Lifestyles of the Free-Ranged and Feathered

I recently received an e-mail requesting pictures of our laying hens' living quarters. Since Shayn finally has the coop finished (awaiting just a bit more trim on the outside) I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to take all of you on a tour as well.

Here is the outside of their coop. Barn red, of course. Two windows, plus a window in the door, allow a lot of natural light in the coop during the day. Plus we can keep it cooler in the summer with the windows open. I'm thinking we need a weather vane on top. You know, one of those with a rooster on it? I think it would be a nice touch.

Inside are the laying boxes, thirty-two of them to be exact, along with a ladder the hens can roost on at night. There will be one or two hens hanging out in here during the day when they have an egg to lay (you can spot one hen in the picture). But for the most part they are all outside enjoying the grass and the sunshine. They all come in at night to sleep, play some pinochle and chat about the day's events (ha!).

Another question we've received is..."do you cut your chicken's beaks?". Answer - NO. No no no. Yuck. As you can see their beaks are in tact and beautiful. We have no reason to cut them because they don't use them to harm each other. Stressed out birds (those confined, living in deplorable conditions, etc) hurt other chickens. Ours are happy and relaxed. Plus, a chicken needs its beak to eat grass, which we have a lot of around here.

I hope this helps give a better overall view of how we raise our layers. If you have any questions leave a comment on this post or let us know on the "contact us" page of our site.


Hey! Hay? Hay!

Normally, each winter, we bring the cows that have been vacationing on the pastures of our ranch in Mount Pleasant, Utah back to our farm in West Jordan. They need hay in the cold months since Utah turns into a winter wonderland and a blade of grass cannot be found. This year though, we're going to let them stay in Mount Pleasant. In order to prepare for them we spent a day last week unloading and stacking hay. This way, throughout the winter, we can make a trip down every week or so to check on the cattle and feed them.

We love it at the ranch, and it is especially beautiful this time of year. Autumn in Utah is gorgeous!


Special Delivery

Yesterday we acquired 400 new farm guests. A phone call from the post office in the morning let us know our Cornish chick order from the hatchery had arrived. (The US Postal Service is the only carrier that will ship chicks.) It's funny walking into the post office and hearing the chirping of 400 chicks. And funnier watching the reaction of the customers waiting in line wondering what we're doing with 400 chicks.

We picked them up, brought them home and got them settled in the brooder. One by one we placed them in their new home. We were happy to see that all survived the long trip and they are doing really well! We'll keep them in the brooder for a few weeks until they are old enough for cooler temperatures and then move them to the pasture.

It takes a lot of time and effort to keep the chicks healthy and happy. They need space, water, food and most importantly warmth until they get their feathers. Fortunately we have a couple of small helpers who enjoy going out to see the "chickies" every day. 


Magic Cow

Early Monday morning Shayn, Alpine and Randy (Shayn's dad) headed down to the ranch in Mt. Pleasant. It was time to wean this year's calves. They got the calves and mother cows separated, loaded the trailer with the calves and headed home. I was happy to hear the new arrivals were going to Randy's house and not ours this time - they are noisy for a few days! I can't blame them though; they miss their moms. But they certainly are big enough and ready to be on their own.

On Tuesday morning Shayn headed over to Randy's to get the chores done and found a rather adventurous calf in the manger! The calves had come in to water and somehow this rascal managed to climb in. Shayn was the only one around and didn't want the calf to hurt itself so he came up with a plan. He strapped the calf to an excavator (which was fortunately there at the time!) and quickly and carefully lifted it out and then lowered it back down to the ground.

We are still baffled as to how it climbed in there. Shayn said in all his years working on the farm he's never seen one actually in the manger. We'll have to keep an eye on this little Houdini!



Living in an open space and having chickens in our front yard has been a challenge for us. Especially because our chickens are free range and have pasture to graze on. Being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, they are a prime target for the foxes we have roaming the fields around our farm. We have taken precautions to keep our chickens safe including:

- Fencing the pasture with non-climb horse fence

- Burying fencing wire three feet deep to keep predators from digging underneath.

- Adding electric wires to the top of our fence to deter the foxes from climbing.

- Keeping the chickens inside their coop at night where they are safe. Night is usually when the foxes are out and about

stock photo - not an actual picture of the snake that scared shaynEven with doing these things througout the past year, we have still lost a chicken here and there to a clever (determined?) fox who figures out how to get into the pasture. We are currently redoing our fence to be taller and hopefully impossible for the foxes to climb. I think the foxes are beautiful and hope we can all happily exist in the same area without losing any of our chickens!

On Saturday we also discovered we have a large snake trying to snack on our chicken eggs! Shayn, Alpine and Sully went out to gather eggs and discovered a four-foot long snake hanging out at the coop until he slithered off into a hole.

When Shayn came inside he commented that it seems our chickens are being attacked from both sides by predators; foxes after the birds and snakes after the eggs.

Such is life on the farm!