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Spring has sprung March 17, 2013

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Well, it is March and now finally warming up. I really do not like alot of cold weather but then again I lived most of my life in South FL. Now that the cold is gone the winds have started. Wonder what the spring storms will be like this year.

Chickens this year have spent most of the time locked up in coop. Reason is since we lost Noel back in July they got attacked a number of time by neighbors dogs. This year we have seen a few hawk attacks too. Good news though Sky our new pup is stepping up to the plate. She has just blown us away with how fast she is learning. I have a few good stories to relate so this will be a long post. 🙂

First off a refresher on Sky. She is an English Shepherd from Green Mountain English Shepherds. BTW they have a litter on the ground related to Sky. Sky is now 6 months old 20 inches tall and 32 pounds. Picture of her at 5 months is below. She is a sable on the reddish side with the irish marking of white.

Oh where to start this story I guess at the time we brought her home. From the start we knew Sky was going to be a great guard dog and protector. Once we got home we sat outside with her and the chickens were free ranging. They saw us and tried to come up but Sky stood between us and them and growled at them. She had never seen chickens before as breeder had no livestock. One might think that buying from a breeder that had no livestock or farm was risky in buying a future farm dog. But I have long experiance with working breeds and did lots of reesearch before hand. All the dogs that the breeder got her dogs from came from working farms so the blood was there as well as the instincts.

Anyway, fast forward a few months. We have family down BIL and MIL plus BIL 10 year old pitbull female. Sky is in heaven. Dogs great along great and the pit was showing her how to hunt. While they were here hubby and BIL butchered a pig that was around 700lbs. On the day they were moving the halfs this is what happened. I was on the computer in the living room on the couch. Both dogs and men are outside dealing with the pig. Sky comes running up to storm door and hits it with Both paws and scratching to beat the band. She has never done this before, always if she wants in it is with one paw swip never both. I let her in and ask her if something scared her. She runs in jumps on couch looks me in the eye then jumps to chest in front of out big picture window looking toward where the guys are cutting up the pig, then looks back at me. I am no dummy I know something is up for she has never done this when all the rest are outside. So out we go, I only get to end of house when I hear Omph, crash and BIL asking hubby if he is OK. Thank god Sky came and got me before these guys ended up in the ER for lifting to much weight. Hubby had lifted half the pig by himself all the way to the shed. Now a few years ago that might have been possible but he has been driving truck 6 days a weekfor 2 years and is really out of shape. So I layed into them and asked why in the heck did they not use our pro dolley that flatens out into a carte. Hubby says it will not roll on the rocks and I tell him otherwise. Well, needless to say I won and was correct and other half got in the shed with no one getting hurt. Thank you Sky for getting me when hubby was being stupid. 🙂

Sky is like 3 dogs in one. Beside her guardian abilty which she has shown now in gaurding chickens that have been attacked by hawks. She stays right with the chickens even if they get killed. That last is do to her being inside and me not knowing hawk is outside. Not her fault that we lost the rooster to young male hawk. But she made me let her out and stood guard over it till we finally figured out that something was up. As a result we were able to save the carcas for soup. She has let me know now 2 more times when hawks are attacking the chickens. In one case she herded the hen back up to the house under the back porch. In the other she scared off the hawk from the back of the hen and stood gaurd till I got there. We did loose one hen that day but it was not the hen that Sky scared hawk off of, she was fine and went back to flock. I did not even know that hen was dead till the next day. Sky kept going down there and in the moring I was on the back porch and she kept looking at me then down at the ground where she stood. At that point I knew something was wrong. Found the dead hen split wide open and never touch by Sky.

She is protrolling the property and has now chased off deer and possom. She is barking at visitors till we tell her it is OK. Her most recent is that she made her first kill which was a vole which is a local varmit close to a mole but smaller.

So now she is showing all 3 traits that and English Shepherd is suppose to have to be an all around farm dog. Guarding, Herding and hunting. Hubby plans on getting fence done this month so we can get our goats in. Sky need more than the chickens as she has gone over to neighbors to tell them too lock up their flock after we got attacked by the hawk. We do not need her to do that for them, so hubby is real motivated to get fence done now. 🙂 Anyway we have plans for a major hatch out to replace the flock. I will be getting rid of some of the hens and one rooster since they are so dog scared. Hubby wants me to hatch out over 50 and I told him I need a bigger coop. So we shall see what happnes. Below is Sky and 5 month.

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Eggs eggs and more eggs January 28, 2011

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Yes, we are getting eggs. Many more than we were. Weathwer is warming up again but it is windy. Chickens are out every day till sunset. We are still getting some snow but it is not staying. Lots of rain though. Today’s temps were high of 47.

Renne I have no idea on the GMO free corn no where around here sells it Only thing I know is to buy seed and grow your own. I do not feed corn except included in scratch. Or unless it is cobs from our sweet corn. Here is a link to a seed source for you. http://rareseeds.com/

Very shortly I will be letting the chickens keep eggs laid. I expect at least 4 to go broody by March. Which means I will need more nest boxes. Hopefully we will have coop added on to for them by then.

As of now I know all chicks will be fathered by Alpha. He is not letting beta breed at all and Beta will not crow either. After first hatch and chicks are 16 weeks Beta will be no more for I do not wish his bloodline in mine. He is way too far off the Standard of Perfection for me to keep. I will be offering him up for a local rooster if not then…..

For those that do not read the Backyard poultry mag they had a article about beets. There is a beet that used to be grown for chicken feed. They are called Mangel beets and chickens love them. You can find seed in the link I gave here. I personally do not like beets. Never had them can not get over smell and color. Hubby on the other hand loves beets. So I guess I will grow some for him and the chickens. This is a different beet being longer and white fleshed but yellow outside. Hmm maybe I can try these. Ok I am off to order some seed. Hubby will love that since he grew up with them being german desent.

Moulting and laying January 24, 2010

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Well, today I noticed after collecting eggs for first time today that we had some big new eggs. Actually they were eggs I have not seen in a bit but are back. If you have been reading these logs then you know when tailess went into moult. After her two others followed after she finished. Those 3 are now laying again.

How do I know this is that we have been wieghing eggs. Only one of the eggs has been large up to today. Most have been med or med large. This past week I know 3 have started there first laying from size and color of eggs. Today we had color back large size which is not a pullet egg. So since tailless and her 3 sisters are well out of moult and showing red again I belive it is them. Another clue is 2 of the eggs are speckled. Since they went into moult we have not gotten any speckled eggs.

Nice thing here is that they are choosing to do a rotaional moult. 1 to 3 at a time which has been very helpfull. We are still getting 10 to 14 eggs a day. The lowest this has been has been 9. So even with those in moult others have started or in this case come back into laying.

Weather here has been much warmer than past month. Past week has been rainy and cloudy but chickens do not mind. They are foraging futher and further every day. Captain on the other hand has been a coop home body. We are having to physically remove him from the coop now. He has learned that if he stays in coop he can get the girls easier. Which is OK but he does need to get out and get some exersise and sun not too mention water since I am not leaving it in the coop.

At this time we have been making plans to expand coop like I metioned before. Hubby really wants a much bigger flock and is suggestion I get another 25 plus hatching out. Well, if I do buy another 25 it will be from another hatchery so I have different lines to breed too. Which one has been picked if our TSC gets there chicks from them again. Hatcheries I will not deal with is Ideal for I know they do do breed true. Whelp because they are just a drop shipper from Privett. MPC because they get theirs from Meyers. Why buy second carrier when you can get them from first one.

You know what got me is when all 21 start laying. Where will i put the eggs before they are sold. 🙂

Cooped up Captain January 6, 2010

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Captain our only cockeral is playing it smart and staying in the coop all day. I have started leaving the water in there during the day now and remove it a lock up. that way they do not spill it like they were before and I do not have to kick Captain out of the coop so he can drink. I am leaving the food in there over night though.

Todays egg count was 14 total. Hubby took in another 3 dozen to sell to a standing cllient we have at his work. Someone commented that we are lucky to be getting so many eggs and what are we doing to get it. First off these are first years so that helps. Second there feed is 20% protien and I am giving very little scratch plus the have total free range abilty. Most mornings what they do is drink eat a little feed then go off and forage. We are lucky to still have green plants here not just everygreens either. Some grass is still green and some honeysuckle vine and many native herbs. So chickens are getting a good varity and it is showing.

Tommorrow we are to get 3 inches of snow or at least that is what they are calling for here. I will believe it when I see it. Stay warm all.

Flock update November 30, 2009

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Well, everyone is doing geat. Hawks have given up trying to take a chicken. I guess the hawks grew up as it was young males trying. Read a post on one of the sites about young hawks trying for chickens. Seems to be the case here at least.

Tailless is now getting her tail back and is laying steadly. We are getting between 7 to 10 eggs a day now. That is out of 22 pullets. I have put in another nest box which is the covered cat litter boxes. I was finding a egg on coop floor in the morning sometimes and eggs in the other 2 boxes. So we got another and they are using it.

Today it is raining and as of 1pm we already got 7 eggs. I am hoping that if someone is laying out in the woods todays rain will drive them into the coop to lay. We have alot of deadfall behind the coop so if they are laying out there it will be next to inpossible to find that nest.

I have banded more of the chickens hoping to make a list of who is laying and who is fertile. Right now I know of 2 that Captain has gotten with good. I do not have a incubator yet but that will be bought soon so I can hatch a few eggs to get another rooster. We could definitlly use another here since pullets range so far now.

Could thing is we do not have a back load of eggs as hubby is selling them at his job. Thanksgiving was alot better this year cooking wise using fresh egg. Can not wait till Xmas to make fresh eggnog. Yummy. Happy Holidays all.

Free ranging and eggs November 4, 2009

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Just have to love chickens that free range. Life is so interesting and one gets so many surprises. 2 days ago I knew something was up so I stayed outside with the chickens watching them. We have been getting 6 eggs a day in our nest boxes. One day we got seven so I knew I had another laying but where was she doing it now.

So I watched and sure enough caught her. I had wonder if the coop was to high in one area and if they could get under. Well, they were as i saw her come out. So down I went on wet cold ground to look and saw nothing at first. The I saw it an egg right in front of where I was looking. Guess my eyes needed to ajust. I kept looking but did not see anything else.

I stayed out there after I got that egg but still felt I was missing something under the coop. So I went back down made sure all my hair was out of my face and waited for eyes to adjust. Then looked real good and OMG there was a nest and a Big one.

I moved to the front of the coop and layed down and start getting them till I could not anymore. Then I went inside woke up hubby to help me. I counted what I pulled that was 15 total. He got the rest. The grand total was 24 eggs in that nest. Guess we need more nest boxes. LOL

Well, yesterday I stayed out there again to see who was going under. Well it turned out to be one I want to get rid off one way or another. So I shooed her back to the coop. It took her a bit to settle in the box but she finally did and layeed her egg. So yesterday total we got 10 eggs. Found one just laying in the yard. Lesson learned never assume anything when it comes to chickens. Both hubby and I thought they were to big to get under there but they proved us wrong.

Ok I promised pics I am going to take them now. BTW tailless is doing good and we think hawks have given up. Chickens just too big for them to handle. LOL

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tailess

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flock under stairs

Egg collecting with free range chickens October 13, 2009

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Well, it seems I was all wrong about that week of no eggs after getting our first. I kinda thought something was up but now I know. This morning around 10am I heard egg song and luckily I was at a window. Saw where the pullet came from so I went down there. This is close to the same area where I saw 2 pullets singing on saturday. Found a nest of 9 eggs so I ran back to the house told hubby who went out with me to get them.

Note to self buy a basket lugging egg catrons will get old fast.

Oh, when I found that nest I heard another pullet sound off behind me so I looked for her. After we got all the eggs from the one nest we went on the hunt for the other. It was in front of the house along our fence line in high weeds. 8 eggs there and we kept looking but have not so far found any other nests.

Hubby asked me how can we get them to all to lay in the coop. I said we will lock them up again for a most of the day. I plan to let out when he goes to work at 3:30pm EST. We then went out to buy another cat litter box so that they had two instead of one.

When we got back found another chicken in the box laying. I already got a large one from there this morning. Seems the ones laying in there are not making egg song that much. Well, waited for her to finish then I set up box. Since then I have heard egg song 3 more times. Twice at coop once in front of house.

Out of all those eggs we collected today one was a double yoker. Funny thing was I did not know it till I cracked it for our lunch which was western scrambled eggs. That is eggs with ham and cheese and onions and sweet pepper.

So now these bad girls get themselves locked up if they do not behave. We have too much land to cover and most has brambles. I am hoping that locking them up for most of tomorrow will work. If that does not work then it will be for a whole day to two days.

Guess it is time to thin the flock. I have been planning on doing a chicken this weekend for the dog as we need some meat for her. Might make it two since I have two I must get rid of since they have some bad faults for this breed. We shall see.

Eggciting day October 11, 2009

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Well, after a whole week after our first egg we finally got egg number two. Never thought I would have to wait so long for second egg. Those that I have talked to there are a few that went thru the same thing. So those of you with chickens getting ready to lay know between eggs you can have a wait or not.

Today I opened the coop to find a real small egg under the perch. This egg was even smaller than yesterdays egg. Must be a new one laying. I believe yesterdays egg is from the chickens I just saw lay. She used the nest box where yesterdays was found also. It is also bigger than yesterdays. Pullet did not do egg song after either she just ran out shook then ran up hill to a big mulch pile with some of her friends. If I had not check the nestbox I would have never known that she laid. She is laying at 5pm which is very late but seems like her time. Hmm if she has followers I might have evening fresh egg to make quiche with for dinner. Yuummmy

observation on feed. June 21, 2009

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pullet on top
pullet on top

Here is the picture of that one pullet I mentioned before.  She is persistent that is for sure.  Everytime I now open the brooder to feed which is a few times every day she get out.

Speaking of feed I will not be buying TSC feed again.  As I mentioned before  after two days of using it my brooder room smells and there poops have increases in size 4 fold.  Now this feed is more expensive than what I was feeding and it is bigger crumbles BUT I know from doing research and breeding dogs and cats this food is not all that good.  If out put increases that much in 2 days that means there is alot of filler in the food.  Which means it is passing threw and not being digested.  That means I buying something that the chicks are getting nothing from nutrition wise.
So even though I like the size and the protien level I do not like the waste amount for the money.  So I shall either go back to the feed I was feeding or I will look for another.  I would like to find a good game bird feed but so far no luck on the local level.  Game bird has a higher protien content which is better for the duel purpose breeds.   So I shall keep looking local to see what everyone has for turkey or game bird or waterfowl as all of these have the higher protien I want for my chickens.
I changed the bulb in the lamp from the red heater bulb to a regular light bulb.  It is amazing to see the chicks like that in all there colors.  I notice my one pick male has his beetle green feathers coming in his wings.  I am seeing some slight and I mean really slight variation in colors on the necks.   Some are a bit redder than other but that is it.  Other than that there is not much differance in the group of chicks.  The ofcourse is some size differance which I shall keep an eye on to see how that changes or does not.  As I said before feet will be my forst area to cull on.  For in the Rocks yellow for feet and legs is a must all other must go. 
Still waiting to see who crows first.  Hope I do not have to wait to long.