Monday, June 22, 2009

Rehydration Recipe for Chickens

If you cannot locate electrolytes or rehydrating solutions for chickens at your local feed store and are in a bad bind needing it now (like injuries or extreme heat) here is a home made recipe that is simple. It does not replenish everything a properly balanced solution like Durvet Vitamins and Electrolytes but it will cover in a pinch.

1 cup water
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda

Remember not to use this solution over the long term and it would be best if you made a new batch every 24 hours adjusting the batch size to your needs.

If using Durvet use the following ratio:
4 oz. packet - 1/2 teaspoon of Durvet per gallon water
8 oz. packet - 3/4 teaspoon of Durvet per gallon water

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Chickens Hatched The Old Way

For a little background a few of our evolving principles for developing our property are:
- Do things the way that is the most effective and closest to nature as possible.
- Keep it sustainable

As part of that process we have been closely watching our hens for the one or two that demonstrate the most broody behavior and it appears one of our banties is the clear winner. She has been trying to be broody for months but the other hens either squeeze into her nesting box pushing her out or we had an unfortunate issue with having the mobile coop she was in crush the eggs she was on during an extremely heavy rain with significant wind. So this time we put her in a large dog carrier and moved her into the house since we have no barn, yet.

It has been 21 days and 3 of the 5 eggs have hatched and we are closely watching the other 2 although she still seems to be working hard at keeping them warm and under her (Update: they never hatched). She appears to be a wonderful mother and is keeping the babies under her and doing an unusual throaty sound when they get out from under her for too long. We are now doing research on how to handle her and the chicks and when to incorporate them into the hen house. Unfortunately some of our hens are pretty aggressive and so we will probably take a more isolated approach till the chicks are older.

This is good news and if we can successfully replicate this we will be well on our way to a self sustaining chicken flock. We will be marking the original group of hens and using the younger ones for our meat flock to prevent inbreeding. We have so much to learn but thank the Lord for His blessings on our homestead.

Getting Started with Goats

Here are some things that we think are essential for having dairy goats. This list is not all inclusive however it is a good start and covers what we consider the essentials. This list does not include first aid supplies however we will cover that at a later date.

Fencing - If you throw a bucket of water at the fence and it any water makes it through, fortify!
Milk Stand - There are a variety of milk stands just make sure it is sturdy, example.
Stool - This will be used for sitting on while milking, obvious but we thought it would be helpful to state.
Stainless Steel Milking Bucket - It does not need to be a goat milk bucket but just a stainless steel bucket. Some can get expensive so look around according to your budget. Another option that we recently read about was buying a stainless steel composting bucket with lid....cheaper.
Fast Flow Milk Filters - Coffee filters can be used but the fast flow filters are nice since they do a great job filtering and it doesn't take nearly as long as the coffee filters.
Strainer - A funnel, just something to set the filter in.
Milk Storage Containers
- We like to use glass mason jars.

The site we would recommend where we have purchased most of our goat supplies is Hoegger Goat Supply

A good site for information about goats that we reference often is Fias Co Farm.

As a side note the good looking Alpine on the post is our buck, Hellboy.

A few goat terms to get you started.
Latching - pulling the babies from the mom for some period of time so you can milk prior to allowing the boys to milk from their mom again.
Disbud - removing the horns, usually on a baby.
Kid - baby goat. Having human kids we completely understand why they used the term kid ;)
Buck - male goat.
Doe - female goat.
Weathered - male goat that has been 'fixed', why do they use the word fixed? Was something wrong with him in the first place? Must have been thought up by a woman.
In Milk - c'mon now, you can figure that one out.
Teat - think juicy part of the udder. See wikipedia entry if you are still confused.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homegrown Revolution

Having checked in on the Path To Freedom website occasionally for the last couple of years it is impressive. 6,000 pounds of fruits and veggies per year on a 1/10 of an acre! Our family has sooooo far to go. Here is a movie which is a short introduction to their homestead. Below is a 10 minute clip but the entire movie is only 15 minutes.

Favorite Quote: Don't look for others to change, you start by changing yourself.

Saving Money on Feed

If you are buying more than one bag of feed at a time one place to seriously consider that is horrible at advertising itself is a local feed mill. We found out from a new acquaintance about a place that sells un-medicated feed and when we got there we could not believe their prices. We have always considered TSC reasonable but this place was cheap. The layer crumbles and rolled oats were between 20-40% cheaper than TSC. As usual this place has no website and is listed on some other sites but these places really need to get into the 21st century. Maybe they figure that everyone that buys from them is enough but if they do not get on the ball they will be another place that closes down as the older farmers that are die hard customers are no longer alive.

This place is huge and in their prime days must have been an awesome sight to behold. We will try to get some pictures of the old feed building and such next time we are out buying feed but if you are north of Dallas I would recommend you give them a call.
Alan Ritchey Inc Farm

Busy with Animals

Things have been so buy with work and the animals updates have not been coming often so here is our current inventory.

Approx. 80 chickens: 40 or so we have had for over a year and the other 40 we have acquired in the last few months. Some were ordered from Cackle Hatchery and others we 'egg returns' from a class project a friend of a friend did at school. They high an extremely high hatch rate and the teacher kept 3 and returned the rest to us.

5 goats: 2 Alpine and 3 Nubians.

1 lamb

2 ducks: 1 was a 'gift' and we ordered 4 from Cackle Hatchery, 1 was DOA and two were lost when we had enough of their nasty ways and put them out on the pond.

5 turkeys: All ordered from Cackle Hatchery

The biggest comment is we definitely over committed to too many animals at one time. We had goats, more chickens, ducks and turkeys arrive within a couple weeks of each other and were not prepared. This would not have been so bad but we got almost non-stop record rain and without a covered, dry area to build could not complete the goat/sheep shelter and get everything done for the poultry. We are slowly catching up but we are developing a consideration checklist when contemplating adding more animals in the future. We have agreed as a family not to consider any more animals for a minimum of a year however I am not holding my breath on that one. The checklist will include things like necessary first aid items, shelter, fencing, etc. Since our property boundaries are not fenced we use the temporary, movable electric fencing which will be addressed in another post.

Good evening to you.