Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘brooders’

Oh, Did I Tell You…

It seems like forever since I have sat down to write. It is that time of year. Mid-August usually demands a certain amount of sweat-equity…not only from the summer heat,

Oregon's best kept secret....

Oregon’s best kept secret….

but also from the demands of the oh-so-soft-spoken ripening garden. It has been dry, really dry.

The ground is so dry.

The ground is so dry.

Everything, is feeling thirsty from the lack of those wet, drippy things that fall from the sky. It takes a bit of an extra effort to keep the flock in fresh water (they get overheated very easily), to maximize the benefit of the water given to the garden, to water young fruit, nut, and Sequoia trees one by one by the bucketful, while keeping a balance with the water level in our holding tank. That tank holds water from our well…which in turn, waters this family.

"Yeah, I'm guarding the water!"

“Yeah, I’m guarding the water!”

In spite of water rationing for the garden, there is plentiful ripening. Harvesting of more than just a couple of tomatoes here…a pepper there…has begun! We are starting to enjoy the “fruits of our labor”, especially in the berry department. Wild blackberries are ripening at break-neck speed, and my little strawberries are right behind them. When you pick them at that juicy, sweet ripened stage from the vine, they don’t last long. The upshot of that is turning this…..

IMG_6460

….into this!!!

Making jam...

Making jam…

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

And this….

Bucketful of Blackberries

Bucketful of Blackberries

…into this…

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Oh boy!!!

Oh boy!!!

A little time consuming, but totally worth it!!

Oh, did I tell you….

The newest addition.

The newest addition.

….welcome to the farm little Roni Jr. ….. hatched on my daughter’s half-birthday. Out of six eggs, this is the only one that hatched. After several days, Mama Hen abandoned the nest, and the eggs went bad. The baby is out and about free ranging with the rest of the flock, watching every move Mama makes.

Thank you for sharing the long days of summer on the farm with me!! Hope you are having a wonderful August!

Your friend,
Tami

A Major Remodel

My hens have been talking to me, very clearly. I can hear them, and their requests have not fallen on deaf ears. Okay, before you call a crisis worker, let me explain….

Hey Ma...Can we talk??

Hey Ma…Can we talk??

…chickens have a way of looking at you, an impassioned blinking of their eyes, and a subtle, sweet, higher pitched cooing of sorts that lets you know they have something to say. If you listen, really listen with your eyes, ears, and your heart you can start to understand what they are saying. My chickens were telling me that their home was no longer inviting. Given the addition of the, now-laying four Middles, to the, already six laying Originals,…and four near-future-laying-hens better known as the Littles, three nesting boxes were no longer adequate. The ladies were complaining.

Nesting Boxes

Nesting Boxes

First of all…can you imagine having to wait your turn while needing to lay an egg? I don’t think it’s too comfortable…and neither did they. We had A LOT of complaining going on and rightly so! I drew up the plans, and the remodeling began!

Tony removed the inner wall, which included the nesting boxes, that separated the people area from the chicken area, opening up the entire house…

All opened up...

All opened up…

My idea was to create a tiered nesting box area on the left side, back wall. The bottom level would jut out creating a ladder of sorts for easier access. The top level boxes would sit flush against the wall. My hope in this also was to create a poop protected area underneath the nesting box area for those who might want to snuggle into clean(er) shavings to take a dust bath or just take a nap. I have found that not everyone wants to roost at night, some prefer to nestle in. So, Tony and I…Tony…built three more nesting boxes, and in they went!

Stamp of approval...that's Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

Stamp of approval…that’s Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

We had a constant companion helping with the process….

….she supervised the entire project. Even though she didn’t like the sound of the drill, and complained her way through it…she wouldn’t leave..hahahaha!

After the nesting box area was finished, we started on the rousts. We decided to change out the Douglas Fir limbs to wooden planks. I believe they are happier not having to balance all night, and are resting better. I don’t hear the early morning (like 3:00 in the morning) carrying on anymore…now it starts about 5:30. I think we are all happier!!

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

And here’s the result…..

The first night after the remodel.

The first night after the remodel.

…yes, those are the Littles, now totally integrated within the flock. They are finding their place in the pecking order, and are starting to roost on the boards with the older birds. Harmony in the merge?? Not quite yet achieved…but they are working it out! As for the success of the additional nesting boxes…A LOT less loud complaining from the hens…and MAMA CHARDONNAY IS BACK ON THE NEST!!!!!

Nooooooo!!!! Really NO!!! I replaced the eggs she accumulated…. TEN!!! ….with wooden eggs. She is still nesting and protecting her false clutch as she normally would, and I’m supporting her efforts with extra food, goodies, and water. I’m hoping she will abandon the nest at the point where they should hatch but don’t. She is so adamant on the nest, I didn’t have the heart to take her eggs away and push her off the nest…I hope this will be easier for her. She looks at me, and blinks slowly as she tells me she loves her little brood beneath her. She’s a great Mama…thanks to this big guy…

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

In that vain……our family would like to say…HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!…to any dads who may be visiting the farm today!! We hope you have an awesome day, week, month, and year!! Take care all!!

Tami

Free Ranging Littles

Remember these beauties??!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Here they are now!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

The Littles (AKA the Muppets) are two months old today!! Honestly, I did not plan the writing of this post with the date…and I’m pretty sure we’re not celebrating with Twinkies…pretty sure!! πŸ˜‰

So, as they’ve entered their awkward stage….

Definitely the awkward stage!

Definitely the awkward stage!


Sporting a wind-blown do!

Sporting a wind-blown do!

…..they have also found freedom to traverse around the farm as they see fit. The Littles are very integrated within the older flock and move around and within freely, although, they are the Littles…the newbies on the block…if an older hen wants to stand where they are, or eat what they have found, they do get “run out of dodge” for that moment. The word “hen” doesn’t really reflect the true nature of a female chicken’s attitude sometimes…they can be pretty…uhhmmm…what’s that “B” word??? Yeah…that one!

This Little flock within the flock are a pretty close knit group…..

They love to huddle together.

They love to huddle together.

Now that's a nice pile of Littles!!

Now that’s a nice pile of Littles!!

….and they love piling up next to each other to soak in the warmth of the sun. The older groups do this also…but usually in groups of 3 maybe 4 max.

These Littles…they’re fun…they’re adventurous…and they are very curious…

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) ...

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) …

…”Hey you, big dog…that’s my bug, go find your own!!”

The good news with this bunch…I have yet to completely identify a rooster (No, I’m not looking under their feathers!!) I have one that I suspect, possibly another, but none are standing out like in the other broods we’ve raised. A couple of the Littles have a bit of a larger comb, but I have had that with hens as well as roos. There is not the usual amount dominance posturing going on…a little, but young hens do that too. I’m just not seeing the difference in tail feathers…they’re mostly appearing like hens. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME!!!

Hoping you will have a wonderful day today! Thanks for taking this hike through the forest!
Tami

Change is in the Wind

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

My thoughts have been so distracted as of late. Really!! Can’t the world just step aside and stop threatening to take time from us? Time from the needs of our farm, from being physically present to care for our family, from being able to take the time to grow and prepare our own food, from the ability to write a simple blog post. I’m sure most of us feel this way … this past week has been especially hard for me due to changes at work which will directly affect my position, and my availability for those things I just mentioned. My husband has felt it all along, but he is driven to be a great provider. He, with God’s great blessings, have made this whole farming thing possible…I do not say, “Thank you,” to Tony enough…not nearly enough.

The outdoor brooder...now a roost...maybe we need more chickiepoohs! ;)

The outdoor brooder…now a roost…maybe we need more chickiepoohs! πŸ˜‰

So life on this farm will be changing, soon. I’m going to have to figure out how to flip-flop some things, how to get ahead of the game on others, and how to get everything done in a timely fashion so that we are not eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. rather than 9:00 …. 7:00 p.m. which was my goal, definitely seems a bit out of the running, but we’ll see. Right now, through summer, the impact will seem less as the sun is up until about 9:00 p.m…it will be the dark, earlier evening hour seasons that will become much more difficult. Maybe this is the incentive I need to kick up my understanding and knowledge of an income producing small farm, and work towards that goal. I think that is a goal worth striving towards!

In the meantime, I must remember that change does not inherently equal a worsening of conditions…it may even result in a more enjoyable life experience (in this case, at work.) And, since I believe that Jesus Christ is the author of my story…the Pilot of whom I seek to follow…the Protector of my home and family…and the Great Counselor from whom I gain wisdom and guidance…my family, myself, and our farm are in great hands!!! Nothing shall befall me that He doesn’t already know, and that He can’t handle!!

Please enjoy this rainy, spring day of Oregon…..

Hoping you all have a wonderful day!
Tami

Growing Season

A farmers delight, a heavenly sight, a mix of sun and rain, a blessing for the growing grain….and weeds, and trees, and tomatoes, and…….. IT’S GROWING SEASON!!

Last year's cantaloupe 2013

Last year’s cantaloupe 2013

Enter the keep-working-till-the-sun-goes-down-eat-dinner-around-9:00 p.m. busy season. Well actually, in about a month it will be 9:00….right now it’s more like 8:15 πŸ™‚ I need to get my routine down a little better this year, and head inside in the late afternoon to prep dinner during the higher heat hours of the day. Otherwise, I find myself trying to throw something together around 8 p.m. or later. My goal is to have dinner ready to eat by 7:30 p.m. this summer…that would be a good change.

The early evening hours hold chores. There are dogs to feed, the tidying-up of the chicken house (poop control, new water, food, and shavings in the nesting boxes, sleeping areas (for those who don’t seem to like to roost), and brooder area (if we have chicks…which we always seem to have chicks – thanks Chardonnay…oh and of course Benedict!!) Also, a nice, general tossing of new shavings really freshens up the place.

Benedict and some of his ladies...a little molting going on.

Benedict and some of his ladies…a little molting going on.

I prefer a “clean” chicken house (is there really such a thing) when the Roommies show up for their night’s stay. When the sun rises, it’s out to the let the Roommies roam for the day; a quick look, and removal of any poops in or near the nesting boxes, and a freshening of the brooders water (always seems to need freshening.) With the extra effort, we have very few eggs with any soiling on them.

WOW, did I ever get distracted!!! This post was supposed to be about this year’s vegetable garden 8)

So, here it is…so far. For the most part, we’re using planter tubs again this year. Hopefully by next spring we will have a proper fence, better gopher control, defined planting areas, and a more defined watering system. I’m hopeful!!! In the meantime, here is what has been planted so far…

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

I'm getting quite used to using one of these.

I’m getting quite used to using one of these.

Well…it’s not fancy, but the veggies and fruit will be awesome nonetheless. I still have a few more things to plant, but it’s finally coming together!

Catching Up…

I really dislike it when “life” gets in the way. There is a lot to update on the farm…I will let the pictures do the talking.

Five of the six Originals

Five of the six Originals


Riesling and her man Benedict!

Riesling and her man Benedict!


Jag....one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters...very handsome!

Jag….one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters…very handsome!


The Muppets and Chardonnay!

The Muppets and Chardonnay!


Benedict checking out his progeny!

Benedict checking out his progeny!

As the sun came out, so did those who inhabit this hilly forest…..

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.


Not too sure about this...

Not too sure about this…


Hey Ma!!!  It's still a little cold out here!!!

Hey Ma!!! It’s still a little cold out here!!!


Penni watching over the youngest flock.

Penni watching over the youngest flock.


The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

…and the trees decided it was time to make their long awaited appearance….

The first Cherry Blossoms!

The first Cherry Blossoms!


Apple trees

Apple trees


Beautiful Pear Trees

Beautiful Pear Trees

…but the Chestnut trees are still in that “groggy” state right before they wake up! The first pasture’s grass needing to be mowed down is completed (only 8 more hilly acres to go…uuggh..but also πŸ™‚ …..

The back hillside is mowed....to be repeated at least 4 more times this season....

The back hillside is mowed….to be repeated at least 4 more times this season….

….producing this lovely, lovely product….

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too...

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too…

…hhhmmmmm maybe we need to rethink this……

Our neighbor's horse!

Our neighbor’s horse!

…but I don’t think we are quite ready yet…the good extra work of spring has worn us all out…

Tired old Tucker

Tired old Tucker


Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.


Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.

Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.


Tito and Lilly

Tito and Lilly

…but the epitome of being worn out due to excessive spring-like-I-can’t-believe-the-sun-is-out behavior goes to….Penni!!!

What a day!!!

What a day!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter!! Enjoy the burgeoning springtime!!!

Rain, Rain, & More Rain

When did this last string of rain start? I don’t remember…I think it has been the long side of a week. There are a few breaks here and there, but for the most part, big, fat, juicy drops have been falling constantly from the sky. Everything is soaked!

We're starting to float!!

We’re starting to float!!

The new hatchlings are toasty warm thanks to Mama Hen, Chardonnay, and a handy dandy heat lamp. The Littles, who are not so little anymore…

Not so Little anymore!

Not so Little anymore!

…are getting drenched. Although everyone enthusiastically shares the chicken house at night…there is still some intimidation going on by the “Elders” towards the Littles during the day. This teenage flock are gaining in confidence, but are not quite there yet. During the day, if the Elders are in the house, the Littles stay out. They haven’t yet learned of the different areas around the farm to find shelter besides one,…

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn't work to well when there's only one wall.

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn’t work to well when there’s only one wall.

…and if rain is going sideways, it doesn’t keep them as dry as I would like. In a huge desire to freshen up the chicken yard, unfortunately, I dismantled their outdoor cabana a little too early.

Wish I hadn't taken down the cabana yet....well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one...hahaha!

Wish I hadn’t taken down the cabana yet….well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one…hahaha!

The Elders are much more refined in their rain behavior. They find good cover, and stay pretty dry…..

They're a bit wet from all the rain.

They’re a bit wet from all the rain.

…so compare these two Littles, Pontiac (closest to front) & my man Austin, to Benedict and Claudio above….

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

….who do you think are more rain-challenged?? Everyone gets a good supply of cracked corn in the early evening to hopefully help them have a warmer night. Here’s a quick little video…it’s really quick….hope you like it.

And the Muppets continue to grow.

Kermit takes a ride!

Kermit takes a ride!

WELCOME SPRING!!

WELCOME SPRING!! You’ve been asleep too long!!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Old Man Winter is keeping his finger on the temperature controls a bit longer…we are still waking up to temps in the twenties…28 degrees at 7:00 this morning. The afternoon temps are getting into the high 50’s so we are totally warming up!! Driving around the lower elevations in town, and out to Salem, trees are in various stages of bloom. Daffodils are blooming like crazy in some places, but up on our hill…we are just now seeing the first brave Bulbasaurs (couldn’t resist that…my son grew up as a big Pokemon fan.)

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our young fruit trees that were planted this past fall, are just now starting to swell…sooooooonnnnn to be blossoming!!!

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.


The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!

The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!


"I'm Here," shout the Cherry trees!!

“I’m Here,” shout the Cherry trees!!

It’s great to know that these young trees survived the harsh cold, and unusual large snowfall that hit us in January. These beauties are shouting their presence and eagerly waiting to spring forth into the 2014 growing season. The roadblock in front of them are the freezing temperatures we are still experiencing in the early mornings. There is still “frost on the pumpkins” and cars, and rooftops, and ground. We may still be three weeks out before that ends, meaning, sadly, our garden has to wait awhile longer. Although the Giant Sequoias experienced a little frost burn on their tips, the branches are still green and pliable…WHEW!!! That is good news. On the 300 Douglas Fir saplings…we may have lost half of them due to the big snows. It may not be as bad as it appears, but on numerous saplings, needles come off in our hands…not a good sign. In normal conditions, we would loose many of these trees, one reason why you typically plant so many, but this winter was definitely NOT normal!

Definite signs of spring on the farm…starting with our most welcomed tenant, GLORIA!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

The first dandelions of the season!  My flock is very happy!!

The first dandelions of the season! My flock is very happy!!

We've hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

We’ve hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

I know it's spring and not summer 'cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

I know it’s spring and not summer ’cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

The ultimate of ULTIMATES!! The frosting on the cake! The sure sign that spring has sprung…..
Welcome to the farm…to havadanehill….WELCOME THE MUPPETS!! First one hatched, Kermit…March 21, 2014…

Welcome little Kermit!!!

Welcome little Kermit!!!

…three more hatched on March 22nd…Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf (after the two old guys who sit in the Muppets Theater Balcony)…

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

……I could feel three more eggs were cracked under Mama hen yesterday…she hasn’t shown me the new little ones yet today, so I’m not sure how many more have hatched…but I will update soon! She had 10 eggs under her before hatching started!

We Thawed, They Moved

As brief, beautiful and fun as it was, it is good to see the vibrant green of our Oregon home once again. To read these words one may think that we have been trapped under ice and snow for weeks…well 5 days is a long time! {ducking as tomatoes are thrown by those in the midwest, etc. who have spent months in a deep freeze} There are reasons we moved to Oregon rather than, say, South Dakota…5 days of snow, then a thaw is apparently one of them.

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

The ice-rain layer covering the snow left some damage, and broken limbs…but thankfully most of what we are seeing is minor.

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

We’re still hoping that the damage, if any, to our newly planted trees is minimal. Although we’re not too worried about the 300 Douglas Fir babies as they are built for Oregon winters, and the fruit / nut trees are also quite resiliant to the cold while they are dormant, the Giant Sequoias are a greater concern. So far, the tension and suppleness in their young branches seem okay…only time will tell (at least another month) if they will survive. Here is what they looked like in the snow/ice…

As we thawed, our band of cabin fever poultry showed great happiness in being able to stretch their legs. Literally, as soon as they noticed a path out of their cabana without snow those little chicken feet ran to the great outdoors. They were so happy!!

The “Chicken Littles” on the other hand had GREAT BIG changes awaiting them. With increasing bullying going on in the bigger chick brooder, it was time for them to move into the adult chicken house. Thursday night was the big transition. In preparation, I had cleaned the big house, and added a lower roost that afternoon. About an hour after dark….my son and I carried each one in, sitting them on the lower roost. The older chickens didn’t seem to really notice or care about what was going on below them…funny how darkness kind of lulls chickens into a daze of some sort. Since Little Austin Healey and Honda are 2 weeks younger than the oldest Chicken Little, I hooked up the heat lamp in their original brooder (within the big house), but left it open so that they and the others could hop in and out as they wanted.

First night in the hen house...it's actually dark, except for the flash!

First night in the hen house…it’s actually dark, except for the flash!

I worried, but they survived the night! I put up a barrier to keep them inside the house and cabana areas, but would also allow the older chickens out…well at least I figured the older chickens would find their way out, and they did. Benedict was hanging around the “Littles” and seemed to be accepting them quite well. I hadn’t seen much pecking going on by either hens or rooster so I was hopeful…

Since then they are struggling a bit with their courage…I find them all in the brooder area most of the time, although they know how to get in and out of it. I did see some pecking going on from the more dominant hen toward the young ones, but it was more attention getting than trying to harm…however, Benedict, our rooster, did go after one of the little suspected roosters in a much more “assertive” way. I scooped up that little baby and held him…..okay a little over the top, but he (hopefully she) closed his eyes and snuggled in…they are still my babies!! We’ve had stormy weather everyday since Thursday, and I’m hoping that once the older birds get out and about more, the younger ones will start becoming more adventurous, and grow their courage..the combs on about 3 of them sure are. NO ROOSTERS!!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

Chickens and Ice

There have been two constants since the snow started on Thursday…snow has been accumulating, and the chickens have hated every minute of it! I have wondered about the “intelligence” of my birds, because often times in cold rain, hail, and really cold wind they have been outside running around going from tree to tree, and complaining the whole time. They don’t seem to have any sense sometimes, and even in those conditions will wait until almost dark to run inside their house for the night. Even in this storm, on Thursday when it started spittin’ snow, I had to chase them inside and close the door behind them. Friday, however, it seemed something finally “clicked” with the flock and they have kept themselves inside and within their outdoor cabana since.

One great thing about cold weather....cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!

One great thing about cold weather….cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!


Whooooaaa, I'm not going out ther!!!

Whooooaaa, I’m not going out ther!!!


Hey what's that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

Hey what’s that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

The younger flock are still in their larger brooder so they didn’t have the decision making dilemma that the older birds had. Since they were on shavings over concrete, in preparation of the storm we slipped a rubber stall mat on top of the floor and covered that with the shavings. With two heat lamps, they have been staying toasty warm, when they want to warm up…they do huddle together under the lamps during the coldest parts of the day, but they seem to be doing great. I do feel like they are just about ready to join the older flock, but the weather is not ready for them. These active little ladies (hoping for no roosters…) seem to be a little bored lately, so I gave them something to do…just like the big kids.

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!



The aftermath!!

The aftermath!!

Beyond the chickens…I have some outrageously beautiful pictures of the snow, which turned to freezing rain and left a 1/4 inch layer of ice blanketing the snow on the frozen land of which I and my family are so blessed to share with the Oregon wildlife.

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?


Frozen Blackberry bushes.

Frozen Blackberry bushes.


Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen.  :o(

Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen. :o(


Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

A Little Elbow Room

If you’d like to add a little ambiance to this post…please click on the youtube link…it will play while you scroll. If you want to relive something from your childhood…if you grew up in the…gulp…60’s & 70’s this is a cool blast from the past and fun to watch. Either way, or both ways…ENJOY!

Being squished is no fun!! It’s not fun when you’re trying to maneuver in a small space. It’s not fun (yet totally important) when you’re having a mammogram. It is certainly not fun when you are one of eight rapidly growing young chickens.

We’ve had a lot of bickering going on within the young brood. Still in the small, improvised brooder, there has been increasingly less and less space as the chicks have grown. Since it is winter, they are house-bound, and getting no relief from one another, with the exception of the two days in the 50’s without wind we had about a week ago. Since then they have been in real tight quarters…not a healthy lifestyle to sustain healthy “tween-age” chickens.

I tried allowing the young chickens into the adult chicken’s house area.

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

By closing the outside door, the young ones were protected from the incoming draft, and the incoming house-protective flock. The chicks were somewhat reserved in their enthusiasm, and the older chickens were not happy to be closed out of their house. This idea was fine for an outing, but they needed a more permanent home during their too big for this, too small for that awkward stage.

My solution…drag their outside look-I’m-a-big-chicken-now pen into the shop, and set it up as an indoor pen. The beauty of this is because it has an open bottom, all I have to do to clean them up is to lift the pen a little, move it over (corralling the chickens within it’s walls), then sweep up the old shavings. EASY!! Also, when we do have a warmer day, I can easily walk the chicks, and their pen outside for a little while.

I’m hoping this move will make our little snarky brood a little kinder to each other. I’m feelin’ the love…I hope they are too!

Looking happy in their "tween-age" brooder.

Looking happy in their “tween-age” brooder.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

The Gentleman Rooster

Aesops Fables – THE ROOSTERS AND THE EAGLE
There were once two roosters who argued loudly. They wanted to prove who reigned over their flock and farm. Day and night the roosters crowed, proclaiming each one’s own strength and power. One day, crowing turned into fighting. One rooster saw that the other rooster was hurt. He stopped fighting as his kindness would not allow him to continue. The other rooster proclaimed his victory. Flapping his wings, he crowed louder than ever before. Running into the openness of the pasture, he jumped onto a log and announced his victory again, and again, drawing the attention of a soaring eagle. With quiet accuracy, the eagle snatched the rooster off the log and carried him away.
The moral: Victory comes in humility and kindness, while boastful pride can cause destruction.

Our rooster, Benedict, is a true gentleman rooster! He reigns over his flock with a firm hand, yet he is kind. He keeps the hens safe from the hawks that fly overhead (see previous post titled, “A Day in the Life…”), runs, I mean runs to a hen if she is calling out in distress, leads the flock to the chicken house when darkness approaches, and just a few days ago welcomed with open “wings” Chardonnay (our mama, broody hen) back to the flock. The more dominant hen, Don Pedro, tussled with Chardonnay as she first arrived…but Benedict jumped in between the two hens to stop the fighting.

As these events unfolded, the four oldest chicks had their first outing from the brooder. It happened to be a sunny day, and temps were in the 50’s so in full sun Lo Ri-dah, Jag, VW, and Pontiac stretched their legs! They were only out about 45 minutes before they lost their sun, but it was fun while it lasted!!

While I was out with the the four adventurers, Chardonnay jumped back in with those still in the brooder…and so did Benedict!! I was ready to jump in and save the babies in case Benny got aggressive, but this AWESOME rooster was a perfectly behaved “daddy” to his little brood. BTW, Benedict’s comb succumb to some frost bite this winter…the white patches are areas that were affected and are, hopefully, healing. The darker coloring on his feathers at the top of his neck is clinging dirt from the Vaseline, and NeoSporin I put on his comb.

The following movie stars Benedict, Chardonnay, Chevy, William Jr., Honda, and Austin Healey…

I’m hoping Benedict’s actions in the brooder is a good indication of the easy transition to come once the chicks are ready for the big leagues…joining the rest of the adult flock.

BTW, if you noticed, Austin Healey is doing FABULOUS (said in a very flamboyant manner!!!) Her legs / feet had some bruising as Chardonnay kept the little brood on their feet much of the day. As her legs have gained strength this bruising has calmed. Now that Chardonnay has left the brood completely, everyone is calmer and I have noticed there are more periods of resting. This has been good for our littlest member of the flock!!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

Oh and in case your wondering if, Penni, our Great Dane is watching out for the new bunch of babies…you decide!! Hahahaha

Are you our Mother?

Are you our Mother?


I promise to watch over you... I may chase you, but I will protect you!

I promise to watch over you… I may chase you, but I will protect you!

Premature Chick Hatch

When does life begin??…the age-old question. I believe that life begins at conception, for many reasons…and I believe the Bible tells us this. So what does that mean for chicken eggs? Given the right heat and humidity, a fertilized egg develops into a chick…but, put them in the fridge, they look and act like any other egg. Seems to me it is safe to believe that in a fertilized chicken egg, once it starts developing, life has begun. Little Austin Healey is the strongest example of this…EVER!!! She fought to stay alive in her shell during extreme single digit cold temperatures…Chardonnay was on and off the nest in the beginning because she kept getting confused which nest was hers. She warmed, she cooled, she warmed, she cooled, she was late in hatching, and when she finally did hatch……..

Update on little Austin HealeyChickface
Very soon after her hatching, it became apparent that there was something different…wrong with little Austin Healey. Trying as hard as she could, she was not even close to being able to stand….she crawled on her belly, and her legs splayed out to the sides. She was so determined, she never gave up…so neither would I. I promised Austin that I wouldn’t give up on her. As I watched her, it seemed that she had hatched prematurely even though she had been in nest for over 21 days…is that even possible…is it possible for a chick to start and completely hatch from an egg prematurely, on her own?? I am convinced that it is. Here’s Austin’s story since the hatch….

Austin’s legs had no tone, her feet looked almost as if the bones had not finished developing. They would curl into a “fist” whenever she tried to use them. She was so less developed than the chick, Honda, who had hatched just 29 hours before her. The pictures really show the extreme differences between these two.

Hatched just 29 hours apart...big difference!

Hatched just 29 hours apart…big difference!

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

20 hours after hatch...Austin is having a tough time.

20 hours after hatch…Austin is having a tough time.

Obviously, Austin needed to be given a chance to develop and grow stronger, so she was separated from the young flock. Since there was such a big gap between these last two chicks and the others, I took Honda out of the brood (she was getting kicked around a bit) she and Austin became roommates. They had each other to cuddle for warmth, and I believe that Honda was a great example for Austin to follow as she struggled to stand.

Austin fought hard. She crawled on her belly, I removed the pine shavings from her little brooder and replaced it with a rubber matted rug for traction. I fed her sugar water until she could start eating chicken starter mush. Her legs continued to splay to the sides…I found this idea about tethering her legs together with vet wrap… http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/spraddle-leg-in-baby-chicks-what-is-it.html So, I tethered her legs…

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

I so hope this works!

I so hope this works!

There is so much that I could say about our little Austin Healey. She is and was such a fighter. She tried and wanted to stand so badly. We worked together…every time I held her up to eat, I positioned her feet and body correctly so that she was upright, and uncurled. Everyday, Austin got just a little bit stronger. Honda moved back into the main brooder leaving Austin a little lonely…so we gave her a friend..

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Austin worked hard on her physical therapy, holding her body up, with my support, working the muscles in her legs. Then one day, her legs stayed forward, underneath her…the next day she was moving around in a squatting position…the next day she wobbly, wobbly stood mostly straight…the next day, she stood up and walked upright….the next day she gained strength and coordination…the next day, she met her mama, Chardonnay, for the first time. She spent the day, she spent the night…she survived both. She eats and drinks with the brood, she cuddles under the heat lamp with her family, and hides under her mama’s wings. She is a fighter…she is AWESOME….she is home!!

Way to go little Austin!!

Catching A Hatching

I have no words to say that would add to what the video already says….except maybe two things….my Great Dane, Penni, totally believes that all chick babies belong to her…and GOD IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!! I’ve never seen a complete hatching before, and I hope that the experience never grows old….

Have a GREAT Day everyone!!

The Three Amigos

Status Update on our 2013 Christmas Season Hatchlings….

Over the course of four days, our brood of seven hens and one rooster grew by three…you all welcomed, Loa Ri-dah, a few days ago (see previous post)…today I’d like to introduce you to Jag,

Top - Little "VW", to the left - 1st hatched "Loa Ri-dah", to the right - Jag

Top – Little “VW”, to the left – 1st hatched “Loa Ri-dah”, to the right – Jag

and sweet little, pure yellow VW, named after my daughter, Roni’s, little yellow bug.

Jag and Loa Ri-dah are Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red crosses…while VW, at this point, looks like a pure Buff Orpington whose parents can only be Claudio (hen) and our gentleman rooster, Benedict….who by the way…is “DA MAN!!!”

If you remember, Chardonnay has been sitting on 14 eggs, she started with 7 and added 7 as that first week went on. Roni and I decided to candle the remaining eggs in the nest to get an idea of things to come, and if it seemed that there were more viable eggs. Due to the difference in time, it is hard to gauge when to take the eggs away and let Mama just go about raising the 3 that hatched. Candling is really cool! I hadn’t ever done this before, so I was quite amazed. Out of the 11 remaining eggs, 4 had not formed, but 7 had. Within each of those 7 eggs was a definite air pocket, and complete blackness indicating the growth of a chick.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.


This egg is very full...close to hatching??

This egg is very full…close to hatching??

Whether or not the eggs are still viable at this point, only time will tell…we have a few more days for the next hatching window (actually from today through Christmas.) In the meantime, Chardonnay is loving on her babies…she is such a good Mama Hen! In the cold of winter, she provides a consistent place of warmth, and her babies know it.

Staying warm with Mama

Staying warm with Mama

Speaking of the cold, it has been a challenge. I am using long throw rugs to block drafts from the people door that leads from the main chicken room into the now revised people/brooder room. I’m using this same method for the people door that leads outdoors. By doing this, using a heat lamp, and an abundance of pine wood shavings, I think our little family is keeping warm and toasty. Chardonnay’s nest is in a bit of a covey not directly in line with the heat lamp, keeping it at a more moderate temperature for Mama. She seems to be thriving there.

I have been amazed at this entire process of our broody hen, however, one event holds a high amount of respect. Mama had been on the nest for a few days. I went in to check on the family, and found that she was off the nest…..and the eggs (11 at that point) had been moved…completely moved from her nesting area. Chardonnay moved her eggs directly under the heat lamp;

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.


she and the babies were sitting away from them. I scratched my head thinking…”Maybe she feels it’s time to abandon the nest?” I decided to totally just clean her nesting area with new shavings and see if that made a difference. I went away for a little while, and lo and behold, when I returned, the eggs were back in their proper place, and Mama was back on the nest! UNBELIEVABLE! That was completely AWESOME…but then again, my little Chardonnay is completely AWESOME!!!

A Christmas Miracle

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

CHRISTMAS HAS COME A LITTLE EARLY THIS YEAR IN THE FORM OF THIS LITTLE PACKAGE……

Introducing "Loa" or more formally... "Loa Ri-dah"

Introducing “Loa” or more formally… “Loa Ri-dah”

She hatched yesterday morning….and I am in complete awe. I mean, it works…it really works!! You raise a chick, they grow and start laying eggs, the roo becomes a full fledged rooster, a hen sits on a nest…and WALLAH…a baby chick hatches out of that egg!! I mean, c’mon…isn’t that the coolest thing ever!!! God’s creation is amazing, and I am continually amazed at His design in nature. AMAZING!!!

I dipped Loa’s beak into her water dish, and she responded wonderfully!

Finding the water dish

Finding the water dish

She is so tiny! Mama Chardonnay watches her carefully as she comes out from under her, skits around then dives back under Mama to stay warm. Sooo cute! I don’t know if anymore will hatch, but I’m really optimistic now. Stay tuned…….

The expanded brooder with wall removed from nesting box.

The expanded brooder with wall removed from nesting box.


Chardonnay still on the nest

Chardonnay still on the nest

DAY 21

Just a quick, quick post……

Yesterday broody, mama hen, Chardonnay, let me check out her batch of eggs. Besides growling and raising her rear, she has been such a nice hen during this process. She has never tried biting or pecking at me when I approach her, and she lets me pet her after her initial growl. Maybe it is because I bring her goodies like worms, spinach, water and cracked corn for the frigid evenings? I have been pampering her a bit, but she totally deserves it. Imagine sitting on 14 eggs for 21 days…..that’s right today is day
twentyone

Twenty-one days that Chardonnay has been on the nest…today may be the day she hatches one or some baby chicks!!!!! Okay so here is the real exciting part………..

I stuck my hand underneath Chardonnay yesterday, and just held it there for awhile…and then I felt it……..MOVEMENT!!!! No kidding, I know it wasn’t my imagination….there was like a quivering movement in at least two eggs that I had my hand on!!! So right now, I am confident that there is life in some of those eggs, and today, may be the day for little ones that look like these…

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

BRRRRROODY HEN

I’m a nervous chicken mama. The temp has been dropping steadily for days. Our efforts to protect the flock has been a learning experience, especially since one of our hens has decided that this would be a great time to sit on a nest. Chardonnay is broody, and extremely dedicated to her potential chicks. December 14th will mark 21 days on the nest…and maybe our first hatching!

This is our first experience with a broody hen, and I know this is the worst time of year for her to be wanting to hatch these eggs, but….we’ll provide whatever support these little chick-a-dees may need for warmth, etc., and hope that Chardonnay will take over some of that responsibility. She has been off the nest a couple of times wherein I think she has gotten confused which box she had been laying on. The eggs had cooled off some, but did not get “cold.” Well maybe a couple of them did. Each time I put her back on the correct nest, she has cuddled down and brought any eggs outside of her body into and under herself. At last count, she had 14 eggs!!! I don’t know if she is bringing more eggs into her nest, or if others are laying theirs where she is lying. This is a true learning experience, and if we come out with one or two chicks, I will be ecstatic!!

This all started two weeks ago today. Six of the 7 hens laid eggs in the same nesting box…Chardonnay decided to sit, and there she stayed. The 7th hen laid her egg in a different box, so since it was still warm, I put that one under her….one egg for each hen giving us a better chance of a pure Buff Orpington chick. Our boxes are a bit small for a broody hen, so Tony took out part of the lower wall under the nesting boxes (they are about 4 ft. off the ground) and made a nest/brooder area that expands into the “people” area. I lost some of my storage space, but Chardonnay is more comfortable, and the chicks won’t fall off the landing area in front of the nesting boxes.

I was afraid that moving Chardonnay and her eggs would result in her abandoning her nest, but she is so devoted, she just wiggled herself back into place, pulled two eggs under her that were sitting out, and snuggled in. She has been much more comfortable since the move, and is growling a lot less when I come near. I bring her treats, and little bowls of cracked corn and chicken feed at night…I thinks this is helping. Due to the cold, I haven’t candled any of the eggs to see what we’ve actually got going under there. I’m sure we won’t have 14 eggs hatch. It’s going to be fun to see what we actually get…I’m hoping for at least one Claudio (our Buff girl) look alike!

New nesting box.

New nesting box.

Ideally, the hope is that the brooders can stay with the flock (in their own area within the chicken house) with mama leading the way, keeping them warm. Logic would say that their integration will be more natural this way, but there are dangers of attack by other flock members that we have to be really thinking about. Our logic doesn’t always coincide with God’s design in nature, so we’ll try our best to nurture through the cold of winter whatever may hatch. I just hope they’ve stayed warm enough through this bitter cold. Either way, I won’t let Chardonnay sit for much longer than a few days past the 21st day. She needs to nourish herself and get back to chicken business beyond nesting.

A question for my knowledgeable poultry friends out there….Will eggs that have been sat upon for many day still hatch if Mama Hen gets confused and sits on eggs laid that morning while her nest grows cold? Chardonnay did that today. In very chilly weather, the eggs were cold to the touch when I found them without her. She readily snuggled back down with them when I put her back on the nest, but my fear is that damage has been done.

One Day in September

Life is full of “firsts”…some you can foresee, and some you never thought you’d experience. Two years ago and beyond, I never would have pictured the “first” that was necessary one day in September.

I had mentioned in a previous post about our “bad boy”, Merlot. This animated, exuberant rooster had changed his approach from assertive, to aggressive. His aim was the flock, and any hen not falling into place was to be punished….and punish he did! He chased, he pecked, he pulled out feathers, and he jumped forward with talons leading the way. The three hens that were loyal to Benedict…Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio were the objects of Merlot’s main aggression. He was relentless in his pursuit, grabbing and pulling the hens by their combs….our entire chicken community was constantly disheveled and on edge.

Benedict, our buff orpington rooster, emerged as a lover, not a fighter. In the beginning he stood up for his three gals…chasing Merlot away…Merlot would respond. Until one day….one day in September. On that day, Merlot raised his talons to Benedict and Benedict cowered to Merlot’s rising aggression. It was 89 degrees that day…Merlot had the entire flock sequestered inside the hen house. Anytime they tried to get off of their roosts to get food or water….he punished them. They were breathing through their mouths and suffering in the heat of the day. As I chased Merlot out of the chicken house he turned on me biting and raising his neck feathers. He ran back inside, to reestablish the hostage situation, I decided it was time for his tyrant reign to end.

Merlot was separated from the flock that day. The solution was apparent. Given his aggressive nature, he would be vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands wanting him for fighting, and he was not appropriate to lead a flock. We decided that we would finish the responsibility we started when we added him to our little farm. He would meet a humane end. Everything went well…it was quick, and the processing without blemish. Merlot is now in our freezer awaiting to grace our table side-by-side with our Thanksgiving turkey. We think he deserves that place of honor!!

So please help us celebrate Merlot with a video tribute…light hearted, and exemplifying of the life that was Merlot’s!!

The Bully, The Rooster…. Meet Merlot

It is totally obvious that the boys, Benedict and Merlot, have definitely, and loudly hit their “roosterhood!!” They are both very handsome, young studs with a definitive following. Benedict has his three ladies: Don Pedro, Don John, and the beautiful Claudio. Merlot has four ladies that follow his every command: Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Sangria. They are both ever present Sultan’s with a separate, devoted harem. Everyone, generally, lives peacefully with one another. The hens co-mingle and get along quite nicely. The roosters seem to be tolerant of each other, and in the human world, would probably even kick back once in awhile at a BBQ or at the beach…. that is until this past week.

Something has changed in the “mind” of young Merlot. When that rooster stepped out of the chicken house on Wednesday morning, things were different. It was as if he looked around and said, “this kingdom is mine…it is all mine!!” He started wrangling the girls into a corner of their outside yard. Benedict’s harem were caught a little off guard and seemed confused…rapidly clucking, they followed Merlot’s direction, except Claudio. Claudio ran the opposite direction. She has never been amused with Merlot’s antics, and has chased him around the yard many times (Caludio is 2.5 weeks older.) This, apparently, did not sit well with young Merlot…his new demeanor was not accomodating, and he was determined to let everyone know.

Watch out Benedict...I'm ranglin' for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Watch out Benedict…I’m ranglin’ for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Later in the day, it was very apparent that Merlot was not only trying to win the affections of the flock, he was demanding it. It was like a switch came on overnight; he had become a mean, bully boy. Although Merlot was chasing and pecking any of the ladies who fell out of line, he was pursuing Claudio at a different level. He would dig deep into her back or above her tail with his beak, pulling out feathers while she desperately ran away squawking loudly. She had become afraid of Merlot, and by afternoon, was isolating herself from the rest of the flock. If he saw her trying to eat or drink, he would chase her away.


(Since this IS my first rodeo raising chickens (both hens and roosters) I’d be totally appreciative if you could tell me if this is normal rooster behavior, or is Merlot an aggressive rooster. I don’t want my girls stressed out. He also has taken to biting people. Thank you for your advice in advance!)

While all of this was going on, Benedict just stood around looking like a deer in the headlights. Normally, this Buff Orpington gave Merlot a very small allowance; there was not much that he would tolerate from the smaller Rhode Island Red. Was Merlot taking over the throne? While they are both Sultan’s…Benedict has been the real King over this chicken coop. I was hoping that he was going to step up and put Merlot in his place. Benedict is, normally, kinder to the hens than Merlot tends to be.

As Friday rolled around, something was happening within the flock. The older girls (the Shakespeareans, AKA The Untouchables [see earlier posts]) started standing up to Merlot. Benedict had had enough of Merlot chasing around his girl, Claudio, and was standing up for her….chasing Merlot whenever he came close. Also at this time, Benedict found his voice. His crowing became louder and more forceful…he was not going to let Merlot rule his kingdom…neither were the girls!

As the weekend has progressed, there is calm in the kingdom. The two sultans are with their proper harems, and Merlot has been moved back into place where he originally resided within the pecking order. It’s a good thing too…because given the choice of having to eliminate a bully rooster from the flock, and/or reduce one sultan to bring peace back to the hens…wellllllll…there’s a reason why Benedict is one of the “Untouchables.” I truly hope Merlot understands that………. πŸ˜‰

Watch'a talkin' about Willis??

Watch’you talkin’ about Willis??

{popular tagline from the 1970’s T.V. series – Different Strokes
Different Strokes

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