Mid July on the farm

We have been very busy.  Last week I went camping.  While I was away, it seems that my garden has exploded. (It tends to do that when you don’t see it every day).   I hatched hatch# 3 of chicks a couple days ago, and we found our first duck egg today!  Here are some pictures of the latest happenings:

garden 7.16
Here is my garden. I get to do some weeding today.
greens
Here it is, growing away. The red bits on the right are some beets.
tiny artichoke
A tiny artichoke. It’s about an inch tall.
sunflower
A sunflower. This is only about 2 feet tall right now.
roma
Roma tomato.
pumpkin
My pumpkin plants!
kohlrabi
Kohlrabi. First time growing this – we are not sure if we like it yet. We will be trying it when it’s ready.
daniels garden
My son’s garden. His corn is doing well. There is a zinnia blooming.
early girl
Our Early Girl tomato. This was a grafted plant I bought. I somehow forgot to plant seeds of my Early Girl tomatoes.
hatch 3_2
Here are the newest chicks! We have 14, they all hatched on Thursday, and they are from my own chickens’ eggs. We now have 57 chickens all together. That total will go down once we cull the extra roosters.
hatch 3
A chick’s eye view of them.
hatch 3_3
Another chick’s eye view.
barnyard
Here is the bird yard. You can see we have Pekin ducks here.
blue duck egg
We got our first egg from the ducks today. It’s about the size of a chicken egg. Not sure why it is bluish. Pekins are supposed to lay white/cream eggs.
duck egg
Here is the egg again. Like a large chicken egg – I figure its a starter eggs for the ducks, so they should get bigger soon, and probably change to the cream/white color. Not sure if we’ll eat this one since it’s a weird color. I know it was laid this morning / last night, so it’s fresh, but it’s still not the color they are supposed to be from the ducks.

Exciting times!

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Our Frizzled Chicken

One of our one month-old chicks is frizzled.  I believe she’s from one of the chocolate/Maran hatching eggs I bought – when she was born she was black with a cool red/cherry colored head.  Now I have no idea what kind of chicken this is – I read that the frizzle gene can show up in any breed.  In the U.S. they don’t consider “Frizzle” a breed, but in Europe supposedly they do.  She also has 5 toes instead of four, which I read is another genetic thing that can just happen. I used to think only Dorkings got 5 toes.  I don’t know for sure that she’s a girl, but because of her uniqueness, she is safe from Freezer Camp if she turns out to be a boy.  I’ll keep her around because I just love how she looks – I hope she’s a girl though.  Here are some pics of my frizzled chicken:

 

frizzle 4
Here she is…
frizzle 3
Her coloring has changed a bit -she has a lot more red/orange in her feathers than she did when she first hatched.
mohawk
She has a little mohawk. I’m not sure what is going on here – it may develop into a comb. Our rooster Wonky-top’s comb started as a feather mohawk last year.
frizzle 2
Such a pretty little chicken.
frizz
Another angle
feathers
Here you can see how the feathers on her back are. It’s a pretty cool effect.

I like having different breeds/kinds of chickens – it’s really interesting watching them change as they grow up – sometimes you get some really unusual things, as you can see here.

Chicken moving day!

Today we put our older batch of chicks (this year’s “teenagers”) outside, into one half of the coop.  They are still a little leery – they went from a cardboard box with a screen on top (to keep them from flying out) to a large open pen and half of a building. So they are a little overwhelmed. Plus on the other side of the fence are some large creatures that look similar, but are a little scary – the adult chickens.  Everyone is settling in ok though.  We’ll be moving the smaller chicks in a couple weeks, when they are big enough and have all their feathers.  For now, here are the teens in their new home.

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Here they are, meeting the neighbors
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So small compared to the adults
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They have a lot of room.
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They settled in a bit and started playing, jumping around and sparring with each other
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Here are the scary neighbors checking them out. And my husband posing in the background.
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Checking out their new home

Busy Springtime

There has been a lot going on lately around here.  After my last post, no more chicks hatched. We ended up with 22 hatched out of 42 for that batch.  I candled the remaining eggs – 10 were empty, and 10 just didn’t hatch. And then a day or so later one of the chicks who had hatched died.  So we now have 21 small chicks, and 4 larger chicks. I’m done with hatching for the year – we now have 43 chickens including our adults.

Here is one of our larger chicks, Escape Artist’s daughter:

esky daughter
Looks like her mama. Also tries to jump out of the box just like mama did.

We vaccinated the chicks for Marek’s last weekend. The older chicks were given it at the same time – may be a little late but it’s better than nothing. We only had the one vial and didn’t want to try to split it up, especially since this was the first time we’ve ever given it.  My chickens from last year were all vaccinated at the hatchery. I don’t know if my 2-year-old chickens were vaccinated. Either they were or we don’t have Marek’s disease here, but I have heard that it is all over the place.  I’ve read that it takes 2 weeks for the chicks  to build up any immunity after being vaccinated, so next weekend we might move the older chicks outside.   We were going to add another little chicken house for the youngsters, but we’ve decided we will do a split coop again – we have the room in the chicken house, with two separate rooms, and fenced runs on both sides, so we can keep them separate but all safe and comfortable.  The smaller chicks will have to go out later – they are still too small.  I’ll have to integrate them with the larger chicks when they do get moved, but there are so many smaller ones I think they’ll be able to hold their own against the 4 larger chicks then. Here is one of the smaller chicks:

red head maran
I think she’s one  of the Marans (or came out of one of those eggs), but she is black with a red head. I noticed her feathers growing in stick out a little bit, like a frizzle chicken. We’ll have to see what she ends up looking like. She’s one of my favorites from this batch.
frizzle wings
Here you can see some of the feathers on the top part of her wing stick out, away from her body. I’ve never seen that before, but hers are doing that symmetrically on both sides of her body so it must be what she is supposed to have happen.

We lost one of our ducks this week. We had a male (we think) who had some trouble with his feet – he wasn’t really able to keep up with the group when they were moving around, we had noticed.  In their pen that didn’t matter so much, but earlier this week I was outside and noticed he seemed to be stuck in the pool. I don’t know if he got sick, or just got stuck in the pool and got too cold. I took him out and set him on the grass in the sunshine, and dried him off a little with a towel. I hoped he would get better, but he died a little while later.  Here are our remaining 11 ducks:

ducks
It looks like someone had a pillow fight in our back yard, with all the duck feather dander everywhere. 

The ducks always run away when you get near them. The chickens, much smarter, come running because they know people=food. Here are my chickens out today:

got snacks
“Did you bring us some snacks?”

Our trees are starting to fill in.  Springtime is in full swing, except we are in the U.P.  So we got snow flurries today, and it didn’t even get in the 40s.  It’s supposed to warm up in the next few days though. Here is our cherry tree in bloom:

cherry tree
Our cherry tree. My son’s pool and Slip’n’Slide are under the tree – we really haven’t had warm enough temperatures for either of those, aside from a couple days here and there.

Since spring is here, I’ve been planning the garden.  We are using the same spaces as last year, and I’m making a new space for my son. He had a little flower-bed area last year but it didn’t get enough sunshine. I gave him a big square, about 8×8 or so, that used to have weeds and asparagus, and some old rhubarb. The rhubarb and weeds were the only things that really grew there. So he’s helping me clean it up. And we started our garden plans:

garden plan 2016
This year’s garden plan

And we started seeds last weekend:

 

more seedlings
Here is one of our two trays. I figured out we don’t need to start as much in the house as I used to.  Last year a lot of things did great just sown directly in the ground.

My strawberry patch is doing well. I put some new plants in this year. The old ones are growing well and spreading, and the new ones are doing ok.  I need to make a cover in the next few weeks or so, to keep tiny creatures from stealing my berries this year.

strawberry patch
This whole mulched area is strawberry patch, except right against the house is for raspberry bushes. I only have one in the ground right now;  a few others that I just bought this year are in pots waiting to go in.

My son and I were taking a walk last weekend and came across something extra delicious. I have been telling him and my husband about morels since we moved up to the U.P. and have not been able to find any.  We found 4 in the woods last weekend. Not many, but it’s enough to show them what I was talking about, and let them have a taste.  We haven’t had much rain this year, but now we know where we might be able to find them – I have been checking in that area again but haven’t seen much else, either because of the lack of rain, or because forest creatures are finding them first. Here are the morels we found:

morels
The four morels we found this year. They were delicious.

Chicks and bunnies – updates

I counted our baby rabbits tonight.  Wind (our white Californian) had 10 live babies! Fire, our black Rex, had 7 total – 2 died the other day, but we counted 5 alive this evening. Wind’s babies are all different colors. Some are naked pink, some are black, and some are  spotted.

For the chicks – we are still mid-hatch, and we are up to 22 hatched out of 42.  I don’t see any more pipping at the moment, but from how this hatch has been going I’m not worried. Today was their due date, and they started hatching 2 days ago so I’m going to give any stragglers until Saturday night.  So far we’ve gotten 11 Marans, 5 Easter/olive eggers, three bantams and three from our home grown eggs.   Here are some updated pictures of our newest fuzzballs:

abcdefghiklmn

More chicks are here!

Our main hatch is due tomorrow  – 42 eggs in the incubator. Our chicks started hatching last night.  So far we have 8 in the brooder, and another one was just hatched a few minutes ago. There are a few more pipping now.  So far, we’ve had 3 bantams, 3 easter eggers, and 3 of our homegrown eggs hatch. There is a maran that is half hatched as of the last time I looked. Here are some pictures:

start of hatch
Here you can see some little chicks amongst the eggs. This picture was taken this morning. We had one completely hatched last night, and three in there by this morning.
first hatched
Here is another pic from this morning. You can see a little head peeking out under the large yellow incubator fan.
Large brooder
Here is the large brooder box – I was going to mix everyone together, but tonight I decided to rethink that. The new chicks are a lot smaller than these three week olds, so I will wait until the newbies are all running around to see if we can mix them. They have their own large box.
hello
Here are some new babies!
chick fuzz
More pictures of the babies.
chick view
More chicks
chicks 2
Cute little gray and brown chicks – you can see the feathered legs on this brown bantam.
feathered legs
More feathered legs.
gray chicks
A gray chick
tiny chicks
A tiny bantam in the foreground.
larger chicks 2
Here are the older chicks – 3 weeks old now.
larger chicks
Here they are again. I’m worried they are too large to meet the babies for awhile. We’ll see.

 

Also, my rabbits have both had their litters – they were born yesterday and last night. I have not counted them yet so I don’t know how many each had.  So we have lots of babies on our farm at the moment.

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.

 

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.