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 seven full-grown ducks from Nikki & Eddie Garey and I appreciate them so much.
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.
I’ll be making lots of beautiful and mouth-watering pound cakes for hubby.
Last night I made two egg custard pies, my favorite! The duck eggs helped to fill the deep dish pie crust up to the rim!! I am getting two eggs a day now and will be using the next ones for making my loaf bread and rolls.
From left to right, duck egg, white chicken egg and brown chicken eggs. Most all of my chicken eggs would be considered large if bought in a grocery store.
This is the last carton of beautiful duck eggs given to me and I stuck a brown chicken egg in the carton to show the difference in size.
These are American Pekin Ducks and the Pekin duck is a domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. We will have them for their egg production and beauty on our pond.
They love the pond and love grazing the lawn around the pond and through the garden searching for night crawlers (WORMS). It’s very entertaining watching them playing in the water and noodling around the pond edge searching for food.
They’re resting now after a good swim and cleaning. I think they’re one of the best birds at cleaning and oiling themselves, especially after a run through the garden. They come out with their breasts brown and yucky and just a few minutes in the pond and they’re snow-white!
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!
The day we brought them home I placed them in their first home which is the largest tote I had. I scrubbed the tote, placed newspaper in the bottom (easier to clean), and filled their one quart feeder and water bottle. As I placed each chick in the tote I held their beaks in the water for their first drink and boy were they thirsty!!!
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.
New feeder holds the same amount of feed but the holes are smaller so they can’t dig the food out into the floor. I feed them medicated feed to begin their life to boost their immune system. I lost one chick the second night and not sure why but the others seem to be doing quite well.
A half-gallon glass jar is heavier and the water will last through the night. The old one had to be refilled and clean three times a day.
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.
This hutch is being used for my rabbit does. I have taken Marigold from her side of the hutch and placed her somewhere else (post to come later) and put this chicks in her side of the hutch.
The interior of the hutch is divided into two sections. Cleome is in the other section. Both sections have a light fixture in the top for using heat bulbs. I will have to enclose the bottom of the cage to keep the chicks warmer but have access for cleaning underneath. All of my animals are taken care of in all aspects of their growth and life.
The interior will be cleaned/scrubbed in the next few days and before Cleome has her litter later this month. I’m expecting the chicks will be moved into the hutch by the second week of April if not sooner, depending on the weather.
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!!!
The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!
You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range 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.
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!
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.
Potatoes perfect for peeling for fried potatoes, potato soup, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and perfect for canning.
Baking potatoes as big as the palm of my hand and solid.
Potatoes for growing, canning, eating, we have it all.
Our bin is still half full and they’ve kept so well.
Kennebec potatoes that will be sprouted before sold.
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.
Asparagus bundle by the pound for $2.50
The asparagus is so sweet this year.
Would anyone like to buy some fresh eggs for $2.00 per dozen?
Fresh free-range chicken eggs for $2.00 a dozen
You just can’t beat fresh produce straight from the store and I’m thinking about selling fresh loaves of bread too.
Not the best photo but a two-pound loaf of homemade bread and made using our own honey. It’s divine!!
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.
This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.
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:
Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.
Future home of new chicken house
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.
Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he’s a giant!
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.
This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred. Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.
My Red River rooster named “Rooster”. He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.
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.
The red with white tail feathers are the new hens and they’re laying now. They started laying at six months and these are my youngest hens.
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.
Due to hatch on June 8th. Set with 11 eggs.
Yellow chick peeping out from under mom will be white when full grown.
Four little ones make it out of the shells.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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 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 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!
They’re about the size of a golf ball.
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!!
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.
Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.
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.
210 gallon tank for sap storage
Gallon stainless steel bucket used to strain sap into tank.
Shawn & Heather keep watch on the pan.
Sugar house steaming.
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.
Ice on top of snow
You just can’t be a good wood fire with the winter we’ve had.
Stay well, Stay warm.
Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.
18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.
Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.
17 eggs today
A whole bucket full.
I don’t think any words would explain myself any better than these photos!
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.
Broody hen #3
This one is number four and she will hatch two weeks later.
Broody hen #4
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.
Looks like another post on these ladies soon. Wish me luck with the new biddies this weekend!
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.
Antique egg crate & chickens
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.
We keep these syringes on hand for giving the animals they’re worm shots and other vaccines when needed. The tips of those needles are very, very sharp.
The needle point should be small and I can’t remember the gauge we use but if you ask at your local farm store, ask for the gauge to use on small animals such as cats and dogs.
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!!
This is Elvis and a few of the girls heading to the roost. He’s such a gorgeous rooster and is constantly foraging and finding fresh worms and bugs for the ladies.
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 😉
This beauty is an enormous double yolker and I feel so sorry for the hen that laid it.
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.
Hens greeting me as I enter the henhouse.
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.
Elvis fussing at me for disturbing his time with the girls.
Nesting boxes that need a good cleaning.
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.
Fresh eggs straight from the henhouse but they need cleaning.
I love my weekends on the farm!!
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.
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!
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.
One of three haylots full of round bales.
Gielbiev-Angus cross – love the babies!
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.
New roost addition to accomdate everyone!
King of the Roost
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!
Posted in Animals, Farming, WEATHER, Winter
Tagged cattle, Chicken, Egg yolk, eggs, hay, ice & snow, livestock, roosters, winter feeding
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!!!