I’m so excited, Better Hens and Gardens and Bramblestone Farm are featured in the current issue of Chickens magazine! The editor contacted me last fall to see if we’d be interested in being featured in their Chicken Keepers column, and of course, I said “Yes”!
Chickens magazine is a bi-monthly print magazine that says ”The popularity of egg-laying, meat-providing and easily entertaining chickens is on the rise—again. What once was commonplace on most farms and in city backyards is finding a new generation of people who want to reclaim their attachment to nature and become more sustainable. Take a look inside the current [...]
Continue reading We’re Featured in “Chickens®” magazine!
One of my favorite chicken magazines, Your Chickens, is produced in the UK and has been largely unavailable in the US. I’ve been reading it for awhile (well reading whatever I could get my hands on anyway), and have enjoyed every issue. So, I was happy to learn that starting mid-February, Your Chickens will be available in the US!
TSC (Tractor Supply Company) will begin carrying the magazine, and in recognition of the US launch, the first several issues will feature US henkeepers. I was asked to contribute (which of course I did), and am told that the information on the Bramblestone Farm flock will be in the March or April issue!
Continue reading Your Chickens Launches in the US!
2012 was again a good year on the farm, sometimes I forget all the great things that happened, so it’s nice to pause and look back.
Kauai, Hawaii – The year started off with a two-week vacation in late January to Kauai. We celebrated our 30th anniversary, rented/shared a gorgeous home on the ocean with family, and went swimming, snorkeling, golfing, horseback riding, and ziplining. While there, we also toured a small dairy goat farm that produces local cheese and honey for the island - it was very farm inspirational. And, of course, we enjoyed all the wild chickens!
Goats – Springtime brought [...]
Continue reading 2012 – A Very Good Farm Year!
The day-old Golden Buff chicks that we started raising on May 10th are now old enough to combine with the main flock (hopefully we’ll do that this weekend), but everyone wants to know why we’re adding more chickens. Well, it’s because the adult Golden Buffs that used to lay an egg nearly every day, have now slowed to a few eggs each week. They’re over two years old, and are running out of eggs.
Chickens are born with a set number of eggs available for them to lay over their life, and depending on the breed (see a handy breed comparator here), [...]
Continue reading How Long Chickens Lay Eggs
Besides having nearly perfect weather every day, Kauai has wild chickens. The chickens escaped during the last hurricane, and established a large wild population – they’re literally everywhere.
The way it was explained to us, after they escaped, no one had the heart to “clean them up”. So, today you can see families of chickens (rooster, hen, and peeps) all over the island. They’re along the road, on the beach, and at the resorts.
The chickens were one of the things we loved about Kauai, they’re very colorful and interesting to watch, we felt right at home. Our [...]
Continue reading Kauai Wild Chickens
In the last post (see Molting Chickens), I said that you could tell how long a chicken has been molting and how long it would continue to molt by looking at the primary (flight) feathers. But, I didn’t go on to explain how from there – as several have pointed out.
I’ll try to explain further with the help of the illustrations below (no comments on my attempt to illustrate a chicken wing!). The first illustration shows the 10 primaries (in yellow) of a chickens fully feathered wing prior to molting. For the explanations below, keep in mind that a bird drops [...]
Continue reading Fast or Slow Molting Chickens?
Tinker Bell Eating Pea Vines
Each time I work in the garden and consider bringing back some garden trimmings for the goats and chickens; I have to stop and look through my reference books – to determine whether that particular plant is safe for them to eat. So, I decided to make a list of garden plants that are safe for goats or chickens, and that they’ll benefit from eating. That way, I can just refer back to this list, rather than dragging out a bunch of books.
This is what I know about today that they can eat (chickens may [...]
Continue reading Garden Greens for Goats & Chickens
Giant Yellow Eckendorf
This year, we’re adding a new vegetable mainstay to the garden – not for us, but for the chickens. Mangel beets used to be grown extensively as a livestock feed on small farms; however, usage dwindled in the US as large farms became the norm. Today, it’s being rediscovered on small farmsteads as a great feed for livestock, particularly chickens.
The beets are highly nutritious and have been cultivated as livestock feed for over 1000 years. They’re very easy to produce, grow to immense sizes (10 – 20 lbs.), and store well; making them a good stand-in for fresh [...]
Continue reading Growing Mangel Beets for Chickens
Now that the chickens and goats are here, we have one of the main ingredients for growing great produce. Composted animal bedding makes an incredible difference in garden productivity, especially since I prefer to fertilize naturally rather than chemically. I learned about natural vegetable production early – it was the way my grandfather, who’d grown up farming, raised vegetables to feed us.
Annually, grandpa grew a bountiful garden that provided the families produce all year long. He started by adding composted horse manure from the neighbor’s stable to the same sunny patch of land each year. Then he’d plant his favorite [...]
Continue reading Garden Gold
The more I learn about chickens, the more I think they are truly remarkable creatures. Just before laying an egg, the hen adds a protective layer called “bloom” or cuticle to the outside of the egg. This coating seals the shell pores, prevents bacteria from getting inside the shell, and reduces moisture loss from the egg – all designed to make the egg last longer.
Unfortunately, because of conditions at some large egg operations, commercial eggs are washed right after collection to make them appear clean and presentable. Of course, this destroys the protective egg bloom. To try replacing natural bloom, [...]
Continue reading Egg “Bloom”
Before we could get goats, we had to fence some pasture area; but in addition to keeping the goats in, we wanted a fenced area for the chickens, the predators needed to be kept out, and the garden needed fencing to keep out deer (the garden was being completely devastated!). Since fencing is a long term investment, it pays to do some homework and make sure it’s done right the first time. So,we had several fencing companies review the work, make suggestions, and submit bids. In the end, we went with an Amish company and fenced in three areas – two [...]
Continue reading Farm Fencing
In addition to practicing Biosecurity to protect chickens from disease, vaccination is an effective way to prevent or reduce specific diseases in poultry. Since we’ve had issues with Infectious Bronchitis (IB) in the past and it’s extremely contagious for poultry, we decided to vaccinate our chickens against it. Although we plan to maintain a small-closed flock thereby minimizing possible exposure, IB can “jump” relatively large distances, so we decided to vaccinate anyway. Anyone who takes birds to poultry shows, or buys from hatcheries or other sources and adds them to the flock; should definitely consider vaccinating for this and other common diseases. [...]
Continue reading Vaccinating Chickens Against Infectious Bronchitis/Newcastle Disease
Our 10 acres is officially Bramblestone Farm! The paperwork from the Ohio Secretary of State arrived yesterday confirming Bramblestone Farm as a “for-profit” LLC. I also reserved the domain name bramblestonefarm.com on the Internet and a herd name of Bramblestone has been registered with both the American Goat Society and the American Dairy Goat Association.
It’s been an interesting journey since acquiring this land – we’ve built a house and barn, acquired a tractor and chicken coop, created a garden and pasture, installed fencing, and started raising chickens and goats. Every step of the way, we’ve complained about how many big [...]
Continue reading It’s A Farm!
The Buckeyes turned five weeks old today, and left the brooder for the big world of the barn stall.
These Buckeyes seem much more inquisitive than the Red Comets we just raised, they act like they own the world.
When we opened up the brooder, I just sat back with the camera and snapped pictures – it took them all of about 5 seconds to start exploring, and checking me out too. They seem pretty fearless.
Now when I open the barn stall to go in, these guys run toward me – not away. And they chase me all [...]
Continue reading Buckeyes Leave The Brooder
The baby buckeye chicks are 3 weeks old today, and they’ve changed so much it seems impossible (see Baby Buckeyes for 1 week pics).
Starting today, the temperature in their brooder was dropped to 80°, and they seem to be doing very well. We ordered 25, received 30, and lost 2 almost immediately; so we’ve got 28 baby chicks. Which brings me to chicken math – a subject I would surely have flunked.
I was trying for about ten chickens, so I ordered 25 day-old buckeyes figuring that we’d loose a few, and be down to about 20 birds. Half of these would be roosters, [...]
Continue reading Baby Buckeyes – 3 Week Update