The garden is booming and there are SO many cucumbers!! Best way to keep them around all summer is by making some refrigerator pickles! They are delicious and a perfect treat!
I've made 2 different versions of them so I will post what I've made and hopefully you love them as much as I have!
Start with pickling cucumbers and cut them in either slices, chunks, or strips!
Hey Friends!! I don't know about you, but I love it when something is functional and cute at the same time!! I've been using a few mixtures here on the farm that have worked and I thought it was time to pass them along to all of you!
Of course I created some cute labels you can print and use for yourself! This way we can all share the love and keep our farms and animals happy and healthy.
Here's what you'll need to make these!
* 2-4 Glass bottles depending on how many of the formula's you'd like to make
I used these 16 once bottles from AMAZON. Click HERE to purchase. You can also purchase the dark glass bottle as well. Sometimes essential oils keep best in a darker bottle. I tend to go through these pretty quick and make new mixtures every couple weeks, but if you're gonna just use sporadically I'd get the darker bottles.
There's a few options for the labels. You can print them on cardstock and adhere with glue, or you can print them on label paper and spray them with a protectant sealer to keep them fresh. You can use a sealer such as this one on amazon! Click HERE
You can also use clear label paper!
Then just follow the recipes below for each type of spray.Below are the ingredients and directions for each one!! You may add different essential oils or even make different combinations to your taste and like. Most all these recipes will work well even if you change the essential oil.
Lemon oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties which makes it a good cleaner and disinfectant! I have made this spray every couple weeks and spray it all over the chicken coop and bars.I also use it in the duck house and alpaca area when I'm cleaning anything. This is also GREAT for your kitchen countertops, etc. And it also smells delicious!
This is a much stronger/concentrated version of the Coop Spray. You are essentially letting the natural oils and properties of the orange and lemon peels diffuse into the vinegar over a period of a month or so. You are then straining the vinegar and using that very concentrated formula. No water added, just the vinegar you let sit in the peels.
This really works well to clean and disinfect. You can use it to clean your oven and kitchen, Even your bathrooms, etc. It will be an orange tinted liquid when poured into your glass bottle.
This is safe for humans and animals. Lavender is a natural mosquito repellent and it can also deter flies. I spray this on the animals directly and around my ankles and clothing when going outside. Tea Tree oil is used as a combination insect repellent and natural insecticide against numerous pests, including mosquitoes, ants, and other biting or stinging insects. It has also been used to effectively kill lice and other parasites. The solvent properties of tea tree oil soaks into an insect’s exoskeleton upon contact and suffocates them.
I usually take tea tree oil and rub it onto a washcloth which I wipe around the donkeys ears and tops of their head. We had some trouble with Buddy getting ticks on him. Once I started using the tea tree oil he has had no ticks! The ticks dislike the smell and back out or suffocate.
This spray is great because it uses both the tea tree oil and the lavender to work together! This is safe to use on yourself and on your farm items and animals. NEVER spray on an animals face, or any open or sore areas. Of course use your judgement when it comes to how much you're spraying. For animals I'd say spray 1-2 daily and the same for yourself. When going out to areas where there will be lots of insects or mosquitos more frequent application will be necessary.
This spray is mostly specific to chicken coops or areas where fowl congregate. Mites can be a real issue for them and it's necessary to maintain areas clean. If you have a mite problem this spray works great to kill the mites and eliminate them for good.
* Another tip that's easy is to add garlic powder to your chickens feed! Mites do not like the smell of garlic and when the chickens eat the garlic the mites can sense that and won't come near.
To print these labels simply drag the image below to your desktop and print! If you're viewing on your mobile device just press down on the image below and save, then e-mail to yourself and print. They will be the correct size for a 16 oz bottle! If you have trouble doing this let me know!
Let me know what you all think and tag me in your post if you make them!! I would love to see them being put to good use!! Happy Spraying!
p.s. STAY TUNED FOR A GIVEAWAY OF THESE COMING END OF THIS WEEK! Follow me on instagram @azurefarm for more details and how to enter!
WARNING: ( There are some pictures of the actual birth here so don't scroll if you get queasy)
Jared had been out of town for a few days and he got home around 5pm on Tuesday May 8, and we spent the next 3 hours clearing brush from the back of the property because a new fence was going to be put up on Wednesday morning.
At around 8:00 I ran down to the animal area and fed everybody. Felicity, who is usually very hungry, was walking around kind of weird. She ate a little but didn't seem to have a great appetite. I found it a bit odd but just finished up and went back up to the house. Before walking in the house I was outside talking to Jared and noticed Felicity laying on the ground out in the middle of the field by herself. I knew something was up. Jared and I were starving so I told him to go inside and start boiling some water or pasta and I'd be in real quick. I was just gonna go check on Felicity.
Before I continue you have to know that I have been praying for Felicity and for her baby to be born when we were home. I had been waiting since Mid-march for her to have her baby. We did not know exactly when she was bred and it was kind of a guessing game at that point. ( on a side note, we are not sure who the father is?? More on that later)
Having animals has taught me a lot but mostly to depend on God more and myself less. I try to have it all under control usually and I've realized it's all in God's timing and not our own.
So I go down to the field and I see something coming out. And I thought to myself " NO WAY" I've read all sorts of books etc and they all say that alpacas usually have their babies in the morning. Mostly before 1pm. So I thought " Well this is crazy, it's 8:25pm! Almost sundown! Of course my phone had died so I ran up to the house and told Jared Felicity was having her baby. I had prepared a basked with birthing essentials and I asked Jared to bring that along with a phone! I then took the picture below
In all my reading I had read that an alpaca birth should take around 20 minutes, 30 at the most. So I just hung out with her watching. The baby's head was out and covered with the sac covering. I cleared its mouth and nose with my bare hands, eek! At that point I did not care I just wanted to help. The baby was breathing and making a squeaky noise. 1front leg was completely out but the other was halfway out. Felicity had been sick back in February with meningeal worm which caused her back legs to have a form of paralysis. As the minutes went by it looked like Felicity was getting weaker and weaker in her legs. She no longer seemed to be contracting to me. It seemed as though the birth was at a standstill. At this point it was almost dark and I wanted to get Felicity into an enclosed area and more of a controlled setting. So Jared and I lured her into the area we have between the two pastures that has a little enclosure. We lured her with difficulty because she is not want us near her.
We were 20 minutes in and I started to get concerned. I had Jared go get my alpaca book. This book is quite the recourse when it comes to information about alpacas. I wanted to look at their birthing section to see if the position the baby was in was normal.
The Book is called Alpaca Field Manual by C. Norman Evan, D.V.M It's quite expensive but I have used it lots and has proven to be a very helpful recourse. Click Here to purchase
According to the book it said both legs should be of equal length. So if they were not, it was best to try to put the short leg back in and then slowly try to pull it out. So I put gloves on and did that. It did not work. At that moment I realized I was in over my head. So I asked Jared to grab my phone ( which had now charged for about 15 minutes) and had him call James and Rick over at Suki Farms.
They have been great friends and I get our alpaca grain form them. I had actually been at their farm earlier that day to get food. So I called them to see if they thought the birth was going okay or not. They had me try a few different tricks ( pulling the baby straight down, not out. Tryign to insert the leg back in again, etc. After another 5 minutes or so we were at about 40 minutes of birth time. I then knew I had to call the vet. I just didn't trust that the baby was going to come out safely and at that point I was nervous for Felicity.
I have to say that our vet is the MOST AMAZING vet ever. If it wasn't for having her this past year I'm not sure where we would be. I called her at around 0915 and it was already dark outside. She answered which was an answer to prayer and said she'd be over asap. What a blessing. At this point I could tell the baby was struggling as Felicity had been in labor for almost an hour. Dr. Wilson arrived about 10 minutes later. She put on some really long gloves. I had just been wearing some regular gloves:) Anyways. Felicity was laying on the ground. Dr. Wilson had me put her on her side and hold her down. Then she proceeded to pull out the baby. It was NOT easy. She has to really, really pull. She got the leg that was stuck out and then had to rotate his hips to get them out. Then all of a sudden he was out!! It was amazing!! I put some towels on the ground and we dried him off. Dr. Wilson said he was a very big baby and that it was good I called her. She did not think Felicity would have been able to push him out on her own. Nor could have I pulled him out as I had never done it before and he was quite stuck.
He was just so precious and he looked huge compared to what Pearl looked like when she was born. ( Pearl was born premature. See her story here) A few minutes later we tried to get him to stand. He was already to strong and determined to move around. Fiesty little thing!
At this point Dr. Wilson left and I decided to hang around and make sure things continued to go well. After delivering the baby there are a couple things to monitor for. Observe that the mom paces the placenta ( by morning, but preferably over the next few hours) Also, ensure that the baby learns to suckle and gets colostrum from the mom. Colostrum is super important those first 24 hours, but especially in the first 6.
About 2 hours later Felicity passed the placenta.I then went to the house to eat some pasta, well at that point it was basically 11pm, but I was SO hungry!You'd think I wouldn't be hungry after seeing all that but being a nurse you pretty much get used to eating no matter what you've seen that day, ha!
My sweet mom who had come to see the baby once it was born stayed down with the animals watching them. You can see the picture of my mom holding him below.
We then just waited down there and I kept moving the little one close to Felicity and placed him under her multiple times so he could try to find milk. He kept going to the area but not latching on. So we waited patiently.
Finally around 3:00am he got the hang of it. I then felt I could go to sleep! It was a tad cold that night so I put a little blanket around him and secured it with safety pins just to ensure he did not get too cold. He was still not fully dry although we had towel dried him off.
I then went to sleep around 3:30 am Wednesday morning! I really wanted to sleep in but I wanted to go check on him right away and make sure all was okay. At around 6:30 am I went down there and he was so cute, awake, and jumping around. I kept him and Felicity enclosed for that whole first day to ensure they had enough bonding time before introducing him to all the other girls. I then set up some things for Felicity to ensure she had enough nutrition and energy after a long birth.
*Fresh Clean water with electolytes
*Some Fresh Alfalfa Hay ( usually they do not eat this, but in this case it's good for her to have extra protein.
*Chaf Hay which is a fermented hay that has lots of probiotics and essential things.
*Grain- I gave her a big bowl of grain to munch on as she'd need.
There are many things I could say about the whole birth experience but heres a few.
1.) God's timing is perfect and I am so grateful we were home to see the birth and be able to intervene. I need to TRUST more. The whole time I was so nervous the baby and or Felicity would die, but then I kept telling myself "You were home to be able to catch this God has got this, trust Him"
2.) Everyone has told me Alpaca births are easy. They usually have them in the morning, they hardly never need assistance and the baby is out in 20 minutes or less, Well apparently I get all the complex births so I am now more prepared.
3.) I did have a birthing basket ready which did come in handy. It had the following.
*4-5 Towels to dry off the baby,etc
*Gloves ( It was definitely good I had gloves for most of the birth cause it got messy)
*Betadine ( to wipe baby's umbilical cord)
*Bulb Suction ( To clear baby's nose if needed)
*Powder Colostrum replacement + bottle - should I have needed to supplement him.
All these things proved to come in handy.
I am so grateful all went okay. He weighed about 16.5lbs at birth and is now almost 20lbs! Growing like a weed and Felicity is the best mom! Felicity had had a rough year battling the illness she got and now birthing a baby, but she is a strong mom and I am so proud of her. Alpakita is a wonderful big sister and everyone seems to be getting along well and bonding.
Thanks everyone for all the love and name suggestions over the past few days! We love having this little guy around ! My nephew loves Thomas the Train so when he was asked what the baby's name should be he said Percy. So Percy is it! We love the name and think it suits him perfectly. Comment if you guys have any questions and be sure to follow @azurfarm on instagram for updates on Percy and the farm. I have videos of the birth and will be posting a video soon!
Last year we decided to buy some baby chicks and venture into the world of chickens. It has been quite the fun adventure! However, when we first started and had NO clue I wish there had been a guide to help me along the way. I looked up many resources on pinterest and google, but none really included it all. So here we go! This is the most comprehensive guide I could put together! I I'm gonna go ahead and say it's HARD work the first 4 weeks! However, its so fun and you will have beautiful chickens a result. These are of course the things I learned and did. I'm sure there's lots of tricks out there. I will say though that all 17 of our girls survived and are very healthy and friendly! You'll need about $100 or less to to start and It's fun for sure. Stay tuned for a post later this week on all the how to's of a chicken coop and run!
1. )Before you get the chicks.
Before you purchase chicks you must have a brooder and food ready. I had NO idea what a brooder actually was, but it's not so hard once you know what to get.
- Get a big plastic tub from Walmart - like the really big ones ( GET 2, I will explain later ) Some use just a regular box, but this will get wet, dirty, and be hard to clean. I liked the plastic tub the best. I wanted a clear one so they could see out and get light from the outside window into their brooder.T The one I got was a bit bigger than this because we got 17 chicken, so you decide which is best for you. Click Here
- Heat Lamp like this one from Tractor Supply Click Here
- Bulbs for the heat lamp. Click Here
- Food containers like these from Tractor Supply Click Here
- Fresh Bedding ( pine shavings work great) However, the first week or so you might want to do n.ewspaper with some paper towel on top. They try to eat the pine shavings at first. Click Here
- Chick starter Feed Click Here- we chose to do organic and non-gmo feed
- Chick Grit Click Here
-Chicken Coop: You will need a chicken coop. However, you won't need this till like week 4-5 or so. So either have it ready or start working on it and have it ready to transplant the baby chicks to when they are ready.
2.) Where to order from?
You can purchase chicks directly from Tractor Supply during their chick days!! Click Here for more information.
There are also many reputable hatcheries out there. We used one a friend recommended called Murray McMurray Hatchery. Click Here
The chicks will arrive by mail. Yes! The post office mail. They are shipped day after they are born in a tiny little box. We went ahead and ordered the box with chick started and whatever else they offered to go in the box to supplement them till they arrived. Be warned, I have heard many times not all the chickens survive being shipped. So consider this if opening the box around children, etc. Order maybe a couple more chicks than you anticipated in case something happens to one of them. I can say we ordered quite a few more " just in case" and all our girls survived and we are now thrilled to have all 17 of them.
3.) When the chicks arrive
When the little babies arrive they will be VERY thirsty.
- You must immediately take each on of them and dip their beaks into the water bowl so they will drink water. This is most important and can be fatal to the chicks if you don't.
- I added electrolytes and probiotics to their water for the first couple weeks to help their tummies acclimate and give them proper hydration. Here are the ones I used.
- Place the baby chicks in the brooder.
4.) Heat lamp
- Make sure your heat lamp is on to provide warmth. This whole topic confused me because I didn't know exactly how high to hang it etc. Here's some pointers. I hung the lamp on a ladder next to the brooder. That was my easiest way to clamp it to something and then raise it up and down.
-Keep the lamp on just one end of the brooder. This way if they are too hot, they can move to the opposite side and cool down. I placed their food and water on the right side and the heat lamp on the left.
- Learn from the chicks. If they are constantly on the warm side of the brooder, they are probably on the colder side and need the warmth.
- If they are hanging out on the opposite side of the light, they are probably too hot and it's time to raise the heat lamp.
- Every week for the first 5 weeks they will need this lamp. Each week just raise it higher ( by like 3-5 inches ) until the chicks have their true feathers in and they can regulate their body temperatures. You want the weather outside to be around 70 degrees and definitely not lower than 60 at night
5.) Brooder cleaning
- I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep the brooder clean.
-I changed out the pine shavings at least 3 times a week.
- Change their water out twice daily to ensure it is fresh without food or poop in it.
-The worst thing for their respiratory system is to have wet bedding. This produces an ammonia like smell which can damage their lungs. Be a neat freak for these first 4-5 weeks.
-Tip for cleaning the brooder which helped me a TON. Have 2 Brooders!! The chicks will all be in their dirty one. Simple get your second brooder filled with fresh pine shavings and have it ready. Then just move the chicks over to the clean one, and move their water food etc. Now you can easily empty the dirty brooder and really clean it. It's VERY hard, almost impossible to change out pine shavings etc with all the chicks in there. Get 2 plastic tubs, trust me, it will help you a TON.
6.) A note on Pasty Butt- y'all this was the craziest thing! I was like what on earth is it?? It's a condition they might get the first 1-2 weeks. This will probably only happen with chicks that are shipped. With the stress of being shipped they kind of clog up and can't poop properly. Their little behinds will have crusted poop stuck to them. When this happens they can't excrete properly and it's a life threatening condition. ( google it, you'll see plenty of pics)
What to do? Clean their little bottoms. Just soak their bottoms in warm water and very gently rub it off and clean them. You can even rub a little olive oil on their bottoms to prevent things from sticking again. After about a week they will be developed enough where this is not a problem. I did this for about 2 of our 17 chicks. I don't even know if it was even truly bad enough, but I didn't want to take a chance so on a saturday night my husband and I washed tiny baby chicken butts ( insert laughter here)
BREAKDOWN BY WEEK OF WHAT TO DO
*Week 1- They are SO cute!! Just keep things clean and warm and enjoy their cute chirping sounds.
Heat: Ensure their heat is around 90 degrees. This means the heat lamp will be right about 8-12 inches above the brooder.
Brooder: You can have newspaper with lots of paper towels on top for this first week.
Activity- Don't handle them too much the first couple days after they arrive ( except for showing them where the water and food are) They will be very stressed and need to rest. Expect them to sleep a ton this first week. By day 3 you can start to pick them up, etc.
Food- Ensure they have probiotics and electrolytes in their water. Give plenty of chick feed and ensure their water is fresh.
Click Here for probiotic
Click Here for electrolyte
*Week 2- They are ready to be handled. Touch them as much as possible. This was hard for me because we had 17 of them! Giving each of them quality time was hard. Some of course got held more than others and I will say the ones that were held the most are the most friendly now. I would sing to them every night and have them sleep on my lap:)
Heat: Raise your heat lamp some so that it's around 85 degrees or so. This means up by 3-5"
Brooder: Add pine shavings to their brooder. Should be about 2" deep. They will love running around and moving it around. I still did newspaper on the lowest layer, then pine shavings on top. Also, at week 2-3 you'll want to start covering the brooder because they are sneaky and will try to fly out. Just cut some chicken wire to sit on top, then put a 2x4 across to hold it down.
Activity: Give them a little perch to stand on, or a rock to climb on top of. I even put a mirror in their brooder so they could look at themselves. They are very curious and love entertainment. Another thing I did was put a feather duster in there. A few of them really loved going under it. It mimics them laying under their mother's wings and helps them feel safe.
- Give them chick grit. This can be either mixed into their food a bit, or I had a very tiny separate bowl and they would pick off of it. This is essential for their digestion, etc. Put feed on your hand so they will start learning how to eat out of your hand.
- Give lots and lots of fresh clean water. I probably changed their water out twice a day. No need for electrolytes or probiotics anymore.
*Week 3- Y'all they grow quick!! You'll see lots and lots of new feathers coming in!
Heat: Raise your heat lamp again so it's about 80 degrees. Raise by 3-5 more inches.
Brooder: Keep it clean by replacing your pine shavings 2-3 times a week. Clean water and food dishes with diluted vinegar to keep bacteria down, etc.
Activity: Keep them entertained. Make sure they have pieces of wood to start roosting on, little rocks to peck and move around, plus anything else you can think of for them to play with.
-You'll probably want to Raise the chicken water and feeder up higher. Place them up on a piece of wood or something that prevents them from being ground level. If they are not up higher there will be poop all in your water and feed and it's a hot mess.
- I started giving them lots of fresh treats around 3 weeks of age. Such as berries, and leafy green's etc. They absolutely LOVED this along with their regular chick starter food.
*Week 4- Time to see the outside world!! If the weather outside is around 70+ degree's they are ready.
Heat: Move lamp up to where it's about 75 degree's in their brooder area.
Brooder: For outside trips I made some sort of pen for them that had wood on the sides and things so they could not get out. Do chicken wire on top. I put their water and food in there and they were happy, happy running around in the grass and eating bugs, etc.
Activity: Make sure you are still holding them and touching them if you want them to be friendly. Especially at night. That is your bonding time. Grab them and stroke their little heads till they fall asleep on our lap. It is also the CUTEST thing ever.
Food- Once they are outdoors a bit, they won't need a ton of supplemental grit since they are finding it themselves outdoors. Ensure plenty of clean water and food is available at all times.
*Week 5- at the point they are getting HUGE!! So many new feathers are coming in and they are feisty, loud, and chaotic.
Heat: You should not need the heat lamp anymore as long as it's 70 degree's or higher inside and outside.
Brooder: At the point you should consider moving them to their outside coop. You can even do this at 4 1/2 weeks or so if the weather is nice outside.
- Move them to their outside home. You must keep them in that space for at least 5-7 days so they know where home is. I cannot stress this enough. They must learn that the coop is their new home. If they have not established that and you let them out, they might not come back. Some people suggest keeping them in their coop for 2 weeks before letting them out. This is up to you, but watch your chickens. I would say week 5 they should stay in their new outdoor coop and get acclimated.
Activity: If you let them out of their coop, only do so for3-4 hours at a time. Preferably towards the end of the day so they can get used to going back in their home at dark. You can use the time you take to clean the coop as their outdoor time.
Food: Start introducing adult grower feed into their diet. Mix it in with their chick starter. Continue to provide fresh foods like berries and herbs. One of the feeds we give ours is this. Click Here ( You'll see different ones at the store that are recommended for different ages and stages. I pretty much followed that and always bought the organic non-gmo version.
*Week 6-8 You'll be a little depressed that they are so big.
Heat: No more heat lamp since week 5
Brooder: The babies should now be in their outdoor coop.
Activity: Let them out each day, but do ensure they go back to their coop at night. Also, make sure to have roosting bars in their coop and encourage them to hop up on them at night. Make sure your run and coop areas are safe.
Food: They should be eating the adult feed and no more chick feed. Also give them lots of treats such as berries and oatmeal, heads of lettuce etc. They love it!
Hang their food and water feeders from chains and elevate of the ground at just the right height for them to eat and drink. This will prevent a lot of things spilling into their water and food.
Coop: Make sure to always keep the coop clean. We clean ours out once a week and replace with fresh pine shavings etc. DO NOT have chicken nesting boxes open. Keep them covered. I covered ours with some material. You don't want them getting in a habit of sleeping in their nesting boxes. You only want them for egg laying.
Activity: Daily let them out to free range or be in their run. They love activity so things to stand on and jump around, plus fun treats keep them entertained.
Food: Adjust their food and water stations to a height appropriate to their size.
*Week 12-16 weeks
Coop: Time to open up the nesting boxes! At this point all the chickens should be used to roosting at night and won't sleep in their boxes.
Activity & Food: All is the same, Just keep them happy with treats and great nutrition. Let them free range and explore. They will love it.
Coop: By week 16 place a golf ball or fake egg in a few of their nesting boxes. This will prompt them to know where to lay their eggs.
Activity: You'll know they are mature enough to lay eggs once their waddles truly come in. The little red things on the side of their mouth or tops other head. They will take on a distinctly brighter color and become more prominent. This will tell you they are ready. Some of our girls started laying at around 16 weeks while others took until about 22 weeks. Just depends.
We personally do not keep a light in the coop to promote egg laying. In winter there are less daylight hours which means less eggs. We are okay with that. I prefer to let them be healthy and have rest instead of prompting them to lay all the time.
Food: Switch the girls to a laying formula for food. Just like this one! Click Here
I really hope this guide helped you!! Please share it with others! I know I sure needed something like this when I started!! Please comment any questions and I will be happy to answer them:) Happy chick growing!!