Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Texas Veterans Land Board (TVLB) Program

This post is to help individuals considering using the TVLB for purchasing their rural property. To give a little background our journey started with wanting to buy some property for our primary residence. We were looking at 15+ acres in most cases and finding a company to finance that amount of property is difficult. We have decent credit (750+ FICO without any derogs) and our biggest limitation was a significant down payment since we wanted to pay cash to get everything set up on the property. We have purchased a home before and this was our first rural process but I did enough reading on the front end to get an understanding at a macro level what was necessary to get into a piece of property.

The TVLB website will provide a lot of information to get you started but one area where the website is explaining the post closing process. After some discussions with a manager within the TVLB it became obvious they are there to close the deal on the property, not assist you after closing except in approving easements. This is probably one of those things in life where you can only learn by experiencing however I'm hoping to help people in the future who wish to utilize the TVLB and live on their property.

We finally closed on the property within the 'Chronology of a Land Loan' discussed on their website. One thing to keep in mind if using the TVLB is that it can take a long time for the title company to get the paperwork to the TVLB to process. If you wish to expedite this process you, the landowner, needs to put pressure on the loan company to get it to the TVLB in a timely manner. It is my understanding the chronology page will be updated in the future but again, it is your responsibility to know when and where to put pressure on people in the process.

In conclusion we might use the TVLB again however my wife and I have both agreed that the we would use the TVLB again is if we have 6 months of lead time once we extended an offer or we're just buying the land for investment purposes and not to live on.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How To Build Your Own Home

My wife and I have been discussing for awhile the benefit of building our own home. Since a home purchase is one of the largest purchases you'll ever make saving money on the cost of building a home can have significant financial rewards in the future. We will be closing on our acreage soon and have been looking for a temporary structure while we build the home we've been wanting.

In the quest on the internet to find a good book covering all aspects of home building there were so many options I isolated the search using the following criteria:
1) I want someone who has done it from start to finish as an individual, not a builder who is writing it as he hired out most of the work as I want to see all the good and bad.
2) The books needs to be balanced, not some pump me up publication that side steps the pain and realities of doing it yourself.
3) It needs to provide plenty of pictures and I am a visual learner. I can read thousands of words of text but a picture helps me to reverse engineer some things that might be missing from the explanation.

With those basic criteria and more time than money I zeroed in on a couple of books but finally settled on Sweat Equity by Larry Angell. When the book arrived I devoured it in about 2 days and must say after finishing it I feel confident that I could handle the process and issue that come up along the way. The nice thing is Larry has provided a mini ebook to read that is really just the first few chapters of the book, it helps discuss the why more than the how and I think does a decent job of helping you understand the long term benefits of doing it yourself but also providing enough pain to help you realize you might want to walk away if you have a aversion to working hard.
Sweat Equity, Building a House at Half Cost

Visit Larry's site and look around, he provides a lot of good, free information as well as a mailing list although he doesn't send out things very often.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Home Based Business

Being a work-at-home Dad for over 3 years has brought an interesting perspective to my life. Without going into too much detail it has caused me to rethink many of the things I took for granted before: job aspirations, employment, seeking out the best career/job, commuting and the list goes on. These are just the job side of the equation and I'm not including the personal though process that has led me to realign how I do many things in my family life. To say it has been a wonderful opportunity would be an understatement.

Ok, personal blathering aside if you're looking for ways to generate income from your farm there are so many resources to help out there it isn't doing them justice to just mention a handful but I'll try. One recommendation which I've mentioned here before is to look at ways to maximize your time, why sell eggs for store prices when you can get more US$ from them? Find a niche market and leverage your experience to take full advantage of the market just begging for your goods & services.

Here is a article on the Countryside Magazine website by Ken Scharabok, he has an ebook that has good reviews that I haven't had an opportunity to read yet however from what I'm seeing on this article it should be good. Some of the books he recommends we've either read in the past or heard good things about, unfortunately there is only so much time in the day to cover the plethora of material floating around out there.

Best wishes


If you're looking for a place to buy newborn chickens I'd recommend you take some time to visit Ideal Poultry. Where we live in Texas it is a short enough drive where we can visit and be home in time for dinner. They've been in business since 1937 and are located in Cameron, Texas. There are a few other hatcheries out there that do a decent job however they're local and have a good reputation.

If you're not sure about the process of raising newborns you should read some of my previous posts as well as visit some of the websites provided below before purchasing the baby chickens.

Beginner's Guide for Raising Baby Chickens
Care Tips for Baby Poultry
Grow Healthy Chicks
Tips for Incubating and Raising Chicks with a Mother Hen

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Permit 'Light' Property

As I've covered in some of my previous posts there can be quite a few gotchas when looking for land and a lot of due diligence is required. The flip side is that if your land exists in the 'right' county you can have a lot of flexibility with it once purchasing. For example the county where we're looking at buying land currently doesn't require any building permits, the only requirement when building on the land is the septic system. If the county/state where you're looking doesn't require that gray water is captured you have the added bonus. So if you run something like composting toilets you could build without a septic and be permit free

If you have some flexibility on geographic location I would recommend you spend some time assessing the differences between counties where you're looking. Is it that I'm against building quality structures, no, I'm against obsessive government intrusion in my life. We live in a day where some people are scared of people who do things without a permit as if they're doing inferior work which is absolutely incorrect. The old saying, "A house built to code is the worst house you can build" which seems appropriate for this conversation. In my time living in the city I've seen plenty of jobs that passed permitting requirements but the work was horrendous. If you're thinking, "Well Joe, what do you have to hide" your mind is skewed and you're not looking at things clearly. Without appearing to be some anti-government redneck suffice it to say that I believe this country was founded on some amazing principles and as we add to them we've created an environment where people abdicate thinking to those feeding the cash to the politicians.

Stop Thief! - Part II

We've been busy with a few things so I didn't have an opportunity to post that two days after the initial theft the thieves decided they needed to get them all and came back and cleaned us out. We are now chickenless but we are planning on building our hen/rooster population back up. No matter where you live people exist which feel they're entitled to something that is not theirs. We have put the word out with neighbors to protect their livestock and pray that the thieves are caught quickly since people that do this rarely stop behaving badly.

We will hold off however since it appears we will be buying some land about 4 hours from our present location and would prefer to not have to worry about moving the birds as well as getting caretakers during time away from home.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stop Thief!

As we all know there are people everywhere who feel they are entitled to what is not theirs. In our case it happened late last night when someone stole half of our small 'flock' of chickens. They got over our fence, into the coop and got 9 of them without alerting our dog in the house. Since our coop is about 50 yards from the house and the door faces the far side of the coop it isn't surprising we didn't hear anything. The design is less than idea but it is a rental so we've got what we've got.

After dropping by to speak with the police it is obvious that the laws are written to help the criminals, not support the property owner. Apparently I'm supposed to be able to assess the amount of property their taking and if sufficient then I can escalate the use of force however if I shoot and they only took $40 worth then I'm liable, what a mess.

Anyway here is a list of our departed birds:
2 - 3 month olds that we raised from day olds. One was an Americana and the other was a New Hampshire.
1 - RIR Bantam Rooster
2 - RIR Bantam Hens
3 - Black Bantams Hens (can't recall the breed)
1 - White & Black Hen (can't recall the breed)

So for now our little side deal of generating some extra money from selling eggs is done and the other birds were pretty spooked, some even let us pet them and they rarely allow that.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tools and Their Real Uses

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly-stained heirloom piece you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, "Yeou _ _ _ _...."

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or ? socket you've been searching for the last 45 minutes.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.

RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal- burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts which were last over tightened 30 years ago by someone at Ford, and instantly rounds off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off lug nuts.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. Women primarily use it to make gaping holes in walls when hanging pictures.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Honey Bee Population Problems

In case you are new to this stuff there is a serious problem with the current honey bee population around the world. There has been a drastic reduction in bees and some bees fly away never to return to their hives. This has occurred in the past however there will be a significant impact to crop production if this lasts for long. You are intelligent and can obviously search the web so read a few links below to get you started and decide for yourself.

Colony Collapse Disorder - Acres U.S.A. Magazine
Honeybee Disappearance Puzzles Scientists - PBS Online Newshour
Pollinators help one-third of world's crop production -
Colony Collapse Disorder - Wikipedia
If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.
attributed to Albert Einstein although whether him or not well put
In 1923 Rudolf Steiner (arguably the greatest scientist and innovator of the 20th vote is for Telsa) stated that unless we change our mechanistic way of beekeeping, the honeybee might not survive the century, see his book Beesto learn more. Another book to consider is Toward Saving The Honeybeeby the author the article linked above in the current Acres U.S.A. magazine.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Making Money with Poultry

If you're a struggling chicken rancher then I'd recommend you pick up a copy of Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. The book covers a lot of bases with raising chickens for profit but also has some discussions related to keeping it small enough to have a great product but also have some decent net profit to keep yourself in the black. He seems to have a decent grasp of the general market and really wants to get homegrown, semi-organic, free range (although some might argue that his aren't "pure" free ranged. He discusses the minuses of catering so much to customers that you attract the complainers. All around I enjoyed his approach and if we get a larger acreage we might give it a shot.

Just applying a few of the issues he touches on has saved one chicken and is allowing us to generate some side income with minimal effort. The subtitle of the book is "Net $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres". If you don't have 20 acres don't worry, just take what he discusses and scale it to your operation. The books doesn't lay it out in an all or nothing approach so it is easy to take what he presents and use it on a smaller scale.

I've provided the chapter titles below for those of you wanting a better overview of the book.

Why Pastured Poultry?
Chapter 1 - The Pastured Poultry Opportunity
Chapter 2 - What is Wrong With the Poultry Industry?
Chapter 3 - Fat Animals, Fat People
Chapter 4 - Family Background

In the Beginning
Chapter 5 - Getting Started
Chapter 6 - Choosing a Breed
Chapter 7 - The Brooder
Chapter 8 - Starting the Chicks
Chapter 9 - Ration

Out to Pasture
Chapter 10 - The Pen
Chapter 11 - Moving the Chicks Out to Pasture
Chapter 12 - Pasture Logistics
Chapter 13 - What Kind of Pasture?

Chapter 14 - On-Farm Slaughter: The Advantages
Chapter 15 - Slaughter Mechanics
Chapter 16 - Composting Slaughter Wastes
Chapter 17 - Inspection

Chapter 18 - The Learning Curve
Chapter 19 - Sickness and Death
Chapter 20 - Predators
Chapter 21 - Weather
Chapter 22 - Stress
Chapter 23 - Troubleshooting Poor Performance
Chapter 24 - Shortcuts
Chapter 25 - Seasonality
Chapter 26 - Solving Your Own Problems

Chapter 27 - Marketing
Chapter 28 - Relationship Marketing
Chapter 29 - Advertising
Chapter 30 - Liability
Chapter 31 - Is It Organic?

Chapter 32 - Vision
Chapter 33 - Laying Hens: 3 Options
Chapter 34 - Turkeys
Chapter 35 - Exotics

Appendix A - Resources
Appendix B - Newsletters
What is the Difference?
Addendum for 1996 Reprinting
Addendum for 1999 Reprinting

Chicken Predators

It has been awhile since my last post so I'm going to try to break them up and get caught up....we'll see how that goes.

We had our first chicken get killed by a predator in mid-April, it was one of those rare times when we were gone all day but left the chickens out and when we came back there were feathers everywhere and a decapitated and partially munched chicken. We're not sure of the predator but we're guessing it was a dog. I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Pastured Poultry Profits for a multitude of reasons but one is that Chapter 20 is dedicated to predators. Joel outlines the symptoms (IOW what is looks like after) of each predator type and helps you in isolating where your problem might be. Granted he doesn't cover every possible predator type but enough to give you an idea.

It was obvious when we came home that the dog we leave inside the house when gone had been freaking out since he would have been able to see the attack occur. Fortunately whatever is was has not come back (yet?) so we'll see what the future holds.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Farmers at Risk

If you haven't been paying attention to what is happening to the farmers across American, you should.

There are so many issues coming up that addressing it in one post would border on lunacy. The thing to keep in mind is that farmers are being pushed to the brink by the companies that many people think we should support. To give just one example of a company that is doing it's best to blackmail farmers through lawsuits to increase it's bottom line let's look at Monsanto and they're patenting seed (some of which they never produced). Here is a video that you should watch, if not you have no right to complain about your food quality and the scariness called genetically modified foods or GMO for short.

Here's a quote by the Director of Corporate Communication of Monsanto
Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food, our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job.
Phil Angell
and another
Agricultural biotechnology will find a supporter occupying the White House next year, regardless of which candidate wins the election in November.
Monsanto Inhouse Newsletter
October 6th, 2000
or how about this quote related to GMO
If we started really asking the right questions we would stop this technology for the next 50 or a 100 years.
Dr. Ignacio Chapela
Microbial Ecologist
University of California Berkeley
The joy from this company goes on.

UPDATE: Embedded movie removed, apparently it was posted on Google Video w/out the consent of the company which created it so it was removed however you can order it here or look for screenings in your area. There are also people posting it on youtube since I'm not sure if it is with permission or now I'm only posting the search, it appears in most cases it is broken up into parts.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Building Chicken Coops & Brooders

If you're like me you want to make sure your chickens get the best brooder and/or coop for the best price. The challenge is finding the best information that meets your needs. The more I interact with farmer/rancher types I discover that many have a unique approach but it comes down to making due with what is in front of you instead of using some cookie cutter approach. I'll try to keep adding to this post the plethora of stuff I'm finding on coops and brooders out in the vastness of cyberspace.

Electric Lamp Brooder
Cheep and Easy Chick Brooders

Barn Pen Construction
Small Scale Poultry Housing
Chicken Coop Plans
Small Hen House
Moveable Pen For Fowl
Broiler Housing
Poultry Housing
Chicken Coop Designs
Bantam & Gamebird Breeder Cages
A Hand-Portable Chicken Coop You Can Stand Up In

NOTE: Chicken Coop Clipart from

3 More Pullets Died Today

Well it appears that the learning process continues, unfortunately at the cost of more baby chicks lives. The chickens at our place are probably starting to feel like they're marked...much like the chicken on the left. We had been doing everything we'd read about with the pullets and they are now outside confined inside the coop that the normal chickens live in at night so they can start seeing each other and interacting. Well last night it jumped from about 80 to in the low 60s and apparently there were some breezes as well. Last night was one of the few nights that we didn't turn on the brooder lamp because we thought they were feathering out nicely and didn't need to have external heat anymore...apparently we were wrong.

When my wife went out to let the big chickens out of the coop this morning and let the pullets run around the coop during the day (which is our normal procedure now) she noticed a few had died. It is obvious by the condition of the dead pullets that they had all stacked onto each other trying to stay warm.

Another sad note of today's deaths is that one of the pullets that died was one that my daughter had claimed who had lost her pullet as I discussed in a previous entry. Unfortunately this is just how things come together sometimes but we've realized that we need to figure out how to have chickens breed naturally as intervention by man seems counter to how God intended it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Take Me Out of the City, Get Me Out of the Crowds

The title of this post was intended to be hummed with the Take Me Out to the Ball Game song. My wife and I were recently discussing the joys of being outside of town on property. We don't even have much in the way of acreage (renting on 5 acres) but man how we loath when we have to go to a major city to do our bulk shopping, doctor's appointments, etc.

It is a weird transition but the more I'm away from the constant activity of a city the more I enjoy my space and freedom. Due to the nature of my work I still have conference calls with customers, other consultants and then family but that interaction is occasional. We don't mind the phone calls but there is something about getting in the midst of everything that just grinds on you. We come home for a visit now tired and thankful to be home. Some of it probably has to do with the 1 hour drive each way but also the traffic, general attitude and anger of people in the city and just being there that drives you crazy.

Another thing that has become more obvious now that I've been unplugged from 'The City Matrix' is how many people are just plugging along in their lives waiting for death to come their way. They experience a few joys but I talk to more and more people that say something like, "I'd love to do what you're doing!" Usually it comes back to me asking them why they don't...then the mumbling and "well yea but" comes into play. Yes there are adjustments that will be necessary and some will be harder than others but life is too short to not be out there doing what you want to do so go after it.

Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya! If you're even halfway considering getting out of town do it, you can always move back if you don't like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Profit From Your Land

The more research I do the more I discover how many hard working people there are out there trying to make it in farming and/or ranching. It is truly staggering when you look at the amount of work these people do for the return on their 'investment.' They are obviously doing it because they love it however it sure would be nice to see them doing better instead of having a lot of struggles. One of the things that personally seems like a great idea to help a farmer hedge their crops is creating a member based operation.

An example of this is the Maple Creek Farm in Michigan. There are probably many more examples however I learned about them from some of the google videos when doing research on some rural issues (honestly I can't recall). For those of you 'in the know this may not be news however they are doing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA for short) where they have memberships (shares) available which cost $700.00 for a 20 week membership which lasts June thru October. That may seem like a lot but remember this is certified organic where they raise the right stuff which requires mostly hand processing. Be forewarned there is some language in some of their videos which may not be appropriate for younger viewers.

They have a Top Ten (10) Reasons To Buy Local Food list that I'd encourage you to visit.
1. Locally grown food tastes better.
2. Local produce is better for you.
3. Local food preserves genetic diversity.
4. Local certified organic food is GMO-free.
5. Local food supports local farm families.
6. Local food builds community.
7. Local food preserves open space.
8. Local food keeps your taxes in check.
9. Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife.
10. Local food is about the future.
The list on their site provides a detailed explanation of each so don't delay and visit it.

Although this addresses this from the perspective of crops the same principle would seem to apply to animals as well. If you are raising animals and trying to profit from it make sure to spend more time on research than just going out and doing it. Go spend some time with people that are making money doing it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Making Money Shearing Sheep

As we are researching our sheep more and the ongoing quest to find a breeder in our area that raises their sheep the same we we're going to raise ours I've come across something that some people promote as a great way to generate side income, shearing sheep. After more research we realized this is something we do not want to have to do so we're picking sheep that don't require shearing.

Let me explain further, most of the stuff I can find on the web by people raising sheep and related to shearing seem to indicate that they don't like doing it (or paying for it) and there isn't much money to be made in it. If you have your heart set on it or have found a niche market that offers you good return on your time investment then by all means proceed however most of the reading I've done seem to indicate otherwise. I've included a few shearing links as well as some sites that indicate they're happy to be out from under having to shear anymore. Another thing to look into are problems related to a sheep getting a bad shearing or by not being sheared. Do the research yourself and form your own opinions.

Wool: Asset or Liability?
Each year it gets harder to find a competent person to come and shear our small flock. The amount we pay to remove the wool from the sheep is more than the return we get when the wool is sold. With our busy schedules, we can find plenty of other things to do instead of making arrangements, etc. for shearing day. We have found a better way.

With the natural shedding of the White Dorpers, shearing day will be a thing of the past at our farm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Survival...Nope, Just Old School

An interesting thing has been developing the longer we search for rural land and prepare our family for the 'migration', it seems that having a little backup of daily items becomes more necessary the further out you are. When doing some research on something I can't recall I stumbled across the Alone in the Wilderness 2-DVD Package. After doing some more reading about it I realized that this was the same show I saw about 20 minutes of on PBS late one night. The general story is a guy who because of an injury at work that nearly leaves him blind decides that he would like to enjoy what life has to offer, but not the way you think. He leaves the developed world and goes it on his own out in the Alaskan wilderness.

The first DVD, Alone in the Wilderness, covers the initial building of his log cabin and all of the tools involved in making that happen. Mr. Dick Proenneke is a resourceful man and we get to see him as he goes to his new home site with minimal tools, building what he needs as he goes. He also has some great nature shots of Caribou (a.k.a. reindeer), Grizzly bear, Dall sheep and moose just to name a few. By today's terms it might be considered uneventful however our children (even the 5 and 4 year old) were locked on to the movie and it was amazing to see how many great things he built with his own two hands. Although Mr. Proenneke passed away in 2003 he left something that should be on the DVD shelf of any family.

The second DVD, Alaska Silence & Solitude, was not quite as good as the first but it filled in a few missing pieces. This video covers a visit that two men have with Dick and they journey around his area taking video and doing some sight seeing. The area is just beautiful and another example why conservation of our resources is so important.

We bought the 2-DVD pack and enjoyed it immensely, if you are looking for a family safe viewing experience this is it! The only objectionable material is where he briefly stumbled across the hide of a animal that was attacked by wolves. The scene lasts maybe 20 seconds and shows the carcass and he picks it up by the horns and talks about how the wolves have obviously been munching on it. Since my kids are familiar with hunting and how our food arrives at the table they weren't bothered by it but some sensitive children might be.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Farm and Ranch Land: Rain, Sleet, Snow or Shine

In case you haven't read Finding & Buying Your Place in Country I'll pass along a little freebie, don't just buy a piece of property in an area you're unfamiliar with unless you've done a lot of research and/or interviews with people from that area (that aren't trying to profit from their advice to you). In our ongoing quest to find the Texas land that will meet all of our requirements we've discovered a lot of differences in areas that are within just an hour of each other.

Even though that farm land you've found seems to be the best thing since sliced bread it may have many hidden nightmares such as being within one of the FEMA flood maps or neighbors that are less than friendly. It would be beneficial to call a high profile business in the area and just be friendly, find out what the area is like during heavy rains or adverse weather conditions. In one particular property we were looking out we found out that the area had high water every 5-7 years. They said the home that was on the site consistently had water up close to the top of the foundation and the area was fit for boating during that periodic weather. We discovered this by walking down the dirt road and talking to a car passing by. Turns out the guy was the electric meter reader for the entire area and lived on a high part of the road and gave us a lot of good input about the area.

If I haven't said it enough I'll say it again: research, Research, RESEARCH....are we clear yet :)

Once you've taken possession of the property your Garden of Eden may turn out to be a nightmare.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Travis' Appeal for Aid at the Alamo

This one is totally off topic but after reading it I wanted to pass it along for those of you who have never read it.
Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, Fby. 24th, 1836

To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world Fellow Citizens & Compatriots

I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender nor retreat.

Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & of everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country.

Victory or Death
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.

P. S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.


View pictures of the original document

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Rural High Speed Internet

In the country getting a high speed internet connection becomes more of a challenge. Depending on the internet requirements sometimes searching for property can be dictated by the accessibility of high speed. In my case I cannot use satellite high speed due to latency issues and connecting to a VPN but if I didn't need to worry about latency my options would open up.

One thing to keep in mind when searching is the internet is not your friend in some cases. Rural internet companies are way behind the curve on marketing themselves property. For example the company I use currently is a great company however the only way I found out about them was by calling the Chamber of Commerce in the town closest to where we live. A few types of high speed to keep in mind if you're looking for high speed and it is a requirement for you work.

WISP (which stands for Wireless Internet Service Provider)
This seems to be the technology that is gaining the most ground in the rural market currently. The equipment costs appear to be significantly less than traditional wired connections as it is just going through the airwaves. Of the providers I've spoke with they offer both line of sight (IOW your equipment can see their tower) and non-line of site (can't see) service. The thing that has been interesting is the difference in quality of service between companies. Make absolutely sure to call around to businesses that might use high speed and ask them who they use and their experiences, you'll be surprised how some will open up.

Basically satellite internet beams the signal from a satellite in space to your house or vise versa and then back down to the providers data center. The problem with that is there is a tremendous amount of distance to cover which results in some latency (a.k.a. lag). For general web surfing, email, etc. this may not be an issue but getting it to work with a VPN or similar type of connection can be a problem. The other thing is the reviews for satellite providers tends to be more

Below is one example of the antenna that is used by WISP customers. The one at my house looks different but it is nighttime and I didn't have my camera handy so I swiped this off of the internet.

Moving from the City to the Country [A PreTeen Perspective]

This was written by our 12 year old daughter since we asked for an entry from a younger person's perspective.

Moving from the city to the country has its ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs in my opinion. When we were living in the city it wasn't bad. We had a 3 bedroom/2 bath house with a medium yard. I liked it but I longed for more yard space. I'm an explorer at heart so I alwways explored the ditch behind our yard. Then suddenly it seemed like my parents wanted to move!

I was happy but frightened, what if I didn't fit in, what if nobody liked me! Those thoughts kept spinning round and round in my head. Also moving from the house which we had lived in for 6 years didn't help. We moved soon after to a little house on 2 acres. At first it was nice having 2 acres and it seemed like a lot to me! But after a month or so I grew bored to help pass the time after I was done with school [I'm homeschooled] I would go out and catch scorpions, skinks and black widow spiders. We looked at piece after piece after piece of property until we found it, a new rental. We needed to move because of some plumbing problems with the other place.

The new place was a 3 bedroom/2 bath house on 5 acres with a pond on it. When we drove up the first time to look at it I thought, "This is home!" So about 3 weeks after my parents signed the papers we got the property. We moved shortly before Christmas so with the boxes of presents for me and my 3 siblings we also had to unpack moving boxes. My favorite part of living in the country is having my pet bird, Skype and our chickens, we couldn't have those animals at our other rental.

My favorite chicken is named Starla, she is as tame as you please. She eats right out of my hand! So all in all I would have to say I like the country more than the city. Till next entry, See ya!

Budgie Girl - 12

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Free Range or Prairie or Coop Raised Poultry

When doing some research I stumbled across an article on Mother Earth News that reminded me I should probably do an introductory post about how you decide to raise your chickens. There is much discussion about raising chickens in a coop or letting them graze on your property (a.k.a. free range or prairie grazing).

From what I've been able to gather some people feel that having them in the coop with some supplemental time in a chicken tractor is comparable to free ranging. Personally that wasn't our approach and we don't live in an area where we've had a problem with unrestrained dogs or predators so I can't speak too much to it however the longer we have chickens the more I realize I wouldn't just keep them in a coop alone. At minimum we would add some time in a chicken tractor with the remainder of their time in the coop. One of the positives I see with this approach is it would force the chickens to eat what is in front of them as opposed to wandering around and picking off their favorites eats.

We decided however that we would allow our chickens to wander around our property with a few restrictions and forage for themselves. The never seem to wander too far from the coop (less than 100 feet) and the amount of feed they eat is significantly less then when we had them in the coop during their first couple of weeks with us (remember that the first batch we bought when they were ~4 months old). Aside from the cost benefit I believe the chickens will find the food that offsets whatever deficiencies they have in their diet. Although we're using a higher quality feed now than the stuff from the feed store I believe that poultry has been fending for itself for thousands of years successfully so it seemed counterproductive to restrict them requiring more money to be spent in the restricted process.

Before providing a few links related to free ranging and pasture poultry be sure to take a few minutes and read the article (linked above) titled Free Range Chickens from Mother Earth News.
The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association
Free-Range Chickens on my Small Farm
The Free-Range System in a Nutshell

One last note, if you are going to raise chickens for profit make sure you find a niche and service it well...don't attempt to compete with the grocery stores and just market your chickens as chickens and/or eggs as eggs. Focus on antibiotic free, organic, etc. but make sure you understand what those terms mean and the legal ramifications of selling the birds.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rural Farm Land For Sale - The Twilight Zone

As we continue our search for land we've come across a few truths related to advertisements for rural property, so when you see the following: Rural Property For Sale, Land For Sale, Land For Sale By Owner, Farm Land, Raw Land, etc. keep in mind you might be stepping into.....The Twilight Zone.

There seems to be a general impression that if you don't disclose certain things in the MLS listing that once people get to the property they'll fall in love. Here is just a sampling of the pain we've experienced so far.

17 Acres
Heavy Woods
Great Location, blah, blah
It is within a quarter of a mile of an oil processing plant and you spend 20 minute gagging through oil smell which dissipates right before you get to the property as well as the HUGE power lines running right through the middle of the property, seemed cheap until we saw it, then it seemed overpriced.

10 Acres
Heavy Woods
Realtor Note: Huge oak and elm trees on 10 acre tract.Very secluded,small spring fed creek through property.
The reason it is secluded is because it is in the middle of people who don't have a cleaning bone in their body, 57 broken down cars, piles of trash (literally household garbage), etc. The creek that runs through it is probably someone's ruptured septic ;)

I could go on and on but these are just a few randomly picked tidbits for your reading pleasure. Originally I was going to call this Rural Farm Land For Sale - The Big Lie but I decided to make it a little more interesting. We all know that agents embellish sometimes but some of these properties are not even close to how they're described.

Free Range (a.k.a. Pasture Raised) Eggs vs Store Bought

To do a brain dump of everything we've been learning about raising our own animals and the health benefits of the food that we generate would fill the disk on this server. Here is just another example of the information that we're coming across that supports our decision to raise our own animals. We got our first batch of chickens and should start getting eggs in the next few months...we can't wait. We're opening up the coop during the day now and they're starting to get used to coming out, eating and scratching and returning to the coop.
Eggs from free-range hens contain up to 30 percent more vitamin E, 50 percent more folic acid and 30 percent more vitamin B-12 than factory eggs. And the bright orange color of the yolk shows higher levels of antioxidant carotenes. (Many factory-farm eggs are so pale that producers feed the hens expensive marigold flowers to make the yolks brighter in color.)
Source: Agribusiness and the Decline of Nutritious Food
If the nutritional differences aren't enough to sway you then go ahead and look at the picture of an 'egg farm' above and see how much that stirs your appetite.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Chicken Feed

When we first bought our chickens we were told the previous owner had been raising them on crumbles. We didn't go too much into details so I'm not sure which brand they used but we ended up stopping by the local feed store and picking up Purina Mills® Flock Raiser® which seemed to work fine. We know our long term goal was to have most of their feed provided by nature so it was just a matter of time before they were let out during the day and in the coop at night to protect them from area predators.

As discussed before we were taking some our chickens to a processor in our area. After a quick visit with the owner of the ranch we found out they have all of their feed custom manufactured for them based on a mix designed by a poultry nutritionist. It had some of the things we had researched that were good for them (oyster shells, kelp, etc.) as well as being extremely fresh. They use so much feed per month (they have quite a few chickens and processing for others was just a thing they fell into) that there stuff is never stale. The 3 bags of stuff we bought were less than two weeks from the place that manufactures their feed and you could tell a difference. The baby pullets and older chickens ate the stuff like it was chicken candy. They have a mix for chickens that are laying which we'll probably need to upgrade to in the next month or so however now that our older chickens are pasture grazing they aren't eating too much feed anyhow.

If you're looking at raising chickens for profit I can't provide any expertise as we're doing it primarily for ourselves however the reading I've done the cost of feed is a huge issue with making a profit. Click on over to the Homesteading Today Forum and look at the Poultry subforum, there are some sharp people there who have a good grasp on what to do to keep costs down and birds healthy. A few of the people I've talked to track their costs pretty closely so you can get an idea of the costs and profits involved in raising your own flock.

Where There Is No Doctor

One of the things to keep in mind in a rural setting and personally I don't think is anything to be in fear of is access to health care. Our family has been re-evaluating health care and our health/wellness approach in general but I thought I'd offer up a great book called Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook.

The book discussed previously will lay out some of the general thinking related to health care around a property however this book discusses application. We've only needed to use the book a couple of times so far for a few non-critical needs but the information in the book is concise and something you will refer back to again and again for issues related to your health and wellness

Chapter 1 - Home Cures and Popular Beliefs
Chapter 2 - Sicknesses That Are Often Confused
Chapter 3 - How To Examine A Sick Person
Chapter 4 - How To Take Care Of A Sick Person
Chapter 5 - Healing Without Medicines
Chapter 6 - Right And Wrong Use Of Modern Medicines
Chapter 7 - Antibiotics: What They Are And How To Use Them
Chapter 8 - How To Measure And Give Medicine
Chapter 9 - Instructions And Precautions For Injections
Chapter 10 - First Aid
Chapter 11 - Nutrition: What To Eat To Be Healthy
Chapter 12 - Prevention: How To Avoid Many Sicknesses
Chapter 13 - Some Very Common Sicknesses
Chapter 14 - Serious Illnesses That Need Special Medical Attention
Chapter 15 - Skin Problems
Chapter 16 - The Eyes
Chapter 17 - The Teeth, Gums, And Mouth
Chapter 18 - The Urinary System And The Genitals
Chapter 19 - Information For Mothers And Midwives
Chapter 20 - Family Planning - Having The Number Of Children You Want
Chapter 21 - Health And Sickness Of Children
Chapter 22 - Health And Sickness Of Older People
Chapter 23 - The Medicine Kit

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country

As mentioned before I'd touch on all facets of migrating to a rural setting but this book is so well done I thought I'd put it out there first. I'm sure I'll be rehashing things already discussed in the book as we move along but if you're only going to read one book related to buying property in the country make Finding & Buying Your Place in Countryby Scher. The book can either be a reference book or you can read through it although I would highly recommend that you read through it once and then reference back to it when doing your search.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Employee or Entrepreneur Mindset

When writing the Try Before You Buy post I realized that one item I didn't discuss in detail was what your business/income mindset is. Are you a person who enjoys the day-to-day consistency of going to an office or are you more of a dynamic entrepreneur type who prefers varied hours, seasons of longer work and a little more varied income possibilities?

If you're more of the type of person who would prefer the consistent paycheck provided by someone else then you need to make sure you've moving to an area that offers those types of opportunities and offers them in more than one company. The news of the major employer in a town shutting down or significantly reducing its workforce and causing the unemployment to skyrocket is, sadly, not surprising anymore and appears it will continue. Also, make absolutely sure your spouse is in sync with the decision and is of the same mindset or things could go bad, in some cases very bad.

If you're more entrepreneurial minded and can figure out ways of generating more income then you'll do just fine and I'm guessing you didn't need me to tell you that. With the availability of the internet the opportunity to generate a primary or secondary income without leaving your house just keeps getting better. Currently I can do far better financially by doing I.T. contracting work to support our farm life than using farm income to support our household. This could change in the future but that is the joy of living in a great country like the U.S., I can change my approach at any time I only limitation is me.

One final note to those of you struggling with making the change, too often men and women either continue on a path that they think their spouse wants or is "necessary for the family" without having a serious conversation with their significant other. Either I'm the luckiest man on earth (OK, I am) but my wife has usually supported things I'd like to try sometimes to serious detriment to our family (most of those were bad financial decisions). However due to her wonderful support and not rubbing it in my face I have become a much better man. That is just one of many reasons I give for renting instead of buying initially, if you decide it isn't for you and your family you can wait until your rental period is up and return to your city life with a few more life lessons under your belt.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Selecting the Right Breed of Chicken

Since we're somewhat new to this those of you who are pros with chickens will probably say, well yea...duh, but it is amazing how some breeds are just nicer than others. As you might recall we bought 25 chickens of various breeds and then bought 10 newborn pullets and after watching them for awhile some breeds have unique personality traits. I've read about this over and over and that is why some breeds are more popular than others.

For example the Partridge Rock roosters we had seemed to be mean to the other roosters and hens that we had. They are now in our freezer and causing no trouble, we'll see if they digest okay. Here's a funny little excerpt from a thread I was reading:
Beware dogs and chickens!

Our dog likes to flake out on the lawn in the summer sun. Hens, on the loose, still thinking they are 400 pound dinosaur thingys, stalk the sleeping dog! Silently they close in, acting as if they are browsing for bugs. It is a lie. They are drawn irresistibly to his black, rubbery dog lips. They grab! Dog, who weighs over 100 pounds, screeches, leaps up and RUNS AWAY FROM THE HENS!!!

I have seen dog go toe to toe with bears that wander into the yard. But he runs from the chickens. If I throw scraps outside and the chickens get there first, dog will NOT challenge them. We are ashamed. Either our dog needs therapy or we have really mean hens.
source: Poultry Discussions -
Anyway humor aside here is a good chart for selecting the right breed of chicken, it goes through most of the breeds you'll find available and covers rarity, variety, egg color and size, origins, brooding, hardiness, maturing, etc.

The ICYouSee Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart

Relaxation and the Circle of Life

An interesting activity transpired today that I don't usually do, I spent almost an hour out of my day relaxing. My beautiful wife also joined me part of the time to just hang out and talk. This is one of those things that you can do in the city as well but for some reason it just seems easier with less distractions out here.

We sat and watched the chickens go about their daily business of being let out of the coop in the morning and attacking the grass, clover and insects running around in the grass. It is a pretty basic thing but for some reason I just enjoy watching them. The older kids wander in and out during this time as well and we talk a little about how things are going in their day. That was about 30 minutes of the time, the other 30 minutes was spent watching the new baby pullets we picked up last week. They currently occupy the spot at the dining room table that I usually sit at so we've had to cram a little closer together when eating but no one seems to mind as we get to watch the baby chicks as we eat, it is like a free movie (well maybe not totally free with what we spend on feed).

My wife and I discussed how we both feel more relaxed then we used to feel and she has noticed a difference in me. Now that we've stepped away from the hustle and bussel of the city it is interesting to see my wonderful bride laughing so much and our kids get a new perspective on where things come from. At lunch today our 10 year old thanked the Lord for the animals that provided our food, a first. When kids are able to be exposed to the entire chain of life/death that brings food to their table I think they appreciate it more than just having chicken and red meat 'appear' in their freezer.

Try Before You Buy

This post was an idea that my wife threw at me for the blog and I thought it was a great idea. In case you haven't read the welcome message it briefly discusses that we're renting in different areas before buying. In an urban environment when people move many look for houses in the new city they're looking at moving to. They find one they like in a decent area and buy it. Aside from the recent real estate market downturn in many cities that was a decent plan but carried a few risks, for example: may buy in an area that is not the best, the area they purchase in may be hard to sell. In a rural environment a piece of property can take a long time to tell, even real estate that is in the best of shape. The reason is there are fewer people wanting to migrate to that environment and the ones that do are often rich buyers looking for vacation property (IOW upscale property or the wonderful 'cabin in the woods') or they're in the lower income ranges so if you price your property too high you price it out of reach for people that might want to upgrade in that area.

Here is a comparison of two cities in my area:
Elgin Texas: Year 2000 median household income: $38,750
Austin Texas: Year 2000 median household income: $42,689

Although the ~$330/month in income difference may not seem like that big of a deal when looking at the higher property taxes of Austin keep a few other items in mind.

Elgin Texas: Year 2000 median house value: $75,200
Austin Texas: Year 2000 median house value: $124,700

So if a person in Elgin wants to move up they're probably not going to have as much cash to put down so if there income hasn't kept pace with 'city folk.' Also the unemployment in smaller cities is higher.

Elgin Texas: Year 2000 unemployed: 5.3%
Austin Texas: Year 2000 unemployed: 4.4%


Plus the fact that people in smaller towns (where they commute to larger cities) are probably spending 50% or more on their monthly gas, higher prices for local items due to less competition and the list goes on and on.

These are just a few things to keep in mind but living in the area will give you a much better perspective if the changes in lifestyle are something you are interested in. We also are getting much more for our money renting in the country than in the city. Currently we're living on 5 acres with the approval of the landlord to keep chickens, sheep, rabbits, etc. where getting that same approval in the city (if it is even legal) is much more challenging. So for $750/month we get all of that where finding a house rental for $750/month in Austin would usually involve an area that has at a minimum occasional gunfire.

Are we trying to discourage you, no, however if you rent and decide you don't like it you can easily go back to the larger metro area without the bondage of a country property mortgage or your cash tied up in a place you're not living at.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Small Town Drivers

One of the unexpected things that didn't hit me right away was how much nicer most people drive in small towns. Granted in the large city just a few bad drivers can seem like there are many more out there. In the 7 months we've been outside of a major city and just outside of smaller cities (5K+ people) we've noticed there are a lot of courteous drivers.

Usually people will stop to let you in and it seems they're paying attention to more than just where they want to go. Although I can't say for sure what the cause is I'm guessing it has to do with the high probability you'll see these people quite a bit when you're out and about so it has a way of naturally controlling rude behavior. Also I'm ashamed to say my safety inspection is 8 months past due and I've been pulled over three times, each time with just a warning. Going to figure out where the wiring problem is so I can get new stickers but I don't usually get warnings for any infraction in the high revenue requirements of the larger city governments.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pullets Heating Issue

Well it appears that we've got our pullet heating situation closer to being resolved. The temperature has settled in the 90-92 degree range and they seem to be under the light some times but more importantly they seem to be laying down and spreading their feathers out and taking longer naps. We'll see what tomorrow holds but for now here are a few good pointers to keep in mind on figuring out if your baby chicks are too hot, too cold or just right.

The 1st week, keep the temperature at the level of the chicks at 90-95° F. Reduce the temperature about 5 degrees per week until room temperature is reached. It is best to use a thermometer to measure the temperature, but the actions of the chicks can also be a guide. When the chicks are cold, they bunch up and give a distressed "cheep." When they are too warm, they stand apart with their beaks open, and their throats may have a pulsating or panting motion. In most rooms, a light bulb placed over the box will provide enough heat. A gooseneck study lamp with a 60- or 75-watt bulb works well. The neck of the lamp can be adjusted to provide more or less heat. If necessary, cut a slit in the side of the box so the base of the lamp can remain outside the box, with the gooseneck of the lamp fitting in the slit and the lampshade placed inside the box.
source: University of Minnesota Extension

Basic Poultry Vocabulary

As we learn more about poultry we keep this link updated to teach people basic vocabulary and get started in their poultry endevours.

Poultry: Poultry is the class of domesticated fowl (birds) used for food or for their eggs. These most typically are members of the orders Galliformes (such as chickens and turkeys), and Anseriformes (waterfowl such as ducks and geese).
source: Wikipedia

Rooster: the male of domestic fowl and certain game birds; cock.
A.K.A.: cock, man chicken, male chicken

Hen: the female of the domestic fowl.
A.K.A.: female chicken, good lookin' (just kidding)

Pullet: A female chicken under one year of age.
source: University of Illinois Extension

Cockerel: A young rooster.

Processing Chickens

It appears ~10 of our roosters are ready to be "processed" which is just another word for slaughter or butchering but I've found a place that will do it about 45 minutes from here. They charge $2.25/bird which is a little high from the research I've done but not too bad. There is an additional charge if they are over 4 lbs once processed but I doubt any meet that criteria. So I gathered up 9 today which went pretty well, the way of catching them that I tried today is I didn't chase them around, I would slowly walk until I was standing over one then move quickly. My ratio was about 3 caught to 1 that got away inside a 12' x 16' coop. I've seen more experience people do it that spend a lot of time chasing them around but I'm guessing it also depends on the breed and stubbornness of the particular bird. During transport my perspective on birds is that they are a gift from God and I need to be a good steward with them, I try to not pack too many into a cage to take to the processor.

Tomorrow this guy and some of his friends will be in our freezer.

If you would prefer to process them yourself here are some links to get you started. WARNING: These links demonstrate and discuss the process of butchering a chicken so be sure you're ready to see them killed and split open before you click any of these.

Buying Pullets (Baby Female Chickens)

We decided that we wanted to up our hen population and there is no time like the present to get started. So we picked up 10 pullets of differing breeds at Callahan's General Store in Austin while we were doing our usual Sam's Club bulk purchasing. Our oldest daughter has been tasked with learning everything she can about the birds and so we picked out 4 breeds we thought would be a good starting point: Americana Bantams, Cuckoo Maran, Welsummer and one New Hampshire Red.

We had done our usual web reading and thought we were in pretty good shape. We had built a nice, simple brooder for the chicks but I realized that they might not being staying warm enough. However I didn't act on it that night and during the morning hours why the children were homeschooling one of them died. Sometime you do not know why this happens but again I followed my instinct and did a quick reading with my wife's candy thermometer and it read 82 degrees. When doing my initial research I remembered 90 degrees however a quick web search was rewarded with multiple sites indicating that between 90-95 degrees should be kept their first week of life. So we went a bought a 250W bulb instead of the 80W that was above their current brooder. However now they're staying away from the lit area like it is too warm so we'll see.

So, as I stated we did lose one (picture above prior to burial) which the kids were sad about and especially the daughter that had picked it out as 'hers', a hard lesson but you just appreciate how much God is in control.

Buying Roosters and Hens

We're trying to catch up this new blog with where our life is at currently so forgive the rush of information and we'll work better and keeping it in proper chronological order in the future.

Approx. two weeks ago we took delivery of 25 chickens that were born in early November 2006, so they were approx. 4 months old. The thing we realized (and I don't think the people who sold them to use realized) is that there were a lot more roosters than we originally thought but since we only paid $5/bird is was a low cost initial investment. To give a little background you want to have a ratio of roosters to hens of somewhere between 6-10 hens / rooster. Six, IMHO, is a little low but there are people doing it and have been for years. So now we have a dilemma, what to a small coop for the roosters which contradicts our wanting to free range during the day and pen them at night or something else.

Just remember that you can buy more pullets (a.k.a. young hens) to offset the ratio but you must do something in the interim to not stress the birds out too much. If you're curious what to look for in buying hens and roosters and what to look for to know if they're healthy I honestly can't help a whole lot. We bought them from some people we knew that are good to their birds (we've been to their property) and they looked healthy. I just checked the eyes (crystal clear), general feather coverage (thick and healthy looking) and their combs looked good and healthy along with no noticeable wounds.


First we would like to welcome everyone that is on the wonderful place we call the world wide web. Our intent with this blog is to cover our transition from city living to rural/country living. We will address everything we think is relevant like searching for land, getting and raising animals, impact to quality of life for family. Our plan is to skip the misleading, "life is easy" type tutorials and instead offer it up as real and gritty as it might get.

As a brief background except for some early years where my wife lived on a hobby farm both my wife and I (and obviously all of our children) have grown up in the city. Until July of 2006 when we sold the first home we'd owned in Austin, Texas and are now looking for property. As part of our plan we are renting in a few different towns which we'd recommend to anyone on a similar journey until we find a place we'd like to call home.

Currently I work from home and my wife is a full time homeschool teacher, mother, wife, etc. To say she is an amazing woman would be one of the understatements of the 21st century. We ask that anyone who wishes to post comments here keep their posts clean and family appropriate, we do moderate. Be warned however that we will show death (not bloody and something that will scare kids) but will include real life situations so if you want to let your children read here make sure they can deal with those situations.

Thank you for your time,