Friday, July 25, 2014

Chicks in the Coop

The new chicks are moved in to the coop.  They seem to have strong primal instincts.  They chase down bugs and scratch through the weeds like nobody's business.  I've never seen such a vigorous bunch of hatchlings before.
Even the damaged chick is doing fairly well.  Most of the shell is off his back, although I notice now that he has something- egg liner maybe- stuck to one side of his face.  It kind of looks like a dry patch of skin.  It's covering part of his eye.  Hopefully it will peel off soon.  I tried to lift it off gently, but it's wound into his fluff.  Still, he's a spunky little thing!

11 eggs were left unhatched.  I broke them open and all but two were at least partially developed.  Two looked like they should have been ready to hatch with the others, but didn't.  All of the partially developed chicks were dark coloured.  I wonder if there might be something wrong with the barred rocks.  All of the chicks that hatched are light coloured, or red tinged, only one with dark spots.  It seems odd to me at least.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The New Hatch

They weren't due to start hatching until Monday, but Friday night the first chirps were heard.  We actually thought one of the older chicks had gotten loose and come up to the house at first.  Then I realized my eggs were chirping.  Quickly out of the egg turner and onto the screen.  Three eggs were already pipped and all three hatched that night.
Saturday morning there were 6, then another 3 throughout the day.  Sunday morning the incubator was overloaded with balls of fluff.  11 went into the box beside the incubator.

There are 17 now, with 11 eggs left unhatched.  I'm going to give them another day before I shut the incubator off, but I think they're probably done.

The last chick to hatch had a hard time of it.  Part of someone else's shell got stuck to his shell.  I don't know how long he had been trying to break free when I noticed it.  I peeled off the extra shell for him, but his inner shell had already started drying out.  He managed to break free, but there are bits of shell stuck to him.  He's kind of wobbly on his feet too.  I don't think he'll make it, but time will tell.

With this hatch I added a small dish of feed inside the incubator.  The shells provide all the feed they need for the first 24 hours, but the last batch didn't seem to be eating until about day three.  I thought putting a little feed in the incubator with them might help.  It seems to have worked.  This batch is off to a good start eating and drinking lots.

Now I know I should quit for this year- that's a lot of chicken to feed this winter- but an empty incubator makes me sad.  So I advertised this batch on kijiji.  Oh!  Maybe I'll make some money...  I'll start collecting eggs for another hatch...

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Big Move

I finished cleaning out the winter mess in the coop last week.  The chicks were fully feathered and the weather was warm, so I unplugged their heat lamp.

Yesterday I took two buckets of weeds into the coop to spread in the clean stalls (they'll dry out like hay in there, reduce my need for wood shavings, and provide some winter scratch).  I chatted with the chicks while I was working.  They're a bit skittish.

I had my back turned when a great ruckus broke out, and couldn't believe my eyes when I looked to see what all the fuss was about.  It was the tiniest cockfight I'd ever seen.  Two solid white roos were going at it viciously, practically locked together by beak, wings beating, chests puffed out- wow.

Okay, chicks- it's time to move out into the big wide world.  I put five chicks in one five gallon pail and four in the other and walked them over to the turkey pen. 
I watched as the bravest peaked out of the buckets to quickly get pecked by this mean old barred rock.

Then I remembered I had repairs to do to the chick corner of the turkey shack, so I shooed all of the older birds out and closed the door.
4 solid white, one with a mix of black around the neck and tail.
 The chicks all came out of hiding and started checking out their new habitat.  They seemed to approve.
Two more solid white, one with some red.

#4 and I fixed up the chick corner with some braces and new wire, and got the little ones situated.

Not quite five weeks old and they don't fit through the wire.  That's never happened before.  Usually I spend the first few weeks chasing new chicks out of the garden.  I had to adjust the trap door on the side so these chicks could slip underneath it.  They're quite large little chicks.  Heck- they're bigger than the turkeys are when I move them outside.
The trap door- just a hole in the wire, with another piece of wire to cover most of it.


Then we let the older birds back in to greet the chicks- and get ready for bed.  One of the chicks got brave and came out of the corner, but all of the older birds were mean.  Mean, mean, mean.  He ran back to hide.  Today we'll see if they get brave enough to go OUTSIDE!

7 solid white chicks.  I'm thinking the chanteclers and my meat hens may have been the only ones in with roosters.  I might have 7 chantecler chicks!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Growing Up

I spotted my first tomato yesterday.
It's such a tiny little thing.  Promises of more to come!  It surprises me though, since it's on the left side of the greenhouse.

The soaker hose has developed a split which soaks the right side really, really well, but leaves the left side with much less water.  The left side plants are stunted in comparison. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fresh Pasture

Since I started using the solar electric charger this year I slowly moved the fence to the side yard, out behind the house into the backyard, along the second driveway beside the garden, between the garden and the raspberry patch, and to the far side of the garden.  We've only had one escape- right down the road to Mom's place- when they were in the second driveway section.  There were some awkward corners in there, and somebody knocked out a post. 

They're averaging 4-7 days per section, based partly on the condition of the grass, and partly on the weather.  I've left them an extra day, or moved them a day or two early because rain was forecast.

I haven't gotten brave enough to cut them off from the pasture yet.  They have a walkway back at all times, and then we close the gate overnight to lock them in- except once.  One night #4 forgot to close the gate when he put them away, but still shut off the electric fence.  They were out grazing in the morning, and may have been out all night.  Amazingly, no escapes!

We still haven't got the second solar charger repaired, so the pasture is still not divided.  It's obviously not as stressed as it usually is though.  The grass is growing slowly, about 3" high.  Normally it's cropped off just above the roots in the open sections by this time of year.

Friday I moved the fence to the first clearing behind the house.  It's a bigger section than they've had to date, and the grass is longer, though thinner.  The cows are all looking lovely.
The calves like to duck under the fence and munch ahead of everyone else, or just stop to nap.  I've kept the fence well back from the trees, keeping a cleaner fence line.  The cows will duck their heads under the fence to get most of the edges, and there's less risk of the fence grounding out.
This is the trampoline section.  The trampoline doesn't get used much because the bugs get kind of wild in the long grass.  #4 is happy to have company out back, and soon the cows will have the grass eaten and trampled down, reducing the bug population.
The cows like to be let out of the pasture early in the mornings to graze, then return to the barn to chew their cud, hide from the sun, and nap in the afternoon.  Around supper time they head out again, and graze until nearly dusk.  They usually put themselves to bed then, but occasionally need some prompting.

I have one more section that I can fence off and maintain the pathway to the pasture without buying more supplies. 

The horses come out to graze from time to time, though they're a bit skittish through the pathways where the fence is narrower, and seem to prefer the openness of the pasture.  They're also adverse to change.  They tend to leap before they look, and skid to a stop when they see the fence line has been moved. 

The last time we tried using electric fence out back was just for horses, and it was a total fail.  They always wanted the grass on the other side of the fence, would knock it down or ground it out, and escaped regularly.  Now that I see the behavior differences I'd really like to separate the pasture to keep them in at all times.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Harvest Monday

Yeah, I know it's Wednesday, but I harvested and took the pic on Monday.  I'm just a little slow getting things posted these days.
My first garden harvest of 2014, although I did pick the rhubarb once already this year.  Actually, the first time I cut all of the larger stems from the rhubarb, puréed it, and made juice concentrate, then divided it for each jug of juice I made.  I had two large jugs in the fridge the whole time.  Then it occurred to me that if I could calculate how much rhubarb I'd need for just one jug of juice, I wouldn't have so much work at once, and more room in the fridge, and less time waiting for it to grow back!  This was my first attempt, and it was just a touch skimpy.  Two or three more stalks would be just about perfect.

The first picking of the peas, other than a couple to munch on here and there.  Tiny radishes, but Husband might as well eat some now before they're all huge and woody at the same time.  Lettuce is about 4" high, but quite thick, so tender and yummy.  Clover for infused water.

Peas should be ready for picking every 3-4 days now.  Tomatoes, peppers, and melons are flowering.  Replacement beans are about 3" tall. (frost).  Cucumbers should start flowering soon.  The rest likely won't make it this year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Incubating

Happy Birthday, Canada!
New batch of eggs started yesterday, June 30th.  Due to hatch July 21st.

A busy few days ahead, getting the three oldest boys ready and off to camp.  Then two weeks alone with #4.  Then 4 more weeks with #3 and #4.  #1 and #2 will both be gone for six weeks! 

Finally got some rain yesterday, so things have cooled off nicely, but of course, the bugs are back.