I'm going to start with what I
consider to be the best news. Dawn's survivors are doing very well. The three that survived birth are still alive and strong, and are in fact getting to be quite large! They're all gaining weight at a good rate. I haven't set up the data sheet yet to do all of my calculations easily, so we'll just say they all have about a 15% growth weight from yesterday. None of them are struggling which was a real concern given how hard the birth was. As you can see Left they're all furring out quite nicely, and develping as they should. Dawn is a little more stressed than normal still, though unlike Twilight she doesn't harass us while we're doing baby checks. She just sits about like this and looks distressed at us. We try to minimize how much we bother her babies for her sake more than theirs. It's also easy to be fast with her because the nest is good, she isn't bothering us, just in, weigh, and out.
Next on the list of babies is yet another new litter. Comet had her babies yesterday while we were at work. There are 5 healthy babies we expect to survive, and 1 Right that is still pink and fur-less while the others are furring out that we don't expect to survive. We are trying to give it as good of a chance as possible, but without supplementing or something of the sort which we have found not to work out, I find its survival unlikely.
7 were born, but one of them was born with something wrong. At first check it was gasping and turning purple without the same level of development as its siblings. It could have been aspirated milk, it could have been malformation, and it could have been a bit of hay wrapped around its neck. We made sure it wasn't choking on something we could influence, put it back in the nest with its siblings, and hoped. This morning when we checked it hadn't made it. All in all though, not bad for a first litter. One of the reasons we inbred Haley to her father Dorado was to see if we had any Serious flaws in our lines. Inbreeding can be a very viable breeding tactic with very solid lines, but it will show every single recessive negative trait you have. It can be very valuable to know these things. Now, the baby that didn't do well could have been from that inbreeding, and it could just be because she's a first time mother.
But that isn't all that's going on in that hutch. For one thing, she has no idea how or where to make a nest. The pile you see Right and Below is her version of a nest after I put all of the babies in one spot and moved the nest. The nest was out in the open main area of the hutch, and the babies were scattered one by one through the pile of hay that looked like it'd just be put on top of them. Not sure why, but the babies are doing just fine where they are now.
The last thing is, Halley hasn't given birth yet. She looks pregnant, she's acting pregnant, but no kits yet. From how she's behaving she might be trying to build a nest in the same area that Comet's nest is. If so we're going to try to redirect her to the other side. Though if she just puts her nest there, it might be best if the two aren't fighting to just let them be in the same nest. We will be able to tell the litters apart by the colors since Halley's litter will be the black and silver look contrasted with Comet's litter of creme babies.
But Wait! There's MORE!!! Twilight's babies are doing fantastic. I can't even begin to hold all of them in one hand, and honestly, trying to hold all 5 of them in my arms like this nearly ended up with one flopping itself out of my hands, so this will probably be the last group picture in my hands you will see of these monsters. I say they're monsters, but aside from the biggest one who is 37 grams larger than the largest of Dawn's kits they are actually in the same general 10 gram range as Dawn's kits. They're just healthy, well fed, and all over the place as very active kits. So far Twilight's kits have been friendly, active, and big so we are very happy about that.
Back to her older litter for a last moment, they continue to be friendly. I figured I'd give you a nice last shot of one of the blues being cute this morning. They've mostly been getting greens lately and barely eating their pellets. Today I came out to some soft cecotropes, so no grass today. Just hay and pellets to get their stomachs back to producing little rocks instead of smelly smears.
On Tuesday I mentioned a gift that came to us , and how it could solve some of our problems. In case you can't tell, it's a smallish chicken coop and a dog kennel as the basis for the run. Plenty big enough for our actual needs as a household, and more. I haven't measured the inside yet but it comes out to around 8'x4' which should be enough for 6 chickens. While our initial plan was for about a dozen with the intent to sell a good number of eggs, 6 will still be more than enough to allow us to feed ourselves and more. Now as you can see the coop has been used for a while, and is a bit weathered on the outside and a bit messy on the inside. That's fine. We got straight to work on fixing it up. We haven't really gotten to the inside yet because we were excited to have the right answer for the outside already available to us!
A friend of ours last year gave us paint to cover the hutches with, but we ended up with rabbits before we had time without rain to paint. Well, that's not a problem for the coop, it's not ready to go yet, and right early on there wasn't rain! So, Below is it painted red. We are going to be putting a roof on it, painting the trim white, and cleaning it up a bit, but it won't be long before it is ready to go. Michelle Chandler has said she'd be glad to let us have half a dozen chickens that we'd left with her, and we'll be trying to repay her some how. I'll be getting to the coop clean up process in future posts. But before I go, I promised to get to the hutch building, so read on Macduff!
The hutch is coming along bit by bit, slowly. Trying to get everything done at once means that the urgent things happen now, and the things that are almost urgent move at a slow pace. But! I have the doors nearly done and have identified a few problems I will have to fix before finishing the hutch. As you can see Right, the side opening is big. It's actually at the front 3" too tall for the wire to fit. That's an easy fix, I'll be putting another 2x4 support in to provide the place to staple the wire in. The lighter right hand door will also need some adjustment as it is a bit more flimsy than I am comfortable with it being. To fix that I'm going to replace the bottom and top 2x2s with 2x4s. Combine those with angle brackets and it won't wiggle around as much.
Speaking of door problems. Right you will see a minor miscalculation that fortunately won't cause a major problem. It's mostly just frustrating because I was aiming for a good looking door. In the top left corner of the photo you can see that the hinge is actually in contact with, and bent due to the L bracket holding the face plate on the frame. It's not a big deal, but it is certainly a good reminder to mock everything up before going forward with your plan. In the future I'd put the L bracket about 1mm over so that particular little bend doesn't happen. I'd also put another 2x2 on the right side of the solid part of the door so I can have the thing be more symmetrical I might still do that with this iteration, but as it isn't 100% needed I probably won't.
Finally, I'm trying to figure out exactly how to do the nesting box door. I think I've settled on a door that opens and flops down towards the ground with a little mini roof above it to keep water from getting through that crack, or in while I'm doing checks. It's not that difficult of a challenge, but unlike everything else in the hutch it is in a sensitive enough area that I have to have it fairly exact adding a new level of challenge to the construction. I'm hoping to get a large portion of this finished by Tuesday so I can show you a nearly finished hutch then. A lot of that will depend on the weather though. So, signing off in the midst of a busy week! We will have lots more going on for you next week.