Friday, April 26, 2013

Hawt Damn, I gotta broody, Norman has an under bite, They're starting to look like chickens

I've really really really really been wanting to get my own chickens to hatch out some eggs. I was So over the moon excited last year when the Traveling Chicken went broody and we found her sitting on a while mess of eggs. Every day I took a peek under her fluffy bottom. When she got off the next in the evenings I looked at the eggs. I tried candling them but I wasn't sure what I was looking for. Day 22 and I think I checked out there 15 times a day. I let them go to 30 days just to make sure before I kicked her off the nest and cracked one open. Scrambled eggs. Runny looking mess. No baby chickies. What a let down bummer.

I've been reading everything I could find about enticing a chicken to go broody. I can find a hundred and one ways to make them Not be broody. If your laying hen is sitting on eggs, she isn't laying any more.  In only one place did I find someone mention leaving eggs in the box till there are at least 11 before the hens will set them.

I found a clutch of 6 under the tarp over Dave's hay. No idea how long they had been there. They'd been frozen at night and thawed back out. There was  no way I was bringing them in to the fridge. I had a much better idea in mind. I've been pulling the eggs once a day, but just leaving them on the counter, waiting and hoping... After a week into the fridge they went. Scott raided a few for breakfast, and still no one setting.

Every morning I count chickens. 1, 2, 3, 4... Bummer. In the evening when I let them out to roam while I feed I count them. 1, 2, 3, 4... Look randomly out my bedroom window. 1, 2, 3, 4... Sigh. One of the girls at work sent home some plastic eggs. Finally I had 11 out there. Three days ago... 1, 2, 3, 4... Wed on and off all day 1, 2, 3, 4, ... 1, 2, 3, 4... Wed evening 1, 2, 3.... Wait, three? 1, 2, 3.. Yup. Three. I didn't get excited yet, no matter how much I wanted to. She could just be taking a while. Sometimes I think they take a nap after all that clucking and talking about how they just laid an egg.

I was off yesterday, and threw open the curtains when I got up, to count. PleasePleasePlease... 1, 2, 3, 4. Damn. Double Damn. Four chickens and a rooster pacing and yelling to hurry up with the scratch already. Well Poo. So much for that idea. I was so disappointed  I never even checked for eggs yesterday. I opened the door and let them all out to free range yesterday since I was home. I watched them walk across the driveway later out to the trees, and automatically counted. Hey, there is only three. All day I watched and waited to see a fourth. Nope. I felt a little excited. Just a little. Last night when I went to feed I called them back to the coop. Just three. I peeked in under the lid of the nest box, and there she was. Still flattened like she was when I was hoping the day before.

Just to be sure, I decided to give it all today. If she was still in there when I got home this evening, I'd move the eggs I had on the counter under her and take out the plastic ones. I was down to five eggs after the breakfast raid, and the ones that were over a week old. (In Scott's defense I never mentioned to him why I was holding eggs on the counter in a bowl.) She was still in there!!!!!    Yay HappyDance! I just got back in from feeding and I swapped out the plastics for the ones on the counter, and between yesterday and today I had 5 more eggs in a box on the other side. She's got 10 eggs under her. I'll start counting tomorrow as day one.

Norman has got one heck of an under bite from this angle. 

The little chickies are starting to look like chickens. They're just over a week to two weeks old now. I love the eye liner on this little one. I hope it keeps it, and that it's a pullet, so I can keep it. 

Most of them have their wings feathered out and little tail feathers starting to make an appearance. When I take the lid off the tun they think they're gonna fly right out, hopping and flapping their wings. It's not going to tall enough or big enough for them really fast. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moo Moo calf goes for a walk, Sagitta chickens, Training Apache

Moo Moo cow might have the name Norman. That just popped into my head today and it seems to be sticking around. I don't know where it came from. My Uncle Hank had one of my chihuahua puppies a few years back named Norman. I honestly didn't think of that till after Norman came to me for the calf. We'll see if it's still sticking there after I go to sleep tonight and wake up in the morning. .

The calves Andrea have next door have gotten loose a few times, and trying to make those stubborn buggers  go back where they came from with just some flapping arms and loud yelling doesn't always work so hot. When they have their tail in the air, running from you and bucking all you can do is cuss and fume at them. Also eventually they are going to have to load in a trailer to go to the processor. Right now Norman is still small enough that I can manhandle him if necessary.

I have a dog harness hanging out in the garage. I don't know where it came from. When Andrea had her first calf this year here for the night we used it to lead him over to her place with her leading and me pushing from behind to keep him moving. I put it on Norman. He wasn't thrilled. Jerseys like to throw themselves down on the ground and decide to die instead of walk on a leash. Here's Andrea and her calf with the harness as a halter.

I had to pick him up to get him out of the pen. Then I stood there and played, "Be the tree." That means I stand there not moving and let him pull on me until he realizes it doesn't do any good. The first real pressure on his head and neck he flopped over on the ground. Not layed down, he just fell over. So I let him lay there. It took a minute or two before he decided that wasn't and fun and stood up again. We did the sand up, fall over thing a few times while just shook my head. It wasn't too long before he was up and running circles around me. He learned to walk with me without too much fight. We went out in the pasture on the long lead rope for him to run and buck a little. Tomorrow we'll try again and I'll get Scott to take some pictures.

Apache's turn was next. Yes he already knows how to lead. He knows how to be rode too. Now that he's almost completely blind he needs to learn the verbal cues to help him keep his manners while walking next to a person on the ground. We did a lot of stopping after I said, "Whoa." I held my arm up every time from his totally blind side and let him bump his nose against it. He didn't like that too very much and is learning to stop when I say whoa.

The big thing was walking just a step or two and whoa-ing coming in and out of the gate to the round pen. He knows the sides of the gate are right there and is very nervous about it. After the fifth time in and out he was standing there for more than a minuet in the gate and waiting for me to cluck to him to step forwards. We went out in the pasture and I let him eat some grass for a while as a reward.

I lost one of the little red chicks Saturday night. It was lethargic when I got home from work Saturday. I tried getting it to drink some water, and put it in a small box under the heat lamp so the others wouldn't peck it to death. It was gone Sunday morning with Scott got home. I went back to Valley after work today and picked up three more. I didn't really pay attention when I was in there the other day to what kind of chicks I was getting other than the Creep Meets.

I looked at the names today. I don't know what the little yellow smudged looking ones are, or the yellow with the black spot. The reds are Sagittas. They are a breed developed by Dunlap Hatchery here in Idaho.

"The Sagitta is a dual purpose bird that is a cross between a Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red and Cornish Cross. They are a heavy, docile breed that will provide large eggs as well as a nice size bird on the table."
I have five of them now. They are a slower growing bird than the Creepy Meats, and are good layers of large brown eggs from what I Can find on the net by people who have them. So I can put any roos in the freezer, and they are good egg layers. I can free range them and not worry about them like the Creep Meats. We'll see.

I had to switch from the hay I had in the bottom of the trough to shavings. I forgot to get hay when I got the chicks and had to wait till I got payed today to pick up the shavings. These things are the eatingest, poopingest creepy things ever. You have to really watch the food intake in the creep meats. They can grow too fast for their hearts and legs to keep up with. I take the food out around eight at night and put it back in in the morning. They SWARM frantically like they have been starving for weeks and they aren't barley a week old.  

None of the big girls feel like going broody yet. Everyday I count chickens hoping to see three and there be one in the box on eggs. Not yet. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Moo Calf, Kato the Rooster

The Rooster has a name now. I've just been calling him Mr. Mean. He is a meanie. Runs up behind you and starts beating you with his wings, and scratching at you with his feet. He's gone after me, the dogs, even Scott. Why a five pound rooster thinks he has any business going after a 6'2", 200 pound man is beyond me, but he does. I got sick of it after the first two days. I chased his ass around the inside of the chicken run till I pinned him in the corner. Then I snatched him up and held him upside down by his feet and gave him a good shake. I carried him around upside down while I fed the girls, and filled the horse's water trough. Three afternoons in a row of that, and he decided maybe going after me wasn't a good idea.

Now he sneaks up on me. If i have my back to him and don't look right at him, he comes up on me, but as soon as I turn my head to him, he stops dead and starts looking around like, "What? I wasn't doing anything." He does the same to Scott, but isn't as sneaky about it. Scott has taken to calling him Kato from The Pink Panther. The sidekick guy who was always waiting trying to jump out and surprise Inspector Clueso. He waits till Scott isn't paying attention, then runs up behind him and jumps. Scott even chases him around the yard when he does it. He says it's a game between the two of them now. 

I'm ready to put him in a pot, but Scott says it's not that big a deal. I've been just Waiting for one of the girls to go broody. I'm down to 4 of the Jersey Giant girls. One was killed last Thanksgiving. One died recently of an impacted croup. I Want Babies!!!! Last year we had the Traveling Chicken go broody. I know I still have her cause she's as wild as a March hare. One other girl went broody for a little bit till I broke her of it. I know I have little bitty puffballs in the garage, but I want bitty puff balls that came from My chickens at least once.

I've been locking them in during the day and letting them out in the evenings when I feed. They have been laying eggs in other places than the nest box, and with the possibility of them been fertile, I don't trust the ones I find after playing Easter Egg Hunt. I just found six eggs the other day tucked up in the hay under the tarp covering  Dave's hay out back. So I took those six eggs and left them in one of the boxes hoping to entice a chicken to set them. I do have a line on a guy with a few Silky hens. I've heard they love to go broody.

Speaking of puffballs in the garage, I can just start to see a bit of a difference in size between the little pullets, and the Creepy Meats. Carolyn at Krazo Acres was the one who came up with that term. Their little wing feathers are starting to come in. I have better pics today than the first ones.

All the little buggers do is eat and poop. lol. They are very fun to watch though. When one thinks it finds something to eat, a handful of others come zipping over. They randomly just dart off after nothing. Some of them are flapping their wings and trying to fly already. I want to go get more. lol. 

I worked a little bit last night with Moo Moo cow. I just can't get a name to stick in my head with him, but every time I walk out to feed I call out, "Here Moo Moo Cow." The first time I tried to bottle feed I ended up with calf drool and milk all over me. I had to headlock him with my legs. Sucking reflex was there, but he wasn't trying to suck the nipple off the bottle. The next few days the same. Fast forwards to yesterday and he's headbutting with the bottle in his mouth, bashing it into my legs or stomach. I don't have to hold him still and put the nipple in his mouth. I still was getting covered in calf drool and milk. I went in last night after he was done and mixed up a little more milk replacer, very watered down and took it out in a bucket. I kept stuffing his head down in into the bucket hoping to get his lips into the milk to taste it. Twenty mins later I put the bucket on the ground and started feeding horses. Tried again stuffing his head in the bucket. Walked off and again left the bucket in his pen. When I came back to fill the horse's water, he had his head in the bucket slurping away. Success!! This morning and again this evening I took him his milk in the bucket and he went after it with no troubles. YAY! No more bottle. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Here Chicky Chicky

We're having work done on the 4 wheel drive on the Dodge, so I had to go pick Scott up from work this morning. Five in the morning I had to be up to drive to Jerome and get him by 6:30. It was snowing still. It was coming down hard enough that I had to turn down the high beams. Once I got out to the highway it was almost done, and then nothing into Wendell and Jerome.

I had mentioned to Scott last week that I might like to get some meat chickens and a few new laying hens, and what was his opinion on it. He wanted to wait a week or so once we knew what the cost was going to be on the Dodge. I wanted to get them RIGHT NOW lol. I'm impulsive and think up all these ideas and then run them by my Scotty and he thinks them out, plans out the logistics, what it's going to need in the way of supplies, the best way to build what I need, and basically takes all my wild fragments of ideas, and makes them into reality. My whole property would look like hillbilly baling twine and broken boards nailed together if it weren't for Scott.

I knew we needed to get calf milk replacer on the way home. When we stopped at Valley Co-op Scott was asking the manager about his opinion on meat chickens. Pete is a great guy. He's the guy that we got the pigs we raised from last year.

Scott surprised me this morning when we went in the back with Pete to look at the chicks, and said, "Well what ones do you want?" I know he wanted to build a second coop for growing out meat birds and hatched chicks. We came home with 15 Creepy Meats (cornish crosses) and 6 assorted pullets. I love the name Creepy Meats, one of the blogs I read, the gal calls them that.

The calf is doing great. Got his milk replacer this morning. He's bucking and kicking now. He knows that people means a bottle. He saw his first snow last night. I did have to take his coat off. It didn't have a belly band and keeps riding up over his shoulders. He's past his first night or two, and the weather is supposed to warm up after yesterday and last night's snow. I still haven't decided on a name yet. I keep calling him Smutchz in my head, like, you have a little smutchz on your face.... lol.

The weather did what it's been doing all over the country and turned cold and snowy after beautiful days in the 60's and 70's. I thought I'd take the back way home through Shoshone last night after dropping Scott off at work. I wanted to drive in that last bit of snow fall. I love watching snow fall. We'd only been getting flurries with a small periods of large flakes through the day at work. I really began to think that decision was going to be really really bad as the snow got heavier, and visibility shrank. All of a sudden I was driving in a blizzard and the snow was starting to slush up, and then build up on the ground. We all slowed down and I just tried to stay in the tracks of the truck ahead of me. Not five minuets later we crested the hill going into Shoshone and the snow was gone. The roads were just wet with steam coming off them, there was barely any snow on the ground, but the snow plow was heading out of town to go clear what I'd just driven through. Here's some shots from the house looking at the clouds rolling in with the next batch of snow. 

Scott is teasing me that I've made him into a farmer. All he wanted to do was stay a biker, and now he's learning about wing feathers growing in at a few days old, dairy bulls are MEAN, chickens will eat and do like meat, pigs will rip a feed pan right out of your hands and then lay on their sides to lazy eat. All sorts of things he never would have been interested in, but he likes to see me smile. I love my husband for helping me make all this happen, and enjoying it along side me. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The new calf is here. Boys got their feet trimed

Our calf for this year was born this morning. Andrea and I went over this evening after Scott went to work to pick him up. He was dry and his umbilical cord was starting to shrivel up. These are both really good things to helping the calf survive. The most important was that he'd already had his colostrum from his mom this morning, and they sent me home with another bottle of colostrum for this evenings feeding. This is the third calf this year we've gone over and gotten. Andrea has the other two at her place. Both of them are doing very well.  I've helped Andrea feed calves when they were away the last two years, but this is the first time starting out everything on my own. The last two years I either went out and dropped a bottle in the holder and they did their thing, or I just dumped milk into buckets. I did keep the first calf of this year over here over night while she built her calf pen, but she did the feeding. She had to straddle the bugger and get him in a head lock to fight him to learn the bottle. This guy I have caught right on. When I went back out to see if he wanted to finish the rest of his bottle, he wobbled right over to me, and ate with just my hand under his jaw.

I know calves are born out in the pasture, in really cold conditions all the time, and they make it just fine through the night. I still felt bad though when he was shivering, so I cut up and old stained sweatshirt, and now it's a calfshirt.

I've been trimming feet on our geldings for a while now. I have my horse trainer, who also is my farrier, come out ever so often and check to make sure I'm doing it right, and not messing everything up. This winter I was quite a weenie and didn't trim as often as I should and the boy's feet got away from me. I was an hour under Ben just working on his fronts two weeks ago, and I still didn't get them to look like I wanted. Mind now, I'm using just a rasp, no nippers, no knife. His feet are amazingly rock hard. Dirk came out and snip snip, rasp rasp and done. I was right about his heels needing to come down a bit more. His backs had frog material growing out over the groove, and I don't have a hoof knife to trim it back. Dirk said they were looking good, just needed some fine tuning. 

Apache on the other hand was a wreck. Not his feet. His eyes. I had caught him up out of the dry lot earlier in the afternoon. I had him tied up, brushed him out, looked him all over, picked out his feet. I put him in the round pen with Ben and he walked through the gate with little hesitation  He was fine. He was a little high headed walking between the two trucks, but he didn't lose his mind or anything. 

It was a whole other story when I pulled him out of the round pen. He didn't want to walk through the gate, he needed some serious coaxing. He was really high headed, shying away from me. He jumped through the gate when he just barely brushed it with his hip. He landed almost on top of me, and did manage to step square on my foot. I couldn't tie him up without him jumping back and panicking when he touched the hitching rail with his chest. He was acting very flighty with Dirk picking up his feet. It was very sad to see the difference in just a couple hours, a little more wind, and the sun just barely starting to set. 

After Saturday, I am very much re-thinking whether he is safe to keep or not. He smacked into the panels of the round pen after I put him in there Sunday. I didn't dare try and get him back through the gate Sat evening  but I did put him in there Sun morning.  If he is acting that wild, and that blind, he isn't safe out in the dry lot anymore. It's T-posts and hot wire. I isn't ideal for a sighted horse with the T-posts, but it's what I can afford. I won't be able to put him out on the pastures to eat grass if he can't see the fences. It's not safe. My budget calls for not having to hay them through the summer and into November. He'll always have to be in a pen by himself. Horses are herd animals. They don't like to be alone. I hate to think about putting him down. He's only 7. I've seen other horses have long happy lives after loosing their sight. I just don't know if I can give that to him here. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Morning Pictures From Around The Farm

This morning was so nice out. I got to sleep in for an extra hour and a half. Went to grab the camera to take pic while I did chores and it was dead. I had my phone though, and took a ton of pics with that. I had the whole crew out with me this morning.
Kiki, Fudge, Fudge, Bastard, Wiley, Molly
Ashley and the chickens all came too. 

Ben is all butt hurt at us. It's finally warm enough at night that we don't need a tank heater to keep the water from freezing. I threw his fat hiney in the round pen. He spends all day pacing, so he's getting some exercise with his diet. 
He eats faster then Apache, and then would clean up Apache's hay as well. He's starting to look like a hippo. Even though he's only walking, he spends most of his day moving instead of just standing in the dry lot, or laying down. A little exercise is better than no exercise. 

Apache is getting all his hay now. He wasn't getting thin really, but he wasn't packing on the pounds like Ben was. He could stand to gain a few. He's almost totally blind now from as far as we can tell. He doesn't see anything out of the left eye any more. He still stands and looks towards the garage every morning waiting for his breakfast. When I call out Pooooneeeehs, he whickers to me and can focus in on where I'm coming from. He finds his hay by smelling for it and I shake it so he can hear where it is. 

Dave turned his horses back out from his catch pen, into the pasture last night. Apache got pretty upset calling out for them and trotting back and forth along the fence. I kept an eye on him for a few hours to make sure he wasn't going to try and go through the fence, but he settled down. I would have put Ben back in with him if he had gotten too upset. By this morning he had settled back down and was eagerly looking for breakfast. 

The boys got wormed again last week. We used Zimectrin Gold. 

Dave's horses back out on pasture with Stormy looking for breakfast

The chickens even came with me this morning, clucking and talking the whole way. They followed the dogs and the cats across the dry lot out to Dave's pasture. 
You can see the chickens off on the right hand side following us back up the road.  Kiki and Bastard were right behind me
The chickens last year never really ventured into the trees out front. This year though I think they've realized the treasure box of bugs and worms hiding under last year's dead leaves. I lost Mr. Mean, the rooster, a few days ago. He followed Rebeccah's girls back through the whole in the fence. I went out there with a few scraps of chicken wire and he hasn't made it back over again. Of course Rebeccah's girls are missing out on the buggy goodness under the cottonwoods, but... 

We got most of last year's old dead grass burned out of the front pasture. With only two horses out there, there was a lot that didn't get eaten. Burning off the old dead stuff makes way for the new grass to come up better, and adds a few nutrients back into the soil faster than letting it rot away. 

Old Man Fudge got pretty heavy this last winter

I actually had to water the flower garden last evening. I have bulbs coming up all over the place. Some of them I have no idea what they are. They came to my in a box that Shelly at work had brought me. She dug them up last fall when she was redoing her flower beds. I have Dusty Millers out there that are coming back for their third year. They said they were only an annual plant when I bought them. I have a few violas that made it through the winter and have a tiny tiny flower on them. Tulips that I bought on clearance a few years ago. Daffodils that I found growing out along the bottom of the drive way that I dug up and divided out last year. I have two hyacinths at the bottom of the bed that are coming back for their third year, and a row of grape hyacinths along the house. 

And some more random pics I snapped through my morning

Bastard Kitty


Apache and Kiki

Chicken in a box


Bastard Kitty and Kiki



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