The Chicken Palace Has a Door!

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It is a wet, chilly morning here in the heart of North Carolina.  This weekend we saw temperatures in the 20s which is quite unusual for us when it is almost April.

Neil and I worked ten hour days trying to get all our projects done around the homestead on our weekend.

We hauled dirt, shoveled dirt and hauled dirt some more.

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I am so thankful for my little Tacoma.  I have had that truck since I was 16, and it has been more useful than any other piece of equipment on the homestead.  We definitely made full use of that truck bed this weekend, between the dirt loads, trash loads and hauling lumber for our Chicken Palace run, we both were so thankful for that little green truck.

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I painted all of the outer poles of the chicken run, and we attached the remaining panels of chicken wire.  The best advice I can give when working with chicken wire is a good pair of gloves and a lot of patience!

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Neil and I headed to an awesome used building materials warehouse in Durham, The Reuse Warehouse on Geer Street, to find the perfect chicken run door.  We knew we wanted a rustic style door, and the Reuse Warehouse is a perfect place to go.  Although they can be a bit pricey, since rustic chic is in style right now, they have some really unique finds.  As we looked around the large building, there were 100 year old barn doors and old house doors galore.

I had been in the warehouse previously and seen a door I loved, but at the time we had no idea we were going to build such an extravagant chicken palace!  When I saw the door was still there, I knew that was the one.  A little rough around the edges, and nails sticking out from every angle, we saw the potential this 1930s door held.

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With a little restoration, the door was exactly what I had envisioned.

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Neil and I don’t have any construction experience, so we knew we would have to do some figuring to install this functioning chicken run door.  With a lot of measuring and concrete, we now have a fully functioning chicken run door.

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We still have to stain the door support beams and pour a slab of concrete under the door, but we were thankful our novice plans worked.

The Chicken Palace is certainly coming along, we just have the roofing to install and oh and one minor thing, the coop!  The company says there is a delay in shipping-you would think I would just learn to expect things like this-so we are unsure when the coop will actually get here.

Our girls are growing every day and I am beginning to expect “Gladiator,” as named by the sweetest blonde haired boy ever, might be an accurate name.  Neil and I have noticed some dominant behavior and when Lilly investigated the little flock, Gladiator jumped in between the girls and Lilly to protect them.  We will wait and see if we hear any cock a doodle-dos from this little chick.

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Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Time Marches On

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This week has seemed to drag by.  I am not sure if it is just my Spring fever, but I would have definitely preferred to be working on the homestead this week instead of in an office!

The chicks have continued to grow and begin their transformation into hens, all but one fuzzy little girl.  One of our Polish is a tiny little runt and has not grown at all since we brought her home.  She is getting adult feathers, but her size has remained unchanged.  I was worried she might not make it, but she is active and feisty and besides being small, appears to be healthy.

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The girls got an upgrade on their brooder box this week.  They now have roosting poles to perch on.  It is amazing to me how intense animals’ instincts are.  They have been completely confined and have never seen adult chickens, yet they know to scratch at the ground for food, and roost in the evenings for safety.

These instincts are such an interesting phenomenon, it makes me wonder if humans didn’t have so much outer (and inner for that matter) noise, how much different this world would be; if we relied more on instincts, instead of what was presented to us via media or other sources.

On a trip to Ireland when I was a little girl, a gray haired, Irishman told me a story about a study done with a family of rabbits.  The mother rabbit was left in a room with a heart monitor on and her litter of kits (baby rabbits) were taken in a submarine deep down below the water.  At various intervals, the kits were killed, one by one, and the times documented.  When the submarine emerged, they compared the documented times the kits were killed, to the mother’s heart tracing.  They found that at each time one of her kits passed away, their was a noticeable jump in her heart rate.  Whether this a real study, or one made up by an old Irishman, it raises some interesting thoughts about the strength of instincts.

This weekend brings a mad dash to haul and unload several truck beds full of dirt, complete our garden, and finish the Chicken Palace run.  We still don’t have a delivery date for the coop yet, but I was promised by the company to know by the end of the day when our coop would arrive.

The breeder who could possibly have Polish Frizzle chicks says the chicks are too young to distinguish the frizzled from the smooth (they need to be at least a week old), so I am patiently waiting to see if he has any Frizzles we can bring home.  Frizzled chickens are the potential offspring of a frizzled and smooth feathered chicken, and they are a very rare occurrence.

Along with Spring brings several new arrivals to my family.  My sister and her husband will welcome their fifth child, and my good friend and her husband welcome their first child home.  I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of these precious new little ones.

Spring brings new projects, new hopes and new life-such an exciting time of year to be here on the homestead.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

The Chickens Have Arrived

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One major downside to working this regular Monday through Friday schedule, is the weekends seem to race by.  Two days does not seem like nearly enough time to get the projects done Neil and I have in mind.

This past weekend, we spent time with Neil’s family and Sunday was spent with a pair of some of my very favorite kiddos.

We all went up to a hatchery in Wake Forest and picked out 10 little chirpy chicks.  We chose several colors of the Polish breed, Golden Laced Wyandottes, and Dark Brahmas.

We got all the little chicks settled into their brooder box and they are adjusting well.  It is very important in the first few weeks to handle your chickens as much as possible so when they are big chickens, they are not hard to handle.  Every day we pick up each of our flock of ten and spend a little time getting to know them.

chicks2As the days go on, each of their personalities have started to emerge and it has been so much fun watching them grow.

chicksNeil and I have been hard at work on our run and are anxious to get our chicken coop delivered.  We have been on the lookout for a unique barn door to serve as the entrance into our Chicken Palace.  I can’t wait to have it all come together.

As soon as the Chicken Palace is completed, it is on to finishing our garden.  The raised bed is built, stained, and in place, but still needing some more dirt, compost and of course plants!

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Oliver also enjoyed sunbathing on his porch, he is one spoiled pig!

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This coming weekend is bringing one last spell of cold weather, so hopefully Spring weather is here to stay after that.

Spring is always such a busy time on the homestead, but a good kind of busy.  Days spent working beside Neil on the chicken run and the garden, our hands stained with dirt, our backs sore from heavy lifting, make me long for a different life where that was a staple of our every day.  Perhaps that life is wound into the coming journeys of the future, for that I am definitely hopeful.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

A Glorious Chicken Palace is Underway

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This beautiful, breezy weather has me daydreaming about laying around the homestead, watching my flock of ladies peck the ground in the warm sunshine.  Although this isn’t a reality yet, I am hoping it will be soon!

Neil and I have been hard at work on our chicken run, since our coop is set to be delivered in two weeks.  We both knew we wanted a practical, but cute (ok more me than him) chicken run.  With his police training in mind, he set to work on a Fort Knox idea for our run.  Since we are new to the Little Rock House, we were unsure of what predators were in the area.  Our neighbor has a large flock of chickens who free range most of the time, and besides the threat of the local dogs that roam around, seem to be doing well.

We wanted a large run to ensure that they had plenty of room, since free ranging will be limited-and they are definitely getting it.  After measuring, we figured out that the chicken run is larger than our bedroom-lucky chickens!

We shopped around at quite a few stores looking for options for the run.  With money being tight right now, we definitely wanted to build the run as frugally as we could.  I am so thankful we found a company that accepts a monthly payment for the chicken coop, so we didn’t have to put it on a credit card or pay up front.

We ended up in Home Depot and found landscape timbers that were only a few dollars a piece.  Despite the fact they state “not intended for structural support” we plan on using them anyway-rules are meant to be broken right?

After clearing away extra branches and debris, we could start to visualize the chicken palace.

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We then set up the landscape timbers by burying them a few feet for support.  We wanted to have a walk in run so we wouldn’t have to constantly crouch down if we needed to be in the run.

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Thankfully Neil did the digging-a post hole digger is an awesome tool- and I shoveled the dirt back in and hauled the timbers over. After only a few hours we had the outside structure laid out.

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Instead of digging the chicken wire into the ground, we went for a different approach.  We laid out 2 feet of chicken wire at the bottom of each wall and will cover it with dirt.  This helps protect the girls from predators that try to dig their way in.  I’ve always heard this is a threat, but have luckily never experienced this-has anyone else?

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After a few days work, we have the beginnings of our fabulous chicken palace.  We still have a ways to go, we are adding in a roof, decorations and an old farm door, but I am so excited for what we have done so far.

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What do ya’ll think? Have you started on your chicken coops yet?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

A Sick Pig & A Rabbit Haircut

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What a weekend.  We knew going into this weekend that it was going to be busy and we were definitely not wrong about that!

Our Saturday morning started out with a vet visit by our pet pig.  Oliver had his hooves trimmed and got vaccines for the first time.  Since he was rarely outside prior to moving to the Little Rock House, I had never had him vaccinated before.  After speaking with the vet she recommended vaccinating him for rabies and another common illness that pigs can obtain from the soil.  I was assured that pigs rarely have a reaction to vaccines.  Oliver did ok during the actual vaccination, but 15 minutes after the vet left, he was definitely not ok.

Oliver began shaking violently and not acting himself.  After a few more minutes he began projectile vomiting.  I immediately called the vet back but she assured me that it was more than likely a stress reaction.  Oliver continued to decline as the hours went by.

He laid in his bed refusing to get up or even open his eyes and his breathing was labored.  Needless to say I was a very worried pig mama.  He wouldn’t even eat and this boy has never, ever refused to eat.

As Oliver laid there pitifully I again reached out to the vet relaying his symptoms, the vet agreed with me that Oliver was more than likely reacting to the vaccines.

Later that night, Oliver drank a little warm sugar water, but still refused to get up.  I tucked him in and hoped the morning would bring a much perkier pig.

Sunday morning, I awoke and came around the corner to what I was hoping was my usual hungry Oliver standing at his gate demanding to be fed, but there he lay tucked in just as I left him from the night before.

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I aggravated him until he got up and helped him outside to his water dish.  It made me feel much better that he was at least drinking.  A few days went by and Oliver is finally back to his old self.  Thank you everyone for the well wishes, they were much appreciated!

We also took Raffi to a local farm to get his terribly matted fur cut this weekend.  He was beyond our skill level, and both Neil and I were hesitant to cut through all the mats for fear of cutting him.  It took the Angora rabbit specialist almost two hours to de-mat him.  He is much less fluffy, but much happier now!

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Neil and I have been hard at work on our chicken run this week, stay tuned for details.  We are also picking up our new chicks on Saturday and I can’t wait to introduce them to ya’ll!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Fairy Tail Farm

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My family farm is in a tiny little NC town called Efland.  My original homestead was located here, so it holds a special place in my heart.

The family farm has some fantastic neighbors, and I thought it would be fun to introduce you to Fairy Tail Farm, owned by Rommie and Sherry.  They have a stunning piece of property that overlooks a lovely pond and acres of rolling green pasture.

Fairy Tail Farm is straight out of a fairy tale, and they have an eclectic family of animals that are full of personality and style.

Miss Gail Marie has enthusiastically taken up an equestrian riding hobby and thoroughly enjoys riding the donkeys around the pastures, and they sure don’t seem to mind!

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Not wanting to be outdone, Rocky the cat saddled up to join the fun.

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Looks like Rocky enjoys a variety of riding sports, including swine saddle!

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After a long hard day of grazing and observing the equestrian sports, Miss Muffet enjoys a relaxing soak in the bath.  Look at that face-what a happy girl!

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Although most people don’t give chickens credit for being particularly emotional, this Silkie roosted by her beloved friend who was ill, until she passed on to Chicken Heaven.

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Fairy Tail Farm has a fabulous flock of Silkie Chickens.  It looks like they are well aware of just how stylish and special they are.

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The goats at Fairy Tail Farm enjoy visiting The Sweet Shop and hanging out with their feline friend Rocky.

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From donkey riding turkeys to fashionista hens, Fairy Tail Farm is truly one of the most delightful farms around.  Thank you for sharing with us Rommie and Sherry!

Do you have a farm, garden or homestead you would like to share with everyone? Send me an email and include some pictures for a spotlight story here at the homestead!  Email me at homesteadredhead@gmail.com

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

 

Spring is Settling In

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This week brought us a much needed warm up in weather.  It looks like the winter weather is finally over.

Neil has been busy raking and burning leaves in preparation for our Chicken Palace delivery in a few weeks.  We have now planned out the run, equipped with various food stations, roosts and other fine chicken entertainment.  Let’s just say these chickens are some lucky ladies.  I can’t wait to show you the finished product.  I will keep you updated along the way.

We are also going to move Raffi and Rosie, our resident homestead rabbits, down near the chickens so we can move them off of our porch.  We just need to build them an over head shelter to cover their two story hutch (yes we may spoil our homestead critters a bit).  We also want to extend their hutch so they can have more room to stretch their furry legs.

We have also figured out our garden plans which involve building two raised bed planters.  I am hoping we can get this done this weekend as long as the rain moves along.

Since the weather has been so nice, Neil and I have enjoyed taking Peanut, Lilly and Oliver on walks  around our little homestead.  Oliver has been absolutely beside himself with how fun the walks are. Check it out HERE (make sure your sound is on!).

It is hilarious to watch him race around the yard, kicking up his piggy feet in delight.  With the gaggle of people’s dogs that roam around our homestead, he has yet to meet an enemy.  The dogs just seem to count him in as a little funny looking, but a friend all the same.

Oliver has enjoyed his walks so much he has learned how to unscrew the tension baby gate we have on his porch.  Since we have yet to install a permanent gate, we have had to nail a board at the bottom of the baby gait to keep him from unscrewing the tension rods with his mouth.  Sometimes he is a little too smart for his own good!

Neil and I have also been talking about raising other forms of meat in the coming year.  We spend so much money on produce (why we are planting a garden) and meat.  We have talked about meat rabbits, but I have never tasted it before.  Anyone have any experience on raising these? Any advice to share?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF