OUR NEW PREMIER1 Poultry Fencing

Ever since our arrival to the property we rent, especially when I got my first batch of chicks… I have hated our coop. It was here when we moved in. Shelves along the western facing wall of our garage under a small eve; that’s all we had to work with. I’m grateful there was anything at all and it was a great place to start. 

We learned so much. That’s why I’m here to show you the new digs and how I’m spoiling my flock in 2016. 

  
Don’t get me wrong, we made due for the two years we used the old coop. Sometime around our wedding this last December I learned a great deal about raising chickens and about my specific chickens.

I knew we needed change. None of my 12 hens were laying, for maybe 5 months this lagged on. And that was a serious problem. 

Remember when I moved the older half of the hens to the garden? 

 

Moving the hens and changing their environment jump started their laying and it was the best thing I could have done.  

Well folks, I am happy to say that all the girls and the Roos are in their new digs! 

I was tired of them being drenched by the rain, chilled by the wind, and cooked by the sun, season in and season out, everyday. 

  
The old coop (pictured above) was always soupy, no joke, winter made it into shavings and poop soup. And I am so glad I’m done with that phase of chicken farming. Doing with only what you have, no allowance for change, well peeps, no longer! My birds work hard so our family may eat,  they deserve no less than we hard from us in return. This time in the form of a brand new coop and run. 

I took the advice of the one and only Jusrin Rhodes of abundantpermaculture.com 

You can follow Justin and his family on their YouTube channel for awesome vlogs, Instagram for daily inspiration and photographs, and even Periscope from time to time!

He suggests Premier1 and I jumped at a new challenge. But it’s just the opposite. This fencing is so awesome and easy to use ta boot!

  
 (This is not an advertisement, this is just the fencing we chose for our homestead flock.)

This way the ground will be able to breathe and there will be zero accumulation of water. The flock has so much space to roam, scratch, poop… And that’s ok with me. It’s as if they are free range and not all at once. Plus there’s no poo on the porch so we’re happy homesteaders!

   
   
The best part is we were able to reuse the coop from my mothers house, so the only expense was the mobile poultry net. Want a tour of the new coop? 

   
    

  
   
One day in the future when we hopefully move onto our own spread we can mobilize this coop to make it that much easier to rotate our flock, permaculture style baby! For now they will rotate back forth around the coop, being the fixed point, situated roughly in the southern corner of the mobile run. 

This will enable them to eat whilst tilling and fertilizing, spreading compost for me, and after I grow a crop they will be moved over it to eat or till it back into the ground. How cool is that? 

Ok ok maybe I’m a bit of a permaculture newbie nerd, but I’m so excited I could pee. Quite literally… Alright alright, Ahem…

Even the ducks are stoked, they muddied the water tub to show their approval. And now we’re getting two eggs from this waddling girls, now that I can find the eggs everyday that is.  

Peace and Love

Quincy

GETTING STARTED WITH MEAT RABBITS

When it comes to homesteading it seems most of my friends and family think you must have property. That is the biggest misconception out there about us modern day homesteaders.

Not all of us own or even live on a piece of property.

And yes, I say this as I sip coffee on my back porch watching 5 horses graze the 5 acres we rent. Key word, RENT. Let me just preface this by saying that homesteading is about a sustainable mindset and lifestyle choices… not about your physical location.

Property is helpful, yes, but it is also lots of back breaking work. And folks you don’t even need 1 acre to be a homesteader.

So, in the spirit of spring and micro-homesteading possibilites, I thought I would provide some info on one friendly creature who can produce meat for your family, fertilizer for your gardens, gorgeous furs and practically eat for free! Give them a shot and I’m sure they will help you down the road to self sufficiency all within a relatively small space like a garage or shed.   

Yes I’m talking meat rabbits. As far as homesteading goes rabbits go hand in hand with sustainable permaculture ideas. They produce a lot of babies very quickly and the meat is fantastic. They eat weeds or grass (Wanna see how in spring/summer I feed my rabbits for FREE?) and can live either in or outdoors. If you’re a lover of small cuddly things and can’t bear the thought of eating them….. then maybe raising rabbits is not for you.


(How can you resist this face ^^^)

But if you’re someone who needs a small scale meat project, this is right up your ally. You’ll learn something new and be able to stock up on another white meat. The best part is that startup and infrastructure for a rabbitry is minimal. You won’t need big corrals or an extensive pasture. Well, and they’re cute as heck.


Here’s a few tips to get you started on your own homestead rabbitry.

1. Water bottles- You’ll need to chose how you want to distribute water to your rabbits, especially does pregnant or nursing. They drink a lot during this day so this is very important. We currently use these water bottles until we can implement nipple watering system. I purchased mine on Amazon here (affiliate link). With these water bottles I summits have to fill them twice a day, in summer, and they more than likely almost always freeze in winter months. This is just something good to keep in mind, no calling in sick for farmers ya know?


2. Feeders (optional)- I keep these galvanized slow feeders on our cages at all times in case I need to supplement with pellet feeds. But if you’re choosing not to feed by pellet these may not be necessary. I bought mine from a local feed store, but there are also available at a competitive price on Amazon. I have two sizes small and large (affiliate links).
3. Foot rest mat- If you have a cage like mine or many other breeders then your rabbits have a wire floor, and will have the need for a foot rest. If you chose not to go with a foot rest it is imperative that you give proper bedding for your rabbits to rest on. The reason being that rabbits can develop a condition called ‘sore hocks’ in which large nodule like sores appear all over the back feet from continual resting on their back haunches. No bueno. It can be treated but the more fluffies shouldn’t have to suffer. Ours were like $4 a piece on Amazon (affiliate link) so spend the little extra for quality of life for your bunnies.


4. Shade- rabbits don’t do very well in high heat nor direct sunlight. If they have adequate water they have a better chance but rabbits can succumb to heat stroke faster than most animals. Providing them ample shade and hydration in the heat of summer is huge. It’s definitely a time commitment, at times in summer I’ll have to fill the water bottles 2-3 times a day, hence my yearning for an ever flow/nipple water system.


5. Nest boxes- if you plan to breed you’ll need a nest box or two. Each kindling(expectant) doe will need a box from about a week before she kindles to about 4 weeks postpartum so make sure you enough. They also come in a couple different sizes for various sized breeds. There are even some great DIY patterns for them on Pinterest.

Rabbits don’t need the Four Seasons to produce happily raised and healthy fully grazed meat for you, just know that. Aside from the fact that these little guys are an amazing sustainable meat source they can also make great pets. My breeding stock are calm and one of my girls even LIKES to be held, so it doesn’t have to be sad when butchering day comes. These beauties serve a divine purpose here on our homestead, and our gratitude for their sacrifice is a happy, healthy, and cozy life free of stress.

Were currently monitoring a doe for labor so I’ll keep y’all updated, gotta get back out there!

Peace and Love

Quincy

 

CHEAP NEST BOXES FOR YOUR LAYING HENS

So I moved my ole ladies out to the garden a couple weeks ago. Low and behold they started laying again! And in full force.

The shelter within the garden is a simple three sided pallet house with some aspen branches for perches, in know, glamorous huh?

But heck it works for us and the hens are happy as ever, or since they were when they were last let to free range… they’ve been mad at me since their confinement.

Since there is no space within this make-shift coop I took it upon myself to solve that issue. I didn’t have any extra funds at the time to go buy anything nor did I want to take the time to build something….Let’s face it, with two kids under 4 and dozens of animals… theres just not extra time for extra building projects.

Even as I type I am being stalked by a curious crawling, not yet walking infant who must have my laptop at all costs! So musical chairs we play…

ha ha, ahem.

This is what I came up with, and I must give thanks to many other bloggers, Pinterest, and our cluttered garage we are in the midst of deep cleaning for this simple yet awesome diy best box. 

  
What do yo need?

1 storage tote with lid (free, found in garage)

1 x-acto knife (who doesn’t have one??)

4″-6″ nest box bedding (straw, shavings, hay)

  
All you need to do is cut roughly a 12″x 12″ square out of one of the longer sides of the tote (depending on the size of your hens). Yes the lid stays on, this is to prevent girls from hopping up and pooping on the goods.

As you can see from the picture one hole is centered the other off-set, I think off-set works better, just for the fact that it creates a warmer quieter place for the hens. These totes also work great if you plan to hatch eggs, move often, and clean out the box regularly to replace bedding.

Within two hours of placing the boxes in the garden I had eggs, the girls were so happy they kicked all the shavings out… such is chicken life, and it’s a good one to.

BROODING BABY CHICKS IN THE TUB

Ok ya’ll it’s that time a year again! If any of you readers know me, then you well know that I have zero self control in the baby farm animal department. Be it bunnies, or any form of poultry or water fowl, don’t even get me started on kittens.

So three weeks ago roughly we came home with these little buggers. 2 Anconas and 4 Cuckoo Marans later the bathroom is all a chirp.

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(DIY Tisse box nest ^^^ adds extra warmth as the hatchlings huddle)

For anyone who has never started chicks and wants to:

DO IT!

Chickens are low cost, low maintenance, and such hard workers. They will till your garden, disinfect your orchard, fertilize your vegetable plants, and even eliminate whole food scraps that you would otherwise throw away. Even better? They will love doing all these on a daily basis. For free!

Win, win right? Definitely.

But how do I? Where do I?

You know I’ll never leave you guessing!

Here’s a few basic tips for the chicken beginners out there.

  1. Make a brooder – this can be as simple as a storage tote like mine. Then just brood them in the bathroom, yeah you gotta move em in and out of the shower… but hey, around here that’s bonding time!
  2. Shavings or Shredded Newspaper – bricks of shavings are cheap, especially since chicks don’t take much — especially if you elevate the food and water 😉
  3. Heat Lamp — we’re keeping the littles in the bathroom in our house since it stays not just warm but very comfortable (once they are outside full time, next week, I will have a lamp for them)
  4. Feeder/Waterer (find something to raise both up off the shavings an inch or two, you will save time and money not wasting shavings or food from spills – chickens will stand in their water and dirty it fast! Get it off the ground.. We used a couple red brick pavers that were broken into small pieces.)
  5. Find a breeder! You’ll be better off in the long rn finding a local breeder, not only to know where your eggs or meat are coming from, but in case you ever encounter questions. Your breeder will be the best choice for any questions on the birds they hatched.

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You’re all set to get some chickens!

Happy farming!

The Lady Gardner

PURGING THE HOME

Ever feel like you just want to get rid of everything and start over?

Me to.

So this week that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Purging the homestead. With new items and furniture coming from moms, the hubs and I are finally ditching the shabby furnishings we’ve had since before we started dating.

When we began this homseteading journey we wanted nothing more than a return to simplicity. To go back to basics. Cut out the stuff we really just don’t need.

It feels great.

Anybody need a couch, an entertainment center, dishes, DVD players…? They’re yours.

I even have an old N64 that wants to find a new forever home.

Microwave anyone???

And y’all know how much I love to barter, you got something I want for something I got? Head on over. Let’s barter baby.

We just don’t use these things or we just have too many. Or I’m just plum over it.

I used to be the one who held onto things for just in case scenarios…

But that’s not the homestead way, that’s not even the way of simplicity. And once I had children that became ever more apparent.

We do not need any more clutter.

The chitlins are clutter-full enough for all of us.  And I purge their room on the regular as it is.

I feel rejuvenated, maybe it just feels great to throw/ donate things away.

If you’re interested in purging your home or even the whole homestead here’s a few things to keep in mind. Before you haul a load to the good will or straight to the dump. Think first.

1. When was the last time you used the item?

Chances are if you can’t even remember the last time you used it, then you won’t miss it. Let it go…

2. Can you repurpose something instead of throwing it away or donating it?

We reused cardboard to cover future garden beds to smother grass. Free.

3. If you can use it, do you know someone else who could?

We’ve received countless useful homestead tools and items from friends purging for a move. We’ve also rehomed useful tools and farm animals if either we don’t need them, or we see a friend who really does

4. Can you sell items to reinvest capital back into the homestead?

We’ve sold scrap metal and steel we’ve found on our property and reinvested it back into our meat animal feed budget. We also sell eggs for our small property savings fund.

5. Can you barter with any of these items?

Trade! Hey I need some manual labor help, will you take a chainsaw or a power drill? And yes sometimes we have multiple that we use to barter with.

6. Could I turn this problem (clutter) item into a solution?

We have a tiny kitchen space. By downsizing our kitchen and dining wares, we have significantly more space in the kitchen. Who needs 2 or 3 of everything anyway?

7. Does it bring you joy?

This one is easy… If it doesn’t bring you joy on the daily, then you probably don’t need it.

Spring cleaning. And I can breath again!

What can you purge in your life?

Peace and Love

Quincy