Happy Monday

Waking up to snow this spring morning was a little unexpected. I heard about th forsythia blooming last week and was hopeful that we had seen the last of the snow for the season here in south eastern Ohio. However, this was not the case! I have heard many people joking that Ohio is the only state that has all 4 seasons in a single day, and it is much more true than I care to admit.

I checked the weather yesterday, and after tomorrow night, it should stay warm enough to put the chicks outside. That is none too soon! I even got chicks a little later this year hoping that the weather would be warmer, but no such luck. The chicks have been hapily brooding in my bedroom floor, and I have been sleeping elsewhere for almost 2 weeks. I am ready to have my space back. Most people probably think it crazy, that I would do it again in a heartbeat. I absolutely enjoy having the chicks and look forward to it every year!

Wednesday the chicks will get to try out their new broodbox that Mr.T helped me with! I am excited to finally try it out! When I tested it, I could not get it any warmer than 50 degrees even with the heat lamp, because the temperatures outside were so cold. I will get it all set up for them tomorrow so that it will be ready for them Wednesday!

I thoroughly enjoy having them inside where I can easily peek in and monitor their food, water etc, but they are getting more and more time consuming to keep up with inside. The bedding they are going through increases each day in the smaller pen inside, so moving them outside will also be easier to keep the larger pen clean.

I am so blessed that they are happy and healthy! That is the ultimate goal of any farmer, healthy livestock. So far so good with this batch of chicks.

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Introducing Uno

My last post was about the latest excitement on the farm, my first time hatching chicks! So I wanted to delve a little deeper into that and share a few more special moments with you!

The meat chicks arrived through the mail last Friday, and I set them up a brood box in my bedroom. I went in awhile later to check on them and make sure everything was ok, and I thought I would check on my incubator as well. The eggs were due to hatch Friday night into Saturday morning.  Low and behold a chick was making it’s way out of the shell!

I was so excited! I watched as it wiggled itself out of the shell and proceeded to climb over and around the numerous other eggs in the incubator. This little chick fought his way over to the side where I was standing and watching and made himself at home there. I checked on him and watched him several times throughout the afternoon and evening as I waited for another chick to join him. He looked so lonely.

Sure enough the next morning a couple more chicks had hatched and were keeping ‘Uno’ company. I checked on them several times and when they were dry and stable, moved them to a brood box alongside the larger meat chicks.

Uno has become easy to spot with his light body and red head. At least one other chick that hatched was larger than Uno, and I am really hoping Uno is a pullet. Time will tell soon enough.

I was looking at her today, and her wing feathers have started to come in! Uno is almost a week old and very healthy and seems very laid back, so far anyway.

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I am tickled absolutely pink that even a few hatched. I was hoping more would, but I learned a lot and hope things go better next time. Stay tuned for updates!

Hatching Chicks

The past few days have been busy! The chicks have started to hatch, and as a first time hen, I had a few nervous moments. The meat chicks arrived Friday, safe and sound, and have been brooding in my bedroom where they are warm and cozy. Those little boogers are growing like weeds already!

Ironically, my first Americana chick hatched Friday also, lovingly called Uno. The light colored chick with a red head was a fighter as he had to spend his first night alone in the incubator. None of his friends had hatched yet to talk to. Currently, 12 eggs have hatched, and sadly I lost 2 chicks. Today when I got home from work, I decided the rest of the eggs must be duds, and I unplugged the incubator.

I went in a little while later, to check on the chicks I simply could not resist bringing home today when I visited the local Farm Store and I walked over to the incubator. If it was cool I was going to start getting rid of the bad eggs and cleaning, sterilizing, the whole 9 yards. As I stepped over to it, I hear peep peep. I thought man that was loud to be one of the chicks in the brooder. So I pulled the one end of the tray up, thinking I had missed a chick that may have fallen under it, but no chicks.

Then I heard it again, peep peep. Ok, that definitely was not from the brooder. I did a little more investigating and discovered a chick was starting to hatch! Luckily the incubator had not been off long and I decided the best thing to do was to plug it back in. lol As I got to looking at a few more of the eggs I have left, it appears that several more of them may hatch. Even though I found this odd, I think it boils down to the difficulty I had at the beginning of incubation keeping the temperature consisstant in my incubator.  It was a fight for the first few days keeping the temperature and humidity regulated.

Any stragglers will be gladly welcomed! I am super excited at the possibility of hatching a few more of my own chicks and cannot wait to meet them!

Incubation Has Begun

I worked all Friday afternoon to get my eggs in the incubator! I am proud to say that they are successfully on the final hours of Day 2 of their incubation. My incubator has been running slightly humid, so I have had to keep an eye on it very closely but I have been able to manually control both it and maintaining the temperature inside the incubator. The incubator I have purchased has an automatic turner, so that is on thing off my mind, and the digital readout for temperature and humidity make adjusting it as easy as it can be.

I did a lot of research before I placed my eggs late Friday afernoon, and I double dipped each egg in hydrogen peroxide before it went in the incubator. This is suposed to sterilize it and keep bacteria inside the incubator to a minimum increasing the hatch rate. Time will tell if it really improves the statistics of my hatch.

I am eager to candle them and see how things are going inside my eggs, but I know that after more research, nothing will be very visable at this stage. So I am counting down to day 5-7 when I can candle and see what is going on! I am nervous and excited at the same time. This is my first attempt at incubating eggs and I am hopeful that everything goes well, but also oknow there are several factors that play a big role in the outcome of my hatch. I have not let hens sit on eggs, except once, and nothing hatched…. so I am hoping my rooster is indeed fertile. I was asked if I opened any of the eggs to see… and the soft side of me just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Spring is an eciting time on the farm, and this year will be no different. I ordered the meat chickens Friday and they will be here right around April 1st. They will hatch within a day or two of the eggs in my incubator, making brooding much much easier on me. It took me a couple years, but I have learned how to make some things easier on myselfand having the pullets and meat birds close in age makes the brooding process incredibly easier.

My Dad is convinced I am now a crazy chicken lady, but I thoroughly enjoy my little birds! They are a great addition to the farm and I am excited to welcome some new members into the flock!

Christmas Chicks are Growing!

Today was the day! The blac Australop chicks my wonderful Mom gave me for Christmas are officially out of the brooder on this sunny Monday afternoon.  I had planned to put them out over the weekend, but I wanted them to have the last of the starter feed before I turned them loose. This afternoon the feeder was empty.

My fully feathered babies are 13 weeks old Wednesday and it was time they meet the older girls. When I lifted them from the brooder, three of the older girls were in the besting boxes and they did not even bat an eye. A couple others heard the commotion and had to come investigate. Fortunately, no squabbling and no bloodshed upon meeting each other.

I hope they enjoy their freedom! The little hens, I believe they all turned out to be hens, were hanging out together in the corner when I left them but I hope by later this afternoon or tomorrow, they are adventurous enough to check out at least the run.

My little brother, Nick, went out with me to collect the eggs, and as soon as he saw his babies free, he had to pick one up and give it a cuddle! He loves those little chickens. Of course, I lifted one so he could pet it and he cuddled it as the little hen loved him back! That is one of the sweetest moments on the farm.  Nick helped me get the eggs and we brought them inside, but he was so excited to see his babies.

The incubater is sterilized and spent the day outside in the sunshine today in preparation of setting eggs starting Wednesday or Thursday and I am super excited about that! My incubator holds 56 eggs, and I Have been collecting about 5 each day, tomorrow I will get ore and Wednesdy I will get more, to fill it. I am crossing my fingers for a good hatch, esecially since it will be my first one. If all goes well this year, I hope to keep 20 pullets and maybe have a few roosters for the freezer.

Spring is around the corner, and I am already full of excitement and anticipation! Stay tuned for updates, and hopefully pictures when I get my new camera figured out!

March Goals

I cannot believe today is March 1st! 2018 is flyin by and I cannot believe it. The first of the month is a great time to take a moment and reflect, and set new goals. Sharing them with you, I hope encourages me to stick to it and accomplish the things I set out to do.

I did very well at making things a priority in Feruary, and I hope to continue to keep my priorities in March, as well as add a few. The warmer temperatures bring more outside work, and I hope to challenge myself to continue working to be where I want to be.

Last year, my Aunt in Texas mentioned scripture writing, and I decided to give it a try then, which I was unable to keep up with. I have picked it up and tried again, and it has been a wonderful way to spend time with my Lord! Giving myself something physical to do while thinking on the specific words I am writing gives me an outlet and a way to occupy my body while my mind works. I am going to continue that through March and hope that it continually gives me new, positive things to think about so that I can continue growing.

Another thing my Aunt mentioned last year, is a plank challenge…. so I think I am going to give that try starting today, it is a 28 day challenge that I found, but I think it can easily be extended to 31 days. Riding will be starting next week for me, and I am chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle. I am hoping that the extra exercise of riding in addition to the plank challenge I have found will help me tone up a little. When I was toned a little a couple years back I had so much more self confidence. My hope is to get back to that, and feeling good about myself again.

Next week also brings starting seeds and setting eggs, which I am absolutely beside myself about! I have never incubated eggs before and I have been counting down the days! I started a few seeds last year but I did not do very well with watering them, and unfortunately I killed every one of the plants I started about a week or so into their growth. Very disappointing experience, so this time I have added that to the daily tracker in my Bullet Journal, which will keep it in front of my mind to do.

Spring is my favorite time of year, and this year spring is full of excitement! I simply cannot wait to see how the next few weeks go!

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!

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!