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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fresh Eggs Daily Debuts on HGTV Gardens with a Five-Part Series on Raising Ducks


I am excited to announce the debut of a five-part series on raising backyard ducks that I am writing for HGTV Gardens! I was invited to be a guest writer and was thrilled to accept.  The premise of the series is 'Ducks are the New Chickens', in response to the growing interest in raising backyard ducks.

I am so honored to be a part of the HGTV Gardens guest writer team.  They have a beautiful new website and blog, so head over and read my articles....then stay and browse for awhile.




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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not a Creature was Stirring - Got Mice in your Coop?

photo source: flickr
This time of year critters of all kinds are looking for a nice safe, warm place to spend the winter.  For many this can lead to field mice or rats in their coops. I mean, what better place for a family of mice to bed down?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - October 21st - 27th

Another busy week here on our farm. I thought I would share some of the 'highlight's...







  



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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mixing your Own Layer Feed


With the price of everything rising, the chance to save money anywhere you can is tempting. We get asked often about mixing your own layer feed for your flock instead of buying commercial feed.  It's not something I have ever done personally. Having a fairly small flock and a very convenient feed store has made it too easy to purchase feed. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coffee Bean Candle Holders - a Pinspiration Project


I, like many of you, am slowly but surely becoming addicted to Pinterest! If only I had enough time to make everything I have pinned. But I don't.  So I chose as my first 'Pinspiration Project' a quick, easy project that I could make in just a few minutes.  I ended up making two variations and love how they both turned out.  I also love that I was able to put my own spin on someone else's idea, truly using it only for 'inspiration'. The icing on the cake was having them featured in the July 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. Check it out...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos October 14th - 20th

A single photo can bring back a host of memories, even years later.  Here are some memories in the making from last week on our farm...


 









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These photos are shared at Farm Photo Friday

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Float Test - How Old is An Egg? Test for Freshness


In a perfect world, your chickens would lay eggs in their nesting boxes each morning, you would collect them, bring them into the house and prepare them to eat.  Mmmm, fresh eggs every day like clockwork!

Monday, October 15, 2012

And Then There Was One (Subtitled: MEN!!!)


As many of you know, we hatched our very first chicks this past spring. It was the most beautiful and truly awe-inspiring experience and I loved every minute of it. But of course hatching eggs can't be sexed, so I knew we would end up with some roosters.  I didn't know we would end up with nine roosters...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The chicks were all adorable and sweet, and I gave them all girly names and crossed my fingers.  But much as I wanted to deny it, it soon became clear that we had some little roosters in the mix.

By the time they were three months old or so, we had our hands full. The boys were starting to chase our eight laying hens, causing chaos in a run that had up until that point been a male-free zone. The little roos started to fight among themselves and don't even ask me about the crowing.  Nonstop, all day long.  So I did what any rational chicken keeper would do and turned the roosters out each morning in the pasture to roam free all day - and good luck to any marauding fox or loose dog who dared take on a cadre of nine roosters!


That helped a lot. At least our laying hens and the other pullets were no longer brutalized, and the roosters, with room to spread out, stopped fighting.  I loved looking out the kitchen window and seeing all the beautiful roosters happily grazing and pecking for bugs.   

But they were restless. They kept trying to get back into the run with the hens, and the incessant crowing was still a bit much. I knew I couldn't keep all the roosters indefinitely, so with a heavy heart I started finding homes for them. I couldn't bear to think they would end up in a stew pot because they were all breeder stock, gorgeous breeds that I had hatched and hand raised, so I placed ads on Craig's List and asked on Facebook if anyone was interested in a rooster - or two or three!  I carefully screened and found good homes for them with Facebook fans, friends and a few local chicken keepers who wanted to use them for breeding.

Soon we were down to just two roosters.  Lancelot, a gorgeous Light Sussex, and John Quincy, an equally regal Olive Egger.


They got along okay, with Lancelot as the dominant rooster and John Quincy sort of flying under the radar - hardly crowing at all, keeping 'company' with just one of the other Olive Eggers, Abigail.  And peace reigned once again.

Let me just stop here and tell you that my husband loves animals. All kinds of animals. He really does.  He has helped me rescue baby bunnies and held a sick duckling.  He has always supported my 'habit' and given me free rein to raise what I wish, even helping out with putting the chickens in if I'm not home, and I've even occasionally caught him spraying the ducks with the hose while he's filling up water buckets (which they LOVE by the way).  Just keep that in mind as you read on...


Things were great for awhile. Lancelot really was regal-looking and he was a good protector of the flock - when he wasn't chasing them down to mate with them, that is! He was bit over the top with his crowing and posturing, but I dared to hope that everything was going to be fine.  And it was, sort of, for awhile...

And then Lancelot turned mean.  He was still okay with me.  Maybe because he had imprinted on me, maybe because being a woman, he didn't see me as a threat. Who knows?  But he was a HUGE rooster and the day I found my husband wielding a rake, trying to keep Lancelot at bay, I knew his days were numbered (the rooster's, not my husband's!).

From then on, Lancelot and my husband always seemed at odds. Lancelot would crow and puff up whenever he saw my husband. He would try and flank him and spur his shins while we were feeding the horses.  Daily standoffs became the norn.  That in turn made my husband puff up whenever Lancelot came around, and I think Lancelot felt the vibes and just behaved even worse.  

I have to admit that the image of a 190-pound grown man wielding a rake or shovel to protect himself from an 8-pound rooster often caused me to bite my cheeks to keep from bursting out laughing, but it really was not laughing matter. A rooster with his sharp beak and spurs, intent on protecting his flock and his turf, can really inflict some pretty substantial damage.

I tried to give Lancelot away to a friend who has a nearby farm, but she took one look at this huge, foreboding rooster who was attacking her muck boots and immediately said her husband would divorce her if she came home with him!

Lancelot wasn't in the least bit deterred by being sprayed by the hose or poked with the rake. He was determined to prove that HE was in charge, that is was HIS barn, HIS pasture, HIS chickens. His testosterone had kicked in big time, and apparently he was reacting to my husband's testosterone.  The skirmishes became more heated, everyone was tense around each other and things slid downhill quickly.

So the decision was made to rehome Lancelot to a nearby farm, where he is free to roam to his heart's content and have his pick of hens.  I was sad to see him go because I knew he was just doing his job, the job he had been born to do, but he belonged on a larger farm where he would have room to 'be' a rooster.

                   
And that left John Quincy.  My favorite.  A gorgeous glossy, greenish-black Olive Egger rooster.  Not aggressive with the hens, not much into crowing, maybe a few times in the morning and that was it, I hoped that's how he would remain.  

So far, he and my husband have had a few minor skirmishes, but usually as soon as the rake comes out, John Q. beats a hasty retreat.  I think they have reached a bit of a truce, and hopefully John Quincy understands that my husband has NO interest in being king of the run, ruler of the roost, or alpha in the coop.


He seems to feel secure enough to let my husband come and go and do  chores and tend to the horses, keeping  his distance but most definitely keeping an eye on him while my husband shoots John Quincy stern glances right back.
                          

For now, John Quincy seems okay with being second in command, but the truce was hard-won.  MEN!!!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - Oct 7th - 13th

Some scenes from the past week around our farm...enjoy!











so you don't miss a single photo all week!






These photos are shared at Made U Look Monday.