Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Product Review · Turkeys

Bugs for Birds! Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Backyard Chickens: A Review

We raise our animals as livestock, but we still enjoy spoiling them with tasty treats now and then. Recently, we were asked to review Bugs for Birds! and our flock was more than happy to oblige.

First thing’s first: Do you know how hard it is to photograph a bunch of birds? I swear this is 80% luck, 15% skills, and 5% avoiding all the beaks and bills. For every photo I share on the blog, Instagram, Facebook page, or elsewhere, I have probably taken an additional 15. I am picky when it comes to the photos I share. When I have fistfuls of treats, this makes it more difficult, because everyone wants to be all up in my business even more than usual. These snacks were no different. The birds seemed especially aggressive once they all got a taste for them.

First off, I started with the whole bag, hoping to get this awesome photo of the birds surrounding it. Something Instagrammable, you know? And then the turkeys did what turkeys seem to do best… acted dumber than I thought possible. “What’s this? Can I eat it?” to literally everything. And the cute logo didn’t stand a chance.

PECK PECK PECK! Please deliver snacks!

So I quickly gave up on that idea. Thought I should put them in a feed pan. Maybe I’d get something nice of a few of them pecking from outside the bowl… That was a big nope. They actually ended up flipping this onto themselves, and freaked out. I left the pan there for a minute while I put the bag down on the outside of the fence. By the time I got back, the two birds that were trapped under it had eaten every last crumb!

Fine, I will just throw them on the ground and let the birds go to town. Well, you can barely see them in the grass. And I didn’t want to waste these treats. They’re too precious! That concern was pretty much pointless as the birds scratched and pecked to find every last morsel of these weird little bug larvae.

Finally, I settled on dumping some out on the dirt. The turkeys went ballistic, and squeezed out most of the chickens. This was fine, because I could make a second pile for the rest of the birds. We wanted to make sure the layers got some, as these little snacks have a TON of calcium and protein to help produce delicious, healthy eggs. They also have added probiotics which help keep birds healthy. And clearly, the birds loved them, considering I was concerned I would lose some fingers at certain points.

Overall, we really liked these treats. They come in compostable packaging, ship quickly, are affordable, and the birds love them. If you have pet chickens, a flock of layers, or any other birds, these are a great way to spoil them and give them extra nutrition. You can learn more about Bugs for Birds on their Facebook page. If you order some, be sure to let us know what your birds think!

The four pound bag of Bugs for Birds! BSFL was provided to us in exchange for a review. This is our honest opinion of the product, and we were not compensated beyond the cost of the product. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through that link, we make a small percentage of the sale which helps us keep a roof over our heads. Thank you for supporting a small farm.

Animals · Chickens · Tutorial · Video

DIY Tutorial: Building a Nipple Drinker for Poultry

Today, we are going to share instructions on how to build a nipple drinker for your pastured poultry. We use these primarily with our chickens, but it also works well for turkeys. Keep in mind, waterfowl need to dunk their bill into the water, so this doesn’t work for them. This project takes under 15 minutes, and is cheaper than the poultry fountain drinkers you can find in most farm stores, plus they are much easier to fill.

First off, let’s talk about what a poultry nipple is. We like these awesome side mounted drinkers from Lovatic. They don’t leak, work well even when it’s below freezing, and keep the water cleaner. They have a little metal center piece, a small lip on the bottom edge for the water to collect on, and they easily screw into the bucket. We have had these for a couple seasons, and they’ve outlasted one of the buckets. They can easily be removed and transferred to a new bucket should the bucket crack or otherwise be made unusable. The birds seem to figure them out pretty easily, but we show them how they are used several times over the course of a couple days just to be sure.

Materials needed:

  • Plastic bucket with lid
  • Nipple drinkers
  • Drill
  • 5/16 drill bit
  • Optional: Pliers to help screw in the nipples

If you have any questions on how to build this drinker, let us know in the comments!

Chickens · Collaboration · Green Gardens Community Farm · Market · Meat

Check Out Your Chicken!

This spring has been a wet one. Our garden is delayed, and we are scrapping some of our plans altogether, unfortunately. We are hoping for some not-so-wet weather in the coming month so that our fall crops will do well. Cross your fingers for us!

The wet weather thankfully hasn’t affected our meat production. Our first batch of chickens is going to the processor on June 27. They are Red Bro Color Yield Broilers, from The Chick Hatchery. We really enjoy how they look, and they are doing really well on pasture.

First batch of Frontière Farm House chickens going to the processor in 2019

We will have them fresh, never frozen at the Marshall Farmers Market on June 29. They will be ready for the grill that afternoon! Any birds that are not sold that day will go into the freezer.

A few days later, we are having a special event at Green Gardens Community Farm. July 1, which is Canada Day, those fine folks will be hosting Check Out Your Chicken. We will be preparing some chickens so you can taste them before purchasing. They will be available as whole birds for $4.50/lb. We will not be offering cut ups for this first batch, but we might in the future.

If you have any questions about these birds, our process for raising them, or anything else, feel free to contact us!

Animals · Chickens · Goals · Sheep

New Beginnings: Life And Death On The Farm

As of March 31st, I quit my off-farm job, in order to pursue farming full time. Robert is still working as an engineer full time, and he is enjoying his job. But with the way things have been growing at home, we figured having me available more often would be best for the business, and our animals.

Way back on March 18th, our Jacob ewe Haiku gave birth to a happy little ewe lamb which we named Verse. This little lass is quick on her feet, and loves running around with the goats and the chickens. She has learned that the geese are to be avoided, and if anyone gets in her way, she can easily dart around them.

We’ve been waiting since then for our other ewe, Tanka, to have her baby. We came home last night from Fiber Expo, and visiting family, and she had done just that. She gave birth to a beautifully marked ram lamb, who unfortunately was born too early and didn’t make it. If it hadn’t been so cold and wet last night, or if he’d had just a little more time in the womb, things may have been different. However, we cannot dwell on things we cannot change. We can learn from them, and hopefully be better prepared for next year. We talked to our sheep mentors, and after a lot of reassurance, we will have better plans in place the next time around.

This whole ordeal was a huge blow to my confidence. I want everything to be perfect this year, since this is the way I will be contributing to our household. But the only thing I can control is the way I react to things. I am trying to be really objective with everything, but it’s difficult. We have made a decision on what to do with the baby that didn’t make it, and hopefully that will work out. Either way, we will be sharing it here.

We have so many projects planned for the next few months, and we are looking forward to pushing forward and gaining momentum. Our first batch of meat birds is arriving this week. We have thirty brown leghorns in a brooder that are due to head outside any day now. Keep an eye out for more regular blog posts now that I am home more!

Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Geese · Goats

Chicken Enrichment: Rolling Out Oat Straw

Spring is finally starting to show up, and everyone on the farm is very happy. Grass is sprouting, wild turkeys are roaming through the yard, and the birds are ramping up their egg production. We have started getting several goose eggs a day, and a turkey egg every couple days. But, we are dealing with mud city pretty much everywhere, especially in the bird yard. We knew we had to do something about it, and Robert found the perfect solution.

Two round bales of oat hay/straw. The farmer had an issue with getting the field harvested, and the seed heads ripened a little too much. This is PERFECT for our situation! The straw will soak up some of the muck, and make it less slippery, and the seeds will become food for the flock. And then any seeds they embed into the muck will sprout, providing food in the future.

Rolling the first bale out was hilarious. We cut the net wrap off, and just started pushing and hoped for the best. Luckily, we had it in the right direction, and it worked for us on the first try. I ran ahead shooing chickens and getting feed pans out of the way as Robert continued unrolling the bale like a giant roll of toilet paper. So far, the birds have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. They immediately took to scratching through it, looking for all the yummy oat seeds, and bugs. They have also really helped with spreading out the straw itself.

Handsome rooster Dwayne is right up front, letting his girls know where the food is.

We also threw a few piles over the fence for the geese and ruminants to snack on. They were pretty excited with this new source of entertainment.

Overall, we are quite satisfied with this purchase. It was a small investment which will definitely pay off. Happy birds with full bellies and busy scratching feet make us very happy farmers.

Alpaca · Animals · Chickens · garden · Goats · Llama · Sheep

The Day to Day of Winter Farming

This time of year, there isn’t a whole lot going on here, but that doesn’t mean we are sitting around all day. Our fifteen fuzzy hay eating animals still need hay and snacks brought out to them at least once a day, and the birds still need their feed and water taken care of.

We have shifted the way we do our chores slightly this winter. We were both getting home after dark some days, so we moved all of our poultry feeding to the mornings. One fifty pound sack of feed is divvied up between several feeders, and they seem to be fine with that. If one of us is home, we will go out a couple times with Luna and throw some “snackies” out for the birds. Snackies are scratch, kitchen scraps, or whatever else we might have for them. This keeps them entertained, and allows us to check on them periodically.

As for the fuzzy hay eating animals, we still occasionally feed them twice. They get at least one full bale of hay in the morning, which is sometimes brought out in a wheelbarrow. The smaller goats seem to enjoy when that happens. If they eat most of that, we give them another half bale of hay in the evening. We don’t like to give them all of it at once, because they just like to make a mess of it, and leave it all over the ground.

Taco is being very helpful in the wheelbarrow.

The nice part about them making a mess is that it’s great for them to bed down in. This works well for us, until the hay and poop piles up. We have been managing to stay on top of things, and we scoop out the spent hay pretty regularly.

This is a completely different day, and that is Milkshake in the wheelbarrow, and Betty eyeballing him, with Nugget on the left supervising.

The wheelbarrow loads of dirty hay get hauled around the pastures and are dumped into low spots in the ground. These holes are mostly caused by chickens taking excessively aggressive dust baths. I don’t know what their issue is, but they apparently think bathing for 45 minutes and tossing every speck of dirt three feet away is absolutely required. Filling the holes means we fall less frequently, which is always a good thing. We also toss some of the hay into the bird yard for them to scratch through. It soaks up some of the gross mud we have been dealing with for a while, and gives them a little more traction when the ground freezes. If we have any hay left after, it gets piled on top of our compost pile.

This is the bulk of what we have been doing all winter. Soon, we will begin ordering our seeds for the vegetable and flower gardens, as well as ordering chicks to raise. We are looking forward to working back into our daily routines.

Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Eggs · Goats · Meat · Production · Sheep

Winter is Coming to the Farm

Now that the rush of summer is gone, we were truly hoping that autumn and winter would be a little easier and calmer. So far, we have been wrong.

Our final batch of chickens for this season was brought to the processor last week. They are now in the freezer awaiting their new homes in the ovens and soup pots of our customers. This batch of chickens finished a little smaller than previous batches. We aren’t sure if it’s due to being later in the year, and the pasture not being quite as nutritious, or something else. That being said, they are just as delicious as the previous birds sent to the processor. We had to acquire an additional freezer to store these birds in. We are hoping to have it emptied out by the end of the year. Or at least have one of the meat freezers emptied out by then.

We have acquired several new animals recently. We have three Jacob sheep that we purchased from Sweetgrass Jacobs back at the end of October. One named Limerick, who is a two horned ram born in April of this year. We also got one two horned female and a four horned female, named Haiku and Tanka respectively. They are all quite skittish, but they are slowly warming up to us.

In addition to the sheep, we’ve acquired five goats. They came from a farm that was downsizing. We have three wethers and two does. The wethers are named Taco, Milkshake and Nugget, and the does are Curry and Fudge. Yes, we named them all after foods that goats can be made into. But we don’t plan on eating these ones any time soon.

Our chickens and ducks have slowed their egg production. We are still getting a dozen or two a day, but that’s a far cry from the overflowing baskets we were getting for most of the summer. It will pick back up in the spring. Everything has a season, and egg season is definitely early summer!

We will be processing our own turkey for Thanksgiving, and we are really looking forward to that. We have two really large males that we will choose between. The second one will be served up at the December holiday dinner. We hope the rest of the turkeys will lay eggs for us to hatch and raise up for next year’s holiday dinners.

All of our tasty products, and some of Nicole’s knitted items will be available at the Marshall Farmers Market at the B.E. Henry building. We hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, feel free to send us a message to make arrangements to get some eggs or chicken. Happy almost-winter!