Remember......all photos are clickable
to see a larger version!
Chicken Processing Day
Well after 8 weeks it is finally time. Butchering day! 22
cornish cross meat birds.
We collected supplies, set up stations, boiled water, and
sharpened knives. Chris and Silvia have arrived with the chicken
This was all of our first times processing meat chickens.
Dylan and I processed turkeys last year and knew it was a
big job. In place of $40 killing cones to hang the chickens
upside down I purchased $8 traffic cones and trimmed off the
bottom. It was perfect to hold the wings in and keep the head
pointed down and protruding from the bottom to facilitate
easy decapitation. (what an odd sentence).
Things went amazingly smoothly with so many hands and such
great tools. We brought the chickens up about 6 at a time
in the large cage. We kept the cage covered and pulled the
birds out 2 at a time. They were calm and had no idea what
was coming. Not so much as a squawk from anyone. After allowing
them to drain for a few minutes they went into the scalding
water one at a time for 15 seconds. Then into the chicken
plucker. May I say, the finest machine ever! It only took
about 20 seconds in this machine and they are plucked clean!
Then into the cold water bath.
The biggest bottleneck to the whole project was the gutting
and cleaning. Silvia and I were both working at full speed
gutting and could only clean 1 bird for every 3-4 processed.
We worked like champs and ended up with some great freezer
filler! Each bird processed averaged about 6-7 pounds clean
and wrapped. 7 pounds in 8 weeks!!! AMAZING!
Picked up the next 25 chicks and we will do this again in
13th , 2012
Mothers Day Swarm!
Just after leaving my mom's place in Montana I received a
call on my cell from a family in Coeur d'Alene who reported
a large swarm of bees in a tree in their back yard. I was
super excited about the prospect of collecting a swarm of
bees that did not already belong to me. I told her I would
call her back as soon as we got back home. I called her about
3.5 hours later and expected to hear that the swarm had moved
on. It was still in the tree.
I collected all my gear and drove into CDA. When I arrived
it was almost 7pm and I still had some good daylight left.
The swarm was huge and beautiful! It was spread over 2 branches
and they were calm and happy. I cut the branch from the tree
and laid it in my ready hive box. The group was hardly bothered
by the moved and settled into the box nicely.
I had a few families in their back yards watching the whole
process. I took a frame with some honey over to the kids watching
and let them touch it and try some of the honey. Some of them
photographed the whole process. I sat down and waited till
dusk when almost all the bees had settled into the box. I
strapped the box shut and loaded them up and brought them
home. They have settled into the apiary nicely and have become
11th -12th, 2012
Happy Hatching Day!
Well the baby chicks were right on schedule! Pipping started
on Thursday night and by Friday afternoon there were about
12 hatched. One problem... There were 12 eggs left to hatch
and we needed to leave for Montana to visit my mom for mother's
day weekend. I can't just leave them unattended. Into the
van they go! I moved all the chicks and unhatched eggs into
a rubber bin with a heat lamp and loaded them into the van
for the 4 hour drive.
The kids climbed into the back to check on them about every
20 min. 2 hatched while we were still in Idaho and 3 more
hatched after we crossed into Montana. I loaded the remaining
eggs back into the incubator once we arrived at my mom's.
A total of 19 eggs hatched out of 24. Unfortunately the
littlest chick that was last to hatch was smooshed by the
others on the trip home.
All in all it was a great success. I just hope we end up
with some good hens and not 18 roosters!
1st , 2012
Meat Bird Update
Photos represent April 9th, April 19th and April 29th
1st , 2012
Happy May Day!
The new ladies are loving the flower baskets I have put
together. But the pollen is rolling in from somewhere else.
Watching the front of the hives is great. Some of the girls
are coming in so pollen heavy they can barely fly!
Yeah for fertilized eggs!
Looks as though this batch of eggs in the incubator might
just work! I have been candling the eggs every few days
and have seen amazing growth. I have been checking most
on the eggs with white shells as those are easier to see
into. The photos don't do the eggs justice but I have not
only seen the dark mass grow larger but can see blood vessels
and cool shapes. We are about half way through the incubation
and expect to see chicks by Mother's Day!!
first photo was taken on about day 5, the second on day
7.... the other 2 were taken today. Look at the large mass
at top and the veins at the bottom.
As the late afternoon was cooling down I was shooed the
last straggler bees out of the inside of the little greenhouse.
I saw this little lady hanging out on the inside wall. I
only noted the difference from my ladies because of her
antennae. I brought her out of the greenhouse and put her
on the table. I got a few shots of her with my phone before
she took off. I looked up bee photos and almost sure she
is a mason bee. I have never seen one before and wonder
if the presence of my honey bees drew her in. Or maybe I
am just paying better attention now.
These chicks grow fast!!
I moved the chicks from the house to the chicken tractor
about 10 days ago. They have already outgrown it. I had
to move them to the turkey coop earlier than I thought.
I transported them in these cool rubber buckets both times.
When I moved them the first time I was able to fit 12 chickens
in each bucket. Today I was only able to move 6 per bucket.
They are growing like crazy!!!
Broken Eyes and Baby Cakes are doing very well too! I moved
them from the house to the newly vacant chicken tractor.
They took to it very well and sunned themselves in the grass
for the first time. Baby Cakes has shown Broken Eyes how
to get around the new space.
So, after 24 days of incubation I gave up on the hatching
eggs. I tested it with a few different thermometers and
the machinery is functioning properly. I cracked open 4
of the eggs to see how far they developed and what may have
gone wrong. There was no growth at all. No blood spot or
embryo or anything. It looked like a runny old store egg.
So, obviously the lady from Cataldo who provided the eggs
either gave me normal eggs on purpose or she has a non productive
I was at Aslin Finch today and met and fell in love with
this trio of little Silky Bantams. I also got the contact
info for another fertilized egg source. She lives out in
Hayden so I will head out there Friday and get a new batch
for the incubator. I hope I will have better luck the 2nd
After weeks of excitement and preparation package day is
here! Chloe is getting her very own hive this year! It is
beautiful pink and ready to hold her first bee family. We
took the family and drove to Tates Honey Farm and picked
up our 2 new packages. Chloe named her queen Bee-once. We
got all the new ladies to the house and prepped the new
hives with some drawn comb and sugar water. The ladies moved
in easily and Chloe installed BOTH packages! She is going
to be the best little beekeeper ever.
10th -14th, 2012
So the downside of having a "farm". There was
an incident when the baby chickens were moved from the brooder
area into the new chicken coop not unlike the tragedy at
Altamont. In a mobish effort to get in front of the warm
glow of the heat lamp (not the Rolling Stones) 2 chicks
were trampled. One so flat that he looked like one of those
joke rubber chickens. (Obviously dead) The other was smothered
or squished but not killed. At first I was sure she would
not live through the night.
I ran through the plans in my mind about how I was going
to have to kill this cute little chick to put her out of
her misery if she did not pass on her own. I checked on
her often and held her in my hand while she had a seizure
trying to muster the nerve to wring her neck. I decided
to let her go another night trying to judge if she was suffering
The next morning she was still alive sitting up a little
straighter. I gave her a couple drops of water and she drank
them. The next morning she seemed even better. I reached
down to touch her a she jumped like it was a surprise. After
a bit of "testing" I have determined that she
is likely blind. I don't know if this is a result to the
squishing and the seizure of if this condition may have
been preexisting and gone unnoticed in the fluffy snuggling
I did a little reading about people who have had blind chickens.
They often do well when they have a friend to follow and
bond with. I thought about grabbing one of the original
broodmates and putting it in with her, but I was concerned
that they would sense her deference and hurt her. So here
is my solution. I went to the farm store and purchased a
small chick and put her in with the blind chicken. My 2
year old niece has named them "Broken Eyes" and
"Baby Cakes". The new baby took right to Broken
Eyes and they are the best of friends. I will update here
on their progress!
Here is a photo of the new hives. The pink hive belongs
to Chloe and was a passed on gift from Jerry Tate at Tates
Honey Farm! We painted it up and she is ready to roll
with her very own hive! New bee packages arrive on April
14th! (Same day as the chicken eggs in the incubator should
We are so excited to meet our new girls and our new queens.
Hopefully they like pink and blue!
With a few extra dollars from tax returns I decided to buy
a small portable greenhouse to give my northern Idaho gardening
a little head start. I managed to bust this house out in about
30 min all by myself. I hope to set up a shelf with containers
for herbs and a bit of early lettuce, and plant the tomatoes
directly into the soil inside the greenhouse. I will have
to either drive long posts or attach it to the fence to keep
it from blowing away in the occasional high winds we get up
here. Any tips or tricks on greenhousing are appreciated.
Soooooo, I was doing a little prepping in the garden on Saturday
morning. I called Dylan down to check out my work. The last
few winters have been unkind to the garden steps. This winter
pushed it over the edge. Several of the stairs had heaved
and were pointing significantly downhill. Well Dylan hit about
step 4 and slipped. A few busted ribs later it was decided
that something needed to be done. I hit Lowes a few days later
and picked up some stair no-slip pads. I spent the afternoon
Tuesday digging and leveling the steps, pounding new rebar,
and attaching the new no-slip pads. Now the stairs are fit
for small kids and clumsy husbands!
Two new studies have pinned the blame for the catastrophic
decline in bee numbers on a commonly-used class of pesticides.
I have been saving these potatoes in the pantry since last
fall. Some are my crop from last year and some are my moms.
The kids and I planted them in some potato containers. Hopefully
they have not gone too far and they produce something. We
will see. Also picked up some super yummy fingerling potatoes
when we were at pike street. I have put them in the window
to see if they will chit. Fingers crossed.
The new chicks have arrived. Our 25 meat chickens are just
2 days old and have arrived from the feed store. I will be
photographing them over the next few weeks as they grow. The
are cornish crosses and should be full butchering size in
Trying our hand at hatching chicks!
I have acquired the Farm Innovators Model 4200 egg incubator
with automatic egg turner, and 8 fertilized chicken eggs.
We are going to try and hatch some new chickens for our laying
flock. I am excited as this is my first attempt at hatching
eggs. Fingers crossed. If all goes well the will hatch on
the weekend of April 14th!
What is the deference between a factory farmed egg, a free
range egg, and a farm fresh "pastured" egg??
If you could taste you would know. It is that same feeling
when you eat a piece of warm homemade bread after eating wonder
bread. Some scientists say there is no nutritional difference,
but I think all "free range" eggs are not created
equal. Take a look at the photos below and tell me who you
think produces a healthier product.
Who's eggs and meat would you rather
Some studies say this about pastured eggs:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
beta carotene is mostly from the hen eating lots of fresh
greens. That is why the egg on the left in the 2 photos
below is so much less orange. Also notice which egg held
up being dropped of the plate into the pan. Yup. This pastured
egg is even from mid-winter when there is much less grass
but still plenty of green kitchen scraps. You may pay $1
a dozen for the factory farmed eggs and up to $4 a dozen
for pastured eggs at the farmers market or from your local
small farm, but I think the difference is a no-brainer.
Read some good articles:
Real Free-Range Eggs
Our Kids Make The February Edition Bee
An amazing warm January Day. The bees are out doing their
cleansing flights and collecting water.
Possible CCD (colony collapse disorder) cause? Maybe just
another straw on that camel's back!
Courtesy Christopher Quock -- An Apocephalus borealis fly,
implants its eggs into the abdomen of a honey bee. The fly
is suspected of contributing to the decrease in the honey
bee population. Researchers say the fly deposits its eggs
in the abdomen of honey bees and as the larvae grow within
the body of the bee, the bee begins to lose control of its
ability to think and walk, flying blindly toward light.
It eventually dies and the fly larvae emerge.
This fly, Apocephalus borealis, is suspected of contributing
to the decrease in the honey bee population. Researchers
say the fly deposits its eggs in the abdomen of honey bees
and as the larvae grow within the body of the bee, the bee
begins to lose control of its ability to think and walk,
flying blindly toward light. It eventually dies and the
fly larvae emerge.
Courtesy John Hafernik -- The larvae of an Apocephalus borealis
fly emerges from the dead body of a host honey bee. The
A. borealis fly is suspected of contributing to the decrease
in the honey bee population. Researchers say the fly deposits
its eggs in the abdomen of honey bees and as the larvae
grow within the body of the bee, the bee begins to lose
control of its ability to think and walk, flying blindly
toward light. It eventually dies and the fly larvae emerge.
parasite turns Bay Area honeybees into zombie slaves
|January 1st, 2012
Just adding a some links to a few articles I was interviewed
for last few summers in the Spokesman Review. One on gardening
and one on beekeeping.
|December 10th, 2011
IEBA Joy In Beekeeping Award
I won the joy in beekeeping award from the IEBA last night.
Great award and some $$ towards Chloe's first hive. Super