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Cackle Hatchery Surprise Box – 6 Weeks Old

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

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

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

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.

WW: A Few Good Eggs

It seems like the girls are kicking it in to over drive a bit early, but I’m not going to complain! I’ve been getting at least 18 eggs a day [I got 22 last Saturday!] for the last few weeks. 
For those of you counting I’ve got 28 hens. 7 Brahmas, 7 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 2 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, 2 Buff Silkies (tiny but I get 1 silkie egg a day!) and 10 TSC chicks (at least 2 white leghorns, and some crazy egg hybrids). 
 18/28 might not seem like an awesome ration but I’ve got several girls that are showing signs of moulting (I wouldn’t want to lose my feathers just yet, it is only February!) and a few that the roosters pay a little too much attention to, if you get my meaning. Those ladies look a bit rough. The TSC specials are all fairly svelte compared to my brahmas and wyandottes so my guess is they aren’t laying too much with the cold weather.
I love the variety in size, shape and color I get from my backyard buddies. Even though I collect them every day, it still amazes me that those dumb little birds manage to provide me with food and income day in and day out.
 At the moment they are the only animals that contribute to the household income. 
[The alpacas are trying to convince me that they poop and their poop is good for the garden so they will in fact, be paying me lots come garden time]
We also have this on our kitchen counter:
Those are the eggs that are so dirty I don’t waste the time cleaning them or that freeze (and crack) or that I manage to crack on my way in to the house. Those go to Mr. Alfie. The cat doesn’t really like eggs unless she thinks she’s getting something away from the dog.
Sometimes if we have a lot of ‘bad eggs’ we let kids throw them at roosters. 
But you didn’t hear that from me. 
(Those boys are bullies!)