Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Category: Chickens and Poultry (page 1 of 3)

The ups and downs and everything in between for poultry

2016 Homestead Management Printables

***This is a review for the 2016 Homestead Management Printables that Quinn over at Reformation Acres put together. I was not paid for this review and all of the thoughts are my own. If you just want the meat of the review scroll down until you see stars.***

For those that have been following from the beginning you know that the beginning wasn’t that long ago. October 2015 (the end to be honest) was when our blog started. Before that we only had chickens for a couple of months and a somewhat of a sad garden and now we have dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, better plans for a garden and the pigs will get here in a couple of months.
With the chickens there was not much record keeping to do. They were little, had no eggs and I knew about how much feed I would need a month and I just budgeted accordingly. Now there is production flowing out our ears. Baby goats due in a month which means milk coming in, almost every chicken is laying, half the ducks are sitting on eggs, and it seems that I have been really bad about record keeping.

Now in my defense I really was trying but using a pen and lined paper was just not cutting it. I felt like things were missing, everything was getting put together when it should be separate, there was no direction to my unorganized chaos and there needed to be. That is when I stumbled upon a heaven-sent printable package over at Reformation Acres Quinn has made a full scope homesteading printables package. When I first saw it I thought it would have the basics, chickens, goats, pigs and cows. Then upon further investigation it also has gardening printables and my FAVORITE PART……..

a seed sowing calendar!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last years garden was so sad even though I tried to plan well for it. I believe that if I had these printable and sowing calendars then things would have gone a lot smoother. Knowing the exact dates of when to soak seeds and start them indoors and harden off and transplant them is such a load off of my mind that I don’t have to figure it all out I feel really confident that this year we will be a much happier garden and gardener. If you want to know about our garden adventures click over here to read about that.  Otherwise I will keep going.

****the meat of the review****

There are pages for all of the animals we have, so we are able to document expenses and production with no hassles and there are even pages that make the Hubby not too happy….there are ones for meat chickens… cows…. rabbits…. and bees….Oh those pages are just calling to me “Please start raising us so you can write down all the expenses and production” haha yes I know I am a bit crazy and I am trying really hard to just stick with what we have now and get good at it then expand but these printables are so cute and fun and I really love beef and honey…I’ve only had rabbit once out on the trail but I want to start them anyways!

 

So long story short 2016 is going to be an organized year thanks to these fun and clear printables that Quinn put together. Now I know that I am all about penny-pinching and spending money is not something I like to do but when it comes to something that will truly help the homestead out and is very reasonably priced I just can’t say no. For the time and effort that Quinn at Reformation Acres put into these printables I gladly paid the high price (just kidding) of $5.99. I would pay that price just for the seed sowing calendar that is included.

Now I know that not everyone has all the crazy amount of animals that I do, or the amount that Quinn has, but even if you are starting out with a garden or a few chickens these printables can work for you and maybe even encourage you to start adding more ways to help you get back to the basics of living.

Rain on the Homestead

It’s raining……..do I write the clothesline post………it’s raining………write about the rain instead haha

That was my mentality while writing this post. Here in sunny Southern California we have RAIN. Not a sprinkle but it is puddling and flooding all over the property :/

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I parked…stepped into the puddle…pulled my car forward more and then got the Littles out

Now the most rain I remember getting while growing up was back in high school. It rained for a week straight and all of the walkway drains got backed up and there were huge puddles across the paths and single file lines next to the buildings to try to pass in the few feet that were not inches deep with water. You always knew someone was going to be in big trouble if they got to class late because they went straight through the puddle that was at least mid calf high.

OK, I know, enough down memory lane! All of that is written to express how much I am not used to rain where we live. If and when it does rain, it is normally during May/June and its one good down pour then it sprinkles. Since we moved out to the country last year we have been introduced to hail, snow about twenty minutes away, thunder storms, rain in the summer (yes I let the Littles play in it), and now down pour after down pour. It is said (by who I am not really sure but everyone keeps saying that, I’m just kidding haha some weather person must have said it but I do not really follow the weather channel, I know what the weather is like by looking out the window haha anyways…) this year will be a crazy el nino year. Oh My Gosh! I am not ready for this much rain!

the chickens aren't ready for this much rain either. Hiding under our back covering.

the chickens aren’t ready for this much rain either. Hiding under our back covering.

Don’t get me wrong I love chai tea and sitting on the couch to read a book with a blanket and cuddling with my furry babies and husband and listening to the rain with the window open a tiny bit all the way.

haha totally staged :P look at the rain drops on my sweater.

haha totally staged look at the rain drops on my sweater, but there really was tea and this is my favorite book

But that does not happen here on the homestead! I mean seriously that is in fantasy land. With three Littles under five, a puppy, chickens, and now pregnant goats this mama is not getting to sit on the couch any time soon. I know it sounds like it but really I am not complaining, I love having all these animals and I love my psycho kids but those days of relaxing  and listening to the rain are about fifteen years away, (5475 days), haha not like I am counting.

don't mind the shopping cart the littlest Little loves to leave out his toys

don’t mind the shopping cart the littlest Little loves to leave out his toys

OK OK back to the homestead. So our goat shed/chicken coop thinks that when it rains it needs to absorb all of the water and keep it in this massive puddle under all of the bedding! Seriously! Just look at the water!

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inside the shed/coop

So while I was checking on all the animals I decided while wearing my flip flops I should jump over a massive puddle……what was I thinking? It was only by the grace of God that I did not fall backwards and land in the said ginormous puddle. Stepping stones just might be in my future, and if you read along with the blog then they will be in your future too!

the water is up to my toes

the water is up to my toes

Now, one should never complain (again not complaining just sharing my thoughts on the topic) unless one has a way to fix it. I was relieved to see this article that someone posted on a Facebook group stating where to find free sand bags. Just google free sand bags in your area. Turns out during crazy weather fire stations will provide sand and bags and all you need to do is show up (preferably with a buddy) and a shovel and make your own, do call ahead to make sure. Fill the bag about half way with sand and instead of tying them just fold over the top and place it flap side down. This way they are nice and flat and will fit nicely together.

she knows how to keep dry :)

she knows how to keep dry 🙂

Since it is raining right now and I have all the Littles by myself, I am not getting my sand bags today haha but hopefully once it all dries out I will go fill quite a few sand bags to place around the shed/coop and be more prepared for the next rain. Also rain gutters or a roof extension will most likely be in the shed/coops future. So stay tuned.

Staying cozy together

Staying cozy together

All of the above was mentioned for fun. The main point of this post is to let you know that rain is a battle that we must conquer. For me it is fighting to keep home base dry for the animals with sand bags and a longer roof. Duel accepted! Rain you are going down. (haha I crack myself up!)

What does your rain battle look like? 🙂

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.

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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.

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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?

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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