Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saying Hello and Goodbye on the Homestead

This week brought more loss to the homestead. We lost our New Hampshire Red rooster to a stray dog. Whitie was our last surviving rooster. He will be missed. So we were left with four remaining hens plus Broody.

Broody still hasn't laid an egg. But she's in her protected new home on the porch. A medium dog crate. The other hens come to visit and talk to her but are unable to peck her. This is until I can build a tractor for her. She still has the use of only one leg.

In the meantime, Tractor Supply has "Chick Days" going on. While we had eggs in the incubator, I basically ignored it. But we had four viable eggs in the incubator at the time. This was until Dervish, Mel's cat, tipped over the incubator and cracked open all of the eggs. None of the chicks survived. With the death of Whitie, we needed a rooster for our free ranging flock of Reds. This was coupled by the concern Nnyus had actually killed Whitie. This seems unlikely to me because the dog had lived with this free roaming rooster for almost two years with no problem. So I blame a stray. We've had a few over the past few weeks. Not having our acreage fenced, this is a continual danger.

After some discussion, we agreed to purchase six Rhode Island Reds and six Buff Orpingtons. Straight run so the odds are 50-50 of gaining at least one rooster for each type. The weather has turned warmer. So we set the brooder up on the porch. We still have a heat lamp hanging in one corner. The huge 3'x5' brooder seems like over kill for so small a number, but they won't be small long. In a few short weeks, they'll have feathers and more than doubled in size. In the meantime, they have plenty of room to run around. I would have loved to find some Americaunas too, but there are none within a 50-mile radius. Maybe next year. If YouTube chicken sexing videos are correct, we should have two roosters and four hens of each. I could be wrong though. Extra roosters are just destined for their next stage of life when they are big enough. We'll be separating the Rhode Island Reds and the Buffs so we'll have pure bred chicks to sell or increase our flock. So now we'll be building three tractors.

I pulled all the sprouting containers to be washed today. Our fodder and sprouting grain operation will be up and running again after the winter lull. It's hard controlling the temperature over the winter months so we suspend the operation. I spent 15 minutes mixing a 5-gallon buckets of wheat, barley, and sunflower seeds. The first cup of the mixture is soaking as I type. Over the winter I purchased another 100-pounds of wheat and barley and 40 pounds of sunflower seeds. To make sprouted grains for the chickens, I'll need to add oats, corn, and Milo.  Cost wise, rabbit feed costs $34 a month for our rabbits in commercial pellets. For sprouted grains, the cost is $100 for nine months worth of feed and it's better digested. The fact that it's non GMO grain is an added benefit. The seeds for rabbits are sprouted for seven to eight days for optimum protein for the rabbits. For the chickens, they eat half as much plus their free ranging for optimum protein only takes three days. Total cost for the chickens eating sprouted grains per month is $17 instead of $34 for commercial feed. The cost consideration is important to the homestead finances, but the animal's health and what they pass on to us in their meat and eggs is even more important.


That's it for this week.
Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beginning to Feel Like One Woman and Two Acres

A comment last week by Amy Davis got me thinking. Mel had a previous YouTube channel, One Woman and Two Acres before I came to live with her. This is how we first met several years ago. We became fast friends. Both of us were trying to build a homestead and all. I actually had an urban homestead of 1/3 of an acre for twenty plus years with rabbits, chickens, and a organic garden. Upon meeting Mel for the first time, it just cemented the deal. I moved here after my husband's death. This was a huge step of faith because the Lord told me to come. I've put all my eggs in one basket with this move and trusted in the Lord.

Mel has had a life long problem with depression, as well as ADHD. I've dealt with both in my life. I considered it not an issue. It can be terrifying at times. Especially, some of the things that comes out of her mouth. During her dark days of winter, it's at it's worse. I've experienced it full force the past couple months. It's mainly verbal with an occasional object being thrown around. This I can handle. I just find something to do outside until her tirade is over. Then, she is spent and falls into a moody silence. I can handle this, but the feeling of being trapped isn't a comfortable one. Because it is winter with all the bad weather, often going outside isn't an option which compounds the issue.

I'm left  with all the chores. The care and feeding the animals, the shopping, paying the bills, and the cooking. All she has to do is the dishes, bring in heavier pieces of firewood that I can't lift one handed, bring the animal feed and put it in the bins once a month, and rarely get my bra out of a wad. You know, the stuff normally takes two hands or a non-impaired can do. But then, I have lifted 50 lbs of rabbit pellets and put in the bins too. It's just so much easier and faster, if she would do it. What would take me 30 to 45 minutes to strategize and implement takes her 15 minutes. Lifting a 30 lb bag of cat food, climb the stairs, and empty it into the bin...no problem. Well sort of. But a 55 lb bag of dog food? Is beyond my capability. But lately, she's even complaining about this. I'll just be glad when winter is over.

The only saving grace is our Wwoofer, Amy, and her son. When they come things get done. They are a bright spot in an otherwise dreary winter. I know, based on lasts year, Mel's depressed behavior gets better in the spring and summer.

I think a big part of what is making Mel's depression so bad is her lack of a computer. She got irritated this winter and deleted her Windows 10 from her computer. She downloaded Linux but had issues with the wifi connection. She also can't save anything so her writing has come to a standstill. All we are left with is my old desktop. It runs Windows 7 and only has 4 gig of RAM. It's okay for what I need it to do but, videos and video editing is too much. I know when I was going through a depressed state, writing was my salvation. I could escape into my own little world where I controlled all. It was okay though, everyone knew me there. :) When my house sells, I'll just have to buy a new laptop or desktop. A deal is being brokered as I type. Crossing my fingers. The buyer is getting a heck of a deal at my expense. We honestly need the influx of cash since Mel lost her job five months ago and hasn't found another one.

Well, that's my news? How has the world been treating you?

As always,
Y'all have a blessed day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Decision Making on the Homestead

As y'all know for the better part of a month now, we've had an injured chicken in our house. The trial of incorporating her back within her flock was a dismal failure. She was attacked by hens and rooster alike. We kind of figured this would happen because she's been away from the flock for so long and is still a one legged chicken. I fear she will never regain the use of her hurt leg.

Since Broody is the only one of our hens to go broody, we've decided to let her live a little while longer. But we'll have to protect her from the rest of the flock also. The other concern we have is that she hasn't laid an egg since she's been injured. A nonlaying chicken won't go broody, I don't believe. But still we are giving her the benefit of the doubt. She may lay again. Being injured can stop egg production. So the plan is this. We'll give her another month or two. In the meantime, I'm building a small chicken tractor 2x6 out of PVC and chicken wire. I realize chicken wire is not much protection from predators. The plan for such a small tractor is to put it between the rows in our garden. She'll be on bug patrol. The extra fertilizer leeching into our garden beds with each rain will be one less chore we'll have to do. Chickens weren't meant to live indoors with people full time. This tractor can easily be moved every day by me and my one handed self. Since the rows are four feet apart, there's plenty of room for me to tend the garden and the chicken tractor.

If after two months she still hasn't laid an egg, she can be culled. Why wait so long? Well, we have four fertile eggs due to hatch on the 9th. These new chickens will need a grow out pen. Yes, I know it's after the 9th already but I write a week in advance. It's only the 7th for me. :) I can cull a chicken any time. I, unlike Mel, have no problem doing the deed. It's part of homesteading and being self sufficient.

Seedlings after a freeze.
It's still too cold to plant or even start seeds yet. This morning I thawed twelve water bottles for the rabbits and cracked a 1/4" layer of ice off the 5 gallon buckets we have around the house of rain water for the cats, dogs, and chickens outside. It might break 60 degrees today. Yes, I know we can start seeds inside, but I hesitate.  I started seeds in the greenhouse last Easter and an arctic blast killed all my seedlings two weeks later. An overnight frost is one thing but this was three days of below freezing temperatures at night and the daytime temperatures may have been in the mid 40s was too much for the seedlings. I'll wait until mid April to start anything even indoors.

This year, I'm trying something new. I built a soil block maker. For years, I've sworn by my biodegradable toilet and paper towel core pots as a way to start seeds, but I saw this idea on YouTube where they used PVC pipe to make them. But I thought of a better way. Each month I refill my prescription of Lovaza. It comes in either the big manufacture package as shown or, I imagine, the largest prescription bottle made. Since my pharmacist doesn't cap my prescription  in child proof caps, my request. The inner lid  fits snugly into the inside of the bottle. I was saving my prescription bottles for MAP International, who recycles these bottles to third world countries, I simply cut the narrowed end off with an Xacto knife and drilled a hole in the other end for a long bolt. Now making a hundred or so soil blocks would be tedious beyond belief, I made four of them and held them together with duct tape. To press all four bolts down at the same time, I simply attached all four bolts through a piece of 1x4. Voila! I can make four blocks at a time. They are 2" around by 2" high. Much bigger than  the cell seed starting trays shown above.

I'm not the first one to make this
As far as operating my new toy one handed, I put a row of hot glue near the plunger end of the bottles and cut a strips of burlap around them. That way I can hold the plunger down with my thumb and anchor the tubes with my little finger as I pull the contraption upwards to release the pots. I do plan on doing a video of this. Both the making of the soil block maker and using it. All it cost me, other than the original prescription, was $4.00 for four bolts and nuts. I had assorted washers in one of Mel's soup can holders in her shop. Duct tape, burlap, and hot glue gun and glue sticks, we had on hand also. What self respecting homesteader and/or crafter doesn't have these? I found bolts and nuts around the shop, but not all the same length that I needed. If I had had them, it would have been a free, totally recycle/repurpose project. So this soil block maker used up some of my chomping-a-the-bit waiting to plant time. But it was well worth it. I'll still recycle my toilet paper and paper towel cores, but for rabbit toys and fire starters. With only two people in a household, we don't go through paper products that fast. Plus, like many self reliant folks, we use cloth alternative more except for toilet paper.

Well, that's been my week. How has yours been?

As always,
Y'all have a blessed day.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Poor Little Chicken and Decision Time

This week our healing house chicken had a mishap. As if she didn't have enough problems.  Poor thing was dripping blood all over the floor. I called to Mel and while she held the hen, I checked where the blood was coming from and she cleaned off the blood. She cracked her beak on the concrete bricks by the wood stove...her favorite place to be. It was a clean, straight fracture about mid way up her beak. It wasn't cracked enough for the upper beak to come off unless struck again. We cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and used Superglue to mend the break. We made her comfortable in her milk crate. After a few hours, she flew out of the crate and dipped her beak into her water bowl. She appears to be no worse for wear within a few days and her leg therapy continues.

We are now four weeks post predator attack with this chicken. In the coming week, we will have to make a decision on whether to cull her or continue as we are with her. A chicken as a domestic pet wasn't in either of our plans. Most homesteaders would have culled her by now, but we hesitate. Why? This is the same hen that went broody last year and hatched a chick. New Hampshire Red rarely become broody so she's an asset to our flock in future birds. The fact that she's done it once means she may do it again. She was a good mama hen too. This is her saving grace. Let's face it. If given a choice between incubating eggs and us being the mama hens, or having a hen do it as nature intended we choose the hen. None of our other hens went broody so we named this one Broody. There was some confusion in the beginning about whether this was Broody or the other short ragged crown hen, but putting her on the eggs provided the answer. Broody would tuck and reposition the eggs under her. At least she did until the eggs hurt her leg. Still she tried.

Next week, I'll try to put her out in the flock. She moves around well, but still is using her wing as a crutch. Of course we'll watch her. If she does all right during the day and isn't severely bullied, then we'll let her be. Or we might still bring her inside at night for a few days. She flies fairly well and puts herself to bed, in the milk crate, each night if we are busy doing other things. She seems to understand that her butt end is to be pointed at the towel to empty her bladder. But she is starting to wander about the breakfast room. She's not afraid of the dogs or cats, and they leave her alone. They will sniff her if she is making too much noise, as if to ask 'are you okay?' She'll peck at them and they'll leave her alone again.

If she doesn't do well outside with the flock, we have two choices left to us because she is an asset. One is build her a separate enclosed area to live which we had plans to do anyhow as a brooding/ brooder area, or two, we cull her and hope that another hen will become broody. I really wanted to see if she would raise the chicks in our incubator. So we might hold off on the culling. They are due to hatch this week. As much as I ranted about the darn, blasted, chicken on this blog. I'm actually pretty tenderhearted. It's the care giver in me. I can't stand to see an animal, either human or nonhuman, sick or in pain.

Well that's it for this week.
Y'all have a blessed day!