The Chicken Profiler – Speckled Sussex

Xena and Penelope were very cool chickens.

Xena was a complete lap chicken. She hopped the fence every day from the first spring melts to the first blizzard. She’d spend her days scratching in the yard, happy to be picked up and carried around. They say not to have favorites in your hen house- and they’re right in a way.

A fox took her one April day. MrGillis ran after them but it was too late. He did save Struggle, one of our gray girls, from a similar fate 15 minutes later & spent the rest of the day on watch with me. The fox never came back.

Her sister, Penelope, Penny for short, was sweet and shy. She didn’t hop the fence, but was always right there for her morning treats. She lived another year until a gate broke and fell on her. I didn’t find her until at least a hour after she passed, so I’ll never know exactly what happened.

They were both good, beautiful birds and that is why I am revisiting my series today:

The Chicken Profiler: Speckled Sussex

Lore states The speckled Sussex breed is an old breed. They can possibly trace their origins to ancient times, as far as chicken tending goes. It’s believed the the ancestors of these gentle beauties were brought to England by the Phoenicians.

They were introduced as Sussex’s or Kentish Fowl at the very first poultry show in England in 1845. The Victorians really enjoyed their show birds and did a lot of fantastic breeding in this era.

Physically, they are known for their plumage which has beautiful shades of mahogany & black along with a white freckling, that gets more pronounced with every molt.

They are a medium sized bird with single comb and small wattles that are pink to red and legs that are yellow. The hens will grow to be about 6 lbs and the roosters to around 8 lbs.

They are decent layers, averaging 3-5 eggs per week that are a light brown in color. They do slow down a lot in the winter, but I expect that with heritage breeds and preserve eggs accordingly.

As a breed, they came very close to extinction until fairly recently. This is unfortunately the case with a lot of heirloom breeds and conservation is more important now then ever.

These are chatty, sociable hens that are excellent for backyard keepers and families alike. 10/10 recommend for your personal flock.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Sources

Chickens & More

Heritage Acres Market

Chicken Scratch

COME MOVE TO MY TOWN!

Seriously.

(Danforth, Washington County, Maine- 04424)

Image Courtesy of Town Of Danforth Facebook Page

We have land. Lots and lots of land. Some with houses, some without. Some needing work, some needing to be knocked down and rebuilt. But it’s THERE and it’s ready for someone to settle it.

We have need for workers. We need skilled people- caregivers, health workers, plumbers, a dentist,  electricians, builders, cooks, entrepreneurs, truck drivers, a pharmacist, farmers, A VETERINARIAN (we have one and he’s great but he wants to RETIRE) creative type people that are looking for a nice town to invest time and energy into!

We need people with a dream – WE NEED YOU!

Danforth Maine is a special place.

The magic, the beauty- is present everywhere in the area, the people, the community.

Image Courtesy of Town Of Danforth Facebook Page
Image Courtesy of Town Of Danforth Facebook Page

We live 40 plus miles from anything corporate America- no walmart, no dollar stores, not a mcdonalds or dunkin in sight.

We have some of the cleanest water in the state. And plenty of it.

We have beautiful views, including river frontage right in town. We live 5 miles from glacial lakes, with million dollar views. We have rolling fields and vast forests full of natural beauty. We have old farms, just hanging around waiting for someone to move in and bring them back to their former glory.

Image Courtesy of Town Of Danforth Facebook Page

We are believers in food sovereignty – lots of locals are always buying from other locals. We have never had a problem selling anything from jams and jellies, to fresh eggs and veggies, to pies and fudge. Others around town sell beef, pork, crafts, canned goods and so much more… but there is always room for variety. There is always room for more.

Image Courtesy of Town Of Danforth Facebook Page

We have a Farmers Market in the summer. There have also been concerts and events where people set up to sell things- pre COVID we’ve had people come in and teach yoga & painting. We also have a yearly summer festival celebrating our town’s history with a parade, vendors and lots of activities for kids and adults alike.

We have winter stuff too- in 2017 our Christmas light parade was rated as one of the best in Northern Maine by people far and wide. There was also a tree lighting and a town bonfire.

We have a seriously amazing school- I cannot give them enough credit for the work they do in this town teaching our kids and enriching our community. The school offers an extensive Outdoor Education program all across age groups and also offers pre-K for 3 AND 4 year olds. The 3 year old program is two days a week, but compared to other schools nationally, I have to say I’m pretty proud of ours. Here is their website.

We are also a town desperately fighting the decline. The businesses that once lined the streets are no more.

And those of us that love this place don’t want to let it go down like that.

We are sitting on a unique opportunity to revitalize a portion of small town Americana. To bring back the good old days of small businesses focused on Community, Excellence and Posperity for all willing to pitch a hand and have the focus to achieve!

Here is some other information about our lovely little valley.

This is a nice history

Our State page

Our Facebook page

Our Town Website

So- if you’re down for some hard work and being active in a small community- Come move to our town. We’d be happy to have you.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

 

 

Houseplant 911- Croton Addition

I fancy myself to have quite the green thumb- even tho I don’t have a lot of space or natural light in my house.

And let’s face it, some of us got caught up in the excitement of new houseplants last year without learning enough about them to keep them happy healthy and thriving. So now we got some work to do.

I got this super tall gold dust croton off etsy about 8 months ago- and it didn’t take the transition well. It lost almost all its leaves but it has now grown a lot back after finally getting used to the climate.

The short pot I got from a grocery store thinking it was one short bushy plant buuuuut nooooooooo. It started losing leaves (that transition period again) and I saw it was not one, not two but THREE individual plants in a small amount of dirt.

The before pictures and the new home

Crotons are beautiful semi tropical plants that grow oblong spotted leaves. As a freckled person, I gravitate towards other speckled things naturally

Separating the smaller pot
Replanting them all in a very large vase planter
Happy me, happy plants, I hope.

I used Stonington Blend from Coast of Maine Soils. Hopefully I’ll have a beautiful update to post in a few months. Meanwhile I’m going to read up more on croton care and get ready for my next plant 911.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Alpacas And Choke – Why We Soak Their Food.

There are always a multitude of ways that raising animals will scare the bejeesus out of a person. Animals are very effective at finding trouble and getting into it. They are also very motivated to do whatever it takes to get their favorite foods, even if it means the risk of killing themselves. Go figure.

One of the worries of having a herd of alpacas is that they can & do, start choking on their pellets or grain. They have very long necks- it’s a lot of potential for hazard.

Since we’ve switched over to pellets only (for other reasons then choke which I can go into in different blog) as our supplement feed for our herd, I noticed an increasing instance of choking.

Now we do all the other things you’re supposed to do- we space out the buckets and have them at almost floor level. We also have more buckets then alpacas so they don’t feel so competitive- but the pellets still had more choking incidents.

Well- we had an alpaca fall sick(stormies story coming soon) & lose a lot of weight. I started soaking the pellets in beet pulp and giving that to all the alpacas – a couple reasons.

We run a sanctuary and have a lot of elderly alpacas, and they Run on the thin side. Since it was winter and very cold and windy at that, I made the decision to supplement all of them. I’m glad I did- our vet thinks they are in excellent condition.

With the soaking of the beet pulp, mixed in the pellets, the pellets of course soaked up the water and became more of a mash- and well- friggen duh – the alpacas stopped choking altogether.

So – the end all of this blog is yes- do all the other things I mentioned. But if you’re feeding pellets and seeing more and more choking incidents, please soak your pellets in water. Your herd and your stress level will both be better off.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Homestead How To: Emergency Lights for Power Outages

We’re pretty lucky to live in an area with a stable grid. It’s very rare for us to lose power, and the longest we’ve been without it has been 6 hours or so. No biggie for seasoned pros like myself- but pure torture for my kids, trust me.

Now, we do have a generator for long term power outages, and I really recommend that people who can afford to, have one also. But, no one I know, pulls out the generator for a couple hours.

So to be prepared for short outages we have a few different things laying around the house.

First – we have a our flashlight drawer- in here we have multiple types of flashlights and lanterns. Some band new in package still because my kids are rough on rigging and I believe in backups. Conveniently enough, this drawer is directly above the battery and charger cord drawer.

Lots of variety

Next we have our collection of kerosene lanterns and candles- these are more for aesthetic but they all function and are pretty. They’ve come to us from yard sales and big box store clearance aisles.

We also have the stick to your wall, flip switch emergency lights in a couple places- like our bathroom. We placed them up high and shining into mirrors to get the most out of them. We got these ones on Amazon years ago.

We stick them to the walls with the command strips and they haven’t budged in the entire 5 years we’ve had them, except to show the kids that they had batteries.

And finally we have – glow sticks! They’re fun for the kids. They don’t work so well for day time outages, but for winter time when it’s dark at 4, these are a hit with the youngins.

The eventual goal is to be completely off the grid with our electric needs- but That’s a whole ‘nother blog.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Homestead How to: Alpaca Herd Health Check

Hello Again Friends!

I love taking care of my animals- and they benefit greatly from regular handling and care. When I first jumped into the world of alpacas, I read a lot of different online resources that helped me to form my action plan. And now I’m going to share my care plan with you folks to help along the next generation of alpaca people!

(I will add some of my favorite alpaca resources at the bottom of the blog)

This is for alpacas specifically- if there is an interest in a chicken or pig one, I’ll do separate blogs for those.

Every day – Check their eyes for any kind of mucus or sign of injury. I just spend some time in the barn every morning and evening, talking to them and giving them a quick once over. I watch their gait and I try to see if any of them are having a hard time getting up and down. I also check the poop piles for anything unusual. This is pretty easy as I am scooping poop most days.

Also check water and hay supplies Every Day.

Weekly – I make sure to physically touch every alpaca to assess its body score and condition. I have to physically put my hands on them each week to test body score. Alpacas can loose weight very quickly and with their fiber growth, it can be hard to tell by sight until too late. I will put a guide below. I also inspect each animals coloring by checking the ears, eyes & gums- a famache score guide can help you here.

Monthly – this is when your region plays a small part. We live on the eastern seaboard of the United States (in maine) and so we treat for menegineal worm every 4 weeks with injectable ivermectin from March to November. I know other alpaca owners that do The injections year round, but my vet personally advises against it and he’s been working with alpacas in Maine for years. When temperatures dip below the teens for the season, we hold off on the ivermectin until spring. If I lived in a more temperate climate I would absolutely treat year round.

We also do a nail check every month and clip accordingly. The older, or runtier, the alpaca, the more their nails seem to break which will need fixing.

Winter – we inject with vitamin a&d every two months- this is an absolute must in order to prevent rickets. Rickets is not only VERY painful for alpacas, but can lead to premature death.

This blog has a good companion – my first aid kit for alpacas has a lot of essentials for keeping your herd in good condition.

More references:

Modern Farmer – Raising Alpacas

Alpaca Association – About Alpacas

Feel free to leave any questions below- I’ll try my best to answer them myself or point you in the right direction.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

How to: Root Elderberry Branches

I’m going to cover two different ways to root Elderberry bushes in this blog- one by water and one by dirt.

Get yourself some elderberry branches- healthy ones from a living plant. I’ve bought them from Etsy – this shop and this shop have both worked out well for me.

Put them in water in a cup like so

These have been in water for about a week.

Change the water out every few days and keep them in a darkish place

These are sitting on a bookcase that isn’t facing any windows.
Here they are about three weeks in

They’ll start sprouting leaves pretty quickly. Once they’ve started growing roots, put them in dirt like so-

You can also start them in dirt like I did last year-

I laid the sticks out horizontally and covered them with dirt. Then I kept them very well hydrated- and also in a greenhouse for the first few weeks. The picture above was from when I started hardening them off.

Elderberries love water so it’s important to keep them that way. Otherwise, they tolerate a host of conditions so, don’t be afraid to start some of these yourself!

Now, I’m going to state that my preferred method is by dirt- they seem to start slower, but have little to no transplant shock. I started 8 in dirt and got 7 to root. I started 12 in water and lost all but two when I put them in dirt. Other people may have better results for different reasons, but I have much higher success rates with plants if I just go straight to dirt, overall.

The last frontier would be starting them from seed- so maybe next year.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Alpaca First Aid Kit

As I’ve discussed in previous posts- I keep extensive supplies on hand as we live in a very rural area.

Part of that is a lot of first aid stuff – for general maintenance and emergency situations.

I’ve also done blogs for chicken and people first aid kits- but in this post I will be showing you my alpaca kit.

A good sized travel tool box is my ideal kit.

So- the first thing to understand about alpaca care is that there are very few medicines designed specifically with alpacas (&llamas) in mind. For the most part we have to use cattle and equine medicines and adjust the dosage to size.

Secondly- I am NOT a vet- I just read a lot of different manuals, both printed and online and I also asked my alpacas vet what he would keep on hand.

Onto the nitty gritty-

1. Zinc bolts for in the water buckets – this is the most effective way to treat a zinc deficiency.

2. Nail clippers- a good pair too. You’ll be using them a lot. Some of my alpacas need those nails done every couple months.

3. Thermometer- large one for taking rectal temperature.

4. Needles – I like these from Jeffers Pet Supply. I get a lot of my supplies from them actually.

5. Supplemental Vitamin AED – injectable

6. Injectable ivermectin- I’ve used generic brands with great success in the past as well.

7. A starter course of paste wormer like panacur or equimax – when you see tape worm castings in the poop pile, you want to be able to dose ASAP. Not the next time you can make the 2 hour round trip. It’s important to note you do need to go get the follow up course of meds to give them 2 weeks later.

8. Marker – gotta be able to grab the right needle for the right alpaca. We write their names on their doses before we go out to give them. Easy peasy.

9. Front line spray – for mite treatmeant

10. Nu-Stock – for other skin conditions and this stuff is so good. I had a couple alpacas come down with different symptoms of skin problems and this shit is AMAZING – one or two applications and boom- healing.

11. Alpaca/llama nutri drench – electrolytes for camelids

12. Lemon lime Gatorade – also electrolytes for camelids and they actually enjoy this one. I give it to them diluted in warm water- like 4 Oz to 1/2 gallon. They slurp it right up.

13. Gauze and vet wrap for open wounds – include some neosporin as well.

14. Toxiban- this is for accidental poisonings.

This is my basic kit- if anyone has anything else they’d like to add, feel free to in the comments!

Until next time- have a wicked good day!

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