Friday, May 29, 2009

Final Countdown

Photo: My chooks last April when they were a day old. Ollie's in there somewhere!

In less than one week the first batch of Twelve Acres chicks and ducklings will be either hatched or hatching! I can't think of anything more exciting than the impending arrival of babies. I've been raising animals of one kind or another since I was old enough to hold a puppy (thanks Mom) and nothing beats babies being born!

Ollie's such a fantastic broody hen that I wouldn't be surprised if her chicks hatched a day or two early, a common occurence when a hen is allowed to follow her instincts undisturbed. There is nothing better for hatching eggs than a good broody. Read this great article, "Let Mama Do It". But it seems we people aren't content to let our hens hatch eggs. No, we have to complicate things because, darnit, we can do it better! Or we're bored, or we just want to invite disaster. Whatever the excuse may be, I'm about fed up with the people at Backyard Chickens. Want to see just how bad people are at hatching eggs? Take a look here. If you've never been to BYC prepare yourself and make sure you aren't drinking anything that might hurt as it shoots through your nose at the speed of sound. I'm not a violent person but I really think some of those people should be slapped and have their chickens taken away from them. Truly they are obsessive-compulsive about their chickens.

I'm happy to let my hens do the job of incubating. They are doing it a thousand times better than I could ever hope to. God saw fit to give these gals instincts to do things no other creature has taught them. I am amazed at how they know exactly how long their breaks should be. I watched Violet today as she took her break. As quickly as possible she did the following: pooped, dust bathed, ate, drank, hopped back on the nest. And she did it all within a short period of time. I didn't teach her to do that! How does she know how long she can be off the nest? Someone tell me!

While she took her break I quickly candled her eggs. This is the fourth day of incubation for her clutch of eight. Wouldn't you know it? Every single egg has a viable embryo growing in it...including those darn Silkie eggs! *Groan* I commiserated about that fact with Jim tonight on the front porch as we watched a passing rainstorm blow through. He said I could always give them back to the lady who gave me the eggs. She only has one roo and two hens. A nice thought I think! That is, of course, if I can keep Derek from falling in love with the darn things. Or worse, me...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Candling Results - Day 12

I took this photo of my ducks last July when they were 3 days old. This is what's in store for us!

We're almost to the mid-point of egg incubation here at Twelve Acres. I was fortunate to be able to candle Ollie's and Macaroni's eggs today. I had no luck at all getting pictures though. Try as we might, we just couldn't get a decent photo.
I'm no pro at egg candling but at this stage of the game it's very easy to tell if an egg is good or bad. Good eggs are so filled with chick or duckling that they appear to be solid inside and show a very large, dark shadow along with an air cell on the large end of the egg. Bad eggs show nothing at all and sometimes you can still see the yolk. I removed any bad eggs I found and cracked them just to be sure. I had 100% accuracy! Here are the results so far.

Ollie (Buff Orpington hen): 4 good eggs, 2 bad

Daisy (Cayuga duck): 10 good, she removed 4 bad ones herself

Macaroni (Blue Swedish duck): 15 good, 1 bad

I will candle Violet's eggs in about 10 days and find out how many good ones she's got. She's setting like an old pro.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Violet's Setting

This is Violet* and she's been acting broody for about a week now. She seemed to hem and haw about it at first, which is normal. She developed a 'tude and the characteristic "poofing" that only a broody hen (or a tom turkey) will do. A hen won't get serious about incubating eggs until she's laid a clutch worth her effort. Unfortunately with layers you take the broody's eggs each day when you gather eggs, so they don't get a chance to accumulate. Then when it comes time to start incubating the hen's left with an empty nest. It's easy to find some fertile eggs for her in a pinch though. Around here, there's plenty of chicken owners who are more than willing to share their eggs with my broodies.

I kept removing Violet from the nest box today to see just how serious she was about this whole motherhood thing. Each time I removed her she was back on the nest within a reasonable amount of time. I lifted her up gently and checked her belly--no feathers to speak of, which is normal for a broody hen. She's been plucking them to line her nest which explains why I've been cleaning black Australorp feathers out of this nest box for a long time now.

This batch of 8 eggs came from an Asian lady who lives by my mother-in-law. Jim just happened to be at his mom's when I called him and asked him to stop by and ask for some fertile eggs for Violet to set. He asked his mom for something to put them in since he's not in the habit of keeping egg cartons in his truck. She gave him this basket and put a scrap piece of towel in it to cushion the eggs on the ride home. Jim said he enjoyed talking to the chicken owners and when he told them the eggs were for a broody they refused to accept any money for them, a phenomenon known to bird growers everywhere! They also selected a variety of breeds for Violet: Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Silkie, Australorp and another that Jim couldn't remember, possibly New Hampshire Red or Welsummer. When he told me he was bringing me two Silkie eggs (I'm holding one of the little buggers in the photo) I groaned, "What am I gonna do with a pom pom chicken?" I'm not a big fan of the frou-frou breeds. Just give me a sound, reliable egg layer with a nice disposition and I'll be satisfied. When Derek heard about the Silkie eggs he immediately got excited and asked if we could keep them. I said, "Let's just see what Violet can do first." Of course you know if she hatches those darn Silkie eggs (which she will just cuz I don't want 'em) I'm doomed to keep them! *Groan!*

In case you aren't familiar with what a Silkie chicken is, you can see some photos here. They are particularly popular as pets because of their sweet nature and they are considered a delicacy in the Asian culture. They have black skin, are small and are not very good layers. But they are excellent broody hens. Just what I need. *Groan!*

Violet's hatch date is June 15 so keep your fingers crossed for her. She's my smallest Australorp but fortunately most of the eggs she's setting are on the small side and she's covering them well. Those Silkie eggs remind me of the pullet eggs my girls first laid. If you're wondering about the red X's on the ends of the eggs they will prevent any confusion at egg-gathering time. Everyone knows that eggs that are marked are fertile and are to be left under the hen.

*Violet was nicknamed "Violent" when she was a teenager because of her annoying habit of pecking me as hard as she could on my legs. Fortunately, she outgrew it. She has beautiful beetle-green sheen to her feathers in the sun and the largest dark eyes of the Australorps. A real looker!

Candled Daisy's Eggs

Last week while I was out working in the yard I noticed our little Cayuga hen Daisy carrying an egg shell in her bill away from her nest under the front porch. It was obviously one of her eggs and she had broken it and dropped it in the lawn. She then quickly went back to her nest and I didn't see her again until evening when she took her incubation break for the day. While she was off her nest I counted her eggs quickly from above. She started out with 14 that I could confirm two weeks ago, and now she had 11! Oh dear! My visions of a huge brood of ducklings were suddenly uncertain. I wondered what that egg carrying behavior was all about. Is this normal duck behavior? Did she know something about that egg that I didn't? Was it a bad egg?

Then this morning Derek and I saw her do the exact same thing. She was carrying off a broken egg, the yolk visibly dripping from the shell. My heart sank. What was wrong with my hen? Why was she carrying her eggs off her nest? I did another quick count and she now had 10 left in her nest.

I did some research and found out some things about ducks that I didn't know. First of all, waterfowl are some of the best mothers on earth. I already knew that, but the concept would be further ingrained when I learned that some waterfowl can sense when an egg is unfertilized or the embryo has died. They then remove the bad/dead egg and carry it away from the nest. It is thought that they do this to prevent predators from being attracted to a rotting egg. Amazing! Not all duck mothers will do this. Domestication has removed some natural instincts from a lot of duck breeds. Given that Daisy won't be a year old until July and this is her first clutch, I must assume that her maternal instincts are especially strong. I've never seen Macaroni, our blue Swedish hen, carrying off a single one of her 16 eggs. So either all of her eggs are viable or she doesn't have the instinct to remove bad ones. Time will tell.

Later this morning we were busy digging a hole for a future tree and I noticed Daisy off her nest again, only two hours after she'd carried off the egg. Truly concerned and wanting to know the fate of the rest of her clutch, I ran inside and grabbed my Surefire flashlight. Come hell or high water I was gonna shimmy my plump rump under that porch and candle Daisy's eggs! Before Jim could stop me, I was under that porch, my feet unceremoniously sticking out.

I carefully picked up the first egg and stuck the large end onto the shining flashlight. What I witnessed created such a rush of excitement that I can only compare it to going down that first hill on a roller coaster. I saw veins (positive evidence of life) and a duckling's bill and what appeared to be a duck foot! I gasped for air in the confined space I was in and set the egg down. I picked each one up quickly and carefully as I could. And in each egg I could see veins, bills, feet and even (OH JOY) movement! I counted out loud each egg that had a viable duckling inside...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and as I said each number my voice got louder and my pitch got higher as Derek and Jim awaited the final tally above me on the porch. Ten viable eggs and not a single bad one. Daisy did know what she was doing!

Truly I was witnessing the most fantastic magic show on earth-the development of bird embryos right before my very eyes. Words can't describe the awe I felt. My only regret is that I didn't have my camera with me under the porch to photograph those 10 wonderful, awesome, fantastical live embryos inside those duck eggs!

Now, my blue Swedish hen Macaroni has her nest in a slightly easier-to-access location under the sidewalk by the pond. The next time she takes a break from incubation, I'm going to grab Jim and have him lift up the sidewalk so I can candle her 16 eggs. I will make sure to get pictures to share too.

If you've never seen a live chick or duckling still inside the egg you've never really appreciated life in the making. Mammals carry their babies inside their bodies and you can't hold that baby in your hands and marvel at it as it develops. Bird eggs can be held and, with a bright enough light you can see what's going on inside while the babies are developing!

I marvel at the God who created all the living creatures of the earth. His creation is perfect and awesome.

Everything you need to know about candling eggs is here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pigeon Finds a Home

I love a happy ending. Our wayward pigeon found a home today. I called a local pigeon racer and he came out to take the little gal home. His name is Bob Holman and he calls his pigeon loft "Holman's Homers". He picked up the pigeon and told us it was most likely a juvenile hen. He also noted that she is very strong. He put her in this transportation crate and she quickly settled down and seemed to relax.

We noticed there were two more larger crates in the back of Bob's truck. One was empty but the other had 5 more pigeons in it! He took them out and set them on the ground. He said he brought them along for a little exercise and practice. What fun! Bob's loft is only 15 minutes away (as the pigeon flies) and he planned to give these yearlings some exercise and practice. This would be the second flight for them for the day.

He pulled one out so we could get a closer look at it. Isn't it beautiful? The irridescent colors on this bird's head were so pretty in the sun. As soon as I took this picture Bob asked the bird, "Are you ready?" I swear the pigeon responded and began to squirm in his hands. He released the bird and we watched it fly above the Twelve Acres.

Then he knelt down and asked the remaining four if they were ready. They exploded into the air as soon as he opened the door to their crate. I was mesmerized! They circled the property four times then headed due south back to their loft. These birds are athletes and are very lean and strong. Their body shape reminds me of that of small raptors such as sharp-shinned hawks. I was very impressed with them. These birds fly in races that last anywhere from 200 to 500 miles! Bob said he ships his birds for the long races rather than drive them all the way there.

Bob stayed at our place for a long time after he released his trainees and talked to us about them. I learned so much! He said his fastest birds could fly about 70 mph with a good tail wind! He breeds his own racers and said he does pretty good with them. The purse for a big race can reach in the tens of thousands of dollars for the winner. He said that pigeon racing is a dying sport and it really needs some youngsters to get involved. Bob has been racing pigeons since he was 10 years old!

He also explained that the white doves that are released at weddings are not banded because usually the owner does not want them back. That means that the pigeons are left to their own devices. I will definitely not ever hire anyone to release white doves anytime soon because I don't like the thought of those birds suddenly having to fend for themselves when they've been raised and cared for up until that point.

If you ever find a pigeon with a leg band, keep it in a safe spot and call your nearest pigeon club. They can track the owner if you tell them the information on the leg band and then the owner can come pick it up. If it's a good racer the owner will definitely want it back! Sometimes a racer gets tired during a long race and just needs to rest for a day. These birds usually leave within 24 hours and go home. Inexperienced birds can get lost, which is likely what happened with our little pigeon.

I now look at these birds in a whole new light. They are certainly much more than plain ole' pigeons. I hope to see them again soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Goodies in the Mail

I have had a busy day taking care of my chickens, ducks and wayward pigeon (at least we think it's a pigeon). During a break between the rain showers I went out to the mailbox. I was pleasantly surprised to find a package from Jess, over at The Beneficial Bee, containing the two lip balms I won in her giveaway last week. It's always nice to find a nice surprise like this in the mail!

I received a stick of organic Forty Bee Ylang Ylang (Spring) and a stick of Forty Bee Peppermint (Winter). I have very sensitive skin and mild excema on my face so I can't use anything with artificial or irritating ingredients. I was happy to read the ingredients and see that everything in them is organic and all-natural! They are very smooth and light, not heavy and greasy.

If you'd like to help support Jessica's bee habit stop by her Etsy shop and order some of her wonderful lip balm. Thank you Jess for such a wonderful gift today!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ollie's Setting!

The nice lady who was going to send me 6 eggs for Ollie sent me an email today saying she was reluctant to do so because she thinks her flock had a virus this spring. She didn't want to take the chance of sending it to me and infecting my flock. I was grateful she informed me of this and thanked her for her offer. I told her I would look locally for a flock with fertile eggs. Well as luck would have it, there's a lady just down the road who has a flock with a rooster. She also has a sign in her front yard that says "Eggs $1.75". I looked in my purse. I had 2 bucks in it. Hurray! Off I went to buy some fertile eggs for Ollie.

When I arrived I could see their gorgeous rooster. He looked like a brown leghorn except that he had a pea comb. I will have to research what he could be unless you fellow chicken owners would like to make a suggestion. He looked like this rooster but with a pea comb. I saw 4 barred rock hens, a few black australorps and what looked like red stars or red sex-linked hens. I imagine that's where the two ginormous eggs came from.

The eggs were laid today and were taken right from the nest boxes. I paid a dollar for them. I think I got two barred rock eggs. They were speckled and much smaller, just like my barred rocks' eggs. I also got one that reminded me of Violet's eggs. She's an australorp that lays an almost pinkish-violet egg. We're certainly going to have quite a variety of shapes and colors! I marked the ends of each egg with a big cross so that there will be no confusion about which eggs are Ollie's. I marked the calendar with a hatch date of June 6 which, concidentally, is the same day Macaroni's clutch is due to hatch! Daisy is due two days before. Oy! We are gonna have baby birds all over the place that weekend! Derek put one egg at a time in the corner of the nest box and gave Ollie the chance to tuck it underneath her.

She clucked with delight as she carefully nudged each egg beneath her warm rump. We wished her good luck and left the coop to give her time by herself. Gosh it's a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that big Ollie has a clutch of eggs beneath her and she is content to incubate them. Keep your fingers crossed that we have a good hatch.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wayward Dove

There must be a sign painted on our roof: "House Full of Suckers - Land Here" We were out in the yard this evening and saw this dove in the lawn. He was wearing a bright orange leg band and was obviously domesticated.

He wasn't injured, just seemed to be stopping by for a break. I know nothing about doves so one of you is going to have to help me with identification. I held him for a bit and he sure was strong and kept trying to wiggle out of my hands. His feathers weren't like soft, pliable chicken feathers. They were rigid and stiff for powering through the air. Clearly he was built for flight.

Jim put some corn on the lawn and the dove found it and ate quite a bit. He also got a drink from the pond but seemed unsure of how to approach it - another sign of being someone's pet or 4-H project. As the sun went down he seemed to be trying to find a place to roost for the night after doing some preening.

First he tried to fly into the garage through a window but that didn't work. Then he landed on top of the chicken coop. Not high enough.

He tried the roof of the house. Still not high enough! Finally he settled on top of the barn. If he's still here in the morning I'll call the 4-H bird advisor and ask if anyone is missing a dove.

Sweet Pea asks, "He's not staying, is he?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ollie's Broody

Ollie finally decided to get seriously broody yesterday. So she sat all day in the nest box on...nothing. I felt sorry for her today and put two golf balls under her. She seems happy to have something to fidget and fuss with. I gave them to her at the edge of the nest box and she clucked happily as she tucked them underneath her warm bottom.

So in about 21 days I should have a lovely pair of Titleists running around the coop. Unless one of you folks out there would like to send me a couple of fertile eggs to put under this determined gal!

These peeps better watch out or Ollie will teach them a hard lesson. Maude seems intent on staring at her.

The peeps are 7 weeks old on Friday and they are learning to be big girls. They've begun roosting on this pine branch a few days ago. Aren't they cute up there? Don't they look smug and smart?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another Broody Duck!

I finally found out where Macaroni has been laying her eggs. I found her beneath the raised sidewalk on the south side of the house, about 6 feet from the edge of the pond. I noticed that I hadn't seen her all day and I thought I'd peek between the cracks of the sidewalk to see if I could find her. Sure enough, I could see her sitting quietly. About an hour later she was off her nest and I went over to quickly count how many eggs she was sitting on. I counted 16!

If she hatches even half of those eggs she'll have 8 babies and Macaroni's sitting on at least 14 eggs that we can see, so half of those would be 7. I've read that you should expect 10% of duck eggs to not hatch. So at the most I could expect 27 ducklings!

I never saw any of this coming and I'm really excited about the possibility of adding more hens to my flock and having some nice young duck in the freezer. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Derek Drives A Big Tonka Truck

Look what Derek got to do today! Here is Derek operating his grandpa's front loader to clean up the shallow end of the pond. Years of silt have washed into the pond and we are trying to clean it out and make the pond a bit deeper at the end.

Derek was in heaven. It reminded me of when he was a toddler and played with his big Tonka dump truck and front loader. It's really cool that he got to operate a big one today. Jim taught him the levers and then took the back seat. Derek got the hang of it pretty quick.

In other news, we are currently on day two of duck egg incubation. Daisy began to set the eggs in ernest yesterday. She's doing a fine job of covering all 14 of them (at least we think we can count 14!). She took a short break yesterday evening then got back to work.

Also we have a pair of wood ducks using the fiberglass duck box on the other side of the pond. The hen has been seen in the early morning with her head sticking out. We think she's laying a clutch of eggs right now. The wood ducks visit each evening and the hen goes into the nest to supposedly lay an egg. Now, wouldn't it really be something to have a brood of my own domestic ducks on the pond as well as a brood of wood ducks with their mama?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Peeps Growing Up

Some shots of the month-old peeps acting like big girls. Everyone is getting along well. The little girls have learned to be quick around the big hens. I've put the broilers in general population too. Little Sophia is in the middle, sleeping. She's much smaller than the other chicks but her spunk keeps her on equal terms with them. She's such a cutie and we adore her.

The gold Campine is named Gingersnap. Derek wanted to try the breed to see what they're like. She's a Belgian breed and will lay medium sized white eggs. To her right is Maude the Welsummer who was named by my mom after the TV show from the 70s. She's a big, gangly girl just like the late Bea Arthur, so the name really fits her.

Last is Dorothy the Speckled Sussex, named after another Bea Arthur character from the show "The Golden Girls". She's very sweet and unimposing. On her right is the bold and funny Prissy who was named after the slave girl in the movie "Gone With The Wind". Her counterpart, Scarlet, is the other Barred Rock chick.

Duck egg update: I can see at least 13 eggs in Daisy's nest. She's still sitting half the day. Macaroni isn't disappearing anymore so I assume she's back to normal. Oy, these ducks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Do I Do?

There are now 13 eggs (up from 10 on Monday) that I can see. There may be more covered up with debris.

After Daisy got off her
secret stash of eggs yesterday I peeked through the boards above to see if I could count them. I could count 10 that were visible. She's got the rest of them covered with debris.

Now that I've found Daisy's clutch of eggs, I'm wondering what I should do next. She's not incubating the eggs long enough in my opinion. She'll sit on the eggs half the day and spend the other half with the drakes in the pond.

If she were setting those eggs in ernest, I'd leave them be. As it is, I fear I'm going to have a pile of rotten duck eggs in a few weeks. Near as I can tell she's been laying these eggs for about 2 weeks straight.

The eggs are in the farthest corner beneath the front porch. I'm not little enough to crawl in there and retrieve them and neither is anyone I live with. I've thought about using a hoe to pull them out.

What would you do in this situation?

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Smartest Hen in the Flock

Jim made one final pass with the tiller in the garden before I put up the chicken wire today. Betty, the official mascot of Twelve Acres, quickly learned weeks ago that the worm digger roto-tiller provides plenty of fresh, juicy worms to eat. While the other hens run from the big scary machine, Betty doesn't.

I love Betty for her pluckiness, sass and gumption. Did I mention that Barred Rocks are my favorite breed?

Integrated Flock

Anyone who has chickens will tell you that mature hens will not always accept babies and that you should never put fuzzy peeps in with them because the chances that they'll kill them are pretty high. Introducing new chickens of any age into an established flock is a touchy matter. Such is the nature of chickens.

The peeps are a month old now and have been exposed to the hens for over 2 weeks. The hens have been able to get very close to the peeps and check them out. I've kept them penned safely during the day in an enclosure made of a circle of chicken wire - very cheap and portable! At night they slept in a cage in the chicken coop where both peeps and hens could see and hear each other. I've been watching the two generations
interact, waiting for the time when both parties tell me they're ready to be put together. Yesterday was that day. I put the peeps on the floor of the coop in the evening with their heat lamp. The hens came in and got a good look at the peeps in "their" coop but no one attacked. The peeps ventured out into the run (Miss Prissy was first-that's her eyeballing the camera in the first photo) and had a blast running around, flapping their wings and scratching in the dirt. The hens were a bit put off by all their silly shenanigans but no one attacked. Lily did have to establish some boundaries but it only took a few seconds for the peeps to understand what she was not willing to tolerate.

The day has gone very well for the chickens. I kept the gate shut on the run so that they were forced to spend the day together. It's a bit cool today so the peeps stayed inside the coop. Each time I went out to check for eggs they were busy doing something: napping, dust bathing, eating or staring out the hen door.

Dorothy, a Speckled Sussex, watching the hens scratch in the fresh grass clippings.

Peeps dust bathing in the corner. (Two Barred Plymouth Rocks, one Speckled Sussex, one Delaware, one golden Campine and one Welsummer.)

Go ahead, stick your hand in there and check for eggs. I dare ya! What you're missing is the horrible dinosaur-like screech she's making.

Don't let Ollie fool ya. She's just very hormonal right now. She even puffs up and screeches if you walk too closely to her in the yard. I'm expecting her to go broody any day now. Currently she sits on the nest half the day just to lay an egg, which is definitely not normal for her.
When I check under her for eggs I always stroke her back first, then put my hand under her. She never pecks. I don't think Ollie has ever pecked me, as a matter of fact.

Duck Mystery Partly Solved

While feeding my flock this morning I noticed that the two duck hens were once again MIA. As I walked past the front porch with a can of corn for the ducks I thought to myself, "What if it's as simple as a nest under the front porch?" I stopped and knelt down (hard to do when your back feels like mine) and looked into the farthest, deepest recesses of the front porch. I saw a dark blob in the corner. I went around to the other side and did the same. Then I saw her. Daisy, in the corner in an indentation in the ground. She had her head tucked under her wing and ignored me.

Yesterday, Derek and I walked the perimeter of Twelve Acres (which is 12 acres, by the way) and thought we might stumble upon a duck nest made in the grass. No luck. We got back to the house and saw that the ducks had returned while we were out looking for them. I'm so stupid. And ducks are the smartest creatures on earth.

I still can't find Macaroni's secret spot though. I'm running out of ideas too. I don't know if Daisy's got eggs under her or not, but I'll check today when she leaves her dark corner for a break. If I'm figuring correctly, there should be 3 eggs under her.

The drakes wander aimlessly while their wimmin are gone. Kinda like men, right ladies? I think the hens should leave a list of chores for them to do while they're unattended. Or a deck of cards and some beer.

My own males are gone for the day. Derek's at school, step-son's at camp for the week and Jim is helping his dad all day today. So I've got this entire farm to myself and I'm in heaven. I treated myself to a breakfast fit for a Queen: an omelet with fresh chives, fried ham and provolone cheese with a slice of ham on the side. Was it ever good!

I've integrated the peeps with the hens and it's going really well. The hens aren't real happy about the peeps' energetic shenanigans, but they're coping. Lily had to lay out some ground rules but once they got established all was well. I'll be taking pictures later on today. It's cute to see the tiny baby chickens with the gigantic hens! I've got them in their pens for now just to make sure they don't wander off and get lost.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mysterious Duck Disappearances

For the past two days our two hen ducks, Daisy and Macaroni, have been gone half the day. They disappear in the early hours of the day then come back in the early afternoon. First Macaroni comes back and then Daisy comes back about an hour later. We have tried to find where they are going but have yet to stumble upon their secret location. We went searching for them this afternoon and they came back while we were out looking for them!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Month-Old Broilers

It's hard to believe that a month has gone by since I got these broiler chicks. To see what they looked like on day one, click here. I can't put them out in the yard with the layer peeps anymore because they're so much larger and tend to bully the little girls. I had to come up with a separate pen for the layer peeps today just to keep them safe.

The broilers should be ready to butcher in 2-3 more weeks. I plan to let them get as large as possible before we do because I've only got 9 of them. I am impressed with the health and vigor of these broilers and plan to order more of them from Ideal Hatchery next spring. The red ones are noticeably larger than the black ones. I'd estimate their weight at around a pound right now.

It was a beautiful day here in northwest Ohio and I was able to get my 10 new trees from Arbor Day Foundation planted in the yard. I love to plant trees! I found a few worms as I dug the holes and saved them for the chickens. Gertie got most of them! Violet was posing for the camera so of course i had to take her picture. She's a pretty little Australorp. When she was a teenager her nickname was "Violent" because she would run up to me and peck me hard on the leg for no reason. She outgrew it eventually. Chicks go through weird phases as they mature!