Monday, June 29, 2009

My How They've Grown!

This bright orange lily bloomed today. It's so bright that I can even see it from a distance. My lavender plants are so lush and beautiful right now. I planted a dozen more this year I love them so much. The bees love them too.

Macaroni's babies are three weeks old and so fun to watch. I got a video of them eating coon tail in the pond today. Murphy and Macaroni are keeping watch over them, although Murphy doesn't like them getting too close to him. The hens have started laying eggs again, which I found out quite by accident. They're using the same nests that they hatched their babies in and I happened to notice the eggs while looking under the front porch. I gathered them all though, I've got enough ducklings.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Rolls Along

I had my back surgery June 18. Everything went really well. The surgeon removed some arthritic bone from my spine that was putting pressure on my left sciatic nerve. The first few days were rough but I'm feeling better now. I am taking it easy and Jim has been very good (too good) at doing things for me. I nicknamed him Nurse Ratchet. The boys are away on vacations of their own and it's been just the two of us. I have to admit, I'm really liking it! I can't believe how much less I spend on groceries!

The ducklings are growing and growing. They will be ready for butchering in a few short weeks. I've got 15 of the fuzzy little things and I plan to keep one or two hens. The rest will feed us. I gave away 3 of my adult drakes and things have quieted down as a result. My two adult hens seem relieved! I have a nice pair of Cayugas and an equally nice pair of blue Swedish ducks. Sounds like a nice flock size to me.

Baby chicks are also growing. I am only going to keep two of the seven: the little silkie and Ollie's firstborn, a little barred rock mix. She's cute and she was the first chick to hatch at Twelve Acres so I simply must keep her. I haven't decided on a name for her yet, although Scooter seems to fit her. She zips around like nobody's business!

We're living our lives day to day--enjoying picking vegetables from the garden, collecting eggs and watching nature all around us. I enjoy the simple things of life; they have so much more meaning than material things. It's a paradigm shift for me and I'm embracing it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Violet's Babies

Violet's babies hatched Sunday. She brought them out to meet everyone today. The little white one is a Silkie, the red one is a Rhode Island Red. The largest black/cream one is an Australorp. The remaining two are Australorp/Barred Rock mixes.

There are no more hens sitting on eggs now. I may let a broody hatch some eggs later this fall, but we're done for now. My back surgery is the 18th and I won't be able to look out for broody hens for a while.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lunch Time

Lunch time for the kids while mom rests by the irises. The drakes watch from the water.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Macaroni's Babies

They were out when I got up this morning. Fourteen little fuzzballs so cute I can hardly stand it. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Twelve Acres Maternity Ward

We've got more babies than you can shake a stick at right now. Ollie's been scratching up a storm all day today showing her babies how to forage. I watched her catch a big worm that was obviously too big for the babies and she ate it herself. The little red chick managed to poke through the fencing then poked right back through! They scoot around like little water bugs. In fact, I'm thinking of naming the little black one Scooter.

Daisy's got six fuzzy butt babies to take care of now. I was duck midwife last night. I had to help two ducklings get out of their shells. It was amazing! One of them is the brightest yellow one. I think it's a little hen because the whole time I was removing bits of egg shell for her she was screaming for her mommy as loud as she could. Hen are much louder than drakes, even at a young age. Two of the ducklings had birth defects and I had to euthenize them--not easy, but the right thing to do. I found one dead near the pond's edge this morning. I'm not sure what happened other than an accidental drowning. The remaining six are energetic and the apples of their daddies' eyes! It's heartwarming to watch the ducks' family unit. The drakes accept the ducklings into the flock and are so happy to have Daisy back with them. I can tell that they miss having the hens around.

Macaroni has a nest full of fuzzy yellow puffballs now. I think all 14 of her eggs hatched. There are so many little heads in her nest that I can't count them all! She's not bringing them out just yet, but hopefully tomorrow she will. She's going to have a whole entourage following her around!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Greeting the World

Ollie got her babies out to meet the big wide world today. She's being a very protective mother. She's teaching the babies what to eat and I've seen the black one drink.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ollie's Firstborn

While we're waiting for Daisy's babies to hatch, here's a video of Ollie and her first chick. Her mama was obviously a barred rock and you can see the telltale spot on top of its head. Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'? Girl! I put some feed in the corners of the nest box to make sure the little cutie got some food in her belly.

Ollie's got another baby under her too that hatched this morning. It's a reddish color with some black markings on the wing feathers. Mama must have been one of those Golden Comets that's a cross between a leghorn and a New Hampshire, or whatever cross they use to make those red layer hybrids that are all the rage. The fourth egg doesn't show any signs of hatching yet. I'll give it another day.

If this chick is indeed a girl like I think it is, we're definitely keeping her.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ollie Has Babies!

I woke up at 6 this morning, very early for this night owl. The first thought on my mind was that I had to check on my hens. I put on my bathrobe and slippers and headed straight to the chicken coop. I let all the hens out to forage then checked on Ollie. I listened for the sound of peeping and I heard it! Faint peeps were coming from under her! I lifted carefully and found a dark chick, just barely dried. How exciting! Ollie is doing such a great job.

I went back to bed after trying in vain to get photos. Have you ever tried to photograph chicks under a very protective hen? Lemme tell ya, it's darn near impossible! And if Ollie wasn't such a nice hen I'd have bloody hands by now! She tolerated my poking and prodding but just barely. After my nap I finally managed to get some decent shots. Here are the first chicks' legs. I wanted a photo of its face though.

There, that's more like it! Its mama must have been an Australorp.

I could also see that another egg had been zipped. The chicks' beak was poking out and it was breathing. See the white egg tooth on the end of a black beak? Hatching is hard work! Come on little fella, you can do it!

The other two eggs have not pipped that I can tell. I'm afraid to do too much poking around in there for fear of killing them. I hope you enjoy the photos, I risked life and limb taking them!

Daisy's clutch is due to hatch today too. I haven't heard a single peep. She's sitting like a statue and hasn't taken a break at all today. I'm thinking there's something going on but I can't see a darn thing. The drakes are beside themselves with nerves.

OK, maybe they're not that nervous, but I think they sense that something is going on. Waterfowl form very tight bonds as a family unit.

There's not much to do when you're waiting for babies. You can knit booties, clean house or, in our case, plant trees. Betty was a bundle of nerves too, so she helped me plant some trees by the chicken coop.

Hang in there Betty, the babies will be here soon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Waiting for Peeps

I don't know which is worse - waiting nine months for a baby to be born or waiting 28 days for ducklings to hatch. Tomorrow is Daisy's hatch date, Saturday is Ollie's and Macaroni's. I'm on pins and needles waiting, something I'm terrible at doing.

I've read that if you listen closely you can hear the chicks peep to their mama's through the egg shells when they're getting ready to hatch. I'm listening closely to all three hens' nests. You should see me, kneeling down above the sidewalk and deck with my ear to the floor like an Indian listening for thunder in the distance. I haven't heard anything yet.

I've moved Violet to the floor beneath the nest boxes. Her hatch date is June 15. Violet is low in the pecking order and not very good at defending her nest. The other hens were getting in there with her and laying eggs in her nest. I don't know how many times I had to haul a hen out of there and put Violet back in! So now she's got a private nest to herself and no one can bother her. She wasn't keen on the box at first but now she's content. Earlier this week Poppy got in Violet's nest and stepped on one of the eggs and broke it. I was so upset. I had that girl's neck in my fingers but didn't do it. She's a good layer. An airhead, but a good layer. The egg that was broke wasn't one of the Silkie eggs.

And now another of my Australorps is broody, this time it's Iris. I don't think I'll indulge her though. My back surgery is June 18 and I won't be able to look after chicks then. I might let a broody hen hatch some eggs after that though. Lily's been plucking her belly feathers lately and she may go broody. She's my biggest girl and could easily cover a dozen eggs. We'll see.

I'm hoping that I'll be posting pictures and videos of baby ducklings tomorrow. In the meantime, Betty and I (and little Scarlet) are just waiting...