A possible case of Barnheart

It's pretty unusual to have a morning with no housework or chores to get to right away. But today one was offered me and I took advantage of it. Once everyone else was fed and sent on their way for the day I brewed up a cup of coffee, snuggled into my favorite chair, wrapped up with a cozy blanket and went to reading a new book. The story seemed a bit familiar to me. It told of longing and desire, of the thoughts one has to change things around themselves. It's something I'm mentioned here before actually. The urge or need to get back to basics. Grow your own food. Plant and raise what will sustain your family. I'm only half way through Jenna Woginrich's latest book, Barnheart.

Being one of her blog readers for about 2 years now, I enjoy reading the back story on her move to Vermont and the early time spent as a renter and wannabe landowner. It's a love story really. The love of a different way of living. Falling for the hard work and rewards it has to offer. Learning from the mistakes and making better choices along the way. I'm anxious to get back and finish the story but right now the chickens are calling for their morning treat of oats and sunflower seeds. I've already enjoyed their gifts of deliciousness, fried up for breakfast along with some homemade bread toasted up and buttered. 


First day of summer... time to catch up!!

Well, not much for a regular blogger here lately! Lots of things to catch you up on though.

First, the chicks we hatched here at home are doing great! Looking more and more like adult chickens all the time. We gave 6 of them to a friend and kept 5 four ourselves. In return we got a red silkie! Oh she is a beauty!! I'll have to post a picture of her soon, she has blue earlobes!

Our Muscovy pair are still waiting on their eggs to hatch. This will be the hen's first clutch, so we are hoping she's a good momma. We've have some predator issues and reinforced their pen as much as we can. Now to just hope for the best!

Our 7 one year old hens are laying 6 eggs a day now. Still waiting on the two new  partridge Penedesenca pullets to start laying. They were supposed to have hatched in January, so I think they should be laying any day now. They are not friendly chickens at all, but I can't wait to see their dark chocolate brown eggs!
The other nine pullets we bought are doing really well. They took over the coop the broilers were in. Now this group is very friendly and calm. The Buff Orpingtons like to be picked up and held along with the new Silkie. We have such a great variety in this bunch! Lots of different colors to see.

The broiler chicks were taken into the butcher at 8 weeks old. They grow so fast!! Now we have a freezer full of delicious home grown chicken! I tried a new recipe for roasting them and it's my new go to for delicious moist chicken! Low and slow is the way to go with these.

Now on to the garden update!!

Dale and the rest of us put a lot of work into getting the new large garden bed ready for planting. It was just a field of grass earlier this spring. Take a look at some of the progress we made.

Here another shot of our mini hoop house too.  I removed the plastic at the beginning of June once our night temps were warmer.

My trays of transplants that I started from seed were all ready to be planted out after hardening off in the hoop house. They are all doing well in the garden now.

I harvested all of the diakon radishes today, the larger ones were beginning to bolt so it was time. The chickens feasted on the tops and I cleaned up the roots for us. Now I'm not a big radish fan, but I had read that these large radishes, when roasted, taste a lot like parsnips. Parsnips I like! So I pulled a few last weekend and roasted them along with some carrots and our chicken. Delish! I'll be planting a fall crop of them!  We've also lunched on BLT's with the L-lettuce coming straight from the garden. So good and fresh. There wasn't much asparagus to harvest yet this year, but it's coming along. We also ate beet greens one night with supper after I thinned the bed. The kids surprised me and really liked them!

I need to get out and take some updated pictures of the gardens and chickens soon! But it's raining today so that will have to wait. I'm glad to have the needed rain, but now we need some warmer temperatures too!

How does your garden grow??


The chicks are a week old

Time to catch you up on the eggs we incubated.

This is what we saw last Monday morning!

It is amazing watching them work at getting out of that shell. Some took
only 30  minutes or so while others took 12 hours.

When we had these 8 hatched out it was time to clear them out and make room.
Off the the brooder they went!

We had a total of 11 chicks hatch out of the 25 we set. Not the 
greatest, but not too bad for our first time either.

They are a week old now and all are doing great!


Mini PVC hoop house for our Square Foot Garden!

It's finished!!

I wanted to extend our growing season in our 14' x 4' Square Foot Garden (SFG) this year.
I had seen this method used in the book and on several sites online. We used 1/2" PVC and metal conduit brackets.

You can see the 10' PVC pipes bend nicely to form the support.

See that metal bracket, that's what you want to hold the PVC in place.

We used a coupler to join 2 10' pieces then cut it to length. For us that was 14'.
This is used as a ridge beam to help stabilize the structure.

You can also see in these pictures we needed to replace some of our dividers.
One had cracked and some were never installed in the beginning.

Dale drilled a hole through the ridge piece and the top of each hoop. A nut and bolt were used to attach them.

We also ran one 10' PVC pipe on the center of each side.
This will be used to anchor the plastic to later.

Here it is all ready for the plastic!

For the plastic we used 3 mil sheeting found at Menards. It was 12' wide which worked great.
You can see we did put in the rest of the dividers as well.

To attach the plastic we used spring clamps. This makes it easy to open it up and work in.

To close up the ends I did a bit of folding and clamping. Kind of like wrapping a present.

When I put the plastic on today it was cloudy and about 70° out. I put a digital thermometer inside to see
how warm things were getting. After about 6 hours it was at 99° already! I opened up one side to vent it a bit as I don't need it that warm. There are several things planted and coming up. Four squares of peas, 4 sq Chioggia beets,4 sq daikon radish, 4 sq baby choi cabbage, 4 sq of a variety of lettuces and 4 sq or two spinach varieties. There is asparagus planted there from 2 years ago and it's up 3-4" as well! I think I might harvest a few spears this year!!

I keep you updated on how the hoop house is working and how it holds up to our winds.


Winner winner... chicken dinner.. err chicken clock anyway!

Do you enter blog giveaways?? Have you ever won something??

I have won a few times in the past, usually scrapbook or stamping stuff (my other hobbies).

This week I won something from the Inside Storey blog.

You know all those great books on farming and stuff that Storey publishes! Well they have a blog too!

They partnered up with My Pet Chicken and have had giveaways everyday for a couple weeks now.

Here is what I won!

The mail carrier delivered it today!

Thanks Storey and My Pet Chicken!


Here a chick there a chick...

Our laying flock has some new additions. Most of them are still pretty young yet and won't be joining the ladies in the coop for awhile. I wanted to add some color and heritage breeds to the commercial hybrids we had.

So without further ado...

I present the newest young ladies of the flock.

Some common backyard breeds here except for the Black Laced Red Wyandotte. I was hoping to find some Buckeye chicks as well, but no such luck this time.

The Blue Andalusian is listed as threatened on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy list.   The New Hampshire is listed as breed to watch and the Wyandottes are recovering in numbers.

The two above pictured Penedesenca hens will be joining the big girl's coop pretty soon. They are almost 4 months old already and may start laying soon.

We have had an unusually cold spring here. The last two days the wind chill has been 29ยบ. The rest of the week looks to be warmer. If it is, I will get these two older pullets outside and start introducing them to the rest of the flock.

Our broilers are 4 1/2 weeks old now and mostly feathered out. They eat like pigs and smell like them too. Only 4 more weeks and they will be headed to the freezer.

You can see one is playing daredevil and sitting atop the feeder. These are our homemade feeders. They work great. Just a 5 gallon bucket and lid, large flower pot saucer and a few bolts. Cut some openings around the bottom of the pail so the feed can come out and you're set!

We candled the eggs in the incubator and see some development there! Keeping our fingers crossed that we have some make it to hatch.


Something I ordered online arrived today...

It was fragile, so it was packed in peanuts.

I really hate packing peanuts.

The item/s will be a gift for someone soon.

They will be getting the gift of peanuts as well.    : )

Have a great day!!

PS. We have more chicks here. Will post pictures of the new pullets soon.


The age old question.... Oh, and the eggs are set in the incubator too!

Today is the big day!!!

Start counting down.... we are 21 days from hatching day!

After setting up and calibrating the temp and humidity levels in the incubator, today was the day to set the eggs! I picked our main floor laundry room to house the bator, there are no windows in there and it  keeps a pretty constant temp with no drafts.

That is a digital thermometer you see through the bator  window on the right. It will show min and max temps along with humidity. I'm shooting for 99.5 and 60 - 65% humidity.

This unit has an automatic egg turner! Which is great if you are forgetful like me : )

As you can tell, we have both the lovely blue-ish green eggs from our Americaunas/Easter Eggers and the brown eggs from the brown and black sex-link hens. A total of 25 eggs have gone in for hatching. 

You may notice the temp and humidity readings aren't were they need to be in this picture. That's because I had the cover off to load in the eggs and it cooled off. I'll be checking on them quite often today to make sure it levels off where it needs to be.

I had been setting aside the best eggs for the last week and keeping them in our cool basement until it was time to load them up. 

On the 18th day the incubator will go into Lockdown. Meaning no more egg turning, no opening or peaking, totally hands off.  The humidity will need to be raised to 80 - 85% at the time to keep the chicks healthy as they hatch. 

I'll keep you posted on the progress!

And now what you've all been waiting for.
The answer to that age old question...

"What came first, the chicken or the egg??"

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is
leaning against the headboard smoking a cigarette with a
satisfied smile on its face.
The egg, looking a bit pissed off, grabs the sheet, 
rolls over and snorts, 

"Well, I guess we finally know the answer to THAT question!"


Happy Easter

Lots of things going on here.

Our 3 week old Cornish cross broilers were moved out of their temporary brooder in our pole barn, out into their own shed/shelter and run. It was time, broilers are only cute and fluffy for about a week. Right now they are stinky and ugly. But before that could happen the muscovy ducks had to be evicted from the same shed/coop. So DH made a nice little nesting box for them. Then they were moved into the 10 x 10 fenced area that used to house the rabbits. We sold the rabbits and all the cages a couple of weeks ago after deciding to focus more on poultry. So there was a lot of shuffling going on here, but I think everyone will be staying put for awhile now. At least 5 more weeks anyway, then it's off to freezer camp for the broilers. We will do another batch later in the summer, around August.

I've been saving eggs to hatch for the last week. About half are a beautiful blue from our Ameracauna's. The rest are brown eggs from the brown and black sex-links. DH installed the fan upgrade for the borrowed Little Giant incubator. I'll get that running and calibrate the temperature this week, then the waiting will begin! It'll take 21 days for the eggs to hatch. The surprise will be seeing what we get from the brown eggs having our Ameracauna rooster over the sex-link hens. I'm hoping for some olive-eggers!! This will be our first time incubating and hatching ourselves.

You can see one of our first duck eggs in this picture. It's the middle one, a bit dirty looking even after cleaning it. The muscovies like to lay their eggs in a hole they dug in the ground. It isn't as big as I expected either, about the same as our larger brown eggs. The big difference is on the inside. The yolks are HUGE! Very little white either. They tasted just like a chicken egg to me when fried up for breakfast. Now that they are moved into their permanent pen, I'll let them keep any eggs and see if they'll hatch a clutch. Ducklings would be very welcomed!

I've also been busy starting seeds for this year's garden. Something new for me, but so far so good! DH set up some shelving and lights for me in the basement. Planting trays, starting medium and a heating mat have all been used to get a slew of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower going so far. I've got more to go so I better get it into gear this week or it won't pay to start them at all.

Our John Deere tractor's loader bucket got a make-over the last week or so. It's back from the shop with a brand new cutting edge and shiny black paint job. (our JD is yellow, their commercial color instead of JD green) It's time to put it to use and get the compost pile turned. Looks like the frost is nearly out of the ground here as well. If we're gonna plant the new garden area there's lots of work to be done getting that ready.

I'll update on that progress soon!


And so it begins...

Whitey - our Ameracauna rooster last summer

The kids and I are headed out to the animal auction in a few minutes. Who would have thought that would be the highlight of the weekend a few years ago. Strange how lives and interests change. I'm much happier to be putting on my barn boots and jacket to go look at animals than I would be going to the mall shopping for the day. Ask me what's on my wish list now and it would be a manure fork, collinear hoe and electric fencing. 

I think I've caught a serious case of what a favorite blogger calls Barnheart. Of which there is no cure, but going to see those animals today might soothe it a bit. 

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