Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Raise a Tame Rooster

Roosters. They can be a great addition to a farm, or a really bad one. We have had chickens for about a decade, and have had our share of roosters (male chickens) over the years. Some good, some bad.

I remember the first nasty rooster we had. We had to carry a large stick for protection every time we entered the coop. It made owning chickens an inconvenience rather than an enjoyment. One day, my mom went in the coop, and the rooster totally, full-on attacked her. The only way she could stop him was to kick him as hard as she could. She didn't kill him or injure him severely, but he did stop...

The scary thing is that my mom is a grown adult with enough strength to stop the rooster, but a child wouldn't be able to stop an attack. A mean rooster will not just attack adults, he will attack children too. And they could get injured.

Roosters have spurs that they will stab into your skin during an attack (Photo Credit)

Don't be too scared though. Some roosters are great. A good rooster will protect your hens, and will sort of "herd" them around, which will help keep them protected from predators.

In my opinion, if you are planning to free-range your chickens, a good rooster is essential.

But, there are some things you should know before purchasing and raising a rooster to avoid raising a mean one...

So, here are my top tips for raising a tame, friendly rooster:

1. Never, EVER chase him or run around him. This will make him feel threatened, and therefore, he will feel the need to defend himself and his hens, and will very likely start attacking you. Instead, always walk fairly slowly around him, and don't make any sudden jerking movements. Also, warn your kids that they need to be calm when they are around the chickens.

2. Never keep more than one rooster at a time. If you keep more than one rooster, they will compete for the highest spot in the flock, and will constantly fight. For some reason, this will also make them act violent towards humans as well. We bought 15 chicks this past April, all were supposed to be hens, but 4 ended up being roosters! We are in a huge rush to get rid of 3 of them before they start fighting!

3. Avoid upsetting your hens. Don't chase them or irritate them in any way. If the rooster sees one of his hens in danger, he will get ANGRY. So be careful!

4. Spend time with him daily. If you normally just throw feed into the coop and run in the coop for 30 seconds to collect the eggs, the rooster will still see you as a stranger, and won't feel comfortable when you're around. Instead, make sure you are taking a few minutes to just walk around the coop, especially when he is young, so he will see you as a friend rather than a threat.

5. Make every effort to give him a stress-free life. The calmer he is, the less likely he is to have a reason to attack you. Just make sure he always has plenty of food and water, as well as room to roam around outside to keep himself occupied.

Charlie, a rooster we had in 2011

Well, there you have it! My top 5 tips for raising a tame rooster. Sadly, even if you follow all these tips, you could still end up with a mean rooster. In that case, I would recommend getting rid of him as soon as possible. Once a rooster starts attacking you, it is almost impossible to train him to stop. 

And possibly the worst part of having a mean rooster in your flock is never being able to trust him around your kids or guests, and always having the risk of them getting attacked. This is such an inconvenience when you have little children begging to go see your chickens. 

It's just not worth keeping him around...

If you do end up having to get rid of your mean rooster, don't give up! Search around for different breeds and ages of roosters until you find the perfect one....

The reward? The possibility of naturally hatched and raised chickens, right on your own farm!

Good luck!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kittens 101: Weeks 5 and 6

Paisley's three little princesses are six weeks old! Where has the time gone? They are becoming much more independent, which Paisley is enjoying very much... 

They did a lot of learning this week, and are on their way to being ready for their new homes. I'm sad.'s what happened in weeks 5 and 6:
  • They learned how to use the litterbox! And the best part? Paisley did all the work teaching them, we didn't have to do a thing. We use an all natural pine litter, as I can't stand the smell of the normal litter. There is also less danger if they decide to taste it, which isn't all that unlikely.
  • They can run really fast now, and have endless energy. Because of this, we had to move them out of the house and into the garage. They were just getting too crazy!! They like their new home and they are much more enjoyable to have around when they are not running all over the house, making a mess.
  • They caught their first mouse! Well, Paisley probably found it for them, but the little white kitten was the one that actually killed it. Pictures below...
  • We introduced them to kitten chow right before they turned 6 weeks old. They are eating a little bit of it, but mama's milk is still their primary source of nutrition. They are, however, drinking water from a small bowl, and we always make sure it's full for them, especially since it's been pretty hot lately.
Now for some pictures!

When kittens are about six weeks old, it is important to start socializing them, and making them feel comfortable around you. If they are afraid of you when they are little, they will be afraid of you when they grow up, so take time to play with them (which isn't too hard for me and I often spend way too much time with them instead of doing something a little more productive...ah, well, life is short, right?).

They are so precious. Now go get yourself a kitten, they will make your life better...

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 2013 Garden Update

It's July, and most of the garden is really starting to take off...

This is the first time in a few years that we have had a garden this big. We've always had lettuce, tomatoes, and several herbs, but this year we wanted to challenge ourselves a little bit. So we did! Here is a little tour of our vegetable garden as of July (I will be doing a separate tour of the herb garden soon) :

We have 3 tomato plants, and they are all doing fantastic. Before we know it, we will have tons of fresh tomatoes.

The spinach isn't doing that great...hopefully it will only get better from here...

Lemon cucumbers are one of the more interesting veggies in our garden...

The spaghetti squash is looking great!

The butternut squash is slowly growing...

The biggest of the zucchini plants...

The junior pumpkins are looking good...

We should have several large pumpkins this fall!

The onions kind of blend in with the weeds, but they are there!

We have six beautiful potato plants!

The kale is getting destroyed by slugs, but hopefully we can save it!

The arugula is also getting destroyed...

This is the only green pepper plant that is still living!

The rhubarb is also getting eaten, but is still fairly healthy...

The garlic is going strong...

The broccoli plants are getting eaten...darn slugs...

The junior sunflowers are looking good...

We are going to have tons of carrots!

We don't have many bean plants that sprouted, but the ones that did are doing great!

The pea plants are in desperate need of trellises, but they are starting to produce little peas!

We have two rows of beautiful corn!

This cucumber plant looks like it's dying, but it's not, I promise!

 Northern Oregon is NOT famous for growing melons, but the watermelon sprouts haven't died yet!

The sunflowers are getting pretty tall!

Last but not least, we have brussel sprouts. They aren't too big yet, but hopefully they'll start growin' soon...

My little garden friend
That's about it for the vegetable garden. Yes, I am aware that it really needs to be weeded right now! I am so happy that we chose to have a bigger garden this year, though! I think it will be totally worth it.

Now to get those slugs under control...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Meet the Goats!

My goats are wonderful members of the farm, and they are really what got me started on this whole homesteading adventure (more on that later). I got my first two in 2011, and it became a slight obsession from there...
We currently have 8, but that number is about to change, as 3 are due this month, and 1 this fall. Get ready for some super cute pictures! All of them are registered, purebred, Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats, and I couldn't be happier with this breed!
Anyways, here are all my goats, and a little bit about each of them:

Meet Abigail! I got her in June 2011 as a bottle baby, and she was my very first goat. She is the herd queen, and is slightly stubborn, but also very friendly. She is such a pretty doe, with a very strong build. She is due to have her first kids in July 2013, and will be one of our milkers this fall. She comes from great dairy lines, so I expect her to be a great producer.

Meet Noah! He is wether (neutered male), and is the only boy in the herd (poor guy!). He was born in June 2011, and I got him as a bottle baby just a few hours after Abigail. He was only 3 lbs. when I took him home! Although Noah can't breed the does and doesn't produce milk or kids, he is still wonderful at keeping the other ones company, and eating! One special thing about Noah is his wattles. Wattles are just little skin tags that hang from under a goat's jaw area, but they are fairly uncommon. I just love this sweet little boy...

Meet Addy! Addy was born in January 2012, and I got her for my birthday in February 2012. She is the most calm, quiet, and polite goat I have ever met! Cute too I must say. She should have her first kids next year sometime. We bred her this year, but it didn't take. Once she does though, she should be a great milker! If you ever meet Addy, you will want to take her home with you!

Meet Penny! Penny is a 2-year-old doe, born in April 2011. I bought her in July 2012 with her little doeling, Penelope. She is pretty shy, but she's getting better. Penny is due to have her 2nd kids in July 2013, and will also be our milker for the fall along with Abigail.

Penelope as a baby
Meet Penelope! Penelope is a beautiful chocolate doe that turned one last month. I got her with her mother, Penny, when she was very young. She is sweet and spunky, and still acts like a kid. She might have her first kids in July 2013, but I'm not 100% sure if she's actually pregnant. It'll be a surprise either way! She is so adorable, and I love having her on the farm.

Next up is Lillian! Lillian was born in November 2012 and I got her for my birthday this year. She absolutely adores people, and that is probably because none of the other goats really like her. She is the youngest goat in the herd, but when that changes, she should have a happier life. She is super petite, so she won't be having kids anytime soon. She is so precious, and I give her special attention every day because her big brown eyes just break my heart...

Meet Madeline! This picture describes her perfectly. She is hilarious! Madeline was my first blue-eyed goat, and I got her in June 2013 right around her 3rd birthday. Her markings are gorgeous, and anyone that visits the farm always points out how pretty she is. She had triplets earlier this year at a different farm, and is due to kid again in early October, making her our winter milker. I can't wait!

Last but not least, meet Bella! Bella is a beautiful red doe with big blue eyes. I got her in June 2013 right after Madeline. She is 2 years old and has already had 2 sets of kids. I bought her in-milk, but she had not yet been trained, and neither had I! Well, needless to say, after about 2 miserable weeks of training, she is now the best milk goat I could ever ask for! She will be bred again this fall for spring 2014 kids. She is such a beautiful little lady, and I'm so happy I added her to my herd.

Abigail and Noah as kids
Well, there you have it! All 8 of my darling little goats. I love having them around, and don't see myself getting rid of them any time soon.

Some people will tell you that goats are annoying and very hard to own. If you don't have the proper setup, or are not educated enough about goats, this can be true. I am planning to write several posts in the future about goat ownership, so anyone that is considering buying goats can gain more knowledge and feel more comfortable with the whole idea.

Thanks for stopping by!