<![CDATA[Cedar Creek Ranch - Ramblings]]>Sat, 09 Dec 2023 05:51:05 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Not Everything Goes As Planned...]]>Mon, 27 Feb 2023 08:00:00 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/not-everything-goes-as-planned
It has been almost 50 days since we were waiting anxiously for our pig to farrow. Checking the camera often and watching her behavior change, I had a rough idea what to expect but didn't expect things to go the way they did. Expecting this glorious birth of little pigs to come into the world but ended up with anything but. Morning of January 10 found me having to go and pull a stuck piglet. A massive one at that and of course the first one to be in the birth canal. Having no experience with birthing pigs, I went on by guidance of a local pig farmer, who ended up being a huge asset throughout all of this. After getting 12 piglets out, I thought I was out of the woods. I had 11 live pigs and one mummy, which is to be expected but she had not passed her after birth. This found me back in shoulder deep, extracting a stillborn piglet. A few hours after that the sow passed, I'm chalking it up to a rupture and hemorrhage. She passed minutes after I called the vet to get input from them and someone out to see her because things were just "not right". 
Now, I've raised a lot of baby animals but never have I been tasked with an entire litter of pigs. Mildly clueless, besides the fact I knew they needed food and warmth, I placed them in boxes and trucked them to the house. While grieving their mother who had pulled heart strings of not only me and my family but several people that were also waiting for the arrival of these little pigs.

The thing with piglets is they are driven for food and bottle feeding them is not ideal as they easily aspirate and draw liquids into their lungs causing a plethora of problems. the best bet is getting them to drink out of a dish, which thankfully pigs are smart and in less than a day they all had it figured out. Another hog grower recommended cow's colostrum for them and thankfully I know some dairy farmers. After several buckets of that, I went to feeding them milk replacer. But that is just the beginning. I had them eating and warm but now the adventure of getting them to weaning size. Also, had to kick them out of the house because they are quite fragrant and not in an appealing way. So back into the heated barn with their heat lamps they went. When they are newborns, they feed frequently, which meant getting up all hours of the night and feeding them milk. Thankfully this is a short period and well, that "mom brain" kicks back in pretty quick. I basically had 10 newborn babies demanding food and would wake up before my alarms to feed in the middle of the night.

Things were looking up. They were eating and growing like mad. In a week we had to double their pen size and add another dish for them to eat out of. But, like all things, it was too good to keep going flawlessly. It started with one, lethargic and stiff. By the time I got home from work that day, I had seven that weren't moving well. I reached out again to a mentor, and we chalked it up to malnourishment from a touch of scours and they were getting weak. Thinking it was a gut issue, I put them back on cow's milk and dumped probiotics to them, plus a round of antibiotics. Next morning everything was back to normal. Only for a short time though, then I would see swollen joints, or someone was hopping around on three legs. Classic joint ill, arthritis caused by some sort of infection. More antibiotics for everyone, not my most favorite way but antibiotics and alive is better than no antibiotics and dead. Majority of them came around nicely with a few struggling behind. Both of which succumbed to a raspatory infection which was more than likely a product of the joint ill or potential bacteria in the milk. For a few weeks, it was an ongoing battle of treating lame piglets. A few changes to treatment protocol and the eight were doing well. With the exception of two that were lagging behind. One of which passed over night and the other living in her own little space so she doesn't get bullied by the bigger ones. She is slowly coming around and hopefully we are done with all the dramatics as they turn seven weeks old this week.

A handful are destined to go to our county fair this year and one lucky lady will stay to continue carrying on for her mother. The ones fair bound though, sure will have a heck of a story in the show ring. I'm excited and looking forward to them strutting their stuff in the ring and watching all my work on display. Also, a huge thank you to all of those that helped me and are still helping. Jake Roth, who owns Jake's Pig Palace and was huge help through the whole farrowing and raising these piglets, Joel Nischke for all of his advice and help, and Keith Long for the supply of milk. And last but not least a big Thank you to my sister in law Heidi and her husband Dennis for helping when we took a much need break on a short trip to Tennessee. This would've been a heck of a lot harder with all of this without them.
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<![CDATA[tying it all together]]>Wed, 22 Feb 2023 17:30:00 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/tying-it-all-togetherWhat made you want to be a massage therapist? Short answer, I enjoy helping people heal themselves in a holistic manner. Much to the same focus that I raise my animals. If we treat our bodies well, they will help us lead a life of wellness. I've always been one to push looking into natural solutions before running to the doctor to put a band aid on the problem. Not that western medicine doesn't have its place, I just feel it doesn't always find the root cause and treat it there instead of always treating symptoms. This can be as argumentized as grain fed beef vs. grass fed beef. I, like many, definitely like to indulge in a heavily marbled ribeye cooked to a medium rare perfection but in the back of my mind its mostly corn. And though, corn is great and has many purposes, it has also been so overly processed that literally everything we consume has corn of some form in it. I believe our diet and the diet of what we consume fuels a lot of the things that go on in our health. So, getting my license in massage therapy gave my one more direction that I could offer the goodness of healing oneself holistically. Though, I am quite lucky to work in a clinic that offers not only phenomenal chiropractic care but also nutrition testing, hormone testing and a plethora of other things that help us heal. If you are local to me, I highly recommend checking us out at Long Chiropractic and let us help you start your wellness journey.]]><![CDATA[my ideal diet]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:00:00 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/my-ideal-diet*in no way is this telling someone how or what they should eat but instead this is how we here at Cedar Creek Ranch eat

They are everywhere, the next trend the next how to lose weight fad. Some of them make sense and if they work for you, do what works as long as you are meeting all of your nutritional needs, by all means do it. I honestly, never had to do any "diets" but I give a lot of that to the fact that we eat very seasonally and very little processed food. Processed foods are the devil, yet I'll eat a pack of Oreos just for kicks every now and then. It is all about balance, after all. Me and my house though, eat very seasonally and without extensive knowledge in the nutrition world I feel this is something everyone should strive for.
Let's take a step back in time. How did our ancestors eat? Before the age of refrigerators and processed foods that last abnormally long on a shelf. They ate by the seasons, Winters were heavy in starches, meats and other vegetables that could be kept good in cold storage. Squash, potatoes, even apples if in the right environment can handle being stored in a root cellar. I still practice much of the same, canning what I can to have some of that summertime goodness in the cold months and storing what I can in the root cellar. Cold weather months we consume more meats and animal proteins, but history would tell us that it was the same much before. It was a lot easier to keep meat good in the cold of winter then summer. Thanks to refrigeration that isn't much trouble anymore. Summer and the growing season months our diets change to pretty much what is ready in the garden. We eat a lot of vegetables and greens all year but much more so in the summer when all I have to do is walk outside and decide what to eat. Also ends with me sitting between rows of peas stuffing my face with them. We don't consume much of anything that isn't grown in my climate. I love citrus and will take it when I can get it, but it is not something that we eat regularly.
Besides vegetables grown here, our "fruits" come from local berry farms and apple orchards. We do have our own tree that produces gorgeous apples, many of them go into jars as apple sauce and pie filling. I highly encourage everyone to try to eat as seasonally as possible. There are several ways to accomplish this if you don't have the space for a garden or places to raise animals. Farmer's markets and joining a CSA will give you options on what is seasonally available in your area. This is also the most sustainable because you are helping your local farmers and not supporting big stores. Which benefits your local economy more in the long run.
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<![CDATA[Diversification]]>Wed, 18 Jan 2023 08:00:00 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/diversification
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Rows of corn growing in the typical monoculture setting.
"You have a zoo?!" 
And yes, yes, I do but there is a reason for it. Much of today's agriculture is monoculture. Focusing mostly on the growth of one species of plant or animal. Which works phenomenally well but tends to have downfalls. If you take a drive through the country side rows and rows of corn or soybeans cover the landscape, hayfields with gorgeous stands of alfalfa. This type of farming has evolved over the years much due to demand and in large scale this is very successful. But comes with a cost in soil depletion as well as lack of disease and parasite resistance. Though recently, there has been a huge growth in planting cover crops, to help give a little diversity to the land. Which is great and I love seeing it but in the case of small farmers our best avenue is to diversify even more. 

This is why I have a zoo. Although, I don't grow much in the means of crops other than my garden which has all the staple plants and some oddballs, like tobacco and artichokes. Diversifying the animals here allows me to help push the soil into what I need it to be to build carbon and grow great pastures. Chickens and hogs are great for tillage and working up compacted ground while spreading fertilizer. This is why I use portable chicken tractors to condense the birds and yet move them about each day to give them fresh earth to scratch and new grass to clip. The Red Wattle pigs are easier on a pasture and produce well, being in that setting. Our Hampshire pigs will be raised differently but offered lots of table scraps and garden leftovers. This helping to produce the end product of delicious pork that ends up on your plate. Cattle graze the fields and what the cattle don't eat the sheep and goats will browse through and eat. Each animal has its place and purpose, except maybe the peafowl. They are more for the aesthetic features than any sort of practicality, but they eat bugs, so I guess they contribute somewhat. Every one of them helps complete the circle, and to be successful as a small farm being able to offer multiple options to customers is our best asset. So next time you hear me say I have a zoo, there's a reason for it. Plus, its growing as we come into lambing, kidding and farrowing season. 
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<![CDATA[Headfirst into 2023]]>Sun, 25 Dec 2022 19:04:43 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/headfirst-into-2023Picture
Another year done and gone. I say it all the time that it'll slow down soon but I always end up eating my words because nothing has slowed down. If we don't find ourselves updating the barns or remodeling the old farmhouse, we find ourselves always looking for the next thing. The recent cold had put a little damper on the outside projects, but the warmer weather is coming, and this gives me time to sit and update this website. There were some bugs that needed fixing and adding meat reservations for all of the good animal proteins we offer. I am looking to add options to purchase per pound as retail cuts online and offer either local pick up or shipping inside the state of Wisconsin. This will be a learning curve for me, but I don't see it being a roadblock for me at all. 

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We will be having more pork options than years before as we will be offering pasture raised pork and "regular" pork. Hoping for easy farrowing and big litters from both of our Gilts. This will a new experience for all of us, I've kidded in goats, lambed sheep, freshened in many cows but pigs I have not had before. Thankfully I do have some local people that can help give me guidance. 

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We are also in the works of potentially holding a few events this coming summer for people to come out and enjoy. I'd like to wrap up with a huge thank you to everyone that offered support or made purchases throughout 2022. Have a wonderful New Year all!

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<![CDATA[Thoughts from the porch swing…food]]>Fri, 01 Jul 2022 01:28:04 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/thoughts-from-the-porch-swingfoodAs I was working on tonight’s supper a text message came through that sparked some though. From a classmate in Green Bay, he sent me the nutrition label from a loaf of “keto friendly” bread. Now I’m not much of one to follow diets or how any of that works so I’ve definitely taken time to listen to him as he has and is doing that work. I will say that I could read and I knew what the ingredients were without having to go on a quick google search but the amount of “to retain freshness” ingredients was slightly alarming. This, in my opinion, is the current problem. It isn’t the food, it’s the amount of processing that goes into some thing that used to be as simple as flour, yeast, water and a little sugar and oil.
All this processing is just a want for convenience but is it healthy? And while we are at it, is that the grand scheme of things? Feed the people quick and empty foods that satisfy their hunger craving at the moment but also create an ill and addicted being. Let’s also take affordability away from nutrient dense whole foods and offer these cheap over processed, throw some filler foodstuffs in it items for the masses to eat. Let’s face it we are all addicts in that sense, addicted to sugars, convenience and ease. Oh and let’s make the packaging flashy and colorful and put it eye level to sweet addicted children. This way we can breed the illnesses that allow them to control the food and drug supply. If we feed them unhealthy they will need medical care to stay “healthy”…see where I’m going here. Lack of good nutrition ends up leading to pharmaceuticals and that is a big chunk of cash lining some pockets.

It is also a huge marketing game. Following fad diets and whatever else may drive the consumer to try the next thing. My biggest pet peeve is the marketing behind the term “organic”. I cringe anytime someone asks me if I am because I’ve watched the term organic be used so vaguely on products. Now yes, some people do the effort to get certified and all that jazz but I’ve already killed enough trees between school papers and loan papers in the last year I should plant a forest. I could go on for terms like natural, cage free, even the coveted term grass fed. I’ve done a lot of digging in what is “grass fed” and I don’t think the general public has a clue. Grass fed beef can be fed grain several weeks before they are sent to slaughter. As long as majority of their life has been spent on a grass diet. True grass fed, meaning the animal was raised solely on grasses is better called grass finished. This will yield a leaner animal at a young age or if you keep them a little longer they will eventually put on fat. I prefer my grass finished now because when I want a steak or a burger I actually want to have meat on my plate. Not cook off the fat and end up with half the size of the original piece that I thawed from the freezer. I also like the flavor better in grass finished and you can’t get much more back to the way they were intended to live than being raised that way.

Enough of that now, I guess, back to my original thought. What happens per say if we no longer had access to these heavily processed foods? Would we see obesity go down? Cancers? Any other illness, because let’s face it almost everything is tied to the micro biome in your gut. If we get that healthy again does the body find that perfect homeostasis? I know if I eat convenience food I function but not at the level that I do eating unprocessed foods. I’m in a much better state after a meal that came from my gardens or pastures than I am if I grab something quick from the gas station. It’s also hard for me personally to look into that much because my over all healthy is pretty top notch. I’m active and eat well. I guess I good do a McDonald’s trial for a week but that already sounds disgusting. I’d love to hear feed back from people who have actually done it, have went from convenience foods to homemade meals made from scratch, grown in the soil or maybe purchased from a farmer you trust. Let me know how your diet makes you feel.

Oh and one more thing on the organic term, what really grinds me is people that call Venison organic. It’s not like that deer didn’t eat out of a corn field that was sprayed with chemicals *cough* round up *cough* all year before it ended up in your freezer.

I’m going to get off my soap box now
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<![CDATA[We’ve been busy to say the least]]>Wed, 01 Jun 2022 12:05:32 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/weve-been-busy-to-say-the-leastWhat is the one thing that I have said is always the constant in our crazy, hectic life? Change. Here we are once again, shifting gears and pushing forward. Some of you, that follow a long on my Facebook page or read the last post already know that we were in the process of moving and now we are pretty much done with that. A few of our things are still at the other house but will be moved shortly. We didn't move far, actually just a mile away from our little house. We bought where we used to milk cows from Dan's parents. Was some upgrades space wise going from a three bedroom to a four, soon to be five bedroom house and having actual barns for the animals. Downfall is the remodeling projects are starting over again.
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Picture from the road of our new location
We did gain a little extra land as well seeing we kept all but five of the acres at the other place. Let, me say though, if anyone ever hears me say I'm bored slap me because I miss being bored now. We have begun the work to switch things over from the past dairy farm to the future business we want to pursue. So far, the old milkhouse has been converted into new store front with space to expand and possibly take on other vendors in a consignment sort of way. We have started rotating animals through different pastures, except for the calves who are learning to be independent beings by being weaned off their mothers. We have a few late calves expected coming soon. What used to be the milk pump room/utility room is now my own soap making, candle pouring location. I'm looking forward to having space to make products, that is not inside my kitchen. Besides the store end and moving the house stuff the end of the milk cow barn era has come as we pulled the last free-stall loops from the barn. Though, we have a lot on our plates now hopefully everything begins to come together quickly. Nothing quite like starting something else stressful in the middle of my school year but the end is in sight for that too. Eventually, all the pieces will fall into place and work out how we want. I attached some recent pictures to this post, feel free to scroll down. Thank You1
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Goats and sheep are being rotated through out some of the taller grass, that is not pastured to the cows
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Calves in the weaning pens
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Cows and horses out on the front pasture
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The free stalls are out and this will soon be revamped to a goat and sheep barn.
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<![CDATA[Then to now]]>Sun, 08 May 2022 03:00:00 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/then-to-nowLet's go back, almost ten years. We were still very much dairy farming and living on the farm. One kid and one on the way looking for a place to put down some roots. We had spent several months looking into available properties in our area. House shopping is not my thing, okay no shopping is my thing but anyway we had ended up making an offer through a private sale on a small piece of land with a little house and some outbuildings. My biggest concern was land, I have never lived on any less than ten acres and I wasn't up to downsizing my goals. The property we ended up buying was located on land we already rented for crops so it made sense to keep that for future farming. Several of you have seen our place in its today state but it was work to get it there. Let me take you back to where we started in 2013.
Welcome back to 2013. This is the first picture I took of the property in interest to share with my family in Pulaski. Don't think there is much to explain here, this photo is pretty much what you see is what we got. The following is just snips of the change and progress. I also found out; I don't have as many images of the process as I thought. I get busy with the now and tend to forget to take before and after photos.
The work began with the removal of the fallen barn and one of the other buildings. Clean up too the longest and then adding gravel moving a few buildings and putting steel on the out smaller outbuildings that we kept as a storage shed, tack shed and the chicken coop. The one currently used as storage has gone through several phases of being a rabbit barn, baby goat pen and now somewhere to stick our snowmobiles in the summer months. The beginning of 2018 the garage arrived literally on a trailer from a few miles away and it sat in the front yard until concrete was poured and it was place in its permanent location. Though the front of it has changed now to have a wider door and steel on the front. That same year the old tile siding was stripped, and the siding was redone in what you see today. Now, this is only what you can see on the outside but every room except the kitchen and the bathroom have been demolished and remodeled completely. 
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This is the most recent picture I have that is closest to the one I took in 2013. Just for a comparison. Today, the little remaining part of the house that is white in this picture is also sided and the calf pen is split into the pig pen and one other smaller pen. The deck is having also been completed since this picture and the large flowerbed along the house is also there. Sometimes i like to sit back and swipe through photos of where we started and where we are today, the change is quite a lot and we wouldn't have been able to get this far if we wouldn't have had help form several people. There has been many thanks and beers shared after projects were completed here...

and guess what? We are packing our stuff and moving. 


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<![CDATA[A new direction in hogs]]>Fri, 15 Apr 2022 14:30:39 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/a-new-direction-in-hogs
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Photo from Wikipedia
Messy, sassy and all around comical, I remember saying I will never raise hogs as I watched my sister's fair pigs hot lap the yard growing up. I never showed livestock and never really got into the market animal thing. I've always struggled with it being more of a how well are you known contest than something actually based on what the animal is bringing to the ring. That is a rant for another time, though. Anyway, since I have begun this journey I always manage to have at least two hogs throughout the summer. A few years ago I did raise a couple Idaho Pasture Pigs. Absolutely loved them even though they were sassy and escaped a few times. The downside to them is they are a fairly new breed and really a niche thing. Breeders charge all over the board for just feeder piglets. I love them but to be honest the purchase price affects the end profit.
The IPPs are a bit slower growing though and it's hard to arrange butcher dates when that happens. Especially seeing I purchase feeders and don't breed them myself. Last year, to settle a slight disagreement on whether pasture breeds were worth the extra money I brought home some regular ol' commercial feeder pigs. In a few hours they had proven my point by tilling up their entire pen. They did grow exceptionally well though they weren't able to really graze because they turned everything to dirt. They also grew too fast, and I had to ask for a cancellation date to get them in earlier at the processor. They still had a hanging weight over 250 pounds. This year I am switching up again as I bought a couple of Red Wattle/ IPP cross piglets. This ran me down a rabbit hole though. I was unfamiliar with the red wattle pigs so I started researching and eventually linked to a breeder and got added to the list to get a registered gilt in the next month. Why did I decide to go this way with the pigs? Well, from my research I concluded that this is the breed I wanted to focus on. Several things took me there. First, the Red Wattle pig is a heritage breed that does well foraging and on pasture. They do have a faster growth rate be butcher size in about 7 months. They produce a leaner, well marbled meat that is slightly similar to beef and they are great mothers> They get their name from the wattles that hang from each side of their neck, or kindly quoting a friend's husband "they got neck nipples". This breed is also listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. they are on the threatened list which means there are fewer than 200 annual registrations and an estimated number of fewer than 2,000 in the world. This is what drove me to start looking for breeders which I only found three in the state of Wisconsin and so far, only one has responded to me. That is the farm that I will be purchasing my gilt from. I'm hoping to grow more in the world of Red wattle hogs and help benefit a breed that is threatened to disappear from our planet. And who knows maybe one day one of my hogs will be at the local fair, exhibiting in a breeders class though. 
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<![CDATA[Modern Day Dinosaur]]>Sun, 13 Mar 2022 16:54:21 GMThttp://cedarcreekhandmade.com/ramblings/modern-day-dinosaur
One of the closest relatives to dinosaurs that is a live today and collected by modern day homesteaders and farmers a like. The chicken is the staple of small farms. Great for pest control, entertainment and suppliers of breakfast goodies. Chickens are one of the first critters I brought to Cedar Creek Ranch. I've been selling eggs for years and fondly remember my childhood with hens around for much of my younger years. Recently, it has been a topic of conversaton with people looking to begin their adventure with these feathered beings. So, i'm going to touch on the basics of chicken husbandry from my view. 
Majority of my flock has been raised from chicks. I order from a variety of hatcheries, my favorite being Meyer Hatchery in Ohio. I have also been buying chicks from a local coop that does a chick day in my area. Make sure to order pullet chicks if eggs are your goal. You do not need a rooster for hens to lay eggs, you only need one if you want an alarm clock that goes of randomly during the day or if you plan to hatch your own chicks out eventually. But before you can jump into bringing the littles home make sure you have a sufficient brooder. This is where your chicks will begin their lives. This needs to be a protected space that provides heat and is draft free. I still do the heat lamps *insert a cringe here* but there are tons of new warming devices out there. Heat lamps work but also run a very high fire risk. I would recommend looking into the new heat lamps that are coop safe. For my draft free area, I use an old steel water tank that no longer works for holding water for the cows. You can also use large cardboard boxes or plastic tubs. If you only have a small number of chicks something smaller holds heat better than the large tanks like I use. I raise around 75 chicks each spring just for reference.  Your heat source should have the floor temp 95 degrees F for the first week and slowly decrease by 5 degrees each week until you reach 70 degrees. Temperature can be monitored by placing a thermometer under the center of your heat source, I put a layer of wood shavings on the floor of the brooder. this gives them a nice space to bed down and they will even scratch through it. Make sure to provide a good chick starter, medicated/non-medicated is up to you. I use purina brand chick starter and move into a layer feed after 18 weeks of age. 
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As the chicks outgrow their confines of the brooder you can introduce them to the coop. A chicken coop can be anything that makes practical sense to you. I have mine in an old Grainery. I've seen people build beautiful coops from scratch, buy the put together ones at the feed stores or even renovate an old camper into a house for their feathered friends. My hens' free range, this comes with a few risks though, predators and occasionally they will be found in my house after a child lets them in. Ideally you should have your coop predator proof, something they cannot easily get into. Everyone enjoys a chicken dinner even raccoons. Your outside run should be predator proof from the ground and the air. bird netting helps keep flying meat eaters from stealing your birds and a good, welded wire fence helps keep the ground critters from dining. Always provide fresh water and quality feed. Chickens enjoy kitchen scraps as well. After about 18 weeks you can start to expect eggs. I have built in nest boxes, but Pinterest has lots of neat ideas for nest box ideas. Another downfall of free-range chickens is they are professional egg hiders. If you free range don't be surprised if you find nests of eggs in sneaky spots. Chickens can get ill throughout their lives, bumble foot and becoming egg bound can happen and that may be a topic for another post. Once chickens do get beyond their egg laying years they make a great addition to the stew pot, if that is the sustainable life you'd like to lead. I am mainly covering keeping chickens for egg production in this post, but meat birds are very similar. Broiler birds do grow much faster though and don't make it to the laying season of their lives.


This is only a short tidbit into owning your own dinosaurs and I am sure I missed things. Chicken ownership is fun and maybe the gateway to the world of owning livestock but take time to do some research on all of it. Each breed of chicken brings its own qualities. I personally don't have a favorite breed; they are all fun and you can decide which color eggs you would like too. It is fun to have a rainbow of eggs, browns, greens and white. Do some research, find the type of housing you like, a breed or breeds that suit you and enjoy watching your birds as they grow.  

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