Brooder Supplies

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If you don’t already follow my YouTube Channel shame on you, but I forgive you and now would be a great time to start because I’m getting ready to start a weekly series on raising baby chicks. Check out the first episode in the series : Brooder Set Up and Supplies.

Woohoo! Congratulations you’re finally getting chickens. Whether or not the whole family has been looking forward to chickens for years or you hog tied your spouse and bought them against their will everyone will soon be in LOVE with these tiny little fluff balls. No doubt you have devoured every bit of information about chickens that you could get your hands on. Now you’re a week away from your babies arriving at the post office (chirping mail is the best mail) and you suddenly choke and want to make sure “just one more time” that you have everything that you need.

Supplies:

  1. A brooder- I chose a 120 quart rubber/plastic tote but you can you can really use anything. Just be sure that it’s deep and has high sides so that they can fly out. And they WILL try.
  2. A heat source- I really like this heater and have used it in the past with great success for both chickens and ducks! But it does take up a lot of room and make it harder to see your wonderful babies (not to mention the chicks get on top of it and poop and it gets baked on–yuck!) So this time around I’m going to be trying a heat emitter bulb with a temperature controller so that the chicks can have a little more space.
  3. Lamp Stand- This time around I am trying out this brooder light stand from My Pet Chicken and I can’t wait to let you know what I think. I felt like this would make having a heat lamp safer and more secure.
  4. Feeder and Waterer- I wasn’t terribly picky about feeders/waterers and just went with cheap plastic ones. I know some people are against the use of plastics and use glass or mason jars on top, it’s all personal preference. HOWEVER for your waterer be sure to get the small fountain at the bottom so your chicks don’t drown. You can even add some stones (large enough that they can’t swallow them) to prevent downing in the water dish.
  5. Bedding- For the first few days I used puppy training pads in the bottom because they are absorbent and they are not slippery. Your babies can injure their legs if they’re slipping and sliding on the bottom of the plastic container. After a few days I go ahead and add a layer of PINE shavings (NOT cedar) on top of the dog pads (they help with absorbency and heck you already bought a whole pack you might as well use them). Be sure to use the bigger flake pine shavings the chicks may eat the fine shavings and get impacted crop.
  6. Chick Starter: I buy a small bag of chick starter. This comes in medicated and non medicated. I personally buy non-medicated but you need to do your research and form your own opinions on that. Chicks aren’t on starter long before you switch them over to starter/grower so I wouldn’t bother buying a 50 pounds sack of starter.
  7. Nutridrench- Nutridrench is a poultry nutrient booster supplement. I put a small drop on each chicks beak as I take them out of the box and put them into the Brooder to perk them up from their journey.
  8. Electrolytes- I also like to add Sav a Chick Electrolytes to their water the first couple of days to make sure they’re hydrated and peppy.

The supplements are optional but I think they really help the chicks recover from their journey. After all being hatched is hard work. Imagine breaking out of your familiar shell and some stranger looks at your butt (vent sexing), shoves you in a box with a bunch of strangers, and sends you on a dark two day journey. Then the first ray of sunlight you see is some crazy chicken lady squealing in your face. So they have definitely endured some stress.

Next week I’ll discuss how to set up the brooder. The baby chicks will arrive so you’ll get to meet them and you’ll see how to care for the chicks right after arrival!

Sprouting Grain: Take Two Because Everything is Better in Mason Jars

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Little know fact about the Southern states, everything is better with mason jars. I’ll admit I’ve been a little tardy to the party on this trend but now I see what all the ruckus is about.

I cannot take credit for this idea I’ve seen the idea a few times in my Instagram feed so I figured I’d give it a try. So I went on Amazon and ordered some mason jars and these cool little Strainer Lids.

The process isn’t much different than the foil pain method as far as set up is concerned. Simply fill your 32 ounce mason jar with 1 cup of barley.

Next cover the barley with water and add the lid.

Let soak for 12-24 hours

The idea of the strainer lid is to allow air into the jar. It also makes it really easy to drain the water off of the barley. Each day you should wet the seeds (give them a swish) and then drain the excess water. I have seen these sprouting kits on Amazon that come with these stands but honestly I’m not sure exactly what they’re for. I do plan to look into it. I sit my jars in the window, but I’m hoping that I’m the summer I can grow some outside.

Day 1:

This is shortly after the overnight soak water was drained off. Not a lot of change but we’re just beginning

Day 2:

The amount of space that the seeds are taking up seems to have doubled. The seeds have little sprout tails This seems double the rate of sprouting in the aluminum pans. Ugh! All the wasted days!!! Why didn’t I start this sooner?

Day 3:

The seeds are rapidly approaching the top of the jar! I wonder if at some point I should remove the lid so that they can grow out of the top?

The “tails” have grown exponentially but no sign of green tips just yet! It’s at this point I’m starting to wonder what changed in my life to make me so excited about seeds in a jar. Some questions will never be answered.

Day 4:

The green shoots are finally sprouting up. I” starting to wonder if I plant this in my card can I use it as grass?

There are much less loose seeds in the jars and the sprouts and roots seem tightly grown together. I’m wondering how long to let them grow. I think I’ve decided on a full week.

Day 5:

The sprouts are going crazy!!!! They’re now touching the top of the jar. There isn’t a lot more room left for them! Still contemplating having a yard full of this stuff. Imagine playing kick ball on such a lush bouncy lawn!

Day 6:

The sprouts are growing through the lid!! I’m pleased with how fast this is going.

Day 7:

The final Day! I think they’ve grown the maximum amount that they can in the jars and I will be feeding them to my flock. The only part I didn’t think through is how to get them out of here!

After much fighting with the jar and eventually just leaving it for them to eat out of the jar, I realized that if I just stuck scissors down in the jar and cut it up that it came out much easier. Hindsight right!

Overall I find this process much more fool-proof than growing fodder in the trays. It’s also a lot faster. I think I will continue this system!

The Big Gender Reveal and GIVEAWAY

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The Big Gender Reveal Video and Giveaway

If you have been following the great Anne vs Antonio debate the time as come to Reveal the gender! Is it a hen or a rooster.

Make sure you watch until the end because there is always the chance to win an awesome prize from IQ Bird Testing.

Silkie Gender DNA Testing https://youtu.be/Cr_v2r6n81I

I wanna extend a huge thank you to IQ Bird Testing for offering this GIVEAWAY. Please check them out at http://iqbirdtesting.com/

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

SUBSCRIBE to my channel

LIKE https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1076406662417570&ref=content_filter

LIKE https://m.facebook.com/thebroodybantam/?ref=bookmarks

COMMENT “Done”

In a little over a week we’ll post a video revealing the two winners so be sure to turn on your notifications so you can know if you won or not. And while you wait check out some of my other videos! I truly appreciate support!

Happy Flocking!

What I Plan on Growing this Year and how.

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I am so excited about the growing season this year!!!  Not because I’m an awesome gardener with every confidence that I’m going to produce all of the food that my family and I need for the next 8 months, but because it’s another chance.  You see I was cursed with brown thumbs (not literally, well literally they are brown, but that’s not the cursed part, figuratively brown thumbs that’s what I meant).  Ever since I was about 8 years old I’ve wanted to grow a garden (in this day dream I always imagine harvesting carrots for some reason), but nothing ever grows.  Never! Every year since I was 8 it’s been one failed “garden” after the next.

BUT NOT THIS YEAR!  Why you may ask?  Well because I have to believe that it’s going to work or this would be a really lame blog post.  I’d have to make the title something like “Why I Spent Money on Seeds that Won’t Amount to Anything” and who would read that?  I really do think my garden will be successful this year though.  Mostly because I’m using a raised garden bed this year.  I’ve tried growing in containers and I had a drainage issue.  I tried growing directly in the ground and not only was it hard to keep the right nutrient balance, but also the ground was so tightly packed growing carrots was all but impossible.  Besides growing in a raised bed I also have been doing a great deal of research on the perfect soil blend.   Ingredients for soil that I’m tossing around the idea of using  are:

  • worm castings
  • compost
  • coconut coir
  • peat moss
  • vermiculite

I’ve never added many amendments (aside from Epsom salt) and I usually just use plain potting soil.  When I finally decide what soil ingredients/ratios I’ll be using I will post them.  Be looking out for a post called “Let’s Talk Dirty” (see what I did there). FB9762BF-2BAE-43EB-862E-BBD5B23BA4F5.jpeg

As it gets closer to the start of the growing season I’ll be working on a Gardening series on the blog and YouTube so that you can follow the progress of my garden and see how it grows.

 

Aside from growing a garden for food, the obvious reason, we have a few other uses for why we are growing so many different veggies.

  1. To supplement the chickens, ducks, and dogs with more fresh fruits and veggies .
  2. To give the ducks a job–we plan on letting the ducks be on pest removal and weeding duty.
  3. The chickens are on compost duty–both producing and turning the compost.

This year I ordered my seeds from True Leaf Market.  I heard that they had a wide variety of organic and heirloom, seeds– from what I understand heirloom means that the seeds are old time varieties that are saved and handed down from generation to generation.  I don’t know enough about agriculture, gardening, or seeds to know if organic or heirloom seeds are better than the seeds that I could’ve gotten at Home Depot or Lowes, but I intend to find out.

So without further ado, let’s get down to it.  What am I *attempting* to grow this season:

  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Corn
  • Ornamental Glass Gem Corn (for the chickens, but I heard it can be used for popcorn)
  • Green Beans
  • Sweet Yellow Bell Peppers
  • Sweet Banana Peppers
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Rainbow Roma Tomatoes
  • Purple Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Lima Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (for the chickens)
  • Roamine Lettuce
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Golden Potatoes (Not included in seed haul)
  • Lemon Tree (not included in this haul)
  • Blueberry bush (Not included in this haul)

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Please stick around to see how my garden grows.  And subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can see the gardening series. https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC42xqJdWQCwath_hsWAsr9g

2018 Homesteading Goals

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If you’re anything like me you LOVE making New Years Resolutions. Now I don’t go full “New Year New Me” but I love any excuse for a fresh start. This year I didn’t just name New Year Resolutions for myself but also for my homestead.

  1. Extend Chicken run and add gate: The chickens have been escaping like crazy and running over to the wooded area of our yard. After fighting it and fighting it I just thought “well what the heck let’s just make it part of their run”. So that became my birthday goal! Instead of barn raising I’ll be celebrating my birthday by having a “Run Raising”. Also I’m tired of ripping my sweaters climbing over the chicken wire makeshift door, the gate is more of a gift for me than the chickens.
  2. Build raised garden beds: I tried growing in the ground at our old house (same county…same dirt) and although the foliage grew nicely the fruits of the plants lacked. I’m determined to create the perfect “garden bed soil blend” (stay tuned I’ll be sharing it in a blog I’m working on called “Let’s Talk Dirty”) and have a wonderful garden experience.
  3. Grow a successful garden: I stress the word successful because I have been “growing a garden” every year of my life since childhood. However 2 years ago was the first time I ever grew a single edible item and even still they were stunted. This year is the year I grow an abundant garden. If I get one carrot I’ll call that a success. Carrots are darn near impossible to grow. I always joke that my thumbs are grown (both literally and figuratively) but this is the year they turn GREEN!!!
  4. Learn canning – – and to make tomato sauce: I don’t like raw tomatoes. I’ll deal with them on a sandwich but I’ve never much cared for them raw, but I LOVE growing them. But other than feeding them to my dogs and chickens why would I grow something I don’t like. That’s when I decided I’d learn to make tomato sauce so I could stop buying the preservative laden grocery store jarred sauces. But then I’d have to learn to can–and I’ve been looking for an excuse to do that so here goes!!!
  5. Raise meat chickens: this one is still in the early stages of thought. I love and adore my pet chickens–my egg layers and could never ever eat them, but here’s the thing: ever since we started looking into how our food (eggs) is made I’ve been wanting to eat healthier meats as well. And what better way to know where my meat is coming from than if I raise it myself. I’m sure the first time will be hard, but I DO think I can do it. I contemplated raising them and having a butcher do “the deed”, but I honestly think it’s more respectful to the birds if I do it myself. Updates to come.
  6. Add one new animal to the homestead: that’s pretty self explanatory! I love animals. I wonder what it’ll be…wait and see!
  7. Build a dog pen: Rhaegar spends a lot of time outside and I’d like him to have a special place to go all his own. I don’t know if I’ll get the guts to build the actual dog house, but I can handle the pen. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m an “expert” fence builder
  8. Build a HOT compost pile: I have regular compost heaps that I let the chickens help break down and turn for me (everyone on the homestead has a job) but I’d like a nice, rich, steamy compost heap to quickly turn into garden material. I need to build a cage for it so it’s the right dimensions to get hot!

That’s all for now, but there is always room to think and dream!

(Quote is NOT my picture)

My Biggest Compost Problem Solved

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CHICKEN POOP! BLACK GOLD!!!  It’s the the best composting material in my humble opinion and I just happen to be the proud owner of mountains and mountains of it (lucky me). I’ll be honest on these cold winter days  just not looking forward to schleping potato peels or apple cores outside every time I get one.

So what’s a girl to do…?

Luckily my mother in law gave me a wonderful Christmas gift. The Linkyo Kitchen Compost Bin!  First of all can I just say what a thoughtful gift  that was. It has a beautiful stainless steel design which makes it pretty enough to sit on the counter.  It’s compact size makes it small enough to fit under the sink, but big enough to hold a few days worth of kitchen scraps.  It comes with 4 thick carbon filters that keep the odors trapped inside of the composter.  The description says that 4 is a years worth of filters. Mine is currently storing potato peels, the peel off of an ear of corn and the stripped cobs and I can’t smell anything!

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Now I can collect a few days worth of scraps and save myself a few trips to the back of the yard. I had been using a five gallon compound bucket with a lid but there were a few problems.

  1. The lid had to be kept on tight to prevent odor
  2. I still had to empty almost daily because the lid being on didn’t allow it to breathe and would grow mold
  3.  Even with the lid it still really smelled.

I really feel like I’ve solved my composting frustrations.

Want one one of your own?  Check it out below!!!
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What the Heck is an Egg Skelter and Why Should I Want One?

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So before joining the chicken world there was a LOT that I didn’t know about eggs.  To be fair to myself here, how much does anyone really know about eggs.  Eggs come from the grocery store…I mean they come from chickens, but mostly they come from grocery stores.  All eggs are the same, but if you’re feeling fancy spend an extra dollar and spring for organic to impress you friends.  Get home from the store and for the LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY refrigerate them because eggs are extremely fragile and don’t stay “good” for very long.

HOLY COW WAS I IN FOR A MAJOR LEARNING CURVE.

When I learned that eggs were usually 45 days out from the chickens butt before they hit your store shelf I was flabbergasted.  After deciding to get hens I did a lot of research and learned about how much a hen’s food and life style directly effected her egg quality and how the labels in the store didn’t always mean what they claimed.  But the thing that shocked me the most was that EGGS DON’T NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED!!! Let me clarify; FARM FRESH UNWASHED eggs do NOT need to be refrigerated (see my post on egg care…soon to come)  and stay good on the counter for a month! Who knew eggs were shelf stable, certainly not this girl.

So when my girls suddenly and unexpectedly started laying in the winter I didn’t have anything to keep them in.  I just started laying them on the counter.  I figured I would just get a basket, but my concern (since we were getting so many) was using them before they went bad.  Then I was introduced to the SKELTER!!!!  It’s like a rollercoaster for the eggs. It utilizes the FIFO (First in First out) method for the eggs.  When you pull out the eggs that you are going to use the other eggs roll forward to be used next.

If you’re interested in trying one out for yourself check out the Amazon link below.  AMAZON PRIME is a dream come true for busy people, especially on the homestead.  I got this in two days at a really reasonable price.

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