I think it's nearly impossible to be unhappy when you raise animals and spend lots of time outside enjoying them. Our menagerie of dogs, a cat, chickens, ducks and horses make me smile, if not laugh out loud, every single day ... many times a day. Animals offer comfort, companionship, enjoyment, tranquility and amusement in so many unexplainable ways that even other people many times have a hard time doing. Animals add to a sense of peace in life. Enjoy some photos of our merry band of stress relievers, plus some of their bounty, from this past week...
I'll spare you the gory photos of a chicken afflicted with vent gleet, but suffice it to say, these girls don't have it - and if they did, it would not be at all pretty to look at. You can google images of 'chicken with vent gleet' if you really want to see what it looks like, but to find out how to easily prevent and treat vent gleet naturally, just read on....
The journey from picking up your day-old chicks at the feed store or post office until you collect your first egg can be filled with joy and wonderment ... or fraught with anguish.
Over the years, I've noticed that there seems to be a pattern to the common mistakes that first-time chicken keepers make. I wanted to share them with you to help you avoid some oft-repeated missteps - and help you prevent heartache of your own.
Caring for another living thing that is completely and entirely dependent on you for their food, water, care and safety is a tremendous responsibility. When you do it right and your animals are happy and healthy, and you know you have done the very best you can for them, you sleep well at night and feel such a sense of satisfaction. Putting their animals first is the most selfless act anyone can perform. I am rewarded each and every day for my work and attentiveness to the needs of our chickens, ducks, horses, dogs and cat with loving pets who are such a joy to spend my days with....not to mention fresh eggs! I wish you all the same blessings.
Ducks eggs are superior for baking due to their higher fat content and lower water content than chicken eggs, but either duck or chicken eggs will work just fine in this easy, decadent Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding.
Yesterday morning dawned clear and cool, sunny without a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to go to a fair. Each fall we look forward to spending an afternoon wandering around the Isle of Wight County Fair, and this year was no different.
As the final days of summer wind down, I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of the heat and humidity. We are all (including the animals) much more comfortable in cooler temperatures. As displaced New Englanders, my husband and I look forward each year to the crisp, fall feeling in the air and the promise of snow one day not too far off (yes, Virginia does get snow!). Enjoy this peek at our week on the farm where things are still blooming like crazy, but we've already got some cold crops started...
I have wanted to try making my own butter for such a long time, but just never got around to it. Then a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Grit magazine inspired me to finally give it a try ... and it couldn't be easier - using your stand mixer!
Marigolds, as well as other plants that contain the pigment xanthophyll, are routinely added to commercial layer feed to artificially boost the color of egg yolks of the chickens eating the feed. I also add dried, crushed marigold petals to our chickens' feed, not only because I love the vibrant orange yolks, but because marigolds provide numerous health benefits for our flock.
As summer winds down and I put the finishing touches on my book, I took a moment this past week to reflect on the year so far and realize that we really are blessed to have such an amazing stable of animals who all get along so wonderfully and are so happy and healthy - to include horses, a cat, dogs, the chickens and ducks. In addition, to be able to turn my passion into a career of sorts surpasses my wildest dreams. It's been some ride and it will all prove to get even more exciting as 2013 comes to a close in a few months and I look forward to 2014. So glad you're all along for the ride!
Hard to believe but the cold weather is just around the corner. Whether this is your first winter raising chickens or you're an old pro, both my post here on the blog on How to Winterize your Flock and my article in the next issue of Chickens Magazine might prove to be interesting and helpful to you in prepping for dipping temperatures.
Even backyard chickens on a diet of good-quality layer feed need two very necessary supplements: grit and oyster- or eggshell. Grit is basically coarse dirt, small stones or pebbles, which is stored in their crop and helps them grind and digest anything they eat other than commercial feed, and the oyster shell or egg shell provides additional calcium that they need to make hard shells on the eggs they lay.
Each spring I plant a few varieties of sunflowers. The wild birds enjoy some of the seeds throughout the season, and the herbs and other edible flowers I also plant in the garden enjoy the natural shade that the towering sunflower stalks provide them from the sweltering Southern sun. By late summer it's time to harvest the seeds for the chickens. Sunflowers seeds are an extremely nutritious flock favorite and an excellent source of protein during the fall molting season.