Critters

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This Weekend’s Progress

To be perfectly honest, this post should probably be called “Saturday’s Progress” but it’s not our fault. We had a nice and moderately productive Saturday with temperatures reaching a whopping 55 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a very unproductive, rainy and SNOWY Sunday in. You read that right– snow in April. Maybe that isn’t all-too bizarre but it feels wrong. As per usual, Jeff seems to be working through the “good” weekends and home for the “bad” ones in terms of weather. This was one of his better weekends since the weather has been improving. Even so, it was a great weekend. We made some progress on the goat shed, had a date night out by ourselves, and spent the next day in with the kids.

What did our progress look like on Saturday? Well, I had been helping Jeff a little bit when it dawned on me that I should be taking pictures for the blog (duh!) but here is what we had going on that day (hands Jeff the mic):

 

There are a few components going into this project. First, for approximately $40 I picked up what was supposed to be a used 10×10 carport frame with no roof. As it turns out, it’s only an 8×10, which is fine because that is about the dimensions I need for the goat shed. They don’t need a whole lot of room, just enough to keep them protected on the three sides outside of their enclosure.

I decided to give them an 8×5 area for bedding and separate 8×5 off of the back for feed storage. The frame was damaged, so what you see in the pictures is only half of it. The rest will need straightened and welded before I piece it back together. Meanwhile, I picked up the plywood you see from work when they decided they couldn’t use it anymore, on the cheap. I even got some free help from our son Sampson when it came time to put it up.

In addition, I was able to pick up some free siding off of an old barn which will not only become siding but also the roof for the goat shed. All total including hardware, I will have spent less than $100 on this project. It should last 15-20 years when it’s complete.

You may have noticed a gap at the bottom of the back wall. This won’t be an issue once I add the other half, but I really should have notched the bottom of the plywood to eliminate it. Didn’t really notice until we were done with the walls. On the other hand, it won’t be in contact with the ground and acting as a wick for moisture.

We will post more pictures as we get further along so you can see the end result. After the shed is finished, we will put up temporary fencing (we plan to expand the enclosure later on) and finally get the goats moved home.

Best Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds

When we committed to raising chicks for our homestead, we decided we wanted birds that could not only produce eggs, but supply meat as needed. Many chicken breeds are egg-cellent for laying (yep, I went there) and others are great for meat, but which breeds should you rely on if you want the best of both worlds? Here are four of our top-picks for best dual-purpose birds for the homestead:

1. Australorp

Laying around 250 eggs a year, the Australorp is a reliable laying breed that holds its own against the most prolific of layers. Roosters grow to approximately 8.5 pounds while hens generally reach 6.5 pounds, and because they grow reasonably quickly, they are an ideal choice for meat as well.

2. Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red has developed a great reputation as a homestead bird. Though there is speculation as to how many eggs to expect per year, you’ll find that they generally fall somewhere between 200 and 300 eggs. Similar to the Australorp, Rhode Island Red males weigh in at about 8.5 pounds and females will top out at around 6.5.

3. Plymouth Rock

Coming in at third on our list is the popular Plymouth Rock which can lay around 200-250 eggs annually. In addition to being a great layer, hens will reach a reasonable weight of approximately 7.5 pounds. Better yet, roosters can grow to a healthy 9.5 pounds. The Plymouth Rock is a classic dual-purpose breed. 

4. Orpington

While Orpingtons are more modest layers compared to our other dual-purpose favorites, their yearly egg production isn’t mediocre by any means. They lay between 175 and 200 eggs per year, and a few dozen eggs is a small price to pay when you consider that a female Orpington can reach an impressive 8 pounds. If that’s not convincing enough, an adult rooster can weigh in at 10 pounds. 

There are several other breeds out there worth considering, but these are four of the best dual-purpose chickens and also the breeds that we chose for our own homestead. If you have any other questions or thoughts, please let us know in the comment section below.

Want to know more about these and other chicken breeds? Check out this handy reference guide from The Livestock Conservancy:

 https://livestockconservancy.org/images/uploads/docs/pickachicken.pdf