Boulevard Farm

Live on our urban homestead

Hey There May 19, 2014

Filed under: Chickens,Our Life,Rabbits — sarahtar @ 10:45 am

Not much has been going on around the Farm in the last few years, but we’re ready for business again. Starting with a new Rabbit setup.

Rabbits
The new cages are significantly larger (though the last ones were plenty large, these are technically meant for large breeds, which Satins are not.)

Rabbits

Rabbits
I’m most excited about the new water setup. We moved from flexible tubing to rigid tubing, which means that the spigots are screw-in (no more bunnies biting them off) and also that I can better heat the water in the winter to keep it from freezing.

Rabbits
The Buck

Rabbits
Brown Doe

Rabbits
White Doe

We plan to keep several of the next batch of kits and start rotating them a little.

Chickens
Brunhilda

Chickens
Chewbacca

Brunhilda and Chewie rule the roost, there is no doubt about that.

Chickens

Chickens
Teddy can’t really be around the chickens because of his compromised immune system, but he enjoys feeding them through the wires.

Play
Genna finally worked up the courage to climb the climbing wall.

Play
Teddy Hearts the steering wheel.

 

Chicken Harvest August 29, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 10:43 am

Chickens

22 chickens bleeding out. This was easily our best chicken harvest yet. We had a good rhythm going, and we ROCKED that plucker. Randy and Wally got the chickens off the fence, Abby and Randy switched off dunking them in the hot water and running the plucker, and I handled pulling off any errant feathers after the plucker was done. Inside, we fell into a nice routine of Randy cutting off tails, heads, necks, and feet, and me handling the removal of the guts and washing of the birds. Since he finished before I did, he also took care of getting them into zip close bags. Even with an hour or so break due to rain, it only took 6 hours, including the time involved in getting the turkey fryer set up and boiling, getting the plucker in place, and cleaning up afterwards. Pretty good.

chicken dissection
chicken dissection

Um, the 7 year olds dissecting the chicken heads. They got a closeup look at eyeballs, brains, and various other parts of a chicken head. This was a cool educational moment, but it also kept them happily occupied for an hour or more. And, well, there were voices involved, too. The chicken heads apparently were talking to them. I don’t know.

 

Chicken Dinner August 18, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 8:36 pm

 

Looks like chicken dinner to me! I’ve tentatively scheduled Chicken Dinner Day for August 28. That’s only 2 more weeks of listening to the new head rooster show off his manliness to the whole neighborhood.

Dinner

 

And this is Black Hen. The one who has been sitting on the next for the last 18 months. Not laying eggs. Just eating, being a B to the other chickens, and actually eating some of the eggs she acts like she is hatching. I have come to believe it’s all a ploy. She’s not really broody. She’s lazy. This broody gag lets her sit on her butt all day, not produce eggs, and gets her free yummy egg meals whenever she “accidentally” breaks one. mmmm hmmm. I’m on to you and your ways, Black Hen. Our family is having chicken stew on the 29th… guess who’s going to be in it?

I will particularly enjoy eating Black Hen

I’m sorry, does that sound cruel? Animals are food around here. Farm animals are not pets. Dogs and cats, they’re pets. Chickens are food. I’m not mean to her in person, but she does drive me insane. And while I’ll be a little sad to be butchering my oldest chicken, I’ll be glad to be rid of her at the same time.

 

Mid-summer Update July 28, 2011

Filed under: Chickens,Food,Rabbits — sarahtar @ 5:02 pm

 

My goodness, I’ve neglected this blog. Here’s a quick update.

People: We’re expecting another baby at the end of December. Yay us.

Rabbits: The rabbits are doing really good! They’re all grown up now, and could have been bred in June, but since we were planning a vacation for mid-July, I decided it would be best to wait until we returned. I will be breeding them in early August, so hopefully it won’t be quite as hot when they kindle in early September. That should still give the babies time enough to grow up sufficiently to allow me to butcher them in early December, before the new baby comes. If I can do a reasonable job of sexing the babies, I’ll probably keep one doe and one buck from this batch to bring the flock up to five breeding adults. Depending on how warm I’m able to keep the rabbit shed, I might breed the does again in the winter, or I might wait until it warms up a bit in March.

Hens: The hens are doing OK. The second-year hens are pissing me off, though. Black Hen still thinks she’s raising young. She isn’t. What she is doing is terrorizing the rest of the flock. White Hen isn’t laying any more. Of the other four one also isn’t laying. I’d like to say that their personalities make up for this, but they don’t. And for the first time, flies are becoming a problem around their coop. A quick search of various backyard poultry message boards shows that many people around the country are having a bad year for flies. We’re getting so darn much rain, I suspect that’s 90% of the problem. I believe I’m going to dispatch the second-year hens as soon as it’s cool enough to want to consider standing over a pot of boiling water.

Meat birds: Due to the excessive amounts of rain, the meat bird pen is STINKY. I’ve tried lime. I’ve tried wood shavings. I’ve tried Sweet PDZ, which is what I used last year. Nothing’s helping. I have a few roosters crowing their hearts out, not just in the morning, but whenever they feel the need to establish their manliness, which is often. I’m going to take care of a few of the roosters – at least the two noisy ones – when I do the hens, and then I’m planning to butcher the rest of the flock in early October before it gets cold. I’m thinking that I’m going to take a break from meat birds next year. Give the pen a chance to air out, toss some seeds back there and let them grow a bit, maybe till some DE, sand, and peat into the ground back there. Give the neighbors a break, lol.

Garden: At our place, the herbs are doing well, the garlic’s growing, and the horseradish is doing great. We lost all three fruit trees last year, as well as the grapes, but we replaced the apple and the grapes this spring and they’re looking good.

 

The cornish hens May 3, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 8:52 am

cornish

They’re growing! When I moved them to the outside coop, it was still pretty cold and they still hadn’t completely feathered out, so I kept the door to the outside shut. This week, however, it’s been warm enough, and they’re old enough, I thought they could use some sunshine (or, um, you know – vaguely bright) time. I had to literally throw them outside once I opened the door, but now they go in and out all the time, and seem to prefer it outside (I know I would).

I’ve been surprised at how quiet they are. I don’t know that I’ve heard them make any noise since I moved them out. Even when I’m messing around in their coop, they don’t protest too much or squawk at me. This is a good thing right now, though, since the egg birds are being super noisy. I think they’re undergoing some sort of change in the pecking order out there, and it involves a lot of verbal banter.

Our original plan was to purchase another six cornish when these cornish were about 4 weeks old, but that’s about the time our mail-order chicks arrived*, and I’m still trying to think through the logistics of this. The cornish are in the coop right now, and the chicks inside. The chicks will be ready to move outside a few weeks after the cornish vacate the coop, freeing up my indoor brooding boxes. However, if I get six more cornish at that time, I’m not sure about where they’d finish growing up. I need to decide if I think there would be conflict if I throw them in with the other meat birds while they finish.

Anyway, the cornish are growing fast, and I think they’ll be ready to harvest in a few weeks. Looking forward to a nice meal of Cornish game hen!

* Most people who order mail-order chicks choose their delivery date. What we actually do is, when we place our order with Sandhill – or, more accurately, when Abby places our joint order with Sandhill – we order their “end of the week special.” Essentially, when they have enough leftover chicks at the end of the week to fill our order, it ships. So we don’t know exactly when to expect it, and we don’t know exactly what we’re getting. I order chickens-only, but Abby orders Whatever You Got, which is always fun to see what comes.

 

Taking Care of Your New Chicks April 21, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 6:52 am

Our new chicks arrived yesterday! It was perfect timing, since we moved the teenage cornish out to the outside meat bird pen on Tuesday.

baby chicks

Are you considering keeping chickens, but you’re not sure what to do with baby chicks? They’re actually not hard to keep alive, as long as you give them their (pretty basic) needs.

– Food. Chicks need chick food. Chick food is specially blended for the needs of baby chicks. You can get medicated feed if you prefer, which contains a Coccidiostat to help guard against coccidiosis, which is an illness that baby chicks can get. I do not personally use medicated feed, but that’s a decision I’ll leave up to each individual chicken farmer. It’s easiest to give chicken feed in a chick feeder.

– Water. Chicks need water. If you’re buying new day-old chicks via mail-order, you’ll probably need to show them how to drink water. (Just dunk their beak in the water.) Never let your birds run out of water. They’re so little, and they can’t handle dehydration. Many people recommend feeding them sugar water the first day or two. It’s easiest to give water to the chicks from a waterer, since they can’t tip it over. They will still make a huge mess with it, though.

baby chicks

– Heat. Most people use a heat lamp for this. Chicks need to be kept warm – about 95 degrees for the first week, then lower their temp by 5 degrees every week until you get down to ambient temperature.

chick set-up.

– Safe space. Give your birds plenty of room, and give them more room as they grow. We have our 25 chicks in one giant Rubbermaid bin, but as they grow, we’ll move them into two separate bins, and then divide them further as needed.

– Litter. Though this isn’t strictly required to keep your chicks alive, it will make keeping your birds from getting all super nasty and dirty. Change the litter (and clean the feeder and waterer) daily if possible.

baby chicks
Isn’t this one adorable? I hope it’s a girl.

– Basic care. Check to make sure they’re not pasting up, which means that their poop sticks to their butts. This should be removed gently with a warm, wet rag. Make sure they’re not picking on each other, which often results from being too crowded, too hot, or not having enough water.

– Toys. They don’t make chicken toys. They’re chickens. Their brains are the size of a pea. That said, though I don’t know that it does much for the chickens, I personally find it highly amusing to provide some sort of high contrast toy for the chickens. And by “toy,” i mean like a dark spot on the side of their box. First one chick will run over and peck at it, and before you know it, they’re ALL over there pecking at it. Maybe I’m just easily amused.

But that’s it. Chicks are not hard to care for. If you’re ordering mail-order, it’s not unusual to lose a few, which is why most mail order places will send a few extra in every shipment. So, don’t stress about it unless you lose more than 1 or 2.

 

Cornish chicks April 1, 2011

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 3:16 pm

Our family will be enjoying some Cornish game hen in another month or so…  These chicks are currently nearly 3 weeks old; they were just a few days old in these pictures. They’re so cute.
Cornish chicks Cornish chicks