Are you stocking winter chicks?

Many people choose to raise chickens in the winter in the hopes of getting eggs that spring. Keeping the chicks warm enough is always a concern during the spring and especially in the winter months. Chicks need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week or so and then dropping the temperature by five degrees a week as their feathers come in and begin to do the job of keeping them warm. Another reason people choose to brood chicks is for the fair. Having chicks in January brings mature and fully feathered birds to the county fair each year. Those couple of extra months provide for a lot of growth and mature birds for the fair.
Raising chickens is a fun hobby with eggs or meat as a benefit. In the picture above I have Buff Orpington and Fast Growing meat birds. The meat birds were a huge failure. We live just under five thousand feet in elevation and the warning for the birds was to not raise above five thousand feet. I thought I’d be safe… well four thousand six hundred feet is apparently close enough to five thousand feet.. because I lost each and every chick to pneumonia as they grew older. I also found out that free feeding these chicks is a no-no… they will eat themselves to death. Food for twelve hours on and then twelve hours off (pull the food through the night) is the most recommended feeding schedule I’ve seen out there. My other failure came in with raising egg birds and meat birds in the same brooder. They tended to pile up at night and as time passed the meat birds were twice the size of the little buff chicks. When I’d check on them in the morning I’d find flat buffs on the bottom of the huddle. The temps held fine, the birds just liked to huddle. It was a learning experience for sure… I’ll certainly do things differently next time!

There are a lot of tricks and tidbits to raising chickens, turkey poults or any birds. What tidbits have you learned over the years.?

Loose Minerals for Livestock

I have been working with the local feed store trying to get loose minerals for Cookie cow and the calf. They’ve both been licking the ground lately and since I know I haven’t dropped molasses there, I figured it was time to fill the loose mineral feeder. (Licking up dirt is a tell tale sign that their bodies are craving minerals)
The feed stores out her don’t carry dairy cow minerals, just goat minerals. From what I’ve read, goats have much higher selenium needs than dairy cows do and an overdose of selenium can stop the heart… so what to do… READ and READ, well at least that’s what I did.
Apparently it takes a very large overdose to hurt your cows and the greater amount in goat minerals is not so much that it will kill you cow. If dairy minerals are available, they are much better suited for your milking girl, but so far Cookie is doing just fine on the goat minerals and thankfully she’s stopped licking the ground!

What do you do when loose minerals aren’t available for your animals needs?

Comments welcome!

Deicing the Livestock Tanks

Cookie cow and the other furry kids have a nice size water tank with a drain plug for weekly scrubbing. (For those of you who don’t live in the desert, the sun is quite the algae builder!) Winter’s are cold in the mountains of Arizona and temperatures can drop down below zero at night. When fluke cold snaps hit in the early fall, I have been seen out at the water tank with an axe breaking up the ice so the livestock could get to the water. It’s then that I typically pull out the heavy duty extension cord and hook up the deicer for the livestock tank.

This is one of those items that no livestock owner should be without, that is unless you live in Florida or Hawaii… or Phoenix, but for those of us with winter weather, a water tank deicer is imperative. Most units are thermostatically controlled and only kick on when freezing temperatures warrant the need. I slide the large tank up close to the fence and tuck the cord for the deicer through the fence at the lip of the tank. This keeps the calves from playing with the cord and either unplugging it, or worse, chewing through the insulation to the wires. Guards can be purchased if you need to keep a plastic bucket of water from freezing, but I am always nervous about a heating element and plastic. If a stock tank is too costly, go to your local hardware store and purchase a large 35 gallon metal garbage can or two. It would likely require daily filling, but would offer your furry kids a clean source of fresh water.

Do you have an electric free trick to keep an ice free livestock tank? If so I’d love to hear some of the ideas out there!!!

Happy Homesteading!

Amazing Homemade Bread

Simple No Knead Homemade Bread Recipe

Simple No Knead Homemade Bread Recipe


A few years ago I found this recipe in an issue of Mother Earth News and have been hooked ever since. I’m not a big fan of sour breads, so I make it the day I want to bake it, but if you like sour bread, you can let it ripen in the refrigerator for a few days and you’ll have that nice sour bite. The recipe is so simple…

Homemade No Knead Bread

A simple recipe for homemade no knead bread

3 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cup flour

Put away the ol’ Kitchen Aid because this is a NO KNEAD bread!!!! Mix all ingredients thoroughly and let rise for 2 hours. Once risen, punch down and refrigerate until one half hour before your ready to bake. At baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pull out the dough onto your lightly floured counter, form into two loaves. Sprinkle corn meal onto a large baking sheet and then place your loaves onto the sheet. With a sharp knife, make some slits into the top of your loaves and let rise for 20 minutes.

Before placing your loaves in the oven, place another pan beneath the rack that your bread will bake on. I use a 9×9 pan and fill it about half way with water. Slide your cookie sheet onto the rack above and set the timer for 30 minutes. Your loaves should be a nice golden brown and firm to the touch when ready. I brush the loaves with butter just after I pull them from the oven to soften up the crust a bit.

Here’s the link to the entire article if you’d like to see all the fun they have with this dough!

I wanted to share this with you because I’m baking it today myself… it goes great with a ham and lentil soup!

Can My Cow Colic???

Good evening all… forgive any typo’s this evening… my day started at 4:30 a.m. and it’s now after 8:00 p.m. and I’m just getting to sit down. Normally I’d be in two hours earlier but my sweet Cookie cow had the bovine version of colic. Notice in the photo how the left side of the cow is very rounded and arching, while the right is short ribs and sunken in as normal. The left is full of foam and is trapped on top of rumen that is too dry to move as it should. You see, our daytime temperatures recently went from the mid to high eighties down to forties in a matter of twenty four hours. Sometimes, when the temps swing so fast like that Cookie cow forgets to drink enough water and her rumen becomes like biscuit dough. It should slosh when pushed into and Cookie’s left side was definitely not sloshing! Normally, as the rumen works the gas forms a bubble and the cows belch, with a dry rumen, the gas becomes foam and gets trapped. If left uncared for it can compress the lungs and actually suffocate the animal. I called Dr. Lane, my favorite livestock vet. He was on another emergency call and explained that it would likely be a few hours before he could get here. So, I had two choices. I could go get mineral oil and make a drench or I could wait for him and hope Cookie could make it… Well, you guessed right… I went to the store! I bought a gallon worth of mineral oil, some molasses and once home, pulled the Epsom salt from the livestock cupboard. From this I made a drench of sorts. I used warm water, about a quart, added a quart and a half of mineral oil and a half quart of molasses. Once all of the liquids are blended, I add two tablespoons of Epsom salt for the Magnesium which helps her rumen balance again. I make it this way, because if Cookie has any interest at all in food, I can at times get her to gobble up the mixture on her own, but this evening wasn’t one of those times. She had NO interest in food.

I don’t have pictures of the next part because I can’t hold a cow’s head, grab her tongue and pull it out of the side of her mouth, AND pour the mixture into her mouth all the while taking photos.. HA! I pour a cup or so at a time and release her head / tongue so she can swallow, breath, cough… you have to be VERY careful not to get the mixture in her lungs and without the tube it’s a best effort situation. I pour small amounts and allow her to swallow it on her own. She HATES the process but by the time I had half of the mixture into her belly, she began belching! MUSIC TO MY EARS!!!! I massaged the left side (the rumen side) and got the oil to mix with the foam, creating a bubble that she could burp out. After a half an hour she was sunken in again like a Jersey / Guernsey cow should be and was ready for dinner! Seeing her head in the red bucket made me a very happy cow momma! I hope this helps those of you with bovine, goat, sheep… any rumen bellied animal. Some are prone to this issue, others go a lifetime and never have any problems at all. I hope your critter is the latter.

Happy Homesteading!