Hen or Rooster? Come Play the Guessing Game with Us!

Determining if growing baby chickens are ultimately a hen (female) or a rooster (male) is an age old guessing game of any breeding chicken-keepers and farmers. (A game we’re going to let you play right here with us, today!!)  Some are much better at it than others! Some could probably even be considered experts. But….that wouldn’t be us. We had our first go at the game when, after ordering and receiving our very first 8 vent-sexed chicks, in July 2014.  We had ordered vent-sexed chicks, to be sure we only got females, because there was no-way, no-how, we could have a rooster around here. So the adorable chicks arrived, and we were having a great time caring for them.

But then some suspicious things came about. Like, what sounded very much like a little inexperienced crowing, at only 4 weeks old! That got us worried, and researching, to learn about how to identify very young chickens as a hen or rooster. So we had our suspicions, and in a little more time there was no doubt that ONE bird (blogged about here in “Our 8 Four Week Old Chicks, and One Sad Surprise”), and then a SECOND (just blabbed out on our Facebook Page), of our 8 vent-sexed birds (supposed hens) were indeed roosters.  Two roosters, out of our 8 ordered chicks, vent-sexed to be assure females. Didn’t it figure?

What Became of the Roosters

Although it was definitely a plan to never have a rooster, since we live in fairly close proximity to neighbors, guess what? One of those roosters still lives here. It’s working out so far. He is a very big, beautiful, and traditional looking Welsummer. The other unfortunately had to go, and it broke my heart. It was my favorite. He was an Americauna Easter Egger, that very much looked and acted like the coolest hawk, ever. To see what a stunning bird he was, and find out why he had to go, you can check out this post called “Goodbye, Boston”.  That was his name; Boston. I know. A cool name, too, right? And it was sentimental, as Boston is the big city where our triplets were born. I was so sad to let him go for all of those reasons, but I also knew I was also never going to get any beautiful blueish or blue-green eggs, from a rooster. And that’s why I wanted an Easter Egger in the first place.

Anyway, if you follow us, you know we let the hens sit on some eggs this past spring, instead of collecting them one day, to see what happened. This bright idea was spawn from how terrible I felt for my kids, because [Read more…]

The Kids’ Gardens

After intending to for far too long, I am finally sharing with you our kids’ little gardens, today!

All 4 of our kids help in our family gardens at some point or other through the gardening seasons; although some do with more joy and ambition than others. There is always some weeding, dead-heading flowers, or picking vegetables, that needs tending to. I do much of it myself, but sometimes I could use another pair of hands, and the company is nice sometimes, too.

But just prior to the gardening season in 2013, I pitched the idea to the kids, of having their very own little garden.
I explained that they could plant and grow whatever they wanted, but they were also responsible for keeping it up. That meant keeping it weeded, watered, dead-heading their own flowers, and generally tending to it with love.  Not only that, but after their father built the frame base, they had to be a team and prepare the bed themselves. They all loved the idea, and each have had their own little garden ever since!

It may have been more work than they anticipated, that first year!  Because although we have had loam brought in by the truck full for our other garden beds, we had a perfectly good dirt pile next to the driveway that we didn’t really want there.  It had been overgrown with weeds and grass, though. Basically, it was less of a dirt pile any longer, and more like a grassy hill, riddled with rocks! So they did work hard, like a team. The boys dug the hill up, pulling and shaking out the grass and weed clumps, and putting shovel fulls earth onto the handmade screen on the wheel barrow.  The girls sifted the dirt through, to remove all of the rocks, and then wheeled the barrow over to the garden bed, and dumped the dirt in.

That was the less than fun part. But they made the most of it, and it was good and done for many years to come.
Now let’s look at their gardens, today…. [Read more…]

Photos from Around the Homestead – May, June, July 2015

*Hello Friends!  First, there are a whole bunch of photos to this post here, so you really need to NOT scroll, and just let them load for a minute. Therefore, you might as well just read this brief intro, if you are one who usually just looks at the pictures.  😉

About the title: I always use the term ‘homestead’. So just so you know, yes, we do understand that we do not technically live on a true homestead, by definition. But we still have taken to the word. We are simply referring to our home and the little tiny property we live on. We’re going to keep using it, because it works for us.

Lastly, it’s been quite an unusual spring and early summer for us all.  Kind of tough, but it’s all good. I am finally starting to get around on my own two feet, following my wicked broken ankle and torn ligaments in mid-April. That kept any usual projects and activity off the table. But God has taught me much through it all, as I knew He would. Things like patience, Psalm 46:10, and all of that good and hard stuff. I didn’t realize how much transforming I had to do but, um….I see it in full color now!

Anyway, the photos are probably loaded now. Just some brief descriptions from here on out. Hope you enjoy……
01 [Read more…]

Our First Natural Hatching of Chicks

It was while we were all gathered around our dinner table as a family one night, somewhere around the 3rd full week of May (2015), that we made the spontaneous decision to not collect some of our chicken eggs in one nesting box, and see if any of the hens would get broody, and naturally hatch them to chicks.

The next day, and the day following that, we left a total of seven eggs in one nesting box, for them to care for.

For any newcomers here, we should note that our original flock are all pure breeds, and each of our 6 chickens are a different breed. So we knew that any new chicks that hatched would be part Welsummer (because we only have one rooster), and part one of the other hen breeds. (Also known as ‘barnyard mixes’.) It was going to be fun to try and figure out whose was whose, if any hatched!

01_nesting-hen It was Plymouth, our White Plymouth Rock, that stepped up to the plate….errr, nesting box, first, and took on the role of Mama hen. She was so completely committed to caring for those eggs, and not leaving them, that we had to lift her out daily, and put her out in the big run, to go eat, drink and potty.  It was really only then, that she’d take no more than 30 minutes, to do those things, recharge, and maybe sneak in a good dust bath. And then it was right back to her volunteer duties. The mothering instinct obviously comes quite easily to her.

We started with 7 eggs, because we assumed not all would develop or make it, and so we’d end up with 2 or 3, which is all we were really hoping for right now. We didn’t know that chickens have a better natural hatch rate, than artificial incubation, as we had done before. So when we candled all of the eggs once, at day 10, and saw veins and a dark moving form in every single one, two things happened.

1. I began to panic. [Read more…]

Gardening FAIL: Growing Strawberry Plants in Rain Gutters

I’ve been feeling an urgency to get this blog post update out, because I have been seeing ridiculous growing traffic on our Strawberry Planting in Rain Gutters post.  And I think we should let you all know, that growing strawberry plants in rain gutters hasn’t turned out so well for us.  And by that I mean….well, they are all dead. Big gardening fail. It’s true. Take a look for yourself.

01__strawberry-growing-in-rain-gutters-fail Are we missing any signs of life here, People? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
I had such high hopes. It was this photo below, that I saw online, that really had me daydreaming, about growing a wealth of strawberries from rain gutters, like this……
[Read more…]