Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I want Dominique chickens and other Poultry Ponderings

WARNING!!!  Ascending soap box.....

So my Dominique (aka Dominiker) roosters are not Dominique roosters.  They are crosses.  I'm not too disappointed because they will still make tasty dinners.  I would like to share with you why I want Dominique chickens though.  Dominique's are one of the oldest American breeds and they were almost, and still could become extinct.  Many heritage breeds are in danger of becoming extinct.  Why?  Simply because they are a heritage breed.  They grow slow, and this particular breed doesn't lay the most eggs in a year, they don't produce the biggest meat yield and they aren't all that great at being confined.  They do however produce consistent quantity of quality eggs and grow to an adequate size for processing.  They also do all this on a minimum amount of feed, thriving on the riches of the lands around them.  You see, for the big egg producer who wants to get as many eggs as possible in the shortest amount of time, Dominiques just won't do.  For the big poultry producers who want their chickens to grow so fast that by the age of 6 weeks their legs will no longer support them, Dominique's, and other heritage breeds won't do.  So in the heat of the industrial age when more is more and faster is better the Dominique, along with many other heritage breeds, fell by the wayside while new production breeds took their place.  Dominiques are not the breed for factory mass production, but they are perfect for a small farm that wants to provide eggs and meat for their family and possibly a few friends.  They are just right to live off the land.  America has lost so much in the last century.  A frightening loss is the ability for individuals to sustain themselves.  This is mimicked in industry with their unsustainable and extreme breeding practices.  My choice of Dominiques is a stand against more loss of American Heritage and the very independent spirit which began this country.

For more information on endangered Heritage breeds, you can visit

Descending soap box....

My great grandmother, we called her grandmother with the chickens, raised Dominiques.  I didn't know this until I was talking to my grandmother about chickens and she began describing the different kinds they had as kids.  I"m so honored to know that the breed I'm going to raise has roots in my past.  I now know why of all the breeds on the list, this one stuck out.  Somewhere, deep in memory, I can see the speckled chickens in my great grandmothers yard, defining the same spirit of independence and sustainability firmly rooted in her home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sure Fire Cure for Nail Biting

I've been a nail biter my entire life.  I have been utterly, finally and forevermore cured.  Here is how the system works.

Initial steps:
1.  Move to a farm
2.  Obtain Chickens
3.  Obtain Horses

Daily Steps:
1.  Feed chickens
2. Feed Horses.  Make sure your horse feed requires hand mixing.
3.  Clean chicken  house.  Make sure to get ALL the poop.
4.  Groom horses.  Also, visiting them in the barn throughout the day and giving really good scratches to their itchy butts helps in this process.

Now, for the final step.  Forget one time...ONE TIME ....that you are now a farmer and even though you wash your hands and scrub your fingernails more than 5 times a day you will NEVER GET IT ALL!!!!

Nail biting cured.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Introducing the Doms

How you doin'?

These are my new arrivals.
They are supposed to be Dominique Roosters.

However, after much research, I'm not completely convinced.  Their combs are all wrong.

They will still serve their purpose though.

What is the purpose of a rooster you might ask.  It is two fold.  First, they are the look-out and defenders of the flock.  With the loss of Rapunzel, this is  a very good thing, as the flock has now been discovered by predators and they will be sure to return.  These guys are HUGE and could take on a hawk easy.  See the comparison between them and one of the girls?  And she is standing up and flapping her wings.

Second, of...ENCOURAGE egg

How you doing'?
Like with most things in our life recently we want, these guys just fell out of the sky.  I wanted some roosters.  I wanted Dominiques, Jon met a man with Dominique roosters and he said..."Here, have these."  We went to pick them up yesterday and it hasn't been quiet since.  Jon woke me up at 5 this morning. "Do you HEAR that?"  "No." I said sleepily.  But within seconds I picked up on the faint cocka-doodle-do coming from the hen house....oops, I mean chicken house now.  Once I let the flock out it was instant chaos.  These guys had new territory to claim and show of strength and prowess began.  You can see the blood in the pictures on both roosters.  There was a clear and definite winner though, so things have settled down quite a bit as of the writing of this entry.  Now they can turn their attentions to the ladies.....who are more than happy to lend a helping beak doting over their hansom feathers.  It's all pretty sultry and scandalous.  Who needs soap operas when you have chickens?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

RIP Repunzel

It started snowing yesterday,  early afternoon.  I went out to make sure everyone was smart enough to get out of the snow.  Horses were in.  Cats were in.  Chickens were in.  I counted and came up one short though.  Of course it was Punzie.  But she's smart.  I figured she had found a nice cozy space under the house or in the barn and would show up in the morning when I fed them. 

This morning she didn't show.  I went about my chores still thinking she would wobble up and start scratching.  As I was finishing up with the horses, something odd caught my eye out by the far fence.  I dismissed it as just snow.  Something tugged at me to look again.  Though it was cold and early I decided to check it out.  With each step the picture became clearer.  Half way there and I knew what I would find.  When I arrived at the scene I found Rapunzel.  She did not die of the blight which had struck the other chickens.  She was strong, healthy, and adventurous, the later of which cost her her life.  I've now lost my first animal to a predator attack.  It's not a good feeling.  Helplessness.  It's a shame it had to be Punzie.  Pecker Head would have been better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Arrivals 3

I never, in my entire life, in a million years believed I would have these arrivals.  I believed I would have horses.  I believed I would have chickens.  I even believe I'll have milk cow.  But I never believed I would have........


 They grey coated lads are named after Confederate Generals.  The one looking at the camera is Jackson, and the one with the white is Lee.
 It was very hard to get cute pictures of them.  But they are cute.  Especially when they chase leaves.
 So you'll have to live with these.  Lee is a big baby boy and the kids carry him around like a doll.  Jackson doesn't care to be touched. 

Why is it such a stretch for us to have cats?  Well Jon and Eythan are both highly allergic.  I just never thought I would have cats.  Two things prompted me to search them out though. 

First...the overpopulation of feral and unwanted cats.  I wanted to do my part for ugly cats.  These guys came from a home of 19 cats.  They were the boys.  Hopefully the lady will get the gals fixed and she will not have anymore to give away soon. 

Second...mice.  It wasn't long in the new house before we knew we needed cats.  It has actually worked out well for everyone involved.  When I called the lady giving the boys away, she asked if I would take toms.  I said sure and she said "Good, because I was just about to get rid of them."  Not sure exactly what that meant, but one can only guess.  So these guys are spared a certain end and given an outside, no touching by allergic humans, home.

You see the wonderful safe, warm cat house we built them that they are eating on?  They've never been inside it.  They figured out how to get under the house.  And since I've not seen any teeny, tiny, black pellet like presents in my linens or pots and pans since they moved  We decided under is fine.

On another note...I'm up to 4 eggs now.  But I've also lost two more chickens to the mysterious chicken plague of 2010.  We have them on antibiotics now.  Which is ironic since one of the reasons we are raising chickens is for hormone, ANTIBIOTIC FREE, eggs and meat.  But they are of no use dead and I really don't want to see them suffer.

There is also going to be a new arrival this weekend.  I'm not telling you what it is so don't ask.  But feel free to leave a comment with your guess.   I will just say that it is something I really wanted and was going to have to wait.  But as it is with most things we WANT recently, it just fell out of the sky....for strings attached.....along with all the help and advice I could want concerning it. 

Happy guessing!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Arrivals 2

Right before the horses arrived and fulfilled my life long dream, we had 25 new arrivals.  Thus fulfilling an about 2 year old dream.  CHICKENS!!! 

Say Hello to the Girls:

(yes I feed them in a bunt pan)
 They follow me around like.....well...dogs.

(can you spot the dog?)
They LOVE me.

I built them a chicken palace.

With wonderful custom built nest boxes so they can lay me yummy beautiful eggs.

Except that I've only gotten two eggs in two weeks and all they have left me in those perfect nest boxes are nice steaming piles of poop.  LOTS of poop.  NOT good for all.
But that's ok.  Chickens have other uses.  Considering other uses, we are not naming them.  We let the kids pick ONE that is "safe".  This is Rapunzel.

She's different.  When we picked up the girls, Punzie was hanging around so we took her too.  The other chickens don't like her and chase her off.  But that's ok.  We like her.
 I named this one.  I call her Pecker Head.

She's always pecking me.
 This one is Headless. 
 Just kidding.  It's just sleeping.....for now......(insert evil laugh)

This is my crazy husband out in sub freezing weather.....

He's insane.  But whats even stranger is how Tramp loves Caedon.  You see how intent he is on him?

 Stay tuned for more new arrivals!

P.S.  We only have 23 chickens.  We lost two to who knows what in the first week.  They just died in their sleep.  The others seem perfectly fine though....except the headless one.  :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Arrivals 1

It's been a while since I posted.  There are several reasons.  First....the pears.  Second, I lost my card reader so I couldn't post pictures, and it just didn't seem worth telling you all the things happening without the pictures to go along.  Third and most importantly our little homestead has grown by leaps and bounds.  So much so, that I hardly have time to breath much less post. 

Let me start with the last additions.  I start with them because they are a dream come true.

Introducing Lady:

And "The Tramp"

Now these horses are not MINE mine.  I do however have permission to work and ride them, or what ever else I want.  So far they are just being spoiled rotten with carrots and apples but the real work will begin soon as we learn about each other.  My horseman skills are non existent for the most part, so it will be a long road, but one I've wanted to travel my whole life.  I'm so excited!!!

Lady is very friendly.  She follows you around in the pasture and really loves the attention of people.  Tramp is a little more stand offish, but he's coming around.  He really loves Caedon for some reason.....maybe because they match each others energy.  Who knows. 

I'll tell you about our other arrivals in other posts. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Death by Pears?

This does not include jars I've given away, or, um, eaten
(Left Pyramid: Pear Preserves; Middle Pyramid: Top-Pear Preserves, Second from Top: Pear Preserves, Third from Top: Pear Butter, Bottom: Pear Sauce; Right Pyramid: Top: Pear Sauce, Bottom : pear butter and Pear Preserves)

And miles to go before I sleep.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello New house! Oh how I love you!

So very....



Monday, October 25, 2010

Good bye old I hated you....


 Maybe you weren't too bad.......
 You had your charms.
NO, I really, really hate you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pickin' Pears

The pears were ripe.  We've been ignoring them for a week while we worked on the new house.  So we got up with the sun today.

It was a nice cool morning.  We made it to the pears before the wasps did, so the kids helped with out complaining.
 A roosters crowed from the farm up the street.
 Birds squabbled over some morsel in the trees near us.
 Somewhere a woodpecker was making a home or searching for bugs
 New calves bawled from across the pasture.
 Mama cows bellowed back.
 The kids laughter filled the little valley where our ramshackle house leans.
 This was a new adventure for them.  And they loved it.
 We haven't found a church here yet.
 But this is as close to God as I've felt in a long time.
 I'm going to be pretty busy with canning these soon.
 And this is what the tree looks like AFTER we picked. 
It was time to let the wasps have their turn.