Thursday, November 3, 2016

Butcher Day

Butchering Day

Or, the last supper for the Cornish Cross

Eight weeks ago, to the date, we picked up our fine yellow feathered chicks. Tiny little balls of fluff, we couldn't have known how much these chicks would affect us. we purchased twelve of them thinking that we might loose one or two, but hoping for the best. 


 New house for the Chicks, a brooder really, we named it the Mini Coop and I added an R in parentheses to make it sound smoother. So it was dubbed the Mini Coop(R)





Though the front looked similar to the Big Brother coop, the back was plain chicken wire so we could be sure they were cool/warm enough. Chicks don't need much space at this age (so we were told from the feed store guy we got them from) since they like to huddle to feel safer.



By the next day, they were looking bigger and there seemed to be less space between the chicks. Nah, that couldn't happen over night! Well, it was. It took exactly three days for the chicks to out grow this Brooder! This was the harbinger of things to come for us.







We started with Chick starter, free access. We checked on them twice a day, AND THEY ATE, AND ATE, AND ATE! we jury rigged a larger wire cage and they stayed there in the coop for about three weeks.   
I tell of their growing so fast, they outgrew their feathers in an earlier post, and it's true-these birds didn't fully feather out until week 7 and by then their habit of waddle a few steps then lay down- and it didn't matter where they were, their breast feathers were actually rubbed off at the skin. 

We were told many things about the Cornish Cross from friends on the chicken forum we belong to, but you know the way stories go. You believe half of what's told to you, and you discount the rest. The reason I wanted to go with the Cross is speed to freezer, plain and simple. I thought that we could fill our freezer fast with a fast growing breed, but wow- the worst we heard was also true.
1. "They can't walk well": True. they get so big so fast, they don't have time to have their strength catch up to their size. They waddle and take only a few steps before the plop down, seemingly exhausted. 
2. "They don't move fast enough to get away from predators" True. But since we don't free range like the Eco-purists feel everyone should, we have them in a netted canopy pen where they are safe from Dogs, rats, cats and Mongoose and they are still considered Free Range  raised by the USDA government's standards. 
3. "by the time they get old enough to butcher, they will be too big for their bones and will be crippled"- Not for us. After slaughtering them today, we found no broken bones, though one bird did dislocate a shoulder joint after flapping out of a killing cone while bleeding out.
4. "You can harvest them at 5 weeks"- True. Boy, Howdy you can. These grow out so fast that unless you restrict their feed at night, they will grow so quickly that their muscles and tendons won't keep up[1].

We decided to go past the 5 week threshold and butcher at 8 weeks. It seemed to be the right timing for us. The last three weeks they just looked so uncomfortable. they laid around a lot,  not running or jumping much like an adolescent chick should. Eat, drink, poop- repeat. It's all they do.

Well, the post is about the butcher day and butcher we did. All 10 of the surviving Cornish Cross and two of the Original 6 hens. these were culled from the egg layers because of their mean attitude towards chicks. Since we want our flock to be self sustaining in both egg layers AND now meat chicks, we need hens that aren't going to kill the babies.

Since there are plenty of videos and photos on how to process birds for meat, I am not going to go into that in this post. I do want to say that the Aloha spirit is strong in HPP as we had one new friend and one recent one show up to help us! There is something about a person that will voluntarily help you butcher any animal. It is a bloody situation no matter how you try to keep it 'normal'. This made the day go smoothly. Thanks Barbara for your hard work with just the offal and a chicken for your pay. Thanks also to Jeff, though you had to keep an appointment, you still showed up which helped keep the moral up for the rest of us. I have your chicken  waiting for you in our freezer. Either JoAnn or I will make sure you get it or it's equivalent.

After all was done today, we butchered 12 birds with an average of 5+ pounds for the Cross birds and just under 2 pounds for the older hens. that gave us 56 pounds of chicken freezing up nicely in our fridge. This will go a long way in decreasing the higher food costs on the Island.

Though it was an amazing experience, we will not be getting the Cornish Cross breed for our meat production again. We like the "happier" look to the pullets we have of the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red breeds. They act more like chickens where the Cornish Cross acted more like eating pooping door stops. Until we find a good grower that isn't going to be lame, lazy or sad looking, we go with the regular chickens for now.

Next post: Expansion- for real.




[1] source: https://www.cacklehatchery.com/jumbo-cornish-cross.html 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Update

Update

Chickens are growing

Big news, right?
Well, it has been a while since I posted here and a lot has happened. Yes, the chickens have been getting bigger; the Cornish Cross are insanely huge and the Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rock hens are now officially old enough to be called pullets. 
Their Foster Moms have abandoned them, meaning they are no longer protective of them and instead are making sure they (the hens) are getting the pullets inducted into the flock's 'Pecking order'. The pullets are basically on their own, though chickens really don't need to be taught much. The pullets are finding a pecking order of their own, fussing at and with each other as it should be in the natural order of chickens.

The Cornish Cross are amazing. We purchased them three weeks after the pullets and they caught up in size in just two weeks. At three weeks old, the Cross chicks were taller than the Pullets at 5 weeks. Tomorrow they will be 7 weeks old, and they are weighing in heavier than my puny postage scale will register. I think just over 5 pounds, one or two are over 6. Check the photos for the difference. 

This photo taken the day we got them home. Regular sized peepers. 







This is the small scale and it shows an average weight of 720 grams at 3 weeks. They are growing fast, feather out earlier, and yet still are head aged at just a few days. Their bodies are growing very fast, but in their head they are still just babies. 

This one is the same chicks at just 7 weeks.  These are Crosses of two big and fast growing breeds and are supposed to gain weight and thus get to butcher weight fast. Well, they eat like horses, seriously, all they do is hang about the feeder and lay on their bellies eating. The only thing I can liken this to is the Dr. Seuss story,"A Fish Out of Water". They have had phases where they actually grew out of their feathers.
I am not sure we are going to get more of this breed, though we still need two cycles of grow / butcher before the pullets are egg laying age and producing our own meat birds. They look uncomfortable. They can't seem to walk more than a few feet before they plop down and have to rest. They do grow fast getting to butcher weight 4 weeks faster than any other breeds, but it isn't pretty. When I say that they grow faster than their feathers, I mean that though each of the feathers are growing out, the down fell out before the feathers were full sized and their body mass is such that they look a bit like a man with very thin hair. Lots of space between the individual feathers.  Now at 7 weeks, their feathers have finally caught up and look more like the chickens they are supposed to be. 

We are planning to breed and hatch out our own chicks eventually, but we will not be saving any of these Cross chicks for breeding. we like the colors on the RIR and BR chicks.
Speaking of that, we did get roosters, 2 Barred Rocks. One has since disappeared, leaving one that is getting all the attention. 

This little guy is Lightning. We picked him and his brother up as the twin hurricanes were barreling down on us and the guy at the feed store mentioned the recent Thunder and Lightning we had been getting the last few days (though we get lots of rain, it's not usual to get thunder or lightning here) and the names stuck for the chicks. Thunder was the chick that later went missing, not sure if it was the hens that killed him or rats carried him off, but we went in to the coop one morning and he was gone. Lightning was pecked pretty hard with some bleeding on his neck, but here. We segregated him from the hens and after he was fully recovered we put him back in with the Cornish Cross. They took to him though he was younger and when we got Lightning, twice his size. 
Well, after a couple of weeks, the Cross chicks are taller than the temporary grow out cage we made for them, so we thought it'd be okay for them to mingle they were huge. Big mistake,
Lightning was mauled by a hen. Scalped basically, not sure how he survived. we got the wound cleaned up, antibiotic ointment applied and put him in a small 'hospital' cage that we placed in the coop so he could be with the Cornish 'brothers'. We would have had chicken soup that night if I had known which hen did this. 
His left eye was feared lost, and it looked as though all the skin was missing on his head and neck, but though bloody, the skin was intact and it turns out he is healing fine, eye is working and he is running about. We are NOT going to let him out into the general population yet. In fact,  we got a new home for him. We modified an octagonal dog kennel by adding a plywood 'second story' mid height and are planning a ramp to go from the ground up to the food and water level. 

We are planning on taking this higher still. It is 4 foot at the start of the angled roof line, so we will be adding another 24" in height and one more 'floor' to it. Once Lightning is Rooster sized in a few weeks, this will become our  grow out pen for the meat birds we will be breeding. With the addition of the upper unit, I figure we can easily handle 30 chicks per run in this set up. 

See, lots happening in a short time , but more than I was able to keep up with. Got to go- the Cornish Cross are hungry! 

Next Post: Expansion Plans?
 











Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hurricane Alley

Madeline and Lester

Since they are named in alphabetical order as they get to hurricane status, I'm not sure why the hurricanes came at us out of order, but there you go. We actually got hit with two hurricanes in three days though it wasn't bad where I am sitting. Though Madeline swung close to the island she missed us to the south, however the storm did unleash a lot of rain. 20 inches or so on Wednesday; enough for some localized flooding and sandbagging. At our house there was not much more than the usual rain with some gusty winds above 40 mph, but no tree damage at all. Coop wise, after the last big storm I made sure the nest boxes weren't leaking and sure enough- dry as a bone. We tarped it just in case.  

We ordered some Cornish cross chicks about three week ago to start our meat side of the coop, so of course they'd arrive just as the hurricanes did. We had them in a box in our kitchen (I swore this would NEVER happen). When Madeline passed with just a whimper on our side of the island, I started a brooder since none of the chick-less hens were even slightly broody. 
I did the math and it showed that we needed only 3 square feet for the 12 chicks, but I made it 24" x 24" just to have a few more inches for wing tip room.
Matching Brooder, the Mini Coop RI started it out as a cube, then looked at it and thought, this is an ugly box. Why do I want to build an anything ugly? So deconstructed it and I re-worked the parts to make it a bit prettier. I then decided if I was going to changes things, I would really change it. I know it's not to scale as I did have to make the doors bigger so the windows had to be moved up, but hey, it's a close Mini me of the Coop. Maybe a Mini-Coop R? No? It is mobile. Still no? Okay. 


Identical brooder for spoiled chickens
Here they are side by side. I have the lamp cord coming out the back but placed here in front just so you don't get confused as to which is the brooder.... Still no?  Tough crowd! Well the chicks love it, we have a full sized chick feeder and one a quart sized waterer inside (I'm really glad I made it bigger) and we added sand and t-shirts for the chicks to snuggle on under the lamp. 
Tonight will be the first night outside for them, and the first night for the lamp so we'll do some frequent checking, maybe every hour for a couple of hours to make sure the lamp isn't to low. Outside temps don't go below 76-80 here this time of year but I will feel better if I know its neither too hot or cool.

Acclimating to their new home
I put the lamp about 12 inches above the chicks, with a puny CFL that is supposed to be a 60w but is only 13w for draw. How does that even translate to heat units for a chick that is either too cold or too warm?
Good that we have the extra square foot so the peepers can move away if they get too warm. 
We turned it on at dark, boy it puts out a lot of light. I can see the coop from the house through the backyard jungle.

All in all I am happy with the remodel of the cube to mini-coop, JoAnn already has the photos on Facebook and the feed back is positive so far. Whats more amazing to me than the cuteness of the yellow chicks, is the speed that our three week old chicks are growing! Feathers are almost all in, most have lost about 85-90% of their downy fluff and they are getting big! 

Next post: Damage Control and Remodel

Photo Credit: Double Hurricane heads to Hawaii http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/science-behind-hawaiis-double-hurricane-180960310/?no-ist
All other photos property of AirBornCreations.com and all rights reserved. Copyright 2016


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Growing Fast

Growing Fast

or, Life Can Be Hard

We have had some storming rain the past two days, Hilo Airport reported 9+ inches for just yesterday. We have been worrying about the chicks getting back into the coop which means we have been doing a nightly chick check, well, yesterday we went to the movies and had dinner out, got back after dark but with the rain, we thought we'd check them again. We pulled out back in the Jeep (we didn't want to get wet) and used the headlights to see that there were no hens out. There is usually one roosting on the roof gutter, but not this night. Because we didn't have a flashlight, making sure everyone was inside was a bit tougher. 

Well, we must have missed a couple, perhaps hiding under the ramps, but this morning JoAnn found one chick very wet and dead and another one that was shivering but alive. 

She brought the live one in and found a box for her, towel dried the feathers while I set up a light to warm her by. JoAnn had a class to get to so I took over and folded the box flaps loosely and went in to start the sewing projects I had for the day. I heard the peeps and figured that the chick was feeling better so I came in to take a look. I adjusted the feed and water and re -closed the lid then headed back to sew. 

A few minutes later I heard the peeping again this time it was louder and definitely sounded closer. I looked around and the chick had gotten out of the box and was looking around the house. I picked her up and took her back to the box, but after three escapes, I gave up for a bit and  laid down on the floor to watch tv. The chick came over and sat down next to my hand and fluffed up, peeped a bit then fell asleep.  

I know that a day in the life of a chick can mean some magical advances in their growth, learning and awareness, but it doesn't all come at once. Like, since they are getting their flight feathers and can flap their way down from the ramp off the coop, it doesn't mean they know where they need to go to get back up into the coop for the night. Some how they haven't linked the ramp=down in the day with ramp= up for sleep.

 The one thing they grasped fast were the meally worms! Since they are fast, they usually get to the treats first when JoAnn throws them out. 

As for the dead chick, we plan on making a pyre the cremating the little one.
That is the circle of life, and not every day will be a good. one. 

Next post: Moving on  



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Is there a Rooster in our Future?

or, Hey! What happened to Chicken Math?

Okay, two subjects in one post this week.

JoAnn and I noticed that we had two chickens that wouldn't leave the nest boxes after laying, they were getting a bit sassy and even belligerent.   I looked it up and found out they were just broody. Meaning they were wanting to tend to the eggs they laid, not just drop and run.

Since they had no rooster, they were in for a long wait. JoAnn thought it was sad that they would never be mom's with out a man in their life so we started thinking about how, where and when we could get a rooster. after thinking a few days, the girls weren't getting any less broody but we decided that we wanted our neighbors to stay friendly so no rooster crowing for us.

meal worms
We knew our Mealy Worm lady also had lots of chickens(100 by her count) so a few of them would be fertile and we called her to arrange buying a dozen fertile eggs that we'd slip into the nest boxes and under the broody twins. Until then we set out three eggs for each nest box to find out how many of our 6 hens were actually broody. Found out we really did only have two.

The call the next day to the Mealy worm Lady, Now dubbed the Fertile egg lady didn't go so well. Turns out in an ironic twist, chickens can get a form of facial pox called fowl pox and it is contagious, so that is out for now. Okay, now for the two day interlude where we weren't sure what to do, and the car trip that changed our feathers friends days of infertility.

On that bright sunny morning we were driving down beach road just as a Sunday drive and it ended in a small town named Pahoa, a hippy town in the Puna District on the Big Island. In that town there is a feed store that sells chicks. Usually, these chicks are a pre-order type of arrangement, but today was a bit different. They had three breeds of chicks, about 10 or so of each, little balls of fluff, one group reddish, one blackish and the other Reddish with a few stripes on their backs. We chose the Rhode Island Red chicks, knowing we wanted them to join our egg flock. We got 6 in a box and headed home.

We snuck them into the nest boxes of three of the most likely mom's, 2 chicks each. The next morning, we heard a boatload of clucking, like the, "Look! I laid an EGG!" song, but louder. We jumped up and headed out to the pen, all the hens were in the yard area (out of the coop) except one of the broodies. The two chicks were nestled under her wings. The other four were in two nest boxes, looking bewildered so I put them all in with the broody mom.

Okay, here is where the Chicken Math comes in. Chicken Math is the branch of Mathematics where the unbelievably fantastic is totally logical. What? Yes, Math that is crazy in the classroom, but sensible in the barnyard.Don't believe me?

Okay, case in point: the Egg Proof.

Prove: You decide to start raising chickens so you can grow your own eggs.

Given: Most chick purchases are straight run, meaning you have a 50/50 shot at hens.
Given: you want 5 eggs a day so you'll have a few per week to barter for other things among friends.
Given: The hatchery requires a minimum number of chicks per order.


  • Since you want 3 eggs a day: that will mean 21 eggs a week. 
  • Assuming a 72% laying rate (each hen lays about 5 eggs in 7 days)
  • You'll need 4 chickens that are hens.
  • Minimum order from hatchery M is 10 of one breed.
  • Straight run means 50% chance at hens.
Okay, so the 10 you need to order as a minimum is also good for the 50% chance of getting hens. But when you once the box from the hatchery, you see not 10, but 12 chicks. What? Turns out the hatchery can add one or two additional chicks for "loss" in transit. Well, yours made it so you are not going to let them die, they were free! More news about your order. Of the 12, 8 of them turn out to be roosters. but you don't find this out for a few weeks while they are growing.
You do the math again, and this time you realize that the 4 hens won't be enough to make the 3 eggs per day. How can this be? You have 12 chickens growing rapidly, burning feed and in a couple of weeks when they do start laying, you're plans won't be working right. Now you need more. but only one. But you can't order one, you need to order 10. And you still only have a 50/50 shot at getting the one more hen you need for 3 eggs a day. so while slim, you may get 12 cockerels instead of pullets! But you won't return them, of course this means that  you are starting your meat production a little early.

Let's recap- you wanted 5 eggs a week, you needed 4 hens, you end up ordering 20 birds, you get 24. 4 pullets and 20 roosters, and since not all birds lay at 72% ( you may get the 5 a week you wanted anyway). And all is well in the chicken world!

This doesn't even begin to cover the cuteness of the breed differences of Satins, the Polish with their pompadors, Silkies, Bantams, and then their is egg colors! There are chickens that lay eggs in color!!! Even I want a few of those! No wonder most chicken people start out small and end up like our Mealy Worm Lady- Over 100 chicken strong! And she still thinks she needs a few more.

Which brings me to the end of this post: JoAnn thought the little peepers were missing their friends at the feed store so we went back to get them- 6 more that were the Barred Rocks. They were the same ages and we planned on doing a second midnight drop off for the second broody hen.





All went well, the new moms are protective, fluffing and hissing when we go near them, and what seemed odd to us, they don't mix. The Rhode Island Red chicks nor the Barred Rock chicks don't run from one mom to the other!  I thought after four days the imprinting process would not be as strong, but was I wrong.  They climb on, over and around their adopted moms- It's hilarious and we could watch them all day!



Next post: Growing Fast!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Water Collection

And trying to train the girls to use it.

best case water system
This is the idea. Using the natural rain water to provide for the chickens needs. The Coop is roughly 300 feet from the nearest hose bib and if you've ever tasted summer hose water, you'll know that it's not the tastiest around.  JoAnn and I wanted better for the chickens. We started the system by putting up standard gutters, the PVC material allows for some easily glued up modifications. 


Barrel before modifications
 I found and up-cycled a 20 gallon HDPE barrel. It was originally a worm tea composter. I cut off and plugged old fittings. Scraping and sanding took off the old paint. A new coat of paint and then my drilling started.  I wanted to be able to see at a glance how much water was in the barrel and from the corner of the coop. 
Coffee percolator type level indicator
I planned on making a set up similar to the glass tube on an old fashioned coffee urn. I have a scrap section of clear 3/4" PVC pipe left over from another project that fit 3/4" CPVC fittings very nicely. I drilled then added two CPVC 90 degree elbows one above the other into the side of the barrel. TO seal the inside of the 90, 

Water level indicator fittingI used slip / thread elbows and used a threaded end cap with the cap end cut off so the water would flow freely into the clear PVC. I then used a clear sealant to keep leakage down. While this was drying /setting up, I built the platform I was going to set it on out of 2 x 4 ends and a piece of plywood. 
Platfom for the water tank
You can see it in place at the far end- it has the hole cut out for the pipe and nipple assembly but without vertical support legs in this photo. I knew it would need to be stout since 20 gallons of water weighs just under 170 pounds! Two straight 2 x 4's screwed in should carry the weight. 


Water system pipe fittings
Connecting the gutters to the tank is a simple matter of the right connectors, keeping a slope towards the tank and getting the last 90 into the tank. I filled the tank with 3 5 gallon buckets of water I lugged up from the house to see if there were any leaks, and thankfully there weren't any. I then ran the pipe with the red automatic watering nipples under the coop and secured them in place. 

Training Chickens to drink
I have placed a bit of grain under the piping hoping that the red color will entice them to peck at it, starting the training process but as of today, I have not seen any of the 6 hens use it at all. Then again, I am not under the coop for any length of time. I will monitor the water levels and see how fast it falls, and I check every time we go out for eggs.

Update on egg production. Since getting bird 6 back, we have reliably been getting 4 and occasionally 5 eggs a day. Of course they are laid in a single nest box though there are 5 available to them. We are using cotton T-shirts for nesting material and strange as it seems, it is what they prefer. We tested with straw and cotton shirts, and even when we change the nest the shirts are in, they choose the shirts.  Go figure.

Next Post: Is there a Rooster in the future?  


 

 
  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Gravity Feed Station

DIY Gravity Feed Station

OR My lazy way to free feeding for the girls

Gravity Feed Bin
This is a quick drawing mock up of the feed bin I planned to build by recycling a water pressure tank that we had left over after changing out our whole house water system. It holds about 20 plus gallons of water, I am hoping at least 2 bags of feed. It has one opening at one end, and two mounting options, though it turns out I had to go with the hanging mount on the right but that will be explained later in the post.

Modifying a water tank for chicken feed
This collage shows the starting look of the tank with the pump fitting on top (pic upper left), with it removed, the standard floor toilet flange (new) and once mounted. (lower right) I did have to modify the bolt pattern a bit in the flange ring to get the standard 6 corner hex pattern. The flange comes with 6 bolt holes but they are not in a true hex shape to allow for toilet bolts. I also had to add an adapter to go from waste pipe sizing to thin wall water pipe. I used a 4" flange, there are 3" available, but with inner diameters, outer diameters and going from thick walled to thin wall pipes the 4" flange worked out for me. I am using 3" thin wall pipe to  get the feed from the tank to the chickens. 

Cleaning up the tank for chicken food
 To be able to fill the tank with the chickens favorite feed, I used a thin blade on an angle grinder to slice the top off. I then de-burred and filed the edges smooth. I then needed to remove the rust and debris out of it. I used the same angle grinder with a wire brush cup attachment. it burned through the rust like it was dusted on rather than etched in. I will remember this tool! Once cleaned, I wiped the surfaces down with acetone to be sure it was clean and applied three coats of a clear top coat to help inhibit the rust then two coats of white spray paint. After the top, I did the inside of the entire tank the same way. I know I will have to do this again in this humid environment, but I figured three coats of clear might give me a good 6 months protection. We'll see. 

Mounting the Chicken feeder tank to to coop
All parts ready to install! The original tank had 4 mounting feet that I intended to use to mount the unit to the wall. Well, they ended up being too wide for the space so I ground them off and went with plan B. This utilizes the small mounting platform for the motor used to pressurize the water system and it fit in the space like I meant to do it! I did have to modify the bolt pattern a bit to allow the bolt heads through the lower set of slots. I used lag bolts set in 2x4's placed behind the plywood at the hole positions, I didn't want the 150 pounds of feed tearing through the plywood and dumping onto the ground. The last pic shows the tank in place and ready to be plumbed for the feed run.  

Mounted up and ready to use
This photo shows plumbing installed and feeding! 
I used 45 degree bends in the down run instead of 90's to decrease the chances of feed hanging up in the acute bends. It also allowed me to schmooze the angles and runs of the pipe a little better to get the feeding 'trough' where I wanted it. 
I intentionally placed this trough under the coop so they'll have a dry place to get their chow. JoAnn feels any driving rain will get under the coop far enough to get the feed wet so I will place a sheet of acrylic in front the feeder to block and rain but keep the light filtering under. 

Trough detail
 The 'trough' is an elongated hole in the lower pipe section with a cap on the end. In the three inch pipe, I made the width of the opening about 2 1/2" so the hens can get their heads in without getting rubbed by the edges. I was afraid that the pressure of the feed above would push out ALL the feed, but so far, it seems to be just the right amount.

I started this project since we are not allowing the hens to free range on the property and I didn't want to have to get up as early as they were to feed them, the hens would have at will food throughout the day, and so I can save space and use the hopper as the bulk feed storage. I will make sure to post the number of days a full bin will last but I am thinking a month or more. 

Next Post: Rain collection and training the hens to use water nipples 


Photo Credits: 
All Photos in this post are copyrighted by Air Born Creations and all rights are reserved. 


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Okay, The Mealy Worm Condo Tour!

And Mini Rant- Grrr....

Worm Condos

As promised, this post is about the 'Condo' we made in anticipation of getting our long awaited meal worms! First, I had two orders of meal worms cancelled because it turns out neither of the "quality" meal worm breeders I ordered from ship to Hawaii! And of course, they didn't bother to say anything in their ad on Amazon, nor in their check out process, nor in their order confirmations. Each order I placed, went through monies exchanged and only after three days, plus or minus, I get a second email telling me the transaction didn't complete. No reason why, just that it didn't complete.

This being Hawaii, I guess not everyone wants to put our zip code on the package. I have to assume that those that won’t are jealous since all 10 of the major shippers- USPS, FedEX, UPS, DHL, YRC, TNT, Bolt Express, OnTrac, etc., - already deliver here or the dealers just don’t know it’s no more time or effort to get their products to us Islanders. We already expect to foot the difference in price and time- we know it takes an extra day to get here from Michigan.  Seriously, The BIG THREE SHIP HERE!

Lots of meal wormsOk, with my mini rant done, we ordered 10,000 live meal worms from a supplier in California that we found on Ebay.com. Decent price and they said fast shipping. We ordered on July 5, shipping was confirmed on my Ebay.com account on the 7th (two days slower than they advertised). As of Saturday the 9th, the shipments still says its in San Diego but in transit and we can expect it on Monday, July 11th. That is tomorrow! We’ll see how it goes. Either way, we are ready on this end.
The condo started out as a Sterilite brand 3 tray stackable organizer. This is made for holding scrapbooking paper at 12”x12” square and each drawer a full ream thick. Actual drawer dimensions are: 14 5/8" L x 14 1/2" W x 10 5/8"H

3 drawer wide stackable unit
Sterilite’s web site calls it their 2093 - Wide 3 Drawer Unit. It does stack well, but we opted for a side by side arrangement.

After checking the web for ideas, we know we needed a love nest for the grown beetles, a nursery for the eggs and babies, and a room of their own for the growing worms.



Screened Drawer for Meal worms
The three drawers will do fine for now. To make this happen without too much intervention from us, we are using gravity to help us pre-filter out the eggs and the ultra-new larvae. We put the adults in the top drawer and after their Lovey Dovey routine, they’ll lay eggs then those will hatch out as small larvae. We cut out the bottom of the first drawers to the same shape as the stacking unit reinforcement and added some aluminum screening as a floor. The screen on the bottom allows the adults and their food to stay in the upper tray, but let the eggs and babies fall through to the Nursery level. The cutout shape means they fall straight through to the next drawer and won't get caught on the drawer's frame.

Meally worm Condo
For the second and third drawers, we did not make any changes. The second level (drawer) is where most of the growing will happen. We will have eggs and new hatchlings up to 3/8” in here then we’ll manually filter out the bigger adolescents and transfer them to their own “room” below the Nursery (third drawer). In this drawer they’ll grow up, about double in size to ¾” to 1”, where they will either be allowed to morph into beetles and replenish the breeders level or be culled out as Chicken treats! No matter which stage we feed them to the chickens, we expect the chickens will LOVE this!

Once we finished the modifications on the plastic drawer units, I set them side by side into the storage space above the nesting boxes. This does two things, keeps the chicken stuff centralized, and any escapees will drop into the nest boxes!  We added trim to match and doors to keep things neat.


Ready and waiting! 





Photo Credits:
Meal Worms: Modified from a photo from: A screen shot from Amazon.com Sterilite model 2093 from: Sterilite.com
All other photos are taken by us and are copyrighted all rights reserved by AirBornCreations.com




Next Post: Gravity Food Station.


Okay, The Mealy Worm Condo Tour!

And Mini Rant- Grrr....

Worm Condos

As promised, this post is about the 'Condo' we made in anticipation of getting our long awaited meal worms! First, I had two orders of meal worms cancelled because it turns out neither of the "quality" meal worm breeders I ordered from ship to Hawaii! And of course, they didn't bother to say anything in their ad on Amazon, nor in their check out process, nor in their order confirmations. Each order I placed, went through monies exchanged and only after three days, plus or minus, I get a second email telling me the transaction didn't complete. No reason why, just that it didn't complete.

This being Hawaii, I guess not everyone wants to put our zip code on the package. I have to assume that those that won’t are jealous since all 10 of the major shippers- USPS, FedEX, UPS, DHL, YRC, TNT, Bolt Express, OnTrac, etc., - already deliver here or the dealers just don’t know it’s no more time or effort to get their products to us Islanders. We already expect to foot the difference in price and time- we know it takes an extra day to get here from Michigan.  Seriously, The BIG THREE SHIP HERE!

Lots of meal wormsOk, with my mini rant done, we ordered 10,000 live meal worms from a supplier in California that we found on Ebay.com. Decent price and they said fast shipping. We ordered on July 5, shipping was confirmed on my Ebay.com account on the 7th (two days slower than they advertised). As of Saturday the 9th, the shipments still says its in San Diego but in transit and we can expect it on Monday, July 11th. That is tomorrow! We’ll see how it goes. Either way, we are ready on this end.
The condo started out as a Sterilite brand 3 tray stackable organizer. This is made for holding scrapbooking paper at 12”x12” square and each drawer a full ream thick. Actual drawer dimensions are: 14 5/8" L x 14 1/2" W x 10 5/8"H

3 drawer wide stackable unit
Sterilite’s web site calls it their 2093 - Wide 3 Drawer Unit. It does stack well, but we opted for a side by side arrangement.

After checking the web for ideas, we know we needed a love nest for the grown beetles, a nursey for the eggs and babies, and a room of their own for the growing worms.



Screened Drawer for Meal worms
The three drawers will do fine for now. To make this happen without too much intervention from us, we are using gravity to help us pre-filter out the eggs and the ultra-new larvae. We put the adults in the top drawer and after their Lovey Dovey routine, they’ll lay eggs then those will hatch out as small larvae. We cut out the bottom of the first drawers to the same shape as the stacking unit reinforcement and added some aluminum screening as a floor. The screen on the bottom allows the adults and their food to stay in the upper tray, but let the eggs and babies fall through to the Nursery level. The cutout shape means they fall straight through to the next drawer and won't get caught on the drawer's frame.

Meally worm Condo
For the second and third drawers, we did not make any changes. The second level (drawer) is where most of the growing will happen. We will have eggs and new hatchlings up to 3/8” in here then we’ll manually filter out the bigger adolescents and transfer them to their own “room” below the Nursery (third drawer). In this drawer they’ll grow up, about double in size to ¾” to 1”, where they will either be allowed to morph into beetles and replenish the breeders level or be culled out as Chicken treats! No matter which stage we feed them to the chickens, we expect the chickens will LOVE this!

Once we finished the modifications on the plastic drawer units, I set them side by side into the storage space above the nesting boxes. This does two things, keeps the chicken stuff centralized, and any escapees will drop into the nest boxes!  We added trim to match and doors to keep things neat.


Ready and waiting! 





Photo Credits:
Meal Worms: Modified from a photo from: A screen shot from Amazon.com Sterilite model 2093 from: Sterilite.com
All other photos are taken by us and are copyrighted all rights reserved by AirBornCreations.com




Next Post: Gravity Food Station.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

More Eggs and the Escapee is Caught!

The Prodigal Chicken returns!

I know this was supposed to be a tour of our WORM Condo... 

Okay, one item at a time- Egg News
We went and picked up our hens 14 days ago and though we were told they were in molt and the stress of the move, and, and ... we expected to wait much longer before the first egg. Well, it came on day 11 and we've had at least one a day since. I say that because today was our first multi egg day! We got two. They are slightly different color egg shells so we know at least two hens are laying. 
We are also hearing a lot more of the egg clucking noises from the coop! It really is eggciting. The photo shows our egg on the left and the commercial egg on the right.

When cooking them up, ours again on the left and commercial store bought on the right. Just as all the Tree hugging naturalist, organic spewing believers say, it is both fresher looking and way better tasting. The store bought one tastes like the eggs I grew up on, but the home grown egg tastes a touch "eggier". It is also has a brighter color on the yolk. 

Okay, item #2. Our escapee has been recovered. I gave up on getting this one back some time ago, but JoAnn has been saying she's been seeing it pretty often lately. So to humor her I set to making a guillotine trap today to try to get the phantom chicken. I took the old travel pen I made to pick up the chickens and cut the original door off. I then made some slide rails for the flat plywood 'guillotine' door. I then made a trigger plate whose fulcrum was off center so when the plate was stepped on, the high end moving down would pull the trigger out from under the trap door and gravity would close the trap keeping the chicken inside. Well, I built it, tested it and set it all in about 2 hours, we had lunch and I thought it might take a week or so to finally catch the hen if it ever came around again. 

It took 15 minutes.

That knocked my socks off. We barely finished with lunch when we heard a bang and the chickens were clucking like crazy. We headed out to the coop and the photos show what we had! The thing worked first time! We then quickly moved the entire trap into the pen and made sure the exit door was securely closed this time and opened the slide door. She ran out and tried the corners of the pen, but we were ready this time. I figure it will take a few days for her to settle in, but who knows!?! I just know JoAnn is relieved to have them all back together again. 



Next Post will be the Worm Condo Tour, I promise.