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……
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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.
<Sigh.>
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……
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Deterring Flying Predators from Our Chickens

Today we wanted to tell you about a flying-predator deterrent method we are trying out with our chickens, so that they can happily free range, with less risk.  It’s not guaranteed prevention to protect our flock, by any means. But designed to merely be a deterrent; to discourage hawks and other flying predators from attempting to fly down and get our chickens.

We had always originally planned to allow our flock to free-range wherever they pleased, when we got chickens.  But that intention all changed one day, when our oldest was sitting at the sunroom table, eating her lunch, and watching the little birds happily eating at the bird feeder, just a few yards outside of our slider glass door. As she watched, a hawk came down in one fell-swoop, and grabbed a little feeding birdie, right off the feeder! It happened so fast, and left her in such shock and so upset, she could hardly speak at first. Soon, all of the kids were all upset, over the tale she told. We needed a new plan.
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We got our chickens as one day old chicks, in July 2014.  They grew up, in size and maturity, in their ample-sized, predator proof (for sure!) chicken run, attached to their predator-proof (for sure!) coop. Most every day while they were young through the Fall, they got to come out of their run with the kids or us adults, and free range under our supervision. The chickens also get lots of ‘one-on-one’ time and attention from our kids; being carried around, brought out front to meander, carried inside the house for a visit, etc.

The winter season that followed, the chickens’ first cold season, was a brutal one. Free-ranging was not even an option, since they’d have immediately gotten lost in the snow several feet over their little heads.  The temperatures were detrimental, as well. But their run was protected with a canvas over the top, and that seemed to keep most of the snow out enough for them to venture out within that area.  The inside of the coop was on a temp regulator, so it never fell below 38 degrees or so.  They can actually handle much colder temperatures but, we’d feel bad anyway, and we also were trying to keep their water from freezing. So they went in for a spell throughout the days, whenever they felt the need to warm up, or lay an egg.

Spring finally arrived, and we definitely wanted them to be able to free-range on their own, throughout the day! As we had always planned.  So it was time to devise a plan to try and keep our chickens somewhat protected, so they could come out of their run and have the freedom to roam, all throughout the daytime. As chickens love to do!  We want our chickens alive and happy, if we can possibly help it.

So first, my husband, Michael, and I agreed that [Read more…]

Our First Chicken-Troubles

I can assure you that it really is our preference to indulge you with beautiful and funny photos of our chickens and rooster. It’s all part of the great fun of chicken-keeping, if you ask me! And in fact that’s about all we’ve done since we’ve gotten our chickens, such as this post, that you really want to take a peak at first; Flock Photography Fun!

However, that’s not what our post is about today. Because with keeping chickens, we knew, eventually comes a few chicken problems! Such as….feather-picking.   < Deep sigh. >

Considering the incredibly brutal winter we have had here this year, we’d say our rooster and chickens have faired pretty well!  There was bit of a battle with frostbite on crowns and jowls. We did our best to protect them from that, with great coop ventilation, and applying some virgin coconut oil as we could. Buy Weymouth had the hardest time keeping his jowls from falling into the water when he drank. But anyway, little bits of frostbite were our biggest problem we had run into all winter long. Until……the feather-picking began to happen.

I told you that this post isn’t about pretty photos. I’ll just fore-warn you that this first one is the least pleasant; and then most are pretty enjoyable, if not informative. But we just want to give you the visual of the scope of the problem we had on our hands. It’s not awful, or terribly hard to see, we don’t think. But, just not pretty.

Ok, you may wince a little.
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