Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Tractor - Well Worth the Money and Effort

I built this chicken tractor this past winter.  Our original plan was to separate our two breeds of chickens so we could hatch pure breeds.  We had australorp and production red chickens at the time.  We could isolate a few hens and a rooster collecting the eggs and placing them under a broody hen.

Well we never had any of our hens go broody.  Instead we had to purchase day old chicks from a hatchery.  We raised them in one of our bathrooms until they were ready to place in the chicken tractor.  We had a big box in the bathtub.  It was a lot of work but it worked.  I would much rather a hen care for chicks.  I don't like playing momma hen.

Day before yesterday we noticed Amelia our Muscovy duck that was sitting was off the nest and Lily our other duck was on it.  Yesterday we finally deducted what had happened.  Lily stole Amelia's eggs.  Her and the drake for some reason were picking on her.  I noticed a wound on her tail 1 1/2" x 3".  It was all bloody and raw.  We took her in, cleaned it up and isolated her in the chicken tractor that is just beyond our back porch so we could keep an eye on her.

She is doing good so far.  Our Great Pyrenees, Buttercup is happy to have something in there to guard again.  We will keep her there until she has healed then release her back with the others.  In the meantime Lily should finish hatching out the 5 eggs.  I estimate they will hatch somewhere around the first of September.  It will be our first hatching her on the homestead.

Back to the tractor.  I made it 1/2 out of salvaged material around the homestead as we are unemployed.  The rest I purchased at our local Mom & Pop hardware store in town.

It is 4'x8'x3'.  The pressure treated runners, chicken wire, and hardware were purchased.  The 1"x3" boards were stored in the barn as well as the tin which I painted to reflect the sun.  The cross boards are some I brought down from North Texas when I moved and the nesting hatch was from an old crate that was shipped to my father's old company back in the 70's.  The door handle came from a cedar branch. 

I like to use what I have around the homestead.  It is a bit of a challenge but worth it in the long run I feel.  I am very proud of my work.  Of course I had to paint it.  I wanted it to look pretty as well as be functional.  Here are some more pictures of the final product.

Nesting Hatch
Crate Stamp
I love this picture.
It is as though the tractor is being divinely blessed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank You God for Answered Prayers

The high temp I actually noticed today was 102 degrees.  Storms blew in.  Literally.  The winds got pretty strong for all these dead and brittle trees around here.  Saw a bit of rotation in the clouds at one point while I was driving home.  Got home.  Parked my car in the barn since my garage is filled with moving boxes at the moment.  Got all the animals safe inside.  Made it to the house and got a beautiful downpour.  It probably rained a 1 1/2 hours.  What it left us was a cool 74 degree breeze.  Yes, I have the windows open.  I have taken a small nap on the couch  and now I believe I will make some decaf. coffee and go sit in my redneck porch (garage).

I was just talking about how I will love it when the weather cools enough to open the windows and enjoy the breeze.  We do this every chance the weather gives us.  As a matter of fact we didn't turn on our a/c until June 1st of this year.  Well God heard me and gave us this beautiful evening.  Thank you God.

I hope the rest of you who need a break get one too.  We all deserve it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Fatalities

We lost four of our baby guineas  today to the heat.  I found them next to the chicken coop.  It was their first official day out.  It looks like they couldn't find their way back in.  They were fine earlier when I was out there.  Running in and out of the coop/run.  I guess they got hot and tried to hide in the shade only to overheat anyway.  Poor little things.  Now we are down to seven.

The biggest problem for me with homesteading is my big heart.  There are areas it needs to toughen up.

The good news for the day is it is getting dark outside and I can hear thunder.  Somebody is going to get rain and I hope that includes me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mary Lamb

Napping in my arms
Cute Face
Harriet listening to her lungs to ensure they are clear since she is not as active as she would be if her mom wasn't down.
She won my heart
Mary Lamb & Momma Sheep "Tamaru"

The Story of Momma Sheep (Tamaru) and Mary Lamb

Our neighbor down the road raises barbado sheep as well as other livestock.  They contacted us February 14, 2011 and asked if we could help bottle feed a lamb who's momma was down.  She had been down since the day before the birth.  There had been twins born however only one lived.  We were happy to be able to help.

We first started caring for them on the 15th of February.  Mary was 2 days old.  At first Harriet bottle fed Mary while I tried to help the momma.  I was way out of my league so we switched.  I fed Mary while Harriet cared for Momma.  She is the one with the medical background.  Not me.  We believe that Momma was suffering from pregnancy toxemia along with possible selenium deficiency.  Everything we have read with our research says that once a sheep goes down they never come back.  They never met Momma "Tamaru".

We went to their house three times a day.  They only live a quarter of a mile away.  I would feed Mary and Harriet would give Momma food and water.  Momma had zero strength.  She laid there however she would accept food and water.  Harriet also gave her some stuff for nutrition.

Mary Lamb 2 Days Old
I made the little sweater from and sleeve I cut off of my sweatsuit.
She looks so cute in it.

She is stretching.  I love how her lip curls up.

Such a pretty face.


On the second day Momma was worst.  All bowel sounds had stopped.  Harriet worked Momma's stomachs to help add in digestion. 

We thought this was it.  She wasn't going to make it. This was also the first day that Mary curled up beside her Momma.  It broke my heart.

The next morning when we arrived to our surprise Momma was still alive.

Harriet continued to work with her and by February 18, 2011 with our help sitting Momma up and raise her head initially she was able to keep her head raised to eat from the container. This is the first day we didn't have to hand feed her as she was lying on her side. She was still weak and tired out quickly.

February 19, 2011 - The morning before we left town for the weekend.  Momma was able to raise her head on her own to eat. We still had to lift her into a sitting position. She is still only strong enough to eat for maybe a minute before she tires herself out.  Some other neighbors would be helping out in our absents.

February 22, 2011 - We return after being gone for the weekend.  Momma is to weak to sit up and eat so Harriet hand feds her grains and greens.

February 24, 2011 - We can now prop Momma up and she can eat once again on her own. I started picking tasty weeds from our yard and taking them to her. She loves her greens!

February 28, 2011 - Momma still has to be propped up in a sitting position but she can raise her head up really good now. Her strength is slowly returning.  If you look closely you will notice she is blind.  We thought it might remain permanent however she was able to regain her site.

March 6, 2011 - Momma can now lay up on her own without being proped up. She is enjoying looking outside for the first time in close to a month. We had to take her out of her stall to clean the urine off of her since she still can not stand on her own. It has  caused her hair to fall out.

She really enjoyed watching Mary and I play outside.

Mary following me.

With assistance Momma Sheep is finally able to walk out of the barn to the grass to eat and lay in the sun.  although as you will see she is a bit picky where she goes.  It is good to see the spunk.

She loved it when we would take her out of the enclosed barn so she could actually pull up her own weeds instead of just eating the ones I cut for her. I can't say I blame her.

Mary Lamb playing outside while her momma grazes.

March 18, 2011 - Momma is able to remain standing for a very short period without anyone holding her up. We still have to help her get into a standing position.

We had decided to work on helping her walk this week. When we took her out to eat greens we made her walk from time to time to exercise her muscles and to build strength. It seems to be working.

March 20, 2011 - Momma Ewe is now able to stand and eat on her own. This is the first day for her to do so.

We moved her up to our chicken coop the day before. I accidentally scared her when I was removing tin from the coop to allow better air circulation. It scared her so much she was able to get up on her own and go out to the run.

This morning I was greeted by her in the run when I went out to feed her and Mary. She not only got herself up but once again she walked out into the run and ate from her food pail while standing. She has been wanting to stand up and eat for a long time now.

We have since moved her and Mary into an enclosure I build in our back yard so she can mow down my weeds.  They are loving it.  They both can enjoy the fresh are, greens, and sunshine.


As you may notice in the pictures above we had to wrap Momma's leg.  When we were helping her walk we noticed that she was unable to use it.  We are not sure what caused the original injury however the joint would buckle under when we attempted to stand her up.  Afraid that it would cause more injury we wrapped it.  We noticed as we changed the bandage that the joint had become fixed after a short time an no longer needed the bandage.  After we moved Momma up to our house the leg fell off at the lower hock.  Momma did not seem to be in pain.  We did take her to the vet however since there was bone exposed and she would still use the leg.  Sometimes to assist in walking and she would hit the dogs with it.

May 25, 2011 - She has now had her whole leg amputated for her own health. The bone was exposed which in the long run was going to keep causing her problems since she would try using it. She is doing great and Mary lamb is growing well. Mary doesn't know she is a sheep. She thinks she is a Great Pyrenees.

Mary, Momma, pregnant Penelope, Opal

Momma and Mary have continued to flourish here.  They are some of the sweetest creatures that I have had the honor of caring for.  There energy is so trusting.  It takes great care to earn that trust but it is so worth it in the end.

The last video was taken just a few days ago.  For those who haven't yet seen it, here is it.

The are a blessing to have here with us.  We named Momma "Tamaru" which means miracle in Amharic.  Amharic is an African languange.  Barbado sheep's ancestors are actually from Africa.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today's Rain

We got about 25 minutes with 5 minutes of a good downpour.  According to the radar it built right on top of us and that is where it stayed until it diminished.  My cousin whose husband works for the state said just south of us was a tornado.  Glad we just got the rain.

Here is an amusing video of our back yard afterwards.  The Great Pyrenees get so muddy when it rains.  Here is our Pyrenees, one pygmy goat and her kids, Mary lamb and Momma Sheep.  Yes, Momma Sheep only has three legs.  That is a story for another time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Oak Trees

Looking into the piney woods I am now seeing many oak trees with brown leaves.  Dying as a result of the drought.  Oaks are my favorite trees so this is sad for me to watch knowing I am powerless.

I learned something new a few years back when I visited the Caddo Lake State Park.  Caddo Lake by the way is the only naturally formed lake in Texas even though it is now controlled by man.  The information center has a wonderful display with loads of information on the area.  I learned by going through the center that of course the cypress trees grow on the edge and in the water, next in line would be the hardwoods and further still would be the soft pines.  This surprised me however thinking about it now makes since as pine trees have a very shallow root system.  For that reason you do not want them close to your home or any other structure you don't want them to potentially fall on.

So, as a result of the lack of precipitation the oak trees are starting to fail.  The pines are still holding their own as of now.  I pray that we see some significant rain soon.

Now following the footsteps of MDR I will work on no longer taking about the drought.  It is a depressing subject that I don't wish to support.  Instead I will look to the future with hope and continue to plan my homestead.  Droughts are part of life and I will learn to adapt and thrive.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Ok, I am still learning my way around the blogging world.  Today I accidentally deleted all the comments on my blogs.  So if you notice they are gone well it was an oops.  I thought I was deleting the notifications instead of the actually comments.

Lesson learned.  If they ask if you are sure you want to delete as this action is not reversible.  Then DON'T DO IT!

Fi-Shock Rocks!

We recently purchased off of Craigslist for $15.00 a Fi-Shock XR-6 Solar Electric Fence Energizer.  It had the bucket missing and the wiring had been modified so we called the company.  They said if we sent it in for $100 we could have it totally refurbished.  So last Monday we sent it off.  They said to expect it to take 2 to 3 weeks to repair.

Today UPS drives up.  Puzzled I go out and there in the UPS man's arms is a box from Fi-Shock.  Excited I carry it in the house and open it up to see what changes were made.  To my surprise it was a totally new unit.  Disbelieving we contact the company and they said that if they received a unit that they felt would cost to much to repair they replace it with a new unit.  AWESOME!

So let's look at the numbers....

Used XR-6      $15.00
Shipping           $17.00  (With box purchase)
Refurbish Fee   $100.00
Total                 $132.00

When we first looked this unit up it showed to be $457.00.  I looked it up today on the Fi-Shock website and it show regular $379 on sale for $343.25.  Either way we made a profit.  What a blessing!

Be Back Very Soon

I am sorry I haven't written lately.  I have had my hands full but will post very soon.  Until then everyone who has joined, welcome.  I look forward to sharing with you all.