Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness


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Baby chicks grow FAST!

The chicks are two months old and I am in AWE of how fast they grow! I’ve really enjoyed this whole process of having a broody hen and watching the babies grow. It’s been a great learning experience! Once the babies where a month old, I let them and mama hen out of their separate enclosure so they could begin to forage and integrate with the existing flock.

Within a couple of weeks of exploring the orchard with their mom, she decided it was time to kick her babies to the curb and officially began hanging out with her original flock. It literally happened overnight! She’s just as territorial as the other hens and will even peck at them to get out of her way when she wants to use the chicken feeder. It is like they were never babies…..so harsh!

Now that they’ve grown they move fast! It is almost impossible to catch them and since their wings are still much bigger than their bodies, they can fly! I’m sharing some progression photos so you can see just how fast they’ve grown. You’ll notice the biggest changes in coloring and wing size. Some photos are blurry, like I said they move fast and rarely stay still!

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Mama and her flock drinking water, they were about 1 month old.

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Before they split, mama and babies loved roosting on our old compost bin.

Now here’s some photos that show their major growth!

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Three days old

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One week old

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Two weeks old

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Same chicken that was in the prior three photos! This one is definitely a rooster, he’s about six weeks in this photo. My husband was stoked he actually caught him!

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Yep, definitely a rooster!

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Three days old

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Two weeks old, notice how fast the wings grew!

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Same chicken, two months old, I’m pretty sure it is also a rooster!

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Two weeks old

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One month old, also fairly certain this one is a rooster!

These next photos are of three different chicks at three days old that all looked very similar, one had much bigger wings, and as they’ve grown they still look a lot a like.

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The next two pictures below are the same chick, you can see at two weeks (photo with the red background) how much bigger the wings grew and the face changed a bit.

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The two brown and black chickens below are the same as in the photos above, I have a feeling  one is a rooster and one is a hen. The black chicken is a for sure a hen!

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The two photos below are of black chicken as a baby.

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Three days old

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Two weeks old

Next up is a video of two of the chicks fighting, these two are most likely roosters. Here’s some interesting facts about fighting from the University of Kentucky –

“By 16 days of age, fighting to determine the pecking order begins. Research has shown that with groups composed entirely of female chicks, the pecking order is established by the 10th week. In small groups, the order is typically established earlier, around eight weeks. With groups of males, the social order may remain unresolved for many weeks.”

 

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We added a new roost to our run and the little ones like it!

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Half the flock grubbin’ – the first, third and fourth ones are all roosters.

Here’s one last photo progression, this was one of my favorite babies and he’s growing into a handsome rooster. I’m super bummed my zoning doesn’t allow me to keep roosters because I’d love to keep this guy!

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One day old

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Two weeks old

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Two months old, look at the beautiful colors!

And last but not least, what we do for fun around here 🙂 Enjoy the video of my husband being silly with this chicken!


Do you have chickens? What’s you’re favorite thing about them, besides the eggs? Do these photos make you want chickens?


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Baby Chicks Pics = Cuteness Overload!

 

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One day old!

About a month ago, my only chantecler hen, aka brown chicken, decided to go broody. This meant she was determined to be a mama, by almost any means necessary. Broody hens will sometimes sit on fake eggs or golf balls for several weeks hoping they will hatch. When a hen gets broody, they first lay a clutch of eggs and then sit on that clutch for 21 days, until they hatch. They stop laying eggs ,the entire time they are broody, which is an annoyance for many since usually the sole purpose for having hens is to enjoy their eggs.

I had a few choices of how to handle this “situation” I could remove her non-fertile cultch of eggs daily and hope to break her broodiness, I could separate her to try and break the broodiness, or I could give her some fertile eggs to hatch.

When I learned that most chicken breeds have had the “broody trait” purposely bred out of them,  I decided to encourage her natural instinct and let her try to hatch some fertile eggs. A hen that is allowed to hatch eggs usually has a 100% hatch rate versus incubated eggs, which yield an 80% hatch rate.

My friend has a rooster and was generous enough to give me 10 eggs from her hens. On May 1st, I placed the eggs in the separate nest area I had created for “Miss Broody” using an old dog crate and decided to see what would happen. Thankfully, everything went as nature intended and last Saturday the first batch of baby chicks began hatching.

Sadly, one of the eggs did not hatch even though there was a fully developed chick inside 😦 Yes, I looked…..I was curious what happened and wanted to be sure there wasn’t a chance it could survive before I buried it.

I believe it would’ve hatched but because it was a “late hatcher” and mama didn’t have time to continue to sit on it with 9 baby chicks to tend. This being a new experience for me, I didn’t realize until it was too late that I should’ve taken the egg and placed it in an incubator to give it more time. Lesson learned!

It has been difficult to not spend most of the day outside watching the cute little fluff balls! They are just so darn cute! The rest of the post will be lots of pictures and videos of mama and her babies! Enjoy!

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A Perfect Match: Chickens and Cover Crops

This may sound silly to non-homesteader’s or gardener’s  – cover crops make me HAPPY!  I like that they build healthy soil that feeds my fruit trees and it’s a yummy treat for my chickens.

Last fall I was finally successful getting cover crop seed in the ground at the right time (September or October), before our rainy season started. I didn’t get the entire orchard covered but I got about 1/3 of it seeded.

The cover crop I planted is a soil builder mix and it contains bell beans, peas, various types of vetch, and oats.  I picked this one because it fixes nitrogen and my soil is in desperate need of more nitrogen! It also chokes out weeds and provides a wonderful habitat for beneficial insects. Of course, I could just put fertilizer down but it is expensive and doesn’t help build long-term soil fertility. Healthy, fertile soil that will nourish my trees keeping diseases and pests at away is what I want!

Besides being an excellent “food” for my trees, once established (5-8 inches tall), I let my chickens do the “dirty work,” and turn in the cover crop. They love the green goodness and all the bugs and grubs it brings to the soil. Take a look a the progression of this season’s cover crop. Continue reading


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Goodbye Mr. Rooster, Hello Rocky

My first experience with chickens has definitely been exciting! As I shared the last time I wrote about my chickens, we ended up with a rooster who we called Roadrunner because he ran so fast. Here’s the video of him getting out his first crow:

Because our home is zoned R-1 residential, we are not allowed to keep roosters, so we had to exchange him for a hen. I was bummed because I thought it would’ve been super cool to raise my own baby chicks from my flock! I am sure most of my neighbors were happy to see him go, hearing a rooster crow at 6 am isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

My first attempt to catch him by myself to bring him back to the farm, failed miserably. Thankfully, we came up with a good plan how to catch him, this all happened before our chicken condo was built so we couldn’t get inside the coop. Chasing him around our orchard was another thing I tried but that was also a failure, like I said, he was fast! Continue reading

Check Out Our Chicken Condo! (aka Chicken Coop)

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It has been a busy two weeks since I returned home from my unexpected trip back home to Michigan for a funeral. I’ve finally gotten caught up on housework, homework, and yard work!

Although I had to travel home for a sad event, I was able to spend time with several family members and friends. I am grateful I was able to see several cousins, my great-aunt, and two of my best friends from elementary and middle school.

During the week I was away, my husband put the finishing touches on our “chicken condo” and I was able to have the ladies move in the weekend I returned. This new coop is a HUGE upgrade from the pre-fab one we had purchased from Pet Co.

One of the best things about this new coop is I can walk into it, which is key to having the option to get them inside the coop before dusk. It has been sooo nice not to wait for sunset before we could leave the house. Now I no longer have to make sure I’m home at dusk to put them in!

Another great thing is the bigger coop space means I only need to clean it once a week, the other coop required cleaning 2-3 times a week.  They now have ample roost space and the run is big enough leave them in all day. It’s rare that they don’t free range in the orchard but it’s nice they now have adequate space if we can’t let them roam.

My husband built the coop and run himself and it was the first structure he’s ever built. I personally think he did an amazing job! I think he was happy he got a new power tool to help complete this project 🙂 I did most of the painting. Our coop is three different colors and that’s fine with me! We used left over paint from our shed, house, and a cheap “mismatched” gray color from the paint store.

We loosely followed this design we found at Backyard Chickens (their’s is much bigger than what we built) and I used these coop dimensions and design criteria I found on Hen Cam. I really appreciate the detailed information Hen Cam provides!

My husband worked on it almost every weekend starting the weekend of August 7th and it was officially complete October 17th, so it took a little over two months to complete. He’s going to write a post with specific plans and share things he learned while building this coop. Take a look these photos documenting the process, start to finish! View the pictures →

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Introducing….My Egg Laying Ladies!

I FINALLY have hens! If you follow my Facebook page, this is old news 🙂

It’s taken me 2 years to add these ladies to my little homestead and I felt this summer was a good time to take the plunge. I’m glad I waited until I was ready, because the 30 days since their arrival kept me busy and it’s be huge learning experience.

In my humble opinion, I think bees are WAY easier and I’m so glad I started with bees!

I decided to skip the cute, cuddly chick part, and instead get 16 week old, ready to lay hens. I chose this option because I don’t believe in supporting factory farms and it seemed like most hatchery’s are baby making factory farms for chicks. One hatchery I felt comfortable buying from (Sand Hill) had a minimum order of 25 chicks. Starting with 25 felt super overwhelming! Sand Hill only sells chicks straight run, meaning they do not sex them, so I may have ended up with several roosters.

Even though baby chicks would’ve been cute, I thought it would be tons of work and didn’t feel like I had the time. I also didn’t want to accidentally end up with a rooster, I’d love fertile eggs but I’m not allowed to keep a rooster because of my zoning.

I contacted Live Earth Farm, a local farm who provides my vegetable CSA, to see if they had hens available. They recommended I contact Root Down Farm located about 30 miles north. I was so glad to learn about Root Down Farm, the owner, Dede is super friendly and she’s raises heritage breed Delaware, Chantecler, and Plymouth Rock chickens. Her farm is also animal welfare approved.

The day I called, Dede said she’d have ready to lay hens available in near the end of July. This was perfect timing, so we set a date and on the evening of July 26th, I picked up six hens. The rest of this post is a picture gallery sharing what’s transpired over the last month, enjoy! Continue reading


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Chicks arriving soon!

I want chicks, I REALLY, REALLY do! I can’t wait to cuddle those cute, yellow puffballs! What I don’t want is to do is get in over my head!

I’ll get chicks in a few months. I started with bees first, because I want to give them the best chance at survival. Getting a hive started in the spring allows them plenty of time to get established, and store plenty of honey for the winter.

In the meantime, I’ve been researching chicken breeds, and so far, the Orpington is my first choice. From what I’ve read, they are friendly, gentle, hardy and good egg producers. This sounds good to me!

The other breeds I’m considering are Plymouth Rock, and Black or Red Star. Plymouth Rock’s are described as friendly, intelligent, good egg producers and laid back. Black or Red Star’s are also described a friendly and good layers. Apparently, the Red Star’s have different feather colors when they hatch, so it’s easy to make sure you get a female.

I have my coop, it just needs to be assembled, and predator proofed. The hens will be able to roam free in our fenced, orchard area. They’ll have plenty of bugs and grubs to munch on!


 

I’d love to hear your recommendation on breeds, predator proofing, and any other tips for this brand new hen keeper.