Archive for the ‘chickens’ Category

Note to Self: Don’t Be Stupid

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Remember I told you bears took out our bird feeders about 9 years ago? Well, they surely did. And Bernie and I agreed that bird feeders are not a good idea out here.

But we had an especially brutal winter this year, so I decided since it had been a while since we’d had any bear issues, it was safe to put out our bird feeders once again.

I should have known better.

Sunday morning Bernie took the pups out to potty about 6AM. And when he came back inside he informed me a bear was interested in my bird feeders, too.

 photo bear1.jpg

Apparently, he was especially interested in the fruit and nut mixture.

 photo bear2.jpg

And especially liked the suet that was hanging from these mangled hooks – one of which we’ve yet to find.

 photo bear3.jpg

It appears he decided to go over this chicken wire and flatten my poor Hosta and a few other plants to begin with.

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And then we noticed this.

 photo bear5.jpg

Those would be the chicken feeder and scratch scoop I keep in the cans in the chicken run.

And then we saw this.

 photo bear6.jpg


And that’s not actually the worst part.

After assessing the bear damage, we went back to check on the goats. The baby goats are locked in their stall at night, but Mirrie is free to be inside the goat barn or roam.

She usually greets me in her paddock every morning,

But not this morning.

I called for her and there wasn’t a peep out of her, or even the baby goats, who usually scream when they hear my voice.

It was dead silent.

We found Mirrie inside the goat barn, huddled in a corner, trembling from nose to tail.

Having recently lost Georgia, we were very concerned.

I was convinced she had a fever. So we called our vet to come out and check on her.

He was here in short order. She was still trembling. But she had no fever. And he found absolutely NOTHING wrong with her.

We suspect Mirrie saw the bear. We have no idea if or how they interacted, but there is almost no doubt her symptoms were bear related.

It took her a full 24 hours to start eating, drinking, and acting normally again.

And this is a sweet sight for me right now.

 photo goats1.jpg

So is this.

 photo goats2.jpg

The babies were locked up tight, but they were still very unsettled Sunday morning.

We have bears here. I know this. I’ve posted pictures of them in this very blog – while they were in this very yard. I had hoped with all the yard activity and bird feeders so close to the house, that it wouldn’t be a bear issue.

But it was.

Lesson learned.

Take it from me.

If you have bears in your area, don’t keep bird feeders out when the bears are likely to roam around. And tuck in tightly any other type of animal feed you have, and anything else that might attract bears.

I’ll put my bird feeders out during the winter months, and be sure to take them in before the bears start stirring.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Please do yourself a favor, and learn this one from me.

In spite of all the stress this bear brought to us, good things are happening around here…….

It wouldn’t truly be spring here without baby chicks, right? And we’ve got seven of them right now!

This mama hatched out 3 babies yesterday.

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And this mama hatched out 4 babies yesterday.

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I have another hen on three eggs due to hatch in two weeks.

And I have a coop full of other broodies who are too mean for me to let hatch out chicks.

It’s spring.

Critters are doing what critters do.

And I’m dealing with what critters do, and I’m loving it for the most part.

If I can just remember not to be stupid.

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.


Remember Me?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I’ve been woefully remiss in my blog posting. The past couple of months have been filled with lots of good things, and a few not so good things.

I’m gonna start with one of the not so good things.

We lost Duke about the time I stopped blogging. It was truly a difficult time for me. He had been sick for quite a while and, in all honesty, we should have probably put him down long ago. He had a good life, and he was quite the rooster – big, handsome, and a fierce protector of his flock. I have never heard of another rooster that would chase chicken hawks, let alone attack them and, on one occasion, pin them to the ground. Duke will always hold a very special place in my heart.

A good thing that happened is that my hens finally started going broody for me, and we ended up with one that hatched out five chicks:


And one that hatched out four:


Unfortunately, a predator killed both of the mama hens within two days. The four chicks were two weeks old at the time, and the five chicks were three weeks old. That same week, something got our big rooster, Pico. It was a stressful and sad week to say the least. After finding Pico’s feathers scattered across the yard, I decided to put the chickens on lock down for a few days.

I am fairly certain we had a fox that was picking off our chickens. We had seen a fox chasing a hen in the yard several weeks ago. Bernie scared it off, and it stayed gone a while. But I suspect it started coming back after these chickens.

After a couple days of lock down for the chickens, they were cut loose to resume free ranging. And we haven’t lost another one. Maybe the fox found an easier meal. I certainly hope so.

Since the loss of two roosters, I’m down to Bobby Lee and Floyd. As sad as I was to lose Duke and Pico, Bobby Lee actually seems quite happy.


He’s such a handsome boy. Floyd is too – but I didn’t get a good picture of him.

In mid-June Bernie’s mama and sister came to visit for a week. That was definitely a high light of our summer. We had a wonderful visit and were tickled to learn they will be back the end of August – with Bernie’s daddy and Julie’s boyfriend in tow!

Bernie’s mama, Kathy, is one of my favorite people, and she’s always a hoot. She and Bernie are very close, and it always warms my heart to watch the affection between them.


Bernie’s sister, Julie, is such a good friend to me and I just adore her. So does Dolly.


It was sad to see them go. But knowing that they will be back in short order definitely helped saying “goodbye” just a little easier this time.

So far I feel like this has been a good news/bad news kind of post! And I guess it really has. The next news I have to share with you is definitely a mix of both.

We no longer have the turkeys.

I have very mixed feelings about this.

It makes me sad because I really love Jake, Tanya, Sara, and Turklet2. I miss them a lot. But, on the other hand, it made me sad to see them penned. They were used to free ranging and penning them was difficult on them. So…….. when we learned that Gail, the owner of Deauville Farms, had re-homed all the Fallow Deer she had raised for years, we approached her about taking all four of our turkeys. Gail has many chickens, and she now has a huge pasture that she plans to free range them in. The pasture has 6 foot fencing, with electric wire at the top. Talk about a safe, fun place for turkeys to hang out! We were tickled when Gale said she would be happy to add four turkeys to her menagerie.

That made me very happy. And a little sad. But mostly happy.

So, just yesterday, we loaded up the turkeys and took them to their new home. We also supplied Gail with the turkeys’ favorite treat – Animal Crackers. As it turns out, Animal Crackers are a nice way to introduce yourself to turkeys.


In the below picture you can get an idea of the huge pasture the turkeys will be roaming in. They’ll stay fenced in the smaller yard for a couple of days until they are sure where “home” is, but soon they’ll be out free ranging again.


And the old turkey coop in our back yard? That’s gonna get cleaned up good and turned into a place to store all my canning stuff. And the lean-to on the side of it? That’s gonna get turned into a screened in canning room. I’ll be sure to let y’all know how all that progresses…….

The rest of us are doing just fine.

Elvis still has a drinking problem.


Priscilla enjoys a nip every now and again.


Diesel enjoys surrounding himself with his favorite toys when he naps.


And Dolly enjoys laying around looking pretty.


The chickens enjoy pecking at my painted toenails.


Say what??????????


And the goat babies enjoy begging for some Animal Crackers.


We’ve gotten some lard rendered.


And some honey extracted.


Pickle canning season has come in with a vengeance – and I finally got to start using the Tattler lids I purchased at a ridiculously low price last year. I LOVE them, by the way.


And, thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, I’ve picked up crocheting again and made several of these cute little pot holders.


And, now that I’ve got you caught up, maybe I’ll get back to posting weekly.

What the heck have you been doing this summer?

A Queen is Born and Hussy Hen

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

With this very early spring we’ve been blessed with, our honeybee hives sprung to life early this year. Really early. And our first hive inspections were late.  Really late.

Because that’s just the way we roll on this homestead.

By the time we did our first hive we found multiple swarm cells, and a couple of supersedure cells.  Fortunately, our neighbor from up the road, Si, came up to help with that first hive inspection. And Si knows bees. He also happens to raise queen bees.

So, naturally, when we discovered the swarm and supersedure cells,  we calmly looked at Si and screamed “WHAT THE HECK DO WE DO????????”

And, naturally, Si offered some solutions.

We could split our hives to give the girls more room, but that would leave us with four hives.

We don’t want four hives.

We want two hives.

Or we could remove all the swarm and supersedure cells and go back into the hives every two weeks or so and continue to remove them. Because once a hive decides to swarm, there is really nothing that can be done to stop them from trying to raise a new queen.

Our weather is a little kooky now and we stay pretty danged busy, so we worried we wouldn’t be able to keep up the constant removing of cells.

Finally Si offered a solution that we agreed was a good approach. Si would take our queens with him, allowing the hives to hatch out new queens and most likely to swarm with one of them.

We would lose bees to a swarm, no doubt. But, with the original queen gone, the number of bees that would leave with a new queen would be small in comparison.

So that’s what we did. Si took our queens.

And our beehives did, indeed, swarm. I saw them.

But when we went back into the hives last weekend, the number of bees left was astonishing.

It appeared to work!

Only, we didn’t find the new queen in one of the hives.

We looked and looked, and there was no queen.

Fortunately, as I mentioned, Si raises queen bees, and he brought three tubes with those little beauties on the verge of hatching.

So our plan was to put one of those new cells into the hive with the missing queen so she could hatch there and reign supremely.

But…… before we did that, Si decided we should take a look at those supersedure cells that had failed to hatch out. Maybe they weren’t viable, because surely they should have hatched the day or two before…….

And when he removed it from the frame and started to gently pick at it, he was greeted by a queen bee chewing her way out!


Holy Bee Hive!

And Si birthed a new Queen Bee!


I apologize for the blurriness of that picture – I was shaking with excitement!

And here she is, joining her hive.


I almost peed my pants.

There is more to this story. Remember I told you there were a couple of supersedure cells? Well, I was holding the other supersedure cell, and it had a queen chewing her way out, too. But I gave her to Si to birth.

Cause I don’t know nothing about birthing no babies – let alone Queen Bees.

So we left two queen bees in that hive. And, sadly, there will be only one next time we check.

There can only be one Queen Bee in a hive, under normal circumstances.

Although, nothing we do around here is very normal so……. we’ll see.

And speaking of “not normal” things, today I looked out the window at the chicken coop and noticed something just wasn’t quite right.


No, it wasn’t that the new addition that Bernie painted is TOTALLY brighter than the old side that is dusty and faded – but thanks for noticing that I need to paint the old side. Seriously. Bernie needed someone to take his back when he declared “I painted the addition – the other side is YOUR responsibility”.

But back to what I was saying….. do you see anything unusual here?


How about from this angle?


I don’t even have a clue how she managed to get tangled up in that mess.

I got a step stool, which was woefully short, and managed to get her into this predicament.


And then Bernie came to the rescue with his he-man ladder so I could free her.


She was totally unappreciative.

I won’t even begin to tell you the words that came out of her mouth.

But she was free as the breeze, complete with attitude.


Hussy Hen.

Sometimes Persistance Pays Off

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

I ordered my original chicken flock from McMurray’s Hatchery. I remember getting the phone call from the post office that they had a peeping box for me as if it were yesterday. I also remember excitedly claiming my box at the post office while everyone in the there ooooooowed and awwwwwwed over the sounds coming from it.

But what I remember most of all was getting to my car, opening the box, and taking my first look at the 27 precious little fuzzy faces that looked up at me. They took my breath away. And they stole my heart.

I do believe it was precisely at that specific moment, when I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could never have too many chickens.

Unfortunately, it was also, precisely at that specific moment, that Bernie was busily finishing up the chicken coop he was building for them.

I say “unfortunately” because I knew it wasn’t big enough for all the chickens I had planned in our future.

I also knew he would not agree with my plans.

But I am nothing if not persistent……….

Before my pullets were one year old, a few went broody.And I let them hatch out babies. It didn’t take long before it became obvious that the 8 X 8 coop that Bernie built was simply too small.

I approached Bernie with confidence. “Bernie I need a bigger dad gum coop!”

“No, you need fewer dad gum chickens!”

Ugh. He was going to be a tough nut to crack.

Over the course of the following years, I dropped hints about a bigger coop on a regular basis. And Bernie regularly rolled his eyes and then proceeded to completely ignore me.

But I never gave up.

Then, for reasons still completely unknown to me, I one day mentioned a bigger coop and Bernie said “Well, how do you want to add on to it?”

I’m not sure of how I responded, but I think I had the vapors.

And with the additional coop space, I’ve ordered 16 more baby peeps – which are scheduled to arrive here on April 2nd.

I need to pinch myself right about now……..

So, yesterday, this is how our coop and chicken run looked:


And this morning, after the steps were disassembled and the netting was pulled back, this is how it looked:


And this afternoon, after several hours of leveling and building the coop floor, this is how it looked:


And this is how Jake looked all stinkin’ day long:


Turns out Jake doesn’t like change very much…….

And the chickens weren’t too crazy about it at first. But after we finished up, a few brave souls made their way into the chicken run to eat a little supper.


I think I can honestly say that no one on this homestead is happy about the chicken coop addition.

Except me.

I’m happy.

I am pretty danged happy.

Sometimes persistence pays off.

They Don’t Want to be Seen Like This…..

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

We’ve got some molting going on here. It happens every year. And every year, one or two will go through a harder molt than the others.

This year, in the chicken flock, Lucy-fer is going through the hard molt.


Poor thing. She’s looking pretty rough. But Bobby Lee doesn’t mind.


And this is after her feathers started growing back in!

She was so embarrassed, she refused to look at the camera.


In the turkey flock, Tanya is our new mother, and she is suffering through the worst molt.


Her feathers are starting to grow back in these pictures, too. But she was still unhappy about being photographed.


Don’t tell her I said so, but a turkey with no tail feathers is a little comical. Shhhhhhhh.


Her babies don’t care.


Look how that turklet in the front is walking exactly like mama.


I think our molters would rather end this on that note.

But I can’t resist……..


The end!

Beards, Dust Baths, and Rumors

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Guess who’s growing up?


Look closely …… below his caruncles ….. in the center, mid-chest.


Jake is growing a beard! It’s hard to believe how quickly he’s maturing. *sigh*

This girl was taking a dust bath.


And just relaxing for a bit.


I’m glad she’s enjoying it. It may be a while before she gets to do that again. We’re supposed to get snow/rain/messy-mix for the next 4 or 5 days.

Didn’t I hear a rumor that it’s now officially spring?

Getting Back to Usual

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Things are getting back to normal since I returned from Germany. It’s a cold and blustery day here. Bernie and I bundled up and went outside to get the heater bases set up for the chicken and turkey waterers. I actually remembered to take my camera and get a few pictures to share with you.

Mirrie and Georgia were happy to see us. They are getting so big.


We’re finally fairly convinced we did indeed end up with one tom and two hens – even if the tom ended up being one we thought was a hen, and the hen ended up being one we thought was a tom. As a result, two of them got renamed. Jake is on the left (he used to be called Tanya) and on the right is Loretta (she used to be called Hank).


That’s Loretta on the left, Jake in the middle, and Sarah on the right:


It’s hard to believe how much they’ve grown. You may be able to get a good idea from this picture with Bernie’s legs in it:


This is Pretty Boy Floyd – the cockerel I kept from the hatch in May:


My poor hens are finally starting to come out of their molt. These two are the last of the molters, and just starting to get feathers in again:



This is one of the pullets from the May hatch – I love her coloring:


Bernie got a nice fire going in our new wood burner this afternoon.


Elvis kept warm by laying in the sun, across from the wood burner.


And Priscilla staked out her favorite hiding place on top of the curio.


And Diesel enjoyed relaxing in the warmth of his bed.


Dolly has always enjoyed chilling in my chair, but since my trip to Germany I think she’s gotten just a little too comfortable in it.


It’s nice to be home and back with Bernie and all the critters. I missed them.

What I See When I Open My Door

Saturday, July 17th, 2010


It’s a greeting I never tire of.

These Chickens Will Be The Death Of Me

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Last year we ended up with 18 extra roosters from all the broody hatches we had. We sent 17 to freezer camp, and Charlotte adopted a Phoenix cockerel. While it was nice having chicken in the freezer and they tasted delicious, these guys were very small and hardly worth the effort. This year I promised Bernie to limit the number of chicks I allowed the broodies to hatch out.

I was doing really well there for a good long while. Within a matter of a few short weeks, I had eight broody hens. I gave the first babies to hatch to a neighbor when the chicks were a couple of days old. Score! Then Charlotte agreed to take two of the broody hens and all the babies they hatched. Double score! From the remaining broodies, we ended up with only four new peeps in the yard.

During all this excitement and broodiness, I noticed I was missing one hen when I tucked them in at night. After a week or so, I figured she was either setting on a nest in the woods or was gone. A few days later, I came up short one more when I tucked them in at night. I figured it was this broody and I pretty much gave up on the first one that went missing – but I did not lose all hope.

This afternoon in was in the goat paddock playing with them and Bernie was sitting at the picnic table in the backyard watching us. I began hearing some faint cheeping. A few minutes later it was noticeably louder.

I hollered over to Bernie, “Did the mamas leave those chicks back here again?” A couple of the mama hens that I let hatch out chicks have started leaving their babies and getting on with life – when the babies are not hot on their heals as they walk away. And when the mamas do manage to escape, those chicks scream bloody murder.

“Um, I don’t think so. These babies are very, very tiny.”

By the time he finished his sentence I had made it out of the goat paddock and was running toward the cheeping I heard.

And there she was. The first hen that came up missing – with four little babies bumbling along behind her.

I filled a feeder and waterer and put it down for them, but mama would immediately lead them away if I got anywhere close.

new baby chicks

You’ll have to look very closely, but there are two chicks in this picture:

new baby chicks

And there are three in this one:

new baby chicks

She has a total of four babies. I was really hoping to catch her and the babies and get them in a brooder, but I had no luck. She did finally lay down for a while with the babies under her.

new baby chicks

But she kept a close eye on me the entire time. I am really praying she heads to the coop with the babies tonight. It’s quite a journey for such tiny little chicks, but mama hens expect their babies to hit the ground running, so it’s possible she will lead them to the safety of the coop. I sure hope so. I have no idea where her nest is – if I can find it I will go out at dark and move them all to a brooder.

I don’t like having hens brooding outside the coop, but I accepted that there would be risks involved in allowing my chickens to free range. The consequences of keeping them penned are just more than I am willing to put up with – for my sanity and the sake of my chickens. Even so, I worry every minute that my chickens are roaming in the yard and woods, and I lose sleep over these broodies that have nests in the woods.

I love my chickens. I really do. But I know these chickens will be the death of me.

I’m certain I’ll go with a smile on my face.