No Longer Wannabes!

We have officially moved in to our little slice of the pie! I am sooo happy here! Its beautiful, its relaxing, its everything I wanted it to be. Mostly. ­čÖé

So much has happened in such a short period of time I don’t even know where to start.

Our second night here I moved the chickens brooder to the covered porch. I wanted them to get used to rising with the sun and being in the natural air, rather than in the AC with a heat lamp since they are now 6 weeks old. They were very happy. It was pretty cool watching them all march in as the sun went down. Their second night living this way, a fox broke in, took the lid off our brooder, and ate my favorite chicken, Hazel. Hazel who came when I said her name and insisted on sitting on my shoulder. I cried as I picked up the only 3 feathers she left behind. I can’t even think about it. So now I’ve sealed up the door, put their temporary coop on the porch, sealed that up and made it everything proof, and make sure they’re tucked in before it gets dark. My poor girls.

My husband felt so bad for me we bought 5 more baby chicks. So now our flock is 12 strong.

3 buff orpingtons
1 blue orpington
2 silver wyandottes
1 golden wyandotte
1 barred old english
2 silkies – 1 white, 1 blue
1 easter egger
and 1 golden laced polish

Thats a lot of chickens. Today we started making plans on our coop and how ginormous I want it to be and all the little details that will go into that. I think my husband is completely overwhelmed. We’re building it ourselves out of whatever we can get our hands on. Which means our kids old play house, our old deck and railings, some plywood and various other pieces of wood we had sitting around, and pallets. Doesn’t that sound like its gonna be beautiful!

Yesterday my oldest son and I took a tour of the land, since we have literally never done that before. I love it here.

Here are the pictures I took of our little homestead.

Image

This is the view from the living room

Image

free rangers… for now

Image

the darker patch of grass in the center is a pond. The grass growing in it is well over 5 feet tall. its beautiful down there. My plan is to plant various berries and melons on the hill leading to the pond. Maybe some potatoes too if I can get it sandy enough nearer to the water.

Image

To the right of these red bud tress will be where we’re putting the raised garden beds. Our long term plan is to do a “back to eden” garden, but for right now, raised beds it is. Its mostly due to us sharing the land with our landlord and not knowing what he’s going to want us doing while he lives here (for not long) right now he’s out of the country so we can’t discuss it. We plan on having everything started before he gets back. So next spring, this will likely all be tilled and ready to do its natural thing.

Image

Zephyr making morning friends with Opal, who is ever curious about our littlest boy.

Image

my farm girl. Whether she knows it yet or not.

Image

This is the “orchard”. We’ve got 15 fruit trees planted here. I’m waiting to see how these do with them being planted in this area. They were newly planted just before we moved in. We’ve got several different apples, pears, peaches and some cherries. We’ve already sampled the cherries. They were deliciously tart.

Image

This is where our coop will go. Probably. I think.

Image

the pond. We’ll have to come up with an official name. Because thats what you do on a farm. Everything must have a name!

Image

Shoes just get muddy!

Image

This was supposed to be a picture of my chickens who like to hang out on these logs, but they decided it was nap time, which is apparently taken on the porch.

Image

 

One last thing. I am no longer fermenting the girls feed. I’ve wasted too much and I have no idea what i’m doing, even when I follow step by step instructions. The last batch was beautiful and foamy. Smelled nice, the birds practically attacked it, then it would suddenly rot. I had my son dump it in the pond. He said he almost threw up. So I’ll have to try that again at a later date. I’m going to start a worm farm and grow them some fodder, so maybe I’ll try again with the fermenting when its not their only source of food. Organic feed is expensive!

Soon to come: coop building, garden bed building, and beekeeping classes!

 

Chooks

Just kidding, I call them chickens. I just think its cute that people in other countries seem to call their chickens chooks.

I have 8 chickens. 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte, and 1 Barred Old English. I think.

Image

On a friday 3 weeks ago we headed out to buy some chicks from a local hatchery. I promised my husband I would not come home with more than 7 chicks, even though we had agreed on 5. “I promise, no more than seven!”. That seemed like a logical agreement. Besides, the city says we can have 15. I figure 7 is a good compromise to that law. So off we went. I took the 4 big kids and we were so excited! I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had called the evening before so I knew the chicks had hatched the day before. All the Wyandottes would be sexed, but the Orpingtons were up in the air. My goal was to get 3 Buffs, 2 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, and 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes. Even though I still wanted a Golden Laced. I was already having issues with my chicken math.

When we got there we could hear the cheeping before we even opened the car door. This wasn’t the actual hatchery we were at. That was a couple hours away. This was a ┬ámeeting place where one of the guys would bring chicks. There were hundreds of them lined in cardboard boxes. Poor little cold babies. We all jumped out of the car and were racing to the steps. I shut the car door and grabbed Meadows hand so we could stay together. Apparently I slammed the car door on my 9 year olds finger. He screamed the scream of death. Over and over and over. It seemed like slow motion. I was only a few feet away, but I couldn’t get to him fast enough. The whole place (other than the chicks) went quiet. It was only the tip of his finger, and he was ok, but it took us several more minutes to get to the chicks. He had changed his mind and wanted to go home. Poor little guy. Eventually we make it to the cheeping babies.

No Blue Laced Reds. I was so bummed! I think I even made some strange disappointed sound at the guy.

Ok then fine. 4 Buff Orpingtons sex unknown, 2 Silver Laced Pullets and 1 Golden Laced Pullet.

My son was crying again. He has a very low tolerance for pain. Apparently the chicken man (thats what I’m calling the guy selling the chicks) felt really bad. He said “I saw you smash your finger in the car door. Go ahead and pick out any chick you want. You can just have it.”. Oh yes! Please give my son another chicken! They don’t grow up or anything! So much for that promise.

He looked over all the boxes and picked out a tiny little chick. So cute. So tiny. So free.

I asked the guy if it was a docile breed and what it was. I THINK he said “she” was a barred old english. I’ve never heard of it, so I had to do my best to remember what he said before I got home. Because she’s so much smaller than our other big girls, she’s the kids favorite. She gets held the most and is very sweet.

Image

Thats our Isabel.

So now the chicks are all home. We’ve had them for 3 weeks. They’re cute, they’re fun, they’re dusty.

I keep them on Sweet PDZ rather than wood chips or whatever else. This has worked well, since you can’t smell a thing, even when your head is way down in the brooder oohing over their cuteness. When their coop gets built I will have a poop board under their roost with the PDZ and I think I will do the deep litter method with hay on the actual coop floor.

So many decisions in chicken keeping.

Last week I fermented their feed. Or I tried, rather. I didn’t have any vinegar with mother, so I decided to use brewers yeast. I’m impatient. I threw their organic chick feed in a colander and added lots of water and topped it off with the yeast. After a few hours I had clearly done something. It smelled like sour dough. I fed it to the chicks. They waited an hour before they would touch it. Then they devoured it and wanted more. They got this for four days. On the evening of the 4th night my chick feed smelled like beer. I dumped it and they’re back to non “fermented” feed. I still get it wet to keep them used to the idea though. I’ll be picking up the vinegar tomorrow.

I think mine would have been fine if I had strained the feed and kept the water separate? I have no idea. I’m learning off of blogs, forums and youtube videos. None of them used brewers yeast though.

Anyway, thats my chick experience so far. We take them outside every couple days for a few minutes and talk in high pitched voices about how they found a bug or are following each other around or are generally just the cutest things in the world. Because they are.

Can’t wait to get more this fall!!

Image

My favorite Opal. She almost always has her head cocked sideways, has a hooked beak, a single comb even though wyandottes don’t come with those and climbs in my hand when I call her name. Chicken Love.

 

The Beginning

Its late May and we are getting ready for a change. In just two weeks we are moving to the future site of our organic homestead. We will grow our own food, raise some chickens, start a french angora rabbitry and even tend to a few thousand bees. That sounds super easy!

I am learning everything as I go. I plunged head first into chicken ownership and quickly learned every thing I could about how to make them as happy and healthy as possible so we could get the most out of our eggs and the entire chicken experience. I think I’m doing ok. They look good, they’re growing fast, and they are friendly. Two of them even know their names already!

I’m also learning as much as I can about wood chip gardening. I watched Back to Eden a few days ago and I am convinced this is the way to go. I’ve even already tracked down free mulch compost. Before this the plan was to build a bunch of raised garden beds. I think this will look nicer and I like the idea of caring for the land itself.

The next step is beekeeping. In late June I’ll be taking a beekeepers class to learn about all the ins and outs. At least all the ins and outs you can possibly learn during a 1 day class. It doesn’t seem difficult though. At least not according to the hundreds of youtube videos I’ve watched on the subject.

The most exciting thing for me though, is the rabbitry. I am not only looking forward to having super cute (large) bunnies to brush every week, but I am also very much looking forward to spinning the wool, learning about natural dying methods and creating pretty things for my family and friends with said wool. I’ve already picked out names for the rabbits I don’t even own yet. Possible buck names; Willoughby, Sinjin or Woodhouse. Do you see a theme? I’m still deciding on perfect doe names. I can’t use Darcy because one of the chicks has already claimed it.

In my mind I see this homestead on a larger scale. I see classes on organic farming, rabbitry, beekeeping, entomology (we’ll have worm and cricket farms), wool spinning and natural wool dying. I very much want to teach children about how important it is to eat healthy and I think showing them some of the fun and more interesting sides of raising our own food will put that bug in their ears.

At least thats what I imagine. I haven’t even moved in yet.

SOON!!