Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chicken Research

After losing one of my cockerels, I discovered that my other 3 cockerels had similar, albeit not so severe issues.  I did some online research, and determined that they were all suffering from "pendulous crop".  Since chickens have no teeth, their food is ground in the crop, a specialized part of their esophagus that grinds the food, along with grit (dirt & tiny stones that they swallow) before it moves on down the digestive system.  In some chickens, the crop can become impacted with food, or conversely, stretched and filled with liquid that doesn't move through.  In some cases, this liquid can develop a yeast infection, called "sour crop", that can cause all sorts of digestive and malnourishment problems.  This is what apparently happened to my 1st cockerel.

I realized that although the TSC chicks have been pastured on lovely, green grass, and moved every other day to a clean area, they do not have access to any grit to eat.  In addition, I learned that although they get fresh water every other day, adding a smidge of apple cider vinegar to it can be very helpful in alleviating and preventing the yeast infections.

I immediately added ground oyster shell to the feed of all my young chickens, and vinegar to the water of the TSC chicks.  Since then, 2 of the cockerels are greatly improved, and the 3rd, the one with the gimpy leg, is no better.  It appears that we may need to butcher him sooner, rather than later.

I also researched meat chickens, and although I am still unable to identify the breed of chicks that I bought at TSC, I am convinced that they are meat birds.  It is recommended that they be butchered between 5-13 weeks of age, usually at 6-8 lbs.  I am working on a method to weigh them, but it may soon be time to have fried chicken, as they are 9 weeks old and quite large.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm THIS Close to Crazy

There have been an insane number of things going on in the past week.  J visited Fallingwater with the rest of the 8th Grade, and she sang 3 solos in front of a packed house at the local Sandwich shop at an Open Mic the other night.  L had her last ever Art Day at school (all art, all day, fun, fun, fun!)  I spent 2 hours before work on Thursday, and all day Friday at the Elementary School helping out with said Art Day for the last time.  Just to name a few...
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I forgot to mention that they finally took the well rig away a couple of weeks ago!

New things are blooming in the flower beds.

These peonies are currently blooming.

The Creeping Thyme and Yarrow are in bloom as well.
The pullets are getting bigger all the time.  Here they are next to my old ladies.

Sadly, we've had a few casualties with the TSC chicks.  They are ENORMOUS, which makes me think that they are broiling chickens, and not layers.  In any case, 2 of my cockerels have developed large, fluid filled sacks in their chests that hang down to their scrawny chicken knees.  One has since expired.  Another one appears to have dislocated his hip today, so I suppose we will be eating him soon.
Speaking of good eats, the strawberries are in full force.  I have picked about 2 gallons of them.  There is nothing better for breakfast than homemade Greek yogurt on a bed of homegrown strawberries, and topped with homemade chocolate-peanut granola!

I've been letting J's rabbit run around with the chickens.  He has a grand old time!  You can tell that it's high time that we mow in the chicken run.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Blast of Summer Sun

The cool rainy weather stopped as abruptly as it began, and summer arrived overnight.  We have had sunny skies and temps in the high 80's - low 90's for the past 3 days.  That has made it much too hot to do much outside, although I did finish planting potatoes on Monday, put in a bed of onions, and broad forked another bed.  I was hoping to plant the tomato plants today before it rains tonight, but I just can's get myself outside into the heat!

Poor L was out in the heat all day today!  She and the rest of the 5th graders went to Pittsburgh and took a tour of Heinz Field and the locker rooms (where the Steelers play.)  After lunch, they went to a baseball game.  One of the teachers has been sending updates and pictures all day.  The last I heard, they left the game a bit early to try to miss some of the traffic, but the Pirates were winning.

I spent several hours in the cooler parts of the past couple of days painting the propane tank.  Right now I am painting on the shapes of rocks.  I have a few more "rocks" to paint, then I need to do some highlighting/detail work, and I'd like to add a few flowers growing up in front of the rocks.  It already looks better than it used to!

I also finally edited the video from J's duet a few weeks back and posted it.  You can see it here.

Keeping all of the chickens in water and food, and watering all of the outside plants has kept me busy too.  In fact, I need to go water everything/everyone again!

Some more things are blooming, and it's looking lovely!



Peony 'Sarah Barnhardt'

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

This is the first weekend in the past several, that it hasn't rained...much.  It was slightly dried out so that JP could mow part of the acreage today.  I tried broad forking 2 garden beds, and it's still pretty muddy.  I persevered though, and planted one bed of potatoes!

Yesterday, as per our Mother's Day weekend routine, we went to the nursery.  There I bought annuals for my outdoor pots, as well as some herbs for my new herb garden.

Basil, Cilantro (aka "that vile weed"), Chives, Thyme,
Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Parsley, and Lemon Grass
JP also got me this stunning petunia.  I think it's called "Night Sky."

I transplanted a few things from other flower beds, plus got almost everything planted that we picked up.  While working in my big flower bed, I found this tiny guy.  I was able to identify him/her as a juvenile Eastern Box Turtle.  So cute!

More things are in bloom:

Lupine & Grandma's Irises
Peonies after the rain...
Lovely weekend - I felt very loved by my family.  Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day as well!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Farming by the Numbers

I have my recycled tractor tire herb garden ready to plant...even bought a few baby herbs to get it started, but first have to figure out how to convince the kitties that it is NOT their new litter box.


In the meantime, I am a bit surprised and proud of myself for working out all of the logistics.  Instead of randomly buying a bunch of garden soil, and winging it, I thought I'd figure out how much I would need in a scientific manner.  So of course, I turned to my stellar geometry whiz of a daughter, and asked for the formula for the volume of a cylinder.

V=pi*radius squared*height

The tire is about 45 inches in diameter and 15 inches high, so if you do the math, it comes to almost 14 cubic feet.  I bought 3 - 2 cubic foot bags of garden soil at Big Lots, and hauled 4 wheelbarrows full of manure and compost from the garden, and it filled the tire perfectly.

Other numbers on the farm include 30 pullets and cockerels, who in 43 days, have eaten 140 pounds of chick feed.

There are also the 22 hens, who in the past 11 days have laid only 99 eggs.  That averages to 9 eggs per day, which means that less than half of the hens are laying.  Pathetic.

It has also rained approximately 4.08 inches so far this month, which is why I have only 2 out of 16 garden beds planted.

The good news is that it is 8:33 on Thursday evening, which means that there are only 15 days of school remaining this year, and just 18 more lunches to pack.

Monday, May 8, 2017

May Showers and Flowers

The sun is finally showing itself after a week of rain.  There was a frost warning last night, so I covered my strawberries.  We didn't get frost, but it was COLD this morning!  I was worried about my little recovering chickens during the cold night, because it is difficult to keep the Egg Cart'n warm inside.

They did fine overnight.  It has now been a week since I put my Tractor Supply chicks in their own quarters for daily nursing care.  They are doing much better, and starting to re-grow some new feathers.  The wounds are still healing.

While  I was out uncovering plants this morning, I took the time to take pictures of my flowers.  They look so pretty in the sunshine!

These are my 'Nelly Moser' and 'Wildfire' Clematis.
I also have a red 'Earnest Markham' one, but it has
never bloomed!
My grandma's Purple Iris (you cannot possibly
kill this one), Salvia 'May Night', and some
Solomon Seal behind the Iris.
My large flower bed has Iris (Grandma's Purple, and
some yellow ones), several colors of Columbine,
Lamb's Ears, Yarrow & Bee Balm (not yet
blooming), and 'Sorbet' Peony.  The Lupine will bloom
soon, as will my other Peonies:  'Sarah Barnhardt',
and another that will bloom this year for the first time.

This is my stone wall shade garden:  I have 3 varieties of
bleeding hearts, and 'Tiramisu' Coral Bells, as well
as some garden mint.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Raising Feminists

The sky is turning black, and there are tornado watches in our area, so I will make this brief so that I can turn off the computer!

You may think that I am writing this post about my girls, but I am not.  I am writing about my 29 red x-link pullets.  I noticed about 2 weeks ago that 4 out of the 6 peeps that I bought at Tractor Supply appear to be cockerels.  Just a few days after that, I noticed that all 4 of them were missing all of their tail feathers as well as most of the feathers on their backs.  I slathered them all with bright purple "Pick-No-More" lotion, which is supposed to stop picking and help with healing.

A few days later, their tails looked decidedly better, so I have been applying the goop about every 3-4 days.  This morning, however, just 24 hours after the last application, 2 of the cockerels had bloody tails, and I caught the red pullets in the act of pecking them.  This had gone beyond picking out feathers, they were through the skin and into the flesh of the poor little guys!  I removed them from the aggressive young ladies.

A couple of hours later, I found a 3rd cockerel bloody and being actively pecked.  I moved all 4 of the cockerels to the empty Egg Cart'n for respite and recovery.

So it appears that my pullets have gone past being simply strong women, to being raging feminists.  I actually looked up the antonym for "misogynist".  Although rarely used, it appears the correct term for these little beasts is "misandrist" - a hater of men.