Tag Archives: baby chicks

Wild Critters dine and dash

Living in the wild one must expect losses from wildlife looking for a fast meal, right?  WRONG.  Now to get this through the wild critters heads may take a bit of encouraging or is it discouraging?   Either way the latest task is to get my chickens off the menu of a weasel or mink or whatever the nasty little creature is that has been raiding my-MY henhouse!  The nerve!

This all began a few days ago when I found 2 of my pullets dead and blamed my sweet little (well not so little hen for pecking them).  As some of you may recall I also had a chick with a severe injury to the neck that required stitching the skin back in place but more on that in a bit.  I really did believe that it was the hen so I removed her and the rooster to other living quarters and thought the problem was resolved as nothing happened to any of the sweet young birds over the course of the next 2 hours.  Our friends Robin and Dan came out and we were discussing life on the farm and Robin pointed out that now is the time the wild critters will be looking to feed on my not so wild critters.  Oh the possibility is there I thought but noooooo not MY precious and cute chickens.  That night something DID strike again this time getting 6 of them!  Mad as an old wet hen I drug the carcasses out one by one and examined them and sure enough some wily creature had sucked the blood right out of them!  This means war!   So doing what any rational person would do I immediately apologized to my hen Henny for accusing her of such an awful thing and called Robin.  After teasing her about her wild critters getting my not so wild critters (those who know me will understand I deal with anything tragic by way of humor) she became as mad as I was and said we’re gonna trap that little sucker-or something along those lines and said I will call my son, get some traps and Dan and I will come out this afternoon!   Now you have to understand Robin is a spitfire of a woman all 5 foot 2 or so and a big gust of wind would blow her away but she has gumption.  She is as crazy as I am about the outdoors and is very well versed in everything Alaska.  I am so fortunate to have her as my friend and mentor.  Robin and Dan arrive and I am up to my elbows in cheese-yep more of that story to follow but lets not get sidetracked.  They have traps, bait and more importantly the knowledge we are lacking to catch the beast or beasts that dared trespass and dine on my fowl.  After getting Mike educated on the ins and outs of trapping they joined us for coffee and Robin brought us some blueberries and strawberries she had picked and froze last summer and some canned salmon I have already earmarked for salmon patties on Friday.  Robin came in and immediately got acquainted with my little chick Stitch so named because it took 6 stitches to put the poor thing back together.IMG_3404 IMG_3401

After 6 tiny stitches he or she (not sure which) is as good as new and is making itself quite at home in the cabin. I do believe it thinks it may be a dog as it follows us around and insists on being the center of attention.

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Well, Robin and Stitch found mutual friends in each other and stitch even sang to her. Yes the silly chick coos and sings-not Robin!  It was Stitch singing!

This week has been one of those weeks.  Our 4 wheeler blew the water pump and we are looking for parts, the chicken ordeal rattled me and it seems as if I am constantly moving yet getting nowhere. It is times like this I reflect upon a quote from Mother Theresa which goes something like this “I know God will not give me anymore than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much”. This too shall pass but I am thankful during these times for my faith to carry me through.

It is the time of year that I everything is moving forward and I of course with an already overloaded schedule have to begin my crafting.  In the last 2 weeks I have made soap, Instant cocoa mix with goats milk powder, Lip Balm and with the goats producing milk it is cheese making time once again.  Yay!!! I do love making cheese but since I use old recipes and do things the old ways it is very time consuming.

Goats milk, Coconut oil and Honey Soap
Goats milk, Coconut oil and Honey Soap

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Soap Curing
Soap Curing

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Lip Balm made with Organic Coconut oil, Beeswax and Grapeseed oil
Lip Balm made with Organic Coconut oil, Beeswax and Grapeseed oil

The soap must cure for another 3-4 weeks and then it will be available for purchase.

All of our products are  made with natural ingredients and we use organic materials whenever possible.

If interested in soap, lip balm or goat milk hot cocoa mix message me for more details.

I will leave you all this evening with pics of my goat milk cheddar fresh from the press it is almost perfect except my new oak pressing plates I burnished to seal and it left a couple of charcoal colored spots on the wheels but that shouldn’t effect the taste.  to finish  drying, then waxing and finally the aging.    I will let you know how it tastes in 2 months after it has aged properly.

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Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

l pray you are all safe, warm and blessed beyond measure.

Crazy, Busy, Life

IMG_3039Today was definitely one of those crazy days where I met myself coming and going.  The arrival of baby chicks at 6:30 a.m. means rising at least an hour earlier in order to be ready and get out to the truck to get to town and pick them up.  This is our fourth attempt and sadly I must report every one of the Barred Rock pullets arrived dead but the 25 assorted chicks 22 of those survived and are quite healthy.  I called the poultry producer immediately and was assured they would look into it and would make good on them.  Truly I have no fear that Ideal poultry won’t make good as they always do and the company has impeccable customer service but as I stated to them there may be something that requires a further investigation.  I am however very happy with the chicks that survived as the came out of the box on a run and went right to eating and drinking.

IMG_3035 The non electric brooder is working well and praying the chicks continue to thrive.

After getting the chicks settled in I began making taps for the upcoming birch sap run.  They are not difficult to make just time-consuming.  After gathering he willows (dear hubby did this for me) I cut them in 5 inch sections beveling one end. They are then stripped of the bark and a hole drilled through them.  Not much to it but when it takes 30 minutes to carefully do this so as not to drill through the side making 50 of them seems like a daunting task.  I completed 4 today before I had to quit and get chores started again.

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Many may question why I am making my taps when they can be ordered for a few dollars each but multiply that few dollars by 50 it adds up quickly.   There is a certain satisfaction from doing things old school.  After all there are very few people in this fast paced world who want to bother with making birch syrup as it takes at least 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup but once you taste it you will see why it is so special and if I am going to spend that much energy collecting organic sap to make organic syrup I don’t think I want to use plastic taps made from petroleum products to gather the sap with. I  am teaching my children the old ways, before our world became a disposable society.  Preserving these ways for future generations is an important part of history I want to keep alive.  My kids helped with the first taps today and will be a part of each step from tapping the trees, gathering the sap, cooking down and bottling.

Hope you all are living your dreams and pray that you are blessed beyond measure.

Pictures Pictures Pictures!

I finally found dear Hubby’s Kodak digital camera and today after the chores were done I played with shutting off the auto mode and using different shudder speeds, filters etc.  I had a lot of fun and wanted to share the pics.  Of course there is no way I can begin to capture the beauty of this place but it gives you an idea.  Also you will note most of the pictures I take are of the view I see each day of Mount Illiamna that is across Cook Inlet. I am still mesmerized by its beauty every time I look at it.mountain cropped-mountain.jpg100_0555 (3) cropped-100_0551-31.jpg 100_0551 (3) 100_0555 (2) 100_0547 (2)100_0564 (2)100_0580

Off course no picture taking day would be complete without kids and critters!

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Not perfect by far but much better than my phone!  I look forward to taking many more as we begin seeing signs of spring.  When that will be is any ones guess as it is currently 26 degrees and starting to snow.

I did take time to call the postal service in Anchorage today.  I was worried over my chicks that are to arrive tomorrow and spoke to a very nice woman who assured me that the chicks were alive and well an headed here tomorrow in the CAB of the truck.  She was horrified when she heard the entire story about what has transpired with the other chicks over the last 3 weeks.  I also informed her about the very rude gentleman that I had the unfortunate call with at their customer service call center.  She was appalled that anyone would behave so badly.  I did take the opportunity though to tell her what awesome ladies we have in our local post office who work so hard to get things done in a timely manner.

Chicks should be here at 6:30 in the morning and yes I am excited!  The 4 I have now that are 3 weeks old have become my little buddies and soon they will be going outside but not to the chicken tractor like any common chicken-nope they will be in their own little sheltered area (a large netting enclosure) so they stay close enough to visit and enjoy their morning coffee with me.

The brooder is working great, it has been a week now with no glitches.  I will begin construction of an incubator in the next day or so and after I have it stabilized will be hatching chicks for resell and also some to fatten for butchering.

Work is steadily progressing on the bunny barns and I will be showing photos of those soon.  Always work to be done on Two Moose Farm but I have to say that it is much fun.

If your a facebooker please join us at https://www.facebook.com/offgridalaska and share what is happening in your life.

May God Bless each and every one of you in your endeavors and I pray that you find happiness in all that you do.

Winter is coming for a short visit and Oh Henry lives up to his name

Finally winter is coming for a visit but doesn’t look like it will be staying long.  Currently we have about 1/2 inch of snow on the ground and 22 degrees but by Sunday they say the temps will be in the single digits at night and high teens in the day.  Next week we’re supposed to warm up again though so will enjoy the change for a bit.

This week has been filled with a lot of ups and downs.  We received chicks from Ideal and thought everything was fine until around day 4 and they started dropping like flies.  It makes me sad to see little creatures dying and feeling helpless I called IDEAL Poultry to discuss the matter.  In their opinion the chicks must have gotten chilled in transport then warmed again.  This basically destroys their internal organs so they are once again shipping replacements and with 50 instead of 25 plus adding heat packs. I will tell you I have never dealt with a company with such great customer service. I strongly urge you to patronize them if you’re in need of poultry.

Our brooder was wearing me out with constantly having to keep an eye out for temperature fluctuations so I designed a new one and my dear hubby and I built it.  I am happy to say its day 2 and I have nervously checked the temp at least 500 times and its spot on!  The remaining chicks are very happy in it and the 50 due to arrive tomorrow will too I am sure.

It’s really a very simple design.  Build a box 3 foot square 9″ high and for the bottom attach a metal plate (we used old highway signs I picked up at the dump the other day  (when I hauled them in posts and all hubby was questioning it but ha! they were useful!!!) Attach leg to sides,  then add boards around the bottom to hold heat in from below that is supplied with an oil lamp, add a cover that will keep the heat contained then put 1/2 inch to 1 inch of sawdust down to disperse heat and cover with either straw or hay.  It is currently a toasty 95 in the middle and 80 on the sides.  To raise or lower temp you just raise or lower the lamp.  Not a difficult thing to do and non electric.  Sure beats having to maintain a brooder very 2 hours with my first design.

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Once again  Oh Henry was up to his curious (or is it obnoxious) self and found himself in yet another predicament. He managed to get himself stuck AROUND and IN a bucket.  His curiosity will be the end of him one day. Thank goodness he is calm when he gets himself into the predicaments and comes to us to get him out.

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Of course this week was especially busy for Henry.  He decided that going into the outhouse, getting the toilet paper and decorating the entire front yard would be a great idea.  Of course when I yelled “Oh Henry” he dropped the roll and before I could get my phone that was in the cabin, He ate all the evidence!  His newest trick is to on the rabbit cages so the rabbits can get out and then somehow he folds himself into the cages and eats all the food. I really must find some goat proof latches.

Daylight hours are growing and so is the workload.  Hoping to get caught up on my crochet orders over the next few days while its cold outside. After this mini cold snap I will begin getting ready for birch tapping and cooking syrup down so if your interested in Birch syrup message me and get your order in early as I am sure it will go fast.  This syrup will not have any fillers as thickeners in it.  It will be 100% organic condensed Birch syrup.  If you have never had Birch syrup on your pancakes you will find it is amazing!!!

Spring will be here before you know it and its hard to believe in just 2 months we will be celebrating our first anniversary here on Two Moose Farm.  Its been a busy year and I pray God continues to bless us all with good health and guide us on our path to total self-sufficiency.  May you all be blessed  in your endeavors.

New life on Two Moose

I feel like spring is in the air with the new life here on Two Moose Farm.  Baby chicks arrived today and although we have lost two, one was crushed by the others during shipping and one was being pecked on by the others (which is usually a sign something is wrong with it, the rest seem to be doing well. Here is a video of when they first arrived

As you can imagine it’s quite noisy but they do have their quiet times and seem to have quieted down more now that I have added an oil lamp to the brooder for light.

Little Racer has become a pest.  He does really well outside playing with Etta until one of us goes outside or he hears something inside-today he heard the chicks and had to come investigate.  His curiosity got the better of him and he proceeded to jump into the brooder and that ended his meet and greet with the chicks.

Here is a video of Racer and you will hear Missy in the background reprimanding my son Caleb for daring to mess with the babies.

We will begin our rabbit breeding season again in the next couple of weeks so we can be sure to have plenty of Easter Bunnies available.  Don’t worry though we have a program that keeps the rabbits out of the shelters. Rabbits are so cute to so many until they become adults.  Personally I think rabbits make great pets as they are easily litter box trained, can be taught to fetch, sit up and many other tricks.  They are very clean animals who love attention.

Spring is in the air and I am noticing more and more green growth out here during my walks.  I so want to hurry it up but I know that winter could arrive at anytime so will try to be patient.  I will say that the thoughts of the greenhouse going up early have crossed my mind many times and I may have to sweet talk my dear hubby into beginning construction soon.

Weatherman is calling for snow next week but at the same time  continued warm temps so I will expect rain as it appears to be the norm this year. One thing I have noticed is the ice is getting thinner so maybe breakup will not be so bad this year.

Well I am off once again to gaze at my gardening charts and dream of green things growing in abundance.  If I can talk dear hubby into it, my greenhouse could be producing potatoes by May!  Have a blessed weekend all.

p.s.   I do have a favor to ask. If you could please go to my “About” page there is a follow button on the left hand side of the screen.  If you haven’t followed already would you please do so?  Thank You!

Update on our chicks

Sadly I have to tell you all of our chicks died.  It was a good fight though and I believe that had they been from another producer they may not have made it as far as they did.  Ideal poultry already answered my message and let me know they would be replaced.   I did inform hem that I didn’t believe it was their fault but still they tell me they will replace them.  What a great company!

The ugly side of raising animals

Today was one of those days for sure.  As most know I had issues with the delivery of baby chicks and lost most but there’s more to the story of how my day went.

Little Racer had the unfortunate luck to be born a little boy goat.  Boy goats (Billys) are foul smelling creatures as when they mature they pee on their heads to attract the ladies-I am so glad that is not a human thing!  Eeeeewww!!!!  Not wanting or needing another billy goat I have decided little racer will be sold for either a companion wether or for meat depending on the buyer. In order to have him no longer a hormonal male as he gets older (and to avoid the stink) he must be castrated and that is exactly what happened today.  Dear hubby held the squirming little guy and I did the ugly deed.  Moments later he was back out running and being his obnoxious little self and still wanting to follow me around so musn’t have been as difficult for him as it was for me.

Many are probably curious as to how to raise baby chicks without electricity to run a brooder.  In the old days they would simply leave in a box behind the woodstove but I have devised a system that allows them to stay at a more constant temp and is easier to regulate.  I use a pot of hot water covered with a large stainless bowl turned upside down then  placed  in the middle of a rubber water trough and the chicks can move closer or further away depending on what is comfortable.  I then cover half the trough to keep heat in and leave the other end exposed so if they get too warm they can move.  The water temp to start off with is about 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  This will last about 3 hours as it warms the bottom of the tub also.  Every three hours reheat the water.  Decreasing by 5 degrees a week until they are fully feathered out.  A lot of work but no one said off grid was going to be easy.

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Every life is precious

Very sad day today.  I had ordered 25 barred rock chicks and they were supposed to arrive yesterday but got mixed up in Anchorage  and weren’t delivered until today.  They were all froze except for 2 that made quiet little peeping sounds.  Ice was in the box if that will give you an idea of how cold these little things were.

Many people have a preconceived notion that farmers feel nothing for their animals and that could not be more untrue.  Every life is precious.  Just because we eat animals does not mean we devalue their lives, it simply means we value them for their purpose and yet believe their lives should be spent in relative comfort until the moment of their demise.

Not being one to ever give up I refused to believe that the end is always the end-There has to be one more chance.  So I said a prayer and decided to thaw them out before I gave up.  After many hours of thawing I now had 7 chicks that were breathing and chirping yet very weak.  Still not ready to throw in the towel I mixed corn syrup and water and began feeding them one at a time.  I have lost 2 more but knowing I gave it my best shot made their passing much easier on my heart.  I don’t know what will happen but I do know that live or die these precious little babies if they pass will have been warm, dry and nestled in the palms of someone who loved them if only for a short time.

Yes life and death on the farm is a daily event but even though losing animals hurts I pray I never lose the compassionate side of me for that would be a tragedy.  There are already too many in the world who are uncaring and unfeeling.