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. 😊
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!
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!
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!
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We ordered chicks a little earlier this year. We wanted to get a jump on the spring laying. Maybe they had a rough shipment, maybe they got too cold. I just don’t know. Out of 40 we lost 14. The hatchery we used is reputable and is making good on the chicks and they have been very kind. But we’d like to understand what happened so history never repeats itself! One chick arrived suffocated by the others. That was disheartening to begin with but we do hear that happens sometimes.
Upon their arrival home I immediately put them under a heat lamp in their packing box until the brooder temp was set and ready. I made sure that each chick drank some water. After we put them in the brooder which was in the shed at a toasty 95 degrees we put their food in with them. We added the gro gel as recommended. This is the first time we’ve ever used it. That night we lost 2 chicks that were acting weak. By the next morning another was dead and a couple more were weak. Strange. This has never happened before. Is it too cold in in the shed? The brooder is 95 degrees. We made the decision to move them indoors that afternoon, just in case. By the time I arrived home from work 4 more were dead. It was warm enough in the shed in the afternoon. . We began work on getting them in the house amidst a busted water pipe and Sara Lee’s emergency trip to the vet which is a post for another day. (You can read all about Sara Lee on our Facebook page) Farmer Cheese and his brother got them in and settled and our son has been taking care of the chicks for a couple days while we tend to Sara Lee. Final count is 14 down. The rest seem to be thriving happily.
The chicks reached a week old on January 30th. Hopefully they are out of the woods. The replacement shipment ( plus a few extra) arrives next week. I’ll keep you posted.