Archives

Why you’re getting soft shell eggs

DSC_0230

 

 

When I first thought of getting some chickens many years ago, I thought oh it’s easy, throw some food, give them some water and collect eggs. OH BOY! Was I naive!?

After 2 of my babies died, I realized there is a lot more to it to keep your flock healthy and happy. So many things could go wrong! I decided that I wanted to raise them as naturally as possible. Using no antibiotics, unless as a last resort, and trying all holistic methods. We also switched to Organic feed. Because if we are going to do it naturally then go all the way!

When my girls started laying, it was so exciting! I had one start, then a few days later I would have 2 laying and so on. But then one day, I found this in the nesting box. Two eggs laid by the same chicken (I know this because I only had 1 more to start laying at the time), but both eggs had soft shells. One would always be broke and the other intact, but squishy.

Let me start by saying I flipped out when this happened.

But then my quest for knowledge started and I was determined to find out why my chicken was laying these no shell eggs. My hubby looked it up right away the first time and said it can be common in new layers. I accepted that and moved on with my week.

3 weeks later I was still getting them here and there, so to the internet I went.

After much research and question asking on forums, I came to the conclusion that it was probably lack of calcium. She is a little low in the pecking order, so maybe the higher ups were keeping her from getting the oyster shell she needed. She just needed a little help.

I bought plain organic yogurt and took some of the egg shells from some eggs I used up and made an egg laying soup. My chickens actually hates oyster shells. I have never seen them touch the stuff. I still offer it but also offer monthly crushed egg shells.

Now the rules for giving chickens egg shells for calcium:

  1. Only egg shells that were from eggs from your flock. No store bought and no other farm’s fresh eggs. You don’t want any contamination.
  2. Dry your eggshells really good. During the summer I use to put them outside in the hot sun for some natural baking. During the winter or bad weather, just bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes and then cool.
  3. Make sure you crush or pulverize the shells. Easier for them to digest and they won’t recognize it as an egg or you might have trouble.

Use your food processor (warning: the egg shells will smell YUK!) and then add the amount of yogurt you think would feed your flock. I use one of the small cups or 1/2 of a bigger container.

DSC_0231

Now I did say that Nutmeg was low on the pecking order so I put down one dish on one side of the run for the higher ups. And because Nutmeg is a little spoiled, she knows to follow me because I will let her eat out of the bag of worms or container of food where no one can bother her. I knew she would get her fair share from the second bowl on the other side before the others discovered it.

I have to say I really think it worked. We have had no problems since. And I do this about once a month just to make sure everyone is getting their calcium fix.

 

This post was part of the blog hop on Oak Hill Homestead.

Chicken math

DSC_0009

A year ago, I decided to buy 6 little chicks from Tractor Supply. Then a few days later, I went by and fell in love and bought 6 more. Out of 12, I had 10 survive and thrive. 3 roosters and 7 hens, little did I know that would send me on a journey that I never would have imagine. A wonderful journey of homesteading and learning about all natural/organic ways to raise animals and gardening. My hubby and extended family thinks I am crazy. My kids love it because of all the animals. But the most important thing is how happy I am doing this and learning. My friends on facebook now call me crazy chicken lady. I am constantly getting friends posting things like the chicken diaper or chicken leash (most ridiculous thing ever, I don’t need a leash they follow me willingly). But this is my life now and I couldn’t be more insane happy with the decision to buy 12 lil chicks.

At the beginning of the year, I had 9 chickens, 7 hens and 2 roosters. One rooster was getting a little crazy so he was rehomed to a farm with a lot of girls for him. Then is March, I lost 2 of my hens to poison. So by spring, I only had 6 chickens. 5 hens and a frizzle bantam rooster that can’t even mate because he is so small.

At this point, my obsession for hatching eggs began. First there was 4 that hatched, then 3, 18, 8, and last 15. I hatched out 5 different batches of chicken eggs. Along with 2 batches of duck eggs.

DSC_0141

Then I got a call from my aunt about the school hatching eggs but no place to take the chicks. And I also made the mistake of going by the feed store the same day and seeing some little ducklings.

Then I saw someone selling pullets (girls) and I had to have them. Then I ordered 15 polish chicks! So how many chickens do we have!?! 57! 51 chickens and 6 ducks.

36 are undetermined meaning they haven’t shown their rooster or hen side yet. Or in the ducks case duck or drake.

2 bantam roosters I am trying to rehome for their sake since they are so little, my bigger ones will probably beat them up.

So far I do know that I have 13 girls chickens and 1 girl duck. And 5 roosters.

ducks

In the end, I am planning on keeping only 4 roosters (maybe less depending on attitude) and most of the girls. All of my ducks will stay unless I end up with a lot of drakes which I don’t think I will. And any roosters over what I want to keep will become dinner. Most of the polish chicks are going to be sold. I only wanted a few for Dakota, but of course there is a 15 minimum purchase and I couldn’t find any locally. And I pray I have done enough research to be able to tell a boy from a girl.

2 of my goals this year was to expand my flock and add ducks! Mission accomplished.

DSC_0163

Am I completely done with raising chicks? UM hell no! Have you seen how adorable these little babies are! But I am more interested in the hatching and selling aspect now. I also will be adding meat chickens and turkeys next year.

 

 

The last summer I will have..

Well it’s official! I have a senior in high school! How or when this happened I have no idea. But if anyone sees the guy that sold me the stay young forever potion, let me know because it didn’t work. Instead here we are, enjoying the last summer we will have before adulthood takes one of our daughters. This is also the last summer before all four of my kids are school age. Yup, I have one finishing their school journey while another one begins. Crazy! Even though we don’t have any vacations planned, I am still trying to be around and involved as much as possible before I am not needed anymore. And also taking this time to lecture as much as possible.

This also may be the last summer we have our great dane, Duece. He is 9 yrs old and is having some leg problems. The pain is getting worse everyday for him and he just gives this look like it’s time. So we are calling our vet out next week and finding out our options.

I also have my middle daughter turning 16, going on a plane for the first time and taking her first vacation without me and finishing up driver’s ed.

There are also some big decisions to be made about my special needs daughter this summer.

Maybe I should have titled this the summer of letting go…. because that is what it seems like. So if I am around a lot less or seem like I disappeared, don’t worry just juggling too many balls in the air right now.

Let me tell ya a story about Lucky the Duck

Gather round boys and girls, I’m gonna tell ya about a duck named Lucky and why she is named Lucky.

This year I really just wanted to add ducks to my homestead. I have always had a love for ducks and Koda really wanted some too. So I decided (after much research) that I wanted to hatch them. My neighbor has ducks and she gave me some eggs. But they turned out to be infertile. So I order 6 eggs off of ebay.

The eggs came in and they were beautiful looking. I let them sit and settle from all the bumps of being shipped. And then I put them in the incubator. 28 days later it was hatching day. Except it wasn’t. Nothing happened. 2 eggs pipped and I could see a beak. But that was it for about 24 hours. One duck ended up getting shrink wrapped in it’s shell. I could see the other one was still moving so Hubby and I decided to perform a c-section.

We got the lil’ gal out, but her yolk wasn’t absorbed and she was having a hard time. We told the kids not to get too excited because we didn’t know if she would survive or not. This was Easter Sunday and my family that came over was convinced she wasn’t going to survive.

I left her in the incubator for 2 days while her yolk absorbed and her umbilical cord dried enough that I could cut it. I moved her into a separate brooder in the office away from high traffic and noise. That is when I realized she couldn’t walk. She would flop on her back if you stood her up. She would just stay where ever you put her.

Hubby immediately started doing research on his computer while I was on the other. We both came to the conclusion that it was probably spraddle leg. Using the Fresh Eggs Daily website, we followed the directions for wrapping her legs. I knew it was going to take a lot of work to get this duck to survive. This was when my Hubby said “if this duck survives, we should name her Lucky.”

Every hour my cell alarm would go off and I would go in to help her eat and drink. I would stand her up and brace her up with my hand on her back. I would let her take some steps on her own, guiding her to the food and water. If she fell, I would get her right back up again.

About 24 hours of this and I realized her neck wasn’t quite right. So more research confirmed wry neck. I immediately started adding Nutri-drench to her water. That quickly fixed her neck problem.

DSC_0715

Back to the leg problem, I probably did this every hour thing for 2 days. At night, I made sure she got food before I went to bed and immediately when I woke up at 4:30 am. Every day, I did the little therapy with her. Getting her upright and forcing her to walk. I also gave her a stuffed puppy to cuddle with. I then realized I could prop her up between the legs of the dog and that would help also. Then one day I found her on the other side of the brooder from where I left her. So I started standing her up and watching, within a week she was moving about all on her own. She was a little wobbly, but she was walking normally and that was all that mattered.

DSC_0762      DSC_0767

She was about 2 weeks old at this point and  I knew we needed some real duck friends. I saw an ad on Craigslist and went to go look at ducklings who were the same age as our little one. Except I quickly realized that she much, much smaller and that would never work. I didn’t want them bulldozing her. So I held off.

I had some chicks I was selling, but there was one that my kids just really loved. So before the lady came to buy them all. I swiped that lil one up and stuck in the brooder with Lucky. At first, they weren’t happy. They stared at each other like what are you. But they quickly become best friends.

DSC_0009

 

Then I had some more eggs hatch and I put the chicks in there with them also. She became the little mother duck to 9 chicks.

DSC_0013     DSC_0783

This all started on Easter weekend, April 4th. As I am writing this it is June 1st and I can report that Lucky is doing fantastic! She is outside with my big girls, teenagers and her little kids.

DSC_0058            DSC_0042

 

She hates water, but loves mealworms! I tried to separate her from her babies and it didn’t go over very well. So I moved the little kids outside with her in a playpen. She calls for her babies and they call for her. They are very much attached to each other. It is really sweet! I honestly don’t think she knows she is a duck. I think she thinks she is a chicken. I bought and hatched 5 more ducks and she doesn’t care about them, just her little babies.

It was a lot of work, but completely worth it in the end.

Check out my facebook page to see the video of when I tried to separate Lucky from her babies.

 

This post has been linked up at The Chicken Chick and Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

 

One gigantic post!

It’s been so long since I posted on the blog that I honestly don’t know where to begin. So many changes have happened. It has truly been a busy time around here. I guess starting with why I was MIA would be good. Well it was tax season and as my hubby’s go to tax preparer, I had to deal with his crazy bookkeeping skills and that usually takes me a while. Now that the weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I can get back to my life.

Also we have been doing A LOT of projects around the homestead.

We fixed a lot of the mangled fencing that was around our property and expanded our driveway so Hubby could get his deliveries easier. Then with the old fencing we made a huge chicken run where my babies could free range but still be safe from my dogs. So every morning I go out and let the Bozos out to have their fun with the bugs and leaves. And when they free range all the time, they are also allowed to play in the rain. And even though I read chickens hate water. Mine sure do love standing in the rain.

DSC_0687

We also redid the liner in the our pool. Well not me, but the kids and hubby. I’ll explain where I was in a little while.

Have I ever mentioned how wonderful it is to have DIY hubby?!? He saves us so much money. And the things he figures out how to do on his own or by watching a YouTube video still blows my mind. Everyone should find themselves DIYer!

He got the pool drained, liner switch with a better build up on the bottom of the pool and refilled in 3 days. And that was with a nasty storm coming through! But one thing I truly love is the redneck inside of him. He truly comes up with some crazy inventions to make the job easier or quicker. See I thought using his pickup to level gravel was crazy. Then there was the time I drove his box truck around the yard to every tree while he rode on top and would cut the branches. But this one I think is the best. Prepare yourselves!

DSC_0720 DSC_0718

Yup that’s right! A redneck water hose. What will he think of next? I am a little afraid!

DSC_0717 DSC_0716 DSC_0719

And of course Dakota had to test the pool as it was filling up. That will be the last time he touches the floor for a few years.

While the kids and Dad were having fun in the sun (it was extremely hot that weekend), I was inside in the daycare/maternity center/ICU.

Daycare because I had some babies to tend to. My first 2 hatchings were growing. I got 4 out of 6 the first time. But then the 2nd round only 3 out of 10 hatched. So I put them together to bond.

DSC_0663The first 4. I ended up with 2 boys and 2 girls (I hope) from this bunch.

DSC_0677Here is the first 4 starting to get their big feathers with the oldest from the second batch snuggling between.

Now my second batch had a little surprise in it. One we knew might be possible, but secretly I hoped it wouldn’t.

DSC_0681A turken! Not this is not what you get when a turkey and chicken mate. This is an actual breed of chicken also known as the Naked Neck Chicken. My kids fell in love. I went to give these to my neighbor, much to my kids disappointment. But she said keep them. So you could imagine the excitement when I walked back in with all 3 chickens.

DSC_0750 DSC_0749Here is him from about a week or so ago. Not much better, but my son has claimed him, so he is a keeper.

This group of babies are out in the coop in the getting to know each other stage. At night they go into a dog cage and then I place them in the coop. During the day they either play in the run of the coop or go outside to their play area.

DSC_0001

But before they left the daycare, there was much commotion in the nursery.

DSC_0007

 

We had a successful hatch! 18 out of 22 eggs hatched, but we lost 4. So we ended up with 14 chicks! Let me just say, we knew exactly when the first one was hatched because my older ones were in the living room going crazy. The family and I were eating dinner and the noise level went up 10 decibel. My older ones were squawking and lunging at the side of their brooder trying to get out. It was crazy!  These little ones I sold. But I did keep one little special one. Because I needed a friend for my ICU patient.

This little guy or gal deserves a post all of it’s own, so look for that soon. But I wanted to briefly tell you about our duck eggs that were in the incubator. So the first 9 weren’t fertile. Then I ordered 6 off of Ebay. They were doing great. And then hatch day came. I had 2 pip. After 12+ hours of waiting after they pipped, nothing was happening. So on Easter morning, hubby and I went in there and C-sectioned it out. One was still alive, but the other one had died before I got to it. Needless to say, none of us thought this tiny duck would make it. Most websites said it won’t and then it had a lot of problems so I told everyone who wanted to see the little duckling that day that I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Let’s just say he or she has been officially named Lucky. Look for a post on Lucky’s story with pictures and an update in a few days.

Then this past weekend, I hatched 8 out of 12 eggs. These are purebred chicks. I have 4 Olive eggers, 2 bantam duckwings, and 2 mixed sexlink. It is kinda nice not having to play guess that breed for a change.

Also in the process of all this, we had acquired 4 rabbits from a friend of a family member.

Rabbits DSC_0706 DSC_0705

 

These were not the friendliest bunnies. Only the white was easily handled. But he was an escape artist. They came with cages that were falling a part. So I had to put more money in then I thought I would have too. But in the end, the kids decided to give them sell them to people who knew how to handle rabbits. Eventually we will get some bunnies to raise, but I’m not in a rush. Plus the kids have gotten very specific on what breed they want.

We also took in a couple of ducks from a vet office. Apparently, they get ducklings a lot. But this time they got a full grown duck and a juvenile duck. My contact brought them out and within a few hours I had found them some wonderful homes.

DSC_0027

So as you can see, we have been very busy around here. And don’t expect us to slow down. I have 12 more duck eggs in the incubator. And 24 eggs on the way as I type. They should be here in a day or so. 12 are silkies and 12 are barnyard mix. Plus we are in the process of buying a shed. Hubby is really swamped with work or else we would build it. But there is no time and not sure when there will be. My youngest daughter has started digging up the grass in our new garden area. I am planning for a fall crop. But am hoping to plant some sunflowers soon. Plus I promised her a butterfly garden. But don’t worry all plants will be chicken safe and fenced in so none of my babies can get to it. My neighbor wants me to hatch some turkeys. So I might look into that in the future. We almost had a pig, but the trade deal fell through. Don’t be surprise when a couple of those pop up on here.

So just to recap. I have:

6 big kid chickens, 7 teenage chicks, 9 baby chicks in the house, 1 duckling, 12 duck eggs in the incubator and 24 more eggs on the way. So officially I am up to 22 poultry on my little farm.

And by the way. I have officially named our little homestead. Triple F Farm!

I was going to go with Feather Tail Land. Since I love Disney. But the I realized I have some of the craziest chickens around. And with the kids and the hubby, I always feel like I am losing my sanity. So Ford Funny Farm it is, or Triple F Farm for a more professional sound.

 

This post is being shared on Simple Life Mom.

What’s cooking Wednesday~ Fruit Salad

A little side note: Yes I know it is Thursday and this segment is called what’s cooking Wednesday. But yesterday I kept forgetting it was Wednesday. And then when I went to write this post I thought I lost my pictures. I looked through all of the SD cards and convinced myself that I had gone crazy and lost them. Then this morning, I was browsing through my pictures I have saved online and VOILA! They appeared here waiting for me to write this post the whole time! I blame this on the time change and Mommy brain.

Here it is! The long awaited Fruit Salad recipe to go with my quiches. My hubby and kids love this super simple recipe.

 

 

DSC_0237

1 20oz can pineapple; crushed

2 small cans mandarin oranges or 1 large can

1 pkg. strawberry jello

1 tub cool whip or homemade whipped cream

2 cups cottage cheese

Combine the cottage cheese, jello and fruit. Mix together.

DSC_0235

I usually make homemade whipped cream by beating 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with a tbs of sugar and 2 tsp vanilla. This is why my fruit salad takes a little longer.

Add either cool whip or homemade whipped cream to cottage cheese mix and fold in gently. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then serve chilled.

You can add a little bit of nuts. I used to do this but got away from it when my son started eating it because he hates nuts. But honestly, nobody notices  complains about them not being in there.

There you have it folks, simple, easy and yummy! This would make a great side dish to that ham you are planning on fixing for Easter.

 

Family Funny!

I love my kids so much! They are joy of my life! I can’t imagine my life without them. But sometimes, there are moments, when I am shocked, worried and fearful of the things they do or things that come out of their mouth. Like the “please don’t tell people you are homeschooled” stuff!

I was telling my mom the weekly update on the kids. Moments of insanity, joy and craziness. And she said you need to blog this stuff. And my reply was “Mom, I don’t think anyone will believe me! I truly think they will think I am making it up. I will get hate mail on how I claim to be Non-fiction, but my stories are fake.”

So I am going to give it a try!

First up is Lil Man. As you all know, we lost 2 of our chickens. Well after the first one passed, there was a lot of dinner time discussion over what happened to be chicken dinner night. (the irony, right) My hubby being him said our chicken, nutmeg tasted good, to freak the kids out. Then the discussion turned to zombies (of course) and then about the zombie cat who was buried and then dug her way out of her grave.

Well the next morning, Big Bertha passed. We moved her out to the shed to let her pass out of kids view. Well about noon the kids and I went out to bury her because at 7 she was on her way out she must be dead by now. And hubby left for a job so I was on my own with this. We went out to get her and the cage to take to the back of the property. As we pulled the cage out of the shed, her eyes flew opened! And Dakota started running around in circles yelling “Zombie Chicken, Zombie Chicken!” And then asked if we should just hit her over the head like in The Walking Dead. SHEESH!!!!

Next is Bri. My youngest daughter who is special needs. We had an appointment about a month ago with a new psychiatrist. And until the last year, we really haven’t gotten any true diagnosis on what she is labeled as and what to expect. Well this doctor said something as far as job training centers and assisted living. Okay, so after Bri and I went to the grocery store and it was just her and me so I took the opportunity to discuss how this may affect her in the long run. I don’t want her to be okay with oh, I can’t because I’m different, but I also don’t want the future to be a shock to her. Plus her mind works at a much lower maturity level and she has language expression delays so I knew she didn’t understand the doctor. Well it takes about 24 hours for things to click for Bri and all of a sudden I found her in her room crying. I asked what’s wrong and she said I am not going to live very long. I was shocked and confused. Then she said you said that when we were going into the grocery store. At this point, I am trying not to laugh. I explained everything again. And then asked her how long she was in here crying about it and she said awhile. Then I really did LOL! And told her that if I had that kind of news to give her it wouldn’t be at a grocery store.

“Bri, we need to go to the store.”

“What do we need Mom?”

“We need milk, bread and by the way, aisle 3 sells caskets now and your going to need one soon.”

Luckily, humor is the diffuser for my SN child. And by this point, she realized how silly it was and was hysterically laughing. We both were!

I swear these are true stories!

If you want to see more blog post like this, leave a comment or click the like button! Believe me there is more where that came from, so many that I may have to start writing them down. SMH!