Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Arrival

Broody banty managed to hatch out one little black peep on Monday morning. Unfortunately all of the other eggs were duds. This little fella will have the coveted position of permanent pet status around here. (Unless he grows up to be a flogging rooster.)
 
 

Little mama has been so cute teaching him/her how to eat and drink. She tosses seed with her head, clucks and scratches around like crazy. Half of the time, he gets up there to grab a bite and she sends him flying!

 

He has cute little fuzzy cheeks, just like his daddy. I hope it's a pullet, actually, but it will be awhile before we find out. I think we'll call it either Elsa or Olaf (girl or boy) since he was born on the coldest day of the winter so far.

I had just about given up on anything hatching. I thought it had been well over 3 weeks since she had gone missing, but she must not have gotten down to business right away. It was such a delight to come out to do my chores and hear the unexpected conversation of little peeps and clucks. This is the first chick born on our property, my first hatch ever. (Well, broody banty did all of the work.)

  

I'm going to move them tomorrow to a better brooder in the basement. It's warmer down there and we can spend more time comfortably watching them.

They've really made me itch for spring! I'll be firing up the incubator here soon. I'll be hatching eggs from our mixed layer flock first until I get the hang of it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Broody Banty, Part Deux!

Banties are so small and so good at hiding!

The bantam Golden Seabright from my previous post gave up immediately when I took her eggs away from her, but the three of them continue to fly over the fence and hide their eggs each day.

When broody banty number 2 disappeared about 2-3 weeks ago, I immediately assumed she had gone broody, but a search of our property turned up nothing. If she had made her way over to the neighbor's big barn, there wasn't anything I could do about it, so it was wait and see.

Two days ago she finally made an appearance, popping out briefly to find something to eat. She was very impatient and nervous and demanded that I bring her food right away. She then threatened to whoop the cat if he didn't get out of her way and proceeded to eat from the cats' dish. As she briskly made her way back to her hiding spot, I was able to trail her and saw her duck in here:

A small recess in the bottom of my husband's wood pile. He has been working on splitting this wood every few days and it's a wonder she wasn't squashed by the unstable pile of logs! She never came running out, never made a peep, just laid low, waiting and hoping not to be noticed. 

The weather here has been hitting record highs for the month of December with the strong El Nino going through. Many days have been in the 60's and 70's. We've scarcely burned any firewood this year so far. But tomorrow night is forecast to go below freezing, so I made the decision to move her and her eggs to a safer, warmer location.

Chicken solitary confinement.

I didn't want to risk finding frozen peeps or worse yet, a frozen mama banty.

She was a little peeved with me and very agitated at first, but after she ate, drank, relieved herself and preened her feathers, she finally did settle back down on her eggs. Of the 14 eggs I removed from the nest, 5 were warm and viable. I candled the others to verify their demise. We even saw these 5 WIGGLE a couple of times. Yay! :D If I remember correctly, she has been gone at least 2 weeks, or perhaps nigh unto three. We may have some new peeps here very soon!

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. As broody and sneaky as these banties are and given how chicken math works they could multiply quite rapidly come summertime. These little girls have a major advantage over the standard size pullets in hiding their nests from me. :\

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Broody Banty

If you've kept chickens for awhile, then you know that most missing chicken stories don't have happy endings.  We were so glad this one did!  We've become very attached to our three banties.  They are so sweet and gentle and just the right size for the children to cuddle.

One night she didn't turn up on the roost with the others, although I had last seen her about an hour before closing the pen when I tossed them their daily ration of scratch grains.  After a brief search of the backyard the next day, this is where we found her:


What else to do with a hoard of 16 eggs, but to set them?  


This little girl seems to have her seasons mixed up.  It has been an unusually warm November this year, so that is understandable.  Maybe in the spring I will allow her to set some.  I felt really bad taking them from her and even worse scrambling them up later!

If these were fertile, they would have been a cross between our white Easter Egger cockerel and bantam Golden Seabright.  The banties have discovered they can squeeze between the gaps in the electric poultry netting when it's off and he usually flies over daily to escape our other Easter Egger cockerel who is the top dog.  So they have formed their own little band, although the banties get along with all of my other chickens and can mingle at will.

I just bought an incubator this fall.  I can't wait to hatch some eggs!  I will post pics and stories about that when the time comes.  Chicken math...you know how that goes!  :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Turkeys

Hello, blog!  I have missed you and am thinking I will try to get back into the habit of posting every so often if I have anything interesting going on around here.

These are my two Bourbon Red turkey poults and they are are 6 weeks old now. These are supposed to be DH's turkeys, my gift to him, but really they're more mine. I feed them and everything. He just mentioned in passing that he'd like to get turkeys someday, so that was all I needed to hear.  ;)



I found out the hard way that turkeys have a really steep learning curve! These are the only two survivors. We started with 6 poults and very mysteriously, every few days, one would just get sleepy and then I'd find it dead the next day. A couple days later, another, then another... After asking around www.backyardchickens.com, the best answer we could come up with was a failure to thrive. I think they were getting too comfortable under the heat lamp and not eating and drinking enough. It is advisable to put a chicken chick in with them to show them how to eat and drink, since they are slow to catch on themselves, so I'll definitely do that next time. They really don't eat and drink as voraciously as chicks, although most every other aspect of their care is the same. These guys are about the size of a banty chicken now.

They are very nervous and flighty little critters. I had to cage them within the brooder circle because they kept flying out and couldn't figure out how to get back in. I got 6 poults for $40 from a local breeder, which is a really good deal (they go for $10.50 each on Murray McMurray Hatcheries website, plus shipping.) But I think the time of year now going into fall and winter isn't really the best. I will have to keep them in the garage all winter or maybe in the barn since young turkeys are said to not tolerate drafts or dampness well and our winters are usually pretty cold and wet. They'll go out on pasture with the chickens in the spring.

I was hoping to have a couple of hens to keep for breeding and I was going to get a new tom off of another breeder about an hour from here. I don't know what I'll do with them now, depending on whether I have toms or hens there. If I have at least one tom, he will be grown out and ready for Easter dinner next spring. As much effort as it has taken to keep them alive, I'm afraid I'll be too attached to them at that point. That was the plan anyway.