Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ten

I sold half the flock two weeks ago, leaving me with 10 chickens and I am happy with the number that I now have.  Taking care of 20 chickens wasn't difficult, but once they started laying, things got very stressful.  Most days I was getting 16-18 eggs a day; that is a lot of eggs. It got to the point where I dreaded having to go to the barn every day because I just didn't want to have to deal with all of those eggs.  Because the girls were just starting to lay none of the eggs were a uniform size and the shells were thin making them very delicate.  I knew it would be a while before I could even consider selling them.  

Nine of the ten birds that remain.  The tenth one is standing behind me as I take this picture, pecking my boots. 
Kelsey started taking as many as she could give away to people she worked with, but we still had about 9 dozen at any one time in the fridge.  After a few weeks of this nonsense, I told Jim that I was going to be getting rid of half of the girls, that I was overwhelmed and something had to be done.  Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden, Jim said that he knew lots of people that he could give the eggs to and sell them to when the time came. I don't know why he didn't share this information from the beginning, but it didn't matter; the decision had been made and the ad was placed.

I decided to sell the ISA browns and keep the Rhode Island Reds.  I really like the size, hardiness and temperament of the Reds and they lay great eggs.  The gentleman that bought them was very nice and seemed quite pleased to be getting them.  I am very happy with having just ten chickens, it feels like the right number for me. Having this amount of chickens means less cost, less time and most important, less eggs.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winterizing The Barn

Today seems like the perfect day to write about getting the barn ready for winter as it is currently -13/-22 with the windchill.  This is just the beginning of what is supposed to be a very cold week.  We don't usually see the temperature go down this low in December, it is something we look forward to in January and February, but when it comes to the weather, nothing surprises me anymore.

Even though the chickens are a winter hardy breed, we still need to take measures to keep them warm and be able to care for them the best we can in cold weather.  Now that the irrigation water is shut off for the next several months, we needed to set up a water system in the barn.


We purchased this 45 gallon garbage can, put a spigot in the bottom, placed it on this platform and the waterers fit right underneath when they need to be filled.  When we haul water for our cistern, we leave some in the bottom of the tank and drive the truck up to the barn door to fill the can. This amount of water lasts for quite a while.


On both sides of the coop above the roosts are heat lamps.  With it being as cold as it is right now, we are leaving them on all day and night.  At 10:00 this morning it was 5 degrees inside the barn despite how cold it was outside. Thank goodness for all of this insulation that we put in.


We decided to build a dust bath area in the coop, so that when it is too cold, the girls don't have to go outside to do their thing.  Nothing is funnier than watching a chicken take a dust bath.


Now that all the girls are laying we give them crushed oyster shell; this provides calcium and makes the shells of the eggs stronger.  I was putting it down on the floor of the coop in a pan, but they kept pooping in it and making a bloody mess.  I asked Jim to build a dispenser that could be mounted to the wall.  It can be filled from the top and the girls can eat as much as they need  - no mess.  

I've made sure that we are well stocked on feed, grit and all other necessities of chicken life. Their well-being and quality of life is just as important to me as all of the other creatures that live on this homestead.   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Celebrating

It's December 1st and that means it's Mel Day; also known as the staff Christmas party.  Table for one, please.  Both Jim and Kelsey will be at work all day; oh darn. Kelsey will come home for lunch though, so I have planned a special meal for us.  Actually, I planned the special meal for me, but it would be rude to eat it in front of her.  

I have a stack of Christmas books and magazines to read and I will be watching some movies.  I plan to watch Home Alone 1 & 2 as no one else here will watch them as they are not considered Christmas movies.  Whatever.  

Now, where did I put my new Christmas sweater?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Subject To Change

I woke up this fine Monday morning with every intention of getting on the exercise bike and going for a ride.  My running shoes were at the ready, new music was loaded on the iPod to keep me motivated and moving.  I headed to the fridge to get my water bottle and that is where everything fell apart.  


The pantry door was open and sitting on the shelf was a brand new container of French Vanilla cappuccino mix - a rare and delicious treat.  On the counter was the "Country Almanac" edition of Mother Earth News magazine.  Game over.  I made my beverage, got my reading glasses and headed for the couch.  The pellet stove was fired up and making the living room oh, so cozy.  I sat with one dog with his head in my lap and another on the floor keeping my toes toasty warm and enjoyed 30 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time before I had to shower and start the day.

Just like Scarlett O'Hara declared at the end of Gone with the Wind - tomorrow is another day.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Great News

I think you know what I am going to say, but I will say it anyway. Shit rat's property is sold!  It only took a month to sell and we have been on cloud nine since we found out.

We met the wife of the couple that bought it; she seems very nice..  She came over one evening to ask questions about the neighborhood, irrigation and such before she booked an appointment to see the place.  We are looking forward to them moving in.

Now, we wait for the garbage to move out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Where Did She Go?

I guess I disappeared for a while, didn't I?  Sorry about that.  Life on the homestead has been difficult for a while now and the only way to cope was to shut down.  I haven't had the interest or energy to do anything more than the bare minimum in all areas of my life and that included writing.  You know the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".


Thankfully, things are getting better, but there are still some challenges that lie ahead.  I refuse to worry about them; I feel that whatever happens is what is meant to happen.  Good or bad, I know I will be alright.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jackie

Jackie is eleven years old today.  She is such a sweet girl and a great big sister to Beau and Ruby.


Even though she has only been a member of the family for just over a year, I can't imagine a time when she wasn't here.

Happy Birthday, old girl.
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