The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


Pigs on Coal Creek Farm, and I’m not referring to my children.


Good morning sleepy heads, time for breakfast!

Coal Creek Farm has four pigs this year.  They’re all females, so maybe I should call them sows, but they aren’t bred, so maybe they’re hogs.


Hog, sow, boar, pig, swine.  Why are there so many names for these animals?  I think I need to read up on this a bit more.

This is our second year with pigs.  We loved raising them last year.  We buy them when they weigh approximately fifty pounds and are around ten weeks old.  In these photos they have nearly doubled their weight.


This morning we’ll be having corn and soybean meal.

Last year I went to the local feed store and bought all the pigs food.  By month three I was spending $60 a week feeding them, it was horribly expensive.  This year we have cut our feed cost down by buying bulk feed direct from a mill.  We have the mill mix clean feed, which means we don’t feed any antibiotics or hormones to these pigs.  They eat what is called 16% feed, which means they are getting a ratio of 16% protein consisting of corn, soybean and minerals.  I’m almost certain I’m saying something wrong here, so please correct me, I’m still new to the pig farming.


These pigs are gaining weight much faster than our pigs from last year.  Because we have four of them they are more competitive with their food and don’t waste one drop of it.


How do you like our feed trough?  It’s some sort of tank that was cut in half and left on our farm for us to find and say, “Hey, that’ll work great to feed the pigs!”  Except the pigs like to move it around and occasionally bury half of it in the mud, so maybe it’s not the greatest feed trough, especially in the morning when it’s pouring rain and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get the trough out of the mud and feed the pigs and not have to take another shower.  Please don’t tell me how stupid I am for taking a shower before I feed the pigs.  I know this.  I just can’t seem to stop.


This is part of the ton of grain we hauled home.  When I say we hauled home a ton of grain….I mean we hauled ONE TON of grain home in our truck.  The hitch was nearly dragging on the road and we thought for sure we were going to bend an axle or pop a tire or destroy something, because we are very good at breaking things.  Especially when we get over zealous on our farm projects.

I’m using this grain to feed our chickens too.  We use one 50lb bag of feed a day and we’ll keep using more and more grain each day until, um, well, I’ll get to that in a second.


I like to feed the animals, but I HATE to water them.  We don’t have a convenient watering system and it drives me crazy.


This is my watering system.  Yes, it’s cute, but not convenient.  I have to say…every…single….day, “Okay, I’ll holler when I get back to the pig pen for you to turn on the water and then I’ll holler again for you to shut it off…don’t leave…stay right there.  Okay?  Okay?  Are you listening?  Stay right there.  Don’t move…okay?  Please?  Please?  Stay there honey, okay?”  Then I run and pray that just this one time he’ll not get distracted and stay by the hydrant until I get back to the pig pen.

ChoresIt never fails, the water system screws up every time.  “CLOSE THAT LINK!  NO!  NO!  DON’T RUN AWAY FROM IT!  NO!  SHUT IT OFF!  SHUT IT OFF!”  I make a lot of trips back and forth from the hydrant to the pig pen to ‘fix’ the watering system.


This is the reason we will be using a bit less grain.  It’s time to um, well, say goodbye to these birds.  You know I’ll fill you in on all the details when the day comes, because I like to share every detail of this farm life with you.

Chicken Doctor to the Rescue!

About a week ago I received this very distressful email from my friend Tim the Real Chicken Farmer about some of his girls that had run off and gotten themselves in, um,….trouble.

Dear Chicken Doctor,

I’ve got about 10 young laying hens I need to be rid of.  They just won’t stay out of the neighbor’s yard and he’s not happy and I gave him permission to just shoot them if they ticked him off that much and I just heard a gunshot from his yard…so you get the picture….
Please HELP!


This is the part of my job I love the most, getting to don my wings and fly to the rescue of troubled chickens everywhere.


My first job was to comfort and counsel the father of the troubled chickens.  I have a minor in chicken psychology.

Chicken Dr.- Tim have you tried talking to the girls?  It’s so important to have open communication with your chickens.

Tim- BAH!  Chickens now days!

Chicken Dr.- If they feel like you are pushing them away, then they are going to wander out of your yard!

Tim- I can’t take it anymore!  They’re no good to me anymore!  They have to go!

Chicken Dr.- I can hear that you are in pain, but what I think you’re trying to say is that you love them so much that you have to let them go.


Tim and I  decided it would be best if the girls came to live with me, because I am a foster chicken parent.


This is possibly the most helpful my youngest child has ever been, ever.  After a few steps he said, “Mom, Mom, Mom, dis chicken is too heavy!  Mom!  Mom!  TOOOO HEAVY!”  and that was the end to his usefulness.


But, this kid.  He is a chicken whisperer.  He has big plans to rehabilitate these wayward chickens.


We wrote down a visitation schedule for Tim, because I am also the counties chicken social worker, but I have a feeling it will be too painful for him to visit his girls.


We put the girls in our outside run when we got home and I have never seen chickens work so hard.  They are more like rotatillers than chickens and they laid the biggest eggs I’ve ever seen.

This concludes another successul job done by….The Chicken Doctor.

A Real Chicken Farm


This is my friend Tim.  He and his wife, Diane,  are crazy chicken farmers.  I got an email from them last week to come save some of their chickens.  I’m a chicken doctor, so I get those sort of emails all the time.


Don’t you just love corrugated metal?  Tim has built some of the prettiest chicken coops I’ve ever seen.  He has a lot of chickens, but only one white one.  One of these chickens is not like the others, one of these chickens just doesn’t belong.


I took this photo of some of the chickens that were inside of the coop.  That giant plasitc thing in the front is a water fount.


Tim and Diane have named all their roosters, but I can’t remember this guys name.  I’m going to call him Reggie.  Hi Reggie!


This is their garden.  It makes my garden look like crap on a stick.  Tim and Diane are real gardeners, they sell their produce to real people.  I’m a fake gardener, I sell my produce to fake people.


They use these plastic mats in their laying boxes instead of hay.  It makes cleaning out the nest much easier and the eggs are cleaner.


This is one of the nesting boxes.  The chickens like the bottom boxes the best.  It’s funny, no matter what you do, chickens always seem to pick one spot they like to lay and ignore all the rest.


This is another nesting box with that lovely corrugated metal.


Here comes Tim with my first two patients.  I’ll fill you in on all the details in my next post.

Don’t you hate it when people don’t finish a story?