Tag Archives: chickens

Varmints on the Farm

GRAPHIC NATURE!!  I went to gather the eggs yesterday afternoon and found one of my last year ISA Brown hens behind the feed barrel dead.  Her head was missing and something had eaten all of the meat from her neck.

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

We are having a spring full of varmints.  Hubby has set live traps and caught several huge opossums, three or four skunks and a bunch of feral cats.  We don’t have any cats and we think someone is dropping them on our road because they’re everywhere!  At night he has seen red foxes and a pair of gray foxes circling the pond.  We have a bald eagle, golden eagle and a numerous bunch of red-tail and chicken hawks.  I saw a young bobcat my last week of hunting season!  We are surrounded by the varmints and my egg production suffers from it!!!  I have two young roosters that warn of danger flying overhead but I think they’re too busy being the men of the henhouse to keep close watch on the ground danger!

Egg production has gained strength with the longer and warmer days and I’m getting 10-12 eggs per day out of 24 (23 now) hens.  The “eggs for sale” sign is back out at the end of the driveway and neighbors are starting to come looking for fresh, large eggs of many colors.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

News Update. . .Lost in Time

Please forgive my silence. Between the garden, animals and the issues unforeseen, I’ve just been inundated with work and only open the computer a couple times a week.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

Our granddaughter graduated from high school in June and starts college in a couple weeks.  Where has the time gone!!!

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

On top of that we have a brand new grandson born three months early and he’s in New Jersey (450+ miles from Virginia). He’s in a neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. His mother had some major health issues which caused toxemia and the baby had to be delivered early on July 8th. He weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces and 14 inches long. He’s a little fighter and gained some weight and now weighs 3 pounds and 15 inches long. Declan Bryant is his name. He’s having some serious issues this week and the little guy is exhausted. Shawn, our son, is in New Jersey this weekend to see him for the second time and he’s keeping us updated.

Shawn's first visit with his son.

Shawn’s first visit with his son.

I’ve been canning and freezing green beans, broccoli, cabbage, pickles, squash, apples, rhubarb and Eddie told me last night that I’ll have more beans in the coming week and corn after that. We’ve pulled the onions and waiting on the brussel sprouts. We have a crock of kraut fermenting now and hope it’ll be ready before anything else comes in.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Squash pickles

Squash pickles

Canned fresh squash

Canned fresh squash

Green beans and we're not done yet!!! I think we'll sell the ones coming in now.

Green beans and we’re not done yet!!! I think we’ll sell the ones coming in now.

I’ve taken on two part-time jobs working on websites for two sisters and working away from the house on one of them 2-3 days a week. The other one I do from home. It’s a little extra spending money. Our big yardsale/estate sale was for one day and we cleaned out one house on the farm and made around $2500.00. I’m in the process of filling it up again from the other buildings and we may have one more sale next spring just to get rid of it all.

This is enough news for now but will catch up again later. I haven’t touched my blog in some time but haven’t given up on it.

One more bit of news, neighborhood dogs that aren’t watched after cleaned out our duck population in one night back in June, I think, and another one got in my chickens this week. I’m down to 21 hens and two roosters at this point.

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This is just a quick catch up and I’ll hopefully be back soon! Love you my friends and want to ask you all to keep our grandson and son in your prayers.

Busy Day

I slept late this morning and didn’t get up until  7:45 so started breakfast pretty quick.  I think a good breakfast starts the day out right.  We had waffles and link sausage and cantaloupe.  After breakfast I washed up the dishes, made the bed and turn on the computer.  I turn it on and walk away when I have things I want to get done because I can get wrapped up in it pretty quick and lose track of time.

The cookie tins were depleted this weekend so the first thing I did was fill up one tin with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the other with Snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they're really good.

Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they’re really good.

My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.'s favorite.

My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.’s favorite.

After these were in the tins and the mess cleaned up, hubby asked Heather and I to go to the back fields and count the fall calves and see if we thought we should send them on to the market.  We did this and checked them all out for pinkeye or other abnormalities and found none.

Heather helped me pull two large baskets of grass for the rabbits and I cleaned out their cages and made sure they had enough water, grain and sunflower seeds and then she headed home.

I came in fed Sassy her lunch and headed to the henhouse to check on the water, feed and sitting hen situation.  I have a ISA Brown hen and a Sexlink hatching this weekend.  I testing something I read last year about the shape of eggs can determine the sex of the chicks the hens hatch.  More on that later!!

I filled up the lawn mower and mowed the inside yard and waiting for the sun to cool off before finishing.  I would like to get all of the trimming done before the showers move in tonight.  Then I dead-headed all of the roses.  They’ve been so beautiful this year.

Now it’s time to fix some supper but hubby won’t be out of the hayfield for probably another hour or so and I have plenty of time.  We’re having fried turkey biscuits, potato salad, green beans and cantaloupe.

It’s been a productive day but cookie baking took most of the morning!  I hope everyone has had a very good day!

Chilling Weather and Orphaned chickens

It was still dark when I left for work last Thursday morning at -5* and Eddie said it would drop more as it became daylight.  He had both stoves going when I got home that night, extra bedding in the dog boxes, extra hay left in the woods for the cows, wood boxes filled to overflowing, made sure new chickens given by a friend of his were settling in and he’s taking them warm water several times a day.  The house was a “toasty 81*” when I got home but the wind was howling and made it feel like 75*.  We even threw on an extra blanket and the bedroom window was closed.  Even though my waist isn’t thinning I believe my blood may be!!  I think the winter is just getting started this year and we’ve lots more cold, wind and snow yet to come.
As for the new chickens, a friend of my husbands had to get rid of them because they were eating his neighbors cat food everyday.  This has caused my usual 3-5 eggs a day to  jump to 12-18!!!  French toast in the making!!  Custard pies on the horizon (to heck with the weight)!!  Egg salad for lunch!  I could go on and on and of course we can’t forget the infamous fried egg sandwich w/cheese!!​  Of course, our benefactor will receive free eggs for a time.

I think he is a crossed Americauna, small but handsome!

I think he is a crossed Americauna, small but handsome!

Barred Rocks

Barred Rocks

Different breeds but beautiful eggs.

Different breeds but beautiful eggs.

Got to think of a name for him.

Got to think of a name for him.

Very pretty hen and very friendly.

Very pretty hen and very friendly.

They stay together most of the time and don't mingle with my old girls.

They stay together most of the time and don’t mingle with my old girls.

The new chickens and my old chickens fought each other most of the day and the rooster that came with them is thankfully one of a kind and will not be with us long.  I want a Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Black Orpington or a Dominique.  Sussex and Americana are beautiful and good egg layers.  I’ll check around in the spring when some of my girls tend to get broody!!
My older hens stick close to the hen-house and aren’t ranging out very far but there’s a very good reason.  A couple of weeks ago a bird hawk, smaller than my hens, decided to invade the inside of the henhouse and killed two of my hens and the day before we found Ms. Crow dead in front of the door.  We have a feeling the hawk got it as well but couldn’t carry her off.  The hens are still skittish and stay close to buildings they can get under fast.  They quit laying for a couple of days or are dropping the eggs outside of the nesting area.
This winter is the first in a long time that I’ve had to buy store-bought eggs and glad it was only for a couple of weeks.  There’s nothing like fresh eggs from the farm.  The eggs are coming more generously now and I can start selling them again but we’ve decided to raise the price on them to $2.00 per dozen because the  is needing a new roof and we’ve had to supplement their feed with scratch grains because of the very cold winter.  Keep them fat and the cold won’t hurt so bad!!  We don’t believe in heated and lighted chicken houses.  We keep everything as natural as possible.
On another note, Fuzzy is missing!!

Fuzzy, my orphaned cat.  She was dropped at our home long before we arrived and survived wild until I finally coaxed her to my lap!!

Fuzzy, my orphaned cat. She was dropped at our home long before we arrived and survived wild until I finally coaxed her to my lap!!

I haven’t seen her since last Wednesday when she came to meet when I got home from work.  I fed her that evening and haven’t seen her since.  She left once before for about four days but this has been over  a week and I’m so afraid a coyote pack got her.  I hope I go home today and she has returned.

More baby chicks

I sure have lots of broody hens this year.  We just had another small hatch and I’m convinced “Elvis” is not spreading the love around and it’s time to add another rooster to the flock or two.  This hen was set with 11 eggs (not all hers) and she started hatching on Sunday and finished yesterday with only four little chicks.

Due to hatch on June 8th.  Set with 11 eggs.

Due to hatch on June 8th. Set with 11 eggs.

Yellow chick will be white when full grown.

Yellow chick peeping out from under mom will be white when full grown.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream.  Truly Easter chicks!

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream. Truly Easter chicks!

 

This red hen is due to hatch on the 26th.

Little red hen; she's really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Little red hen; she’s really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

These two ladies are wanting to set as well and I have to lift them off eggs that other hens are laying every day.  Wish I could find some good fertile eggs!!

White speckled hen

White speckled hen

Americana hen

Americana hen

I have noticed that none of my green eggs are hatching so it will be interesting to see what kind of egg layers these turn out to be.  I’ve set almost forty eggs this spring and only have eight chicks make it though 10 hatched.  I’m hoping red hen will do better!  Updates later.

Hens and chicks and chicks and hens

My egg crop is dwindling these days because someone or should I say several of my ladies have decided to be “mommies” too!!  This lady hatched two little ones about two weeks ago.

Black Americana cross with two little chicks.

Black Americana cross with two little chicks.

Then this lady fought me tooth and nail everyday when I tried to stop her broody situation and alas, she won out!  She’ll hatch next Monday if all goes well.

My white hen-broodiest of them all!

My white hen-broodiest of them all!

Ten days later little red hen got real grouchy and tried to peck me every time I caught her on the nest.  I decided there was room enough for a few more chicks in the hen-house so I set her too.

Little red hen; she's really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Little red hen; she’s really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Elvis

Elvis

Daddy to all!

Daddy to all!

This may be his last year with the harem if we don’t get better hatches than the previous two were.  Two out of nine eggs hatching is not great odds. He dpes have his own special ladies but you’d think he could spread the love around.   Plus, there’s no eggs coming from these ladies while they’re setting and raising their young.   We’ll see how things go and give progress reports as the summer rolls on.  Now I have to figure out how to stop two more hens that have decided they like this kind of life as well!!

First broody hen of 2014

This is “Crow”.  She is a bantam which means she about half the size of a normal farm hen.  She came to live with me about two years ago after her old family had to move and couldn’t take their chickens with them.  I inherited her and seven or eight more chickens.  Her eggs are about 1/2 the size of a normal chicken but she is a good layer.

CROW-my only bantam hen.  Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

CROW-my only bantam hen. Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

 

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

 

Crow usually gets broody for me about three times a year. Because she is so small, I can only set six to seven regular eggs under her at a time. She is an excellent mother and very, very protective of her new babies.  Generally, fertile chicken eggs which are hatched out by a hen will take 21 days before you see little faces staring at you from underneath their mamma’s wings.  She is the main producer of my replacement hens using the large brown eggs or the blue/green eggs depending on what I have when she decides to “set”.

This is Crow with her first 2013 clutch of bitties!

This is Crow with her first 2013 spring clutch of bitties!  Later in the summer of 2013 she hatched seven more.

The babies she hatched in 2013 are now producing beautiful brown, blue and green eggs for our breakfast and for several of my friends and egg customers.
I set her with seven eggs on March 30th, 2014 and on April 21st I went to check on her after I got home from work and she was all fluffed up and “growling” at me.  I didn’t want to upset her so I didn’t know how many had hatched but knew from her demeanor that she wasn’t completely done.  I walked away anxiously waiting for my first view of our new chicks.  I’ll see them when Crow is ready for me to see them.

Now we have three little balls of fluff.

Their coloring is beautiful!

Their coloring is beautiful!

They're about the size of a golf ball.

They’re about the size of a golf ball.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

I won’t be able to tell what their sex is until they’re about three to five weeks old but I was  hoping for at least six hens out of the bunch but I take what I can get.  I have no doubt at all that by mid-June she will “set” again.
More updates as the summer comes to Virginia!!

My ladies are worth their weight in gold

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

17 eggs today

17 eggs today

A whole bucket full.

A whole bucket full.

 

I don’t think any words would explain myself any better than these photos!

Finally six months later

Remember back in late June when I had nine of twelve baby chicks hatch from green eggs??

Summer hatch -nine out of twelve and they're adorable.They're hatched from green eggs.

Summer hatch -nine out of twelve and they’re adorable.They’re hatched from green eggs.

Well, I just got back from the henhouse and I am thrilled.  Finally after six months, the little pips have grown into full grown hens and I got my first green egg from one of them.  I can only hope that the other five of the hens will start laying too.  I kept two of their brothers and one brother went in the freezer.  I was really beginning to think there were not going to produce.  Here’s what I got from the nests a few minutes ago.

green, white, brown, pink, we have them all!

green, white, brown, pink, we have them all!

It’s somewhat smaller than the rest but that’s normal for the first few eggs.  They will be larger as time goes on.  I’m one happy farmer today!!  I hope she was as happy as I am.  🙂