Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Weekend Recap - Spring has Sprung!

Spring (weather) is finally here!  Here is what happened on our homestead this past weekend:

After countless coupons being sent my way, I finally caved and decided to try out Hello Fresh.  Actually, it was Jason who convinced me to take the plunge.  We ended up getting a pretty damn good deal for two weeks of delivery - 6 total meals - and we had our first box delivered on Friday.

I made two of the meals over the weekend - both were quite delicious!  I love that it's giving me new ideas and it's three less days that I have to figure out what to make for dinner :)


We were both surprised at the portions we were given - they were larger than we expected.  My only complaint is all the waste that comes with the packaging.  So much plastic packaging :(  But, we will recycle what we can.  Looking forward to our next delivery in a couple of weeks!

Saturday morning, Jason took Redmond to swim lessons and Ashlyn and I baked up some chocolate chip cookies.  This is my go-to recipe.  The cookies always turn out chewy and delicious!

After lunch, Jason headed out and tilled up the garden!  


While he was tilling, I made an afternoon pot of coffee and sat down with a cookie and did a little garden planning :)

After the garden and our afternoon coffee, we finalized where our beehive was going to go, then Jason tilled that up as well.



While Jason was busy with getting ready for the bees, I cleaned up the brooder for our baby chicks in the garage.  We had been using puppy pads for the first couple of weeks.  Once we ran out, it was time to switch to pine shavings.  Jason also added a small roosting bar which the babies have seemed to be enjoying.

And, since they don't get much attention these days, I snapped a picture of our two remaining big girls - Libby Mae and Fork :)

Saturday night we had some friends over and had the first bonfire of the season.  We threw horseshoes, had some drinks, watched our kids play, and stayed up way past our bedtime.  It was a great night!

Sunday was a beautiful day!  It was sunny and the sky was blue.  Doesn't get much better than that!  Jason got back to work outside.  First thing he did was build a garden box.  He used extra dirt from the bee area to fill it in.  Soon, that box will be full of strawberry plants!!


After that was finished, he put up the fence around where the beehive will go.  It looks great!  All that's left to do is get the hive and a few flowering bushes in there.  Oh, and the bees ;)  They should be arriving in about a month!


The spring weather had me craving one of my favorite summer salads so I whipped up my Caprese Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes for lunch.  So. Good.

After lunch, Jason took the kids to a local park for awhile.  I stayed back and did laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.  So. Much. Laundry.

The friends we had over the night before had been given a tree to plant for Earth Day.  They knew that if anyone was willing to plant a tree, it was us!  So, Sunday afternoon that's what we did.  It's the tiniest Norway Spruce I've ever seen :)

And that, my friends, was our weekend.  We are so excited for all of the spring/summer weekends to come!!

~ Sara :)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Treating Pasty Butt in Chicks

Pasty Butt - although kinda nasty - is a very common occurrence in baby chicks.

Basically, pasty butt means that a baby chick has poop stuck to it's butt.
Yeah, yeah, I know.  Gross! 
But, it's something that's very easy to treat and prevent which is crucial because if left alone, a chick with pasty butt could die from it.
(Warning: pictures of chicken butts and poop ahead :)

When we got our first flock three years ago, over half of them needed their little butts (actually called a vent on a chicken) cleaned almost daily.  We were new to having chickens and, although we knew we needed to clean their vent, we didn't know how to help prevent it from continuing to happen.  With our newest baby chicks we've been lucky.  We've only had two (our Golden Comets) that have battled the nasty Pasty Butt.

Now, my pictures aren't the greatest - it's hard to hold a squirmy chick in one hand and take a picture with the other....but you can get the idea.  As you can see, this poor baby has got a big ol' glob of poop stuck to its backside and vent.  

One of the most important things to not do is to just rip it off - OUCH!!!  In order to remove the caked on poop, you need to get it wet with warm water.  I like to fill a small container with warm (not hot!) water and let them soak.  They love it!  It's like a little mini spa :)


Once the chick has soaked and the poop has softened, very gently wipe the poop off of their vent/fuzz.  Just be very careful not to pull out their feathers or their skin - they're just babies after all!  If their vent seems red or swollen, use a q-tip to apply a small amount of Preparation H or Neosporin.  Just be sure that it does not contain a pain reliever.

Once the vent is all cleaned off, I like to wrap them up in a towel to help dry and warm them up.  You could gently blow dry on low to fully dry their bottom, but I feel like they've already been traumatized I generally skip that step :)

Once they have warmed up and calmed down, then I put them back into the brooder - under the heat - lamp to continue drying off.  It doesn't take long until they are dry and fluffy again.  But this time with a nice, clean vent!

Here are a few other tips to help with Pasty Butt:
  1. Add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to the chick water.  It's important that it is true ACV - make sure it says 'With the mother' on the label.  A little goes a long way - I generally add 1 tsp to each quart of water.  And never add ACV to a metal waterer - it will cause it to rust.
  2. Offer your chicks chick grit with their food.  I mix about 1/4 cup of grit in with a quart of grower crumbles.
  3. Feed your chicks scrambled or chopped up hard boiled eggs as a treat - occasionally.  This is SUCH a healthy treat for them.  And, if your chicks are anything like mine - they go crazy for it!  It's like crack for baby chicks!
  4. Make sure your chicks have two zones in their brooder.  They need to be able to stay warm, but also get away from the heat if need be.  Many think that pasty butt is caused by chicks getting too warm.
  5. Add a small amount of Vaseline or olive oil to a chick's bum to help prevent poop from sticking.

~ Sara :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Round Here Lately...

Hi, y'all!!

I've been quite MIA recently....but spring is sooo close and we're starting to get things going on our little homestead for the season.  This is - by far - our favorite time of year.  It's also the most exhausting!  All the planning, planting, cleaning, weeding, etc.  But, so worth it.  Now, if Michigan would get its act together and realize that it is technically spring and not winter, that would be great!

Here are a few highlights of things that have been happening in the past few weeks around here:

We took an extra long Spring Break this year and oh-my-goodness was it glorious!  We spent one week at Disney - our first time!  That place truly is magical.  We had more fun than we thought was possible.  The kids were amazing - never once complained about walking miles and miles everyday.  We met characters, rode rides, dined with princesses and just had an awesome, awesome time!  I'd like to say there will be a blog post up about it soon, but I still haven't blogged about the kids' birthdays from the fall sooo...... #imaterribleblogger

After Disney, we headed to our favorite vacation spot - Siesta Key, FL - to have a week of relaxation with Jason's family.  We have been coming here with Jason's family every other year and it's one of my favorite vacations to take.  Plus, Jason and his brothers grew up coming here, so we're carrying on that tradition.

Then, it was back to reality....and reality it was!  We came back and it was snowing!!  After having two weeks of gorgeous, sunny, 80 degree days, it was a tough fact, nearly two weeks later, we're still not adjusted....

Mother Nature did give us a couple days as a teaser of what's to come.  While we had a couple of nice days I was able to drain and clean the hot tub, and search the yard for any signs of spring.  The Sugar Maple trees we planted in the fall are beginning to bud and our garlic is looking great - two awesome signs!!


Inside our house, Jason has been busy building our new pantry!!!  I'm sooooo excited for this.  He's put up enough shelves for me to move all of my home-canned goods in.  Next up is the flooring, a counter, a few more shelves and then it'll be done!


The day after we got home from vacation, I got our seeds started.  We realized last year that a lot of the crops we started by seed are actually better directly sown into the garden.  So, we have a lot fewer seeds inside this year.


The next big project after our vacation?  Getting some baby chickens!!!  The kids and I went to the store and came home with eight babies - two each of Barnevelders, Black Australorps, Golden Comets, and Silver Laced Wyandottes.....


....and then we went to a different store....and came home with four more.... :)
Four Ameraucana chicks!!
(I've been wanting some of this breed for years!!)

On a sad chicken note, we've lost two of our full grown girls in the past week.  First, it was Pancake, our last living ISA Brown hen. We're pretty sure we lost her due to an internal infection.  Next, it was Fork, one of our Barred Rock hens.  A bit more of a traumatic loss.  A neighborhood dog somehow broke into our chicken run and, before I could get to it, he had gotten ahold of our chicken and ran off :(  We are now down to just two of our original girls....Libby Mae and Bork.

Another exciting addition to our homestead is bees!  They are ordered and should be here within a month.  We just ordered this hive/starter kit from Bee Built this week and are hoping to get it all set up this weekend!

So there is a snippet of what we've been up to lately!  We are so looking forward to a bountiful spring/summer and have so many exciting things planned!  Stay tuned to see what we're up to next!!

~ Sara :)