A Fiber Farm Blog

Posts tagged ‘Chickens’

Early Spring on the Farm


We are preparing for spring on the farm and it is a crazy, busy time!  It was an unusual winter here……..warm and dry, with only a couple of inches of snow all winter.  We finally got some rain this past week and are anticipating more this week.  Hopefully we are coming out of this dry spell.  With so much going on around here, I will try my best to keep you updated.


I got my spring garden planted last week.  Jeff had the garden all tilled and generously spread with alpaca poop.  I planted turnips, beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots and tons of radishes.  There is nothing better than fresh radishes, right out of the garden!  As I was planting, I kept my eye on a slow-moving rain storm coming from the southwest.  Usually my timing isn’t that great, but this year I was able to get that garden in right before the rain kicked in.  We received some badly needed moisture.  My garden and I were thankful!

Strawberry Patch

We have had Strawberry Patch issues over the last few years.  We have tried several different ways to grow strawberries and it seems like we just end up with a big, unruly, out of control weed patch (and, if we were lucky, maybe a couple of ripe strawberries that weren’t rotten, mashed or had been stepped on).  I had strawberries at our first house and it didn’t seem that hard, but here, I don’t know, it has just been a mess.  True, we have had a couple of bad years, no rain at all one spring, then the next, so much rain that what berries we had rotted before we could get to them.  I have had a plan to build a “better” strawberry patch so we are going to give it a try this year.  Last week, Jeff tilled up an area for my patch and placed concrete blocks around for edging.  We ended up with an area of about 2 feet by 20 feet.  It’s not the prettiest thing, but I’m hoping it will be functional.   It is a little early here to purchase strawberries so I am watching for sales and will hopefully have them planted in a few weeks.  My hope is that with my new patch, 1) the strawberries will be controlled and kept within the blocks and, 2) I will be able to weed and pick strawberries without having to walk through the patch itself.  We will see how it works out.  If I can finally get a successful, easy to maintain patch going, we will probably build another one and get it started next year.  I will keep you posted!

Strawberry Patch


I am very excited to announce that we will be starting a small orchard on our property.  We have purchased 10 fruit trees that are packaged so that they are good for our location and good for cross pollination.  They should be delivered by the end of this week and we are expecting 3 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and 1 cherry tree.  Since we have a very busy weekend ahead of us, we decided to go ahead and start preparing the holes this past Sunday.  It took a lot of time preparing 10 holes on Sunday afternoon so we were glad that part of the job is out of the way.  We are expecting more rain this week, so also didn’t want to take the chance that it would be too wet to dig.  We want to get the trees in the ground as quickly as possible once they arrive.


I am preparing for the MOPACA show this weekend.  The show will be at Hale Arena in Kansas City this weekend and will have lots of alpacas, vendors, fiber and some great competition in the show ring.  We will be one of the vendors and since this is one of the bigger shows we do and with it pretty much being our first show of the year, there is lots of prep work to be done.  I will be setting up for the show on Friday and the show and vendor booths will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

This is just a bit of what we have accomplished the past week and what we have in the works for the farm this year.  Next week, I will update you on how the spring garden is doing, if I’ve found any strawberry plants, the progress of our little Orchard and the MOPACA Show in Kansas City.   Until then, enjoy some other pictures of Early Spring on the Farm!


Why Can’t We Be Friends?

We introduced two very special additions to our farm family in November…..miniature donkeys Jelly & Jalapeno.  It took us no longer than a minute to fall in love with these two adorable, sweet donkeys.  Their personalities, curious minds, loud braying and a bit of orneriness here and there never fail to make us laugh!  We did wonder how Jelly & Jalapeno would react to the alpacas and the alpacas to them, so when the donks first arrived they had their own space in the barn with the female alpacas.  The donks were able to meet the alpacas through the cattle panels, but each still had space to slowly get to know each other.  The first few days were interesting as they got used to each other.  But soon everyone settled into a routine.  We intended to mix them together within a few weeks but due to some bitterly cold weather and way too much going on during the holidays we just didn’t get it done.  But one day, it all happened anyway.  I don’t know if we left the gate between the two open, or if the donks opened it themselves (would not have surprised me), but we got home from work one day and everyone was peacefully grazing together. 

Although Jelly & Jalapeno spend a lot of time together……

Donks 1

they quickly settled into life with the alpacas

Donks & Alpacas

The chickens and Aflac the duck are quite comfortable around the donkeys too.

Jelly & Chick

The day that I was out taking pictures, Jelly seemed unconcerned and just wanted to eat.

Jelly 1

But Jalapeno definitely wanted his picture taken….was a real photo hog.  In fact, I really didn’t get a full body shot of him because he so enjoyed the closeup!  Here’s is one of his closeup shots…..

Jalapeno Closeup

And one even closer…..

Jalapeno Even Closer

And a couple more of Jalapeno posing.  He just couldn’t seem to stay away from the camera!

Jelly 3

Jelly 2

I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed having these two around the farm.  Our alpacas are all a little shy and rarely come up just to visit. But Jelly & Jalapeno love to interact and it is so nice to be greeted by those sweet donkeys when we go out to the barn.  It also amazes me how quickly and easily different animals learn to live together.  The chickens and Aflac have learned to watch out for those big animal legs and feet, yet can be found right next to them on a cold night.  The alpacas are maybe a bit annoyed by the loud braying of the donkeys and the donks are forever putting their noses down into the fiber of the alpacas, I’m sure curious as to what in the world that is all over those alpacas.  But even though they are all very different in size, shape, color and voice, they have all learned to share the barn, hay, pasture and to become friends.





Stress in the Henhouse!

It has been a stressful few days in and around the chicken coop!  I have enjoyed having my hens (and all those fresh eggs) so much that I wanted more…….both chickens and eggs that is.  Right around the 1st of March, I purchased 8 new chicks (hopefully all hens) to bring home to the farm. 

Tired Little Chicks

I have been keeping them warm and safe in a big stock tank in the garage and they have grown like little weeds!  It has been somewhat of a challenge this spring as our weather has been cold and wet.  The chicks survived one big snow storm, a short power outage and many freezing nights but are doing well.  So well, in fact, that I had to get them out of that stock tank!  They were just getting too big.  So last Saturday they were put in the coop with Mr. Puffycheeks and the hens.  I’m not sure now that this was the best way to introduce them to each other, but at the time it seemed like the best option. 

We have been letting the hens and Mr. Puffycheeks, our rooster, forage around the yard all day for some time now.  They all go back into the coop at night where they are content, sheltered and safe.  On Saturday, when we added the new chicks, we kept the coop enclosure shut.  I didn’t want the new chicks running around too much until they knew where there home was. 

On Saturday, the chicks hid in a corner of the chicken coop and rarely if ever came out.  The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks were a little mean to the new chicks, especially that first day.  I can tell you, none of my feathered friends were happy on Saturday.



Hiding in the coop_edited-1

On Sunday, we opened the coop door.  The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks came right out and enjoyed their day.  Sunday morning the chicks were again hiding in the corner.  But by the afternoon they were out in the chicken coop, eating, drinking and trying out the roosting bars.  They seemed to be fine as long as the hens were out in the yard.  I don’t believe that any of the chicks made their way out of the coop at all on Sunday.  Things did seem a little less stressful once they were all in the coop and settled down for the night.

Chickens in Coop 1

Chickens in Coop 2

Chickens in Coop 3

Ethel was not very happy that I was invading her privacy during one of my visits to check on the new chicks!

Ethyl Requests Privacy_edited-1

It wasn’t until Thursday that the new chicks began to venture out of the coop.  They are still very careful around Mr. Puffy Cheeks and the hens but it is getting a little better every day.  I can’t wait till they are all one happy family!



Look what we got today!!!

Our first colored egg!  I had been waiting and waiting and had almost given up.  What a nice surprise!

Colored Ege

Egg Noodles & Perfectionism

I have been thinking lately that I would like to make homemade noodles.  My Grandma Anthony used to make these all the time.  Jeff’s mom still makes them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Making homemade noodles has been on my mind ever since my hens starting laying eggs.  The only way, I think, you can make homemade noodles better, would be to use eggs that have been laid by your own spoiled hens!

Now, I have never made homemade noodles in my life.  I watched my grandmother do it many times and the recipe seemed easy enough…..there’s only a few ingredients for goodness sake.  So I opened up my old Betty Crocker cookbook and went to work.

Egg Noodles Dough

I combined the egg, milk, salt and flour and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Egg Noodles Rolled

I put it out on a floured surface and rolled it into a very thin, 12 x 18 rectangle.  You can see that my 12 x 18 rectangle isn’t really a rectangle at all, but that is how I managed to get it rolled out.

Noodles Rolled

Noodles Cut

I loosely rolled up the dough and cut it into ¼ inch wide pieces.  Now this is the point that I was starting to get worried.  I could tell that the little rolls were going to be awfully difficult to unroll.  And they were!  I don’t know if I didn’t use enough flour when I mixed them, when I rolled them out, or maybe it was the odd shape of my rectangle that did me in.  But I couldn’t get those noodles unrolled nicely for the life of me. 

Drying Noodles

Noodles Closeup

Here is what my noodles looked like when I finally set them out to dry.  This is not how my grandma’s homemade noodles looked, I can tell you that.

Now at this point, I should tell you that I almost didn’t post this.  You see, my noodles did not turn out like I had planned, certainly not like my grandmothers or mother-in-laws do, in fact they looked quite awful!  And since I am a perfectionist in many things I do (I really should get help for this) I didn’t want to post anything that wasn’t perfect.  But then I realized, this isn’t how I want my blog to be.  I want my blog to be about trying new things, learning from our mistakes and realizing that sometimes we have no idea what “perfect” really even is.

Chicken n Noodles

When all was said and done, even though my noodles looked, well a little odd, my Chicken with Homemade Noodles tasted amazing!  Perfection!


Chickens’ Day Out

Sunday was a beautiful day here in Missouri, especially for February.  It was unusually mild, mid-50s and just a nice day to be outside.  So it was the day I decided to let the chickens out of their coop.  As the weather gets nicer I plan to let them out most of the day so that they can forage around and enjoy more space.  It was a little nerve wracking, letting them out of their safe space. I wondered if I would be able to get them back in the coop.  I was also worried about how our dogs Balto and Shadow would do and if they would bother them.  Balto is our new LGD and judging by the calm, protective way he had acted around all our other animals, I felt he woul be fine.  But I had no idea how Shadow, our black lab, would react.  But the time came when we were ready to let the chickens explore more of their world.  Chicks Day Out 1

We opened their door……

Chicks Day Out 2

And it didn’t take long at all for them to venture out…..

Chicks Day Out 3

Balto took a good, up close (and rather personal) look to make sure all was well…..

Chicks Day Out 9

Then while the chickens were exploring the new world outside, Balto was curious about their world inside…..

Chicks Day Out 5

Shadow was perfect around the chickens…..didn’t scare them or bother them in any way.  Everyone got along beautifully.

Chicks Day Out 7

Chicks Day Out 8

The chickens wandered a little further than I though they would, but when I went out around 5:00 to get them inside and safe for the night, they were already settled down back in their coop.  The chickens first day out went really well. 

Chicks Day Out 10

Afraid of the Egg?

It has been really exciting around the farm this week because our hens are laying their first eggs.  From our 5 hens, we got 14 eggs last week!  Unfortunately 6 of the eggs we ended up throwing out as we weren’t sure how long they had been sitting around before we found them.  But now that we are in an egg gathering routine (and have hopefully found all their hiding places) we will not waste any of our eggs.  So this morning I had 8 of my hen’s eggs that I was ready to scramble.

Egg 1

But, all of the sudden it occured to me that I had never had an egg like this before.  In all of my 50+ years, as far as I know, I have always had eggs bought at the grocery store.  Now I know this isn’t a good thing.  I have heard all about how bad store bought eggs can be and the deplorable conditions that laying hens are subject to, just so I can go to the grocery store and purchase eggs.  That is one of the reasons I moved to the farm, purchased my chicks and have read book after book on how to raise them so that I will know what I am eating.  But when it came time to actually use my first farm raised hen’s egg, I will admit it felt a little strange.  I don’t know what I was afraid I would see when I cracked open that first egg, but this is what I got……..

Egg 2

Beautiful looking eggs!  So I whipped them up, added some milk like my family likes and prepared them for the stove.

Egg 4

I scrambled them  up……….

Egg 5

and put them on a plate.

Egg 6

They were delicious and I can now say with confidence, I am no longer afraid of the egg!  I am proud that we are raising our hens humanely (they are actually quite spoiled I think).  They have room to grow, a safe place to nest, and have healthy food and plenty of fresh water at all times.   And now, they are producing delicious and healthy eggs!


Eggciting Day!

We had an unusually warm January day today, so I thought I would take advantage of it and work in the chicken coop a bit.  Nothing seemed unusual or amiss when I went out.  Larry was crowing as he so often does, just to annoy me it seems (he is supposed to be a hen afterall!).  But otherwise everything looked normal, the chickens were spending the afternoon outside, waiting to see if I had brought out any special treats for them.

Typical Day

But when I went inside the coop, I found them.  Three beautiful brown eggs! 


I was shocked that I have eggs this early, I was really thinking it might be several weeks away.  What a nice surprise!

Chicken Update

Thought it was about time I gave you a chicken update.  They are at 21 weeks old now.  From what I have read, they could possibly start laying eggs around 22 weeks….assuming that they have enough daylight.  We do not have electricity to their coop, so cannot add any light to make these winter days seem a little longer.  So I have prepared myself that it may be several more weeks before they begin to lay eggs.

Last Saturday we had a nice warm day so we spent the time getting their nesting boxes ready.  We did have their nesting boxes placed on the floor of the coop so they could get used to them.   But on Saturday Jeff built a table or bench of sorts to put the nesting boxes in and get them up off the floor.  He used all reclaimed wood we had there at the farm and picked up the kitty litter tubs at our local recycling center.

Nesting Boxes

The chickens had to explore all under their new nesting boxes and peck at all the screw holes and corners to make sure that all was acceptable to them.

Under the Nesting Boxes

The bad news is that we will not get eggs out of all of our hens because, alas we have a couple of roosters in the group.  Larry (bottom row, center), whose name used to be Laverne, has been crowing constantly.  He is definitely the top chicken of the group and is a bit of a bully.

Larry & the Ladies Minus 1

And, I couldn’t resist sharing these cute little chicken bottoms with you.

Chicken Bottoms

Hopefully my next chicken update will include pictures of our first eggs!


2012 Farm Recap

2012 was our first full year on the farm.  We closed on the property in August 2011, worked on shelter and fencing and were able to have our alpacas transported to their new home in November, 2011.  I’m sure you can imagine that 2012 was a year full of fun, excitement, challenges, mistakes and even a heartbreak or two.  Below is a recap of what went on at Parsons’ Prairie Farm in 2012:

I have to say, I was a little surprised that we did not already have cats living around the barns when we purchased the farm.  But since we didn’t see a cat anywhere the first few months, we adopted Willie & Nillie to be our barn managers. 

Willie & Friend

They settled in quite nicely in the hay barn and endeared themselves to the alpacas almost immediately.  It was not uncommon to find one of them resting comfortably in the alpacas hay trough or snoozing on top of the hay bales.  Nillie has always been very social, but Willie was a little on the wild side.  Willie, named after Willie the Wildcat, (yes we are K-State fans!), was never quite able to completely call it home here.  He would wander and sometimes we would not see him for days at a time.  When he was around, he tended to be very territorial, particularly in the garden so you had to watch out that he wasn’t waiting to pounce.  Eventually, he went on one of his “wanders” and we haven’t seen him since.  We hope he is ok and has found a home that he felt more settled in.  He is a beautiful cat! 

Earth Treasures 4

I had such big plans for our first season of gardening, but the heat and drought of the summer changed our plans a bit.  We had such a large garden, so many berry bushes and fruit trees that it was just impossible to keep it all watered.  We got some wonderful onions, snap peas, lettuce, radishes and spinach before the horrible heat set in.  Our tomatoes did pretty good, but our peppers suffered a little bit.  We had some nice green beans but probably not as many as we could have had it not been so hot and dry.  We planted a nice strawberry bed, and while we lost a few of those plants, I believe they will be fine and fill in for next year.  We had wonderful blackberries, but lost all the new blueberry bushes we planted.  Our corn did not do nearly as well as we had hoped, but what we did get was delicious.  I told myself last summer that I had bit off more than I could chew, at least more than I could keep watered in the horrible heat.  Despite it not being the best year for a garden, we have had plenty of blackberry cobber, blackberry jam, apricot jam, sloppy joe mix, stewed tomatoe mix, rotel, and corn this winter.

Garden Photo

We survived our first shearing day at the farm.  Jeff and I have worked at many shearing days at other farms but this was the first for us at our own place.  I will not lie and tell you it was a perfect day, nor even close.  But we got it done and learned much in the process.  We had some wonderful help and I can’t even tell you what a relief it was to look out in the pastures and see all those naked alpacas!   I know with the heat we had last summer that they were happy too.

Shearing 1

Shearing 2

Shearing 3

Shearing 4

In September we came home from our local feed store with 8 chicks.  I had been studying for months and desperately wanted hens for eggs.  I really wasn’t planning on doing anything until this spring, but the opportunity arose and we jumped at it.  We lost one of them the first night but otherwise they all made it just fine.  Unfortunately 2 of the 7 chicks have started crowing in the last couple of weeks, so obviously they won’t be laying me any eggs.  We remodeled the old chicken coop in our backyard and added an outdoor space for them.  In a few weeks, we plan to start letting them roam the backyard while we are home and hopefully, if they can get enough daylight, will start laying eggs soon. 

Ashley's Chicken Photo 1

Ashley's Chicken Photo 2

In November, 6 more alpacas arrived from Oregon.  Alpaca Jeff, Cordelia, Mari, Buttercup, Alcatraz, and Sweet Pea all got off the transport and have just fit right into life on our farm. 

New Arrival 8

Parsons’ Prairie Farm Fiber CSA was officially started although I still have much marketing work to do.  I have started with the 2012 clip and will shortly announce the plans for the 2013 clip.

Montana Roving

BoulderDash Yarn

We lost Wrigley in 2012.  I don’t know if it was the heat, if there was something else going on that we weren’t aware of, or maybe a combination of the two.  But on a very hot day, Jeff found Wrigley already passed in the barn.  It broke our hearts. 


Wrigley was, in many ways the alpaca face of Parsons’ Prairie Farm.  He was a beautiful fleeced animal, handsome, and with the sweetest temperament in the world.  Many of you who have bought roving from me, dyed or natural, received Wrigley’s fiber. Wrigley loved nothing better than to be dirty!  If there was a puddle to be found, he was in it….any loose hay to be had, he was wearing it.  I searched and searched for the best picture of Wrigley and honestly, the picture above is about as clean as Wrigley ever was as full grown alpaca.   The picture below is Wrigley as a cria.  This is how I will always remember him.

Happy Wrigley Webpage

We had our first annual “Open Farm” on December 2nd and it was a wonderful day.  We did not intend to have it that late in the year, but we had so many personal obligations during the year, it just never seemed to fit in.  I don’t know how we got so lucky, but we were blessed with a beautiful 60 degree day.  It was a wonderful day to be at the farm.  Those that came were able to get up close and interact with the alpacas (Alpaca Jeff stole the show), wander about the farm, check out the chickens and take a look at the farm products that come from our beautiful fiber animals.  We are already planning and looking forward to our 2nd annual farm day in 2013.  We hope you will join us.

Farm Day 2

We hope you had a wonderful 2012 and thank you for allowing Parsons’ Prairie Farm to be a small part of it.

Jeff & Kim Overbey