Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homestead Updates

     I have missed blogging.  I have taken a temporary full-time position to fill in for someone on maternity leave at work and it has taken up much of my time.  I enjoy my job and will miss the full-time pay when I return to part-time status, but I will be able to catch up on some much needed tasks.  The chickens are growing like weeds and our out-building is half-way finished on the inside, but hurricane Isaac gave us a week of rain and mess to clean up.  We are a bit behind our anticipated schedule, but we are still moving forward at least.
     On the subject of our chickens, we have 3 that are laying now, but have discovered bit of a problem.  When I first ordered them (mail-order) I chose a male and female Golden-Laced Wyandotte pair and the rest were misc hens.  Well, one arrived dead and we did not have a clue which it was.  I searched how to sex my chicks, but they were already a week old.  I did exactly what I read, but it appears that those extra 4 days or so were enough to misguide me.  Thinking all I had were hens, I bought a Frizzle Barred Rock Rooster from my co-worker, in which we named Barney (from the Andy Griffith Show).  Barney has a hen named Thelma Lou also. 
     Unfortunately, Lacey the GLW hen, is now Tony....this is a big bummer.  I noticed she had started getting her pattern filled in on her feathers, but she has quite a bit more color lately.  Then the other day, I was in the yard and I heard a strong crow that did not sound like Barney.  When I looked up, it was Lacey.  I went over to inspect her closer, she has started growing little spur bumps and has appeared to have grown a few inches taller nearly overnight.  Now, they have crowing contests and Tony is even turning aggressive towards the girls & trying to mate.  I saw him grab one of the hens by her neck feathers and spin her around.
     Chicken raising is still pretty new to me.  Even though I read all about raising them for over a year before buying them, it has still caught me off guard.  I am looking at remedies to separate the two groups within the same coop & run.  I hate to part with either of them, but I do know that if I keep them both, I will have to add to our flock.  This error leaves me with 6 hens & 2 roosters which can be tough on the hens.  I have a co-worker with some young laying hens that she will sell me.
Tony which was Lacey a few days ago.
     They are all growing so fast and their feathers are starting to resemble their adult designs.  They are estimating about a dozen eggs  a week between Zeba, Clara, & Ruby.  Ruby is our latest layer.  She laid her first egg the other day (twins) out in the run while they were all eating.  There is another new layer, but I do not know which it is.  When I find a soft shell egg busted from falling from the roost, I know another one has started laying.
     Not only do we have changes in our poultry family, but we have a new canine member.  The Monday before Isaac blew in we noticed a pup on the side of our road.  When we came back home, she was still there.  I had to get her out of the weather.  We live on a dead end road and people are notorious for dropping of their unwanted pets in hopes of someone taking them in.  Do not ever do this!  Our last pound trip was a litter of 10 feral cats.  Well, one bit me and was left to fend for himself in the wild. 
     This little girl was so sweet-hearted, I do not know why anyone would have parted with her.  I knew she was either a pup or mixed with a small breed.  Her hair was missing on the back side of her body, so I bathed her immediately and doused her with diatomacious earth everyday.  Within 10 days or so her hair was filling back in.  Our vet said she was nearly a year old and probably would not grow much more.  This was good for us.  Our other dog Chloe' is a 110 lb Boxer/Great Pyrenees mix.  We wanted our next dog to be small enough to travel with us on vacations.  We always hate to see Chloe' look at us with her huge sad brown eyes when we went somewhere overnight.  This dog appears to be Irish Terrier/Chihuahua mix...maybe.  I really have no clue.  My neighbor's Jack Russel is much bigger than her.  If anyone has an idea of her breed, please share with me.
Sporting her new Snuggie I ordered her for this winter
She loves me and is so grateful.. I can tell she has been mistreated.  She cowers down if you move too fast or raise your voice at her.  She is lightening fast like a bullet when we come home.  She gets excited to see us like a pin-ball shooting back and forth across the yard.  The best part is that Chloe' does not even mind her.  After our her mate was killed on my birthday 2 years ago, she went into a deep mourning period.  She has rejected the last 3 rescue dogs we brought home, but she has not growled or nipped at Prissey the first time.  Chloe' is a guardian dog and protects all things small around here.  She will even run up to the chicken coop when I try to pick them up to check them & they shriek.  She protects our 3 cats.  I want to get her some goats to watch when I get ready to attempt raising milking goats.  But for now, Prissey entertains her pretty well.  If Chloe' did not like her, she could eat her in about 3 bites.  As long as Prissey stays out of her way when Chloe' goes to lay down, she will be alright.

Prissey and Chloe' chilling in the sunshine and gnawing on a hide.
     Our family just keeps growing and growing.  If anyone ever says they want to give you a free pet, stop them right there...No pet is ever free!  Gas & groceries are not the only bills that are increasing in this are vet bills.  If I knew what I know now, I may have chosen the vet profession over nursing.  I could have saved a lot of money and my income would have quadrupled.
     I will share more about our building work on my next blog.  I have some good pictures of our progress.  We are in the middle of hanging wall-board right now.  When we complete this phase, I will share more of it.  I will go ahead and show you our new landing and stair/ladder though.  We built a landing between the 2 lofts, so I would not have to get down and move a ladder to get something down from the opposite side.  Now, all I have to do is make my way across the landing to get something I need from the other side.  This stair/ladder is sturdy and will not shift on me if I am carrying a heavy bin down from the loft.  We will add a rail later when all the wall-board is up.  We will paint everything with white primer and I will paint my side all of my fun colors that I have left over from when we built our last house.  Then, I will lay our flooring and move in!  I found some vinyl at Lowe's in planks that was on sale and we will look for a remnant for my husband's side.  I will be gluing, painting, sewing, scrapbooking, and making soap & candles, so my side needs to be easy to clean up.  My husband's side will be his office/man-cave. 
New landing & stair/ladder in Big Red
     We are so ready to be done!  If I had it to do over again, I would have paid extra to have it all done while they were building it.  Sometimes it is soooo worth the extra money for peace and "move-in-ready" happiness.  I want to get all of my crafting materials out of storage, my bedroom, bathroom, & kitchen and set them up in Big Red so I can start using them again.  Once we are finished, I will have so many crafting posts to share.  I would love to see any of your renovation, add-on, or redecorating projects.  I like to see before and afters as well as improved room organization.  Please, feel free to share your experiences and pictures. 
God bless you all!
Marla B.

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