4-H Poultry Chain – First Time Chicken Owners

4-H Poultry Chain – First Time Chicken Owners 

For the longest time I have wanted chickens for eggs. In my mind I thought they were super hard to prepare for, so I never took any steps to actually getting some. This year when 4-H Poultry Chain came about, I forced myself to sign up. There is no greater motivation to prepare/finish something than a looming deadline and chickens were expect the end of Spring!

What is 4-H Poultry Chain?

The 4-H Poultry Chain is a great way to teach children responsibility and how to care for a family flock. Basically, 4-H gives each participant a certain number of day old chicks that members must raise and take care of. When the county fair rolls around, members must take their 3 best chicks for a Show and Sell where they are judged and then auctioned off. The winner gets prize money, but ribbons are awarded as well. The money earned from the auctions is divided amongst the 4-H program and I think the participating members if their chicks sell, though I could be wrong on that last part. I do know that part of the money is used to buy the chicks for the next year.

We were told to expect anywhere from 15-30 chicks for each child signed up. There was no way I wanted more than that, so I only signed up Kaia. This year, 4-H gave everybody 18 baby chicks.  We had the option to purchase roosters, so I purchased 3. Silly me thought that in order for the chickens to lay eggs that a rooster must be present. Boy, do I have a lot to learn! We ended up with a total of 23 baby chicks (somebody miscounted ours along the way and we got 2 extra).

We picked them up on the 11th of May.

4-H Poultry Chain Chicks 2016 Arkansas - Amberlink

Brooding Day Old Chicks

The kids fell in the love with them. Every chance they got, they were watching, holding, and carrying them around with them. I had seen brooders set up many different ways, but chose to use an old watering trough for mine with sand as the bedding. The thought process behind choosing this was that it was wide enough to give them plenty of space, and tall enough where they couldn’t hop out of it as easily as a swimming pool. I seriously overestimated how big of a space 23 baby chicks needed. There was plenty of room in the brooder, but the chicks mostly stayed together. I chose the sand after a lot of research because it was supposed to be the least smelly, easiest to keep clean and also the least expensive in the long run.

Aybra’s favorite chicks were the roosters. She named one Duck and even had a photo shoot with it. I’m not sure that she could actually tell them apart, but she insisted that she could and always chose “Duck” when holding a chick.

4-H Poultry Chain - Baby Rooster Amberlink

The Setup

In the brooder, I used a 60-100 watt bulb in a clip on fixture for heat. The temperate in my house was set around 73-78* varying on the day’s weather. The chicks seemed to stay plenty warm, but would also huddle together in a cute little cuddle puddle under the lamp as they slept. Another thing I learned was that heating lamps have a lot more watts (250!) than regular bulbs and give off a lot more heat. I think I chose the best option for me since my container was more enclosed than some other options (like a kiddie swimming pool).

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Brooding

The chicks had 1 long red feeder as seen in the above picture, and 2 quart size waterers. I had to change the water multiple times a day because the chicks got it dirty, and also drank it! I underestimated how much they would eat and drink. I probably should have had two of the feeders and a larger watering system. In the future, I will try to find a way to slightly elevate the water in order to avoid them getting it dirty so fast. I’m not sure how shavings differ in terms of water cleanliness, but I imagine shavings would be a slightly cleaner option.

As far as keeping them alive, that was the easy part. I was under the impression that a few of our chicks would die from various reasons and that it was hard to keep 4-H poultry chain chicks alive. That was not my experience. We didn’t experience any loss inside.

Growing Up

I planned on keeping the 4-H poultry chain chicks inside for 3-4 weeks depending on when they started hopping out of their enclosure. I knew that once they were big enough to get out of their enclosure that I wanted them outside. I did NOT want chickens wandering around my house. Another factor was the smell. At first, the chickens didn’t smell. In fact, people were surprised when they came to visit and I would tell them we had chickens inside. They were in my living room, so they weren’t hidden away, but they were very quiet. They only started smelling the last week they were inside. 23 chicks make a whole lot of chicken poop!

4-H Poultry Chain - Amberlink Chicks

As they got older, I found some limbs to put inside their enclosure. We called it the Chicken Playground. They enjoyed playing on them, and it wasn’t uncommon to see 6-7 chicks lined up on a log sleeping. It was so much fun watching them growing every day. I’m not even kidding, they grow up so fast! Once they started getting their feathers they looked a little awkward, but still cute.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Feathering

 

Moving Around

We got them on the 11th of May. I was banking on having a couple weeks to prepare their outside coop while they were busy growing inside. During the last few days inside I moved them from the trough into some rubbermaid totes. The trough was getting harder to clean and I was having to clean it much more often. The only problem with that was the chicks could get out of the totes. I thought about putting a wire over the top to keep them inside, but feared one may get stuck and hang itself. The chicks liked to get on top and hop back and forth between the two totes. I didn’t have one large enough for them all, so I split them up into two.

4-H Poultry Chain Chicks - Tote Brooder

On the 29th of May, we had our first chicken escape. It was cute and comical, but also made me realize that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. Long story short, I was hoping to build or buy a coop, but the funds I was going to use, ended up falling through. I made do with what I had which happened to be a dog house that came with the house when I moved in.

The Coop

4-H Poultry Chain - Chicken Coop Dog House

The dog house has a concrete foundation, two rooms, and multiple windows/entrances. I kept one entrance open (pictured) and wired the others closed. The open entrance leads to the porch/run. I wrapped rectangular wire around the porch/run and realized the wire I used wasn’t small enough, so I went back and added poultry wire around it. I used zip ties to attach the two wires together and I used some cup hooks attached to the side of the house to close and secure the wire against the house. This is how I enter the run. I simply unhook it. There are multiple hooks for extra protection. The downside to this is that the entrance is very tiny and I have to work really hard to squeeze my butt in there. It’s very doable though.

Moving Out

On the 30th of May, they moved outside. Despite the double wire, chickens could escape! One even got stuck in between the wires, and had to be rescued. Unfortunately another got stuck overnight and died. It was our first loss and quite upsetting since I feel it could have been avoided had I known better.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Awkward Teenage Stage

I ended up adding another layer of wire just along the bottom and then stacking bricks two high inside and outside the run. Looking back, I should have just used the tiny wire in the first place. Chickens cannot escape the tiny hardware cloth wire and cannot get stuck in it.

 

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Coop

Cooped Up

The first couple weeks they were outside I kept them inside their coop full time. There were a few reasons for this, but mostly for their safety. 23 chickens is a lot to keep up with! At the end of June I gave 9 away. I never intended on keeping all of them in the first place. While I couldn’t find any laws specific to my town, laws around my area state that you can have 6 hens but no rooster in city limits. I live in the middle of the city!

After giving away the 9, I had 13 left. 10 hens and 3 roosters. We plan on eventually eating the roosters, taking 3 to the fair, and then having the others for eggs. If all goes as planned this will leave me with 7 egg layers. It’s slightly over the assumed limit, but gives me a little room in case we lose another one. I think we have been very lucky in that department. Some people started out with double what we had and now have less than what we do.

Free Ranging

The beginning of July I was finally able to let our 4-H poultry chain chicks out of their coop. The first few days they stayed right around their coop and along the fence line near their coop, but have now progressed to roaming the entire backyard.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chick Pullet Free Range

Our 4-H Poultry Chain chicks are doing really well and will hopefully eat all the yucky fleas and ticks in my yard (another reason for wanting chickens). I let them roam the yard during the day and lock them up at night. Our main threats are opossums and raccoons. We have snakes, but nothing too big that come into our yard. I’m crossing my fingers that their coop is secure enough to protect from predators.

I worried about the chickens hopping the fence and either getting run over by a train or killed by my neighbors dog, but so far they have not gotten on the fence and the neighbor’s dog hasn’t jumped the fence either. As the chickens learn to fly/jump higher we will clip their wings to discourage them hopping the fence.

It will be a few more months before they begin laying eggs which gives me plenty of time to prepare a coop that allows easier access to collecting eggs. I am looking into a portable coop so the chickens can stay secure while still “roaming” the yard.

Overall this has been a great experience thus far for me and the kids. We are all learning how to take care of them and already know some things we will do differently next time. If you are thinking about getting some chickens for a backyard flock I definitely recommend it!

Revenge Eggs (What Revenge Tastes Like)

I didn't intend to have two back-to-back posts involving the same thing (food/hummus), but life got in the way of blogging. A few weeks ago I did a campaign with Bush's Beans and their new Hummus Made Easy.  We loved the hummus so much, I decided to use it in my Revenge Mayo recipe. (This post is NOT sponsored by any product or brand mentioned in this post)

You know what Revenge tastes like?

In March, I was in a grocery store grabbing the final items I needed before checking out. Aybra was pushing our shopping cart while I walked behind her when suddenly, I felt something ram into the back of my legs. I turned around to find a grown lady. She said “Excuse me” rather rudely and instead of responding back I ignored it, smiled sweetly in a “It’s ok” kind of gesture and told Aybra “Ok Abby, let’s go find a checkout now” as she started pushing towards the nearest one.

The lady that rammed into the back of my legs then proceeded to race as fast as she could around me and Aybra and cut in front of us in the line. She heard me tell Aybra to head to the check out and she was intent on getting there before us. My jaw dropped to the floor. I was stunned and couldn’t utter a word, yet so angry that I knew if I said anything I would have cursed at her. She didn’t have as many items as we did, and I would have had no problem letting her go in front of us, but the way she did it left me floored. And I don’t care how bad of a day you are having, you don’t shove your way past a little kid pushing a shopping cart.

We made it home later that day to find the rude woman’s mayonnaise in our bags.

So, in case you were wondering, revenge tastes like mayonnaise and I am going to enjoy every bite of it…

Revenge Mayonnaise - Deviled Eggs with Hummus Recipe by Life as a Convert

I waited for the perfect opportunity to use this mayonnaise and that came when making deviled eggs.

Revenge Eggs - Deviled Egg Recipe with Hummus #hummusmadeeasy

Revenge Eggs Filling

After boiling, peeling, and slicing a dozen eggs in half mix the following ingredients together and fill the halved eggs. 

Yolk from the cooked eggs
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons prepared Bush's Hummus Made Easy 

Enjoy!
 Simple enough, right? I know some people like to flavor their deviled eggs with mustard, but the hint of garlic from the hummus is just enough. Add a sprinkle of Sriracha for the perfect kick.
What do you like to top your deviled eggs with?

Easiest Hummus Recipe Ever! – Bush’s #HummusMadeEasy #ad

This post has been sponsored by Kendal King Group as part of a Soap Box Campaign. All opinions are my own.

Bush’s Hummus Made Easy

A few weeks ago our church hosted a Ward Social with plenty of friends, fun games, and food to go around! The night before I forgot all about it, and my mom (who went with me) ended up waking me an hour before time to be there. She was ready. Me? Not so much! I had to get myself and two children ready, not to mention find something to take to the potluck.

Lucky for me, I remembered I had a can of Bush’s Garbanzo beans and a package of Bush’s Hummus Made Easy.

Within an hour I had all of us and the hummus ready to go. (We obviously aren’t high maintenance).

Bush's Hummus Made Easy - LDS Ward Social Potluck Snack by Life as a Convert

The Food:

All you need for the Hummus is a can of Bush’s Garbanzo beans and a package of Hummus Made Easy, both found in the canned bean aisle at Wal-Mart.

Mix them together in a blender or food processor and you are ready to go! The flavor is right in the package and there is no need to add anything else. You can if you want to, but it is delicious just as it is.

Bush's Hummus Made Easy - Available at Wal-Mart by Life as a Convert

I chose the Classic flavor for the potluck and received rave reviews and a few people asking for the recipe.

If you aren’t a “Classic” kind of person, they have two other options to choose from “Southwest Black Bean” and “Roasted Red Pepper”. I have tried all three and like all of them. The Southwest Black Bean version is a great substitute for refried beans. See what I made with mine by clicking here.

Bush's Hummus Made Easy - Easiest Potluc Snack Ever - Classic Hummus Recipe by Life as a Convert

The Fun:

After all the food, the kids played with bubbles and I played with my camera some more. I am really getting the hang of manual mode. I don’t always get it right, but I am definitely getting it better! Losh enjoyed vlogging and taking pictures of me.

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Aybra spent her time blowing bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. I kid you not, I have about 200 pictures of her blowing bubbles (must go through them and pair them down!).

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Do you like hummus? 

What is your favorite way to enjoy it?Bush's Hummus Made Easy - Easiest Potluc Snack Ever by Life as a Convert

Don’t forget to share and pin for later!

VenturianTale Birthday Party! (Happy Birthday Aybra)

VenturianTale Birthday Party!

Can we just pretend for a moment that it is NOT May and I put this birthday post up months ago? Aybra’s actual birthday was in March. – For her birthday she requested a VenturianTale theme. For those who are not familiar, VenturianTale is a Youtube gaming channel and just so happens to be her favorite one.

VenturianTale Birthday Party Free Printables by Life as a Convert

VenturianTale is a pretty popular channel among kids her age, but like 99.9% of other Youtube channels it doesn’t have party decorations available. Bummer, right?

Nah! No problem!

I made Aybra’s decorations. Luckily for me their logo is pretty basic and the colors are common. (blue background, red triangle, yellow “V”).

I could not find an image of their logo that was suitable for my needs, so I made my own copycat version of their logo. This was the foundation for all other decorations.

VenturianTale Birthday Party Free Printables by Life as a Convert(Download)

I used various sizes of this image on top of a blue table cloth as confetti. I made and printed everything last minute, so I didn’t have time to do this, but wanted to add some of them to red cups.

The menu was surprisingly difficult to figure out. VenturianTale is composed of 4 different kids (Jordan, Isaac, Ciera, and Bethany). Their last name is Frye. I knew that we would be having “French Fryes” but I couldn’t decide what else to make with it. I ended up making quite a few different food labels to choose from.

Like other birthdays, I tried to incorporate the theme into the food. I used their names and things unique to their channel to create labels for the food. I served hamburgers, hot dogs, and some sides. Hardly any of the party guests recognized the references, but Aybra was happy with her VenturianTale Birthday and that is all that matters.

VenturianTale Birthday Party Food Menu Printables

Her grandpa made her cake and I did my best to decorate it. It definitely tasted better than it looked! I also made her birthday banner (link to download at the bottom of this post) but probably could have printed it out at 50% of its original size and/or figured out a way to get two images on one page. It ended up being quite large, but still fine. I saved it to re-use for Losh’s party coming up soon.

Aybra only asked for Five Nights at Freddy’s plushies. From the time I put them on my Amazon wish list to the time I ordered, the price went up significantly, so she ended up getting only one from me (Foxy). My sister bought her Freddy and she has been carrying one with her all the time. She got plenty of other presents and didn’t seem to mind that she had to wait for the rest of the collection. I think this VenturianTale Birthday party scored right on par with her puppy birthday party from last year.

Aybra's 8th Birthday Party - VenturianTale Birthday Party

I did take quite a few pictures, but apparently not of the other decorations or food! This happened to be a large party compared to our normal parties, and I was quite distracted. (I usually try to get pictures before the guests arrive, but the food was being grilled and wasn’t ready until after many people were there)

Prepare for cliche….

“I can’t believe she is 8 years old”. It really does seem like just a moment ago she was a tiny baby in the NICU, and now here she is half-way grown! I’m so blessed to have her in my life. She has never been a girly girl, but with the age 8 came a slight change in her. She has a sudden interest in some girly things and I couldn’t be happier! Losh’s party is coming up next and he is still undecided, but leaning towards Batman for a theme.  Guess I better prepare for that!

Do you have any cute Batman party ideas? 

Do your kids watch VenturianTale?

Downloads:

Birthday Banner:

Blue and Yellow Printable Birthday Banner

Food/Menu Labels, Blank label, Small logo, etc:

Food/Menu Labels and other Party Printables

Copycat Logo:

Copycat Logo