Category Archives:Livestock

Eggcellent Farm Fresh Eggs

If you have been on the fence (farming pun intended!) about starting your own flock of backyard beauties or spending the extra dough on free range/fresh eggs, here are a few benefits I have noticed since having my chickens.

        Tangible reasons

    • It takes fewer eggs to feel full: toad in a hole is my favorite egg breakfast, and before my chickens started laying I could easily eat 2 and still be hungry. Now with my fresh eggs, I have a hard time eating 2 toad holes.

This is a comparison of my eggs vs. grocery store (white egg).

  • Hard boiled eggs seem easier to peel: The membrane between the egg shell and the egg white seems a lot stronger with fresh eggs than factory-farmed eggs. So if hardboiled eggs have been the bane of your egg salad sandwiches, take heart if you cool them down enough to peel them right away that helps too!
  • Leave them on the counter: If you get eggs from your coop or your neighbor unwashed, they can stay out on the counter. There is a natural protective cover on the egg (called bloom) that helps keep them fresh. I wash my eggs right before I use them.
  • Creamy, richness: The yolks in fresh eggs are a dark, almost orange, color. When we ate factory-farmed and fresh eggs in a side-by-side comparison, the fresh egg had a rich flavor with an extremely creamy yolk.

    Intangible Reasons

  • Knowing where your eggs are coming from: It is a relief to know what is going into my chickens’ bellies and onto my plate. Even when buying from the store, just having the peace of mind that the animals you are benefiting from are raised humanely is refreshing.
  • Helping support your local farmer/economy: Your community flourishes when you buy from local small business!There are more benefits to having the chickens themselves, but I think that is another post! Happy homesteading!

The Search For More Livestock

My Husband and I decided, years ago in our one bedroom apartment, that any animals we purchase must serve a purpose (except for Choo-our dog that passed away 2 years ago, and Fendi [adopted after Choo] who does a pretty good job chasing off those hawks). Don’t get me wrong, I am a Veterinary Technician, and want to preserve the lives of all species. However, to run a self-sufficient homestead, adding animals functioning as pets is not an option when one must consider acreage. And I can rest assured that I provide great care of the animals that are going to take care of me.

We had intended to finish the pig pen acquiring two pigs to butcher this year, but a different opportunity presented itself. Meat goats! We already have a bulk of the fencing done because we will get horses in the future, and since goats are ruminants they eat mostly grass which is what we have!

Dairy, Meat, or Both: choosing what breed to buy requires research!

Two books I borrowed from a fellow homesteader are: The Backyard Goat: An Introductory Guide to Keeping Productive Pet Goats and Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More.

As of right now, we only want goats for meat. In order to keep a dairy goat milking, they must have babies every year. And most goat breeders are looking for does that will produce 2 or more kids with each pregnancy. A herd of our own is a possibility down the road.

Meat breeds: Boer, Kiko, BoKi (combo of the former two), Kinder, Myotonic (fainting goats), Savanna. After reading a few things and seeing what breed may be available in our area we picked The Boer!

Going online and trying to find goat kids to purchase was quite a challenge. Many websites we found had written in bold, red letters “OUR GOATS ARE NOT FOR MEAT”.

Some of the challenges I ran into were:

  • Websites that were no longer functioning
  • Lists of personal names, but not farm/business names (not enough contact information)
  • Older goats or champion goat lineage that owners wanted to sell as pets/competition goats
  • Places that were just too far away (4+ hours)
  • Leaving phone messages that weren’t returned- this was a big challenge

After three weeks of searching many places around the area and out-of-state, I finally found a place that will be kidding (the birth of goats) at the end of March. The great thing about the breeder we found is that they have their own Facebook page and got back to me within a day!

We are going to wait to pick up our kids until they are weaned in June/July. We are planning our own breeding program in a few years since we did have issues find some close by. In the meantime, we will prepare for our future kids!

Who can say no to this kind of face?

Feature Image from the American Boer Goat Association
Kid Image from source unknown- Pinterest

Ever been eyeballed by a chicken??

I have heard people say “birds give me the heebie jeebies“, that they have been chased by geese or swans (who can be mean; I will give you that), or that bird eyes are creepy. I have witnessed the personalities of my chickens blossoming, and their eyes- to me anyway- show off their intelligence.

My girls know when a predator (especially the hawk) is lurking, and I rush outside to see what the problem is when they make the “alert” call. I think my day job now is chasing feral cats off my property!

That intelligence also has shown through when it comes to their eggs.

My ladies, toward the end of January, finally started showing the signs of laying eggs. For those who don’t know chickens or just started their flock, these are the signs to look for:

  • The comb (skin on top of their head) becomes a deeper red. Left picture is before laying eggs. Right picture is currently laying eggs.
  • They squat with their wings out which is hilarious the first time they do!
     (This is Betty with her wings up)
  • One chicken will disappear for a while from the rest of the group.

So once my girls showed The Signs, I became the chicken stalker.  I walk around the entire inside of the house, peeking out windows keeping tabs on where my chickens are. They do see me through the windows, which is quite funny because they think I’m going to come out bearing treats.

FINALLY, the day came, and Betty went off to the coop by herself.

That morning while eating a bowl of cereal, I plopped on a kitchen stool to stare out the window, like the chicken stalker I am, and wait. And wait. And wait for Betty to come out. When she emerged victorious from her first egg laying, I ran out and snatched her egg.

The next few days/weeks, as eggs were more consistent, I would still watch for the girls to go into the coop and come out. A few times I have been spotted getting the eggs out of the nesting box, and the girls (especially the one who just laid the egg) looked at me with DISGUST!  “Why are you taking my egg?!?” I could read it in her eyes! They follow me around the coop and watch me pocket their eggs with a mortified look on their feathery faces. “Alas, this is what you are here for,” I tell them.

So in conclusion, from my experience, it is their intelligent eyes that creep people out!

 

Franny: The Defender

Backyard chickens are making a come-back. I saw this poster on Facebook a few days ago.

As people decide on what kind of pet to have, chickens have been thrown into consideration. So much so that they even sell chicken diapers for those chickens you just have to have in your studio apartment in the big city (ordinance permitting) Don’t believe me? Check out Amazon https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=chicken+diaper&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=14307253384&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_e6skg4p1s_e

There’s nothing like standing on the front porch, sipping a cup of coffee, and watching the flock of chickens doing their silly walk across the yard. Or in some cases, since my girls are free range, the squawk of alarm/ “where the hell are you”.

Once I hear that call, I drop what I’m doing, bundle my son and rush out the door to see what the fuss is about. Sometimes the situation is that one of the girls (usually Roxy or Marge) got separated from the rest of the flock. In most cases, the other girls are concealed 10 feet away, and heaven forbid they make a single peep so the prodigal can return.

Other times, it may be that there is a predator- like the day the hawk was actually inside the pine tree that the girls roost in. The girls, however, were smart and stayed outside the tree using it as a block between them and the hawk.

Each chicken has their own personality, and Franny is definitely the leader and defender of the group. I have seen her “rank on the chicken totem pole” a few times when my pit bull, Fendi, gets in her territory.  Fendi is, of course, oblivious to a little chicken, but it is hilarious to see Franny marching up behind Fendi as if she was going to chase the dog away.

(This is a picture of a Franny/Fendi faceoff)

In any case, Franny is always the one to start moving around the yard, and the rest of the flock follow her. She is the one who is first out of the coop, but always the last into the coop if she thinks I’m “trapping” them too early.

She is the defender, and some day soon she may end up pecking Fendi. We will just wait to see how Fendi takes it.