Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homemade Grape Jelly

It's my first time and it's a simple recipe so I thought I would give it a try. I didn't realize I would unintentionally make so much of it! We are a family of 9 so there is no problem using it, thank goodness. The recipe uses grape juice, which is good because we yielded only 7 bunches a grapes this year. Which is technically really good for 2nd year grapes. This Site gave me great directions and they're the ones that I went by, mostly. The mostly part has me praying that it will set. Literally praying! It says it could take up to a week on the package of pectin, so that is good to know. As of now my fingers are crossed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nesting box for the Tractor.

I had nesting boxes for the coop but not the tractor outside. I really had no clue what I was going to use. I wanted something weather resistant but practical and inexpensive. Then while I was looking at tractor designs I saw something that would be a perfect nesting box. A Rubbermaid container with a lid! We cut a hole on the side, inserted some straw and a golf ball. Why a golf ball? They make great, cheap, nesting eggs. We made this last night and put it, with the golf ball, inside the tractor this morning with the chickens. Voila!

Monday, August 25, 2008

*First Egg*

First Egg! First Egg! We got our first EGG!!!!
It's the brown egg. I used a white store bought eggs for comparison!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fall Garden Seeds Finally planted.

What a slacker I am! Tee Hee. I finally got those fall seeds planted. I finally looked at the calender and compared it with how many days are left until the first frost in my area then added the total days until harvest. Basically, for my area, the first frost will be about the 25th of October. The days until harvest for the lettuce and spinach I bought are between 45-56 days so that means.....Start it now!!!
I don't know why I put it off for so long. I mean it took an hour tops, no big deal. I'll most likely be moving them out in about 2-3 weeks. I've had crap start to take over in my front gardens since I last weeded. (frustrated) So after the next big rain which is eminent, I will be pulling those like crazy to make room for all of these plants. Then hopefully that will leave less room for all the weeds.

You see, my front garden, in the most part, is new this year. All of them are 1-2 year shrubs and perennials, which are minute comparatively so the weeds feel the free reign. In a couple of years, I will stop having this problem. In fact the weeds were completely encompassing last years, so I have actually made great strides in just one year.

So have you planted your fall garden yet?

Edited to add that I tried to upload a picture but that feature seems to be down. I will add it later.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Know your City Ordinances!

Our city's finest made a trip to our house this evening. (rolleyes) We finally got the chickens safe but it made it obvious that we had them to our neighbors. So they called the police on us.

After my husband calmed down a bit from shock of the police at the door, we showed him the chickens. And guess what, we did nothing wrong and are in compliance. He's a farm boy who understood and said that anyone else complains they will just let them know that we are in compliance.

Suburban Neighbors...Sigh, got to love them and let it go.

The Decision has been Made.

You know, to our Hawk problem. My dear husband made this chicken tractor. We still need to permanently add the shade and we still plan on adding wheels to help move it around. Other than that, it's done. It lets the chickens out into the open air and on grass, movable, it keeps them out of the veggies and the dog away from the AND keeps the hawks from having a meal. The chickens still go into the coop at night to be locked away and safe.

I really did look into getting geese but I couldn't really find any that I could get until next year. And at that, they would only be goslings. AND not to mention that I could possible drive the neighbors nuts. I mean, I already have the chickens, geese would most likely be the last straw.

So this will keep them safe and outside for now. As free ranging as we can get.

Why should I or anyone else do all of this?

Why have I gotten into gardening, keeping bees and chickens? Well, it is partly because I am a country girl living in the burbs but mostly it is a self sustainability issue. I store food too. I actually have 2 55 gallon barrels of wheat in my basement. I also cover them with a pretty tablecloth to blend them in with the rest of the decor. Also bucket and bucket of so much more. So why? Because not only has the government encourage it but so has my church. And it really does make sense.

Individual Checklist
Provident Living Food Storage

If something should happen to us financially, we will be OK. If something should happen around us, we will be OK.

I also have 4 55gal barrels of water in my basement as well. This came in quite handy the day that our town shut of it's water supply for a couple of days. People here were freaked and bought out the entire supply at all the local stores. We on the other had were set and didn't have to pay $1 a gallon to flush our toilets. I choose to keep things in the basement as well because I live in the Midwest, Tornado Ally! So where you store your supply depends largely on your area.

Personally, I don't just think that these aspects are helpful but in this day and age, essential! So next time you go shopping, pick up an extra can or two and put it away. Begin today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So here is where I am at.

OK, so the chickens can not longer be outside because the hawks would pick them off, one by one. So now they are in the coop in the garage all the time. I do have a broad spectrum light over them so that does help.

But I had the small ones on the bottom and the big ones on the top and with them being cooped up 24/7, this was not going to work. They all needed more room to run. So my big plan to integrate them began and ended unsuccessfully yesterday. The littlest ones happen to be the roos and they have been plucked pretty clean around the wings and neck. One was soaking wet, cold, red from the plucking, and overall, in pretty bad shape. I warmed him with my rice bag and only a couple hours later, he was running with the other chicks. He is doing well today, thank goodness.
Overall assessment, bad. So the little chicks are in a Rubbermaid container again.

Just a bit of advice. If you get chickens, make sure that you buy them all the same age so you don't ever have this integrating problem. And if later you want more chicks, stick them under a broody hen who will adopt them as her own and will do all the protecting for you.

I have been looking over all my options for my hawk problem and these are it.
1. keep them cooped up all the time. (just doesn't seem humane to me)
2. Build a movable run. Something with wire on the sides and top to keep them safe during the day until they go back into the coop at night.
3. Geese. I guess geese keep away hawks. I have read this in two different locations but still, it makes me wonder if it will really work.

Unfortunately geese are better behaved towards family if raised with them from a goslings and all goslings are sold out for the year. Pretty much. Yea, I know, they can be LOUD. But I have researched and found that Buff Geese are the friendliest, quietest, and sweetest of the types of geese. Oh and goose poop, at least unlike big dogs, it is a good fertilizer. They also do lay eggs like chickens that can be eaten and they are great weed eaters. For some reason they love the weeds and not the other plants. That of course has me baffled, but everything I have read, states it.

I feel like the lady that ate a horse, to catch the cow, to catch the goat, to catch the dog, to catch the cat, to catch the bird, to catch the spider, That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside me, to catch the fly, I don't know why I swallowed the fly. Perhaps I'll die!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Frustrating Day!

First on the Beekeeping front, I go down to city hall to fill out the paperwork to get approved to keep bees in the little city that I am in and guess what? There is no paperwork. The police department was wrong. The town wants me to write a letter to the mayor and the city council to ask them for permission to keep bees in the city limit. Oh gotta love living in a little suburb! So now I am home and will soon start a letter with my intents and wishes, illustrated with photos.

And when I came home and was taking the pictures, what did I find? A chicken in our yard with it's head and breasts eaten. EEW!! Something came into the yard and ate it. Yuck!!! It was sometime from 2-5pm, in broad daylight! There goes the free ranging idea.

After posting the picture of the half eaten chicken on my chicken board with all the details of the attack, it sounds like a Hawk ate my chicken. There is just no way a free ranging in my yard with a hawk. Now back to square one! oiy!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Finally Finished the Coop

I still needed to add a pull down door on top for the nesting boxes. I wanted a door right into the back of the boxes so that I could just reach in and grab the eggs. Plus we needed to add more roosting bars. Hey it was 3 am the first time we finished so the extras had to wait, till yesterday that is. It was alot of work but it's done. And those 2 red beauties are Red Stars. I bought them from a semi-local lady who needed to cut down on her flock. They are six months old and will be laying really soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chick Kick

Yea, I know, I talk alot about them lately. But you know what is soooo cute about chicks? When they think they found something good. They pick it up in the beak and run like mad, nowhere in particular, so that they are alone with their priced possession. BUT, the other chicks saw the first one run, so that means they have something good and must therefor be chased and wrestled for it. The funny part is that it usually isn't something all that great, like a piece of yarn. And the even funnier part is that they never realize it isn't all that great. They just keep chasing and chasing one another as one drops it and another picks it up. It's fascinating to watch really. Hey! I finally get football now and why men waste their afternoon watching it. LOL!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sad News

But the inevitable. I lost 3 little little chicks today, including the kid's favorite Blondie. The terrible part was all three were girls when all 4 of the roosters, that I cannot keep, are just fine. Sigh. That is why I bought extras. So if you do plan on getting chicks to free roam in your backyard, make sure that you get at least 3-4 extra. We did find the body of one in the back yard of the next door neighbor. Their big black dogs got to it. It wasn't Blondie though so that leaves uncertainess for the kids. So the little ones are still too little to be out of the coop. We did find the hole they went through and will have to make some sort of patch for it.

Rest in Peace, Blondie!

Am I as smart as a chicken?

Well, not all the time. We are in a heat advisory and what do I do? I go out and about sweating through 3 layers of clothing. Well if I go back in time and I burn my bra with the feminists, that could elliminate 1 layer but sadly, things have headed south since having children and I would need a time machine for that too. LOL.
Anyway, dripping in 3 layers of clothing, I stand outside watching my chickens stay in the shade. So much so that they run from shadded area to shadded area, never hanging around in the HOT BURNING SUNSHINE. I Love the Midwest in August (Dripping with Sarcasm). Ok, it could be worse, it could be the southwest. :D

The Garden is doing pretty well. Except for all the water that I have to spend watering it. Time to make my rain barrels.

Which also reminds me, have you started your fall garden seeds yet. Better get to it. Me too!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Never leave a dog alone with your chickens.

No matter how much you trust him. Last Monday, I had to leave the Dog alone in the backyard with the chickens because I was going to be gone all day. I thought, "well, he never messes with them when I am around and the chickens are getting big enough." Nope. Bad IDEA! I came home to count 6 chickens, instead of 8. I looked and looked and finally found one cowering inside my fenced grapes a little ruffed up but fine. Then I found the last one trying desperately to hide in a corner. And the dog had scratched the skin off of her back. It was horrible. I couldn't think of how a chicken could live with out the skin on her back. I wrapped her into a towel, and then researched. Someone told me that their chicken lived with a hunk of meat taken out of it's back from an attack and eventually even grew back feathers. So I gave her a saline back rinse and covered her in triple antibiotic ointment. I then put her in a Rubbermaid container with a heat lamp and her own food and water. I actually fed her scrambled egg yokes and prayed. She ate and drank just fine that late evening. Then a few days ago, I noticed that she was cleaning herself and making light chicken noises. Then today, I found her perched on the top of the Rubbermaid container. She had a huge limp but I thought some sunshine would do her good. I took her out to the other girls outside.
Man, what a difference sunshine and friends make. Her limp was 90% better. She used her wing feathers to cover up her back so it was hardly noticeable. And she kept up with her fellow ladies all day long. AND they didn't peck at her at all. When it came time to come in for the evening, she went straight into the coop with the rest of them and hopped herself right up to the perched and settled. Here I thought for sure she would die and it seems she is making a full recovery. I couldn't be more giddy!

However, the dog is never allowed to be alone with them again. I am even going to pick up a chain soon for those times that we have to leave them both outside again.
So my advice, never trust the most trustable dog alone with chickens.