June 28, 2017

Egg Production Increase

Posted on November 19, 2012 by in Urban Acres

Egg Production Increase

Things are a changing out in the chicken yard, again…  Eggs are coming in like clockwork, the roosters are constantly crowing and disturbing the neighbors, so we’re giving them free eggs for their missed hours of sleep.  Last month I mistakenly believed that I had everything settled down in the chicken yard, and this month Annabelle has changed almost everything, again.  She has always changed the furniture in the living room constantly and she has taken this behavior out into the chicken  yard.  Now she has decided that the eggs that the hens are laying are too dirty to deal with and I have to wash all of the eggs before they are refrigerated.  It seems that the wood shavings that I’d been using to provide bedding in the nest boxes, is insufficient.  She has decided that we are to replace the wood shavings with hay.  Somewhere in her childhood she remembers gathering clean eggs on hay. Off to my local feed store again.

Eggs
More Eggs Than We Need.

 

 

 

 

 

I headed home with the hay and as soon as we got home, Annabelle and I went about toting the hay to the back yard and storing it in the shed.  Annabelle told me NOT to hand carry the hay because of my bad back, so I cranked up the lawn tractor, attached the little trailer, and drove it to the back yard.  That’s when the problem arose.  Annabelle said that she didn’t want the hay to lie on the ground, because she was afraid that rats would nest in it.  She said that if she ever reached in the hay to pick up a block and mice (rats in our case) came scurrying out, that she would never feed the chickens again.

RedHen

Red hen in her new hay filled nestbox.

We came up with the idea to use some old dog chain with double snaps to suspend a metal dog cage from the rafters to hold it off the ground.  I felt this idea was without much merit, but you know Annabelle, so I went along with it, and kept my skepticism to myself. We hung the crate and put the forty pound bale of hay on top of it.  I cut the hay string that holds the bale together and she took out a block.  As of the time of this writing it’s held up so far, but it just seems to me that the rats will just think it’s a skyscraper we have supplied for them to nest in. We’ll see and I’ll report back on this ideas success or failure.

NestBox

More Eggs Dailey

I went into the chicken yard and pulled the nest boxes out and shook the shavings out of them.  I replaced them with hay, (Annabelle was there supervising of course) and put them back on their shelf inside of the chicken house. I’ve seen that at night some of the chickens roost on the ground instead of using the nest boxes and or the ladder perch I’ve made for them.  I think I’m going to go out today and spread the remaining shavings out on the ground inside of the chicken house, so they will have a warmer dry place to nestle down for the night. Well that’s about it for this column, so I’ll close by saying that we’re learning as we go. I still think we have too many roosters in the flock.  We’re getting eleven eggs a day out of fifteen chickens, so two of the roosters need to be sent to the farm in Brazoria.  I’ll run this idea up the flagpole and see if it gets by Annabelle. Till next time, I hope you enjoyed this report and if you have any ideas that might help two city farmers, please feel free to drop us an e-mail at lynn@santafegoodnews.com.

Newt

 

P.S. Annabelle was looking at a calf to buy from the dairy when we went by to pick up the milk the other day.  Wonder how you raise a calf?

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Farm Sex

Posted on October 16, 2012 by in Urban Acres

Farm Sex

Farm Sex……..Mistakes Happen

Sex down on the farm has been fast and furious in the chicken yard.  A few days ago Annabelle and I were sitting around a bonfire in the back near the chicken house when we heard a commotion. Several of the roosters were having their way with a small brown hen.

All of a sudden Annabelle started hollering and jumping up and down.

It seems that one of the chickens that we thought was a hen is actually a rooster.  I assured Annabelle that we were down to two roosters, and it turns out that we actually have four. We started watching closer and a large gold feather footed chicken that my daughter named Gigantor, who was supposed to be a rooster, is actually a HUGE hen.  Now that we think we have them all sexed correctly, the correct count is four roosters and eleven hens for a total flock of fifteen.Gigantor

Gigantor  …  Does this look like a hen to you?

I did some research on the (I KNOW IT ALL internet) and here is what I came up with: You can hold the chicks up by the scruff of the neck (like you’d hold a baby kitten) and let their feet dangle. It claims the males will pull their legs up while the females will always leave their legs dangling. That was very interesting, but my chickens are grown, so I looked a little further and came up with this: Do they have long, wispy, pointed feathers just above the tail (saddle feathers)?

Problem:  We have trimmed the feathers on one side so they can’t fly out of the pen, so I guess we have to ask them to turn to the other side so we can verify their sex. Ok, I got to confess, this sex on the farm problem has come up before and Annabelle has never let me live it down.

Many years ago when my kids were small they watched the movie “City Slickers“,  and they saw Billy Crystal help on a cattle drive and deliver a calf, which he called Norman.  Afterwards they all wanted a Norman to look after, and being a good Dad, I tried to make it happen.

Annabelle and I went to the old Algoa Auction barn, and a small calf came into the ring alone.  I swear that the auctioneer didn’t say what the sex of the calf was, and we were seated up in the nose bleed section, and my glasses were fogged over, so I told Annabelle that the calf was a heifer.  She let me buy it for $40.00, and it wasn’t till we had paid for it and had it tied down in the bed of the truck that I learned that it was in fact a bull calf.Hen ? Rooster Photo

This chicken was believed to be a hen, He is actually a rooster.

Annabelle chortled and guffawed all of the way home and she has told this tale far and wide for the last twenty years.  Since that time my sexing of animals qualifications has always been called into question.  But we all thought the gold feather footed chicken was a rooster, it wasn’t just ME.

Newt

 

 

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URBAN ACRES

Posted on August 28, 2012 by in Man Cave, Urban Acres

OFF TO MARKET …… WELL NOT REALLY

The time has finally come to thin the flock down to a more manageable number.  The feed bill has been sky high with the flock going through a twenty five pound bag of grower feed about every five days.  They have been eating like horses, and Annabelle said that we needed to do something.  Between her and my daughter, I’m afraid that she has fallen in love with some of the chickens, so I had to get her to help me sort them out.  My daughter found someone in Brazoria county that was willing to take our excess chickens, since there were no longer enough left to take them to market. It was decided that we would get rid of five of the smaller ones.

Off ti Market Chickens

I got me a wire coat hanger and bent it as a catching tool with a hook on the end and went out to the chicken yard.  I was so happy that Annabelle wanted to help me sort them out.  The weather was humid and I thought that it might rain.  We got out the lawn tractor and trailer and I found an old wire dog box to use, so we could transport the chickens. Me and Annabelle worked together to hem the flock into a corner, so I could reach down and grab them, (the clothes hanger hook idea didn’t work).  She chose some of the smaller breeds because they looked like the proverbial Road Runner from the cartoon series.  I like the big bodied breeds because I thought that if we ever did get to eat them, they would be bigger and better.

The flock members protested loudly as we trapped them one by one. They seemed to know that some of their brothers and sisters were leaving and wouldn’t ever be coming back.

Chicken Yard

Little did they know,  the selected ones would have an even better life. They would be moving to a large farm where they could roam about freely and live out the rest of their days as free range chickens. Within ten minutes the deed was done.

Four roosters and one small hen were caught and secured in the transport cage, and were hauled to the back end of the wonder truck for transport.  By this time we were both hot and sweaty. We went inside to clean up before we went to the farm and naturally it started to rain. Annabelle started to worry that the caged chickens might drown.  She wanted me to break out a tarp to cover the cage during the transport, but I assured her they would be all-  right, and that if covered they might smother or get too hot.

As we drove to the farm it started to rain, cats and dogs.  By the time we got there all of the chickens in the cage were wet and nasty.  I unloaded them one by one into a secure horse trailer, and the farm wife told us that when her husband got home he would put them in the barn.  She said she would keep them there a few days, and then turn them out with the other chickens.  One gnarly looking old rooster was out in the front yard, and he was looking with great interest at the new roosters about to be released into his kingdom.  When we left, Annabelle and my daughter were happy that the chickens had a good home.

I don’t know if we are ever going to get a fresh organic chicken to put in the freezer out of this adventure but stay tuned, we should be overrun with FRESH eggs pretty darn soon!

Newt

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Chicken-cide

Posted on July 26, 2012 by in Home & Hearth, Urban Acres

Chicken-cide

Good morning friends and neighbors.  Newt, the greenhorn farmer here again writing about my exploits around our citified farm…

It’s time again for a report on the chicken flock, or what’s left of them.  Varmints are afoot in the chicken house.  One evening, I walked out to the chicken yard to throw them some old bread and table scraps from Annabelle’s kitchen and I saw a white house cat munching on the carcass of one of my large white chickens. Now this was just an ordinary white house cat, not a wild variety.  We live in a semi-rural area and I’ve seen several cats skulking around my property, and I never thought a thing about it.  I had a hard time believing that a domesticated ten pound house cat could kill an almost full grown chicken. Then I remembered how a feline kills.  They grab their prey and clamp their jaws around the windpipe of the hapless victim, smothering it. This lovely house cat was munching on my chicken when it looked up and saw me approaching.

I threw a scoop of chicken feed at it, plastic scoop and all, but kitty cats are quick. 

 It scampered up a tree, jumped onto the roof of the chicken house, and disappeared like a white streak in the evening darkness.  Prior to this I had kept my pit bull ranch dog, Koda from chasing cats, but if I ever see another one in my yard, I going to turn the sixty five pounds of teeth, anxiety, and bad attitude loose.  She probably won’t be able to catch one, but maybe they will steer clear of my chicken house in the future. We got rid of the possum problem, now its other people’s house cats killing my investment and hard work.

The number of the flock is down to about 25 chickens, so now Annabelle and I are thinking that we are probably going to keep them all for eggs.  They all look like hens for some reason, so hopefully soon we are going to have fresh farm eggs for breakfast.  The life of a green horn farmer is so wrought with obstacles.

Onto to other things about the farm:  Mowing the grass has taken a lot of my time and strength lately.  It’s been raining every other day, and the grass has been growing like bad weeds.  My Craftsman push mower quit running on me, and I had to mow with an old style centrifugal force manual push mower that Annabelle had bought at a garage sale sometime in the past. The purchase of this back breaking mower is how the Craftsman push mower came to be.  I tried once or twice when she first bought it and I pronounced it way too difficult to use, but now I was in a pickle.  I can mow the front yard with my lawn tractor, but it mows unevenly and the front yard has two big trees and a ditch to contend with every time you mow.  I broke out the old centrifugal force mower and got after it.  The grass was cut evenly but higher than I liked it.  I had to mow every other day with this old antique mower to keep the front yard from looking unkempt.  Antique Lawn Mower

This went on for several weeks, and then I ran across a face book post by an old friend, Howard Phelps.  It seems that after Howard retired from law enforcement he started a lawnmower repair business out of his house.  I called him up and told him my problems and he said “sure bring it on over”.  I took him my Craftsman 6 horsepower push mower and a gas powered weed eater.  He kept them four days and called me back and said they were ready.  I asked him what he had to do, and he explained that the carburetor on each machine was just clogged up and dirty.  He cleaned them up, replaced the necessary fuel filters and they run perfectly.  I am running his business card with this story because I know him to be an honest fellow who apparently does good work, and has reasonable prices.  I’ve been mowing grass like a fiend ever since I got the mower back. Kemah Lawn Mower Repair

Last month Annabelle bought me a great new wheeled gas powered weed eater.  It’s a Ryobi T-720 model with a 4-cycle engine (no mixed fuel), with two wheels and a trimmer head.  It starts real easy, and seems to be very powerful.  It can whack the hell out of weeds, but for some reason it tends to break the string off when you use it on full power.  I’ve bought a different brand of plastic string to use on it. I’m hoping that it solves the problem.  Heaven knows I have plenty of use for it around my place.Ryobi weed eater

News Flash, Stop the Presses!

The murderous possum that has been terrorizing the chicken population of the Green Acres farm has been hunted down by a duo of Texas peace officers in a ambush reminisent of the Bonnie and Clyde shooting in 1934.  One member of the posse alerted another member and although it was a dark and rainy night the elderly LEO approached the killer with weapon drawn.  The murderer had struck again having just killed a teenage five pound hen, who was just starting her life anticipating have many eggs and perhaps a few chicks of her own.

The elderly LEO approached the murderer and illuminated the killer with his weapon mounted flashlight. The killer looked up from his victim and flashed a toothy smile, just daring the LEO to act.  The LEO saw that a chicken-cide had just occurred and reacted quickly to protect the lives of the terrified bystanders who were frozen in fear.  He took careful aim and fired one life saving shot that ended the career of the murderous possum.  This killer had killed both adult and baby chickens during his four month rein of terror, and he met his fate during the commission of his last heinous crime.

The elderly LEO hurried to get out of the rain, reported his actions to his supervising partner, and called it a night.  He slept fitfully that night but realized that it was just excess adrenalin and not remorse over eliminating a killer. I hope you enjoy this little story, and don’t forget to give old Howard a call if you need small engine repair.  He’s a good man just trying to make a living by giving his customers good service.  Till next time, may you have fair weather, and a cool breeze to make your farm work more enjoyable.

Newt

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