Tag Archive for chicks

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.

 

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

And so comes spring…

A lot has changed in the past two months since I have had time to update here. Personally, I’m suffering the set back of having to extend my Master’s work yet again, but this will be the last time, thankfully! The time that I’ve had to devote to my writing, the mental prep and planning for planting season, and the physical exertion of growing another farm hand has left me with very few chances to get onto the blog. I’m stealing a few minutes to update everyone about what we have going on and what’s changed.

We decided to rehome our white crested Polish rooster, Jovi. No sooner did we than his immune system apparently shut down on him. He passed away only after a week of living in his new home. It killed me to hear that he had moved on. I just hope that depression and being away from us did not exacerbate his health issues. His new owner did say he didn’t seem to be in pain when he passed. It’s hard, though. You can say as often as you want that you won’t get attached to the live stock – the breathing beings that provide you with food – but it’s hard not to.

Our only rooster now, Gimp the Rhode Island Red, has been dealing with some health issues of his own. At a later date I will do an entry on both of the specific ones he went through and how we treated each, as it’s very important information that I feel many chicken owners, including myself, tend to over look. Needless to say, he’s lost half a toe and two toe nails due to frost bite issues and is allergic to hay.

We’re also looking to rehome a few of our hens who just aren’t fitting into the flock as well as we would like. they are great layers and barely a year old, so I can’t see just sending them to freezer camp. We have a few people interested, we just have to decide when we need them gone by.

It’s also chick season around here. We bought 6 Black Australorps pullets from Aubuchon’s since we couldn’t get the from the hatchery. While there, I entered for their Chick Days drawing, which ws a chick starter kit. For once in my life, I won something! Not only did we get a tote with all the fixings (water font, 2 feeders, heat lamp and bulb, treat stick, and themometer), but it came with six free chicks (one mystery chick and then I chose the rest), a bale if shavings, and a 25 lb of feed!

We now have the 6 Black Australorps, 5 Jersey Giants, and one mystery chick (most likely a Brown Leghorn or Welsummer roo) in one brooder box. The other brooder box has 10 Buff Rock roos, 2 Buff Rock pullets, 2 Blue Andalusian Pullets, 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets, and a mystery bird, which I’m pretty sure is a Cochin. Our basement is very lively right now!

We also have expansion plans for the gardens and will possibly be adding in blueberry bushes this year as well. Oh, and let’s not forget fiddlehead season is in a few weeks! Let’s hope this waddling mama doesn’t fall into the Sandy Brook when fiddlehead picking!

New Ladies

New Girls

So I left my house yesterday thinking that I would be picking up two month old Black Austrolops. I traveled over an hour out to another part of the state while battling cold, was surprised by chance to run into an old friend, but overall the entire trip was a bit different than what I expected.

The lady selling me the pullets as part of her children’s 4H project was very nice and seemed to know a lot, but she also seem to have a lot of misinformation at her disposal. From feather sexing to the effects of food on been to growth sizes to different types of breeds, she seemed a little too trusting of information on the Internet. (This brings to mind some different subjects that I’ll be tackling either here on this blog or in future writing projects.)

I’m a little concerned that she might be going out of her way to mislead others, but I hope that’s not the case. What she was claiming to be 2 to 3 month old Black Austrolops were barely five weeks old. They still had a lot of down, very few second growth feathers, and would in no way be ready to be outside in a week or two. She had only a few older birds, and none that she had intended to selling. After talking and explaining how long we’ve been raising chickens, she seemed to be changing her mind on letting a couple of the actual two month old birds go. (Come to find out, this was only their first year doing chicks and second year doing chickens over all. There was a lot that she seemed hesitant on, but in talking to her I think she’ll be all set as long as she gets her hands on some better information.)

While I didn’t get that specific breed, I did bring two chickens home to become Jovi’s ladies. Supposedly they are Leghorn/Aracuana mixes. They’re very beautiful. They’re predominately white with some very light speckling. Even though she was “200% sure” they’re both pullets, I have a sinking suspicion one of them might be a rooster. It’s hard to tell with mixed breeds, though. If one does end up showing to be a rooster, well, we’ll deal with it at that point. We’ll keep them as docile as possible and if someone’s looking for a beautiful, nice rooster will try to home him. If not then he might just meet the fate of other roosters and help nourish our family.

Here’s hoping that they’re both beautiful, docile hens. If they stay as calm as they are now, it shouldn’t be a problem. More specifically, here’s hoping that these two ladies and Jovi get along splendidly as it will be so much easier to blend them into the flock together. And I upset that the trip didn’t turn out as planned.

Am I upset that I didn’t get the specific chickens that I wanted? Not necessarily. Things happen for reason and as were looking to build the best flock of tame yet intelligent chickens for our family, this might be a blessing.