Thursday, April 29, 2010

What an exciting day!

Last night the eggs started getting little peck marks in them and you can see they are starting to hatch. I can tell that 9 have places where the chicks are starting to peck their way out of.
One little black one and a little brown one were out of the shell when I got home about 3 today. I am so excited cause this little black one is a banty and I think it is from the black speckled banties that I am keeping for my sister. She is back from Mexico and will be taking them back home so I especially wanted some eggs to hatch from them. Yahoo!!

The brown one is not a banty and is from one of my good egg laying hens. So more eggs are forthcoming in the future from this little chick!
Isn't it adorable. Still not completely dry yet. I have my little box all ready with a heat light hooked up over it to put them in as soon as they dry. They are not suppose to need anything to eat or drink for the first 24 hours.

Aah, my little babies. Isn't it sad that chicks raised in an incubator probably will never know what a momma hen is. But mine will go under the banty with the chicks I bought at the feed store the other day so she can raise them up!
Another exciting day on the homestead! Life is just grand down on the farm!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chirp, Chirp, Chirp....

Had to throw away the eggs in the first incubator when it became evident they weren't going to hatch.
But I hear baby chicks chirping in the incubator I bought. Must be strong little rascals cause they are loud. And hoping it isn't just one little guy making all that noise. Today makes day 18 I believe so they should be hatching by Day 21.

Hatching chicks the "old-fashioned" way.

And my momma is still doing great with the second batch of baby chicks I put under her. The last few days have been cool and rainy and she is tucking them right under body and wings and keeping them warm. Don't you wish all females were as good a momma as banty hen mommas. Would save our foster care system a bundle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our happy little boy...

Time to plant the potatoes...

Actually, it's probably past time to plant the potatoes cause the old timers always said to plant them by St. Patrick's Day and that was last month. I read an article in my Backwoods Home magazine about planting potatoes in hay so am going to try that this year.
First, we cut up the potatoes making sure each one had a good "eye" to grow...
The boy's Poppy  ran the tiller over the ground that had already been plowed and disked. One row we planted by placing hay on the freshly tilled ground,.....

then placed the potato on top of the hay...

then placed more hay on top of the potatoes. The article said to use seasoned hay and we happened to have some of that left in the field from last year. I am just praying the author knew what they were talking about cause I don't want to raise a crop of weeds from seeds being in the hay. I think next year I will use straw instead but we'll see how this year goes. Then I watered it all down good. The article said by planting potatoes this way you do not have to dig in the fall. You just lift the potatoes out. Almost sounds too good to be true!
Mark stayed busy digging holes in the garden to plant some tomatoes in...

whoa, that may be overkill! Another day out on the homestead...

You never can learn too much...

stopped in at my local extension office and my friend Pat gave me another children's book about eggs. Mark read it to me while I was cooking. He loves reading about animals. He just seems to love learning!

And he is an excellent reader!

Happy Birthday to Steve...

He says he's 18 but I don't know how that can be especially when I am only 20!! Anyway, we baked a cake and ate outside on the patio for supper.

Some of us ate cake. Looks like Kaden ate paper plate. Ha. Ha. Didn't have any candles so stuck matches in the cake for Steve to blow out. Worked didn't it?

Baby Kaden is enjoying the great outdoors!

Can you see that red spot that looks like rug burn on Koda's head? Rough housing with Mark and hit his head on the sidewalk. Had to happen sometime I guess. Doesn't look too good does he through the eyes. Few hours later he was puking all over the place. Wasn't related to the bump cause that happened yesterday or the day before. Next time I will perk up a little faster when he tells me his stomach hurts!!!

How old will we be next year Steve?

Silkie banties never give up!

My little silkie banty has been setting on her nest in the back corner of the chicken house for about 30 days now so guess it is time to see what is going on. Haven't seen any little babies anywhere and gave her a few extra days in case she had layed more eggs before she started sitting. Minnie Rose Lovgreen in her little book wrote " she starts laying an egg each day in her nest. She sits on the nest a little longer every day, a little longer every day, until she lays her last egg. She may lay anywhere from 10 to 14 eggs. She is almost ready to set...when she stays on her eggs all night, you know she has started setting. " So I wanted to give plenty of time for the eggs to hatch in case I had my timing off.
The problem is she is so far back in the corner that I cannot reach her.
You can see how small the door is so there is no way I could crawl I So I took a net you catch fish with and used it. I was afraid the banty momma would peck Mark if I sent him in there. I lifted her off the nest with the net and guess what? All this time she had been setting on one lone, solitary guinea egg. And the only problem is I only have two guineas and they are both hens, so the guinea eggs are not fertile. Just my luck! But, I felt so sorry for the little silkie momma cause she has faithfully set on that nest hardly ever getting off. In fact I have never seen her off the nest. But Minnie Rose Lovgreen says in my favorite chicken book " she only takes about 15 minutes recess off the nest every day, or maybe 30 minutes when the sun shines. She eats and drinks and takes a dust bath, and cleans her beak thoroughly before she goes back on the nest again.....when you see her clean her beak, you know she's just about ready to go back on the nest. ...She only takes that one recess a day. She does that for 21 days."
So it was now obvious this little momma wasn't going to get to mother any little babies. But wait! I remember seeing a sign in my local Producer's Grain window about "chick days" coming soon. Why not buy some baby chicks and put under her? I called and the store closest to my house actually had chicks in stock that very day! So over there I headed!

Poppy and Baby Kaden looking at the chicks.
Grandson Mark is my poultry farmer. He loved the baby chicks too. I picked out 7 baby chicks cause I wasn't sure if the silkie mother would actually claim them as her own cause the lady at the store said they were not newly hatched chicks and sometimes the banty won't take them cause she knows they cannot possibly be hers. Ha! They don't know how badly this little banty wants to mother something!

I decided not to put the babies in the hen house with her but to move them all to their own cage. That way if the other chickens try to peck them or the little banty momma won't accept them, I don't have to try to catch them in the little chicken house again.

Here is the boy's Poppy adding the baby chicks in with the banty momma.
Now for the big moment. Notice she is eyeing them pretty closely. And these chicks probably were raised in an incubator so they don't even know what a momma hen is. That's my guess anyway.

Instinct must take over cause they run to her and start snuggling. But alas, we found the babies could get out of this little pen so move them again we did. This time we brought them up to the house and put them on the patio and put them all in a plastic tub that we could put some wire over. Will the momma take care of them? Nothing like yanking you off your eggs and moving you twice when all you want to do is be left alone so you can set on your eggs!

Now isn't this a precious sight! She has all 7 of the baby chicks under her! She is such a good momma! I am sure there is a lesson to be learned here for humans! It is still pretty cool outside so I really am thankful she is going to take care of them as her own. Otherwise I would be hooking up a light and taking care of them myself.
My favorite author says this " Her chicks are all hatched out. Then if you like you can buy more chicks to put under her. She can cover up to 6 more chicks than she can hatch, because her wing span spreads out. That's an economical way to build up your flock quicker than just letting her sit on those 10 to 14 chicks. A bantam hen can cover as many as 18 to 20 chicks. One lady did order 25 baby chicks, and she kept her bantam hen setting on some old eggs until the chicks arrived by mail. She put the whole 25 under her hen, and raised every one." Wow is all I can say! Not sure where they all would have fit!
Here they all are the next day when it warmed up.
These little chicks just climb all over the momma banty. They are so cute to watch. Now here is my problem. Apparently the momma takes care of her babies for two months before she starts laying eggs again wanting to hatch out another batch. And remember I have two incubators going with about 9 eggs due to hatch out in about 7 days and another incubator going with about 19 eggs in it due to hatch out in about 17 days. So will she still accept the chicks that are going to hatch out in a week to raise along with these? I may have to plan on raising some under a light in a brooder. Whatever!

Isn't this fun and such good experience for all of us!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fruit trees are in bloom on The Homestead!

Here's a few quick shots of my fruit trees in bloom. Hopefully this year we'll get some fruit. Last year the frost got the blooms.

And here's my ornamental Cleveland Pear that is only a few years old. Quick growing and a stronger tree than the Bradford Pear which is so beautiful but doesn't hold up to storms too well.

And here's a quick shot of my Jane Magnolia Tree once the blooms are fully opened.

How beautiful is that?
I love Spring flowers. And summer flowers. Guess I just love flowers.

Garden Time Is Here Again...

The Grandkids Poppy  hooked up the plow to the blue tractor he bought and helped rebuild along with his brother Mule Skinner last summer. It was time to plow the garden once again.

Then he brought down the disk which had been hooked up to the yellow tractor and ran it over the freshly plowed ground. Now we will be ready to plant just as soon as the weather warms up a little more.

We actually have two gardens again this year. The one next to the greenhouse will have potatoes, tomatoes, green peppers and things like that. The second one will have corn and watermelons and whatever Poppy wants to try to raise.

Here Poppy is trying out the old antique manure spreader he picked up somewhere. Our neighbor loaded it with some aged manure for us and it really did work great. Threw that manure like you wouldn't believe!

Only problem was this size load didn't go very far so we decided to go ahead and spread it down the rows. No sense putting manure in the aisles.

Here the boys are picking up what was left of last years gourds. Notice the snow boots and shorts. I guess boots are boots. Koda wasn't sure he wanted to touch those gourds. He's really not into farming too much! Today he came into the house and told me a gray fox was down at the chicken house. When I asked him how he knew what a gray fox looked like he explained he had seen them on TV. So I went out to check it out and there was three very large white dogs checking out my chickens. They ran off when I came outside. Hope they don't start hanging around here. And guess I better start listening to Koda when he tells me things.

After spreading the manure Poppy then ran the disc over the ground. Suppose to come in a rain storm so glad we got it done. Now we just need the weather to warm up so we can get some planting done. I went to four places in town and bought my heirloom tomatoes, some red and green and yellow peppers, and my green and purple cabbage plants. Tonight is a rain storm coming and tomorrow night is suppose to frost. That's our Midwest weather for you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

An old fashioned Easter dinner like grandma made...

Remember as a kid climbing in the car with the rest of your family and heading to grandmas house for Easter dinner? And how good the house smelled when you got there and how excited everyone was to see you? And the fun you had with all your cousins? Let's carry on that same tradition for the sake of this generation! We'll be glad we did cause it instills a sense of family in them and a sense of knowing they belong somewhere. Both of which are sadly lacking in today's world.
We had our family Easter dinner yesterday. First I dug out my Great Aunt Myrtle's glass jello mold. Remember there was always jello at grandmas Easter dinner? Usually with fruit in it. I have never made jello in a mold but today is a good day to start. I mixed up my jello and put it in the mold. Had no problem getting it to set up but couldn't remember the process for getting it back out of the mold. So I placed it in a sink of warm water and promptly forgot about it. So it was starting to melt when I remembered and took it out. I put it back in the refrigerator to hopefully set back up. On family dinners learn not to sweat the little things! Moving on...

Made cheesy potatoes again and cooked my turkey. Cut the turkey up and just left the breast part whole. After it was almost done I added my dressing around the sides. Still looks nice but without all the mess. Added apples and celery and butter and onions to a packaged dressing mix so didn't have to worry about eggs being in it and needing to cook for an hour and presto, instant dressing that tastes wonderful!

Sliced up the pork tenderloin I had previously cooked and froze. Tasted delicious and didn't have to spend lots of time preparing it.

Simmered the baked beans in the crock pot all day. Easy, easy...

Rachel and Steve made home-made bread and it melted in your mouth! Like the way they twisted it!

Here's my jello after it came out of the mold. Notice it looks a little soft around the edges. Popped it back in the refrigerator and by supper time it was fine! Looks neat too doesn't it? One of my grandsons wasn't too sure about eating something that jiggled! Isn't jello still popular with the little ones today?

Put everything on my tile counter tops where you don't have to worry about something being too hot.
Including these two beautiful cakes which I intend to sample both of.
And dinner is served!
My son Kevin and his family and my daughter Rachel and her family came over and we ate and enjoyed catching up with each others lives. And the kids played and played with their cousins. Making memories they'll remember long after they have grown up and left home. And they are happy memories of good food and happy times spent with family.
And we took the kids down to the poultry pens so they could see all the animals and help gather the eggs. And the kids Poppy showed them how to hypnotise a chicken. How many kids get to see that?
Happy Easter everyone! Live the day to the fullest cause He died so we might have life abundantly!