An Introduction

This blog is a little bit about everything. My life as a mother, a wife, and owner of a home with an acre. We like to call it our family farm. My family currently consists of the human members- my husband, S and our two beautiful girls, B and O; then there are the animals- our dogs, Charlie & Lola Belle and our Chickens. Check back often, you never know when we'll add a new member! ; )

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bye-bye Dallas and Dixie...

I'm sad to say that we went ahead and sold Dallas and Dixie, our goats.  As much as I will miss them, it was just the right thing to do.  They were not getting the attention they deserved, and with our family getting busier and busier the older the kiddos get, and the kiddos having no interest what-so-ever in the goats, it was the best bet for all involved.  So, off they went to a farm that has many other goats and uses them for clearing fields, milk and breeding...and no meat goats!  I made sure to ask about that, as we didn't want Dallas or Dixie becoming someone's dinner.  We were all sad to see them go, but our lives are a bit easier and the chickens are much happier now that they are gone.  The chickens are able to have the whole fenced in 1/3 acres area to themselves and they are loving it.
Speaking of the chickens, I set some eggs under a broody hen (same one as last time...let's hope she's a better mama this time around) on 5/3, so they'll be due to hatch about 5/24!  Crossing our fingers for some more roosters, please!  ; )  

Monday, April 9, 2012

I think we have a boy and a girl

Our newest hatched additions, Star (black) and Peep (yellow), are still growing like crazy- here they are at 6 weeks!  It looks like we may have a boy and a girl.  Peep definitely has a lot of rooster-like traits, so I'm pretty sure he's a he.  Star, on the other hand, just doesn't have those rooster like qualities, so I'm assuming she's a she- but we'll see.  Rudy didn't show his masculine traits until I little older, if I remember correctly, so I guess Star could still be a boy- but I'd bet against it.  I'm not sure what we're going to do at this point, because I was not planning on keeping any more roosters- I'm not even sure I'm going to keep Rudy around much longer, so for now I'll just keep watching them grow and not think about it.  A little while back we moved the chicks into the broody condo section of the coop, so they can get used to being outside with the others- but they are still out of reach of the full grown chickens.  This is supposed to be a good way to prepare everyone for the day when the chicks will be integrated with the others.  The others can hear and see the chicks, hopefully getting them used to them and feeling like they are part of the flock.  We'll see when that day comes, but we have a little while to go still.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chick update

Our two little chicks are doing great.  It's a good thing my own children don't grow as fast as they do, though- talk about growing like weeds!  They are a few days shy of 3 weeks old and they have changed so much and at least doubled in size.  I raised chicks before, obviously, but I didn't remember it happening this fast.  Maybe that's because I was too busy with all 14 chicks that I didn't get as much time to notice how much they were changing...?  Or maybe I noticed then and just don't remember now.  ; )  Here are the cute little ones at just over 2 weeks old...

Monday, March 5, 2012

We have chicks!

Ok, so I waited too long to post this, sorry!  This past weekend was O's 4th birthday, so things were a little busier than usual around here.  But, we did end up with some chicks from our first broody hen hatch attempt, which is super exciting.  We had 3 live chicks hatch, but one did pass away shortly after hatching. The other 2 are doing fantastic!  Eating, drinking and peeping away.  They are 1 week and 2 days old today, they hatched on February 25th, their exact hatch-due date.  Now, for the bad news.  The mama hen was not so happy about her new chicks' arrival, and she was pecking them like crazy.  One even had a bloody little head, poor thing.  So, I was forced to take them from her and move them into a brooder up in the house.  They'll be fine there with a heat lamp until their feathers come in more, then they can move back to the broody condo section of the coop and, hopefully, be integrated with the flock after a while.  They'll probably stay up at the house a good 6 weeks or so, though.  This wasn't exactly my plan, but things don't always work out as planned.  I had hoped to be able to leave the babies with mama hen, that way she could help integrate them and protect them from the others, but since she was their biggest enemy (crazy chickens!) this won't be the case.  I've read that this happens sometimes with hens- they just don't always make good mamas.  Especially with young hens, which mine definitely is- this was her first time going broody- so it was even more likely she'd reject the chicks.  Well, better luck next time, hopefully!  We'll try again with another hen sooner or later and maybe it will work out the same way, maybe it will be different- this is nature we're dealing with, so you just never know!
Ok, ok, now for the fun part- here are some pictures of our new chickies!  (These were taken the day they hatched- you can see that the dark one had some injuries from the mean mama's pecking.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

We have pips!

When a baby chick starts to hatch from an egg, first it "pips" the egg and you'll see a little hole pecked from the inside out.  Then it needs some rest, and as time goes on it will "zip" the egg, meaning it will continue to peck near that first pip, until it makes a section big enough that it can push through and get itself out of the egg.  This process is slow, since the chick needs lots of rest during all of it.  I believe it can even take a day or so.  Well, right now we have 2 eggs that are "pipped" and one that is peeping, but not yet pipped.  Yep- I can hear the little chick inside peeping!  The 2 pipped eggs are peeping, too, of course.  I'm so excited because, as you know, I was not positive these eggs would result in a hatch... but it looks like our mama hen did her job.
I have video of the egg with the most shell pushed off peeping... listen closely!

Isn't it neat and exciting?!  I can't wait to see these little fuzzies!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A new family member...

Meet the newest princess in our family, Lola Belle.  She's an adorable 8 month old mix (we're still in debate on what exactly she is a mix of... Pit Bull/English Bulldog/Corgi...?  Who knows!) who we adopted from the same shelter where we found Charlie.  Things worked out so well with him, we found ourselves back there, looking again!  After a little bit of an adjustment period for everyone, it seems like Lola Belle is fitting right in as the newest member of The J Family Farm.  She puts up with the big, loving lug that Charlie has become (all 80lbs of him) and loves the attention from B & O, wether they are dressing her up (above) or just cuddling on the couch (below).  Here are some pictures to better introduce her.

Broody Hen Condo

S and I went down to the coop and did some renovations this morning.  We added a broody condo to the coop.  We didn't move our currently broody hen, who is sitting on eggs, but we have the area ready.  If any chicks hatch under her, we'll move her and the chicks into the broody condo, this way she'll be able to get used to being a mama in peace, without the other girls trying to steal her space.  If none hatch (which, sadly, is pretty likely) we'll move her or our next broody hen, into the condo before we officially give them their eggs to sit on.  The condo is a sectioned off part of the current coop, separated by welded wire.  This way the broody hen/mama hen and her babies can still be seen and heard by the other hens (and Rudy, too).  Hopefully this should help when it's time to re-introduce mama and babies to the flock.  Chickens are known for being very "clique-y" and not wanted to accept any newbies into their group.  Ahh, yes, doesn't it take you back to middle school days?  ; )  But, the process of allowing the new chicks to be seen and heard, but not in a place where the other hens can harm them, is supposed to help with the introduction.  Some say that if you have a really good mama hen (and she is high enough in the pecking order of the flock to begin with) she will keep the other hens in check and away from her brood.  At this point, I'm not willing to try this just yet.  If all goes well, I'll first introduce them when they are out free ranging, rather than letting the hens think that the new chicks are intruding in their coop.  Pretty much, we're just taking things one step at a time and figuring it out as we go.
Here are some pics of our most current renovation project.
There were 10 nest boxes open for use.  All the girls laid eggs in 2 of the top boxes, so we had closed off the bottom 5 and used them as storage from the outside.

Inside the coop- broody condo on the right.

 Broody condo- not the best pic, but inside are 3 open nest boxes and some floor space.

 We hinged the wood that covered the bottom nest boxes and added legs to hold this side open (3 nest boxes long).  Then we enclosed it with welded wire.

Rudy and some of the girls, waiting outside for our work to be done.

And the point of the whole project... to get more of these!  ; )

Here is Miss Broody herself, Buffy.  She's a Buff Orpington.  This is her, nice and calm, just trying to look out and see what we're doing...

 And this is when she gets protective of her nest!  Watch out!