Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bearsy our Pyrenean Mastiff

Bearsy our new pup
We have a new addition to Farmer in the Martindale. He is a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy named Bearsey. Bearsey is an appropriate name since he will weigh over 120 pounds in a year. Sweetest big boy and already has taken to the birds. They are bred to protect their flock from bears and wolves. I have found some information regarding this breed  at the Pyrenean Mastiff website.
 Below is a paragraph from that website.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large solidly built breed which indicates that size and structure are of great importance. Often there has been confusion between the Pyrenean Mastiff (Mastin del Pirineo) and the Spanish Mastiff (Mastin Espanol). The Spanish Mastiff has a shorter coat, slightly bigger head and a little more skin on the throat. The Pyrenean Mastiff has a longer coat and the base coat color is always white with an obligatory mask around the eyes and on the ears and well defined patches of color on the body. The mastiff has a thick, abundant and coarse coat that is medium long on the body but is slightly longer on the throat and neck. Coat colors most frequently seen are white with markings either golden, any shade of gray, black or badger, sand, red or marbling markings on the sides of the head and ears and the beginning of the neck. Double dew claws on the hind legs are typical but not obligatory in this breed. The double dew claws added support to the mastiffs when ploughing through deep snow much like a "snow shoe" would. In both breeds the head is important, the structure powerful, a wide chest and round ribs.

Barred Rock pullet staring at Bearsy

The Pyrenean Mastiff, is different to the wonderful, Spanish Mastiff in that the Spanish Mastiffs were developed for much less traveling than their cousins. Due to the characteristics of the countryside in the old Kingdom of Aragon the seasonal journeys were much longer and the work routines of the dogs much harder than that of the other breeds.
There are again many who would compare the Pyrenean Mastiff to its French counterpart, the Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean Mountain Dog as it is known in the U.K. Each breed is unique - the Great Pyrenees is more profusely coated and the coat tends to stand out much more from the body and possesses a more graceful head. The Pyrenean Mastiff is a strong and powerful dog of great size. Average height at the withers for males is 32 inches/81 cm and 29 1/2 inches/75 cm for females. Life expectancy is around 12 or more years. The head should be massive, broad and strong, with a wide and deep muzzle. The neck is powerful and surrounded by loose skin and hanging double dewlaps. The face is symmetrical and the eyes are small and dark with the lower eye lid showing when relaxed. The tail is carried low ­ much like a staff - and has a fringe and should have a curl at the tip and although it stands up when active, is never carried over the back. With regard to the feet ­ they will have splayed toes and webbing between. This assisted with movement in the snowy seasons.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a dog of loyal and honest character and an excellent protector of children and family. For those who would dare challenge the temperament of this breed - watch out! Although always friendly and alert the Pyrenean Mastiff has the ability to defend itself and those in its charge should the need arise! It is a very calm dog and has not inherited the "hair - trigger" or stubborn personality of many other guardian breeds. The Pyrenean Mastiff is a dog happy to please his owner and enjoys his owners company. In comparison to the Great Pyrenees ­ they will not consume food sparingly! The Pyrenean as a breed that is playful and not difficult to train. Our breed upon first glance has also often incorrectly been compared to the Saint Bernard ­ with which there actually is not any relationship. It would be considered a fault for the Pyrenean Mastiff to display a Saint Bernard type head or muzzle and the structure of both breeds is completely different.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rooster Survives Rattlesnake Bite (Warning graphic pics)

Wow, what a lucky cockeral my Black Australorp is. Today I was outside feeding and my dominant Australorp cockeral was pestering the less dominant one which caused him to try and run outside.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Growing up .... Rhode Island Red

This is one of my favorite breeds and is truly an American class hero. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of Rhode Island, they have maintained their reputation as a dual purpose fowl throughout the years.
5 month old RIR cockeral- Reserve American Class Champion

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Growing 95 pound watermelons

My son holding our first giant melon
Well the time has come to harvest our first giant watermelon. This is our first year of growing GIANT melons. For fertilizer I used plain old chicken poop and hay mixed in with dirt. I planted the seeds the end of March right into the ground.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Breeze Ice Tea

Blackberry Summer Breeze Iced Tea
The Texas heat can be cruel, but some of the good things about summer include tubing on the river, BBQ with friends, and Iced tea. With the summer garden at its peak, there are plenty of fresh herbs to choose from to make blended iced tea. Some herbs immediately spring to mind: the mints, lemon balm, and lemon ­verbena. There certainly are others, including some of the familiar culinary herbs, that provide cooling refreshment as the temperatures soar. I have grown a small herb garden this year so that I am able to use my own herbs. Blended with your favorite tea and mixed in a blender with ice and fresh fruit makes a delicious treat that is sure to sooth your soul. Don't forget to keep all the poultry cool its going to be a hot one. I have also included a tea for chickens, yes they like tea also.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Freshly Picked Garden Minestrone

Serve with fresh baked cheese bread

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 /2 onion diced
1 scant cup olive oil
pinch of oregano
3 whole fresh diced tomatoes
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 whole fresh diced potato
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of tomato soup
1 tsp chicken bouillon soup base
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
Cajun seasoning
10 ounces Rigatoni
3 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, when browned, stir in tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally. Add 6 cups cold water. Add salt. Stir in diced potatoes, squash, can of tomato soup, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil, then drop in Rigatoni. Cook pasta and squash until done.
When pasta is cooked, remove from the heat. Add basil, and some of the grated cheese. Sprinkle to taste with sea salt, and freshly grated black pepper. Add a light dusting of Cajun seasoning (optional), as you like it. Serve hot with cheese bread.

I picked the squash, potatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, and onion out of my garden today as I was preparing this dish.

Elephant Garlic and Roma Tomatoes

Yellow Squash
Giant Sunflowers and bananas

Small Herb garden growing in sections of plumbing pipe

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Snakes on a plane ??????.......I mean Henhouse

Rattle snake ready to strike next to my broody hens
You can see how large he is
Wow today is Easter and we had quite a surprise, a huge rattler curled up next to my 2 broody Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. The one pic is upside down because my son was standing above it when he took it. It shows you how darn big the snake was. What saved my hens was that they did not see it curled up next to them. I have a 17 year son who is not afraid of rattlers. He wants to be a Navy Seal when he gets older. He shot the snake in the head with his high powered pellet gun. I am very grateful to have my son around and especially at times like this. This is the 4th large rattler we have killed this year. I attribute their heavy presence to the drought and because we have water out for the chickens and of course where there's chickens there's mice. Rattlers love mice. I have a healthy respect for rattlers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Narcissus the Guinea Fowl

This is the funniest story I have written in awhile. It seems that my guinea fowl have discovered their reflections in my Smart Car. These 2 guineas spent the whole day attacking my car. They have literally become obsessed with themselves. My car has little scratches where they have been spurring the guinea guy that they keep seeing. I ran them off several times but they come back immediately and resumed their chaotic frenzy. Does anyone out there have any suggestions on what to do? If so please e-mail me at

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I can not be trusted around poultry
Look at that cute face....some folks say its a face only a mother could love?  Well let me be honest, there's absolutely nothing to love about a raccoon once one has attacked your poultry. I recently had a pen full of Coral Blue guineas ravaged by a raccoon. It was absolutely horrifying to see how my birds were killed and one nearly dead when I woke up and found them. The night before that the coon tried to kill my White China goose but the gander alerted me with his stressed out screams. I ran outside to find him fighting off Mr. Rocky with his bites and wing slapping. Raccoons really can be your worst nightmare, because they will slaughter every last bird that is in a pen that they are able to get into. One of the best deterrents is a coon proof pen.This can be accomplished by following these tips.
  1.  Never use chicken wire, use strong wire that is used for cattle. (No chicken wire ever, chicken wire is a death sentence for your birds)
  2. Do not leave the top of the house or run uncovered, it has to have a roof or a heavy duty wire top.
  3. Do not leave small openings or gaps unless they are covered with wire.
  4. Always put several locks or latches that are difficult to open. (Raccoons have hands like monkeys and can figure out how to open certain latches)
  5. Cover the ground around the outside of the house where they sleep at night (locked in) with wire or metal so that the raccoons can not dig under.
  6. Always lock all doors to the house where they sleep right at dusk because raccoons come out at night and sometimes they arrive early.
  7. Remember the words "Fort Knox" when you build your coop/hen house.
 After the attack I rushed out a bought three types of traps, the Pied Piper, a hand trap and a regular ole' trap from tractor supply. Results are no raccoon yet. Tomorrow we are making a barrel trap that we made as kids. It worked very well. A barrel trap is simple, inexpensive and considered humane. Any type of barrel or smooth trash can works. Set it next to a picnic table or something else that helps the raccoon to climb up to the edge of the barrel and fill it about one third of the way with water. Place a board over the edge of the picnic table that should end midway over the mouth of the barrel. Set bait on the board, such as sardines or tuna. Do this nearer to nighttime so that other animals will not eat it. The raccoon should walk onto the board to eat the bait and will fall into the barrel. The water in the barrel will weigh the raccoon's fur down, keeping it safely trapped in the barrel proof pen. Another great deterrent is a Livestock Guardian Dog or a LGD. I will be naming the 2 LGD's I just purchased Hansel and Gretal. I recently purchased them from a lady in Holland, Texas. If you need a LGD I will give you her contact information. I will be calling them Chicken Guardian Dogs.
I am a chicken guardian dog

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rhode Island Reds - An American Classic

"I'm just enjoying the view out of my pen"
What can I say, the name speaks for itself, they originated from Rhode Island and were developed by crossing the Red Malay Game, Leghorns and some Asiatics in 1904. There are 2 varieties the Rhode Island Red and the The Rhode Island Whites with 2 different types of combs the rose comb and the single comb. There are also bantam versions of the Rhode Island Reds. This is a dual purpose breed that makes an excellent choice as an egg layer of brown and dark brown eggs or as dinner with their nicely colored yellow skin. Reds can be also seen at poultry shows across the nation and are the subject of breed club chat rooms. I am posting pics of some RIR chicks that I purchased recently from a breeder who has many generations of his red own specific bloodline through the mail from Minnesota. They already possess big chunky breasts and legs, and are richly dark red in plumage.  I was thinking how good they would taste but I think I will show them first, I have some hopes for them. I will also have another bloodline to study in separate pens. I am curious to see the difference between these two bloodlines and will document the outcome. If you are interested in Rhode Island Reds be sure and join their breed club. Enjoy the pics. If you are interested in breeding Rhode Island Reds and showing them I have started a Rhode Island Red Breeders site called Red Barrons.
Wow look at that grasshopper over there, do you see it?

Well he's gone now, I swallowed him with one gulp !!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Javas- Second oldest breed of chicken in America

We are really old
Read about Javas in this months issue of Exhibition Poultry magazine. It is a free publication that may be downloaded off the Exhibition Poultry Magazine website. The article was written by Christine Heinrichs who is a professional journalist who began writing about heritage poultry after her daughter and her acquired their first chickens in the 1980s. She has written regularly for publications such as the Poultry Press, Backyard Poultry Magazine, Exhibition Poultry Magazine and has written her own books, "How to Raise Chickens" and "How to Raise Poultry." She is also a regular guest on Andy Schneider's Chicken Whisperer radio program. Visit Christine on the web at The Official Poultry blog.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baby Chicks = love & care

95 qt. Rubbermaid bin

It is important to keep your new baby chicks warm and free from drafts. They will also need to be properly fed and watered, and be protected from predators. A 95 quart Rubbermaid plastic bin can be a satisfactory home for up to 20 newly hatched chicks. The size and shape of the bin is not as important as long as it provides enough space for the chicks and the equipment to feed and water them.  Next I take the lid and cut out the center leaving a 2 inch edge and attach chicken wire with plastic ties.This is to protect the chicks from cats and other predators. The sides of the box provide adequate protection from drafts. Next I place a brooder lamp on top and use a 65 watt light which is adequate if your chicks are kept indoors in a heated room. Make sure that the lamp is attached safely so it won't be a fire hazard. During the 1st week the temperature should remain at 90-95 degrees. As the chicks get older reduce the temp by 5 degrees a week. When the chicks are cold, they bunch up and give off a distressed chirp. When they are too warm they will pant with their mouths open. I use rubber shelf liner the first few days so that the chicks can get a firm grip as they walk. After that I use old newspaper and change it out every day. Make sure the paper does not have a strong ink smell. Be sure to change their water twice a day, or more frequently if necessary to keep the water clean and fresh. Clean the waterer each time you make the change, and refill it with fresh slightly warm water. Although chicks don't need feed or water the first 48 hours after hatching, both are usually provided as soon as the chicks are transferred to the brooder. I use a small dish the first few days for a feeder. Let the chicks scratch around in the feed for the first few days so they get off to a good start on the feed. Chicks are best started on a 20 percent chick starter mash. Remember the better you feed your chicks the healthier they will remain and they will also grow faster. When the chicks are approx 4 weeks old I transfer them outside to an outdoor brooder. Once again this all depends on the weather and time of year.We currently have week old baby chicks for sale, in the following breeds.

Silver Sussex - $10.00 a piece
Welsummers - $6.00 a piece
Golden Laced Wyandottes - $6.00 a piece
Blue Laced Red Wyandottes - $10.00 a piece
Silver Laced Wyandottes - $10.00 a piece
Mottled Javas - $6.00 a piece
Partridge Rocks - $6.00 a piece
Trout or Black Runner ducklings - $10.00 a piece
You can email me at to place your order.You can also call at 619-301-4538. We are located in Caldwell County near Lockhart, Texas in the city of Martindale. We are also 25 miles south of Austin.
Outdoor brooder

Friday, February 4, 2011

Healthy Pumpkin Cornbread

Pumpkin Cornbread

I made a batch of this delicious cornbread today along with my home made 15 Bean Chicken Salsa Chili recipe, which you will find in the recipes section.

1 egg
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
add Flax seeds, nuts or hulled pumpkin seeds to taste

 Directions - Sift cornmeal, flour, baking powder and spices in a large mixing bowl.

Beat egg in bowl. Whisk in pumpkin, sugar, applesauce and honey.

Add liquids to dry mixture and blend batter gently until mixed.

Pour batter into greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Serve hot with butter or cream cheese

Monday, January 24, 2011

6 good reasons to have yard birds

Long before the so-called free-range or organic egg fad popped up in our local super markets, thousands of ordinary people around the USA have been raising chickens for their source of fresh and healthy eggs.  These ordinary folks have also known the benefits of raising their own backyard chickens for many years. Besides the obvious benefit of a regular supply of eggs, here are six benefits of starting your own backyard flock. Now is a good time to purchase some chicks and have your own fresh eggs.

1) Healthier Eggs - In contrast to factory farm eggs, eggs from backyard chickens have 25 percent more vitamin E, a third more vitamin A and 75 percent more beta carotene. They also have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed eggs. The bottom line is that I have control of what I feed to my birds.

2) Tastier Eggs - Fresh eggs from backyard chickens have firmer whites and bright orange yolks due to beta carotene. The real difference is in the taste. Yard eggs have a more robust taste that is difficult to describe and hard to put your finger on but its there and its great.

3) Poop for compost -  Chicken droppings are high in nitrogen. Added to the compost bin they add more nitrogen and improve your compost. I clean out my coops regularly. Since I deep mulch my hen houses with hay my compost pile is a rich assortment of hay, poop, egg shells, coffee grounds and shredded paper from shredder. I use this to mulch my fruit trees and to make layered gardens.

4) Bug control - I do not use pesticides due to their harmful effects to the environment. My chickens hunt and peck around the yard gobbling up grubs, earwigs and other bugs, treating our garden pests as tasty, nutritious treats. I rarely see as many bugs as I did before. Bugs are a great protein source. There is nothing greater to watch then your chickens chasing down grasshoppers.

5) Good for the soul -  After a long day at work I will pull up a lawn chair and watch my chickens as they scratch around in the leaves and soil searching for the tastiest morsels. As they do, they aerate the soil and break down larger pieces of vegetation with their sharp talons, accelerating the decomposition process. There's something soothing about watching the nature channel in your own backyard.

6) Great for making friends and starting conversations - Neighbors and people in general are naturally curious about peeps who raise chickens. An amazing number of people I have met claim that they have always wanted to have chickens!  I’m not sure just what urge is calling all of us to gather together a little feathered flock, but I suspect a yearning for a simpler time when we were more connected with nature and our food was part of it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Its time to plant those peaches

Now is the time to plant your peach trees
Now is the perfect time to plant fruit trees in Texas. There will be many varieties to choose from and they are cheaper now than they will be at any other time of the year. Peach trees that are planted now will have an opportunity to establish a root system before warm spring temperatures force them to bloom and form leaves. Make sure to water and feed regularly. I clean out the used hay and mulch from my chicken coops. It is full of rich fertilizer that has been setting for a few months and the hay mulch keeps the tree roots warm. I pile it up thickly around the base of my young trees that I am planting. I keep it built up around all of my trees. Remember that peaches need lots of water, especially during the fruit development period. The rain should be sufficient in the fall and winter but in drought prone Texas, growers must haul out the hose every day during spring and summer. Growers that live in the driest parts of the state will need to keep a very close eye on their trees. Make sure to prune every winter to keep the tree fruiting. Pruning is one the most essential chores in peach tree production. If you buy a young, bare root tree with no branches, cut it so that it stands no more than several feet tall. After the new branches form, cut all but three of the sturdiest ones. They should be evenly spaced apart and 18 to 32 inches from the ground. Until the tree reaches 3 years of age, cut the three main branches back by one-third each winter. During the fourth winter and each winter thereafter, remove any crowded branches, base suckers and shoots. Keep the center of the tree open to allow sunlight to penetrate each part of the tree. Trees should be kept to a height of 10 to 12 feet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mulching the henhouse- How to do it for free...almost

I am known to be pretty resourceful and believe in finding ways to take care of my needs with what I already have and not having to run to the store to spend money.  I have decided that there is a lot of free bedding for the taking if you know where to look.  My best friends property has a lot of pecan trees so I rake up bags and bags of leaves loaded with pecans.  I empty the bags, pecans and all right into the hen houses. Over time the pecans get smashed and the hens love them. They are little hidden treats. Next I will add hay that my neighbor bales. This is not fancy hay but just bailed straw from the fields that surround all the houses on our street. He mows their fields and bales it in return for the free straw. He than will sell me huge bails for 2 dollars and he delivers it. When our lawns get mowed and the bags are full, we empty the mower bag right into the coop.  The mower bag is full of mulched leaves, grass, and what ever other organic matter happened to be on the ground.  I also shred my white paper and old bills stir them in too. Of course I make sure that there aren't any staples, plastic or any other harmful products. Once the mulch in the hen house is a foot deep it has all it needs in it for a while, so we keep the rest of the mulch we make in large trash bags or in piles to be used where ever it is needed – be it in the coop or the garden. Once the coop has all the mulched leaves, grass and straw in it, I add in some sand.  I don’t ever give my chickens grit.  In general the grit is sold in tiny bags with a big price and I just can’t stand that.  So I buy sand.  Contractor’s sand is really good because it’s granules are in all different sizes.  But sometimes all I can find locally is play sand and that works fine too. So anyway, I add in some sand.  This will be all the more important once the weather starts to get much colder and the girls spend more of their time indoors. To finish it off,  I mix in some scratch every few days.  Not a lot, but just enough to get the girls to scratch through all the mulch, sand, and scratch.  In general, it encourages their natural tendencies to…well, act like chickens! I have to say my chickens appreciate this concoction.  At any given time I can look in my coop and find spots where they have made their little round lay down spots.  And I know for certain that there isn’t anything in the bedding that is not natural.  I know I pay for the sand, but I would do that regardless of what type of bedding I use.  So basically, I have plenty of bedding for my coop almost free! Another benefit of the deep layer method is that as the mulch in the hen house composts it warms up. When I walk into the house it does not feel too cold in the winter time. Of course the house needs to be built with a sound structure, leak proof roof, and good ventilation.I say my girls are worth it. After all they feed me eggs.

TIP: When you do clean out the old mulch it will perk up your garden plants and they will actually grow better than they would with some fertilizer that you purchased in the store.