Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader ~ Hello BlogLovin! Have you switched yet?

Just a quick reminder to those of you using Google Reader to manage your favorite is shutting down on Monday!

If you haven't already made the switch to another reader, or you have but aren't happy with it, you should give BlogLovin a try.  I switched to them a few weeks back because my email inbox was getting sooo bogged down with emails to the point that I was missing some of my favorite blogs in the pile.

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(BlogLovin could really use some better icons.)

BlogLovin is FREE and so easy to work with.  And right now, if you sign up for BlogLovin before Monday you can easily move all of your Google Reader blogs you follow over to BlogLovin with just a few clicks.  And adding new blogs is as easy as entering their blog url in the search box then clicking 'Follow' once BlogLovin finds the blog for you.  That is too easy!

To help you keep your blogs organized you can use categories to sort them out.  You create the categories so you decide how you want to sort them.  Say for example you call one category "MY FAVS" and another, "Like", and another "Tues Blog Hops", etc.  Then you can view all of your blogs in a single list or just your favs, or on Tuesday read those that have Tuesday Hops.  You get the idea...just be creative how you categorize them in what ever way works best for you.

My favorite thing about BlogLovin is that I get '1' email each evening with all of the most recent blog posts included.  So when I have time to sit down and read in the evening I just go to BlogLovin and read the ones I want.  If I get free time any other time in the day I can quickly visit the BlogLovin website (or their app on my iPad) to catch up on everyone's posts.  Once I have visited the blogs on the list they automatically change to 'read' so my unread list is always current with the most recent, up-to-the-minute posts at the top!

So if you have not signed up for BlogLovin yet, give it a try, you have nothing to lose.  If you are already using BlogLovin, be sure to Follow Me with BlogLovin too!  Please share your BlogLovin url in the comments below so we can all find you!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've been keeping a secret, but now I can share...

I've been keeping this under my hat so to speak, but now I can share it with you!

When I decided to start raising chickens again, the first thing I did was call the county planning & zoning department, because unlike decades ago when I had chickens before, there are now zoning laws in many places that prohibit raising livestock and specifically poultry.  I learned that on our 1 acre rural property I was only allowed to have 8 adult hens and NO roosters.  However there are other chicken keepers in our community with way more than 8 hens, and I hear the lovely sound of roosters crowing each morning so I know there are either outlaw chicken keepers or different rules for different folks around I asked about this.  The zoning department person said that in our particular community, which is surrounded by livestock (mostly cattle) and hay fields, we have restrictions on the number of hens for lots that are under 1.6 acres (ours is 1.02).  So out of curiosity I asked, "If we owned the vacant lot next door that is over an acre, combined with ours it would be 2.32 acres, what would our poultry limit be?"  She looked up the property next door to verify the size and told me that if we owned both pieces of property then I would not have a limit on the number of hens, and I could have roosters too!

We were okay with only having 8 hens, and joked that if we wanted a rooster we would have to buy the property next door, making that one really expensive rooster!  But the idea of buying the property next door was not a new one.  We had considered it when we first bought our property because we wanted extra space.  However the people who owned that property wanted way too much for it, so we didn't give it any serious thought.

Then a few weeks ago the hubby was trying to figure out where he could build a new shop on our property.  We do have an acre, but part of it is up a hill so you can't really build there.  The long winding driveway getting up to our house takes up lots of space in the front of our property, leaving very little room for a shop.  We were discussing the placement one day when I suggested that we rethink the property next door.  If we could get it at a reasonable price perhaps we could build the shop on that section...and I could have roosters, and maybe a big garden next year, or more critters!  "Whoa!" my hubby said, "remember they wanted way more than it was worth last year?  I'm sure they haven't come down that much in a year."

The property next door.  It will need lots of clearing work to make it useable.

Well I went that moment and looked up their MLS listing.  It was still for sale and they had dropped the price just nearly half!  Now it was within range of us being able to buy it.  I did a little deeper searching and learned that the couple who owned it were now divorced, and not amicably so, plus the Mr, had a huge tax lien recently filed against his business a few months ago, so they might now be ready to negotiate on the price for a quick sale.  So we made an offer.

It was..........ACCEPTED!!!!  The property is now in escrow and should be closing very, very soon!  So my little Barry the Barred Rock Rooster can legally stay!  Hubby can build his shop, I can start my first compost pile, and maybe, just maybe, I can get some pygmy or dwarf goats in the coming year.  I have wanted to raise them for a very long time for their milk to make my own goat cheese...and because they are so darn Cute!

I want a couple of these! (Source)

I've wanted to share this news with you for a few weeks now, but didn't want to jinks things.  But now all of the escrow hurdles have been jumped and we are running for the finish line! Hooray!!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Victorio 4-Tray SEED SPROUTER ~ Product Review

If you like sprouting seeds then you've got to get a Victorio 4-Tray Seed Sprouter!

I bought one on Amazon for only $15.12 (with free shipping) and it was delivered the next day!  I already had a 1/4 cup of wheat seeds that I soaked the night before, so I placed 1/2 of the wheat seeds (1/8 cup) into each of two trays.  I then put one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds in a cup to soak.  Later that evening I put the soaked alfalfa in the Seed Sprouter in the third tray.  I left one of the trays empty so I could stagger my sprouts.  I did this on Tuesday.

On Thursday (2 days later) here is what I have!  I have never seen growth like this before.

Look at these wheat sprouts.
Wheat Sprouts Day 2 (1/8 cup) Tray 1

Wheat Sprouts Day 2 (1/8 cup) Tray2

I could go feed them to my chickens right now, but I will wait until tomorrow.  I wont be able to leave them in the Sprouter any longer though because they are so tall already.  This thing is Amazing!

Here is my alfalfa after less than 2 full days.
Alfalfa Sprouts Day 2

This Seed Sprouter is by far the best method I have found for sprouting seed super fast and super easy!  You just put your soaked seeds in each tray, stack them up with the reservoir tray on the bottom, then pour in 2 cups of fresh water 2-3 times a day.   The water slowly drains from the top tray down to the one below, until it all ends up in the bottom tray.  Before you add water the next time, you simply empty the bottom tray, then rotate the bottom tray to the top position, and pour your water into the top tray.  Once the water has run all the way to the bottom reservoir tray you just lay the lid on top (this keeps the top tray from drying out), but don't seal the lid.  (You only seal the top lid if you are going to store the trays.)  When they have grown to your desired size you can store them in the refrigerator to stop the growing process.

I didn't pre-soak in bleach water and I didn't get any mold either.  You don't sit the Seed Sprouter in direct sunlight...these seeds sprouted sitting on my kitchen counter with only regular room lighting and the A/C kept the room about 72-75 degrees the whole time (according to the manufacturer 70 degrees is the ideal growing temperature).  I am totally impressed with this product.  I'm ordering a second set of trays right now!

The Trays are BPA free, made in the USA, and comes with a packet of Organic Alfalfa Seeds.  I'm adding this item to my "Things My Chicks L-O-V-E" page.  If you want to buy one (or several) of these, please do me a favor and use one of my links which are affiliate links through Amazon.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this item myself, I was not given any compensation for this review.  The opinions stated in this review are my own personal feelings about this product (that I love).  I do ask that you please use my affiliate link to purchase this item from Amazon, but the teeny tiny commission I would receive, in no way influenced my review.

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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This post was shared on the "HomeAcre Hop!"

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's official...I am Old!

I guess I am officially old...I just signed up for AARP today!

I have tried to resist them for three decades now.  Yes, three decades!  You see, back in my 20's I subscribed to magazines about such things as 'quilting' and 'crocheting' so they just assumed I was over age 50.  I know that because when I ordered magazines I always used my birth name (which I don't wish to share) so the only things that came in my mail with that name, other than the magazines, were solicitations from random companies who the magazines sold my name and info to...including AARP.  So you see, they were 'profiling' me, lol (back when it was just called stereotyping).

Oh well, being old does have it's benefits.  Like today, the reason I finally gave in and signed up for AARP is because the hubby needed to go out of town for a few days on last minute notice, and needed a motel.  Well all the motels in the town where he was going were mostly booked up and the motels that were open were expensive.   But with an AARP membership I would save up to $10.84 per day...times 3 days that is $$32.52 savings!   Since the yearly membership for AARP is only $16 (and it covers the hubby too), I have a net savings of $16.52 on the first day!  Think how much chicken feed I could buy with $16.52.

They have other benefits specifically for us seniors (that is kind of weird to say, lol) like they provide lots of health and fitness news on their website, as well as money management tips for those of us hoping to retire in the next 20 or so years.  The GeekSquad offers up to 25% off some of their computer services, and Amazon gives us 10% off Kindle eReaders including the Kindle Fire, plus certain restaurants and car rental agencies also offer discounts to AARP Members.  You can use it to save on travel too (but I don't think I'll be using that discount, I hate leaving my chickens).

Hey, I can save 10% at Micheal's on Tuesdays!  I better go, I gotta do some more research to see where else I might use my new 'senior' discount card.  This senior thing might not be so bad after all :-)


Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lazy Sunday afternoons with the Grandkids and Chickens!

I love lazy Sunday afternoons...

The grandkids are visiting us this weekend, and we're having such a great time hanging with the chickens, visiting a friends animals, and spending some quiet time at the public library.  Later today we are planning a Jeep drive to explore the mountains, and have a picnic.

The grandkids usually spend at least two weekends a month with us, but the last three weekends they have been at their dads for an extended summer break visit.  The kids were shocked at how much the chickens have grown in that time.  They got to meet our newest edition, Big Red, who we got right after their last visit.  They were so excited when I tol them that Big Red lays an egg almost every day.  She has been sweet enough to lay an egg daily while the kids have been visiting.  Collecting the daily egg has been so much fun for the kids.  Little Miss did the actual collecting of the egg because she is tall enough to reach in to the nesting box, but she let Little Man hold it too.  He asked if the egg was real, haha.  They have only see eggs that come out of a carton purchased at the store, so this was a special thrill for them.

I think that Little Miss must be a 'Chicken Whisperer' because the chicks just flock to her when she comes in the run.  She seems to have instantly bonded with them and even the chicks that never let me even touch them have walked right up to her and allowed her to pick them up.  Little Man wasn't interested much in the chickens, but hey, what do you expect of a 4 year old boy when there's an electric quad all charged up and a big yard to ride around in.

Well, I have to go, they are about done drawing their books that I need to help them staple together as a gift for mom.  Enjoy some of the pictures of fun things we have done this weekend so far.

Little Miss showing off the first egg she collected.

Little Miss eating scrambled eggs from Big Red.  She loved them!

Petting the 17 week old Pygmy Goats (not ours, but maybe soon!!!)

Little Man checking out the Donkey...a little apprehensive.

Little Miss instantly bonds with any animal (or insect).
Little man...I put this straw hat on his head and he instantly broke out in a cowboy song & dance.
Some quiet computer time at the library.

What are you doing on this wonderful weekend around your place?

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Fruit and Veggie Freezer Cake Treats for your Chickens

When I can make a healthy snack for my chickens, I feel good about that.  When I can clean out my freezer and get rid of all of those last little bits of veggies and fruit left over in a multitude of nearly empty bags, or toss the ones that are all frostbitten (and therefore not edible by me), I food good about that too.  But when I can combine those two things, I feel really good!

Yesterday I did just that.  I read a post at Homgrown on the Hill where Mary was making 'Confetti Treat Ice Wreath' based on a recipe that she got from Kathy at Fresh Eggs Daily.  Basically you use a bundt cake pan to make frozen fruit and veggie treats for your chickens to eat on hot days.  It helps to keep them cool plus it's nutritious too.  Kathy suggested that you go through your freezer looking for those little bits of frozen veggies and fruits left over, and if you don't have enough now, start collecting little bits of veggie left overs in a bag or bowl in the freezer until you do have enough to make this frozen treat. 

I love this idea!  Who doesn't have something left over in the freezer that really should be tossed.  Or the last spoonful of veggies left over after dinner -not enough to put away, but too much to just throw away (not that we would do that since we have chickens who love leftovers), but you get the idea.

I used this idea as the motivation to clean out my fridge and freezer yesterday.  I had a surprisingly lot of fruits and veggies tucked away here and there.  I had one bag of California Veggie Mix (cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli) that I never even opened.  It was an off brand so I didn't recognize the bag and apparently ignored it for a long while.  The contents were a bit frosty, but perfectly fine for the chickens to nibble on.

So I tossed all of this into a big bowl and let it thaw out enough that I could mix it up.  I could have put it into a large bundt cake pan as Kathy and Mary did, but my chickens are young and just learning about fresh foods, so they tend to be afraid of whatever I give them the first time or two, then they look forward to it by about the third time I offer it, so I didn't want to waste a big block of frozen goodies.  Instead I used my Giant Muffin Pan with 6 giant cups that will hold about two cups each.  Then I added a little water to bring the level up just below the tops.  And I popped this into the freezer overnight.

Here's one of my frozen cakes ready to be served.  It looks good enough to eat myself...well almost.

I tossed the remaining 5 frozen cakes in to a one gallon Ziploc to be served up later in the week.

I can offer one (or more as needed) on hot days to help the chickens stay cool, while dinning on healthy treats.  Just place the frozen treat (no matter which size you decide to make) onto a dish and place it in the shade where the chickens can enjoy it longer.

My mix included broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bananas, cooked potatoes, apricots, peaches, celery, and diced apples.  Who knows what my next batch will have, that's the beauty of this treat...its whatever you have in your fridge.

Now lets see what the chickens think of it... Big Red and Barry are always the first to check out any new treats I bring.  Big Red quickly discovered that if she pecks at the colorful spots on the side she gets a cool, tasty tidbit.

Big Red and Barry checking out the new Frozen Treat.
Once Big Red and Barry have given it a few pecks everyone else comes to check out this strange new treat.  There was a little bit of bickering after everyone got in a few pecks at the treat.  Then Big Red ran everyone off (as usual) so she and Barry could have it all to themselves.  But the others are pretty quick so they kept coming back and pecking on the sides (using Barry as a shield between themselves and Big Red).   Big Red finally took a break and the others went to town on it.  I think she got a brain-freeze from eating it so fast.  I would say it was a hit.  They ate most of it before it even had a chance to thaw, so tomorrow I'll bring out two of them.

Do you have some old fruits and veggies in your freezer or refrigerator that you could use to make a Freezer Cake for your chickens?  Go take a look, I was surprised by how much I was able to come up with...and it made so much more room in my freezer too!

Check out the Cool Treat Christine at "A Fly on Our (Chicken Coop) Wall" created.  Thanks for sharing this post Christine, you are a sweetie! 

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

I'm Raising Mealworms ~ Gross, Yet So Fascinating!

I seriously never thought I would say this but...I am raising mealworms!  I wanted to provide my chickens with a great source of protein, and mealworms are the easiest way to do that, but they can be kind of an expensive treat.  I've seen so many other chicken keepers who are raising their own and thought it was just gross!  I also worried about the beetles getting out of the plastic box and raiding my house!  I have enough trouble keeping the crickets under control, I certainly didn't want to introduce a new insect in my house.

Because I'm a naturally curious person, I kept reading blog & forum posts about how easy it is to raise mealworms and how the darkling beetle doesn't fly and cannot crawl up the smooth walls of the plastic tubs.  And most importantly, how you don't have to actually touch them with your hands!  That part creeped me out the most.  So I decided to give it a try.  At the very least, I could just feed them to my chickens and be done with it if I didn't like it.

So I ordered 3000 mealworms. I don't do things small once I set my mind to it.  I ordered them from Exotic Nutrition for what I guess is a reasonable price.   I was concerned about them surviving the shipping with the heat of Arizona and all, so I added three ice packs with my order.  They were to ship via Priority Mail and with this distance I expected them in about 3 days.  They actually arrived on the second day so I was happy about that.  The ice packs were no longer cold, so its good they didn't have to spend another hot day in transit.

I opened the cloth bag that held the mealworms and looked inside.  They looked gross, but pretty harmless hiding in the wads of newspaper inside.  I sat the box on the table and went to gather my plastic tubs that I bought the day before.  I probably should have closed the bag back, because when I returned only minutes later the mealworms were crawling out of the bag!!! Eeeck!  I freaked just a little, then grabbed the cloth bag and dropped it in the tub.  This way as they crawled out they would be confined to the tub.

The previous night I froze my box of oatmeal because I read that doing this will kill any insects that might have laid eggs at the factory (kind of an icky thought).

Then I pour the oatmeal in my little processor and started chopping it up finely.  I read this was a good idea, but in hindsight I don't think it was necessary.

Then I poured the freshly ground oatmeal into the tub.  By this time the mealworms were really coming out of the bag.  I pulled the wads of newspaper out of the bag and spent the next half and hour knocking the worms off the newspapers.  This was another thing that in hindsight was not necessary because they actually like wads of newspaper in their tub.

Once all the mealworms were safely in the tub I added some cardboard and laid out a few pieces of carrots on the cardboard.  The worms were on it so fast!  They must have been pretty thirsty (they get their only source of water from these veggies).

Mealworms going crazy over an apple.

About two hours later they have eaten all the way through the apple.
Over the next few days they continued to devour the carrots, apples, what ever I put in there.  After a few days they slowed down on the carrots so they must have finally quenched their thirst.

I have since realized that my small tubs were not big enough for 3000 mealies so I upgraded them to a much larger tub.  I am using the smaller tubs to house the Pupae and beetles separately because I have read that they will eat their own eggs sometimes, and that would defeat the purpose of raising them if they eat their offspring.

I cut the bottom out of one tub and attached a piece of screen over the opening (held in place with silicone) and then positioned that tub directly above another topless tub so the eggs (that are so tiny you almost cannot see them) and newly hatched worms, can fall through the screen into the other tub, safely out of the reach of the beetles.

 So far I have watched the mealies growing and growing.  They shed their skin with each new growth stage.  And in only about 2 weeks I have already scooped 123 Pupae out of the big tub and moved them into the beetle tub. (Update: within 24 hours of this post going live my Pupae count is now almost 200, and 3 beetles.  Perhaps my colony is on the brink of a serious population growth!)

And look, just today I discovered two beetles!  (They move really fast so I could only get one of them in the picture.)

I hope its a boy and a girl so they can get busy laying eggs!  Soon the other pupae will turn in to beetles too, and they will begin to breed and lay eggs that will produce more mealworms.  Here is a diagram of the mealworm life cycle.  Pretty amazing!

From a great source for learning about mealworms.

Okay I know I was so repulsed by these before I actually got them...well even when they first arrived I was still pretty grossed out.  But now I am so fascinated by them that I don't miss a day of checking in on them.   I am totally mesmerized by their transformation.  But I still will not touch them with my hands...I use spoons and forks to dig through their bedding and move them from one tub to another.

I have been scooping out some dead ones, and some live ones too, to feed to the chickens.  They act like I am giving them chicken-crack or something!  I always use a specific dish to bring them out to the chickens and they now recognize that dish.  I have tried to take a picture of them eating the worms but they are gone so fast I haven't had time to even snap a picture.

I'll keep you updated on their progress.  I'm excited to see my first new generation of mealies to come from this colony.  I will be so excited to share that with you...the hubby doesn't want to know about it.  I think he is wondering what happened to his wife.  In the last six months I have become a chicken keeper, a gardener, a self-sufficiency student, turned my kitchen counters into herb and sprout growing factories, and now I'm a mealworm farmer.  He is happy that I get so much joy out of these things, but it's all new to him.  I told him I grew up on a farm and wanted to live that lifestyle again...but in our 10 years together he probably started to think it was all just wishful thinking on my part.   It was actually, but now that wishful thinking has become a reality.

So tell me, what you are doing to make your dreams a reality...

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Raised Bed Garden Update ~ Harvesting some Veggies!

Just wanted to share with you an update on my raised bed garden.  The plants seem to be growing nicely (despite getting off to a rough start with my cats eating the plants).  I have even been harvesting (if you can call it that) some Okra.

My largest 1 day harvest yet, lol.

I've been picking them while they are still small (about 3") to encourage the plants to produce more.  I have to admit, it does looks a little silly when I am blanching only 1 to 3 okra at a time, but my freezer bag stash is slowly growing.  Very soon I will be able to cook up enough for one whole meal.

Look at my zucchini plant, isn't that just beautiful?
These beautiful golden flowers are sure to attract the bee's.

And look!  I see my first little zucchini growing in there!
My first Zucchini of this season.

I've even got a few teeny tiny bell peppers too!

Teeny Tiny little Bell Pepper...can you see it?

I can't wait until I'm harvesting more than the two of us can possibly eat in a day.  My friends and neighbors are anxiously waiting for that day as well, Hahaha!

I am getting my canning jars wont be long now!  I am so pleased with my raised bed garden this year.  Of course I am already planning a second raised bed for next year, hee hee!

So what are YOU Growing this year?

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Official Egg Count for our Flock

This page will be the Official Egg Count Page for our Flock.  I thought it would be fun (and informative) to keep track of how many eggs our flock produces in a year.  So this page will be where I keep my egg collection stats.  I will update it at least weekly, noting any interesting changes that occurred in that week as I go.  As we begin I have 7 chicks that are not laying and 1 hen that just started laying in May, (but she did not come to us until June 3rd).   I will post my updates in reverse order with the most recent at the top (like blog posts are listed, newest first).

Total Eggs Laid This Year (2014):  ** XX **  [Lost track near the end of 2013, so I stopped recording the count. ] 

For the week ending Thursday, August 1st. We got 0 eggs so far this week.
  • Skipped a day of laying on Friday.  First missed day in over 2 weeks.

Week ending Thursday, July 25th. We got 7 eggs so far this week.
  • Last week I witnessed my 13 week old Barred Rock cockerel mating (or so it appeared) several times with my laying hen Big Red.  I will be checking her eggs for fertility this week, just out of curiosity as to whether or not he is old enough to be fertile already. 
  • All eggs were verified as fertile upon inspection of the yokes, even the double yokers were fertile.  I placed one of her eggs in the incubator and candling on day 6 showed a live chicken embryo doing well inside!  See the full post about this here
  • Interesting that since a few days after mating with Barry, Big Red has been laying full-sized, single yoke eggs.  All of which have been fertile so far.

Week ending Thursday, 18th of July! We got 7 eggs this week!
  • It seems that Big Red has calmed down now with no more moving around because she is laying beautiful eggs every day, many of them were double Yorkers too.  She must be kicking out the eggs in overdrive.  
  • She has also been back on fermented feed steady for two weeks now since we returned from evacuation.

Week ending Thursday, 11th of July! We got 4 eggs this week.
  • We returned from evacuation on Thursday night and Big Red laid a huge (double-yoker) egg early Friday evening.
  • Sunday morning Big Red laid another huge egg.  I wonder how long she will be laying double-yokers?  I am not complaining, just curious.  
  • I am surprised we got 4 eggs this week after the 'Weird Egg Laying' event.  She laid another shell-less egg the next evening and then laid two thin, but whole eggs the next two days.  I guess she just had a bit of lingering stress from all the moving around and small quarters during the evacuation.  She seems to be back to normal.  Hope her eggs thicken back up as this next week progresses.

Week ending Thursday, 4th of July! We had 3 eggs.
  • The first egg this week was huge!  I bet it is a double-yoker.  Will know soon when we have it for breakfast. 
  • Saturday's egg was not viable...totally my fault too :-/  You see, Friday we had late afternoon monsoon rains that cooled us down from 101 to the upper 80's outside.  So I made the bad decision to turn the A/C unit off in the coop.  It obviously wasn't going to come on til the next day mid-morning so why leave it on I thought.  Well, Saturday morning I forgot to turn it back on.  So when Big Red went inside to lay her egg, it was well over 100 in the coop.  Pour girl tried to stay in there and lay her egg but it was so hot she could not sit in the nest box so she must have been pacing inside the coop totally stressed by the heat.  She finally laid an egg and it was so thin-shelled that it broke when she dropped it on the floor of the coop.  I feel so bad for her, she really needs to spend about an hour just relaxing in the next box in a cool room, then she lays beautiful eggs.
  • Despite the stress of being evacuated, and living in a temporary dog kennel without a coop or nest box, Big Red laid a beautiful brown egg this evening.  She laid it right on the ground while my daughter and granddaughter looked on.  My granddaughter cheerfully collected the egg and she even remembered to thank Big Red for giving us this egg today.

Week ending Thursday, June 27th.  We had 4 eggs this week, and the grandkids got to collect it.  They were thrilled.  My grandson asked if it was real, lol.  I said yes it is and you can have it for breakfast tomorrow!
  • Interesting that on the one day this week that I was away for 24 hours, and therefore did not visit the chickens all day, I found an egg on the floor of the coop that looked like a shell-less egg, but there was a very thin half of a shell on it.  The egg was intact even without the shell. I wonder if Big Red stressed about me not visiting them throughout the day? 
  • We got another thin, broken egg on the coop floor at the end of this week.   She didn't lay the day before so perhaps she was holding this one over night.  Looks like she laid it from the roost, which aided in is breaking when it hit the floor (deep litter can only do so much cushioning).

Week ending Thursday, June 20th. We had 2 eggs with a nice shells. (Only three days since last count)
  • I do believe that Big Red is loving her air conditioned coop because we've had 2 perfect eggs since it was installed.  She can now go inside and take her time laying her egg without cooking her brain in their.   I also installed some 'cool' hippie curtains over the nest boxes.  She likes them :-)
  • We haven't had a single thin or broken egg this week, and no eggs without shells either.  I've been pumping up the calcium treats this week.  That combined with the cooler coop because of the air conditioner may be having a positive effect.

Week ending Monday June 17th, this week we got 2 good eggs from Big Red
  • She did lay 2 others but they had very thin shells, and 1 other had no shell at all.  I think the heat was bothering her inside the coop.
  • Interesting side note: we ate her first 5 eggs this week and 3 of the 5 were double yolked.

Week ending Monday June 10th, we had had 4 viable eggs

Beginning June 4th, 2013 we got our first egg from Big Red.

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Does it make me a Crazy Chicken Lady if...

Okay, I think I am officially Chicken Obsessed!  This week we were having some really HOT days.  And although I have done a lot to cool down the chicken run for my chicks, I was still having a problem keeping the inside of the coop cool enough.  This would not normally be an issue since the little chickens don't usually go inside during the day.  But I do have one layer, Big Red, who seems to go inside to lay an egg when it is at the hottest times of the day.  She is probably baking her brains in there, sitting in that nest box when it is easily 100 degrees inside, even with the fan circulating the air.  Her egg production has had a few issues this week and I think some of it is because of the heat in the coop when she goes inside to lay.

So while I was hanging out inside my air conditioned house, trying to figure out how I could possibly cool it down for her, I got an idea...

Yes, that is an A/C unit sticking out of my chicken coop window.  Crazy, I know, to install A/C for your chickens, but hey, they are my pets as well as my egg producers.  Wouldn't you provide the very best for your pets?  Well, I would.  I just happened to have a $150.00 gift card I got for signing up for DirectTv service recently, so I took the card and went shopping at Home Depot for an inexpensive, small room A/C window unit.  I found this one for $119.

It's has an energy saver rating and is suppose to only use approximately $42 of electricity per year.  Since my goal is to keep the coop in the 80's and not as low as I have it inside my house, I figured it wouldn't use too much electricity.

So Early on Father's day the hubby and I installed this unit in the window of our coop.  As you can see from my thermostat inside the coop, it was already 91 degrees at 8:35 am!

With the A/C unit we managed to keep the inside temps in the mid 80's all day, running it on low cool, despite the outside temps in the high 90's.  When dusk came and the temperatures dropped down in to the low 70's (and down to the 60's during the night) the thermostat on the A/C unit turned the compressor off.  The next day when the temps began to climb again it turned itself back on.  Nice!

And here is the lovely egg Big Red left for us as a 'Thank You' for her new A/C unit...

So yes, I may be the crazy chicken lady, but my chickens are probably the happiest chickens in the state of Arizona!

I bought these cool tote & grocery bags for myself recently...Now I think it's even more appropriate than the day I bought them, Ha ha ha!!

Click the bag pictures if you would like to buy one too!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!
I shared this post on the following fun Blog Hops:  "From the Farm Blog Hop", "Backyard Farming Connection Blog Hop","Clever Chicks Blog Hop", and "Down Home Blog Hop"