Thursday, November 14, 2013


I ran across an interesting article recently about natural springs. It referred me to a website called Find A Spring. This peaked my curiosity enough to see if there were any near us. As it turns out there are thirteen listed in Texas and two are within driving distance. The website has a video clip that explains the health benefits of drinking spring water.

Artesian Well, Canton
Cuney-Frankston Spring, Frankston
I wasn't interested enough to make a special trip but decided the next time I was in one of the two areas I would detour to find it. 

So a couple of weekends ago, on a whim, the daughters and I decided to go to the Canton flea market. In the end that turned out to be a bad decision for a Saturday afternoon. But the day wasn't a complete failure because on the way home we found the Artesian Well.

Since the site didn't have an actual address, I had downloaded the coordinates which took us right to the location. I ended up driving past it because it looked like nothing.  Just a country road. No signs. No banners. No cars. No people. This was in stark contrast to a few minutes earlier at Canton.

A PVC pipe was sticking out through a chain link fence with water running out. That was it.

We filled up what water bottles we had in the car since I hadn't come prepared with water barrels. I was a little nervous to drink it, being so conditioned to think safe water has to come out of a tap. But it was cold and clean and tasted pure, if that's possible. It is definitely worth a trip up there again to fill up barrels.

I would highly recommend visiting Find A Spring website to see if you live near a natural spring.

The Artesian Well, Canton

The water poured out of a PVC pipe with good pressure (more than my kitchen sink).

The pipe was over a grate, I suppose to set your barrels on.

It seemed a shame that the water was just spilling and running down the hill.

This must be an electric pump for the well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sharp Edges

I'm sure you've been concerned about all those sharp edges on the new chicken coop and worried that I'd poke my eye out. Well, if you weren't, I certainly was. So I bought some foam pipe covers the other day and covered all the sharp edges to dummy-proof it. It ruins the look, I know, but at least I won't injure myself when I check for eggs.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Goat Names

We decided our goats needed some names. The plan is to raise these to be milk goats, so we thought it was fairly safe to name them. And since Guv'nor has taken most of the responsibility for them, he got to choose the names. He decided on traditional English names: Sarah, Charlotte, and Harriet.

Guv'nor lets them outside of their fencing for short periods of time when he is working outside. They are pretty good to stay close to him. It is quite difficult to get a photo of just one of the goats, since they tend to stay close together whenever I'm around. 

Sarah is the biggest of the three and sometimes a bit more aggressive.

Charlotte is the all brown one.

Harriet is the smallest one with the various colors.

Guv'nor was hanging some hooks inside the chicken coop and they had to see what he was doing.

They are very curious animals. They got right inside the coop.

Sarah and Charlotte

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Biggest Rain

One thing I've learned so far living here is that rain is a big deal when you have property. So many things are dependent on the rain - too much or too little or just the right amount. And we have no control over it.

Guv'nor is very interested in our rainfall and monitors it constantly. I don't know if it is officially, but he thinks the drought should be over now with all the recent rain we've had. He suggested I mention this fact on my blog, so I suggested he give me some more details to use.

So when you're married to an analyst, this is the sort of facts you get (copied verbatim from an email dated 31 October):

Yesterday was the largest event of the year. 9.65 inches in October after 7.00 inches in September.
It has rained on 55 days in 303 days to date. For the year to date we are now at 108% of a normal year.
This means that in 2013 we can say the draught is over, even if the rain deficit from the last three years will still take some time to replenish.

If Nov and Dec are normal we will get 7 more inches.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I am so happy to announce that we have our first egg!

We had decided to keep the chickens locked up in their new coop for a few days to let them get used to their new home. This will also give us time to get the electronet fencing moved and repositioned around the new coop.

At one point mid-morning the chickens started making such a racket. They had quieted down by the time I went out to check on them. One of the hens was spending time in corner of the nesting box. The rest of the chickens were sitting nicely on the roosts and seemingly watching her. When she moved and I was able to check the nesting box, there was a warm pinky brown egg sitting right there. It was like magic.

I've learned quite a bit about eggs lately. It apparently takes 25-26 hours for a new egg to be formed, so a hen will lay her egg later and later each day but not usually past about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. She may skip a day and then start laying again the next morning. This helps explain why you may only consistently get 5 eggs a day from 6 hens. This is just the way God made them. Hens deserve a day of rest, too.

It also is not necessary to wash eggs. A newly laid egg is coated with a natural anti-bacterial residue called "the bloom." So if the nesting boxes are kept clean and filled with clean litter, the eggs should not get dirty.

A word about egg color: the egg color is dependent upon the breed of the chicken. There is no nutritional difference between a brown and a white egg if the chickens are managed and fed the same. A brown egg is not inherently better for you than a white egg. The misunderstanding arises because industrial chicken production almost exclusively chooses the breeds that produce white eggs. White eggs are not bleached brown eggs, as some might suspect. There are a few breeds that produce blue, green and even dark brown eggs.

So far only one hen has started laying, but I'm hopeful the other six will see her example and start laying soon. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dream Coop

It turns out that Tevia had a spare week to work for us before he left for several months in Tennessee. So Guv'nor suggested that I might like a bigger and better chicken coop. The one we have has been fine but is, alas, already showing it's cheap quality construction. We plan to keep it and modify it as a mobile chicken coop in the future.

So, in a panic over a weekend, I sketched out my dream chicken coop and included all the dream elements. One priority was to have a "human" side divided from the chicken side so I could store the chicken feed and various equipment. The second priority was to have room for deep, deep litter for the chicken poops. The third was to have ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. Then I wanted a few fun features like a cute door and a window and an easy opening chicken door.

We chose a spot for the coop near the edge of the woods but still close to the back door. It seems gardens and animals do best when they are located close to the back door. We used more of our old deck boards (the pile seems endless, I know) for some of the construction and bought some new boards and new metal panels. I found an old door and a stained glass window from local antique shops.

In the end it took a week and a half to build, but we are all thrilled with the end result. It's more like a chicken palace than a coop. Cheers to Tevia!

I think it's my dream coop. But I'm sure when I start using it, I'll realize I forgot something and start dreaming about another bigger and better one. 

We moved the chickens last night after dark when they were sleepy. And this morning they seemed to like their new home.

I have so many photos to choose from. But lest I bore you too much - or crash our slow internet - I will limit them to these ones.

 We used new timber for the framing and old deck boards for the floor.

 The roof slopes in one direction and chicken wire under the metal panels.

The metal panels were set at an angle for more ventilation.

  There are gaps between the boards and the top section left open for ventilation.

The main chicken door is on the front side with a ladder and an awning.

The chicken door is a guillotine style with a pull on the outside.

The second chicken door is on the back with a ladder.

The nesting boxes are on the back side with an outside opening.

I must fix this sharp edge before I poke my eye out.

 The floor to the chicken side has room for about 12" of deep litter.
We had to replace a broken glass panel on the door and trim the stained glass window to fit.

The finished coop sits on the edge of the wooded area in partial shade.

 The chickens seem to like their new house and have found plenty of space to roost.