A Mama & A Serpent #FarmlifeFriday

Since my last farming post, we have had a couple big events happen over here. The first, Frenchie is still sitting on eggs. By the time you read this, she will be on her 22nd day of laying on the eggs. We never candled them, checked for life, we decided to just let her do her thing and let nature do it’s thing. So it will be interesting to see exactly what happens. So far we haven’t heard any cheeping out there but we still have time.

I caught this photo earlier this week. Frenchie was getting a drink. She was there for a second and then right back on her eggs. We get nervous that she isn’t doing well but when I check on her I’ll notice that she’ll be looking one way and then the next day she’ll be facing the other way. And I know she knows what she’s doing so I shouldn’t worry. But that mama thing kicks in and I want to make sure she’s all good. 20170606_122754

Next up on the farm update…I went to get eggs out of the nesting box the other day and had an unexpected visitor.

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Not a super dangerous little guy, but he was eating my breakfast!! I always go in the yard expecting a snake because I know they are out there, but it is always so startling when you actually see one. This guy was about 4 feet long.

Took the girls about a week to start laying in the nesting box again. We thought they had either given up or started laying somewhere else in our five-ish acres. So I went on an egg hunt the other day with no luck. Then for some reason I was looking in the bottom of the coop and in the way back corner that we can’t see, a huge pile of eggs!! Luckily they’ve gone back to laying in their designated spots now.

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Here’s a picture of all the birds on the porch, just for fun.

And in other ranch/farm type news, I am getting more acquainted with the horses at Reining Hope. (I am linking you to the newsletter page so you can check out the Spring 2017 one if you so wish. Might see a familiar face in one of the articles) I think I’ve said before that I did not grow up around horses and I do not know much about them. But I was around them a couple weekends ago and this particular one, Beau, was very affectionate most the day. Yes, he’s nibbling on my shoulder.

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Hopefully my next post will be about new baby chicks!! Happy Friday!!

 

Avocados: My Nemesis. #FarmlifeFriday

If you’ve followed me for a while, you will know that I love to garden. And I’m pretty darn good at it. I always have something growing inside, I grow a lot of things from seed, I love to rehab plants, and I love having a garden. But, the one thing I failed at over and over and over and over annnnnnndddd over, is growing an avocado sprout from a seed. I’ve grown pineapples from saving the tops, but I can’t sprout an avocado. EVERYONE tells me how easy it is, but I have tried a gazillion times to do it and it never happens. Why do I fail at this? And why am I trying one more time even though I swore I would never try again?

Well, while scrolling Instagram the other day I saw a picture of several avocado seeds growing in a windowsill. I commented that this was the one plant I have failed at. Another person commented, and they said the most interesting and most likely true reason I have ever heard and have never thought of before. He said that most store-bought avocados have been bred and hybridized and basically messed with so much that the seeds are probably sterile. DUH!! Makes total sense. He then said I should try an organic avocado because it would be less messed with. GENIUS!

So off to the store I went. One $2 avocado and one 89cent avocado later….

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When I cut them open I tried super hard not to score the pit at all, and I scooped it out rather than using the knife trick to get it out. I wrote the date on the mason jars so I can keep track and put the organic sticker on the organic one so I can know which is which. Here we go again. Millionth time’s the charm!!

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Chickens are doing fabulous!! And laying like champs. This is what I see regularly. Isn’t it so cute?

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Yesterday and today in Virginia it’s been about 75 degrees. So I spent the day outside and conquered the front flower beds. Over the winter I let the weeds grow but I learned my lesson…never do that again. It got too out of control. Also, I pulled up all that black tarpy stuff because it was very clearly not doing it’s job!!

Here’s the front before….

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Those weeds are crazy! They are a trailing weed so they just COVER everything. And you can see the tarpy stuff which drove me crazy.

8 bags of weeds and trash later… (I only actually trashed one bag. The rest I emptied in the woods to decompose)

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Voila!!!

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The birds sure did love it today! They hung out with me all afternoon and ate all the worms I was digging up. And then they took dirt baths of course.

My heart kept telling me to go buy flowers today, but my brain kept saying, “No!! There’s still a possibility of freezing and snow!! It’s only February!!!” So I’ll wait. I’ll just start all my seeds in the house tomorrow!!

Happy Friday!!!

Ducks and Carrots #FarmlifeFriday

Just a quick post for Farmlife Friday!!

We are officially duckless. The lady who took our 2 ducks about a month ago came back and got the other 2. She sent us photos of the reunion!

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They are all so happy to be back together and in a huge pond. The lady told us that our female assumed her position as head honcho immediately. We were sad to watch them go but happy that they could go to a great new home. She assured us that they won’t be eaten and they will live with her until their deaths.

After all the snow melted it started to rain and we have had only a couple days when the sun comes out. Of course my first thing on the agenda was clean out of the chicken coop. It was nice to go out there and not play slip-n-slide in all the mud. While I was outside on coop duty, I decided to go in the garden and rip out my lettuce plants. I remembered that we had carrots growing so I started to uproot one, then found another, then another, then a bunch!

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Some weren’t ready but others were pretty good size. It was neat to have a crop that was kind of a “set it and forget it” type.

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Digging those up reminded me that I need to go through all our seeds and figure out what we’re planting this year and get those baby sprouts started.

Chickens are still happy and laying like crazy. My husband is on a trip so the eggs aren’t getting eaten as fast as usual so I’m stocking up. I gave away another dozen this week.

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Happy Friday!!!

New Year New Coop! #FarmlifeFriday

My last post started by saying I couldn’t believe I haven’t posted and this is where it’s true! We got 3 new hens before Christmas and I haven’t told you guys yet! That is weird!!!

Let me introduce you to our new girls…HeiHei (formally Robin but we changed it because we wanted one named after the chicken in Moana), Peach, and Rocky. They are such fantastic girls. They were hand-raised so they don’t mind being held and they are just all around great chickens. Rocky is the best. She is soooo curious and she has the cutest little coo! They were welcomed into our flock with open wings and are doing awesome!

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Here’s the big addition to the backyard…an improved coop!!

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My husband was working half days during the winter break so every day when he got home we’d head outside to work on the new coop. We kept the original bottom but took off the old enclosed top. They have a ton of space plus nesting boxes. We still need to paint it and add some plastic stuff to the roof. That will come soon! We need some warm days and no rain first.

Daisy didn’t take long to test out the new roosting spots and open space on top.20161229_143222

Hargid was the first one to figure out the ladder up into the top. That’s my girl. 😉20161229_142254

Even though it’s cold, the girls are still laying pretty consistently. Here’s a pic of about 3 days of eggs. We ended up giving away a half dozen to the one of the gate guards on base. My husband sees him every single day and the guard had an interest in fresh eggs. Ask and ye shall receive.

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After the addition of the new chickens we started to really think about the ducks. We originally wanted the ducks for eggs, but you’ve read our “misfortune” with that venture; we only have 1 girl out of 4 ducks. So we made the decision to re-home 2 of the males. My husband posted on a chicken Facebook page that we were giving away 2 free male ducks. We had 2 bites. One was from a guy who said he wanted them but didn’t say too much else. We immediately figured he wanted them for dinner. We didn’t say no, but we had a fall back in case he didn’t show up. Well, he didn’t show up. A lady came and got them and we are so happy she did. She has a huge pond on her property and had only one duck, Fwank (yes, Fwank). She has a ton of kids in her neighborhood that love him and she wanted him to have friends. She let ours out in the pond and then she sent us photos of Fwank with Hank and Spank, their new names.

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She says they only leave the pond to eat. That makes us so happy to know they went to a great home.

Flash forward a couple days…I started to notice that they remaining 2 ducks don’t seem happy. We took away their family. So we contacted the lady to ask if she’d like the remaining boy and girl. She said yes! She’ll come back over Sunday to pick them up and they can all be reunited. We will miss them but she is giving them a better home. They have a kiddie pool here and a pond there. And now she can have the duck poop mess and constant wet dirt. I won’t miss that.

It snowed about a foot last weekend so this week has just been the birds coming out on a little spot to hang out. We’ve been giving them extra food and even some warm oatmeal. They love it!

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Yesterday,  HeiHei laid what we’ve heard is called a “fart egg.” Basically an egg that wasn’t done cookin’ but was laid anyway. I added it to my husband’s omelet this morning. It was so cute!

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Happy Friday!! 🐔

Merry Chicken Christmas #FarmlifeFriday

Merry Christmas, everyone!! It’s already been a really fantastic holiday season at our house.  We bought our first REAL tree this year and I’ve kept it alive! We bought ourselves a new couch! And Miss Hagrid laid her first egg yesterday!

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Isn’t that beautiful?! I didn’t know that her eggs would be speckled! And it’s a nice size for her first. We’re so proud! Below is a Daisy egg comparison.

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We’re still waiting for our lady duck to lay an egg. It could be soon because we saw a male duck mounting her a couple days ago.  At this point we just have 4 pet ducks, which is okay, but they stink and are gross and don’t interact with us at all. So they’re kinda lame. Cute but lame.

We’re headed out to buy some wood today to revamp the coop a bit. Stay tuned for that excitement.  Until then,  please enjoy Santa Hagrid! And have a wonderful holiday!

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Farm to Table #FarmlifeFriday

I’ve never grown lettuce. I even had to reach out of some of my Instagram friends asking them to harvest it. In case you don’t know, you clip what you want and leave the rest of the plant to continue growing. Last night I grabbed the scissors and clipped away. I made two huge salads for the hub and I. And so yummy! Fresh, crisp lettuce (or lettuce variety) is pretty darn delicious.

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While I was making a lettuce bouquet, I decided to check on the status of our carrots. This is another crop I am not sure about harvesting. The one I ate was peeking out from the top of the soil so I assumed it was ready. But it was kind of short so I bet I can wait a bit longer. I washed this guy off with the hose and chomped away. Again, pretty darn tasty!!

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Egg production has increased the last couple weeks. Daisy is a laying machine and one or both of the French girls are laying now. The French girls are Faverolles and they only lay about 260 eggs per year. Yesterday we had two eggs and have been getting one almost every day. So we are thinking both are laying. We went from one egg a day to sometimes three!! Woo!!!

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And the yolks from the girls are so big! Daisy has laid two double yolkers so far. And the Frenchies’ eggs are smaller in size, but the yolks are pretty big. This last weekend I was cooking eggs for everyone and I had to use a couple store-bought. I took a photo of all of them together to show the difference. What I’ve found is that the size you buy at the store does not necessarily mean the egg content is that size. A large egg on the outside may be more white and less yolk. Frenchies “small” eggs are closer to a large store-bought egg.

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The bottom two eggs are store-bought. They are the Simple Truth brand from Kroger; organic, humane farm, large, brown eggs. They are lighter in color (which I think means less rich) and smaller than the farm fresh. Top right is Daisy, large, brown egg. Top left is one of the French girls, smaller, beige egg. Look at the yolk difference.

Now if only the damn girl duck would get with the program, we could stop buying store-bought all together.

Oh yeah, I totally forgot to share these!! My new socks from the husband!! #crazychickenlady

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Daisy, Daisy, Bo-Baisy #FarmlifeFriday

I’m always trying to think of fun titles!

Not much happening on the farm lately. Daisy is back to laying every day. I read that you can’t expect young hens to have a regular cycle at first because their bodies are still trying to figure out just what the heck is going on. So it makes sense that Daisy would have a little dry spell and then back to it. Most eggs were brown and perfect until…

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She laid a shell-less egg! How weird and cool!! It was soft and had a little break at the top, but I managed to hold it carefully and save it until later to show my daughter and husband. It’s normal for this to happen, again, because Daisy is young. She has the right food, oyster shells, and her own eggs shells to eat so I’m not worried. She took off from laying the next day and then back at it.

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Her last two eggs have been pointier than before, but I guess eggs are like snowflakes; no two are the same. It’s so fun to see how different each day can be.

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I threw one of our carved pumpkins out in the run before it started to rot. They could care less. I have some picky eaters. They ate the cooked pumpkin, didn’t eat the canned pumpkin, and didn’t eat the raw carving pumpkin. Oh well.

I’m hoping our ONE girl duck decides to start laying soon. I’m thinking it will be spring before Hagrid starts. Who knows about the French girls. Chickens are weird! 😉

PeeWee & The Ducks #FarmlifeFriday

Update since last post… Daisy is a freeloader again. Could be the cold spell we had, not sure. I’ve gone in to talk with her and coddled her, but she isn’t listening to my kind words. My husband has been gone and he’s the one who gets to enjoy her eggs every morning, so maybe HE’S the one who needs to sit down with her and talk some sense into her. SSDD with the other chickens.

I talk about the chickens a lot, but what about the ducks? First, boy do they stink!! And do you know how long it takes them to turn fresh water in a kiddie pool into a poop pool? I’ll tell you. It takes exactly 10 seconds. Holy moley! I thought having the pool in the run would provide not only duck fun but also another water supply for the chickens. I was extremely wrong. Upside? Once spring rolls around again we’ll have nice duck poop water to water the garden.

When I started this Farmlife blog I mentioned PeeWee, our runt duck. I’m finally going to post about him. We got him along with our others, all at the same time. We quickly learned he was the runt. As the ducks turned from yellow to white and started to grow, he didn’t. He was picked on by the chickens and always ran over at the food bowl. We decided we could name him because he was easy to distinguish from the others. Then we started to notice he didn’t look like his brothers and sisters.

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We’ve read about frizzled chickens… Could he be a frizzled duck? We Googled it and asked all the bird forums and they all said the same two things; either he was a goose (there’s a kind that looks like that) or he was one of a kind. The way we described him was that he looked like he was wearing his big brother’s hand-me-down feathers. He was the Harry Potter of ducks.

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One thing we knew for sure, he was a boy. When we decided to get ducks the main purpose, besides pets, was eggs. We love duck eggs. But how can you tell if you have boys or girls? Well, girl ones are loud. Duh! Typical females. They have a very loud QUACK. Boy ducks have a raspy quack or even lack a quack. PeeWee lacked a quack. He sounded like dogs that have had their voice boxes removed. The other way is the drake feather. It’s one little feather on the boy ducks butt that curls up.

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PeeWee has the most distinct drake feather to go with his silent quack.

Time has gone by, PeeWee has finally grown into his feathers…

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And we’ve figured out that out of four ducks, we have only one flippin’ female. So much for loads of eggs. Three have the drake feather, and one is a loud mouth. But, hopefully by spring she will start laying. By then maybe Hagrid will lay, too. And we’re still holding out for the French girls to start back up.

Happy Friday!! 🐔🐤

We Have EGGS!! #FarmlifeFriday

This has been a great week! Our chickens are finally laying eggs!! Not only does this mean we won’t have to buy eggs in the future, this also means we have been able to cheat nature (birds of prey) and keep our birds alive long enough to lay. This is huge considering all our loss since the beginning of this venture.

About a month or so ago, we watched our hen Lagertha, lay a white egg and then immediately turn around and eat it. We weren’t sure what to think. We checked the coop and there was an egg in there as well. We were both excited and disturbed. Up until this week we hadn’t seen eggs after that day. We hoped our girls weren’t laying and eating the eggs.

We knew Lagertha was of age to lay, obviously, but we didn’t know about Frenchie, her “sister”, because we got them as sort of a package deal when we picked up Carl. “You can have Carl annndddd these 4 chickens if you want.” We didn’t even think to ask their ages.

The only age we know for sure is Daisy because we’ve had her since she was born. We knew it was getting close to her time to start laying.

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We’ve been checking the coop everyday, just in case, and finally!!! Daisy laid an egg! A nice, healthy, brown egg!! We were so proud of her. I checked the next day and nothing. Then….

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Two more beauties! But now I’m confused. I know it is possible, but it’s unlikely that Daisy laid two eggs. Since Lagertha’s previous eggs were white, we were assuming these were Daisy’s. I don’t think Hagrid (our Jersey Giant) is quite of age yet, but I know the French girls are. So I did some research. Turns out Hagrid’s eggs will be brown and it’s possible for Faverolles eggs to be white or brown or any color in between. So… We’re still proud of Daisy but we’re also proud of our French girls for finally getting with the program.

I found one more egg just this morning hiding under some hay. We finally have egg layers!!!! And the eggs are great. They are yolkier than store-bought eggs but that just adds flavor. And I’d say they are medium to large size.

Now we just have to wait and see if our one female duck starts laying.

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