Frozen Chicken

It’s even hard for me to believe at times just how very much I adore raising chickens.  I’m not necessarily a country girl, I didn’t grow up with animals, never was a part of 4-H & truth be told I always avoided the animal barns at the county fair.  But, somewhat on a whim, after moving out to some acreage, I ordered my first batch of chicks.  And I’ve loved nearly every day with my chickens since.

Chickens.  They’re kind of amazing really.  I only have ladies. {our two “oops” roosters became soup a while back}  We are a completely pasture-raised chicken operation around here.  The ladies can wander anywhere on the property {or off} that they desire.  The dogs keep them off the lawn, the cars keep them off the road, but otherwise they’re free to roam.  They put themselves to bed at night & the door closes behind them & they are secure until morning when the door opens to let them out.  They eat some organic feed, some table scraps & a whole lot of bugs and whatnot from wherever they scratch.  And then they lay glorious, delicious, fresh eggs.

Chickens are a great gateway animal to farm life.  I mean, you may not want to jump in full force with a heard of cattle or a pen full of pigs, but chickens are completely doable.  And fun too.  After nearly two years of learning {mostly trial and error} here are my top things to make chicken raising the best it can be during the winter:

  1. Get your chicks from a  reputable chicken seller.  All of my day old chicks have come through the post from on online chicken store.  Yes, that sounds strange but it works and is wonderful.  I use mypetchicken.com.  I have had a great experience with them.  They guarantee their chicks & are quick to refund or offer replacements when things aren’t quite right.  They have many, many varieties to choose from.
  2. Get yourself an automatic coop door.  You will thank me for this!  We installed this one last year & it has changed my chicken farming life.  I no longer have to go to the coop in the morning to let the ladies out & I no longer have to go down after dark to make sure the ladies all went to bed.  It all happens without me.  It is 100% worth the cost.
  3. Don’t worry about heating your coop {if you live in the frozen tundra}.  The ladies really don’t care.  We added a heat lamp once to the coop & even on the coldest of days the ladies sat outside.  All I could figure the heat was doing was thawing the poop & making is moist {ew, I hate that word} and smelly.  Both are bad for chickens.
  4. Do worry about fresh water.  If you live in a climate that is freezing, make sure that you have a good heated water dispenser.  Chickens need water.  And they can’t get it it it’s frozen.
  5. Do not force your ladies to lay through the winter.  This may be my personal opinion, but I think it’s best for the ladies.  Ladies lay based on the sun and the amount of sunlight hours there are.  You can artificially add light to the coop to trick them into laying all winter long at the same rate that they lay in the summer months.  But they were not designed to lay all winter & to do so can cause their lives to become shorted, their eggs to become less substantial and their lives to be less than full.  Additionally, chickens that lay in the harsh winter months can suffer calcium deficiencies that can lead to bone fractures and even death.  Just count on less production in the winter and know that spring is coming & you’ll be overflowing with eggs soon.
  6. Get yourself a great winter wardrobe.  Even on the coldest of days, even if you have an automatic door you will need to go the coop at least once, but most likely a few times to make sure water is liquid, food is provided & eggs are collected.  This will be much less awful if you’re dressed for it.  Trust me!  Your wardrobe need not be spectacular.  The ladies don’t care.  But it will need to be warm & you will need to cover you skin. FullSizeRender 65

I’m placing my order later this week for my spring chick additions.  I’m looking at some unusual breeds and some fun colorful egg layer for this batch.  I can’t wait for them to arrive in a few months.  I love chickens!

Big Day @ Weed Acres

I love chickens.

I never thought I would.  But I do.  Chickens became a part of my world in the summer of 2014.  A box arrived from My Pet Chicken through the post {yep, the good ole’ mailman delivers} with 9 two-day old chicks inside.  Unfortunately 8 of those chicks were not peeping {it was a fluke due to weather conditions…or the one left living was a serial chicken murderer…you decide}.   The one chick alive in that box, all yellow & fluffy & cute, stole my heart.  {regardless of her possible serial killer-ness} We named her Frieda Solo.  The following week a replacement box arrived full of eight peeping, very much alive baby chicks.  And thus began the chicken adventure at Weed Acres.

We watched them all grow from cute little downy fluffballs with legs, to happy hens roaming the acres.  By late autumn is was pretty clear that my happy hen house also housed two boys.  Seems Freda & Katondra were actually Fred & well, Katondra {my ginger haired named Katondra & didn’t like the idea of changing it’s name due to a gender change}  On a side note you may be  thinking that I made a spelling error.  Earlier I had said the first chick was Frieda Solo & now I’m saying Freda was actually Fred.  Good story here.  These chickens were named after my two grandmas {because everyone names their chickens after their grandmas} who had the same name with different spellings. It’s a wacky life.  Anyhow, I wasn’t against roosters.  Until I had a couple.  They’re mean.  Nasty. They were violent!  They were upsetting the ladies & chasing me.  They became soup.

Five ladies ruled the hen house.  Frieda Solo, Mabel, Opal, Bek-kah & Myrtle Louise.

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They calmed down after the terror of the violent males was removed and on December 26, 2014 they laid their first egg.  You may think it odd that I remember this day.  It’s not…move on.  Since then, these lovely ladies have been fairly consistent little layers of the most delicious farm fresh, pasture raised eggs ever.

This spring we added some more to the hen house.  Seventeen to be exact.  They arrived though the post with greater success than my first batch, at only 2 days old on April 20.  I had a little fun with them while they were cute & fluffy & little bundles of adorableness!  They LOVED being dressed up in all kinds of fun.

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They officially moved in with the ladies in June after the addition to the coop was complete.  After working out their pecking order battles {it is a fierce fight for supremacy in the hen house, friends} they settled in.  Oh, there are still some scuffles {they are ladies after all} but they seem to get along alright.

So this brings me to the latest news from Weed Acres.  Today is a day which I will certainly remember! {partly because it’s chronicled here & nothing ever disappears from the internet – we say that to the three little Weeds all the time…it’s true.  never.  this stuff you post will haunt you.  some. day}  But today I will remember because one of the little ladies laid her very first egg.  IMG_2156 2At the ripe old age of 4 months 2 days old. I have no way to know which of the 17 little ladies it was, but I congratulated them as a whole.  They were thrilled with my excitement.  That or my red toe nail polish.  No telling which.  It’s a big day at Weed Acres.  A very big day!  Delicious eggs come from Happy Hens & Weed Hens are the Happiest!