Archive for the ‘brooder’ Category

Brooder Boat Rescue

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

See this boat?

 photo brooderboat.jpg

See this hen?

 photo broody.jpg

This hen didn’t show up at curfew last night. She knows better than that.

I did my head count before tucking everyone in for the night and came up one short.

Little hussie.

I should have thought to check that boat. We’ve had a hen hatch out a clutch in that boat before. Bernie calls it the Brooder Boat.

But today I check the boat. And found her setting on 16 eggs.

So tonight Bernie and I went out on a Brooder Boat rescue.

I grabbed the hen, and he grabbed 4 eggs.

And we relocated her to the safety of a nest box in the coop.

 photo broody2-1.jpg

She was less than appreciative.

But she’s safe.


Oak Apple Gall, More Baby Chicks, And Other Stuff

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

For the past several years we’ve noticed these little ping pong shaped balls in the yard and woods.


They start out more of a white with red speckles, and over time they get darker. I did a little googling on them and learned they are called “Oak Apple Galls” and they are actually contain a wasp larvae. I put it in a jar and hope to see it hatch.


And, speaking of insects, I captured a nice picture of a Hummingbird Moth last month.


It’s hard to believe it was once one of the huge Tomato Horn Worms I find munching on my vegetable plants!

This pretty girl stopped by this afternoon.


And, earlier today, Bernie found this adorable little bunny laying in the yard.


I brought the bunny inside and warmed him up, and then I laid him on a heating pad. I was sad when he died an hour or so later, but I hope I brought him a little comfort to see him out.

That made me sad. But finding itty bitty chicken eggs always makes me smile.


And, speaking of eggs, last night I checked under my latest broody for any extra eggs that the other hens may have left for her.


I found an extra egg under her, but I also found that one of hers was pipping.


She hatched out three of them overnight.


If the other two hatch, it will bring us to a total of 18 new peeps so far this year. We lost two to predators, and I know there are two little roos out there that we won’t be keeping. But I’m pleased to think we will go into the winter with more chickens than we started with.

And finally…….. Christmas Spoiler for anyone on my Christmas list………. I’ve been crocheting these neat water bottle cozies for the past week or so 🙂


These are a super fast and easy way to use up that extra yarn stash laying around!

We’re still canning garden vegetables, but that is slowing down a little. Finishing the outside canning kitchen is on hold for a couple of weeks as we prepare for Bernie’s family to visit.

We have had a productive and busy summer so far. I hope yours has been a good one, too!

I Am So Dad-gum Easy to Please

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When my hens started going broody back in March, it caught me by surprise. I really did not expect to have broody hens because I intentionally bought what I believed were non-broody breeds. I quickly built a couple of brooders in the coop out of hardware wire. I disliked those brooders immensely. They had sharp wires poking up everywhere and, as a result, I have had scratches and torn clothing all summer. And I always worried that the chickens would get hurt on that wire. I actually suspect that may be where Duke got the foot injury that resulted in the Battle-of-the-Bumblefoot we’ve been going through around here.

So this past Friday, I took the day off work and Bernie and I rebuilt the brooders. I’m much happier with them.

chicken coop

We also put a much steeper slope on the top of the nest boxes to keep the chickens off of it. And we moved one of the roosts to keep the poop away from the brooder area.

While I had the camera out, I remembered to take a picture of a volunteer flower that came up in the strawberry bed. That area had previously been a wildflower bed and this flower is apparently the result of a seed that was left in there:


I honestly don’t remember seeing a flower like that in the wildflower bed. I’m sure I would have remembered such a beautiful bloom! OK, all you flower-name-knowing people, any idea what kind of flower that is? I plan to keep the seeds. That’s one of the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen! It’s like a bouquet of flowers in one bloom.

I’m not very good at remembering to take pictures so, since I had my camera handy, I took it along when the pups and I went on the mail run this afternoon.

Diesel is obsessed with tall grass and weeds. He absolutely loves laying in it and playing in it. Can you see him in this picture?


Look right slap, dab in the middle. Here’s a closer view:


He finally poked his head out


Which is just what Dolly was waiting for. She immediately pounced on him


And then she ran around with reckless abandon


Until she spotted a bug on the driveway


Hey good lookin’


Dang, I never even knew the boy could move this fast!


Lordy, I do love these pups. And my flower. And my new brooders.

I am so dad-gum easy to please.

When Good Chicks Go Bad – and Bear Neccessities

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Several people have told me that their chicks just love banana as a special treat. Well, being the wonderful Mother Hen that I am, I decided to treat my little precious peeps to a few chunks of banana. I sliced them up very small, sprinkled a little grit on them, put them in a little container, and slid them into the coop. You would have thought I was trying to feed them arsenic. They took off in a flurry of fuzzness to the complete opposite end of the brooder, huddled together in the corner, and glared at me. I tried putting some in my hand and coaxing them to me, but they would have nothing to do with it. Even little Lucy was suspicious. She came over and pecked around my hand, but would get no where near that banana. I’m not sure if this is a sign that I’ll have picky eaters, or if I am not doing a very good job of teaching them to expand their horizons by trying new and different things.

One morning last week, I awoke to A LOT of noise coming from the spare room where the brooder is. When I opened the door to the room, I obviously surprised the peeps and they froze in place. I had caught them in the middle of a Wild Chick Party! It looked like a scene from “When Good Chicks Go Bad”. Both feeders were empty and feed was scattered all over the brooder. Their waterer was filled with poop and pine shavings, and the mirror had been knocked over. The place was a mess! As I cleaned it up I scolded them and explained that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. Any chicken under 6 months of age is not allowed to stay up all night and party in this house. It will not be tolerated! As I left the room, I swear I saw 3 of them roll their eyes at me. Honestly – chicks these days!

This morning, Bernie came in to ask me if I had looked outside at my composter today. I immediately knew something was not right. We went outside and found that the composter had obviously been attacked by a bear. He ripped the lid open and busted the clasp that locked it shut. I think he was after the shrimp shells I put in there yesterday. Shrimp shells have no fat or grease, and they compost beautifully. I’ve added them many times in the past and never had any issues with the bears before. I guess this bear really had a hankering for sea food. Bernie is outside building me another composter right now.

For some reason, the bear also decided to remove the cover from the box that houses the control valve for our septic system. He didn’t do any damage – he just removed the cover. It weighs somewhere around 10 – 15 pounds, so he had to be fairly determined to get it off. Bernie thinks he may have found some bugs around it and was digging for them. I’m just glad he didn’t mess with anything inside the box. You can see pictures of the damage to the composter on the Back to Basic Living website. Scroll down to the bottom.

When I came back in from taking pictures of the bear damage, I paused to once again remind Elvis and Priscilla how darn lucky they are to be house cats, how good they have it inside, and that they should be grateful that they aren’t bear food. Elvis threw his arm in the air in a “Talk to the Paw” response:


And then he went back to sleep:


I’m at my wits end with these kids.

Bee Free,

Chick Update

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Thanks for all the kind comments and emails of congratulations on the new chicks. They are still adorable and I am still loving them.

The chicks woke me up around 2AM, chirping pretty loudly. I went in to check on them, and they were all huddled together under the heat lamp. I have a thermometer in there with them, but they like to stand on it, so I can never get a good reading. It’s supposed to stay around 95 degrees for the first few days. I tested it several times in the past couple of weeks to make sure it was at the right height and it stayed at a steady 95 degrees. None the less, the weather got a bit cool last night, and I suspect the brooder got cooler too. I turned up the heat in the house, and went back to bed. They settled down.

When I got up at 5:30AM, they were completely silent. It scared me to death. I figured they had all roasted to death over night. I ran into the room, and they were sleeping very soundly. Whew. I did find one baby that didn’t make it though. I guess the stress of the long trip here was just too much for her. I cried and cried about it, but I finally decided I could not have done anything to prevent it. Bernie and I buried her outside by the cat we lost last year (Reba).

Two more of the biddies are acting very weak and I noticed the other chicks would knock them over regularly as they zoomed by them. I put those two in a little box by themselves so they can hopefully get some rest and get a little stronger. I also put another healthy biddy in there with them, in the hopes that she would be company for them and help keep them warm. That didn’t last long though. I walked out of the room for about 5 minutes, and when I came back in, the healthy biddy had hopped right out of that box and joined the others. I was fairly impressed as the height of the box is at least twice as tall as she is! So the two weak chicks are in Chick Intensive Care right now by themselves, and I really hope they pull through. I’ll keep you posted.

Amazingly, the one little chick I posted the picture of yesterday that acted so weak, is doing quite well. She’s a White Faced Black Spanish. The one that died was a Golden Penciled Hamburg. The two that are sickly are a Golden Penciled Hamburg and either a Phoenix or a Silver Leghorn – those two look so similar as biddies that I can’t tell them apart yet.

I’ll tell you one thing, biddies are little poop machines. I can’t get over how much they poop. I’ll be looking forward to some great compost as they get older! Until then, I guess I’ll be cleaning a brooder on a very regular basis – and continue fussing at them for pooping in their food.

So that’s the chick update for today. Even though I knew that I would likely lose one or two, it still makes me really sad. I hope the two little weaklings perk up soon. It’s all I can do not to sit in a chair and hold them all night.

Bee Free,

Chillin’ With My Peeps

Monday, May 19th, 2008

We spent a wonderful week with my parents celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We had perfect weather and Bernie went fishing with Daddy every day. Mama and I hung out together and visited and enjoyed our time together, and we took care of a couple of things she wanted to get accomplished, like re-upholstering her dining room chairs. The whole family got together on Saturday for a party for my parents, and then Bernie and I headed home yesterday. I really enjoyed seeing my parents, and it was hard to leave them, but I was excited to get home. My chicks were due in today, and I could hardly contain myself.

I got up at 5:30 to log into work – and to wait on my call from the post office to come get my chicks. By 8AM, I still had not heard from them, so I gave them a quick call. No chicks. I felt like crying. I called the hatchery, and they assured me they shipped the chicks on Saturday. About an hour later, I got a call from the post office in Fairfax, Virginia. My chicks had arrived there on Sunday, but for some reason, did not ship out. They were still in Fairfax this morning, so the lady that called me said she had them sent special delivery – but she sent them to the main post office in Charlottesville! About an hour later, I got a call from Charlottesville – and when I answered the phone I heard chirping in the background. A man told me the Charlottesville post office had received my chicks, and would be shipping them to Harrisonburg to arrive by 1:30PM. I called the Harrisonburg post office and told them to hold my chicks there – I was on my way.

I got to Harrisonburg a little early, and by 1:45 I was heading home with a box of chirping chicks. Wow. For such tiny little two day old birds, they sure can chirp!

Bernie and I unpacked them when I got home and stuck each little beak in the water so they would know where to get a drink. And drink they did! They were really thirsty. Immediately afterward, they found the food. I had spread some around the brooder, and they pecked at it – but they found the food dishes on their own and went to town with them.

We ended up with 27 birds. I ordered 25, but they sent a free “exotic” bird and an extra Phoenix rooster for some reason. They are all so dad-gum cute I could just kiss the feathers right off of every one of them. They all appear healthy and very active with the exception of one. I just checked them and even the sluggish one seems to be coming around a bit.

Here’s a picture of most of them – they run around so much I couldn’t get all of them in one shot. The red tint is from the heat lamp:


Here’s a picture of the little sluggish one. She is really cute – and although she seems a little less active than the others, she is the only one that consistently looks up when I talk to them. I really hope she makes it.


So my little peeps are home. I am so incredibly relieved. I worried about those little peeps all weekend. They’re mighty loud. I’m really hoping they’ve already learned to sleep through the night……

Bee Free,

The Chick Pad

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The first part of this week was spent finishing up the chicken coop and preparing the brooder, among other things. We got some pine chipped up and layered the coop with about 2 inches of it. We also got the nest boxes in place (old kitty litter buckets), and the waterer and feeder in place.

I made the brooder out of an old tool chest that came out of the bed of a pickup truck. I used an angle grinder and removed the lid, sanded off all sharp objects, and removed all rust.I washed it in some bleach water and let it dry in the sun. Bernie made me a super cool lid for it out of 2 X 4s and some screen. He hinged about half of it so I can easily lift it and get inside to clean or tend to (you can read play with) the chicks. It’s in a tiny, crowded spare bedroom, but I don’t think they’ll mind.


Our method for adjusting the heat from the heat lamp is very high tech. It involves being clamped on a dresser drawer and the drawer is determined by it’s height from the brooder and the desired temperature. I’ve tested it on various drawers and have pretty much figured out where it needs to be positioned over the period of the first two weeks the babies will be inside.


So there you have it – the Chick Pad. They’ll be here in a little over a week. I went to the post office and chatted with them about the expected arrival. The lady I spoke with wrote everything down on a piece of card board she tore off of a box and posted it on a bulletin board. She assured me they would give me a call the minute the little chicks arrived. She said if they make it in on the morning shipment, they’ll call me about 6:30AM to come get the chicks. If they make it in on the evening shipment, they’ll call me around 2:00PM. Either way, I’ll be “on ready” to go pick up my babies.

We’re heading down to spend a week with my parents for their 50th anniversary. We have someone coming in to look after the cats. I broke the news to Elvis and Priscilla tonight. They took it pretty hard.


Within a day or two of our return home, the chicks should be here. Yay! And you’ll be the first to know about it!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas!

Bee Free,