I’ve had these two ducks for almost three years and Daisy has given me beautiful eggs almost the entire time. She currently is in winter hiatus, I believe. I’ve been looking for more Pekin ducks for over a year with no luck.
If I don’t find 3-5 more by spring I will raise some and hopefully the majority of them will be ducks and not drakes.
So spring will find me bringing new ducks, chickens and turkeys to the farm. With all this poultry and the greenhouse, I should be a busy but very happy farm girl!!
From 50+ hens to 18 in one summer/fall season is not a good thing on the farm.
Each spring I add days old chicks to the farm livestock. This year we added five each of ISA browns, Rhode Island reds, black Australorps and Americaunas. They grew out beautiful and very healthy. My spring chicks grow out in five to six months and start laying when my older hens get the time off for molting and recharging.
After the brooder box they’re moved to the Little Red Barn where they can interact with the older chickens for a few weeks and then they’re moved into the big house.
This summer after all of the ladies and rooster were together and free ranging the farm an unwelcome beast invaded the territory. He seemed to come on rainy overcast days when we weren’t somewhere out of doors and his first visit took out nine hens in one day. Our dogs tend to stay in their houses when it rains and they were not aware of what was going on. I found the dead hens laying in several places from the barnyard to the cemetery on the hill. The next day he got four more and so on and so on. We caught him out on several occasions but only got some shots off and no kills. We’re convinced that she was probably feeding her young and that’s why she got so many at one time. The following photo I pulled from the internet will give you an idea of the family she must feed . . .
BUT not my hens!!!!
We’ve not had a visit from her lately but my hens (only 18 remain, nine old and nine pullets) have learned to stay near cover that she can’t get into.
My young girls have started laying, two per day so far, and I only had to buy eggs from the local grocer three times. Store bought eggs are definitely different from my free range eggs.
Spring 2021 will be filled with around 25-30 young chicks, five Pekin ducks and 3-5 turkeys. I bake so much and love those duck eggs to make my bread, cakes, pies and cookies. My egg customers are begging for eggs and I hope to fill those orders by January 2021, when all nine of the young hens will be rolling out those perfect eggs.
I have the one hen from last year that just hatched out the three babies and I won’t get any eggs from her for at least three months and I have a Buff Orpington that should hatch any day.
Farming is fun and educational!! Coronavirus doesn’t slow things down on this farm and I love being home everyday!
You would think that I have enough to do on the farm but alas NO!! I have a friend that had a big flock of ducks and she had been giving me her duck eggs because they don’t eat them. They butchered most of their flock and asked me if I wanted the what was left over.
I got two drakes and five hens and what a beautiful addition to our farm animals. It only took one day for them to get use to their new owners and home. They’re very easy to tend to, all I do is put out feed which is usually whole corn and maybe some leftover biscuits crumbled up for them. They get water from the pond and in the winter I will keep a trough of warm water out for them to drink. They don’t like being cooped up, so they’re free to range the farm as they wish!
I’m very lucky to have them because I love to bake with duck eggs and they are awesome when making French toast, cakes and pies.
This year I’ve decided to raise some chicks into egg layers. I let three hens hatch last year and out of nine hatched (30 set) we got five hens and four roosters. This is not a good plan!
I went to Rural King with hubby last week and picked up six Barred Rock chicks (hopefully hens) and six Black Sex Link chicks (also hopefully hens). I have them in a tote in our family room for the moment and they’re growing like weeds!
Here it is a week later and they’ve been introduced to a new feed trough. The little buggers were scratching the feed out of those feeder holes and wasting more than they ate. The feeder below doesn’t allow that as much and the quart water bottle was replaced with a half-gallon jar so they don’t run out of water during the night.
They have almost doubled their size from last week and they can actually fly up to the top of the water bottle. I will upgrade to a taller tote over the weekend instead of putting them in the brooder box because of the cold temps and their size.
When these chicks are 6-8 weeks old, I plan to start another clutch of them so that next winter we won’t have a few weeks without eggs. These chicks should start laying at 6-7 months of age and lay for 190-220 days before they molt and take a egg-laying-break for a month or so.
Love my chickens!!!
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.
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.
This country girls is so busy it’s not funny and should explain why I haven’t posted this week.
We have about six bushel of potatoes left over in the cellar and we want to sale five of them.
We also have lots of fresh asparagus for sale. I’ve washed it, kept it chilled and it’s gallon Ziploc bags with a pound in each bag.
Would anyone like to buy some fresh eggs for $2.00 per dozen?
You just can’t beat fresh produce straight from the store and I’m thinking about selling fresh loaves of bread too.
Our chicken population exploded over the summer with chicks I hatched, chickens given to us by friends that decided they shouldn’t have them and chicks my hens hatched. My last total was 52 which included three roosters and the hen-house had to be cleaned out weekly instead of monthly because of the ammonia smell. I had about 20 hens that have quit laying eggs but stayed in the hen-house all day on the roost.
Last week we chose a new location for a chicken house that won’t be too expensive to remodel and we’ll burn down the old chicken house once the chickens are moved. This is the new location:
This building is not any closer to the house but I won’t have to climb an icy hill now in the winter time. I had one too many falls on the ice last winter. The tractor will be moved to the stable which has been cleaned out and has more room for equipment now and most of the equipment will be stored in the same location instead of all over the farm. This is a large building and the back 1/3 will be blocked off for a storage room for feed, garden tools and maybe our tillers. The garden is on the back side of this building. More about this later.
To prepare for this move I have culled 18 of my old hens and gave them to a family in the county that can use the hens for meat or for “setting hens” in the spring. My bantam rooster Barney went with this group because I don’t especially want small eggs and I’m trying to bring in hens that will lay larger eggs. I lost a few chickens to hawks and old age during the early fall.
Since I have three hens that like to go broody in the spring this should provide me with some new hens next summer that lay large brown eggs. I really like my Red River roosters and Red River’s produce the eggs we want.
With my new hens and some of my older large hens I should have lots of brown, pink, green and blue eggs to sale next summer.
The hens have all got their feathers back from molting just in time for the cold weather and some have started laying again. I’m now getting 8-10 eggs instead of the 20-30 and my buyers are screaming for eggs. The molting and colder weather will keep production down because I don’t keep lights in the hen-house and most of my hens are cold hardy including the Americaunas.
We now have 31 total and that’s a plenty for what we need. I just need to cull more often to keep good egg production. This woman tends to get attached to all the animals on the farm no matter their age or productivity.
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.
This red hen is due to hatch on the 26th.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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 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”.
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.
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!!
The farm is always busy but the last three weeks have been quite busy. My chickens had almost completely quit laying but now the eggs are pouring out of them. We’re getting 18-22 eggs a day and two of my ladies are starting to show broody signs. It’s just too cold to set these ladies yet so I think I’ll give them until the first weekend in April to put eggs of my choice under them.
I had thought about buying some babies in mid-April or May but then decided if I’ve got broody hens that won’t give me eggs, I’ll put them to work hatching me some new layers.
Then maple syrup season came on us and last weekend we made 45 pints of the golden nectar. The weather was such a hit and miss thing that we didn’t invite a lot of people to join us but our daughter had some of her clients come in to see the process. It was very, very windy the day of the cook-off.
AND, the babies are arriving and they are so adorable. The calves seem a little on the small size this year but that’s fine. They grow so fast and smaller calves are definitely easier on the mothers. Here’s a few of our recent arrivals:
And of course, keeping the driveway clear of ice and snow and feeding the cattle has been a chore, not to mention keeping firewood on the front porch to feed the stoves.
Stay well, Stay warm.
I don’t think any words would explain myself any better than these photos!
I have a marvelous friend from Stockton Maryland that taught me how to do these pretty eggs.
I love using these for decorating for any season or just to be different decor. They’re very easy to make and very inexpensive.
You need plastic, wood or styrofoam eggs, white glue, brushes, scraps of fabric and wax paper lined tray or dish. Take the fabric and snip into small pieces of fabric 1/2 – 1 inch in any shape you can cut. I usually cut 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ strips but the smaller the pieces the easier it is to work with and won’t pucker. Next, mix about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of glue with enough water to make it easy to soak up in fabric. Then you take a snip of fabric, lay it on the egg and brush with the glue mixture to soak good. Lay the next piece of fabric on the egg and brush on more glue. Continue doing this until the entire egg is covered. Smooth out any bumps, wrinkle and blemishes and lay on waxed paper to dry. Try not to soak the fabric with the glue or it’ll stick to the wax paper. Think of a basket of pretty polka dot eggs, satin, stripes, endless choices. Once they’re dry (I usually don’t move them for at least 24 -48 hours) place them in baskets, trays, whatever you want to use to decorate. Simple and easy!!
Our egg count is down to 12-15 per day as of late. I have four hens sitting and should have a new flock started by the weekend. Here are three of them and they’re due to hatch somewhere between Wednesday and Saturday. All total they have 31 eggs under them and I set another one last Sunday that eight eggs under her. I’ll update as they hatch.
This one is number four and she will hatch two weeks later.
When I went to shut them up last night I found another one which will make five and I haven’t decided what to do with her.
Over the last three years, I’ve found all sizes of eggs that the hens have left for me but the little guys in the photo above are real treasures. I use them throughout the house as decorations. I use them in my antique egg crate in the kitchen.
I use them in bird nests for decorations and wreaths. The best part is I found a very easy way to get the whites and, if any, yolks out of the eggs so they won’t rot and become a nasty odor for the room they’re in. I used to take a large sewing needle and gently drill a hole in the both ends of the egg and blow it out but that took time and a lot more breath than I have nowadays. You will want to use the following method when there are no children around just to be on the safe side and you’ll understand what I’m talking about once you see the tool I use.
First step is to make sure your eggs are clean and NOT old. The syringe comes in three parts: needle, syringe base and plunger. Next push the plunger as far in the base as possible (after you put the needle in the base). Gentle holding the egg and careful how you place the needle, gently push the needle into the large end of the egg (you will be surprised how easily it goes in the shell, no drilling). Hold the egg in one hand, positioning the egg over the hand holding the needle. I apologize for not having a photo to explain but it’s hard to take a picture and do this at the same time. Try to picture your fists folded and one fist on top and one fist on the bottom (make sense?).
The next step is to keep the needle in the egg and gently pull the plunger out to the end of the base. You’ll see the clear white of the egg pull into the syringe. Pull the entire syringe out of the egg and push the plunger back into the base pushing the egg white into a dish or some kind of container. I usually do this over the kitchen sink and let the running water wash it down the drain. Do this whole procedure again until you feel you have gotten the white entirely out of the egg.
After emptying the last bit out of the syringe, fill the syringe with water (it’ll suck out of a glass of water w/a touch of dish detergent or bleach really easy). Put the syringe back in the egg and fill it with the water (gently) and pull it out and emptying the sink again. I usually do this four or five times just to make sure it’s clean and make sure you entirely get all the water solution out of the egg. Repeat the cleaning as many times as you feel it takes to clean the egg. Set your little egg up to air dry for several days and where it won’t get knocked off and broken. I store them in an egg carton until I’m ready to use them in my decorations. This is so much easier but you just have to be careful using the needle.
These are some of the eggs I’ve used with this tool:
I’m so proud of my multi-color, multi-breed flock of chickens. Some are over seven years old but I just can’t bear to get rid of them and I have several hens that are good brooders and give me fresh stock each year. This helps keeps eggs coming year round. I don’t do anything special for them and they are free range chickens. I do make sure they have plenty of grain year round and lots of water. I make sure they get at least one gallon of vinegar water a week to keep them clean internally. For about a month now I’ve been getting between 14 and 22 eggs a day out of 27 chickens, two of which are roosters.
This is my oldest hen Ms. Black and she greets me at the door every afternoon, purring and singing and waiting for a handful of grain. I just can’t bear getting rid of her!!
Yesterday afternoon when I took them fresh water and gathered the eggs I found this strange phenomenon:
This not a normal egg gatherind day and the egg at the bottom of the picture is a normal large egg.
This is a normal size egg.
This is a very small egg & I’ll blog later the wonderful decorating idea I use them for. Normally, this small, there will be no yolk, no joke 😉
I think everyone knows I work full time and want so much to be home on the farm full time. I know my time will come soon and in the meantime I cherish every minute I can get outside. Since I’ve had the “crud” (what hubby calls congestion), I haven’t been able to go out for fear of getting pneumonia which I’m prone to. BUT, one afternoon this week I went to the henhouse to talk to the girls and see how everything was going.
Hubby has been taking care of them for me and making sure they have plenty of feed and water and gathering the eggs. He is so good too me!! Man was I shockedwhen I walked into the henhouse!! Their roost needs a major cleaning underneath and someone has been sleeping in the nests at night. I know now why the eggs needed extra care at cleaning each evening before going in the cartons.
I’m so hoping this weekend proves to be a little warmer and sunny so I can get out for an hour or so. I have a door under the roost on the back of the henhouse for cleaning and it doesn’t take long to clean it out. My walnut and pecan trees will get some good fertilizer from that as well as the rhubarb patch. The nesting material will have to come out and be replaced and I’ll have to time it just right so as not to interrupt any laying that may occur.
My girls have been doing quite well the last two weeks and I’m getting 12-16 eggs a day. The neighbors are real happy the “Fresh Eggs for Sale” sign is back up and hubby is tickled he’s getting fresh pound cakes again.
I love my weekends on the farm!!
Remember back in late June when I had nine of twelve baby chicks hatch 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.
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. 🙂
It’s amazing to me that anyone may be short on hay this winter since we had such a great season. But then I think about the drought the rest of the country had and still has and then I understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and met our needs with some to spare this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. Our cattle are in good shape and the fall calving is complete now since the end of November. Our spring calves will come in late March, early April through May.
My older hens have quit laying but I also raised late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. The vinegar helps rid them of worms, I’m told and they seem to be in better shape since I started using the apple cider vinegar. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground. The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nests at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit. I have about 10 hens that need to be culled but I find it hard to let them go because when I enter the henhouse some of them come to me singing and of course, I sing back to them. I always have a couple hens that get broody and hatch but you never where the hatch will be roosters or hens. I think this spring I”ll order a new batch of Buff Orpingtons and Americauna’s. I love those beautful eggs. Two of the three roosters I have are Americauna and the other is a mix but he is a beauty.
He’s a little over a year old but his sisters are giving me double yolk brown eggs. I haven’t found an adequate name for him yet but thinking about it!
Little bittie’s arrived on Tuesday!! On Tuesday afternoon I made my normal trip to the chicken house to gather the eggs and distribute fresh water to my normal flock and check on the broody mama’s due to hatch on Wednesday. Well, was I surprised when I walked past the “bittie room” and Mom is sitting there with a little yellow chick peeping out from under her chest. I waited a few minutes and a black one with a white topknot and a brown striped peeked out too. Well buddy, I high-tailed it back to the house because this was going to be a Kodak moment!!!! Breathing heavily after running up the hill to the hen house, I tried as quietly as possible to walk in the “bitty room” without disturbing everyone. Well, I’m telling you, that mama hen must have thought I was the biggest, baddest varmint that ever set foot in that hen house. She bushed up and came at me like she was going to flogged the devil straight out of me BUT I stood my ground and she puffed back to the little ones and spread those wings and the little bittie’s were not to be seen. Not to be outdone, I waited and I guess she figured if I was going to bring her some worms, grain and fresh water I might not be too bad. After a little wait she finally decided to let four of the seven come out for me to see. They were/are adorable and very active and healthy. Imagine a 12 hour baby scratching the floor for food just like Mom. There were times they would scratch so hard they would tip themselves over.
I set Ms White Hen with 12 eggs (one fake) and she hatched out seven adorable little fluff balls. Two more made it out of the shells but didn’t live and two more didn’t make it out of the eggshell. I feel very fortunate to have the hatch as big as it was since this was her first try.
I’ll post on their growth as the spring and summer pass and remember I have another brood coming around the 21st of May and I hope she’s as good a mother as Ms White Hen is because she will be a first-time Mom too!! Isn’t this a great present for Mother’s Day!! I just love babies of all kinds. On another note, I gathered the eggs after the fun with the little ones and got eleven eggs that day including one green double yoke egg. I have one Americauna hen that lays green/blue eggs and she only lays every other day and it’s usually a double yoker. It was a good day!!!