Hatching chicks

It’s that time of year again. The kids are studying life cycles and we are hatching eggs in the classroom. We set 18 eggs in a teacher friends classroom and also set 22 at home. Such an exciting time for us all. The kids love watching the chicks develop and hatch and we love watching the enjoyment it gives them. They get so excited to learn about the growth and development of the chicks. We will keep some of the chicks at school for a few weeks so the kids can watch them grow. Last years hatch at school was not very good so we bought a new incubator, a Farm Innovators Pro Series circulated air that that keeps track of temperature and humidity with a built in thermometer/ hygrometer . We used it twice last year and had good hatches. We are using the older one (a little giant still air professional) at home and it’s harder to keep the temperature regulated. The one with the built in control is much easier. Once we got the temperature set we haven’t had a bit of problem. It has maintained a perfect 100 degrees and around 60-65% humidity. We are trying to keep the humidity about 60% until the eggs come off the turner. Fingers crossed for a good hatch this year and a room full of happy kids!

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True Thankfulness

Here it is Thanksgiving time again. Have you ever really sat down and given thanks for all you have, without wishing you had something else? It is definitely a hard task. I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday.

Cheese Acres Farm

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Here are a few thoughts about thankfulness that I’d like to share.

First, God tells us we should be thankful in everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says we are to be thankful in all circumstances. Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give thanks always and for everything. Give thanks ALWAYS? For EVERYTHING? You might wonder how a person is to give thanks when they are: broke, jobless, homeless, have a serious illness, lost a precious family member, or any other crises they are facing. Yet, these two verses clearly tell us give thanks to God in all circumstances.

I’m sure you have heard the expressions, “It could always be worse”, and “There is always somebody worse off than you.” (By the way, those are the last things a person in despair wants to hear)
When we go through the difficulties that life throws at us and we feel there is no one…

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Answering your egg questions

Some  of the questions people always ask us are: Do hens need a rooster to lay eggs? How can you tell if an egg is fertile? Do fertilized eggs taste different? Is there a baby chicken in there?  How do they lay jumbo eggs and different colored eggs? Do brown eggs taste different from white eggs?

Wow, that’s a lot of questions. Let’s see if we can answer some of them today.

Does a hen need a rooster to lay an egg? No, she does not.  If you would like to raise chickens for eggs you absolutely do not need a rooster. They are good protection for the flock however, and necessary only if you want to hatch baby chicks.

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How can you tell if an egg is fertile? From the outside you can’t. If you don’t have a rooster then you will never have fertilized eggs.  One of our groups of hens, about 25 or so, has one rooster. We find a few fertilized and a few not when we collect their eggs.  When you crack open the egg a fertilized egg will have a bullseye as you can see in the picture below.

(photo credit: Les Farms)

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If the egg is fertilized does that mean there is a baby chick in there?  No, it does not. It means the egg could develop into a chick under the right conditions. If the egg is incubated  at 85 degrees or the broody hen sits on it an embryo will begin to develop.  Once incubation has begun you can candle the egg and check for development. This process takes a while, 18-24 hours.  You are not going to have development if you gather your eggs daily and don’t let your broodies (want to be mommies) sit  on them.  If you are unsure how long an egg has been out, such as if you find a few in an odd place instead of the nesting box you can candle the egg and see if anything is going on in there.  I like to err on the side of safety and gather often. My dogs get to eat eggs that still look okay if I have doubts about eating them.

Do eggs of different colors  taste different? Does a fertilized eggs taste different from a non fertilized egg?  No. There is no difference in taste at all.  Chickens lay eggs of various colors according to breed. Color can vary slightly among the same breed.  As far as its nutritional value,  there is no difference there either.  If you want to get the most nutritious egg get the freshest eggs available. The older the eggs are the more protein content is lost. Farm fresh is always best.

Beautiful colors!
Beautiful colors!

How do you get them to lay jumbo eggs?  I don’t. Just like different breeds lay different colors they also lay different sizes.  Our Ameracaunas lay a small to medium blue egg. Our production reds and  Rhode Island Reds lay a large and sometimes XL or jumbo brown egg.  Our bantams lay a pee wee sized cream colored egg! It just depends on the breed.  Our chickens are not given any artificial light to make them lay more or bigger eggs. We let nature do its thing.  Factory farms, where the hens are kept in tiny cages and roosters are unwanted and killed at birth, force the hens to go through a molt and withhold food to increase egg size after the molt. They use artificial light year round to produce more eggs. The hens bodies never get to rest.  This is another blog for another day and not how we operate.

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Hopefully I’ve answered some questions. Feel free to leave any other questions you might have in the comments and I will find an answer for you!

The old days- I want them back

It’s almost fall vacation time and I can’t wait to get to the mountains. I love to hike the trails and think on how simple life used to be. In this crazy world we live in we all need time to reflect and prioritize our lives. Our goals remain the same…..plant it, grow it, raise it, eat it. Live the farm life the best we can.

Cheese Acres Farm

Every fall when we go to the mountains I am reminded of how simple life used to be and how complex we have made things now. As we hiked the old wagon trails I can’t help but wonder how it must have felt to get up with the sun and work and hunt the land for provisions. And of course after a long hard day off to bed at dark.

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No television, computers, cell phones, etc. for mindless distractions just family spending time working together, cooking together, and chilling around the fireplace in the evenings.

Sure the modern advances in medicine are a plus. It is heartbreaking to visit the old cemeteries and see…

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Easy breakfast muffin 

In a hurry? Pop these in the oven ahead of time, refrigerate and heat up for a quick on the go breakfast! 

In a lined or greased muffin pan place some broken up pieces of bread. (I used 2 slices for all 12 muffins) Mix 9-10 farm fresh eggs in a bowl along with cooked sausage, bacon, peppers, onion, a little cheese if you like, whatever you have on hand. Pour egg mixture into muffin tins until about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Delicious! 

Chicksplosion

Spring has sprung and the chicksplosion has begun. Princess hatched her 5 chicks and since then we have 4 more hatch. We still have 3 hens sitting so more should be hatching in the next two weeks. Where we are going to put them all I just dont know! We expanded the nursery/grow out
area but may need to expand some more. We have been completely fascinated with the mamas raising their babies. I have discovered that the “rules” of chick raising we so carefully followed all these years may not be set in stone. Just the other day one of our mama had a less than 3 week old out and about before 7:00  on a chilly morning. We wouldnt have dared take a less than fully feathered chick out in below 80 degree weather. Mama knows best. We have watched as she clucks and leads them to scratch and forage and fly up and down to high roosts at a week old. We have watched her peck at them to get their attention when she needs to. And we have been treating them like fragile little beings. Again, Mama knows best.
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Dogs, Chickens, Goats and more

First let me say please forgive my absence from the blogging world. I just haven’t felt it lately and I will tell you why. In my last post I told you all how we were a year mourning our precious Sara Lee. We finally decided it was time to get a pup because Hemi was so lonely. We ended up rescuing two of them. They are adorable German Shepherd and black lab mix.

 

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Phoenix and Onyx napping while we plant potatoes!
Phoenix and Onyx napping while we plant potatoes!

 

Sweet pups
Sweet pups

 

 

 

 

Hemi learned to love them and they were getting along so well and then the unthinkable happened. We got a call…Hemi had been hit by a car. A year and a couple of weeks after Sara Lee. Oh how our hearts hurt. I know you must be wondering so I’ll go ahead and say it..We live at least a 1/4 mile off the road. Hemi did not go to the road. She had no reason to with all the fun here. Last year we determined that she and Sara Lee ran across the road chasing deer.  This time no deer, no reason to be there. Trees around us were cut and it is more noisy out here. We are hearing cars and seeing neighbors lights that we’ve never heard and seen before. Our best guess is that she heard something she thought needed investigating. The person who hit her was kind and apologetic and that helps but our son is still aching for his sweet Hemi.

We got our goats finally late January. They are boers and we are totally in love with them. Buddy, Daisy and Butter Cup bring us a lot of joy. Hemi had been totally fascinated with them. I imagined that she was thinking “What kind of dog is this? She stayed beside them for weeks.

 

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Peek-a-boo

Since Hemi’s passing we are focusing on each other, the pups, the goats and chickens, ducks, and the garden. There is always so much work to be done. Life is still good out here on the farm despite the losses we have faced. I know all of you understand. Sometime life is just tough. However, we are taking things one day at a time and counting our blessings and not our sorrows.

Can I drive this thing?
Can I drive this thing?