More Ducks!

My ducks have been seeming to want male attention. They keep bugging my rooster; they will bob their heads and quack while surrounding him. He has not seemed interested at all, so I figured I should try to find an adult male duck to add to the flock. I put an ad out on Craigslist, and was contacted by someone who needed a home for his pair of Pekins – a male and a female. So we now have two more ducks. Pictures are below of the ducks together, and some updated chick pics:

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Here are all four together.
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The orange-billed ducks in the middle here are the newbies, they are about a year old.
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My older girls have the darker bills – they are about 3.
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Everyone has been getting along well. Yesterday they went in their pool, taking turns – the new ducks went in first, swam a bit, and then the older ladies went and took their turn – the pool only fits two of them at a time. But I thought it was cute that they are taking turns.
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Here they were hanging out their first full day here. We got them over the weekend.
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The chickens were hanging around them as well.
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Here are the chicks – they are getting very big. They are about half the size of the adults now.
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You can see Atat in the background – the chicks were investigating him a little. (The dogs are separated from the chickens by a fence).
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Here is one of the chicks.
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Here they are hanging out on some boards at the edge of the woods.
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Another picture of them in the woods.
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This orange one (I believe a Buff Orpington, but they are all mixes of breeds). 

Everyone is doing well.  We did have an unfortunate event happen with the chicks.  I typically count everyone when I put them to bed.  We put everyone away on Friday night and found that one chick was missing. We counted and re-counted several times, and looked all over. They usually hang out together.  I figured if someone was stuck somewhere they would have been chirping – they are not quiet at all when they are unhappy. We think something, possibly a hawk, came in and got one.  There is no sign of that chick.  So now we have 16 chicks. In my 5 years of owning chickens, this is the first time that I’ve lost any to a predator,  so we’ve been pretty lucky.

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Chick and Garden Updates, mid May 2019

Our spring finally seems to be in full swing – we kept getting unseasonably cold weather for a bit – they were calling for 6 inches of snow last week but we didn’t get any, luckily. The temperatures are starting to warm enough that I put in a bunch of the garden this past weekend (the stuff that can tolerate frost, anyway).  I heard the frogs chirping the last few evenings –  it’s finally been warm enough for them.

The chicks are growing up really fast. I gave them a larger box from their original brooder box. I think I have mostly females but there are at least a couple of roosters in there – someone has been attempting to crow, but it’s not very developed yet. Below are some new pictures of the chicks and the rest of the farm:

two weeks old
Here are the chicks today – they are just over 2 weeks old now.
penguin
Here is one of the penguin-looking chicks. I’m hoping it’s a girl but with that comb it doesn’t look promising. I do have some adult hens with large combs, so we’ll have to wait to find out.
gray
Here is one of the gray chicks.
brown
A couple of brown/red chicks. They were not happy that I had moved them, they were ducking down a little scared.
yellow
Here is one of the blonde chicks.
yellow two
Here are two of our blonde chicks – the one with the orange head is on the left, the one with the cat-eye-eyeliner is on the right. (From individual pics in the last post)
yellow 3
Here is another pic – you can see the wing feather coloration change on the right. It’s cool when their feathers come in – chicks’ coloring can completely change as they grow.
potato bags
We are growing potatoes in feed bags again this year – we have 20 bags planted – I put in about 11.5 pounds of potatoes, three different types. We had really good luck last year growing them in bags. They are in the garden fence to keep them from the chickens.
strawberries
Here is our Strawberry patch. It is also a mint patch (they are both taking over this area). Hopefully they can grow together and keep the other weeds out but let each other grow. There may be a fight. Even though I love mint, I would still let the strawberries win.
back garden
Here is my back garden that I took from the chicken coop – last year we grew squash and tomatoes here but it doesn’t get enough sun later in the season. I am putting a lot of shade tolerant things in here, lettuce, peas, and other things. I planted everything yesterday that can go in already. Peas, spinach, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, chard, kale, and brocollini. I have some other stuff started inside, and I will direct sow beans in June.
onions
Here are my onions! I have a full bed of yellow and a half bed of red that I planted this past weekend. The red onions will be sharing a bed with radishes for this month and then peanuts in the summer. The radishes should be ready before I put the peanuts in.
garlic
Here you can see the garlic starting to come up through the straw – this was planted in October.
garden preseason
Here is my garden as of today. There are only a couple of beds ready – this is the double-dug French Intensive garden. I have 12 beds in here, but the weeds are trying to take over. Most of this garden will go in next month, so I have some time to get the beds weeded and ready.
daffodils
Our daffodils are finally blooming!
purple
Here are some purple flowers we have growing in our yard. I’m not sure what these are called.

Double the Trouble

We have doubled our flock (plus one) – We already had 16 adults, and we just hatched 18 chicks – we sadly lost one chick today so we are at 17.  We had about a 69% hatch rate (from 26 after candling). All the chicks remaining are healthy and alert, and running around in their box.  Here are some pictures of our new additions:

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The chicks in their brooder box.
chicks
More chicks in the brooder – we are using a chick heater platform that I borrowed from a friend, instead of a heat lamp – it works really nicely. I may need to buy one for the future. The chicks huddle underneath and it doesn’t get too hot so it can’t cause a fire.

A few years ago I did individual chick pictures – at a day or two, then progression pics as they aged. I was thinking I would do that this time, but then I went to do photos and realized that may be too difficult – it’s hard to tell everyone apart and there are just too many.  I decided to do groups of colors instead, with a few individual pics of chicks with distinctive markings.  See below:

blondes
Here are the blondes and strawberry blondes. I think some chicks may have some buff Orpington in them – otherwise no idea.
tiny penguins
Here are the penguins: The black / gray / really dark brown chicks. Most of these are black with white (hence penguins) but there is one that is a light blondie-gray – maybe they’ll have some kind of splash / blue coloring when they mature – we’ll have to wait and find out.
brunettes
Here are the reds and browns. There are some partridge Chanteclers and possibly Russian Orloff mixed ones.
eyeliner
This little chick has a brown mark on her head and a bit of cat-eye eyeliner. And 5 toes.
orange head
This blondie has orange on her head.
new hairy
Here is one of the gray ones – this is the only feathered leg chick we have.
grey
Here is the blue / splash colored chick – I had a splash once that was yellow with dingy gray – this is gray with dingy yellow – so we’ll see how this one turns out.

It’s very exciting. I hope they are mostly girls, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

Early Arrivals

I have eggs in the incubator, due to hatch this Saturday. I started with 32 eggs; when I candled at 10 days I took six eggs out, leaving 26 in the incubator.  Last night I went to take them out of the automatic egg turner, because you are supposed to remove that about 3 days before hatching, so that the chicks can orient themselves for hatching, and because the turner could hurt them if they hatched in it.

incubator eggs
Here they are after taking them out of the automatic turner. I tried to put them in groups based on where the eggs came from. They are marked as well so I can keep track of which eggs hatched.

As I was moving the eggs, I heard “Cheep Cheep!” I thought that was a little early, but I was excited to hear that at least someone was on their way.

This morning, I heard a really loud peep from the next room, and went to check. I found a chick had hatched! On day 19! Here is a really bad picture (the flash went off and shined on the top of the incubator):

new hatchee
Here was the chick that I found this morning

I’ve never had chicks hatch early – I’ve only hatched chicks a few times, and it’s been awhile, but I didn’t realize they could come that early.  I came home and found that the one had brought a friend; we now have two chicks. They are both comfortable in the brooder, waiting for more friends to arrive.

penguin
Here is one – a little penguin-looking chick.
redhead
Here is one that is a little red and brown. I believe this is the first one that hatched this morning.

I haven’t heard any other pips yet, but they aren’t actually due for two more days. So we’ll see what happens. I’m glad that two hatched so the chicks aren’t lonely. There are still 24 eggs in the incubator, so we should get some more soon.

Maple Syrup, and new friends on the way

We made maple syrup this year.  We started collecting at the end of March, when we still had a bunch of snow. We ended our collection after a couple of weeks because we had run out of room in our freezer and fridge for gallon jugs of sap.  The snow had been melting but then this last Thursday we got hit by the end of the Bomb-Cyclone storm that came up through the middle of the country – we only got 5 inches of snow here at the house though, but it made it look like winter again.  Below are some pictures from before that snow hit us.

trees tapped
Here are some of the trees tapped this year. We only tapped three right at the edge of the yard, because there was a foot of snow around the trees when we first started. We collected sap for about 2 weeks. This picture was from right at the end of that time.
wizard
Here is our cat Wizard, venturing outside on a nice day last week.

I planned on cooking the sap outside this year. I bought a big steam-table pan (I just searched for “maple syrup pan” on amazon) that would hold 22 quarts. We have a firepit already set up that I was going to set the pan over to cook the sap on; but then the day I planned on cooking everything up, it was pouring rain.  I ended up just doing it on the stove using two big canning pots. It took a full day on Sunday and then the evening Monday after work, but it is now complete.

sap on the stove
Sap on the stove.
sap
A close up of the maple sap steam.
syrup
Syrup! We got 6 pint jars.

I also have some exciting news about chickens! Last April we got Bertram, our Russian Orloff rooster, from an ad on Craigslist. I was planning on ordering some chicks this year, but then I was contacted on Facebook by the lady I got Bertram from – she found me through this blog. She asked if I was interested in trading hatching eggs, since she still has another Russian Orloff and then we both get chicks from these roosters.  So we traded eggs – I saved pretty much all our eggs for a week, and gave her 1.5 dozen, and saved 11 for us. I received a dozen from her chickens, as well as nine eggs for Partridge Chanteclers that she got from another lady. So I have 32 eggs in the incubator, they started on 4/6.  I’m possibly going to end up with way too many chickens, but I didn’t want to waste any of the eggs I’d saved, or the ones I had gotten either.  I looked at the 3 previous hatches I did with this incubator in 2016, and we usually get about a 50% hatch rate from the original set put in – typically I candle and end up taking out about 25%, and then at the end another 25% don’t make it, so I’m figuring that is about what we’ll end up with – approximately 15 or 16. We’ll have to figure out what to do with any extra roosters, but I’ll worry about that later this summer.   We do need more hens since mine are becoming slackers – the youngest of my hens are 3 years old, from our 2016 hatches. From 16 hens currently, we are getting about 5 eggs per day if we are lucky.   I am excited for new chicken friends – Fingers crossed we don’t get mostly roosters.

incubator 4.6
Here are the new chicks on the way! We have 32 eggs in here – I expect after candling we’ll have 20-25, maybe. I will candle the eggs this coming week (after 10 days in the incubator). The left 2 columns are Partridge Chanteclers, the middle two columns are mixed eggs from Bertram’s old home, and the 2 right columns are from my hens.

Our ducks are excited that it is finally spring – they’ve been searching for snow-melt puddles:

ducks in a puddle
Our ducks wandered to the puddle at the edge of our property last week – you can kind of see them in the middle of this picture here – (the houses are our neighbors behind us). This area is low and it tends to fill up in spring. The ducks love it.
ducks in woods 2
Here they are heading back through the woods to the coop. They didn’t like that I came to take their picture.

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!

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:

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