March 26, 2012

The Brooder First

The chicks were ordered from My Pet Chicken ! They should be delivered around June 25th. It would be nice to have the coop finished by then. Even though they won't get to play in it till they are about 5 - 6 weeks old. What I need ready now is the brooder! Because the brooder is so simple to put together it will get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.  We will spend several weekends working on the coop; making it extra safe and comfy for the ladies and aesthetically pleasing for the neighbors (lots of photos of work in progress). Two days before chicks are to be delivered we will remember the brooder-at-the bottom of the list...Aaacck!!!! Good thing it's so simple…

Bin, chick starter feed, water and food containers, thermometer, bedding. Um, those rain boots and that hat are optional!
The brooder is where your chicks will spend most of their time for the first few weeks.  It's critical that it meets all the needs of newly hatched chicks! 
When setting up brooder:

  • The brooder needs to be in a safe and secure area - out of reach of predators/house pets, etc.
  • Keep it in a place where the consistent temps can be maintained. Sudden changes in temperatures can stress chicks severely and even be life threatening.
  •  You will need a source of heat for the chicks. If you use a heat lamp it needs to be set up in a way that the chicks cannot get near it!
  •  The heat source also needs to be adjustable or have some type of clamp that will allow it to be moved as needed.
  •  The bottom of the brooder can be line with a towel, or a type of cushioned shelf liner. Newspaper is not recommended because it is slick and does not offer any traction for the chicks, it's a major cause of splayed legs in young chicks.
  •  The type bedding used is very important. There are many different types of small-animal bedding available at pet and feed stores. Pine shavings are the best. There are also mixes of wood shavings and shredded compressed newspaper. Read the label and make sure there are no additives to cut down on odor. Do Not Use Cedar Shavings under any circumstances! The aromatic oils in cedar will cause the  chicks serious respiratory problems!
  •  For the chicks water use a shallow bowl filled with water. As a precaution add clean stones or marbles to keep the chicks from falling in and drowning. By the end of the 2nd week though this precaution will not be needed (they do grow fast).  As they get older and bigger you can use use a regular water container.
  • A feed container with 6- 8 openings, similar to the one below, will help keep the food cleaner. Putting feed in an open bowl is not recommended because chicks are non-stop circus act and the bowl will get flipped over, and, well pooped in. Chicks make big messes!
  •  A poultry thermometer specifically marked for the temps the brooder should be kept at each week is invaluable. They can be found at feed stores. 
Basic Aquarium Used As Brooder

There are so many different choices and ideas for D.I.Y  brooders! Go online and search,  borrow books or magazines from other chicken keeping friends, go to the library. D.I.Y. ideas are everywhere!

No matter what you end up using as a brooder it will nee need to be cleaned a lot! Keep this in mind when you are setting it up!


    March 23, 2012

    Inspired By Chickens

    I have managed to complicate my life more than I would have ever thought possible. All good though; helping get ready for third granddaughter expected at the end of April, getting brooder ready for chicks coming at end of June, building 'industrial strength' chicken coop, two raised beds that need major attention for planting veggies, another raised bed needing to be built near chickens for their entertainment when they start living outside...not to mention launching this blog!

    After our visit to the Chicken Palace Cathedral  (check out the "Pecking Order Page" for more info on them) and meeting the owners Mark and Dennis it was time to do serious research on raising backyard chickens. Along with the endless list of gorgeous -to-look-at chickens, we had to consider a lot of other criteria such as cold or heat hardy, broodiness, are they good egg layers (like daily laying), size of eggs, color, etc. There also seems to be, at least with most online ordering, a time table for ordering specific breeds of chicks. It's not complicated it just takes planning. If you want specific breeds you have to order the chicks sometimes months ahead. You can check with you local feed store ans see if they might have chicks available at certain times. We are excited about getting them ordered and getting specific breeds so we are ordering online!

    So we ordered....      

    Two Barred Plymouth Rocks,  One Buff Polish Crested,  One Welsummer,
    One Light Brown Leghorn,  One Easter Egger.
    Barred Plymouth Rock - Chicks
    Buff Crested Polish - Chicks

    Easter Egger - Chicks

    Welsummer - Chicks

    Light Brown Leghorn - Chicks

    Lets hear a collective 'Awwwwwww.......'


    March 5, 2012

    Oh, The Cost Of Potting Soil

    We have been composting for years - which is how this whole 'recycle-cycle' thing got started.  Grass cuttings, raked leaves, sawdust and wood shavings wood, a few small limbs and twigs to break up--and it all goes to the compost. No buying bags to fill and haul to the street (more about perk later). Just a reusable round pop-up style garden bin that is easy to fill (no bags to stuff and tie off at top).   Just carry the whole thing to the compost pile and dump. Seriously. Easy.

    I've always had container gardens over-flowing with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. I love them because they're like portable color and texture for the yard.  I can experiment with them in sunny or shady locations, find out what works best. Years ago, as I would start over with a container, I would throw out the old plants with their dirt and not think a thing of it. Now I look back and cringe at the thought of all that was wasted. Yeah, yeah, it was just dirt but have you seen the cost of potting soil lately? I never buy potting soil anymore.  I take what I call healthy, but just worn out soil and mix it in a large pail with our rich wormy compost and that's all I need to plant or replant for the season (I guess that could be called recycling the compost or re-purposing the compost...). We started kitchen composting (more info about kitchen composting to come) and that upped the pile considerably.  All the sawdust from building the coop will go to the compost pile. Eventually the bedding and poop from the chicken coop will go into the compost pile! The recycle-cycle.

    Edibles Growing Very Well

    So many great ideas for growing vegetables in small areas can be found on the Internet!

    Re-purposed Dump Truck
    Just research what you're planting and give it the proper can grow almost anything almost anywhere!

    Used Pallets

    A Full Vegetable Garden And No Big Red Tractor In Sight!

    March 1, 2012

    The Recycle Cycle

    What we've been doing for a long time....
    The Recycle Cycle: Throw leftovers from meals into 1 gal. kitchen compost bin...dump kitchen bin into 5 gal. pail outside…dump 5 gal. pail to main (outdoor) compost pile…the bedding and poop from cleaning your chicken coop can also be dumped into the main compost pile...let it breakdown into organic material to become compost...haul loads and loads of rich, organic compost to your garden...grow your own great veggies...harvest veggies, collect eggs from your own backyard...make fabulous healthy well...scrape the compostable leftovers in to kitchen compost bin...repeat. A lot.

    Great Compost!

    For Larger Composts This Style Is Easy For Turning Layers

    There are so many different ways to build and start a compost pile or bin. Find ideas/plans on the Internet, get ideas from what you neighbors have. It can be basic, simple or fancy depending on your needs. You can also buy manufactured compost bins in every shape and style. Do your research first though!

    Nicely Hidden!

    Easy Open Front

    Note!  No matter which style of composting you choose you need to know the basic composting process before you start!!!!!!! There will be many more posts in this blog devoted entirely to composting and Kitchen composting !