Brothers M. Mondays in May 2021 – Week 2 Back to Snow

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market

Cold is always a risk raising chickens on pasture especially freezing temperature, such as what happened on 4/21.  We start our birds as late in the season as we can while still having chicken available for the first Seymour Farmers Market.  Fortunately when this cold and snow came this year, the chickens were still snug in their brooders with the heat lamps.

However, the cherry trees didn’t have that luxury and they are one of Olivia’s favorite trees.  I’m not sure if it was the right thing do to, but I sent her out to get the snow off the trees to help protect the blossoms.  Not only was it fun to watch, but we have plenty of cherries growing, so I think it helped.

Enjoy the video.  Music provided by Wintergatan –

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2021 – Week 1 The Peeps

Peeps1Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market

Since it’s still the Easter season, I thought we’d start out with this post.

I went out to the brooder to check on our new chickens, who had arrived the prior day.  When I looked in, their resemblance to marshmallow Peeps was striking.  They were all lined up with one eye on me.  The pictures don’t do the initial pose justice as they moved around a bit when I lifted the lid to grab a pic, but you can still see what I’m talking abouth.

While these youngsters may look like they have a marshmallow center, I assure you they’ll grow into high quality protein. Peeps2

Winter egg laying – 2020

Winter Night LightI’ve been very pleased with ISA Browns.  They are gentile, except we don’t seem to have good luck with Roosters; I’ve been told meanness is common in the light colored roosters.  The egg production has been great.  Longevity seems to be on par with what I’d read, 2 years being the peak for egg laying.

But what about winter laying of ISA Brown chickens, especially supplemental light?

In my review of the Buff Orpingtons and the Rainbow breeds as Dual purpose birds, one of the things I mentioned was that artificial light was needed to keep these breeds laying in the winter.  From what I’ve read, breeds that are bread for egg laying will lay through the winter without additional lighting.  I’ve even heard first hand of Rhode Island Reds laying through the winter without additional light.

I’ve not had that luck with my chickens, including the ISA Browns.  Last year I did not provide extra light and they stopped laying.  I could not pin down for sure if it was the light, stress, cold, or water conditions, detailed in my solar tire saga.

This year, winter 2020/2021, when egg production started dropping off, and basically stopped, I was again having  predators stressing the birds, including even losing some birds.  However, cold and water were not an issue, see best solar water.   So I went ahead and introduced artificial lighting in the mornings and evening to ensure the birds were getting 12+ hours of light.  To my satisfaction, egg production not only increased, but our egg production returned to normal.  Of course, the predator situation was also taken care of; however, after a couple more months of good production, I really think it was the light.

The down side to this is that I didn’t size the solar panel and battery to accommodate running the light this much.  The solar panel does help, and for now I’ve ended up adding an additional deep cycle battery and swap batteries every 5-7 days if it’s been overcast, not as hands off as I wanted.  I haven’t done any calculations, but I’m considering a larger solar panel, but in the summer it would be extreme overkill just to run the automatic door.   In the meantime, it’s still better than how frequently I had to change batteries without a solar panel.

Another note about the cold.  Our chickens don’t seem to be bothered by the cold.  The research I’ve done indicates that if you’ve chosen a cold hearty breed, which I have, then as long as you provide a dry area that’s out of the wind, the chickens will be fine.  The worst thing for them is to be wet in the cold.  Our coop has an open floor, but 4 solid walls and windows to let the sun in.  The lowest roost is a foot off the floor, which allows for wind blockage.

Winter Hiking

Main trailhead

I’ve mentioned that I love to be outside and especially hiking in our woods.  Hiking is good for my wellbeing.  I’ve mentioned how it help rehabilitate my knee after an injury, but it also gives me “quiet time” to let my mind wander on issues, meditate, or pray.  And of course it’s good exercise.

Even with snow on the ground, I still enjoy a hike.  This day I had to trudge through 6 inches of snow to get my path reestablished.  That ended up being more work than I expected, and I worked up a good sweat by the time I was done.

This is what iPhone Health has to say about my normal hiking path.  This was the first time I’ve tracked it, so I found it fairly interesting that going up and down all the ravines equated to 20 floors of stairs.

Of course we got another 6 inches and 2 more a few days later, not a common occurrence for Indiana, but since I like snow, very welcome.  I was about a week after my first trudged through the snow,  before I got back to the trail.  You can see, I’m not the only one that uses the tail, but unfortunately the deer didn’t clear much of a path.

Good times.


Best non-freezing Solar chicken waterer – Update

I’ve tried frequent waterer swapping, the lightbulb waterer, and a solar tire, but this solar waterer is the best design yet for my needs.  In part 1 I talked about the concept and design, this post actually included my 2nd update about using plastic to shield the insulation from pecking.  So this is my 3rd and possibly the last, update on this water.

When I put the waterer out this year, I was pleased to see the older chickens remembered what it was and taught the new ones; thus, bypassing needing to do any training.


Forgot before picture so I laid the pieces I cut back into place.

However, I underestimated the destructive power of chickens and they had pecked all the insulation off of the lid directly over where they stick their head in.  This suprised me.  Basically the chickens are sticking their head in a hole roughly the size of an elongated baseball.   Then looking up and pecking the top in the small cavity I left open.


So to fix it, I cut a new piece of insulation, then cut the lid to match it as best I could.  Of course duct tape was used to cover the seams for additional measure.


Then I cut a new piece of corrugated plastic from my ‘For Sale’ sign I’ve been using and placed it on top of the cavity where the chicken put their head into.   I had to trim some of the side insulation pieces to recess the plastic so the lid would sit properly.


The chickens have also been pecking the top of the insulation every time we lift the lid to add water and big sections in the corner are now gone.  Amazing what a few pecks a day over a couple months adds up to.  So I fixed the corners.  Then for good measure, I covered the top of all the insulation with duct tape to help prevent further pecking.

Head hole before applying new tape

Also, the duct tape around the entry hole keeps coming loose on the outside.  I’ve fixed it multiple times, but it just doesn’t stick for long.  The main purpose of this tape is to prevent the chickens from pecking the insulation on the inside of the tub, so I removed the inside insulation, as one big conglomeration, since it’s all taped together but not taped to the sides or bottom.  Then I put the tape on just the insulation, where it seems to stick the best.

Finally, when I pulled the inside insulation “cluster/conglomeration” out, it was a perfect opportunity to use come caulking to seal in the Twinwall Polycarbonat.  I previously used tape, but it was coming lose and given how well the waterer is working, I figured it was time to do something a little more permanent by adding a bead of calking to the inside perimeter of the window.


As mentioned in the first post, the water inside will still freeze, especially at night, that’s not the goal.  The goal is to keep the water from freezing in order to give the chickens an extended period of drinking time.  If it’s sunny, the temperature can drop in the mid 20’s at night and 32 during the day and the sun will melt the water that froze overnight in a couple hours in the morning.

We’re looking at weather in the teens and below zero in the coming weeks.  That means we’ll need to go out and dump the frozen water, which is why I use a rubber bowl.  When we replace it with warm water, if it’s sunny I don’t expect it to freeze for the rest of the daylight hours, even at those temperatures.  If it’s cloudy, we’ll check it and maybe need to refresh with warm water later in the day.

John Deere 216 Snow blade

I got the 216 ready for snow and the swivel on the blade kicked my ass for longer than I’d like to admit. Not sure how many 216s are still in service, mine’s 40 years old, but maybe this could help someone.  

The snow chains went on easy, I just jacked the rear end up a few inches off the ground and rolled the chains over the tires.  In the past I’ve tried laying out the chains and rolling the wheels on top, but that was more difficult than jacking it up.   I leave the wheel weights on all year round for extra traction.

The blade wasn’t as hard to attach as in the past, probably because I’ve done it a few times now and know how it attaches.  However, when I went to attach the linkage handle to swivel the blade from side to side, it would not go together.

No matter how I tried, I could not attach the swivel handle to the swivel bar (highlighted in the blue square).  I knew from previous years that it shouldn’t be that hard to do.   Also, I couldn’t seem to manually use the swivel bar and swivel the blade.  I have a manual for everything else that attaches to the 216, but not the blade, so I went to Duck Duck Go to search the internet.



I found an image of a blade already attached that showed me my issue.  The swivel bar on my blade had been turned horizontal and it should be vertical; however, I could not get it to go vertical.   Somehow in storage the blade must have been hyper extended and allowed it into the horizontal position.

I didn’t want to take the blade off again to figure it out, so I unhooked the swivel bar where it pins onto the mount and with a couple hits with a hammer got it off and back on in the correct orientation.  The handle attached just as I thought from there.

There’s always that one thing that doesn’t want to play nice when you’re trying to hurry, but now I’m ready for a few inches of snow.  If we get much more than that, then I’ll be putting the chains, the really heavy ones, on the Cub Cadet compact tractor and attaching the grader blade.

2012 CSA Season Open

Our CSA is now open – Time to get your pastured Non-GMO chickens.

CSA orders are available now until all the CSA slots are taken.  We’re happy to announce that our prices are staying the same again this year; no price increases.  Please read below to see this year’s schedule.   We are still doing one pickup day for your entire CSA order, that worked well last year.

CSA pickup of Frozen chickens will be on June 5th, 19th, or 26th at the Seymour Farmers market.  Choose your pick-up at time of order or let us know before May 15th.

Fresh pickup at our homestead.  You can still choose to pick up your CSA unfrozen at our homestead.  Email us to arrange a time after 5pm on May 21st or 29th.

Don’t miss out and order yours today.


Click HERE to see our CSA.


We’ll see you at the Seymour Farmers Markets this year.

Check out our Poultry Pricing page for normal Market hours.

Follow us on Facebook and we’ll let you know ahead of time where we’ll be.


Matthew, Samantha, Jason, and Tricia.

Happy Palindrome Day

It’s 1202021.

Yeah, I know it’s goofy, but sometimes I nerd out on numbers so I’m celebrating today since it’s a palindrome.

Here are some other interesting palindromes:

  • 47274 –  for all my Seymour Indiana friends, your zip code
  • A-Ha  – The band
  • Tattarrattat – Often considered the longest palindrome in English.  Coined by James Joyce in his 1922 Ulysses to imitate the sound of a knock on the door.
  • Intransigence – The longest palindrome in Morse code
  • Was it a bat I saw? – Favorites from Robot Chicken Palindrome skit, featuring Batman

Just general favorites

  • Kayak
  • Taco Cat
  • Never odd or even.
  • Don’t nod
  • Step on no pets
  • Eye

And of course XKCD


A Brave new world

Brave is my browser.

I like Open Source software.  It shows how a worldwide community of like-minded individuals can produce some of the best ideas and results in an open and free environment.

Open source refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.  Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.  Source code is the part of software that most computer users don’t ever see; it’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software—a “program” or “application”—works.

Chromium is the Open Source browser project.  It is the base for Google Chrome and now Microsoft Edge.  So a large number of people use the Chromium base for browsing, which is why certain browsers have lots of similarities.

Brave also uses Chromium as it base so it’s very similar to what most people are used to.   It’s main two features are:

  1. It’s privacy minded and designed to help prevent unwanted trackers and adds.
  2. It has an unique optional BAT Rewards program.  As I mentioned in my Stages of a blog post blog, creating content takes time and BAT is a refreshing new take on rewarding people for their time.  It sure beats Adds.  At the time of this writing, I am not signed up to send or receive BAT rewards, but it is on my to do list.

2021 Update on Blog Posts

I like to do projects and build.  I’m inquisitive and like to try things.   And I like to share the things I did.  This blog is the best outlet for me to share.

I wrote Stages of a Blog Post blog to show my process, how it can get lengthy, and why I don’t share as much/often as I think I should.  However, as it got to the formatting and publishing stage, I realized it feels like I’m making excuses.  So since the text was done, I decided to post it as-is with this quick follow-up intro.

Instead of saying it may be a while between my posts, let me share what’s in my head and pipeline for upcoming posts, along with some expectations.

  • More on the portable coop & chicken tractors.  I think I’ve covered the base build processes for these, but I’m looking to fill in holes, provide updates on how things are going, include things I’ve tried or changed since, and add new features I’ve installed.  I want these posts to help others with their own homesteading and are the main reason I post.
  • Posts on other “projects” I’ve done.  Various things, not directly chicken related.
  • Some posts on technology.  Things I do or know that may help others or are just fun.  I’m not looking to solve technical problems or write ‘How to guides’.
  • Fun stuff.  Anything from a short ‘look what just flew over my head’ to a series on an activity or event.  Stuff I consider fun, not necessarily related to homesteading, although making time for fun is part of homesteading.
  • Of course Brothers M. Poultry, especially Brother M. Monday’s in May.

My commitment is to produce at least one post a month.  My expectation is to produce more.  Right now, I’m seeing a rush of 4-5 posts just in January.

Please like posts and follow me.  I hate to admit it, but likes and especially follows really are a good motivator.  Thanks.