Friday, September 28, 2012

Eating the Fruits of the Boy's Labor

What an exciting day we had a few days ago...well, it was exciting for us!  There are so many skills to learn as new homesteaders.  One is the raising and butchering of our own livestock.  Mom has butchered some chickens, dad has done it as well, but this time Nathan and Ben wanted to "man up" and do the actual killing.  The first time seems to be the hardest, but they were successful!  I will spare you the grotesque pictures of the killing and de-feathering and gutting, but here is a great shot of our dinner a few nights ago, thanks to the boys!!

So it has come full circle...they raised the birds, processed the birds and ate the birds.  What a great night around the family table, eating the fruits of their labor!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Broiler Biography

Time flies when you're taking care of chicks!  Hard to believe it's already Thursday again!  There has been definite growth in these little guys.  They are still little yellow fluff balls, but a lot more active.  They love to sleep on top of each's so cute!  When they hear us coming they start "peeping" all at once.  It's like a little song for us!

Here is a good picture of the obvious difference in size between the broiler and our barred rocks, both hatched the same day...and they are being fed the same exact feed!!
We have been decreasing the temperature of the brooder slowly to harden them off before putting them out to pasture...that way they're not in complete shock from the cold grass that is full of dew in the mornings!  Probably sometime in the next two weeks that will be done.  What a neat experience to have the kids raise their own food...nothing like it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chicks have arrived!

THEY'RE HERE!! We received a phone call this morning from the post office informing us a package of rambunctious chicks was waiting for us to come and get them!  How cute are they?
The black with white spots are our barred rock hens for egg laying.  The pale yellow ones are our cornish rock cross for meat...aka, the broiler.  We got 25 of each.

Graycie's just a bit excited!

Starting with today, every THURSDAY for the next 8 weeks we will post a photo of one of these cuties, our cornish rock cross, or broilers.  They are bred to grow extremely fast and we want to document it!  Check back next Thursday to see what this little one looks like in a week!! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

South Greenville Fair

Thanks to my friend Susan we found out about a local fair that was going on today!  I have been long wanting to have the kids enter their farm animals in a fair setting, you know, like a Charlotte's Web movie type thing?...just cute and fun with a bit of competition.  Come to find out, after some research on this local fair, they were holding livestock entries for competition!  So late last night and early this morning the kids and I got everything ready to head to the fair!  Nathan and Caitlin decided to enter their 2 bunnies from the last litter. Ben took along his barred rock rooster that he has been diligently taking care of these last 5 months, Christian picked out a barred rock hen, and Graycie entered her rumpless rooster!  Well what a surprise we got today.....

Caitlin and Nathan's bunnies being judged.
They both won first place!  First place for their particular breed and first place for color!
Ben and Christian patiently waiting to see if their chickens won...
And yes, they did!  Not only did they win first place but Ben's rooster won champion overall!!  Woot-woot!!  That's one proud boy :)

Believe it or not, Graycie's little rumpless also placed first!  Here she is collecting her ribbon and prize money!
It was SO MUCH FUN and such a great experience for the kids.  Their daily hard work has paid off with a fun-filled day, ribbons, and a few bucks to spend on kettle corn and lemonade at the fair!  Here are some pictures of the other events we enjoyed at the fair today.
Ben and Christian decided to participate in the sidewalk chalk art contest.
Some vintage tractors...can't wait to have one of these one day!
A vintage corn shucker run by water!

Watching the dairy goat competition.  We will be a part of this next year!  We couldn't do it this year since participating was all so last minute.  Our goats are at our friend's farm until we get some property.
Dairy cattle competion...would love to be a part of this.
Ellie LOVES her Graycie
Boys and I stayed to watch the tractor parade.

 And this is my favorite shot of the day...watching Caitlin freely and happily share her bunny and put a smile on someone else's face.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Liquid Handsoap

Hi, this is Caitlin here.  My brothers and sisters and I go through so much hand soap.  You know, the kind in the pump?  Well it's expensive to buy it and we buy it so often.  Anyway, my mom wanted to find a way to make it herself.  So she did some research on the computer.  She found a recipe and wanted to try it out!  So she invited a friend from church over with her two cute little girls for Graycie and Ellie to play with, and we all made the soap together!  

The list of ingredients is:
8oz bar of soap
2 tbspns liquid glycerine (you can find this in the bandaid section at any store)
1 gallon of water

The first thing I did was grate the bar of soap.

Then we put the grated soap, glycerin and water in a pot on medium-high heat and stirred it until the soap melted.  Once it melted we added some tea tree essential oil that mom already had.  You don't have to do this, but it added a wonderful smell, and tea tree has antibacterial qualities so we thought it would be good to have in the soap.  Then we took the pot off the stove and let it sit overnight.  This morning, it was a big pot of liquid soap!  It was exciting!  
This is a half gallon glass jar that we stored it in.  Remember, we did this with mom's friend so half of the soap went with her.  And we already filled the pumps in the house so that is why the jar is not full.

Here is the difference in cost.  Mom helped me with this, but I'm glad I know how to do division and multipication :)

Just to compare...The 16 oz pump of hand soap we have in our bathroom costed mom $8.00 at the store. Yes, you can get it for cheaper, but mom likes to get the good, natural stuff and for whatever reason, that costs more.  We just made 128oz (1 gallon) of hand soap for $2.43!!!!! That's 7 times as much soap for a fraction of the price!

Here is our cost breakdown:
8oz bar soap = $1.46
1 oz (2tbspns) liquid glycerin = $.97
water = free

It comes out to 2 cents per ounce! Wow...I'm pretty sure we will no longer be buying soap from the store :)  This was such a fun, easy project.  I would encourage all of you to do it!  We also made powdered laundry detergent yesterday.  My brother Nate will be writing about that since he is the one that helped mom the most with that project.  Now if we could just learn to grow and roast our own coffee beans, that would save dad a ton of money since mom drinks so many lattes!!

This is Graycie's friend, Rilynn who came to play with the bunnies while her mom, Mrs. Sene, and mom made the soap.  Aren't they cute??

Barred Rock Hens are Laying!

Our 5 month old hens have started laying eggs!!  This is very exciting for us since we butchered our other egg layers and haven't been getting any eggs at all.  Well, except for the 2 from our bantam rumpless, but those are Ellie's eggs :)  
Our barred rocks are 5 months old now, and as you can see, look full grown. 
 What a good rooster, finding bugs for his lady!
It has been a great experience caring for these chickens from birth.  Watching their quick growth has been exciting too.  Next week, our backyard chicken gang will triple in size!....we will be recieving 50 day old chicks from a hatchery.  25 more barred rock hens for egg laying and 25 cornish cross to raise for meat.   Can't wait to share our experience with butchering 25 chickens on one day!!  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baby Chick

What an exciting watch new life be born!  No one can deny it is a miracle!  We have been incubating 6 eggs and we happen to peek in on them when one was pecking its way out of the shell!!  So of course we took the wee one out of the incubator to watch!

It took him over 24 hours to fully come out of the shell.  We put him back in the incubator overnight and when we checked in the morning, he was fully out of his shell.  The kids made a little home for him with a heat lamp, water and chick feed, but sadly...he only lived for 2 hours (sniff, sniff).  It was probably our fault...we handled him way too much.  We didn't help break the shell, but we were moving him in and out of the incubator.  We have learned, not to even touch a baby chick that is hatching until it has been out of the shell for atleast 48 hours.  Hopefully, another egg that is incubating will hatch.

*UPDATE*  No other baby chicks hatched :(  2 were completely rotten (yuck!) and the other 2 had stopped growing for some reason.  Maybe they were left in the cold for too long when we were still allowing the broody hen to sit on them. Oh well...we shall try again next spring/summer!