My chickens – a love affair

 

I purchased 25 Wyandotte chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery last spring.  My chicks arrived around the end of May and I was thrilled.   After raising them under the heat lamp until they feathered out, I put them in the barn – in my goat pen.  They did well for a while until the sneaky neighborhood fox figured out how to get inside the pen.  He steadily got 1 per day until we finally got the pen fox proofed.  That took some time because it took us forever to find that he was crawling under the gate in a space that was about 3″high!    I ended up with 1 Blue Laced Wyandotte Roo – named Jamie, 5 Blue Laced Wyandotte hens, and 2 Golden Laced Wyandotte hens.  Not a good success rate!   Anyway, they grew out beautifully, and I was a little disappointed that they didn’t lay that first summer.   Around the first of January they surprised me by beginning to lay!  We were steadily getting 4-5 eggs every day.  Then I had one of the Golden Laced hens to decide to go broody.  I gathered up a dozen eggs and let her start setting.  One of the BLRW hens then decided to go broody too, but she is not the brightest hen.  She moves from nesting box to nesting box, and will leave her eggs alone.  So I put her on some fake eggs for now.      I also have a Rhode Island Red hen that came to live with me from a friend.  Her roo got eaten by a varmit, so I took Miss Henny in to keep her from being dinner.  My Wyandotte girls don’t like her a lot, but they are finally coming around where they don’t pick on her so much.

I bought an incubator in February and decided to start raising some chicks.   I picked out one that is pretty much fully automatic and then got an egg turner to keep the eggs rotated too.

https://www.gqfmfg.com/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=77

My first hatch seemed to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R……..  I was so excited and almost beside myself when that first chick finally popped out of that egg!   We didn’t have a good hatch rate – only 17 out of 42 eggs made it.  😦    But I decided to try again.

Our second hatch just came off and out of 42 eggs we got 21 chicks – alive.   I have one egg that seems to be still alive – I candled it and I can see movement inside.  I took it out and put it under the broody hen – perhaps it will hatch – I had to give it a chance.  9 of the eggs were infertile and didn’t even try to develop.  Two chicks pipped holes in their shells but died before they got out.   The rest of the eggs were almost completely developed, the chicks were fully formed in the shells but didn’t absorb the yolk.  I have no idea what went wrong, need to research that and see what I can to to prevent that happening next time.    Of this batch, I traded 6 chicks for 54 eggs (Black copper maans and Auraconas) and also sold 5 this morning.  From the first hatch, I sold yesterday the remaining 13 chicks for $4 each.    Not too bad for a hobby I guess.

Anyway, I have ordered another incubator and the game plan is to set a new hatch every 2 weeks.  If I pick up eggs and every 10 days set a new hatch.  I will use the Black copper maran and Auracona hens for my food/sale eggs.  And will hatch the Wyandottes for sale and I am breeding to get a true blue chicken.  My little goal I guess you could say.

I found a couple pretty good record keeping spreadsheets on the internet that I’m going to start using:

http://www.hencam.com/static/uploads/2012/01/taylor_egg_record.pdf

2012 Chicken Tracker USE ME

I have also gathered up some other links that chicken people would find useful.  

Good page with info about incubation : http://www.avianweb.com/deadinshell.html

I’ll come back and add more later.  I have learned so much about poultry in the last couple of months.  🙂

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We have babies

 

goat kids that is!  Currently the count is 17, but I have several nannies who are getting ready to deliver.  The ratio as of now is about 70% girls – which is good because I’m planning to keep females this time around to help build up the herd.  (I’ll be replacing the Buck before they get to breeding age).    So far, this group is very healthy and we have only lost 2 due to first time nannies not knowing what to do and rejecting one of their twins.

 

The chicken flock is down to 8 total birds – 7 hens and 1 roo.  They finally started roosting in the top of the barn rafters, so now they are safe from the neighborhood fox who I am sure was the leading chicken thief all summer.    I am feeding them layer pellets now, but no sign of an egg.  It will probably be spring before I start seeing eggs, but I guess that is ok.  They are very tame and I have to laugh at them when they go to roost or jump up on the barn rails – they are so big and fluffy it reminds me of the Stay Puff Marshmallow man trying to jump and fly!  🙂    I have to put their feed in a trough way up high because if I don’t the goats climb up and steal it.   They have turned out very pretty, and I’m very pleased with them so far.

 

 

I’m riding almost every day now.  Jim and I ride pretty much every day at work (weather permitting) for at least an hour.  One of the great perks of my job!   I’m planning to take him on a ‘real’ trail ride soon. Watch for an update on that!  LOL

 

Life is pretty great right now.  I leave you with this thought….

 

 

We lost my Father in Law in September after a prolonged illness – and things are just beginning to get back to normal here on the farm.  I’m hoping to regularly post again now that the weather is turning cooler.

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Freezer meals – Why didn’t I think of that??

Looks like the latest craze on Pinterest is doing this type of cooking.   After thinking about it, I decided I want to try it, after all my family eats WAY too much fast food.  With my lap band being so tight, I hardly ever eat more than a couple of ounces at a time, and to be quite honest, it gripes my butt to have to cook when I can’t eat!!  LOL    Plus we have the fact that Kyle is living with my Mother In Law now, so I am only cooking for Chris.  I would be happy to live off of tuna salad, atkins shakes and eggs!  LOL

I have found lots of recipes we want to try, plus I made up some of my old ‘stand by’ meals.   Today I have made ( all in gallon freezer bags )

4 Taco Chicken soup http://www.skinnytaste.com/2008/11/crock-pot-chicken-taco-chili-4-pts.html

2 scalloped ham and potatoes   ( diced ham, cubed potatoes, cubed onion, cubed velveeta, a little garlic, milk )

2 keilbasa sausage with peppers, onions, garlic, cabbage and potatoes

1 keilbasa with sour kraut and onions

4 teriyaki chicken   ( cubed chicken, pineapple pieces, baby carrots, red onion, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic )

4 ranch pork chops    http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/2012/01/crockpot-ranch-pork-chops-finger-licking-good.html

I added some chopped potatoes, onions and baby carrots to the ranch pork chops for a complete meal.

These are all done and in the freezer and took me 2 hours to put together.  17 meals in 2 hours!!!   All I will need to do with each meal is put in the crock pot in the morning for however long it needs to go (got a fancy crock pot with a timer and a hold warm option), come home from work or where ever, make a salad or pasta or whatever else needs to go with the meal.  Some of them will be a complete meal because I don’t eat bread any more and have been encouraging Chris to eat less bread.  There should be enough of each meal that we can take left overs to work for lunch the next day and probably enough to feed Kyle too when he pops by (rarely).

I also have more chicken, pork loin, ground beef and weiners in the fridge that I’ll do something with one night this week.   I have found a recipe for crockpot lasagna that I think I’ll try also.

I’m planning to really start watching for the meat sales ( other than ground beef, WalMart did not have ANY beef for under $4.50 a pound!!!!  AAAAHHHH)  I really wanted to put some beef stew in the freezer, but guess that will have to wait because I REFUSE to pay that much for beef.

I am also going to experiment with some recipes for making my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.

The Great Helmet Debate

I just read and article today about a woman who was killed in a horseback riding accident.

http://auburnjournal.com/detail/214849.html

This made me think about all the people out there who won’t wear a helmet for whatever reason – and believe me there are MANY.  I have personally been guilty of using several excuses and occasionally get lax about the helmet.  So please don’t think I am trying to pound my personal preferences into anyone’s head.

The fact is, I truly believe MORE folks would wear helmets if they were made more widely available.  It is easy to type horseback riding helmet into google and find a helmet to fit any budget.  BUT what you see on the internet does not necessarily fit your noggin.  Yes you can use a tape measure and get a numerical size and order that way.  MY noggin is not round shaped like most helmets are made.  I have more of an oblong shaped head, therefore, probably 75% of the helmets out there on the market give me a headache.  I don’t know about you, but if it gives me a headache while doing something supposed to be fun – well, why do it???

So I propose that we of the Equine community put pressure on the makers and retailers to establish local places where you can go in and actually put these helmets on your head and pick out the RIGHT helmet the first time.   I think it would be AWESOME if Academy Sports, Dicks and others of their kind would recognize Equestrian sports and start carrying at least some rider gear.  And WHY not?  They are leaving an entire market of folks out in the cold.

Here is a link to Academy’s comments and questions page:

http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContactUs_10151_10051_-1

Please take a minute and drop them a line asking them to start carrying Rider Gear.

And yes I am aware that TSC carries a few helmets, but the supply has been limited every time I have ever been there looking.

 

 

One of these days……

I will get a grand baby.  My daughter has been married for 3 years and still isn’t ready for a baby.  That is OK, I will wait (like I could do anything else!) and hopefully she and her husband will find themselves in a position where they are ready sooner rather than later.

Anyway, in the mean time, Future Granny ( That would be ME ) has been looking at baby stuff on pinterest.  Yeah I know, kinda silly, but a Granny in Waiting can wish and hope – Right??  At first it started out just poking around looking at other stuff, but then I started seeing all these NEAT photos of babies from other photographers.  So I started pinning those.  Then I started finding props, and crocheted baby hats on Etsy.  Have you seen the little cowboy hats and boots???

So, I have picked up my cast off crochet hook – well I went to Hobby Lobby and bought NEW hooks because years ago I tossed mine in the Goodwill box – and have started practicing crochet again.  I actually made a fly bonnet for my horses.  It looks kinda dorky and isn’t as nice as the store bought ones.   Chris said it looked like a court jester cap.

 

And now I’m working on an afghan – beautiful shades of turquiose, purple and blues.  Will post photos when it’s done.

When it is finished, I may go ahead and make this blanket – just cause I think it’s purty.  😉

My MHTA and Dusty……

In my last Jeffers order, I bought a new pair of barn boots in a lovely light blue with spots.  I tried them on for the first time this afternoon and they felt AWESOME.  So awesome in fact that I thought they gave me Magical Horse Training Abilities (hereafter known as MHTA).   Aren’t they pretty?

This evening I arrived home to an empty house.  The sun was still shining and it was decently warm out. I decided to get Dusty out and ‘play’ around in the yard with him.  I got my handy dandy neon orange lunge whip (known as Orange Stick – not to be confused with big name trainer Veggie Stick), a new black and turquoise  halter and lead rope and a pocket full of horse treats.  He came to me once he saw that treats would be involved and gladly let me put the pretty girly halter on his head (at this point the Orange Stick was out of sight!).

We went out into the yard and I let him grab a few blades of grass before asking for attention.  He pulled back and went back to the grass – was that a fly flicking by?  I lifted up the Orange Stick and immediately I had his FULL attention.  Let me just state here and now that to my knowledge that this horse has NEVER been beaten with anything, and if I ever caught anyone beating him, there would be hell to pay.    He gets all put out and pouts if he thinks he’s in trouble, so 99% of the time he’s a good boy.  The other 1% is when he doesn’t understand what the heck I’m asking him for, like what you’re about to read below……

I’ve got this old set of cement steps out in the pasture that we had taken off of the old house many years ago.  It’s roughly the same dimensions of the steps that are used in a lot of the extreme cowboy competitions.   I’ve tried a few times half heartedly to get him to go over it, but it’s made out of old concrete blocks and there are holes in the top that are mostly filled with dirt and concrete.  They are MAYBE 1 inch deep, so it gives the optical illusion of being a honey comb.   I haven’t ever been able to get him to do more than step a foot up and yank it back off.  SO, today I felt really confident in my MHTA , and just KNEW that the stars were aligned to that perfect place where Dusty would believe every word I spoke and hop right up like a trained circus horse…..  Can’t you just see the magical stars floating by?

I started out by leading him over to the steps.  He thought he deserved a cookie for walking over and stopping.  Ok, here’s a cookie.  I told him to Whoa and I walked around the steps.  He stood there like stone looking at me like I was daft or at least stupid.  I lifted the rope slightly and asked him to “Step up”.  He promptly raised both front hooves, pivoted on his rear and completely avoided the steps and came around to the side where I was standing and snuffled my pocket for a cookie.   *frowny face*  I said NO Dusty and moved him back to the other side.  This time I walked up and over the steps, saying “See? this is how you do it”.  He just blew out pffftttttt and shook his head.  I asked again, and had my feet ready to move quickly and turn him before he had another chance to rear to the side.   Foiled again!  We did this same dance around and around and around that step for about 5 minutes before I finally lost my temper.  He flat out refused to even put one foot on that darn thing.  He was making a fool out of me and my new boots!!   Out I brought the Orange Stick because evidently my MHTA was not on the same channel that Dusty was tuned in on tonight.   Eyeballs bugged, head went up and he took a step backward – all the stars disappeared about then.  I’ll say that at this point I should have just walked away and found something else for him to do that I knew he could succeed at – like weed eating around the house foundation.   But NOOOOOO – I had on my new blue boots and MHTA was pumping through my veins.  He WOULD obey my every whim and be happy to do my bidding.    (Don’t laugh at me!!)

The more I insisted, the more he shut down.   Most people will tell you that if a horse refuses to do what you’re asking, work them really hard and make what you want them to do the easy thing.  I promptly took him over and started lunging him on the 8 foot lead.  I pushed him pretty hard and had him cantering in that tight little circle.  He was NOT happy with me.    I took him back to the steps and got 2 feet up!  At this point he decided he had enough of my nonsense.  I asked several more times and he refused.   Back to the lunge we went, and by this time I was getting pretty frustrated with him, and he was frustrated with me.  It got to the point that he wouldn’t even lunge for me.  The last time I asked, he walked straight up to me and put his head down to my level where his eye was looking straight into mine about 6 inches away and just stood there breathing in my face and waiting for me to get it.  He has NEVER done that before.   Looking into his eye I felt so ashamed.  This horse has been a faithful loving companion to me for several years, and here I was getting angry with him because he wouldn’t climb up on some old steps that he thought looked dangerous.  He has carried my fat butt for miles on end over all kinds of terrain and kept me safe through it all…..   I felt like the worst kind of owner and he brought me to tears – just like that.  I don’t deserve this horse, but so many times in my life he has been exactly what I need.

I took him back out into the yard and let him graze on some of the clover and fescue that are growing while I reflected on the absurdity of what I did.  I think he forgave me pretty quickly because when I turned him out, he stood at the gate and put his head on my shoulder instead of racing off like he usually does.  He fluffed up my hair and sniffed my ear a bit, made me feel a lot better.

So next time I put on my new boots, and the MHTA feeling hits, I’ll just ignore it and do something constructive like clean out the horse trailer or scrub a water trough!

My condolences to Stacy and to the Gessner family.

Stacy Westfall Horseblog

 

Heaven’s remuda improved by one fine mare on February 8, leaving this planet one short, with the passing of Roxy (aka Whizzards Baby Doll), best known as horsewoman Stacy Westfall’s bareback and bridleless mount.  She sustained traumatic injury after apparently becoming cast in her stall sometime during the night of Feb. 5.  Roxy was treated for two days at Valley View Animal Hospital in Dover,Ohio, before being humanely euthanized on Feb. 8.  Roxy was due to foal in early March, and although a C-section was performed, the little sorrel stud colt proved too weak to survive.

Roxy had a wide and varied career that included becoming the 2nd highest earning offspring of Whizard Jac, who was both NRHA futurity champion and USET champion.  She won two All-American Quarter Horse Congress Championships and two Reserve Championships, the NRHA Futurity freestyle championship, and the Tulsa Reining Classic twice, to name just…

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The chickens are coming!

Well, they are actually already here, but they won’t be HOME for a while.  Jim ordered some replacement chicks for his flock to take the place of the fatalities he has had in the past few months, and in order to get the 6 that he needed, I ordered some to make up the difference  so we could get them shipped.   I chose the Wyandotte breed because I really love the plumage, and they are said to be dependable layers and very calm.  Calm is good!  I really wanted some Silver Laced Wyandottes, but the hatcheries won’t have any for sale until about May, so I chose instead Golden Laced and Blue Laced Red Wyandottes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will be late July or August before we start seeing eggs, but that’s just fine with me.  With any luck, we’ll have these girls (and the few guys) for several years.    They will stay at the office until they are large enough that they can’t go through our goat fence (3 inch squares).  I am so excited about getting fresh eggs.  mmmmmm

The Big Crash

I’ve been wanting to get a harness and buggy of some sort for a while.  John the Mule is trained to pull and although I’ve never driven before, how hard could it be, right??   I picked up a harness that while it’s pretty, not very sturdy.  Black leather with little silver dots all over it, looks great on John.   But it was a ‘bargain’ and I figured it would be ok for fooling around here in the pasture.

Chris and I went to Cracker barrel this morning for breakfast and stopped by his parents afterward to see if Clinton had a single tree or hames or a collar.   We managed to get two single trees, one solid metal and the other wood and metal ( probably use that one for decoration ) and two sets of hames.  One is WAY too large for anything on my property, but it’s so beautiful I couldn’t resist.  No collar, but for now I wasn’t really worried, after all this bargain harness had a surcingle and chest piece for pulling.

We came home and after playing 5 minutes of catch me if you can, John finally consented to being caught.  I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how the harness went together and making adjustments.  Again, cheap harness – not an especially good fit.  John didn’t like the blinders on the bridle, but I thought he would be ok for today.  HA

The little garden wagon I have is made by Rubbermaid and created for pulling behind a 4 wheeler or something.  Nothing heavy duty, but just something I THOUGHT we would play around with.  I drug the wagon out of the shed, put the single tree on and hooked him up.  I led him with the lead rope through the gate and he was fine.  When I walked behind him to close the gate, he BOLTED.  I was so shocked all I could do was stand there and watch and HOPE that he didn’t wreck.   Ok, so let me paint this picture for you.  ALL the cows were down behind the barn laying in the sun taking an afternoon nap.  Here comes this white streak with a gray rattling and jumping hind end bearing down on them really fast.  Cows were going every which way.  John decided to take a right around a tree and SMASH!  Caught the right front corner of the wagon and it exploded.  John kept on trucking and made an entire lap around the pasture.

By the time I got down to the barn to catch him, he ran straight to me like the hounds of hell had been chasing him.  LOL  He was terrorized.  Poor old boy.   My bargain harness didn’t fare so well.  Several buckles, straps and fittings were destroyed.

I brought John back up to the house and cobbled it back together using some extra buckles and leather straps that I had in the shed. (I never throw old tack away, you never know when you’ll need a strap or something!)   Chris came out and helped me for a little while and we hooked him back up.  John was still terrified of that wagon.  So after walking him out for about 30 yards, I unhooked him and ended up just ground driving him for about 45 minutes.  Practiced turns, backing, whoa, etc.

Next time I go out to catch him, I’ll bet you that he won’t let me touch him.  LOL  Poor old boy!

And by the way, the wagon has modular side boards and they all snapped right back in.  Gotta love Rubbermaid!

Cornbread

Any guess on the breed?  Been looking around the net and she sort of looks like maybe some Black Mouth Cur in her parentage, but not sure.  Will try to get some better photos later.

 

 

Tried this evening REALLY hard to get a decent photo of her.  She seems to be perpetually in motion….  In this photo she’s at the corner of the building.