Get Ready for Chick Babies!

I am so excited I wanted to share with all our Rusty Duck Family!!!! On Febuary 27th I will be getting my chick babies….

I ordered from my local feed store 15 pullets or girl chicks. I would have loved a rooster but in my area I can’t support one.

We currently have Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, and Golden Sex Link or aka Red Stars…

We really loved the Barred Rock chickens.. They are friendly, fairly quiet, loving to all the family, and we have to say our favorites out of the breeds we have. So I ordered 5 Barred Rock girls!!!


I always loved the color of Buff Orpington and we have a family member that recommended them to us so we wanted to try them this season. I ordered 5….



Also I wanted to have something different….. something that would add a bit of fun for us. So I picked 5 Araucanas aka Ameraucanas aka Easter Eggers. They lay different colored eggs like green, blue, pink. Think about that… No dying eggs for Easter… heehee

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All of the above and below images were online. The eggs were from except for my box….

Here are a few steps you can do to get ready for your chick babies…. This is what I did for my new girls that are coming in a few days…

1.  Get a big box… Depending on how many your expecting you need quite a bit of room for them. This is a box from a new appliance we got a few months ago. It is about 27 inches x 24 inches and 24 inches deep. As you can see I had to modify the box because it had one end open. I used duck tape to create this box for my new chick babies… You will need to get larger boxes as they grow. Also have a way to secure the top because they will jump up and out.. My husband will be building a frame with chicken wire that I can place on top. He also will build me a roost for them. He loves chick babies…. heehee

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2. Get plenty of Chick Starter Feed. Decide if you want medicated or unmedicated Medicated feed will help prevent coccidiosis, a disease that is found just about everywhere in the environment. Most medicated starter feeds contain the medication amprollium. Amprollium does not *treat* coccidiosis, but it helps the babies fight off cocci oocysts while they develop their own immunity. Its up to you! They will need to be fed this special chick baby food for about 8 weeks.


3. You need soft bedding for them.. I used small pine shavings. You need to at least change out the bedding 1-2 times a week depending on how many you have.  I also use the larger shavings in my coop.


4. You also need a waterer and feeder that is made for the chick babies. You don’t want them to drown in a large kitchen bowl.


Get all your supplies ready for that special chick day!!!!!

I hope you liked this little bit of information on getting ready for your new chick babies….








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Stacie’s Baked Tri Tip Recipe


Baked Tri Tip
1- 2.5 lb (aprox) Tri Tip
Salt Pepper and Garlic powder to taste
Olive oil

Pre heat oven to 425′
Layer potatoes cut in half-length wise on bottom of large baking dish
Add remaining veggies cut in chunks drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper garlic powder to taste.
Season liberally your tri tip with Salt, Pepper and Garlic powder ( or spices of your choice) And give it a good massage.

Place tri tip fat side up on top of Your veggies and potatoes. Place in oven uncovered ,add 2/3 cup water, close oven and turn oven down to 350 and DONT TOUCH IT FOR 30 min.
Open oven after 30 minutes and using TONGS

(no fork) flip meat over and add 20 additional minutes. Times up. Remove from oven tent with foil loosely to rest (15 min). Slice AGINST GRAIN …And enjoy. This roast will be med. rare!
For a roast more done add 10 min To last part of cook time.

I hope you try it and enjoy!!!!









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Start Those Seeds!!!!!!

Hello Everyone….

Now is the time to start your seeds for spring planting….. This is my favorite time of the year… The planning and picking out the seeds I want to start, even finding that new item to try…. Yep I am excited…….

Learn what I do to get ready to start my seeds HERE



There are lots of ways to start seeds….. You don’t have to buy expensive trays and special items. Think outside the box… Save your milk jugs, soda bottles, anything can work… cut 3 sides, poke holes in the bottom, add your dirt and seeds….. Use the top to cover the seeds and plants.

Use an egg carton…. Use old plastic bowls……… Use what ever you have…. If it will hold dirt and you can cut holes in the bottom for drainage…. Your golden!!!!


Here is what I do to start seeds indoors….. There are lots of ways to do this but I try to keep my cost down and try to make it easy as possible…

First step is get your seeds organized and research when to start those seeds…. I gathered my items I needed slowly so I am not spending the money all at once.

I had a few to start on Jan 23rd so I went to work…

What I use for my seed starting session is:

I get the foil pans at my local dollar store. These are reusable and you will see why in a few minutes.


I get foam cups. Also at my local dollar store. I use 16 oz but you can use smaller ones. I have used plastic cups as well but I find it’s easier with foam when you replant in your garden.


I do get good seed starting dirt at my local plant store. This is something you do not want to cheat on. Good dirt good plants!

I also gather a sharpie, and a knife…..


I was lucky to find a grow light at a yard sale a few years ago… I LOVE THIS THING!!!! But you can use a regular lamp or even place them outside if you have a cover that can breathe.

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I find that my electric bill goes up about $5 a month when I use this.

Ready Set Plant!!!

I cut a slit in the bottom of the foam cup and write what I started and the date. This helps you keep them straight and will help you keep track of progress. Last year I planted my pepper seeds and did not write on my cups… by the time I finished the tray I forgot what was what……

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Add your good seed starting dirt!!!


And add the seeds…… Follow the directions on your seed packet. I place at least 3-4 seeds in each cup. If you put 1 seed in it may not germinate and you have to start all over again.

Place the cups in your foil pan and water the top of the soil lightly. Just enough to get things wet.


I then add water to the pan so the seeds are watered from below vs above. This helps with over watering and allows the seed and young plant to draw up the water in needs. And when you have those small 2 leaf plants you can damage the plant by watering the top….

Then I place the whole tray under my lights.


Here I started Lettuces, Cabbage, Catnip, Echinacea, and Eggplant. Every day I check the water level in the foil pan. I try to keep it at about 1 inch to 2 inches.


A couple of weeks later I have plants!!!!


I pull out the weaker ones at about 3 weeks so the health plant can grow grow grow…

Now the reason I use 16 oz cups is because if its a plant I have to replant in a bigger cup because the roots are bound…. It can hurt your plant….. So I make it easy for me and the plant….

The total cost of supplies not including the good seed starting dirt is $3…. The dirt cost me $10 but well worth it… I can use it for all my seeds this year…..

I would love to hear what you plan on planting this year from seeds….. Come share with us and our readers!
















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So You Want to get Chickens……

So you have decided that come spring you want to get some cute little chick babies.  Fabulous welcome to the “flock”!!!!

PLEASE PLEASE take some time to educate yourself and your family on raising chickens. If you run out and get them but have no idea how to take care of them it’s not fair to the chick babies or you……

10 chicks

There are a few things you need to find out before you go to your local feed store, farmer, or order online from hatcheries…. A little planning and knowledge will help you and your new babies thrive. I read and researched for a good year before I committed  myself and my family to raising chickens.

I want to mention a few things you need to be aware of before you bring those adorable chick babies home.


First…. Can you have chickens where you live? If so how many? Can you have roosters? Check and make sure because the last thing you want is to get chick babies and have to give them away because you are not allowed to have them in the first place.

Second…. You can have chickens so now what space can you dedicate to the chickens? Do you have space for a proper coop, run area or free range area?  This will also help you decide how many chickens you can get. It is recommended to have 4 square feet per chicken in your run area.

Third…. Do you know what they eat? How much do they eat? What needs they have to thrive in your care? Can you afford to properly care for them? How much is feed in your area? How much will it cost to buy a coop or build one? Babies need extra heat for a while so you need to get a heat lamp. They grow fast so you will need to expand the area as needed. They need secure areas where outside predators can’t get them. I suggest reading up on raising chickens. You can check online or get books like these to help you understand the how’s whats’ and why’s of being a chicken owner.

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These are my favorite books. Storey’s guides will give you great information and the other 2 are ones I found at yard sales.

Forth……What type of breeds would you like to get? There are 3 types layers, meat, and dual purpose. layers are mainly good for laying lots of eggs while a meat bird will lay eggs but are mainly used as meat for you and your family. Dual purpose will give you good egg production and can also be used for meat. Do you want pure breeds? Mixed? For my first flock I choose pure breed dual purpose birds.

Fifth….. Where do you live? Does it snow? Is it always hot? different breeds are bred for different climates. If you get a cold hardy breed in a hot climate they will be miserable. I live in Northern California and we get cold but no snow. We do however get over 100 degrees during the summer.

Sixth….. Where do I get chick babies? Do I have a feed store near me that have them in the spring? Do I know of a hatchery? Is there a farmer around me that sells chick babies? Each choice is a gamble. Research the companies and find the best choice for you.  I ordered my first flock from a hatchery out-of-state. They mailed me my chick babies through USPS. Most places that sell chicks sell them for around $3-$4 per chick.

Seventh……. Do you have other animals like dogs? Will your other pets work well with chickens? Some dog breeds will love and protect them others will attack and eat them. My Crocker spaniel was a bird dog breed and always wanted to kill them. I had to make sure she could not get access to them even in sight of them.

Eighth… Remember that even if you request the sex of your chickens it’s not 100% accurate. Feed stores and farmers may only offer what is called straight run which means non sexed chickens. They have no idea. If you order from a hatchery they can sex the chicks when they are born but again not completely accurate science. I was very lucky when I ordered girls only I got girls only. Some breeds have certain characteristics that make it easy to tell.  Otherwise you wont really know till they start to crow.


Take these few months before spring to decide what you want and how your going to make them happy and healthy.

Get all your supplies and areas ready for them. Think of it like you are getting ready for a new human baby….. You prepare yourself and your home to receive them so prepare for your new chick babies too.

I hope this opened your eyes on the needs of your new chick babies….. Please if you have any questions or comments feel free to share…. We can learn from each other!


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Planning a Garden for 2015!

Holidays are done and its time for me to start thinking and planning my garden. If you take a little time now you can start your seeds inside and have them ready to plant when the frost is over.


I love to start seeds instead of buying plants. Seeds cost between $1-$4 and you get 20-30 seeds verses $6 for a 6 pack of tomato plants. Plus… you can grow different varieties than are common in your garden stores.

With prices rising on fresh vegetables and you hear all about the poisons they use when growing the vegetables that cause illness, growing your own will help your budget and keep you and your family healthier.

Let me apologize right off the bat for my photos and my drawing ability…. You may already know how to find this kind of information but to help others I want to share the information.

So let’s get to it….. First I find out what my garden zone is?  You can find that information at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Site.  I know my zone is 9-10. I then find out what space I have to work with.  I have hard clay soil so I combat that with garden boxes my husband makes me. I bring in good soil from our local dump or from a garden supply store, and I add my chicken bedding and droppings to it.

Dont forget to find our Frost Date! I use a fabulous site The Farmers Almanac Site. My Last Spring Frost Date is February 18th…. But I always add a couple of weeks to this date to be sure. They do update the information fairly regular and the date will change. 2 days ago it was March 7th for me….

The easiest way to plan your plots for your garden is to grab some paper and a pencil with an eraser. ( especially if you are me) I use graph paper but any kind will do…



Draw your area that you wish to plant… Here is a very rough plan of my current garden boxes as well as a few more I will beg my husband to make me.. HEEHEEE


Seems like a lot of space but I always want to plant more than I have room for…. I find myself walking around our property with a tape measure to see where I can squeeze in another plant or 2 or 3 or 10….

I also use a few Ipad apps. The first is When to Plant from Mother Earth News. It’s a free app and helps organize the basic information with planting dates by month.

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You can also add your frost date to the app and it will adjust accordingly.

The best garden planning app I found is called Grow Planner it cost me $10 a couple of years ago but well worth it. This app lets you design your garden, shows you space required for each plant, and will help you to rotate your plants by reminding you with a shaded area.

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I know that I want to plant regular things like tomatoes, corn, squash, beans, zucchini, watermelon, etc. But I always try to find something new that I have never grown before. This year I am going to try kale, and a few herbs like mint and lemon balm.

I also consult The Farmers Almanac Companion Planting page. This gives you information on planting things together to maximize space. Like placing beans with your corn. Corn grows tall but the area below is wasted. Place beans there so you can use the corn stocks as a natural trellis for the beans.


Find what you and your family likes and expand your garden to include something you have never tried before. Each year you will find new challenges and gain more information to become a better gardener. Even if its flowers or herbs….. You can learn and put that knowledge to work for you and your family.

In my next garden article I will be taking you with me as I start some seeds that need to be started 8-10 weeks before the last spring frost. I will show you my set up and how I start seeds for as little as $5.

Please share your fabulous information on starting seeds and how you plan out your garden. We all can help each other become great gardeners……

















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Sick Chicken at Christmas!

Hello all! Well as you have read we extending the chicken run area right before Christmas. It was a GOD send because we needed this area for a different purpose then we intended. If you would like to read that article HERE it is!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet or in any way a chicken expert. I use advise for other chicken owners and professionals. What worked for my girl is not always good for others. 


On December 21 I noticed one of my Golden Sexlink chickens was hiding out in the coop. I made her go out to the run area and she was getting attacked by some of the other girls… Now they all grew up together and are normally just fine with each other. I see a bit of pecking and a fight or 2 but nothing like this. I pulled her out and brought her inside the house. I have a cage that was used for a hamster I purchased for $20 at a yard sale. Knowing I may need to pull a chicken out for TLC.


Here she is I also saved the small feeder and waterer I used when they were babies.

I had no idea what was wrong with her. She was eating, drinking, and able to walk and run. I thought egg bound, lung issues, all sorts of things….  I did give her a warm bath and washed her bottom. I also put vaseline in her egg area to help her if it was egg bound.

She was scared of the other chickens and after a day or 2 she had a wheezing sound. I researched and found I could use an all natural medication for her wheezing. Its called VetRX. I wanted to be as natural in my cure as possible. Antibiotics would have been the next step if she didn’t show any improvement.


I had to go to 2 farm stores but I found one for pigeons. I noticed the ingredients and dosage was exactly the same for chickens.

I gave her several dosages and tried to give her exercise our in our grass area.


She spent Christmas with us inside and even enjoyed the tree and Its a Wonderful Life.

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The only thing she was not able to do was lay an egg. But on December 31st she gave us a New Years present!


We tried again to place her in with the others and again she got attacked and ran in to the coop to hide out.

We tried placing her next to the others, adding 1 chicken with her and then 2 chickens with her and they mostly ignored her but would attack her.

After 3 days of trying and she was laying 3 eggs in her sick cage….. We decided to try again and picked 2 other chickens that we noticed didn’t bother her.  A Road island red and my white rock. After 14 days she was back where she needed to be!

They pecked a little but didn’t attack her at all! Thank GOD because we cant have her inside all the time and chickens are social animals. I had other options like giving her to Stacie to add to her flocks, getting another chicken from Stacie as well….. But I wanted to keep my 10 girls intact if I could.



We placed her in the new run area with her friends and we had to build a mini coop for them. So having that extra run area and being able to separate “flocks” really came just in time…

She is one of our favorites and has always been one of our love chickens.


Here is a picture of our new coop for them. She was so happy with it she had to explore before I could get the bedding down and had to be the first to lay an egg in there!

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Building a New Mini Coop!

Hello again! Here is our new Mini Coop! We expanded the run area for our chickens and wanted to add a coop for new chick babies I plan on getting in the spring. You can read about the new run HERE!



Through my searching I found coops that would work but cost way to much… And if you have specific needs of size etc… it will cost you more money to have one custom-made. Why not make what you need?????? Get it exactly to fit your area and your chickens…

We still need to paint it but it works well! This coop is 3 ft wide by 2 ft deep and 3 ft high in the front with an angle at 27 inches. My husband is not a wood worker but can make what I need…..

We were going to work on a new mini coop later this year but we had a need for it sooner so on January 3rd my husband got to work. It was about $90 in plywood and handles. The rest we had on hand and made it work….

This is completely my dear husbands design. After drawing it on paper and adjusting as needs raised.


First the floor…. He had this old pallet sitting around and cut it to 3 ft x 2 ft. Then attached the plywood to the pallet with wood screws. We did have the hardware store cut the plywood to our needs.


We had linoleum left over from the big coop and added the framing of 2×4’s.


Added the sides plywood then placed 2×2’s for a frame.


We added 4 handles so we can move it around as needed. also used 2 hinges so we can get inside when needed. ( always add a human door or area to get in )



Don’t forget the perch area!


My husband used a jigsaw to cut the chicken door!

Vary easy and very cheap mini coop…… This coop fits 3 chickens comfortably.


It fits perfect in our new run area! And the girls are comfortable and safe at night….

So remember you don’t need a big bag of money to make a coop or even purchase one.. Make your own and get it the way you want it and need it! You can do it!!!

I hope you enjoy this DIY project! Please share your experience with building coops…

As always feel free to share and comment!














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Feed and a Balanced Budget!

The quest for balance.
Balancing the budget that is!!
When you’re a typical working person as the majority are, you make the most of every penny and even more daunting is to stretch that penny without compromising quality of nutrition when buying/ making feed for your animals. So today I want to tell y’all about something I’ve recently found and how I use it with all my animals.
Now humor me if you all ready know and if you don’t know get ready to cut your feed bill once again.
Drum roll………………..

It’s 10% + crude protein, .05% min crude fat, 17% crude fiber, and best of all 100% useable and digestible.
Beet pulp is as simple and nutritious it’s what I call UNIVERSAL. It is suitable for ALL LIVE STOCK!!

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Beet pulp (plain) Can be used dry or as I do soaked. It comes in 50# bags at the feed store. It costs around 16$. Beet pulp also comes w/ molasses. I prefer plain. After soaking it increases in volume and becomes more palatable. I soak it in hot water Each morning before feeding and who doesn’t like a warm filling meal when it’s cold out. I add to the reconstituted pulp vegetable oil and ACV (apple cider vinegar). Then I tailor each tub of food to the specific animal.


Going down the list of animals here’s how I customize.
I replace HALF of their normal feed for the beet pulp.

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Beet pulp , grain ,

Beet pulp, kibble, raw egg,

Beet pulp , cracked corn

Beet pulp, pellets, cracked corn

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Beet pulp, cracked corn, veggies
Beet pulp, reptile pellets, fresh veggies
I will change things up from time to time.
I mean really, who likes to eat the same thing every day, day in day out.
Try cooked rice, oats, left overs etc.
On nights be for an extremely cold mornings, I feed a second warm meal for digestion over night which promotes body heat.
I have successfully cut my feed bill in HALF! With out compromising nutrition.

If you have any money-saving tips when it comes to feed I would be excited to know about it so please feel free to share!
Happy 2015












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Expanding the Run for Chickens!

Happy New Year to all our Rusty Duck Homestead family!!!!

First, I wanted to Thank You ALL for allowing Stacie and I some time with our families and getting caught up on day-to-day running of our own homes.

Now on to the first article I have for you.

During holidays we tend to have a project or two we plan on getting accomplished.  This Christmas was no exception… To my kids horror of course!

I have 10 hens that are as of today 1 yr and 3 months old…. They are a wonderful addition to our family. When we got the girls we had a plan to place them at our uncles property close to our own home. Plans as you know get changed and we had to find a place for them here. We had to scramble to get a coop and run area set up and we did not have a whole lot of room to do that. We are in an area where we cant let them free range. We have a fairly small run area for them although they were happy and healthy we wanted to do better for them. Our run area was a dog run changed a bit to accommodate chickens. Also, we wanted to be able to make the 2 runs separate so when I get chick babies in the spring they have an area close to the older girls but safe. My Husband came up with the plan and I think its perfect.

The original human door we had for the old run can be left open so they can run between them and closed to keep them in a specific area. Also great for cleaning the run without chickens getting in on the action!

We moved a few things and purchased another dog run and  went about extending the run.


Here is the dog run we got for them. It came in panels ready to be placed and attached where we wished. We also could angle one panel to allow access from the other run area.


This is the space between the old run and new. My son and husband were attaching poultry wire to the top of the fence and coop to keep those critters our and our critters in.


A cordless, screws, washers and zip ties really made the job easy.


Here it is… The run addition! We purchased the tarp roof to help with rain and sun. I know my girls love the new space!



I know I cant draw at all but this shows the coop and run area.

We were able to get it done in 1 day and cost us about $300 for the dog run, and poultry wire. We had some materials already from other projects.

So I hope you like our new area for our chickens…. They sure love it!  Until we had to adjust it a bit and that is coming in the next article!

Please feel free to share and comment I would love to hear how you set up your run area or if you have ideas!


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Approximately is the word for this recipe.
Cooking is not an exact science like baking… have fun with it!!


A. 2 1/2 cups dried split peas
A. 1 med. Smoked ham hock or 1 1/2 cups cooked bacon a with some drippings.
A. 6 cups water or chicken stock
A. 3/4 cup celery and a bit of the tops chopped.
A. 1 clove minced garlic
A. 1/2 cup chopped onion.
A. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
A. Few pinches of thyme
A. 3/4 cup chopped carrot
A.1/2 cup shredded carrot for mix in garnish.
A. Table spoon real unsalted butter
Heavy cream
Salt and pepper


In a large stock pot combine the first 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for approx 2 hours (stirring occasionally ) or until meat falls off ham hock.(add a little water if needed Remove ham hock and strip meat from the bone .



Now you have choices. You can blend your hot soup for a creamy texture or leave chunky. Return meat to soup and add remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.
Top with shredded carrots and serve.






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