I’ve just started this Blog and am in the process of pulling 4 years worth of posts off another “blog” and put them in order here. I have a lot of work to do and am learning as I go. Check back often, I’ll get it all worked out eventually.
I’ve started this thread to keep updates on my newest batch of babies in hopes it may help others to “let go” a little bit. I raise my chicks as close to natural as possible which means getting them outside in fresh air and sunshine, though it may still be cold, as soon as they are about a week old and letting them free range as soon as possible. I know many of you don’t agree but this is my fourth batch of chicks and not only have I never lost a chick but my hens don’t fight or feather pick/eat one another, have never had an illness/disease, no egg bound or prolapse issues and I’ve never lost one to predators though I know that while free ranging that is a possibility.
I’m posting a photo journal of the newest chicks – hatched Valentines Day from fertile eggs from DipsyDoodle. Pictures speak a thousand words and chickens were raised in the open from the dawn of time. They need to be able to scratch and forage and run and flap their wings and learn to adjust to heat and cold. So before you call the SPCA on me, take a look and follow them along. I’ll post updates as they grow.
Moved outside to Chick-N-Hutch. Day temps 70s but warm in sun – night temps 40s-50s. Have heat lamp for night and cover pen with blanket.
Rex takes his place on guard.
Rigged up simple run in a sunny area where I can watch them from house – later they will be moved to coop/run area.
First hole – they were fasinated with it and dug/ate for hours
Must be doing something right – look at the size of these big boys at 2 weeks old – and feathering beautifully:
It’s true that mama hens will start taking their babies around the farm, from the very beginning, regardless of weather and that they can get under her when they are cold. But they only do this for the first week or so – after that they are somewhat feathered and too big to get under mama or they would be carrying her around like a concert mosh-pit. I keep the heat lamp on at night and check on them constantly initially – at 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to see how they are doing. If they are directly under light I lower it a little till they are staying just around light beam and not directly in it. Once I get the height of light adjusted I keep watch but usually don’t have to do anything more than make sure they have a heat lamp source if they want it at night. All four batches have survived outside night temps of 40s and up with just a heat lamp in pen and no light in daytime sunshine. Actually the batch of Buff Orps, hatched in August, never saw a light in their lives – it was August in New Orleans. I was having to put a fan on them in the daytime and finally decided at one week old to let them out of their pen where they were panting and let them start running around large enclosed run. They began total free ranging at 3 weeks old running with the big girls.
During the day – they actually stay under the pen, in the shade a lot to nap – after running around scratching and acting wild. The temps are mid 70s but it’s really warm in the sunshine and they nap in the shade so again, going by what they do, if they were cold they would be huddled together in sunniest spot not spread out in shadiest spot.
Like I said, I try to raise them as close to natural as possible. I haven’t had a broody hen, or a rooster till now but I’m quite sure there are a number of roos in this batch of big beefies so I’m hoping that by next spring I’ll have mama hens doing the work themselves.
Well we had to move the pen inside the garage for the past two days and nights because it decided to snow and ice over here. I guess winter isn’t going out peacefully. I kept a heat lamp on the chicks and they were just fine with the garage temp being low 50s.
Did have a scare the other morning, before moving pen back in garage. It had stormed the night before so I got up at 1:00 a.m. and went and covered the pen with plastic. Checked on them again at 3:00 a.m. – heat light still one, chicks running around, blanket and plastic still on pen – rain had stopped. My husband told me next morning the blanket and plastic had blown off the pen and the pen was sitting there without any cover. Heat light was still on and guess what….chicks were fine but that scared me so we moved the pen under garage and into laundry room till weather warms up.
Today, however, was pretty and warm again so we hauled the pen back outside and set it up in the little fenced run I had made and let them out. Boy they catch on fast. Every one, including my little crippled one, flew out of that pen so fast. They all spent the day running and scratching the grass in the warm sunshine and napping under the pen in the shade.
At one point today I was sitting out there watching them when Rex suddenly started going crazy and barking and running, while looking up. I looked up and there were 6 hawks so close to my head, and the pen, that I thought for a moment they were going to swoop down on me. Rex chased them off and almost ran into a fence because he was so busy barking and looking up and following one as it flew off.
Just before sunset every little chick marched back into hutch and went to sleep – a hard day playing came to an end.
It really is amazing how much instinct they have and how at 3 weeks they act just like the ones that are almost a year old.
All the BRs are getting so big but I think this one is a black Ameracauna – I call him Mr. Longneck.
All are still staying outside in their Chick-N-Hutch and in their run during the day. Everyone seems to be having a great time.
My little niece came to visit and had fun calling the big girls and gathering eggs. All of these hens have free ranged all along and the Buffs have never seen a heat lamp.
Finally I must be nuts cause I’ve got a bator full of Aracauna eggs and duck eggs.
But look what came in at the feed store today and I actually left without them and then went back to get them. A dozen RIR.
Well’s that’s today’s update from the farm. It’s residents are quickly increasing in number.
Well Mr. Longneck has become quite the chicken specimen and is now called The Eagle – not sure if it’s a girl or boy but it does this wing thing and everyone, including the adults go running.
Isn’t it amazing – 6 weeks old.
I also have some week old mallards that started free ranging around run today with all the other birds including the three week old RIRs and BRs.
Here are the mallards enjoying the watering bins and the younger chicks coming to check out the show:
Not to be idle – I hatched 6 rouens the other night and here they are eating out of my hands:
The “Yard” has become a busy place these days. We are using both picket fenced yards for the younger birds to free range. The day old roens and Araucanas just got moved to chick-n-hutch inside coop but everyone else gets to be let out each morning and run till dark. Everyone, including the three week olds come back at dusk and put themselves to bed. Here’s the group I called the Itty Bitties coming back home and going to their pen to roost – I don’t close the door anymore:
Everyone in The Yard is just one big happy family:
Here are some overall updates.
Pictures of our coop (also 100 years old like the plantation home itself).
The front of coop – we have yet to repair the heavy door that fell off but I use the back door anyway – the one that opens into The Yard. As you can see there is another building right next to it – we aren’t using it for anything yet but I have a suspicion it will soon become a coop as well. Someone just keeps getting more and more chickens.
Back of Coop opening into The Yard
Inside the coop I set up different hutches, kennels, rabbit cages for any babies that I close up at night.
Here are by “Tweenies” (6 weeks old) coming home from The Yard at sunset. They’re always reluctant to go in coop till dark so they stop at gate and preen.
And here they are roosting on top of hutch they used to use:
The Big Girls go way up to top rafters. Last night I watched a few of The Tweenies start to go up there and then change their minds. Tonight one of them was up there roosting with The Big Girls.
Here’s some of the Big Girls out free ranging (fat, healthy, shiny, happy chickens)
Finally, here’s our security system Rex:
Doing internal perimeter check:
Doing reflection check:
On hawk watch. He chases and barks at hawks. Everyone runs for cover when Rex barks. If you could see his eyes in this pic you would see he’s looking up, on watch.
Well that kind of brings everyone up date on our free ranging, nature’s way system here. If you have any questions, please ask.
you got any roos yet Ruth? i swear that one chick looks like a duck when Rex was doing the reflection check.
Looks like a duck – walks like a duck – quacks like a duck – yep, it’s a duck. There’s 12 ducks in The Yard. 6 mallards bought two weeks ago and 6 rouens hatched a week ago. For pics see page 1. In fact they were swimming in that little bin of water till Rex came along and stuck his big schnoz in there and they all scattered. They haven’t quite gotten used to Big Rex coming along and giving each one the sniff.
Yeah, finally got some roos. 2 BR roos from hatch on valentines day and 2 RIR roos that are 3 weeks old. May have an Ameracauna roo also just can’t telll yet.
Can’t wait till the roos grow up so the girls can lay fertile eggs and stop going broody on a bunch of blanks.
If you’ve seen my other threads you know I have one broody sitting on fertile peacock eggs.
I got 6 fertile Am. eggs from Dipsey today and put them under Ms. Broody but looks like a Buff Orp just went broody also so tomorrow I’ll risk life and limb and try to take 3 eggs from Ms. Broody and move them under Ms. Broody Too.
Your girls all look the picture of health.
(BTW, my middle name is Ruth, my grandmother’s name. The minister at my wedding even read that famous passage from the Book of Ruth at our wedding 32 years ago, so your screen name has special meaning for me)
me too, my grandmother’s name was Ruth. she was my very best friend in the whole wide world. i moved home from college to take care of her until she died. then got on here, and guess who started posting all of the sudden? Ruth. lol.
i plan to name a daughter Ruth if i ever have kids (unlikely)
At 6 weeks the gate to The Yard is opened and they can run amoke and free range all day. At younger than 6 weeks they have to stay in The Yard but as you can tell it is really two yards joined and is very large.
I’ve debated that question. When the roos get of age I will probably just let them do whatever with whomever. I raise them for fun and for eggs so it doesn’t matter to me if I end up with a bunch of mixed breeds. But I may also separate a few pure breeds temporarily for breeding purposes or if I decide to start selling eggs. I can easily section off parts of The Yard to separate a pure breed pair. I also have a huge 100 year old barn, as well as new horse stables, that I could use separate stalls for that purpose.
Hi Beefy and Cyn – I’m touched by the stories of your grandmothers. Quoting from memory:
“Where you go I will go. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”
I named my poor little twisted neck baby chick that had been pronounced dead Ruth because I wanted her to have a strong biblical name. She needed strength to fight whatever disease/condition she had. I had to hand feed her, force feeding her initially because she could not move. I would gently stroke her neck and massage it to get it straight before she could swallow food. Each feeding I told her “You will live through this and you will be a beautiful, healthy chicken who lays beautiful green eggs.” She is and she does.
I took this one the other day. I can’t ever get a pic where she’s not eating. Guess she needs to make up for lost time.
Moving to the farm was a dream but more importantly it is God’s plan for us. We’re not quite sure what the plan entails but He did lead us here for a reason. Part of the reason seems to be coming clearer. We recently joined a local church. It is a small, all black church in a racially divided, racist town. There’s a huge divide in the welfare/poor/blacks and the land baron whites. The schools are separate and I swear there are days when I still see the “whites only” signs near drinking fountains. O.K. you know I’m exaggerating that but you get the idea. DH and I will never be fully accepted in this town. But what’s important is that the Lord told us to go to this church and He had previously told the Pastor we would be coming. We were greeted more warmly and openly in that church and by it’s members than we have been by any of the whites in town. The church members have already been calling on us with offers to help and offers to take DH fishing/hunting. The pastor is rallying the Mens Group to come out and start working and helping us get the fences and barns and stables in shape. He too feels that the Holy Spirit is blowing through here and that there will be a purpose for this place. They will be helping us to put in a large garden in Spring. So maybe God’s plan and purpose is finally starting to take shape. We can finally use the material things we have been blessed with to help others and to show others that His Love applies to everyone, not just the ones that have the same skin color and belong to the same church. When Jesus said that the second most important commandment was to “Love Thy Neighbor” He didn’t say “Only the ones that look like you.”
Well, the Lord filled our pond. It had been dry all summer but thanks to 5 days of non-stop rain due to Gustav the pond has water again.
And Rex can swim again.
Don’t think I ever posted the original bathroom facilities – complete with light switch and red brick walkway leading to it. Can you even imagine the days when THIS is where you had to go when you had to GO?
The rain also brought out what I call the Fairy Flowers because they just magically appear out of the ground. They are all over the property and the woods.
Still have the huge old trees and fences down and lots of clean up to do but sometimes I just have to play Scarlett O’Hara and say “I can’t think about that now. If I do I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
Little Miss Scarlett is great now that she has Little Miss Prissy to play with. Prissy is the stray Min Pin that someone dumped on road in front of our house. She stayed there two weeks before we could catch her – always would run into woods. Well the weekend before Gustav hit, Fay hit and we had non-stop storms. The terrified little pup came up on porch and we caught her. We cleaned her up, took her to vet (she’s the same age as Scarlett, 6 months) and have fallen in love with her. She sleeps with me and I can’t believe how much I love this little dog. Her story is on another thread.
Only have time for a quick update and no time to post pics – we’re running off generator right now and probably will be for awhile. Gustav hit us hard. See all those huge old Live Oak trees and old pecan orchard trees???? – GONE. Just demolished. Sad but we are blessed. DH’s kids and their spouses and their inlaws all came here for Lafayette to escape the storm and we got hit hardest. The two closest towns, Natchez and Baton rouge, also have no power so I won’t be able to spend much time on BYC – Got to conserve what gas and generator time we have and try and get our work done (our “real” job).
It’s a mess here. When the giant trees fell they took out the gardens, camelias, and fences.
I’ll post more later. All is well – God is good.
I haven’t kept up with updates much on this thread so here goes.
This has been our first summer here and while it is beautiful, it has been hot (100) and dry (drought for weeks). We have found a man to cut our pastures and open areas with a tractor once a month. It took several cuttings with bushhog till he got it looking good but now it’s really pretty when freshly cut. Unfortunately, didn’t take a pic then but these pics show the grass needing to be cut again.
Pond in background – dried up. We had to shoot a lot of HUGE water moccasins that were out there eating the fish that were exposed and dying. One nearly got the dogs, especially Scarlett who went righ up to the thing and it started striking at her which got Rex in on the act. I ran in house to get hubby who couldn’t believe the huge “log” I was pointing at was a snake.
These are the “Parteres” as seen from balcony. I first I dug them out and started planting roses but couldn’t keep them alive in the heat and drought no matter how much I watered them. Never have been good at roses. Besides at the time I also had my vegetable garden and lots of baby chicks and ducks so gardens have taken a step back in priorities. Maybe this fall I can try again.
This is the horse pasture/pecan orchard.
Chicken coop and duck house as seen from balcony. Notice the original systern still in place which provided water from rooftop to inside house.
And in posting the good pics, got to post the bad.
Here’s issue number 1: Bats. Thousands of bats. They live in porch ceilings and get in around loose columns and leave lots of bat poop and STINK.
Issue number 2 is relatively new: Bees. Honeybees I think. Have taken up residency in bottom of rotten column. Sometimes the whole side of the house is covered in swarm of bees and looks like it’s painted black.
Till next time….
Look at that wrap around double porch—circa early to mid 1800’s if I am correct????
Please try to find an apiary to relocate those honey bees… they will most likely do it for free and we need every single bee right now…
Beautiful house–look what chickens lead to….
It is funny what chickens can lead to – lead me here.
The house was built in 1908 but is built exactly like other Greek Revival homes in area that were built in mid-1800s.
There is a honey bee farm near here so I thought I would call them about the bees. However, I know that they are helpful and will come in handy when I do get to start planting flower gardens and vegetable gardens so I don’t plan to do anything to get rid of them unless they become a problem. So far, out of sight, out of way. We do have a contractor that will be starting historical repairs on home soon but the columns are way down on list. There’s a whole side of house that is rotted and termite infested so it takes priority. The bats will be the first to go….and before everyone writes and tells me they are federally protected, yeah, yeah, I know. They will be relocated to a nice bat farm somewhere…right after I box up a few hundred and Express mail them to whoever it is in Washington that thinks they still need to be protected. See how they like having them buzz by their head while they are sleeping or find them in your snack food by bedside in middle of night – yes, they do find their way in house from time to time.
Thanks Reinbeau – I’ll take a look at that article. I was developing some allergies, sore throat and sinus issues and thought it might be from bat smell that is really strong on second floor in our master bathroom. So we have been sleeping downstairs lately and it cleared up so may be something to it or just coincidence. I want to see what the article says because, yes I was sweeping it up daily, hosing off porch, even going into attic where smell would knock you out and spraying deodorizers.
I realize they are endangered in many places but not around here. Every old home and barn and outbuilding in this area is heavily infested with them, especially the old plantation homes. But, like all of God’s animals, I know they have their place and I try and honor that. Someone recently told me the University of Florida’s football stadium was heavily infested and they came up with a way of building a huge bat house and got the bats to move out of stadium and into bat house. Said they have a website telling how they did it. I haven’t looked it up yet and I think it was University of Florida but could have gotten the name wrong.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve updated this thread.
Let’s see not much new just everything and everyone seem to be really taking up a lot of time.
My garden is doing well. Here’s a tomato plant – and that’s just one plant – it just keeps growing and growing and putting out more and more long branches that I have to keep staking. It was loaded with tomatoes when I took this picture day before yesterday. But yesterday and today my sneaky little chickens got ahold of it and pulled off over a dozen big green tomatoes.
I’ve tried growing tomatoes all my life and never had much luck. Last few years got nothing at all. This time, of course I moved, but I used a wheel barrow full of “stuff” from barn floor – 50 year old cow/horse poop. The little kitchen garden I planted by my back door is growing like crazy.
I did find my brussel sprouts covered in little worms the other day. They had eaten the top leaves to shreds. I hand picked off a whole bunch and fed them to the chickens. That’s when I got the bright idea to let the chickens back into the backyard and into my garden so they could do a little natural pest control since I don’t like to use pesticides. Well they did a little gardening work for two days and it cost me a dozen big green tomatoes.
Finally – I have finally built a front door for my coop. It has just had chicken wire and plastic on front since we moved here in December. I also built a new ladder for them and took down the death trap raggedy thing that was in there. I built them by myself. I found an old grocery store door out in one of the buildings on property – there are so many old materials and building supplies around here I don’t think we’ll ever have to buy anything. Anyway, I liked it because it had the old Holsum sign on front and back of door. The door was too tall so I had to cut it down to size and put hardward cloth and reinforced back. In winter I’m going to put plexiglass on back. We also have many different sizes and shapes of that in shed because they used to use it on the porche screens in winter. I’m going to build cold frames and a green house with it as well.
Anyway I’m quite proud of myself. It still looks a little rough but I had to do it all by myself. I learned to use a power saw and tools in the process. I will still need to paint the door but I had to rebuild the door frame. There was no longer a frame in place and the walls just wiggled since they weren’t attached to anything. I was trying to hang the door by myself without dropping it on the chickens that seem immensely interested in what I was doing. Not an easy task to try and hang a heavy door by yourself. I used my toes as leverage to lift and hold and thought later I had broken them but they are o.k. – Did possibly break thumb which I still can’t bend and it’s swollen and black and blue.
But here are the rough results.
From inside the coop.
The view that the chickens now have and the nice breeze.
And finally my chickens can use the front door like civilized folk.
Here’s my ladder I built.
Finally the gardenias are all in bloom and since they are everywhere on the property the heavenly scent made working outside in the searing heat, in a chicken coop, for two days almost enjoyable.
Thanks Cyn- I’m hoping it will look better after I finish with trim work and paint. Part of that front wall had collapsed/sagged down over time and I’m trying to shore it up. I also had to nail hardware cloth to places in coop where boards had large gaps. Of course coop is 100 years old but it is made from very thick solid cypress – you can’t drive a nail into the wood or screw into it. You have to drill a hole first then use a power drill to put a screw in. Hubby had given up on ever working on coop again way back when. Just as well cause I couldn’t take his cussing and fussing. So the door just got left covered in wire and plastic till I decided that was a bit too risky and just plain ugly, plus they couldn’t use that entrance at all.
I’m sure there are some who will say I should have built a solid door and they may be right. I did find an old solid door in shed as well but I like the screen door because I can look in and check on them without having to go around to back of coop, through gate and into coop. Could something possibly tear through the top section that’s hardware cloth? Yes but my dogs will tear them up before they get that far. Again, they’ve only had a little chicken wire barely stapled to front with a piece of plastic tacked on for winter and nothing has tried to get in yet. Well there was that dead possum I found in front of coop that time.
Thanks all for the compliments.
Omeletta – all I can say is that I am working from morning till night outside trying to take care of things. The home has not been lived in or the grounds cared for in 10 years. The pictures make it all look good but there is much more work than I can do. Many nights I’m too tired to cry myself to sleep. I pick a project each day and that’ what I do. For example, hedge trimming – that takes many days and I still haven’t gotten to all the hedges that line the brick walkways that all need to be pressure washed because they are black with mold – haven’t finished all those either.
The parterres (formal French gardens) in front of house all need to be replanted with roses but need to be dug out first.
The house itself has a whole side that is rotted and needs to be replaced. We had the local lumber yard make a special tool to cut and shape cypress panels to match the ones on the house. Obviously I won’t be doing that job myself.
I hired someone to cut the patures and open areas but I had mow with push mower a lot of the little yards, in between walkways and picket fences. I have some maids that come once a week and just dust mop and mop floors that get so dirty from all the cats and dogs and me going in and out while I work in the barn and coop. It takes three or four women three hours just to do that.
So I work outside all day and then inside all night. Cleaning windows, stripping floors, refinishing cabinets, pulling sheetrock off old beaded board walls to restore them.
The list is endless and I’m making myself tired just thinking about it. The plan is that once we sell some of our other properties we will have the funds to pay off this place and to pay someone to do all the major restorations that need to be made. At least, God willing, that’s the plan. But for right now, it’s just me. Hubby stays inside and keeps an eye on our on-line internet-based business which frees me to do all the hard physical work – Hmmmmm – maybe I should be the one to sit inside in a/c all day cause “Someone has to check e-mail” but he really could not care less if most of the things I find important are ever done or not – especially if it means him doing it – just ain’t gonna happen. At our house in Covington which had 8 acres to be cut he used to say “Put a machette and map on the mail box for all I care.”
This is my dream home too and I’ve learned to be careful what you dream for and wish for because you just might get it. Big houses and farm and property come with big demands.
Hi Miss Prissy – didn’t know you had a two year old. That does make things a little harder to do. I now have Scarlett getting into everything and half the time I have to carry her out of a mess or something she shouldn’t be in so it’s like having a two year old. I’m really hoping for grandkids someday soon. I do so want to have little ones running around.
As far as the one project at a time – that’s all I can do. You’re right though once you tackle the big things and get them in shape regular maintenance isn’t as much work. That’s what keeps me going – knowing that a lot of the work I’m doing is really a one-time job that takes a lot of time and effort and then will be easier to keep up. For example the area where I have my little kitchen garden had a giant dead tree trunk there. I spent all day digging up that thing and sawing it and pulling it out of there. Hubby came home and saw the giant thing laying off to side and said “Are you crazy – did you really pull that thing out by yourself?” Yep – that’s me – the crazy lady that wants something done and knows she has to do it herself. So know I have my garden there. As I harvested the lettuce and radishes and pulled up the snow peas vines after they finished I only had to plant my next vegetable – quick easy job. The area where I cleaned up and dug up and turned over to plant my potatoes – same thing – after harvesting them – simply planted the next item.
Next project for me is to rent a tiller and try to put in a large garden. I’ve realized I will really need to plant much more than I have if I want to have enough to freeze or can or preserve. BUT….one day at a time, one project at at time. Today I’m transplanting watermelon and canteloup and some tomatoes and peppers I’ve grown from seeds inside.