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Favorite Chicken Breeds

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Every winter I look forward to the chicken catalogs. I love flipping through, looking at the pictures, reading the descriptions and figuring out what I’d get if I had infinite money and space. Sadly I find both of those things in short supply so I have to cut back on my list. If you’ve ever found yourself in the same position you know my pain. I know how confusing it can be to settle on one, or a few chicken breeds so I asked a few of my blogger buddies what their number one chicken pick would be and why.

Favorite Chicken Breed - Chicken Scratch NY - Brahma

Just for fun we’ll start with my favorite. I absolutely adore my Brahmas. They’re a heavy breed and they do fantastically through our harsh winters, they’re SO FLUFFY and they have small combs so frostbite isn’t much of a concern. My ‘main man’ is a large Brahma and judging from the fact that all the chicks we hatch out are at least 1/2 Brahma (despite there being multiple Orpington roosters) he’s doing his job. They’re all very friendly and curious, even my rooster is a sweetie pie. [Read more...]

Cackle Hatchery Surprise Box – 6 Weeks Old

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Our surprise babies are 6 weeks old and I thought I’d share how they were doing. If you follow me on Facebook you might have seen some of their baby pictures!

Cackle Hatchery Surprise Box - Day 1
The Cackle Hatchery Hatchery’s Surprise box is basically an unknown quantity of poultry where you get at least 40 birds, when I was reading about it I saw that some people get ducks or turkeys in their boxes but we weren’t that lucky. [Read more...]

DIY Compost Sifter

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I’ve been digging up our severely overgrown garden beds. So far I’ve managed to overhaul 3 of the 4*16 foot beds (the last one is 3/4 full of garlic). Considering they were all filled with waist high weeds it was quite an undertaking! I spent a lot of time picking out rocks, roots and hard clumps of clay before I decided to make a soil screener.

DIY Compost Sifter with 8+ #Garden Uses
It’s easy to make, especially if you have some fancy tools. AND there are a bunch of uses, since the hardware cloth comes in a roll you might as well make a few.

[Read more...]

The Story of a Miracle

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Raising livestock isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
This should put it in perspective for you:

Sometimes your tiny silkie hen disappears and you think one of the many local foxes grabbed her.
And then you get a call from your neighbor apologizing for finding a nesting chicken, with his hay mower. 

Then when you’re out walking to fence line looking for the pieces and you find your little silke dead, not far from the remains of her nest. And you find this:

A single tiny egg. Smeared with it’s mothers blood. Left out in the hot sun for hours.
But you have to be stubborn to have farm.
So you put it in the incubator.

In the mean time your other silkie hen hatches her two eggs and she gets moved into a large fish tank in your spare room.

A week later your do your weekly candling of the turkey eggs and the silkie egg. But the hole for the candler is too big for the little egg, so you can’t see much.

That night your fiance wakes you up at 1 AM saying he heard peeping in the living room. Of course your first thought is the cat got the door open and snatched one of the week old chicks. But then you realize the peeping is coming from inside the incubator.

Crap. Did you know you’re supposed to take eggs off the turner 3 days before they hatch? Oops.

You open the incubator and the top is completely off the egg. You snatch it and almost immediately a wet little body flops out.

Silkies have black skin, when this little peeper dries off he’ll be buff colored like the others

Unfortunately the hatching incubator won’t heat up past 85 degrees. Double crap.
Little soon-to-be-fluff-ball goes in a plastic dish in the incubator on top of the egg turner. Mama silkie doesn’t want him, she does a nice little tap dance on his head. Back in the incubator he goes. Between messing with a heat lamp and a giant pot (might be the one we use to scald roosters…) and checking on the little guy to make sure he doesn’t flop out of the dish and get caught in the turner time flies by.
By the time you get it all working it’s 5 am. You normally leave for work at 6:30. Triple crap?

(Luckily my boss is awesome and I didn’t go in until 10. Also, my cat found a mouse and played with it in my bedroom during my 3 hours of sleep)

Like most miracles this one ends happy. The silkie mamma decided she would take him after he was all dried off. The little one in the back is 1 week older than the one shes semi-sitting on.
If you follow me on FB you might have heard about the ducklings hatching last night too.
14 little peepers
A lot of real farms out there are having problems much bigger than mine. A Rural Journal has a widget to donate to a fellow blogger Go West Feral Woman who lost a lot in a recent wildfire. If you head over to GWFW you will cry.

Dealing with Heat Stroke in Chickens

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Time for a Public Service Announcement for my fellow chicken owners. We’ve been having a heat wave here in New York. Three days (so far) over 90 degrees with no rain. These are perfect conditions for chickens to get heat stroke. The best course of action is, of course, prevention.