Again it has been a while since I have posted anything about our adventures. Between work and working to get our homestead ready I get a little too busy (lazy) to update our adventures. I will try harder next time. 🙂
About six weeks ago we picked up some new chickens and Guinea Keets from a great location not too far from Waco. It was a good drive for us but they were the only location I could find where you could get Guinea Keets in smaller numbers than 15 or 20 at a time. If you are in the area of Waco and need some Keets and Chickens and don’t want to mail order I would suggest looking up Bossie Biddies. Now, they are the first group I have worked with but the couple I worked with there were very friendly and very helpful and their prices are very fare. We ended up getting 6 Orpingtons from Bossie Biddies and 6 Guinea Keets. We are expecting to get eggs sometime late August out of our Orphintons. We plan on only using this bread for eggs because they are smaller birds. However, if needed we could eat them as well.
The Guinea Keets we bought are mainly for my fear of snakes and how good they are to alerting when a snake is around or even killing snakes. They are also great birds to have around for pest control as well. I have heard they are very loud birds but so far they have been pretty quite. I am trying to train them to return back to either the chicken coop or at least the barn at night to protect them from predators. They seem to be doing that now on their own. I do have to laugh because one of the hens is always with the remaining keets. They follow her around like it is their mother hen and she follows them around like they are her chicks. She is getting bigger now and can’t get out of the coop as much unless the door is open. She roost with them at times but now they are sleeping in the barn she can’t get to the spots they can. I think we will have a heart broken hen here soon.
As I mentioned above, the remaining keets. Yes, I do have some bad news. We have lost 3 of the 6 keets we started with. We lost 2 keets to one of our dogs and lost another keet but not sure how. We never found the 3rd keets body so we don’t think it was our dog. We are also down to 5 chickens. We started with 6, 1 roster and 5 hens. The hen we know our dog got. He also almost got another, the roster a few days ago. Even went after him with me in the back yard. I managed to save the roster and we kept him separate from the other hens for a few days until he was able to walk again. Chickens can be stupid birds but at the same time they will kill a weak chicken in an instant.
Not sure what to do with our dog. He has been with us for 5 years which is longer than 2 of our sons. We are not sure what gets into him, he never went after birds when we lived in the city. In fact, he would just lay there while pigeons would eat his food from his dog dish. I plan to make a dog run for him but don’t really want to do that to him. Since my chickens are free range they have full access to every location. The house and the yard is spit off by fences but the chickens are small enough right now to fit through the fencing. I am hoping once the chickens get full sized he won’t go after them and they won’t be able to fit through the fence. After all, I want the birds in our yard to eat the bugs!
So now comes to our new members here at the Turner Homestead. I had attended a class at a place called Homestead Heritage. They have a program called Sustain Life or The PloughShare. It was a three day class on homesteading. A very high level overview that covered so many topics. One topic was on raising poultry. They have an entire one day class just on this that I want to attend as well. For the 3 day class they go over the basics on raising chickens. They recommended a hatchery that you can mail order poultry from. They also recommended a certain break of chicken based off of it traits. They recommend Black Australorps based off the fact that these birds are none aggressive, good for multi-years, are both good for meat and eggs, and various other reasons. They also recommended a hatchery called Murry McMurray Hatchery. So we ordered 15 hens and 1 roster. Within a few days I had 17 baby chicks inside a priority overnight USPS container I picked up from the post office. The 17th was a free chick they always include. I am not sure what kind of chicken it was but it was all grey and had grey feathers down to it’s feet. I am sad to say that this one that I called Mango Habenaro didn’t make it after a few days. The 16 other chicks are all doing fine today and growing like crazy!
The original container I used to store them in they outgrew fairly fast. We ended up using a very large rubber maid container that I could attach the red light to and keep them warm at night. The problem with this setup is this container would get very smelly very quickly and we needed a way to allow them to run free during the day but also be protected as well.
I am not or have never been someone that would be considered good at wood working. However, I tried by first attempt at making what I call a Chick Condo/Tractor. I planned it out, went to home depot and got all the wood I needed and within a couple of days I had built something I myself was pretty amazed at. Now that I have built this I have more plans to build another but with wheels and other features I wish I had included in this first version. The chicks love their Chick Condo. In fact, this is their 3 week of life and we are going to start keeping them in there 100% of the time. Their rubber maid container was great but this morning we had an escape artist and had to chase down a very fast little chick. 🙂 Once they are 6 weeks or so I will move them to the coop and keep them in there until they are about 8 weeks and then let them start free ranging. It is quite funny, when they see me come outside they all run up to my side of the pen. The other chickens we have don’t do that. Maybe the young chicks think I am mother hen? 🙂 If they only knew this mother hen was going to end up eating them one day.
I have included a few photos below of the Chick Condo, of our other family pets, and just various photos I have taken of sunsets and sunrises around our homestead.