Monthly Archives: September 2011

Re-homing my chickens

I like to sell my chickens to a home that is going to raise and enjoy the eggs or just having the chickens around.  I don’t want to sell them to someone who is going to eat them or resell them to make a profit.  The only reason I actually start selling any of mine is because my feed bill is just too high or I realize certain chickens do not fit into the scheme of what I am trying to do.

I put a note up on the feed store bulletin board saying I have chickens for sale.  So this guy calls me this morning wanting to buy chickens from me.  He is being rather pushy that he wants them really cheap.  Now if you tell me you are out of work and trying to feed your family and want fresh eggs for them, then I will bite and lower my price.

I asked him if he was going to eat them and he said probably not.  Not a good answer for me.   He said he was trying to get them as cheap as possible so he can make a profit…out of work and got to do something to make money.  I really don’t see how anyone can make much of a profit reselling chickens unless you buy super cheap and sell a whole lot of them at one time.   When I told him I had 116 chickens including the 8 babies just hatched out yesterday and he asked how much I want for all of them.

Is it ridiculous that I don’t want to put my chickens thru the trauma of being moved from home to home or even being killed for food?  My chickens are more like pets.

I may be selling two dark Silkies hens and one rooster to a family will need for their 4H project.  Now I know they will take good care of them.

Guess I will just pray my chickens lay lots of eggs to pay the feed bill so I don’t have to sell any of them to people that do not fit my “adoption rules.”   lol

Silkie eggs hatching out today

It is 10am and I have four chicks hatched out so far with two more that have pipped but resting at the present time.  There are two dark chicks, one buff and one white.  Yoo hoo.  Then I went outside and my black Silkie hatched a buff chick and my multi-colored Silkie hatched out a dark colored chick.

Before I went to bed last night, a couple of the eggs in the incubator had already pipped…broken thru the shell enough to breathe. The two eggs below, I actually chipped some extra shell off so the chick could get plenty of air.   It makes it harder for them to zip out of the shell so I may end up helping them out if they aren’t out in a couple hours.  I usually take them out of the egg turner and lay the eggs down but I thought I would try it this way for a change.  It does make it easier for me to tell which eggs have pipped.

I have the four chicks that hatched from the incubator in the bathtub.  I put towels or old t-shirts down on the bottom of the tub since it is so slick.  I am trying to decide whether I want to let the mommas outside that hatched their chicks keep them or put them in the tub with the other four that hatched out today, too.  After recently losing one of my chicks to a snake, I believe, I am not comfortable leaving them outside.   I think snake because that is the only thing that could have gotten into the small 2 inch by 4 inch openings.  I have wood along the bottom that is approximately 18 inches high, too.

I have a number of things I should do today but I am pretty sure I will just be staying home enjoying the baby chicks.  I love to watch them take their first steps…so funny.   It is only a matter of hours and they are up and running around.

Yes, it is a good day today.  Maybe I will spend some time in the kitchen cooking up some foods for the next couple days.   I can make some egg salad, put the beans in water to soak, make a pot of chili and  some spaghetti sauce, and there is a cake that is calling my name.   Some days, I just love being home all by myself just piddling.  Other days, I just have to get out of the house.  Two and a half more moths and my husband will be retired and we will have all day, every day together.  I can hardly believe it.  We are going to have so much fun and get so much accomplished.  I tell him his honey-do list is growing every day.  He just smiles.

Keeping track of births, deaths and sales

I learned recently that my memory will not serve me to remember all the ages of my chickens.  When you sell chickens, you want to be able to tell the person the age of the chickens or at least I do.

I have a calender with the big squares for each day that you can write in (a little smaller than a desk calender and it has spiral wire on it and it hangs up).    I write down births, deaths, sale of chickens, when I buy some chickens, when I put eggs in the incubator, when to stop turning the eggs, hatch dates, money I make from selling eggs, money I make from selling chickens, money  for feed and supplies and reminders of chicken related stuff.

The back of each page is great for writing down additional info that is lengthy.  I write down…incubator hatch, first egg (green), second (Barred Rock), third (Silkie, white), etc.  If I hatch out chickens the next month, it is easy to get them confused about birth dates but I always feel like if I can give the buyer an approximate date (say June or July of 2011), that is close enough.   After all, it isn’t like they are going to throw the chicken a birthday party each year.

When I let the momma keep her babies, it is so much easier to identify the chicks because they get to the juvenile age and I can usually tell them apart….unless I have 10 white Silkies.  lol  If a hen hatches out chicks and my incubator chicks hatch at about the same time…within days….I have given the momma one or two of the chicks from the incubator.  Especially if she only hatches one egg and is still sitting on her eggs days after the hatch date.  I feel sorry for her.

I also write down which chickens I sell.  I look back at my calender and find where the chickens were hatched and write down the sell date and price and who I sold them to.

I have only been doing the calender for about three years now…once I started getting so many chickens that I couldn’t keep track of their ages.  I have two Silkies right now sitting on Guinea eggs (8) and a standard breed chicken sitting on 4 .  I have a standard chicken sitting on 7 Silkie eggs, too.  Then I have two Silkies who are sitting on 4 and 8 Silkie eggs.  Oh yeah, and I have probably a dozen Silkie eggs in the incubator.  Don’t ask me why.  I already have 108 chickens right now but I am addicted to those baby chicks.  Especially when I see them running around with their mommas.

I keep thinking I am going to treat this as a business instead of a hobby so I guess each thing I do to keep my accounting organized will help me to make a decision about hobby or business.   Right now, I am sure I spend more than I make on my chickens.  I guess that would be the appropriate time to claim it as a business…who doesn’t need another tax deduction?

I also need to start going to the chicken swap/flea market sales they have at the feed stores around here.  I sell on Craigslist sometimes but perhaps I should try selling at these places, too.  I am afraid I will come home with more than I sell.  That is a possibility.

I think I will go visit a couple of the businesses that are on Chicken Swap to determine what I need to do to make my chicken hobby a professional business.  Right now, it looks more like Grandma’s back yard.  Why that’s a cute name, isn’t it?  Grandma’s Back Yard.  Maybe I am on to something.  lol

Have a great day, guys and remember “don’t take life too seriously.”  Nobody likes to be around grumpy people.  Life is a journey, not a destination.

Chicken Swap Friends and Their Chicken Set-Up

I am enjoying the Chicken Swap site.  The information goes directly to my email address when something new is posted.  Some people might find that annoying with so many posts but I quickly delete anything that doesn’t appeal to me so no big deal.   I like to see what is for sale and what the prices are because I know I will be wanting some Maran chickens before too much longer.

Jimmy on Chicken Swap offered to show his set up to a Newbie in the chicken raising world and I asked if I could come, too.  I LOVE going to see what ideas I might pick up from others.

Jimmy’s family certainly showed “southern hospitality” by having tea and brownies for our visit.  So nice.  He has a very friendly family and I was especially impressed with his son’s knowledge and love of the chickens.

Jimmy’s set up was very impressive and I left with a bunch of ideas of future projects for our chicken yards and houses.  I hope we can duplicate his water system for his chickens because he doesn’t have to clean containers and boy would that save me some time.  Calvin and I will be doing some plumbing projects down the road.

He also have a storage building converted into a chicken house with some great ideas for the nests and perches that close up and lift up for easy cleaning underneath.   He has a run attached to it so his chickens get outside and have that much needed sunlight.  Plus, he had room for his chicken supplies in the storage building so everything was handy and so neat and clean.

Boy, my poor husband is going to have some heavy duty “honey-do lists” when he retires.  I just want to incorporate all Jimmy’s ideas into our future projects.

I was thinking about building more chicken houses with the 4×8 sheets of wood but I really like the way Jimmy and James, his son, made the back wall (of one chicken house) with vertical boards leaving a gap between each one of probably 1/2 inch for ventilation.  My chicken houses always seem hot during the summer and in my one yard, it is the only shade they have until my trees grow bigger.

And to top it all, James gave me a dozen guinea eggs.  I had guineas when I had a dairy farm in Missouri and I enjoyed seeing them running around and hearing the “buckwheat” sound the males (?) made.

I have said it before and I will say it again, chicken people are just nice and helpful people.

Snake in the chicken yard

Calvin always tells me to watch out for snakes when collecting the eggs.  He once found 2 four foot snakes in the chicken nests at his mom’s house.  So, today was my day to find a snake.

I was going into the Silkie yard to collect eggs.  Some of them like to lay on the ground even though I provide crates with hay.  There are two hens sitting on eggs in the house that is 8 feet long.   On each end, there is a hen sitting in her crate on four eggs preparing to be mammas.  Right beside the one crate is a sunk-in area where a hen has been laying eggs on previous days.  Fortunately, the whole front of the chicken house is wide open with lots of sun light so I immediately saw the snake curled up in that rounded, sunken hole.  I didn’t get too close to it but instead I ran to get a flat end shovel.

Calvin was due home within ten minutes but I couldn’t wait.  I lost a baby chick and an egg about ready to hatch and I wasn’t going to lose anymore future babies.

I stood about four feet away from the snake and shoved the shovel at it about in the center of the body just trying to hold it down.  Of course the dirt under it was soft and it made me have to push really hard just to hold it still.  I stood there for probably 10 minutes and I threw a brick on the back end of it.  There wasn’t really much I could do because I needed to just hold the shovel to prevent it from  slithering away.

I heard my neighbor, Gail, outside and I called to her. Her husband, Ray was home.  So he was over in a matter of minutes with another shovel with a sharper point.  He said it was a Corn Snake which is what I suspected and they aren’t poisonous.  He said he hated to kill it but I said it has to die.

When my husband came home, the snake was dead but it was still wiggling around.  Calvin hates snakes which is funny because when he was a kid, he played with them.   When we watch shows with snakes on them, he actually jumps when the snake strikes at someone.   This is the corn snake.  Had he been in my chicken nest in one of my closed-in chicken yards, I doubt if I would have noticed him until he bit me.  He looks like the straw that is in the nests.

I will definitely be taking a flash light from now on when I go into the darker chicken houses to collect eggs.