8….ummm I mean 5 lovely chickens…an update of sorts!

chicken coop wear...it's all the rage!

chicken coop wear…it’s all the rage!

So we bought 8 little chicks back in April.  We now have 5 lovely laying hens.  Here’s the deal before you call Animal Protection on us.  We gave 3 of them away to two good homes…..3 lovely ROOSTERS!  Yep 3 sneaky boys made their way into our lives and we had to say goodbye to them.  No worries they will be perfectly happy where they are.  We just didn’t want our chicks to have babies….you know….because boys (yep even boy chickens) like to “play” frisky with the girl chickens!  Catch my drift?

all we want are eggs....UNFERTILIZED eggs!

all we want are eggs….UNFERTILIZED eggs!

Actually you would be amazed at how many people ask me why we don’t want roosters with our hens.  I try to explain that I cannot give birth control to my chickens and therefore if I have 3 roosters running loose with my 5 hens well we are going to increase our chicken population pretty soon!  AND the darn roosters are LOUD….very very loud!  (typical guys!)

Some of you may remember my 12 lovely hens I got 2 years ago.  I loved those girls, they were the sweetest and friendliest chicks in town!  Well 12 was a LOT of chicks….therefore a LOT of eggs.  So this time we decided that we should only get 8.  Because as you know the last time our thinking was: “let’s get 12 and surely mother nature will “take care” of some of them”.  Reality is that nature has a way of eliminating some birds.  Not in our case!  All 12 chicks lived, thrived and produced a lot of eggs for about 1 1/2 year which is pretty usual.  After 1 1/2 to 2 years they start to slow down quite a lot.  We decided we needed to find them a forever home where they could retire and relax a little.  Mr Man, always ready, put an ad on Craig’s list with our 8 chickens left, 2 had passed away of natural causes at about 1 1/2 year old and he had given two to a fellow firefighter.  A lovely lady by the name of Cathy called us and said she had a petting zoo and had a lot of retired chickens.  Bingo!  So her and her husband came by and picked up the girls, I cried, not really, Matt cleaned the chicken coop and here we are!

Fast forward to July 2013….we realized that from our recent chick purchase we had 3 roosters!  What to do?  First I called Cathy and she said she was willing to take two of them: Walter and JoshCha.  Then I texted my friend Jenny and asked if she knew of anyone who might want the last one.  She said her father-in-law would like to have him.  Turns out he (Mr. father-in-law) fell madly in love with our last rooster, it seems that he was quite the specimen for a Rhode Island Red.  I was just happy he was going to a good home and wasn’t going to show his manly side to my chicks!

Here's the big guy. Handsome isn't he?

Here’s the big guy Robert Downey Jr. Jr. (true name!) Handsome isn’t he?

Here we are with our 5 gorgeous girls.  Let me introduce you to them.

it's not easy to take pictures of 5 crazy hens running amok

it’s not easy to take pictures of 5 crazy hens running amok

lovely lady:

lovely lady: Simon

pretty sisters

pretty sisters: Franklin and Steve Jr.

our only white chick: Tiffany!

our only white chick: Tiffany!

and the final trouble maker who like to peck at my toes if I wear flip flops in the coop

and the final trouble maker: Sheila who likes to peck at my toes if I wear flip flops in the coop

I hope you enjoy meeting our new girls as much as I enjoy them on a day to day basis.  They are quite the lovely bunch and I love all 5 of them already!  Yes our chicks have odd names and mostly boy names but that’s how it flies around here….get it…fly like a bird…never mind.

Wishing you all a wonderful last month of summer…..ahhhhh summer my favorite!

Peace and love,

Isabelle

Spring Happenings

Well first off Spring is a word I can only use loosely.  We all know Mother Nature is completely miffed at something and she is taking it out on us.  Come to think of it she is probably mad a us for the way we treat our planet….a  philosophical conversation I wish to leave alone for the moment.

Having 5 acres is not quite enough to act like we are running a wheat farm, yet it is big enough that we have a few more things to handle than some folks living in sub-divisions might have.  On the contrary, having chickens is definitely not even close to having a herd of cattle or mustangs running wild through our pastures, but it’s work none the less.  We do have to get a few (I think a bunch but I will say a few) things ready once Winter seems to be leaving us.

Here’s a few things that are happening around here.

First off, our 4-wheeler is back to what I prefer it to be…not a snow plow but a fun toy we can drive at our leisure.

Winter 4-wheeler....YUCK!

Winter 4-wheeler….YUCK!

ready for fun!

ready for fun!

and then there is this trouble maker! I had a fun Sunday :)

and then there is this trouble maker! I had a fun Sunday 🙂

8 new baby chicks have come to live with us!  DO NOT PANIC….we didn’t eat nor kill our old chicks.  As I have mentioned before, not sure if I mentioned here, but definitely on Facebook, our old hens have retired to a “Chicks Retirement Farm”.  I can’t even make that up!  This lady keeps old laying hens of all kinds and lets them have a beautiful space to enjoy their last few years!

Here are the new little girls:

8 lovely chickies

8 lovely chickies

By the way we have named all 8, everyone got to choose 2 names (I gave one of mine to my cousin Andrea)

Franklin

Simon

Robert

Steve Jr.

Walter

Jascha (pronouced Josh sha) Andrea’s pick

Tiffany (our only blond chick….that’s Sunshine’s girl…please don’t take offense to the “dumb blond” reference…she is a smart chick!)

Sheila

so cute!

so cute!

little Sheila

little Sheila

Sunshine is the only one who picked girl names for her chicks.  Also naming our pets completely insures that we would NEVER eat them.  Seriously?!  Who would want to sit at the dinner table (besides my husband) and say :”oh wow, this bird Simon sure is delicious”  CREEPY!

Our garden….although I was made fun of when I said it’s a decent size (some people always have to one up others….geez…) I still think it’s pretty awesome.  Matt built the boxes and had garden soil delivered.  This is our first year boxing it in (2 – 4 x 24 raised beds), along with using our tubs.  I usually am more of a free spirit gardener (which gives me an excuse when things go wrong) but we all know that’s not how my husband likes to conquer projects!

might look like nothing it's a pretty decent pile of dirt!

might look like nothing it’s a pretty decent pile of dirt!

So in good Isabelle fashion, meaning: I have more energy and craziness running through my veins than the average monkey.  On Saturday morning after working out (and a crazy Friday workout as well) I thought it would be nice of me to shovel all the dirt in the boxes.  Matt worked overtime on Friday night, all day Saturday and he had a bunch of chores for Sunday.  I thought it was only fair I did my part.  Took me about 1 1/2 hour but I got it done.  It is a miracle I am able to type this post.  My arms are shot!  I barely slept last night because my back was cramping up…surprisingly enough I am actually in a decent mood…must be the lovely Spring air!

done!

done!

Finally things are blooming:

my purple lilac tree. (I have about 6 different lilac trees! I love them!)

my purple lilac tree. I have about 6 different lilac trees! I love them!

Lovely nectarine tree

Lovely nectarine tree

Flowering pear tree (no fruits)

Flowering pear tree (no fruits)

my chives coming back to life!

my chives coming back to life!

I wish you all a wonderful Springtime.  Tell me what is your favorite part of Spring.  Mine is: Hope…Hope of warm weather!

Peace and Love,

Isabelle

Raising Chickens: April Update

I had to take this pic from the distance, because as soon as they see me they run to me.

Well, our chicks are a year old!  I cannot believe we’ve (mostly I) been chicken herders for a whole year!  AMAZING!

I have to be honest and tell you that I LOVE my chickens.  I know it sounds crazy but I love talking to them (stop laughing), giving them special treats (yes! treats are cool!) taking their pictures (they are very photogenic)….etc…

As much as I hate admitting to this: it hasn’t been a chore at all to take care of these wonderful girls.  They are always happy to see me and they recognize my voice!  THEY DO!  I always say nice things to them and that’s why they love me.

mmmm….I just re-read these sentences above…I sound like the crazy chicken lady!

OH well…so while you are laughing…you will enjoy this:

that's me by the chicken coop...I know nice outfit!

Just so you know chickens poop a LOT so you need old rubber boots and not your brand new running sneakers that you paid way too much $ for! Notice how all the chickens are wanting my attention!  It might be the treats I like to give them.

Speaking of treats, here is a list of yummies they can eat:

Fruits: apples, bananas, berries,pears, peaches, cherries, grapes (seedless only), melon , cantelope, pomegranates (love the seeds), pumpkin

Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, corn, lettuce, peas, bell peppers (nothing spicy)

Grains, cooked rice (no seasoning) cereal (very low sugar), cook grits, oatmeal, crickets, plain pasta, mealworms.

Also: cooked chicken….NO CAN DO…that’s just wrong in my book!

Bad for them: raw potatoes peel, anything salty, any citrus, dried or undercooked beans, avocados, raw eggs (no kidding!), candy, sugar, chocolate.

Also here is something else you might find interesting:

that's a BIG egg!

I fear this picture doesn’t do the extra-large egg justice.  I mean that was one big bad dude (can we call an egg a dude…probably not!)  As I have told you in the past the chicks don’t lay an egg every single day (it’s every 28 hours or so) so I think that if by some weird reason they have delayed the natural process by more than “usual”….watch out it’s a big egg coming our way!

All in all the girls are doing great, there is some pecking going on…because there is always a Captain Bossy Pants in the group and just like in life they try to get the upper hand!  We are working on this little problem.  The internet is full of information on how to take care of your chickens/chickens issues!

If you ever think of getting chickens of your own I would suggest you subscribe to the magazine “Backyard Poultry” it is full of information for small (and large) scale chicken farming!

Ours come to our house with the name Homer instead of Matt because my brother, just like I, has a twisted sense of humor and he ordered the magazine as a present for Matt!

Here is the link to their web site: Backyard Poultry Magazine

I will leave you with this lovely picture of my sweet little girls eating a snack of butternut squash, peppers (mild only) and carrots!

12 lovely ladies snacking in the afternoon sun...gosh I need a life!

Peace and Love,

Isabelle

A Whole Lotta Eggs….

Darn Cooper, I was trying to take pics of the chicks!

I bet some of you saw this coming.  I have eggs up the wazoo….!!!  Reality of it is: we have 12 chicks.  Matt, always thinking ahead of the game, thought: surely one or two are not going to make it.  I mean it’s the law of nature, the survival of the fittest, not all living things come to fruition…you get the idea.  Not here….all 12 little chicks have made it to 12 “producing, laying, eating and then some” chickens….ALL 12 of them are laying eggs on a regular basis.

Let’s talk about the math of having 12 laying chicks for a household of 4 peeps. (pause: I went and got my calculator!)

So during the course of a week: 7 days (glad I got that right)

12 chicks: laying 1 egg each every 26 hours or so.

7 days x 24 hours per day (I wish there was more…hours that is)= 168 hours per week

168 hrs per week divided by 26 hours (time needed for a chick to lay)= 6.5 eggs each chick per week

6.5 eggs each chick x 12 chicks= 78 eggs EACH week.

On average an “normal” household of 4 peeps will go through a dozen eggs per week….what do you do with the remainder 66 eggs?  You give them away…to family and friends.

Why so serious? I am only trying to take a few pictures 🙂

Remember Steve? She is still very "healthy"...if you know what I mean!

This is also what you do with a lot of eggs: yumminess!

So if you’ve had the pleasure of me coming to you with a carton of eggs, just know that I have more….a lot more coming!  Let me know if you can taste the difference, we sure can!  I wish I could send every single blog reader a dozen eggs…alas you will have to simply enjoy the recipes from my multitude of eggs!

Peace and Wazoo,

Isabelle

Just a little note: Please, pretty please….return the cartons because I will have to give eggs in grocery sacks….just sayin’ 🙂

Flying the coop!

Hey Girls! (that's what we say to them everytime we go by the coop)

Houston we have a problem.  This is what I kept hearing when my neighbor Kristie called and said: “so funny all your chickens are on my back porch.”  WHAT? geez….that’s not going to work.  I mean we have 5 acres, why do these crazy girls need to wander off to the neighbor’s property.  Granted they’re our one and only neighbor so the chicks don’t have a lot to choose from but still.  I guess the grass is always greener… They also happen to have a pool and a beautiful deck, which would look pretty gross covered in chicken poop.  (sorry about the mental visual)

So, after Matt got done with work, we made our way to Menard’s (Midwest’s “better” Home Depot/Lowe’s) and bought more supplies.  We are planning a better, bigger, higher fence for the chicks to stay in and have some roaming space.

NOTE: it’s been 1000 degrees this past week….was it a good idea to do hard labor outside?  I say: “nay, nay”  😉

So we worked in this lovely heat from 4 till 8.  We both looked like crazy sweaty fools but it had to get done.  The thing is, we are going on a small family fishing trip for a few days.  Which means that Matt’s cousin Jack is coming over to house-sit, dog-sit and chicken-sit!  We needed to make sure the chickens were easy breezy to care for.   We didn’t want him to have to chase the chickens all over the place.

Here is our final product:

New big yard for the ladies!

Step two will be: wing clipping.  NO worries it doesn’t hurt them.  It’s like getting an haircut or clipping your nails.

Here is an example of a clipped wing:

Steve's clipped wing

CONFESSION:  This pains me to tell you…but I was fooled by that first egg.  Between you and I…I almost cried when I found out that 2 neighbor kids (not our “real” neighbor but further away) put the egg in there.  I was sooooo upset but I understand how they would think it was funny.  Since it is our first time raising chickens, you can imagine how excited I was at the thought of our first egg.  Today we did truly have 3 eggs.  At first, I was very leery, but Matt is the one who found them.  I know some of you will say: “how could you not know…blah blah blah”  Hey!  At least I’m being honest and telling you I was duped!  But finally we have our eggs, and look how pretty they are:

Fresh eggs....yes, I am in my pjs!

excuse me...a little privacy please 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this little update…and please feel free to feel sorry for me about the “fake” first egg…I am still crushed….or scrambled…

Peace and lots of love to all my sweet readers,

Isabelle

The First Egg!

Pure Perfection

I cannot tell you the excitement I felt when I found our first egg…well our chicks’ first egg!  Which is why I think it is time to update you on the progress of our funny farm…in and out of the house!

The chicks are getting so big and they are truly developing unique personalities.  We have a slightly shy one, a bossy one, a few followers, an adventure seeker and a “mama” hen…who interestingly enough has been named Steve!  She is easy to pick out since she is not white or colorful like the others but simply gold.  She is also on the plump side so she truly makes her presence known!

Here she is…our lovely Steve:

Steve!

As of right now we have no clue which white chick laid the egg, but as you can very well imagine I have been over by the coop 5-10 times daily hoping for another one.  To be honest, I have been holding out on you guys with great egg recipes because I want to make all those with FRESH free-range wholesome perfectly healthy eggs from my sweet girls (the chicks that is).  I have a lot of great recipes that require eggs and I want to share them with everyone but it will have to wait until I have at least 6 eggs.

I should mention here that we only have females in our coop…I say this because a few people have asked me these important questions….there are no silly questions and unless you’ve had chickens you might not know this…

Q: can you have eggs with out a rooster?

A: yes, just like any female of reproductive age, chicks have eggs…ovulate if you will.  They just happen to lay them almost daily.

Q: will you have baby chicks if they lay eggs?

A: not unless you have a rooster and he “fertilizes” the egg….if you catch my drift!

Q: are eggs safe to eat?

A: yes, and they are delicious.  You must keep your eggs in the fridge once collected.

Q: do the eggs taste different?

A: yes, they are fresh, full of flavor and delicious.

Q: can you use your eggs to cook or bake?

A: yes, same as all store bought eggs.

Here are some more pics of our lovely ladies….just to brighten your day!

2 of our 3 white chickens

Oh look! bicycles! Why are they in the barn?

In the workshop...maybe planning an addition to their coop?

They love to hang out under that tree, lovely shade!

Peace and THANK YOU for reading my blog,  I love getting your feedback and please feel free to ask any questions I will answer all (to the best of my abilities!)

Isabelle

OHHHHH Chicken Coop!

It has been built!  Finally, by moi!  Not really by choice – because Mr. Man still can’t operate power tools….or so he says!

All kidding aside, I think I did fairly well for my first real “construction” job.  I didn’t even get mad at Matt for supervising me and telling me what to do!  That needed to be mentioned!  I did however get really mad at myself for being 41 years old and not having a clue how to build stuff!

Here are some cool pics of my (OK…OUR!) chicken coop!

Note: I am not comfortable roofing…totaling a fake smile!

Inside (before last wall up!)

Notice the pool ladder, this is ridiculous and lazy on my part since Matt has about 20 real ladders!

Last wall up!

Putting up chicken wire on the top “window”

OK, here is the final product and painted to match the barn…thank you Anal Al (aka Mr. Man!)

Closer view:

Chicks getting some fresh air:

Soon, they will have more “outdoor” space.  We are making a “run” or possibly letting them roam free….not sure because of “unfriendly” wild beasts…foxes, raccoons, coyotes, hawks..etc.. No worries we will always keep them safe…thank you Safety Sam (aka Mr. Man)

OOOPS spoke too soon here is the new door (as of this afternoon!)

Aren’t you proud of my work?  I was very well supervised by my lovely husband who is a great teacher!  I love him!

Peace and coop, (still)

Isabelle

Getting Chicks

If you want chicks don’t go to a bar, just go to Tractor Supply…OK, I know that was not a funny reference to women being chicks.  But, that’s just the way my humor gets me through the day.  My life is a circus and I am along for the ride!

Here are our little chicks, pardon the picture but they are in a “warm” environment with a red heating lamp.  Pictures don’t come out real well.

They are doing really well and seem to be making friends…I noticed a couple of bossy pants in there but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.  I guess in chicken world just as in our world there are leaders and followers.

Fact: chicks need LOTS of water, plenty of food and a warm place to move around.

Fact: a day in a chick’s life: eat, sleep, drink water and yep you guessed it: poop (I had to go there)

Fact: if you have teenagers and all their friends who come around wanting to look and hold chicks: you will be telling them to wash their hands a million times before they will listen.

Fact: you will need to purchase your chicks and keep them “inside” i.e. garage or barn before they can go outside in the chicken coop

Fact: chicken coops can be purchased ready made or if you like me have a handy dandy Mr. Man then he will build and they will come 🙂

Here is a great book, one Matt has read cover to cover.  Highlighted pertinent info and left on my night stand (twice) for me to read.  I think it’s a pretty book…but let’s face it, he’s read the book and he will inform me of my duties (trust me, he will) as we progress with the chicken fiesta!

Book:

You can find this and other lovely reading material on Amazon.com:  Books about chickens on Amazon

Peace and p… (I won’t say it!)

Isabelle

There is always a trouble maker…I found her:

Raising Chickens

While at my brother’s in Florida, we finally decided it was time for us to get some chickens for our place back home in Indy.  We have been going back and forth on this idea for quite some time.  I knew this was going to happen as soon as Mr. Man and my little bro would spend time together.  I love the idea but I have to say, neither one of us can do this alone, we  need 100% support from each other.  We got it!  It was so much fun getting the eggs every morning and watching the chickens walk around and….be chickens.

The girls are so excited…now let’s be honest they are in middle school.  How long till the “newness” wears off?  Who knows?  But I am ready to be a mama chicken (what?).  I know this will take some planning and organizing so I thought I should keep you informed of our progress.

First off: as we were driving back from Florida my dear husband and I “shared” the driving…that is until he started planning the building of the coop.  I had the pleasure of driving through Atlanta and Chattanooga’s traffic.  Yes, we are still married but I gave him the evil eye a couple of times.  So we left Florida on Friday morning, spent the night near Nashville TN, got home around 2 ish on Saturday.  By 7pm Saturday night, he had gone to the lumber store and he was on a roll.  Here is where we are so far:

He’s at the Fire Station today (thank GOD!) but he has texted me this: “Tractor supply has what we want.  Golden comets.  Brown eggs.  Mature fast.  Hens and roosters are different colors!  They get another shipment tomorrow.”  I love the man…I love the man…I love the man!  See, this means: Isabelle get yourself to Tractor Supply tomorrow and get the little chicks so we can get this going!  I will go to Tractor Supply and get the chicks because I too am excited!  I will just pretend he is bossing me around…

I hope you guys enjoy this new little projects of ours.  Hopefully we will all get an interesting “education” on how to raise chickens.  I can’t wait to make scrambled eggs!  That’s how I think…FOOD!

Here is another picture of my brother’s chickens:

Aren’t they so pretty? 🙂

Peace and coop,

Isabelle