KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Month: December 2014 (page 1 of 2)

two hawk attacks in one week

this post brings you some sad news on the homestead.

we’ve had two chickens die this week, carried away by hawks (or maybe the same one), never to be seen again. the first victim was our bantam rooster, roosty, who we’ve had since early on in our homestead life.   we didn’t see him get attacked and we didn’t even realize that he was missing until he next day. the hawk must have swooped down during the day when all of the chickens were out ranging around the yard and carried him off. we never heard a sound during the day and when the chickens went in their bantam mobile at night, we never counted to see if they were all there (we never do this, since they are always so crowded together and it’s hard to count them in the dark).

the second hawk attack was today. as far as I can tell, we lost one bantam. i’ve looked through my list of all my bantams and their names and descriptions and it looks like teeny was the one taken. i heard a noise and went outside to see all of the chickens hiding under bushes or in their houses. i walked around a bit and didn’t see any hawks, and then I went back inside. a few minutes later i heard a similar noise and went back out again, just in time to see a bantam being carried off by a medium-sized hawk. i was in shock at first, because the hawk looked like one of our standard barred rocks, and i thought that perhaps two chickens were simply fighting. by the time I realized what was actually happening, the hawk was flying over our field of pine trees with the bantam firmly in its grasp.

Bantam Chickens Homesteading

r.i.p. roosty. We will miss you.

i still need to recount all of the chickens when i go back outside this afternoon, and get the one bantam that is running free back in her house. then i should be able to double check our losses and make sure that we lost just one today (still one too many!).

all in all, a sad day. and an interesting ending to 2014.

one of our resolutions for 2015: be more careful about when we let the chickens out to range free!!!

.:.

chased by chickens and geese: a hungry flock!

today was wetter and rainier than days past, and even though all of the birds got 4+ hours of daylight to range freely and eat any bugs or other delicious tidbits they could find, all of the birds still acted as though they were starving when bolt and i came outside.

picture this: bolt, who loves to chase chickens (and if he caught one he might try to eat it), coming outside with me to see a horde of poultry coming towards him like flesh eating zombies! of course he was interested, and since the chickens got way too close to him (how could they be so foolish?! oh yeah, they’re chickens!) his interest was definitely peaked! after being corrected a few times, he did a good job of ignoring their creepy, feathery advances and we were able to complete our walk as usual.

once bolt was safely inside, i came back out with a camera to film the horde of chickens chasing me around. i didn’t have any food at the time, but since it was past their usual dinner time, they expected me to have something and thought to follow me around (some of them totally underfoot) hoping i would feed them right then!

i’ve noticed that all of the birds (bantams, standards, geese) have been hungrier lately… perhaps they’re trying to fatten up for the cold winter ahead.

.:.

Merry Christmas!

We want to miss you a very Merry Christmas, today.

We hope you had a lovely one with family, friends, and loved ones.

May the rest of your holiday time shine with love and happiness. We wish you all this, and more!

.:.

christmas eve cooking!

biscotti

almond, vanilla, coconut, and walnut biscotti in the works!

today is a great day for cooking and enjoying family time!

you can find us in the kitchen making cranberry fruit leathers, biscotti, and banana bread or delivering our home-baked gifts to loved ones!

 

biscotti

biscotti stage 2

 

bread

pecan, vanilla, chocolate banana bread!

 

sauce

cranberry sauce, waiting to be spread out on our dehydrator’s drying racks.

 

sauce

cranberry sauce about to be transformed into fruit leathers!

have an early merry christmas!

.:.

4 Items in our Herbal Health and First Aid Kit

What do we turn to when dealing with minor, everyday cuts, scratches, injuries and ailments? Our herbal first aid kit!

We don’t really have a “kit”, but we do have  collection of things in our bathroom that are tried and true when it comes to homestead first aid. I’m not talking about wild plants like plantain or comfrey, which are a huge art of of our life, but rather packaged and shelf stable items that can be stored and relied upon at a moments notice.

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is probably our catchall for cuts, scratches and anything involving open wounds. We try to harness tea tree oil’s anti microbial powers to prevent infections whenever we find ourselves bleeding, which happens a lot. Whether its from a loose piece of fence, a rooster’s spurs, or an insect bite, if we see blood, it gets a dab of tea tree oil.

When tick season comes around, every tick removal “surgery” is finished up with a bit of tea tree oil, just in case.

2. Vitamin C Powder

Vitamin C is antioxidant essential to a healthy life. Our bodies don’t store it, so we constantly need to get more of it as we live our lives. While I prefer real nutrient dense foods vs. supplements, vitamin c powder is just too easy, and too effective not to have on hand.

We add powdered vitamin c to our water almost everyday during the winter to strengthen our immune systems. It’s also nice to know that vitamin c can help with mild allergic reactions and swellings as it acts as both an anti histimine and anti inflammatory. You can take some before and after particulalry strenous activities to make sure your bodies repairitvie and restorative functions are opperating at there best. I’ve even heard of old, arthritic dogs getting some relief from a sprinkling of vitamin c on their food.

There are a ton of other uses and benefits for vitamin c, and it is a well used item in our lives.

3.  Aloe

Aloe vera, a succulent plant with a long history of medicinal uses is another essential herbal remedy.

Whether you have a plant growing in a sunny window or a container of gel in the bathroom, if you work outside in the sun, you need some aloe. As a pain reliever and burn soother, nothing can compete. Fromm sunburns from hours of garden work, or real burns from cooking, a nice glob of aloe gel is the first thing I think of to in any situation where I want a “cooling” effect.

4. Raw Honey

Raw honey is not only an anti-microbial powerhouse, but it tastes good too. Raw Honey, as opposed to the heat pasteurized “dead” honey often found on shelves has a whole host of enzymes, antioxidants and minerals. Something in it helps to heal wounds and prevent infections, but make sure it’s raw or it won’t do the job.

It can also be used to soothe sore throats and as a natural cough syrup. It makes a great sweetener for tea too, how fitting. I’m sure there are more reasons to love raw honey (like making mead from it) but these few are enough to ensure it’s place in our pantry.

chicken birth anomalies, part 3: a chick who needed help hatching

despite having a really great hatching experience for our first batch of chicks, there were still some anomalies in our new population of chicks. of course we’ve had some chicks who took longer to hatch then others, or some chicks that appear to be smaller (a little more runty) than the others, but this is to be expected. no chick is the same, of course!

beyond these “average uniquenesses” among our chicks, three particular anomalies stand out from this experience:

  1. a chick born with part of her yolk sac unabsorbed
  2. a chick born with an underdeveloped leg
  3. a chick that actually needed help hatching

i want to describe these three different anomalies and how we’ve dealt with them/plan to deal with them. this post focuses on the third…

anomaly #3: 

the very last chick that was born in this bunch was born with my assistance. he was born over 3 days after the beginning of the hatch was supposed to begin, and it had been 24 hours since the next-to-last chick had been born naturally.

eggs

the inside of the incubator, looking rather empty near the end of the hatch.

just a reminder, all of the other chicks were born naturally, by themselves, without any intervention from me at all. and this is the way it should be, since nature can almost always do “its thing” without any major issues. chicks need to be born based on their own timing. sometimes they need a little extra time to absorb all of the yolk sac into their abdomen (from which they are provided with enough nourishment for a few days and do not need food or water). other times they are still absorbing all of their blood (that was once coursing through the vessels inside of the egg). you should always try not to intervene, and only do so as a last resort.

this is what happened with chick #22. he had pipped through his shell over 24 hours before, pipping all the way around the perimeter. in the previous hatches i witnessed, once this “perimeter pip” happened, it took about 30 minutes for the chick to come busting into the world. but chick #22 was still inside, 24 hours later. i checked him out a few times, moving his egg, and could still hear him peeping inside… a good sign! hoping that a poke or two might motivate him and get him going again, i was disappointed when it didn’t.

so i looked closer… the membrane directly inside the shell had dried out, and was not moist and flexible as it had been during the other hatches. since he was the last one in the incubator (besides 2 other eggs that we later determined had died during development and were not viable anymore), i wondered if him drying out had anything to do with all of the other chicks (and their moistness) being removed. the humidity reading on the incubator still said it was normal inside, but you never know what was happening inside his shell.

after doing some research, i learned that if a chick’s membrane dries out too much, it might get stuck to the chick and keep it from moving around in its shell and being able to break free. it was clear that this is what happened to chick #22.

broken egg shells

some of the hatched egg shells from the chicks before chick #22. see the membranes inside?

so, i washed my hands, got a knife and a damp cloth, and opened up the incubator. i worked fast so that the little dude wouldn’t get chilled. using my knife, i slipped the very tip into the opening of the shell and pulled outwards, gently. this pulled part of the shell away and allowed me to peel the rest of the shell pieces away with my hands alone. before i fully removed a shell piece, i had to see if it was “glued” to the little chick before i pulled it away–since chicks have very sensitive skin and i didn’t want to hurt him!

a few of the pieces were stuck to the chick, pinning his body and head in a certain position. as i worked, i could tell that i was saving the chick’s life, since he was way too stuck in there and would not have been able to peck or kick his way the rest of the way into life.

where shell pieces were glued to him, i used my damp cloth to wipe at the spot until they came free, and then moved on to the next spot. once he was free, i tried to dry him off a little bit, and then i closed the lid to the incubator and cranked up the temperature to 100 degrees to warm him up and dry him off. he seemed just fine in there, acting the way all the other chicks had acted after hatching. i left him in there until he had dried some, and then moved him to see the rest of his siblings under the heat lamp. thinking about how he had been in his shell (potentially using up 24 hours worth of his nutrient-dense yolk supply ),i didn’t want to risk keeping him in the incubator too long without food or water.

so that’s the story of how i got to be a chicken midwife, and man was it super fun! i’m not too cool to admit that i was way proud of myself afterwards! next up on my wish list… being a midwife to mammals!

.:.

 

chicken birth anomalies, part 2: an underdeveloped leg

despite having a really great hatching experience for our first batch of chicks, there were still some anomalies in our new population of chicks. of course we’ve had some chicks who took longer to hatch then others, or some chicks that appear to be smaller (a little more runty) than the others, but this is to be expected. no chick is the same, of course!

beyond these “average uniquenesses” among our chicks, three particular anomalies stand out from this experience:

  1. a chick born with part of her yolk sac unabsorbed
  2. a chick born with an underdeveloped leg
  3. a chick that actually needed help hatching

i want to describe these three different anomalies and how we’ve dealt with them/plan to deal with them. this post focuses on the second…

anomaly #2

when this chick was hatching  i didn’t notice anything different about it. it wasn’t until a day or two later, when the chicks stopped sleeping all the time and started moving around a lot more, that i realized that he didn’t move about like the others. he never used both legs and when he stood up, he usually fell/flopped over in order to move from place to place. i picked him up and realized that his right leg didn’t fully bend. although it looked like a normally developed leg, it seemed like he had something wrong with his bone that kept him from extending his leg past halfway. he could pull it all the way up under his body, but he could’t stretch it out fully.

after i realized that he needed some extra help, i went a little overboard and even designed a metal wire leg for him so that he could learn to walk… but i never used it. jason, rightfully so, convinced me that in the beginning of this life he needed to learn to cope with his disability if he was going to make it at all.

so we watched and waited. i picked him up every chance i got and made him drink water and tried to get him to eat. usually he would protest and not eat anything, but every now and again he would peck at the chick food. this concerned me until days later (he was still doing fine even though he was clumsy and rested a lot) i saw him stand up on one leg and hop/fall over to the food tray and prop himself up with a wing to eat! he’d figured it out after all!

i knew that if he could figure out how to eat, he could certainly figured out how to drink! he was tough, after all.

the video below shows him moving around his house… usually he hugs the wall and moves clockwise (with his bad leg side sticking out). although he moves this way most commonly, he still isn’t scared to move though the middle of the brooder for any reason.

he’s gotten better and better at hopping, and even though he is smaller than all the others (he gorges himself less and has to use more energy getting around), he seems very smart! he usually waits to eat until most of the the other chicks are resting so he has time and space to get what he needs. and… no other chicks are picking on him, even though his foot sticks out sideways. sometimes others will peck at it to see what it is, but never more than once or twice.

one thing that has changed since the first week-and-a-half: his leg no longer beds at all, even towards his body. the bones seems fused in one position… who really knows what happened?!

i’m really hoping he’s a rooster, so that i can have a one-legged rooster friend that rides around on my shoulder! i’ve even started writing a children’s book and he is one of the main characters’ sidekicks and best friends.

.:.

Some Thoughts on Fencing and Homestead Design

Fencing is an integral part of farming, homesteading and permaculture. But there is more to a fence than just a boundary or barrier.

By laying out fencing, you create an element on the landscape that you can now design off of. Instead of having a blank canvas (sometimes the hardest thing) you have a structure that can be used and integrated into your homestead or permaculture design.

Fences create, define and reinforce zones and actvity centers. They can be also be used as trellises or in creative ways like chicken moats.

Once these sort of elements appear on your property, it becomes easier to build out around them and add other elements that coalesce into your design. An example would be: this fence divides the garden and the chickens, we need gates here, we could have 2 dwarf trees on either side of the gate, comfrey at the base, and vegetables trellised up the fence.

The next iteration of elements seems to spill out form the edges of the first, just like a forest with an advancing front of blackberries and other woody plants. I’m so excited about our new cattle panel fence, and the future of our homestead design, that I recorded this quick video today.

Also, be sure to check out Episode 2 of our his and her craft beer review series where we do an Ommegang’s Three Philosophers Review. Also, don’t forget to use our Amazon link before you do your last minute holiday shopping! Thanks!

chicks growing up: chick videos at 1 & 3 days old, and 1 & 2 weeks old!

this post is a catch-up post to show you how much our chicks have grown over the last 2 1/2 weeks. how very exciting to see babies born and grow up (even if they’re bird babies.)!

this first video is of the day old chicks sleeping after being removed from the incubator:

this video shows the chicks becoming  a little more active, moving around, and exploring a little. they are about 3 days old in this video:

another video shows the chicks at a week old, when they became much more active. at this age we started to see individual personalities develop, and our chick with the funny leg was still going strong and learning how to fend for himself. yay!

this last video is of the crazy, almost-flying, jumping, pecking, and very-curious chicks at 2 weeks old. they are starting to look scruffy and crazy now because they’re adult feathers are slowly beginning to come in!

enjoy!

.:.

Beauty and the Beerd: A His and Her Perspective on Craft Beer

Today we are officially launching our new project, Beauty and the Beerd!

Beauty and the Beerd (with 2 e’s) is a video series where we review and talk about craft beer and boy are we are excited to bring a couples perspective to the world of craft beer!

We noticed that most of the internet activity about craft beer tends to be from men, and we thought that the time was ripe for a change. On our new video series, Emma and I will talk about topics ranging from introducing your spouse or significant other to good beer, the prettiest beer labels, which types of beers are best for beginning beer enthusiasts, and many more.

We want to bring both a male and female perspective to the table and are excited to see where we agree and disagree.

So, if you’re into craft beer reviews, beer or Kuska Wiñasun Homestead, be sure to check out beautyandthebeerd.com. You can subscribe to our Youtube channel where the latest episodes will be published twice a week and follow us on Facebook.

Be sure to check out episode 1, our review of Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale!

Cheers!

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