Buffy, the Peeved

When we choose breeds of chicks last year we referred to an oft used resource – Henderson’s Chicken Chart. Things that I looked at were how cold tolerant they were, how hardy they were, whether or not they were good forager, whether they were a consistent layer, and what size egg they were known to lay. I also like to choose breeds that aren’t quite as common – if we can help keep a breed from extinction – then happy day! I also pay attention to that column that tells what a breed’s likeliness to go broody is. Cause, while it’s nice to have a mama hen now and then, it really does do a number on egg production. A broody hen will set eggs for 21 days, and then for the next 4 to 6 weeks will be all consumed with raising said chicks. (And her pals in the flock will sometimes sympathize with her so much, they’ll slow down laying, too!) Then she’ll likely moult. Then, when she gets back around to it, will start to lay again. It’s totally the easiest way to raise chicks, but well – like I said, puts a bit of a damper on the egg production.

In the 2009 chicks we had 3 Buff Minorca’s, but by the time that group of chicks grew up, we were down to just one. We named her Buffy – anyone else remember Family Affair?

That’s her at about 10 o’clock in this picture. She’s decidedly a blonde. A sweet little bird, a little shy, but a great layer of large white eggs.

One of the things I’d learned about Minorca’s was the fact that they pretty much don’t go broody.

Leave it to us to end up with one that has!

Meet Buffy the Peeved:

She sat here for about a week – strangely enough, taking one afternoon off – but then went back to broodiness. After a few more days, we finally decided to get some fertile eggs to let her set.

So I took a little road trip south to http://www.eggs2u.com and came home with a dozen fertile eggs.

Here they are, nestled in a bed of hay, just waiting for Buffy to come warm ’em up!

There are:

4 Dominique

4 Easter Eggers

2 Rhode Island Reds

2 New Hampshire Reds

So – I went and got Buffy from the nest box, transferred her to the Broody Mama part of the coop, and expected her to sing the Hallelujah Chorus for bringing her REAL eggs!

WRONG!

She was totally PEEVED! Why, pray tell?

Cause I took her away from THESE eggs:

Yes, they are wooden.

No amount of explaining would quiet her down. So I left her to stew.

An hour or so later I found her thus:

MUCH happier, don’t you think?

So… we’re on hatching watch. We should have chicks sometime around the 25th or 26th.

I can’t wait!

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My Husband, The Genius

If no one has told you yet, let me be the first.

Chicken keeping is addictive.

When you first start making your plans to add chickens to your world, you might start by saying something like this: “Three, yes. Three chicks would be the perfect place to start.”

Of course, then you go to the local feed store in Springtime and see the beyond adorable chicks. On the way home you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Eight is probably a better number… Wouldn’t be that much more room to house…”

How you get from eight to twenty-two (including roosters that had to go away) is anyone’s guess!

Sufficeit to say that by the time you settle down to fifteen hens and NO roosters, things seem, well, comfortable.

Here’s the thing, though. When you’re into chicken keeping, you’re pretty much sure everyone else ought to join you in this wonderful pursuit! So, when a friend happens to mention that she’s been dreaming of starting her own flock one day – all she wants is some started pullets… You help!

Over the course of time things happen. Five go to friends. One dies from some mystery malady. Two get eaten by neighbor dogs. One goes broody.

Before you know it, you’re down to just four or five eggs a day.

That, my friends, is just not enough!

Especially not when you’ve got BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs to supply!

So – you might start saying things like, “Well… if William is really going to do an egg business this coming year, just how many chicks should we order?”

You, of course, temper those statements with things like, “We probably shouldn’t get chicks – at least not this year. I mean I’m going to have major orthopedic surgery!” (This would be why you’re up to midnight the night before said orthopedic surgery placing your chick order!)

So… somewhere along the line an assumption is made that yes, some chicks should be ordered. Someone might have said ten chicks. Someone else might have said, maybe 12 chicks. And somewhere along the line the order gets morphed into – oh, thirty chicks!

Thirty adorable chicks.

Five Blue Andalusians (one was a rooster).

Five Speckled Sussex.

Five Delawares (two went missing, one came back).

Five Cuckoo Marans.

Five Amaracaunas (one was a rooster).

Five Minorcas – three buff (one’s a rooster, one died), and two black.

See? I NEEDED thirty chicks! J

And, accordingly, we needed a larger coop and run! (Particularly in light of our new neighbor dogs! UGH!)

This is not a job for the faint of heart! It might even require some blood, sweat, and tears! Or at least a blister or two!

John, my genius husband, has designed and drafted plans for the expansion.

Have I mentioned recently what a genius he is? Cause if not – let me just be sure to keep you in the know – he IS! Seriously!

The coop was the first structure he ever built.

It’s been nothing short of amazing and phenomenal. Many people have stopped to remark how nicely it’s built, and what a great design it is.

Yes, like I said – genius!

So, my genius husband has drafted – as in AutoCAD drafted – the plans for the addition. They’re pretty cool looking. But I’m thinking the built-out model will be EVEN cooler still!

This new addition will more than double the space of the coop! This wall will have six new nest boxes.

The new big door will open into the expanded, new, and improved chicken run.

And my brilliant husband even thought to build in a spot for a fan – for the hot days of summer. Last thing we need is a chicken with heat stroke!

I love this door! He built this all by himself! Isn’t it cool?

And here you can see that the cattle fencing has been stretched to it’s new anchor on the corner of the addition. The girls are going to like this so much!

And here’s a peek at the new chicken yard addition – an actual area with grass for them to hang out in! They’ve already tried it out and seem to think it’s a great idea!

So – now we wait. We’ve got 25 chicks who will begin laying sometime around mid-August. John’s got a schedule all worked out to make sure everything is finished up and all of the new nest boxes are in place in plenty of time for that!

In the meantime – we’re on chick hatch watch:

Shelly is on day 20 on Sunday. It takes 21 days of a hen setting consistently on her eggs for them to start hatching out. I’ll be sure to report any signs of progress!

So that’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles central!

The Garden, the Flock, et al…

Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.

Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)

The Garden

John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!

A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!

It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.

 John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!

We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.

We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J

I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!

As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!

The Flock

 

 

Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!

For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”

 We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!

 Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.

Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.

She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.

Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.

The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!

Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!

I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.

I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)

We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!

The Fam…

 

 This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home!  She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here.  She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off.  (Yay!  I’ve missed her!)  She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest.  My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well.  It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well.  When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time.  These kids sure have been sleeping well!

Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks.  It’s so wierd not having him here.  We all miss him!

John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had.  Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing.  I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!

For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.

 What we’re really looking forward to, though…

SLEEPING IN!

I love it when school is out for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J

First Field Trip

We decided this afternoon that we would let the babies out into the big back yard this afternoon for their first foray into life without fences…

We were surprised that for the most part, the big girls just ignored them. Rooth being the most aggressive of the big girls – but she for the most part stayed out of the way of the babies – letting them get their first taste of the wider world.
Aren’t they cute?
Five of the babies are supposed to be Delawares. Four of them look very much like Delawares. This one (below) is all white, with the puffier cheek feathers, and has black legs. Not so much like the other Delawares! Mystery chick!

Here’s the buff minorca rooster (William is attempting to name him Paco – we’ll see if the rest of the family will agree with this name or not!) – only two buff minorcas, and one of them is a rooster, darn it all! We started with three, one just didn’t recover from shipping – the other two have fared well. But this means I’ll have my work cut out for me in a few weeks, looking for a new home for the boys who seem to be emerging in the flock.

Here’s one of the speckled sussex. They’re so cute and inquisitive and one of them is the first one out the door and the first to scope out a new treat offered.

This one is a blue andalusian – also a roo. Great. I wish we could keep the roos. But the one set of difficult neighbors makes that impossible, unfortunately. Even just this morning I heard the neighbor down the street’s rooster greeting the morning… sniff… wish we could have one – or as many as show up! 🙂

This is another one of the Delawares. Jessica has named her Pecky. She is BIG. She is inquisitive. She loves to try and peck at my rings, nails, earrings – well, everything. She’s hilarious to watch jump high up and try to get leaves off of the willow tree. AND… she is perfectly happy to sit on a lap and be petted. She’s VERY personable, thrilled with the attention, and loves to follow people around.

William named this female buff minorca Princess. She’s sweet and mellow. She is petite, though – both of the buff minorcas are. It will be interesting to see if there’s any evening out compared to the rest of the flock.

Here’s one of the americaunas. They are so cute and happy to be handled.

This is the mystery chick. I think it was supposed to be one of the black minorcas. Yeah – not so much. This one DOES NOT like being handled – HATES being caught – and doesn’t ever quite settle down if you do catch it to hold and love on it a bit. It will be very interesting to see what she turns into!

It’s amazing how quickly they’re growing. The babies are now 5 and 1/2 weeks old. Dang – time flies!