Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm the crazy chicken lady you were warned about

Let's get right into what I had in planned for our homestead before we even moved here.
How can you say no to fresh eggs every day and the best bug catchers ever!?
As I said in our introduction, we started with 8 hens in spring 2016. Since then, we lost 4 of those original.  
The two Barred Rock in the front, the back and top left are my evil twin Silver Laced Wyandotte's, the hen facing away is my sweet Rosalyn that was an Easter Egger hen laying light green eggs. She was killed by a raccoon not too long ago. 
My beautiful girl, Rosalyn. ❤

We added 4 new babies, with only 3 left (the babied ones living in my garage)
From Left to Right: Maxxie, Blanche, and Persephonie. And Sargie, protector of our baby chicks!
Now we have added laying hens from Matthew's friend. We originally took 4 while our friend, Autumn, got the other 4. Unfortunate events happened, and we ended up taking the remaining laying hen. So, 5 white laying hens later... we have 12 chickens. 

"Could I trouble you for some sunflower seeds, Miss?"

Now that hen introductions have been made... I'll discuss some coop issues we have had and where we are now with that.

First, we start all chicks in the house with a lamp. Chicks must maintain a high temperature until they are over 10 weeks of age. 
Our first chicken coop was basically a composite shed from Home Depot that we were shown. It looked easier to put up than it actually proved to be. There were a few missing pieces and the siding was warped from the rain but we made it work the best we could! Unfortunately, early spring 2017, it blew over taking out one of our hens as it blew into pieces. With no where to put chickens until we got a new coop, they wound up in my bathroom with the babies!! (There was no complaining on my part! I got to sit on the pot and watch them babies grow!)

YES. I had 8 chickens in my bathroom just living life. Three babies in a plastic tote and five in a rolling crate a friend made. It was fantastic... for me. 

That didn't last too long, as Matthew doesn't particularly care for chickens... so they ended up in the garage not long after. ): 

Blanche - Isa Brown

We have all 5 spring 2017 chicks here, now 3 left.


Oh, the wonders of building things and it being in a time crunch!
This chicken coop needed to be finished as soon as possible. These hens were making a mess of our garage and were loud and obnoxious. The poor things kept going back to the wreckage like it was time for bed. It was heartbreaking!

Matthew and I went to Home Depot, purchased the lumber. Went to my dads and gathered some tar paper, shingles and metal siding. Got some random other items to make this actually work... we were doin' fine!

Look at that dog!

I thought Matthew had done a great job... until I received this ALARMING picture via text message..

That dog, wanted to be where Matthew was on the roof shingling the chicken coop. I could not believe that dog climbed the ladder to be where Matthew was. We have NEVER taught him to do that and yet he knew how to get up there to Matt.

Anywho, going on to paint and put some nesting boxes into the coop... 
Something we had experienced with just one chick this last spring was an impacted crop. With an impacted crop, food gets stuck in the crop which is at the base of the esophagus where digestion starts. The chick had an obstruction causing the food to not properly pass into the stomach. This can be from eating poorly or from not eating enough grit. Chick grit is small stones that aid in breakdown and digestion of foods and grasses. Since chicks in my house were not free-ranging and finding rocks in my bathroom, I needed to supply that aid to them. We attempted to massage the crop to assist in digestion but were unsuccessful . 
I knew I wanted a different color that stood out... why not TEAL?!

Holding one of my evil twins last month.

The underside of the roof has yet to be finished as well as the painting of the sides that I wanted to do. I am thinking of doing some scalloping to the top where I painted the teal color. While it has not been put up yet, we have some paneling to go on the interior walls that I painted with Killz paint in white. I'm hoping it will brighten the coop up some on the inside!
To add to the front, the middle black square above the door is a motion sense solar light. The two outer boxes and cords go to two separate strands of flower solar lights. The lights change settings each time they come on so sometimes it looks like a rave in the coop.

The girls are much happier in their new coop and run!

 We have added the shade cover to the top but it looks great and the chickens love it!
**All 9 of them!!!**
Our mini door on the side for the chickens to get back into the coop. This door has a rope and pulley so that we can shut the door from outside the coop and run. It has a hinge mounted to the top of the sliding door that automatically locks (the hinge falls down 90 degrees when there is slack in the line and sticks inside the metal siding so it can't be opened by predators) and only opens when you pull the string and the hinge flips up straight.
I wanted to take a picture of our watering design here.This is PVC pipe with the small cups you can buy at TSC. Basically the chickens move the little stick inside the cup and it fills the cup with water. It's simple and I don't have to worry about them knocking over a bowl 800 times. It takes about 2 gallon jugs to fill this tube.
I purchase my chicken feed from Family, Farm and Home. It cost about $9 for a bag and lasts about 3-4 weeks. I also add chicken scratch which is a mix of cracked corn and grain to their run for them to dig around for. A big bag of scratch can cost around $15. 

The chickens have four nesting boxes, though the chickens only lay in one. I keep the straw nice and fluffy in the box so that when the chickens lay, the egg doesn't break on the drop.

If you're interested in watching a chicken lay an egg...

Currently, we are getting about 6-7 eggs per day with 9 hens of laying age. I expect the three living in my garage will start to lay in September. The chickens, in my experience, are around 8-9 months of age when they start to lay. 

Most times the eggs are normal size and shape. However, we have recently had some rather odd eggs. Aside from the unusually small eggs, often called 'fairy eggs', we have had two odd eggs in the last week.

This egg is completely soft. There is no shell around the membrane. This sort of thing can happen if the chicken is producing two eggs at roughly the same time. If there are more than one egg being produced, the calcium for the shell will go into the first egg. This egg had a perfectly normal yolk and white when we cooked it for the foxy dinner!

The egg on the bottom is a rather large egg that we get each day from one of the white chickens. The top egg is roughly the size of a duck egg. Two times the size of what we thought was a large egg. 

Less than ONE week!

You may still be with me... or I lost you at the YouTube link of the chicken laying the egg. 

Either way, thank you for stopping by and I do hope you maybe learned something, got ideas for your chickens, or heck - now you want chickens! 

I will do other posts about our chickens and their care but I felt this one was dedicated to diving into my flock. 

Until next time...

**"chickens will be fun she said..."**

Matthew & Melissa

Follow on Pinterest - I get crafty ideas there!

  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 8 strips of bacon, uncooked, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1/2 of large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 chicken breasts, 2 lb total, boneless, skinless
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
  1. Combine Dijon mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, to make a paste. Spread the paste evenly on both sides of chicken breasts. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook chopped bacon on medium-high heat just until it starts to brown. Remove to a plate, leaving bacon fat in a skillet. To the same skillet, add chopped onion and cook in bacon fat until softened. Remove to the same plate, with bacon.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same, now empty, hot skillet. Cook chicken breast (with mustard paste on it), on medium heat, about 1.5 minutes on each side. The chicken will not be done as you will continue cooking it in the next step. Remove chicken to a plate.
  4. To the same skillet, add 1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add back bacon and onions, mix well. Add back the chicken breast, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning chicken once, until chicken breast is fully cooked and no longer pink in the center.

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