Archive for chickens

Getting Ready For Winter And Catching Up

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here because we’ve been busy offline. Raise your hands if you spent days around Thanksgiving traveling! We traveled Wednesday through Sunday, north of us, south of us, and then north of us again. By the way, NEVER, if you can possibly help it, NEVER travel on a highway on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. What normally takes us about 4 hours to drive took 7!!! I now officially think that colleges should stagger their return dates after major holidays.

What else were we doing? Getting the animals set up better for winter! I started with the run-in. I admit I had put off mucking out the run-in for a while (don’t ask), but it’s not as obvious that it’s building up when it’s goat pellets and hay versus when it’s horse or cow droppings. I was picking out the run-in all the time when we had large animals out there! I did not have to clean up after the pigs, because pigs make a different toilet area away from where they eat and sleep.

I needed to clear out the side I use to access the back so that I could more easily get a larger order of hay brought in. It was deep when I started.

 

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It started looking better as soon as I got the hay all off of it, but I still needed to take out the composting stuff.

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I had the brilliant idea of using my little electric tiller to break it up, making it easier for me to shovel out (we don’t have a tractor). That only worked on part of it; part of it was too hard for the tines to get into. I had to use a metal hay fork to break up the layers to shovel them off. Yes, it’s embarrassing to own up to this, but such is life sometimes!

I finally got it dug out to where I could open the gate all the way. I then proceeded to move all of the project wood that I had in the back, rearranged the feed bins, and moved the milking stand. You can see part of the back of the run-in in this picture showing my progress on the floor.

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I called in the hay delivery–40 bales. That’s the largest I’ve ever taken at one time, because I used to have firewood stored in the back of the run-in as well (still working on storing the new firewood). There’s a certain feeling of security that comes from looking at a wall of hay put up for the next 2 months! The empty feed bin in the photo is sitting on top of the milking stand. The next step for this area is filling up all available feed bins!

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Next I moved on to making a shelter for Bubba and Marshmallow since they’re still in the inside yard until they get castrated, hopefully just before Christmas. I was originally planning to build an entirely new shelter in the back behind the inside yard and against the outside wall of the coop extension. That would get them out of the inside yard, but would’ve also put them where they couldn’t easily see the other goats. I started to move plywood and 2x4s out to the area and then decided that I would rather use what I already have instead of building something from scratch and having to worry about whether I had enough plywood, could roof it well enough but simply enough to take apart after a month.

I decided to use the chicken coop. I have posted pictures of the extension before; it’s still the same size. I was on medication over the summer that made me just sweat rivers and could not stand to be outside doing anything. I even gave up the garden. I just felt too bad when I was outside.

I closed off the side that’s open to the extension to help it stay a little warmer inside. I then moved the plywood around on the front so that the door actually is on the same side as the door in the framing (I had not worked out how it would fit together before and did not have the time while I was doing all this to make a door). I added shelves for the goats to get up on and hung two hay racks.

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I have since realized that (1) Bubba and Marshmallow don’t like to go in there and (2) the chickens like to sit on top of the boys’ hay. So I need to figure out how to keep the chickens off the hay in an easily removable way. For Bubba and Marshmallow, I think they need a nightlight. I just purchased this light on Amazon. It’s an outdoor, solar-powered string of lights that costs less than $9 per strand. I bought two; I’m planning on putting one in the coop for Bubba and Marshmallow and one in the run-in for the main herd (does and whethers). The big bucks are in front of the house and get light as long as we leave the porch light on.

outdoorsolarlightsI’m thinking I’ll also block off one side under the front porch for Bubba and Marshmallow to get out of the wind during the day since they like to be on the front and west sides of the house where they can talk to other goats. They can get out of the wind now, but they can’t see anybody else when they go there so they don’t.

What have you been doing to get ready for winter?

Two Big Summits You Don’t Want To Miss!

Holy mother of pearl! There are two back-to-back summits that you do NOT want to miss–the Prepper World Summit 3 and the Mother Earth News Summit.

I don’t how I’m arriving late to the party for this first, but the Prepper World Summit 3 is currently ongoing. It’s run dates are October 22-October 31, 2016. They will have encore days on November 2 and 3, thankfully!

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The Prepper World Summit 3 has a “hand-picked team of 20 world-class prepping & survival experts will reveal how you can avoid common prepping mistakes, take your preparedness to the next level and create a survival plan that WORKS for you and your family.”

Topics include:

  • Bug-out bags. I need this reminder…Don’t ask.
  • Surviving in an urban environment.
  • Growing a stealth food forest. I wonder what kinds of foods will be included?
  • Building community.
  • Prepping with chronic health conditions. I hope they cover more than medication. I’ll pay attention to this one during the encore listening.
  • Permaculture basics. I’m going to be taking as many notes as I can!
  • Building a secret greenhouse on your house disguised as a porch. I’m definitely going to watch this one!
  • And so much more!

Squee! I can’t wait for encore day to listen to everything I’ve missed! Sign up here to be able to listen free!

The second summit that’s coming up is the Mother Earth News Summit online. Yes, they do in-person fairs in several places around the country every year. This one is online and is free! This one runs October 31-November 6 with encore days on November 7 and 8. It includes 35 speakers over 7 days.

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Topics include:

  • How organic gardeners produce 2X to 10X greater yields.
  • Build your next garden beds for $0 (yes, nothing)!
  • Grow 75% of your food in less than 10 hours per week!
  • 5 ways to achieve FOOD ABUNDANCE in small urban spaces.
  • Lazy backyard chicken farming secrets.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: turn water scarcity into water abundance!
  • How to get FREE ACCESS to local seed varieties.
  • Make clothes that last 10X longer, using the “old ways.”
  • Whip up delicious, slow-cooked meals using the sun!
  • Transform your property into an edible landscape.
  • And so so much more!

The Mother Earth News Summit is more geared toward homesteading and gardening type of discussions. Even if you just have a little garden patch or grow tomatoes in pots, sign up! You may learn some easy tricks to be able to expand what you grow.

These are going to be so much fun, I’m giddy just thinking about them! Ok, maybe not giddy, but really excited! What’s your favorite topic that’s being covered? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget the Thyroid Connection Summit going on October 24-31, 2016.

 

What Do I Mean By Vegan Homestead?

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When I bought our property in 2012, we were eating basically a “traditional foods” diet–Paleo but with a small amount of grains such as brown rice or oatmeal. I thought we would be able to try to grow most of our food on our 4 acres, fishing in the pond, eating eggs from our ducks and chickens, getting dairy from our own cow and goats, beef from our own cow, chicken and duck from our older birds, and pastured pig. Life was looking grand.

Until I actually got livestock.

We started off taking 2 free-lease ponies, added 2 miniature cattle (bull and heifer), Image5874 piglets (2 boys, 2 girls), 5 goats (1 boy, 4 girls), and many ducklings and chicks. We discovered that (a) not many people really need to own a bull, especially people with no cattle experience, (b) pigs really are smart and actually can be very nice, (c) everything else in the world wants to eat your birds, and (d) goats are really cute!

So we sold the cattle, which I had no business owning, and the pigs, which would come running to lay down for belly rubs whenever we yelled “piggy love!” We would have kept the pigs for pets if I’d been able to keep them separately and afford to feed them. However, something would have had to been done about the rooting. I know it’s what they’re designed to do, but I now have areas of our pasture where I can’t take the riding mower due to how deep the ruts are and I’m actually afraid that a horse would break a leg in that part of the field. Someday I hope to get it disced.

My daughter, Kaida, had already stopped eating chicken and duck after we got our own birds and she saw how cute they were. She became friends with some of them, being able to hold and pet several of our hens as well as our then-head-rooster, Halloween. Note: all of our original chickens and half of our ducks have been eaten by predators, mostly fox. We did get more chicks recently because they not only helped with bugs, but apparently helped keep the weeds in check. The backyard needs them, badly!

After selling the cows, we were still kind of okay eating beef, but had already stopped eating pork. We just lost interest in eating it; we would always picture our piggies laying down with their eyes closed for belly rubs every time we tried to eat bacon or ground pork. I had to sell the pigs, but I at least sold them to someone who would let them live on pasture without rings in their noses. The goats got to stay because they’re cheaper to feed.

By this time, I knew that I would not be able to butcher anything so I decided that if I couldn’t do it, I at least had to watch how the butchering was done and see if I could be a party to that. No, I could not. A fast shot between the eyes while still out in the field eating would be the ideal way to kill for food, but I decided that we were done with eating animal products since it wasn’t physically necessary. Luckily, Kaida was fine with that since she already didn’t really like eating meat.

Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes would become our staples. fruits_&_veggies

There were also health benefits that encouraged me to pull back from eating animal products. There have been challenges too, but I will cover them in another post.

Day 1 – 90-day Home(stead) Improvement Challenge

Welcome to Day 1 of the 90-day Home(stead) Challenge, where I will take some measurable action to improve our home or farm every day for the next 90 days. I hope to have a much nicer place to live, a sanctuary of sorts, by the end of the challenge.

20141201-182907.jpgWhat do you do with a single chick who’s too big for the box (because she can flutter over the sides and make a mess of the bathroom), but too young to go outside? I didn’t want to put her in the barn alone because she’d be, well, alone. I don’t think that’s good for a social animal. I remembered that we still had the cage from when we used to have a small flock of parakeets ages ago. I think it works well! Hopefully, she will be fully feathered and ready to start going into an outdoor cage in the coop by the time she gets too big for this cage. Otherwise, she’ll have to go to the barn.

I looked again for the paint roller and pan and still could not find them. I will just have to try to paint with a regular paint brush. It needs to be done and I need to not drive 30 miles each way to spend money to buy and pan and roller (and I’d probably find the old ones as soon as I got home). I know their somewhere because I used them after we moved here, I just don’t remember where.

Let me know below what you got done today!

Deaths, a Shooting, and a New Growth – Not the Right Kind

I feel like a lot has been going on. To the deaths first.

I had to “cull” my first chicken. We had a hen who prolapsed an oviduct with an egg inside it. The egg prevented me from being able to push the oviduct back in. I called an exotic animal vet 1 hour away who does work with poultry (he treats the local zoo) and tried to get her in; chickens are my daughters favorite animal in the whole world and I wanted to try to save the hen for her. Unfortunately, we would not have been able to get to the only open time they had that day. The receptionist said we could come in on an emergency basis, but that would have put our bill over $100 just for showing up, not including the surgery to actually fix the problem. I jut did not have $200 available to be able to fix her.

I shot her with bird shot, close range, to the head to make sure that her death would be as fast and as painless as possible. I cried for her but made sure I didn’t shut my eyes. I didn’t want to miss and have her suffer.

She had already been walking around with her feathers fluffed out and I thought she might have already had a fever and infection setting in so decided to bury her. I had to put out food for the pigs and try to get her buried before the pigs finished and came to investigate. I got the last of the dirt on her just as Zeus, one of the boys, came trotting up. I buried her where the pony is buried.

Our next death was beautiful Princess Stacy, our polled baby doe Nigerian Dwarf goat. I think she was smothered in her sleep be a cow — all of the animals had been sleeping on the hay on one side of the run-in. I found her at the entrance to the run-in, unfortunately with Zeus the pig. He only ate one part (the head) and left the rest. Unfortunately, the ground was too frozen by that time for me to bury her. I moved her body back by the woods, thinking that the pigs and chickens could take care of the body. I didn’t know what else to do with it!

Sad as the whole thing was, when I told Sweet Baby about it, she paused for a few seconds and then screamed “Zombie pigs!” So we were gifted with a running joke.

Now to the new growth. Unfortunately, it’s in my right breast. I already had two biopsies in my left breast 5 years ago that we’re found to be fibroadenomas — benign tumors that just grow and cause pain but don’t metastasize. I’m hoping that the new lump on the right is the same thing.

I don’t have insurance but I did find out about a program for uninsured women called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The program will call an OBGYN exam, PAP smear, and the whole process with the breast specialist at least through the biopsy. I don’t know what happens after that if one still needs more services.

I should be getting the sign-up forms within the next 2 weeks and will have an appointment to see the breast specialist in February. The impression I got was that they didn’t have the available appointment times yet from the doctor.

I also tried to apply for Medicaid. Unfortunately, since The state I’m in did not opt to expand Medicaid coverage for adults, I didn’t get it. I tried to apply for Obamacare and guess what? I don’t make enough money to qualify for a rebate! Apparently, you have to make at least 100% of the federal poverty level in order to qualify for the payment rebate. Since I make less than that right now (which I’m trying to change!), no rebate for me. And since I don’t happen to have $200-$300, plus copay expenses, sitting around, no insurance for me yet. My employer does not offer insurance and none of the grunts are allowed to even come within spitting distance of full-time hours.

On the positive front, I have an appointment today to meet with the local federal Obamacare navigator (not a volunteer). Maybe he’ll be able to give me some good news.