Our Adventure in Free Range Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys etc.... and living off our land!

By ladybead · Feb 23, 2015 · Updated Mar 25, 2015 · ·
  1. ladybead
    Hello my name is Rose my husband Robert and I live on 10 acres in the High Desert of Southern California. We figured since we are living rural and have all this land we would like to try to live off our land and grow as much food as possible that we can eat. Hey maybe even if we can make or save a few dollars doing it, but most importantly we will know our food is all natural, organic and humane.

    We started off with a greenhouse growing herbs and vegetables, since it is really hard to put anything in the ground without the bunnies or birdies eating it. When the plants get bigger we put them on scaffolding and start new plants in the greenhouse. This year we decided to clean out our barn to make room for chickens and ducks
    Our greenhouse made with upcycled windows and doors​

    Here are some photos of our breeding boxes and the inside of our barn. Our barn is about 25 x 25 and the inside of our coop will be about 14 x 16 for our chicks and about 5 x 8 for our ducks. We are getting black australorps, ducks and maybe some turkeys.
    we will be putting our chicken run by the tree this is looking straight in the barn, the coop will be on the left

    This is the door to the chicken coop and this is looking from the coop at the duck pen

    Our nesting boxes each box is 14"x14" Here are the brooders, we still have to put in the poop boards

    Now to get to chicks and ducks.....

    I placed an order to have our animals shipped to us against my better judgement from a place in Lebanon, MO. They shipped on 2/18/15 and as of 2/23/15 the package is still missing. I opened a case with USPS to help locate the package and was informed that all live animals being shipped through the mail Must be mailed via Express Mail as Express mail is a guaranteed service and Priority mail is not, and any package containing live animals must be marked on the box otherwise the Post Office is not allowed to accept the package unless it is shipped express. When I spoke with the company they offered to reship, but they would not ship via express, so I requested a refund. (Update the package arrived at the Post Office on 2/25/15 D.O.A. :( )

    I kept searching the web to find a place nearby that I could go a pick up my animals and finally found a place in Tehachapi, California
    called Signature They carry all kinds of Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Turkey, Cornish, and many many more exotic feathered animals. We are going there this weekend to pick up our chicks and ducks. I will try to get some photos.

    Here is our brooder. We used an X-Large dog kennel. We have 2 thermostats, the water dispenser and the chick feeder. For heating we have a 250 watt heating lamp. We have pine shavings on the bottom. I would like to thank someone who let me know that the chicks can get through the wire. We will be using something to prevent this from happening. Will post a picture as soon as we do.

    There is much left to do to be ready when they a larger. Will keep you posted. As this is our first time doing this we appreciate your thoughts and kind comments and would like to thank all the wonderful peeps here at backyard chickens for all their help in answering our questions.

    We hope you will join us for the ride. Robert and Rose 2/23/15

    While reading through the forum posts I found some interesting information. Here is a link on making your own Lactobacillus Serum This is the workhorse of the beneficial bacteria Use it for everything! Foul odors, clogged drains, cheaper pig/chicken/etc farming, aquaculture, the applications are amazingly diverse. Learn how to make and use this and you will have a powerful tool in your farming arsenal. Here is a link with photos

    Have you ever heard of Permaculture? Did you know it is possible to feed your chickens for little to no $$? We are in the process of learning more here. That link also brings you to a page where you can learn how to increase your chicken feed protein by feeding your chicks sprouts.

    Today 2/26/14 we ordered some meal worms from Rainbow Mealworms they have great prices, we should get them by this weekend so that is on our to do list. Here is a link on backyard chicken on how to do this. Two more days until we pick up our chicks!!

    We picked up our chicks today 2/28/15 We drove to Tehachapi, CA to pick them up in person. I don't see how these babies can survive a trip through the mail.

    Pictured is a Black Australorp and a Polish White Crested
    We got 1 Polish and the rest Black Australorp as the other 3 Polish didn't make it through the night.

    3/1/15 We enclosed our brooder with bunny wire and elevated the floor so no chickies could escape.
    A word of advice. Make sure your lamp can handle the wattage of your bulb. We missed this one and put a 250 watt bulb in a clip on light that only could handle 100 watt and when I got up at 4 am to check on our birdies it was out. Luckily we have our birds in our living room so we have our room warm. During the day we take the chicks out to the greenhouse where it is warm and they have natural light. So far we have lost 2 of our chickies. Not sure why?

    We decided to plant more pomegranate trees as they do well in the high desert, we did clippings from our tree, as well as some rosemary as it does really well.
    3/4/14 Today we planted shiitake mushrooms we bought them off ebay
    We had to drill holes in a hardwood log Here we are melting wax at the end of the log to seal it

    Our chicks are growing it is hard to get a picture in the brooder with the red light. I tried this one with a flash.

    This past weekend March 7, 2015 we changed to a 100 watt light bulb in our brooder, we keep ours in our house. Make sure you keep plenty of pine shavings in their brooder it really helps them to stay warm, also be sure they always have clean water these little ones really drink a lot of water, be sure to keep your shavings clean. The weather is unseasonably warm. My our chicks are growing. When we picked our chickens up some were older than others and now it is really showing. We let them outside for a bit it was so hot. It is hard to get a good picture, I don't know how you guys take such great shots.
    Free Range Chickies!

    We also started working on our secondary brooder. It is 6 feet long by 2 1/2 feet wide and 3 feet high.
    secondary brooder

    Today I also found a great blog with lots of information call Fresh Eggs Daily They advise putting in clumps of grass etc.. with the dirt root. I did that today March 10, 2015 and my chicks devoured it. Some just enjoyed laying in it.
    Our trees are in bloom
    Asian Pear Tree Freestone Peach Tree

    We welcome your comments and thoughts
    Robert and Rose Elliott

    March 11, 2015
    Today I noticed that one of our chicks appears to be balding. I am not sure if she is pecking herself or if the others are. She is one of the older chicks that we have. Could be that we need to put them in a larger brooder (which will be ready Saturday) or she could just have a habit of over grooming, I am not sure. I was reading today that chickens and chicks enjoy dust baths so I put some dirt mixed with wood ash and they really seem to be enjoying that. Maybe she will use that to clean herself and stop the picking.

    The chick I circled is balding You can see their dust bath in the upper right corner
    I may have found my answer to why some chicks are balding. They are very healthy eating and drinking a lot.
    "Don't worry about the balding. I've had chicks just be slower to feather out. They lose the fluff but feathers are not emerging yet so they are bald. My anconas had big bald areas for a few months! They eventually feathered in beautifully. Just don't let baby get cold. "Is it eating and drinking ok" Thank you North TexasChick.

    I have moved my blog here

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  1. ladybead
    Hi Jeri, Thank you for your comment. In the high desert we have coyotes to contend with. Our property is fenced and we do have a king shepherd who is very protective. Hubby would love to get some cattle and grow his own beef, that will be another day, not even sure where to start with buying them. I think it would cost a lot to feed them as we do not have very much greenery for them to eat. We only get about 8" of rain per year. We have decided that pomegranate trees are the way for us to go and have started about 30 cuttings from our tree that we have had for 5 years. It gives us the most fruit of all our trees. This year we are planting all kinds of plants in our greenhouse to see what we can grow. Good luck and have fun! Rose
  2. EricandJeri
    Hi Rose, Interesting post! Good luck with your endeavor! Your land is beautiful!
    My husband Eric and I are also newbies at the farm life, we bought 18 acres last May in TN and have been slowly getting it organized. I was given 6, one-day old chicks last August and they were fabulous but unfortunately something killed them all one terrible day in November - whatever it was peeled back the chicken wire to the run and got in. Beware of animal predators! They are very crafty!
    After a month or so we decided to try again and ordered from MyPetChicken.com (great reputation). We received 13 assorted brown egg layers and they are even more wonderful than my first girls because they are ALL friendly and curious. We started from scratch with a new coop and run, hopefully predator-proof. TIP: Hand feed your babies, handle them and talk to them often so that they will be comfortable with you. They are really very sweet.

    About 2 weeks ago we got 3 cows, Black Baldies, and hope to continue to expand the herd until we can maybe make some money by selling beef cattle. It is entirely possible that we are insane. :)
    Yesterday my hubs ordered blueberry bushes to add to our gardening, we love blueberries so I hope that works out!
    Farming, even on a small scale, is a lot of work! We've had lots of snow and ice for the last 2 weeks and have been slogging around out there in it, breaking up the cows frozen water and trying to keep the bored (because they are confined to the coop) chickens occupied. It's fun though!
    Good luck! Jeri Watts

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