After nearly 29 years of living in “the city”, we recently moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa where I’m getting to live my dream of raising cage free chickens. After the first couple weeks as what a friend referred to as a “gentleman farmer” I realized that my humble flock supplied us with too many eggs for my family, but not enough eggs to really sell. So I have been increasing the size of the flock, and away we go… it’s February 2017 and a new chapter has been added to the Wamer’s Hen Farm story. We have moved from Mt. Pleasant to Salem, IA. The girls and their “new” rooster “Rocky” are settling in to their temporary winter home and come spring will get a brand new custom built coop. The new coop will be fitted with windows, electricity, window boxes and even a porch!
After a bad bout of raccoon attacks, egg production is coming up, but still not enough to start selling yet.
January 2016: After tightening up the coop, we just acquired 10 more girls. They are four and a half month old pullets. Should be laying by Easter. Sweetest things, love human attention. They are ISA Browns.
02/15/2016: Added 20 more ISA Browns today. 18 month old girls who have been in production conditions, so they are now semi-retired and free to roam about at Wamer’s Hen Farm, so egg production should soon be at a selling level! Spending this coming Friday afternoon and Saturday morning doing some coop remodeling.
02/18/2016: Raccoon struck again – lost two hens! Rest of the girls very stressed this morning. Production is sure to drop off for awhile. Remodeling the coop is more urgent than it was now.
02/19/2016: Another attack last night. the critter thwarted my efforts to secure the area and burrowed under the coop to grab a hen through a tiny opening at the bottom of the wall behind the nesting boxes! Only got 4 eggs yesterday, since the girls are so stressed. This is War! Destroying its burrows and putting down a new floor under the nesting boxes. It evades the humane trap I’ve set and goes straight for the kill. Frankly, I am getting very tired of dead chickens!
02/23/2016: Lost another hen last night. This time it looks to be a weasel attack. Very frustrating. Also have a few hens whose flight feathers have grown back after clipping who are insisting on being “Whole Farm” “free-range” instead of staying inside their fenced enclosure. They were very cute foraging around the front yard yesterday. Egg production still down. I keep making modifications to the coop and I am trying to keep the girls stress to a minimum.
03/22/2016: Added 20 Tetra Amber hens to the flock on Sunday. Yesterday the 20 girls yielded 15 eggs. Hope this indicates the beginning of a productive run for us. Will add 6 Ameracana chicks (Easter Eggers) this weekend. Due to hatch on Friday. These will be the first chickens that belong to my wife, Theresa!
03/24/2016: Bought Theresa 7 Ice Cream Bar chicks yesterday. They are a cross between Isbars and Crested Cream Legbars. They should lay green/blue/blue-green eggs. Five weeks old, cute as buttons. Sold eggs today, took orders for tomorrow!
04/03/2016: Finally got Theresa those 6 Easter Eggers today. Different clutch than originally intended. they are only 5 days old and little fluff balls with wing feathers. Three dark colored, three light. Will post pictures of them and the ever so fast growing Ice Cream Bars as soon as I figure out how.
The Ice Cream Bars at 6 weeks.
The Ice Cream Bars. This picture shows the beautiful almost lavender/grey feathers of the lighter ones.
04/10/2016: Lost our Grand Ol’ Rooster Mick to old age today. Sad, he was a beautiful Black Australorp. Fun ol’ guy. Took Great Care of his ladies.
04/13/2016: Have 5 Black New Jersey Giant hens and a rooster, that were hatched last fall, on hold. Will pick them up tomorrow evening. I’m very excited have always want Jersey Giants!
04/04/2016: My daughter went out to collect eggs today and heard some noises coming from behind a stash of wood and debris. Upon exploration she found one of our free range girls “hiding” on this clutch of eggs! Will candle them and if fertile let her be her broody self and hatch the eggs.
04/19/2016: Unfortunately, she only sat during the day, abandoned them at night to return to the coop. Can’t hatch eggs that way! Well, maybe next time…
04/19/2016: the new rooster is a White Leghorn. Beautiful young lad who has decided he’s in charge of the free-ranger girls. That’s good news for them. He’ll help keep them safe. His name is Charlie.
04/20/2016: We had a “Chicken Run” yesterday as almost the whole flock accidentally flew the coop. We rounded up a large number of them and got them in the coop, but many of the girls enjoyed several hours free ranging with Charlie until bedtime. At which point they all came home to sleep. What Fun!
04/24/2016: Sold 5 dozen eggs yesterday! Charlie has convinced a few more girls to be free rangers. Almost like we have two flocks. One for each rooster!
04/24/2016: Charlie in all his glory!
04/28/2016: Gathered over three dozen eggs yesterday! Currently have 10 dozen in our fridge. Anybody need some eggs? Always looking for new customers!
04/29/2016: Gathered dozens of eggs again yesterday! I just Love having chickens.
Even when they are throwing all the mulch out of the rose garden!
They frustrated my daughter yesterday by making a huge mess of the rose garden which she had just mulched a few days ago. Frustrating, but so much fun. Last week she caught one of our hens standing on the back of one of the cows!
05/04/2016: The Ice Cream Bar babies are outgrowing their cage. Must come up with alternative living arrangements for them, until they are ready to join the flock.
05/05/2016: We put the Ice Cream Bars out in a run yesterday for the first time and to begin with they were scared to be out of the cage. They eventually got the idea to scratch and peck. But were still more than happy to return to the safety of their cage at dusk.
05/06/2016: Added three lovely ladies to the flock yesterday. Three very large year old Brahma Hens. That brings me to 13 different breeds of Chickens. My eldest daughter, says I’m a “Chicken Hoarder”. I just love chickens, what can I say. Besides these girls are friendly and interesting. They have tons of feathers, even on their legs and feet!
05/07/2016: Added five one year old white leghorn hens yesterday. Four of the five them laid eggs today. Not bad for the first day at their new home! No more additions for awhile. Next project is to build a trailer/run and coop for the Ice Cream Bars and Easter Eggers who have out grown their brooders. And after that a new roof on the south side of the coop and new metal siding on the south wall.
05/08/2016: One of the new Leghorns “Swinging” on a cable hanging in the coop. She was having such fun!
05/15/2016: So, I looked out my kitchen door this morning to see my chickens sharing their corn with a local wild rabbit. All having breakfast in perfect harmony!
05/23/2016: My rooster, Charlie, and some hens helped me plant a Red Maple tree yesterday. We all had a good time planting the tree. And the hens helped with rose bushes and gerainiums too.
05/26/2016: My daughter Kay and “her” chicken, Clairese. She loves to be with us. Follows us around and ignores most all the other chickens. Our older daughter said this past weekend that “she’s no farm animal, she’s a pet. She comes up to people she doesn’t even know and is like ‘hey, pet me'”. It’s true. She became blind in one eye and during the process of being nursed back to health Kay became her best friend. And along with her, all humans became acceptable company.
06/01/2016: New Pretty Girls we got yesterday. I will take some better pictures without the cage soon.
06/02/2016: The New Girls are getting along pretty well with the Ice Cream Bars and the Easter Eggers. The New Girls and the Ice Cream Bars are going to go out and start living in the main coop, starting tonight or tomorrow. The Easter Eggers are still a little too young for the main coop, but may have some new company. I found some Buckeye chicks around the same age through a lady at a produce stand we stopped by on the way home from picking up the New Girls. So we might get to start the small flock of Buckeyes that I’ve wanted to start since last year. Currently have three buckeyes, Mack our one Rooster and two hens.
06/13/2016: Well the extreme heat wave, (100 plus heat indexes) has taken it’s toll on egg production, down to about 18 a day. And unfortunately we lost two of our hens. One very young and one old retired gal. May they rest in peace.
06/15/2016: On a happier note, here is a picture of one of our New Girls – a Crested Lady. Beautiful isn’t she! She’s getting friendlier by the day. Think this one will turn out to be a pet.
06/15/2016: Just learned of this breed yesterday. Indonisian Ayam Cemani Chickens. The coolest thing is they are entirely black, inside and out. Adding them to my wish list! But, they are expensive, can be up to $200.00 a pop straight run. My daughter might be right. i might be a bit of a chicken horder. 🙂
06/22/2016: Collected 44 eggs two days ago, then lost the largest Ice Cream Bar yesterday to the intense heat. Sad to have raised her from a chick and lost her now. On a happier note got 10 Buckeyes for Father’s Day! Now I HAVE to remodel the outhouse into a Buckeye Coop and build a new outside run. Going on a Mission Trip with my High School youth from church starting Saturday for a week. Will be home on the 3rd of July, I believe with out checking my calendar. Will post more then. Until then, happy egg collectiing.
08/10/2016: Hello! Long time no see. It’s been a long 6 weeks. I had two mission trips, Vacation Bilbe School and a trip out to Arizona for my mother’s 90th Birthday! Just got back from Arizona and have a lot to update you on. Lost several free range chickens , including our Rooster Charlie to a pack of coyotes. Also got more chickens, a new Rooster named Otto, and four ducks. Got a black beauty of a hen that looks alot like a Indonisian Ayam Ceman, she has a black beek and comb and black skin. She’s a real beauty of a bird, part silkie. Will post a picture of her as soon as I get a chance. The Buckeyes haven’t faired too well; with losses to illness and the coyotes. Not sure if they are the right breed to start raising or not. Currently keeping it under advisement and will see how the survivors fair. I’ll post some pictures and write more soon.
08/10/2016: Due to the extreme nature of the Coyote attack we are considering getting a Great Pyrenees as a working/chicken guard dog. Will keep you posted on our search for just the right dog/puppy.
02/01/2017: it’s February 2017 and a new chapter has been added to the Wamer’s Hen Farm story. We have moved from Mt. Pleasant to Salem, IA. The girls and their “new” rooster “Rocky” are settling in to their temporary winter home and come spring will get a brand new custom built coop. The new coop will be fitted with windows, electricity, window boxes and even a porch!