The Happyish Homestead

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April: A Summary

First Up: Easter

We celebrated Easter in grand style with new dresses, lots of chocolate, thoughts on Christ and a visit from the Eater bunny.

Spencer has been asserting too much independence and the result is not pretty with lots of time outs.

And also concludes with most of his Easter Sunday photos with his hands in his pants.












Spencer (the best picture to work with….that kid….)


Easter Sunday dinner.

My grandparents wedding china.

Next Up: Disneyland

We’d been budgeting and saving to go on this trip.

We wanted to surprise the kids so we told them the night before we left.

I got the video camera posed.

And they didn’t believe us.

At all.

Not even shouts of ‘You’re awesome!’

In conclusion, the reveal was pretty anti-climatic.

I, also, thought we’d make our own shirts.

The idea was to dye the shirts blue and the silhouette would remain white.

It didn’t work.

So now we just have “white shirts that I bought the week before we went Disneyland” to commemorate the event.



Bryce’s parents went with us.

We drove down Tuesday.

We stayed at a house that was more ‘ghetto’ than ‘vintage’ but did have an orange tree.

We did three days at Disneyland.

I ran into a friend from high school.

Which doesn’t seem impressive until you think about how big and busy Disneyland is, that she lives in Idaho and I live in Oregon, how many days and weeks are in the year and that our high school only had like 220 students.

We did not see any of the characters from Frozen, as the wait time was anywhere from two to five hours.

We drove back Saturday.

Bennett worked on cutting three teeth while we were there.

The Sunday after we got back I took an 1 1/2 nap.

Regardless of how exhausting the trip was, it was really, really fun.


And a series of pictures of our family with people in costume.




(Could my front backpack strap be in a worse location?)








Spencer is not in this picture.

He was not happy that Goofy ‘kissed’ his autograph book.








 Lastly: Elizabeth’s BirthdayDSC00411

Elizabeth turned 9!


Hope your week has started out amazing, mine has: after I’ve cleaned the house done, six loads of laundry, put together some birthday presents, made homemade donuts and put Spencer in his room,


Friday, April 18, 2014

Chickens 101–A Mostly Comprehensive Guide


There should be a large selection during the spring, starting about February and a smaller selection during the fall.

Baby chicks usually cost between $2 and $3.

They require chicken feed, cedar wood shavings (I buy a big bag for about $9), water and a heat lamp.  One with a red bulb as it helps baby chicks stay calm.

I keep our chickens in a large galvanized container, my sister keeps hers in an enormous box.

Ours stay in the kitchen under the table.

You’ll need a water and feeder base.  They are plastic or metal and are about $2.50 each.  I use a regular mouth canning jar to hold the water and feed.

I buy an all-in-one feed and it’s the same I use for my older chickens.  It’s about $15 for a 50# bag.  (I keep ours in a plastic, lidded trash can.)

The heat lamp/light starts low and is raised about a foot higher each week until it is no longer required.  I use the one that comes with a clamp and just attach it to the edge of the table or a chair.

Situate your food and water and heat lamp into different areas, not all clumped in one corner.

They grow really fast and will become escape artists before you know it.  We just put a section of chicken wire over the top to keep them contained.

It is recommended for baby chicks to remain indoors for the first eight weeks.

But they can get loud and obnoxious so I usually throw mine outside between six and seven weeks with out a problem.

This is the time where the chicks need lots of loving and holding.  It will make for nicer, more domestic chickens.

Make sure your chickens stay dry and warm.

Work for this stage of life is minimal and really is just cleaning: out the water, their food, and bedding.









If you eat eggs every day, I would recommend 8 – 10 chickens.

If you eat eggs occasionally, 3 – 6 is probably enough.

If you want them mainly for pets with eggs as a bonus 2 – 3 is probably adequate.

If you want to sell and eat 15 – 20.

We have a family of seven and we sell our eggs (5 – 6 dz a week).  I have 30 hens.

Also, when you are buying baby chicks, keep in mind you might end up with a rooster or some may not make it.  I would probably purchase one or two more than you had originally planned on.

If you have a small space, I would also recommend getting all the same breed, as they tend to get along better in a limited area.




Brown Leg Horn, white eggs, super smart, considered one of the best layers.


Gold Sex Link, calmer breed with large, light brown eggs.


Barred Rock (Plymouth Rock), for us, these tend to be a bit more aggressive, light brown eggs.


Australorp, also considered one of the best layers, large, light brown eggs, calm, stocky.


Ameraucana, I think these are the most unattractive of the lot.  They have a ‘mane’ and can be white or brown.  They are a gentle breed.  Most of them lay blue eggs.DSC00152



The one in the middle looks like a Barred Rock, but isn’t.  We ‘adopted’ her when we saw her down on the street corner.  We thought she was one of ours, turns out she wasn’t. 

We’ve adopted two mature hens and find that it’s pretty easy to incorporate them into the rest of the flock.


Fat Lucy, Gold Sex Link.


Left, Rhode Island Red, light brown to dark brown eggs, more aggressive breed.

Brown Ameraucana.



Our chickens are free range.

We allow them to ‘imprint’ on their coops for three to four weeks. 

We keep them locked up during that time, feeding, watering, and continuing to hold them.

After that time, we let them out.

They wander the property during the day and come back to the coop to roost when the sun starts heading down.



Their housing doesn’t have to be elaborate.  It is more important for chickens to have fresh air than space.  But they still need space.  I saw someone convert a dog house into a chicken coop.

Their coop needs to have: food, water, roosting dowels, nesting boxes, and bedding.

For bedding you can use straw or cedar chips.  Straw is easier to clean out but cedar is cleaner.

Our coops are two storied, with cement on the bottom, tin on top for the roof and wood for everything in between.

We have found it helpful (but not mandatory) to have coops that we can section off so we can add new broods easily.  Top to bottom or side to side.


We use a double walled galvanized water bucket.  They’re about $20 but are pretty sturdy.  We use two for 30 chickens and fill them up every other day.  They’re designed so if you want to hang them up to keep chickens from scratching wood chips in there, you can.

Chickens will also just drink out of a bucket.  Just make sure it stays full so it’s easy for them to reach.

You can set up a more complex system with nipples and a bucket with PVC.


We clamp heat lamps to the roof in the winter.

Be very careful with heat lamps, if they fall while still on and sit in the coop for a while, they can start a fire.


Roosting dowels.


In one coop, I put a bowl with a rock in it (so they didn’t tip it over) for their feed.

In another coop I have a hanging plastic container.

These are not terribly sturdy, but stay relatively clean because they’re off the floor.



Nesting boxes.  Chickens like privacy so make sure they get some.  In one of the coops, we just put a box in there with some bedding and angled a flat board over it and that works just fine, too.

Put wood eggs in the boxes to demonstrate what the boxes are for.

Collect eggs regularly.  Some chickens will peck or eat their eggs.  (This is normal.)

If you find a cache of eggs (a large amount of eggs, not in a laying box that you had no idea about) - you can promote the chicken still laying there by removing her eggs and replacing them with wood eggs.

If you want to see if they’re still good, you can do a simple water test:

Fill up a bowl with water.  Place eggs in the bowl.  If they float, throw them out, if just the large end rises, they’re about 2 weeks old, if they sink, they’re pretty fresh.

Eggs can stay good, if unwashed, on your counter for up to three weeks.  Washing them takes off their protective covering, so make sure they’re refrigerated if you’ve cleaned them.









It takes a good six months for hens to start laying.

They lay about every 28 hours.  Some days you’ll have more eggs than other days.

Chickens only have so many eggs - Brown Leg Horns and Australorps have one of the higher egg counts - so the sooner they use them up, the sooner they’re done laying.

Chickens can lay three to five years.

Some chickens die unexpectedly, sometimes they are egg bound.

We put a heat lamp in our coops during the winter to keep their water from freezing and to keep the eggs coming.  This is optional.

There is such a thing as a pecking order.  It helps keep the younger chickens in line and knowing their place.

Chickens are not usually aggressive towards people.

They can become aggressive towards one another when they’re hungry, bored, or not enough space.

In our personal experience, our chickens have not been unnecessarily cruel, but it does happen, so just be aware and try to keep your chickens safe.

Chickens are not as delicate or dumb as led to believe.  We had one chicken attacked by a dog, skin hanging and everything, we bandaged her up and she healed quickly and easily.  Some chickens will attack a hurt, injured or weakened hen, but this has not been the case with us.  If you are concerned, you can keep the the hen separated in a cat kennel or rabbit hutch until she’s healthy again.

I’ve also had some chickens hide when they’ve heard a dog barking.

They’ve never tried to cross the road.

I had two chickens stuck in some blackberry brambles and I went over and called to them and they came right to me.

Chickens are creatures of habit.  I had cleaned out one of their coops one day and neglected to put everything back in with some fresh bedding.  Needless to say they refused to go in at night and I spent a good 20 minutes gathering them up from around the yard where they had decided to roost.  (Trees, windshield wiper, porch light….)

They can jump up to seven feet.

They like to roll around in dust to help with mites.

They eat just about anything, even stuff that is off limits, but won’t touch ants.

They keep our grass healthy be eating it down and fertilizing it.

Ours eat right out of the compost bin, they love left over oatmeal, bread, greens, etc.

Also, it is good for chickens to eat the shells of their eggs or you can buy oyster shells at the farm and feed store.  It helps their egg shells be strong and healthy.

Chickens do not like the rain or to get their feet wet.

Sometimes hens lay a soft shelled egg.  This is normal.  Sometimes it is due to the hen getting wet.

After hens are a year old, they will start molting in the fall and spring.  This is a terrible time of year where they lose all sorts of feathers and are generally depressing to look at and egg production pretty much falls off.

We alleviate this by getting new chicks almost every year.


Chickens make great pets.  The kids like to chase them and catch them.  You don’t have to walk them or clean up their poop.  {Hose it off from your brand new patio?  Yes.}  And they’re just as happy with lots of attention or no attention.

If any of the three people that were in favor of this post have any questions, let me know in the comments.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Is In Full Swing

Spencer turned 3.


Bennett turned 6 months


and likes to sit outside and watch the chickens.


The bees are busy.


Baths in the laundry room sink.


Chickens are fat and healthy.


Meg learned to ride two wheeler.

The trampoline and the hammock are the two favorite toys.

We’ve eaten outside every day this last week.

Peas, broccoli, spinach, beets, onions, and garlic are thriving.

Bryce is spending hours mowing the lawn.

We are all getting our freckles back.

And I can’t help think that there aren’t days any better than these.


P.S. I’ll be back later this week with a full fledge chicken post.