Thursday, April 29, 2010

What an exciting day!

Last night the eggs started getting little peck marks in them and you can see they are starting to hatch. I can tell that 9 have places where the chicks are starting to peck their way out of.
One little black one and a little brown one were out of the shell when I got home about 3 today. I am so excited cause this little black one is a banty and I think it is from the black speckled banties that I am keeping for my sister. She is back from Mexico and will be taking them back home so I especially wanted some eggs to hatch from them. Yahoo!!

The brown one is not a banty and is from one of my good egg laying hens. So more eggs are forthcoming in the future from this little chick!
Isn't it adorable. Still not completely dry yet. I have my little box all ready with a heat light hooked up over it to put them in as soon as they dry. They are not suppose to need anything to eat or drink for the first 24 hours.

Aah, my little babies. Isn't it sad that chicks raised in an incubator probably will never know what a momma hen is. But mine will go under the banty with the chicks I bought at the feed store the other day so she can raise them up!
Another exciting day on the homestead! Life is just grand down on the farm!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chirp, Chirp, Chirp....

Had to throw away the eggs in the first incubator when it became evident they weren't going to hatch.
But I hear baby chicks chirping in the incubator I bought. Must be strong little rascals cause they are loud. And hoping it isn't just one little guy making all that noise. Today makes day 18 I believe so they should be hatching by Day 21.

Hatching chicks the "old-fashioned" way.

And my momma is still doing great with the second batch of baby chicks I put under her. The last few days have been cool and rainy and she is tucking them right under body and wings and keeping them warm. Don't you wish all females were as good a momma as banty hen mommas. Would save our foster care system a bundle.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something ate all my baby chicks...

Well last night something burrowed underneath my chicken tractor and ate all my baby chicks but didn't bother the momma. Feathers and all. So now we are putting wire under the chicken tractor also.
Anybody ever seen a tunnel like this and can tell me what it looks like? Coon? Minx? It ate every chicken and I had 12 so that would have been a pretty big meal. Feathers and all!
You can see it tunneled under the chicken tractor although you could tell the wire had been pulled on but that could have been the coon that we caught in the trap the day before. It's quite a mystery to me!
So once again I went back to the feed store and bought some more chicks. Hope my momma banty accepts them. And I should have chicks start hatching from my incubator in a couple more days. Sad day on the homestead....
This time we put the momma and the new batch of chicks in a pretty secure pen with wire on all sides as well as the bottom. Knew this pen would come in handy when I bought it at the swap meet for $12.00
And once again the momma Silkie cuddled the chicks under her wings just as she had done the night before. In all honesty, she probably didn't even know it was a new batch. My understanding is poultry cannot see at night.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Now how did that coon get out of that trap?

On my way home last night I caught a fox in my headlights messing down around my chicken house so Tool Belt Jim borrowed a live animal trap and set out hoping to catch it. But guess what was in the trap this morning? A very large coon. Tool Belt Jim left it in the trap thinking he would come home tonight and let it go cause he was pretty sure from looking at it that it had babies somewhere.

But when he got home that night the coon was no longer in the trap. And he was amazed cause the coon would have had to lift the trap door to get out. He thought maybe I had let it out but no way was I gonna mess with that coon. I remember seeing the blood dripping off my grandpa's finger when I was a little girl after he tangled with a coon. I have a feeling coons are way smarter than we give them credit for.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our happy little boy...

Time to plant the potatoes...

Actually, it's probably past time to plant the potatoes cause the old timers always said to plant them by St. Patrick's Day and that was last month. I read an article in my Backwoods Home magazine about planting potatoes in hay so am going to try that this year.
First, we cut up the potatoes making sure each one had a good "eye" to grow...
Then Tool Belt Jim ran the tiller over the ground that had already been plowed and disked. One row we planted by placing hay on the freshly tilled ground,.....

then placed the potato on top of the hay...

then placed more hay on top of the potatoes. The article said to use seasoned hay and we happened to have some of that left in the field from last year. I am just praying the author knew what they were talking about cause I don't want to raise a crop of weeds from seeds being in the hay. I think next year I will use straw instead but we'll see how this year goes. Then I watered it all down good. The article said by planting potatoes this way you do not have to dig in the fall. You just lift the potatoes out. Almost sounds too good to be true!
Mark stayed busy digging holes in the garden to plant some tomatoes in...

whoa, that may be overkill! Another day out on the homestead...

It's a wild turkey!

A turkey ran across the road in front of me while on my way home from town and since I had my camera in the car I thought I would try to get a shot before it ran off into the field. When I got closer I seen it was having a hard time trying to get through the fence. I walked right up to it. Thought about grabbing it by the legs but figured it would flog me to death so just shooed it on back down the road. Cool, huh?

You never can learn too much...

stopped in at my local extension office and my friend Pat gave me another children's book about eggs. Mark read it to me while I was cooking. He loves reading about animals. He just seems to love learning!

And he is an excellent reader!

Happy Birthday to Steve...

He says he's 18 but I don't know how that can be especially when I am only 20!! Anyway, we baked a cake and ate outside on the patio for supper.

Some of us ate cake. Looks like Kaden ate paper plate. Ha. Ha. Didn't have any candles so stuck matches in the cake for Steve to blow out. Worked didn't it?

Baby Kaden is enjoying the great outdoors!

Can you see that red spot that looks like rug burn on Koda's head? Rough housing with Mark and hit his head on the sidewalk. Had to happen sometime I guess. Doesn't look too good does he through the eyes. Few hours later he was puking all over the place. Wasn't related to the bump cause that happened yesterday or the day before. Next time I will perk up a little faster when he tells me his stomach hurts!!!

How old will we be next year Steve?

Planting flowers ....

Time once again to plant the flowers on my patio. Looks like I have more help this year!

Built this new fountain this year.

Put my driftwood and birdhouses up on the retaining wall to get them out of the way. Looks neat also!

Moved this little statue up by the patio so I could see it better.

Can't plant this little pot cause a wren built a nest in here and has several eggs she is setting on. I love wrens! They are my favorite bird! I read once where they are the loudest bird in the forest for their size!

Hostas are coming up!

Planted some trailing flowers around the fountain. By the way this is a solar fountain.

Iris look good this year too! But can you kill Iris? Don't think so.

My hen and chicks survived the winter in their pot.

Love my deer that my son Kevin bought me one year for my birthday.
More plants ready to plant... Gotta go kill a wasp for my wimpy daughter who thinks a little, tiny wasp is capable of carrying her off to a death too scary to think about.....

Silkie banties never give up!

My little silkie banty has been setting on her nest in the back corner of the chicken house for about 30 days now so guess it is time to see what is going on. Haven't seen any little babies anywhere and gave her a few extra days in case she had layed more eggs before she started sitting. Minnie Rose Lovgreen in her little book wrote " she starts laying an egg each day in her nest. She sits on the nest a little longer every day, a little longer every day, until she lays her last egg. She may lay anywhere from 10 to 14 eggs. She is almost ready to set...when she stays on her eggs all night, you know she has started setting. " So I wanted to give plenty of time for the eggs to hatch in case I had my timing off.
The problem is she is so far back in the corner that I cannot reach her. But Tool Belt Jim had been using a net to herd chickens in at night so I thought it would work to move her off the nest.
You can see how small the door is so there is no way I could crawl in it and I was afraid the banty momma would peck Mark if I sent him in there. I lifted her off the nest with the net and guess what? All this time she had been setting on one lone, solitary guinea egg. And the only problem is I only have two guineas and they are both hens, so the guinea eggs are not fertile. Just my luck! But, I felt so sorry for the little silkie momma cause she has faithfully set on that nest hardly ever getting off. In fact I have never seen her off the nest. But Minnie Rose Lovgreen says in my favorite chicken book " she only takes about 15 minutes recess off the nest every day, or maybe 30 minutes when the sun shines. She eats and drinks and takes a dust bath, and cleans her beak thoroughly before she goes back on the nest again.....when you see her clean her beak, you know she's just about ready to go back on the nest. ...She only takes that one recess a day. She does that for 21 days."
So it was now obvious this little momma wasn't going to get to mother any little babies. But wait! I remember seeing a sign in my local Producer's Grain window about "chick days" coming soon. Why not buy some baby chicks and put under her? I called and the store closest to my house actually had chicks in stock that very day! So over there I headed!

Poppy and Baby Kaden looking at the chicks.
Grandson Mark is my poultry farmer. He loved the baby chicks too. I picked out 7 baby chicks cause I wasn't sure if the silkie mother would actually claim them as her own cause the lady at the store said they were not newly hatched chicks and sometimes the banty won't take them cause she knows they cannot possibly be hers. Ha! They don't know how badly this little banty wants to mother something!

I decided not to put the babies in the hen house with her but to move them all to their own cage. That way if the other chickens try to peck them or the little banty momma won't accept them, I don't have to try to catch them in the little chicken house again. We definitely need Tool Belt Jim to put us in a door on the side that I can crawl in through!

Here is Tool Belt Jim adding the baby chicks in with the banty momma.
Now for the big moment. Notice she is eyeing them pretty closely. And these chicks probably were raised in an incubator so they don't even know what a momma hen is. That's my guess anyway.

Instinct must take over cause they run to her and start snuggling. But alas, we found the babies could get out of this little pen so move them again we did. This time we brought them up to the house and put them on the patio and put them all in a plastic tub that we could put some wire over. Will the momma take care of them? Nothing like yanking you off your eggs and moving you twice when all you want to do is be left alone so you can set on your eggs!

Now isn't this a precious sight! She has all 7 of the baby chicks under her! She is such a good momma! I am sure there is a lesson to be learned here for humans! It is still pretty cool outside so I really am thankful she is going to take care of them as her own. Otherwise I would be hooking up a light and taking care of them myself.
My favorite author says this " Her chicks are all hatched out. Then if you like you can buy more chicks to put under her. She can cover up to 6 more chicks than she can hatch, because her wing span spreads out. That's an economical way to build up your flock quicker than just letting her sit on those 10 to 14 chicks. A bantam hen can cover as many as 18 to 20 chicks. One lady did order 25 baby chicks, and she kept her bantam hen setting on some old eggs until the chicks arrived by mail. She put the whole 25 under her hen, and raised every one." Wow is all I can say! Not sure where they all would have fit!
Here they all are the next day when it warmed up.
These little chicks just climb all over the momma banty. They are so cute to watch. Now here is my problem. Apparently the momma takes care of her babies for two months before she starts laying eggs again wanting to hatch out another batch. And remember I have two incubators going with about 9 eggs due to hatch out in about 7 days and another incubator going with about 19 eggs in it due to hatch out in about 17 days. So will she still accept the chicks that are going to hatch out in a week to raise along with these? I may have to plan on raising some under a light in a brooder. Whatever!

Isn't this fun and such good experience for all of us!