Ma's Family

Ma's Family

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The chicks are here!

The Chick Mansion is occupied!

What an exciting morning! We received a phone call from the post office at 7 am saying our chicks had arrived! Looking out the door at all the fresh fallen snow (on March 31!) I wasn't pleased with mother nature! The ladies at the post office assured us they were cute as could be and all different colors (Who could resist taking a peek with all those cute chirps?!?) and had taken good care of them and even had them up front near the heat. They're now all in the crates sipping water and chirping away. We lost 2 in travel and a couple lame ones (their feet were stuck in the crate dividers) But overall they look to be a healthy lot.

We used wire hangers to lower the light down as they were all crowding together tight. (Never hang a light from the cord) New chicks need to be kept at about 95 degrees f but you can see this without a thermometer by noting their behavior. If it's too hot the chicks will move away from the light and be listless. If it's too cold they'll group tight together like the picture below. When it's just right they'll be active and moving around. In the photo below Topper keeps guard over these strange noisemakers. We'll have to keep an eye on him! What he's sitting on is a wire grate about 12 x 12". That's where the water goes. Straw is not very stable and we don't like leaks so there is a small block of wood for height with the grate on top for a level surface. We've added vitamins to the water and use medicated chick feed as recommended for good health.

Half of the chicks are being moved to the second crate. This crate has a white light only because the local store was out of red. Red is preferred here as it's less harsh but a chick's gotta have heat. So white it is.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The great chicken adventure!

Box crate on pallet (sorry for the dark photos!)

So it's almost baby chick day! We're getting ready for 175 new chicks that are supposed to arrive in 2 days. It's important to have their place prepared before their arrival because we're getting newly hatched chicks that are just 1 day old. They need to be kept at 95 degrees and can get sick very easily. I was so lucky to score some large box crates at the local feed store! (Erways is great if you're in the area to stop in!) So I've set up 2 of them. They're pretty simple really just a wood pallet on the floor, then a large plastic trash bag (in case there are any leaky water spills), and the box crate on top.

Then a couple layers of cardboard inside the crate.
Some of my kids hopped in to test it out!

Then a couple inches of bedding inside it. We're using straw because it's what we have handy. The kids will have fun shredding paper towels to mix in with it. And after the straw is nice and dry (it was frozen out at the coop) we'll put a layer of window screen over it for the first few days so the chicks don't try to eat the bedding before learning where the food is. You can see we've put duct tape securely over those shipping handles to make sure no chicks wander out or a get a draft. We'll remove that and replace it with screens when they've settled in. Those handle holes will serve a purpose later!

We do free-range our chickens but baby chicks need a good healthy start. So they start out eating medicated chick feed to keep them healthy for the first couple weeks. After they have some feathers we'll switch them to a small ration of natural pellets each day and all the fresh foraging they can find.

Thanks for following our adventures and stay tuned for tomorrow's update after we've finished preparing the Chick Mansion! God Bless!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is it really spoiling?

I'm so excited! My first great-niece will be born in the next 6 weeks! I was blessed to be invited to her baby shower yesterday and it was so much fun shopping for baby Vanezza that I didn't want to stop! What better blessing is there in life than that of a new baby in the family? AND I get to spoil it rotten without doing diaper duty!! WOOHOO!

I don't really think it's possible to spoil an infant. Infants are so pure. They don't even care about STUFF. Babies need a pair of loving arms, a clean and safe place to sleep, and nourishing food. The cute stuff is all about the adults who enjoy it! So I enjoyed myself greatly and I hope her mom and dad enjoy using the gifts as much as I enjoyed shopping for them!

I didn't take a photo of it all but here is a photo of the diaper cake the girls and I made. There's about 140 diapers in there and all kinds of goodies. We had a ton of fun making it!

My girls picked out a cuddly nursing pillow that's pink with white polka dots. They all agreed it was their most favoritist ever baby thing a long time ago when they were babies. HAHA And all the kids made some cute princess pictures to decorate the new baby's room!

The boys picked a camo colored diaper bag so Vanezza's daddy could tote her in style too!

And Great Uncle Dennis determined she HAD to have the perfect, safe, and totally awesome new carseat/stroller combo. And I picked out an adorable black and bright pink travel bed/changing table that I thought would make mommy's job easier and it's just the colors that I thought she'd love! And added in some Dr. Brown's bottles and monitor that I loved with my own babies. We couldn't decide on any one thing so we just got them all! What fun! I can't wait to spoil her more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Go Fish - Ten Commandment Boogie (VBS Version)

Go Fish - Kickin' It Old School

How it started

Our chicken raising adventure really started out as a science project. A few years ago we decided that raising chickens through a season would be good project for both science and responsibility. My family raised chickens and pigs when I was younger and I didn't remember it fondly with the exception of 1 bawdy rooster who took a fancy to chasing me up the woodpile. The deal was that we would get a dozen chicks and raise them, then at the end of the season the older kids would assist in preparing them for the freezer instead of dissecting frogs for no good reason. We decided free-range would be fine and they wouldn't really need a coop or anything because we were only keeping them for 1 season after all!

So we researched all the needs and care of chickens online and popped on down to the local feed store for some chicks. (If you happen to be in the area Erways is awesome! The people are friendly, the produce is fresh, and the attached restaurant is our favorite place to eat with our large family!) Where we proceeded to obtain all the necessary gadgets for raising chicks. A light, waterer, feeder, chick feed, and most importantly... the chicks.

It went great! We kept them in a pen in the house until they head a hearty coat of feathers and the kids loved on them until they were ready to go outside. Those chickens very quickly learned to follow the kids around when they were outside and it was so cute to watch them line up at the front window peeking in when we weren't. Then came fall. Time to end our project but the kids decided they wanted to keep them. Forever. It had been a great year for them and the hens were laying eggs that all enjoyed. The kids learned a lot and we all enjoyed having them so we said if the kids would care for them and keep them alive through the winter we would keep them and build a coop in the spring. The chickens spent their first winter living on our front porch (much to my husband's dismay) and in the spring we added a few more chickens.

We didn't get a coop built that second year. But we didn't want them on the porch either! We settled them in the lean-to shed by the garage with some nest boxes and I think it was only 5 minutes before they were back on the porch. All year we tried to encourage them to use that instead of the porch but they were set in their ways and quite determined to live with the family.

The third year we began a chicken coop. We got as far as building the foundation for it before I ended up sick and there just wasn't time in the day. So they spent another year living on our porch. The kids were still very much wanting to keep them and care for them and we had grown quite fond of having our fresh eggs!

So the fourth year my mother and father in law helped out. They built this awesome little coop out of scrap lumber that would fit just perfectly on the foundation I had made. And the chickens wouldn't use it! We really wanted them off the porch! I tried closing them in the coop for a couple days so they'd get used to it as their home and as soon as they came out they were right back on the porch. So we did the next best thing. We bought more. We added 25 chicks and 2 turkeys to the flock and THIS TIME we took them directly to the coop when they had their feathers so they would learn the coop as their home. We figured the older hens were set in their ways and as they grew old at least the newer ones would be at the coop and we would eventually reclaim our porch.

We still have a couple of the birds from our first flock who claim the porch as their own. 5 years old and laying just as good as that first year and looking just as pretty! They're pretty spry in their old age! By all accounts a chicken's life is 1-4 years so with all our learning we must be doing something right! The younger chickens use the coop most of the time and after a minor hassle with a couple roosters who decided to guard the coop from a tree we have just a couple old biddies sharing the front porch.

So this year as I posted earlier I got ahead of myself and decided to go big. We'll have about 200 chickens this year and a lot of work! But from past experience we're going to love it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crazy Ma is at it again!

Wow! I can't believe I remembered my login info! I don't blog nearly enough! That's all about to change though.... maybe. Hopefully. I did something totally crazy today! So what's new? HAHA! I had planned on ordering 50 new chicks this year to expand my chicken flock. I ended up ordering a few more... 175 to be exact! EEK! They're scheduled to arrive March 30 so stay tuned for our latest chicken adventures! In the meantime here's a couple photos of last year's chicks! If I can figure out how to post them!