Sunday, March 28, 2010

New farm name??

We found out recently that our neighbor at the Lake has a farm nearby named Sugar Hill Farm. He was very nice about it and said he enjoyed our blog. However, that just seems like stealing to us. So we are considering a new farm name. Any thoughts???

Yesterday was spent in Greenville starting the long process of packing up our house there. It's under contract!! The little house on our farm is now the lucky recipient of much of our belongings. Technically, it's a mobile home. A rather nice one though, especially with all of our cute stuff in it! We have christened it the Farm House and if we can figure out a way to make the outside not look like a mobile home, we are definitely considering making it a permanent part of the farm. In the meantime, we have three bedrooms, two baths, kitchen and living area to enjoy. The children were so excited to spend the night out there which required a quick making of three beds and unloading an entire truck and two cars full of stuff. More to do but it looks great!

Waiting on some thunderstorms! My dad always said that the first big Spring thunderstorm kicks off the official growing season. I know my newly-planted fruit trees would love some good ole static electricity and a dousing of rain.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New coops!

Busy, busy, busy on the farm. Getting ready for spring and watching everything green up. We spent the week working outside, planting and dreaming. Cole and I (well, mostly Cole) planted a whole mass of fruit trees in our orchard to complement the mystery trees that are already there. Based on the blossom colors, our best guess is that they are plum and apple. We added several varieties of peach, apple, pear and plum, plus a fig. Over on Berry Hill, we planted lots of gorgeous blueberries and raspberries. We're saving room for grapes and other assorted yummies. The vegetable garden is staked off and about to be planted. Trees are getting leaves, the donkeys and goats again have green grass to munch on, and the chicks dig (literally) being outside most of the day!

If you are in the Greenwood area and need some beautiful plants and accessories, please visit my friend Bess and her nursery, Wyatt Farms. Bess is on my tennis team and her and her husband have created the most beautiful nursery. Most of our new plants and trees came from Wyatt Farms. They also have super cute garden do dads.

I received some new eggs this week. These are Silkied Cochins. These cochins will have feathers like the silkie. Since I love both silkies and cochins, how could I go wrong? So we have 23 eggs cooking and growing away in the incubator. Which led me to the uncomfortable revelation that I need another chicken coop. Yikes!

My poor husband. He already thought I was a little "chicken crazy", and now he's pretty much convinced of it. We've been working on building a chicken run for over a month. We have talked about it, thought about it, talked more about it, and actually bought a few supplies. So after a month... no chicken run. I casually mentioned that I thought we needed another coop and... I lived through it.  A quick Google search for a "Coop With A Run" led me to Randy at Rooster Hill Farms up in North Carolina. Not only did Randy have the perfect coop for us, his soon-to-be-patented Hen Pen, but he promised me he would bring it down the next day. And he did. And I ended up with two new coops, instead of one. Maybe I am chicken crazy!

We put the Marans and Ameraucanas in the new coop and brought out my babies from the garage for the little coop house. I'm going to miss those sweeties greeting me every morning! The introduction of them to the Farm Silkies went very well and all had a wonderful day free-ranging. The Marans and Ameraucanas did not play well with others and had to spend the day in the coop. Chicken discipline is not my area of expertise!

The coops arrive!

Coop area, run area, covered food/watering area, nest boxes, roosts.... these coops have it all! And they are portable!

Everyone is loving their new home!

Yes, the Chick Inns are multiplying rapidly. I have a problem!

Check out these affordable and very functional coops at Rooster Hill Farms. Happily I just realized that I have an empty coop! Hooray!!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bring on Spring!

Daffodils emerging. Trees blooming. Warm temperatures arriving. I love Spring! Looking out at this lovely tree this morning made me so thankful for the change of the seasons. Thank you, Lord!

Fire up the Incubator!

Woo hoo! More eggs! Today's mail will bring us 6 new eggs to hatch. These eggs come from a frizzled barred Cochin Rooster and a Smooth Barred Hen. We will certainly have the barred coloring which I think is just so pretty! Here is a picture of the Daddy.

The incubator is all heated up, humidity is set, and we're just waiting on the postman! New chicks here we come!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tractor Shopping!

We've been on the hunt for a tractor for a few weeks now. My husband seems to revel in this process. By the look on his face, you'd think he was shopping for gorgeous shoes. Me... I'm not enjoying it quite so much. And poor Annaliese has been dragged along for consultation. She's been a good sport. The Tractor World is baffling to the newbie Farmer. There's blue, orange, pink, green. Tractor People are passionate about their colors and loyal to their brands. This makes it difficult to get an unbiased opinion on said tractors. If a farmer loves the Green (that's John Deere to the uninitiated), he will not like any other brand... at all.

A decision is hopefully close. I'm a bit tired of visiting tractor stores. All I want to know is if they have a drink holder. My husband continues to tell these Tractor Men that I will, in fact, be driving this tractor quite often. Good luck with that, Cole.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meet the Chicks.

Time to meet my babies that I hatched. These little chicks follow me everywhere when we're outside together. When I come to their cage, they don't run away in fear. They hop on my hand. I honestly don't think I'd ever buy another chick. The incubation process takes awhile and not all hatch, but I just adore these little chicks. Here they are! Since I don't know if they are boys or girls yet, I'm calling them girls (for the most part) and hoping most are.

This is Stormy. She is a silkie/cochin cross and has the silkie features but the feathers lay more flat and smooth than my other poufy silkies. Stormy was our first chick hatched and is now 3 weeks old. Her crest is starting to come in and she's a beauty!

And here we have Misty. She is our second chick. Same type as her sister Stormy. I can tell them apart because Misty has orangish toes and Stormy has all black toes. A perfect Silkie has black legs and feet and five toes. My babies only have four toes so they won't win a blue ribbon, but I think they're pretty!

Ahhh... here is Fluff. She is a fantastic frizzled Silkie. Her feathers are like the Silkie except they curl up. She will continue to get fluffier and curlier. She has five toes and all other Silkie features. I just love her! If you were following along on our hatching journey, this is the chick I had to rescue out of the shell. Perfect now!

This is Puff. Also a frizzled Silkie but not quite as dramatic as her sister. But she's getting there.

And now on to the Cochins. They came from a frizzled mama and you will usually get the frizzle hair about half of the time. Hard to tell on a few if they will have it or not. These will be larger birds with big chests and feathered legs. When they are fully feathered out, they look like a big round ball of fluff wearing pantaloons!

This is Mr. Fancy Pants. He was the first cochin hatched. Mr. Fancy Pants is always the first bird to try to escape, come up to the cage when I come, and is always in motion. I was sitting outside with them yesterday and he kept jumping on my foot and hopping up my leg. His legs are getting their feathers and his wing feathers are starting to curl up a little on the ends. Too early to tell if he'll be frizzled but I love him!

This is Butterscotch, the second cochin born. No question here. Butterscotch is frizzled. Her feathers are poking up all over and her coloring is just gorgeous. The tips of her wings are a beautiful brown. Here's another picture of her.

The third cochin born is BlackJack. He has beautiful black and white colors.

This is Fudge Stripe. She was born 4th and is very similar to BlackJack except her face is more white. I'm not sure what the official color is for these cochins, and they look different as their feathers come in, but they are all unique and beautiful! Look at her feathered feet coming on.

And last, but not least, this is Lemon Drop. She was the last baby born and looks a lot like Mr. Fancy Pants but she's smaller. No sign of frizzling yet but she's definitely putting her feather boots on!

Just hanging out on a beautiful Spring day!

My husband walked out while I was trying to take pictures of the chicks and thought it was pretty funny. So he took a picture of me taking a picture of the chick. I was trying but those chicks don't like to sit still!

Another death on the farm.

The death of an animal hurts. The randomness of it on a farm is becoming particularly hard to understand. One day they seem fine and the next, they are gone. We lost our favorite little chick, Snowball, last week out of the blue. Today we discovered that our sweet little brown goat died. He was just lying in the enclosure we put up for them and his mother was keeping watch. No signs of trauma, no injury. Just dead. Losing these animals breaks my heart. Even worse is explaining it to my children. Five-year old little girls get very attached to their animals and the sudden loss of any of them is devestating. Poor Annaliese. They're always her favorites.

If we continue to be farmers, we need to accept that some of our animals will die. No rhyme or reason. No pattern. No preparing for it. Hopefully the enjoyment of the others will make up for the loss of the few. Our pet cemetary is growing and I hate it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Joining the Farm!

We moved the 5 white silkies and our showgirl, Lola, out to the farm. For the most part, this new group hung to themselves except one little white one that wandered off by himself all the time. Sometimes he was with the big chicks and sometimes just looking around alone. I trimmed Toffee's bangs over the weekend and a whole new world opened up for her! Amazing what can happen when you can see!

Everyone was getting along well until my black silkie, the one that loves to peck the new chicks and pick fights, suddenly decided he needed to investigate this new group of chicks. This is him coming over to display his dominance and do his rooster thing.

Poor Lola. That's her with the naked neck. Right now she's not very pretty. She looks like she has a feather disorder. But I've seen lots of pictures of showgirls and they usually end up looking very fancy. Go, Lola! Get your crest! It will distract from your naked neck.

No blood was drawn and when it came time to go back into the coop, they all banded together in their Escape Plan. Annaliese and I had a nice picnic surrounded by our little friends and when we left, all chicks were snuggled up in their nice, warm coop.... together.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

RIP, Snowball

Well, Snowball didn't make it. I was pretty sure yesterday that it was the end. Maybe this happens with chickens... just one day... poof. We've lost two chicks so far and both seemed perfectly fine and then they died. We've only actually named two chicks, Toffee and Snowball. I just loved my little Snowball and so did Annaliese. She was such a small, little round ball of fluff. She would always let you pick her up. Such a cutie!

I had my first ever tennis match today and didn't have time to go out to the farm between church and the match. I asked my husband to take the kids and check on Snowball. They showed up at my match with long faces and I knew. My husband had buried her and I might take this opportunity to start a little pet cemetary for our animals. I'm sure there will be more.

I'll miss Snowball.

And I lost my tennis match. Barely, but I lost. I'm blaming it on grief and not my seized up back. And bless the hearts of my tennis team. I told them Snowball died and they all sincerely expressed sympathy on the loss of my chicken. I would bet inside they were like, "It's a chicken" but they are too nice and too Southern to say it out loud. Thanks, girls! And watch out next week. This girl plans to win!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Snowball is sick.

Beautiful Saturday although still a chilly bite in the air. Tomorrow is supposed to be 10 degrees warmer and that should eliminate the bite. Hoping!

We arrived at the farm today to discover that Snowball is ill. Wherever we set her down, there she stayed. She did have a case of pasty butt which is when the poop cakes and dries on their bottom and the surrounding feathers. I did my best to correct that situation, gave her some water and food, and we all tried to cheer her up. She had bubbles coming out of her beak and generally just seemed ill. It's exactly what happened with our blue silky that died. Annaliese said in a sad little voice, "I'm going over there to pray for Snowball." She seemed a little better when we left but I'm afraid we might return tomorrow to find her not among the living. Hopefully I'm wrong! We are all kind of new to this chicken business.

Snowball... we love you and hope you make it! You are definitely the cutest and fluffiest of the chickens. And sweet. Be strong!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

All good on the farm

Grandmother wanted to see some more pictures of the animals, so I ran right out to the farm and took some! I'm just that kind of daughter-in-law.

Will it ever warm up? Today is March 4th (the only day of the year that is a sentence... March Forth!) and it's barely 50 degrees and very windy. Of course, it's always windy on the farm. Hopefully the wind will continue to blow when it's humid and 95 degrees outside!

All the chicks came out to play. A few of the silkies (I'm thinking Rooster) did not appreciate the new birds coming around their ladies. Fight! Fight! Which in chicken terms looks very much like chest bumping.

If only that silkie knew that in a matter of a few weeks, this Ameraucana will be twice as big as him. He doesn't and is taking advantage of his superior size while he can.

I know Mommies shouldn't have favorites, but I love my little Snowball. She's just so fluffy and cute!

Cookie and Brownie continue to befriend us and Hee Haw when we arrive and when we leave, and unfortunately, when they want a little snack. For the inexperienced listener of Hee Hawing, it will sound like the donkeys are being attacked or are attacking someone else. It's pretty loud and disturbing, but now that I know they're just chit chatting with us, I love it!

Here Cookie is telling me a Tall Tale about his prowess in the pasture. Brownie couldn't even listen to his ridiculousness and just hung her head in shame. I really need to Google "Pregnant Donkeys" and see if I can find some pictures. Brownie is definitely getting bigger but since a donkey's gestation period can be up to 13 months, she might be a year away from delivering. I can't wait to have a baby donkey!

The baby goats continue to grow and have started to get their horns. They don't stick as close to their Mamas as they used to in the beginning.

All is well on the farm.

Leaving the nest...

My nine little babies are thriving and growing. In fact, they just outgrew their mail bins. Two flew out yesterday which prompted an immediate and urgent relocation to the garage. I miss their little chirping all throughout the day! But I will admit that it smells a bit better in the dining room!

I put my babies in their new home and it was party time! Lots of things to check out, kick, smell and poop on. How fun! The silkies are now their neighbors and they spent a lot of time checking each other out.

We had a bit of snow on March 2nd, In South Carolina! What's going on with the weather this winter? February was cold and wet. March is here and it's... cold and wet. But things are changing! The temperature today is in the mid-50's and should be close to 70 by the end of the weekend. From there, we're onto Spring and I'm not looking back for one minute!

Monday, March 1, 2010

They're all growing up!

I can't believe it's been a week since I posted anything. A busy week I guess! Everyone here is waiting for Spring. The weather has been such a tease. Warm one day and cold the next. Today the sun is out and the temperature is close to 60 degrees. Tomorrow there's a 100% chance of snow. But the weekend looks to be close to 70 so I'm not complaining!

My sister Elbe visited this weekend from Atlanta. We had a great time out at the farm where she proceeded to laugh her head off at us chasing the chickens and trying to get them into the coop. I put my foot down when she wanted to videotape it. We moved the Marans and the Ameracaunas out to the coop on Friday. They looked to be fully feathered and were also stinking up my garage. Bigger birds = bigger poop. They love it! The day was cold and very windy, but at least it was sunny!

Annaliese even had a chance to ride the dirt bike with her Daddy. Colin was too busy shooting cans with his BB gun.

Note to Elbe: Next time you come visit, bring some boots or tennis shoes! :)

Annaliese always spends a lot of time holding her chicks. Toffee either can't see through her bangs or just doesn't move very fast because Annaliese just picks her up whenever she wants. I can assure you that not all the chickens are so easy to grab!

We still have 5 white silkies and the Showgirl in our garage. Their feathers are coming in very slowly. All 9 of our hatched babies are doing great and are still residing on our dining room table. I can hear them chirping all day long. Since the weather was nice today, they all got to go outside for a little excursion. This was the first time for the little ones who are now 7-10 days old!

The white silkies just did their own thing. They don't seem particularly enchanted with us. But I do think it's true what they say about hatched chicks... they love you! Our nine little ones followed us everywhere and never left our side. A big time was had by all and the babies are all sound asleep in their mail bins, dreaming of the Big World Outside.

We are headed out in a few minutes to feed and water all the animals and let those chicks outside to play before the snow heads in to torment us.
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