Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: chickens

Leaving a Rat Snake in the Chicken House

Texas Rat Snake

This may seem counter-productive, but two rat snakes have been allowed to stay in the chicken house. Usually, if a rat snake (aka chicken snake) is caught in the chicken house, it is dealt with with extreme prejudice.

However, awhile back a good size rat was spotted in the chicken house. For those of you who do not know, one of the worst creatures that can be in the chicken house is a rat. Not only will they eat the chicken feed, but the will kill chickens. Yes, a rat will kill and eat part of a chicken.

When it comes to pullets, which are chickens less than one year old, a rat can easily kill and eat one. Then there is the egg issue. Rats will eat whatever eggs they can.

Simply put, a rat in the chicken house can wreck havoc.

A live trap was put in the chicken house to catch the rat, but it kept getting out of the trap. Poison is out of the question. Old style spring loaded rat traps are also out of the question. What’s the next best thing to do? Let nature take its course.

In other words, let rat snakes do what rat snakes do.

Rat Snake in the Chicken House

How To Use a Garden Tiller to Till Manure Into a Garden

Load of chicken manure in a wheelbarrow

Using a garden tiller to till manure into the garden is a labor of love. It would be easier to pick up a bag of 13-13-13 fertilizer and spread it into the garden, than it is to shovel, spread, and then till.

In a way, tilling manure into a garden makes a full circle. The feed the animals ate came from the ground, so why not return it to the ground.

April 12, 2018 I tilled three wheelbarrow loads of chicken manure into the spring garden. Some of the seeds I put down in March did not take, so I redid the rows with manure, and planted fresh seed.

I also tilled chicken manure into the garden along the peppers and tomatoes, then raked the soil up around the plants. We are expecting terrible storms in the next 48 hours. So I worked the soil up around the plants to protect them from being damaged by the wind and rain.

To Till Manure Into The Garden:

Three Broody Hens in The Chicken House

Broody hens

Three of my hens have gone broody and are sitting on eggs. One of them even hatched out a chick.

For those of you who do know, broody means a hen has gone into a mothering mode and is sitting on some eggs. The eggs are called a clutch. Some chicken breeds go broody more than others, and some breeds rarely if ever go broody.

What gets me:

Two of the hens are Barred Rocks, which rarely go broody.

One is an Australorp, which has a reputation of going broody.

My first set of chickens was back around 1987 or 1988. My wife and I butchered out that first set of Barred Rocks when they were around two years old, and I did not get any more until 2012.

So in the seven years I have kept chickens, only two barred rocks have gone broody.

Losing Chickens To Predators

Over the past couple of weeks I have lost several chickens to predators. Several of them have gone missing, with just a few feathers in the chicken yard. From the trail of feathers, something drug the chicken from the chicken house.

It is not a chicken hawk, because there is no body. Chicken hawks do not eat the bones.

A trail camera in the chicken yard showed a couple of raccoons and an opossum.

Opossums will not drag a chicken off. It will eat the chicken in the chicken house.

Farm Progress February 2017

Tractor moving debris

In December of 2016 I posted a thread in the forum about my prepping plans for 2017. I wanted to post an update to that thread and how things were moving along.

Firearms and Ammunition

A Glock 19 was added to the inventory. Overall, I find the quality mediocre. I can not understand why Glocks are as popular as they are. Because of this I am looking at a Beretta 92F compact.

I have decided to dump a certain amount of money into bulk ammunition. February was 1,000 rounds of Wolf 9mm FMJ. March will probably be 223 Remington. April might be 45acp or 308 Winchester. The plan is to continue to buy bulk ammo for the rest of 2017.

2017 is going to be a buyers market for everything shooting related. If you want something, get it now. If you have been on the fence about buying rifle or handgun magazines, go ahead and get them.

Garden

Spent Day Cleaning Out Chicken House

Chicken house

My chicken house is a mess so it is time to do some cleaning. About a year and a half ago I set up a water barrel system inside the chicken house and is a 35 gallon drum going to a stainless steel pan with a float. The chickens have been getting on the drum and pooping all over the top of it. When I fill the drum up chicken poop is all over the place.

Then there is the metal trash can I store feed in. It is next to the water barrel and close to a corner of the chicken house. The chickens get into the corner and lay eggs, right where chickens get on the feed barrel and poop.

There is barely any room between the feed can and the wall, but enough room for the chickens to get into.

I decided to rearrange everything.

The water barrel is getting moved outside.

The feed can is getting moved away from the wall. Now I can get in there and clean out.

The chickens are getting a laying box put in the corner.

Lessons learned

Developing Self-Sustainable Farm More Difficult Than Expected

Bush hogging with tractor

When I moved to the farm almost 3 years ago I thought this was going to be easy. Build a nice chicken yard, build a chicken house, plant some fruit trees, and things will be off and running. Then I can work on the pole barn, barn, and fence in a few acres for goats and cattle.

Lets just say things have not been going as planned.

Fruit Trees Have Been a Failure

Either from disease, drought, drowned from too much rain,,,, whatever the reason, my fruit tree project has not gone anywhere near as expected.

A plum tree my kids and I planted several years ago died. A second plum tree is not doing anything. It is not even hardly growing.

Peach trees are not growing as expected, or died. Out of the several peach trees that were planted over the past few years, only one has grown and is producing any peaches. This year that one peach tree is not doing anything.

Fig trees died from the summer drought of 2015. June, July, August and September 2015 we got very little rain fall here in southeast Texas. I did not keep my young fig trees watered like they needed, and 3 out of the 4 died.

One of the blueberry bushes died.

Tacticool Has No Place in Prepping

SHTF survival gear food and ammo

While visiting various AR-15 forums and other firearms forums, I see a common trend that only the best is good enough. Only the best AR-15 is good enough, everything else is junk. Only the very best magazines are good enough, everything else is junk. Only the very best ammunition is good enough, everything else is junk. Only the very best optic is good enough, everything else is junk.

When prepping for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI event, do you apply that same philosophy to all aspects of your preps?

Do you have the best tiller? Do you research the parts used to make that tiller, the manufacturing process, the heat treating, the hardness of various metals, what about stress test on parts used to make the tiller?

Do you have the best garden rake or hoe? Do you research the metals and the manufacturing process used to make your garden tools?

Do you have the best axe money can buy? Do you research the metals, hardness, manufacturing process of your wood cutting tools?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf8yp8Ew–Q

Do you have the best chickens? Do you research the breeding process of the hatcheries? What about the genetics of the chickens? If you want an exact chemical analysis of your AR-15 parts,l do you demand a DNA test on your chickens?

If you demand the very best of the best of the best for your tacticool firearm, what about your other preps?

Shouldn’t feeding your family be as important as protecting them?

Extreme Dimension EDMR302 New Coyote Call and Decoy

Extreme dimension coyote predator call

In the past 6 – 8 months I have easily lost close to a dozen and a half chickens to a Coyote. Lets say that each chicken lays 200 eggs a year. By losing just 18 chickens the coyote has cost me around 3,600 eggs over the course of a year.

It would be easy to put out some foothold traps, but what about my dogs getting into them? I could not forgive myself if someones pet got into a foothold trap. To take care of the coyote problem and prevent the accidental trapping of pets I ordered an Extreme Dimension EDMR302 remote control call and a Mojo Outdoors Critter Decoy.

I bought both of them off Amazon, total price on December 26, 2015 was $169.80, including shipping.

Extreme Dimension EDMR302

The Extreme Dimension EDMR302 did not come with any instructions, but as it turned out they were not really needed. Put the batteries in the unit, which requires a philips head screw driver, turn it on, then start playing with the remote.

Speaker – Turning the EDMR302 on was easy enough, there is a sliding on/off button on the back. When the unit is on there is a visible green flashing light.

Chickens Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Barred Rock Chicken

Chickens would be great farm animals for SHTF if they were not so stupid. The honest truth is they will find a way to get themselves killed.

Build them a nice cage and they will find a way to get out.

They will wander away from the flock and get killed.

They will stay out to dusk, right when coyotes start looking for an easy meal.

They will spill their water.

They will crap in their food and water.

They will crap in laying boxes.

They will roost in high places so if they fall at night they will be hurt.

They will eat stuff that makes them sick – free ranging eating weeds, rocks, pieces of glass, etc.

They will free range out in fields where hawks can see them. They chickens can have all kinds of weeds and cover to forage under. But no, they have to go out in the open away from the flock so a hawk can get them.

Farm Update June 9 2015

Working field with tractor and tiller

Things are moving along nicely, but rather slow. The new chicken yard is working out well, the new chicken house is nearing completion, a large pen oak fell on the property so I need to cut that up, still need to clear fence rows for the cattle field, have not started on the pole barn, one of my newly planted fig trees may have died, the new pear tree might have drowned from all the rain,,,, just all kinds of stuff going on.

Lets talk about target goals for surviving a post-SHTF world.

Egg Production

My target goal for egg production that I think my family would need in a post-SHTF world is at least 2 dozen eggs a day. For my parents, my wife, our kids, our grandkids, close friends and other family, I think at least 24 eggs a day is a reasonable number. Keep in mind that 2 dozen eggs a day is a bare minimum. Good laying breeds should be able to produce at least 1 egg a day for every 2 – 3 chickens. Those are conservative numbers, but depending on the time of year and quality of their feed egg production goes up and down.

For the sake of discussion let’s say 1 egg for every 3 chickens per day.

Including the chickens that are supposed to arrive June 10, 2015, my wife and I will have 64 chickens.

Mr Man The Rooster Has Passed Away

Mr Man, our Buff Orpington rooster

Kristy and I knew it was just a matter of time, but we held out hope. We hoped that somehow Mr Man, Kristys Buff Orpington rooster would recover from his stroke. We held out hope that one day he would be back on his feet protecting his girls.

That day will never come.

It started the morning of Sunday, July 27th. Kristy and I walked out to the chicken yard to check on the flock. We found Mr. Man laying on his side unable to walk. We thought that he was suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. He was brought inside to cool off. By Monday morning he had not improved.

He was not eating or drinking on his own. So Kristy and I started giving him pedialyte, gerber baby food and water with a syringe, but with no needle.

After a few days of force feeding Mr Man seemed to regain some of his strength. He was kept in the bathtub so his poop was easy to clean up. By the end of the first week he started growing, however so weak he was.

Farm Update October 19 2014

Tractor with auger working on chicken goat yard

Things are moving along nicely, but there is always some kind of setback.

When my wife and I moved to the farm I seriously underestimated the time and effort needed to get things up and running. When we moved here in August of 2013 my main goal was to get the small chicken yard built, get the septic system put down, get the water working, then get ready for winter. Winter of 2013 – 2014 here in southeast Texas was rather harsh, by our standards anyway.

Spring 2014 started out with around 18 – 20 new chicks. Things were looking up, then then it went to hell. My wife and I moved to the farm with 13 hens. We lost all of the new chicks to various predators. When the new chickens were moved to the new chicken yard, a couple of Rhode Island Reds kept jumping the fence. My dogs ended up killing those two Rhode Island Reds.

The good news, things are on the upswing.

Chicken House / Chicken Yard

Remember the videos and articles about building a new chicken house and chicken yard? We are almost finished with the yard. I have a 10 foot gate temporary attached to close the chicken yard entrance with a section of cattle panel and some 2x4s. A section of field fence still needs a top strand of barbless wire ran.

All Of The New Chickens Are Gone

Chicken flock November 23 2014

I need to explain the title in a little more detail. When my wife and I moved to the farm in July – August 2013 we brought with us 13 hens. These hens were a year and a half old.

Between February – March 2014 my wife and I bought around 20 chicks. These chicks were only a day or two old and were bought from local farm supply stores here in Jasper Texas.

We are back to 13 hens and one rooster. Some of the original chickens disappeared, and the new ones took their place. But we are back to the original number we started with.

Between a chicken hawk, fox or coyote, and my dogs killing the chickens, the ratio of new chickens that have died sits at 100 percent.

My wife and I loaned a rhode island red rooster to my cousin, he is doing good. My wifes buff orpington rooster had a stroke. Those are the two extra chickens we have left out of the new we bought.

Update on the New Chicken House

Outside of chicken house

Awhile back I started building a new chicken yard. Now that the yard is pretty much complete (for now), the time has come to build the new chicken house.

The size I decided on was 16 feet by 16 feet. 16 X 16 = 256 square feet. I figured 256 square feet was enough to accommodate roost, laying boxes, storage cabinet, water barrels and batteries for the solar power.

The laying boxes will take up 6 feet on one wall, and the roost takes up around 12 feet on another wall. The laying boxes in the new chicken house will be modeled after the laying boxes of the old chicken house.

An 8 foot wide leanto will be built off one wall. Which is where the solar panels will be installed.

Inside the house is a steel storage cabinet 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is for tools, nails, screws, paint, chicken feeders, waterers, just your usual stuff.

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