Tag Archive | laying hens

Spring goings ons

I finally think that Spring might be coming to Baltimore.  We are going to have a night this week close to freezing, but Spring is really trying to push through.  We have been busy!  Unfortunately busy means that I do not have as much time to write, so I am going to try and bring everyone up to date on the farm. We have many new inhabitants of the farm, 60 some I think.  I hate to say that I have lost count!  We have our “meat birds”, that we raise out for our family’s year supply of chicken.  This year we are raising Rainbow Reds.  These are a pasture chicken that does not have as much breast meat as the Cornish Crosses but still produces a 5 pound roasting bird.  We also have a couple Cornish Crosses, because they were on sale at Tractor Supply.  That store is dangerous in the Spring!  Total we have 30 meat birds. They are scheduled to go to butcher the middle of May.

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Laying hens:  Our current laying flock is getting to be of the age that it is time for them to be soup.  We have 14 birds and we are lucky if we get 7 eggs.  We have had 3 become egg bound in the last month and a half.  I hate to see them suffer and I really hate to waste the meat.  So we prefer to butcher them before they start to have problems, this way nothing goes to waste.  We keep debating whether all 14 are headed to the soup pot, or if we are going to try and wean out the ones that are still laying.  That decision is still up in the air, I hate to go a couple months with no eggs.   We are raising out new laying hens.  They are 8 weeks old right now.  We chose to raise 15 Ameraucana Chickens this year.  These birds will lay blue or green colored eggs.  I am excited to get the colored eggs, but I have to say I am not impressed with the breed so far.  These birds are very skidish.  We have never had birds that we could not easily pick up. We handle these birds twice a day and they are still very skidish.  When you stick your hand in to change the water or to feed them they freak out, flying against the walls and screaming.  The meat birds that we are raising are so much calmer than these birds and those we don’t pick up often.  Hopefully they will calm down soon.  We also have 6 random laying chickens from Tractor Supply that we used for a Urban Farming presentation. I told you that store was dangerous. They are incredibly friendly and do not see why chickens need to be kept outside, when the living room is so warm and full of kids that feed them leftovers from lunch and dinner.  They were moved out to the brooding barn this week, much to their dismay. wpid-ncm_0033.jpg Ducks:  Yes I said ducks.  These were purchased just for my Urban Farming presentation, for the 100% cute factor. One is a yellow Pekin Duckling and the other is a Black Runner Duckling.  I had already found a farm that would take them after the presentation.  This farm even had a pond for them to go live in.  Well, I am a complete softly and have fallen head over heals in love with this crazy ducks.  They still live in the living room, because the kids can not bear the idea of them being outside.   They eat their breakfast of greens while taking their morning swim in the bathtub.  They are then dried off with towels by the kids while watching morning cartoons.  The ducks have imprinted on my 6-year-old daughter and it is cute beyond words.  They follow her everywhere.  She is diligently working on teaching them their ABC’s and 123’s.  She feels all ducks should be properly educated.  Needless to say, the ducks that were never meant to live at my farm, now have names and are not going anywhere, anytime soon, except to play house in the backyard with my daughter. wpid-ncm_0001.jpg wpid-ncm_0122.jpg That is all for new animals.  We still have the rabbits.  We have 3 does still available for sale, after we sell those does we will not breed again still August.  We will maintain our breeding stock of 3 bucks and 3 does.  These rabbits are absolutely amazing.  We took one of our youngest does out to the Urban Farming presentation.  There was 50 plus people that wanted to love on her and touch her.  She loved every minute of it.  She was passed around, flipped upside down and petted for two hours.  She never ran from the kids, she let everyone one of them love her.  The only rabbits I have ever owned is American Chinchilla Rabbits, so I just assumed that this is how ever rabbit acts.  I was amazed at how many people came up to me and told me stories about how grumpy their rabbits were.  If you are looking for a rabbit, American Chinchillas are the best way to go, they are fabulous rabbits. wpid-ncm_0014.jpg Fish:  Our tilapia are finally outside!   The weather has finally become warm enough for them.  Right now we have put them in the sump tank.  I have kept the smallest of the fish in the house, so that they can get the food they need to grow. Veggies:  We have started our seeds and we have some of our over winter veggies that are growing well.  I will do another post about veggies so that I don’t go over 1,000 words in one post…. yes I know I need to post more often, I will work on it. Big BIG things are happening on our Farm.  I can’t wait to share all the details about it in the next week our so.

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Sunday Summary

In the Kitchen:

It is the week of Christmas, every year I plan on giving my family homemade gifts and every year life gets the best of me and I do not do it.  This year I did however make homemade caramel candies.  The only problem with the “gifts” is that my family is eating them faster than I can package them to give away!  So I guess that means I have found a good recipe and hopefully it will make a good gift for our family and friends next year…so if you get some act surprised!  The blog that I found the recipe on I really enjoy and am inspired by it, if you have time check it out!  http://www.willowcreekfarm.wordpress.com

Meat Birds:

I received a Christmas gift early!  As I mentioned last week our meat birds need to processed.  I have been sending emails, making phone calls and asking everyone I know, in order to try and find a processor or someone to let us barrow a plucker.  Well the family that I buy my rabbit feed from was able to get me in contact with another family that processes birds for the 4-H kids.  I tried most of last week to get ahold of this family and when I had not heard from them by Thursday at lunchtime I had just come to the conclusion we were going to be processing these birds on Friday.  When my husband called me during his lunch break on Thursday I told him I still had not heard from the processor and that since he was off on Friday we would just have a processing party.  He then informed me that he had to work on Friday.  We were out of feed, so the birds had already received their last meal, I had two choices; buy feed or do what needed to be done.  Well, I decided it was time for me to put on my big girl panties and process these birds.  I did have some help, a high schooler from our church is a hunter and was willing to come and give me a hand for a couple of hours, but neither of us had ever plucked chickens before and I really wanted roasters.  I spent the rest of Thursday afternoon mentally preparing for what was going to happen on Friday.  I received a phone call at 5:30 Thursday evening from the processor.  He was planning to process our birds Friday morning and I all I had to do was drop them off after 9:00.  I screamed.  Not just a little wahoo scream but a win the lottery scream.  I was so grateful to not have to kill, scald, pluck, gut and package these 23 birds, Merry Christmas too me!

The Rabbits:

Well it has been a sad week and a half.  Of Aurora’s 7 kits only 2 are still alive.  The good news is that they appear to be very fat and happy.  We put a heating lamp directly above the nesting box outside the metal wire cage.  I think the babies were getting too cold, Aurora was not covering them up.  She had pulled her fur, and she made a great nest but she was not covering up the babies. The heat lamps really seemed to help them, it was funny to go into the Bunny Barn and see the babies “sun bathing” on top of the nesting material, most of the time belly up!

Laying Hens:

We have a little red hen that is a Houdini Chicken.  She gets out of the chicken pen everyday.  I know she is not getting out when we go in or out.  I have checked the fence line and there is no holes or cracks.  How is she getting out?  I guess that is a problem we will have to solve this week. 

Something that we are very grateful for is that we have been able to sell our eggs.  We have a couple family that buy from us regularly, and it is nice to be able to make some spending money.  Mostly it just pays for the chicken feed but every little bit helps.

Aquaponics:

I have transplanted some broccoli plants into the aquaponics system, I will keep you posted on how they do through the winter.   Almost everything else has died.  All we have left is a lonely beet plant, it seems to be doing well, but the beet is not getting any bigger.  We are going to leave it in the system just to see what it does.  I was not able to plant seeds this week, there is always the hope for next week, but with it being Christmas I am not optimistic.

Merry Christmas everyone, from our family to yours!