our little farm

What do you do with eggs?

You know you’ve transformed city kids to country kids when this is the conversation at church:

  • Allie is standing with me holding a carton of 18 eggs.
  • My friend: “Allie, what are you going to make with all those eggs?”
  • Allie: “ummmm, chickens?!”

I can’t stand winter and all things cold and dreary!!!  So…….It’s that time of year again when I start planning for spring.  New plants, baby animals, warm sun!!!!  As I get better at gardening I hope to spend some of  January studying seed catalogs. But for now I will hatch chickens! This year my goal is to add more young laying hens to my flock.  Either we have a well fed critter that only takes eggs or my girls are getting old!  We have had a severe lack of eggs this past year!!!!  The existing girls better get going, they’re about to be replace!!!

I started about 7 eggs in the incubator last week and added 17 more yesterday.  We’ve had varied success with hatching, sometimes 100% will hatch sometimes 50%.  But each time we learn something new!  One thing that amazes me is how much work that mama chicken does!  She keeps the eggs at a very specific temperature and humidity and turns them many, many, many times a day!

I’ll post about our outcome in a few weeks!

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2014's word- RETURN, our little farm, scouts, Us!!!

RETURNed to the Arctic?

Well, to say that it’s been cold in Northeastern North Carolina would be an understatement, but wait a day and it will change!  I woke up today to 0 degrees, the high should get all the way to 37 today!  But…..Wednesday’s high will be 71!  Raining, but 71.  Maybe a trip to the beach will cure our winter blues!

snow2

This picture is from our most recent storm.  We got 8 inches and are still snowed in two days later!  Hope to leave the house tomorrow!

Two snow storms one week apart has really affected our daily lives.  My clean, neat, organized kitchen has become the landing place for all things covered in snow! (Think cold, wet puddles).  I was just getting things back in order from last Wednesday’s snow when I slipped going out to feed the chickens.  It was just enough to jar my back and I’ve been nursing my back (read whining and limping) ever since!

snow1asnow1

This is from the first snow —–^

The two incubators filled with chicken eggs hatched!  We started with 120 eggs, 78 showed growth and stayed in for hatching.  51 hatched, 30 went home with their original owners and the rest are here in my kitchen.  3 (hopefully Black Australorps) will be joining our 3 new Black Copper Marans as a part of our chicken family.  The others hopefully will be sold to their new families soon.  The snow hasn’t helped with people preparing their spring flock!

chicks1

 

In between our Wednesday snows we had a busy Scouting weekend.  The Boy Scouts, Venturers and Sea Scouts had a Klondike Derby.  It was frigid outside, the wind was crazy cold, but the kids did great!  Our Ship ran our station all day, they were real troopers.  I was surprised at how many troops camped the whole weekend out there.  I was glad I didn’t!  My son George spent the day outside and I’m so proud of all he did.  He even impressed the new Skipper with all of his knowledge!!!

klondike

A few miles down the road, the Cub Scouts had their Pinewood Derby race.  David and I were very grateful for a warm building after dropping brother off in a field!  David did great!  He won first place in this Wolf Den and will race again in Districts on March 1.

pinewood derby

our little farm

Being a Momma chicken is hard work!

Here is my biggest hatching adventure yet!  Sixty eggs in each incubator.  This is quite the undertaking!  A friend asked me to hatch some eggs for her.  I have to admit I’m just a little nervous!  Being a momma chicken is not easy work!  I have to keep the eggs at just the right temperature and just the right humidity.  I also need to turn them many times a day.  Even the most experienced surrogate chicken mommas don’t hatch every egg!

All was going pretty well, until this morning.  I was listening to the wind howling outside, while learning about all the power outages in the area.  I was SO glad that we never lost power.  Then it happened, the lights flickered and flickered and flickered….and….out!  For two hours!  I was so glad that the sun was streaming in our living room windows keeping us warm on this cold winter day.  But the eggs were losing temperature quickly, even under 3 layers of blankets.  After some debate on what to do, we decided to do what any sane person would do and pull the car up in the back yard and run an extension cord through the kitchen window to the inverter in the car and get those eggs warm again!  As they were coming close to 99.5 degrees again the power came back on!  Yay!!  Let’s see if there is any lasting damage.  I’ll be able to candle them in a few days and see what I can see.  It’s hard being a momma!

our little farm

Honey Bee update

Just when I have these little guys figured out, they show me that I have no clue!  I had a friend come over at the end of June and went through my hive with me.  He showed me what to look for and what each thing means.  My bees were doing great!  I had so many!  I began watching for new queen cells so I could split my hive and make 2!  Well…. no queen cells, but I found a swarm July 4th while I was out picking blackberries for jam. The swarm was way up in a tree and not far from my hives, so I’m thinking they were my bees splitting on their own.  I called different bee friends and they came and captured the swarm and moved them into my new hive.

They looked great, adjusting to their new house.  How convenient that I have this all set up for them!  Ha, ha, ha!  Little did I know that they had another home picked out already.  When I checked on them a few hours later they were gone, not a trace.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

A few weeks later I checked on them and there was a lot of commotion around the hives and activity in the new hive!  Yay!  I thought, “yay!  they split again and moved right in without having to get them”.  Once again, they showed me I am not in control of them!  Another check on them proved that they had not moved in, but maybe it was that first split coming back to rob the plentiful store of honey.

I am still learning and maybe some day I will be able to predict what they will do a little bit better.  I hope to get a second hive going soon, but it’s ok if it’s not until next spring!

our little farm

The ups and downs of our little farm

In a perfect world, all would go as planned and nothing sad would ever happen.  Even thought I know this, I am surprised at how saddened I can be when an animal dies or is not born perfect.  Here are a few of our recent ups and downs:

  • 10 puppies born- 1 died
  • kept 4 female chicks to raise to lay eggs- 1 disappeared and 1 died
  • got another rooster to help make more babies- 2 other roosters fought (both fine so far)
  • checked bees, added another box, thought I had some of this figured out- was asked if I was ready for cotton honey, cotton what?  I don’t know!!
  • sold 10 guinea keets to pay for more bee boxes- the next batch of chicken/guinea/turkey eggs hatching is not turning out to be as easy
  • we have added 2 new female dogs to our family- no bad thing yet….
  • the pig is getting big, she should be ready to slaughter at the end of the summer- she keeps getting out of her pen
  • I finally got 9 plants in the garden- I haven’t been back out and there’s some weed action going on out there

I am learning a lot and I’m glad that we’re doing this.  It is a lot of hard work and a challenge to find that perfect balance between housework, farm work, homeschooling and all that life entails with a big family.  I can say that all of us are learning so much “real life”.  I am grateful for the summer break from all of our busyness.  I am able to take a few minutes and enjoy some of the everyday things!

Thanks for follow our journey on my blog!  I would love to know what you think.  Please leave me comments!