Friday, January 20, 2017

25 ways to use empty feed bags

How many feed bags do you have laying around? At any given time I probably have about a dozen. I get feed from 2 different places so I have 3 different types of bags. I have burlap feed sacks from the scratch grains at the mill. The paper ones come from the layer feed they sell and I get the plastic feed bags from pretty much everything I buy at Tractor Supply. The chickens eat at least 3 bags full a week, so I always have a fresh supply of bags. Which brings me to the question: what do I do with them all?

I'll start with the obvious answers first. The paper ones can be recycled or burned. If I start to collect too many I'll keep them in the truck and toss them in the paper recycle bin when I see one. The burlap ones can be reused in a ton of ways! I've made cute feed sack pillows for the patio out of them. They are also good for covering outdoor furniture cushions that are getting old. Plus I can always find someone who will take them off my hands for crafts.

reuse, feed bags

The plastic feed bags though, those are a little harder to use up. Luckily I've came up with quite a few crafty ways over the years. Here are my top 25 favorite uses for plastic feed sacks:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chickens have personalities!

I have learned so many things from having chickens. Some of them seem like 'duh...common sense' others are funny and some are just amazing facts. Oh, the things I didn't know! I learned that eggs aren't always egg shaped, a broody hen can poop a pile the same size as a dog does, and they eat just about anything with their favorite being Styrofoam. So weird. On of the things that really surprised me though, is that chickens have personalities. I really didn't expect this. I guess I thought they'd be boring. Cute, but just...boring. Boy was I wrong! Let me introduce you to a few of them:

Chickens have personalities

Sally...the puppy dog. Sally is always right at your feet. Pet me! Pick me up! Feed me! She comes when called and will 'talk' to you with her little muttering noise she makes. Yes, she expects you to have a conversation with her! She also follows daddy around all the time, just like the dogs.

chickens, funny, personality

Rusty...Mr Ornery. Cranky and a bit of a tiny little fluffy bully. He's also a butt biter. Do NOT bend down in front of his roost at night because your butt is right in front of him and he will bite it! (picture from when he was a scruffy little baby roo)

chickens have funny personalities. partridge silkie

Original...Miss Jealous. When feeding the chickens treats, Original will go behind me and pull on my pants leg like she's saying "where's mine?" So of course I have to give her a special pile of treats. It's so darn cute! Every time someone gets a treat she's right there pulling on me, telling me "I want what she has"   

Friday, January 6, 2017

Keeping chickens water from freezing

It gets really cold here in the winter. There are times it doesn't get much higher then zero so keeping the chickens water in a liquid form can be quite a challenge. I spent several years hauling warm water out several times a day to melt the ice in the waterers. Let me tell you, it's not fun. It's also not real healthy for the chickens. One of the biggest problems chickens face in the winter is moisture in their coop. If you take them warm water, steam is going to come off of it until its cool. If their water container is inside the coop then you're adding moisture to the coop with every water refill. Bad idea.

I finally got some heated bowls and a heated fountain and they have made all the difference. They keep the water liquid in all but the worst of the cold. Even when they do start to freeze, usually it only takes a tap or two to dislodge the ice and it melts again. The downside is that you do have to have some type of electric in your coop. However, I did just find out about a no electric trick that seems to work to keep the water liquid. More on that one at the end. For now, Lets talk about the types of heated chicken waterers that I use. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Feeding chickens your holiday leftovers

As the holidays pass any of us that  have hosted a party or gathering will soon find ourselves staring into the refrigerator wondering "what am I going to do with all these leftovers?" As chicken keepers, most of us like to give leftover food to the chickens. They love the treat and it lightens up the feed bill a little. In the winter I even warm the leftovers up for them since its so cold outside. (I know I'm not the only one!) Holiday dishes though, can contain ingredients we don't use the rest of the year. This can bring up the question of whether it's safe to let the chickens eat it, or not? 

I've talked about feeding chickens for free many times in the past as saving money on my feed bill is something I'm always thinking about. (Have you seen my feed expenses? Take a look, you'll understand) I hate to waste anything that I can give to the chickens and today I wanted to talk about what kinds of holiday leftovers you can and cannot feed your chickens.

Feeding chickens for free, leftovers

Lets start with the basics:
  • If you won't eat it then don't give it to them. If it's starting to smell funny or grow mold just chuck it in the trash. 
  • Chocolate is bad for most animals. Period.
  • Caffeine is another no-no. Anything containing coffee, tea or chocolate should not be given to the flock.
  • Alcohol. Desserts soaked in liqueurs are probably the biggest hazard, but anything containing alcohol that has not been burned off in the cooking process should be avoided.
  • Salt. Anything excessively salty can be bad for their kidneys. If you can, rinse the item off. If not, best to just skip it.
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