Spoiled Rotten Hens

My chickens are not just hens…they are my girls. Each have a name and each are spoiled rotten.  Believe it or not, my hens like being held and petted. My children adore catching them, though I’m not sure the girls like being chased. At least, its good exercise for all of them.

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When I saw the little ladies shivering this winter, I went to work to make better accommodations. Heat lamp, electric waterer and extra grains.

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I snapped these photos at night while they were roosting. They looked at me like, “Excuse me, we’re trying to sleep.”

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The only thing I didn’t do was sew sweaters. But boy, it would have been cute. I like the patterns below.

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Sweater References: reginadrangel.blogspot.com, hencam.co.uk

 

 

 

Taking Care of the Garden and Gimpy

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My two kids and I had a diverse night. It started with thinning rows in the garden and ended with giving a hen a sitz bath.

We planted a variety of veggies and fruits in our 16 x 60 garden. We have modeled our garden after Paul Gautschi’s “Back to Eden Organic Gardening.” You can check it out via http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/how-to-grow-an-organic-garden.html.

Below is a picture detailing the layers we did to prepare our garden. First, we laid newspaper to kill the grass and prevent weeds. Second, we spread a 2 inch layer of compost onto of the newspaper, followed by 3 inches of wood chips and a sprinkling of manure. My neighbor who owns a huge cow farm across the road was so kind as to bring a scoop of manure over with his John Deere. Bless his heart! Nothing like free manure for the garden.

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It has been a real learning process doing our garden this year and its far from perfect. We chose the absolute worst spot on our land to put it. We didn’t know that until the first bad rainstorm and half the garden was washed out in places. The water likes to run through the middle of the garden. So we dug trenches around the outskirts and through the center of the lower half. Its looks completely redneck, but its working. We planted sweet corn, cucumber, carrots, spinach, lettuce, green onions, sweet onions, bell peppers, summer squash, dark zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, golden zucchini, cantaloupe, and watermelon. I got real fancy and marked the rows with rocks that I labeled with a black sharpie.

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In the meantime, we are doing maintenance. Tonight, Bella helped thin out the row of cucumbers. She continued to ask, “What can I pull next?” Gabriel didn’t bother to ask, he was proactive and started to pull on his own. Cute little bugger.

Afterwards, we had to deal with Josefina, my gimpy hen.

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Two days ago, I went outside to check on the girls. All the hens and ducks came running up to say hello. (They’re hoping for treats.) Poor little Josie was limping up the back forty, trying to reach me. She had to stop several times to catch her breath. I hoped it wasn’t anything major and gave it a little time. But gimpy isn’t getting better. After a google search, I found that a chicken limp can mean three things: a stroke, a lodged egg, or a pulled muscle. Either way, there’s not much that can be done, except a warm bath, massage to loosen a bound egg, and baby aspirin for a tender muscle. We started with phase one. THE BATH. I poured warm water and salt into a 5 gallon bucket and put Josie in. I think she liked it. I massaged her belly and checked her all over.

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Tomorrow if there’s no improvement, I’ll give the aspirin. I hope she’ll be okay. I like my Josefina. She’s a sweet little girl. My kids think so too!

Nine Years Married

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June 18, 2005

Today marks the 9th anniversary, since my husband and I said “I do.”

And since then, we’ve continued to say I do. I do take you as my best friend to explore and adventure life together, no matter what we face, let’s do it together! In nine years, we have already shared many adventures. Today, I’ll highlight a few.

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Our first quest took us to Kauai in 2005 where we kayaked rivers, tubed down irrigation ditches, went off-roading in mud buggies, discovered some native hotspots for eating, and conquered Hanakapiai Falls. The hike to the falls was crazy. The sun was going down, we didn’t catch the group with a tour guide, but we managed to follow the overgrown trails to the waterfall and back out before it was completely dark.

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We bought our first house on Mix Street in Bay City, Michigan in 2005 where we both worked on staff at a church. The house was built in 1952 and needed work. We loved it. Even though the basement flooded in 2007 from the sewer drain. We were ankle deep in brown water, toilet paper, and poo.

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MIX STREET HOUSE

We journeyed through California in 2008 doing ministry work, but also having a lot of fun!

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Newport Beach, CA

We toured through England with my dear friend, Joanna and her husband, who are residents of Ipswich. Joanna and I first met during a school exchange program to England in 2002 where her family hosted me. They will forever be my English family!

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London’s Tower Bridge, 2008
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Posing with the Police in London

 

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Sir and Madam of Warwick Castle

 

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Stonehenge

In 2009, we started a very new journey, adding to our family! I became pregnant with my daughter in June 2009. And three months into the pregnancy, we traveled to Costa Rica for a missionary trip and to see Jonathan’s family.

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Jonathan and I with his Auntie
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Posing with Jonathan’s cousin and his wife
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Church Valentine’s Banquet, two days before I delivered!

My baby girl was born on February 14, 2010. Our adventures continued with our trio. We went to Seattle, Washington!

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Since then, we added three more beautiful children to our Cordero clan. Two are being cared for in Heaven and our son, Gabriel is here, making sure Bella knows what its like to have a brother pull her hair.

Now our family is pursuing a life-dream adventure. The country life. We built a home on land and are moving toward a self-sustaining lifestyle with hobby farming.

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The best part of this story is simple: I did it with my true love, Jonathan Cordero. I can’t wait to see what the future holds; I know it will be great as long as I’m with him.

 

 

Clipping Chicken Wings

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Wing clipping is necessary when you don’t want the backyard hens and ducks flying all over, especially into the neighbors’ garden.

I have trimmed the flight feathers on my older chickens about a year ago, but the ducks and new hens have not yet been clipped. It didn’t become a problem until my neighbors planted their veggies, and my naughty ducks decided they wanted to taste test. My neighbor’s have even put up a fence, but my determined ducks are flying over it. So today I put a stop to that. They got clipped. Donald and Quackers put up a protest, but I finally won. My arm did get some battle scars in the process. It is better to tag-team with a partner when clipping, but when I set my mind to something, I get the job done.

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Clipping involves using sharp scissors to cut off the first ten flight feathers of one wing. It causes a bird to lack the balance needed for flight but lasts only until new feathers grow during the next molt, which may be a few months in young birds or up to a year for older ones. A potential problem is that clipped feathers may not readily fall out during the molt, requiring your assistance.

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Wing clipping doesn’t hurt the bird, and isn’t noticeable when they are walking around. The primary flying feathers are hidden underneath when the wings are folded. Also, the flying feathers are easy to pick out — often a different color than the rest. Make sure to use a SHARP scissors.

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Two flight wings I need to clip.
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Completed clipping
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The ducks are all clipped and heading to the pond to decompress.

REFERENCE: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-clip-trim-the-wings-of-your-chicken-to-prevent-flight

THE CRITTER BARN

We went again, and we’ll keep going…to the Critter Barn! It is local animal farm near our house. The Critter Barn is a wonderful place for people of all ages to learn about farming, agriculture, and sustainability through hands on experiences. It always inspires my husband and I with ideas for our hobby farm and the fact is, I just love being with the animals! My kids love it too! Here’s photos from our latest trip.

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Holding the two-week-old twin goats

 

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Gabe met goats for the first time, and they enjoyed tasting his stroller.
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Selfie with the angora bunny.
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Bella bottle feeding the baby goats.
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It took Gabe a little while to warm up to the bunnies.

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Petting Colonel Sanders the Rooster
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Kitty Coral

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The Critter Barn
9275 Adams St.
Zeeland MI 49464

Butcher Day: Meat Chickens

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Attention Readers: Some pictures contain blood.

Yesterday was butcher day for half our flock of meat chickens. They are Cornish Rocks. The key is to have hot water or the rotten chicken feathers will not pull off.

My father, my husband and I processed 13 chickens in 2 hours. And for our first time butchering, I thought we rocked it.

Our birds weighed roughly between 5 – 7 pounds after 8 weeks of raising them. They are not filled with hormones and other growth stimulators. They were raised on a natural blend of grains (from a local feed supply) and for the last two weeks of life, they foraged grass inside our chicken tractor. When you buy a rotisserie chicken at Meijer, it will weigh 2 – 3 pounds, and you will pay $5.00, which would mean that my 6 pound chicken would cost $15.00 at the store. But because we raised our own, when we subtract feed and bedding, they costed us roughly $6.50 a piece! Between the cost of savings and the knowledge of what I’m actually consuming, I’ll keep raising my own chickens.

Now if you’re thinking you’d like to do it too, let me walk you through butcher day, so you will know if you can handle it.

Step One- Take out all food 12 hours before the butcher.

Step Two- Get all your supplies and equipment set up. Needs: Sharp carving knives for slicing the throat and gutting the bird, metal bucket, 6 ft. table, cooking thermometer, salt, 3 totes (depends on amount of chicken), bags of ice, 2 gallon freezer bags, hose with a spray nozzle.

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Step Three- Get the fire started and water close to boiling in the bucket. Water should read 180 degrees.

Step Four- Slit the throat of bird and hang upside down for three minutes to bleed it out.

Step Five- Dip bird in and out of hot water for thirty seconds. Pluck out all feathers. Then blow torch off the small hairs.

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Step Six- Put bird into cold, saltwater. (Helps draw out blood)

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Step Seven- Cut off the legs. Put bird on its back with chest facing up, slice under the top of chest cavity (breast). Pull out all the organs until bird is clean within (the gizzard and heart are good eat’n if you’d like to keep). Cut off the oil sack on the tail. Hose the inside of bird. Stick into bucket of ice.

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Step Eight- Continue procedure for all other birds and then double bag the birds in Ziploc freezer bags.

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Step Nine- Celebrate and eat those good chickens!

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This is a quick version of the process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Also one book you ought to purchase is “Pastured Poultry Profits” by Joel Salatin. It has everything you need to know about meat chickens and egg laying hens.

We are on the road of small hobby farming. One small step for the Cordero’s, one giant leapt toward self-sustenance! 

 

Farm Fancy and Ranging Free

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I am such a sucker for poultry.

Just being outside with my family and birds is bliss. And entirely entertaining.

My husband and daughter are digging a small pond for our natural spring to pour into. The ducks, Quackers and Donald, are gonna go nuts when that thing fills up! Four days ago, we integrated the ducks into the pen with the full-grown hens. They sized each other up, made some squawks and quacks, and decided it would work.

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Yesterday evening, my husband found the little hens roosting on his power tools in the garage. He wasn’t feeling that, nor the little presents on the garage floor. So today, we decided it was time those girls joined the meat hens outside in the chicken tractor.

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Before putting them with the meat hens, we let the chicks roam the yard with the big hens and ducks. The big hens didn’t give them an ounce of interest, but the ducks were thrilled! We’ve raised them together since they were babies, and it was a reunion. The ducks were quacking and rubbing their heads all over the chicks. Tonight, when I had to split them up, the ducks protested loud and clear.

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These are the meat hens. We have 23 of them and butcher day is vast approaching. I can’t wait. They are so stupid and stinky, but boy will they be delicious.

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We love country life. Never a dull moment.

 

O To Be A 1920’s Farmer

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Mowing Hay
Mitchell Home School Farm 1920s
Photograph # 19981.1.53.70

Let’s take a moment and thank God for technology.

I have been busy researching for Book Two: Marvel and Mayhem: The Roaring Twenties Series. In this book, my main character, a New York City flapper ends up working on a farm in Harrisburg, PA. Best part is she doesn’t see it coming until the manure reaches her nose!

Farm life is hard work now, but in the 1920’s, it was even harder.

Farmers put in long days for little money. Work and play revolved around the seasons. Everyone in the family had chores — milking cows, feeding the animals, harnessing horses, gathering eggs, cleaning the outhouse, washing clothes, and more. Children usually walked to school, rain or shine, and spent summers helping in the fields. Farm families looked forward to the fun of school programs, trips to town, church gatherings, and other social events. With help from neighbors, 1920s farm families brought in the harvest, battled fires, coped with accidents and illness, and weathered natural disasters.

(Reference: http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe20s/life_01.htm)

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Morning Chores: Milk the Cow
http://kentuckyexplorer.com/nonmembers/06-12pics.html
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Kansas Farm Crop with Mr. McMurry on the Binder and Aunt Myrtle Driving the Tractor, 1920’s.
http://www.gregssandbox.com/mcmurry/sec02/02-fcrops.htm

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Vincent Davlin, his wife Edna and 2 children, Charlie E. and Marian http://www.villageoftowerlakes.com/history/Pioneer%20Families/pioneer_families.htm

Our New Home: All Built and Getting Settled

Every morning I wake up, I’m thankful for God’s great blessings.  When we began house hunting over a year ago, I never dreamed we would build, but Beard Construction made our dream a reality. A big thank you to Wendell and Lance Beard, an amazing father-son duo.

Here is our home that the Lord has blessed us with. I’ve included pictures of the rooms we have been able to decorate so far.

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The Kitchen
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Living Room and Dining Room
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Guest Bathroom
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Garden Theme Guest Bath
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My Son’s John Deere Bedroom
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The Chicken Coop and Enclosed Run
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Backyard and Woods