Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Liver treats, Peter and Bambi

I bought 4 packages of liver for about $6 each and cut them into bite sized pieces for freeze drying as treats for Robbie.

The finished product was 3 quart jars which will last him about 3 months... cheap like borscht. 

Remember 'Blackie'?...

That name just wouldn't resonate with me, even after 4 or 5 days, I just couldn't get it into my head so today we changed his name to Peter, Yay! :D


This morning I drove into the city to pick up our doe and I named her Bambi. No reason, it just came to me as such and I went with it.

L-R: Bambi and Peter

Bambi was born Aug 8th and Peter Sept 16th. As you can see, Bambi is much bigger than Peter but only 5 weeks older so he will be doing a lot of growing in the next short while. Breeding will commence May 16, 2022. We have an order in for another doe and that litter will be ready in spring.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Our rabbitry buck arrives

We went to pick up our rabbitry buck to bring him home. His first girlfriend won't arrive for a few days yet. We have the buck cage about 2 inches from the closest doe cage because as they say 'breed like rabbits'.... they will actually breed through the cage walls - if they are close enough and we want to control that so we don't end up with kits (baby rabbits) in freezing temps, as they may not survive that.

Brad named him Blackie (eyeroll)

Peek a boo

3 hung cages, each 2' deep, 3' long and 18" high

I ordered 3 cages. We plan to keep 2 does and 1 buck as our breeders.  The 2nd doe will arrive in spring. There is room for another 4-6 cages, if we needed to increase our numbers. I have since given him straw to bed down in for warmth if he needs it.

Underneath the cages we have a 2 ft poop/urine catcher which is working really well. We hung a tarp behind the cages and along the floor to protect the walls and floor from the strong rabbit urine as well. 

There is a poop scooper so that we can scoop it into the feed bags to allow for drying to use in the spring garden. Eventually, I want to create a sloped poop slide to guide the poop into a container rather than scooping it but this will work until we can build that in warmer weather, with the rabbits outside away from the noise - we just ran out of time before pick up day.

Friday, 19 November 2021

RIP 15

I ran into town to get the mail as a parcel had been delivered. When I returned home I went straight out to the chicken coop to collect the eggs.... as I was walking up the hens didn't run over as they usually do, only 2 were outside and they were kind of 'talking' weird. When I reached the gate I saw a hen laying there without a head. 

I broadcast a message into the house on our Google Home app to tell Brad to come out (as I wasn't sure what kind of predator I was dealing with or if it was still around) and as I was opening the gate a cat started meowing from the corner of the building (outside the run). 

This is not one of  'our' cats... but a new stray which I had tried to carry into the pump house just 2 nights ago before the blizzard started but it wouldn't have anything to do with it.... Brad had seen it previously on the other end of the property and felt it was 'stalking' the birds but I figured the birds were too big as the other two hadn't bothered them.... I was wrong.

I didn't take any graphic pics as I wouldn't have posted them anyway but here she is packaged up... we can't even eat it - who knows what that cat has. I am so upset with myself, but its a valuable lesson and affords us the opportunity to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Our first loss

Because the bird was not frozen or rigid, I assume it happened just before I arrived home and the cat ran off when it heard the car.

The remaining chicks are all a bit ruffled and so I have put them in the coop for the rest of the night to help give them a sense of security.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Eggs, Blizzard and Fire Cider

Farm fresh eggs ready for freeze drying
I do 18 per tray.

I also freeze dry the egg shells and add to oatmeal etc for the chickens which obviously aids in egg production

Brought in what we hope will be enough hay and straw for winter
2 Hay, 6 Straw

Ladies are happy and providing a full meal deal of 15 eggs/day
Not too shabby for 15 chickens! In winter!

The rabbit cages are ready for pickup, but....

We had a blizzard!

8" of snow in 14 hours

Baby its cold outside

The snow sure looks magical on the trees, though. The bows are hanging low and heavy. We had trouble getting the new snow blower going, Brad had to disassemble and fix it which took up a lot of the day yesterday. It propels itself along, which is fantastic!

I had to shovel a small path from the back door down to the rest of the garden as the deep snow and incline was too much to get that thing up to the back steps. 

I also had to shovel a small area beside the back door where Robbie is trained to do his business, he doesn't like to get snow on his underbelly and likes to have something tall to lift his leg against so I just made a higher wall with the moved snow and voila.

I cleared a path in front of the chicken coop and put down a bunch of straw along it so the birds have an outdoor space without burying their whole bodies in the snow as it was taller than most of them. I haven't taken a picture of it yet, sorry.

This morning I strained a 'Fire Cider' that I made - well, 6 weeks ago and so I am taking the strained bits out to the chickens for a treat... have to remember to add a bit of eggshell to it first.... (I did run it under water for a few seconds and strained it just so it isn't soooo strong for the chickens).

For the chickens

I've been keeping a stash of our used glass bottles and I thought this one was fitting for the Fire Cider. I did show it to Brad and advised that he not confuse the two!!! 

Once we get the cages, we have to complete the rabbitry area to make arrangements for their highly acidic urine and to separate the poop as we will use it for the garden. Free this year, last year we bought it from a local I found who was willing to sell it, not cheap either. 

Then we can get the rabbits!


Monday, 8 November 2021

Coop renovation, Rabbits and IBS


There are 2 barn cats on this property. Robbie has been sussing out whether they are friend or foe, this black one we call Boots, there is a white with grey one we call Snowden... I don't know why, it just came to me.

They are getting along and neither cat has shown interest in the chickens which is great.

Brad's Mum sent us an old Italian recipe that his Father had so Brad cooked it the other night. Spaghetti and meatballs. Not my favourite, but this was very tasty and I did really enjoy it.

We even had wine with it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been fighting humidity in the coop. Not everyone bothers, I know but because we don't know the age of these hens (only a guesstimate) we want to make sure we get some eggs from them before we send them to freezer camp.

Ideal conditions for laying are between 7-27C (44-80F) and between 50-60% humidity. Other than laying, humidity is important because high humidity and freezing temperatures can cause frostbite on their toes and combs - and likely other extremities as well. 

We had closed the wall between the 2 sections as 1 side is for chickens the other will house rabbits but with the humidity issue we decided to create a mesh window for ventilation. The 2 main available walls for windows or mesh gaps are on the northwest side of the building and our weather comes from the northwest so those 2 walls are not an option, hence we opened up to the rabbit side.

Mesh window installed

We have rabbits coming mid month and I was going to make the hutches for them but found a local woman who has just begun. making them and she gave me a price that I couldn't refuse. So they are also coming mid month. I have made the little bunny houses for inside the cages and am currently trying to source the hay and straw they will need. 

Undoubtedly, I have mentioned in all this time that I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Because of this, I have been drinking a Tim Horton's French Vanilla Cappaccino every morning for roughly 16 years. Not good but it was the only thing that kept me going - so to speak.

I recently came across some info which suggested that raw milk will solve my problem, so I called a local farmer we've met since we arrived here and I've been testing it to see how it works. So far, so good! 

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Coop humidity woes

I gave the ladies a roost in their run and strung a cabbage on it too.

I can only assume they couldn't crack it even though I'd started the pull for them so eventually I just chopped it up into teeny pieces for them and now they love me.

The heat lamp was hanging quite low because we didn't have a second one for balance.

Because chickens don't need much, if any, heat (we will give them heat in Dec/Jan temperatures) I revamped the heat lamp situation in the coop. It is now very securely strapped, tied and looped to the ceiling where they can't get at it or bump into it.

I have it tied up 3 ways to secure it to the ceiling, so it won't fall, be knocked or otherwise cause havoc.
I hope.

Currently, I have a dehumidifier in the coop because I have been trying to lower the humidity in there for ages without any luck. 77% humidity this am and that won't go over in the winters we have here so it must come down! I'm hoping that using the dehumidifier will set the baseline and it will manage itself from there. 

I think I've stated before, we've put holes in it, a window, a fan, a heater.... nothing is working. I have put mesh over the window today and hope that by having the window completely open all the time (except in severe cold) that will help.

Nov 5th. Guy Fawkes Night

Anyhow.... its a damn fine day today for Nov 5th outside of Edmonton, AB! No snow (4 ft to come, I'm sure) yet, sun is shining and its +10C (50F). I'll buy that for a $ -- :D

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Chickens and Rabbits, Oh My!

The ladies have settled in. They come running to the gate now when we approach which is really cool but also reminiscent of 'Jurassic Park' the way they run at you...

I have sourced some rabbits and now am working on the hutches for them. I like this one but as I am making it I don't know how close I'll get. Surprisingly, rabbit hutches and even basic cages are super expensive. It will cost me about $250 to build the one I have designed which is based on the picture below but taller and more open.

Next garden season we will have our own rabbit poop!!! Hahaha.

Poop scooping rabbit hutch

Back to the ladies....

I made porridge for the ladies the other day and cabbage yesterday, they had more porridge this am and I put some cabbage bites in it also. Since they essentially came to us from a 'Chicken Mill', I am trying to put some meat on their bones before winter sets in.

Much more comfortable in their yard now and their personalities are starting to show.
They are fascinated by my red boots!

More nesting boxes are in but today only 'Blondie' layed an egg. 

Its too cold, they typically lay in 7C-27C (44-79F) and I've been too cheap to keep it heated. However, today I have set the heat lamp to come on every 4 hours for 1/2 an hour to remove humidity  which I have been struggling to get control of. Put holes in the walls top and bottom, put a fan in, window down..... nothing worked.

Humidity will cause them to get frostbite on their extremities and I've been having trouble getting it below 70%, 50-60% is suitable. The heat lamp seems to be working as its currently sitting at 57% and nice bonus is its also 7C!!! So maybe eggs in the am...