Thursday, August 30, 2012

70,000 Chickens killed by an intoxicated man. (Huffington Post)

70000, chickens, killed, electricity, drunk
(Huffington Post)

This story was shared with me this morning by one of our friends on Facebook.  Such a tragedy.
The only question I have to ask is how in the hell did 70,000 chickens die overnight from lack of electricity?  Makes you wonder how bad their conditions really were to begin with, and "if" this drunk did them a favor?              >Click here for the full story.

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Our Little Coop ducks "vacuuming" up their Happy Hen Treats

Quail for the urban farm

Quail for the urban farm

There are hundreds of different types of quail throughout the world.   Out of all these types, there are two which are commonly kept on the urban farm.  These two popular types are the Japanese Coturnix (Coturnix  Japonica) and the Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus). 
The Japanese Coturnix (Coturnix Japonica) also known as Pharoah, Jumbo, or Coturnix is an old breed of quail from Eastern Asia. They have been domesticated in Japan and the Orient since the beginning of the twelfth century and were initially bred for song.  There are some records dating back to early Egyptian times with hyroglyphics showing the trapping of these birds as they had migrated back onto the mainlands.  Today they are kept as and considered to be what is called a dual purpose bird.  This means they can be raised for both egg production as well as for their meat. 
Male Coturnix quail (Left) and Female (Right), our little coop, backyard, urban, homestead
Male Coturnix quail (Left) and Female (Right)

These birds prefer grasslands and cultivated fields as their preferred environment.  Both sexes of this bird have yellow- brown speckled plumage with the Males having  a reddish colored breast and the Females more molted with dark spots.  They will begin laying at only 6 weeks of age and will reach maturity at 10 weeks.  The females are slightly larger than their male counterparts and will grow between 7- 8  inches long and weigh between 6- to 7 ounces.  The chicks are easily recognized with their yellowish coloring and brown stripes beginning at the forehead stretching all the way back to the tail.  Since the Bobwhite quail only lay eggs from about March to October the Coturnix quail are the best choice of quail for the urban farm and homestead.

Just hatched Coturnix quail chicks, backyard, urban, homestead
Just hatched Coturnix quail chicks

Care is very easy.  Just provide with fresh water and a quality high protein gamebird feed. Coturnix quail do just fine living in a medium sized cage with a wire floor sheltered from extreme heat and cold winds.

Cheers ~ Kevin

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Candling chicken egg day 7 with Brinsea OvaScope - Embryo blinks its eyes.

              Look close, the little black dot is its eye blinking!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today Day 7, I candled the Serama chicken eggs I received from my friend Charlie Trevino.  Here is a quick clip of what we saw. In an upcoming post I will demonstrate the candling procedure using the Brinsea OvaScope. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Candling chicken egg day 6 with Brinsea OvaScope

Today I candled the Serama eggs I received from my friend Charlie Trevino.  Here is a quick example of what we saw. In an upcoming post I will demonstrate the candling procedure using the Brinsea OvaScope. (That is our 2 year old son Devin in the background making that noise)

Cheers ~ Kevin

Janis sporting her new camouflage

Janis our silver laced Polish showing off her new camo Hen Saver courtesy of Crazy K Farm!, backyard, urban, chicken
Janis our silver laced Polish showing off her new camo Hen Saver courtesy of Crazy K Farm!

Last week I called in to The Backyard Poultry show with The Chicken Whisperer and won a Hen Saver courtesy of  Crazy K Farm.  At some point I would like to outfit a couple of our other girls with one of these.
(Any sponsors?).
As most of you know, "Our Little Coop" resides in an urban setting surrounded by farm fields not far away.  This is the perfect recipe for hawks and boy do we have them.  The durability of this product is amazing.  Almost reminds me of Kevlar and the stitching seems pretty heavy duty.  I have no doubt this product will stand the tests of time.

Cheers ~ Kevin


Crazy K Farm Pet and Poultry Products
28384 Mellman Road
Hempstead, Texas 77445
Phone: 800-980-4165

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crock Pot Loaded Potato Soup

crock pot, potato, soup, bacon, cheese and chives, urban, garden


  • 5 lbs potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes 
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup cream
  • 16 oz cream cheese 
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream 
  • Bacon
  • Chives

  1. Put first 7 ingredients into crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours, high for 6.
  2. Stir in cream and cream cheese until it is well mixed. 
  3. Slowly and carefully ladle your soup into a food processor, blender, or better yet use a submersible blender and blend your soup to the consistency of your liking. I like to blend half.
  4. Serve with toppings of your choice.
  5. Enjoy!! 

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Fall Gardening Tips

The month of September offers cooler weather and moist soils which are ideal conditions for fall planting. Throw on a pair of old jeans, grab a sweatshirt and get out there!

fall apple

Late summer into early autumn is the best time for dividing the perennials which normally bloom in spring and early summer such as hosta, daises, tick seed, and cone flower. 

Plant trees and shrubs early enough, prior to the ground freezing to allow enough time for the plants roots to develop. At this time, it is also wise to provide some sort of mulch to all of your plants to help protect them from winters harsh weather. 

plant a tree in Fall
Plant a tree, or two.

Start preparing for the first frost by digging up tender bulbs such as cannas, begonias, gladiolus and elephant ears. Discard the tops and store the bulbs, corns, and rhizomes in dry peat moss or saw dust and carefully store away from freezing temperatures.

Bring your house plants indoors before the night time temperatures drop below 50 F.

Deadhead perennials, and discard dead and diseased foliage to reduction spread of infection the following year.

spent cone flower blooms
Dead-head spent blooms or leave as food for the birds

Fall is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and crocus. Remember to give these bulbs a head start by sprinkling a little organic feed into the hole.

Mid September is a great time to fertilize trees and shrubs.  A generous amount of compost scratched into the soil near the roots is a great alternative to ready made and potentially dangerous fertilizers.

Bird watchers can get one of the best shows of the year.  Make sure to keep your bird feeders full of fresh offerings and maintain a fresh supply of water to help those birds which will be migrating south.

Harvest and dry garden herbs such as basil, thyme, and sage early enough to be used around the Holidays.

Dry thyme from the urban garden
Harvest and dry thyme early enough for use around the holidays.

September can also be a great time to sew fast growing and cold hardy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage and kale!  

Lettuce sprouting in a September garden.
Lettuce sprouting in a September garden.

Whatever you do, get outside and enjoy all that the beginning of Fall has to offer.

Cheers ~ Kevin

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Repurposed water bottle - drip irrigation

Tools needed to repurpose water bottle
Tools needed to repurpose water bottle

cut bottom of water bottle to repurpose
Cut off bottom

pierce hole in water bottle cap to repurpose
Pierce hole in cap and screw back on.

repurposed water bottle as drip irrigation
Fill with water

Easy enough?
Cheers ~ Kevin

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Meal worm farming

meal worm in palm of hand, farm, how to
As we all know, meal worms are a great feed supplement for all poultry flocks, and they LOVE them.  Thanks to companies like Happy Hen Treats they are easy to purchase and simple to feed to our chickens, ducks and quail.  Over time, depending on how often you like to give your birds meal worms, it can indeed get quite pricey.  In a time where the "name of the game" is to spend as little as possible and be more self sufficient, one finds themselves looking for alternatives to buying certain things.  Although there is an initial investment to meal worm farming, the pay off is quite nice and in some cases you can even make money by selling your worms.
Meal worm farm field.  Substrate used is wheat bran.
Meal worm farm field.  Substrate used is wheat bran.

I recently started up my own meal worm farm about 2 weeks ago after much research and consulting with several "professionals".  Like anything else, the more people you ask the more different answers you will receive.  What I did was to start simple and combined bits and pieces from each persons point of view.

The meal worm farm is the cheapest farm you can possibly buy.
The meal worm farm is the cheapest farm you can possibly buy.

The first thing you will need to start farming your own meal worms is obviously the farm itself.  I am using a plastic 3 drawer organizer I had left over from our office which had been used to store paper products in.  Since we no longer use paper, it was the perfect item to repurpose. The reason for 3 drawers is because you should separate the worms as they go through their life cycles from worm to pupa to beetle and back again.  All of the drawers will need a layer approximately 2 inches deep and also some sort of  moisture for the worms to drink from usually just in the form of a cut potato or carrot.  Since these worms are going to be a food source for our hens and our family eats their eggs, I didn't skimp on the substrate which the worms feed from.  In my farm I used an all natural wheat bran at about $2 per box with each drawer using about 2 boxes.  You can also use non - instant oat meal if you prefer.

Feed meal worms wheat bran by using as substrate or bedding
Feed them right by using a good substrate.

The first drawer of my meal worm farm contains the worms themselves.  This initial purchase of worms can either be bought in bulk from an online distributor or through your local pet store. You will want to start with about 500-2000 worms if you will be feeding your birds right from your farm. Stay away from the "super worms" and "giant meal worms" as these are somehow treated to prevent them from further developing.

The second drawer of my meal worm farm will contain the pupa I gather from my first drawer.  These are easy to distinguish because you will most likely find them on the top of the substrate, motionless, and will be a creamy white color.  Their color will slowly turn to brown during its pupation which may take anywhere from three days up to one month.

The third drawer of my meal worm farm will contain the beetles which "hatch" from the pupa.  The Tenebrio molter, or flour beetles, are then left in this drawer on the same substrate as in the other two, where they will eventually lay up to three hundred eggs each!  As these eggs hatch into worms and the worms get large enough for me to strain out, they will be placed into the first drawer and the cycle will begin all over again.  

Mealworm Nutritional Information:

Fat 27.2%, Protein 49.6%, Carbohydrates 6.9 grams/100, Calories 471 calories/100 grams

Happy Farming! 
Cheers ~ Kevin

(Purchase your supplies below with these great deals!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Borscht - Poor Mans Beet Soup

borsht, borsh, or borscht served with egg and garnished with chives

From the posts I read on our Facebook page, not many folks care for beets.  They probably just haven't had them served the right way!

Today I pulled from the garden the pitiful "sampling" of beets which had grown, a couple of onions, and an itsy-bitsy garlic. Exactly what I needed to make one of my favorite all time soups. Borscht.  I come from a Slovakian heritage and many of the foods we grew up with seem to be not very appealing to most folks. But thats ok.  As a kid, beets were one of those foods that had found its way into our home time and time again.  Like an echo in my head, I can remember my grandmother would always tell us "how beets were good for your blood and overall health".  Today, my only guess would be she was referring to the high iron and mineral content which would mainly be attributed to the fact that it is a root which we consume.
beets from urban garden
"These are the beets which I pulled from our garden less the beet greens."

Beets are the main ingredient in this recipe.  These are the beets which I pulled from our garden less the beet greens.  I am not particular of the greens mainly due to their bitter tasting flavor, but the chickens thoroughly enjoy them. Some folks like to boil the greens and eat as a side to main course.

chickens eating beet greens as a treat
"I am not particular of the greens mainly due to their bitter tasting flavor, but the chickens thoroughly enjoy them."

There are not many ingredients needed for this recipe other than the beets and all can be sewed in your urban garden.  The other ingredients are as follows:

(2) Small Onions cut into small chunks
(2) Cloves of garlic sliced into little pieces
(2) cups of beef broth (I used 2 bouillon cubes and dissolved in 2 cups of boiling water)
Salt and Pepper to flavor

ingredients for making borscht soup
Not many ingredient needed for this soup

how to make borscht soup
Warm beets, onion, garlic and salt and pepper in a sauce pan without browning.

There is no right or wrong way to prepare this soup.  How I make it is as follows:

1. Combine all ingredients in a deep sauce pan less the beef broth and warm for 5 minutes.  Do not brown.

2.  Add the 2 cups of beef broth and let simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

3. Turn off heat and carefully pour into a blender.  Puree the mixture to a broth-like consistancy.

5. Garnish with fresh cut chives and add a hard boiled egg.

Enjoy and Na zdravi ~ Kevin

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Urban Farm Magazine GIVEAWAY!

Here's your chance to win a 1-Year Subscription to Urban Farm Magazine! 
Enter below!

urban, farm, magazine, berries, giveaway, free, subscribe

It doesn’t take a farm to have the heart of a farmer. Now, due to a burgeoning sustainable-living movement, you don’t have to own acreage to fulfill your dream of raising your own food. The new Urban Farm® magazine, from the editors of Hobby Farms, will walk you down the path to self sustainability.
Urban Farm® magazine’s mission is to promote the benefits of self sustainability and to provide the tools with which to do it on any size property. Urban Farm® reaches out to those in the city and suburbs, those who are inspired by the local food movement and who want to start raising chickens and growing food for themselves, supporting local agriculture and living more sustainably.Urban farms are popping up all over America. However, things are different on an urban farm, versus a rural hobby farm. With less space to work with, projects must be scaled down, efficiency becomes crucial, and one must be resourceful to use every inch of space and recycle every unused object into something useful.
Urban Farm® is informational and inspirational, filled with how-to projects, profiles of urban farmers across America, “green” and innovative products, and of course, recipes for preparing your homegrown vegetables, eggs and other farm bounty.
Look for the Fall 2010 issue of Urban Farm on your local newsstand August 2. Urban Farm magazine will be published four times in 2010. Beginning in 2011, it will be published bimonthly and available for subscription. You can also shop online for digital copies of the current or back issues.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Farmtek - sshh... Our little secret!

farmtec, catalog, apple, iPad, macbook, imac, online, order, free

I wanted to share with you all what I find to be the Holy Meca of poultry keepers and gardeners.  Most of us have a catalog or webstore we frequent from time to time just to peruse through in awe.  For me it is Farmtek.  Recent I had stumbled upon there site, and gazed upon all its glory looking at the vast array   of gardening, poultry and various agricultural products.  If you don't know, they have literally everything within the confines of the Farmtek catalog.  I stumbled upon thousands of poultry gadgets and equipment, hydroponic gardening supplies, and even pole barns.  When their catalog was sent to me in the mail in was accompanied by a pair of their gardening gloves and sealed in a sample of the foil backed reflective insulation they also sell. 
(Im not ashamed to admit, their catalog has found a permanent place in my home next to my Lazy Boy)

FarmTek Homepage5
*Our Little Coop has recently become an affiliate for Farmtek.  By making a purchase through the Farmtek links on our site, OLC receives a small earning towards our efforts.

Cheers! ~ Kevin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Curled Toes and Spraddle Legs

silkie, chicken, curled, toes, fix, chick
Over the last few months I have seen many posts on Facebook with pictures of chicks wearing little homemade "shoes" for curled toes.  Thank goodness I did because last month when I realized that one of our day old babies was walking on the side of her feet and her legs were slipping out from underneath her, I knew right away how to help!
silkie, chicken, curled, toes, fix, chick, towel
I started off with a heavy piece of paper (I used a thick folder) and attempted to trace the bottom of the chicks foot.  I have to admit that I failed miserably.  There really was no way I was going to be able to cut the shape of the foot out and I was causing more distress to the chick trying to cut out a precise outline than good. I ended up throwing in the towel and cutting out a circle that was roughly the same size as the bottom of her foot. I was ready to use the pipe cleaners that were suggested, but again there was just no way that I was going to be able to do it.
silkie, chicken, curled, toes, fix, chick, shoe, bandaid
 I took the paper circle that I had cut out and pressed the foot as flat as possible.  I cut the sticky side of a standard bandaid off and laid it on top of the toes (don't worry about removing the bandaid and hurting feathered legs. As long as you are using cloth bandaid, baby oil will slide it right off).  Sandwich the foot in between the bandaid and the circle cut out.  To give the shoe traction, I cut a piece of medical tape (the cloth kind) and wrapped it around the entire foot so that the baby would not slip. If you do decide to do this, please monitor your chick closely.  Shoes can cause tripping and result in a possible drowning if the chick were to fall face first into the water.  
silkie, chicken, curled, toes, fix, chick, happy, shoe
Although it was a little awkward at first and she did trip up a bit,  considering the alternative the temporary clumsiness outweighed the risk of her feet and legs not straightening out. When the time was up I soaked her foot in baby oil and the bandaid fell right off and I was able to remove the "shoe" without problem.  Baby silkie wore her shoe for approximately 5 hours and is a happy and healthy chick today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Free ranging coturnix quail

"Girls day out".  Coturnix quail hens enjoying their little bit of freedom dust bathing. free range, urban
"Girls day out".  Coturnix quail hens enjoying their little bit of freedom dust bathing.

Yesterday the quail received a little bit of freedom, just for the day.  I keep quail for eggs to hatch and eat, however they are still our pets as I had mentioned before. One of the ways I spoil our quail, is by giving them a "free-range" day every once in a while.  
I must note, there are a few safety precautions taken to ensure their safety.

Trimming flight feathers on Coturnix quail ensures they do not fly away finding themselves hopelessly lost.
Trimming flight feathers on Coturnix quail ensures they do not fly away finding themselves hopelessly lost.

The most important of those safety precautions is on the days I decide to let them free-range, I take them out of their cage one at a time and trim their flight feathers.  Coturnix quail are unlike most other types of quail in the fact that they are very domesticated and would likely not survive on their own in the wild.  They rely heavily on a normal feed and water source, and without would likely perish.  The other major concern of mine is our dogs.  Luckily we are fortunate enough to have an enclosed run for all of our birds, and this is where the Coturnix quail stay for the day.  
Chickens and quail can live in Harmony, together, urban
Chickens and quail can live in Harmony.

Despite popular belief, Quail and Chickens can live in harmony.  This doesn't go without saying that I have not seen the chickens peck at the quail from time to time and even bully them.  It is my belief that like any other bird, any "new comers" must be properly placed within the confines of the pecking order.  

Access back into quail house, backyard, urban, coturnix, house
Access back into quail house

Quail are much smaller than chickens and can easily find hiding spots if they are being bullied too much.  One way to help this situation is to ensure the proper type of environment for them and also leaving access back into their house if they decide to do so.

Cheers! ~ Kevin

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dr. Bronner's All Natural Liquid Detergent Recipe

I posted a recipe for homemade liquid laundry detergent a few months back and received a few negative comments regarding the use of the Fels-naptha bar soap.  I did a little research and it does seem that there are some environmental concerns involved with the ingredients of the soap, one ingredient being titanium dioxide which is known to contaminate the lakes, oceans and cause harm to wildlife.   I was a little bummed out to read this because I have had such great luck with my detergent, but I decided to seek out a more natural recipe.  I went to our health food store in town and picked up a bar of Dr. Bronners All-One Hemp Citrus Orange bar soap.  Made with certified fair trade and organic ingredients,  I was not able to find anything concerning the safety of this product and smells SO yummy!  I am head over heels for this recipe and it always feels good to know you're using a safe product!  

borax, soup, pure, castile, washing soda, natural detergent, recipe
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/3 bar Dr. Bronner All-One Bar Soap
Dr. Bronner soap bar, grater, grate, recipe
Using a cheese grater, grate 1/3 of your Dr. Bronner soap bar

Add 4 cups of water and your Dr. Bronner soap shavings to a medium pot and heat until soap has dissolved.  
Add the 1/2 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda to the soap and water mixture

Heat and stir until the borax and washing soda have dissolved.
Heat and stir until the borax and washing soda have dissolved. 

In a large bucket, add 1 gallon of warm water

Add your soap/borax/washing soda mixture to your bucket of water

Stir and allow to rest overnight 

Using a funnel, pour your Dr. Bronner liquid laundry detergent into an empty container (make sure you ask your friends and family to save their empty detergent containers!)

Use 1/2 cup of detergent per load and enjoy! 

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Last minute - DIY FREE chick waterer

1 week old Coturnix quail chicks in brooder
1 week old Coturnix quail chicks

Poultry chicks, regardless of species or breed, are extremely cute and very hard to pass up to a family just getting started in backyard poultry keeping, especially if on a whim.

Sometimes poor planning gets the best of us and we start this great and wonderful hobby not by planning first, but with the chicks! Either the kids bring a few home from school, a friend had a better hatch than expected and decides to pawn a few cute little babies off on you, or maybe Tractor Supply is conveniently having their annual "Chick Days" while you just so happen to be there picking up dog food, you will suddenly find yourself scrambling to gather the necessary supplies and equipment needed.

After the first 24 hours of life, it is critical that a chick is eating food and drinking water. Although offering food is a simple thing to figure out, or can even be sprinkled on the floor, providing water in a safe manner can get a little hairy. I have read horror stories from folks who thought they had no other alternative than to leave a bowl of water with the chicks, later to find one had drown.

*While providing water for your newly hatched babies, it is always best to use some kind of recommended waterer. If you find yourself in a jam, you can quickly improvise with a soup can, plastic lid and a piece of heavy string.

Materials you will need to make this waterer for chick brooder
Materials you will need to make this waterer

Materials/Tools needed:

- 1 Soup can 

- 1 Plastic lid (slightly larger in diameter than the soup can)

- 1 piece of string

- Scratch awl or power drill with small sized drill bit

Location of holes to be made for chick waterer in brooder
Location of holes to be made

Mark the approximate height on can, with open side facing down, equal to half the height of the sides on lid.  This mark will be the height in which you want your water level at.

Location of holes to be made in chick waterer for brooder
Keep your holes slightly below the sides on the lid

Carefully punch or drill 2 holes across from each other at the height you previously marked making sure you do not have your hand on the opposite side you will be making your holes, as you can cause injury to yourself. 

diy chick waterer, quail, chickens, poultry
Fill with fresh water

Fill the can with water just below the holes you have just made, and firmly hold the lid over the top on the can.  Quickly while holding the lid in place, flip the can over, tightly tie a string around both and you are done!

Finished chick water ready for the brooder!
Finished chick water ready for the brooder!

Cheers! ~ Kevin

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