Summer Farmin’ #FarmlifeFriday

Happy Friday, everyone! Since my last post a lot has changed. Let’s start with Frenchie.

She was our hen that was broody, a.k.a got baby fever. Well, her attempt at motherhood failed. It could have been a number of things. It could have been that the garage was too cool. It could have been the fact that only 2 of the 5 eggs were actually fertilized. Or it could have just been how nature intended. She sat diligently on those eggs but in the end, 1 burst, 2 got stinky, the other 2 never hatched, and she ended up abandoning the nest. The good thing is that she was welcomed back into the flock just fine. And she got over the broodiness even though she never actually hatched any eggs.

And now Hagrid is broody!! I have read that it can be contagious. I don’t know if that is the case here because Frenchie wasn’t around the other birds, but in any case, Hagrid is trying her hand at motherhood now. But this time we are not going to move her. We are going to let her do her thing in the coop and hope for the best. She still comes out in the morning to eat and dust bathe, and then goes back and sits on her potential babies. She has 3 eggs, 1 is hers and the other 2 were laid the day after she turned broody, so I put them under her.

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We think she’ll be a great mama so hopefully nature works in our favor this time.

Here’s a couple of the other birds this morning lounging in the tall grass…

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And Carl. He is still such a purdy bird!!

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I didn’t realize until just now that the last post also included a snake. Funny, this one will also include a new snake story.

I’m becoming quite the serpent master around here. And I have to do most of this on my own because my husband is constantly gone for work. Side note, he thinks it’s hot that I can handle this kind of stuff on my own, LOL! Especially because he will admit, he is not “wildery” and doesn’t care for snakes or spiders. Anyway, I was out to dinner with friends and came home around 10pm. I went to the coop to close it up and count the birds. I counted all 8 birds and 1 non-bird.

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I wasn’t quite panicking, but I wasn’t very calm either. The main thing was that I was alone, it was dark, and I only have so many hands. I managed to get the snake towards outside the coop, but then I kind of stopped because one, I didn’t have my boots on, it was dark, and I didn’t have a real idea of what I was going to do after I got him out. I kept scooting him around with the rake and then he slithered out of the door towards outside. Again, no real shoes on, so I was tip-toeing around with the rake and fighting with this snake; he was pretty strong. I have a tarp around the bottom of the coop and he ended up going inside there. At this point I went inside to get my boots and reassess. It’s getting closer to 11, should I just leave him? Should I shoot him? No, not at 11pm. What to do? I got my boots on and went back out. I used the rake and felt around the tarp and realized he was inside the bottom, stuck. PERFECT! I unhooked the tarp from the coop and used the rake to drag him, inside the tarp, all the way to the other side of the yard, still holding my cell phone as a flashlight. I would just have to figure out my next course of action in the daylight.

The next morning I did not have time to deal with snake shenanigans before Reining Hope, so I made sure he wasn’t in the coop and took off. When I came back in the afternoon he was back in the coop, already digesting an egg. I started to attempt to get him out again and realized that unless I planned on grabbing him with my hand I wasn’t going to be able to hold the coop door open and get him out with the rake without another pair of hands. Luckily my friends were coming over. So I waited. When they arrived, my friend held the coop door open while I found the snake’s head. I pushed it down with the rake, switched to me holding the door, and my friend grabbed his tail and pulled him out of the coop. Once he was out of the coop, we switched it up where he held his head with the rake and I took a hold of the snake. This was intense but so awesome at the same time.  All my dreams of being like Steve Irwin came true!!

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I did not plan to kill the snake for a few reasons. These guys aren’t bad. They are non-venemous, good for rodent control, and since snakes are territorial they will deter other snakes, like bad ones. But he couldn’t stay close and threaten the flock and continue to eat eggs. So my friend and I walked him about 2 acres away and set him free. He slithered in the opposite direction of the house so that’s a plus. But if/when he or one of this friends comes back, I’ll be ready!

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The garden is growing like crazy! I haven’t had to buy vegetables in forever and I am giving so much away because I just can’t eat this much. If you follow my Instagram (there’s a link on the right side of the page) you’ve seen all my zucchini selfies. They are HUGE!! And so are the cucumbers. I’ve had to start to enjoy cucumbers. I was never a fan but they aren’t that terrible. They are even better with ranch dip. They just aren’t my favorite but I love eating something that I grew.

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Here’s today’s harvest. I put the cherry maters and eggs next to everything for scale. The maters are just now starting to ripen here and there. But all my plants have green tomatoes. I see a lot of salsa and sketti sauce in my future because again, I am not a mater fan. My husband is though, so as long as he is around, those will be eaten.

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A friend of mine let me borrow a zucchini cookbook, so I found some recipes to try. I REALLY need to because this is getting crazy! I am very happy to share though and promote farm to table.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Happy Summer!!!!

 

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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!!

 

Babies!! #FarmlifeFriday

Happy Friday, everyone!! I am so excited about all the babies in my farm right now! So far I only have vegetable babies but we are hoping to have some chicken babies, too!!

My garden is looking rather splendid these days! We’ve had some really warm days and a lot of rain last week so everything is nice and happy. I have zucchini, yellow squash, a variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, a “Mexican” pepper that I am hoping isn’t just a fancy name for a jalepeno because I have 4 of those already, cucumbers, artichokes, cabbage, red potatoes, basil, and some lettuce. The coolest part is that I started all of these from seeds! I did all the work. I didn’t buy any of the vegetables in the garden. And look!! Baby squashes already!!! This makes me so happy!!

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I did buy some flowers for the garden. I love marigolds and I have seeds but they take a while to sprout and I wanted the instant gratification. I have some on the outside of my garden as well as throughout the inside, just to add some flare. And I think marigolds will deter some bugs but promote the good ones, like bees!

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I have another cinder block planter on the left side. And a new banana plant. A guy at the local farmers marker was selling those for only $5 a couple weeks ago. How could we pass that up? We also bought a taro plant and 2 elephant ears from him for a whopping $1 each. Did you know they produce a potato-like veggie you can eat? They aren’t just pretty decoration. We’re happy to try something new.

The other babies on the farm could be chicks! We have a broody hen. Broody basically means she wants to lay on eggs and hatch them. Broodiness has been bred out of chickens but sometimes the urge strikes, kinda like baby fever I guess. You can put them in a secluded area without hay or eggs for a while and try to break them out of the habit, but we figured why not see what happens? The worst that can happen is that none of the eggs she’s on are fertilized and then we just try again with other ones. (Yes, we have a rooster, in case you are wondering how the eggs would have been fetilized).

We noticed our girl was not leaving the nesting box. I’m just going to call her THE French girl because Lagertha and Frenchie look identical and I am not sure which one is broody. She would get super pissed when we came to collect eggs and make herself huge and yell at us and peck us whenever we got near her. At first we kept taking the eggs out from underneath her because we weren’t sure we wanted to try to have her hatch any. But after about a week of taking the eggs she wasn’t going to give up. So last night after she went into her coma-like sleepy state, my daughter and I moved her and her eggs to a cozy box in the garage.

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When I first put her in the box the eggs were on the opposite side of where she is, and the darn automatic light was on in the garage, so she decided to eat rather than lay on the eggs. When she was done she was laying where she is now and I went out and put the eggs underneath her. She’s still there now so this is a step in the right direction.

A funny side story, like I said before about not knowing which girl is which, I think I tried earlier in the week to put the other French girl in the hatching box. I brought her and different eggs into the box but she refused to stay in the box. I left her and went to my yoga class and when I came back I couldn’t find her. I was like, “She abandoned the eggs? And disappeared!? What’s happening?” I finally looked UP a bit.

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She found a nice roosting spot on our tool shelf. HAHAHAHA!!! So I put her back with everyone else, and when I did, I looked in the nesting box and found the other French girl (the current broody one). OMG! I told my husband I have to mark them somehow. Maybe a ziptie around their feet.

Anyhoo, so far we’re on day 2 of laying on these eggs. I will have to continue to Google how to candle the eggs to see if they are in fact fertilized. I am no expert at any of this so this is going to be a really fun adventure. Updates as they happen so stay tuned!!

Spa Day!! #FarmlifeFriday

Judging by the title you were probably thinking I was going to post all about a super wonderful spa day that I had to combat my back injury, but nooooo!!! This spa day was for one our girls, one of the chicken girls.

I noticed Hei Hei was getting a little overly poopy on her hindquarters so we gave her a bath.

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Chickens really do enjoy a bath. She didn’t fuss at all and didn’t even make any noises.

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I even used the blow dryer while she stood there and enjoyed it.

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She was having a marvelous time until it was time to be picked up and taken outside.

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She flapped violently while simultaneously pooping…allllllll over the bathroom and my husband. So not only was last Sunday a chicken spa day, it was a clean the entire bathroom day.

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This all goes in the “Things I didn’t know before I became a farmer” handbook. 🙂

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! 😉

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.

The Flock! #FarmlifeFriday

Before I get into all the gory details of farm life I thought I should introduce you to our flock.

This is Daisy. She is a Red Ranger hen. She is our only surviving hen from our very first flock of birds we started earlier this year. More details about death in another blog…the gory stuff I mentioned. Daisy isn’t laying yet but should soon. She was the runt of the original flock but has grown up quite nicely. She is our Queen Hen. (not the best photo of her but its what you get for now)

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This is Hagrid. She’s a Jersery Giant. We bought her at a poultry swap but we hadn’t planned on buying birds so we didn’t have box to transport her home. No worries. She rode home on my lap and we had that chance to bond. She is MY girl. We cuddle daily. She was smaller than Daisy when we brought her home but is now bigger than Daisy. She isn’t as girthy yet but that will come. Jersey Giants are the largest breed of chicken and can be up to 14lbs. The photo is showing the time that she walked in the back door and was hanging out in the kitchen.

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This is Carl. He is our first rooster. He’s an Amerucana. He’s still a young rooster but already has chosen Daisy as his girl. Hagrid is his side chick. Our daughter and Carl bonded and she’s holds him the most out of the three of us.

20160822_194106This is Ragnar. He’s a faverolles rooster. He and his girls were a package deal when we got Carl. He sure does like to hear himself crow! He is older, based on his severely ugly toenails and the size of his spurs, but was welcomed into the flock. He and I have a ritual when I feed everyone; He gets a tiny bit extra straight from the cup. Just a fun way to bond.

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Ragnar’s girl is Lagertha (Get it? Like from the show Vikings). She is also a faverolles. She is pretty skittish but still a great girl. More about her near the end.

Our last chicken is Frenchie. She had a man, Rolo, but he is one of our departed. (We named her Frenchie because in the show Vikings, Rolo marries a french chick. We like to do silly things like that). Frenchie is my hard-headed girl. She is always the last one in the coop and likes to take her sweet time. She is also very skittish but coming around.

Since our faverolles girls aren’t very friendly, I don’t have too many photos of them alone. This is the group of 4 a few days after we got them. Ragnar (left), Rolo, the departed (top), Frenchie (bottom left), and Lagertha (bottom right).

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Then we have the ducks. They are all Pekin ducks. Based on how noisy one is, we are guessing she is our only female. That makes us a bit sad because we were hoping for an abundance of duck eggs. But we’ll see as time goes on. The ducks are so fun. They get along with the chickens well and all sleep together peacefully. They love to eat and swim. I could watch them in their pool all day long. We have only named one, Peewee, because he is our runt. He’s the one with the silly looking feathers. More on him in a later blog.

The photo is from yesterday when I was refilling their pool. They were so excited for the fresh water that they jumped in with only an inch or so of water. Peewee is the one outside the pool.

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Getting back to Lagertha…something fun we did this morning was fix a warty looking thing on her back. We had noticed it since we got her, since she is lacking feathers thanks to her boyfriend, but decided to cut it open today and see what was happening. We carefully sliced the zit/wart thing open and pushed. First some puss came out so we immediately knew what it was. She had ingrown feathers. I held her while my husband used tweezers to extract about 10 tiny, coiled up feathers. Then we lathered her up with antiseptic and sent her on her way.

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Come back next week for more farm fun!!!

#FarmlifeFriday!!

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When we lived in Arizona we had ducks and chickens. We loved it! It was a crazy adventure of life, loss, and hilarity. It was one of the things we looked forward to most when we moved to Virginia. So now we’re back into the farm life and one again it’s full of life, loss (more than we’d like), and hilarity. Come back Fridays for my new posts with the hashtag “Farm life Friday”.

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