Monday, April 29, 2013

Blown Away!

As you can see, I was blown away by the wind gusts last Weds!  My dad and Shannon had told me to stake it down, but I didn't like that idea very much because the whole idea of the chicken tractor is to be easily moved around.  Having to dig up stakes, and re-stake kinda defeated the purpose.  But now, there is no purpose, because the tractor is demolished.  I will salvage what I can, and go back to the drawing table. 

This storm literally came on without much warning, and the tarp took sail and left the little fat chicks scattering to  the wind.  The up side to having Cornish Rocks broilers, is that they are so fat and cumbersome that they couldn't run fast or far.  They are shacked up again with the other babies in the coop.  Just as well.  They didn't scratch, eat bugs or grass anyways.  They're too lazy.  They literally just ate, fell asleep with their heads in the trough, to wake up again to eat.  Nasty birds.  I hope they taste good, though.  :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chicken Tractor

My mom and dad came down for Easter and my dad brought with him his design for a chicken tractor. You may be wondering, "What in the world is a CHICKEN TRACTOR??"  It's essentially an open bottomed cage for chickens.  You put them on grass, and they scratch, peck, eat bugs, grass, and fertilize your yard.  Every day or so, you move the tractor, to a fresh spot and repeat.  
Most of the plans dad and I looked at were made out of wood, and dad wanted something that was bit more lightweight and manageable for a little lady like myself.  So, dad, being the mechanical engineer that he is, designed a tractor out of PVC.  Originally, it was to be 6x20 hoop-house style.  Our plans quickly changed...

It set up very quickly, but we soon realized after putting the first 20 foot section of wire on, we needed bracing.  

So, we all put our heads together, and decided to make it into a 6'x10' chicken tractor framed like a house.  It turned out great.  The key to great designs is having the ability to be flexible and roll with the punches.  

I then went out and bought 25 Cornish Rock broiler chicks.  They are the little yellow ones above.

Gandolf had to inspect his new charges...

I also bought 8 Cuckoo Marans at the same time (the little black ones).  

Gandolf really loves his job.  He is so sweet with them.  They cuddled up in and around his arms and tummy to stay warm.  He was sure not to move.  The CR broilers quickly grew, and now, at 3 weeks old, were ready for their transition to the chicken tractor.  Pyper and Raegan helped me last night.

We sat out there for about an hour watching the chicks peck, scratch, eat, and poo.  Fun times on the farm.  Especially when Pyper asked when we're going to eat them.  Gotta love a girl who knows where her food comes from!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Farm Fresh

Many people can't believe a girl born and bred in Northern Virginia can love living on a farm as much as I do.  My parents are amazed by the transformation, and simply, the happiness it brings us.  My inlaws, farmers from the Appalachian Mountains, even shake their heads and call me crazy.  I know I am quite counter-culture.  My ideas are outside most people's ideas of "normal" but it works for us.  Here's a snapshot of why I love living on my farm, being a caretaker of humans and animals alike.  They both bring us so much joy.

Horse kisses

Trotting through the fields

Free Ranging

Kids playing hide and go seek in gardens

Bountiful eggs

Cats sitting on eggs

Riding your favorite horse in the mountains

First rides with wind in your hair

Harvesting potatoes

Eggs of all colors and shapes

We are growing happiness.  Why don't you come over and soak in the view from here???

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meet Gandolf!

Last month, after having lost 4 chickens to either a fox and/or raccoon, Shannon got fed up with me coming in with a long face, near tears.  I would report another loss, and feel helpless.  I would put them up in the barn, to have them either snatched from their roosts, or in broad daylight.  Shannon's suggestion was to get a livestock guardian dog, and so the search began.  I saw an ad on FB for a Great Pyrenese that was for sale.  I emailed the lady and we went to look at this guy...

 The above picture was the picture on the ad...When we saw him, he was in a little kennel with 2 goats.  He was so shy, skittish and frightened.  Not to mention underweight.  SO, we loaded him up and took him home.  We left him in the barn for several days, walking him around the fence lines, and we quickly fell in love.  He was very protective of his barn, and the chickens.  Once I felt he was secure enough with his boundaries, I let him off the leash, and he roamed, sniffed and quickly crawled underneath our fence!  Geesh!  He always came back, so I didn't worry too much.  I did notice him crossing our busy road, but he would come right back.  I ordered a shock collar to teach him his boundaries, but in the waiting, he was hit by a car.  I came home a week after getting him, and found him like this...

 In the barn, beat up pretty badly, and unable to stand up.  I called our trusty friend and vet, Frances, and she told me it wasn't an emergency and to wait until the morning to take him in to the vet.  The following morning, Shannon and I loaded him up into the truck, and I dropped him off into the loving care of the Wytheville Community Clinic, where our other friend, Kay, is the vet.  She did x-rays and called me to tell me he had dislocated his hip and had to be put under anesthesia.  We decided to go ahead and have him neutered while there. 

 The next day, I picked up our sweet boy, and put him in the Prius.  He was so happy to come home, but I could tell he was in pain.  I got him home, put him in his stall, and he immediately relaxed.  It was like he knew he was home. 

His tail started to wag, and all was well in Gandolf's world.  He was confined for 10 days in his stall, but now he's good as new!

"Thank you, Kay, for fixing my leg and making me less of a man!!!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Pics

This year, I decided to sew the girls' Easter dresses.  I fell in love with this pattern.  I ordered the hot pink chevron material online and whipped them up in no time.  Mom bought the cute hats.

 "Raegan, momma wants to take pictures!"

 Cutie with her My Little Pony, Crystal, that Mamom and PopPop bought her...

 My world.

 Shannon's girls.

 Mamom, PopPop, Joshua with Pyper and Raegan

 Family picture.  I wish the girls were smiling!

 Pyper and Joshua

 Raegan getting her goodies

 I wonder what Pyper was thinking of...

 I love this little one.

Reading to Callie, the cat that loves the girls....