Tag Archive for: raising chickens in arizona

This past weekend, the entire family was able to gather together at Double S Farms.

As I mentioned before, my brother-in-law was in town for final interviews for a new job.  Although he was busy with meetings, we were all able to meet for Saturday breakfast on the farm.

I baked my Irish soda bread for the occasion and the kids couldn’t wait to eat eggs and sausage.

It was also time to check up on the new baby chicks and their new chicken coop….

new baby chicks

New baby chicks

Their new coop has three levels and the girls really seem to like it.

new baby chicks
new baby chicks

One of the kids discovered an egg, from one of the older chickens…

eggs

The kids spent much of their time running around and wrestling in the shade of the apple trees…

apple tree

 My mother showed me the progress of her fall vegetable garden…

fall vegetable garden

We have already enjoyed salad made from her romaine lettuce…

fall vegetable garden

We visited with my twin nephews…

Family Get Together on the Farm

Dean, being held by my brother, is recovering well from his surgery, where he had a lobe of his lung removed.

Family Get Together on the Farm

My visiting sister, took her turn holding Danny.

Soda pop

Soda pop tried to find someone to throw her ball for her.

new baby chicks

The ‘senior’ chickens, Effie, Ramona and Lucy, did their best to stay out of everyone’s way.

Indoors, my nephew, Oliver, showed off his ‘zombie’ makeup and did his best to scare us, but then he reassured us that it was really him behind the make-up.

Family Get Together on the Farm

Lastly, my daughter, Gracie, spent time with her Uncle Scott…

Family Get Together on the Farm

I love them time that we all spend together and we received great news yesterday – my brother-in-law was hired as the new children’s pastor of a local church.  So they will be moving here next month.

I will be so blessed to not only have my mother, brother and youngest sister living nearby, but also my other younger sister ๐Ÿ™‚

*************************

Baby countdown is down to 7 days…..

A Tree Given a Second Chanceโ€ฆ

Well, the title says it all.  I love plants and shopping.  Pair those two things together and I am in heaven.

Back when I managed landscapes, I had a company credit card which allowed me to purchase to my heart’s content….okay not really, I did have to stay within my plant budget, but it was so nice to spend someone else’s money.

My most recent journey into the plant shopping occurred last week with my mother, Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms.  She was purchasing some trees for their farm and wanted my assistance in selecting them.  And so, we journeyed to a local nursery (not a big box store).

Plant shop

Plant shop

Now this particular nursery is not what I would call a native plant nursery, although they do carry many native plants.  But they also sell tropical plants that thrive in our semi-tropical climate.  You can see Gabriel coming up to help us to tag the trees we selected.

On our way to the tree section, we passed a mass of Bougainvilleas.  It looked like a Bougainvillea forest.

Plant shop

Plant shop

Then we passed through the shaded area of the nursery where frost-tender tropical and shade-loving plants were kept.

Plant shop

Plant shop

Now, we were beginning to get into the tree section of the nursery.

Plant shop

You may have noticed that my pictures are taken from behind my mother and our helper, Gabriel.  Well, put me anywhere with plants….a nursery, a garden, it doesn’t matter – I will always be lagging behind as I love to look, touch and take pictures of plants.

We passed the flowering Palo Verde trees….

Plant shop

We passed some Olive trees….

Olive trees

Did you know that the pollen of the Olive tree is highly allergenic?  It’s true.  Actually, because of this, you can only plant a certain variety of Olive tree in our area, called ‘Swan Hill’, that do not produce pollen and therefore do not produce any flowers.

The ‘Swan Hill’ cultivar was found in Australia years ago from a 30 year-old Olive tree that had never fruited.  It is an interesting story and you can read more about it here.

Okay, back to our search for our tree.  Well, I wish I could say that I had a great picture to show you of the Chilean Mesquite (Prosopis chilensis) tree we selected.  But, it turns out that I was so busy helping to select the tree, I forgot to take pictures of it.

On our way out, I did take pictures of a bunch of Sago Palms (Cycas revoluta), which aren’t actually palms at all, they are cycads.  They grow extremely well here, but must be protected from full sun or their fronds turn yellow from sunburn.

Sago Palms

Well, we were at the end of our plant shopping journey, or so I thought….

our plant shopping journey

As my mother was paying for the trees, I noticed one of the resident chickens. 

resident chicken

Can you see her?  She is poking around the base of this plant fountain.

**By the way, I think I would love to have a plant fountain someday ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the employees noticed my interest in the chicken and motioned me over to the side of the building, where on a potting table, there was a large container.  I looked inside and saw how busy the chicken had been….

Shopping For Plants

Every afternoon, at about 4:00, she sits up there and lays another egg.

Now, the father, is no absentee father.  He takes his job very seriously.  He was keeping a keen eye on us until we left the nursery.

local nurseries

Well, I had a wonderful time, I just love visiting local nurseries.

We selected some beautiful trees and the new Mesquite tree will grow very quickly and will be quite large.  Pastor Farmer envisions having an old tire swing being put up in the tree in a few years for the grandkids to play on.

I am very blessed to have my mother and my sister live very close to me.  However, this was not always so.  Twenty-four years ago, I moved to Arizona from California as a new bride.  The rest of my family remained in California.  Of course, there were many visits back and forth.  But I never really knew how wonderful it could be to have them living close by.  Until about 3 years ago.

My sister and her family along with my mother purchased Double S Farms just over a year ago and so began a weekly tradition of us having dinner over there once a week.  I always look forward to this day because for one, I don’t have to cook dinner – but more importantly, it is a wonderful time of visiting with my mom and sister.

With our beautiful weather, we have recently been eating outside in the backyard, surrounded by their garden full of flowers, the vegetables, the fruit trees and some feathered visitors.

Each week, as soon as we drive up, I love to check to see how the fruit trees are doing in the front garden.  It looks like the peaches will soon be ready…

Double S Farms

My son is always the first to reach the front door and upon entering the house, he is promptly wrestled to the floor by his two little cousins (Little Farmer and Littlest Farmer).

Double S Farms

Each week, my mom (Pastor Farmer) always cooks something new for us to try along with fresh-baked bread.  We love to eat outside and enjoy the sunset and our food.

Beautiful weather

Beautiful weather

Then it is time for the kids to play and the adults to sit back and relax in the garden.

Of course, there are usually new vegetables to check out….

Beautiful weather

As well as seeing how the apples are growing on the trees….

Double S Farms

The kids love to play as well on the cool, green grass.

Beautiful weather

Beautiful weather

About this time, the newest residents of Double S Farms come out of their chicken coop to come and visit.

Double S Farms

Ramona is the first to come out to visit.

Double S Farms

Followed by Flo.

By the way, did you know that chickens like macaroni & cheese?  Well, these chickens do…

Double S Farms

Especially Lucy.

We enjoy watching all of the chickens and their antics.  But, our favorite is Effie. 

Double S Farms

 Now, Effie will not win any chicken beauty contest.  She is decidedly awkward looking and has fluffy cheeks.  But, it is her personality that is so endearing.  She is very friendly and lets us all hold and pet her – even the kids.  

Beautiful weather
Double S Farms

Effie is not camera shy, like Flo can be and the other day, she hopped onto my sister’s (Chicken Farmer), lap and promptly lay her head down and fell asleep.

Double S Farms

Not to be outdone by some chickens, Double S Farm’s resident hummingbird, Jose, makes an appearance as we eat our dinner.

Double S Farms

The sun is setting and it is time to go home.

Double S Farms

I hope you have enjoyed our evening visit to Double S Farms.

Double S Farms

Good Night….

Kind of a weird title for a post, but it fits all that I am going to try to fit into this one….

Earlier this week, we packed up the kids into our trusty minivan and took the long drive to Double S Farms….okay, it took us all of 5 minutes to get there.  We were gathering together to celebrate the birthdays of my husband and my nephew (Littlest Farmer).  

One of the first things we did was to go out and see the chickens, who are the newest residents of the farm.  They are now 5 weeks old and they have now graduated to the outdoors.  My sister, Chicken Farmer, is enjoying raising her chickens.  You can read my earlier posts about the chickens here.

Raising chickens

Raising chickens

For some reason, the chickens were not very cooperative about standing still for the camera.  So, my brother-in-law (Farmer Dad), picked one up so I could take a better picture.

Raising chickens

This is Flo who was very patient while I took her picture.  She is one of two who does not mind being handled.  However, what happened afterwards, I am not sure that Flo was too happy about….

Raising chickens

Farmer Dad handed Flo to my daughter, who just happens to work at Chick-fil-A, (a restaurant that serves only chicken).  I may have imagined it, but Flo look vastly relieved to be set down by my daughter.

chickens

Lucy and Ramona were kind enough to pause a moment for their picture.

We then ventured inside for dinner and birthday cake.  Afterward, my son and his cousins, (Little & Littlest Farmers), had fun wrestling in the living room.

celebrate the birthdays

Well, it was getting late and we started to head out the door when I saw something truly gross…

slugs

We were greeted by the sight of slugs crawling all over the low wall surrounding my mother’s succulent garden.  She has had a problem with slugs ever since she moved into the house last year.  There used to be a flower garden where the succulents are now planted.

Recently, she has been setting out a bowl of beer for the slugs.  They are attracted by the smell of beer and then crawl in and drown.  I wonder if they are drunk before they drown?  Hopefully, for their sake.

slugs

Not too pretty is it?  But, it is a welcome sight for those who are waging a battle against slugs.  They do not seem to prefer one beer over the other, so my mother used some old beer that my brother-in-law had left over since November.  **Some gardeners also have had similar results using grape juice.

slugs

Within 5 minutes of setting out additional saucers of beer, the slugs were racing as fast as they could to enjoy their beer.  Does that remind you of anyone you may know?

My kids thought it was very cool in a gross kind of way and so did I.  But I have to say that I am extremely glad that I do not have slugs in my garden ๐Ÿ™‚

Our guest blogger for today is my youngest sister, Chicken Farmer, who is one of the residents of Double S Farms.  Guess what!?  They are ready for chickens!

Many of you have read Noelle’s post, (A Small House, Transplants and Chickens), about our plans to bring some chickens to Double S Farms.  Well, the time has almost come and our little chicks should be arriving in the mail next week.  We are beyond excited.

Double S Farms

We have lived at Double S Farms for just about a year now and have been toying around with the chicken idea ever since we moved in.  This past October, we went on a self-guided tour of the Valley’s coolest urban poultry set-ups (The Phoenix Tour de Coops).  Talking with the chicken owners, seeing their chickens and coop setups, and learning about the benefits of having our own backyard flock sealed the deal.

Chicken Farmer

Since I don’t do much of the gardening at Double S Farms, I have volunteered myself to be the “Chicken Farmer” and have jumped into the role wholeheartedly.  There are several things I have done to get us ready for our new adventure.

First and foremost, I had to get a pair of boots.  I have always loved and adored boots of all kinds so getting my very own pair of Hunter Wellingtons, was a top priority (well, top priority to me).  I know, I know….seriously, if I have to scoop chicken poop, I’d like to look stylish while doing so.

Pair of Boots

In addition, I’ve read countless books on raising chickens and have spent hours gleaning information from websites like The City Chicken and The Backyard Chicken.  I’ve even joined the Phoenix Permaculture Guild and taken some local classes on raising hens.

The next thing on the agenda was to design the coop.  We explored several different coop setups on the “Tour de Coops” and the coop we liked the best was made from a converted shed.  So we converted an 8′ x 10′ shed of our own.  The chickens will have plenty of room to roam in their 25′ x 20′ fenced in yard around the coop.  We are hoping to let them out into the larger yard a few hours each day to do some “hunting”.  We have a lot of scorpions around Double S Farms and chickens love to snack on them.

Chicken Farmer

The coop is just about finished.  We still need to paint the exterior, finish some work on the fence, and build up a berm around the fence to protect them from the flood irrigation.

Once we finished the majority of the coop, we started on our brooder.  A brooder is a box or cage of some sort where you can raise young chicks and keep them warm until they are fully feathered and ready to move into their coop.  Baby chicks can’t regulate their body temperatures so a heated brooder is essential.  Fortunately, brooders don’t need to be too fancy so a giant Rubbermaid box, some pine shavings, a feeder, waterer, heat lamp and thermometer are all we need.

Chicken Farmer

Once we had all of those preparations in order, we sat down and decided how many and what types of chickens we would order.  Overall, we’d like to have a flock of 8 hens.  Since egg laying productivity starts to decline after a year and a half or so, we decided to order 4 chicks now and then another 4 or 5 chicks next year.  That way, we’ll always have a few hens that are in their egg-laying “prime”.

I have boys that are 2 and 3 years old.  they will be very involved in helping me with the hens so it is essential that we have breeds that are a bit more friendly and social, which is why we chose to order two Easter Eggers (mixed breed), a Barred Plymouth Rock, and a Buff Orpington.  Not only are they better “pets” than some other breeds, they are also hardier to our summer heat (although precautions still need to be taken when it gets extreme).

Chicken Farmer

Buff Orpington Chicken (Wikepedia photo)

About a week ago, we ordered our four chicks from MyPetChicken.com.  Sometime next week, they will express mail our little day-old chicks to us.  I’m still baffled about receiving live animals in the mail, but apparently it is very common.  Chicks can live for 2-3 days without any additional food or water since they are still receiving nourishment from their yolk so they should be fine in transport.

I’m sure  Noelle will keep you all posted on our chicken raising adventures and I always appreciate any advice or tips that anyone has to offer a novice like me.

*Noelle here….I will keep you updated as to when the chicks arrive next week.  I will be going with my sister to pick them up at the post office because I am sure you all will be waiting with baited breath to see photos of their arrival ๐Ÿ˜‰

The newest addition to Double S Farms is rapidly coming together in preparation for their newest residents…..chickens.

newest addition

Little Farmers #1 & 2 are having fun as the chicken coop is being built. Little Farmer #2 loves to play in the dirt….can you tell?

newest addition

Newest addition, The chicken coop is being put together by Farmer #1, with some help from family members. I think Little Farmer #2 (on the right side) thinks the chicken coop is his own little fort.

The residents of Double S Farms, my mother, sister and brother-in-law, are transplanted Californians like myself.  They moved to Arizona a few years ago and just love it here.  According to my sister, if you had told her 5 years ago that she would be living in Arizona, away from Southern California and the ocean, and be living on a small ranchette, raising fruit trees, vegetables and getting ready for chickens AND loving it….she would have said you were crazy.  But they do love living in Arizona and all that it has to offer.

newest addition

Future Nesting Boxes

The chicken coop is almost finished.  My husband is going over today to help them finish up the coop.  You can see the ramp that the chickens will climb up and the nesting boxes.

Little Farmer

Little Farmer #2 is ready for the chickens.

In a couple of weeks, six chicks will take up residence.  There will be no rooster since the family already have their own alarm clocks and don’t want to irritate the neighbors.

I can hardly wait for fresh eggs…

I will post more as the chicken coop is painted and finished and of course, when the chickens arrive.

*I am spending today at a community Green Fair as part of a  landscape discussion panel.  I am excited to post about it next week.

Living Green in the Desert Garden