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!
Every year, as the weather turns cold, my husband starts closing down the windows of the chicken coop. He means well, but every year I go through an explanation of why it’s very important to keep the chicken coop well ventilated, and why it’s even more important in cold weather. Chickens generate a lot of moisture, ammonia, and heat – so it’s absolutely critical to ventilate well to remove the excess from the coop. The more time your chickens spend indoors, the more important it is to supply good ventilation.
Why Coops Need Ventilation
Chickens generate lots of water vapor, from both [...]
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I had to look this definition up, because we ordered “pullets” from the feed store in Amish territory and expected to pick up young hens – instead we picked up day-old peeps! The definition for a pullet from the dictionary is: a young hen; specifically : a hen of the domestic chicken less than a year old. So I guess that leaves it pretty much wide open.
When we think of a pullet, we think of a female chicken that’s just old enough to start laying eggs. But that’s not what the definition is in Amish territory in Ohio – there it’s [...]
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The two Buckeye hens that went broody this summer both successfully hatched three chicks; and today we have five chicks left that are growing up amongst the flock. All of the chicks that hatched seem to be extremely healthy, and we haven’t needed to provide any special care for the them at all (i.e. no brooder box, no pasty butts, no heat lamp, etc.). We’ve given them chick starter feed (where the big chickens couldn’t get it) and water, but that’s it. The broody hens have been excellent mothers and the only calamity was when a hawk got one of the three chicks from the first broodies clutch (hazard of raising chicks that free range).
1st Broody [...]
Continue reading Broody Chick Update
Our second Buckeye hen to go broody this season successfully hatched 3 chicks on Thursday (see “Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old” for more background), which is terrific; however, that means we need someplace to house them – the broody box is inside the coop and too small to hold mama and baby chicks for very long.
As the picture on the right shows, they’re tiny when first hatched, but they grow incredibly fast!
When Broody #1 hatched her chicks, we moved them into the Eglu - which was working perfectly; but, we don’t have a second Eglu to move Broody #2 and her chicks into. So, we let [...]
Continue reading Second Broody Hen Hatches Chicks
The Buckeye chicks that our broody hen hatched are now 10 days old, and three of the chicks have survived. It’s fascinating to watch mother hen raise the chicks – I thought raising day-old chicks was great (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but watching how she handles it is even better.
The chicks hatched in the broody box in the coop (see Building a Broody Box), but we then moved them into the Eglu coop set-up within the chicken pasture. We weren’t sure how much protection the little peeps would need from the larger chickens; so we separated them into their own coop and small run [...]
Continue reading Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old
I’m so excited – one of the Buckeyes has gone broody!!! Raising the Buckeyes was a great experience (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but I was hoping the Buckeyes would retain their instinct to go broody, and raise their own young – I’d rather they perpetuate the flock (why should I do the work if they’ll do it naturally?). So, when one hen showed definite signs of broodiness; Randy quickly constructed her a broody box inside the coop.
How To Tell If She’s Broody
In many chicken breeds today, the instinct for raising young has been bred out; because “broodiness” was considered undesirable in factory laying hens. However, some of the [...]
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Memorial Day weekend corresponds with our wedding anniversary; so we’re usually off somewhere celebrating. In the past, we’ve traveled exotic places, seen spectacular scenery, and attended great events. But this year we decided to stay put; and since we rarely enjoy a Memorial Day weekend at home, some photographs seemed appropriate.
The cats, Sugar and Spice, are the ones I miss first when we travel, but I also worry about them least – they’re pretty self-sufficient. They’re sisters from the same litter, although you’d never know it by looking at them.
One reason for staying put this year was to get some ongoing projects done. One of these was installing an automatic chicken-coop opener. With it installed, the chicken coop hatch automatically opens when the sun [...]
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Spring finally seems to be here, so in the first semi-dry weekend, we cleaned and inspected the year-old chicken coop. We use the “deep-litter” method for managing coop sanitation, which basically means putting down a 4” layer of pine shavings (the “litter”) mixed with a little diatomaceous earth, adding more pine shavings as the ratio of droppings to shavings gets too large, and cleaning in the spring and fall (see Deep Litter & Healthy Chickens). For the health of the birds, it’s important not to let ammonia levels get too high, so it’s a good idea to clean before spring [...]
Continue reading Semi-Annual Chicken Coop Cleaning & Evaluation
As we go into the New Year, it’s nice to remember what’s occurred over the past year:
Surprising many who thought I had no technical computer ability, I created Better Hens and Gardens to share back-to-basics information on food, sustainability, and self reliance. Randy put up a chicken cam, and I added that link to the blog so we could watch the chickens. Surprising me, blog readership grew:
We learned a painful lesson about the need to quarantine new birds before adding them to a flock (see Painful Chicken Lesson), and eventually had to cull our original flock of chickens. Despite [...]
Continue reading 2010 – A Very Good Year
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!
Thirteen Weeks Old
I picked up one of the chicks last night, and did a double take. She was a lot heavier than I expected – those sneaky little girls are growing up!
We don’t know exactly how old they are (they were a surprise with the new coop), but think about thirteen weeks. We got them at five weeks, and first kept them in an old Eglu while we painted the coop interior. At eight weeks, we slowly transitioned from the medicated starter feed they were being fed to non-medicated grower feed, and didn’t observe any problems.
At nine weeks, they moved [...]
Continue reading Growing Pullets
Ok, this post may be a bit “deep” (sorry for the pun), but I’ve been researching chicken litter management. For the past couple of years, our chickens were either housed in an Eglu (with a pull-out shelf for dropping removal), or in a barn stall, where we could shovel dirt and bedding in and out as necessary for sanitary control. However, now that we’ve got the new coop (see New Coop), I’ve been investigating the “deep litter” management method.
What Is It?
The “deep litter” technique originated in Ohio in the 1940’s, and was an important development in poultry management because it [...]
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The chicken coop has residents! First, temporary installation of the chicken cam:
Mandoor & Camera In Coop
Next a feeder, waterer, and new bedding:
Adding Bedding to the Coop
And finally, the chickens:
Chicks In Coop
We’ve been handling them daily, so it was no problem catching them and carrying them to the new housing. They were fine with that.
But once we left the eight week olds in their new home, they seemed quite agitated about the space. I think it was just too big for them after that tiny Eglu, and all six of them piled into one single nest [...]
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