Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our Suburban Homestead.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 years living with chickens

 Last night Chance and I went to shoo the hens and turkey's into the coop,they had spent the day roaming the yard and enjoying the sunshine.

We stated with the hens,most of the time they are easiest.But last night as we were starting to gather them up to push them towards the coop; they had last minute plans.They went running to the pan of water we leave for them in the yard. All four of them were suddenly very,very thirsty.It reminded me of a little kid you are trying to get to go to bed calling from their room "Mom,I need a drink of water" And another and another.Chance and I laughed Chance said to me "Well, at least when they need to pee* in the middle of the night we won't have to get up with them."* Chickens don't really pee, per-say,it all comes out together if you get my meaning.

The turkey's are always a bit more work to get into the coop.It usually takes both Chance and I with switches in hand  coming from opposite directions to drive them in.The turkey's are fairly smart about how to escape but quickly become chickens when they realize they have gone over the fence into the wide scary world and just as quickly put themselves back where they belong.

The turkey's are due for butchering soon.We had planned to have them for holiday dinner but they were not ready in time.Raising heritage breeds has taught us that they tend to grow slower than the commercial meat breeds.

Over the years we have found the easiest way to get reluctant birds into the coop is to pour a scoop of feed into their feed bin in the coop run.9 times out of 10 they come running and hop right into the coop.Most of the time they get side tracked by the roost and just go to bed,the feed forgotten til morning.Sometimes they stop for a bed time snack.Some people say not to leave out the feed in the bin at night because it will attract rats or 'coons but we haven't had any problems over the years.

This spring marks 10 years living with chickens.Our current flock is number 3 and our least favorite.The first flock being our most loved and best layers.It's been a great ten years with Chickens.Tons of laughter has happened with some of the antics they pull.Only a couple lost to "coons,nasty beasts wasted my good layers,didn't even drag them off to be eaten,just left dead in the yard for us to find.And (knock wood) none of them have come down with any chicken health issues.This point confirms my belief in a clean coop,room to roam about the yard to hunt for whatever it is they can find to eat and good feed mixed with scraps from the kitchen

This year we will need new chicks,our hens are slowing way down in their laying.I looked through my Homestead Log Book and it says the current hens are 2 years old.If we want to keep ourselves in eggs we will need new birds this spring.The new flock won't be in full laying production until spring 2013 and by then the current flock will most likely not laying or laying very few eggs.It's all about timing and rotation.

I was thinking that we would wait until spring 2013 to get the new flock but that would throw off the rotation and we would be egg-less for most of a year.I was thinking about the long list of projects we have planned ,a couple of trips and where to put the chicks while they need to be indoors.But the idea of being egg-less was not a happy one and then I saw a photo of chicks ,who can resist those darlings.

Wow, as I was looking through my blog photos for this posting I realized how much we have done since I started writing. And there are still more projects coming this year.Well,I have always said it's all about the journey not the getting there.

Other than chicken thoughts I have been baking more,something I was having a hard time finding time for for a good long while.Chance and I have also been cooking some great dinners together.I made this one Friday night for Deep Dish Pizza with a no knead dough.I have saved the recipe and will be making it again.I made the whole batch which gave us enough dough for 2- 8 inch pizza's and a dozen Pizza Pocket Pies for in lunch boxes.Over the past few months I have become an even bigger fan of left overs and extras,it makes packing lunches easy and stretches my food dollars.My friend Jen always cooks with leftovers in mind,I now get her wisdom.

Rois