Life and Death on the Homestead

Anyone who raises animals knows that death happens. If that animal happens to be in the livestock category, however small, death often happens on purpose.

Such is the story with some of our hens.

Last fall we were given several Cornish Cross hens. This breed is bred as meat chickens. They are meant to grow quickly and be prepared for the freezer at an early age, usually around 8 weeks old, though some are culled as early as 4 weeks. They are eating machines!!! Anyway, we had a few to die of hear attacks so we began culling (oh, let’s just say it-slaughtering) them so that we could freeze the breasts. Then we stopped. For three reasons, I guess: 1.Sympathy 2. they began laying eggs 3. Christmas and winter sprang upon us.

Last weekend though, we decided it would be more humane to go ahead and finish the job of clearing them out. We deeply appreciate the generosity of my uncle who gave them to us, but they have now lived around ten months longer than they were bred to live and it is obvious. Their obesity made it difficult for them to fly up to the roosting area, so they chose instead to sleep in the nest boxes. Hubs had to go out every night and place them on the roost, otherwise they pooped in the nesting boxes which we obviously don’t want. Also, they were suffering from respiratory problems and kept a cold. They literally waddled like a duck, made stomping sounds when they walked and were losing their feathers without new growth. An ugly sight to behold, and pitiful.

So, while we do not enjoy the process of slaughtering a chicken-especially an egg laying hen-sometimes it just has to be done. We couldn’t let another week go by watching them suffer.

All Cooped Up

As half of the country is still battling winter, we in Kentucky are right there with you. Two weeks ago we were hit with over a foot of snow and just when it all melted, last Thursday brought us another 12+ inches. But, this is Kentucky so all we have to do is wait a day or two and the weather will change. This week we are expecting high 50’s and even some 60’s. It’s a wonder we aren’t all sick.

Anyway, all this snow has meant the chickens have not been able to peck around outside the coop.

Snug-as-a-Bug_thumb.jpgWe added the tarp to the sides to help block the wind and snow.   Snowy-backyard_thumb.jpg This is their back door.

We finally shoveled them a small area in which to stretch their legs, but it is not the same.

Too much snow to go outside! Too much snow to go outside. They don’t like the cold white stuff!

barred rockA little patch cleared out the back door was enjoyed by some, but this Barred Rock preferred to stay inside.

All this being cooped up in the, well, coop has made for a dirty (and stinky) home. We make a point to clean the coop once a week and change the bedding. They get so excited when we do this. They know what we are doing and love it.

Last week we put down a new bale of straw and they went nuts over it! There were grains of wheat mixed in the straw and boy did they go to town gobbling up the kernels. We had the nest boxes all nice and clean with fresh straw and they just scratched it all out, getting to the wheat. :)

nuts over straw

Chickens are just plain fun and delightful to watch.

Literary Journey: Update

If you have read this blog for a couple of months, you may recall I am embarking on a literary journey of the world by reading one book from each country. See tab above.

So far I have “visited” Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Albania. I then paused to read The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. If you have not read that, go get it NOW! Right NOW! Then come back and tell me what you think.

Anyway, next on the tour is Zambia and I am delayed at the airport, so to speak. I am having a difficult time finding a book at our library from Zambia. I could purchase one on my Kindle, but I’d rather not. I’m a cheap traveler. So anyway, that is the update. We are en route to Zambia with a possible layover in Algeria. We’ll see.

Increasing Our Egg Supply

I must admit there for awhile we were becoming quite discouraged about our egg supply, or lack thereof. Sure, it was the dead of winter and it is common for the laying to lag during that time, but we figured 18 hens should have given us more than 1 or 2 eggs every other day! So, we took action and figured out ways to increase our egg supply.

Here is how we went from this:

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TO THIS:

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Most of these are no-brainers, but remember we are learning as we go :)

1. The most obvious way to increase our number of eggs was to increase our flock of laying hens. Duh. We’ve gone from 18 to 45 hens.

2. Kicked most of the boys out. We did this rather early. Nine roosters with 18 hens did not make for happy girls. They were stressed out from all the attention! So we kicked six of them out, leaving 3 with 18. Along the way we have bought two more roosters for breeding purposes. So, we have five roosters in with 45 hens. Much better ratio. Oh, and the other six roosters? They have their own home and pen now, waiting for mating season to begin (which is determined by us):)

3. Let there be light! We added a light set to a timer to come on around 2:30 am. This gives them a longer “day” and really helped with the laying.

4. Fermented feed. I give them a big bowl of fermented feed a day. This is super healthy for their digestive systems and overall well-being. They love it and, as we know, healthy hens are happy hens and happy hens lay eggs!

So, that’s it. That is what has taken us from 1-2 eggs every other day to 1-2 dozen a day. And it is still winter! I wonder how it will be this spring?

BTW: Check out our new Photo Gallery in the tab above! We’ve featured all our girls. Thanks for stopping by!

Hints for Home Schoolers – Eating the Bread of Idleness

marciasettles:

Oh boy did I need to read this tonight! This cold and snow has motivated me to do little more than curl up under a blanket. I always feel worse when I’m idle yet it remains so easy to fall into that rut this time of year.

Originally posted on The Vine Vigil:

Proverbs 31:27

 She looketh well to the ways of her household,

lady in garden

and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Groan . .  . the Proverbs 31 woman.  Did any woman ever achieve what Solomon so glowingly describes as the “virtuous woman?”  It is important at the outset – to fully recognize that Proverbs 31 describes the entirety of all the phases of a woman’s life.  The young children at home phase, is different than the older lady volunteer stage.  Proverbs 31 covers all, and I mean ALL stages of a woman’s life, and should not intimidate you, nor prevent you from striving to become a Proverbs 31 woman.  A little at a time!

The particular focus of this article, really affects me personally.  Most people who don’t know me very well, would scoff at the notion that I could ever be idle.  Here is my confession.  I like to be…

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The 9 Best Pantry Foods To Store For A Crisis

Originally posted on TheSurvivalPlaceBlog:

By  Nicholas O. - Off The Grid News

There are three ways to get food when the power’s out or when there’s a crisis: what you can find naturally, what you cultivate, and what you store. Having a means to get food from all three sources will make you quite well-rounded when it comes to food, but for right now, we’re just going to focus on food that you can store.

Here’s the truth: A lot of so-called “long-term storage” food can really only be stored for about six months before it goes bad. While you will need to rotate out all food eventually, why rotate food every six months when you could rotate it out once every one to two years? The types of long-term food that we’re going to look at are the types you can keep in your pantry for at least one to two years.

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What is our Blessed Hope?

Hope. A beautiful word, isn’t it?

In today’s world we associate the word “hope” with “wishful thinking”. For example, I hope I get the promotion. I hope the test results are good.

This is not the “hope” I refer to when speaking of our Blessed Hope. No, there is no wishful thinking.

The Hope referred to in Titus, the Hope that gets me through each day, that motivates my every moment…that Hope is much more substantial. Instead of wishful thinking, it can be defined as excited anticipation. Like a child awaiting Christmas, we are awaiting the moment we will finally see Jesus Christ face to face.

Technically, the Blessed Hope is the guaranteed return of Jesus to the earth; when He will establish lasting peace and justice.

Whether I meet Him in the air upon that trumpet sound without meeting death, or I go by natural means through death, I will be awaiting His face with every breath He gives me.

You see, He IS coming back! This isn’t some pipe dream. It is REALITY. The only reality is HE IS the great I AM and He IS coming back!

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2: 11-14

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Winter Arrives Mid-February and a New Address!

We have a new address on the web! And a new name! I finally settled on Blessed Hope Homestead. The word “homestead” evokes feelings of nostalgia, warmth and comfort. Our little haven until Jesus calls us Up. We are also now a dot com, in case you haven’t noticed. BlessedHopeHomedotcom

We’ve had a considerably mild winter here in Central Kentucky, until today. The weathermen predicted 10-15 inches for our area and it appears as though they will be correct when it is all said and done. Yesterday was sunny and clear. Today, several inches of snow.  Nearly everyone ran to the store yesterday for the necessary “bread and milk”, but we did not. Didn’t have to. I’m so thankful for our stocked pantry and the fact that for whatever reason we already had 2 gallons of milk in fridge. Good thing, too, as FB was blowing up with posts about the stores being out of everything.

After church yesterday, Hubs and I decided to take extra precautions with the girls and winterize the coop. We added tarp to the sides of the chicken house, where they usually roost, to block the wind and make it a bit warmer inside the house. We also added an aquarium heater to their water bucket. It is working really well and it is a relief to not worry about their water freezing.

In other news: We got 19 new girls over the weekend! While Saturday was Valentine’s Day for everyone else, it was my birthday. Yep, a Valentine Baby. And what wonderful gifts! 19 new girls, some flowers, candy and Hubs got me a certificate for a 60 minute massage. I am so looking forward to using that! He also put up shelves in our cellar (finally), increasing our pantry storage.

Cellar ShelvesThe shelves Hubs built for the cellar. 

 Snug as a BugThe tarp blocking the wind on the coop. They are snug as a bug inside.

Snowy backyard The chickens’ backyard. No one wants to play in all that white cold stuff!

Too much snow to go outside!They’ve decided to huddle up inside instead

Thanks for stopping by!

I am doing some cleaning on this blog, so be prepared to see a new “us” within the next few days. Meanwhile, today is a foggy one and we are having so much fun with our daily egg hunt. We’ve gotten a dozen a day for the past couple of days. More on what we did to increase egg supply later. Have a glorious day!

Another Chicken-filled Weekend!

Hubs purchased seven more girls last Thursday. This time he got 2 buff orphingtons, 3 Easter Eggers and 2 sex-links. Friday and Saturday he was busy building a set of new nesting boxes. When we put it in the chicken house, the girls went nuts over it; three or four trying to crowd into one nest. It was a hit.

Our egg supply is starting to pick up, thank goodness, and we finally feel confident about advertising their sale. In fact, we’ve already had two customers! We are so grateful for them and for God’s blessings. He is Good!

20150130_155101 One of our new Easter Eggers.

20150130_155048A Buff Orpington.

20150130_155203“Melody” (sex-link). She is the friendliest chicken I’ve met. We named her thus because she follows me around, singing and talking. She has a twin sister, “Harmony”; who is friendly but not quite as musical and pet-like.

20150131_114226Here they are trying to crowd into the new nest boxes. “Andy”, their Black Giant protector rooster, took a look around as well and gave his approval.

Thanks for stopping by!