Who we are

Who are we? What do we do around here? We are just a bunch of animal loving country folk. We have chickens, goats, ducks, dogs, cats, and lots of squirrels and rabbits running around. We plan to expand and add bees and dairy goats. Running a family farm is a lot of work but so rewarding. We just thought we’d share a little of us with you! We hope you enjoy this little clip. If you want to come see us send us a message. 😊

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I was henpecked! My eye injury story.

I write this today to share my story and its happy outcome (thankfully) to make other chicken owners aware. Monday, July 2nd I saw that one of our Rhode Island Reds was ailing. I picked her up and she weighed very little. I tried to get her to drink to no avail. I squatted to set back her down and was going to get my husband and decide what we should do. Luckily for me he had already come outside. As I placed her down and was of course talking gently to her, I heard a noise so naturally looked up and there was another hen. She suddenly pecked me in the eye! At that moment I’m sure I screamed something not nice at all. My eye was watering and I couldn’t open it. It was dusk so I didn’t have on my sunglasses like I usually do in the coop. Now we have always known chickens are capable of pecking you in the eye. I had one peck out a diamond earring once! But there were no chickens around when I went to put this one down. I guess this girl got curious real fast and raced over. Farmer Cheese led me back into the house where I applied a cold compress for what seemed like forever.

By morning I still couldn’t open the eye and the pain had worsened. So off to the eye doctor I went thanks to my MIL who played chauffeur!

We have always known to keep an “eye” out and eyes covered around these shoulder perchers!

Apparently I had a whooping scratch and her little beak nearly went through the cornea. Thank God it’s thick! There was an area that concerned him due to possible infection so he asked us to come back that afternoon. By the afternoon appointment the scratch was significantly better thanks to the drops he put in and the ones he prescribed. The area of concern still bothered him enough that he wanted me to come in the morning of the 4th. Now a doctor who comes in when they are not open to see you is great in my opinion! That morning I was improving still, but that area was needed more monitoring. I was able to take the eye patch off Wednesday night. There was another appointment Thursday morning and again Friday morning with the other doctor. This doc gave me more drops and her cell number in case I needed her before my next appointment the following Tuesday. (Have I said I think these doctors are great?) I was released from the appointment unless I felt like I needed them.
I have been wearing my sunglasses more, I’m definitely a little light sensitive still and sore but so much better. These drops have been little miracles and I’m so glad there was no infection. Do you know where chicken beaks have been? It could have been so much worse. I’m definitely feeling thankful!

Great look, huh?

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!

May is National Egg Month! Do you know where your eggs really come from?

Where do your eggs really come from? What do all those confusing terms and labels really mean? Hopefully we can clear up a bit of the confusion for everyone by answering some common questions.

Is there any difference between white eggs and brown eggs? Nope. They taste exactly the same. In fact some hens lay blue, green, pink and other colored eggs! They all taste the same and have the same nutritional value, depending on where you get them of course.
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I buy “cage-free” eggs from the supermarket. Doesn’t that mean the hens get to roam outside? Not necessarily. It just simply means they have unlimited food and water and roam around freely in their habitat which is usually indoors. Most likely they are very crowded.

Farm Fresh, that means I can be sure my eggs are fresh right? Only if you know your farmer and you get them straight from them! A factory farm is still called a farm. And that is the worst possible place to get your eggs.

I’ve heard free-range are the best eggs to buy. Is this right? Well…. Just like cage free this really means they can move around in their habitat. They may have a door to the outside but they may also be so crowded they might not be able to find it. Their conditions are usually unsanitary and crowded most the time. Again, know your farmer.

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Unfortunately all three of these pictures you see here could be classified in your grocery store as “cage free”, “farm fresh” and even “free range” as long as there is a door leading outside. Disgusting isn’t it?

Here are a couple more labels you may have seen.
Omega-3 Enriched –This means their food is supplemented with foods higher in the Omega 3’s such as soy,flax-seed, and fish oil.

Natural– Simply means minimal processing but has no regulations on the farms or food used.

Organic– Organic has the USDA seal stating that the hens are fed organically and are free of hormones and antibiotics. They are usually free-range which we know means access to the outdoors. They might not be grazing in a field. Know your farmer.

Pasteurized – Pasteurization is exposure to heat to kill off any possible bacterial. This might be good if you eat them raw but it destroys the nutritional value. Getting clean eggs from a farmer you know makes this not necessary.

Pastured Eggs– At the moment this is the only label you can trust. Hopefully it will stay that way. Personally I don’t trust any egg from a supermarket. Pastured or grass-fed is what you are picturing when you see the hens out in the fields grazing away all day. At night they will head to their coops. This is true FREE-RANGING! They come and go as they please, have access to plenty of water, bugs, earthworms and other critters. They are living the high life. Their eggs have up to 20 times more healthy Omega 3’s than those poor factory farmed hens. So who needs Omega 3 added eggs? Pastured raised is how it was done “back in the day”. It is how we do it here at Cheese Acres. Our chickens have a huge fenced in area they stay in for protection against predators when no one is home. When we are here they are let loose for true free ranging of all the property. They go where they want to.
The nutritional value of such eggs far exceeds others.
From Mother Earth News pastured eggs have:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

I’m concluding today with this final advice. Don’t let grocery store labels fool you. Buy truly fresh eggs from a local farmer. Know your farmer.

Inside the fence
Inside the fence

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Outside at play
Outside at play
Enjoying my free range freedom!
Enjoying my free range freedom!

Hoop Houses continued

We are still working on the big hoop houses. The first one is ready except the door and adding the tarp. The second one is nearly complete. We made a few changes in the second one. One change is the arch for a little extra stability. Here are a few photos of work in progress. Hopefully soon there will be photos of work completed and inhabited by little chickens!

 

 

I'm working on the staining.
I’m working on the staining.

 

Almost done staining
Almost done staining

 

Stretching the wires and clamping them with pig rings
Stretching the wires and clamping them with pig rings

 

 

 

 

Almost done!
Almost done!

 

 

Baby Chicks- How we bond with and socialize them

 Lil fluffy butts Eating out of my hand
Lil fluffy butts Eating out of my hand

I sometimes hear people say that this or that hen or rooster is not friendly and may peck at you so don’t get to close to it. I can tell you that my grandson has been around our chickens almost from the minute he was born. They are all friendly, yes some more than others, but I have never feared that one would hurt him. Sure, they peck and scratch me accidentally from time to time. And in the spring and summer they are attracted to my freckles and toenail polish, but for the most part they are all pretty gentle. We have some that really don’t like being held much and some that do. I guess you could say they are like people, each has their own temperament and personality. The key to having loving,friendly chickens is being loving, friendly people! We talk to our chickies from the moment we pick them out at the store or from the moment they hatch. They get used to the sound of our voices. As day or two olds we generally don’t pick them up except to make sure we clean dirty bottoms(pasty butt) and to make sure we dip their beaks to make sure all are drinking. It is enough trauma just being born and/or moved to a new home!
What we do is very simple. We place our hands in and let them peck around on them, climb up on, perch on fingers etc. They will crawl up into our hands and after a day or two we will pick them up,usually a couple at the time so it’s not as frightening, and talk to them and stroke their feathers. We will also place food in the palm of our hands and the will peck all over them! They associate us literally as the hand that feeds them. 🙂 They know as they grow up they are safe with us and we will not harm them. As they grow we continue to offer our hands to them along with treats of meal worms and various other fruits and veggies which they love. Beware though, as they get bigger those little beaks can really peck when they are after food!

Few days old
Few days old
Feeding Frenzy 2 Weeks old
Feeding Frenzy
2 Weeks old

Our hope for the future: Chicken farmer in training

It has been said that every other generation will raise chickens. Our parents did not, but our grandparents did. Our children express no interest in raising chickens. Why should they? According to them,they have our eggs so they don’t need chickens. Our grandson however, is our hope for the future. He is our chicken farmer in training. We think he has a great start!Future chicken farmer!