Chickens, ducks, quail, goats, sheep

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
9:20 am

So this last weekend we managed to get our new chicken enclosure built. So far, so good. We just need to convince the chickens that they really want to stay inside the fence until we get it completely finished off this weekend. There are only two or three that are insisting on getting out.

The quail are still in their box, but have been moved outside under the deck. We're going to have to redo the inside of that coop. Muck it out, move out the laying box, put chicken wire EVERYWHERE because these little guys are squishy and small. We ended up with 25 all told. I know at least one is a cock. The rest? Well...I have no idea. They need a nesting box type place to lay there eggs in and get into at night. I finally came up with an idea for that. Go me.

In my latest venture in feeding chickens, I have stumbled upon the bright idea of meal worms. Apparently they are easy to grow and farm, chickens will eat both the mealworms and the beetles they turn into and I can grow them for about a dime per 1000, since I jsut paid $18 for 1000...well, that's cheap. this place also has roaches. Not your typical cockroaches, but the tropical kind that supposedly don't fly. I considered it for about 2 seconds then my skin started crawling and In addition to the mealworms, we're looking at growing night crawlers or redworms (which are also great for composting). Also...I'm having a dandelion bed. I know. Laugh. It's okay. But I am. I have five packages of seeds and I'm stealing them from all the going to seed dandelions in ours and the neighbors yard. The chickens *love* dandelions and they're pretty and they're useful. My neighbors will LOVE us more than they already do for our loud birds and crowing roosters.

Speaking of roosters, two weeks ago we did away with our Turken rooster. He was literaly fucking our hens featherless. And he was loud. And he crowed...ALL DAY. So he went away to the great hen house in the clouds. Which left us with two roosters. Our Buttercup, who is a lovely gorgeous boy with a high pitched, but quite crow and our Buff Orpington, also a lovely boy with a quite crow. Something's happend to the Buff though. He won't put any weight on one foot. We've checked him a couple of times and he lets us manipulate his leg, I can't see any injury, but he won't put weight on it. The sad thing is, even one legged, it took Smeg and I three tries to catch him. We're considering taking him to a vet, which is a little pricey, but probaby cheaper than buying another one, waiting for him to mature, which means buying pullets again this year. So, today I'll call local vets and see what they charge to see a chicken.

This weekend is the big garden put in. Yay. I may be dead on Tuesday.

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Monday, April 7th, 2008
10:51 am

We finished the new coop! Yay. Well, it needs bedding and nesting boxes and we still have to fence, but the building is down. It needs to be painted and the roof waterproofed, but still, big accomplishment over the weekend.

None of my seeds are germinating...I don't know why, but I'm starting to feel a little panicked since we're talking $100 worth of tomato seeds. Ugh.

Quail eggs are incubating...I tried candling them, but I see nothing. They're due to hatch on the 14th.

We lost another chicken this an industrial accident. A board fell over and snapped it's neck. We also had a neighbor bring us one that a dog down the street was using as a chew toy. O.o. It'll be okay. We're going to have to cull one of our juveniles. Not sure what's wrong with her, but something clearly is.

I'm resisting the urge for ducks...and more americauna hens. We are going to order Mara's buttercup chicks. Her first 4-H project will likely be doing her brooder box.

and that's it from the farm.

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Friday, April 4th, 2008
8:51 am

We have quail eggs! In the incubator!

I have no clue if I'm doing it right or what. The auto egg turner on the incubator we bought is broken, which kind of sucks, but I just move it by hand a couple of times a day. The humidity is suposed to be kept at 60%, but even with the entire floor of the thing covered in water I can barely get it to 56%. I have no clue how to get it to 85% the day they hatch. At least I managed to finally get the temp to stop vacillating from 93 to 113. It's been pretty steady right around 99.5-100.2. I realized yesterday that we're going to have to take the eggs out of the racks, probably on day 15 since that's when you stop turning them. Funny how nothing ever mentioned this, but if they hatch on the racks, the chicks will all fall out.

Our latest batch of chicken babies are ready to go outside on Monday, but we're not ready to move them. Unless we miraculously finish the chicken coop this weekend. It should have been done weeks ago, but the weather and illness are working against us. It's fucking April. *headdesk* Hopefully we can get it finished this weekend. We really only have to make the roosts, cut the entrances and finish the back. It would be great if we could get the nesting boxes done as well, but those can wait. The important bit is to get the adult chickens out of the area they're in now so that the juveniles can go in there. Well, once we get them moved out, we need to muck out their current coop and then put the juveniles in there with their heat lamps for the next two months and then we can move them out with the other adults.

Then! We need to clean out the area under the deck again, rearrange it and make it into a more permanent quail set up. Prior to moving in there, the quail will be kept in chick brooding boxes that we've already got built.

In the seeds need to germinate dammit.

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Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
8:59 am - Chicken breeds

Apparently the rooster we thought was a Redcap is not a Redcap, but a breed called a Buttercup. No...really.

Information about them is here: (the official American Buttercup Club. I try not to laugh)

They are also listed as Critical on the ALBC. We're still pondering letting Mara breed some for 4-H though.

Since I'm posting pictures of chicken breeds, here are some of our others with information:
Black Australorps These are listed as Recovering on the ALBC.

Orpingtons Ours are Buff. So they look like this.

We also have Ameraucana or Araucanas We aren't sure which. Ours look exactly like the one on the second link the last pic on the right. Either way, they'll lay blue/green eggs when they start.

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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
3:18 pm - *blinks* I'm already behind...

This year I have been congratulating myself on how I'm thinking ahead! I ordered all my seeds on March 5th. I've got my vegetable beds planned out in Excel no less. Today I was happily plugging all my seeds into my spread sheets so that I can track our production levels and I'm doing my schedule for when to start the various seeds etc. Sadly, I found out I should have planted the artichokes, cauliflower and broccoli last weekend. I won't get my seeds for another week. Demmit.

In other farm news, we've got our incubator and our quail egg trays and our hygrometer. Tonight I'm going to set it all up and then? We're ordering our quail eggs. Yeeaaah baby. We'll be chicken AND quail farmers then. *does a snoopy dance*

Also, we're thinking of getting the girl child involved in 4-H. She really, really loves our chickens and since we already have a Redcap rooster, we're thinking of getting her a Redcap hen and letting her try her hand at breeding and showing them, since they're listed as Critical on the ALBC list. (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy).

And now, I go get Smeg and we head out for dinner with Chris.

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10:56 am - Vegetables!

Sorry for the all caps, but I didn't want to retype the whole order. Here's what we're planting this year. I get almost all our seeds from Heirloom SeedsArtichoke )

Bean )

Beet )

Broccoli )

Carrot )

Cauliflower )

Herb )

Lettuce )

Onion )

Pea )

Pepper )

Radish )

Squash )

Tomato )

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9:42 am - Chickens!

The story of our chickens.

April of 2007 we decide we want a few chickens. They poop which makes good fertilizer and they give us eggs, which we like. We started out with six. We wanted 2 dozen or so eggs a week, so we got six babies. Three Golden Sex links and three Red Sex links. Then my father, oh so helpfully points out that half of them will not survive to adulthood. Okay, so we go out and get four more, these are Black Australorps.

Surprise, surprise, all ten live. So now we have ten chickens.

Well, then a teacher I work with got a surprise order of chicks she'd cancelled and would we like any more? I talk to Smeg and we can take three. So three more babies come to our home. Now we have thirteen. All three of these chicks turn out to be Turken Roosters, not that we know this at first .

Now...another woman in my department has three fully grown hens, a Rhode Island Red, a Black Star and a Silver Wydonette. Her husband won't pen them they're driving her nuts...would I take them? I talk to Smeg again and really? What's the big deal from 13 to 16? So we take them. These are already laying and ours are only 18 weeks old.

So, sixteen chickens and we have a coop and all is well. Until we realize we have three roosters who at six months old started trying to out crow each other. At Three AM. Clearly-two have to go. We study up and finally one rainy day, we kill our first two birds, plucked, cleaned and duly cooked them. They were scrawny. Way too scrawny to eat. We now have fourteen chickens.

Now comes the decision that hey...we can sell eggs at the farmer's market, but woe, we do not have enough chickens to supply us with enough eggs to actually sell although we get more than we can eat and are giving them away. Our experience with chickens thus far has shown us that the Black Australorps are smarter, gentler and mellower birds. Also, they are "dual purpose" Which means when they are done laying, you've got some nicely dressed out stewing birds. We research and find there is another dual purpose breed, the Buff Orpington. We crunch the numbers and decide to get 25 Australorps and 25 Buff Orpingtons and hey...let's get 5 Americaunas because they lay blue or green or purple eggs and won't that be cool? Oh and hey...they'll throw in a free rare bird! Fabulous. That means 56 more birds right? Except they sent us 6 Americaunas and 27 Buffs. Oh well...the more the merrier.

Surprise, once again all the babies live to be juveniles in the two brooder boxes in the garage. We transfer them to an outside pen in November and our grand total of chickens is 72. We are happy, happy farmer want to be's, yes we are.

Then in December one evening we heard a huge ruckus outside. An injured owl got into our pen not once, but twice resulting in emergency repairs in our pajamas at 2 am in 20 degree weather. We lost nineteen babies including one of our Americaunas. We didn't count the distribution of the rest.

We are down to 53.

This is not enough for the farmer's market idea, so in February, (which is the soonest we could) we got 25 more babies to replace them (because at 25 the price drops. 25 more Australorps and of course the free rare chick! This would have brought us to 79!

They arrived and the second day we had them I came home to find a strange dog in our yard and three dead hens. Our lovely Americauna rooster, a black australorp and a golden sex link. Then I went inside to find that we'd lost four of our babies as well.

We're back down to 71. 50 adults and 21 babies

The next day another dead chicken and two more dead chicks including our rare chick.

We're down to 68. 49 adults and 19 babies.

One of the babies is tiny and weak and even though we know better, laws of nature and such, Mara doesn't and she's heart broken about the dead babies. So against our better judgement, she takes the tiny one and we separate it and keep it inside, force feed it food mixed with warm water. Against all odds, it survives and moves into the brooder box in the garage with is mates.

We buy a BB gun and shoot at the dog that's jumping our 5.5' tall fence. And we stop seeing it. We notice we aren't getting as many eggs and figure they're hiding their nests, but we can't find them. However...we notice our juveniles are starting to lay! YAY!!

Being how it's spring time, we're outside more and I'm noticing piles of feathers...and hey, where's our Wydonette?'t we missing some chickens? We attempt a count and come up with 11 Buffs, 20 Australorps, 2 Golden Sex links, 3 Red sex links, a Rhode Island Red, a black Star and 2 Americaunas and our first rare bird which ended up being a Red Cap and our Turken Rooster. And hey...that Red Cap has's a rooser and look at that Buff Orpington....they gave us a rooster there too! We only have 42 adult birds left....and there haven't been any bodies. Most of the missing are our adult birds, meaning the orginal 13. A couple of times the coop was open in the morning, but we figured Mara just hadn't latched it back when she'd gotten the eggs.

So we install an electric fence around the yard, but we didn't get a grounding rod, so it's not turned on. That night at four am, Smeg woke up and heard the chickens fussing. I don't know how I slept through it, but I did and she ran out to find two raccoons and more dead chickens. We lost another Golden Sex link and our Rhode Island Red and have another seriously injured Red Sex link.

Apparently they were flipping the latch on the coop and helping themselves to The Peacock Ranch All You Can Eat Chicken Buffet complete with eggs as a side dish.

That was Saturday night/Sunday Morning. Sunday we started building the new coop which will have pad locks to keep Coons out. Sunday and Monday we waited until after dark then took all the chickens out of the coop and put them in with the juveniles because they had a more raccoon proof cage. We haven't lost anymore in the last two nights.

Our current count:
1- Red Cap (who is tiny and has no tail feather due to an unfortunate feather picking incident as a juvenile)
1-Buff Orpington
Total: 3 Roosters...again.

1-Black Star
1-Golden Sex Link
3-Red Sex Links
11-Buff Orpingtons
20-Black Australorps
Total: 38 hens

19 Black Australorps

By the end of the summer we'll have 57 hens laying.

And the story of our chickens so far.

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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
8:09 am - Today's reminders

quail egg trays
fertile khaki campbell eggs
Digital hygrometer

Quail eggs

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Monday, January 14th, 2008
12:08 pm

Two places to keep in mind when writing up about the differences between CNG and USDA certified organic. Also good indicators of pricing etc.

Laurel Creek, definitely makes some claims that cannot be substantiated and are a little more rabid than I prefer, but some good points to remember.

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10:43 am - Farm Orginizations

Organizations we might want to look into joining and or keeping a close eye on for useful info:

Tilth Producers of Washington
Tilth Producers of Washington, a Chapter of Washington Tilth Association, is the premier organic farming and sustainable agriculture organization of Washington State. A membership organization of over 400 Washington growers, Tilth Producers fosters and promotes ecologically sound, sustainable agriculture in the interest of environmental preservation, human health and social equity.

They also have a program for matching up apprentices/interns with farm who would like them.

Certified Naturally Grown
This is basically the same requirements as the FDA "organic" label, but without the prohibitively costly tests. Farms check up on each other to keep everyone above boards.

Slow Food
Slow Food USA envisions a future food system that is based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice – in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to catalyze a broad cultural shift away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and fast life; toward the regenerative cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.

Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network
The Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network (the Network) is a grassroots, statewide advocacy organization for sustainable agriculture and family farms in Washington State. Through education, grassroots organizing, policy advocacy and lobbying, the Network has become a leading voice for sustainable agriculture and a key catalyst for change in food and farming policies and practices in Washington State.

Network members include farmers, environmental organizations, farmers' markets, faith-based groups, the natural foods industry, community organizations, anti-hunger and nutrition advocates, educators and individuals like you who are investing in a healthy future by supporting sustainable agriculture.

The Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association
t is the oldest, non-chemical agricultural movement and pre-dates organic agriculture by some twenty years. Biodynamics does more than avoid chemicals and seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. Biodynamics is a world-wide agricultural movement. Farms may be certified Biodynamic by the Demeter Association, an international certifier.

Honestly, this one looks a little kooky, have to investigate further. Not sure if it's just what we're after (working with nature instead of against her) or just a bunch of crazy new agers (with their whole 'ohh, the moon and the stars should be in the correct alignment to produce Truly Healthy Food).

Substainable Agriculture Research and Education
They provide grants to people doing work in how to be more sustainable. They also provide a large amount of very good information.

Organic Matierials Research Institute
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a national nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed—or approved—products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program (or, of course, CNG).

current mood: cheerful

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Friday, January 11th, 2008
11:26 am - Quail

Quail info:

100 quail should go through about 25 pounds of feed in a month.

cut for length )

Links: - Lots of very technical stuff on feeding quail.

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Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
4:55 pm

Last night when I got home, I peeked in on the chicks who were happily chirping away and either eating or huddled together for warmth, some right up under the heat lamp with their feather's all fluffed. Before we went to Philadelphia, Smeg and I had realized that the chics could not be left in their open boxes in the garage. For one thing, they were getting too big. For another, there was no way to protect them. If we closed the door from the outside to the garage, the dog wouldn't be able to get in and out, and if we left it open, they were vulnerable to predators that might get into the garage, like the neighborhood cats. So, we moved them. We built an enclosure under our deck, covered the deck with tarps to keep the rain and wet off them, hung heat lamps from under the deck. We built a little half wall of straw bales all around them then put chicken wire from the straw bales (driven into the straw bales with tent pegs) and stapled it to the deck so they were all fully enclosed. To keep our cats and other's out, we ran one strip of chicken wire across the top of the one open area. Unfortunately, we ran out and used a lenth of screen (like for windows) on the last bit.

Up until now, it worked beautifully. The babies are 2 months and 1 week old, they've got plenty of room to run about, a large box that is their "coop", that is mostly open on the top so that the heat lamp can shine in. We just wanted them to get used to the idea of going into a coop for the night. Despite a few lingering worries about the cold, they were doing wonderfully with the heat lamps.

Last night, despite the 20 degree weather I was grilling steaks on the deck when I heard the chicks making a bit of a ruckus, which happens sometimes, but one of them was seriously squawking. I thought it was hurt, so I asked Smeg to please go out and check on them thinking one had gotten stuck between the coop box and the straw bale. Which happens on occasion. Chickens are not the brightest birds.

Cut for not happy news )

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Friday, November 2nd, 2007
12:43 pm

offbeatentrack good comes from me being bored at work:

business card )

Egg carton label )

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Monday, October 22nd, 2007
3:16 pm - To Do

To Do Before Spring

Get Master License - $15
Get Egg Handler/Dealer License - $30
Get Seals - $2.68
Create Graphics for Boxes/Business Cards
Get Egg Cartons - $30?
Website up.

Also, look into getting graphics ASAP. We could sell through the winter via craigslist, I see there's someone in C'DA, Spokane Valley, and Newport, but no one up in our area.

I'm debating over the egg cartons. I like the idea of plastic which we ask a deposit on, much like you do with milk. But not sure that will work well for the over-the-winter thing, as they are ten times as expensive as the cardboard or foam. Once we start selling at the farm's market I can see people liking the idea of re-using the plastic cartons. I think I like these:

Recycled materials, 200 for $30 plus S&H. Or only $24 for misprinted ones, which, considering we want to put our own label on anyway, would work fine.

current mood: cheerful

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Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
10:53 am - Random links and ideas

We're going to need windbreaks. I'd like to make them out of trees I can use. Nut trees which will also give us some nice wood. Chestnuts and Oak also give chestnuts and acorns for hogs. I want to try some pecans. Everything I've read says they are grow zone 5-9 and we're zone six. Also maybe walnuts or pine nuts.
Nut growing
Also, they are good add-on values.

Chestnut trees, hybrid easy peel strain

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
2:22 pm - Pigs

Information on chestnut/acorn finished hogs. Not something that will be useful, but some interesting information:
*Note lower sat fat content

A food critic talks about chestnut finished pork

Where to buy chestnut trees:

Competitor! *g*

AHA! How to make cured ham! articles on hams

Northern nut growers association

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8:32 am - Fencing

Information on Fencing.

Woven wire and electric:
$91 for 55lb box of staples 1.2" long, barbed
$169.00 for Goat/Sheep fencing 10 gauge/47" high/6" spacing 330 foot roll Guide to planning fences
PDF that will help estimate the cost of fencing.

Stock panels
Combination panels 50" high and 16' long with 4 guage wire are 21.5 per panel
they also have wood posts 8' by 4" that are $6.60 treated wood.

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Monday, October 8th, 2007
12:34 pm

This weekend, Smeg and I went out to the local farming community to pick apples so I can make applesauce. We stopped at one place that had a gift shop and as we were wandering around, I found a stuffed peacock!

We bought it of course. It's now the Peacock Ranch mascot...if I can get Mara to stop taking it.

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Thursday, September 20th, 2007
11:28 am - General Help for farming

The phone number for the farm family support network through the WSU extension office.
Loans for new farmers
Suggestsions for spread sheets for expenses and monthly cash flow planning. Articles on how to talk to your banker, how to deal with rural change stress, the future of dairies. HUGE amount of information
text on how to select profitble products for your farm, including how to market them.

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Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
10:25 am - Reading bloodlines

Smeg and I are thinking of going with a Nubian/Alpine cross for our goats. But we think we'd rather do the crossing ourselves by getting Nubian or Alpine does and doing AI with them. We aren't having bucks for several reasons, but the main one being they smell and they like to piss on themselves. Yes, we're serious.

So, today I'm doing some checking on Nubian and Alpines both does and AI straws. This of course leads to pureblood breeders.
Here is a sample of what they post:
5/150 AA CH Cherry Glen TRI Alice Aladdin AA1112393 (GCH Tangleroot Royal Image X GCH Foxhaven Molhead Alice) 40 straws
5/200 AA SGCH Cherry Glen MMM Aliceander AA1062153 (Madera SOS Mr. Majestic X GCH Foxhaven Molhead Alice) 20 straws
5/100 AA Cherry Glen Ideal Earl AA1179361 (Cherry Glen Radical Idea X GCH Sweet Dreams A Lil Etee 6*M) 30 Straws
5/100 AA Cherry Glen Dynamo Eros AA1115581 (Soft Mist Vision's Dynamo X GCH Sweet Dreams A Lil E'tee 6*M) 34 straws
5/250 AA SGCherry Glen WFSC Esquire AA1176644 (Walnut Fork Sundance Cheyenne X GCH Cherry Glen Teehead Eileen 7*M)

So we managed to decipher that the information in the paranthesies is the Sire and Dam. Okay. One? They have too many names. So the first name is the name of the farm . Cherry Glen or Tangleroot or Madera, then the name of the animal. So then I'm trying to figure out what the SGHC, GHC and CH stands for.

I decided to go to acronym finder and do a search for GHC. This is what I got: Ghanaian Cedi (ISO currency code)
GHC Group Health Cooperative (Seattle, Washington)
GHC Global Hybrid Cooperation (GM, BMW & DaimlerChrysler)
GHC Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
GHC Global Health Council (formerly National Council for International Health)
GHC Grays Harbor College (Aberdeen, Washington, US)
GHC Geo-Heat Center (Oregon Institute of Technology)
GHC Governor’s Hurricane Conference
GHC General Housing Corporation
GHC Georgia Heritage Council
GHC Glasgow Hardcore
GHC Green Hairy Caterpillar
GHC Guidance Heater Controller
GHC Guidance, Homing, Control

I finally realized that it was likely Grand High Champion, Supreme High Grand Champion and Champion. However from now until the day I die, GHC will mean Green Hairy Caterpillar.

In my mind there is now a goat out there named Green Hairy Caterpillar Tangleroot Royal Image. And you thought celebrities were bad to their children.

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