Monday, January 31, 2011

Preparedness Checklist

Barry Update:  He's still alive.  Seems to have more energy each day, but with the weather coming on, I hope he's strong enough.

One of the reasons Jon and I want to have a "farm", is preparedness. On our travels to disaster areas in the U.S. we saw what happens to people and society when individuals are not prepared.  I think the governments disaster relief efforts were astounding and they did a great job of getting food and supplies to devastated areas.  However, when almost everyone in an area, be it metropolitan or otherwise, is unprepared the consequences are almost insurmountable.  The lines to get food, and not a lot of it, took hours if not days to get through.  Drinkable water was still scarce even with public and private relief efforts combined.  The chaos, even in rural areas, that we witnessed started us thinking.  How prepared are we?  And should we rely on someone else for our survival? Of course this line of thinking took us, along with our disgust of modern food production, to creating our own self sustaining utopia of sorts.

Except we're not prepared.

There is a massive winter storm headed in tonight, and we find ourselves in a miserable state.  We have a generator (check), but no gasoline or money to get gasoline to run it(not check).  We have drinking water (check), for about 2 days(not check).  We have food to last quite a while (check), but no way to heat it with the generator dry (not check).  Of course we do have a fire pit we could cook on(check), if we had bothered to haul any wood to the covered porch where it wouldn't get drenched by the coming storm (not check).  I've got chickens!(check)  But they aren't laying because they are deathly ill!!!  (not check)  And horses(check) that are unrideable(not check).  But the chickens do have feed and heat lamps so they'll be fine(check). The horses have feed and shelter (check).  And I did make several loaves of bread and stew up a chicken so we will be ok for several days(check).  And we made some great friends who live very close and have kids the same age AND a wood burning stove(check).  All our cell phones are charged(check).  AND we can learn from our mistakes (check, check, check!).

So we have lots to think about before next year.  I think number one on our list is to get a wood burning stove.  But like my mother-in-law told me and Jon when we got married.  You can't have it all, right now.  It takes time to acquire things.  I guess utopias are the same way.  They must take time to acquire.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Barry Update

I've been checking on Barry on and off since yesterday.  I went in to reboot the laundry and looked out the back door.  I could see a pile of feathers right inside the chicken coop door.  My heart fell.   As I rushed to get my boots on I was still hopeful.  I had seen him eating yesterday and this morning.  Eating is a good sign.  I went around the house (still can't get out of the back door because of the sewer mess) and looked in the coop.  Barry and Not Barry were both laying there....sunning themselves.  It was still obvious that Barry is not well but he was still breathing but he wouldn't open his eyes.  I scooped him up.  He is so thin.  I got one of the kids to bring me a wet rag and I cleaned the goop off.  When I put him down he growled at me and strutted around at the indignity of being handled.  He also ate a little.  Keep praying.  We're not out of the woods yet, but at least he still has some fire in him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Drama

Please Pray for Barry.  He is really sick.  I'm afraid we might lose him.  We already lost one chicken this week to a hawk.  The other girls were so afraid they hid in the barn for hours cowering.  Barry and Not Barry were in the coop....NOT doing their jobs.  Now I feel bad I yelled at Barry for letting the hawk get one of the girls.  Poor thing was under the weather.  Just pray.  Don't think there is anything else we can do for him we haven't already done.

The reason is I think he has Fowl Pox.  Not chicken pox.  People get chicken pox and chickens get fowl pox.  Wouldn't it be funny if chicken's got people pox?  Anyway, not ever having chickens before I thought the little black spots on the previous chickens combs were normal.  Then I got the Barry and Not Barry and they didn't have black spots.  Now they have black spots and all the other symptoms of fowl pox.  Hopefully they are strong enough to survive.  It is a viral infection so the antibiotics I was giving them are useless.  I will have to vaccinate any new chicks or chickens I get for the next year as the virus can live in the soil for several months.

We're also missing a cat.  I don't think there is such a thing as cat pox.  Lee just disappeared.  He was everyone's favorite too. Not a good day on the homestead for favorites. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Most requested post....The House

Here it is.....

The post you have all been asking for.....

What our house looks like now, finished.

It's just really, REALLY hard, now that we LIVE in it, to get it clean enough for pictures. 

But with out further adieu.

Our House

 Envy the designer window treatments!  I said ENVY!!!!

 This is what I get to wake up to every morning.......
Doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Farmer means.....

Digging your own sewer line.
P.s.  That's not melt off from the snow.

P.P.s  I realize I look like total crap.  But crap begets crap.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicken Virgin

We did it.  We finally gave it up.  It just never seemed to be the right time or the opportunity just didn't present itself.  But things changed with our new arrivals and the issue could not be ignored.  So we got it all set up so it would be perfect.  We wanted to minimize the pain as much as possible and we knew it would be awkward the first time.  We said a little prayer and thanked God for this gift.  Then we began.  The first time was hard.  We just didn't get it quite right.  But finally the little guy relaxed and then it was over.  There wasn't as much blood as I thought there would be. The second time was much easier and much quicker as well.  Of course the next steps were just messy and were not as easy as they make it look on the videos.  Especially getting all that stuff out.  We'll be doing it a a lot more come spring, so it's bound to get easier.  Jon thinks if he had better tools it would make a HUGE difference in the process.  I agree.

But now we are no longer chicken virgins.  We've processed our first two roosters.  You live and you learn.  But could someone please tell me where the heck the crop is?   I can't find the stinkin' crop!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cuckoo Marans

What  I was trying to tell Barry before....well...before.  Was that upon a little more research once the new hens arrived, we now know what kind of chickens they are.  The new hens came from the same home as Barry and the other rooster.  We have determined that they are Cuckoo Marans, not Dominiques.  Jon of course can't tell the difference but he hasn't spent hours researching breeds either.  The difference between Cukcoo Marnans and Dominiques is, most notably, their combs.  Marans have single combs (click here to see an image of the Cuckoo Maran).  Dominiques have rose combs (click here to see an image of the Dominique).  Also the Maran has white legs (which can be feathered) and beak, where the Dominique had yellow legs and beak.  There are also subtle differences in body build.  I've already mentioned in previous posts the unique characteristics of the Dominique; foundational American stock, hearty foragers, and endangered species.  One thing that is unique about the Maran is it's egg color, which is what put the final nail in the coffin for determining our new chickens breed.  Marans lay the darkest eggs of any chicken breed (click here to see comparisons)  Here is our chicken eggs:
(yes that's lard melting...don't you judge me)

Mystery solved.

On a more economical note, I'm getting 1-2 eggs a day consistently from 4 hens!!  I was getting maybe 1 a day with the previous 17.  I can't tell you the amount of feed I'm saving.  I think I won't have to buy another bag for a year at this rate.  And the taste?  Superb!!!!  It is very interesting but these hens eggs are so much more rich and hearty than the others.  I think I may be becoming an egg connoisseur.  I can't wait to taste Dominique eggs!!  If they don't compare....I may have to change breeds. 

One more thing I like more about the Marans than the Red Stars I had previously, is how much more personality they have.  They are more daring, more curious, more....well....personable.  Compared to the new girls, the Red Stars were zombies. 


Should I care about chicken personalities?!

I think I'm traveling down a dark road here that there will be no turning back from.

Farmer Beware!

Thursday, January 13, 2011




I'm so

                 no             dy.....
Ain't                bo-

to                   own.                  
-------record scratch------
Barry: Hello, Ladies
                      Feelin'      f-
          been                           i-                           by.
I've                                              ne     Ba-

Me: Barry, meet your new ladies

Barry:  Lovely, lovely, ladies.

Me: Barry.  Barry! Would you listen to me?!

Me: Bar-ry!!!!  Bary!  Oh God Barry Get a room!!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We had a snow "storm" on Sunday.
That was beautiful.

Last night it was COLD.  This is what we woke up to.

A frozen lake.

Except for one small pool in the middle.

There must have been fifty plus ducks and geese crowded in there.

Most of them flew away when I got cloes enough to get a good picture though.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bye, Bye Birdies......

Attention all farm animals! 

It has come to my attentions that SOME of you are not pulling your own weight around here. 

There are some simple economic principles that must be followed for your presence to be required, pray, needed here on the homestead.  First and foremost: if you eat feed, you must return a usable product.

Settle down ladies.

Seeing as only a few of you hens are returning a viable product, yet feed consumption is at a maximum, there will be some changes made.  Namely, I've sold you.
"You can't take my lady loves."

But I am Barry.....I am.  Don't worry though.  You won't be lonely for long, and you serve your purpose well.
"What about us?"


You provide a very valuable, yet intangible service. Yes, very, um, valuable.
Let me see.
Anyway, ladies, you will be leaving at noon for a new homestead.  Let's just keep this all business here.  Remember it's nothing personal.  You have been great additions here, but I just can't justify your positions anymore.  Thank you for your patience with me as this was my first time to manage such a flock......
Hello! I'm trying to say good bye...can you take your head out of the food for one second?  This is JUST what I'm trying to.....never mind.  Meeting adjourned.