We still have some work to do on the barn and a fence to put up... plus the task of learning all about goats that we can but I'm pretty sure they will help teach us as we go along. Hopefully these two kids will be coming home in a week. They are just as lively as a puppy. We went to hang out with our new friends Tracy and Lindsay today that we met when they saw a craigslist add i posted for thinning out some chickens and it turns out that not all people on craigslist are crazy.. They are such nice people and they are going to cut us a deal on the goats. It's good to meet people in the same business of such projects.. not only do you get to share ideas and see what works best from someone with experience but we also agreed to be on call to babysit for each other when we want to get away for a while. Were all into camping in the summer months and owning so many animals makes it hard to get away even for family emergencies when the animals depend on us everyday. Something you don't really think about until it's too late. For instance my grandfather passed away this past thanksgiving and it was a nightmare trying to arrange all the details to get out of here and to Detroit for 4 days. We made a series of videos of how to take care of the animals and left them on our computer for the caretaker we were lucky to find but had no animal experience. Thankfully everything worked out but you can't help but worry about your kids.
We went to Big - R today with the intentions of just picking up some chicken feed and supplies and found they had Baby chicks, ducks, turkeys and rabbits for sale. They shouldn't be allowed to do this.. You know how hard it is to turn down something as cute as a baby duck? Needless to say we ended up leaving with two Geese and 6 baby ducks. Luckily we have all the other supplies to keep them growing. They are in our back room inside a cattle water tub with a heat lamp right now until they get old enough. They are only a week old right now so we have to keep them warm and sheltered. We surely didn't wake up thinking we were gonna have 8 new kids. :D
We're getting ready to bring home two new baby goats within the next couple of weeks and we've been finding a use for all the free stuff we been finding on craigslist that's been piling up in the yard -- I knew it would all come in handy. The pile is getting smaller now. We're not master craftsman by any means but we've been winging it pretty good I think with only two days work into it for now. The walls are some tough shipping crates that we braced with some 4x4 posts and we also used a telephone pole dug deep at all four corners. The trusses we were lucky to find someone giving them away for free out of an old mobile home. The OSB roof was the only thing that cost us the most out of the project. Even all the wood fencing that will eventually enclose a garden area was scrapped and left out on the corner for free. It sure is nice to be able to come across such good finds. I don't know how we all did it before the internet. Still have some work to get it all finished but I thought we would share the project in progress.
Sometimes it’s good to poke an odd chicken turd with a stick - not only will it help you lose your appetite if you’re on a diet but it can also tell you some valuable things. I have heard of hardware disease which is when a chicken will eat a screw or nail which can cause problems internally unless your lucky and it passes through. All this time we have been so careful of dropping screws around our projects. We even have a giant magnet stick to pull the disappearing ones out of the quick sand.
The other day I decided to spend some time with my boy doing target practice with our small .22 rifle like any good country neighbor - not too early in the morning :p I didn’t even give any thought to the shells that were littering the ground. Needless to say, a few days later doing some coop cleaning we found a pile o poo with three bullet shells and even some glass shards mixed in with it. One of our kids got pretty lucky on that one since we haven’t seen any signs of a sick bird. Chickens really are garbage disposals and will eat anything. Be careful of what you have laying around the yard. We also recently learned from some sick birds that we had for a while that a bright green “land mine” as I call them (since our shoe treads never make it back to the house the same as when they left) can mean your hen isn’t eating and may be getting sick. We like to give our hens Nutridrench at the first signs of any weird behavior. Nutridrench is a liquid vitamin and energy supplement to give them a quick boost. It can be given in water or directly with a syringe.
Here's a good page with pictures of poo (normal and not) for your reference: do not view during meals
We recently acquired some new hens that we noticed right off the bat were not being taken care of very well. When we see the conditions some of our new kids are living under we find it hard to turn down the opportunity to give them a better life and take them home with us. We have some Rhode island reds and Americana hens that have developed the tendency to hen peck and eat the feathers of their victims. This behavior is usually the result of a diet lacking enough protein, boredom and eventually habitual.
Our youngest are 15 Rhode island babies at three months old that were looking a little rough so we are certain that the measures we have taken will cure this problem and we have seen drastic results in only three weeks. They were missing allot of tail feathers due to the picking. The problem worsens when blood is drawn. Chickens are attracted to the red color of the blood and this makes them pick even more.
What we have found to be a great cure is to increase the amount of protein in their diet (Scrambled eggs make a good meal for this) Also the use of peepers. They are the yellow blinders as seen in the photo. The chickens can't see directly in front of them thus making it hard for them to victimize the other hens. The peepers are a bit hard to get on and I would recommend having the help of another to hold the bird. Simply warm the peepers in water using the microwave and then bend them open then insert the points into the nose holes of the hen. I recommend watching the bird after releasing them because their instinct is to try and scratch them out. We have had a little blood from them trying to get them out but nothing to worry about. They very quickly get used to having them on and go about their day as normal minus victimizing their roommates.
Now for the victims that may be missing allot of butt feathers we use Wound - Kote by farnam which is a blue antiseptic spray to both help heal and make the area less appealing for them to chew on. We have tried some anti-pick specifically designed for this problem but only found it to last one day. Now when the day comes to remove the peepers we also like to use Vet RX on a Q-tip to clean their nose. Vet RX is also great to rub on their comb and waddle to make their color bright and healthy looking. It is also a good treatment remedy for colds, Scaly legs and eye worm. However for scaly legs we prefer to coat them with Vaseline, this is not only moisturizing but also suffocates any mites.
This weekend we were so excited to participate in the Front Range Trading Post, a sort of swap-meet for homemade & handmade goods. It was started by the great folks from A Joyful Noise Farm who had heard of similar trading events in other parts of the country. The premise is for all attendees to bring something that they have either made or grown or that would be useful to like-minded people (ie gardening tools, cookbooks). I had plans to just make a few things, but that quickly turned into kitchen overload! Altogether, we brought our farm-fresh eggs, 6 loaves of bread, a few bags of banana bread and muffins, homemade butter and ice cream, chocolate/almond truffles and chocolate chip cookies -- whew!
The location of this week's trading post was a beautiful historic home in downtown Colorado Springs. Surrounded by many raised gardening beds and with crocus already popping up through the grass, this was the perfect setting for such a community-bonding event. The first hour is for catching up with and making friends. We certainly did that! We got to visit more with Kat, who wrote a great article about our farm earlier this month. We also met people that we had been chatting with via Twitter and so got to put faces with names. Other local farmers were there too and they are just a wealth of knowledge and sharing. Both A Joyful Noise Farm & Manana Farm are located in Black Forest and are working on Salatin-style farms. Exactly where we want to go with our farm as well! Also at the event were outdoor enthusiasts, stay at home moms and eco-event organizers. Even the cutest teeny-tiny ToTo dog!
Let me tell you what I got in trade: Yummy Honey Caramels from Manana Farm, chips and salsa from A Joyful Noise Farm, seeds and seedlings from Barely Escape, hand-milled flour and cornmeal from @Elaynne, chocolate chip bars from Lindsay. Kat traded us chocolate syrup, lemon curd and cute little cakes, we got cookie mix in a jar, delish lip balm, Lavender soap, strawberry banana jam and dried strawberries! The trading goes so fast a frenzied it's hard to remember who made what :( But it is so exciting to bring home a pile of goodies like that for FREE!!! Especially now that folks find their funds a little tighter, it's awesome to have a way to get stuff in trade for a just little bit of your handicrafts and skills. THIS is what community is all about!
We are so excited to have Kat come to visit us on Wednesday. She is a blog writer for Edible Front Range, a publication that explores all of the color and flavor of local food and it's producers. We had a great visit! She hopes to have a little farm of her own one day & that's where it starts for all of us - a little dream in our heart. We talked about why small farmers are important, especially now, and how young farmers are going to be a big part of the local food resurgence. She was kind enough to write about us for the EFR site and also post fabulous pictures to her freelance photography site. Thanks so much to people like her, little farmers like us will continue to get connected with people who value real honest food here in the Colorado Springs area. We're officially in business!