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!

We have chicks, now what?

So you’ve been given or bought some chicks, or as in the case of my teacher friend you’ve hatched them in your room with the help of a knowledgeable person. That would be me, by the way. 😊 So now what? We have these tiny beings running around. How do we take care of them?
First, I know you want to hold them but don’t be in a rush to take them out of the incubator. They are warm and safe there and still being fed from the yolk of the egg. A newly hatched chick can survive 3 days without feed or water. The yolk of the egg is drawn through the navel into the stomach of the baby bird before it hatches. This provides nourishment for the chick from the time the bird hatches, fluffs out, and gains enough strength to look for its food and water. So no need to rush them out of the incubator!

All snugly in the incubator
All snugly in the incubator

Once it is time to take them out they need to be in a draft free space with about 6″ of room per chick, less if you have smaller breeds. When they are bigger they will need about 3 sq.ft. each. We use a large brooder to house our babies until they are ready to go outside, but it is not necessary for a small backyard chicken owner to go to that expense. Before we had the brooder we used a metal tub. A sturdy box will also work. Make sure to put a couple of inches of pine shavings in the bottom. The shavings will need to be cleaned out and replaced from time to time when soiled. The good thing about the brooder is that it has a thermostat built-in. A heat lamp of some sort needs to be used to keep the chicks warm until they are fully feathered, approximately 6 weeks. For the first week the temperature should be set at 90-95. Each week the temperature needs to be lowered by 5 degrees until they are fully feathered and ready to removed from the heat and put in the coop. There have been reports of mishaps with heat lamps. Thankfully we have never had anything go wrong. Our brooder is completely safe, but if I had to rely on a heat lamp I would recommend checking into the Prima heat lamp by Premier or a small brooder with a safe heat source like the Brinsea EcoGlo 20. Both of these options are much safer than traditional heat lamps. After a few weeks if the weather is nice and warm the chicks can be taken outside briefly for some yard play time. They love to scratch and peck!

Our current set up in the classroom. Looking for a better lamp.
Our current set up in the classroom. Looking for a better lamp.
Inside our brooder
Inside our brooder

Fresh food and water needs to be available and checked regularly. Chicks don’t like dirty water and it harbors bacteria. They may more interested in water than food the first day or so. When taking them out of the incubator for the first time dip their beaks in the water dish so they will know where and what it is. Be sure to add a chick electrolyte solution such as gro gel or quick chick to their water for the first few weeks. Organic ACV (apple cider vinegar)in the water, 1 Tbsp per gallon, is also helpful in a large variety of ways.
Chick food should be of good quality and balanced with vitamins and minerals. We use both Purina and Nutrena brands. Chicks need to stay on a starter grower blend until they lay their first egg. Treats are okay as well after a couple of weeks, but the majority of their feed should be their starter grower. If they are allowed to forage or are fed whole grains they will also need access to chick grit which will help them digest and grind their food. When they begin to lay their food should be switched over to a layer feed and they should be given supplemental calcium such as egg shells.

During the first couple weeks chicks will also need to be watched for signs of “pasty butt” Droppings can stick to the vent and clog the area. Using a warm cloth with water and or ACV and washing gently will help. Vaseline is also helpful to clean little bottoms. Using organic ACV in their drinking water will help avoid “pasty butt”.
Chicks also like to perch so after the first week or so we make them a little perch for their box or brooder.

Little perch made from tree limbs
Little perch made from tree limbs

Raising chicks is fun and entertaining. They are sweet little things to watch but they are also dependent on your care. Watching out for their daily needs and protection can be time-consuming but once you fall in love with that first chick, it’s worth it!

Love at first sight!
Love at first sight!

Last night I dreamed of Chickens!

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Enjoying some pumpkin!
Enjoying some pumpkin!
Pretty Meg posing
Pretty Meg posing

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I love this poem! It has become one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it too!

Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see…..
when I woke today I noticed
there were eggs on top of me.

Jack Prelutsky

10 Important things we can learn from our chickens!

Everything you ever need to know about what is fair and important in life can be learned from watching chickens!
1. Flock together. Chickens stay together and look out for one another. Wouldn’t it be nice if people did the same?
2. Eat a healthy diet. Chickens make sure they get plenty of healthy grubs and grasses. They don’t eat junk food unless you give it to them. 🙂
3. Exercise, flap your wings and move around!
4. A little treat every now and then is okay.
5. Don’t peck the hand that feeds you. It will get you in trouble.
6. Men, be a gentleman to the women. You could learn a thing or two from a gentle, helpful roo.
7. Share. Hens will even share a nesting box sometimes. Why is it so hard for people to share?
8. Clean up after yourself. Chickens will “turn” the wood chips as they scratch in the coop and keep it somewhat fresh.
9. When Daddy gets home you should run to him and greet him. He will probably give you a treat.
10. Crawling up in Mommy’s lap for a little love makes all boo boo’s better!

Enjoying some pumpkin! Enjoying some pumpkin!

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Why I have Roosters!

A good rooster is great protection for the hens. He will put himself between any predator and his hens. If they are free-range he will not only lead them to tasty treats to eat, he will do a little song and dance called “tidbitting” to let the hens know he has found food. Then he will let them eat first and offer them bugs he’s caught from his beak. It fascinates me to watch them do this. They are such gentlemen. Some people will say that you don’t really need a rooster and I guess you don’t need them but why not enjoy this ritual, the beautiful sound of their crowing and their protective qualities if you can? And of course that they can fertilize the eggs if you would like to incubate and hatch your own chicks is a huge advantage!

Here at Cheese Acres we have several Roos and they each have their own little flock of girls that they take protecting very seriously. We never have a hen wander off on her own. Have we had accidents? Of course, but I think our roosters have helped keep some predators away. We have our Roos distributed among the girls so no one gets too much “attention”. 😉
I really think as long as you keep your number of roosters in proportion to your hens you will have little problem. ( 1 Roo to 8-10 hens)

As you can see I am loving my roosters. They are beautiful creatures. Think it through before you decide if your flock needs one, or some!

Clarence  is a gentle Roo!
Clarence is a gentle Roo!
I'm handsome and I know it!
I’m handsome and I know it!
Auburn, pretty boy!
Auburn, pretty boy!