September in the Coop

We’ve had a lot happening in the chicken/duck coop lately.  The ducks are doing well in there with the chickens. It has been a little more humid when I open the coop in the morning, but some of that could be the fact that we are constantly getting rain – this summer was abnormally wet, and it has continued into September. Luckily the temps are more autumn-like. We started with straw bedding a couple years ago, which turned into cob on the floor – thanks to the ducks, the humidity moistened that cob layer so I was able to finally get it all off the floor today. They now have a super-clean freshly cleaned coop floor. (We switched to pine shavings and it’s been really nice – it doesn’t turn solid on the floor and it smells nice when you lay it down).

We have been getting eggs from the 2nd batch-hatch hens,  and are up to about a dozen-plus a day.  My third batch chickens are only 2 months old, so they will start laying later.

We have a whole lot of roosters, and more coming up. I gave one of our youngest, from the third batch, away to a friend who needed a rooster. With some of the youngest chickens it’s still hard to tell which gender they are, so we’ll have to see. We will have to cull some roosters, and I was planning on doing that a couple weeks ago, but I ended up waiting –  they are still with us for the time being. We’ll probably start culling some when it gets a little cooler. I sold our lone bantam hen to someone who had other bantams. One of our large roosters mounted her and I was afraid he was going to kill her, so I rehomed her quickly.

Here are some scenes from the coop:

ducks
Some of the ducks in the yard.
twin-barred-rock-roos
Two barred-rock-looking roosters. (They have feathered legs, so we’re not sure what kind they really are).
short-butt-general
The General perching with some of the ladies. He’s missing his tail feathers (just went through a molt recently) so he looks really short.
no-butt-general
Here’s the General with his tail-featherless butt.
easter-egger-roo
This is the Easter Egger rooster.
copper-maran-roo
Our black copper maran rooster.
big-white-roo
Our white rooster from the first batch (our test batch) this year.  He is on the short-list for freezer camp, but he’s actually a really decent rooster, so we’ll see. That’s part of why we’re waiting to cull anyone: indecision.
coop-perch-gang
Some of the perch-gang. Most of these ones tend to hang out in this room of the coop. There is our frizzled chicken (who is ALSO a rooster, we found), on the right. Our brahmas and speckled sussex from last year are on the left, and the others are Easter Eggers and some kind of crested hens. The black chicken in the front is a Black copper maran.
red-and-brahma
One of the Brahmas (from last year) and a production red hen (who is 2 years old).
older-ladies
These are some of the older ladies. They like to hang out in the front room of the coop.
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Eggs! On top are the chicken eggs, and the bottom are all duck eggs. We are not getting any blue chicken eggs, just olive. We are not supposed to get blue duck eggs (we have pekins) but we do get them. So at least we get blue eggs from somewhere.

The coop is a very exciting place!

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Tiny bunnies

We have a lot of tiny bunnies – 13 at the moment (11 with Wind, our white rabbit, and two with Fire, our black rabbit). They are growing pretty quickly, and they are so cute.

bunnies 1
Our tiny bunnies

There’s a space behind the doors of Buddy/Earth (the dad) and Wind’s cage, and her babies keep going over to visit.  At first I was worried that he’d hurt the babies, and then I realized that he was being nice to them.  He would lick/clean them, and they kept going over to visit.  But then he started getting too excited – actually looked like he was humping the air near them – so we are not letting them over there anymore.  If we find them over there we move them back with mom.  They will be moving into their own cage soon, once they are all weaned from her milk.

bunnies 3
Tiny bunnies with mama
bunnies 2
Here’s a gray one – he’s a bit bigger than everyone else.

 

A Mid-June garden tour.

I got a little bit of a late start this year with the gardens, but we are now planted and ready to grow.  Here’s a photo tour of my gardens, and surrounding yard.

before planting 2
Here is the garden after I weeded it.  My son thought it would be a good place to stash one of his nerf guns (the green/orange thing toward the back of the garden).
artichokes
Here are my artichokes from last year! They made it through our winter somehow. I’ve moved them into a better spot to leave them permanently.
garden before planting
Here is another view of the garden before planting.
seed mat
I created some seed mats for smaller seeds like carrots. I had a problem last year where my seeds all migrated or disappeared for carrots and beets and some other things. This should help with that.
planted
Here is the garden all planted. It doesn’t look like much here, but it will grow and be really nice eventually. I have a cardboard/mulch path in the middle. As things get bigger I’ll mulch around the plants as well. The cardboard on the sides is to keep the taller fence-line weeds from creeping in. We’ll see how well that works.
leftovers from last year
Here are my other survivors from last year’s garden. Some lemon balm and pansies.
zucchini plot
Here is my other garden plot, behind the house. I’ve put zucchini and yellow squash here. There are sunflower seeds planted against the house as well.
strawberries
Here is my strawberry patch. I’m getting lots of berries but they aren’t starting to ripen yet, just growing.
porch plants
Here are my trees and some seedlings on the porch, waiting to be planted.
comfrey
This is my comfrey plant – I put three in last year and they’ve come back really nice.
woods (2)
Our woods behind the house.
tall trees
I just really like how tall our trees are – with the leaves all developed they are more imposing, and it makes the yard feel nice and private. I tried to get the full height of one of our sugar maple trees in this picture.
lambs quarters
I have a nice lamb’s quarters patch growing. Yum! I didn’t plant these, these just grow. They are delicious.
fmn
Here are some forget-me-nots. These are all over our yard. They are very nice but they end up with little picker-seeds later, so they stick to things easily.
buttercups
Some buttercups and other weeds in our yard.

Chicks and bunnies – updates

I counted our baby rabbits tonight.  Wind (our white Californian) had 10 live babies! Fire, our black Rex, had 7 total – 2 died the other day, but we counted 5 alive this evening. Wind’s babies are all different colors. Some are naked pink, some are black, and some are  spotted.

For the chicks – we are still mid-hatch, and we are up to 22 hatched out of 42.  I don’t see any more pipping at the moment, but from how this hatch has been going I’m not worried. Today was their due date, and they started hatching 2 days ago so I’m going to give any stragglers until Saturday night.  So far we’ve gotten 11 Marans, 5 Easter/olive eggers, three bantams and three from our home grown eggs.   Here are some updated pictures of our newest fuzzballs:

abcdefghiklmn

Ducks!

We were at Tractor Supply today picking up animal food, and saw that they had chicks and ducklings in.  We are hatching our own chicks this year, but we saw the ducks and decided to get some.  My husband has talked about wanting ducks for a couple years, and I thought it would be fun to add some ducks to our farm. We got 12 Pekin ducks.  Pekins are supposed to be really good for both eggs and meat, but I’ve heard they are very tame and can follow you around the yard like a little cloud of dogs. I like the idea of that. Ducklings peep a lot just like chicks, and brooding them is very similar to brooding chicks. They also eat chick starter, and can be fed and housed with chickens. We’ll probably give them their own space, but time will tell. Below are some pictures of our new little fuzzy flock:

ducks 2

ducks 3

Ducks!
Little cuties.
sleeping but upset i disturbed them
They soaked their first brooder box (a cardboard box) with their water drinking, so they got a new plastic bin brooder box tonight. They seem happier, although they weren’t so happy when I came to take a picture. You can see a couple with open beaks complaining here.

 

Disgruntled Rabbits

I went out to feed the rabbits the other afternoon, and the door of my white bunny’s hutch fell off when I opened it.  I had to quickly figure out where to put her while I figured out her door.  We have a cage outside that we usually put them in while we clean their hutches, but it is currently covered in snow.  I was in a rush, so I thought, “oh, I’ll put her in with the black female, since they lived together before.”  That was a huge mistake.

They immediately started fighting – the black rabbit (her name is Fire) was not happy about the other one (Wind) being put in HER cage.  She attacked and I heard crazy squealing, and I quickly grabbed Wind out of there.  Phew.  There was rabbit fur everywhere.  Fire even bit me as I was pulling Wind out of her cage. Luckily nobody was hurt, but they did not seem very happy.

Here are the fighting rabbits:

fire the black rabbit
Fire, the angry bunny
wind the white bunny
Wind, the happy-to-be-out-of-Fire’s-cage bunny

I brought Wind into the house, and put her in a cat carrier while I went to look for the cordless drill to fix her door.  The piece of the door that the hinges were attached to had split at that spot from the weight of the door.  Poor rabbit – the dogs were trying to see what I was carrying around the house with me.  I was able to keep them away most of the time, but I’m sure she was not happy.  I found the drill, and then brought her outside with me to figure out her door.

I then realized that we have an empty hutch that I could have put her in in the first place.  The hutch that the babies are in is 2-sided. We enclosed the side that they are in, to block the cold winds and snow, but the other side is still there, just not enclosed.  I wouldn’t want to house her in there for very long, but it works in a pinch.  So if this ever happens again, I have that option.

At that point my husband heard me dealing with the mess, and came out to help me with the door.  We got it back on with a new larger hinge, and Wind is safely back in her hutch now.

I told my coworker about the rabbit fight.  She sent me the below video – I’ll have to get my chickens involved in crowd control in the future:

 

Late November on the Farm

woods with snow
Snowy woods.

We’ve been very busy this month.  In my last post, I said I would get some pictures of snow… well, then it melted.  But on Thanksgiving, which was a couple days ago, we got about 4-5 inches. So we have snow again.

Here is Nova.  We got her about a month ago, from our coworker.  Nova was her son’s dog, when he was in the Air force in Georgia.  Now he moved back to town and is going to college, and couldn’t keep her, and my coworker felt bad that Nova was home alone during the day.  So we took her in.  She gets along great with our other dogs and she is a sweetheart.

nova
Our Nova
three dogs
The three dogs on the back porch. Nova likes to eat snow.
nova 2
Another picture of Nova

The chickens aren’t minding the snow so much.  I have heat lamps in the two rooms of their coop, so they can go in and warm up their feet if they get cold.  Our batch last year (which we still have the hens from) didn’t like to go out in the snow. I’m not sure why they don’t mind this year, but they don’t.

winter coop
The chickens don’t seem to mind the snow at all.
snow chickens
Snow chickens. The dirt spot here is where we took away their old roost that was out there. We had to steal the sawhorses that held it up, for the rabbit hutch, which you will see below.
chickens in snow 2
Yesterday they found the dirt spot, and they were taking dirt baths in it. The ground is not frozen yet, luckily.

Last weekend we went up to my cousin’s to get the original hutch that I got with the rabbits.  We have set it up near our other rabbit hutch, so it’s now Rabbit Row:

bunny row
Rabbit row. On the left are the rabbits in the hutch we built, and on the right is the one that came with the bunnies. We’re getting it set up for the baby bunnies when they get bigger. The garbage bags in the picture are straw and hay – I have them outside, but covered for easy access.
old new hutch
Here is the hutch that came with the rabbits. It had a roof which we removed in order to get it in the back of the truck. We are just planning on using one side for the winter, so we have closed that side in with wood.
hutch inside
The inside of the new (old) hutch. It has a wire bottom, but I will cover it with straw to try to keep the babies’ feet more comfortable. I need to look it up, but I believe it will be a couple more weeks before they go in there. Hopefully we’ll get the snow out of there before then. We brushed what we could out, but it may melt a little too.

And here are the little baby bunnies:

baby bun
They are starting to munch on food – this one is eating hay.
bunnies
Here they are – they are all brown. But some are darker brown, and one has a little lighter fur. I’m assuming they change color as they get older, but I could be wrong. I’m still new at this. The mom is black and the dad is gray, so I don’t know how the brown comes in.
baby bunny pile
They like to pile up on top of each other, outside of the nest box. I think there are 8 of them. I’ve tried to count without taking them all out, and they jump around too much so I have not gotten a good count. I will be able to get an accurate count soon when I need to move them.

The rabbits have been doing ok with the cold so far.  We’re going to add a tarp to the front of the hutches to block wind from the inside. That’s one reason I positioned the hutches into “Rabbit Row.” – I figure it will help block wind somewhat. I’m already planning on a new setup once spring comes – more of a rabbit shed, I think. I’d like to add a run of some sort so they can hang out in the grass also.

We’ve also decided on names for the adults.  They are Earth, Wind, and Fire. (my husband came up with it) – The gray buck is Earth (since he’s on the left), the white doe is Wind, and the black doe is Fire.

white bunny
My husband built nest boxes for the other two rabbits, and they are lined with straw, so they can stay out of the wind when it gets very cold. They like to sit on top of them sometimes, as you can see Wind do here.

The farm is pretty much ready for winter.  It’s a nice time to just cozy up inside – we don’t have a lot of projects we can do outside in winter, except reinforcing animal housing and doing normal feeding chores each morning and night.  I like that it’s kind of a relaxation time.  Of course I’m already planning in my head what we’ll do when spring comes.

 

 

Pre-snow November

I’m a little late with this post.  This November has been a little strange, with warmer temps than normal… that is, until a few days ago.  I took some pictures last week, before we got snow, when we were in the 50s temperature wise.  The snow started a couple days ago. We only have about an inch on the ground right now. We’ve had some flurries here and there, and now our temperatures are in the 20s.  Brrr…  Here are some pictures of our pre-snow November.

what is that
I was out on our porch, and saw what I thought was a white rose on our already-done, pink rosebush…
clematis
On closer inspection, I realized it’s a white clematis. We have purple clematis growing here, but not nearly this tall – this is up about 8 to 9 feet in the rosebush. And it’s bloomed in November.
artichokes still alive
I haven’t pulled the plants out of the garden yet, and noticed my artichoke plants still looked alive after hard frosts and one day with a dusting of snow. (I have not seen them since we got our current snow).
brussels
My Brussels sprouts. Update on these – since this picture, we dropped into the 20s. These plants were dead as of yesterday, and the sprouts never got bigger than about dime sized. The plants were completely frozen. I gave them to the chickens, they seemed to like them even though they were frozen.
no leaves
Our yard – all the trees have lost their leaves.
no leaves chicken coop
The chicken coop with the leafless forest behind it.
chickens
The chickens enjoying the sunshine on one of our last nice warmish days.
chickens 2
The chickens in the sun
chickens 3
Another pic of the chickens.

I’ll get some new pics soon to show you what our snow looks like.  I’ll also update on the baby bunnies – they have grown a lot in 2 weeks.