Wednesday, April 27, 2011

31 Days to Clean

I am so excited to read this little book. 31 Days to Clean.

I love the idea of a month long spring cleaning devotional. Some "Mary" Challenges and some "Martha" Challenges to tackle not only my external house but my internal one. 31 Days to Clean is about the "why" and the vision and the heart for taking care of your domain. Each day you will be encouraged with some thoughts and ideas on the heart of cleaning, and then you will put those ideas to action.

After each days reading, you will be given two challenges:

The Mary Challenge -Something you do that encourages/engages your heart
The Martha Challenge - Specific cleaning tasks

And honestly with ebooks ranging upwards of $25 these days I'm SO glad to see an affordable ebook. $4.99!

I have really been in need lately of a little boost in not only the "get off my rump" department but the "keeping my house as a service for the Lord" department. I think this little book is going to be just the ticket.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to get started with chickens

Here is a quick little primer for getting started with chicks. Honestly getting started with chicks is quite easy. The first handful of weeks they can even live in a big box! Really, easy. It's only when they get bigger that you have more to consider. I'll start with the beginning basics now and as Frankie and I work on the run for the coop I'll show more about coops and tractors and just general chicken housing.

If considering getting chicks the first thing I would do is sign up at backyard chickens. It's really the most comprehensive place for chicken information. You can find anything you've ever wanted to know about raising chicks at BYC. But if you're more of a book type person and just like to hold information in your hand here are a few recommendations for books:

There are a few ways to get your chicks. Around here most common is feed stores, Tractor supply or farmer co-ops. We live in a rural area so when it's chick season you pretty much can find them being sold all over the place. We also have very reputable local hatchers that sell on craigslist. But if those aren't an option for you you can order them online. There are many hatcheries out there. Here's a few of the top hatcheries:
McMurray Hatchery - this is where we always order from when we order for ourselves. The have an insane catalog. If nothing else, order a catalog. You'll learn SO much about chicken breeds!
Ideal Poultry

Cackle Hatchery - This is where our friend who owns a feed store orders from and he likes their service a lot.

Meyer Hatchery

Onto basic supplies. You really don't need a whole lot to get started with chicks. You'll need a waterer. Something like this:

You'll also need a feeder. Once again a couple different basic designs. I like the long red ones with the holes. It's what we've always used.

A heat lamp. As chicks are most often sent off as day-olds. In the wild they'd be spending most of their time under the warmth of their Mama Hen and as such NEED a heat lamp. Heat lamps are pretty cheap actually. About $10 or so. Plus a heat bulb - a couple more bucks.

A note on heat. If you notice your chicks always huddling 100% of the time under the lamp it may be a tad too cold. On the other hand, if they are always huddling away from the light, move the light back a bit. Over time you should be able to slowly back off on their heat until they don't really need heat anymore. Hopefully it's warm outside and it will be time to move them out!

What you house them in is up to you. Some use big rubbermaid tubs. Some use big boxes. We've done both in the past. This year we happen to have ours in the house part of a chicken tractor that Frankie and I fixed up. There are actual brooders you can build or buy.
Ours in years past looked something like this:
or this:
Now we haven't used a galvanized tub but I've seen it done a lot. Really anything will work!

And they even sell cardboard brooder "kits". The kits come with heat lamp, that cardboard, the feeders and waterers.

Chicks need heat, food, water and dry housing. Aside from maybe a little love (that they really would do fine without as horrible as that sounds) they will do just fine with that.

And last but not least, here's a little shot of our current set-up. I should say that the ventilation hole up top is covered in chicken wire for safety.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back to Chickens again


So this last year Clay decided he officially hates chickens. We've had chickens for years but this last year, well their free-ranging got on his very last nerve. Our first flock didn't really get on the porch for some reason. They were great. The only one of the porch were these rogue roosters that someone dropped off. Now THEY lived on the porch. And drove Clay crazy lol. There was one large rooster that hated Clay. Every time Clay would walk out the door he would crow and crow and crow. I loved that big ole rooster though and it was because of that that Clay didn't kill that giant rooster.

But this last batch of girls, well they just wanted to live on the porches. And if you don't know, chickens that live on porches, well they poop on porches. If they want to roost on top of your standing freezer they poop all over there. And that is a giant mess to clean up. It's unsanitary and gross and Clay was done. So this last year we went from a HUGE flock of chickens down to 3. And he was ready for us to get rid of those last girls.

But chickens are a part of every budding homestead. And after a year of really getting little to no eggs and really missing having home flocks of chickens and ducks, I miss it. And Frankie does too. He's my go-to poultry guy. He feeds, waters, catches rogue poultry and helps me deal with injuries. He goes out late at night if we're not sure we shut the coop doors.

So Frankie and I made Clay a deal. If he would buy the materials we would do all the work and build a large run outside our coop for the chickens to live in. He reluctantly agreed, but agreed.

So what did we run and do as soon as we got the okay? BUY CHICKS OF COURSE! I'll return tomorrow with some pictures of our set-up to show how to start with chicks but here's a few sneak peeks of the little cuties.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Horseback Riding Badge

So Cassie is an American Heritage Girl :) Today we went to a horse ranch with her group so they could work on their horsemanship badge. 3 hours of loads of girls, siblings and horses. Oh and gorgeous weather. Gorgeous. Love spring. So nice to just get out with the littles and enjoy the weather. A few pics from our fun day!

Cassie on the horse. In the car she thought she'd be a tad scared because horses are SO much bigger than goats but once she was in the ring with him she wasn't scared at all! In fact she put her foot in the stirrup and sprung up so fast the lady kept saying over and over that she acted like she had been on horses her whole life.

Cassie watching with her new friends.

Frankie with the BIG boy Breeze. He was so so tall. He was sweet at first. But there were these little girls who kept jumping and tapping his nose and bugging him that he was ornery by the end of the day and tried to nip fingers.

Who knew that Adric of all of them would love on the horses the most? That little pony just took to him. He didn't care too much for all the other kids but just kept sticking his head all the way out and loving on him the whole time Adric sat there.

Even Hartley hopped up and watched his big sister ride the horse around. Now of course he called them dogs :) "Dooog" So then I worked with him and he would say "hhh hhh hhhorrr". Right Hartley horse! Proud mom - of course until he turned and actually looked at the horse and said..... "doooog".

Always something for everyone to do at a farm. Pinecones? Definitely a great score.

And a couple cute baby doll pics.

So a family outing to the horse farm today and then off to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and AHG meeting tomorrow.