Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's been Frosssty

The weather has been kinda crappy the last week or so. We'd had this inversion layer stuck overhead for over a week. The fog would roll in thick overnight and then the clouds would descend till you couldn't what was what. It was just the murky, gloomy yuck. No sun, just wet cold. The only good thing is, it was beautiful on the winter countryside.

Scott took these ones.

These ones were a few days before that I took.
Ice crystals forming on the hot wire

 One good day we had yesterday. We even saw the sun in the morning. The temperature has been holding pretty stead. Low 20's at night, mid 40's in the afternoon. The blankets are off the horses. I even turned them out on the front pasture yesterday to run around and pretend they were wild horses. Today, rain all day. I woke up to a sheet of ice on everything. Bleh. More of the same predicted for tomorrow.

Everything else is holding steayd on the homestead. Scott and Andrea took the steers to Nate's house Saturday afternoon. He was going to dispatch them that evening and let them hang for 10 days. Tuesday next week we'll go over and help him cut and wrap them. It's something I want to learn to do start to finish, but I'm good with learning the butchering part next week.

Norman is pretty upset that he's the only cow in the round pen. He didn't necessarily like the other steers, they were always chasing him away from their food, and trying to hump him, but he isn't happy being by himself. He lowled  and mooed all afternoon Saturday and most of the morning Sunday. I keep telling Scott, he wouldn't be lonely if I got a little dairy heifer. He looks at me like I a nutter.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Little chicky outside, insulated chicken waterer, rainbow of eggs

Our little chicky and Mamma are full time outside. The weather has been holding nice-ish. Mid 20's overnight and mid 40's during the day. The little chicky is fully feathered and Mamma Speckles was wanting OUT of the brooder pen in the garage. The first night Speckles slept in the bottom of the condo with the little chicky, but she's wanted to sleep in the top with the big hens, and the little chicky is quite upset about that. I swooped her little feathered butt up the first night and stuffed her in the top of the condo. The second night she came flapping right back out and down the ramp. I watched for a few minuets and she headed back into the bottom of the condo and that's where she spent the night.

We had one of those heated base chicken waterers that plugs in and keeps the water unfrozen. I say had, cause I broke it. It was a pain in the ass anyhow. It did it's job and worked great, but in order to put water in it, you had to flip the thing upside down, unscrew the plug in the bottom and fill it turned over. Screw the plug back in and then try and flip it back right side up without splashing water on yourself and carry it back over to the coop while water is trying to drip down your pant legs from the base. It only held three gallons of water, and with 18 chickens, they were going through it every few days.

Back in the summer I ran into Chicken Nipples at D&B while I was in buying chicken feed. I saw on pintrest where you screwed these nipples into the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and hung it up and voila, chicken waterer that fills from the top. So I got five nipples, and they sat around in the garage gathering dust. The rubber bucket I was using to water the birds was working fine, and we never got around to building the nipple/bucket.

And then I broke the heated waterer. I had broke the handle off the top a few days before (It was over a year old and only plastic in my defense) so I was trying to carry this three gallon waterer between my legs, by the base, doing the penguin walk across the yard. I got back to the coop, managed to spill a minimal amount of water over my pant legs. In flipping it back over onto it's base, it slipped just a little in my hands and smacked the ground. It was pretty cold that morning, like 14 degrees, and the whole blasted thing shattered, spraying me with water up to my thighs. .../sigh.

Scotty to the rescue. We'd bought a new heat tape before he dug out the frost free water hydrant. Pintrest again showed us a design for a bucket in a bucket with the heat tape in the middle.
Inner bucket with chicken nipples in the bottom

Cutting out the bottom of the outter bucket
Wrapping the heat tape, top cut off outer bucket

Finished heated chicken waterer
 Scott built a tripod out of some logs to hang it from. It took a few days before on of the hens figured it out, but once she did, everyone had to take a turn pecking at the chicken nipples. 
Using the chicken nipples


I've been getting a couple eggs every few days. The older black hens have been taking a break, they molted pretty hard. Only one of the easter eggers started laying before the daylight cut back, and she went on strike when they moulted a little around the head and neck. Last week I opened the box after not looking for eggs the evening before, and found EGGS! All colors. One of the other easter eggers is laying an olive colored egg. I've got creams, tans, pinks, green, olive and almost orange. I'm still missing the pink with grey speckles, but egg production is on the rise.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It was a crappy kind of day

This Tuesday, and last Tuesday were crappy days. This Tuesday I didn't haul near as much of it, but last week was a shit shoveling day. The weather got warm enough that the ground unfroze enough to start pitching cow pies.

With the steers up in the round pen getting fattened up for the butcher, there is a lot of poop. We throw straw out for them to bed in and that starts to get wet and nasty and has to come out too. The cow pies are perfect this time of year. Still a little frozen together, clumped in piles and not scattered all over the place. It took me 8 wheel barrow loads to pick turds and wet straw. I started throwing it right out onto the the frozen dirt in the garden. The rain and the snow will soak all that poopy goodness into the garden. What doesn't break down over the winter will be tilled in, in the spring.

The rabbits got their pens cleaned out, new hay strewn in for them to dig and burrow in. The weather warmed up enough to clean out the top of the chicken condo too. I'd only been able to throw new shavings over the frozen bird turds. What a wet stinky mess. The whole top stripped down to plywood, new shavings scattered inside. Only a few birds still sleep in the bottom of the condo so they got their bedding stirred around, wet spots pulled out, and new shavings over the top. The rabbit pellets and the muck out of the chicken coop went onto the compost pile. I know rabbit crap can go right on, but it was on the bottom of the wheel barrow with the bird turds on top.

Speckles and Chicky got to spend time outside too. Last week was pretty windy so I didn't let them out too long, but Speckles spent the whole time flopping around in the dirt looking like she was having a seizure. She hasn't had a super duper dust bath in ages.


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