waterer

Once the chicks outgrew their feeder, it did not take long for them to begin playing in their waterer either. With winter coming, the last thing I wanted was a wet floor or water on the floor for me to slip and slide in as I was caring for my birds. So I decided to start looking for a new waterer.

Once again, Pinterist to save the day! I found a couple pins about these drinking cups. So I went online to their webpage and read about them. The chickens trigger a yellow pin and it lets water into the cups for them to drink. No water is wasted as it only lets down when they peck the pin.

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It took a couple times to get it right, but the water is stored in the bucket, in a brood box the girls never used. This gravity system makes it easy to fill and check the water level in the bucket. I originally tried to use the PVC adapters that the company sold with the product, however, I could not get them to stop leaking. My neighbor was nice enough to drill holes in a new piece of PVC, and then cut threads with a thread cutter. They did not leak after that!

The bucket was also a challenge, but my handy neighbor brought a few pieces he got at a hardware store and plumbed the PVC water line right into the bucket. A little silicone and an additional gasket and it did not leak either.

Since this is a gravity fed system, we drilled a small hole in the lid of the bucket to allow air to escape. Before the temperature drops, I will add pipe insulation and I already have plans to add a heat lamp in the coop this winter, if for no other reason than to keep the waterer from freezing.

The feed to the water line in the bucket is raised about an inch, which is great for keeping dirt etc from feeding down the water line and into the drinking cups. So far it has already cut down on the amount of work and headache! I am excited to see how it works over winter. It is a really smart solution to the problem of water on the floor!