Got out the kid’s Phantom 2 drone. Guess I remembered how to use it. Have a nice flight!
Our newest layers have been growing and becoming a part of the larger flock. It is so picturesque to see them free ranging around while we are out doing chores. A couple of the bigger breeds have started laying small pullet eggs and we expect most to be laying regularly in the next couple of weeks (they usually start when they are around 22 weeks old). Our mystery bird included with the batch this time is another rooster. We call him Jersey because he is a Jersey Giant breed. He will replace a nuisance rooster who we are now calling stew. He attacked my mother and gave her an unbelievable bruise on her leg. She was opening a corral gate for me to get the tractor through. The rooster was near the gate with her ladies and grandma was a stranger and a threat. He got his hackles up and spurred into her shin. It was a direct hit. Its a good thing it was through jeans otherwise I suspect we would have been taking a trip to the hospital!
The layers taking turns in the nesting boxes
Our newest 50 broiler chicks growing up very fast!
As the new chicks grow up their adult features are starting to show. We always opt to receive a “mystery bird” from our hatchery when we order new babies. The first was a rooster and he has turned into a fine specimen. The second was a female Ameracauna and has turned into a fine layer of blue eggs. This time around we thought we had a Jersey Giant or Australorp female but looking now at the adult photos against our own we may have ourselves another rooster. That simply can’t happen. So we will be keeping our eye out on this one. Very pretty bird but the thought of 4 roosters again is simply too much. They are noisy as all get out. Well….. we always need chicken stock.
The new chicks went out into the coop last week after living under the seedling tables for 2 weeks. They need about one more week of growth and acclimatization so when the non-fenced meeting happens and the re-establishment of the pecking order commences they won’t get beaten up too badly. Because nothing is easy, we have to round them up into dog crates on the eve of their introduction and wait for the big girls to go to bed on the roosts. At night, when the adults are sleeping, the theory is to introduce them into the sleeping quarters while everyone is asleep. When the adults wake up and because chickens are stupid, there is supposed to be much less upheaval than if we simply open the gate and let them in together. We shall see. There are already a couple of the new ones that could put some serious whoopass on some of the older girls. If nothing else it will be entertaining!
One very fun experience with this whole farming craziness is going to the Post Office to pick up a cardboard box that cheeps. I have had the pleasure of having little kids in line when I arrive. Getting to see the look of astonishment on their faces when I lift up the flap so they can see them is a hoot! Today was no different. The box was cheeping like crazy and the kids were thrilled.
We selected a mixed batch of chicks this time. They will eventually go in with our Buff Orpingtons and 3 roosters. Our goal is to begin managing our own flock and hatching our own chicks. We may still buy some meat birds to keep the freezer stocked, but these new ladies are considered heavy layers; heavy meaning they are larger birds and lay lots of eggs. Considering most of our eggs are fertile and we do have an incubator, we are going to embark on a system of making stew, stock and roasting birds, along with replenishing our layers as they age.
They are the cutest durn things. Our whole basement is cheeping. The little buggers are eating and drinking and look as healthy as can be. They will stay in our brooder until the first week of March when they will then join the rest of the crew outside.
It is also amazing to watch nature in action. Chickens need about 12 hours of daylight to keep them laying eggs. As we approached the winter solstice our egg production dropped to only a couple of eggs a day. After that time, the days get longer by 4 minutes per day. As this has happened over the past month, the number of eggs per day has begun increasing! Considering that eggs are REALLY meant to produce more chickens (not just giving us breakfast), it makes complete sense. Why lay eggs when the eggs and the chicks might freeze to death? I did some looking and this is why we have eggs and bunnies at Easter time. At Easter the eggs are in full production by then and the new baby rabbits also begin emerging from their burrows. The cycle of life! Too bad the religious nuts hijacked these celebrations. I wouldn’t have grown up wondering what the hell eggs and rabbits had to do with bleeding Jesus! Ha!
Here are the new ladies……
The chickens are always the first step on the road to composting. They love greens! In the past couple of weeks they have been feasting on carrot tops, beet greens, and tomato pulp left over from making sauce. From there the litter goes out onto the compost heap and then finds its way back to the garden. A closed nutrient loop!