Category Archives: Housing

More Barred Rock chicks hatching

My brother-in-law’s chickens stopped laying so he needs more hens.  I put six eggs under one Silkie hen and six under another Silkie hen about a week later.  Silkie number one hatched out two chicks yesterday and two were throw away a day or two ago that we could smell were not viable …. rotten.  yuk

We usually check the eggs about day 14 to see if they are fertilized and going to grow into a chick.  I know after day 16, you are not suppose to move the eggs.

So far, Silkie momma #2 is still sitting on six eggs and hers are due to hatch on Thursday, six days from today. I didn’t plan this too well because I don’t really have two nurseries.  Unfortunately, I am recovering from hip replacement surgery so building something right now is impossible.  I figured out something to do temporarily until I see how many chicks the second momma has.  If the first one only has the two and the second momma only has a few, I will give them all to one momma.  Usually, all my eggs hatch out from my Barred Rock so I am a little puzzled why two went rotten and two still haven’t hatched out.  My rooster definitely has his favorites out of the 8 hens he is with.  The hens are about 18 months probably.

Well, I will update this post as the chicks hatch out.  Don’t you love baby chicks.  And these Silkie moms are the best.  I hated hatching in an incubator….adjusting temperature and moisture.  Made me crazy!

Chickens preparing my garden area

We are very excited to be home and have our chickens again.  Now, we are planning to use those chickens to prepare our garden area.

When we moved back, we tore down a lot of the wooden chicken houses because they were rotting.  At one time, I had about 120 chickens so I had chicken houses galore.  I think we tore down five 4×8 houses and two 4×4 houses.

The great thing was in two areas, we had this nice area where the houses sat and there was no grass so I threw a tarp down on the bare ground for the winter so I have two garden areas all but prepared.  I will till it up later and add fertilizer and build some four 4×4 raised beds.  I love to build simple things so I am excited to build the beds.

We have the chicken’s yard in the back left-hand side of our property where there is plenty of shade.  But, not a lot of sun during the winter months which could hinder egg production.  So, to kill two birds with one stone, we are going to move the chickens to the area we want to have a garden which will provide plenty of sun.

We have a wire cage that is 4×8 by 6 ft tall that we put a 4×8 sheet of plywood on top for a roof.  It is fairly easy to move with a dolly.  It has a door on it that we can lock up the chickens at night,   A guy in our town makes these cages made of chain link fencing and they are very sturdy.  We put fencing on the ground and sit the cage on top of it so no animals can dig in and kill the chickens.

So we will move the cage to the area we want a garden and fence it in.   We will make sure we leave the gate at least 5 ft wide to get the cage back out once Spring comes.

The chickens will destroy the grass and fertilize the soil.  And living in Florida, it never gets really cold.  We do put tarps around the cage/house to block the wind and keep the chickens dry.

When we take the chickens and the house out of the yard, the garden area will be fertilized and no grass.  So smart, don’t you think?  Ha Ha  I am sure others have done this before me, but, I was thrilled figuring this out for myself.  And it will be fenced in to keep the rabbits out of the yard, too.  I let my chickens free range on my property during the day for at least four hours a day.  Once the garden is planted, I don’t want them in there either.  And the leaves and rotted veggies will go to the chickens as well.

I want to grow some field corn this year for my chickens, too.  I don’t want to overwhelm myself and my sweet husband so I am thinking I better not go too big and burn him out on the idea of a garden.

We have discussed just buying veggies from the flea market and we will do that for some.  I want to can as much as I can this year.  It is hard to believe how expensive food is at the grocery store.  Buy on sale and stock up, people.

Right now, I am thinking of making a couple raised beds for strawberries, onions and potatoes.  I am pretty much a meat and potato kind of girl and don’t like a whole lot of vegetables.  I wish I did. My daughter-in-law, Brooke loves all kinds of veggies and I just wish I were like her. I have wondered if I got hypnotized, could I learn to love veggies?

Anyway, the basic foods for gardening this year will do.  I am getting blackberry plants from my daughter, Bonnie.  I don’t really care for blueberries but I want to grow some of them, too.  Strawberries are always great, too.  I love no hassle plants/bushes.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your garden and makes you realize how valuable those chickens are to you.  I have been raking out the chicken houses and saving the dirt/poo/straw/leaves in the 50 lb bags that the feed come in.  Cheap fertilizer.  I remember how well my blackberry plants grew around my chicken house in Missouri.

Enjoy preparing your beds now and it will pay off next year.

Leg Mites and Vegetable Oil

I had a terrible time last year with my chickens getting those mites that get on their legs and feet and burrow in and they actually lose toes.  So I noticed I had two Silkie chickens that seemed to be walking funny.  Like they had a sore foot.  That’s how it started last year.  Darn it.

Well, I got the Seven dust in a round container that I bought at the Feed Store…though they do sell it at Walmart cheaper.  I was already there getting feed so driving extra miles didn’t make sense to save a dollar.

I raked the chicken houses real good and put the dust down and put fresh hay on the floor.  Then I took the Seven dust (not granules because the chickens can eat those) and sprinkled in the laying nests, too.

I had read that you put vaseline on the chickens feet and legs and it will smother the mites and I tried that last year.  Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is such a pain in the butt to get off your hands and then you pick the next chicken up and you the jelly on the chicken feathers.  It is definitely a two person job that way.

Well, I also read that you can use vegetable oil and dip the chickens feet in it.  I had some leftover oil from making homemade french fries and I poured it into a big margarine tub.   I caught one chicken and dunked it’s feet and legs into the oil and held it there for about two minutes and swished it around some, too.  I wanted to make sure it was getting up in between the toes.  I did this to three chickens since they were the ones that looked like they were walking with sore feet.

It has been a couple days now and I am astonished how much better the chickens are walking.  I am assuming the oil smothered the mites.  Then putting down the Seven dust didn’t hurt either.

Hope this helps if you have that problem.  If you notice a barnacle look on your chicken’s feet or they are walking funny, try the dipping in oil.  My husband teased me that the chickens will think you want to fry them in oil next.  I don’t eat my chickens EVER.   We killed some roosters on our farm in Missouri (different husband) and that was a horrible experience and I will never do that again.  Odor was awful, too.

UPDATE:  Chickens appear to be walking funny again.  It has been about a week so maybe you have to dip the chicken feet/legs more than once.  Will try again tomorrow.

Hen sitting on eggs in winter

Isn’t it amazing how chickens go broody during the cold weather?  I would think they would just want to hatch out during the spring.  Well, I have a Silkie sitting right now and another trying to be broody….I say trying because I keep stealing her eggs.

Trinidad had six eggs under her to start with but now only has four.  The good news is they are my Barred Rock eggs which is what I really want to hatch.  Now that I have a beautiful rooster, I am eager to get some babies from him.  I bought a hen with him and she is a also gorgeous.

I wanted to again tell you how friendly I have found “chicken” people to be.  This lady (and her husband) whom we got the above rooster and hen from are so nice.  They GAVE us elk meat and deer meat.  Now, I did not cook the meat but my sister-in-law cooked it and feed it to my husband.  lol  He loved it.  Not me, I didn’t even try it.

Well, I will let you know if I get some baby chicks.  I may let the other hen start sitting, too.  I have heat lamps so I can keep my mommies and babies warm.  But, just a reminder, don’t let both mommas sit in the same area because they will fight over the babies and even kill the babies.  I don’t know if that is a normal thing to happen but it happened to me with two Silkie moms.  I let my broody hen sit for about a week or so before I move the mom and her eggs to a “maternity ward” away from the other hens.





Winter preparation

When my husband wakes up this morning, I have a long honey-do list for him to help me with today.  He retires in two months.  When his friends ask him what he will do when he retires, he tells them his wife will keep him busier than the job did.  That is probably pretty accurate except I do allow for afternoon naps.  I only nap on weekends when my husband is home but I do love a good nap.  Especially when it is so hot and you have been outside for a few hours trying to get stuff accomplished before the heat of the day.

Well, the heat is practically over here in Florida and it is time to start planning for protection for the cold for my chickens.  I am still in the process of selling some chickens and I am down to 97 from 122.  I keep thinking I want to keep them all but I know it is too many chickens to ask anyone to help take care of while my husband and I are off traveling and visiting our relatives.

I really do enjoy planning out what to do with my chicken yards.  I know I mentioned I am constantly moving or adding chicken fencing.  I want to separate the different color of Silkies to produce solid white, black, dark blue, buff and splash chicks.  I have had a number of people mention they would like some Splash chicks.   But all this involves building more 4×4 chicken houses, putting up separate fences, and netting over the top of the yard.  I have to use netting so the chicken hawks don’t get the small breed chickens.

The main thing we will be doing today is moving chickens around so no one house is too crowded and closing-in a couple of the houses so I can lock the chickens up if there is a need.  Just hope it doesn’t rain all day like it did yesterday.

I am going to sit down and make a list of supplies we need to pick up for our chicken projects today.  Since most of the houses we have built recently are open in the front, we will need to enclose this area to keep the cold winds out.  But, you also have to keep a good ventilation system for the houses, too.  And make it easy to clean the bottom of the coop.  I am thinking hinges to pull the bottom of the board up so I can rake and collect eggs.  I don’t like the idea of dark coops and reaching in to collect eggs and perhaps running into another snake.

I will let you know how the day goes…so many projects and only so many hours in the day.  Let’s see what we can get done today.  Good thing it is a three day weekend for my husband.