Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Month: November 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Imprinting on Adult Ducks

Ducks! We tried to have ducks before but when the massacre hit,read about that here, they were too expensive to get again right away. Thankfully we had friends a few months later who were switching duck breeds and needed to re-home their Muscovy full grown ducks. Four females and one papa male were going to be coming to live with us.

Dog crates can be used for more than just dogs :)

Dog crates can be used for more than just dogs 🙂

Now when dealing with Muscovy ducks remember that they can fly! So before we loaded them up from our friends farm, I was taught how to clip their wings so they wouldn’t fly away the second they got released from the crate. While the ducks were in the van the Littles and I fashioned together a temporary home from dog fencing.

The turkeys were not fans of having to share their half of the coop

The turkeys were not fans of having to share their half of the coop

Nailed together a chunk of 2×4 with three pieces that were cut out of the chicken coop wall when we originally made windows.

2x4 used as a corner brace

2×4 used as a corner brace

It wasn’t super sturdy but we added a brick on top and it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere.

IMG_3657

Also know that full grown ducks need time to imprint on their new house and of course you, the poop picker upper and feed dispenser. Chickens can get put on the roost at night, be released the next day and come home that night no questions asked.  Ducks on the other hand need two weeks. That’s right TWO WEEKS! This was the longest two weeks ever.

IMG_3659

This is where they lived for two weeks until the perfect day and time that I would open the door and they would spread their wings and run around so happy to be free from their pen. Or so I imagined….

IMG_3713Instead that moment was a complete let down! It took almost five minutes for these ducks to even consider leaving their pen. I guess the imprinting worked haha Eventually they did leave and learned that they had a whole seven acres to roam.

finally able to stretch their wings

finally able to stretch their wings

Over all I am very happy that we followed instructions and kept them locked up to complete the imprinting process, but don’t expect a huge wonderful joyful migration once released. Currently the ducks still always come home, sleep in the same place and are not super big fans of the kiddie pool pond we set up for them.

Have you ever gotten an animal and had to imprint on it?

PS I always think of the Twilight Saga when I hear the word imprinting. What do you think of?

Becoming A Wood Hoarder

When starting to do any projects around the homestead wood is almost the number one material and that material is soooooo expensive. So when we moved out here I started thinking of all of the cool projects to do but instead ran into a really big materials bill. So….onto the internet I went trying to find something that could help. Have you heard of Craigslist?

Now, Craigslist and me are tight. I LOVE shopping on Craigslist. Almost everything I get rid of goes on Craigslist. If you too love Craigslist or are thinking of trying it, make sure to be safe and bring someone with you. I have multiple saved searches on Craigslist that send me emails when someone posts about it.  Very cool feature. Well, wood is one of my saved searches. Let me rephrase, FREE wood with in a fifteen mile radius from me. Most posts are a few pallets, some scraps from someone else’s project, or broken down fences. Although, every once in a while someone posts a BUTTLOAD of wood.

Most often I don’t have the Hubby’s truck so I have to pass, but one day the stars aligned and my wish was granted. I had the Hubby’s truck, the Hubby, and a post showing a butt load of wood only minutes from our house. After loading up the Littles we went to go get it. Now not all of this wood was usable but the polite thing to do was take the bad with the good. The couple that had hoarded acquired all of this wood was so ready to get rid of it that they let us load up their truck too and followed us back home so it could be done in one trip. After we dumped the wood in our driveway it became an instant eye sore to the Hubby.

Now you can see why. 1/4 of it became fire wood, 1/4 went in the dumpster, and the other half was definitely salvageable. Then about a month later we re-purposed an old shed into a working chicken coop and all that extra wood went to a special place. That’s right, my wood pile!

I love my Costco hat. Not super flattering but this hat stays on and gives me plenty of shade 🙂

The Hubby was again not pleased because the pile kept growing and it was the first thing he saw when getting home. Also it was a bit of a hazard to the Littles because most of the wood was filled with nails or screws. So most of the afternoons were spent ripping out nails and having the Littles gather them up in a tin can. Don’t worry they had to wear their gardening gloves when helping.

Now it became a bigger priority with so much wood there. So another month and a half later the Littles and I finally moved the last piece out of the driveway and up against the fire-place from the abandoned foundation. **Our first choice of where to put the wood was under our patio cover until a friend told me about black widows liking wood, and if it was up against the house then that would be an easy way for them to get in the house. YUCK!!! Just FYI**

I LOVE IT!!!

I LOVE IT!!!

I don’t know about you but this beautiful wood pile makes me super happy. It just screams “Build Something!” Now we just need power tools of our own to actually make the things I’ve pinned all over my Pinterest. Feel free to hop on over to my Pinterest account and check out some of them.

Stay tuned for those projects and let me know if, what, and how you became a hoarder?

 

Our (Wannabe) Livestock Guardian Dogs

Upon coming to the homestead I got introduced to the concept of a livestock guardian dog (LGD). Seeing as we had nothing but chickens we weren’t ready to invest in a real purebred LGD. Instead we went to an event in the Mall by the Humane Society and found ourselves the cutest most adorablest had to have …….. PUPPY!

She was an 8 week old, German shepherd, Australian shepherd, border collie mix, (or so they think from her looks). Her name was given by the shelter, Ellie, and she practically trained herself.

Apparently chickens use the bell system too!

We used a bell system to let us know when she had to use the outdoors and she only ever had a couple of accidents in the house. She became like our chickens, Free Range. But there was something missing, a partner. Ellie got a bit lonely so two weeks later we picked her up a buddy, Bella the Newfoundland.

she slept all the time!

Now this breed is on the LGD breed scale but the question arose “Was Bella from a working dog line?” So we called up the original owners and found out she came from a working farm!!! But her parents were the laziest dogs…..NOOOO!!!!!

It all started going down hill from there. Chewing, nibbling the Littles, chasing the chickens, peeing everywhere, this all continued until the unfortunate happened. Two thirds of the chickens died from the neighbors dog and Bella’s rampage. I know there is a chance I could have trained it all out of her, but with three Littles under the age of four I mentally was not there. If it was during any other season of life I would have considered keeping her, but it wasn’t so we found Bella a home (without chickens) and continued on with just the one dog, Ellie, and things calmed back down.

she hated the car

When considering a Livestock Guardian Dog know that BREED matters, PARENTS matters, and your willingness to TRAIN them matters. Even though breed does play a big role in all of it, know that personality trumps it all. Eventually we will acquire a real LGD but until that time comes, a good farm dog will have to do.

helping dig the new tree holes

Ellie quickly became an excellent farm dog, she kept coyotes away and only bothered the chickens when she wanted to eat the scraps I gave them or drink out of their waterer. The turkeys would climb all over her, the feral cat kept her company, and the newest kittens learned that she was their friend and only wanted to play. Unfortunately our fence was not up to par, our entrance gate didn’t work, and Ellie had discovered she could get out.

On the morning she figured out there was a way out she tried to follow me out of our driveway, I stopped and put her back and the Hubby kept her from running. Later on that day as we picked the fruit on our fence line my heart dropped. I heard a huge thud and ran to find that Ellie had been ran over by a car and the car didn’t even stop. She died on impact. We promptly buried her, said our goodbyes and spent the rest of the night crying (ok I was the only one crying), and talking about how good of a girl Ellie was and how she was in Heaven with Jesus, if you are not a believer that is OK, but we are and like the eldest Little likes to say, “Great Grandpa is taking care of Ellie until we get up there ourselves”. We will miss her dearly and I miss having that security she brought us.

She is even more behaved then the chickens 😛

One day another dog will come to live on the homestead, but until that day we will be fixing the fence, making sure the gate will shut, and saving up to be prepared financially.

Have you ever had a farm dog or Livestock Guardian Dog? I hope your story ended better than ours, do tell 🙂

 

Butchering A Chicken

Taking a class for butchering a chicken and having the instructor walk you through the whole process makes you feel invincible.  Give me a hundred chickens, no problem! Processing a chicken at home with three Littles under five years old…well that feeling has no words.

I decided that today was going to be the day no matter what. Three Littles, an ax and a stump were all we needed.

****Disclaimer: This does get a little graphic, the chicken was treated with respect, killed humanely, and no kids were harmed or handled sharp objects during the whole process****

Step 1: Watch YouTube videos on how people do it to refresh your memory on the exact science of it all. Personally I loved this video and found it very helpful since we were butchering a two-year old chicken.  jnull0’s awesome descriptions and how to

Good Bye BIg Mama

Good Bye BIg Mama

Step 2: Have everyone say Thank you and Good Bye. This step is mainly if you are doing it with little kids, spiritual or connected with the animal.

Step 3: End the life of the chicken in a humane way. We chose to chop its head off. Other ways are snapping the neck and slicing the throat. Quick and to the point.

sharp ax and a stump

sharp ax and a stump (don’t mind the grungy clothes and flip-flops)

Having the eldest Little help hold while stringing up the twine

Having the eldest Little help hold while stringing up the twine

helping clean up and totally grossed out

middle Little helping clean up and totally grossed out

Step 4: Drain the blood. Hang the chicken upside down and get out as much blood into a bucket for the compost pile or cooking. I did not cook with it, but I know it can be done. If you don’t want to use it in the compost then there is not much blood, just let it go into the ground and put some dirt on it.

make a noose with twine to hang the feet

make a knot with twine to hang the feet

2015.09.04 butchering the first chicken 15

Step 5: Skin or pluck the feathers. With young chickens, the boiling method is great. Boil some water in a big pan and dip the bird in for about  15 seconds getting the water between all the feathers. Then sit and pluck the feathers out, pretty simple. With an old hen the feathers are SUPER hard to pull out. the boiling method can work but pliers will still be needed to pull out most of them. If you don’t mind not having any skin on the bird just start at  the feet, make a slit all the way down to the neck and then pull the skin down. Be careful near the vent because you do not want to break what I call the poop pipe. This is where are the waste/poop comes out and is attached at the vent.

start with the feet and move down

start with the feet and move down

Step 6: Cut off the feet and neck and proceed to pulling out the insides without cutting the poop pipe! Just reach in and start grabbing all the organs. Pull gently to not break any of them. The intestine is long so make sure you pull slowly and get all the organs that come out with it. Then when the poop pipe is being pulled on (part of the intestine that connects to the vent) just cut off the vent and throw it away. Sorry but anatomy is not my strong suit.

Gorss! A farmer's gotta do what a farmer's gotta do!

Gross! A farmer’s gotta do what a farmer’s gotta do!

Step 7: Cover and let it sit for 24 hours in the fridge.

I love the press n seal wrap! Saran wrap and I are not friends.

I love the press n seal wrap! Saran wrap and I are not friends.

Step 8: Cook and Enjoy! An old hen should be boiled and slow cooked ALL DAY, the meat will be very tough. A young chicken can be used just like normal.

Step 9: Remember a bit of bleach and warm water goes a long way in cleaning up raw meat. Just don’t do what I did…drop the iPhone in the cleaner.

Don't forget to have the bag of rice ready for when the phone goes plunging into a bowl of bleach water for cleaning up.

Don’t forget to have the bag of rice ready for when the phone goes plunging into a bowl of bleach water.

Did this help you know how to butcher a chicken? Any questions please let me know.

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