Oct 21
by Maryclaire Mayes

The Fox Strikes Again

I knew we would be working outside all day so I thought it was safe to let the chickens have a little free range time. While Dean was working outside, I was working in the soap shop. I heard a commotion outside and went to check on the chickens and realized the we had lost our rooster to the fox. Our new livestock guardian dog was still not quite 5 months old and would not really deter predators until she was much older. For some reason, I didn’t think the fox would be back that day. Boy was I wrong, the next time I heard a ruckus I realized 2 more birds were gone. This time I herded all the remaining girls into the safety of the coop. I feel horrible that I let my chickens down, especially the rooster. He wasn’t friendly but he never bothered anyone, which is what I want in a rooster.

I soon started looking to replace our rooster and my daughter in law found one that needed rehoming from a family in the suburbs. We are still working on integrating him into the flock. We hope he will fit in even though he is twice the size of our chickens.

Aug 21
by Maryclaire Mayes

Saving Peep

I had been saving a few eggs from the guineas to hatch. I had a broody chicken and thought about putting them under her. I had saved about 8 eggs when the fox snatched another guinea. I realized it was the last hen since we didn’t get any more guinea eggs. By this time our broody hen had already been sitting for 3 weeks and I didn’t want her to sit another 3 or 4 to hatch the keets. Our nice neighbor ( not that our other neighbors aren’t nice too) lent us his incubator and four more guinea eggs he had too. So we were all set to try to hatch more guineas to replace all the ones we had lost to the fox.

After a week, we knew something was wrong as it smelled as if something had died in the incubator. With the help of our daughter we fashioned a flashlight to candle ( see inside) the eggs. We could see some eggs had small dark reddish spots that confirmed they were fertile, some were looking more clear and one was totally dark inside and it smelled yucky.

We disposed of that one and separated the ones that looked viable and the ones that didn’t. A week later we candled them again. We identified 4 that were growing keets inside and we disposed of the others. Finally the time came for them to hatch. One keet peeped (broke the initial hole in the shell) but gave up and died. The next one peeped but never fully hatched that day, so I carefully helped it out of its shell the next morning. It is always risky to help them out but I knew it wouldn’t make it on it’s own at this point.

I wasn’t sure it would survive, but I kept it warm and in a few days it seemed strong and healthy. I waited several more days to see if the other eggs would hatch. I listened to the eggs and couldn’t hear any peeping, which they do when they are ready to hatch. I carefully opened the two eggs that were left and found fully developed keets that for some reason died before trying to hatch. So here we are with a single surviving keet.

I was telling the grand kids I didn’t know how I am going to be able to integrate it into the flock when it is old enough not to need supplemental heat. Miss Number Two suggested making it a house pet. I suggested at her house. She had it all figured out how to keep it in their basement. What she didn’t have it figured out was how to convince her dad of her plan. So what am I going to do with this lone bird? I have no idea!

May 21
by Maryclaire Mayes


neem bar soap for shampoo

Many people have asked us where is the Alabu shampoo?  We have thought, researched and even made different formulations of shampoo, but have come to the conclusion that we prefer to stick with our bar soaps. So I’ll try to explain why we don’t make Shampoo:Liquid Shampoo in general has a very short shelf life. Most manufacturers remedy this by adding preservatives. A preservative is just a chemical that kills bacteria and doesn’t allow it to grow. The problem with these chemicals is that they are also very harsh to your skin and that is one thing we have always strived to avoid.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t shampoo your hair with Alabu.  First pick your favorite bar of Alabu. If your favorite is Baby Me or Buttermilk, you may want to consider something that doesn’t have such a thick lather. Personally I like the neem or tea tree for my hair. Next, wash your hair with the bar soap. Try to rinse it out completely, but you don’t have to spend too much time on it. Finally, rinse your hair with this special rinse (you probably want to prepare this beforehand).

Add 1/4 cup  of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water and use that to rinse your hair.  You can leave the vinegar solution in your hair and let it dry if you choose. Vinegar removes residue from hair shafts and closes the cuticles. Since residue coats the hair causing it to look dull, removing residue gives your hair more shine. By closing the cuticles, the hair slides more easily and there will be fewer tangles.

When your hair is dry it won’t smell like vinegar.  You can also add a few drops of honey to the solution if you have particularly dry hair, as this may help replenish it.

Apr 21
by Maryclaire Mayes

Ice Pops Cures All

Having 9 grandchildren here we see our share of bumps and bruises. So far we haven’t had any visits to Urgent Care, I probably shouldn’t put that in writing? We usually take it all in stride. Someone comes running telling us so and so is hurt. First we inspect the damage, then if more than a kiss is necessary we use an ice pack and maybe a little Tea Tree Body Butter, which the grand kids call grammy’s lotion.

But, it is always a little alarming to see a little one bleeding from their mouth. My go to for that is ice pops. I keep some in my freezer year round. The kids always want them when they are up here playing, but I try to reserve them for warm weather treats. But when someone puts a tooth through their lip it is ice pops to the rescue. It never fails to stop the bleeding so we can see where the blood is coming from and it never fails to make them feel better.

All other bumps, scraps and bruises get ice pack and maybe some of my lotion. If that doesn’t work maybe an ice pop too.

Mar 21
by Maryclaire Mayes

Life and Death on the Farm

“Our Fox” making off with a chicken

Baby fox Kits

This time of year, predators are more of a concern here on the farm. Spring is when they are bolder in the hunt for food to feed their babies. I had always thought our pony Caddy deterred predators from coming too close to the chickens. But now I have found out, not always. Our dog, Cora had been barking all morning. That is not at all unusual, she is a little bit like the boy who cried wolf, except she doesn’t do it for fun. She sees something that wasn’t there before, and she feels compelled to alert us to the issue. Sometimes it’s a vehicle that is parked in a different spot, or maybe the wind blew something like a bucket into the yard. I did get up and check but didn’t see anything that she might have seen.

A little later when I looked up from my office window, I noticed Caddy and Midnight looking down at the bottom of the hill. I got up to see what they were looking at and saw all the guinea hens down at the bottom very upset about something. I saw something orange and at first, I thought it was our big orange barn cat George. On closer look I realized it was a red fox! I immediately started down to chase it away before he got any chickens. The fox was distracted by the angry guineas, until it saw me. Then it picked up the dead chicken, that I had not noticed before and ran up the hill and disappeared into the woods. I tried to follow it up the hill, but it was gone without a trace of it or the chicken it stole.

I made my way back to the barn and called the birds into their pen. I took a head count and was missing two chickens! Now I have a dilemma, do I keep them safely locked up or continue to let them free range. Obviously, the problem with letting them free range is we take the chance of providing chicken meals for baby foxes.  On the other hand, if I keep them cooped up (pun intended) not only will the chickens be unhappy, but the guinea fowl will be angry and they tend to take out their frustrations on the chickens, which they need very little reason to do anyway. For now I will try to let them out later in the morning and pay more attention when Cora is barking.

Check out some pictures of our farm.