Archive for Animals

Spring Happenings

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated in here. As spring starts picking up speed, things are happening fast and furious. Chicks are being born, seedlings are being planted, ideas are being hatched, and dreams are being shattered – all at once, it seems.

Carrot is most certainly a rooster. Given his attitude, he’ll be good eating. Am I sorry I spent so much time rehabbing him? Not at all. Dealing with his unabsorbed yolksac issue and subsequent infection was a perfect learning experience. He’s healthy, happy, and thriving. Unfortunately he’s a rooster and an ass to boot. He’ll make a great stew.

One of our current roosters, Amp, is in the freezer. He was getting nasty and the girls were getting bare baked having two boys. By the end of the summer, Gucy will be joining him. As fantastic of a job as these two boys have done, they don’t really fit the bill as to what we want to eventually have for traits in our flock. Selecting and culling in this manner is tough, but will pay out in the long run.

Seedlings are kinda, not really started. Having two kids to keep me busy has been difficult. I forgot how trecherous planning a garden while having an infant could be. Thankfully we’re close to being past the last frost date and it won’t matter, seeds can go straight into the ground. Unfortunately, there’s still some I need to start sooner than later.

The wood pile has diminished substantially. It’s time to think of next year. That’s another fear that looms on the horizon.

The first hatch of 2016!

Carrot and Sable

Chicks of 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game plan for hatching out chicks this year is to allow us to have the chance to restock our layers if predators and nature remove some, provide some pullets to sell during the summer, and give us the chance to raise some meat birds, full cycle.

Out of our first hatch, we will be keeping two birds, Carrot and Sable, in hopes that they are hens. If they’re not, they will find a free ranging home. They have that promise, given the fight that Carrot has put up simply to thrive. The other four, who have not been named, will be sold after Easter.

 

Overcoming Fear

I have to be honest, there was a time I was scared to death of birds. I never knew this fear existed until a lovebird my then boyfriend (now hubster) adopted had lit out of her cage and was dive bombing me in our bedroom. I freaked. I ran out of the room bawling my eyes out, shaking, and calling him to come home. Of course he couldn’t come home, he was at work. Of course I knew no one who knew birds well enough to come to my rescue. Of course I was on my own. On my own I can deal with, but this sudden new fear of birds? That was something I couldn’t deal with.

Fast forward twelve years and now I’m the one in charge of chasing chickens, pinning down pissy roosters, tending to torn combs, popping feather pimples, and binding busted beaks. I keep track of who is laying, who is holding out, and who is hiding the eggs. I pick up, hug, kiss, and love on chickens every day. I never thought that I would be able to overcome that fear of avian animals until we decided to start our homestead. Every now and then it just hits me how far I have come and I can’t help but be amazed at myself.

Carrot

I have to apologize for the lack of updates regarding the first hatch of this season. When I set the eggs back in February, I could have never imagined the ride I was in for with this first hatch. First off, the area that we had set the incubator (our kitchen pantry) was apparently too cold on a couple nights as the incubator gave off a low temp warning a couple mornings in a row. Secondly, the humidity in our house was crazy low – around 30% – which, while normal for winter in Maine, made it tricky to keep the humidity high enough at the end of the hatch.

However, even with those two interesting issues, we had six of the seven eggs make it to hatch day. (One egg was a “quitter” mid way through.) As the eggs started hatching, Little Mister and I kept checking to see the progress of the chicks. The second one to pip was having trouble zipping.

Carrot - Prehatch

The membrane wasn’t coming apart correctly. The chick was mispositioned in the egg, making very slow progress. When this egg became the last one to finish zipping, I began to worry as to whether or not I should step in and help out.It’s always an interesting battle as a homesteader, knowing when to help an animal in distress out and when to let nature take its course. I decided on a deadline, and if the chick wasn’t out, then I would help interfere. The choice was made for me when the second to the last chick out, who was still drying off in the incubator, accidentally knocked off the shell of the struggling chick.

With the choice taken from him/her, Carrot, as my son named the orange colored chick, entered our world. Right off, I could tell something was wrong.

This photo was taken on day two after Carrot hatched.

This photo was taken on day two after Carrot hatched.

 

Carrot was born with part of his yolk sac unabsorbed. There is very little you can do for a chick in this state aside from provide time, love, and nourishment. As we were waiting for his roommate to dry off, said roommate stepped on Carrot’s yolk sac, causing a small leak. That increased the chance of infection. The roommate was banished down the basement brooder with slightly damp shoulders so that Carrot wouldn’t face a second rupture.

Carrot ended up spending an additional two days in the incubator, lovingly renamed the NICU during these time. I took Carrot out every few hours to check that the yolk sac was diminishing, give water with electrolytes, and allow some snuggles. I was worried at first that I would have to cull Carrot. I am amazed that the little foof is still around and strong. The yolk sac is almost gone, leaving a crusty over-sized belly button that might eventually fall off. The only visible damage from Carrot’s ordeal are two wings that seem smaller than average. Carrot will be a special bird, for sure. If Carrot is a she, we’ll find room for her in our flock. If a he, I know some folks who adore special needs birds.

For now, Carrot will have a bonded mate with his/her hatch buddy, who has been named Sable. They’ve been sharing the same brooder box for a few days now and are inseparable.

Carrot and Sable

Hatch #1

This past Sunday, the 14th, seven eggs went into the incubator. I candled them yesterday, on day three, and all seven have veins! I am beyond excited! While this development may not be constant and we may lose some throughout the incubating period, it’s exciting to know our boys are doing their duty. Here’s to the nail biting wait of the next candling session on day ten.