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Grain Farming and Chicken Farming

DSCN6981_FotorSince I haven’t blogged for a over week, I thought I’d share some pictures of what has been happening on the farm lately!

The corn is being planted right now; this year Dad is planting the back fields to corn. The picture above is of Dad, Nathaniel, and Gabrielle loading fertilizer into the corn planter before Dad headed out to plant one evening. I love to help with the farm work, but when there is not anything for me to do, I enjoy taking photos 😉 I love the different colors in the above photo– the blue rainy sky with streaks of sun light; the white birches against the dark woods; and, best of all, the Allis Chalmers tractors ready for an evening in the fields!

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In this picture, my brother is disking the back field to make it ready for planting corn. I think disking is probably the funnest of all spring farm work.

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Our second flock of meat chickens arrived last Thursday. This flock has been easier to care for than the first flock was, mainly because the temperatures are warmer.

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The first flock of meat chickens is already 5 weeks old! I like the chickens best when they are at this age, because they are easier to care for. (Their bedding is harder to change though.) Next week we have to call the guy who butchers chickens and set a day to take these chickens to him. It will be a busy time because the week after we butcher this flock, we have a new flock arriving. At least there are two of us to do all the work 🙂

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

Elisabeth

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Meat Chicks Update + Coop Tour

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Last Saturday Gabrielle and I moved the chickies out of the pool and onto the floor. Because we are getting another flock in about two weeks, we moved this present flock onto the newer side of the coop because we wanted to keep the older side for brooding. The older side of the coop is more insulated and will keep the chicks warmer during their first week; the newer side (with the new floor) is better suited for the older chicks.

It didn’t take long to set up the new pen and move the chickens; after they had settled in, we cleaned the pool and swept the floors. The coop still looks messy–there are feed bags, blocks of wood, the grates, drivers, and tools– but I thought I’d show you pictures of the coop now because otherwise I might never do it!

When Dad and I were talking over the plans for the coop this spring, I really wanted something more permanent. But we soon realized that that wasn’t going to work this year. The coop needs to be sheltered and warm for the spring months, and then in the summer months it needs to be more open. With this in mind, we knew that we would have to redo parts of the coop during the summer. For the spring months we built a plywood front  with a door on each side. We also built an overhang that shelters the front from the rain and a little from the wind. This has worked well, and it should be fairly easy to take down when the time comes.

Like I have mentioned before, there are two sides in the coop; we built a divider with a small door to separate the pens. Dad wired the coop, so we have outlets and lights- pretty ritzy! hehe 😉

 

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

Elisabeth

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Meat Bird Chicks

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This morning Gabrielle and I got our first batch of meat bird chickies! The chicks are doing good; eating, chirping, and bumping each other over in their hurry to get to and fro.       The weather is quite cold and windy, but so far we have been able to keep the coop warm and the pool temperature at ninety degrees. The pool is keeping its heat well, but the coop isn’t since it is not insulated. We’ll just have to keep a close eye on the chicks, because if they get cold, they will trample each other for space under the heat lamps.

We have been working hard the past week to get the coop ready for the chicks. Gabrielle and I have learned a lot (it feels like that, at least!) from Dad as we have watched and helped him build a front for the coop, walls inside it, as well as wiring for outlets and lights. Last night Dad and I finished the side of the coop that the chicks are now on; all that is left (for now) is to complete the dividing wall on the opposite side of the coop.

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

Elisabeth

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Meat Bird Chicken Sling

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It has been a while since I did a meat bird update! The chickens are growing so big, and they are drinking so much water because of the hot humid weather we have been having! Maybe I can write a post about them later 🙂 First I want to talk about the chickens that had lost their leg mobility. Remember them?

 

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There were four, but now only one is left- two died and two got out. The one died at the time of my last blog post; the two escaped to the rest of the flock when Dad and I moved the chicken’s shed (afterwards I found one of them and separated it because it was having a hard time getting to the water). So for a while I had two separated out, until one slipped away during the night from heart issues.

Are you confused yet?

The point is that I had two chickens that had leg problems. One Sunday after church, my uncle (who raises many meat birds each year) and I were talking about them. He had a chicken with bad legs and he mentioned making a chicken sling. So after our conversation I thought that maybe I should try sewing one…

 

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These are the first two harnesses I made. The chickens definitely were much happier to be off the ground 🙂 After I put the chickens in, I had to make a few sewing adjustments, but otherwise they fit quite well. (The one on the right is the one that died; I noticed it going downhill even before I made its harness.) The one on the left is doing very well; so well that I had to make a larger harness! I thought that maybe I should give you all a tutorial about it, in case anyone else needs to make one 🙂

 

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First, find some sturdy fabric. A stretchier piece is good for the base part, and a very sturdy piece is best for the straps. Now, you need to make this sling with the size of your chicken in mind. I made a large one, because I knew my chicken would be growing bigger. I also wanted to make it to last because I want to be able to re-use it next year!

 

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Straps:

The straps are going to be bearing the chicken’s weight, so you want them to be wide so that they spread the weight out evenly. My bird is a meat bird, so, like I said, it’s going to grow! I made the straps three and one-half inches wide, but I could definitely have gone to four inches. Cut on the straight of grain so that the straps are more stable.

 

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Cut four straps.  Mine were very long, but I don’t think that the length really matters!

 

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Sew right sides together,

 

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and then turn inside out; iron smooth and set aside.

 

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Base:

I found it helpful to draw on the base fabric before cutting it. It helps you get an idea of the size your chicken needs 😉

 

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Pin it together, cut it out,

 

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fold it in half, and straighten the edges.

 

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Make a rough drawing of the holes for the legs, a cut out to ease the flow of chicken excrement, and draw in where you want to sew the straps. The leg holes you want to make a bit larger then your chicken’s legs. You might also want to have an idea of how far apart the chicken’s legs are.

 

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Cut out the leg holes and the triangle cut-out.

Note: Since I made this sling, I have been thinking that maybe the leg holes shouldn’t be so far back. Play around with it though!

 

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Make little marks on the inside of the fabric where you want the straps to be sewn on.

 

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Now sew the base together, leaving a space to turn it right side out.

 

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Sew around the leg holes. I did a very sloppy job of this;  I was trying to do it fast so that I could get the sling made to take out in the morning 🙂 On my first slings I did a zig-zag stitch around the leg holes, which has a bit more give in it.

Sew the space shut  🙂

 

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Pin your straps onto the base. You might have to play around with these until you get them to the spot where you think they will give the most support. I pinned my straps on at the marks I made earlier.

Note: Now looking at how my chicken sits in this sling, I’m wondering if the front straps should come out to the sides and over the wings instead of out and up the chest. I think that is how I will make the next one!

 

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Sew the straps securely to the base.

 

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Use a safety pin to pin the other end of the strap to your metal ring. My straps were very long, so I pinned quite a bit of fabric under.

 

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Hang the sling away from you to see how it looks. Make any adjustments.

 

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Sew the straps onto the ring.

 

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Sew up by the ring  and further down by the safety pin.

 

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My chicken seems to be very happy. The sling was a little large for her, but now she has grown into it. 🙂

 

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I hung the sling from two 2×4 boards that I had screwed into the wall earlier. Then I looped a couple bungee cords through the ring, and over the boards. I keep having to adjust it (that’s why there are all the bungee cords!) because of the weight.

 

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This little girl is much happier now 🙂  I was very surprised the other morning when I went out to the coop to see that she had gotten out of the sling and was resting nicely on the floor! Her legs are much stronger now!

 

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Here is a list of materials I used.

Sturdy fabric
A sewing machine and thread
Pins and safety pins
A metal ring (I found a set of them in the jewelry department at Hobby Lobby for around $2.00)

 

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Elisabeth