Friday, January 27, 2017

Spring Is on Its Way!

So, we are still in winter time, but spring is coming!  Daylight hours are getting longer and the chickens have started to increase their laying. Yay!  I couldn't believe that even though we now have 24 laying hens, I was not really getting any more eggs than when I had 10 and 12 layers.  It is amazing how different breeds make all the difference.

When we first got hens I made sure to get heavy layers that included several hybrids such as Amber links, ISA browns (so the label said), and Australorp.  Later we would add Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red and Easter Egger.  That crew could lay!  Last spring we added 10 more purchased pullets and 4 of our 6 hatched chicks were pullets (hens).  I figured once they matured last fall we would be rolling in eggs.  NOPE.  Even with all those layers we still averaged about 8-10 eggs on good days.  When daylight hours shortened I was lucky to get 3-4 and most days 3 would come from my Leghorn and California Whites (Leghorn cross).  Actually had one day a week or so ago with 0, yes ZERO, eggs!  Freeloaders! Our older hens are now 3 years old so that attributes to the lower laying rate also.

One thing I have noticed while raising chickens the past 3 years, you really get in tune with the seasons.  They get up when they do and they go to bed when they do and taking care of them requires knowing when sunrise and sunset are at all times.  I do not have an electric coop door and I definitely am not johnny on the spot in hitting their awake and sleep times, but I get it pretty close.  And let me tell you, they let me know in the mornings when I am running late.  Some are quite vocal about it!  They are quite the sassy crew.

I had intended on keeping a better log of my chicken keeping and since I am so behind on regular postings I might take the next few weeks to "catch up" on a lot of "farm" happenings in our coop.  We have had additions and losses.  One loss to death and several to rehomings.  I am currently wishing one of my hens would go broody again so we can hatch some more babies, but alas, I am not sure they intend to comply.

Until we meet again, stay warm if it's cold where you are! (If you live in nice warm weather we may not talk to you right now, just kidding!!).

Thursday, January 12, 2017 Review

I had the awesome opportunity to review the newly upgraded and boy we were not disappointed.  We reviewed their Yearly Membership which gives access to ALL grade levels no matter how many students you have in  your home for a full year.  This program is definitely cost effective and will not disappoint you in the content and quality available to your family.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {} is an online curriculum site that allows you access to a plethora of material that includes videos, streaming media, access to World Book eBook Library with included links to lessons, and downloadable and printable pdf files and lessons.  You can browse courses by subject or by grade.  Courses by subject include Art, Bible, Computer/Technology, Drama/Speech, Electives, Foreign Languages (including Spanish, Latin, ASL, French, Hebrew and Latvium), Geography, History, Language Arts, Math, Music, Science, and Social Studies.  There is even a Unit Study option.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

Various resources include:
  • Full Pre-K curriculum
  • Curriculum for all grades Pre-K to 12th grade listed by subject OR grade level
  • Family courses (bible, foreign languages, language arts, music and more)
  • Seasonal classes (holidays and seasons)
  • Free planners
  • Lesson Plans
  • Scope and Sequence
  • Special Needs
  • Certificate library
  • Printable Calendars
  • Recordkeeping
  • Many more!
I was encouraged by the ease of use of the site and the video tutorials that help you with certain areas. If you still can't find what you need you have access to online help via chat or phone.  Their customer service is excellent and they are more than willing to help you in any way they can to explain things or show you what to do and where to go to plan the curriculum you need for your family.

The best part of the curriculum is that is it so flexible.  They have so much to offer you will be hard pressed to not find what you need.  No matter what type of learner you have, they have an option available. We have especially enjoyed some of the Charlotte Mason geared resources.  I am currently using the Charolotte Mason based spelling curriculum with my son and it is going so much better than other methods we have tried.  It keeps him engaged and he is moving forward without getting stalled on a redundant method.

My daughter has enjoyed many of the pre-K activities and she likes the Bedbug Bible Gang videos that cover stories of the bible in a fun and entertaining way.  It's a series of 25 videos that are each approximately 23 minutes long and cover 75 different adventures. I have chosen the Preschool Playground option for her that includes a full pre-K curriculum.  Charlie Church Mouse and Donkey Ollie are a couple of the other video series available.  Subjects include Bible, Language Arts, Numbers, Patterns, Cognitive Skills, Manners and Healthy Habits, Arts, Crafts, Music, Science, Motor Skills, and Social Studies.  They even have a Sensory Learning for Toddlers section.  There is more than enough to choose from for you to customize your child's learning experience to fit their own personal learning style.

I can definitely say that this curriculum is for us.  It is very user friendly, flexible, the kids like it and there are endless possibilites.  I LOVE how it really is a one size fits all type deal.  For one price you can cover the whole family.  If something isn't working well, there are other options without actually having to reinvest in an entirely new curriculum. We give it a thumbs up!

Schoolhouse Teachers Half Price Discount

The BEST part?!  They are running a sale until January 15.  An annual membership is currently $139 but you will only pay $90 if you use the code CHRISTMASYEAR by January 15, 2017.  If you choose the monthly option use the code CHRISTMAS to get it for $9.95 per month.  The price on annual and monthly memberships is going up soon so this will be even more of a savings.  Don't miss out.  Get your membership started today before the deal is gone.

Crew Disclaimer
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

Thursday, January 5, 2017

There Can Be Only One Boss

If there is one thing we learn in life is that in general, only one person can be the boss.  When you have more than one boss, often chaos and confusion occur.  The same is true in the chicken world.  Recently I had to once again say a sad goodbye to some roosters that I raised and of course became attached to.

Cedric is my top dog rooster.  He is now about 3 years old and has ruled the roost most of that time.  He is such a good rooster.  He has always been mostly respectful to the ladies (not too crazy at breeding time) and has definitely done his job in watching over them.  He is so kind and funny when he finds them tidbits of food and calls them over.  He always alerts them to any danger in the area even though they are pretty well protected in a fenced and covered run area (we have LOTS of predators including neighborhood dogs that would be more than happy to snack on them).

Cedric has fathered several wonderful sons.  Georgie was our first last year and all went very well.  Georgie just recently turned 1 year old this past fall and him and his dad did just fine over the flock that has increased in size from the original 10 to 31 at one time.  We are currently at 26 that include 2 roosters and 24 laying hens.  This past spring we hatched out 6 more eggs (another broody hen) and ended up with 4 hens and 2 roosters.  I was ecstatic to finally hatch some hens.  One of the roosters, Scooter, is my special needs rooster as he is kinda slow and blind. He is definitley Cedrics son as he is a full blooded barred rock like his dad (I had two other barred rock hens at the time).  The second rooster I am pretty sure was Georgie's son (based on coloring), which would make him Cedric's grandson.  Enter Sweet Pea.  I loved that rooster.  Raised him and handled him a LOT.  He was very sweet and fun to be around.  

Needless to say I was nervous with so many roosters.  I knew it was a waiting game to see how things would pan out.  In hind sight, I wish I would have just kept the peace and found a home for my precious Sweet Pea and probably just processed Scooter since he is blind.  It would be cruel to send Scooter anywhere as he is already bullied to some degree in our flock and to put him in strange surroundings would be certain death.  Evidently I waited too long.  Things were going SO well!  Everyone was getting along and doing just great.  The problem is that since we are not able to truly free range (allow the chickens to just run freely on the property), the confines of a fenced in pen area will eventually become a territorial haven.  Roosters mature.  Hormones rage.  They can get pretty feisty and decide to not get along so well when each one wants to be top dog and be in charge of all the hens all by themselves.  Everyone seemed to respect Cedric and all was well.

Until the day that I believe Sweet Pea decided to exercise some authority.  It began with Georgie getting beat up pretty bad and having some pretty horrid head and comb injuries.  He began to recover and then poof!  Cedric was attacked and left a bloody mess.  I personally witnessed his grandson run after him after he was already down and beaten and hiding and try to finish him off.  I was devastated to say the least. I was so glad I was there when it happened to save Cedric.  I broke up the fight and reprimanded Sweet Pea.  Doctored Cedric up and put him in the nursery to heal.

After that incident I knew Sweet Pea must go.  I cried.  I was sad.  I love that rooster!!  But Cedric is what was best for the flock.  If they free ranged and I needed a rooster to keep my hens alive, Sweet Pea would be the way to go, but that is not what my flock needs in our current situation.  We were not willing to lose Cedric.  Hoping things would settle down, I released Cedric to take the flock back over only to find out that Georgie now realized he could fight too.  He nearly took his father out since he was already injured so badly.  It was a sad sight. To see my top rooster bow down in fear to anything that moved.  Not a safe bet for the flock, but again, they are not free ranged.  I found very good homes with friends of mine for both Sweet Pea and Georgie.  I last heard that Sweet Pea had taken over his new barnyard and actually risen above the top rooster there.  The last word was that all was well and he was very happy and everyone was living peaceably (they free range).

Fast forward to now.  Cedric has almost fully recovered and is slowly gaining his confidence again.  How sweet it was to hear him crow again.  It was so sad when he wouldn't crow at all for almost an entire week!  He was very defeated and would even hide from us when we would enter the run.  I hope he rises up and raises some more handsome boys.  I will know to not go above two roosters for our particular situation and as long as Cedric is around.  The sad truth is that Scooter will be processed in the spring since he has begun to harrass the hens too much as he is reaching maturity. Most of our chickens are our pets, but decisions have to be made.  We have processed roosters before and I'm sure there will be more in the future.  I am trying really hard to compile a list of which hens need to go this spring too.  Farming is not for the weak but it is an interesting journey.  I have learned a lot and have so much more to learn.

Point of the story?  It's best to serve just one master. Order can be restored and chaos can be defeated.

Matt 6:24 (Luke 16:13)
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  NKJV

Many blessings to all of you in the new year.

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