Considering backyard chickens?

Then welcome!  Let’s talk chickens this week.

Last year if you had asked me if we’d ever have chickens I’d have told you absolutely not.

But I was misinformed.  Hadn’t really considered all the pros to being a chicken owner just had one disgusting experience involving chicken cannibalism as a teenager house sitting.

Our decision to add chickens to our homestead sort of just came to be.  It wasn’t a monumental moment that I could really jog from my memory.  But I do remember being sick of the prices of organic happy chicken eggs from the store.  Diet is important in our house.  And organic free range eggs are a staple.

I found someone locally getting rid of a few hens.  Quickly a few hens turned into 8, oh and plus one rooster.  The luck of the draw with pullets (unsexed baby chicks) locally hatched.

Not only we were saving money on eggs immediately, but we found that the chickens were actually a great form of sensory input for our children.

Raising good humans in this worlds current climate is necessary.  Providing our kids with opportunities to learn and encouraging growth is our job as their parents.  What better way to teach them about the food we consume than having chickens in the backyard.

When our pullet turned Rooster we decided to use the fertile eggs to hatch our own babies this spring.  Out of 10 eggs, 5 hatched all natural, compliments of our broody hen Harriett Ann.

It was really simple.  Nothing to crazy.  Harriett Ann did reject her first chick, but with the advice of others and an evening chick reverse kidnapping she happily took him under her wings just a few days later.

So here it is in a bullet version why I’d encourage you to consider backyard chickens (if you’re not a lengthy article reader)

  • Cost savings (Even with the price of chicken feed I’d say it was much more cost effective then buying eggs weekly from the grocery store)
  • If you have kids it’s an excellent learning opportunityIMG-3402
  • They are really simple and don’t require much.
  • Inexpensive to start you’re own backyard chicken flock.  I think our total cost to starting our little chicken family was about $50.
  • You can build your own coop using pallets or recycled wood.IMG-7735(1)
  • Feeders can be found on sale.
  • The best eggs I’ve ever tasted and they are much cuter than store bought eggs!IMG-2031
  • Fresh, I always wondered how long have the eggs I’m purchasing actually been sitting on the shelf.  Now I know how fresh mine are.
  • Organic eggs.
  • An extra way to make money on the side by selling farm fresh organic eggs to neighbors.  Also people looking to start their own backyard flock are willing to purchase hens.  You won’t get rich quickly, but it is a nice way to make a little money on the side.

There are cons to owning chickens too.  I mean they can be stinky.  But I use essential oils and natural products to keep their coop as clean as I can.

But overall I’d say the benefits to owning our own backyard chickens has exceeded the negatives.  And I’ve found myself fond of quite a few!

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Should I raise meat birds on my homestead?

If you happen to be a vegetarian you could skip out on this article.

If you spend a lot of money at the grocery store weekly and are sick of the prices of meat as well as the quality you might want to continue reading.

Part of our homesteading journey included possibly raising meat birds.  Me, being the biggest animal lover couldn’t really stomach the idea.

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That is until King Mabel went rogue and transformed into an aggressive Rooster.

Anyways.  As our trial meat bird.  King Mabel’s life came to an end and he was processed for dinner.

So let’s get into it.

Pros

  • You know what quality of meat you are getting.  In our case we have had King Mabel for 10 months and we fed him a high quality chicken feed. (He was handfed up until a few weeks ago when he got testy)

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  • Free Range
  • Quite tasty was the consensus from the family.
  • It gave us a perspective on how much we as American’s consume.  That was a huge eye opener.
  • Taught the children a valuable lesson regarding consumption, and being grateful for the food on the table.  (They were not present for King Mabel’s death)
  • Ease of plucking and preparing the chicken.
  • Gives the hen’s a break they were starting to look a little ragged.
  • No loud crowing at 3:30AM.

Cons

  • Death.  I have always had a love hate relationship with meat.  The animal lover in me can’t really stomach too much.  So I’ll be honest I cried.
  • Finding a quick way to kill the chicken.  Like I said this has been a learning experience.

So our consensus was that it was worth it as you can see the pros definitely outweigh the cons to raising meat birds on your homestead.  It really put the amount of food we consume into perspective.  I know I can speak for myself when I say that I will consume much less meat now knowing and seeing the process from start to finish.

I’d say if you are seeking a simpler way to living.  Consider the pros and cons before raising your own meat birds.

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Summer Reads

Into the Water

Paula Hawkins

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I love to read.

And I love a psychological thriller.

Since becoming a full time mama part time homesteader I don’t always have as much time to read as I’d like.  I’ll read a variety of books I don’t discriminate.  Every few weeks the kids and I head to the library and pick out some new reads for the month.  A way to beat the heat and get free books.

Our library has a summer readers program offering incentives for kids and adults to spend their summer reading.  At first I thought I was to old for a summer reading program but have found it’s encouraged me to read books that I normally would not have picked up.

From the author of Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, allures her readers with Into the Water, a psychological thriller that will keep you continually turning the page.  Ending with a twist that is surely going to leave you surprised.

The story is set in Beckford, a community along the river in Northern England, known for its historical tales of witchcraft.  Known as the Drowning Pool, “the suicide spot.”  The mysterious deaths and suicides that occur at the Drowning Pool, draw Danielle Abbott to begin writing about the mystery surrounding the small town.  Her obsession with the Drowning Pool is what ultimately leads to her own mysterious death.

Paula Hawkins takes you on a journey full of twists and turns.  Similar to The Girl on The Train I had a hard time liking the characters.

If you are looking for a quick psychological thriller to read I would suggest Into the Water.  It keeps you turning the pages, wondering what will happen next.  The end of the book leaves you questioning it long after you’ve set it down.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

5 Simple Steps to add more flowers to your homestead for free

I will cut to the chase on this. I know it can get frustrating reading a wordy article just to get to the 5 steps you chose to click on.

But I love anything free.  And I always love to add to the landscape of our ranch.

One of my favorite things to plant is the potato vine.  It has such a beautiful deep purple color and flourishes in our climate here in Nevada. (we will see how it survives the harsh winter next year)

Find a plant you want to propagate (I chose the Ornamental Sweet Potato)

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  1. cut a piece of the stem (I’ll be honest sometimes I just pinch them off but they say it should be a clean cut)
  2. dip in water
  3. dip in rooting powder
  4. place in the soil appropriate for the item you are propagating.
  5. water generously, I try to keep the soil pretty moist until it perks back up)

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And it’s truly as simple as that!  This method doesn’t always work for every flower, tree, or vine you are attempting to propagate.  I’d do a little googling before trying different items from your yard.  Also generally I put the new start into a pot, our soil here isn’t the most planter friendly.

Also if you have friendly neighbors you will find that people don’t mind if you take a cutting if you see something you’d like to add to your yard.

Happy Planting!

 

The Fate of the Backyard Rooster

When our sweet hen Mabel turned out to be a beautiful Blue Orphington rooster we were a little hesitant to keep him but chose to anyways and he was gifted with the name King Mabel.  Here we are about 8 months into it and I’m leaning towards taking the backyard rooster out of the equation for a bit.

If you’re considering a backyard rooster or find yourself with a surprise rooster in the flock here is my personal experience as a rooster owner.  If you have a rooster let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Pros

Protect the hens from predators.

Less yelling between hens.  They do seem to get along better with the Rooster around.

Introducing new chickens to the flock is a much easier transition with a Rooster around.

They are beautiful!

They do have a fascinating dance they perform to impress the hens.

The chicken family dynamic is pretty interesting to watch.

Fertile eggs.

Cons

I remember only a month ago bragging about the sweetness of my Rooster who is now about 10 months old.  However suddenly he’s taken a more aggressive approach and has resorted to chasing Miss H and pecking her anytime she comes into the chicken pen.

He posts up and now chases me out or lunges when I come into collect eggs.

They are loud.  Sometimes obnoxiously so.  It seems he’s really gotten the hang of his morning alert and it can be a bit irritating for those who sleep lighter.

The mating process appears to be quite violent.  It’s not something I enjoy seeing  in my backyard.  I know it’s nature, but yikes.

So there are my personal pros and cons to owning a backyard rooster.

The fate of King Mabel has yet to be decided.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Let’s Bake

Easy Banana Bread

In our house there is usually always something freshly baked. I’m frugal. I love to bake and so do the kids so it’s something we do regularly.  But I love easy recipes even more.

Baking not only teaches them self sufficiency, but there is math involved. Reading. Not to mention the fine motor skills it requires to actually whip up our household favorites.  I have baked with them since the time they were babies.  It’s an important skill to learn considering you can’t always trust what you buy in the grocery store.  Speaking only for my kids I notice behavioral changes with their diets.  There are certain items we avoid.

With two kids and sensory challenges finding foods that they would eat has been a challenge.  Just when I think I have it all figured out they decided that something they’ve been eating for years has the potential to poison them.

Banana Bread is one of those things I regularly have on hand.  It’s a simple recipe.  Easy for little helpers.  And tastes exceptionally good with butter.  (I’ve also cut the sugar in half and the kids haven’t noticed)

Banana Bread

4 overripe bananas (I choose to freeze mine since my kids are notorious for only eating a 1/3 of a banana)

1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup brown/1/2 cup white sugar)

1/2 cup butter (melted)

2 eggs (Thanks to my sweet hens I haven’t purchased eggs in almost 7 months)

3 tbsp milk

2 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

Mix all wet ingredients together. Then the dry ingredients.

Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

There isn’t much too it. Nothing fancy. It tastes delicious and the kids love to make it.

I hope you enjoy it.

If you try it please comment or tag me and let me know!

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