Friday, December 11, 2009

Elvis Has Left the Building...Again

This time, we had to make Elvis leave the building by moving her to our "hen hospital" in the shed. Yesterday Elvis had blood around her comb. I don't know if it was caused by an accident, the cold or the other chickens. I was able to get some anti-biotic ointment on it and hoped things would better in the morning. When I went outside today, she was worse and there were drops of blood all over the coop. I knew we had to separate her if we were to have any chance of saving her and keeping the other chickens from pecking at her. So we set up our old dog cage in the shed and moved her out of the coop. I have read all the chicken books and I haven't seen any mention of comb injury or what to do about it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One of these eggs is not like the others

The hens have been keeping busy since the premier of the First Egg. We are generally getting about one egg per day. I imagine this conversation between the girls...."no, today is your turn, I made one yesterday". These are eggs #2 through #6 and as you can see, the 6th egg was a DOOZY! And yes, it had a double yoke. We had a very nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon the saturday before Thanksgiving.

The girls just don't like their nest boxes. We have moved them around and yet they still they lay on the floor. So I guess we will try to rework the boxes to something they might like better (no roof?). While away for Thanksgiving, my great-nephew took care of the chickens. They layed another three eggs plus another soft one. That's three soft-shelled eggs so far and 12 good eggs in a little over two weeks. I hope that means that another hen is laying now and not an issue with their diet. I have added more oyster shells but may have to add more vitamin D too. We also added a light to the coop to increase their daylight hours to 14 as winter draws near. We have the light come on at 6am and off at 8am, then on again at 6pm and off for the night at 8pm.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our First Farm Fresh Egg!

It finally happened! I went out to the coop last night to put the chickens up for the night. As I have been doing every morning and night for the last week-and-a-half, I took a look around with the flashlight. There it was on the floor under the roost - a small brown egg! I think I actually screamed with delight - We have an Egg!!! I was so excited that I actually ran back to the house (with curious dogs in tow) yelling like a school girl. Keith was not that happy to have to head outside into the cold with the camera to take a picture. Upon picking it up, I realized that the shell was very soft - so not an egg we could actually eat and keep. The books say that sometimes their first eggs are soft. It can also mean they need more Vitamin D and calcium. It didn't matter to me - I was soooo proud of that egg. They did it! My chickens actually laid an egg.

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Eggs Yet

The girls are 25 weeks old today - but we haven't seen any eggs yet. I placed some fake eggs in the nest boxes hoping to entice them to their laying spot. I know that they have been in there - moving the eggs around - but that is about it. Yesterday I decided to take out the fake eggs as I was worried that they were trying to hatch those instead of laying their own. I hope finding a new home for Stevie hasn't thrown them off their game. This is all new to I would appreciate any input as to whether we should be worried or not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nest Boxes and a new home for Stevie

Much has been happening at Windy Acres. As usual, there is plenty of outside work to do even when the temperatures start to drop. Last week we were able to get the chicken coop insulated for winter. I can definitely feel the difference inside - nice and toasty. The chickens have been spending much more time up on the roost - working their way up the ladder. The night before last five rather large chickens (including Stevie) were all squished together on the top roost. I guess they help keep each other warm. The sixth chicken has been making herself a little nest on the floor and we were worried that she is getting ready to lay.

So Keith got the next boxes built this weekend and they look great. So far it doesn't look like anyone has used them, so I'm going to see about getting a couple fake eggs. The book says that can help get them into the box. The girls are 22 weeks old and should start laying anytime.

We are also happy to report that we have found a new home for Stevie. This has been a very hard decision as Stevie is one of the two survivors of the great chicken massacre of 2009. We only wanted pullets so we would get unfertilized eggs and Stevie ended up being a boy. He is a beautiful bird and we hate to see him go. We have been in a quandary as to how to find him a new home. Everyone just kept telling us to kill him and roast him. We could never do that to Stevie!

Last Saturday we took a drive to Tractor Supply as we knew that Nancy from P.A.W.S. was going to be there. She runs a local animal rescue and figured she would be the one person that would know how to put us in contact with someone either in need of a rooster or willing to take him as a pet. We were right! She knew a woman in the northern part of our county who also has Buff Orpingtons and needs a new rooster as hers is crippled. We were so happy. So tonight, we are going to meet at Tractor Supply for the great Rooster hand-off.

Stevie - we will miss you and your crowing but we know that you will be happy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Favorite Time of Year

I love fall...Love it! I love everything about it - smell in the air, fall foods, fall festivals, the colors, the feeling of going back-to-school (and the need to buy school supplies), and the holidays. It is absolutely my favorite time of year. I don't even mind that it means Winter is right around the corner. I especially love Halloween. Halloween is my Mother's birthday and so it has always been 2nd only to Christmas in my family. My husband and I even got married the day before Halloween. I am trying my best to hold my enthusiasm in check and NOT get the Halloween decorations out until at least October 1st. I did started burning some fall scented candles - just to get a little "fall fix". My plan is to get some cleaning and organizing done this weekend (no excuses) so that we will be ready for all that fall has to offer. A trip to Tuttle Orchards for some apples might be in order.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dogs days of summer

The dogs days of summer tend to make everything run a little slower - including my blog updates. We picked the rest of the veggies yesterday (peppers, some carrots, the last cucumber and head of cabbage) along with a pile of parsley and basil. Then we mowed down the entire thing. This was not my best garden year. The weeds grew beyond my control. In addition, the tomatoes were hit hard by blight - never ripening just rotting on the vine.

The girls (and Stevie) are 17 weeks old now - quickly approaching laying age. Buff Orpingtons are supposed to start laying sometime around 24 weeks. Developed in the UK, they are a hardy bird that should continue to lay during the winter months. We still have many items to complete on the coop's "to-do" list in the next few weeks: insulate the walls, build the nest boxes, finish painting the west side, put board around the base (keep little critters out), and do something with Stevie. I wonder if the local pet adoption agency takes chickens.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And then there were two...

I think we mentioned that when Harry showed up wet under a car...he had a sibling in tow. Well, said sibling (gender unknown as it never lifts its tale) has become quite the noisy little kitty - hanging around the house and meowing non-stop. Needless to say, the dogs are in quite the tizzy. We've been feeding him/her at night and each day it seems to trust us just a tiny bit more. Keith has named it "Gizmo" after the movie "Gremlins". I still call it "Scaredy Cat". As I filled its bowl the other night, he/she almost let me touch him/her. At the rate we're going, he/she might let us actually pet him/her by New Year's.

Foggy Morning at Windy Acres

This is why we moved out to the country - the beauty, the serenity and
sometimes creepy country fog. But this morning, it was lovely.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's official...Stevie's a boy

We had been waiting for it..maybe even dreading it a little. We didn't want it to be true...but this morning all doubt was erased. As we do every morning, we let the dogs out and then let the chickens out of the coop, saying "Good Morning Girls (and Stevie)". As I walked back toward the house..there was a sound that stopped me in my tracks. Stevie started crowing. Just short bursts at first and he sounded as if he were horse. The almost childlike crowing even made the dogs stop in their tracks and stare at the chickens. I guess that's it...we really need to find him a home. I just can't bear the thought of killing him after all that he had been through. I want him to live a happy, quiet chicken life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meet the newest member of Windy Acres

Looks like we have adopted a kitten. Last Thursday night, Keith (and the dogs) heard a crying outside. We headed outside with a flashlight, and followed the sound - which turned out to be a small kitten sitting under our '61 Ford Falcon. He was all wet and crying non-stop. He came right up to us and let us pet him. We brought out some dog food and boy was he hungry! We don't think he is more than 8-9 weeks old. Well, we fed him the next morning too and decided to try and bring him inside the house Friday night. We also found out he has a sibling which is currently living under our deck (what is it with our deck and critters?). This one is a true scaredy-cat and flees at the slightest movement or sound. He will come up to feed but then he is gone again as soon as we move. We haven't fully decided on a name yet, though we are leaning toward Dirty Harry (Harry for short). We started with the Cat with No Name (after the Clint Eastwood character "the man with no name" in some of his westerns), then Clint which didn't seem right for a kitten. Dirty Harry seemed a better name - plus he sort of squints like Clint. We need to get him fixed and over to the vet for tests. For now, he is enjoying the lush life in our spare bedroom.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

10 Weeks old and Gettin' Even Bigger (More pics)

That's Keith holding Stevie. Once they have been picked up - they seem to become more at ease with being handled.

10 Weeks old and Gettin' Even Bigger

I don't think we can really call them chicks anymore - they are officially chickens! There is plenty of cluckin' going on in the Little Deuce Coop (our now officially named chicken coop). You can see how big they are - probably about 3-4 pounds each. It also seems to be clearer everyday that Stevie really is a "Steve". That's Stevie in the front - struttin' in the yard.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What is that animal under the deck???

Our 2 dogs have been going a little nuts the last couple of days when we've let them out. Scratching and whining at something under the deck. Last time it was a cat, and the time before that a raccoon (yes we think that was the one that committed the massacre.)

Not so lucky this time.

And not just 1 small skunk, but a whole young skunk family. I went out to take pictures and thought that the skunk had started getting loose from the cage. It's been gnawing at the wire.

Nope, I shift positions and it's 2 other small skunks on the outside. They notice me and meandered back under the deck.

So, I'm calling around to various animal rescue & removal services (phone book title,) since the county Animal Control doesn't deal with wild animals.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Exploring the World Outside

Last week the chickens were moved to the new coop and had their first big adventure outside. What fun for their birthday - today they are 7 weeks old! BTW - the big one toward the front is Stevie our first...and...we're pretty sure that Stevie is really Steve.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Working on the Weekend

Chicken door built...posts up...gate/door to pen is up...ready for the fencing!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Coop is Coming Along

The coop is almost done. The shed is built - next comes the pen. We also have to cut the doorway for the chickens and add the roost. We can build the nesting boxes later as we have a few months before they are ready to lay egg. Now if it would only cool down! It has been so hot after work that we not starting work until 7:30pm or later. Gotta love this Indiana weather. As Forest Gump would's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Coop is Coming...the Coop is Coming!

We finally decided the easiest (and quickest) way to get the coop built is to order a shed and then add in the access door, ramp, roosts and nest boxes ourselves. We will also build the pen. We decided on the 8x8 Explorer from Five Star Industries. We ordered our first shed from them a couple years ago and were very happy with the speed and quality of the construction. In fact, the shed will be built this coming Wednesday! It's about time we got moving on this as the chicks are getting really big. Saturday morning I uncovered the brooder to change the water and fill the feeder. When I got back with the fresh water - a chick was out and about again. I can't turn my back on them or they are up and out of the brooder. I really don't want to be chasing chickens around our the house.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

There's a storm a brewin'

This past weekend, and just about every day since, we've had late afternoon/early-evening storms blow through. Typical Indiana weather for this time of year, storms feeding off the heat of the day, which can turn violent and nasty at any moment. One interesting aspect of our weather is that there is often a sharp dividing line between an area where there's foul weather, and a clear area. The following 2 pictures are from our back deck.

The first looking North West, shows a neighboring farmer and his tractor, with stormy weather in the background.

The next is looking South West, where you can see one of the side benefits of these storms, cool looking storm clouds and sunsets. This particular storm was nasty, with some reported tornadoes a few counties north of us.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Elvis Had left the Buidling (well...brooder)

I knew it was only a matter of time with the chicks growing so fast and flapping their wings. Well, it finally happened. One of the chicks got out of their new and bigger tub that Keith had picked up last week (a trough really). With more space, they almost seemed to be running and trying to take off. Friday evening, I went back into the spare bedroom where the chicks currently reside.

There was Elvis sitting on the carpet just outside of the tub .

She seemed exhausted. her little face looked like "I don't know how I got I just decided to sit down and wait for help". She sure didn't mind being picked up and placed back with her sisters. Needless to say, chicken wire now covers the top of the tub to prevent further adventures. (pictures coming later)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shake your tail feathers

It is amazing to see the chicks growing! The massacre survivors - Stevie and Blondie - have been with us for just over a week and the other four for only one week. We are already seeing tail feathers, real wings, and even a small comb on Stevie (the middle chick in the top photo). You can also tell by their weight - Stevie and Blondie have a few ounces on the other four. They definitely feel heavier when you pick them up (something that definitely gets their wings flappin').
Keith picked up a new tub today as we are quickly running out of room in our current housing. We had better get busy on getting the coop built!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And then there were 17

After the trauma of the massacre, Keith contacted the hatchery to let them know what had happened. Come to find out, the USPS is not supposed to just leave live chicks on the porch in plain view of chicken-eating-varmints. Who'd a thunk that...anyway the hatchery said they would ship out a new batch at no charge. That was yesterday. This morning as Keith was on the road to work - he got a call that our new guests had arrived. He quickly turned around, headed back home and was able to get the chicks settled in their new temporary quarters before heading back to work (again).

They are sooo cute.

Now I can't tell Blondie and Steve from the rest of the flock. Alas, we are only going to be keeping 6 of them as the rest are going on to new pastures.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Windy Acres Chicken Massacre of 2009

As I was driving a co-worker home, in my new 2006 Dodge Charger R/T, the phone rang, and I saw it was my husband. I quickly called him back, and after I said hello, all I heard was, cheep cheep, cheep cheep, cheep cheep, cheep cheep...

He gave me the news that our new chicks had arrived, but the good news was followed by very sad news. Out of 15 chicks that we had ordered, only 2 had survived. Something had gotten into the box, 4 chicks were found dead, 9 were gone. The scene of the crime was a mess of blood and feathers.

The only clue left was a tuft of chicken feathers sitting near the deck behind the house.

Upon investigation of all the facts, it turns out that the hatchery had transposed 2 numbers of his cell phone, so the post office never notified us that the chicks had been delivered.

So, we are left with two traumatized chicks, that I have named, Blondie and Stevie. Two dogs that are excited about our new arrivals. In fact, Bogey our older dog, decided to pick Stevie up for further examination. He quickly dropped the frazzled and now somewhat slimy chick upon command.

After getting them temporarily situated in a safe place, we went to Tractor Supply and got the supplies we needed to host our new guests.

They have been fed, watered, and given some tender loving care. They quickly went to sleep with bellies full, and a warming lamp over their heads.

DH has already set a trap for the suspected perpetrator of the massacre, a raccoon we had scene the night before. After putting up the chicks, he went to let the dogs back in. Our intrepid hunter Abbey was sniffing, whining, and scratching at the deck, as if there were something underneath. He later saw the same raccoon sniffing at the trap. Hopefully, we'll catch the rascal in the next night. What we'll do about it then is anyone's guess.

Where We Are

2 acres nestled in between New Palestine and Greenfield, Indiana.