Chickens


White Chicken

My White Zombie

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Well, hello there, strangers!  I suppose you are now thinking one of two things – 1) Whoa, I forgot I had this blog on RSS/Email notification.  2) What happened to HER?!

I know, I know, I have been a very, very bad blog mom!  No updates, if you discount the Wordless Wednesday posts with no updates in them, since October.  I am still here, though!  The holidays, as usual, kicked my butt.  This was the second year since losing my beloved grandfather and I get in a funk.  Plus, life kicked me in the butt, it was crazy here the last few months with the two little ones and the oldest finally finished her 11th grade work and is now a SENIOR!!!  (How did she get this old without me noticing??)

We had another chicken go broody and hatched four eggs.  We lost all four chicks to the hawks around the area.  We have also lost a few of our hens, as well.  We are now down to eight chickens.  Rogan and I have decided when the weather turns warmer (it has been freezing almost every night since right before Christmas) we are going to fence in their coop and start keeping them in the pen and safe from the hawks and the neighborhood dogs (this is entirely the chickens’ fault, as they keep flying over our “jailhouse” fence -out from under the protection of the tree cover of our yard- and over to the neighbor’s yard and in an empty field across the road).  We may order some more chicks this spring.

I have started garden dreaming.  I have catalogs, both paper and virtual, I am going through and trying to decide on exactly what to plant this season.  I am planning on expanding our largish-small plot and maybe do greenhouse hoops we can cover in the winter and have a year round garden!  The little ones are getting old enough now that I can spend a bit more time on gardening – and I am planning a separate herb garden and a kid’s plot for them to learn how to work the earth.

I will confess to weakness and admit I have not been using my clothesline since it got cold.  Our laundry room is outside in an alcove off our carport and it takes all I have to just walk out there and do laundry.  So I have been succumbing to the luxury of using the dryer more and more.  We have to run a small heater in the room with the double doors shut so the water line does not freeze on us, but I still find myself having to run an empty load before I can start on the day’s laundry to clear out ice in the line (we do not have a hot water line, only the cold line).

We also discovered at the beginning of the month we need to replace our septic tank and field drains – they are original to the house, so are about fifty years old or so.  The field drains are being blocked by all of my precious trees’ root systems in that part of the yard.  We are looking at about three grand for that.

Plus, we bought the little ones some wooden blocks and building sets for the holidays.  Right before the septic tank issues one of them tossed a block and it hit our HUGE picture window in the living room and cracked it – we are talking about around two to three thousand if we replace it, as it is now structured (also original to the house and is only single pane and had spider cracks running through it already).  This is where I beg you for work, or to recommend me to anyone who needs administrative or bookkeeping work!

Paperwork and Headaches

Bills, Bills, Bills

So, it looks like any refund we get from the IRS is spoken for this year.  The house is starting to remind of two movies – the first obvious choice is The Money Pit and the second is Baby Boom – where the ad executive moves into this great old house in the country, only to discover everything is breaking down.  (Did I mention the kitchen floor also needs replacing, because the subfloor is starting to buckle?)

Oh, well.  I suppose this is the price you pay for living in an older house.  We have a project lined up to replace the two prong outlets with three prong ones (which requires a lot of rewiring).

 

House Falling Down

The Money Pit

 

Oh, and something no one really warns you about when you move from the big city to the country – and have a house surrounded by woods – is critters.  Yes, I theoretically knew there would be creepy crawlies, but was not prepared for my new arch enemy – MICE.  Apparently my chickens (and dogs and cat) suck at killing these things before they get into the house!  We have tried traps of all kinds and we keep the population from getting out of control, but we still seeing them scurrying around in the corners sometimes.  I have ordered a product from my favorite online store – Greenfeet – that is supposed to keep them from coming into the house, due to the odor of the herbs and cedar in the product not agreeing with their olfactory senses.  I should be getting it in this week and will let you know how it works.

Saturday Recipe will hopefully continue soon, but some posts may be teasers – I am now a recipe tester for one of my all time favorite recipe sites and will not be able to disclose the recipe for you until it is published on the site.  But I will show you some pics and give you some tips (like how to truss a chicken and how to chop chocolate blocks).

I hope you will not delete me from your feed and will continue on with me in this journey of learning homesteading and country living and homeschooling (oldest will be graduating soon, but the middle one will be starting kindergarten this fall!).  I will give you all the good AND the bad of it all (like mice!).  You will see me fall on my face and learn from mistakes.  So, stay tuned – same bat-ish time, same bat channel!!

Two Hens

Fighting Over Space To Lay Eggs

Hey ya’ll.  Sorry for being absent for a while.  Let me catch everyone up on what has been going on at Casa de Hamby.  We have been very busy, each and every one of us.  Writing, potty training, chicken problems, kid problems, new businesses and new jobs OH MY!  All in all, we are doing well.  We are healthy and happy.  And that is what counts, right?

Busy Office Worker

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been busy doing some articles for Untrained Housewife.  I am mainly focusing on doing a series on essential oils and their uses.  I will also be doing a series of product reviews there, as I did earlier this year for Eco Smart Safe Plant and Garden Bundle.  So keep an eye on the site for more from me in the next month!

I am also working on a post on safe c-section births for Kimberly over at It’s a Beautiful Wreck for her month long series. (I promise, Kimberly, it’s coming along!)

 

roll of TP

Potty Time

Yes, it’s time to talk about….poop!  We are in the midst of potty training our two year old, River.  She often yells out, “Pee NOW!” throughout the day for the last few weeks.  When we were potty training Rowan the easiest way to get her to go potty was to let her go bare bummed throughout the day.  As is often said in the mothering community, every child is different.  This is also true for potty training.  River could care less about pee running down her legs at this stage in the game.  This is also true of…poop.  Elimination Communication may work for some mothers, but I play WoW stay so busy, I sometimes miss her cues.  Other times, I see the cue, but she refuses to move from the spot where she is currently crouched down and pooping.  She is doing a good job at staying dry for most of the day, but the River pee flows at night, often soaking through onto me onto the mattress.  Good thing we have a mattress protector!

My birthday was Tuesday – no I will NOT tell you how old I am! :p  So, if any hybrid car manufacturers *cough* Toyota *cough* Honda *cough* want to talk to me about a sponsorship, give me a shout!  It would be an awesome opportunity for me belated birthday present!  I am also open to sustainable kitchenware and gardening publishers Help me get to BlogHer11!!! Rogan got me a wonderful cast iron Japanese tea pot set and Teavana’s Peach Tranquility loose leaf tea.

 

Hen
I Love Lucy


The baby chickens are no longer babies.  They are juveniles now.  I think at least one is a rooster, I am naming it Fred.  I am going to have to either find it a new home or we will be having it for Sunday dinner.  Ricky, the rooster, who was named for the two hens Lucy and Ethel, may have to go, as well.  He is one mean cuss!  Warhol, our original rooster, has been run off by him and he not only chases the lil ones like Warhol did, but he also attacks them – as well as Rogan and me!  I can’t have him hurting the babies – and don’t like being run up on from behind and scratched, either!

I am also working on a plan to fence in their roost, only letting them out for short periods during the day.  Ethel’s babies roost up in the high tree branches, so the fence is nothing to them – or the other chickens.  Putting up the steel cage fence prison yard was done to keep the chickens out of the neighbor across the way’s yard, but they still wander over there after flying over the fence! *sigh*  I know you can get their wings clipped, but I just can’t do that to them.  Plus, they lay their eggs all over the place – when we find one spot, they start laying somewhere else.  So having them fenced in will force them to lay where we can find their eggs.  After all, it’s eggnog season we don’t want eggs going bad when they lay them in out-of-the-way spots – or be surprised by baby chicks coming out the woods by the dozen that would be cool though.

Rogan has started his own business, in addition to working full time at the library, and he now has a part time contract job working for the State Library.  He has been working hard with the board for the last few years helping to get SC LENDS off the ground.  He is now helping to maintain and upgrade the system and help new libraries coming into the consortium with all the IT do whatis whats it called technical stuff and project management.

So, this is what I have been doing for the last little bit.  What is new in your world?  Any potty training tips out there?  Please comment, I don’t bite.

These first photos were taken on Friday.  Mamasan had decided to brood in one of the outside gardening cabinets.  When this lil chickie hatched I was forced to move them to a safe location – one where the baby wouldn’t accidently jump to its death from the cabinet drawer.  Since then, we have had two more eggs to hatch.  Mamasan is still sitting on a clutch of about five eggs.  Only time will tell if we will get more grandbabies from our chicken daughter.

There are many differences between hens and roosters, beyond the obvious.  Yes, hens lay eggs and roosters help the eggs turn into fluffly lil baby chicks.  However, keeping chickens, especially free range chickens, has led me to notice a lot of differences in my chickens.

We decided to raise backyard poultry, I should say I wanted to raise backyard poultry, mainly due to the influence of The Chicken Whisperer, whom I met through Twitter, and Mother Earth News, whose magazine I subscribe.  I knew I wanted laying chickens from the beginning, I bake and the family loves to eat eggs, however, I soon discovered chicken raising wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be – I can be blind zealous a bit overly optimistic at times.

For one, there are SO MANY different types of chickens and hatcheries to choose from, it can be overwhelming.  Luckily, The Chicken Whisperer has a wonderful radio show and highlights different hatcheries.  Finding live chickens for sale wasn’t nearly as difficult as choosing which breeds, though.  Different breeds are different uses.  There are meat chickens, egg laying chickens, chickens which specifically lay brown eggs, chickens which are rare, heirloom chickens, etc.  Plus, in addition to different breeds of chickens, you get to choose a straight run (male or female), females only and males only.

We started out with three juvenile chickens from McMurray Hatchery.  These were easy to choose, as there were only three types available – I ordered one of each, and ordered the females because we wanted EGGS. We built a pen for them to be shut up safely at night and got a big igloo doghouse to serve as a chicken coop.

Then the trouble with Melinda started (hey, I can be fluffy like a Tribble and I multiply lol).  I decided a gaggle of chickens would be a really, really neat thing.  So, I went back to McMurray Hatchery and ordered day old baby chicks.  I considered ordering hatching eggs instead, but didn’t want to buy all the extra egg care equipment.  I ordered female brown egg layers.

Now, with baby chickens you HAVE to order in bulk – they need body heat to stay warm and alive.  So I now had 25 baby chicks in my shopping cart.  Then the real danger happened.  I started looking at the different breeds of chickens.  Yes, folks, the ADD woman browsed!  Yes, my poor husband sighed and rolled his eyes at me when I told him later what happened.

Ok, some background here, so pay attention.  When Rogan was in college he spent two years in Japan.  This delighted me to no end when I found out, because I LOVE Japan.  I love the history and the architecture and just about everything else.  So, when I came across JAPANESE CHICKENS…well, let’s just say I ordered three extra hens.

So, our total count is now up to 28, yes, twenty eight little baby chickens.  But wait!!  There’s more!

We also received a freebie, a rare breed called Turken.  We named her Turkey, because..well, you’ll understand when you see the picture in the link.

So now we are up to 29 baby chickens – in addition to the two juveniles (one of the didn’t make it, she died within a day or two of receiving – we think the shipping was too much for her system to handle).  So we have 31 laying hens now.

But wait…yeah, you know the drill.  In my perusing, I came across something I just could not resist!  A white crested black polish.  OMG!  The rooster was gorgeous looking.  Those plumbs of tail feathers…magnificent.  The hen, though.  She just didn’t do anything for me.  So I clicked on the button to order a male.  Yes, the difference between a hen and a rooster can be pretty dramatic.  (And I’m a sucker for a good looking tail lol)

Yes, folks, this is how we ended up with 32 chickens.  THIRTY TWO!!!  (Word of advice: never order baby chickens while drinking beer.)

We lost about seven before they were mature enough to out into the coop.  We put them in back of the pickup while we cleaned out their boxes and we can only assume hawks got them when our backs were turned because our chick count would be one or two less than when we started when we put them back into their cleaned boxes occasionally.  That still left us with about 25 birds who became mature and were put in the pen with Uhura and Ginger, our now adult hens.  we had three of those who didn’t make the pecking order, so we now had twenty one hens and a rooster.

My mother in law was so excited about our chickens she took three of them home when they were old enough to leave the brooder.  This brought us down to 18 hens and a rooster.

Then, the Chicken Apocalypse of 2010 occurred.  One of the neighbor’s dogs came into our yard and killed off a lot of our chickens.  We are now down to nine chickens, eight hens and the rooster.

The rooster.  Oh, the rooster.  Can someone please silence the rooster?  He sits outside my office window and I swear he waits to hear me on the phone or on skype so he can do his thing.  Oh, and guess what?  Roosters don’t just sing in the morning…they sing ALL BLOODY DAY.  I’m sure the neighbors love us.

Oh, and my mother in law, the one who took three of our hens?  Yeah, she took a bunch of eggs a few months ago when one of her hens went broody and let her sit on them.  Three hatched (none of our eggs hatched before our hens stopped brooding).  You know what the problem is of hatching your own chicken’s eggs?  You can’t sex them.  Turns out, her chicken Ruby is actually a Rudy.  Yup, a rooster.  She lives in the city limits and cannot have a rooster.  The neighbors will report her.  So it’s either her neighbor’s stew pot…or us.

Yes, folks.  That brings us up to eight hens and soon to be TWO roosters.  Guess I’d better start giving some eggs to the neighbors to appease them.

We have an old filing cabinet outside in a sort of alcove. One drawer is car cleaning stuff.  One drawer is pet stuff.  One drawer that tended to be left open was for gardening supplies.  Notice the bag of organic potting soil to the side.  Notice also the shift from current to past tense.  That is because the chickens somehow found and decided that this drawer belongs to them.  I can now expect three eggs waiting in this drawer near the carport door when I come home every day just as you see these here.

– Daddy

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