Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Homesteading!

Flower meets THE BIG MAN
It is 6:46pm and the Christmas excitement is winding down. Teenagers are in their rooms listening to their newest CDs and reading unfamiliar books. Youngins are enjoying a Barbie movie on the new family Wii game system via NetFlix. Wifey is tidying up the kitchen and I have snuck away to our bedroom to peck out a quick post.

We've been in our new rental house for about a month now and things are settling back to normal. We moved Wifey's mom in with us and she seems to be making herself at home. Her Huntington's disease is getting the better of her but she is hanging tough. Sis helped her up the stairs to the second floor today so she could shower before family arrived for our Christmas family gathering.  All-in-all, it went well.

Lucky loves the snow
Wifey whipped up a terrific meal of honey baked ham, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and baked beans. There were plenty of desserts to go around as well. Our garage is still a mess with boxes everywhere and we've managed to fill an entire commercial dumpster in the driveway. Hanging some artwork and a mirror on the walls in the living room made it feel a bit more cozy. Lucky came inside to get some quality time today and claimed a favorite spot on the new (well, new to us) couch.

 I finally got the chickens outside and in a new home. They were two days old when our house burned down on October 26th. A gracious neighbor took them in for a month while we bounced from guest house to guest house. Once we were moved in to our current rental, I went and picked them up. They lived in our office (now Mother-in-law's room) for two weeks. The odor was getting a little much so I made room in the garage. They stayed there for about two weeks before I decided it was time to get our nine birds out of their box and into a real coop where they could stretch their wings a bit. I had found a Lucky Dog kennel on clearance at the local CAL Ranch store and figured it would make a perfect coop. There was a pre-made coop on the property already but it would only fit two to three birds at best.

8 girls and one lucky rooster
I finally had a Saturday with a little free time so I began to assemble the kennel (video). Once constructed and moved into place, I put the wooden coop inside the kennel. I was told my birds wouldn't have their "winter feathers" until the age of three months so I had to made sure they were sheltered since we have been getting snow for a few months now. With the kennel complete and the coop inside, I repositioned the Havahart electric fence to run about three feet outside of the kennel. My hopes were that it would train Lucky to stay away from the coop but with his furry body, he just slips right through it. Every now and then he catches it with his nose or something and let's out a yelp but it appears to be too random for him to get the hint to stay away from the wires.

The birds are happy now but I have a new problem. While the birds were being babysat, turns out one of the girls is a guy. Yup, we have a rooster. So, do I keep him around? I've been told he will make the girls more productive once they start laying.  I've also heard he could turn out to be VERY vocal. With six daughters...I don't need any more "vocals" around the house. For now, he stays...

Merry Christmas everyone!



  1. Happy Holidays to you and your family. It's good to hear that things are going well for you, especially this holiday season. May the new year bring you continued good health, wealth and good vibes.

  2. Roosters can be the protectors of the flock. We had two with our 20 birds, both are gone now. It is quieter, but we miss them. After they died our flock dropped down to only 12 birds, and egg production is down to 2-4 a day.

  3. OJD your family and mine had a very special Christmas made possible by the prayers and love of others. I feel proud to know such kind and caring folks. May god continue to bless our families with good and loving friends. Glad your settling in so well.

  4. Glad you're getting settled in. We ended up with three roosters out of our first dozen chicks ...kept them separate for about six months, then put them in the freezer. Our nine hens gave us 6-9 eggs/day for a couple of years and then slacked off to 4-6/day. It was more than we needed anyway. We gave overage to neighbors.

    I hope the packages with the books arrived. I had to send them separately. I think there were three packages total.

    Sounds like you had a Merry Christmas, now here's hoping 2014 will be better year for both our households.


  5. Hoss - Got the books! Been showing them off at work. Lots of reloaders here and they're JEALOUS. Thanks again for your charity.

    Rob - Glad to hear you had a good Christmas. I couldn't have said it better myself old pal.

    Sam - Guess my biggest concern is noise irritating the neighbors. I'm overly sensitive that way. I don't want bad relations but we'll see how it pans out.

    Anon - Thanks and same to you my friend!

  6. Roosters do make noise. I don't have one for my girls, but a distant neighbor does and I enjoy the sound the featherman makes. When I get better yard perimeter fencing I will go about getting my own as birds of prey take a heavy toll on hens and roosters will sound the alarm. Seven of my hens were mauled by a neighbors lab and border collie half grown pups and i was sure two of them would die. i've just recently been able to release them from my homemade hen hospital and after several weeks the girls began laying again. I'm guessing a big rowdy rooster would have helped me in this situation as well.
    I am very happy you are settling in and your family is doing well. Merry Christmas!

  7. So happy everything is smoothing out for your lives. We never know which way God is going to send us. Maybe the fire was a roadblock to send you in the direction He wanted you all to go. Maybe the New Year will reveal His Way. Good luck with the birds. We have not gotten any yet but have been working on a rabbit hutch. Maybe this spring we will get some chickens. Praying that life will continue to improve and hoping you all have a prosperous New Year.

  8. Egg laying depends on breed. Some of the older breeds lay less per week, but for a longer time. The more modern layers offer up a lot - but at a cost. Some lay through winter their first year and lay well into the second- then major drop off. Right about then commercial productions send them off to slaughter. Also how well they are cared for has an impact. Skimp on feed and it shows in their health and egg quality/laying.
    With exposure their feathers develop (same for rabbits and their fur.) If you have them sheltered indoors and then toss them into the cold- they'll just get sick.
    Depends on the roo- but some are really loud. Some sound off all the time- some infrequently. My roo Roy- you can hear at the neighbor's house through 1/2 mile of thick forest. He used to crow constantly- starting well before dawn. Timmy- the barred rock roo- he was pretty quiet unless riled up.
    They kinda learn to keep an eye out for predators. (My guineas did a great job at teaching caution to the roos. Sometimes they are just sitting targets not knowing to look for danger. Like foraging- it's something they kinda learn to hone.)
    Predator proofing is a big thing. A heads up- coons can rip a chicken through chicken wire. Opt for hardware cloth and a decent coop they can be closed up at night. Rodents would be another thing.. they can bring in crap like roundworm and fleas.. and snakes will also be drawn in. Birds of prey - netting over the top of the run works.
    With roos that were incubator babies.. some kinda get confused about people. Growly for example (Rhode Island roo) followed me all day trying his courting moves. Then came the challenges at my husband. A lot depends on breed with aggression. My BR roos- angels (but the girls are known to be bossy with other hens- keep an eye out they can be brats.)
    Hand feeding now and interaction daily is good if you are wanting to encourage more friendly interactive hens. Can train them to come with treats. They like routine. Being gentle and handling them daily makes it a lot easier later when you need to check them for health issues.


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