Tag Archive for chickens

Decisions

I’ve written previously that Amp would be going to slaughter, but now I’m hesitating.

Amp’s been much better around us, as of late. We’ve gone out of our way to handle him, making sure that he understands that we’re the ones in charge. He even let me pick him up while he was eating, bring him in to put bag balm on his comb, and then bring him back to the coop with no ruffling, grumping, and attempted pecking. Amp’s still a bit rough with the ladies, one in particular that I may need to put a saddle on today with how cold it is. The battles between he and Gucy have lessened and he hasn’t swatted at us once.

I’m nervous to see what Spring will bring, once the hormones hit and such, but for the most part, I think he may be receiving a stay of execution.

Rooster

image-300x225 This past season Hubster and I decided that if either of the two roosters we’ve raised decided to start acting overly testosterone driven that they would go to freezer camp before having the chance to attack us.

Well, it looks like we’ll be down to one rooster soon. Amp, as gorgeous as he is and as great of a job as he does, he’s starting in with some nasty habits: chasing girls that won’t let him mount them, forcing some girls away from the feed, following us and grumbling when we let them out, and placing himself between us and the girls. His stink-eye and habits just won’t do.

Now, there will be those reading this that will ask, “Why don’t you just rehome him?” Roosters are not known to be broken of Nast habits once they manifest. Come spring, Amps attitude will be much worse as she hits a natural testosterone high. Rehoming him would only make him someone else’s problem. As far as homesteading is concerned, butchering Amp makes more sense as he isn’t a problem for someone else and we recoupe part of the cost of raising him through providing food for our family. He’s an 8.5lb bird that, if he dresses out to 5lbs, will give us about six meals.

As sad as it will to see him go, it’s necessary. Amp is frightening the girls to the point that we’re losing more eggs than what we should be this time of year. He’s keeping some of the girls from the food to the point that a couple of them are growing very lean. Amp is handsome, but looks don’t make up for being an asshole. Since the butcher isn’t doing up another batch of birds until January, he has until then, unless things get really iffy, at which point we’ll do him in ourselves.

Hatch Number 1 Complete!

We are so excited here on our little homestead! Or should I say eggscited? ;-) Our first hatch – the one that started before our rooster, Gimp, was snagged by a predator – has gone really well. Out of the seven eggs that we placed in, one wasn’t viable and we removed it at day 10. Another was a very late death, around day 14 – 17. The other five were very fertile and are now VERY active little balls of fluff.

Babies 1 and 2 snuggling.

Babies 1 and 2 snuggling.

 

Baby number 3, our 1/4 Leghorn, 1/3 Araucana, 1/2 Rhode Island Red mix.

Baby number 3, our 1/4 Leghorn, 1/3 Araucana, 1/2 Rhode Island Red mix.

 

Little number 4 is a crazy bugger. He was hopping around like mad and kept bouncing around into the last two eggs.

Little number 4 is a crazy bugger. He was hopping around like mad and kept bouncing around into the last two eggs.

 

Number 5 was the last, and smallest, to hatch. She was helped a lot by number 4, who kept rolling her egg and climbing on it.

Number 5 was the last, and smallest, to hatch. She was helped a lot by number 4, who kept rolling her egg and climbing on it.

 

All 5 of Gimp's off spring!

All 5 of Gimp’s off spring!

Progress on the coyote front

Good news: shooting the coyote is now a back-up plan.

We found Animal Damage Control Agent Heath, a local from the area, to help us with our problems. We were able to pick his brain on a few things about the coyote, who we feel is most likely a bitch with a litter of pups, and have a solid plan for trying to keep her at bay until they move on to their winter den.

Agent Heath suggested using “human smells:” perfumes, soaps, cleaning chemicals like ammonia and bleach…things that the coyote would normally associate with people. We’re going to try picking up from dryer sheets – something we haven’t bought in nearly 6 years now – and see how that works. We’ll be able to tie them throughout the perimeter of the property, making a stinky boundary line. Based on his suggestions, we’re also going to try a movable scare-crow dosed in some sort of deodorant spray or some such.

As an absolute last ditch scenario, if the coyote starts coming out when it shouldn’t and proves dangerous, Agent Heath will come in and hunt it. He doesn’t believe in using foot traps in the area that we’re in for the same reasons we don’t want to use them: too many domestics, other wildlife, and children in the area. He also said that a live trap, while it can work in some cases, will probably not prove to be efficient.

This makes us feel so much more at ease. We have someone to work with who believes in putting animals first and doing everything necessary before removing them from the area. As much of a pain as it has been losing chickens, and it really hurt losing Edith, we know that we need to find some balance with the predators that are out there. This is part of finding that balance.

Day 12

Most people who incubate their own eggs tend to candle them on day 5 to see if there are any fertile ones and to remove those that may rot and cause a catastrophic explosion. Not I. Not being able to find the appropriate flashlight seemed like an impossible task in this house, which is hilariously frustrating given how much of a flashlight-bug the Hubster is.

So…if I finally got to candling the eggs, why aren’t there any pictures? The simple answer is this: the best flashlight was on my phone, which has become primarily my camera more than anything else. It worked better than I thought it would, too. I was able to have a large flat surface to hold the egg on and I didn’t have to worry about cupping my hand around the light or any other interesting movement that could easily result in a dropped egg.

We’re proud to announce that, with only 9 days to go, 6 out of the 7 eggs that we set are fertile with little jumping beans in them! This is awesome! We lost out rooster, Gimp, to the local coyote this past Thursday (along with young Lucy and our matriarch, Edith), so we’re hoping we might have a boy out of those six. Even more exciting is the concept that one of the eggs I’m certain is Edith’s, which means we might have an off spring to two of our lost sweethearts.

If things go well, we’ll have:

1 Barred Rock x Rhode Island Red
1 Comet x Rhode Island Red
4 Easter Egger x Rhode Island Red

Obviously the first two would continue to be brown layers, but the last for would most likely than not be GREEN egg layers given the cross. Very exciting! I don’t know if we’ll keep all the chicks, as we’ve given someone who helped donate to the incubator the option of taking her pick of the first batch, but we also have a good assortment of layers that are a little over a month old (3 Black Australorps, 2 Blue Andalusians, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, and 2 Buff Rocks).

Needless to say, we might even be attempting another clutch after this batch is hatched in a bid to make sure we get one of Gimp’s boys. We’ll see.