This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother. We have a beautiful granddaughter and the cutest grandson. We own two farms in Craig County Virginia, leasing one and raising beef cattle on the other.
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.
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!!
My chicken yard is growing in leaps and bounds this year. I lost two old hens and decided to let the broody hens have their way. The first lady to hatch is a bantam and I took her eggs away from her and replaced them with eggs from my larger hens. I only put six eggs under her because she was so small and she hatched four of the six.
These little guys grew up fast and there was one hen and three roosters. I don’t like this ratio!! Notice the tall combs on the gray and the back red one. My little hen is on the right of this group.
The teens are now three months old and pretty much stay to themselves. They’re usually the first out of the henhouse each morning and the last to go in. I just wish they were all hens.
On the other hand, my little guys that are three weeks old, are also growing like weeds and the majority of them are hens. There’s thirteen living out of eighteen and they are ferocious eaters when they free range with mom. Look at the difference in three weeks.
One day old chicks sticking close to Mom.
From little bitties to these youngsters.
These little ladies should begin laying just about the time that my older hens shut down production during the winter. Don’t you just love the different colors??
On another subject, I experimented with a the eggs I set with the last two hens. I read a post on the National Poultry Blog that if you want to produce hens instead of roosters, you should make sure the eggs you set are more oval and not pointed. From what I can tell now, it really works. I don’t think I have but one or two roosters from the thirteen new babies. That’s what’s called a great “ratio”!! We’ll test it again next spring when my broody hens start up again.
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!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.