Easter Eggers

IMG_5513We have welcomed a new batch of chicks to the Funny Farm! I purchased 10 Easter Eggers from another homeschooling mama friend. I usually like to start a batch of baby chicks in the fall, because they will start laying just as the days get longer in the spring. But a friend hatched these out, and I only had one Americauna laying, so the timing was just right. These chicks are almost a month old and have all their feathers. Ruthie has claimed a silver one and named her “Sofia”. Can’t wait to see the beautiful eggs these ladies will lay!IMG_5516

chicken processing

bought 51 chicks for $1 a piece at tractor supply good friday. We butchered 26 chickens. I lost 10 chickens in the last week because of the heat. The one day I lost 5 because they would not drink any water for some reason. It was a very costly week. All that organic feed down the drain.

 

Why I love Buff Orpingtons

I have a love/hate relationship with chickens. I love their eggs. I hate their poop. I love to watch them scratch in the yard. I hate to watch them scratch in my garden. Chickens were the first thing we added to our homestead, six years ago. And we will never be without at least a few feathered friends. IMG_5348But this particular breed of chicken, the Buff Orpington, is one of my favorites of the barnyard. They are a beautiful pale yellow color and they make the best mamas. Whenever we have a hen go broody and hatch out a clutch of eggs, it’s always a Buff O. This new mama is a cross. Her mama is a pure bred Buff. Her daddy is a beautiful Americauna. They live in the pasture, scratching for grubs all day. They don’t come down to the coop/roost area at all. Last spring we were surprised with a batch of little baby chicks. Most wandered away and, I surmise, met with a fateful death. But this one stuck around. Still in the pastures, not in the coop. And now she has surprised us with her own little brood of chicks. IMG_5349I love this picture of her making sure all her babes are lined up. I don’t think there’s much cuter than a little yellow fluff ball. IMG_5352

Make way for ducklings

IMG_4302Jeremie came home from tractor supply with a spring batch of broilers and…surprise, two ducks! Every farm animal is cuteness X 100 as a baby and these ducks and chicks are no exception.IMG_4292 Knowing they will grow stinky and ugly, until their real feathers come in, we enjoy them and cuddle them in this “fluffy ball” stage.  IMG_4296

Chooks

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

Remember that cute little egg hut that sits at the end of our driveway? Well, keeping it stocked is proving harder than we thought! We have a waiting list of people wanting eggs from us. With 45 chickens of various ages, I thought we’d have plenty to share. But lately I’ve been caught without breakfast grub, because we have sold all of our eggs! So I found a farm in McKenzie that was selling 3 month old pullets (girl chickens that are not yet laying) for a reasonable price.IMG_9811 While not the prettiest chicken you ever laid eyes on, these girls are a cross-breed between Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rock, both good laying breeds. They should begin laying eggs in the next couple of weeks.

We tagged their legs so we can tell which are the youngest chicks in our flock when it comes time to cull the old hens.

We tagged their legs so we can tell which are the youngest chicks in our flock when it comes time to cull the old hens.

We are all about customer satisfaction here at the Funny Farm. Oh yeah, and about eating a farm fresh breakfast everyday ourselves, as well!IMG_9816

Eggs for sale

IMG_8956Every year we think about setting up an egg selling stand at the end of our driveway. At the height of egg season it would be nice to sell the surplus, rather than feed them to the pigs. We do sell some to friends and such, but Jeremie has been building a little hut for me to sell more of them on the honor system.

Jeremie really enjoys having Susie's company while he works. He even lets her sit in the shade!

Jeremie really enjoys having Susie’s company while he works. He even lets her sit in the shade!

It fits a little fridge that was just laying around and it will have shelves above for any extra produce I want to sell. Out here in the country eggs are a dime a dozen, but every little bit helps. I cringe when I remember how much I used to pay for eggs when we lived up north. A friend has also started selling our eggs at the farmer’s market so hopefully it will grow into a nice little business for my egg-girl, Susie.

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

Finger-licking good

DSCF7088From farm to table. That is our goal. Fresh, local food, raised in our own backyard. For the collective memory… 75 broilers ($1.79 each) , 1100# of organic food from KOFFI (18 bags of 22% @ 24.50 each, 4 bags of 19% @ 23.22 each). Slaughtered at 10 weeks of age. BroilersDrying2Tommy always does “the deed”. He got a new victonix butchering knife for Christmas and that worked great. Jeremie does the de-feathering and scalding. Our new plucker that we bought with a couple friends worked great, after minor adjustments. Mama does the evisceration. But I’m working myself out of a job. I taught Susie and Charlotte how to clean out the innards and they did a great job. They told me next time I can sit on the deck and watch them do all the chickens. We’ll see. Mia and Katie and Benja rinse the birds and bag them up. Many hands make light work.

These are birds from the last time we butchered. But they pretty much look the same  every time.

These are birds from the last time we butchered. But they pretty much look the same every time.

Diesel powered chicken tractor

IMG_8008Every year that we run broilers in tractors, Jeremie makes some kind of improvement to their housing or feeding situation. The first year we ran broilers in our orchard we used an upcycled baby playpen. It kept falling over, the birds got all wet when it rained. We were constantly chasing chickens back into their pen. It was almost comical. Almost. Then Jeremie made a chicken tractor out of PVC with a metal roof. That proved to be very easy for moving chicks and keeping them in their pen. But the metal roof made it a bit heavy to pull through the long pasture grass. Now we have a chicken tractor with roofing made of recycled campaign signs. They are nice and light, keep the rain out, and provide shade in the hot summer months. These tractors are much easier to move around. We have hung bell waterers up in each tractor so to water the chickens each day we only need to fill a five gallon bucket on top. That’s quick, easy and keeps the chickens in fresh cool water all day. Now feeding them was rather unpleasant. These guys are eating machines. When we would reach in to get their feeder to refill, the birds would attack our arms, pecking and looking for food. And sometimes they would fly over the top of their cage in the excitement. I really hate chasing chickens around the pasture.IMG_8004 Jeremie has now made this gravity fed chicken feeder out of PVC pipe that we can refill from the outside of the pen. It has 6 openings cut into the bottom for the chickens to eat out of. I’m sure Jeremie will do a post with all the specific measurements and such, so check back if you’re interested. I’m not sure if you can see how it is put together because the chickens weren’t cooperating when I asked them to move out of the way for pictures. They wanted to model how well the feeder works.

The chickens are a little wet in the picture because I had just filled the water and my hose was leaking all over the place!

The chickens are a little wet in the picture because I had just filled the water and my hose was leaking all over the place!

With the PVC pipes coming out of the top of the tractor is reminds me of a high powered diesel tractor! The birds have been so happy and healthy this time around. Running broilers in any kind of containment is always messy and smelly. But these birds have grown really nicely, keeping all their feathers. I’ve seen them aggressively eating at bugs and that tall yellow buttercup weed. We are feeding them organic broiler feed from a feed mill in Ky. Only a couple more weeks and these guys will be in the freezer. The benefit of having that chicken waste on the pastures does wonders for the diverse grasses and weeds that grow there.

The perfect hard boiled egg

The perfect hard boiled egg is not boiled at all, it seems. It is steamed. Fancy that!! My family loves deviled eggs. I mean each kid could eat a dozen without batting an eye. But usually it is so difficult to peel the hard boiled eggs! And if I used our fresh eggs then it was even harder. Sometimes I even resorted to buying store bought eggs, just to ensure that they were a couple months old. Because I had read that really fresh eggs wouldn’t peel nicely, no matter what.  I was perusing pinterest the other day and came across an article that recommended steaming eggs, instead of boiling them. It just so happens that tomorrow we are going to a dinner and have volunteered to bring deviled eggs :) It was the perfect time to try out this new-fangled method. Lo and behold! It works! I put the eggs in the steamer basket insert of my large stock pot. A metal colander would work as well. After the water came to a boil, I put the lid on for 25 minutes. After the timer rang, I rinsed the eggs with cold water to cool them down immediately. Voila’ – the perfectly peeled egg. Dozens of them. Ready to be deviled. Such an easy trick! Now, I only have to remember not to over-salt the filling. Right, Joyful Mother?IMG_7078

These are fresh from the coop, my friends! Didn’t they peel beautifully?