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Free Range

This week was spent teaching the chickens to be free-range birds. The long, wet winter has made the yard super muddy and they’re going through food like crazy. We’re talking two bags a week. That’s more than we were going through when we had all the meat chickens and all four turkeys. I’ve been wanting them to be free range, and now seemed like a good time. I was concerned about setting them loose. What if they didn’t come back? What if the laid eggs all over the place, and I couldn’t find them? Well, we would just have to see.

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So, chickens are creatures of habit. They rarely got out through the gate, and weren’t really sure what to do when I opened it up for them. Every one of them stood at the open gate and looked up at me. Huh. I opened the gate wider and looked away so they would think they were sneaking out. That got a couple through the gate. The rest were still looking at me. The alpacas, on the other hand, came right to the gate and tried to get through all the birds to get out. OK, close the gate and give this some thought.

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Not only are chickens creatures of habit, they will also do anything for food. I got a scoop of scratch and scattered it OUTSIDE the gate. That got some more out, but also attracted the alpacas again. For day one, I would just go with what I had. I still had to make sure they would all come back.

That evening, I used the scratch trick in reverse, and the chickens all went right back in. Cool. Now, about those eggs. None. Not one. Not even from the birds that stayed in the yard. Well, it’s just day one. We’ll see if this works itself out.

Day two: The birds saw me coming, ran to the gate, and the ones who came out the day before went right out. This time, I had a plan. I gave the alpacas their grain, first. They NEVER turn away from food. Then, I took the scratch out and left the gate wide open. I stayed close, just in case the alpacas decided to make a break for it. I spread the scratch farther away from the gate, so the birds would have to come out to get it. It worked! Some of the birds stayed in, but most of them came out. One of the ducks and Matilda the turkey even came out.

I also put a couple of their laying buckets in a quiet area and put a couple of eggs in them, hoping they would get the hint and lay eggs in there. Only one of them figured it out. We still have a huge stockpile of eggs, so I’m not to worried about it, yet.

Matilda immediately assigned herself yard boss, and is keeping everybody in line. When she felt it was time for everyone to go in, she came to the door to get me. You can see the rest of the flock waiting for me.

Yard BossEnd of the week, and everybody seems to have figured it out. A few of the birds still prefer to stay in the yard, but most of them come right out. They cruise around all day and go in easily in the evenings. Many of them have adjusted their egg-laying schedule and I’m back to getting 10 per day, in the coop.

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The extra benefit is the chickens are prepping the garden areas for us. The flower bed was completely cleaned out in just two days. Today, I spread their scratch through the pumpkin patch. Charlie will be so excited that he doesn’t have to till out all the weeds.

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Scratch I’m happy, the birds are happy, and it looks like Peanut and Matilda are going to be best friends.  As for all the food being eaten? Turns out that was Spike

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Egg Lessons

This is the time of year that all those chicks we bought in February have started laying. With that comes a lot of questions about eggs. I would say the majority of people go to the store, buy their dozen white (or brown if you’re the adventurous type) egg, stick them in their refrigerator, and never give them another thought. Until they see something crazy like a blue egg.

Do you need a rooster to get eggs? This is probably the most common question we hear. The answer is no. Chickens, like people, have so many eggs available to them. You can’t get a chick without a rooster, but the eggs come whether the hen wants them or not. Makes sense when you think about it, right? Like I said, most people really don’t think about it. That’s OK. Most people don’t have to.

Hens start laying eggs at about 20 weeks of age. We have nesting buckets set up for our girls, but it usually takes the young ones some time to figure it out. In the past week I’ve found eggs in the middle of the yard, in the ducks’ nest and even in the poop bucket. Yep, the poop bucket. The particular hen seems to really like it in there, so I emptied it out, threw in some hay, and now it’s her personal nest. Silly hen.

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Some of the young ones have figured it out, and lay the eggs where they’re supposed to. We have several nesting buckets available, but there seem to be some favorites. I don’t understand it, but it makes sense to the chickens. They will stand in front of the empty buckets, while they wait for their favorite to be available. For some of them it can be quite a wait because the young girls aren’t entirely sure why they’re in the bucket, which means they aren’t entirely sure when they’re done.

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Where do all those different colors come from? Different breeds of chickens!!! We’ve been asked more than once what we do to “make” our hens lay different colored eggs. We don’t do anything. Different breeds lay different colors. Ameraucanas, for example, lay the pretty blue eggs. Wyandottes lay light brown eggs, and Marans lay dark brown eggs. Even within the breeds, there will be some variations in the shade of color. We actually select our birds based on their egg color. This year we’re shooting for more different shade, and are even hoping some of our blue eggs end up closer to green. We’ll see.

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Now, here’s something I never thought about before having chickens. They have to work their way up to full-grown eggs! When they first start laying, their eggs are teeny and adorable. We try to save the little ones for Reta Jean because she thinks they’re special, just for her. Over the first couple weeks of laying, the eggs will gradually increase in size, until they’re “mature”. Fortunately, once they reach a certain size, they quit getting larger. Some hens naturally lay larger eggs than others, and sometimes you’ll see an abnormally large egg that’s ended up with two yolks, but that’s part of the magic of having your own chickens.

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You can usually tell when the hens are laying because of the noise. Most of the time they cruise around, contentedly cluck-cluck-clucking at each other. When you start hearing the BROCK-BROCK-BROCK, that’s an egg coming. When the youngsters start laying, I head out as often as I can following the “egg song.” Sometimes they get confused and decide to eat their eggs, or at least peck at them until they’re flat. This is a hard habit to break once they start, and it makes a big mess.

I don’t know about other people, but we seem to have a delivery nurse. One of our older hens has taken it upon herself to make sure there is always enough noise to properly welcome the new egg to the world. For all I know, she isn’t even laying eggs herself anymore. I used to run out, thinking someone was having a severe problem, or was maybe dying. Now I know it’s just the town cryer.

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When eggs are first laid, they are covered with a thin membrane call the “bloom.” This prevents bacteria from getting into the egg. If you don’t wash your eggs, they can sit on the counter for several weeks. Once they’re washed, they need to be refrigerated. Even if they’re not washed, once they’re refrigerated, they need to stay that way. When you’re getting 10-15-20 eggs a day, it makes more sense to not wash them and keep them on the counter. Otherwise, you won’t have room for anything in the refrigerator except eggs. Since they’re laid in nests, they should stay pretty clean on their own. If necessary, they can always be cleaned right before use.

We tend to eat, use or give away our eggs within a week of them hatching. In comparison, grocery store eggs are probably hatched 6 weeks before you take them home. Anybody who thinks there isn’t much of a difference needs to think again. A couple of weeks ago Carly ran out of our eggs, so got some from the store. Reta Jean took one bite and said, “These aren’t Gabba’s eggs!” Carly told her they were from the store. Reta Jean said, “I don’t want eggs from the store, I want eggs from chickens.” See? Even a two-year-old can tell the difference.

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Birds of a Feather

I’m the first person to admit that I’m, maybe, too easily amused. It’s also no secret that our animals crack me up on a regular basis. Our “old” girls and “new” girls are overlapping a bit, so we currently have about 30 birds. (Charlie can count them, but they move around too much for me to keep track.)

Morning feeding time is my favorite time of day. I have a routine, all the animals know the routine, and yet they’re always hoping I’ll feed first, THEN clean instead of making them wait.

Our male hen – ok, yeah, he’s a rooster – is always the first one to start following me. I don’t mind him following me, but if he starts attacking me, he’s going to become dinner like the last rooster. So far, he’s a pretty nice guy.

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He sends up the alert, and the girls start gathering. And gathering. And gathering.Wherever I go, they’re following. When I look down at the whole flock, surrounding me, it occurs to me it’s a good thing I’m not afraid of chickens. And it’s a good thing they know I feed them. Can you imagine if they all got mad at me at once? That would be like a horror movie. “Pecked to Death.”

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Fortunately, they’re willing to play along while I keep them waiting. Once I do start feeding them, I continue to entertain myself. I’ve learned if I scatter their scratch in patterns, the birds will make shapes for me. They all start with the first straight line, but then spread out as more scratch is put down. This day I was trying for a square.

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They almost got it. Maybe I need to shoot for more rounded sides. I’m also thinking of trying to do the whole alphabet, one letter at a time. It would take several weeks. We’ll see how ambitious I get.

The ducks join in with the chicken scratch, but they know they get fed next. Spike knows they get fed next, too. He knows he’s not supposed to eat the duck food, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. He has no shame. He even tries to keep them waiting. Tajo takes full advantage of Spike wanting to be a bird. He gets to eat his grain in peace while everyone else is following me around.

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Eventually Spike backs off and lets me feed the ducks. He’s pretty persistent, though. He acts like he’s given up, until the food is scattered on the ground, then he sneaks in, like maybe I won’t notice he’s not a duck. Or a chicken. I’ve learned to spread the feed thin, so he’s not able to get large amounts.

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People are always shaking their heads at how well our animals get along. They’ve always been like this. Sometimes the ducks and hens gang up on the rooster, but that’s because he’s trying to exhibit his manliness when the hens are trying to eat. Nobody appreciates that. Other than that, they’re like one big, happy family.

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Working the Farm

People kept telling us not to put anything into the ground until Mother’s Day weekend. At first, we thought they were maybe exaggerating a bit, but we’ve learned to listen. This weekend was it! We didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but we did enough that it’s going to hurt for a few days.

We got the beds tilled, with help from the chickens and Peanut, and all the raised beds are planted. The big field is ready to go, as soon as we can bend again. We have onions and garlic growing like crazy, and beets, radishes and strawberries are getting going. Carrots, lettuce, spinach, bush beans, and flowers went into the ground.
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The strawberries in the gutters love their home. We got flowers, which means we’ll be getting berries, and that’s a very good thing! The potatoes are doing great, too.   With Charlie’s PVC cages, the birds aren’t getting to the blueberries, and it looks like we’re going to have a good crop.

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There’s still so much that needs to go into the ground. The good news is, it has started staying light until almost 9, so we have lots of time in the evenings to get things planted.

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We also moved the birds around. The young ducks got moved into the big yard, and the turkeys and bantam chicks got moved into the run. The older chicks are all doing great, and should start laying eggs in 2-3 months.  If you’ve never seen ducks cruising around, they stay together darn near all the time. I’m very easily entertained, so I had to take a little break to follow the ducks around the yard, just so I could watch them move around in formation.

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And then, there’s this guy. Yep, this GUY. We buy day-old chicks, and the sex-checkers are pretty accurate, but it’s not unheard of for a rooster to get into the mix. When Charlie and I got the chicks, we picked out a special one for Raymond because he didn’t get to go with us.  Of course, that’s the rooster. Raymond is terrified of roosters. Maybe this one will be a nice rooster, and Raymond will learn to like it before he figures out it’s not a hen.

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I gave the duck tub a good scrubbing before moving in the young ducks. Spike and Tajo saw the hose and they wanted to play. At first, I kept moving the hose away from them. I wanted to be sure they weren’t afraid of the nozzle. They kept coming after the water, so I had to have Charlie come in and play so I could take pictures. Tajo kept dancing to get his belly cooled off, and Spike drank right from the hose, then wanted his but sprayed. Alpacas get sheared once a year, and ours are scheduled for next week. That means they’re wearing a year’s worth of fleece, and it got to 82 today.  I’m sure the cool water felt fabulous.

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While we worked, the dogs stayed nearby – mostly in the shade.

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While we were working away, this hawk started circling awfully low. Then it started calling its friends over. Charlie went in for the shotgun to scare it off, but it left on its own. Smart hawk.
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Busy day, and I think we’re going to be feeling it. We should have everything in the ground by the end of the week. After another few weeks, we’ll be able to start harvesting. Everything is off to such a good start, I’m really excited to see what we end up with. I see lots of canning, freezing, jams and jellies in the very near future. By the end of summer we should be able to feed ourselves 100% from our own hard work. Very exciting!

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Poultry Rotation

Last year, we had chicks in a brooder, then moved them to an enclosed run, then into the big yard. Boom, boom, boom, it was done. After the chickens were in the yard, we got ducks, and started over. This year, we’ve made it a little more complicated. The 3-4 month plan, which started in February, includes laying chickens, laying ducks, meat chickens, and turkeys. In order to get what we want from each of the birds, when we want it, it took a little planning, and quite of bit of rotation. The egg birds are well into their rotation, and we’ll be starting with meat birds this week or next.

The first step was getting pullets, which are female chicks that will be egg-layers. We start with egg-layers because they don’t start laying until about 6 months old. If we wait too long, we’ll be into the shorter winter days, and they’ll only just get started laying when it’s time to stop again. They’re first available in February, when temperatures still drop below freezing. Their first stop is the brooder – a metal tub with bedding and a heat lamp.

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When they’re big enough, the chicks get moved outside to the enclosed run. We keep the run close to the big yard so they get used to seeing the other animals. They stay in the run until they’re big enough to hold their own with the big girls.

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Once the chicks are moved out of the brooder, the ducklings move in.

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The chicks are 8 weeks old now, and big enough to be moved in with the big girls. The ducklings are 3 weeks old, and big enough to move into the run. Ducks grow faster than chickens, and the overnight temperatures also aren’t dropping as low.

When you move chicks, they need to go into lockdown. By closing them into their coop for 3 or 4 days, they learn that this is home and, if all goes well, they will automatically return to the coop each night. Friday, I made sure the coop was ready for them with lots of food and fresh water. I can add food and water while they’re in there, but the longer I can leave them alone the better. Saturday, Charlie and I caught them, and moved them to their new home. I checked on them each day to make sure they were doing OK, and waited until Tuesday to let them out.

I popped open the door and waited. I thought it would take them awhile to decide to come out, but they weren’t shy at all. Within just a few minutes the first chick was venturing out.

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The big girls came over immediately to see what was going on, and soon they were all scratching together. I was afraid there may be some pecking order issues, but nobody had any problems.

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Soon, Spike had to be part of the welcoming committee. He always has to be in the middle of everything! Tajo took advantage of Spike’s curiosity and got an extra helping of grain.

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The chicks made themselves at home in their new yard.

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While everyone was enjoying the beautiful day, I got to work cleaning out the coop. The common advice is to not do a real good cleaning during the winter. The bedding, food and poop which drop on the floor help to insulate the coop and keep it warmer. That’s a WHOLE LOT of crap to clean up off the floor, but with help from the girls I got it done pretty quickly.

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The ducks are now moved to the run, complete with their own private swimming pool.

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I also decided Criss Cross needs some roommates in her condo, so two little bantam chicks have joined the ranks. Raymond and Reta Jean picked them out and named them. The dark one is Cheekle, and the light one is Fif.

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Turkeys take 6 months to mature, so they’ll be next into the brooder. That way, they’ll be ready to go in time for the holidays. When the ducks move into the big yard, the turkeys will move into the run, and it will be time to get meat chickens. Meat chickens only take 4 months to mature, so they’ll be ready to process around September.

Simple, right? It’s a good thing Charlie can keep the timing straight.

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Chick 911

Reta Jean got to pick out her very own chick this year. (Raymond could have picked one out, but he didn’t want to.) She picked out a little light-colored fluffy one, and checked on her and held her every time she came to visit. She’s the little fluff ball on the right.

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It didn’t take long for us to see the little chick had a little problem. She has a condition we learned is called “scissor beak.” Her upper and lower beaks don’t align, making it a little more difficult for her to eat. Her name soon became Criss Cross, and Reta Jean continued to check in on her chick every visit, never noticing there may be a problem.

We were told that Criss Cross’s condition wouldn’t necessarily prevent her from having a long life, but we would have to keep an eye on her. She was a feisty little fuzzball. She would play with the others and drink water regularly. She could eat, but would have to stick her head all the way into the feeder to get it into her mouth. She didn’t seem to mind, she just did what she had to do.

When we moved the chicks outside, they were all about the same size. Criss Cross hung in there with the rest of them for nearly 3 weeks. At feeding time, she usually jumped over the others to get to food first, and was always scampering around and enjoying the outdoors.

We noticed a few days ago that she was noticeably smaller than the others. At feeding time she was more likely to get trampled than get to the food first. Her neck feathers were getting worn off from sticking her head all the way into the feeder. I started spreading the feed out on the ground, hoping to spread out the stampede, and give Criss Cross the opportunity to scoop food up off the ground. It wasn’t working, and Friday she was really not doing well and we thought we would lose her.

We’ve lost chickens to predators, it’s part of farm life. But this is Reta Jean’s chick. We’ve been watching, and one of the others looks an awful lot like Criss Cross, so we could probably just tell her that one is hers and she would never know the difference. She’s only 2, after all. Charlie couldn’t just let that happen.

Friday evening we brought her inside and put her in a box with her own food and water. We weren’t expecting much, but within an hour she had eaten, had some water, and had jumped out of her box. We moved her into a cat carrier for the night, to keep her from escaping. Saturday morning she was at the front of the carrier, cheeping as loudly as she could, demanding food.

Saturday afternoon we moved her into her very own “condo.” We didn’t want her to be lonely or scared, and we had just moved all the other chicks into the big girl coop, so we put the new condo right by the fence. Since the other girls will have buckets for nesting, we gave Criss Cross one of her own.

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It didn’t take long for the others to come see what was going on, and pretty soon everybody was welcoming her to the neighborhood.

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As Criss Cross gets older, she may be able to join the others, but that may never happen. I still worry about her being lonely, so we’ll be getting her a bantam chick for a roommate. As long as she’s feisty and enjoying life, we’ll do what we can to give her a good life.

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Field Trip – Poultry Show

This weekend was the annual big poultry show. Around here that’s a big deal. We have farm chickens. The chickens at the show are Super Model chickens.

Some are the same breeds as ours, but bred to be super-special. Especially the roosters. They’re REALLY big and scary looking. And they crow really loudly.

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Then there are the little roosters. They’re very cute, but don’t want to be. They want to be big, scary roosters. When they crow, it’s more of a “cock-a-diddle-derrrrr.” But they get credit for trying.

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The girls are fancy, too.

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And those are just the “regular” breeds. Once you get to the fancy breeds, then you see the real stars.

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Tori says if a pomeranian and a shih-tzu had a baby, it would look like this chicken.

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There were also some pretty sweet ducks.

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And even a pigeon or two.

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There were no chicks or ducklings for sale, which made us a little sad. We’re pretty much done with chicks for this season, but we’re excited to get some more ducks.

I was too tired to hit the quilt show or the Nordic Festival, but next weekend we have the goat show! I love spring!!

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Chick Moving Day!

We got our chicks just 5 weeks ago. They were so cute and fuzzy and tiny.

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They grew really fast, and have outgrown their tub. More importantly, they’re able to escape and get into Charlie’s veggies. This is not good for anybody.

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Fortunately, it got warm really fast this year, too. I’ve been watching the weather, on different channels, for several days now. All the weather reports promise me there will be no more freezing. The chicks have almost all their grown-up feathers, and there are 14 of them to create body heat, so they should be fine outside. Time to load ’em up and head ’em out.  By the time I got their food and water dishes set up in the outside run, one of the girls was already waiting for me.

Tori helped me load them into a basket and move them to their new home. I shut them in the coop, with the windows and door shut, for about an hour. There’s a big world out there, and I didn’t want them to freak out too much before they had a chance to calm down from the move. Once I opened their door, it was a matter of waiting for them to emerge. Our hens that are self-created free-rangers hear the chicks and want to know what’s going on. I wonder if they’re talking to them in chickenese, and telling them they’ll love the great outdoors.

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We didn’t have to wait too long for the first brave chicks to cross the threshold, and soon they were all coming out.

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Once they were out, I wanted to make sure they could find their food and water. I should have known that wouldn’t take long.

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The chicks were so excited to be outside, enjoying the sunshine, and eating, they were just cheeping away. This made Spike, Tajo and the hens very curious. They all came to check out the new neighbors.

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So far, everybody seems happy. The chicks will only be in the run for a couple of weeks. Once they’re big enough to hold their own, they’ll be moved in with the big girls. I’m glad they’re already starting to make friends.

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Picking Up Chicks

It’s chick season! While the rest of the country may think chicks come at Easter, farm folk know they come in February. The internet has been abuzz with people anxiously awaiting chick deliveries. This was the week!

It’s enough of an event here, we even invited the kids to meet us at the feed store. Reta Jean came and picked out her favorite. She told Carly she was excited to pick out chickens. And take them home. And eat them. These chicks are all for eggs, but it shows that Reta Jean is a natural farm girl. Maybe I’ll let her raise the meat birds later on.

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People pick their chicks for any number of reasons. Some people pick out the cutest chicks. Others pick based on which will be the prettiest chickens. People like us pick based on egg color. Yeah, it’s all very scientific. We want the chickens that will lay different color eggs.0206151154a

We don’t want white eggs. We could buy white eggs at the store. No fun there. We like the pretty blue and brown eggs. This year we got Ameraucanas for their blue eggs and Marans for their dark brown eggs. We’re hoping for a variety of blues and browns, but there really is no way to know until they start laying. We’re also hoping for all hens. These are labeled female, but sometimes a rooster sneaks in. At least this year we know if a hen starts crowing, it’s not just a really loud hen. See? We’re getting good at this.

As soon as we got them home, Tori had to make friends with them. It’s pretty impossible to look at new chicks, and not have the overwhelming urge to pick them up. It’s also easier to pick them up and bond with them one at a time. When you have a dozen chicks in one place, they get really loud!

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The dogs are all really good with the animals, but we’re always careful. When new animals come home, the dogs are always introduced. Peanut actually went with us to get them, but Socks was very interested in meeting them.

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We’ll be making a few more chick pickups throughout the season. Charlie wants meat chickens and turkeys, but I think ducks for eggs are next. Reta Jean is already working on picking them out.

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charlie building

Redmon Review 2014

I’ve never really been one to review each year, but this one has been a doozy!  Moving to Redmon Woods in mid-2013, we had puttered around with enough different ideas that we were ready to get to work January 1, 2014. Lucky timing for us.

We started with a large empty space and a few ideas. By April, things were really shaping up. We tore out old fencing, built our goat/chicken shelter, sunk new posts, installed fencing, tilled the garden area, built raised beds, and started the garden. Yep, Charlie and I, all by our little ol’ selves.

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While we were building, the chickens got busy laying eggs. After a lifetime of store-bought eggs, we’ve supplied all our own eggs, and lots of Carly’s, since February.

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I also got into the world of fiber, and oh, what fun that has been! I had no idea what I was doing, so I joined the local Spinners Guild, met an absolutely wonderful group of people, and learned the fiber world is quite diverse. Once I was convinced I could actually learn to spin, we got to work finding a spinning wheel. Charlie is an eBay ninja, and I had my first wheel within just a couple of weeks. I learned to make felt, needle felt, spin yarn, and crochet. With a left side that doesn’t always cooperate, I figure this took me longer than most people, but that’s OK. I got it.

Spinning WheelSlippers

 

In the spring, all the local feed stores stock up on ducks. We were doing well with the chickens, so it was time to give ducks a try. I don’t know if it was just our ducks, but they weren’t really happy in the water. Peanut and I decided we would need to teach them to swim before we let them romp around outside.

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The first few months of the year, Charlie and I attended every animal show there was at the fairgrounds. In an agricultural area, that means something every weekend. We learned about goats, rabbits, sheep, and alpacas. After lots of research and investigation and research, and considering my new fiber adventures, we decided we would rather have alpacas than goats. (Goats are still on the to-do list, but they had to wait.) We got involved with Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue. The two founders, Shari and Jackie, allowed us to come help with their annual shearing. We met their rescues and learned about their organization, and we were hooked. We’ve worked on a few rescues with them, and continue to learn more. Meanwhile, Spike and Tajo have moved to Redmon Woods, and we LOVE them. They make me smile everyday. Next year, we’re hoping to expand their yard so we can bring home some more. There are so many beautiful, sweet alpacas that need homes, we want to do everything we can to help.

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Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue

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Spike and Tajo Come Home

Charlie started the majority of our garden from seeds. He then did all the transplanting. Eventually we decided I would take care of everything with legs, and he would be responsible for everything with roots. Charlie’s hard work paid off big-time. By summer, the garden was producing more than we could have imagined. We were thrilled, but that meant I had to figure out what to do with all these garden goodies. I spent months harvesting, washing, freezing, pickling, and making jam. All new things for me.

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My summertime “final exam” was making lasagna. Now, I’ve made lasagna several times in my life, but this was different. This time around, I made the tomato sauce, cheese, and pasta. I added veggies from the garden and sausage from a friend who makes his own. Judging by how fast the lasagna disappeared, I’d say I passed my exam.

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The garden has long since been put to bed, and the chickens and ducks have taken a little winter break. We’ve been  busy with the holidays, and Charlie bought me a drum carder for Christmas. I’ve been working on carding and spinning alpaca, gearing up for the new year’s projects.

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So much new stuff! Hard to believe we had done none of these things at the beginning of this year. It’s been our greatest adventure, and we can’t wait to tackle our to-do list for 2015.

And, of course, through it all, these silly kids kept us on our toes and made it all that much more magical.

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If interested, many of these projects can be found in previous posts.