Category Archives: Chickens

Our Harvest Picnic

Sunday we invited friends and family to the farm for a picnic. While many of those invited could not make it for various reasons everyone who came seemed to have a great time.

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My husband added some seasonal decorations to welcome our guests.

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The bees wasted no time finding the sunflowers he picked.

 

The chickens roaming around, pecking and scratching, added to the ambience.

 

As summer nears it’s end Black Eyed Susans, Hibiscus and Phlox continue to adorn the farm.

When we host guests this time of year we like to make it a harvest party that includes foods from our garden. Included in yesterdays meal was potato salad – with homegrown potatoes, celery and chives along with our farm fresh eggs; apple crisp – with apples from our trees; pickled garlic scapes  https://donteatitsoap.com/2017/06/15/a-year-in-growing-garlic-part-viii-garlic-scapes/ ; and my garlic and dill chip dip https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/08/14/simple-and-fun-recipes/ . We also had fresh lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes to top the burgers which were made with locally raised grass fed beef.

While I took many pictures of the scenery before our guests arrived I somehow forgot to take pictures our guests and the activities they enjoyed.IMG_3200Trooper played in the pond early in the day, but later on some of our young guests enjoyed catching perch in the pond and building sand castles on the beach.

I also neglected to get photos of my brother-in-law flying his remote control airplanes. He brought two planes and was able to use the path which we keep mowed around our back field as a runway. He also brought equipment that enabled him to allow others to participate. It’s called buddy boxing. To really explain buddy boxing you probably need someone who understands technology better than I do, but since I’m the one writing I’ll tell you my simplified understanding of how it works. Two transmitters or controllers are linked together and set to operate the plane. The student’s controller is allowed to operate the plane unless the teacher feels the plane is in trouble at which point the teacher has the ability to override the student’s system and take control of the plane.

I think this is a great way to be able to teach kids, or even adults, who want to learn to fly remote controlled planes without having to worry about damaging the plane or endangering objects, people or pets on the ground. Pete was certainly a great teacher and the kids had a great time flying the planes.

Other activities included greeting everyone with hugs, catching up with friends and family, most of whom we haven’t seen in a year or more, my husband gave garden tours and showed off the huge, mammoth sunflower which came up as a volunteer this year. “If it’s not the biggest sunflower you’ve ever seen I’ll give your money back,” he told people. Maybe he should have charged because everyone agreed that it was the biggest they had ever seen.

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While it wasn’t a homegrown water melon, it was among the produce that our grandson (and future farmer) Jackson, enjoyed. He also got excited about watching the chickens eat corn on the cob.

Some guests left with garlic and some with honey and several left with regrets about having to leave so early and hopes of returning soon. It was a great day filled with friends, family, food and love and we are grateful for all those who visited.

Unfortunately we were so busy and having such a great time that we forgot to hold one of our planned events. The rock picking contest. Participants were to be given a milk crate, shown to one of two areas that have been plowed this summer and told fill their crate with as many rocks as possible.  Cash prizes were to be awarded. Oh well guess we will be picking up rocks this week. 😉

Okay, I’m just kidding about the rock picking contest, but we will be picking up rocks this week. Have a great day.

 

This Season On Chicken TV

Chicken TV – has become a spring/summer past time for us. That’s what we call the time we spend sitting in our camp chairs near the chicken coop watching the chickens as they peck and scratch and do what chickens do. It’s usually the last half hour or so before the chickens go in for the night. It really can be quite entertaining especially when they are young.

Our Buff Orpingtons are the friendliest of the four breeds that we have and Honey one of our oldest hens will usually sit on my husbands lap. Last year some of buffs that we raised as chicks would also sit on our laps or climb on our shoulders while we sat and watched the group.

This year we have decided not to get attached to the buffs that we are raising since we intend to butcher them before long. We didn’t hold or pet them even when they were  adorable little balls of fluff.

Saturday evening my husband got out my chair and put it near the chicken coop. He then asked for my camera and told me to sit down. I sat in my chair and before long I had chickens on my lap.

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“Close your eyes,” my husband warned me, “they will peck your eyes.”

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So while I sat there with my eyes closed, my husband snapped pictures and counted as each of the young buffs landed on me.

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Within about two minutes I played roost to all 10 young buffs and had become the star of Chicken TV.

My husband knew this was going to happen because he had the same experience the night before when I was not with him.

I don’t mind one or two chickens sitting on me but this was way too much, so he helped me clear them off and the he went about teaching them to use the ramp to get into the coop.  They were just about there but one just couldn’t resist saying a special good night to him.

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Old Dog New Chicks

A few days ago, as we prepared to get chicks, my husband brought in the stock tank that we use as a brooder. When Scout saw this he began looking around for the chicks. We had to tell him “not yet, Scout”. We weren’t planning on getting the chicks until the following day. Scout has been down this road before, in fact 4 out of the past five years we have brought home baby chicks and raised them.

The first year I had great concerns about Scout being around the chicks. When we adopted him from the shelter in 2011 we were told he was about 3 years old and part terrier. Nobody knows what kind of terrier but that was not important to us. Over the next several years we found that he definitely had the terrier instinct to hunt and kill small animals and he was quite proficient at it. He could quickly and cleanly dispatch a raccoon, possum, ground hog, cat or baby turkey by just snapping it’s neck. He was about eight years old when we first started raising chickens.

I pretty much left it to my husband to train Scout with the chicks. Dom would hold a chick and let Scout sniff it and nudge it with his nose and he would tell Scout that those were his (Scout’s) babies. “You have to be nice to your babies,” we would say. Scout would become very excited, and want to look into the brooder, whenever he would hear the chicks make a noise, and anytime my husband or I were doing anything with the chicks (feeding, watering, holding or cleaning the brooder) Scout wanted to be involved.

That spring Scout learned that he was not allowed to chase and kill the chickens, unfortunately it was at the expense of one of our hens, but for a dog of his age and breed to learn not to chase chickens, or any other small critter, is a huge success.

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Scout Welcoming Our New Chicks

Nowadays I have no concerns about Scout chasing the chickens. Our free range chickens wander, peck and scratch throughout the farm and we have total confidence that neither Scout nor our other dog, Trooper, will cause them any harm.

 

One of Scout’s nicknames is “Chicken Daddy”, and he loves it when we tell him he is a good  Chicken Daddy. At age 13 (in people years) Scout has slowed down a lot. He does not pay as much attention to the chicks, but he was still very eager to see/sniff them when we brought them home.

The other thing he really enjoys is helping close up the chicken coop at night. When we go into the coop to count chickens and make sure everyone made it back home, Scout will step inside and sniff a couple of chickens to say “good night to his babies”.

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He really is a good chicken daddy.

The Sap Is Flowing and The Hens Are Laying

Over the weekend, as we looked ahead at the 10 day weather forecast and saw that 8 out of 10 days were predicted to have high temperatures above freezing, we decided it was time to tap maple trees. Here is the link to my past from last year about tapping maple trees. https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/02/20/tapping-maple-trees/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

So yesterday, (Monday, February 13) we set a total of 18 taps (and buckets) in 8 maple trees at our farm. It seems early to be tapping the trees, but the sap began flowing as soon as the taps were in place. I guess, like many things farming related, weather conditions mean more than the date on the calendar. We also set up a fire pit where the sap will be boiled down.

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Today, after lunch, we went to the farm to collect the sap. When all 18 buckets were emptied we had collected 10 gallons of sap. Our plan is to collect the sap for the next couple of days before we begin boiling it down. Our intention is to leave the taps in place, and continue to collect sap and make syrup, as long as the sap runs clear. When the sap turns cloudy maple syrup season is finished.

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Throughout the month of December the chickens’ egg production gradually slowed, and through the month of January we only collected one or two eggs per day. Last week we began getting 5 or 6 eggs daily and now we are up to 8 or 9. As the days grow longer, and the chickens enjoy more sunny days, egg production will continue to increase. This makes feeding the hens all winter worth while.

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The bees were out today when the afternoon temperature climbed to around 50 degrees. I don’t think there was anything for them to forage, but at least they could take a cleansing flight. Later this week when temps get back into the 50’s we will check their food supplies and feed them if necessary. We do have honey and wax reserved for them so we do not have to feed them sugar water. We did lose one hive earlier this winter. We could not determine the reason for the loss, as the hive was not full of dead bees. At this point it seems as if the three remaining hives are okay, and we plan to start two new hives in May. We will also capture swarms to if the opportunity arises.

Regardless of the date on the calendar, or the groundhog’s prediction, all signs on the farm are pointing to an early spring.

Chicken Fun

We often find our chickens providing us with great entertainment. Sometimes in the evening, before they are all inside, we will even sit down near the coop and watch, what we call, chicken TV.

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This is Honey. She is one of our oldest hens and has always loved my husband. This particular evening she was curious about what he had in his hand.

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She then decided she wanted to sit on his lap. When she pays attention to me she is usually pecking at my ring, my buttons, or my jeans.  Honey has and will always have a special place in our hearts.

This young buff decided my lap was a good place to sit. The Buff Orpingtons are definitely the most friendly breed we have.

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We have a group of Silver Wyandotte’s that like to visit the campsite around dinner time. They like to check out what is on the grill, and despite my warnings that someday that could be them, they keep showing up and begging for food.

IMG_1369They are also interested in what the dogs are eating. If they get too close Trooper will pounce at them to scare them away. He doesn’t hurt them though and they just keep coming back. They have learned that they will often end up with some kind of “treats”.

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Anytime we do landscaping the chickens are sure to show up especially if it involves fresh topsoil. They love to peck and scratch and most of all dust themselves in the newly placed dirt.

Yesterday evening  as my husband and I were filling in this trench at least a dozen hens showed up to add the finishing touches. My husband would shovel the soil into the trench, pack it down, put another layer on top and rake it so it was even with the ground on either side. The chickens would then peck, scratch, and then nestle their little bodies down into the loose soil leaving nest shapes holes in the soil.

While we may not have the prettiest landscaping we do have happy chickens 🙂