Chicken Eggs–Hatching in 22 Days!

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Just received a batch of 25 hatching eggs including the below chicken types:

Easter Egger
French BBS Copper Marans
Swedish Flower Hen
Speckled Sussex
Blue, Black, Splash Laced Red Wyandotte
Lemon Cuckoo Orpington

Woodpeckers and Chickens

26Oct13_DSCF2018One of the things we have a lot of here are birds – lots of birds, including woodpeckers.  We have seen several woodpeckers, but they always stayed in the trees and left the buildings alone.  However, it seems that this may be the overwintering grounds for other larger woodpeckers that have taken a liking to our shed.

We noticed when buying the property that the enclosed portion of the shed had patched woodpecker holes, so this has been a continuing issue.  One morning Misty21Oct13_DSCF2002 noticed birds in her studio, so we took a look and found three woodpeckers.  They had pecked a new hole in the wall.  We decided it was time to resolve the issue of woodpeckers breaking into the shed, and it seems we have been successful so far.  The image on the right is of Micha making a woodpecker barrier.

The first thing we tried was spray foam, but this lasted only a day, as they found cracks where the foam had not reached and pecked away until a new entrance was formed.  The next morning we went to the store for more foam, but I though that a better solution would be chicken wire and wood.  What we (Micha) did was put plywood from pallets against the wall and covered it with chicken wire.  We made sure that all of the cracks and corners were covered with wire, and so far it has worked.  The birds can peck away and make a hole, but cannot get through the wire.  If for some reason this does not work – they will die. 

Next Spring we will need to work on eliminating the pigeons.

So, I am building a chicken coop, finally.  I have two sets of plans and am taking the best ideas from each set 26Oct13_DSCF2016to build to coop.  At this time, the coop will be 8’ X 4’, and be a bit over 8 feet tall.  I wanted a shorter coop, but think the height will be better during the summer.  I finished the floor and part of a wall, but am waiting until the first week of November to finish it, as things got a bit busy lately.  The coop will be good for 8 chickens, and I will post pictures and the coop progresses

Now I just need to figure out where I want to put it.

Picture of the ? – Small Egg

Found the little egg in the nest today.  Even though it is quite small, I am still counting it as one (whole) egg. 

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Chickens and Eggs

POTD_04Jan12_DSCF0193Our 5 chickens managed to produce 137 eggs during the month of December, which equals 4.419354838709677 per day.  I an very happy with this number, especially considering that it is winter and egg production sometimes suffers in colder weather.  It seems that the mix of spent beer grain, layer food, and some vegetable scraps are a good diet for the chickens.  I am sure that the outside light also helps.  The light is on from  6:30 AM to 10:15 PM.  There is a small 15 watt light in the coop that is also on during those hours.

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As for treats, the picture on the right is of the chickens having some heart healthy Cheerios!  At first, they had no idea what do to with the cereal, but they really liked the Cheerios. 

 

 

Next post – Summer Plans!

Bearded Hen German/Belgian/American Amarillo IPA

Beer_09Dec11_DSCF0982It is a long name for a beer, but in a way, it fits.  Because of an accidental double order, I have about 100 pounds of German and Belgian Pilsner in storage, and I thought that it was time to use them.  While the grains are still in great condition because of the cool, dry storage conditions, they are a year old.  So, for the next few beers, I will be substituting Pilsner for regular brewers 2-row.   

This IPA is one of my favorites.  I have brewed it two times in the past, and have always found it easy to drink.  The beer is not too bitter, and has a hint of grapefruit/citrus.  The first time I brewed this beer I use whole hops.  The entire house smelled like grapefruit; basically, like a citrus orchard.  The past two times I have used pellets, and the aroma has been disappointing.  The pellets simply have not had the beautiful Amarillo aroma that the whole hops had.  The taste is similar, just not the same.  If I brew this again, I will use whole leaf hops. 

Recipe: Bearded Hen German/Belgian/American Amarillo IPA

Boil Size: 7 gallons
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
Boil time: 90 Minutes
SRM: 6.4
IBU’s: 69.0

Grain:

51.9% – 7 lbs. Pilsner – German 
44.4% – 6 lbs. Pilsner – Belgian 
3.7% – 8 oz. Crystal – 40L

Hops:

2.0 oz. – Amarillo (pellet – 49.7 IBU’s) – 70 Minutes
1.0 oz. – Amarillo (pellet –14.6 IBU’s) – 20 Minutes 
1.0 oz. – Amarillo (pellet – 4.8 IBU’s) – 5 Minutes
1.0 oz. – Amarillo (pellet – 0 IBU’s) – 0 Minutes 
1.0 oz. – Amarillo (pellet – 0 IBU’s) – Dry Hop – 7 Days

Other:

1/2 tsp. – Irish Moss– 10 Minutes

Yeast:

1 pk – Wyeast Labs #1332 – Northwest Ale – 1600 ml Starter – Stir Plate

No problems with this brew – hit my numbers spot on with my usual 75% efficiency.  What is nice is that for the Beer_09Dec11_DSCF0971last few months, I have hit my mash temps and my post boil volumes exactly.  It took a while, but they are finally there.  Now, if I can just figure out how to carb consistently.  I am not sure if it my cool garage temperatures, or something else, but some beers are over carbed, some fine, and some way undercarbed.  My Hefe, carbed to 3.5 volumes, is almost uncarbed.  My sugar measurements are exact, so the carbonation is my next project.

As usual, spent grains going into the freezer for the chickens. 

Egg count for last week – 33 eggs!  Not bad for 5 chickens.

Snow Chickens

Chickens_23Nov11_DSCF0895Had an unusual snow in mid-November. Chickens have survived well, and even with no heat of any kind, are producing eggs (and of course, fertilizer) at a nice pace.  The five chickens have gone from 2 – 3 eggs per day, to 3 – 4 eggs per day.  On Thanksgiving day, they managed to lay five eggs, one for each chicken.  Whether or not that had anything to do with the fact that there was a relative (i.e., a big turkey) smoking away in the smoker is unknown, but I am happy that they have all figured out their purpose in life. 

The picture to the right is of the eggs.  It is difficult to capture the true colors of the eggs, but the dark egg is from the Black Copper Marans, and is the color of chocolate.  Very dark and eggs_24Nov11_DSCF0931large.  The eggs are arranged from lightest to darkest, and every one is a different color and shade.

I have been feeding the chickens quite a bit more scraps, especially spent beer grains from brewing.  I did not realize that I have been feeding them coffee grounds and chocolate from my Breakfast Stout, but they really like it, and it does no harm to the chickens.  I have also been mixing Minute Rice that was left over from a previous brew also.

A picture of the coop and pen as it is snowing on the 23rd of November, 2011:

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Interestingly, if I place a picture at the end of a post without adding at paragraph of text, the picture migrates into the next post.  I suppose I could a few <p>’s in the source, but that is not as interesting as typing worthless text.  Sort of reminds me of a few of my latest assignments. 

Two more lines and it is aligned.

Hopefully anyway.

Chicken Coop and Pen Lights

Chicken_31Oct11_DSCF0118Winter is coming, and that means the chickens will only be getting 5 or 6 hours of light, so I decided it was time to install some lights in the coop and in the pent. I do not want to add any heat in the coop, so I installed a small reflector with a 15 watt bulb.  Additionally, there is a 3 watt night-light in the nesting area of the pen.  I did the night light to encourage them to lay eggs when they needed to.  With the light-light, they can see their way to the nesting boxes.  The coop light is a 100 watt light, and I may up that to 150 a bit later.  But right now that is enough.  

I did add a time for the coop and pen lights, but not the night-light.  The lights run from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, which gives them almost 14 hours of light.  I will not do earlier than 6:30 because I do not get up to let them out of their coop to eat and drink until 6:30. 

The pen (night-light) and pen at night:

Chicken_31Oct11_DSCF0112     Chicken_31Oct11_DSCF0110

The Last of The Garden, and Eggs

Garden_16Oct2011_DSCF0054Our 5 chickens are laying about 2 – 3 eggs per day now.  Two of the chickens have not started laying, but hopefully will start soon.  It is getting darker, so I plan on installing lights in the coop and the run.  The coop light should add a bit of warmth and hopefully keep the coop dry, while the pen light is just to keep the chickens outside and busy, instead of inside the coop all day.

The last vegetables have been harvested from the garden.  The carrots were the last to go, Garden_16Oct2011_DSCF0053and they look great.  It was a good garden this year, with the exception of the potatoes, which had a lot of scab for some reason.   Everything else was fine. 

Planning for next year already, and plan for more carrots, less lettuce, more snow peas with less shelling peas.  While I still plan to plant a cabbage or two, I will plant no more than two.  More Swiss Chard and Kale, and a two week rotation of spinach and baby Bok Choy in order to keep a steady supply of those two vegetables throughout the summer.  Also, the squash will migrate from pots to raised beds again. 

4 weeks–17 Pounds

Chickens_9_Oct_11_DSCF0024So far, the raw "diet" that I have been on has been more or less, a success.  In the past 30 days, I have lost a total of 17 pounds.  While initially, my strength and endurance lessened, it is now going back to normal.   An example of the variation in my strength is my chest exercises.  For the past 5 weeks, by total poundage per workout was:  20,900 – 15,760 – 12,940 – 14,680 – 16,467.  Mainly, it was an endurance issue, with me being unable to complete the 3rd or 4th set.  Now, however, things are returning to normal.

My intent for the next three weeks is to remain on my “diet” 6 days per week and attempt to loose another 15 pounds during that time.  Friday nights will be a cheat night, where I will be able to eat whatever I want.  This coming Friday’s dinner will be an old Swedish meatball recipe that I made when I catered my fathers weeding.  The meatballs and gravy will be served over pasta.

Last Friday I went off my diet and had a real meal.  Braised country pork ribs with spicy stove fried potatoes, and corn on the cob.  Dessert consisted of Whoppers and Milk Duds as well as Hoddeok, which is a sweet (brown sugar and cinnamon) filled Korean style pancake. The ribs were braised along with three onions, in beer and chicken stock.  Vinegar and honey was added for the last 15 minutes.  Cooking the ribs took two hours, and they were excellent – very tender.

The image above is of Beans and Bossy, two of our chickens. 

Chickens and the Garden

Chickens_11_Sep_11_DSCF0846The picture on the left is of out chicken coop and pen.  I spent last Sunday getting the chicken coop and pen ready for winter.  I covered the top of the pen with tarps, and only have the roof of the coop to cover now.  I may leave the cop on next summer, as with the rain we had since July, the pen was starting to smell.  We have had rain almost every day for the last month and a half, with just a few sunny or otherwise non-rainy days in between.  I usually put grass clippings in the pen, then rake them up the next time I mow the lawn.  However, with non-stop rain, I did not mow, and the clippings matted with chicken droppings and mud, resulting in a very bad smell.  Thankfully, it was sunny for part of last week, and I was able to clean things up.  The pen smells good again.

Two of out 5 chickens are laying.  The other three should start any week now.  My Copper Black Marans started laying last week, with a bit of a scare just prior to that.  She was a bit lethargic, shook when she closed her eyes, and had yellow poop.  After two days, she improved, and now all is well. 

Chicken and pen pictures:

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A double yolk from the Marans:

The garden is slowly dying, but we still have flowers that are blooming.  I have 4 varieties of hops growing, and I have flowers.  However, they will more than likely not have time to mature, so no hops for beer this year.  Maybe next? 

Garden pics:

Garden_11_Sep_11_DSCF0850Garden_11_Sep_11_DSCF0854Garden_11_Sep_11_DSCF0857

I am planning my garden for next Spring.  I plan to plant a bit earlier, since my vegetable garden is complete.  I will also plant at least twice the amount of carrots next year, as we are running out already.  My onions did very well, and we did not loose any to maggots, which is a first.  Potatoes were not that great this year, probably to the excessive rain we had.

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