Faithful Homesteader

Chicken Illness and Other Drama on the Homestead

Faithful Homesteader

I have had my hands full with my three chickens this spring. I had everyone laying and doing well, but that has all changed. We have been nursing one chicken for several weeks. Another one had gone broody, but now she is crowing up a storm. Then we have one more broody girl that we are trying to break.

After keeping an eye on our little Lilah, I started to suspect she could have worms since she had been losing weight. I was able to get that confirmed from the vet and we started treatment for the flock. She still continued to lose weight and started having some breathing issues.

My husband was reluctant to go to the vet for a full exam because we had paid so much money in the past to try treatments, but still ended up losing our girls. We read that antibiotics don't always work. I understood his point and started looking for home remedies. I ended up giving her some colloidal silver and activated charcoal. We also have been using VetRx mostly in her water to try to help with the breathing.

three chickens

She did seem to start feeling better and I would see her eating. We also fed her with a dropper to try to help fatten her up. In addition, we have been feeding her organic baby food as supplemental food. It really has been up and down with her, but I am glad to see that she has had improvement. She is not 100 percent, but I hope that will soon change.

Our crazy hen Buster was looking so good and being all productive, but of course she can't resist going broody. It seemed like I was able to break her fairly quickly, but then she started to crow. The worst thing about it was that she would sometimes crow way early in the morning well before sunrise. That is not cool.

We actually bring her inside when she does crow because we worry about the neighbors. I have never been able to figure out why she goes through her crowing spells. She can go for months without crowing and then she starts up again.

Now in the past week or so, our final chicken has added to the drama. Our little Nailie has gone broody and she is so persistent. Since no one is laying, I have blocked off the nesting boxes, but she just insists on laying right outside of one.

When I am home and able to supervise, I lock her out of the coop all together. She spends a good amount of time clucking and being puffed up. Now I have decided to keep her inside overnight in our little chicken motel with a built in roost. I am hoping some roost time will help her.

I have had chickens for around six years now and I continue to learn about taking care of them. Whenever they get sick, I feel like I have failed them. We have started weighing all our girls so that we can better keep track of things, but then we did go a little longer between weighing the girls. I beat myself up over that because I wonder if we could have treated things sooner with Lilah. I am just ready for everybody to get back to normal.


Photo property of Amanda McHenry.

Preparing the Spring Garden

Faithful HomesteaderI can hardly keep track of everything that we have going on in the garden this spring. Because of the success of the in-ground beds last year, we are sticking with the same plan for this year. We have fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. If all goes well, we should have plenty to eat and be able to save on our grocery bill.

This year I actually tried to do a little bit of plowing for the first time. I did a couple of sections and now I know just how hard of a job it is. I need to build my strength back up so that it won't be quite so difficult. I also did some raking after I plowed. Now my husband can't say I didn't do anything with the garden. He is the one with the green thumb so he naturally does most of the gardening.

We have about half an acre of land in a normal residential neighborhood. We take advantage of most of the space. We have crops and trees growing in the front yard as well as the backyard. We have two peach trees up front and I am still not over the fact that someone stole all of our peaches last year. I do not want that to happen again.

plowing

Asparagus is growing in the front as well as backyard. It is nice to have a daily supply of such a healthy food. We are growing corn and are happy to see that it is coming up already. Kandy corn and Eureka corn are this year's varieties. The Eureka corn can get as high as 18 feet tall. That is more than three times as tall as me. I can't imagine. I guess it will go well with our giant Sunflowers.

We always have plenty of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and summer squash planted. This year I am looking forward to having our own pumpkins. My husband and the chickens are all about the watermelon. Last year we had our first apple and I hope we get some more this year.

garden

I am really glad that we are planting a lot of flowers. Last year I loved watching the pollinators flock to the sunflowers and marigolds. The mockingbirds were a big problem last year for our blueberries and blackberries. They seemed to have enjoyed far more of the fruit than we did. My husband certainly was not happy.

Generally we don't get too upset with the chickens when they partake of the garden. One exception was when they ate all of our grapes. My husband blamed me for giving the girls a taste for grapes. I find that it is a nice treat to beat the heat for them.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing how well the garden does this year. If all goes well, we will be filling our belly with healthy and yummy things. I am always glad when we can share what we grow with our friends and family.

Learning to Work on My Husband's Truck

Faithful HomesteaderMy husband spends a lot of time working on his custom 4x4 truck and I can go for a long time without seeing him. Lately, he has started teaching me some things about the truck so that I can get used to all its unusual operations. I get to exercise my mind while I do this. The bonus is spending some quality time with my husband.

This past week my husband finally got a winch that he has been wanting for a long time. Initially, he had some help mounting it from his best friend who was visiting from out of town. Once the friend left, there were still a few things to take care of and I helped with those. It was all very new to me. I know nothing about winching or winches.

truck blinkers

The first thing we worked on was putting new blinkers on the front of the truck. My husband had removed the bumper so that he could mount the winch so he needed to install new blinkers to be legal. He started out by giving me some basics about electricity and giving me an understanding about the positive and negative connections. He also gave me a run down of the basics of how an electrical circuit works.

truck blinkers

To make the connections, I attempted to strip some wires, but I found that difficult to do. Putting the connector ends on took a bit of strength for me, but I did manage to do it. Crimping wires takes a lot of hand strength. Once we had everything put together, I mounted the blinkers to the front of the truck and connected it to the original connectors. We spliced the original wires and connectors to utilize the factory harness. Then we tested everything out and it worked.

truck blinkers

The next project was connecting the winch to the battery in the truck. The battery was relocated to the bed of the truck behind the driver side. I needed to drill a hole to run the cable through the body. We put the cables together and connected it to the battery. I even did some soldering along the way when we put in a quick connect so that we can easily disconnect the battery from the winch. My husband said normally there would be a separate battery for the winch, but he bought a bigger deep cycle battery so that he could use just one.

Overall it was a good experience. These days I am all about learning all kinds of new things. I am thinking that next I want to learn about changing the oil in my truck.

Winter Projects on the Homestead

Faithful Homesteader 

It is a quiet time on the homestead. Our girls haven’t been laying eggs and not much is happening with the garden. Today we did get our first egg in a few months. Now is a good time for trimming trees and ridding them of mistletoe. We have also started some seeds indoors. We turned an old aquarium into a terrarium. We wrote about that last season here.

Misteltoe

I never really knew much about mistletoe except that people like to kiss under it at Christmastime. I then learned that birds are attracted to it and I kinda like that since I love seeing various birds come to my little homestead. I have learned from my husband that it is a parasite and it could hurt our trees, so we have to take action. He has spent the last week trying to rid our trees of it. One tree has been especially bombarded with it and it has been hard to get all of it.

Every year we do start some seeds indoors. Usually it is a variety of tomatoes and peppers. We usually have plenty of both in our spring/summer garden. My husband always likes to change things up and this year he is using Jiffy-Pots. According to the label, they can be planted into the ground pot and all.

Jiffy-Pot

I have come to appreciate having a garden over the years for several reasons. I love having plenty of vegetables in the garden so that we don’t have to buy them at the grocery store. Having a good garden also attracts some cool birds. It can be frustrating at times if they mess with the crops too much, but I love my birds. I also like sharing the garden with the chickens. They like eating and they can get good shade and protection in the midst of our tomato plants.

I am looking forward to spring. I hope my chickens will be more active. I look forward to yummy garden vegetables and, of course, milder weather.

Life with Pet Chickens

Faithful Homesteader 

In some ways having pet chickens is easy, but giving them a high quality of life requires spending quality time with them. During the day our chickens have the run of the yard and then we lock them in the coop at night. Our girls are pretty spoiled, but they do bring a lot of joy to my life.

pet chickens

I currently have a small flock of bantam hens. They go through stages of activity. Right now none of them are laying eggs. I hope that will change soon. One of our chickens, Lilah, is starting to look like she may lay soon. Her comb is bigger and she is looking good. This is usually an indication that eggs will soon follow. The girls don’t seem very active right now. I don’t know if it is just winter or because there is not much going on in the garden.

Hawks and cats are our biggest concern on the homestead and they could be skittish because of that. A while back, our original chicken, Buster, fought off something. I find it is good to go out and spend time with them. They feel more protected and are likely to be more active.

Between some frigid temperatures and fighting some kind of bug, I have not been able to spend as much quality time with them. That makes me feel bad. I am thankful when my husband can take up the slack and spend some time with them.

My chickens are a part of the family. They are so adorable when they beg for treats at the back door. They look up at me and I just can’t resist them. They always seem to know when we come home even before we go out to check on them.

I like seeing chickens do what chickens do. I will be glad to see the girls getting active again. I haven’t even seen them take any dirt baths lately. Hopefully they have and I just did not see it. It does my heart good to have healthy and happy chickens.

Our Tiny Home Bus Project: Putting in the Walls

Faithful Homesteader 

We have been making slow progress on our tiny home bus project. Finances really do slow us down and my husband was feeling bummed that we had not done more on the bus. We ended up with a little extra cash that we decided to put toward it. My husband decided it would be good to start putting up the first section of wall.

Wall4

Projects like that are definitely foreign to me, but I have wanted to try new things. I always love to learn, so I was willing to help. I took shop back in the day. I can’t remember if it was middle school or high school. I am now in my 40s and wood shop was the last time that I had used any kind of power tool.

Being an active participant in putting up the walls required me to use a jigsaw and a drill. We bought cedar wood planks for the wall. My husband likes the light weight of the wood. He also likes the smell. Previously my husband installed the insulation so we were ready to put up the planks once we cut them to size. Once we measured, we cut the pieces down to 5 1/2 feet. This brings them right to the point where the walls start to curve toward the roof.

Wall3

I cut most of the pieces myself after my husband showed me what we were doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do a good job of being totally straight. Fortunately, I didn’t need to be perfect since we are going to overlap the top of the planks as it curves into the roof. Anything that needs more precision, I will leave to my husband.

Bus walls me

Next we were ready to put up the wall. We made our marks on the planks to drill the holes. Then we changed out to a smaller drill bit and put the planks in place and drilled a pilot hole into the wall framing. Finally, we manually screwed in the screws. I ended up doing the majority of the work since I was learning and it also kept me warm in the freezing temperatures. My husband was happy to supervise the whole thing.

Bus walls finished

It is definitely good to have a sense of accomplishment. I was glad to try something new and to be a part of the bus project. It is all new to me, but my husband likes the idea of us both working on the bus. Thankfully he has the skills to do what we need to do and he can teach me a thing or two.

My First-Time Off-Road Adventure

Faithful Homesteader 

It has been a year of new adventures for me. I did a rock climbing wall for my birthday even though I had a bit of fear associated with it. I also took a kayaking class although I have a definite fear of water. My husband has wanted me to go off-roading with him for quite a long time and we finally did it. In the days before we were married, off-roading was a major part of his life. It is for sure an activity way out of my comfort zone.

Off-Road

For his birthday last year I bought him an off-road sticker, but because of various circumstances we never made it out to the off-road park. This year he was determined to go, so I went and bought a new sticker. It was not something that I was excited about doing, but I wanted to go for his sake. He felt that I owed him since he had taken me dancing a few times and he says he would rather have dental work than go dancing.

I tend to get car sick and my husband’s truck does not have air conditioning, so those two things alone made me wary about going. My husband has an old Toyota 4x4 truck that he has wanted to test off road for a long time. I decided to just try to take everything in stride. I am trying to be more adventurous. I am often looking for new things to try and this definitely fit into that category.

My husband wanted to let off some steam and I wanted to be supportive of that. He was convinced that I would hate everything about it, but still wanted me to come. Since we were on our own and it was the first chance to test out some things with his truck, we stayed on the less difficult courses. We drove through the mud and got the truck sufficiently dirty to make him happy. For me, I don’t really like to have a dirty truck so I did not see the appeal. We did a lot of driving up and down steep rocky hills. There was definitely some rough spots along the way. I was a little nervous, but remained calm.

In the final assessment, I would not say I hated it, but I also didn’t love it. I was just merely a passenger and observer so it really was a bit too hands-off for me. I wonder if I might get more out of it if I was the one in control and driving. I noticed that there were plenty of women at the park that day and they were definitely into it. My husband had a good time and was finally able to test out some things on his truck. I was glad that he had a good day. Now it is off to find a new adventure.