Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

Explore the blog, Then Check out our website
Chicken Scratch Poultry

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Shearing Day - Gotland Sheep Shearing

We finally found a sheep shearer in IL, Hallelujah!!  He got us on the calendar for shearing on April 4th.  I thought that sounded like a great day since I didn't expect lambing until a little later in April.  As we rushed around trying to get everything ready for shearing I noticed Kajsa was hanging off by herself, her back was hunched and she wasn't acting normal.  I continued to watch her and pretty soon she is curling her lip.  DING, it finally struck me, she's in labor!!  As I've told you, we're flying by the seat of our pants with sheep.  Lucky us, the sheep shearer showed up just at the right day and time for us and Kajsa.  He took one look and said I see two little feet and a nose, you'll have a lamb in a few minutes.  Sure enough, within a few minutes we had a lamb on the ground.  The shearer took another look and said there's another one coming.  How exciting!!  A couple of minutes later we had two lambs on the ground, one little ewe and one little ram lamb.  We left Kajsa with the job of cleaning up the lambs and the shearing began.

This photo was taken just before the lambs were born.  She has that look of, help I don't feel well on her face.

The ram was the first  to walk into the shearing corner.  He went in looking all woolly and completely black in color. 

He bounced out of the corner nicely shaved, strutting his new Gotland gray coloring.  I would have never guessed that he would turn grey.  Gotlands are totally amazing with their color changes.

As soon as Kajsa had her lambs cleaned up, he went ahead and sheared her also.  That made it much easier for the lambs to find the utter.  Kajsa also had a major color transformation.  When she came to us last summer, she was very brown and black in color, she is now very silver.

When he was finished shearing we had four very large bags of beautiful Gotland fleece.   Can't wait to get them skirted and shipped off to the mill. 

Shearing is finished, they're good to go until fall.  We began with three ewes and one ram.  Lambing season is over and we now have two new little ram lambs and three little ewe lambs.  Wow a flock can multiply rather quickly :)

It's been amazing fun beginning our adventures in sheep.  I'd like to thank Kim Goodling of Grand View Farm for the beautiful healthy flock of Gotland sheep and the many hours of mentoring through emails.

Have a Wonderful Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

All Natural Rodent Repellent - Rid Your Farm Of Mice

Larry and I have lived on this farm for 23 years and I must say a lot has changed over those years.  For the past 12 years we've operated a poultry breeding farm and hatchery right here in rural Illinois.  If you had asked me 23 years ago what we would do on this farm, I would have never said chicken farming but I can honestly say I feel blessed beyond measure!

Well, down to business now, I want to talk to you about mice and rats.  For the past 12 years, the more poultry we've added to the farm the more mice that we also accumulate.  Too many mice can become a real problem.   Once the mice move into the barns it's not long and you'll see rats and with rats comes a hole different kind of craziness!!  Larry makes bait buckets to put mouse poison in so that dogs and chickens aren't able to get to the bait.  This works pretty well but we've been using this method for years and it's gotten to the point that it really no longer works.   We're tired of spending hundreds of dollars every year just to kill mice.  Price a bucket of mouse poison, it's not cheap.

This is where the all natural mouse repellent comes into the story...

For the past 12 years we had no outdoor cats here on the farm, there wasn't really room in the barns for them to roam around, so we thought...so we just didn't have a cat.

This is Missy, there's really nothing special about her, she's not really very beautiful BUT she repels mice and rats like crazy!!  All Natural, no poison.  She is a hunting machine!!  She patrols 2 barns, a pullet shed, a brooder shed and a Morton building all by herself.
She climbs the wire pens and goes in and out of places I never thought she could go and she never offers to bother the chickens.
I think within the next month or so she will have eradicated the mice here at the CSP.
Good job Missy you win the Employee of the month award, sorry Lane and Heather :)

I recommend the all natural rodent repellent, it works great!! She is also very entertaining while gathering eggs :)

I have a quick story for you about little Missy, after I got Missy we had several other cats that just showed up (someone so nicely dumped on us) and my grand daughters had just lost a cat so I decided to send Missy and Barny home with my sweet grand daughters.  My son told me that when they went to check on Missy the next morning that she had disappeared.  Well two weeks later Missy showed back up at our farm, it was about a 15 to 20 mile walk for her and it took her two weeks to get back home.  So Missy is hear to stay.  I didn't know cats also had an inside compass.

Have a great day and instead of buying a bucket of poison buy a bag of cat food. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New Breed On The Farm - Mint Cream Bar, Green Egg Layer

I love colored eggs if you haven't figured that out before now.  Eggs and birds in general have always fascinated me.  The fact that poultry paint such a lovely palette is very enticing, go ahead and admit it your enchanted by those beautiful colors also.   Chickens and their genetics are amazing!! 
Because of  my love for bewitching egg color, I began a year ago messing around with creating a new green age layer.  It's been about 10 years now since we created the Olive Egger and it's time to see what more can be achieved in shades of green...

Creating a new breed of chicken can take years of work and waiting to see if your efforts have provided what your looking for.  Each  tweak we make can take up to a year or longer before we know if the change was a success or do we need to head back to the barn and begin again.  You must have patience when working with poultry. 

Our goal is to create  beautiful shades of green eggs, including moss green, mint green and olive green.  This takes years of work and we're in the beginning stages.  I'm enjoying what I'm seeing so far and ready to begin sharing them with our customers but at the same time we've  began the next phase in the process, which will take another year before we know if the change we made is a success.

Did you know poultry that lay colored eggs depending on what breed, they color their eggs in different ways.  Some poultry color the egg  by applying the color to the outside of the shell.  While others color the shell all the way through.  Next time you crack a colored egg open go ahead and peel back the membrane on the inside of the shell and take a look at the color of the shell from the inside of the egg.  If it's a brown egg you will notice that the inside of the shell is white.  Chickens are amazing!!

This Army drab green egg is blue on the inside.  Marvelous Chickens!

We're excited about the Mint Cream Bar / Green Egg Layer and can't wait to share it with others who fancy a colorful basket of eggs.
We're accepting chick and started pullet orders now for spring
shipments.  Hope you'll be adding the Mint Cream Bar to your chick wish list. 

Head over to the website and begin your chick wish list.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

From Sheep To Shawl - Gotland Fleece

Last summer we began a fascinating adventure in sheep.  I must say I was very nervous at first since we know absolutely nothing about sheep (slowly but surely we're learning).  It has been a joy getting to know and work with them and learn new skills.
Last fall I learned that I can't depend upon a sheep shearer in this area, they are very few and hard to find.  So I bought myself some hand shears and sheared them myself.  I learned to skirt a fleece, wash a fleece, card the wool and through the wonders of YouTube I've learned to use a drop spindle and spin my own yarn. 
I'm not a person who enjoys sitting around with nothing to do, I like to stay busy during the day and have a task.  Processing fiber this winter has kept me busy during the slow season on the poultry farm.

Gotland sheep have amazing fleece!  I love the colors of the sliver, gray, and charcoal gray.  I'm not a great spinner but with time I'll improve.  I'm sure to an experienced  eye this might look like a hunky  chunky mess but I love it!!
It has taken many hours of work to get to the stage of sitting down and knitting.  There are a whole lot of steps in making yarn...
Once I had the yarn spun, I decided I would make a shoulder wrap or shawl.  It's a very simple pattern that I got from Pinterest but also added my own twist to the pattern.  Larry made the buttons from deer antlers, wasn't that so sweet!

I wore the wrap out to take a few photos with the girls, it was so funny, I'm pretty sure they recognized the wool!

They never stopped sniffing.  I think they approved of what I had made with their lovely locks.
I still have more fleece, so it's on to the next project, what shall I make next...
Larry would you like a sweater or long underwear???

On to the next adventure, hoping for lambs in the spring.

Have a blessed day!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Frozen Eggs During Cold Temps - We Have The Solution

During these really cold months you probably have noticed that before you can get your eggs safely gathered into they house that most of them have froze and cracked.  I really hate it when that happens.  But I have a solution for that problem...  There is one breeding pen on the farm that the eggs never freeze, take a guess what pen that would be....

The sweet little Chocolate Oprington pen!!!  The eggs never freeze in this pen, these little gals take great pride in keeping eggs warm and take the job very seriously.  It's their goal each day to check out all egg boxes for abandoned eggs, tuck them under their fluffy little butts and keep them warm until you come and snatch them all up.

So not only are they cute, they're super functional dual purpose gals.  They lay cute small to medium  sized eggs, they keep your eggs from freezing during the winter months and they're great incubators as well.

They're perfectly happy to hatch eggs for you or to adopt babies that don't even belong to them.  They make wonderful little mothers.

 Let us help you out with your frozen egg issues.  Head on over to the Website and place a spring chick order and come next winter you'll never have another frozen egg. 

Stay Warm and have a blessed day!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Chickens For Christmas - One Size Fits All Christmas Gift

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a chicken in a red and white box....

I know I'm not the only one in this world who would love to get poultry for Christmas.  I know that because we shipped out lots of red and white boxes last December loaded with young pullets.
I have also played Santa in the past by writing a letter from Santa to ship along with the chickens.  How funny is that??

We have lots of pullets ready to ship now, they range in age from about 7 weeks to 9 weeks old.  We can fit 4 birds of this age in the big red and white box.

Here's a list of pullets available now:

Crested Cream Legbar
Ayam Cemani
Olive Egger
1 Black Copper Marans
Light Sussex
Coronation Sussex
Black Orpington
Lavender Orpington
Chocolate Orpington (soon, not ready to ship yet)

Give the gift that keeps on giving!!
Come on over to the Website and give me your wish list.
Looking forward to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sheep Shearing - The Gotlands Get A Hair Chop

Back at the end of June, Larry and I purchased our first small flock of Gotland sheep.  It's been an interesting adventure I must say.  Just after they arrived Larry began attempting to set up a date and time for a sheep shearer to visit us in the fall and shear our small flock of 4.  When the sheep arrived they had a fleece of about 3 inches long (maybe).  By the end of September it was about 4 inches long and I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a good idea to wait until spring to have them sheared, Gotland fleece can grow 12 inches per year.  It seems to be a bit difficult to find someone around the Southern IL area in the fall to shear sheep.  When your sheep need a hair cut there's really no time to wait.  If you wait the fleece becomes felted or matted and I didn't want to waste these lovely locks!

Larry purchased some super sharp hand shears and we gave the sheep a hair chop!  I would like to purchase electric clippers if we aren't able to find someone to shear for us but not really sure what brand would work best for just a small flock.  If anyone has any suggestions please share with us :)

We began with the young ram, we tipped him and cut his fleece bending over him, that was back breaking so we decided we needed a new strategy on the next three ewes.

Our Gotland sheep are super sweet, friendly and easy to work with.  So on the next ewe, I sat on a five gallon bucket, put a harness on the sheep and let her stand while she was sheared.  We thought at first that we would need to tie her she just stood there while I sheared, if you can call this shearing...

This is Kajsa, she is so sweet and loves the attention.  After her hair cut the other ewes kind of pushed her around and butted heads with her, almost like they didn't recognize her.  Not sure if that was normal...

This is little Lindi, yes I know it's not a nice slick shearing job but it was the best that a first timer can do with a pair of scissors and fleece will grow back again.

I don't think they look too terrible, it's a little choppy but when you don't have time to wait on someone else to do it for you, this works just fine.

I'm super excited to make something from their beautiful fleece.  Now let's learn to spin some yarn...
Have a Blessed Day!!