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! ; )

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!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Well, I don't think things are looking very good for our first attempt at hatching eggs.  The broody hen has been on the wrong nest a few more times, but each time there has been another hen on the eggs.  There's no telling how long the eggs were left unattended, and if they get too cold, all development stops.  We're planning some coop renovations tomorrow so that we can isolate any broody hen in her own "broody condo" inside the coop, this way she won't get bullied off of her nest or mixed up when returning from a food break.  Hopefully these renovations will work for now, and I hope to build a whole new coop in the future.  I'm still leaving her with the eggs and crossing my fingers we'll get a hatch, but I'm trying to be realistic about it too, and I'm not sure we'll get anything this time around.  Hopefully she'll stay broody long enough to try a second batch, if these don't work; and if not, we'll be anxiously awaiting our next broody hen.  The end of next week is when we'll be watching for action in the nest, if anything is going to hatch it should be by Saturday the 25th, at the latest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Possibly our first hatch...

A few weeks ago one of our hens went "broody", meaning she rarely left the nest box and just wanted to be left alone, sitting on eggs.  Well, for a while I moved her each day, collected the eggs and then left her (she is in the most popular nest box, so almost all of the girls lay their eggs there, even when she's in it).  Once she had shown me that she was in this for the long haul, I decided to give in to her broodiness and let her try to hatch some eggs.  I marked 6 eggs and left them with her.  Each day, when I go collect eggs, I take all but the 6 marked eggs- those are hers.  This weekend, when it had been 7 days since I left her the eggs, I went out and "candled" the eggs.  This means I looked at them (at night, so it was dark out) with a flashlight shining through the egg, to see if I could tell what was going on inside.  Well, I only candled 2 eggs- but I saw signs of baby chicks developing in both!  S was with me, so I know I'm not crazy, we even saw movement in the eggs!  So, now I'm excited that we may actually get a couple chicks from this hatch!  I'm still trying to keep my hopes pretty low, and I keep reminding B & O that the hatch may not happen- but if it does, we'll all be so happy.  I'm a little concerned because yesterday when I collected eggs, the broody hen was in the wrong nest box...hmmm...but I put her back and she settled right down on her eggs and has been there since.  Hopefully she wasn't off them too long and that won't happen again.  If they don't hatch, we'll just try again with the next broody hen, and if that doesn't work (after a few tries) we may get an incubator one of these days- but I'm crossing my fingers, because I'd love to do it the natural way and make one of my hens a mama.  I'm thinking the hatch should be around Feb. 25th, so we'll be watching!