We have a hen that was born to be a momma hen. She has tried so hard to have her own batch of chicks. The first round this year ended in sorrow. She sat on her eggs for a very long time, much longer than needed to hatch, and we eventually had to remove her from her nest in the hay loft and dispose of her mostly rotten eggs. A sort of sad day for all.
Not long after that, we found her, once again, in the hay loft on a bunch of eggs, 18 to be exact. We didn't have much hope for success as there is 1 lone rooster to about 35 hens. Odds aren't very good that her eggs are fertile. We decided to let her try again...without getting the kids excited. We explained that it probably wouldn't happen, but we'd give her a chance.
As of yesterday, she had six chicks hatched!! And when we checked on her today, there were six more!! Six eggs left to go, we'll see what happens.
So proud of our momma hen and all her little babies. She's doing such a great job taking care of them all, and allowing us to be a part of it. Very cool experience for all of us here. :)
A LOT has been going on here at 47 Daisies. We have been very busy. It is strange for us, because we aren't "farming for the public" this year, but it is still pretty much farming from sun up to sun down.
We are preparing to (hopefully) be open for business next spring. This takes a lot of planning and money (which is hard to come by when you're not currently farming). There is an adorable garage/shop close to the road and we're going to renovate that building and turn it into a farm store. We will sell to the public from that, a lot like the "farm room" in Ruston. At this point we're not planning on doing a CSA just to see how the farm store goes. In the next few years, we'll also be able to have pick your own berries (many varieties) and Christmas trees will go in the ground next year. This will be in addition to all the vegetables we'll have for sale, and EGGS!! 55 Chickens will be laying this spring. :) And we'll also have goat milk soap and other goat milk products...once we get goats and have a milk supply again (missing it!!)
We already have a wood pile for the boiling pan. Dylan's planning on boiling a lot of sap for making maple syrup. I think a fire outside in the winter in Maine sounds amazing!! I told him that will be a great job for me, since I'm sure I'll freeze to death until I acclimate. I will sit by the fire and boil sap. A lot. :)
In the past few weeks, with Dylan's dad's help, we have built a stairway up to the hayloft in the barn and a shed for Dylan's tiller and garden tools...which is very important since he has decided to have his garden beds out in the middle of nowhere. Speaking of, if you knew us in LA, you know we had several of our fields named. This area back in the middle of nowhere will be our main production beds....and now has the "North Dakota" sign up. So now, regularly, I hear from Dylan, "I'm going to North Dakota". Some things never change.
It rains a lot here, or at least it has since the end of May. This is great, because we'll probably never have to irrigate (which was literally OUR LIFE in Louisiana. It consumed us for most of the year....), but we're also not used to the "down time" rain causes. Two days ago, Dylan decided to build a playhouse for the kids out of barn wood. It is almost finished, and it is adorable. It's out by the gardens so the kids can play while we're working in the beds. We did have to make a trip to the hardware store for a few things, but the structure, and then some, were made from wood left in our barn. The kids love it!!! ....and we love it.
I know I'm rambling about anything and everything, but I guess that's okay and I'll just continue to do so.
We have SO MUCH zucchini this year!! That's about the only thing we have in abundance because we knew we weren't going to be selling to the public. But somehow, no matter what...you always end up with too much zucchini. I have LITERALLY been putting it in everything and eating it every single night. A few recipes in the past couple weeks; zucchini quesadillas, zucchini fritters, zucchini lasagna, chocolate zucchini cookies, zucchini grilled cheese, zucchini crispy burritos (we actually replaced the chicken with diced zucchini in this one)...and we have frozen probably 50 bags so far. Funny. I guess we will continue to have zucchini in everything, even after the season is over.
We were fortunate to have a huge blackberry patch on the property, and we've been very much enjoying that. We have about 15 bags in the freezer so far, and Dylan made the first batch of jam with the kids a few hours ago. 100% sealed. Woo hoo!! (That's always exciting for us).
In addition to the berry patch, we have a very nice orchard. Apples have been falling and we've made applesauce that the kids have very much enjoyed. Due to the lack of apple orchards in Louisiana, Basil and Eilah are enjoying their first year of apple abundance. It's nice. We have applesauce in the freezer as well.
All of this food in the freezer really helps with my food hoarding problem (Dylan has accused me of having this disorder for years...). :)
I guess that's enough for now.
Would love to hear what all of you are up to! Anyone have a garden this year? How's it doing?
...just kidding, but it's starting to feel that way a little bit. I have a strange love for chickens that started at a very young age with a pet that I adopted from my parents' chicken coop. It was a baby chicken and I named her Brown Sugar. I seriously have talked about that chicken pretty much my whole life. Ask anyone that knows me well. It's a strange fascination that I am pretty sure I inherited from my mother, because she's chicken crazy too. :) For some reason, Dylan is entertaining this obsession and it's actually working out well for our farm.
Right now we have 28 chickens in the moveable coop and approximately 29 in the brooder (which is in the seed room in the barn). We just ordered 25 more that will arrive during the week of October 17th. When all is said and done and they're all laying, we'll have around 40 dozen eggs to sell each week. CHALLENGE accepted. :) (I'm actually REALLY nervous about selling this many eggs...so please start telling all your friends about it now. Hopefully by spring we'll build enough interest to sell them!!)
Dylan keeps saying yes to more chickens lately, which is strange, but he has his reasons. The chickens in the moveable coop are fertilizing the farm and eating bugs that would otherwise end up in the garden. As the weather cools, we can move them closer to the beds (there's no shade up front so they can't be out there during the hot months) and it will help even more. We also compost the bedding, etc. to use as fertilizer for the gardens. The new chickens will be going in a coop in the barn, which was just started today. This will allow the 50 or so chickens to roam around the goat and sheep pastures during the day and control the parasites that may be in the pastures.
So as I see it, this is a win/win for everyone involved. I have a ton of chickens, our customers have a ton of eggs and Dylan has parasite and pest control, along with fertilization and added income/interest to the farm!! I love chickens!!
(picture borrowed from http://www.nyc-photo-gallery.com/Poster_Animals-Chickens.html)
We have been selling eggs for several weeks now, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to write about our chickens, and more specifically, our eggs.
We have 25 (mostly) Rhode Island Red hens that we bought here in town this past spring. We bought 25 baby chicks and still have our original 25!! And they are thriving. We recently (this past Saturday) gained 3 adult white leghorn hens from a neighbor and farm customer. Those chickens are doing well also, and lay beautiful white eggs that look really weird next to our mix of brown eggs.
We have been very successful selling eggs and are planning to get 25 more chickens this fall!! Of course, we won't have more eggs until at least spring, but these things take time. :)
We are asked lots of questions about our eggs. Here are some of them with the answers.
Are the eggs organic?
This is a very hard topic to discuss, because technically everything we grow/produce is "organic", but we can't use the term "organic" because we aren't certified organic. We are Certified Naturally Grown, which follows the same guidelines and is even more strict in several areas. Our chickens are NOT Certified Naturally Grown. Animals/livestock are inspected and certified through another entity. CNG only deals with produce and bees/honey. Our operaiton is not large enough to involve these "entities" at this time, but at some point we may consider becoming certified. With all that being said, our chickens are fed mostly with our produce. Things that have over ripened, spoiled, or compost from our kitchen. They also have free choice feed, which is a Purina Chicken feed that is non medicated. The majority of their diet is bugs, graass and vegetable matter. So..................we are not "organic", but the chickesns eat all natural fruits and vegetables and non medicated chicken feed. :)
Why are the eggs different than store bought eggs?
The eggs look and taste different because of their diet and lifestyle. They are basically pampered. They have plenty of room to roam, and when they eat the grass bugs in a certain area, we move them so they have new, fresh ground. That, in addition to the vegetables and grain they're getting, they produce a really great tasting nutritious egg. The yolks are firmer and darker and the whites are different as well. This is all nutrition based and means they are healthy hens with a wonderfuly well rounded diet. The shells are also much harder due to the same reasons.
Do you wash the eggs?
We rinse the eggs, but don't scrub them. There's a layer on the outside of the egg and if it is removed from vigorous washing, the egg will spoil sooner.
How long will the eggs last once I get them home?
Refrigereated, the eggs will last at least a month or more and be just fine.
Will you take egg cartons and reuse them?
We LOVE getting egg cartons from you guys!! Please bring us our egg cartons back, as well as any you have bought elsewhere. We only want the cardboard/compostable ones, though. No styrofoam or plastic, please. Also, please keep in mind that we are reusing egg cartons, so don't pay attention to what's printed on it!! :) We add a label with our info and the date. Those are the only two things that apply to our farm and our eggs.
Can we go see the chickens?
When you're out at the farm for CSA or the produce sale, you can go see the chickens if you'd like. Just ask us in the farm room where they are, as we move them around quite a bit. And remember, the fence/netting around the chicken yard IS ELECTRIC!! Stay back a few feet and watch small children closely.
I hope this answers most of your questions about the eggs and chickens!! Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have more. :)
See you soon!
Our 25 chickens are ALL still with us!! I say that because we are kind of shocked it has gone so well this long. I probably should knock on wood because you know how these things go. A predator will get in and eat them all tonight because I'm bragging about them. Now I've just freaked myself out a little....
Anyway, they have been doing amazing and have actually starting laying eggs in the past few weeks. We got 14 today!! We are going to start selling the eggs out of the farm room possibly as early as this weekend during CSA pick ups. It will start slow, but soon we'll have a pretty good amount of eggs. Each chicken should lay about an egg a day. That's 25 eggs x 7 days a week = about 14 dozen eggs a week. Not bad!
Kade has taking an interest to the chickens and checks on them regularly when he's outside watering, playing, etc. A few times he has found that they are out of the chicken yard and has taken it upon himself to catch them and put them back in. As a side note, the fence is electrified, so it's not as easy as it seems. He's gotten pretty good at herding chickens and tossing them over the fence. He's had a few misshaps, but nothing major, and they were actually pretty comical from a parent's standpoint (and grandparent's, too, as he retold the stories to my mom). After several of these chicken chasing escapades, we decided to clip their wings (actually, only one wing on each chicken). We haven't had a chicken out of the yard since, so things have been much more peaceful for Kade.
Dylan also seems ot have an interesting relationship with the chickens. We have really tried to tame them, and I feel like we've done a great job. We have always taken the extra time to handle them, since they were tiny. They really like Dylan, especially. He can sit or kneel down in the chicken yard and they all come and gather around him like he's the mother hen (or rooster, maybe??) and some even climb up on his shoulders and head. It's actually pretty funny to watch, but the chickens love it, and Dylan seems to enjoy it too.
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )