Keeping an eye on things!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Garage Barn

Good morning! I would like to share a few more videos with you today. 

These are a series of videos taken of our garage barn. The original structure was a metal sided 2 car garage, but the doors are not standard garage doors, they are actually double doors that swing out. There was nothing inside to begin with except a concrete floor and the overhead structural beams to work with.

We needed shelter for our horses from any weather extremes when we moved here and building something was not in the budget yet, so the garage became a barn. With a little ingenuity, some log poles we cut from the property, and a few cattle panels we brought along.  This created 4 large horse stalls and a mini stall for small creatures.

Geez I babble a lot when I video. Sorry.

This structure was added to the South side of the barn this year as a goat shelter. The goats refuse to stay in it and the donkey adopted it as his own, so now it's the donkey shelter. Next step, adding another smaller stall in the garage barn for the goats.

Nice thing about concrete floors, they clean up quick.

Thanks for watching! If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to share.

Happy farming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Good morning!  I bet you all thought I forgot my resolution. Nope, just have too much going on at the farm and the restaurant to spend too much time online right now.  So first off, we have made the decision to close the restaurant. When you subsidize your own business for two years, closing it is like giving yourself an automatic raise.  That will allow me to utilize my time wisely at the farm and create a sustainable living here. Well, that's the plan anyway!
I promised someone from a group I follow that I would post some pictures of the fodder I grew this last month for the chickens.  This is my first attempt and I am really happy with the results. Not as many sprouted as I would have liked, but it has been really cold outside and the window it sits in is not as warm as it needs. So next time I will try a warmer spot. Enjoy the pics and feel free to ask any questions!

Began by soaking the wheat berries overnight.

This butter tub will be the growing pot. Its a gallon size tub so an ice cream tub would work well too.

Many holes were punched through the bottom using a paring knife. The more holes the better for drainage, keep them small enough the wheat cannot fall through.

Rinse the wheat well then layer them in the bottom of the tub and allow all the water to drain out. This is very important so they do not mold.  Place it in a second tub to allow any residual water to drip.

This is 2 1/2 weeks later.  It should not have taken that long but I now know why and can fix the problems.  You can see there is no mold though and the growth is really nice, just not all seeds sprouted.  I think the sides are too tall so the sunlight cannot reach the edges. That's an easy fix, I will just cut it down. Also the window they were kept in got really cold during this last cold snap so I will move them where there is always warmth. Ideally they should be kept around 70 degrees or so.

Not bad for the first time! 

Come back often, and Happy Farming!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sand for chicken bedding

It's fluffy butt Friday!

Multi-species fluffy butts! I appreciate the fact that the ducks were being cooperative this morning.

Fresh straw to help the mud situation. Tonight and tomorrow we have snow in the forecast then freezing temps for a few days. Good thing these birds like to snuggle!

With that in mind I wanted to share a quick photo run down of how we keep our hen house clean using sand.  It is a trick I learned from The Chicken Chick and it has been invaluable.  This is what the house looks like every morning. Gross. 

5 minutes later, this is the result. The sand acts like cat litter, and with a simple steel tined rake everything is raked to the center, then right out the access door. I "comb" back through the sand a couple of times to spread it back out and voila!, a clean hen house.  A bag of sand costs $4.00 and lasts us a month.  It's cheap, easy to maintain, and very economical.  I know the birds appreciate a clean house each day!

You're welcome miss chicken.

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

temporary coop roof

    Good morning chicken lovers and hobby farmers! (And everyone else who is tuned in today :) ) It is January here which means the weather is indecisive, so we have to spend today (45 degrees and sunny) preparing for tomorrow (40 and raining) so we can fend off next week (30 and snow/ice). Today I am "fixing" the torn tarp over the chicken run. I am actually adding a second tarp over it in the hopes that it will last the rest of the winter until we can come up with a better, more permanent solution. I will try to either include pics as I go along, or a short video. I really need to invest in a portable video device. Either that or duct tape the cell phone to my forehead...
    Anyhoo, keeping the chickens dry is an important aspect of raising them disease and parasite free.  It will also help prevent frostbite on their feet. The old saying applies to chickens as well as all other animals, "they can be wet, they can be cold, but never let them be wet and cold!" Lastly, covering this area will prevent their food from growing mildew and bacteria, which can cause food poisoning and death in your flock. There are several issues I will have to deal with as I go along, so any helpful suggestions would be welcome! 
    Happy farming!!


It was a little cold this morning. Noon sounded like a much better time to tackle the tarp today. brrr!


You can see how the chicken run is covered by an extremely large tarp of questionable quality. While the idea was great, it did not take long for the tarp to start leaking from both cats and guineas walking across it, and for the winds to tear it apart at all the grommet points. Also where it lays over the edge of the fencing has caused major damage to the edge.  So today I attached a second smaller tarp over this one and pulled all four corners taut with baling twine. Again, only temporary, but we have to use what we have until we can afford otherwise. The birds seemed unconcerned that I was climbing up and down a ladder in their run, and were only interested in the grains tossed in their dirt box and their feeder. They will appreciate the dry area tomorrow, I'm sure!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tour the Farm

These four videos are a quick tour of the main 20 acres of our 40 acre farm. Please forgive my video quality, it is really difficult to use a cell phone to video stuff while driving the 4-wheeler and balancing chicken treats!

You heard it right, his name is Sticky. He got himself wrapped in fly tape when he was a tiny kitten, so we couldn't resist. 

Thanks for watching! Sorry these weren't very entertaining, I am just setting the stage so to speak.  Remember to keep checking back often, I am determined to keep my resolution this year!

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Meet Sparky, the porch cat. He is my constant companion while chores are completed each day. Sparky has resided here longer than any other animal on the farm except our dog, Poncho, and the horses. He has never been a barn cat, although that was supposed to be his job. Instead, Sparky lives on the front porch and sneaks in through the dog door each night when he thinks we are all asleep, to snuggle in next to the back door on the rug. We let him only because we love him.

New videos

This is the first of a series of videos that I am creating so that you may walk along side me while I try to maintain, improve, and survive my hobby farm. Wish me luck!
The Heeby Jeeby Chickens mom.

2016 - A Year of Changes

    Happy new year! 2016 already, and I vow to blog this year. Yup, I know, it's about time. After opening a restaurant in 2014, and trying to keep up with that business, running our hobby farm and still taking care of the family, I had very little time to blog.  No, that's not true...I did not MAKE the time to blog. So, today I made several short videos of the farm to get things started that I will share with you over the next few weeks. My kids say I talk to myself all the time (Actually half of the time that's true, the other half I just talk out loud when I pray, kind of a "daily conversation with God" you could say), so I figured why not talk to you all instead. It will alleviate the need for an insanity plea later on I think.
    2016 is going to begin with us facing difficult choices.  The restaurant is not succeeding, which we knew was a long shot to begin with.   Feb 15th marks the end of two years and the day we decide to keep going or call it quits. Trying to keep a viable business in a town of 900+ is very tough.  The general population is divided into two groups; The ones that care about the welfare and prosperity of the town, who encourage growth and new business, and who attend every special event held by every local chapter, church, or school organization. We love that group, they are keeping us from going totally broke. Then there are the others who have no interest in anything town related (unless free food is offered), refuse to patronize local businesses (unless the beer if cheap), have never joined a local club, church, charity, or school event. They are the majority. They are also the reason our town struggles to stay afloat and businesses close their doors forever. Our business may be one of them. So what if the restaurant fails, at least I tried! God is good and He has a plan.
    Knowing this truth has helped spur on my sudden interest in our farm again. Everything seems fresh with possibility. I acquired 2 new goats last week. One is a Nubian/Boer/Toggenburg mix and was supposedly very pregnant and ready to give birth any day. Nope. She was fat from eating grain and bloated from not foraging properly. It figures. The other goat is a gorgeous 88% Boer buck that we are borrowing for awhile. Hopefully he will do his duty and do it well.  Our other two goats are ready for breeding again, and we are more than ready for goats milk!
    The chickens have started laying in earnest again after their molt, so we can start selling eggs once more. I have a new coop to build and an old one to refurbish and clean. I also want to build 2 more 5-gallon bucket feeders and a nipple watering system. Check it out on the Chicken Chick's website, they are an awesome way to keep the water fresh all the time.
    Then once the roof is finished on the donkey's lean-to shed, the shelter is built for the horses, and the last stall is rebuilt in the barn, I can start raising the garden bed! The floods this year turned it into a swimming hole. It's always something isn't it?!
Enjoy the videos, and I hope that by sharing them you can all learn along with me what works, and what doesn't, when running a hobby farm. Happy farming!