Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Animals...the beginning

Animals...I figure since I have updated you on the kids and house and projects I should move on to the animals.  When we first talked about moving to the country we knew we wanted enough land we could have animals (farm animals that is).  We also knew it would take time to get the larger animals, we didn't just want to jump into too much at one time.  We decided to start small...chickens.  I had done some research on chickens and houses and thought I was all ready for them...HA!  Man have I learned A LOT about chickens in the past two years.  I will take you through some of my chicken adventures...and more...

Back to I was ready for I thought...I did have a house plan.  So our first big work weekend I mentioned in an earlier post, my dad & I built my chicken coop.  I wanted it to be cute so it wasn't a big eye sore on the property.  I think we did great!

The front

Here is a picture of the inside before the chickens moved in

And the back...obviously after chickens moved in
Here is a picture of my nesting boxes where my chickens leave their wonderful eggs.
When I bought my very first round of chickens I had already decided I did not want plain ole white eggs.  So I chose my chicken breeds as to their egg colors.  I knew I wanted Brown eggs but I had also read about chickens that laid colored eggs.  I knew I had to have some.  So my first round of chickens I got 21 chicks that were 3 different breeds.

Don't they look SO good (They are)...I still love all the variations of brown and the green ones

So fast forward a little...I am skipping the details about where I did a lot of the learning about chickens...we lost 8 birds to predators, I rescued 3 other ones from near death from wounds and we ate one because he was getting MEAN!!  That doesn't sound good but we had decided he needed to go before he hurt someone and we weren't going to waste him.  So with all that loss I was down to 11 hens and one rooster.  Not getting the egg production I had expected since I wanted to sell eggs (which I do), so what did that mean...I need more chickens.  Again, to the research about how to bring in chicks with one year old birds.  Did you know most of the sayings about chickens are true...there really is a "Pecking Order" and as the person who deals with them everyday you have to be established in that order with your rooster so he doesn't attack you...because of the pecking order you can't just add new birds (especially babies) to your existing flock.  They will literally peck them to death.

Other true chicken sayings:

A bunch of cackling hens - they can really get going
Like a chicken with it's head cut off - I won't give you the gross details but when we ate the one rooster I defiantly found out what that meant when we killed it...
Chickens have come home to roost - they all put themselves to bed on the roost every night!

Sorry, back on topic...with all my research the best way to bring in more is to have a separate coop for the new ones and have a joint fence.  That way as the younger ones grow big enough to mix in with the original ones they get "face time" through the joint fence so they will "know" each other when you add them.

So back to the drawing board and a new coop idea is hatched...haha, couldn't resist.  My husband took some convincing that I needed a second coop.   I explained it wouldn't just be for the babies I was bringing in, he couldn't see building a complete coop to bring in one round of babies for a couple months...what would it "do" after that.  I explained if I had a hurt chicken (which by this time I had already had 3) that needed to be separated I could put her in there so she could heal, or I might need more babies at sometime (not a good example at the time).  I had my reasons and uses all listed out and he agreed it would make sense to build it.  Once he heard all the uses he nicknamed it the "Chicken Hospital" would be used as a nursery for the babies, an ER if I had a wounded and so the name stuck.
So here is my second coop "The Chicken Hospital"
Equip with directional signs and all...
This is a picture of the nesting boxes (before the bottom was closed in)  because I might need boxes if a girl is only wounded.

 I must say, my hospital has been used much more than I had even anticipated.  I will give you a quick walk through of all it has been used for...

 So it's original use, getting new babies.  Yes, I ordered them online and they came in the mail.  The post office called and told me I had to come pick them up.

 They are always so cute and fluffy when they are little.

 Austin with one of the babies.

It's next use was to hatch babies.  I had a hen that went broody and insisted on sitting on eggs, so after trying for almost a week to make her quit I decided since I had the space I might as well see what you can see IT WORKED...(much more research on hatching babies and a new adventure with chickens)  Did you know you can hold an egg up to a light a certain way and see inside as the baby is is called candling and is VERY neat! A little bit of chicken knowledge for you to take away:)  I actually have now hatched two rounds of babies:)

This is from the internet but you can see the veins and the dark spot is the chick.  We did this and the kids thought it was the coolest thing!

My mama with three babies hatched:)

Just about the time the second set of babies was almost ready to move to the big pen, the feed store in town (happens to be owned by my boss also and where my husband is employed) got in turkeys.  I had said last year I wanted to raise turkey's for Thanksgiving but wasn't ready with just getting chicks.  Well, thanks to my hospital I was good to go.  So I got 8 turkeys and brought them home...had to kick the second round hatched babies into the big pen, clean out the coop and tada...we had turkeys.

They look almost like chicks (just a little bigger and their coloring is different).

Well, that brings on more research and more learning...already lost 3 (only 2 1/2 months in and still researching...)...but have no fear, the store got more and needed someone to buy them (insert big cheesy smiley face here).  Do you know what that means though...I have 5 turkeys that are pushing 3 months old that I can't put baby turkey's in with.  Turkeys grow VERY fast.  They are already bigger than all my chickens.  If I put babies in there they would squash them.  I had already told my husband (who loves me SO much and puts up with all my crazy chicken stuff) that I was going to want the turkeys out in a bigger pen so they could get more green stuff since we are going to eat them...
So operation build a new pen began last Friday night since I had 4 new turkeys at home already in a box...and since he convinced me to get the 4 more...

So here is their new "hut" outside so the babies could move in the hospital...

Here are the original 5 enjoying their outside...I told you they were already big.  They will be SO yummy though:)

To add to the chicken adventure, a visitor we have to watch out for is snakes.  It's bad enough we live in the country so they are pretty much always there but with chickens you get the added Chicken Snake to watch for (they are also called rat snakes).  Known for eating chicken eggs, it is pretty obvious when we have one hanging around the coop (actually think we have one now).  We will go from getting 15 eggs in a day to lie that was our count the last two days.  Chickens lay an egg, on average, every 27 hours (see, now you are getting more crazy chicken knowledge).  That's about a egg a day so to go from 15 to 3 there is a problem...
This is my husband with the last one we killed...

  So, needless to say it has been quite an eventful couple years with the chickens (and now turkeys).  All the knowledge I thought I had when I started the adventure was nowhere CLOSE to the things I have now learned about chickens (some I could still do to not know but I guess it's too late for that).

We are starting our new adventure now with a show cow that I will tell you about next research to do..oh yay;)

I will leave you with this.  We did finally come up with a name for our place and a logo (since we will be getting larger animals we will need one and a brand)

Here is our Logo...our name is Wing N It.  

 We wanted to use a N for our last name but not use our last name...this one is fitting since that is pretty much what we have done with all the new adventures we have come across the past two years on a farm.

Hope you have enjoyed my chicken adventures as much as we do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michael and Ashley,
Cool blog. If you are still having trouble with the chicken snakes, give me a shout. saw something the other day for a really cheap deterrent for them. Glad to see ya'll livin' the life, Wing "N" It! Jerry