Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sick Chicken

Busy with a sick chicken so I'll have to cover this week's craft project later.

It's a chicken kitchen!
Uh, kitchen chicken!
 I found her in one of the nest boxes this morning and could tell something was seriously wrong when I lifted her up to check for eggs and didn't get any protest at all, she barely opened her eyes. So she's been in the house all day & doesn't seem to have gotten any better.

I took some online advice to give her a bath, didn't think it would make things any worse.
You'd think an old laying hen would get
a little more upset being stuck in hot water...

Actually she was almost falling asleep.
Or dieing, I'm not sure

It seemed to really help
warm her up a bit.

Clearly I've lost my mind...
I've settled her in front of the fire place where she's been having a nap for about an hour, staying nice and warm.

I have no idea what's wrong with her, no idea what to do to 'fix' her and not overly confident she's going to get better; but we will try.

Update from later in the day:

After a nice little nap she's had a GIANT poop on what is definitely a farm towel now...  and has perked up a bit. However, she may continue and 'fake' it just to stay in front of the fire which she seems to really be enjoying.

Looks like she's ready to go back out into the coop. I'm going to keep an eye on her & maybe bring her back in for the night, but she's a lot more comfortable out with the other chickens.

I'm also really worried I might have heard some raspy sounds. The coop didn't get winterized until late last night so there have been some cold nights in there. Hope it's nothing too serious but seems we'll have to wait & see.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Checking out the nests

Thinking about it!

Can't stop talking about eggs!

First of all, we have duck eggs!!
I hope the gif is dancing
He's supposed to be dancing

Duck egg!
I've been waiting for them to start laying because they are under the lights with the chickens. Winter isn't really the best time for little ducklings to be born, but the coop is quite warm at night with all the chickens in there so I think we can do it. I hope we can.

For now I'm collecting the eggs and we've got a few people interested in purchasing them to eat. I haven't had one yet, but I hear they are richer then a chicken egg, and don't give you the egg burps. I have already heard people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs, but please don't take my word for that one!

The other thing I want to talk about is our Marran eggs. We still haven't really determined that our girls are real marrans, and if they are they are 'poor' quality ones because their eggs aren't dark enough. One BIG bonus I will say about them, over the black/red stars, is that their eggs shells are so smooth!

I don't know if this is a diet thing, or just a genetic thing, but the marran & polish eggs are incredibly easy to clean, the dirt just slides right off. With the black/red eggs, who have rough shells, I have to scrub away at the shells with sand paper to get the dirt off.

We don't wash our eggs for sale because doing that removed the 'bloom' from the outside of the egg. That is a thin layer on the outside of the egg that helps to keep is fresher longer.

Sandpaper marks
Mother Earth News did an egg study showing they could leave unwashed chicken eggs on the counter at room temperature for up to 6 months and they were still edible. Again, don't take my word for it, and please don't try it!

So I gently wipe off the eggs with a dry cloth, sand paper any stubborn dirt, candle, sort & store. I'll do a whole post about this to show my process soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The end of the world as we know it?

We're one of the lucky ones, hubs with a really stable job in a growing & busy industry. But with all the economic doom and gloom what are some simple things you can do to help your family become more self-sustaining?

1. Buy Chickens
6 months - for 2 years you should get 6 eggs/7 days out of a healthy hen. Yes, there can be bi-laws if you live in the city, but most of these are changing. Hens generally do not make a lot of loud noises (although some do sing after they lay). It is also very possible to keep chickens indoors in a large enclosure. Quail are generally not banned anywhere because they are not chickens, although you may need a special permit. Layer feed costs about $12 for a large bag, and you can (and should) supplement your chickens with kitchen scraps and weeds. Bantam chickens are small, they produce smaller eggs as well, but they also need less space & less food.

2. Start a Garden
$100 worth of seeds from a large internet provider will supply you with a huge garden with tons of varieties and more produce then your family can eat. You don't need to spend even that much money, you can get last year's seeds from the dollar store or big department store, for very inexpensively. You won't get as high a yield (not as many of them will be 'good' seeds) but the veggies won't be any different. You can also ask any veggie gardeners you know, and yes you can grow from things you buy at the grocery store. Once you've got your garden going, you can learn to save seeds and not have to buy year to year.

3. Learn to Cook
Want to make bread for less then $1 a loaf? Something that is fresher and tastier then you can get at the store. Cooking is time consuming especially when you're first learning, but when we can go to McDs for $25 for dinner, or I can make a huge, simple, steak dinner for less then $15; what would you rather eat?

Lastly, as the holiday season is quickly approaching, many people appreciate home made gifts. Just make sure all the wood for your cutting boards doesn't split because it dried out too fast leaving you with a last minute scramble...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In the coop again

New Egg Cartons
Very impressed with Berry Hill! Our order & shipping were carried out really quickly, they're in Canada too and we got our cartons only a few days after I ordered them.

We bought 50 regular egg cartons, but they do hold the xls just fine, the jumbos are stretching it a bit.

So we're selling a few dozen eggs a week already!

The new waterer
Set us back about $70, but I really like our new waterer & wish we'd bought one a long time ago. Definitely worth the money!

It's very easy to fill (as long as you read the instructions first...), the chickens love it because the water stays clean, and it holds a lot of water so I don't need to re-fill every day even.

I really like this one because it's deep enough for the ducks to easily drink out of it. We bought the 7 gallon (their last bucket was about 2.5 gallons).
New leg Bands
Along with the egg cartons I got some leg bands so we can tell some of the chikens apart.

Momma EE #1 and #2 are now really
EEs #1 and #2
One of the new black stars
I found the trickiest part was catching the chickens & getting the leg bands on right side up. These are the wrap around kind that don't require any special tools.

The green ones are a tiny bit too big for the chickens, I should have gotten one size down; but none have fallen off yet.  The blue ones fit the little EEs perfectly.

I banded our 4 EEs as well as the 5 black & whites (4 marrans & 1 BPR) and the 3 black stars. I didn't band the red stars because they're all going into the stock pot (we may keep one or two, we'll decide that later).

It's already been great because I can tell which ladies are laying eggs! (If I catch them in the act)
Don't they look cute!?

The chick creep

I did this when we got our first chicks too, it provides the little guys a safe place to get away from all the adults, as well as feeding them the chick starter where the adults can't steal it all. Momma EEs have already figured out this is a safe place where the chicks can get feed, so they've been leaving one at a time to go eat themselves, while the other chick-sits.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cook: Short Ribs

 This was my firsts time cooking short ribs, and they were quite delicious! You have to ask for them specially from your butcher.

It's supposed to be a very fatty cut, but I didn't find them bad at all, maybe because our meat is grass finished.

I used a mixture of rosemary, thyme, s & p to season the ribs, then browned them in the pot. 

Then add a whole bunch of chopped veggies (that's onions, carrots & celery). 

And some very thick home-made chicken stock!! (was about 2 cups) 

Threw in a few of my wine-scicles (I froze some wine I didn't like a while ago, and always have it for cooking).

After that you throw the ribs back in the pot and it went in the oven at 350F for about 2 hours. They were falling off the bone and very good. Came out more like a pot roast though and I'm going to try something different for next time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chicken Photos

The little chick corner

Busy coop on a snowy day!

Can't get her to stand still for a photo
but I believe "raven" here is a hen, at
least I hope so!

The poor polish, I hate to laugh at her but...

Someone got caught out in the rain!!