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Why you’re getting soft shell eggs

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

The importance of knowing your plants

When you have little kids, farm animals or just everyday pets, it is important to know what is in your yard. Especially the plants. I have been silent this last week because I made a huge mistake and have been trying to fix it ever since. Last Tuesday, Brianna and I were browsing at Walmart while waiting for Cailin to get done at bookclub. We found this really beautiful flower plant that I thought would be perfect in her butterfly garden. We bought it not really thinking of the consequences. A couple days later, 2 of my chickens came down sick. They were lethargic and not eating or drinking anything. I thought it was impact crop or sour crop. I tried to find answers online. Until I finally did an inspection of their free range area.

Foxglove~ extremely poisonous

Foxglove~ extremely poisonous

They had eaten some of the leaves off of my daughters plant. We didn’t even know what kind of plant it was when we bought it. That was our first mistake. I started doing image searches online and after many hours finally found what it was and cross searched with being poisonous to chickens. It is, extremely poisonous. Even to humans if eaten!

I brought my 2 babies in the house and had a little hospital room going on. I force-fed them water and electrolytes and basically just tried to keep them warm. But honestly they ate so much there was nothing I could really do other than make them feel comfortable and loved.

RIP Nutmeg and Big Bertha

RIP Nutmeg and Big Bertha

Just hours after I took this picture, my little nutmeg said her good-bye.

Nutmeg as a baby

Nutmeg as a baby

I know a momma shouldn’t have favorites, but she was mine.

And as I was beginning this post, Big Bertha had a seizure and died right next to me.

Big Bertha then

Big Bertha as a baby

Big Bertha was my best layer. I will definitely miss those big beautiful brown eggs.

I honestly feel responsible. My chickens depended on me to keep them safe. And they also trusted me wholeheartedly. I truly believed they thought everything in the garden area is good for them because I would never do anything to hurt them. My carelessness has cost me 2 of my beloved chickens.

But going forward, I will be very careful and do my research first. I will not buy any plant just because it is pretty.

We’re Incubating!!!

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That’s right people! I am expecting!!!! Expecting feathered babies in the next few weeks! We started incubating some eggs from our neighbor on Saturday. And can I just say I am so excited!

But at the same time, I feel as though I am expecting! The first 48 hours felt like the whole first trimester! I was nauseous, anxious, nervous and overwhelmed. Plus I couldn’t sleep at all. Now that I got the temperature just right and I see everything is working the way it is suppose too, it feels like the 2nd trimester has kicked in. I am so calm and relaxed. Just peeking in every so often to see how things are cooking. I don’t even want to know how I am going to be during the hatching! I may need a lamaze training to gear up for this. It’s been 5 years for me you know. And this time I can’t even get an epidural! GOOD GRIEF!

But anyways back to my eggs. I have 6 chicken eggs and 3 duck eggs in there right now. And did mention the kids are learning about birds right now. So guess what counts as science too! WOOT WOOT!

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I wanted to start off small and see how hard it is to hatch eggs. But I can guarantee you that if this is a success, I will be getting some more eggs to go in there. What kind I have no idea! But I would love to turn my hobby into a little business eventually.

At least, that is my dream for the future.

 

Don’t rush! Building a homestead takes time.

It’s been about a year that I have become interested in homesteading. I mean I have always said I wanted a farm or ranch, but 2014 was the year that I really got involved and learning about the hows and whys.

This time last year, I thought, I’m going to get some chickens and throw some seeds in the ground and there will be my farm.

UM…..NO! Doesn’t work like that.

My chickens have had illnesses and injuries. I have also had to do things to heal them that I never thought I would ever do. (Hello, bumblefoot surgery!) I also ran out and bought 12 chicks without having a plan for a coop.

And guess what my seeds didn’t grow very well. In fact nothing did! All of my plants would start off strong and then stop. My dirt is mostly sand and not enough nutrients.

I started off thinking that for 2015 I would expand. I would get some pigs, ducks and anything else I could convince my hubby to let me have. I would double the garden and eventually have enough to feed us and sell.

But in the last few days of looking at my garden, I realized I needed to take a step back. None of those dreams are going to be possible without a little research and preparations.

So I readjusting my goals for the year.

  1. Add a few more chicks (layers) and add some ducks.
  2. Tear up the majority of my garden and start working the dirt. I am getting some worms and adding compost and other nutrients.
  3. Start composting! Build a compost bin.
  4. Research caring for pigs, find a butcher and locate local organic feed.
  5. Try to go back to basics on as much as possible (food, cleaners, and hygiene) and continue to remove all GMO products from our house.

Don’t try to do everything at one time. Take the time to research and know what your doing and why your doing it. In the long run, you want to become self sufficient and time is your friend. Because the more you rush, the more screw ups you’ll have and the more money you would’ve wasted. Eventually not seeing progress and seeing money fly down the toilet will make you want to give up and quit.