Growing Up and Getting Ready for Sale

The chicks are getting so big. They are feathering out nicely. I’ve settled on the Americauna and Black Star I’ll be keeping. It will take a bit longer to figure out the others. I need to cull the roosters first. And these chicks are super healthy. I have not lost a single one.  That is the first time it has happened. Kudos to McMurray Hatcheries.

I’ve put up a temporary pen for them so they can stretch their wings and they’ve moved on up to crumbles. Not quite ready for big girl food. But they are getting there.

Babies went from this to...

Babies went from this to…

 

This! Feathers are coming out nicely.

…This! Feathers are coming out nicely.

 

So the plan is to go up to the livestock auction in a couple of weeks to see what the Americaunas and Black Stars will bring. And then I’ll figure out which of the Blue Lace Red Wyandottes are roosters. Then I’ll make an appointment with the processor so I can get the roosters and hens I don’t want culled. I may bring some of them to the auction in August, I have not totally made up my mind yet.

The big girls and Guapo are fascinated by the chicks.

The big girls and Guapo are fascinated by the chicks.

Bees are doing well. The nuc I bought is kicking butt. The package is struggling, but is hanging in there. I purchased a Russian Queen because the queen that came with the package disappeared. The Russian is still there and the hive is finally building out some comb. Not a lot, but it’s a start. I put them into a queen castle so that there’s less chance of their being infested with spiders or having problems with thieving. I had that happen one time with a struggling hive — putting that hive into a smaller space would have given them a better chance since there would have been less space for the small group of bees to monitor and defend. So, we’ll see what happens with them. Good news is if the big hive continues doing well, I’ll split them next year. Besides survival over the winter, splitting hives is a goal.

Lots of pictures this posting. The flock is doing well. The mites I thought they had — they didn’t. Beulah’s bum feathers started growing back so I think she had a partial molt. The feathers missing behind the combs of the other girls are the result of Guapo being a tad bit aggressive. And, sadly, he did grow spurs. I was so hoping he would not. But he’s still a pretty sweet boy for a rooster. He waits for me to get him at night. He still hates being picked up, but he waits outside the coop for me. Not shabby for a rooster.

Such a beautiful boy, even if he doesn't meet Wyandotte standards.

Such a beautiful boy, even if he doesn’t meet Wyandotte standards.

Now for a entirely different train of thought… what is up with the Supreme Court? How can they open the door to chaos the way they did with the Hobby Lobby decision? Regardless of how you feel about women’s healthcare, this decision has the potential to open up a Pandora’s box. Seriously, do we really WANT our boss in the middle of our healthcare? Or other personal decisions? I really can’t get my head around the fact the supremes think it’s okay for the boss to tell employees what to do with earned benefits. I mean, your paycheck is an earned benefit. Will someone try to extend control over how you spend it? If not, why not? Earned benefits are earned benefits. The only difference is the form they take.

Broody guinea is still broody and getting the others into the act. And they're not eating Japanese beetles! Spending all their time on the eggs -- that I don't think will hatch although I'd love it if they proved me wrong.

Broody guinea is still broody and getting the others into the act. And they’re not eating Japanese beetles! Spending all their time on the eggs — that I don’t think will hatch although I’d love it if they proved me wrong.

And what about the corporate veil? It may take awhile, but this has the potential to cause some real problems for both employees and businesses. Personally, I think if corporations are to be considered people way beyond the scope of conducting business, they should be held completely accountable. Jail terms, not fines, when they break the law.

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I’ll close with a link to some interested facts about our founding fathers. We just celebrated the 4th of July. And my progressive liberal patriotic heart just can’t pass up a chance to remind my conservative friends of some facts. And interesting ones as well. Things I certainly didn’t realize.

Please show some love. Your chickens deserve it!

 

 

Blue Hen House

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Freedom!

I decided to let all the birds out for the weekend. The weather was pretty mild on Saturday so I let everyone out — even Guapo! No one was confined. Everyone loved it. They wandered and pecked and enjoyed. I was thrilled Guapo was not in a raping and pillaging mood. He just wandered over to the girls and started hanging out. He ignores the guineas completely.

There's Guapo on the left!

There’s Guapo on the left!

I did apply more antibiotics to Winona’s comb and Brownie’s foot. Both seem to be healing fine so it was probably not necessary. Winona still seems a little out of it from the attack last week. But she is eating and laying eggs. She’ll just be in her own little kingdom from now on.

At the end of the day, the girls went right to the coop — not the hoop house. So I picked them up and put them in. Obviously not imprinted on the hoop house just yet. And Guapo went to his little crate in the airstream.

Point of interest — I don’t see Guapo developing spurs. I hope he doesn’t. Not that I think he’ll become a mean bird, but why deal with spurs if I don’t have to.

As I was on my own, I could not get the guineas in there at all. Interestingly enough, they went right into the coop. So they spent the night there.

I let everyone out again today. Guapo was a bit more randy, but the girls were having none of it so he calmed down eventually. And we went through the same going to bed process. I think the guineas just moved into the coop for the winter. If we tarp part of it to keep the snow out (as it still needs to be trimmed out), it should be fine. They are game birds, after all.

To remind us it will be green again!

To remind us it will be green again!

And yes, I need to do that product review. Busy week getting ready for Xmas and I’m just happy I found time to blog!

Click here to to pick up presents for your special girls! www.EggCartons.com

Blue Hen House

Big Changes

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted. There’s been big changes

First, my computer died. The video card failed and since it’s part of the logic board, that means the whole thing is fried. Unfortunately, I can’t just swap out the video card. 😦   So, I’ve been bogarting Mr. Hen House’s laptop when I can.

Then I picked up a nice, long term contract gig. Which means 40 hours/week minimum. The extended (and unpaid) time off is over! While I’m happy to be getting a steady paycheck for the next several months, it does bite into the blogging time so I’m reworking my schedule to post once a week, most likely Sunday mornings.

On to the much more interesting chicken things! So those two roosters we picked up by accident from the Rumney auction… we took one to be processed. The processor doesn’t have a website, so I can’t link, but if anyone in New Hampshire is near Freedom and needs a processor for their chickens, email me.

I watched… mixed feelings. I called this rooster “dinner” to help keep emotional distance, and intellectually I know where chicken dinner comes from, but for all that I like to call myself an Iowa farmgirl the truth of the matter is I am the city cousin. I’ve never participated in butchering any creature nor do I cook. (Mr. Hen House banned me from the kitchen.) So I am very ambivalent about it. Something I need to work on. I will say he was humane and quick. Very articulate and great with his son. Knew what he was doing and gave a great tip when looking at chicken in the store — buy only chicken that is labeled it was fed a vegetarian diet. You’d think that was a no-brainer for chickens, but no, it’s not. Apparently the big corporate chicken farms feed their meat birds all kind of chicken body scraps to save money. Ugh. Learn something every day. (I was going to link to some web pages, but way too gross for me… I’ll leave you to research on your own if you want to!)

The rooster we’re keeping is named Guapo. Our thought is early next year, we’ll get a straight run of 6 to 12 chicks and at about 3 to 4 months, pick 2 or 3 good looking hens and sell and/or process the rest. We can then raise some beautiful blue lace red wyandottes for sale or food. We’ll see how that goes and maybe take the breeding up a notch. Baby steps.

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Guapo in his temporary outside cage.

Mr. Hen House is building a separate living space for Guapo in the hoop house. I don’t want him to hanging with the girls, tearing up their backs, so he’ll only have close personal company when we’re looking to breed.

The rest of the girls are doing fine and I finally found all the clutches. I need to invest in egg cartons! They’re doing great, which is a relief. Winona is still not well and I think she’s blind. I tried to euthanize her myself and just couldn’t. Mr. Hen House may end up doing it. She’s my only failure.

The guineas, Penny, Marcia, and Kelly, are doing very well. I think we have 2 boys and one girl — which gives us one matched pair and a third wheel. I’ll keep watching to make sure I’m right before I look into getting a female for the third wheel.

They are so funny! I like them MUCH better now that they are outside all the time. They’ve crawled on the roof, explored the perch Mr. Hen House made, and are becoming quite the little uglies! Photos are below.

Next on the list is winterizing the coop. We’re going to attempt to move it into the hoop house so the girls can spend the winter with Guapo (separated by fencing!). They should all be reasonably warm, although I will need to monitor the moisture. Too much humidity may breed disease. But, we are exploring the possibility of putting the girls in the hoop house without the coop. We need to ensure it’s safe enough from predators. We’ll see what falls out.

And the feeding and watering system need to be completed so I don’t need to monitor everyday. I could do it while I was off, but now that I’m working, it’s difficult.

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Guineas on the roof!

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Enjoying the perch!

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Becoming brilliantly ugly!

Show some love! Visit www.EggCartons.com by clicking on the link or the graphic below and pick up some cool products for your girls.

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How the Quintuplets Became Triplets

With lots of other updates.

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Beulah and one of the triplets.

So after uploading my last post, I went outside to do a headcount. I generally don’t do that during the day, just at night when I’m locking them up. But I couldn’t find two of the quints earlier and usually I can eyeball everyone within 30 seconds without trying. So I starting hitting the usual spots: Under the airstream, under the addition to the house, the compost heap… nothing. So I went to the coop thinking they might be there. Well, they were, sorta. Their bodies were in the pen outside the coop — headless.

My best hypothesis is a fishercat or weasel shimmied its way under the coop, dragged my poor girls out and ripped their heads off. Didn’t even eat them. After I disposed of the poor things, I spent the afternoon re-enforcing the bottom boards (lots of rocks!) of the coop, moved the solar lights around the pen, and rigged up a radio to play all night long. So far, it’s worked. The good news is we are running electric out back so that will increase the lights as well as eliminate the extensions cords I have running through the lawn to power the radio.

Survivors include Dirty Girl, Brownie, Beulah, and two other generic quints. The two dead girls were generic quints.

Beautiful Winona

Winona in better days.

Winona Update: Winona seems to be actually doing better. I’m pretty sure I’m not kidding myself. I had moved her to a sick coop in the shed because she became too weak to go to the food dish and waterer. I really thought she was going to die and I didn’t want that happening in the coop.

But she has since started opening both eyes and walking a little. I see her eating and drinking. One eye is all black while the other looks to have the pupil wide open. Kinda weird. I’ll try to take pictures. She still sleeps a lot but her droppings are more firm and normal. I’m concerned that she won’t be well enough to put in with the flock by winter. There’s no way she can survive a New Hampshire winter by herself in the shed. So I need to start making a contingency plan in case she needs an extended convalescence. Of course, she may relapse. She may still pass away. I’m taking it day by day.

Beulah has found her and now lays her eggs in the shed. She visits Winona often and sometimes brings the flock with her. Very glad Winona is not contagious! And I am very impressed with the loyalty I see in Beulah. I really did not expect that with chickens.

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Getting used to their new home.

Keet Update: They’re in the coop! I don’t let them out yet as I want them to imprint on the coop as home but they are living out there now. The girls don’t like not being able to go in and out of the coop at will, but they’re adjusting. And since I can’t get them to lay eggs in the coop right now, it’s not like I’m missing out. This weekend will be the trial of letting the keets out. I am concerned about their flying away, but I’m hoping between their comfort level with the girls (there was very little bullying the first night and I used my water bottle to break it up when it did happen) and knowing there is food in the coop, they’ll be smart enough to come home.

Rumney Livestock Auction: Went to my first livestock auction this past weekend. It was more to check it out and see if it was something we’d do in the future. Mr. Hen House, my impulsive man, bought a batch of fertile duck and peacock eggs. They are in the incubator now and will be candled this weekend. If they are successfully hatched, I will most likely sell the ducklings at the auction (really not prepared for ducks at this time). I’m not sure about the peacocks. I love the way the look and would love to have them in the yard. I’m pretty sure I can house with the chickens, although if we build the big hen house that Mr. Hen House is contemplating, that will resolve the housing issue. But they are loud! And I do live in a neighborhood. So… not sure what I will do at this point. Let’s see if they hatch first.

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The (temporary) new boys.

We also picked up a pair of beautiful Blue Laced Red Wyandottes to replace the two quints. However… they are roosters! They were not identified as roosters on the cage tag or when they went up for auction. And Mr. Hen House just had to have them. (They really are quite beautiful.) They weren’t crowing like the other roosters in the barn. We didn’t find out they were roosters until he went to pay for them and by then we were committed. We brought them home, put them in quarantine (a big MUST when getting new birds), hoping against hope they were hens and two days later one of them started crowing. We held out hope that it was a mated pair, but then the second one started crowing. They are going back. We’ll trek up for the next auction and get whatever we can for them. And Mr. Hen House will need to control his impulsiveness this time.

With that said, you can get good livestock inexpensively at the auction although you do need to eyeball them. I saw more than a few chickens that had mite problems. There were goats and rabbits as well and they have been known to sell cows, horses, etc. It’s very catch-as-can, and all dependent on what folks bring in to sell.

Other good news: The girls have practically eliminated the Japanese beetle problem! I’m sure there are nasty grubs in the ground, percolating and growing to emerge as beautiful and destructive beetles. And then beetles will fly in from all over… but the girls have it under control. My grape vines look normal this year. Now I just have to keep the girls from eating the grapes. One thing at a time…

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(Feel free to help a chicken out by making a purchase at the link below. These ads pay for their food!)

Roosters & Bees

Rooster

Mr. Rooster ended up in the great compost heap in the sky.

My first flock had a rooster. I didn’t order one, but he ended up with the group of chicks I purchased from the local Blue Seal store. He was beautiful when grown. And noisy. He crowed pretty much every day at 4:30 a.m. And constantly throughout the day. Con-stant-ly. Not so great in a neighborhood. And he was mean. My biggest fear was he would escape and terrorize the neighbor kids like he terrorized my stepson. So, he ended up in the great compost heap in the sky. Sad, but since I wasn’t going to raise chicks (at least not at that point), there was no reason to keep him around.

With the six chicks my husband purchased from the Chichester Tractor Supply store this year, he purposely paid a little extra to ensure we had all females. We did not want a repeat of the last time. But I’m getting nervous. There’s a chicken whose facial features are a bit redder than the pink of the rest of the quintuplets. And she’s getting “jowels.” (I’m sure there’s a proper chicken anatomical name, but I don’t know what it would be.) So I’m getting nervous that she might be a he. I have not seen mounting behaviour yet or heard any attempted crowing, but they are still relatively young — about four months. So, here’s who I call “Red” and who might be a rooster and one of the quints for comparison:

Red

Red — See those jowels?

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One of the quints. More pink than red and no jowels.

Not a huge difference, so it just may be unique facial characteristics of Red. However, the rest of the quints, and Brownie, look like the young lady on the right. So I’m a little nervous. I really don’t want another visit to the chicken processer until I have meat birds (next year, I think). So Red bears watching. I hope I’m worried for nothing. I’d much rather have the eggs for now.

So, why are bees in the title? Well, if you recall, I was supposed to get a shipment of bees a few weeks ago. Because of weather issues, they did not arrive until this past Friday. Most excitement. They were very crowded in their nuc box. I picked them up on a Friday night and simply put the nuc box on the bottom board of the hive. Saturday, I moved them into a deep box with additional frames that had drawn comb on them. (Drawn comb means the frame has honey comb in it already, that has had the honey and pollen removed.) I topped it off with a top feeder. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of photos. I find it difficult to work the hive and manage a camera at the same time. I suck, I know!)

When I checked on them Sunday morning, I could tell they had been busily cleaning the comb up. Generally, you leave your new bees alone for a couple of weeks so they get settled, but I suspect these busy ladies will have that hive in perfect order this coming weekend. I will need to add food to the feeder and will take the opportunity to peek at their activities as well as take pictures. I’m hoping they will be far enough along I can put another box on the hive. I suspect they may be ready, because there were just so many bees in the nuc and the frames I gave them had comb so they didn’t have to work as hard getting everything ready for pollen,  nectar and brood (baby bees).

Nuc Box

The nuc box the bees arrived in. It held five frames.

Before I forget, I started a little photo blog on Tumblr. Check it out and add something if you like!

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