Egg Laying Machines

I was going to title this post “Waiting for Eggs” but in all honesty, we didn’t have to wait!  Everything I’ve read says most chickens will start laying between 5 and 6 months old.  So I was hoping to have some eggs by Christmas, that would be right at 5 months old (and what a great Christmas present).  It was November, cold out and day light hours were getting shorter and shorter.  Hens need 14 to 16 hours of light a day to lay eggs.  So after Thanksgiving I bought a timer so we could plug in a light to increase their hours of light.  I also bought layer feed for them.  Before I could get the light plugged in or change their feed, they started laying!!

Our first 2 eggs!!  A little splotchy, but we were so proud 😉

We quickly got the light put up in the coop and set it to come on at 3am.  I mixed the layer in with the remaining grower feed and HOLEY COW!!  They turned into egg laying machines.  It is now 5 days before Christmas and we are getting 15 or 16 eggs a day from our 17 hens!!  They don’t seem to mind the freezing weather at all.  They have been laying all these eggs by 7:30am and then they get turned out to free range for the rest of the day.

The only problem we had was when they first started laying.  Some of them would peck their egg, (one little hole or even just a crack)….kind of like they were curious.  Then one hen started eating an egg every day.  I would go out to the coop at about 8:30am and find wet straw and little pieces of shell in a nesting box.  I had NO idea which hen was doing it!  This went on for several days and the only thing I could think to do was just get out to the coop earlier before she had a chance to snatch that egg.  So when it was just barely light enough to see I headed out to the coop.  It worked!  No more broken eggs,…not even any cracks!  On most days we even get a double yolker or two.  Now my only problem is what to do with all these eggs!….I love problems like this. 😀

                          Meet Ginger one of our super egg laying machines!

Beware of Barn Cats

I love barn cats!!  We have an old barn that is home to several skittish, fat barn cats.  We feed them some dry cat food everyday but that’s not why they are fat.  They are SUPER mousers!!  I hate mice….I mean really, really, really hate mice.  I would rather be stuck in a hole with a snake than a mouse…I don’t know why?  They just send me into a cold sweat.  So having barn cats is a necessity (as far as I’m concerned).  That being said, little peeps and barn cats are not a good mix.  We knew this could be a problem so we made every precaution (we thought) to make sure the cats couldn’t get to the peeps.

This is not a barn cat, this is “Pumpkin Pie” one of Jo’s pets.  But you get the picture. If this tame, well fed kitten is this interested in little peeps you can imagine the temptation for a large hungry barn cat.

I know; faces that only a mother could love!!  Well, a mother and a barn cat! 🙁  These awkward, month old peeps have little heads that can fit through chicken wire, and they are very curious critters.  So when someone comes up to the screen door made of chicken wire they run over and stick there heads through the wire to check things out.  I thought it was so cute that they would run to greet me when I walked up to the door.  I had no idea they would do the same when a barn cat walked up!!  I went out one night to put them to bed and found a headless peep! 😮 I could only see three others in the coop and I totally freaked!!  Went running to the house and told Digger about the horror show in the chicken coop. He came out and  found the rest of the frightened  peeps  hiding behind the nesting boxes.  The next morning Digger put extra small wire on the bottom of the screen door.  This solved our problem, no more peeking peeps.  A couple months later (after the peeps had done some serious growing!) I decided it was time to let them free range. I was nervous not only about the barn cats but the dogs as well.   I opened the gate and kept my eyes peeled.  To my surprise and delight the cats and the dogs ignored them.  In fact, the only chasing  going on in our barn yard is an occasional chicken chasing a cat or kid!!  The moral of this story is…barn cats + peeps = deadly results.  Barn cats + grown chickens = frightened barn cats.  So keep those peeps in a well protected coop until they can fend for themselves.

Dipped Pretzels

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Dipped pretzels are a holiday FAVORITE at our house.  They are not only yummy but extremely fun to make.  There are no limits on the varieties you can make, and they also make easy, inexpensive gifts!!  Here are some examples of what we have made so far this Christmas.

Jo’s Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Little Chef’s vanilla pretzel rods

Dipped pretzels are a great idea for Christmas parties, kids can make them all by themselves and as you can see each pretzel is a masterpiece. 🙂

All you need to make these sweet, salty, crunchy goodies is:

Pretzels – Any shape or size and Almond Bark – Chocolate, Vanilla or both.

Melt the Almond bark in a microwave safe bowl following the directions on the package.  Don’t over heat it!!  You will end up with a HARD, over cooked mess and there will be no dipping and very sad faces (yes, I’m speaking from experience).  When you reach a nice, silky, smooth consistency start dipping, dunking and sprinkling!!  They will cool quickly, so sprinkle fast.  For easy clean up, place them on waxed paper to cool.

I hope your family enjoys these as much as ours does.  Be creative and have fun. 😛

Golden Buff Chicks

When we ordered the chicks we chose Golden Buffs, also known as Golden Comet, Golden Sex Link, Cinnamon Queen, and Red Star.  They lay 5 plus big, brown, eggs a week and are small (around 4 lbs.) and docile hens.  The other great thing about Golden Buffs is  the hatchery is able to tell the sex of the chicks when they hatch by their color.  I don’t want a rooster “YET” so this breed seemed to be the best choice for us.  On July 18th, 18 peeping, puff balls arrived!! The play pen with a heat lamp worked great for keeping them nice and warm.

My girls and I were instantly in love!!  We had a hard time leaving the chicken coop, they were just to much fun to sit and watch.  To my pleasant surprise they were very hardy little buggers.  I thought we might lose a few in the mail or shortly after they arrived but they were all healthy, active and surprisingly loud!

In conclusion we were VERY happy with our little peeps!!  The only bad thing was they all looked identical and trying to name 18 chicks that you can’t tell apart was an impossible task. 😉

 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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I got this recipe from my mom many years ago, it’s the recipe I grew up on.  So anytime I try to make a different chocolate chip cookie it just doesn’t taste right.  In my opinion THIS is what a chocolate chip cookie should look and taste like!!  I think they’re the best when under cooked just a little….soft and SUPER yummy!!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Mix together butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla and salt. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda then add to sugar mixture and blend well. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips mix well.
  2. Drop spoon fulls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

Fall Wall

When we started school in September I told the girls we would have an art project at least once a week.  We have stuck to that plan and have produced some pretty cool masterpieces!  I like to plan our art projects around the other subjects we are working on.  If I can reinforce a history, science, or bible lesson with an art project that’s just one more way to help them retain the lesson. Kids love to see their art work on display and I don’t know about you but my fridge is pretty FULL!  So we started hanging up some of our art work on a wall in our “class room” it soon became our “Fall Wall”.

 

Little Chef’s Jack O’Lantern

 

Jo’s thankful turkey:o)

Jo worked so hard typing this up and as you can see she loved learning how to change the font and color of her text.

Little Chef’s Columbus Day project

Yesterday Little Chef said “Mom, where are we going to put our winter wall?”

 

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