The Chickens Are Coming!

It’s January 16th as I write this.  8:54 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (a little slow getting this posted)

I’ve already been outside getting fresh water to the critters and feeding them.  The current cold snap is coming to an end today.  Major rains are arriving tomorrow and already they are talking about potential flooding problems in the lowlands.

And life goes on!

All I know is THE CHICKENS ARE COMING! roosters-6313-001

Baby chicks go on sale February 3rd where Bev works at the Urban Farm & Garden Center, and we’re buying forty of them….then we’ll raise them for a couple months and sell them, hopefully, for a decent profit. Forty of them…in our garage…preparations must be made.

But you don’t really care about that, especially if you’ve never raised chickens.

But maybe you’re interested in raising them for the first time…what do you need to know in order for you to have fresh eggs for breakfast?

HOW LONG TO LAY

A chicken, on average, will start laying eggs at about six months.  I said on average. We have one who took eight months.  We have an over-achiever who started plopping them out at five months…but plan on six.

That means the chicks we get on February 3rd will start laying maybe in August.  We’ll probably sell them around June but still, if we wanted eggs, we’d be waiting until August.

WHAT WILL THEY NEED?

Well, they’ll need a brooder for a couple months. For us that means an enclosed area inside with a heat lamp where the chicks can grow up safe and warm.  Come about March we’ll put them outside in an enclosed place that has a well-ventilated and protected coop of some sort. There they will be able to search for bugs and enjoy a larger living space.

WHAT DO WE FEED THEM?

Well, we feed them organic pellets when they are older and when they are young we feed them organic pellets ground down into almost a powder.  Chickens also love worms, which I’m raising, and grubs, and once they get outside they love to search for their own delicacies.  When they get old enough we’ll turn them loose in the yard so they have more food choices and, no worries, at night they will return to their protected home.  Chickens are a lot smarter than you would think, or maybe they are just instinctual and I’m giving them way too much credit.  LOL

AND THAT’S REALLY ALL THERE IS TO IT

I’ve written articles before about how to build a coop, so no need to go into that now.  This is just a primer for those curious…and no, you do not need a rooster to get eggs.  Females lay eggs just like female women do, daily, with or without the aid of a male. J

MEALWORMS

Speaking of chickens, our mealworms are coming this Friday.  One-thousand of them.  I need to make their enclosure as well so we can start raising them. Great food for chickens, by the way.

QUAIL

The quail eggs are arriving next week as well.  I need to get the incubators ready for them….17 days to hatch…seven weeks after that they start laying eggs.

Busy times here!

GOTTA GO

It’s a busy time around here so that’s all I’ve got for you today.  If you have any specific questions about raising chickens, or quail, ask me in the comment section.

Have a great winter day!

Bill

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Killing Time in a Deep Freeze

town_935Happy 2017 to you all, and thanks for coming back to our little urban farm.

We don’t do much gift-giving around our home.  A partial reason is because we are frugal, but another reason is because we figure we have everything we need to be happy, so why clutter things up with more “stuff” that we really don’t need?

Having said that, Bev and I did get one gift each, and my new gift was a jig saw.

And this boy is excited!

It’s pretty funny, really, because growing up I couldn’t care less about power tools.  They intimidated me, to tell the truth, but I also had baseball to occupy my time, and everyone knows baseball is more important than cutting pieces of wood, right?

But now I love them!  I love my circular saw, and my power drill, and my reciprocating saw, and now I love my jig saw, and my head is swimming with ideas, what I want to make, how I want to use it to finish projects around the place . . . it’s the perfect toy for this aging boy!

WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?

Well, for one thing, it’s cold.  No, not cold by North Dakota standards, but for us pampered Northwesterners, it’s still cold.  I have no desire to be outside, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to do.  I’m working, this week, on organizing the garage, making room for the quail incubation process, which will begin in another month.  I’m building shelves and I’m going to build a workbench so I have a place inside to play with my new jig saw.  A boy and his toys, right?  Anyway, I’m doing the indoor chores now so that when it warms up I can take my act outside where more work is waiting for me.

There’s always something to do, and it beats watching reruns of Alaska Bush People.winter-in-my-little-slice-of-heaven-017

TAKING CARE OF THE CRITTERS

No matter how much I try to avoid it, I do have to go outside.  Every morning at six I’m outside giving fresh, unfrozen water to our critters.  For whatever reason, they balk at drinking solid ice. Silly animals!

We’ve cut our quail flock down to a dozen, and we’ll use them in the spring for breeding.  Along with those dozen we’ll incubate about 100 new quail, and after six weeks or so we’ll introduce them to the existing dozen, and then we start collecting eggs.

CHICKENS AND EGGS

For whatever reason, one of our new hens is suddenly laying eggs.  She’s the only one of our eight that’s laying, and I have no explanation for it other than the fact that chickens are unpredictable regarding laying habits.  If you have chickens I’m sure you’ve found that to be true.

When will the rest of them start laying? Your guess is as good as mine, but probably sometime in March.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but we lost three chickens a couple weeks ago to raccoons.  It was our fault completely.  I wasn’t quick enough to get out there and lock up their coop.  The weather was cold, and when the weather is cold the raccoons get an early start on their nighttime hunting.  By the time I realized I had forgotten, we had three dead chickens.

Lesson learned. A painful lesson but a lesson learned.

FARMERS MARKETS

Our local markets start up again in March and April, and we’re already getting ready for them.  I’ll be working the next couple months on making some new items to sell along with our quail eggs and the goat cheese made by our son-in-law.

And Bev is waiting for her interview for a job she applied for….director of the Tumwater Farmer’s Market…exciting times if she gets that job….so cross your fingers and wish good thoughts for her.

SPEAKING OF COLD WEATHER

While we’re on that topic, there’s a great article by Mother Earth News about keeping water from freezing outside for your animals. I’m going to try it this week.  Check it out.

THAT’S IT FROM OLYMPIA

Stay warm, be safe, and have a fantastic week!

Bill