More Butchery

Another round of butchery occurred at lunch today. Our young rooster was becoming a menis to the younger egg layers, “John Snow” our other rooster and the preteens, so the decision was made to end its reign of terror.  I did things a little differently this time around:

First was to cage him (only time our birds are ever caged) for a day and half with only water  (this way he got cleaned out and stayed hydrated)

Caged bird for only a Day

Caged bird for only a Day

I also spent $35 (discounted Amazon price, think it was originally $100) on an entry level field dress set. Which comes w diff cutlery, kitchen sheers and a cutting board. I also purchased a set of gloves for the sole purpose of butchery. They are Kevlar and rubber.

Knives, gloves and cutting board

Knives, gloves and cutting board

The third thing I did differently was stabbing the brain (read this in a butchering book, suppose to lossen feathers) threw the beak after the slicing the neck to drain the blood (I’m still working out a good kill cone stand).

Drain das blood and puncture the brains

Drain das blood and puncture the brains

The last change made was to boil the water to a higher temp 180. I then brought the pot downstairs and outside on the table. I assume it probably cooled down to 160-170. But from that point I submerged the rooster in water 3x and shook. The feathers came right out, I was finished in under 10mins.

easiest plunking to date

easiest plunking to date

When I started to butcher, the bird starting honking so of course being a classy fella and all I had to catch it on video…

That’s it for now. I am working on a few things around the yard (rustic tree benches, retaining walls and general landscaping to name  a few) I will post once those projects get finished up.

 

That’s it for now, cheers!

The Fowl Tower: High-rise failure

Way back when (last fall) I surprised Jamie with the Guinea fowl. Their sole purpose was to protecting the flock from snakes, as they were becoming a growing problem (stealing eggs). Shortly after they arrived, it became apparent that they may need their own space. So came the idea of the Fowl Tower. The idea was to have an outdoor nesting area like a tree because Guineas love to sleep/nest in trees.

our chicken/fowl high-rise

our chicken/fowl high-rise

We dug a hole, put in a 4×4 pressure treated board and some concrete. Once that dried we attached the top of a pine tree I had cut down earlier that year. Then finally we plopped on the top which has two covered areas for nesting. We thought that with the branches, the chickens/guineas would love jumping flying up and use. However, to date I think the only living thing that has climbed up and peaked inside has been me. At the end of the day it didn’t cost a whole lot and who knows maybe the new round of chicks will utilize it. If they do,  then I will put up a ladder going up the 4×4 so we can easily clean and inspect for eggs.

That’s it for now though, cheers.

Chicken Coup Revamp 3.0 update (to version 3.2)

We finally got our chicken coup updated to version 3.2. Which means no more chick stench in our house!!!! I am so excited for this to have taken place. If you only have 6-12 chicks, life isn’t terrible. But if you have the 36-40 we have, your whole house stinks and you wish you had a hardwire powered chicken coup that’s FAR-AWAY from your house. But we have lived and learned. We wont do chicks again in the house.

In order for this move to happen we needed to fix our solar power setup in the coup

chicken power

Solar powered chicken coup

Then we needed to install the door to the chick growing area for the coup, nothing fancy, just a board on hinges and a latch lock.

looking for chicks here

Chicks live here

Behind that un-painted door lives our chicks, a mix of meat and egg layers. Since we can only run the one light overnight without spending a few hundred on new battieries. We hope that t will be ok to let them all huddle together over the still cold nights (got down to at least 45 last night) under the 100watt bulb. When they reach teenage weeks we will separate the meats from the eggers.

Our 2016 Chicks

Spring Chicks

So have the lower sides of their area’s are enclosed to keep drafts out. They have two feeders and a 1 gallon waterier hung from their roof for feed and water.

That’s kind of it. They all survived the first night. So hopefully they all live through the next few weeks. I will say that we did close up the coup more so then normal. We closed the human doors, the window we installed and the two suicide doors as well overnight. The idea being that we keep as much heat as possible inside the coup as we can.

 

That’s it for now.
Till later, Cheers.

Solar Power – piecemeal setup

We have a solar panel on our chicken coup. The plan was to power the veggie garden watering pump and chicken coup accessories with it. Our original purchase was a 100watt solar panel, 10 amp charge controller and a small solar 12volt battery off of ebay (Jamie bought these, so I don’t have the model info right now). We have since added in parallel a spare 12volt lawn mower battery and car battery that came with the house when we bought it. See below the installed solar panel on top of the chicken coup

chicken power

Solar powered chicken coup

You may notice the separate solar powered light for the non-chicken portion of the coup. This has its own tiny panel, light and built in battery.

The main panel connects to our piece-meal battery charger system consists of 1 proper solar battery and 2 found/free batteries:

cheap battery bank

piece-meal battery bak

As you can see (or not, from left to right) that we put together our one proper deep charge battery in parallel with the other two mower and car battery. Then we have a 1500watt current 3000watt max peak inverter connected to the positive of furthest battery and negative of the closest battery. You may notice to the two clips (positive and negative) on the side of the inverter, this is for our weak-powered bilge pump that was suppose to push water from our water barrel to the vegetable garden. Learn from our mistake, and do not buy a bilge pump, it simply does not have enough power to pump water threw hoses, purchase a utility pump instead.  Finally you will notice that we have a plug into our inverter, this powers the 100watt flood light to give our chicks some heat overnight (which does last for 12hrs in our setup).

 

Quick summary of the components:

1 -100watt panel

3 – batteries

1 – 10amp charge controller

1 – stand alone solar light

1- 1500 concurrent/3000watt peak inverter

1 – flood lamp/light

 

That’s it for now. Before our next batch of chicks I hope to replace our two funky batteries with proper deep cycle batteries with enough deep cycle batteries for  a combined 400amp+ hours. This will let us run a 1500watt bulb for over 12 hours.

Till later, cheers.

Chicken Coup – Revamp #3: V1.0

We have revamped our coup, for a 3rd time. This is version 1.0 of this re-design. We are planning on adding our chicks/pre-teens to this coup and when that happens we will be at 2.0 at which time we will need to add a door behind our brood housing unit.  But until that happens, let me give you a quick tour of our chicken condominium:

Walkup chicken entry:

chicken walk entry

where the chickens can walk up

You may notice our “very expensive” coup flooring.. I am kidding. After a few floor coverings Jamie has found that the cheapest “shiniest” laminate flooring is the way to go. First off its really easy to clean, and really being laminate you don’t have to worry about  soak threw.  Also the walls have been properly white-washed, not just a watered down white paint. But actual white wash (Jamie may need to correct this part) but for a proper white wash you simply mixed de-natured lime with water until you get a pancake batter consistency. Then you just slop it on the walls/wood.

Next on the tour is the auto-mated watering corner, the older birds aren’t keen on this, but the younger ones use the cups. The older use the stand alone waters.

5 gallon and stand-alone waters

watering corner

Next is our Roost Housing unit. This is our newest addition, tore out the old built-ins to make cleaning easier as well as actually having the ability to re-arrange without a headache. It is raised off the ground 6 inches so the younger birds are hide if they are getting picked on by their elders.

roosting box

Our 9 roost box house for our chicken coup

roost housing unit

side view of the roost housing unit

roost housing unit

yet another view of the roost housing unit

 

egg layer

Looking to lay an egg

We found it easier to create a wall of perches separated from the rest of the coup for cleaning purposes. otherwise, poop and such is everywhere covering and difficult to clean. Since we are cleaning the forest out on the backside of our property we have a ton of small trees and such. So we went rustic:

chicken perch

Where the chickens perch, sleep and chill

 

That’s really it. I am in the process of creating a large “J-Feeder” from timber/logs we are milling so we can dump a full or 1/2 bag of chicken feed to simplify feeding. But that will be another post. So I will leave you with “our view/entrance” of the coup. The first part of the shed is the incredibly messy garden benches and solar power equipment (will do that in another post as well).

human entrance

how we get into the coup

So that is jist of the new setup. Once we finalize the new area (or dump it for another idea) we will create a new post.

Till then, cheers.

Next Run of Chicks

image

Between Moneta Farm & Home Center (Moneta VA) and Tractor Supply (Bedford, VA) we have gotten about 45 chicks…  20 for meat birds and the other 25 for laying, 6 of which are Easter eggers. I’m looking forward to blue and green eggs this fall!

image

image

For now we have them separated in three bins with a water dish, heat lamp and food tray in each.

Next time we do this, we will do it after spring when we don’t need to have them inside (in our basement craftroom) Or we will do it once the adult chicken coup has enough solar panels and batteries to keep up with the demands of the heat lamps. Then we will simply setup a chick/teenagers pen and keep all the chickens together but separated.

However over the next few days I will be building the coup for the meat birds, which will house this entire round of chic. It will be next to the house so we can keep power to the heat lamps and have easy access. Then once they are big enough and don’t need the heat lamps we will put all the eggers into our large coup and this coup will get moved to the side of the yard w a new fence so they can roam around and act as a bug barrier.

That’s it for now I guess. Cheers.

Just another lunch time – Goats, Eggs, and stupid electric fencing

another busy day on the mini-farm: Pretty much just fencing and collections

Fencing Round 1: I had to start off with the chickens, their area was covered with leaves and the hawk/anti-fly away netting was at the ground. It took a good 15-20minutes to clean it up enough to get things back to normal. Rain+leaves=crappy for the thin bird meeting we got. We are going to re-enforce it with wire or replace it with deer netting before next fall.

Fencing Round 2: Living in a hilly uneven terrain area means your going to spend a lot of time and money on fencing. I placed another 10 fence posts and added back the area around the shop for the goats to roam and such. I will still need another 10 posts to complete things. But once these are bought, we can use them when we rotate the goats. We left the screw-in wire connection points with the last fence section. I have another strand of wire that I will re-wire that section with so when we are ready we can just connect it back to the power and let them roam it (aka not have to deal with the headache again).

Milk:  Nadine keeps producing more milk. Just now I got 1/2cup, so big improvement compared to this time last week when I was only getting 1/4 cup.

Finally the Chicken: they have been eating their eggs, which could mean they need more calcium (but we do provide egg laying food), so the other main reason for egg eating is that they “like the taste” but google is going to get used heavily tonight to figure out what we can do. I only had 1 egg today, yesterdays 1 egg was already pecked.

 

Our chicks have moved

Our first attempt at hatching chickens has so far been a success. We started with 9 eggs, 7 hatched. Of those we have 5 very similar boring white+black spotted, one brown we call “hooters/owly”, and one black we call “black hawk down” We after keeping them inside WAY to long (in the basement craft room) moved their stinky asses out to the coup. We have them caged in a medium dog crate with food and water. This lets them get used to the temp changes, introduces them to the other chickens while keeping them safe from them as well.

We will be keeping the chicks caged for a week, then let them rock and roll. fingers crossed that thinning out the guinea flock will make them less “angry” towards the others…

Our chickens

I love my chickens! My favorite being peaches our buff Orpington she’s super put going. I did have 2. Road island reds but something got under two fences to steal corn I gave the girls and she picked a fight and lost. Red tend to be more aggressive and age was actually more aggressive then my rooster. His name is is Snow and I have no clue what he is…. but he’s a wuss compared to other roosters I’ve met.  Which is good because our so. Is one and likes to hang out in the chicken area with me. We got the guinea fowl about 7 or 8months and they were only about 4 months old when Kyle surprised me with them. This was very good timing because our chickens not only stick up for themselves they kinda bully the Guineas a little. Guineas can be aggressive towards chickens. Our guineas seem to be exacape artist and have gotten out twice now. They are much harder to trap them.