Weekend Warriors – Month of March/First Week of April.

(To catch up go here, here, here, and here)

For the last month, I haven’t really been much of a help in the shed renovation. Since mrgillis and I got all the demolition done, our handyguy charlie and the hubby have been in charge while I’ve stayed nice and clean and out of it. I kinda “joked” about how maybe he should do a guest blog, but that isn’t happening. The most I get is him sitting beside me and telling me how it happened. This wont take long, MrGillis is not the most talkative dude around.

So, the big deal news is, the floor has been jacked, leveled and major support has been redone so that the water damage, rot and missing pieces of floor are no more.

Now we have a new nice level floor. With neat support systems like beams and sills and support trees.

We also decided to close back up the “window” that a previous tenant had cut into the wall in between the kitchen and front area. This is because when they cut the “window” they cut thru 3 wall studs that were part of a major load baring wall. It is the number two factor creating the dip in the roof.

So that wall has come down completely and since been rebuilt as a skeleton.

We’ve gotten so far on this place, its almost crazy to be talking about where we’re going to be putting kitchen/bathroom and pantry walls back up, but we are THISCLOSE. All we need to do now is tear down the ceiling, but we are waiting on masks for that. I’m thinking of getting us some ponchos as well.
It was a crazy, intense whirlwind of a month and I’m not sorry to see it go. Spring has officially arrived in my corner of Downeast Maine and the snow is receding fast. We’ve been able to spend time outdoors almost every day for the last week and our daughter is LOVING every second of it. And, quite frankly, so are we.

We have a lot of projects coming up, one of which we are doing today to be blogged about tomorrow, so stay tuned!

And until then, have a wicked good day.

 

The Aftermath- how we are making our chickens safe again.

When tragedy strikes on the homestead, you don’t really get the option to just give up. You still have animals relying on you for their everyday needs. After we lost 10 of our 16 chickens to a bobcat this last friday morning, we knew we needed to make a some big changes in order to protect our survivors and all other future livestock. So we came up with a 5 point plan, a few of which we’ve already started.

1. We have already called the game warden to become aware of our rights in protecting our livestock- First and foremost we have to prove knowledge of what animal we are dealing with. If it was a bobcat, we’re free and clear to shoot to kill if we have to. If its a lynx, we’re looking at trapping and rehoming somewhere VERY far away. This leads directly to-

2. Setting up cameras and motion detector lights to monitor and record all activity. Also, possibly going a bit overboard and buying a new 32 inch tv to watch monitors at all times. And hooking the cameras to our iphone to watch when away as well. BUT we’ve already caught a fox and possibly the bobcat both sniffing around again. It was at night while we were asleep, and the girls were locked up, but STILL.

3. Clean .22 rifle, bb rifle and air rifles- buy ammunition and have mrgillis teach me how to shoot – this is mostly for trying to scare the damn things away first. But if that should fail, we have to protect our animal family. Also, make sure said guns are in safe place, but easily accessible. We have a wall mounted rack on its way.

4. Check out chain link fencing with roof capabilities – find scrap tin roofing and buy clear pvc sheets from Amish. Construct superfence come this spring when the ground is thawed – dig foot deep/6 inch wide trench to lay welded wire in to create below ground barrier, then attach welded wire fence to chain link sections. Put on frame for a roof, do one half of roof in tin and other half in clear pvc sheets so the girls can get some sun or shade when they need it. Also, put henhouse directly on ground to save on fencing around bottom.

5. This spring/summer clear our immediate backyard of all birch, spruce, pine, brush, bushes and leave only beneficial to us trees, maples apples and other wild edibles. This was the plan anyway, but we feel a bigger sense of urgency to make it a priority.

Finally, I have given myself this weekend to be as upset as I need to be. I’ve eaten, drank, smoked, talked and cried my feelings from friday into last night, sunday. Today, is a new day, a new time. We will always love the hens we lost. They were all full of personality, love and most of them were good at cuddling. They gave us eggs, entertainment, a certain sort of stress relief and a sense of “hey we can raise things!” type of pride. Those memories and moments are an integral part to our story- Even the terrible way we lost them. Life is such. Time to focus on the future.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

Sometimes, Homesteading Just Really Sucks.

Like the random march morning when a bobcat comes in and kills half your flock.

oh wait, that was this morning. This fresh new nightmare started around 930am.

We lost some beautiful, smart, lovely egg laying ladies and my heart is really effing throbbing right now.

I want to say, you try to prepare yourself for things like this. We’ve had racoon attacks, one resulting in a death. But this friggen bob cat came in and JUST BROKE THEIR NECKS.

My poor girls. They died for NOTHING. The only solace we take is that most of it was probably quick.

my poor husband that had to call me at work and tell me he could only find 4 living chickens and they were out of the pen at the end of our neighbors driveway. For having to pick up the bodies of chickens we raised from a few days old til now 4 years later. who is now trying to figure out how to take care of the bodies in march, with 3 feet of snow on the ground still.

poor hawk, who was our sickly baby chick from our first flock, that was now fat, robust and going to outlive them all, we joked this very stupid morning. Who was the last chicken standing, that caught my husbands attention so he could stop the thing from doing more damage. That managed to get so much further away then the rest of the girls and could be seen from across the pond and street.

Poor Dawn, Buffy, Hen, Na, Falcon, Pippi, Lucy and Ethel as well, for having to live their last moments in fear.

Poor Scout, who is still missing somewhere out in the woods on our property. Who we have little hope of finding, now that it is snowing again and the bobcat has already been back once. (eta- we found Scout the next morning, several hundred yards away, in a clearing. She was the tenth loss. I’ll spare you the details.)

And my remaining girls, Peatree, BeeBee, Milk, Matilda, Luna and Rocky, for having to be stuck inside a coop where their flockmates were killed. I gave them watermelon rinds, strawberry tops, wheat bread scraps and other treats to help make them feel normal again. But I know, they know what happened. Their little chicken hearts are under some serious stress right now, and science shows, they have feelings like grief and empathy.

Lastly, poor me. I feel so defeated right now. I don’t know if I want to get more chickens  after all this. I, for a moment, made plans to give up having chickens altogether… find a new home for my remaining girls and just focus on plants.

But I can’t. I love owning chickens, even with the heartbreaks of late. The tidal wave of gratitude I felt at finding even 6 of them alive and healthy… I couldn’t give them up.

We are going to make big changes to the fence, we’re going to work extra hard to clear more forest and push back the boundary. We’re going to ensure a safer future for our flock.

But for today, we’re going to tell stories, and remember the girls that we lost today.

In light of this, I’m going to suspend the Chicken Profiler Blog Series I wrote about previously. Maybe later I can sit here and talk about how great all these hens were, but for now, I’d rather talk to my husband about them.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Venture into Vermiculture – Two Weeks In

(click these links for part one and part two)

Well. We are into our first week of worm farmin’ and so far, it’s been both easy and interesting. Worms, just want to dig, eat and poop, it turns out. They make great pets.

So far, we’ve had one escapee. I found the little digger on the bathroom carpet the second morning of having them. Mrgillis thinks we may have had more, just they became cat treats.

We have fed them three times and sprayed the newspaper daily – I swear, there is no real smell unless you stick your face right down in the worm restaurant portion of the hut.


Really, there isn’t much else to report on the worm front. We’ve just been spending some time learning about our new little buddies. So here are some fun facts about worms to make up for the short update.

  1. Worm capsules are like beet seeds. One capsule holds anywhere from 4-8 or more baby worms. Populations usually doubled every 90 days.
  2. If you split a worm in half, it will most likely NOT grow two worms. Only certain types of earth worms can do this.. and you shouldn’t mess around with this because worms have feelings too.
  3. 1 pound of worms can eat up to 1/2 pound of food a day. That means that a single worm can work thru up to 10 pounds of food per year.
  4. Worms are not bugs- they are actually annelids. And they can move because each segment of their little bodies have bristles called setae that help them burrow thru the dirt.
  5. Worms, have no lungs, and breathe thru their skin. That’s why you find so many on the ground after a rain storm. If they don’t surface, they will suffocate and die.
  6. They also have no eyes, but they can sense the light, especially with their front end.
  7. Worms can dig down to TWO MILES below the earths surface.
  8. Depending on soil quality, one acre of land can have up to ONE MILLION worms living and processing in it. (our land has like 0- we have very poor soil quality)
  9. There are over 2,500 different worms in our world.
  10. Worms are integral to the food supply, either as a soil improver or a food chain participant- without them, we’d probably be nothing and nowhere. Much like a lot of other insects and arachnids and such that we take for granted every day.

So, that’s about that.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

 

 

On the Topic of Mail Order Chicks

After the disaster that was last week,  we had to sit down and give some real thought as to whether or not we wanted to try this whole mail order chick thing again. This whole order, was LITERALLY my worst nightmare come to life.

It was a really rough couple days. We spent a lot of time blaming ourselves for different reasons. It was too cold or we should have to driven to get them from Hampden… I went thru times of extreme self doubt… how could I really be a care conscientious livestock owner when I was ordering chicks and they were dying from the elements… when I had known that this was a real possibility but went ahead regardless because I selfishly wanted chicks in March.

We were on the fence as to how we were going to do this. We know that in order to be most cost effective in owning and rearing chickens, especially meat birds, we need to order them from a hatchery ourselves, and cut out the middle men like TSC.

I just…. I cried more for those poor little things, then I have in a long time. I feel like I deserve the blame for initiating the whole deal in the first place. My hubby, he’s pretty insistent that it isn’t my fault, but in the end, it was my decision to go ahead.

But, after much soul searching and discussion,, including conceding to the fact that we have about 40 bucks worth of chick stuff that can’t really be wasted, we decided to give this whole mail order chick thing one more go.

In April.

We figure, we’re getting good solid 40 degree days right now- its the overnight temps that probably did them in. Late next month should be ok.

And if it isn’t, then this mail order bird thing, it just isn’t for us.

Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that we spent so much getting ready, we’d probably call it for the year. But part of zero waste, is not wasting money or things we spent money on.

So, here we are. We’ve been doing plenty of other stuff around ye old homestead. MrGillis and our handyguy have been working away at the shed project. I got my newest order in for lotion ingredients. We’ve been beefing up security around about as well. In a town with no cops, its a good idea to have cameras, good heavy duty locks and motion sensor lights, honestly.

Also, I’m working on a new blog series that will be kind of sporadically thrown in- I am dubbing “The Chicken Profiler”. It’s going to be all about the breeds we’ve had over the years, filled with cool breed factoids and stories of crazy chicken antics.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

When Mail Order Chicks Go Wrong

“I have spent the last week trying not to die from excitement here… and with a heaping dash of anxiety as well. (I’m actually starting this blog while mrgillis goes to the post office to pick up our girls, that’s how anxious I am – I am kinda having gut bubbles at the idea that they don’t arrive safe so bare with me) We’ve NEVER ordered chicks thru the mail before and of course, the horror stories online will keep you awake for days. Sometimes its just better to stay away from review sites.

We’ve had the brooder set up for a couple days in the spare room- Originally we were going to use our bedroom closet, but decided, probably not the best idea. The lamp is held in place to keep a good portion at 90ish degrees. They have electrolyte water and chick starter with chick grit in two separate locations.”

The was the start of a much different blog. The blog was supposed to be about bringing home our newest generation of laying hens.

My hubby started the truck at about 7:15 this morning, so the cab would be nice and toasty for their one mile trip home. He left at quarter to 8, just to make sure he could get them just as soon as possible, as they’ve been in the mail since wednesday night… This being saturday morning. They say chicks are pretty good for the first 72 hours of their life, but I was still nervous/giddy/straightupscareds.

No lie, I had been a wreck since the night before. I was beginning to wonder if mail order chicks were worth the stress. My hubby offered to drive to Hampden’s postal facility two hours away to pick them up last night, because I’m such a stressball. Ultimately we decided to stay home and let it be whatever it may be.

Ultimately, it was a decision we regretted.

We will never know what could have been, because when the chicks arrived, they had all frozen to death en route.

Of course, my wonderful husband took care of it. He took care of those poor little souls that knew nothing but suffering.

As of now, I’ve emailed the company to let them know the box was a total loss. I have not yet decided what to do as far as trying again vs. getting a refund. Of course, mrgillis says its up to me.

For right now, I’m going to find some solace in hot coffee, our wonderful homestead and everything else that I have going on that is awesome.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

 

 

 

We Survived – The 18 Month Sleep Regression

We did it. We survived the monster 18 month sleep regression and almost with our sanity and collective cool intact.

Now, I know. We’ve only done this parenting thing once, but I’m serious- we get complimented on our 22 month old EVERYDAY. She is a happy, intelligent, thoughtful and imaginative child, that very rarely has tantrums that we can’t work thru. We happen to believe that she is so happy and well adjusted for a couple different reasons, but the chief one is:

We’re attached parents. This is a pretty broad statement, but for us, it means simple things, like never turning down a hug, or keeping her with us the majority of the time. Plenty of people ask to babysit her all the time, but honestly, we believe the best place for her is with us,  and many studies show, children with strong bonds with their parents THRIVE instead of just survivin… Which brings me to the next reason I feel Izzy is THRIVIN’ – my story is a SCHEDULE and ROUTINE and I am sticking to it.

No, really. And I’m not the only one that feels this way

Doctor Approved!

Other Parents Agree!

Every day, Izzy has a fairly good idea how the day is going to go. This creates routine which is comforting to kids. They learn by constant repetitive actions and motions and words. Of course a schedule would help them learn what to expect come bed time.

But now for our regression story, and how we are now at 22 months and shes been back to her normal 7:30pm bed time for over 3 months, which is officially regressions butt kicked, in my opinion.

Right before thanksgiving, and around the time Izzy turned 18 months, we did this crazy little thing called moving our entire lives… coincidentally, this happened right when 4 of her teeth all decided to start moving around and coming in. AND at the same time that mrgillis and I decided that enough was enough, and the bottle had to go. That was actually the easiest of the whole shenanigan. But that’s a whole other blog… so back to the matter at hand.

These seemingly trivial events all collided one evening, to be very specific it was the night of mrgillis’ grandfathers 98th birthday gathering… we took Izzy out after supper and let her eat a little bit of my cake and ice cream… everything seemed good when we left there around 7, knowing Izzy would be up a bit later then usual.. and this turned into an Izzy that was restless at 8 and screaming when we tried to take her to her room. She was beside herself and demanding snacks and drinks. She was in a rage until she cried herself to sleep by nine. She then, slept thru the night like normal, and went down for a nap like normal, only to be a mess the next night come bedtime. She wanted her cup, a peanut butter sandwich, ALL the toys.

NOTHING about her old routine would soothe her, and the bottle was out of the question as she had already gone over a week without one. It was night after night of this same rigamarole for two weeks straight.

And one night, after I had picked everything up and said “no more toys, honey, it’s time for bed” and she launched into  another screaming fit, I cracked. I took every toy and book we had for her and put them in a big box and said, “Toys are for daytime.”

I got on her level, which at this point was the floor because tantrum, and said very simply, “I love you and you need sleep”. I picked her up, took her to her room and had to lay with her for over 30 minutes of flip out crying, tantrum and anger.

She fell asleep earlier then any other night in the last 2 weeks. Mrgillis and I went to bed before 10, FINALLY. It was amazing.

The next night, we went back to the old routine- bath, jammies, books and cleaning her teeth. I went into her room and withstood a 15 minute rage of flying elbows, headbutts and scream/crying. Then she was asleep.

The next night, we followed routine, I steeled myself for another 15-20 minute crazed fit of hysterical toddler, and low and behold. She didn’t cry at all, she laid in bed with me, playing gently with my hair for 15 minutes or so, until she fell asleep.

Now at 22 months old, she willingly goes thru her bedtime ritual, sends kisses to her father after a big hug goodnight, and lays calmly in bed with me, until she falls asleep. Some nights, we’ll lay there for longer then other nights, but all and all shes asleep every night by 7:30 and sleeps thru until 5 or 6.

So, routine and schedule, folks. Routine And Schedule. Its not that hard for me, because, much like a toddler, I get very grumpy when my regular schedule has been interrupted.

Until next time, have a wicked great day!

A Venture into Vermiculture – setting up and getting started

Our Venture into Vermiculture, started out very quickly. It was literally, a flirtation with an idea and then, 3 days later our WormFactory 360 was delivered. We had already started a worm friendly compost bin and had been shredding our paper products and washing our eggshells to give our little dudes when they arrived (fun fact, worms are both male and female).

So the morning we found out our worms were on their way to being delivered, we got to work setting up their new home. This is not a simple task in itself.

Opening your kit – our worm factory 360 came complete with a base, with tea spigot, a worm ladder, 4 trays, a cover, a sprinkler tray, shredded newspaper, a moisture meter, ground pumice, coconut fiber called Coir, a Thermometer, and a bag of powdered minerals.

First, they recommend you test the base for leaks around the spigot. This is super easy, as you just put enough water in the base to cover the spigot hole. If it holds, then you’re good to start setting up. If it doesn’t, then please visit Nature’s Footpath for further troubleshooting.

Second, its time to build your worm home – for this you’re going to need some additional supplies- in particular a bunch of sheets of newspaper, a couple cups of dirt and kitchen scraps. We were able to find all of these things relatively easy, even tho we had to sacrifice an aloe plant to get the dirt (its ok, we have dozens).

For really complete instructions that come direct from the manufacturer, I urge you to please go here. This is our experience and I’m going to base this blog soley off of that.

First thing that morning, we got to work by placing the “Worm Ladder”(this is a special piece of plastic designed to help escaping worms find their way back home) in the fitted slots in the base and starting our first bin. We put the bin on the base, folded 5 peices of DRY newspaper to fit the bottom. Then Mrgillis got to preparing the base of our worm bin – the dirt from our aloe plant, the shredded newspaper, the wet coir, (this is a coconut fiber block that we partially soaked with 2 cups of water – you only use about a third of the block), half the pumice, a tablespoon of the powdered minerals, all componants of their new home, that will help keep moisture and air levels optimal for worm health. But we still had no worms…

 

So, we were working at our office, and around 10 am, we got phone call from post office that our worms were there, and ready to go home. Mrgillis went, picked them up, came home, and setup up our worm’s home with the mixture from above… he then added at least a cup of water to get right moisture level, which they give you a meter to help tell.

When at last, everything was set up according to the directions provided on natures footprint, he opened up the worms and let them explore their new home

After, he put a couple cups of compost in one corner so as to watch for them to return to their routine of eating and not being super stressed and trying to dig down. After we’ve established that they are eating again, we dont have to seperate the food like that anymore.

Finally, he sprayed the worms lightly with water, then covered them with damp, not soaked, newspaper, 5 to 7 sheets thick, and put the cover back on top of the farm.

We placed the worm factory 360 in our bathroom, for two reasons. We have to leave a light on for them for 24 hours to discourage them from escaping. Because stress, apparently. Bugs are pretty complex creatures. And space being the other one reason, as we don’t have a lot of it. Especially with a curious toddler.

img_1792On a final note, we recommend a spray bottle for keeping your newspaper damp… and it seems like everything else we needed to start our kit was included with the factory other then dirt and “food”. We were lucky to have one on hand already, as Casper, our treefrog, requires spraying daily.

Well, it appears I’ve said about all I have to say about setting up a worm farm. We’re still waiting to make sure they acclimate to their new home, and stop trying to escape. Then we can move the whole kit and caboodle out to the plant nursery.

Now it’s full steam ahead to get ready for our newest additions, CHICKS! They should be arriving sometime in the next week. I am just beside myself with excitement.

So until next time, have a wicked good day!

Easy, Homemade Chocolate Syrup 

This is the third and last installment of my blog series about making this seriously delicious Peanut Butter Pie with this super easy and tasty graham cracker crust. This is the chocolate syrup that, I promise, really needs to be layered in between the peanut butter and whipped cream layers. And then, drizzled on top of the whole deal. Or, just eaten by the spoonful, because that how much I love chocolate.

Its 5 ingredients,  which is a lot less then whats in your national/store brands that actually COST more to bring home, then this does to make.

If you make excess, it stores well in the fridge for a few days, but I would hot water bath can any large amount.

Gather your ingredients:

  1. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  2. Granulated Sugar
  3. Salt
  4. Vanilla Extract
  5. Water

img_1180

I’m going to write this recipe to make a little over a cup finished product, because I don’t feel like canning anything.

Get our your saucepan, combine your 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup sugar and  pinch of salt. Whisk these together until most of the lumps are gone.

You HAVE to do this first, before adding in your water or it WILL NOT mix together easily. You’ll save yourself a lot of effort to mix your solids first, and then add in your water.

Then add a 1/2 cup water, whisking until well incorporated… now you can turn on your heat, but only on low. This stuff will scorch fast.

At first, the result of your work will look like yoo-hoo!, that chocolate water drink that was the only non juice drink allowed in our middle school vending machine. But as you let it boil down over the course of 15-25 minutes it becomes thicker, and much more like the syrup you’re used to.

 

How long you boil it determines how thick it will be. I prefer mine to be more of a fudge like consistency, so I boil it down quite far. I have also noticed, the more boiled down it is, the longer it lasts in the fridge.

Last thing, the Vanilla.

img_1190

The weird thing about chocolate is, that nothing really tastes like chocolate until you add a bit of vanilla extract.

For my 1 cup of finished syrup to have to have the desired taste of actual chocolate syrup, I add 1/2tsp of pure vanilla extract to the mix – BUT only after the syrup has cooled down for at least 5 minutes, if not closer to ten.

The reason being, well, you end up with burnt vanilla taste instead of pure vanilla taste, trust me. Learn from my mistakes, people.

Once that has been incorporated into your syrup, its ready to pour onto just about anything… and it makes a fantastic glass of chocolate milk as well.

So there it is… It only took me about 2 months to finish this blog series, but with so much else going on, I just have way different things on my mind as of late – such as chicks, worm farming and getting ready for planting season!

Feel free to use this recipe as is, or play around with it a bit… its basically delicious chemistry anyway.

Chocolate Syrup

  1. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. a pinch salt
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine your cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Next mix in your water. Cook this down on low heat, stirring often, until at your desired consistency- about 15 to 25 minutes. Take off heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Add in vanilla. Mix well. Store in a glass jar in your fridge for up to 5 days.

So that’s about it for that one. We have some exciting stuff coming up in the next season- everything from planting strawberries, to finishing our shed renovation, to a very exciting business decision that mrgillis and I made recently, which will tie into our farming dream, very nicely. But those are all other blogs for another day…

Until next time, have a wicked good evening.

Getting Ready for Chicks

In three rounds of bringing chicks home, and a total of 20 chicks bought, we have only lost one as a baby. I believe that it didn’t get the water that it needed to recoup after a long drive home in cold maine spring. It was a hard lesson, and one I hope to not repeat. But basically, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the what, where and how of raising baby chicks.

So, I’m going to share my tips for optimal chick rearing, starting at the most important step- Setting up your brooder area.

These are the steps I follow in the days before my chicks arrive, in order to assure they come into a safe home.

Step 1- choosing a brooder box – There are a couple of options here that are simple and quick to access. You can use a cardboard box, a plastic tote, a dog crate, an old tub…. None of these things are going to fit your chickies for long but they all have a certain amount of usefulness for the first 4 to 6 weeks of life. We use a big 45 gallon tote that is fairly heavy duty. The walls are pretty high and after they learn to jump out, we cover it with bird netting and it keeps them in until they need more space. We then move them into a bigger cage we made ourselves for the remainder of their brooding time. This time, with 15 chicks, we’ll probably have to use our dog crate too. The important thing to remember tho, use something that is easily cleaned, or easily replaced. Chicks are messy and need to be cleaned out often or you’ll end up with a big stinky problem on your hands and fast.


Step 2 – Choosing a watering system- We use a standard 1 gallon drinker fount. The smaller one, the one made especially for chicks, just gets knocked over and is essentially useless. The wide base on this type of drinking setup keeps it from getting knocked over by curious and active birds.

step 3 – choosing a litter – For the first few days to week, we use paper towels. This is for a couple reasons. One, you can watch for any odd poop. Two, if an accidental water spill happens, its a lot easier to clean up. Three, there is nothing for the little ones to choke on. We introduce pine shavings, the same litter we use in our coop, as they get older. Lastly, it’s easy for them to walk on, and they wont end up with splayed/spraddled foot/leg syndrome, which is a killer in most cases.

step 4 – choosing a feed and feeder – we order chicks that have been un-medicated for Coccidiosis, but HAVE been vaccinated for Marek’s, so we use a standard medicated growers feed. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW. Please find out the details behind your chicks before purchasing their food. Whatever decision you make regarding your chicken’s feed, just please be informed.

step 5 – choosing a heat source and monitoring system – we use a brooder lamp with porcelain base with a red bulb and a safety thermometer that we bought at walmart for 97 cents. The red bulb is supposed to be easier on the girls and reduce pecking and fighting and we have had great luck with it over the years. In fact, we are still on the first bulb we ever bought and we have run that sucker a lot.

step 6 – to supplement, or to not – We supplement our chicks diet with a ultrakibble and chick grit. Also we buy a babycake for them to peck at for a hour or so a day after they are a few days old. Lastly, when we first bring them home, we put Braggs apple cider vinegar  (the good kind with the mother in it)  in their water.. just a little tho. This year, we’ll be adding a bit of homemade electrolytes as well because they’ll be coming directly from the post office. This is a call you have to make for your situation. I figure, the better a start you give them, the better a life they will live.

Homemade Electrolytes (not just for chicks!)

1 Cup Water
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Step 7 – choosing your chick dealer – We have always bought our chickens thru stores in the past, and this has always worked fairly well for us. This year tho, we decided to try ordering from a hatchery directly. After lots of looking around, we decided to go with Hoover’s Hatchery for a couple different reasons. They offer a pretty good variety of birds and they have FREE SHIPPING on all orders. Also, their vaccination prices are excellent- super cheap per bird, not 2 or 3 bucks per bird, like some hatcheries I looked at.

So that’s about that for now… a brooder all set up with no chicks to live in it for about another week… my future girls haven’t even been hatched yet, and I am practically DYING. But I guess I’ll just have to contain myself….

Until next time, have a wicked good day.