Changes They Are A’Comin’

The hot and muggy weather has broken, but I feel it inching back. After the brutal winter, I’m kinda okay with that. I like being

New Nest Boxes

New Nest Boxes

warm. And it allowed me to get the chicks off the heat lamp so much earlier this year than I have been able to in the past. The new box design helped with that — the plastic on the bottom of the front helped reduce drafts and keep in body heat. The design is great as they have plastic bottom for easy cleaning, mesh for air flow and a hole in the top where the heat lamp would normally go. One side swings open and has chest clasp for easy security. Once the chicks are all dispersed, Guapo will be getting an upgrade for his nighttime digs.

I’ve identified the Americuana and Black Star that I’m keeping: Chicken Hawk and Blackie. Chicken Hawk is very aggressive, especially for a hen. Since she won’t be bred, I can live with it (I would not want to pass that aggressive on to future chicken generations). It is surprising to see her assert her “alphaness” over the rest of the chicks — she is very confrontational. I’m interested to see how that behavior plays out when she is integrated with the flock.

I shall call her "Chicken Hawk."

I shall call her “Chicken Hawk.”

The Blue Lace Red Wyandottes will be sorted last. I’m seeing some rooster characteristics emerge but want to be sure before I sell or process. And with the remaining chicks, I want to keep at least one that is close to Wyandotte standards. There is one BLRW, that, if proves to be female, I’m keeping, regardless of how far away she is from the standards. I call her Fluffbutt. Why? She has a beautifully rounded fluffy butt, rather than regular tail feathers. I’m hoping this will stay true as she matures. I think it is a lovely look and want to reproduce it. We’ll see what happens. They are about 9 weeks now and transitioning from crumbles to big girl food. I was bringing them outside on good weather days — that was a pain. Fortunately, they’ve moved outside permanently, to a segregated area in the pen. The fresh air and exercise is good for them, as is the access to bugs and greens.


Penny, Marcia and Kelly (guinea hens) finally decided the eggs won’t hatch after all and gave up. Yeah! Now they can go back to bug hunting. The Japanese Beetles are out in force. We did some “retraining,” i.e., picking the beetles and giving them to the guineas, and that seemed to help. Once the trio were out of the nest and roaming the yard, I quickly gathered up the rancid eggs and threw them out. How do I know they were rancid? Snoop would sneak behind the girls and get an egg and eat it. And boy did it smell! He did this several times as they started to leave the next more and more.

The summer digs.

The summer digs.

But now, one of the hens is broody – Little Red. She may actually hatch some eggs since she was on Guapo’s list. Of course, she’s exhibiting “all these eggz r mine” behavior and I can’t collect any. (I only have one nesting box that all the girls shared.) She doesn’t hiss like the guinea did, but she does peck. Good thing I wear gloves. Typical interaction:

LR: Peck

BHH: I’m just getting eggs.

LR: Peck

BHH: But you’re not even sitting on these.

LR: Peck

BHH: And you’re breaking some; I see yolk all over your chest.

LR: Peck

BHH: What – ever.

Now, it’s just a waiting game with her. She’ll either give up and abandon the eggs in a few weeks, or will actually hatch some. At which time I will need to provide her a secure location away from the flock. I’m not sure how they would interact with the babies, even though these babies were hatched with the flock. My fear is they would be attacked and killed. I simply don’t know and don’t want to take the chance.

On a side note, read my new page about wanting to go back to school. It’s not happening and the story of why may interest you.

Winona meandering around the empty guinea nest.

Winona meandering around the empty guinea nest.

And I’m going to try to be a little more frequent with posts — it’s a little tough working full-time, but hey, I won’t be going to school so my calendar will be opening up.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the beautiful Little Red, trying to become a mama. And don’t forget to show some love — girls gotta eat!

 

 

 

 

 

All your eggz r mine.

All your eggz r mine.

Blue Hen House

Spring Prep

The snow is finally melting and the flock is ever-anxious to get outside. I’ve been holding back because once I let those birds out, the guineas will never go back in! I’m not ready to loose them into the backyard just yet. This is New England and we may yet get a snowstorm or three.

Blue Seal #5 Scratch -- Their favorite treat!

Blue Seal #5 Scratch — Their favorite treat!

To keep them occupied, I’ve been providing tons of vegetable scraps and their favorite treat in the whole world: Blue Seal #5 Scratch. They adore it. And it’s cheap — less than $2.00 a bag. I’m hoping the snow will melt enough over this week so that we can move the coop and get it prepped. I want to put chicken wire on the bottom to make it more predator-proof. And for the time-being, fence it, to include deer fencing over the top to keep everyone in, except maybe guineas. Doing that, as well as making a nursery in the garage, will give us time to build the more permanent coop that we will need if we decide to move forward.

Egg laying has been picking up, and I know we’re on a good curve when Brownie starts laying her double-yolk eggs. I don’t know how she does it. As you can see, they are huge!

IMG_0716

Brownie’s huge egg.

We’ve ordered our chicks from McMurray, so we can get Guapo his girlfriends and see if we can sell some chicks and throw some roasters in the freezer. Unfortunately, the little flufflets won’t arrive until June, but that gives us time to prepare. We ordered 10 Blue Lace Red Wyandottes, 3 Araucanas/Ameraucanas, and 3 of a breed I”m unfamiliar with, Black Star.  My goal is to find 2, maybe 3 good looking hens in the Wyandotte batch for Guapo, get some more brightly colored eggs, and add color to the flock overall. I’m also playing with the idea of mating Guapo with Brownie or Beulah to see what we get. If nothing else, it lets me experiment with the incubator and have some chicks to sell at the auction.

On a side note, I am 2/3 through the New Hampshire Master Gardner Program! So excited!!! Such a great program and tons of fabulous information. However, the real learning takes place when you start putting in your volunteer hours. Because of the wide variety of questions that come in, you almost always have to research to find the information needed for the client. I am so looking forward to it. So, if you have any gardening questions, backyard livestock, or for that matter, wildlife questions (we can always refer to the right department), call the UNH Cooperative Extension Education Center and Information Line at 1-877-398-4769, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Because Spring will arrive!

Because Spring will arrive!

With Spring Prep in mind, we purchased 4 corrugated raised beds to test. Not too expensive (they cost roughly the same as purchasing all the wood and other materials). We’re going to test them with our berry bushes (we have a lot, scattered throughout the yard). I think I”ll put strawberries in, as well, to provide ground cover, rather than continuing mulching. I can still fertilize and add compost when needed.

With that, I’ll leave you with Snoop, who is watching and waiting for the Spring to get here full force. He is ever my backyard watcher:

Watching and waiting.

Watching and waiting.

Get ready for Spring! Order supplies from EggCartons.com:

Blue Hen House