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! ; )

Monday, December 12, 2011

A long overdue update

Wow, it's been 2 months since I last updated.  Sorry it's been so long!  I often think to myself that I should write an update, but it hits me about 11pm on a night when I'm already in bed and ready to go to sleep, so what do I do?  Put it off until the next day... when I, of course, forget.  Well, here I am- remembering at a decent hour.  So, here we go!
Most of our little egg layers are getting the hang of things these days and what we have to show for it is about 6-8 eggs a day!  I'd guess that by spring we'll get 10-12 a day, but for now 8 is fantastic!  It's plenty to be providing us with as many as we could need, plus I've sold them to a few friends here and there, which helps pay for the chicken feed.  Rudy Roo is getting a little temperamental and has "attacked" me a few times and O once- which is no good.  He even tried it with my mom one day when she was here helping feed and collect eggs while we were out of town.  The adults can handle him just fine, because he is still young and doesn't fly up very high to hit at you, with me he hits about knee level.  But, it scared O quite a bit the day he got her and now she hasn't really wanted to go in there when they are out free ranging.  If Rudy keeps it up, he might not last too long around here.  Then there's Dallas and Dixie, who are on their last chance to stick around here, too.  It's a good thing they are sweet and we love them, other wise they'd already be gone.  We got an automatic chicken coop door recently, so the door has a little motor that opens and closes it at the times we have it set to do so.  The motor is hooked up to a battery, which is also hooked up to a solar panel to keep the battery charged.  Well, after the first day of us using the chicken door, Dallas and Dixie thought the wires that they could barely reach near the roof of the coop looked just too good to they chewed through them.  That night the door didn't shut and when we got down there to check on it, we found out why.  The next day Shannon made the needed repairs and hooked up the door once again, with the wires well out of reach of the goats.  Then we started having trouble with the battery staying charged enough to power the door, which ended up being a manufacturer defect.  To make up for the defect, the company sent us a sensor that will allow the door to open once it's light outside and close when it's dark, instead of having to be set (since you need to re-set the times for opening and closing when the daylight hours change).  Well, we hooked that sensor up on top of the coop where it would get lots of light once the sun comes up, and waited for it to work the next day.  In the morning the door opened, but come that night it didn't close.  I thought for sure there was still a problem with the battery.  Nope.  The wires to the sensor were chewed through.  The wires that were stapled to the eave of the chicken coop roof were pulled out of the staples and chewed off in two 3-4 inch sections.  Now, I guess it's partly our fault for having the wires within reach of the goats.  You think we would have learned our lesson the first time.  But, who knew that goats would balance on their back legs and be able to grab wire that is tightly stapled along the wood eave, then pull it enough to remove the staples and then proceed to try to eat the wire?  Well- FYI, they can and will.  Don't leave ANYTHING within the (at all possible) reach of a goat.  They just can't be trusted.  For now they are all still here and part of our little farm, hopefully they can all behave themselves and it will stay that way!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our first egg!

Imagine our surprise when we went out to open the chicken coop this morning and inside we found our very first egg!  Luckily B & O were done with breakfast, so I let them come with me to feed the goats and let out the chickens before heading off to school.  We fed Dallas & Dixie, opened up the chicken door, then I opened up the nest boxes to see if they had left them alone (they've been scratching all the straw out of the boxes lately).  Well, what do I see inside- in a nest box right where it's supposed to be?  An egg!  Right next to the golf balls.  "Golf balls?" Yep.  Chickens want to lay their eggs where they think they will be safe, so putting fake eggs (wooden ones you can buy at craft stores or feed stores) or even golf balls will help the chickens think others have laid eggs there, so it must be a safe spot.  Most chickens are followers- they trust other chickens and will do what they do.  If one pecks at something, the others will as well.  So, my little golf ball trick worked, and in the nest box were 2 golf balls and the very first egg.  B & O were so excited!  They each got to show the egg to their classes as I dropped them off and they were so proud!  We think it was the work of Trixie, a Barred Rock hen, since she is the oldest at 22 weeks (and the others are about 18 & 19 weeks) so we all gave her a little pat and said thank you.  Now we'll look forward to collecting eggs every day!

Here it is next to a grocery store XL egg for comparison...

Their first eggs tend to be small, and can vary a little in size as they lay more.  This one is pretty good size, though!

Here she is, Trixie, who we assume laid our first egg!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Have you met Charlie?

I just realized that I had not introduced Charlie to everyone!  How could I forget?  He was our first family addition after we moved in to this house.  He is our sweet boy, who plays a little too rough, but we all love him.  He's still a baby and still learning how to behave, but he is a wonderful addition and he would do anything to protect us.  He patrols the backyard every evening and loves to cuddle.  He just turned 1 this September and is still not sure what is a chew toy and what is mommy's shoe... but we're getting there.  ; )  We're thinking about the possibility of getting him a friend (of the canine variety) in the next few months or so...

This is Charlie when we first adopted him from the shelter, he was about 8 months old.

 He loves that when we're camping he gets to sleep with the girls.
 Then he tries it at home...  : )

 Here he is recently, just before his 1st birthday!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And the chickens have a home.

My last post was about the coop being here... finally.  But we still had work to do before the chickens could actually occupy the space.  So, S and I worked on it for his 3 days off and then it was ready to be home.  Now, don't get me wrong, there is still work to be done.  It's not 100% complete.  But it was ready for Rudy and the girls to move in.  Here are some pics of their introduction to their new space.
We painted the trim and were in the process of roofing the coop in these pics...

 The models
B, supervising
 S, annoyed at me taking pictures instead of helping ; )
 Adding the access from the run to the coop
 B and Buffy
 The chickens watching intently, wondering what we were all doing 
 Then they got bored and decided to take a nap
 Oops.  We enclosed the access from coop to run before we added the chain to lift open the coop door.  
Sorry, S, I had to take the picture!
 The roost
S is cutting the opening from the run into the access space while the girls all watch and wonder...
 Door is open!
 Inside the coop- ready for the chickens.
Hmmm... do we go in?
 And Sweetie gives it a try!
 Once one goes in, they'll all go in

 B approves
 We'll still be doing some work on the coop in the not too distant future, like adding a rain gutter and possibly making a window in the people-sized door; and also some work very soon, like fixing the not-so-securely closing nest box doors and adding a row of bricks to the small gap under the coop from the run/access area.  Hopefully we'll get eggs soon from our 17 to 20 week old girls.  Average start of laying age is between 18-23 weeks, so it should be soon!  And, of course, we hope our chickens have a long, happy, healthy and safe life in their new coop!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Coop is here!

It took a wide load permit... but the coop is here.  My brother is a project manager for a big construction company, so he and a few members of his work crew volunteered to build me a coop.  They had no idea what they were getting into.  ; )  I sent some rough drawings and some pictures of a coop I liked to my brother, telling him dimensions and basics ideas of what I wanted.  He threw all of that out and had a team of architect interns research and draw up some plans.  Then he and my other brother got a wide load permit to trailer it the 2-3 hours from the job site to my house.  My brother's job was over once it was at my house, still on the trailer, so then my Dad comes in.  He had already made the pad for the coop and run a few months back, so now he had to lift the coop off the trailer and set it in the fenced area near where it's final home will be, and also help us take measurements to get the concrete piers in place to set the coop on.  Once those were in place, he lifted the coop to it's new home, right next to the run.  Now it is almost ready for the chickens to move in.  We've stapled wire over the window openings, added latches and door handles, and bought the roofing materials and paint; but it still needs work.  We need to paint the trim, put on the roofing, build in some roosts and make a walkway/tunnel for the chickens to get from the coop door into the run.  I won't make you wait for it to be complete to see it, I'll add the completed pictures later.  So, here they are- the pictures of our coop project courtesy of my wonderful big brother!  (warning- there are LOTS of pictures!)
First, here are the pictures of the original model the architects made.  (Some changes were definitely made to this first draft, but the modern angles and basic design stayed)

Next they began framing...
Then it all starts to come together.

Next is the paint...

Then on to the trailer!

And then it's here!
We started our work on the finishing touches...

Then Dad moves it in! (with help from S, of course)

The chickens are wondering what's going on.
And once the concrete piers are in place, it moves to it's new home.

Here it is!

 (Looking at the coop from inside the run)
 The nest boxes from outside access doors.
Dad, proud of his handy backhoe skills.  ; )
Now S and I need to get to work on finishing it up so we can get Rudy and the girls in there before they start laying eggs!