Archive for the ‘chicks’ Category

Note to Self: Don’t Be Stupid

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Remember I told you bears took out our bird feeders about 9 years ago? Well, they surely did. And Bernie and I agreed that bird feeders are not a good idea out here.

But we had an especially brutal winter this year, so I decided since it had been a while since we’d had any bear issues, it was safe to put out our bird feeders once again.

I should have known better.

Sunday morning Bernie took the pups out to potty about 6AM. And when he came back inside he informed me a bear was interested in my bird feeders, too.

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Apparently, he was especially interested in the fruit and nut mixture.

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And especially liked the suet that was hanging from these mangled hooks – one of which we’ve yet to find.

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It appears he decided to go over this chicken wire and flatten my poor Hosta and a few other plants to begin with.

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And then we noticed this.

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Those would be the chicken feeder and scratch scoop I keep in the cans in the chicken run.

And then we saw this.

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Sigh.

And that’s not actually the worst part.

After assessing the bear damage, we went back to check on the goats. The baby goats are locked in their stall at night, but Mirrie is free to be inside the goat barn or roam.

She usually greets me in her paddock every morning,

But not this morning.

I called for her and there wasn’t a peep out of her, or even the baby goats, who usually scream when they hear my voice.

It was dead silent.

We found Mirrie inside the goat barn, huddled in a corner, trembling from nose to tail.

Having recently lost Georgia, we were very concerned.

I was convinced she had a fever. So we called our vet to come out and check on her.

He was here in short order. She was still trembling. But she had no fever. And he found absolutely NOTHING wrong with her.

We suspect Mirrie saw the bear. We have no idea if or how they interacted, but there is almost no doubt her symptoms were bear related.

It took her a full 24 hours to start eating, drinking, and acting normally again.

And this is a sweet sight for me right now.

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So is this.

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The babies were locked up tight, but they were still very unsettled Sunday morning.

We have bears here. I know this. I’ve posted pictures of them in this very blog – while they were in this very yard. I had hoped with all the yard activity and bird feeders so close to the house, that it wouldn’t be a bear issue.

But it was.

Lesson learned.

Take it from me.

If you have bears in your area, don’t keep bird feeders out when the bears are likely to roam around. And tuck in tightly any other type of animal feed you have, and anything else that might attract bears.

I’ll put my bird feeders out during the winter months, and be sure to take them in before the bears start stirring.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Please do yourself a favor, and learn this one from me.

In spite of all the stress this bear brought to us, good things are happening around here…….

It wouldn’t truly be spring here without baby chicks, right? And we’ve got seven of them right now!

This mama hatched out 3 babies yesterday.

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And this mama hatched out 4 babies yesterday.

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I have another hen on three eggs due to hatch in two weeks.

And I have a coop full of other broodies who are too mean for me to let hatch out chicks.

It’s spring.

Critters are doing what critters do.

And I’m dealing with what critters do, and I’m loving it for the most part.

If I can just remember not to be stupid.

Oak Apple Gall, More Baby Chicks, And Other Stuff

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

For the past several years we’ve noticed these little ping pong shaped balls in the yard and woods.

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They start out more of a white with red speckles, and over time they get darker. I did a little googling on them and learned they are called “Oak Apple Galls” and they are actually contain a wasp larvae. I put it in a jar and hope to see it hatch.

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And, speaking of insects, I captured a nice picture of a Hummingbird Moth last month.

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It’s hard to believe it was once one of the huge Tomato Horn Worms I find munching on my vegetable plants!

This pretty girl stopped by this afternoon.

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And, earlier today, Bernie found this adorable little bunny laying in the yard.

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I brought the bunny inside and warmed him up, and then I laid him on a heating pad. I was sad when he died an hour or so later, but I hope I brought him a little comfort to see him out.

That made me sad. But finding itty bitty chicken eggs always makes me smile.

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And, speaking of eggs, last night I checked under my latest broody for any extra eggs that the other hens may have left for her.

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I found an extra egg under her, but I also found that one of hers was pipping.

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She hatched out three of them overnight.

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If the other two hatch, it will bring us to a total of 18 new peeps so far this year. We lost two to predators, and I know there are two little roos out there that we won’t be keeping. But I’m pleased to think we will go into the winter with more chickens than we started with.

And finally…….. Christmas Spoiler for anyone on my Christmas list………. I’ve been crocheting these neat water bottle cozies for the past week or so 🙂

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These are a super fast and easy way to use up that extra yarn stash laying around!

We’re still canning garden vegetables, but that is slowing down a little. Finishing the outside canning kitchen is on hold for a couple of weeks as we prepare for Bernie’s family to visit.

We have had a productive and busy summer so far. I hope yours has been a good one, too!

Remember Me?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I’ve been woefully remiss in my blog posting. The past couple of months have been filled with lots of good things, and a few not so good things.

I’m gonna start with one of the not so good things.

We lost Duke about the time I stopped blogging. It was truly a difficult time for me. He had been sick for quite a while and, in all honesty, we should have probably put him down long ago. He had a good life, and he was quite the rooster – big, handsome, and a fierce protector of his flock. I have never heard of another rooster that would chase chicken hawks, let alone attack them and, on one occasion, pin them to the ground. Duke will always hold a very special place in my heart.

A good thing that happened is that my hens finally started going broody for me, and we ended up with one that hatched out five chicks:

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And one that hatched out four:

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Unfortunately, a predator killed both of the mama hens within two days. The four chicks were two weeks old at the time, and the five chicks were three weeks old. That same week, something got our big rooster, Pico. It was a stressful and sad week to say the least. After finding Pico’s feathers scattered across the yard, I decided to put the chickens on lock down for a few days.

I am fairly certain we had a fox that was picking off our chickens. We had seen a fox chasing a hen in the yard several weeks ago. Bernie scared it off, and it stayed gone a while. But I suspect it started coming back after these chickens.

After a couple days of lock down for the chickens, they were cut loose to resume free ranging. And we haven’t lost another one. Maybe the fox found an easier meal. I certainly hope so.

Since the loss of two roosters, I’m down to Bobby Lee and Floyd. As sad as I was to lose Duke and Pico, Bobby Lee actually seems quite happy.

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He’s such a handsome boy. Floyd is too – but I didn’t get a good picture of him.

In mid-June Bernie’s mama and sister came to visit for a week. That was definitely a high light of our summer. We had a wonderful visit and were tickled to learn they will be back the end of August – with Bernie’s daddy and Julie’s boyfriend in tow!

Bernie’s mama, Kathy, is one of my favorite people, and she’s always a hoot. She and Bernie are very close, and it always warms my heart to watch the affection between them.

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Bernie’s sister, Julie, is such a good friend to me and I just adore her. So does Dolly.

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It was sad to see them go. But knowing that they will be back in short order definitely helped saying “goodbye” just a little easier this time.

So far I feel like this has been a good news/bad news kind of post! And I guess it really has. The next news I have to share with you is definitely a mix of both.

We no longer have the turkeys.

I have very mixed feelings about this.

It makes me sad because I really love Jake, Tanya, Sara, and Turklet2. I miss them a lot. But, on the other hand, it made me sad to see them penned. They were used to free ranging and penning them was difficult on them. So…….. when we learned that Gail, the owner of Deauville Farms, had re-homed all the Fallow Deer she had raised for years, we approached her about taking all four of our turkeys. Gail has many chickens, and she now has a huge pasture that she plans to free range them in. The pasture has 6 foot fencing, with electric wire at the top. Talk about a safe, fun place for turkeys to hang out! We were tickled when Gale said she would be happy to add four turkeys to her menagerie.

That made me very happy. And a little sad. But mostly happy.

So, just yesterday, we loaded up the turkeys and took them to their new home. We also supplied Gail with the turkeys’ favorite treat – Animal Crackers. As it turns out, Animal Crackers are a nice way to introduce yourself to turkeys.

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In the below picture you can get an idea of the huge pasture the turkeys will be roaming in. They’ll stay fenced in the smaller yard for a couple of days until they are sure where “home” is, but soon they’ll be out free ranging again.

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And the old turkey coop in our back yard? That’s gonna get cleaned up good and turned into a place to store all my canning stuff. And the lean-to on the side of it? That’s gonna get turned into a screened in canning room. I’ll be sure to let y’all know how all that progresses…….

The rest of us are doing just fine.

Elvis still has a drinking problem.

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Priscilla enjoys a nip every now and again.

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Diesel enjoys surrounding himself with his favorite toys when he naps.

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And Dolly enjoys laying around looking pretty.

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The chickens enjoy pecking at my painted toenails.

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Say what??????????

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And the goat babies enjoy begging for some Animal Crackers.

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We’ve gotten some lard rendered.

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And some honey extracted.

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Pickle canning season has come in with a vengeance – and I finally got to start using the Tattler lids I purchased at a ridiculously low price last year. I LOVE them, by the way.

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And, thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, I’ve picked up crocheting again and made several of these cute little pot holders.

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And, now that I’ve got you caught up, maybe I’ll get back to posting weekly.

What the heck have you been doing this summer?

Outside Sinks, Broody Hens, and Turkey Pens

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Remember the outside sink I posted about a couple of days earlier? Bernie’s been busy on it.

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He even installed the towel rack I asked for – on the INSIDE of the door. Which is exactly where I wanted it. It keep pups and chickens from grabbing my wash clothes/towels and running with them. Don’t ask me why I asked for that 🙂

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He installed plumbing so it drains outside the cabinet.

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And he even built a “lid” to put over the sink when I’m not using it.

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*sigh* I do love my man.

The hen I promised Charlotte has hatched out her chicks in Bernie’s boat. I’ve counted 7 so far. They hide under mama when I come around. I think there are more. This little broody is a good mama. Charlotte’s coming for them tomorrow.

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And, even though it’s incredibly ugly, the turkeys are totally digging the snow fence we covered the turkey run with to allow them to come outside.

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They’ll be confined there until we know they will tuck themselves up inside the coop each night. Bernie has already enamored himself with them. After a day of sitting on the steps with them, they’ve completely decided they love him. Who could blame them? Certainly not me 🙂

Our Latest Surprise

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Remember the baby chick I wrote about a couple of days ago – the one that hatched all alone in a nest in the woods, and the Phoenix hen adopted? She’s doing really well.

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Here she is next to one of the Phoenix mama’s original chicks.

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Still so tiny. But see the little chocolate colored chick right next to mama in that picture? Well, that little chick was today’s surprise. I was sitting in my office working with my window open and I kept hearing a baby chirping very loudly. I figured one of the new chicks got separated from one of the mamas. Imagine my surprise when I went into the run to find a baby chick that was obviously only a few hours old. She could hardly stand up without falling over. And she was so cold she was shivering. Yet *another* egg had hatched out from that nest in the woods. And that mama Hamburg is so busy with her other five, she will not be held back by a new baby.

We put the baby under a heat lamp for a bit, and when she warmed up I held her for quite a while. Eventually I saw mama Hamburg laying in the run with her babies under her, so I sneaked out there and slipped the new chick under her too and hoped for the best.

A while later I went outside to check on her, but that mama Hamburg and her five babies were no where to be seen. That new baby chick? She had apparently been adopted by the Phoenix mama.

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I removed all remaining eggs from that nest. I hated to do it, but babies hatching from it at this point are clearly at a high risk of not making it. I am astounded that two have hatched with no one on the nest except at night. Mama Hamburg is not going to care for any more chicks, and that sweet mama Phoenix has her wings full.

Thirteen baby chicks and four teenagers running around the yard cheeping warms my heart. But knowing half of these are probably cockerels does not. I do not plan to let any more broodies set on eggs this year.

Please pray I can be strong.

Update to Broody in the Woods

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Oh dear heavens. The mama that came up today with five chicks she hatched in the woods? Well, she’s settling into the run with her babies, so I decided to head up to her nest in the woods and get rid of all the eggs that she didn’t hatch so there isn’t a couple dozen eggs rotting in one place to attract predictors.

Imagine my surprise when I peered inside that nest and found a newly hatched baby! She was still wet and she was breathing. I scooped her up in my cupped hands and warmed her. I brought her in the house and Bernie grabbed a box and lined the bottom. Then he set up a heat lamp. I put the baby chick in the box and she cheeped and cheeped. Every time I put my hand over her, she quieted down. I just couldn’t leave her. I scooped her up and went outside.

I saw her mama setting in the run with her five chicks underneath. Perfect! I gently slid the baby under her and she quickly jumped up squawking. Dangit!

I picked the baby up again and noticed my broody Phoenix that hatched out two babies last week. She was heading into the coop with her two chicks. I gave them a few minutes and then quietly went into the coop. I sat on the floor several minutes until she settled down and her babies scooted underneath her. I gently lifted her side and slid this new baby under her. She puffed up and began cooing. *phew*

I have no idea if this baby will make it. She hatched several hours after the mama had left the nest. I never would have believed that could happen – I suspect the heat of the day and the bright sun shining directly on the nest kept the egg warm enough to hatch.

My Phoenix hens love being mamas. I’ve found them trying to sleep on the roost with eight week old “babies” under them! Usually the mamas get tired of the babies and move on – but with my Phoenix’s the babies usually leave the mamas first.

This baby seems strong, and I feel certain that if any mama hen can pull a baby through such a rough start, this Phoenix will do it. I sure pray she makes it.

These chickens will definitely be the death of me.

Well, Well, Well. Look Who Decided to Come Home.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Broody Hamburg

I had a heck of a time getting a picture – she tried to hide them under a bench in the run – but if you look closely you may see all five of the babies she dragged home today. I’m not complaining. It could have been much worse. I expected her to hatch out a dozen of those eggs.

The other Hamburg mama is doing great with her four.

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Today is the first time since March that I do not have broodies setting on eggs. I think we all can use this little break.

These Chickens Will Be The Death Of Me

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Last year we ended up with 18 extra roosters from all the broody hatches we had. We sent 17 to freezer camp, and Charlotte adopted a Phoenix cockerel. While it was nice having chicken in the freezer and they tasted delicious, these guys were very small and hardly worth the effort. This year I promised Bernie to limit the number of chicks I allowed the broodies to hatch out.

I was doing really well there for a good long while. Within a matter of a few short weeks, I had eight broody hens. I gave the first babies to hatch to a neighbor when the chicks were a couple of days old. Score! Then Charlotte agreed to take two of the broody hens and all the babies they hatched. Double score! From the remaining broodies, we ended up with only four new peeps in the yard.

During all this excitement and broodiness, I noticed I was missing one hen when I tucked them in at night. After a week or so, I figured she was either setting on a nest in the woods or was gone. A few days later, I came up short one more when I tucked them in at night. I figured it was this broody and I pretty much gave up on the first one that went missing – but I did not lose all hope.

This afternoon in was in the goat paddock playing with them and Bernie was sitting at the picnic table in the backyard watching us. I began hearing some faint cheeping. A few minutes later it was noticeably louder.

I hollered over to Bernie, “Did the mamas leave those chicks back here again?” A couple of the mama hens that I let hatch out chicks have started leaving their babies and getting on with life – when the babies are not hot on their heals as they walk away. And when the mamas do manage to escape, those chicks scream bloody murder.

“Um, I don’t think so. These babies are very, very tiny.”

By the time he finished his sentence I had made it out of the goat paddock and was running toward the cheeping I heard.

And there she was. The first hen that came up missing – with four little babies bumbling along behind her.

I filled a feeder and waterer and put it down for them, but mama would immediately lead them away if I got anywhere close.

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You’ll have to look very closely, but there are two chicks in this picture:

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And there are three in this one:

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She has a total of four babies. I was really hoping to catch her and the babies and get them in a brooder, but I had no luck. She did finally lay down for a while with the babies under her.

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But she kept a close eye on me the entire time. I am really praying she heads to the coop with the babies tonight. It’s quite a journey for such tiny little chicks, but mama hens expect their babies to hit the ground running, so it’s possible she will lead them to the safety of the coop. I sure hope so. I have no idea where her nest is – if I can find it I will go out at dark and move them all to a brooder.

I don’t like having hens brooding outside the coop, but I accepted that there would be risks involved in allowing my chickens to free range. The consequences of keeping them penned are just more than I am willing to put up with – for my sanity and the sake of my chickens. Even so, I worry every minute that my chickens are roaming in the yard and woods, and I lose sleep over these broodies that have nests in the woods.

I love my chickens. I really do. But I know these chickens will be the death of me.

I’m certain I’ll go with a smile on my face.

Spring has Sprung

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

I realize there are a few things out of place in the milking/storage area of the goat barn, but if you look closely you may see one thing that positively does not belong here……

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Shhhhhh. She doesn’t think we see her.

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I let a broody hen hatch out three chicks and keep two of them:

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I gave one to another broody.

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A few days ago, yet another broody hatched out three chicks. Today I removed the front of the brooder and the mama brought her babies out into the coop for the first time.

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We have no shortage of broodies here this year.

The Irises my mother gave me last year are now in full bloom.

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And we should be eating strawberries soon.

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Spring has definitely sprung.

First Peeps of 2010

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

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*sigh* Nothing says Spring like baby chicks. I could just kiss their beaks right off of them.