Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chicken Myths

You've got to be careful about what you believe out of all the information you'll read on the net, for the simple reason a great deal of it is anecdotal. Chickens all have different personalities, and things that work for/or happen to one flock can be completely different from someone else's experiences.

(And I hope everyone realizes the same for any "advice" or information I give out)

I read that we should keep the moms & chicks separated because they will kill any other hen's chicks. You can see clearly from the image they are obviously trying to kill each other... NOT! Actually one of the little grays has an adventurous spirit and frequently wanders off to the other hen's brood. Momma #2 will watch him and protect him until he runs back to his mom, or she comes back to collect him.
Play date!

Now, these mommas grew up together and know each other well, their chicks are around the same ages and there is tons of space in the coop. I don't know if any of that makes a difference at all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Good Day, Bad Day.

Today was a bad day.

I lost my favourite little chicky (my little penguin) when he fell into the chicken's water bucket. We've had chickens (meaties) drown in other waterers before, but that bucket has been in the coop through lots of chicks and this has never happened. I was in there at noon and forgot to check the chick's water, the bigger chickens must have drained it & little penguin got thirsty.

If nothing else, I learn from my mistakes, and hubs is picking up a proper waterer on the way home today. I was hoping to set up an elaborate rain catch & drip-water system. That's not happening any time soon, so in the mean time we won't loose any more chicks.

Coco officially abandoned her nest. There was one cold morning she got off to eat & the BPR took over to lay an egg, and then Coco did not return to her nest. The eggs hadn't cooled off too badly so I was hoping they'd survive, but it looks like none of them did. Coco kicked an egg out yesterday, then two more this morning, and left the last 3 this afternoon. She's back to being a normal chicken and I dismantled the nest.

I wouldn't let her go broody for at least a few weeks because she needs to get back to a good condition; and then the weather is going to be way too cold (November chicks was kind of pushing it). So the soonest we'll let her hatch more is early spring. We'll see what she thinks of that plan.

Out of about 2 dozen eggs we got 6 chicks and I'm starting to re-examine my hen-hatching plan in favour of an incubator... well not really. Selecting for a good chick raising instinct is really important to me, but those are some frustrating numbers!

Instead of removing the dog kennel I set up a creep for the chicks. Now they can access their feed and water where the adult chickens can't reach it.

The other bad news is that someone is eating my chicken eggs. It started before the new chickens arrived, so it's not them. I'm moderately sure it's the turkeys. I have been going in there to collect eggs as frequently as possible (usually 4-5 times a day) so they don't get a chance, but they got another one today. That means I need to separate the turkeys, egg eating is very difficult to stop once it starts, and I don't want to the hens getting any smart ideas.

No idea where I might put the turkeys for the winter... so this could prove challenging.

Good news on the turkey front is that they were looking a little wormy, ruffled feathers so of shrunk up posture, but I locked them in the feed-room of the coop (where they may have to stay) with turkey feed & a whole lot of Diatomaceous earth and they look great!

We're still getting a dozen or so eggs every day out of the coop, most are xl & jumbo so I'm on the hunt for some bigger egg cartons. Hubs should also be picking up our regular sized cartons on the way home today, and I'll be glad to get all my bowls back since they're in my fridge holding eggs.

KSCC: Notepads

This is one of the simplest things you can do to help reduce waste. I try to double-side print everything I can to save paper but sometimes you get an odd or single page. I save up all our one-sided computer print outs and when I get a few, it's a simple as cutting the pages into quarters & stapling them together. And I've got dozens of these around the house so I've always got something to write on. (I would suggest never using anything with sensitive or private information on it, in case you loose the page).

When I was in high school our environmental club did this one year (having students place one-sided paper waste in bins in each computer room) and then sent them out to a company that made actual note-pads with glue. They were great & I had tons of them for years & years, but staples and cheaper and easier at home.  

Equine study I had finished reading

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today on the Farm

The best laid schemes of mice & men... thanks to the warm weather I've had to move the horses out of the sacrifice (/diet) paddock because there is a foot of mud in there. This is always going to be a problem in Spring/Fall because we're keeping two big animals in a small area. However, by the end of November the ground is suppose do to be frozen, and probably a few inches of snow on the ground already.
Torrential downpour has filled the ditches,
ducks are happy!
So they're off enjoying their freedom instead of coming in from the rain.

The goose has gone M.I.A. Not that I'm sad he's missing, which probably happened because despite my suggestion he go into the barn he decided to bite me instead, but I am concerned about the possible predator activity. He couldn't fly so it's not like he's gone off somewhere.

I'm hoping to add some more goslings soon so we can collect down, but I think we'll start from chicks this time so we can tame them. We will wait until the spring to buy them because I'd like to make a separate coop for the waterfowl. They're not making a big mess in the coop at all, and they occupy space that the chicken's don't (on the ground). So we could continue to keep them all together indefinitely, but I'm worried the ducks may get nasty once they have ducklings to protect.

Steak is "happy" to be back with mom, I think he mostly just missed having other cow around again. The cows were smart enough to come in out of the rain, and spent the last 2 days sleeping in the barn.
Clearly did not loose a lot of weight in weaning

Yankey has turned out to be quite the bully! I've had to separate Billy at night because she was picking on him too much. Unfortunately she came back into heat, so now we're on a stud-search, which means waiting longer for milk.

We've been getting a great supply of XL & Jumbo eggs from the new chickens, a dozen a day! So I've bought some cartons from Berry Hill & we may open up our egg shop to the public a little early then planed. Or start holiday baking REALLY early.

I moved the piggies into the middle stall in the back of the barn last night, so Maddie can have his stall back. We're not letting them out any more, after they took off after our neighbour's in their horse-drawn wagon last weekend (a piggie chase ensued as they ran off down the road). They've got a lot of space to run around in the barn, and we'll fix up the sacrifice paddock fence first thing in the spring (we'll probably expand it too).

Coco's Eggs

Poor Coco, the girls have been taking advantage of her! Everytime she gets up from her nest to eat, someone sneaks in there & gives her another egg to care for. She had 7 a few days ago, and now she's up to 14!

So I went into the coop after dark last night to candle her eggs. 7 looks quite full and should be ready to hatch in just a few more days. I removed 7, including one that was broken, most of which looked fertile but were really just a few days old (so good news the new chickens have fertile eggs).

I remember some great twitter advice about writting on the eggs, and the 7 that are ready to hatch have one 'X' on them, so if any more chickens get smart, we'll be able to tell those eggs apart at a glance.

CoCo's 21 days are up now. Eggs this developed it's hard to see if they are moving or not, but we should know very soon. She had been off her eggs twice because of other hens sitting on her nest, but neither times the eggs got too cold, I hope!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pigs are Naughty

Goats are trouble,
But pigs are naughty!

Was cleaning out the piggies stall (giving it back to Maddie) and moving them over to the next stall, so they were out & about snuffling around from treats. Left them in there with the half-gates up to go to the house for a moment, then run some water out to the chicken coop. By the time I go to the chicken coop, who should burst forth but one of the pigglets!!

So either we grew an extra pig overnight, or one of those little squealers managed to run under the gate, through the cow section, outside, around the sacrifice paddock, over the chicken run fence (!), up the chick ramp into the chicken coop; Just so he could be in there to pop out when I opened the door!

Scared the crap out of me as the little black sausage came flying out towards me as I opened the door to let the ducks in... Just another day on the farm.

Coops getting Full!

Our Jr. Rooster
This is the one cuckoo marran boy we kept, and he's turned into quite a fine specimen! Kept well in line by big-bully-Roo, he's been known to hide in the bushes until his rival isn't looking then sneak out and grab a hen. It's quite amusing to watch
My favourite Marran lady, I just think
she's a lovely bird, even if her colouring isn't

The marrans have been laying quite well, we get about a dozen eggs a week from them. 

Enjoying the run
We added another flock of around 20 birds right into the coop. Again, we really wanted to quarantine, but they came from a friend's backyard flock and we didn't have a proper place to keep them (especially because they are laying).

Red Stars
Hub's friend had too many eggs to eat or giveaway and we're very happy to have them. 

There are 2 new EE as well, but they are too shy for pictures. If they go broody as well, we're going to have quite a lot of chickens in the spring! 

The turkeys are happy, they aren't the
ugliest in the coop any more!
 The brown chickens are "red stars" or commercial layer chickens. They all look absolutely terrible because they are molting. Hopefully they'll be done soon & back into lovely feathering.
Black Star
Going to need to add another water bucket
 We have 3 of these really lovely black stars, which are also a commercial layer chicken. Two of them are really fine birds, lovely deep bodies, nice big chickens. While the red stars are probably going to be seeing the inside of the soup pot in a few months, I'm going to keep a couple of the blacks to breed.

 Sometimes chickens go off laying after a big move or change, we've already had 9 eggs since the new gals moved in! All xl & jumbos.

Chickens only lay such large eggs when they are older and about to stop laying eggs regularly.

These new eggs have very pale yolks, probably from eating lots of commercial feeds. Our chickens have deep yellow/orange yolks because of all the free-range feed. It won't take too long for the new girls eggs to become dark yellow too.

Big Buddy Roo is pretty happy about the changes! Although still chasing his rival everywhere, we've now tipped the ratio and should get another roo so we have good fertility.

Chicks are getting their feathers
 Big mama EE is a tough lady! She's been beating all the other hens for dominance.
 This poor gal lost her whole tail in the moult.The skin is bright red where her feathers have started re-growing.

Marran girls aren't overly impressed with the new arrivals, but overall the coop already feels a whole lot warmer. Glad that there we have tons of space for everyone to roost, and while they're scrapping a little over dominance, they're getting along well so far.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cook: Quiche

 This is the first time I've tried to make pie-crust with the mixer, worked okay but I have found the food processor is better (too bad mine is KOed!)

I just used the directions on the shortening package because I wanted to make some extra pie shells for the freezer, recipe was just fine.

Folding the pie-crust makes it easy to move
with out ripping/tearing it

Pre-Baking with Beans!
I've re-used these ones many times now

All ready for the freezer for a quick
Ready for the oven

I filled the crust with cheese, spinach, leeks, and about 18 eggs! I realized much later I forgot to add the cream, so it was really just an omelet in a crust.

Even for a glorified omelet, it was YUMMY!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goats are Trouble, But Adorable!

Jail break!
We've got such a nice little herd running around here now. Before it was more Harry & Diego then Billy following them mournfully along (after all Hare & D are half-brothers and grew up together). Now Hare has really bonded with Yankee and she follows him all over the farm. He has already  shown her where the feed room is, where the holes in the fence are, how to get into the chicken coop... And other important goatly things!
Uh guys, that's not how you do it...

Billy still trails mournfully along, but at least he has D to 'hang out' with a bit now. D is doing amazingly in on his leg, still won't put weight on it when running/jumping but if he's just walking along grazing he's got all four on the ground!
Yanky Banky

Eventually we'd like to get Billy a buddy of his own species, but lamb prices for meat are high so we'll have to be patient and wait for a good deal. We also really want another fibre wether if we can find it. Billy's coat is so soft and plush!! That boy is going to be sweating in February while everyone else is shivering. I do think he's getting a little tired of me rubbing his back while I drift off imagining all the wonderful things I can make...

The last thing you ever see...
 Found that ****** goose a home, with someone who keeps lots of waterfowl. They're going to trade us for a few banty chickens or something, so I'm happy!