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Monday, January 16, 2012

All about Chickens and their eggs

We have learned alot while doing this whole homesteading thing. One lesson has been about these little beauties. I wish I could relay to you how much I really like chickens. I love the different varieties, shapes, and sizes. I am really getting interested now in the different shades of color their eggs can be. I am looking at adding Lavendar Orpingtons and Marans to my little flock to get some more color variation in my eggs.
Speaking of eggs.......
I really like it when we are getting eggs. However, for the last 2-3 months we have not been getting a SINGLE egg. I was ready to throw the whole batch out and start with new chickens. Our first problem was that I got a whole new batch of chickens in Nov. 2010. They and my older chickens all started a serious molt in about October. That slowed down egg production. Then came the shorter days and my egg production STOPPED. I wanted to scream. The whole time my husband was telling me it's ok, this is natural but all I could think is I am paying for feed.
We made the decision when we first started with chickens, about 6 years ago, that we would not use an artificial light. We just think that if God wanted them to have a break then we should give them a break. Chickens need 14 hours of daylight to lay.
I tell you though when you hear from other blogs and friends that they are eating farm fresh eggs in December it makes you want to go stand in the coop with a flashlight for a couple of hours. ha ha
But then all of a sudden it's like God flipped a switch in these little beauties and you go out to the coop to see this......

On, Jan. 9th, we got our first egg. I was singing the praises.

The next day we went out and got 4, and then 5, and then 6 and so on and so on. As of today, a week later, we have gotten 44 eggs. I still stand in amazement of the working of the hands of God through His creation on the farm. I am giddy with excitement at the site of this full egg basket. I am also going to try and keep a calendar record of how many eggs the girls lay and when. So that next year, I can reflect and know that it wont be long until my girls start laying.

How could I have ever doubted them?!!

By the way I want to leave a link to my oldest daughter's blog. She amazes me daily and I hope that she can encourage you too.

"He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea.... By his breath the skies become fair.... And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! How then can we understand the thunder of his power?" Job 26:7-9, 11-14

I am linking this post up to the Barn Hop #45


Saturday, January 7, 2012

When and Why did you decide to "homestead"/farm?

This was the question that was posed to a group that I am in on Facebook. I have quite a long answer, so I decided to blog about it......

My husband and I have been married for almost 22 years. The first 5 were tough. We were so young but we made it through. We were saved by the grace of God when our oldest daughter was about 2. We then proceeded for the next 15 years to live the "American Dream". You know the one where you make more money to buy more stuff. That was us. My husband was a local building contractor and he built the best, most beautiful houses for others and for us. We would build a house, sell it and then build a better one. We always had a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with the best car in the driveway. Then May of 2004 hit us......

Let me start here by saying that my husband joined the Army at 17 years old in 1986. He served 3 years in Germany and then came home and joined the Ms. Army National Guard. Even though he was making plenty of money he still stayed in the following years, one, because he loved it and two, because he always felt we needed the retirement plan. Well, in 2004 his number was called. We always knew it could happen. He was called up for an 18 month deployment to Iraq. For most that means you go in and tell your employer you'll see them in 18 months and they have to honor that. Not so, for the self employed.

For us this meant he had to hurry to finish the houses he had started and then figure out what to do. We were some of the few families who made more at our real job than we would during deployment. So we ended up selling our really nice house, selling my husbands really nice truck, and down sizing big time. We rented a small house out in the country on 10 acres. All I can say is the bug got a hold of us big time......

While my husband was gone both of us started reading about all of the things we could do with this land. Neither one of us had ever lived in the country. It was freeing in a sense and so peaceful. When he came home from Iraq, we weren't quite sure what we were going to do for a job. He really didn't want to start from scratch in the building trade (it was so tough the first time) and about that time the housing market took a nose dive.

God was so good to open up a position full time with the Guard and it has been a blessing for our family. We moved about an hour and a half away from our home town and bought a small house on about 8 acres. It's not quite the beauty that we had become accustomed to but it is my favorite house!! My children say really??? when I say that but it's true. We have done lots of work to it and have lots to go.

Soon after coming home, my husband bought our children their first horse. Then came a handful of chickens. With the chickens, came the desire to live a more self sustained existence. It has been a slowwww process but it is a process nonetheless. Now, we grow a huge garden, ofwhich, we can and freeze the surplus. We have 27 chickens and 2 roosters. I get to gift friends and family with a ton of eggs in the spring. We raise 2 feeder pigs every year for our freezer. We cull our extra roosters for our freezer. We have just gotten our first cow, MaeBelle. She, Lord willing, will be our milk cow in about 18 months. We have our first St. Croix ram and hope to get him a couple of ewes in the Spring. The men in our family took a bee keeping class last spring and added 2 bee hives to our little farmette. Hopefully, we will be harvesting honey this spring/summer. We hope to add meat chickens to the homestead this year and a couple of steers. We also hope to add a rotational grazing system. The new challenges and experiences here on the homestead are never ending and we love every minute of them.

It may not be the "American Dream" but it is the dream we never knew we had until the unexpected happen. We are so thankful for the unexpected!!!

*****I will be linking this post up to Barn Hop #44*****