Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 5

I think the two words to describe week 5 would be ugly and messy…….I might throw in smelly too!

Week 5I’m moving their pen two and three times a day now to keep them on fresh clean grass.  Sadly we had our first casualties this week…..yes, not just one but two.  🙁  I went out early Thursday morning and there was a dead chicken??  We don’t know why it died, but this breed is prone to heart attacks so I’m guessing that was it.  Saturday morning I went out and a barn cat had some how reached under the pen and snagged one of them and had managed to eat half of it……super grooooss!!  I also lost two hens this week….it was NOT a happy chicken week around here…..sigh.

He obviously wanted the rest of the food to himself!
He obviously wanted the rest of the food to himself!

The eight remaining Cornish cross are doing well and gaining weight FAST.  We are now taking extra precautions to make sure they are cat proof!!!!

5 Weeks Old

If you would like, you can read about the first four weeks of our meat chicken experience….they were much cuter on week 1 and 2!  😉    Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4

Here is a link to Week 6

Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 4

Our 10 Cornish Cross meat chickens are now a month old…..one more month to go!

You can read why we chose this breed and see pictures of their growth on these posts:  Week 1Week 2Week 3

24 Days OldThey are outside full time now and love to munch on the grass!

26 Days OldThey are still much more active than I expected.  I have read that all they do is stand or lay down at the feeders and eat all day.  Ours are not like that at all, maybe it’s because they have room to run and fresh grass to eat, or maybe they just haven’t got to that point yet?

4 weeks OldThey are ugly little buggers and not very bright!  I weighed one a couple days ago and it was almost 2 pounds.  They are going through the feed pretty quickly now, I think it’s going to cost more than I originally expected to feed them.  But I also expected to loose a couple and so far no casualties.  The five that my mom took to her house are also doing very well.  Thanks for following along on our meat chicken journey. 🙂

Here is a link to Week 5

July 2013 – A Month of Photos From the Red Double Wide

July was a month of bbq’s with great friends, many 4-H meetings, baby chicks, HOT weather, gardening, and allergies!  Despite the sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes it was a wonderful, busy month.

We started off the month by celebrating the 4th of July with a family trip to the beautiful San Juan Islands.  It was a great trip and so wonderful to see family that we hadn’t seen for a while.  Visiting the beach was also wonderful!

Two days after we got home from our little vacation our meat chicks arrived!

3 Days OldThey are the girls 4-H projects.  To read more about our meat chickens click here.

chick Collage

Front yard visitor
Spinich & Raspberries
First harvest from the garden

We have an AWESOME group of people from our church that came out and joined us for a taco feed and go-kart party.  Our go-cart track goes through our hay field and it’s about three-fourths of a mile long.  As you can see from the picture this is not a clean sport!  Everyone was sooooooo dirty but it was a blast!


Garden 5
My weed filled garden! The corn is taller than me now. 🙂
Garden 2
Squash plant
Garden 6
Baby Tomatoes
The girls painting the new chicken pen for their 4-H meat chickens.
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The finished pen!
My dad getting ready for harvest….I can’t believe it’s that time of year already!

Hope all of you had a great July!  In August I’m looking forward to our county fair and preserving the harvest from my garden.

Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 3

On to week 3!  Click here to read about Week 1 and Week 2 of our meat chicken raising experience.

They are still growing fast and their feathers are filling in a bit more.  We have moved them outdoors and changed their feed from chick starter to a flock raiser.  They are still fun to watch jump and run around, and every once in a while they make a “big chicken” noise. 🙂

16 Days OldNot so cute anymore.

18 Days OldFor this picture on day 18 I tried to pick out the biggest one and the littlest one. The one standing in the back weighed 11.4 oz. and the bigger one sitting down weighed 18.4 oz.  What a huge difference considering they hatched the same day and arrived at our house all looking identical.  From everything I’ve read the small one is a female and the big one a male.  That explains why the roosters are more expensive from the hatchery.  The male kept plopping down and trying to sleep, the little female was more active and alert.

20 Days OldWe built them a bigger pen so they can be moved around on the lawn and always have grass to eat.  The girls painted it and I thought it turned out cute!

Chicken pen - 1They love having more room!

3 Weeks Old - 4

3 Weeks OldWell, so far so good!  We still have 10 healthy growing chickens.  I’m glad they are outside now and not in the shop, (they were getting a little crowded and allot STINKY!).

Here is the link to Week 4

Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 2

If you missed Week 1 on Raising Cornish Cross Chickens click here, to read why we chose this breed and how our first week went, plus lots of cute chick pics!

We have not suffered any casualties as of yet and they are growing remarkably FAST!  They are about to outgrow the brooder and will need more space soon.  My mom took five of them to finish raising them at her house, so that helped to make some extra room.  I’m hoping they will have enough space until they are 3 weeks old and can go in an outside pen during the day.  I want them to be able to free range as much as possible once they are big enough.  It’s been so warm we haven’t used the heat lamp since they were 11 days old.  They are such messy little things we have to check their water every few hours because it gets full of bedding and poop very quickly.  I seem to remember the same thing with my egg laying chickens when they were little.

Here are pics of week 2:

10 Days OldSome of them are a little bigger then others, which is what I expected when I ordered a “strait run” (some male some female).  I got a strait run so they would vary in weight and we could pick the right chickens at the right weight for my girls 4-H projects.

12 Days OldAs you can see they are starting to out grow some of their cuteness!  Oh well, I didn’t get them to be cute…..right?

14 Days OldWe enjoy watching and laughing at them running at each other and flapping their wings. They are pretty comical!

Here is a little cost break down so far:
Each chick cost: $3.83; so for our 10 chicks it cost – $38.30
The chick starter cost $10.45 for a 25# bag. After 2 weeks there is still some feed left and  I subtracted what my moms chicks ate and ended up with $6.10 feed cost for 2 weeks.
We also bought a bale of pine shavings for $7.95 and I figured we have used about a dollars worth so far.

This comes to $45.40 for the first 2 weeks for 10 chicks.

Of course this doesn’t include the cost of a brooder, heat lamp, heat lamp bulbs, waterer, or feeder.  We are using all the supplies from last years egg laying chicks.  So if you were raising chickens for the first time you would have to add in these expenses.  As you can see, the first year is the most expensive!

So far we are still pleased with our decision to raise Cornish Cross!

Here is the link for Week 3

Raising Cornish Cross Chickens – Week 1

Why are we raising Cornish Cross chickens?

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what breed of meat chicken to raise this summer. I did lots of reading about the good, the great, the bad and the ugly aspects of raising the hybrid Cornish Cross chickens.  There are so many opinions out there and I didn’t want to make an uninformed decision, especially since a couple of these chickens are to be my girls first 4-H market projects.  I finally came to the conclusion that I need to form my own opinion and I can’t do that until I have had hands on experience raising them.  So I decided to start with Cornish Cross vs. a heritage breed.  They are the most cost effective breed to raise, and if it goes well we will continue to raise Cornish Cross.  If not, we will try a different breed next year.

For the next 8 weeks (that’s how long it takes for them to be ready to butcher) I will be sharing our meat chicken raising experience with you.  I will be posting pictures and giving updates weekly on our little adventure!

Here is Week 1 of Raising Cornish Cross Chickens:

We ordered our chicks from McMurray Hatchery to arrive on the week of July 8th.  This will make our chickens 6 weeks old for our County Fair, and hopefully the correct weight which needs to be between 4 and 7 lbs for my girls to be able to sell their chicken at the livestock sale.  I had never ordered from McMurray Hatchery before, but they had the right breed available at the right time.  The ordering process was easy; they kept us informed of shipping (with emails and texts) and their website was very informative.

Early on the morning of July 8th we got a call from the post office that our live birds had arrived.  Of course I wasn’t exactly prepared (I’m such a procrastinator).  I very quickly cleaned up our brooder  “play pen”, washed up the chick feeders and waters and headed to town.  We first went to the feed store to buy bedding and chick starter, then picked up the peeping box from the post office.  When we got in the car I bent the lid back and was pleased to find 15 live peeps!

15 Cornish Cross chicks arrived safe and sound.
15 Cornish Cross chicks arrived safe and sound.

They were all active and looked healthy.  As quickly as we could, we prepared their pen and got them settled in…..sooooo cute!  Am I really going to be able to eat these guys in a couple months??

Cornish Cross Chicks 2 Here’s the pics of this weeks growth:

2 days old

4 Days Old6 Days Old8 Days OldWe have had a fun week watching these little birds grow. (Notice the growth of their feathers in these consecutive pics!)  Contrary to what I have read these little guys seem to be hearty, active, and very curious.   So far I have no regrets picking this breed.  We will see what happens in the next few weeks!

Click here to read about Week 2

Our Garden – A Work In Progress

Our garden got off to a slow start this year.  To make a long story short, we couldn’t plant the garden until the chicken proof fence was up and hey,… it’s been a busy spring!!

We are making slow progress in good spirits though.

The fence is finished! (Around the garden…)

DSCN7175 (640x480)The chickens are locked out (for the most part).  They really don’t like that their favorite dust baths are no longer available. 🙂  They decided that this tiny patch of dirt would have to do.

DSCN7301 (640x470)Most of the irrigation is finished.

DSCN7294 (640x480)The seeds are planted… Almost all of them!  This is the box of heirloom vegetable seed packets I ordered, and this fall I’m hoping to harvest enough seed for next years garden.

DSCN6738 (640x480) One week old corn and beans!

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It’s amazing how fast everything pops up! (once it actually gets planted)

This is the biggest garden we’ve ever had and the progress is slow, but there is progress. 🙂

How is your garden doing?  Is it a work in progress too?

May 2013 – A Month of Photos From the Red Double Wide

Another month gone by!  Here are some of my favorite photos from May.

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Moving straw into the barn….the easy way!
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Poor chicken!
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The lilacs in the front yard were beautiful and smelled wonderful.
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This is my niece in the garden. Playing in the dirt is always fun!
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Jo’s cat had three kittens….this one is Marshmallow. 🙂
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The kids found many “wooly worms” aka caterpillars.
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This is Digger working on the new garden fence with help from the chickens.

DSCN7165 (640x480)-1The potatoes are growing that we planted in the recycled potato bin!

PicMonkey Collage-2This is Stinky she is guarding Diggers truck and trailer.  To read Stinky and Diggers story click here.

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This picture really didn’t do this sunset justice….absolutely gorgeous!

May was a good month, the first couple weeks were warm and beautiful.  They involved LOTS of mowing and weed control.  The last couple weeks were cooler and wet, we found ourselves indoors quite a bit.  Everything is nice and green now and I’m looking forward to a nice warm June!

Chicken Troubles

We get 12 to 16 eggs from our 16 chickens every day.  They have been very good and consistent egg layers, so I was very suspicious when we collected only 9 eggs the last 2 days.

A good friend of ours brought us a HUGE pile of straw bales (for free!!!) which Digger shoved off the trailer with his excavator. The result of this expedited removal left quite a mess…

DSCN6685 (640x480)-1I suspected that the chickens found some great hiding places in the straw to deposit their eggs instead of using the nesting boxes.  This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to go egg hunting.  This is a down fall of letting the chickens free range; sometimes they decide not to go back to the coop, and around here there are PLENTY of hiding places.  I figured a quick search through the pile would produce several missing eggs, on my way to search in the straw I heard a weird chicken disturbance in the barn.  I took a little detour to check it out and this is what I found:

DSCN6673 (480x640)How she ended up upside down in the wall of the barn I will never know!

I pried her out of her ridiculous predicament and realized it was Ginger (of course).

DSCN6680 (640x480)-1Here she is looking dazed but not hurt.  Ginger is by far the most curious, and I always thought the smartest (but maybe not) of all my chickens.  When I set her down, she ruffled her feathers, glared at me like it was my fault (or maybe she was just mad cause I stopped to take a picture before rescuing her), then went about her business.  I was so glad I went in the barn….I don’t know how long she would have survived squished in there upside down…

I then proceeded to the straw pile to start my egg hunt.

DSCN6687 (640x480)-1Soon I had help…..lots of help!

As you can see we performed a thorough search, but came up with nothing.  There were several holes we couldn’t see into though, and I wasn’t terribly anxious to move the whole dang pile for some missing eggs!

It was time to head back to the house and start school, but I decided to stop by the chicken coop to collect any recent eggs.  When I opened the door our dog “Oddie” was in the coop!  I yelled and she quickly dove for the chicken door.  I had no idea that darn mutt could fit through the chicken door.  I now know where all those eggs went!

Here’s the little egg sucker, still licking her chops and looking shameful.

DSCN6694 (640x480)The only way to solve the problem was to make the door smaller so she couldn’t fit through.  We have called her “Houdini Dog” since she was a pup, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that she found her way into the coop.  She has been known to climb 8′ no climb fence to get out of a pen, and she has managed to get out of every collar we’ve ever put on her (that’s what happens when your neck is bigger than your head).

So the lessons for the day are:  Never underestimate the clumsiness of a curious chicken, and always measure your dog before you build a chicken door!

April 2013 – A Month of Photos From the Red Double Wide

I’ve gone a little crazy with my camera lately, so I thought I would share (some of ) my favorite photos from the past month.  Spring time is so beautiful and FUN!

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This is one of our raspberry bushes that border our garden….can’t wait for fresh raspberries!
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The chickens were in heaven when digger tilled the garden.
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“Garden Butts”
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“Sleepy Dog” – This is a VERY rare moment, he is usually dropping a ball on our feet, drooling all over our pants, or trying to get the cats and chickens to play.
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Hyacinth – Not only my favorite flower but my favorite color too! I need to plant more.
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Great Grandma enjoying some snuggles with a barn kitten.
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Little Chefs first time mowing with a push mower. She decided she prefers the riding mower! I don’t blame her…I took turns with her and realized how much harder a little labor is after a long winter indoors.
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This is Diggers Grandpa….our riding mower broke down so he came out on his 94th birthday with his brand new mower and mowed some of our lawn for us!! (He had a blast and left asking when we might need him again!) What a great guy, we are so blessed to have him and Grandma close to us.
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This mama barn cat is blind in one eye, but it doesn’t seem to effect her at all. She is the best mouser we have and a wonderful mommy!!  She has two chunky adorable kittens right now.

     DSCN6157 (640x480)-1DSCN6523 (640x480)-1DSCN6497 (640x480)-1DSCN6628 (640x487)-1Don’t let these pictures deceive you!  We have had some beautiful days in April, but we also had our share of wind, rain, hail, and more wind!  We haven’t yet planted anything in the garden (it’s still getting really cold some nights) but my seed order should be here tomorrow and Digger is working on getting the fence up around the garden.  No use planting until the chickens are fenced out!

Happy Spring Everyone!!

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