Sunday, June 9, 2013

The New Batch

I hatched 6 this time. One has a splayed leg though, and didn't make it.  Not great. I checked some of the remaining eggs to see what might have been. They were pretty stinky.  I think at least a third of them had started developing.

I bought enough eggs from two neighbours to fill the incubator, along with the eggs I had from our hens. That's 41 eggs in and six chicks out. 4 are from our hens, 2 from one neighbour, and none from the other. Both neighbours had washed and refrigerated the eggs before I bought them.

The water dried up a couple of times due to neglect, and one egg had cracked at some point, leaving lovely cooked rotten egg stench and whatever germs behind.

So all in all, five is pretty good I guess.  I will try again in a couple of days.  I want to get another dozen or so eggs from the neighbour whose eggs hatched.

A week or two ago, I moved the other chicks out to the turkey shack.  Bad idea.  At least one of the dogs got in when we went for a load of hay.  I'm sure it was a dog, as there haven't been any foxes before or since this year.  There were two dead chicks laying on the floor when I got back.  Not too much damage.

Except...  the terrified chicks were all piled in the corners.  When I finally got them calmed down and spread out, the dead pile was pretty high.  Then we lost a few more overnight, probably from internal injuries.  In the end, we lost 48 birds.

Dogs were all tied up for a few days afterward- mostly because I couldn't stand the sight of them- and reinforcements were made to the pen.  We used fence post staples to fasten logs to the bottom of the wire all the way around the pen.  It'll keep the dogs/foxes from lifting up the fence and going under, at least until they decide to dig.  We put rocks around the base of the turkey shack to discourage critters from digging their way inside as well.

Since we've had so much trouble with dogs and foxes over the past five years, we've decided to take drastic measures.  We are now llama shopping.

I've been reading lots, but I'm still pretty fuzzy on what to do with it when we find one.  Everything says they have heightened sensitivity to dogs and coyotes, but not all make good guards.  I have no idea how to pick one out.  I considered a livestock guardian dog, since I know much more about dogs, but I'm afraid the pack mentality might take over and I'd end up with a chicken killing livestock guardian dog. 

All I know for sure at this point, is that I want a young one to start with, 'cause the only contact I've ever had was when the neighbour's adult male broke loose and came to visit.  He snuck up behind me in the driveway and scared the tar out of me.

I'm slowly getting back into routine.  I planted a bit in the greenhouses, and just potatoes, peas and beans in the garden.  I want to put in a couple rows of beets, and then I think I'm done for this year.  I harvested the chives and set them to dry.  I picked the rhubarb and made a batch of juice.  Asparagus is coming in slowly, so I check it every couple of days.  The boys picked about a billion dandelion flowers and I plucked them all and started two new batches of wine.

The boys are keeping me busy, with year end stuff at school and cadets.  I volunteered to do some web design for the cadets as well.  That's going really well.  It keeps my mind off things for a while.

Busy with Mom a lot.  It's hard to leave her alone.  We have lots of work to do at her place too, but it's harder there.  She's started coming over to our place on her own now, by quad.  She doesn't drive.  She goes with me to drop the boys off and pick them up on their various adventures.  We're managing, I guess.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on my last post.  I won't be going back there to reply.  Those of you who've lost a parent know what I'm feeling.  It's such an immense pain.  It helps to know I'm not alone, that you understand.  It also makes me feel like such a bonehead for all the stupid things I must have said to people in the past.  You just don't know until you know.  And if you don't know, I hope you don't find out for many, many years to come.  Just cherish the time you have.


  1. From what I hear, a llama is a fulltime job. They are almost impossible to catch when they run away, which they often do, being escape artists. If you get two llamas, they only protect each other. A Border Collie would be my choice. Or some dog.

    This is what I have read before:

    It's too bad about the low incubation rate and chick deaths. I imagination your state right now has lots to do with the problems and how you feel about it all.

    Maybe your mother could learn to drive. It might be a life skill that would make her feel less bereft. It is good your family is there to be some company and help her.

    Maybe you could put her in charge of

    1. Thanks, Linda. I am walking around in a daze a lot still. a batch of fried eggs seems so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Oh well, try again.

      I'm trying to talk her into learning to drive. I know Dad tried to teach her years ago, and it didn't go so well. He also gave me a few lessons, so I know he wasn't the most patient teacher, lol. She does well with her quad, so I think she'll do fine with a small car.

  2. Hi Wendy. I wanted to comment about your eggs. You can't hatch eggs that have been washed and refrigerated. They need to be held at about 60F (not sure of the temp conversion) and turned over daily until you set them. The fridge is too cold. Hope you do better next time.

    1. Two of the washed and previously refrigerated eggs hatched. More were developed. The guide book that came with my incubator mentioned that it could be done. For best results, of course, you want eggs that are less than a week old, stored narrow end down at 60°F and shifted slightly several times per day. If you have lots of eggs, that's the way to do it.

      I have 7 4 year old hens, who give me about 3-5 eggs a week. I'm trying to hatch a new flock. So I'm incubating all of my eggs from 2 weeks before I start the incubator, and still have room. $6 for two dozen eggs from the neighbours, I fill my incubator and get breakfast. I have nothing to lose but the eggs- the hydro costs the same whether the incubator is full or not- and in the first trial, I got two chicks that aren't related to my girls.No, the odds aren't great, but it's worth it to me at this time.

    2. A man I used to get eggs from to hatch would keep them out of the fridge for me. Maybe they'd do that for you. I've been pretty lucky with my eggs this year. I've had 7 hens go broody this year and they've hatched a total of 48 chicks this year! Seems like a lot of roosters though. I don't have an incubator. Hope you get lots of hens from your chicks!

  3. Wendy, buddy - i am so glad to see you back. so sorry about your chicken/dog problems...and i know absolutely nothing about llamas - bahahahahahah - i'm a big help eh?

    i am glad that you and your mom are spending time together, alone and with the boys. i am glad that you sound like you are keeping yourself busy. but i have one complaint that i must make:


    girl, yer killin' me!
    your friend,

    1. Thanks, kymber.

      The colony might have to wait for a bit. I've been thinking about it some, the past few days. Losing Dad changes everything. I don't know if we could make it without him. I'm torn between sharing his stories there, or trying to figure out how we'd survive without him. There are so many little things that I've taken for granted all my life. Looking through his things reminds me how much more I had to learn.

      Today in his work trailer I picked up the snow shoe harnesses (leather) he had sown the week before he died, and put them on his snow shoes that Mom had just varnished before they left on their last trip. As I fastened them in place I thought about how we'd survive the winters without snow shoes, how he taught me to walk, and how big the shoes needed to be for our type of snow. I thought about the varnishing- he told me to do ours two summers ago, to prolong their life- the differences in the tightness of the weave (he has three sets), and how I wore mine the first time when he taught me how to fix the fence and string barbed wire that first winter. I held the leather in my hands and marvelled at his handiwork. I talked to him a bit this winter as he was making a new knife case out of an old pair of boots. I admired his neat stitching, knowing from that conversation that he had used a small drill bit to make all the holes before he sewed the pieces together. And I wished that I had found some leather and sat with him and made a knife case of my own, just so I could have been there with him, knowing that I'll never have that chance again.

      Just two little things, out of a million little things, that he just did. Not people die, but worlds die in them. I lost my whole world.

    2. oh Wendy - i wish that there was something that i could do - you are radiating heartbreak! i would love to hear more stories about all of the things that your dad taught you. so would jambaloney. i just told him that your Dad made a new knife case out of old boots and he just blinked and blinked. you already know that jambaloney thinks the world of you for all of your skills, most of which were taught to you by your Dad, but now he wants you to share the stories of all that your Dad did and knew.

      it would be a wonderful tribute to your Dad if, even after passing, he was still teaching people. but only if you can, and want to.

      your friend,

    3. ugh. dumb me. i forgot to say that even if this sounds corny - if there is anything that we can do - let us know eh?

    4. wendy:

      i sooo sorry feel like you you lost your world - your dad sounds like an amazing man who taught you more than i can imagine - all skill and craftsmanship - a lost art these days..

      i hope you can see some light at the end of the tunnel soon - you will get through this, you can pretty much do anything from what i can tell.

      p.s. - you might want to consider a guard donkey they are able to terrorize all kinds of canines$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex9396

      here is a fascinating story from ontario:

    5. Thanks, both of you. I appreciate the sentiment. Some days are better than others.

      Donkeys are easier to find in these parts, so I've been reading. Thanks for the links. I haven't read anything suggesting that a donkey might bond with it's charges though, and I'm afraid after it winters with the horses it might be a royal pain going back to the birds the following year. I'm still looking, regardless...

  4. I echo the others. Express your feelings all you want. The Colony would be a wonderful place to share the stories & what he's taught you. You have an entire world/lifetime of experience to share & I think it would be healing for you...and educational for us. So glad you and your Mom can be there to help each other out. How is her health? Hugs to you all

    1. Thanks, Katidids. I think I may do just that.

      Mom's health is good. She has Crohn's, but as long as she watches what she eats she does well. Not that that really means anything though, Dad's health was excellent.