Chicken Math: It’s Real

I’ve explained before how I ended up with 44 chickens, right?  It’s a little convoluted, and you might wonder how I didn’t notice that I had 40 chicks living in a box in my garage. It happens quickly…especially when they’re small, and cute.

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I’ve been worried that the 40 chickens in my coop were crowded.  It seemed like you couldn’t walk in the coop without nearly stepping on a chicken.  Especially as they got older and larger.

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Last night, the 20 I was keeping for a friend went to their new home.  I was so excited for them to get to live in their brand-new-never-been-lived-in coop!  And I went to bed with dreams of what I’d do with all the extra money from cutting my feed bill in half.

Then I woke up and went out to see what I had left (it had been dark by the time they’d left the night before).  The coop was virtually a ghost town!

Now keep in mind that the most I’ve ever owned up to this point is 12, so the 20 I have is still a lot.  It really maxes out the coop.  The problem is chicken math.

Chicken math; chik’-uhn. māth  (noun) The phenomena in which no matter how many chickens you expect to own or for which you build your coop, you will end up with more than that number, even when you take into account chicken math.

It’s very real.

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Jo(e)

I currently have 38 chickens in my coop.  That’s more than I ever planned for, and it was ok until they got big.  Holy smell, Batman!  But it’s ok, because 15 of them will be leaving at the end of the week, leaving me with exactly as many as I’ve ever wanted.  (And approximately 10 more than I ever thought I’d actually have.)

The chick's first field trip into the garden.  That's Joe in the grass at the bottom.

The chick’s first field trip into the garden. That’s Joe in the grass at the bottom.

How did I get this many you ask?  Well, I had 6 laying hens and decided it was time to expand.  So I ordered 25 1-day-old chicks with the plan to split them with a friend.  The day before they were to arrive, we went to the feed store to get supplies.  There were day-old chicks there, and boy were they cute!  When you have 25, what’s 5 more, right?  The next weekend my friend went to the feed store with her 4-year-old.  Chicks were still there.  And they were still so cute!  What’s 7-ish more at that point?  And did I mention that I received not one, but two free “exotic” chicks in my shipment.  Then, another neighbor somehow ended up with a single chick after a trip to the feed store.  Chickens cannot live happily by themselves, so I adopted it, naturally.  What’s one more, right? (So I guess the moral of this story is that you don’t look at the cute little fuzzballs in the bins at the feed store in March.)

Sitting on the food.  Time to get a cover!

Sitting on the food. Time to get a cover!

Any who, up until this last batch, they’ve each had names, but now there are so many of each breed that I can’t keep them straight.  But there are one or two that stick out from the chicks that I accumulated this spring.  The most memorable, and the favorite of all visitors, is Jo(e).  (S)he was one of my “free exotic” chicks, which usually means rooster, and that’s what I’m leaning towards, but I just can’t tell!  When we unboxed the shipment, we immediately noticed Jo(e).  His head had a small cotton ball on top of his head.

Jo(e) dressed up as a 90's boy-bander.

Jo(e) dressed up as a 90’s boy-bander.

Too cool for school!

Too cool for school!

Checking out the new digs!

Checking out the new digs!

As he grew, it only became more pronounced, until now I’m really not sure if he can even see.  I have to say he’s not the brightest chicken in the coop, and that’s saying a lot.  Chickens are not the smartest animals in the world.

We love watching him grow, although the other chicks are not a fan.  He’s different, and his hair’s kind of out there, so they pick at him.  He’s currently growing out his bald spot.  At least he’s got that capability!

On the catwalk!

On the catwalk!

Strutting his stuff.

Strutting his stuff.

He takes his job as protector very seriously, laying in the middle of the door to the coop every night counting each chick as she comes in for bed.  It’s so pitiful to see him slowly get pushed out of the way by the larger, pushier chicks.  Eventually he finds a way to get back in the doorway to keep watch at night.  Though I’m not sure what he’d ever do if danger actually made it’s way in, probably run and hide!  Maybe when he gets a little older…

Free Write

As I sit to write the first blog for Writing 101, I’m really unsure how to proceed. Stream of conscious is really difficult for me. I usually end up thinking of my to-do list. Things I need to be doing, not this hobby.
1. Write my second blog post for my back-up plan website. I have #1 written and saved in drafts. I really need to get two more written and scheduled. On that note, I need to make sure they are going to the right page when I hit publish and not my homepage. It’s WordPress, but I’ve not done a retail site before. I had someone else design this one, and I’m really glad I did. It was done much better and much more quickly than I would have done.
2. Answer emails for my real job. I have about 5 in the inbox.
3. Finish cleaning the kitchen. ‘nough said.
4. Write reviews for the wineries and restaurants we visited in Fredericksburg over the weekend before I forget. By the way, I loved the house we stayed in, but didn’t get any pictures. It was perfect for us and the two couples we were with. We didn’t get any group pictures, or any pictures at all really. Good job, blogger!
5. Unload the chicken feed and bedding in the back of my jeep.
6. Clean out the coop and lay fresh bedding.
7. Figure out how to remove the dad-blasted grasshoppers that showed up in my vegetable garden over the weekend. I can’t even tell you how frustrated I am about this. They destroyed almost the whole garden last year. I need hints for getting rid of them organically. I found a garlic spray that I’m going to try, and I need to replace my cilantro, so maybe those two steps will help? I used white flour last year, but it didn’t seem to help. I have a sprinkler that waters every morning, and I just can’t get out there before work to reapply. I don’t think the spray will work very well for the same reason. I know I should have worked the soil to get rid of the eggs over the fall, but I was so burnt out and disappointed that I just couldn’t.
8. Got my first NatureBox in the mail today. I need to put all those snacks away, too. Need to write my Birchbox reviews.
9. Need to get a glass of water. I’m kind of thirsty. I’m slightly dehydrated. I was putting all the groceries in my car this afternoon and my foot cramped up. While I was essentially standing there. Why do we have to get older? This sort of thing would never have happened even five years ago.
And now I have 7 more minutes left and I’m totally through my to-do list. Short term, anyway. There’s a longer list, but that’s just overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be nice if the list actually went as quickly as the typing did? Thirteen minutes to go through it all. But I have to admit that I extend my time outside as much as possible. It’s starting to get hot (hello, Texas summer!) but I still love the chance to be in the sun. I’m in an office or the car for the majority of my day at the real job, so the opportunity to be in the sun is welcome. Probably why I love my Jeep! Those Freedom Panels come off at every chance!
And now, the timer’s gone off. Time to get to work!
Thanks for stopping by! And, please let me know if you have any ways to get rid of the grasshoppers! If it’s something I’ve already listed and you’ve tried it, let me know how it went. (But I will not pick them off by hand. YUCK!)

Three Things Thursday

So I’m three weeks in and I have nothing to say. That bodes really well for the success of the blog, doesn’t it? Since I have nothing to say, I guess I can just ramble. Get ready!


1. This spring has been really mild and rainy. I love it. So does my garden! I’ve harvested pounds of radishes and sugar snap peas, but I think that’s coming to an end. No worries, though, that just leaves room for the tomato, squash, and zucchini and cucumber plants to take over!

Tomatoes! Okra Sugar Snap Peas Beans and Cucumbers!
I’ve got beans climbing a trellis and cucumbers that are expanding quickly. My onions are blockbuster sizes and this year I’m trying corn. I have 4 whole stalks. Hoping for enough to feed my family one meal. I also have 4 okra plants and three pepper plants. Neither of those has ever done much for me in years past, but I have a feeling that this year will be different. I’ll let you know!
2. I think I’m sending 5 chicks to their new homes this week, and for that, I’m thankful! I’ve loved watching them grow, but 40 chicks grow really fast. They also love to eat. 50 lbs of chicken feed in 6 days. They’re 11 weeks old. It’s time for them to go out and get a job. For. Real!

 I'm too sexy!
3. We have three dogs. 10-year-old boxer-pit mix: Lou, 3-year-old black and tan coonhound mix: Memphis, 1-year-old corgi mini-aussie mix: Bear. I love them all. They are family. Family that chews everything. Bear starts it. Memphis and Lou join in, then point the finger at Bear when Mr. R starts asking who chewed up xyz. Memphis went through a brief chewing phase, but figured out very quickly that we didn’t like that. She quit. Bear doesn’t care. He’s so stinking cute, there’s no way I can stay mad at him. We’ve been through no less than 5 dog beds in 5 months. Right now the two we have look horrible and are missing half their stuffing. I refuse to spend the money to replace them, but will have no choice soon. Any suggestions? Keep in mind, we can’t ever catch them in the act.

Bear


Well, all of three things. I’m going to call this Three Things Thursday. It’s totally a thing!

See you on the flip side!

Why do I homestead?

With a full-time job, 100 mile commute, family and a social calendar, most people ask why I take the time to grow my own food and keep my own chickens.  It’s not like I have an abundance of time.  In fact, spring is my favorite time of year, but it’s also the most difficult.  With new chicks in the brooder and my ever-expanding garden needing to be started, keeping up with the chores isn’t easy.  And because the chickens and garden are my passion, I don’t really believe in asking for help.  Really, who am I kidding, I am the worst at asking for help anyway!

I was once content with the conventional American diet.  We ate out regularly, purchased processed foods, and I never would have thought to raise chickens in my backyard.  But right before we moved, I found KERF.  This blog opened my eyes to the dangers of the conventional American diet and how easy a real food diet could be.  When we found our dream house sitting on 3.25 acres with 2 acres of pasture, chickens and a vegetable garden became a possibility.  As a child I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie.  I loved the idea of living off the land and self-sufficiency.  I’m nowhere near self-sufficient, nor can I really even call myself a locavore, but every year I feel like I get closer.

As a mother, nourishing my family with the best quality foods is one of my many responsibilities.  My goal is to provide healthy, filling foods at as many meals as I possibly can.  To me, this means purchasing organic every time the budget allows.  But if I’m growing my own organic vegetables and getting eggs from my happy, free-range chickens, the budget allows more often than not.  I do not use pesticides, I only use organic compost, and I’ve finally found an all-natural, non-soy, non-GMO chicken feed for my chickens that I can get locally.

This spring my chicken coop holds 40 chicks and 4 laying hens.  I’m only keeping 20 total, but I will be able to sell eggs to feed my chicken addiction!  My garden is started and I’m so excited about its progress.  I have sugar snap peas that are almost ready to begin harvesting, radishes I’ve already started harvesting, onions, tomatoes, various peppers, okra, melons, squash and zucchini, and green beans.  Every one of them is from organic and/or heirloom seeds.  This year I’d really like to harvest seeds from my tomatoes at least. But we’ll have to see how they do.  I am still learning, and have yet to succeed with any leafy greens.  The bugs really like to munch on those, and I just can’t keep them under control.  This is my third year of gardening, and I feel like I learn so much each year.  Last year the grasshoppers destroyed most of my garden.  This year, I’d like to keep that from happening.  If you have any tips, let me in on them!

Garden

Some of my favorite places for gardening and chicken information:

The Chicken Chick

Texas Natural Feeds

Backyard Chicken

GrowVeg

Seeds of Change

Square Foot Gardening