Strange little egg

I was out collecting eggs tonight found the smallest egg in one of the nesting boxes. It’s smaller than any starter egg I’ve ever found. My hens shouldn’t be laying starter eggs now anyway; they should all have been laying somewhat regularly by now. My youngest hens are just over a year old. The shell is normal, the egg is a little oblong, but otherwise it seems like a normal egg. Just very tiny.  We don’t have any bantam hens.  I hope it’s a one-time thing, but it is pretty interesting.  My son asked if he can eat it (once it’s clean, if I crack it and determine it’s edible, then I told him yes, he could have it).  Here are some pictures of the strange tiny egg:

tiny egg 2
Here the tiny egg is next to two of my normal sized eggs.
tiny egg
Here it is again next to a normal sized egg, in my not very large hands. I think this picture shows the scale a little better, though it’s a bit blurry.

What an interesting find. I’ll update you on what happens when I open it.

 

 

*** 5/3 Update! My son wanted me to hard boil the egg, instead of just cracking it into a pan. We hard boiled it, and then cut it in half lengthwise. Here is what we found:

weird egg
There was no yolk. The egg is shown on a small teaplate here.  I showed my son, and he didn’t want to eat it after seeing it. I’m glad. I don’t think I would eat that either.

We have not had any more small eggs, but we’ve found a couple that were the same color and are somewhat lopsided – normal sized eggs, but flatter on one side, like they were squished while forming.  So we may have a hen who is either starting to lay, starting to re-lay (maybe stopped over winter?) or getting ready to stop.  My oldest hens are only 2 so that shouldn’t be happening yet.

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Test hatch – 2 week photo shoot

Our test hatch (or batch 1) chicks turned two weeks old today. They are doing well, and getting bigger.  They are a little skittish.  Also, one of them is Escape Artist’s child.  Just like mom, this one, at less than 2 weeks old, figured out he can fly and perch on the brooder box.  I have now been using a window screen to cover the box. We have to cover/uncover pretty slowly so the chicks don’t freak out when we go to clean out the brooder or feed/water them.

I attempted to take some pictures today – when I say I attempted, I mean that I was able to take them, but the pictures are not very good. The chicks did not want to cooperate very much, and I think they were a bit close up, since I had to hold the chicks so I didn’t have to go find them if I set them down.  The brooder is in our spare bedroom and I can just imagine them taking off somewhere under the bed and us not being able to get them before they poop everywhere.   Here are some (somewhat fuzzy) pictures of our chicks:

chick 1
This is one of my (probably) Australorp mix chicks – she was the first to hatch in this batch. There is another one (the 4th one) that looks very similar to her. She is larger than the other one though. (the window screen behind her is resting on a different box, NOT the brooder box. Just in case you were wondering)
chick one 2
Here is another picture of her.  She is black with some gray, and orange legs (not black legs like the adult australorps.) I figure they are australorps because I don’t have any other adult black hens that lay brown eggs. Escape artist is the only other black hen and she lays white eggs (she’s my only white egg layer).
escys child
Here is Escape Artist’s (Esky’s) daughter. She can fly out of her box just like mama. I believe Esky is an Andalusian. So this one is part Andalusian, part whatever-her-daddy-is.
esky child 2
Another picture of Esky2. She looks a lot like mom but she has a lot more white / yellow in her feathering. We’ll have to wait and see.
light chick1
Here is my lighter chick, some kind of speckled chicken.  I have a speckled sussex, a barred rock, and a cornish that could be mama – I also have a speckled rooster. So I’m not sure. But this one is very pretty – almost has some eyeliner bits near his eyes.
light chick 3
It’s quite a bit early to tell, but I’m suspicious this one is a rooster.  Seems a little assertive compared to the other chicks, but that may not indicate anything. Time will tell.
light chick 2
Here is one more picture of the speckled chick.
chick 4
Here is Chick 4. (4th chick to hatch). Another Australorp mix. She did not want to perch, just wanted to try to get back with her buddies. I was worried she’d fall so I had to hold a little more tightly than the others.
chick 4 2
This chick is getting some pretty white in her wings.

I love watching them grow up – it’s fun to speculate about what they will look like as adults, but with mixed breeds there is not really any way to know until their feathers are all in.  I like having a bunch of different colors/looks of chicken. It helps us tell them apart also.

 

Springtime with ducks

Yesterday we finally got the ducks outside. Phew. My house now smells a lot better.  They really like their new home.  There is an old dog kennel that my Dad built many years ago, and last year my husband was converting it to a clubhouse for my son.  It was still in transition, and we needed somewhere to put the ducks, so my son said he doesn’t mind if we use it for them temporarily.  We want to set up something more permanent, with a fenced yard/run, and a kiddie pool for them.

Also, our snow is melting!!  We have had temperatures in the 70s today and yesterday.  And I’m seeing signs of spring. It was waiting patiently for the snow to melt.  Take a look at our spring time yard and ducks:

my silly family and the duck house
The duck house, along with my son on the roof and my husband on the right, both doing silly poses. We were working on reinforcing the house last night (to keep out hungry raccoons, etc).
ducks in the house
The ducks in their new digs.  They have a heat lamp to keep them warm at night, and a bunch of pine shavings for bedding.
duck bed
Inside the duck house, on the other side from where the ducks sleep -this is the food and water area. We are trying to keep their water away from their bedding, as much as we can.

While we were working on reinforcing the duck house, I realized I saw some green over near the woods.  And other surprises as well:

daffodils
The Green I saw in the woods was little daffodil leaves.
croci
Because I saw the daffodil leaves, I came over to check on our usually-first-to-flower flowers, and I found what I was looking for – these crocuses were all bloomed.

Today was in the 70s and my son was very anxious to get his pool filled up.  Like the ducks, he is also obsessed with water. The water was too cold for him to swim – it takes a few days to warm up when it comes out of our hose. But he realized after filling it awhile that it was situated on a hill anyway – it wouldn’t have been very evenly filled.  So he said we could let the duck use it today, before dumping it out to move it to a more level spot.  They were very happy about that.

duck pool
Ducks in the half-filled pool.
duck in pool
My son watching the ducks.
ducks in sun
They were having so much fun.  It was nice and sunny also. I don’t think they care if the water is cold, but the sun helped to keep them warm.
happy ducks
More ducks.
baldy
They are mostly feathered now, with the yellow fuzz almost gone. One funny thing I noticed – you can see it in the middle duck on the bottom of this picture – some of them look like little balding men. They have a flat white head (feathers) and a little sticking up ring of fuzz, like the fuzz is balding.  It’s pretty funny.

The ducks had a blast in the pool, and then we had to force them out so we could put them away for the night.  We got them out and they sat in the grass, preening.  We had carried them over to the pool. But after their swim, they were soaked. We wanted to see if we could get them to walk back to their house, which is about 40-60 feet away, across the front yard and our driveway.   We tried luring them with food, which didn’t work. We tried calling them, but they didn’t want to follow us.  I finally realized that I could get them to move (in a group) if I walked behind them, kind of shuffling them in the direction I wanted them to go. They got the hang of it after a bit, and got half way or so across the yard.  It was a long walk for them, compared to what they are used to, but it worked pretty well. It was a little slow going.  Then we realized that if they were to walk across the driveway they would get really muddy. So we carried them across the driveway back to their house.

Super busy day!

We had an extremely busy day (well, evening). First I worked all day at my job. Then I drove for an hour to meet with this lady to buy some hatching eggs! For our large hatch we are using some from our own chickens, but I saw an ad on craigslist for hatching eggs of Black Copper Marans and Olive/Easter Eggers.  I went and met with her today and got a bunch of hatching eggs. She threw in some Bantam eggs. I’m not sure how that will go, since bantams are so small. Their eggs are very tiny. She said they should do fine mixed with regular sized chickens though. Here are the cool hatching eggs – you will see why I wanted them:

new eggs
See how dark brown the Maran eggs are? The larger carton is not full.  You can see the small whitish eggs are VERY small – those are the bantam eggs. She labeled the eggs- I guess the marans have two varieties. Some with feathered legs, and some without.
new eggs 2
This top carton has the olive egger and easter egger eggs.  Easter eggers (usually Auracauna chickens) can lay blue or green eggs. If you cross them with a maran, the next generation will lay dark olive eggs. You can see some of these eggs are more green than blue.

I got home after my egg-adventure, and the ducks, who are STILL in the house for tonight, needed a bath very badly.  We are planning on getting them outside tomorrow – my hubby is off so he said he’d start getting their temporary outside housing set up, and I’ll help get them in there tomorrow when I get home.  But with this bathtime, I finally got some pictures of the blow-drying ducks:

fluffy ducks
Look how massive they are – we’ve had them 3 weeks now. They are the size of full grown chickens, I swear. They are getting most of their feathers and starting to sometimes quack.
fluffy ducks 4
Ducks getting blow dried, and preening while they dry off. I keep telling them, while blow drying, that this is how we get fluffy eggs. 
fluff ducks 2
Another duck picture.

One other thing, actually kind of frustrating, that happened today – I ordered a bunch of trees and fruit plants this year (raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, etc) – I got a notice that they already shipped last week – We still have snow here, although it is supposed to warm up this week and stay warmer (fingers crossed).  My plants came today. Which means I had to figure out what to do with them/get them set up.  I’ve been saving milk jugs for most of the winter, so that I didn’t have to buy buckets or large pots.  I plan on keeping most things in pots for a year or two, so we can keep them safe from deer and the lawn mower. Some things were dormant but most said to plant right away. Here are my new plants, all dressed up and nowhere really to go yet:

trees
Larger trees in milk jugs.
more plants
Poppies (on the right) and a peony on the left – I got the peony for free. I will leave them in pots till I know it’s safe to put them outside. I got a bunch of bareroot strawberry plants too – just behind the pots in this picture. I think I will put them out this weekend and cover them with mulch to keep them safe. If the snow melts off my strawberry patch, that is.
gnarled filbert
Here is my “Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick” – also called a Gnarled Filbert. I’m very excited to have one of these. They are really cool trees, with gnarled branches.

Oh, and also – an update on my test hatch.  It turned out that of the last 4 eggs, 2 were duds (I candled last night finally, and they were completely empty).  The other two had chicks that never came out. I opened them tonight and they were dead. I gave them till tonight to start pipping but there was nothing.  So, of the actual fertile eggs, I ended up with about a 2/3 hatch success – 4 out of 6 eggs hatched. Those 4 chicks are doing very well.  I cleaned and disinfected the incubator and set it to dry. I am not sure if I will start the “real” hatch tomorrow or Friday night.  I will have to see how much work moving the ducks tomorrow night is.

Test hatch day 2

After my post last night we had two more chicks hatch, and then another one this morning.  There are four eggs left with no signs of hatching yet.  Today is day 21 though (their actual due date) so I will give them some more time.  Probably another 24-48 hours – if I don’t see any signs of pipping by another 24 hours I may give up.  If they start to hatch before then I will let them hatch all the way. Here are some more pictures:

second hatchling
Here is the first chick from last night, standing up at the top of the pic; and the 2nd chick, half hanging out of its shell.

 

third
Here is our little blondie chick. It had just hatched here.

 

chicks 3
Here they are in the brooder box.
chicks 2
Brooder box of chicks.
tiny chicks in the brooder
They are all very cute.

The chicks are so cute –  I really like the little blondie one – I’m trying to figure out who everyone’s parents are. I know the smallest black one, that hatched this morning, is the baby of Escape Artist (my hen who lays white eggs).  The other two black ones must have Australorp mothers, since they have black coloring.  The blonde one I have no idea – it most likely is not my white hens (or not much genetic material from them) because it would be more yellow – yellow fuzz translates to white feathers as an adult, usually. I don’t have any other very light adults, besides my splash maran and my brahmas, but this chick does not have feathered legs. I will just have to wait and see how they look as adults.

Test Hatch Chicks!

I’m doing a small test hatch (8 eggs) before doing my “real” hatch next weekend – we want to hatch around 50 chicks, so we will end up with a few more with my test hatch.  My eggs went in 3/22 – they were due to start hatching tomorrow.  Yesterday we took the automatic turner out of the incubator, so the eggs can get ready to hatch.

I heard some peeping last night, and noticed a little poked hole in one.  This morning there was a little more of a hole, and more peeping.  I got home this evening to 2 pipping eggs (Pipping is where the chick is starting to break through).

bit o cracked shell
Hard to see, but the middle egg here has some broken shell on the bottom – this is what one of the eggs looked like when I got home.
out pops the chick
The chick stretched and stretched, and broke through.  Once it seemed really determined to get out I think it took it maybe 5-10 minutes till it popped out.
wandering
The chick is very tired, and keeps wandering around the incubator and then passing out for a bit, then peeping, then moving around again.  He / she will take a while to dry off.
pip
Here the egg just above the white one has a hole – this is our other Pipping egg  – I have been hearing that chick peep also, and a tiny beak keeps coming out, so I expect this one to hatch in the next few hours or so.  On the left you can see the egg that the first chick hatched from.
wandering 2
Tiny chick – its eyes have been opening a bit too, but she is still so sleepy.  I think I will wait till we have at least 2 hatched before moving them to a brooder box. 

So far I think my test hatch is going well. I’ll give it a couple more days. I’m hoping to get at least 6 out of this batch of 8 eggs, in order to feel like I had a good hatch rate. I have not candled them though, so I will just have to wait and see if they all are viable.

Duck Updates

Our ducks are getting huge.  We’ve had them for three weeks already.  I swear they have quadrupled in size. We have gone through I think 5 brooder boxes.  The ducks ruin the boxes after awhile, so they have had to have replacements. Here is the last box we made for them:

duck box 4
A large duck box

Here is my son posing in a weird pose, and Downey checking out the box, so you can get a sense of scale:

silly d and duck box
The duck box with my son, Daniel, and Downey

We had the ducks in a spare bedroom, and then that got too much. They are slobs, as I’ve said before. We want to get them outside, but the weather is not cooperating yet. Here is what our yard looks like today:

blegh
blegh. That is all I can say here.

So the ducks are in our shed, which has a cement floor and is on the way outside, anyway. Instead of making them another box, my husband created a duck corral of sorts:

newest setup2
The duck corral.  The baby gate is to keep Atat from putting his face in the duck corral.
newest setup
The ducks enjoying all the room they now have to move around.

The ducks get really messy – they play with their water and then they stay wet and then they poop, and they stink. So we like to give them a bath (plus they LOVE the bath).  We started in this little tub (which is actually a cat litter pan):

duck bath

We had a leak in our bathtub so we had to use the pan the first time. We now use our actual bathtub – they all fit in at once, and we have been making the water a little deeper. They will dive under and swim around and splash – they love it.  The last time, instead of trying to dry them just with a towel, I put them on a pile of towels after the bath and then ran a hair dryer over them. They loved that.  I was dealing with a pile of ducks upstairs without a  camera, so unfortunately I don’t have pictures of that.

Today I gave them some pine shavings – we’ve been just using paper towels over the cardboard floor of their corral, and we are changing it every 2 hours or so, it seems.  I thought at the very least, the pine shavings will keep the smell down a little.

ducks with pine
You can see the pine shavings on the right in the corral here. On the left, the brown floor is their paper towel bedding after about 20 minutes.  A bunch of slobs.

We are supposed to have warmer weather this next week – they are calling for temps in the 60s next weekend.  So we will be able to get them outside then. We have an old dog shed, that was actually being converted to a clubhouse for my son.  Our plan is to use that for temporary duck housing until we can get them something built of their own.   We have a heat lamp we can set up if needed for if we get colder temps. The ducks are getting white feathers growing in under their yellow fuzz, so they should be ready to go out soon.  That is the plan as of now – we will have to see what happens on the weekend. Our weather has been so schizophrenic this spring that you never know…

Oh, and we have chicks due to hatch on Tuesday!  So bird-in-the-house season is in full swing.