Mississippifarmboy's Chcken Blog
This page is a work in progress, so bear with me! Check back often for updates!
My name is Terry Lambert, I'm 47 years old and live in the country near Glen, Mississippi in the Northeast corner of the Hospitality State. I'm a country auctioneer by trade and a farmer by choice and also in a large part to being raised by my Grandparents to be self-reliant and as self sufficient as possible. For many years I have owned a twice weekly auction in a neighboring county and was co-owner of a small antiques and furniture store / flea market until August the 31, 2012 when I had to close everything down due to health reasons. So for now, I'm working on recovering my health and a full time farmer. I've traveled and lived all over the country, but moved back to my hometown about 2000 - 2001 after having some health problems and to take care of my Grandfather the last four years before he passed away. I then bought the old family home place. My kids are the fifth generation to live on this spot of land. Our roots run deep in this Mississippi red clay. We don't have a large farm or home and nothing about it is fancy, but we love it here and love our lives together. My 14 year old son Jon and 3 year old daughter Lillian are rapidly becoming my partners in all things "Chicken". I'm just a very simple, honest, hardworking country boy and really want nothing else out of life other than to be happy and live simple.
Our family loves living in the country, our animals and we all love to read, so we have thousands of books on most all subjects. The kids are into their WII games, fishing, riding their bikes and just roaming the fields and woods near our house. I think their favorite hobby is seeing just how dirty and scratched up from climbing trees, building "forts", and chasing the pups, calf and goats they can get each day! We do try to spend at least a part of every day together. This is very much a family farm.
I've had chickens most all my life other than a few short periods of time when I was traveling or living in the city. When I was just a small child my Grandmother would order chicks each spring and she always let me pick out a few chicks of any breed I wanted out of those old black and white chicken hatchery books for my very own. We raised most all of our food back then, times where hard for poor dirt farmers. I was raised a sharecropper's son and proud of it! I was feeding, watering, gathering eggs and butchering chickens for the table as far back as I can recall. They were wonderful people and I feel blessed to have been a part of their lives. They raised 13 children and three of us grandkids on a sharecroppers pay. We never had any money, but we were rich as we could be!
We started our current flock in early 2009 pretty much from scratch. We got rid of most of the chickens on the place and started fresh. We have a mixed flock of yard chickens that are totally free-range, come and go as they please, and are currently providing all our eating eggs and the eggs we sell to friends and neighbors. My son has German strain New Hampshires and some hatchery quality BB Red bantams. My daughter raises the Buff Orpingtons. Em has the Red Shouldered Yokohama and Seramas, and I claim most of the other breeds and varieties on the place.
We usually have several hundred chicks, young stock and breeders of other chickens including Salmon Faverolles, Barred Rocks, Dominiques, Spangled Russian Orloffs, Mahogany Russian Orloffs, Rose Comb Rhode Island Reds, red sex links, and Splash Cochin bantams. Most are hatchery chicks, so I know they aren't going to be show stock, but we are currently buying more and more breeder quality Heritage breeds. We hatch lots of chicks from each breed each spring and summer and then cull down to the best twelve or less of each breed starting when they are around five to eight months old. I try and breed with the goal of improving the variety. I tend to buy or hatch many more chicks than we really want due to culling for the best breeders. As time and money allows we would like to start buying a few of the true to standard birds from other breeders to improve or replace our current strains of chickens. We do love our chickens, and a few of our favorites get names, but we also raise them for meat and eggs. Even our pets have to pay their way on this farm!
We breed and raise several varieties of waterfowl, Pekin, Cumberland Blue Indian Runners, Black East Indie, muscovies, and Em's pet project, Silkie Ducks. (She has entirely too many ducks...but don't tell her I said that! ) Among the other critters we raise, we have a couple Jersey cows, pot bellied pigs, meat pigs, pygmy goats, geese, turkeys, Lilac and Sweetgrass turkeys, Buff and Lavender geese, and one useless horse.
We have several farm projects going on right now. We are currently in the process of tearing down and replacing all the old fences and pens. Some of them are over 40 years old and just getting to be more trouble than they are worth keeping them in useable condition. Below is our main outdoor brooder. It's 10' long and 2' wide by 3' high at the front, made out of scrap and recycled materials, so it's not very pretty, but it seems to work fine. We've brooded as many as 50 chicks from day old until 5 weeks old in it, usually around 25 to 30 at a time. According to most post I've read, brooders should have 1/2 foot of space per chick, ours is 20 square feet so rated for about 40 chicks, but we usually have far less than that at any given time, but we do at times have a few more than that as we stagger our hatches. I know most people seem to think you have to keep baby chicks inside, but we've brooded over 500 chicks in a year in this brooder, and only lose maybe 2 or 3 per year in the brooders most years. We have a 250-watt red heat bulb for heat and use it according to the outside temps. It's on three-foot legs to make the doors at a comfortable height for working with the chicks, feeding & watering them. (And the right height for the kids to open the doors and play with the chicks!) We only run the heat during the night as long as the daytime temps are above 85 degrees. You will notice the lack of grass in some of the pictures, we are clearing the land as we go and the brooder is setting on new ground, there will be plenty of grass later. The farm had pretty much reverted to nature in the past twenty years, we are slowly getting it back into shape. Anyway, it's different, but it works! We are planning on building a new incubator / brooder shed in the spring and moving this outdoor brooder to the same area of the farm at that time. We hatch with both broody hens and a very old 1500 series Sportsman incubator. We laso have a couple of the cheap styrofoam incubators that come into use on rare busy hatching times. Below are also some pictures of the little outdoor brooder we use the first week.
We do still use the old tried and true cardboard box brooder too. (Especially when someone orders chicks I didn't know about and the big brooder is already full!)
Our chickens are housed in several out buildings and pens around our property. This is an old equipment shed we converted into a barn for our chickens and other stock. It has three chicken houses (One is 20' X 10', the other two are about 11' X 10') all have runs attached to the barn from roughly 50' X 50' up to 60' X 75'. The barn also has a stable for pygmy goats and a stable for our milk cow opening into the barn lot in the front of the barn, plus a hallway and a large feed room. Almost everything about the barn is made from recycled and reused items. I don't think any two boards in the barn are the same size! Most of the lumber is sawmill lumber from other old buildings around the farm. The barn was built about 35 to 40 years ago and most of the buildings we are tearing down for lumber are far older than that. Nothing is straight, square or perfect. A professional carpenter would probably have a seizure if he walked through our barn, but it is what it is! For details on how we built it and the full layout see our barn / coop page.
All the junk and signs hanging on it are either items we have found around the farm or stuff we've bought at our auctions. It started out as a way to get it off the ground and out of the way, but we sorta liked the way it looked and decided to just keep adding to it. The awning over the back door was made from a set of antique buggy shafts and a piece of old tin. We have one old metal commercial nest box (Pictured, thanks Marty!) that was given to us by a friend of mine, the rest we either made ourselves or use old milk crates. We've found the hens aren't real picky.
We also have pot-belly pigs,meat pigs, Samson our English Bulldog, Cricket our standard poodle, a pair of Devon Rex cats, a leopard gecko, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other critters.
I'll be posting more and adding pictures as I get the time...
We do sell eggs and chicks from our farm. Started and POL pullets during the season. We do not ship, farm pick up orders only.