Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A whole variety of things going on, but mostly chicks.

There are a lot of things going on around the homestead right now, but this post is going to focus on the chicks because they're adorable. The other things that will be touched on in this post include more work on barn tear down, the seedling swap, and fruit trees. I'm going to start with the "Other" part of this post before getting to the adorable. Well, getting more to the adorable than the chicks Above.

I'm going to start with more barn deconstruction. As you can see here we got the top floor, the roof, and the outer roof down on this which is a great step, and was a Lot of work. Removing nails is much more difficult than removing screws, though when you want nails to hold they slip far more than screws. Go figure. The big thing about what we got done is that the rest can in theory be done by one person. Of course I hyper extended my knee falling off a ladder that sank into an area that had looked solid before I went up it, so I'm going to have to be patient for a little while with this, which is problematic given timing of what's going on.
Right you can see a flycatcher nest that we had to pull down while we were taking the barn apart. We didn't want to have to do that, but the work had to get done, and the nest was in the way. Rather a beautiful thing their nest as well. On the up side the mom hadn't started incubating the eggs yet, since the type of bird in question is very comfortable with people, and wouldn't have moved with us working until we moved the nest. There is also a brown headed cow bird egg in there, so we may have done her a favor. We tried to move the nest a nearby tree to give her a chance to recover it, but that's unlikely. I guess I just felt like I needed to acknowledge the small harms we cause as we go about things. But let's move on to the chicks.

As I mentioned last Friday chicks started peeping in their shells then. By Friday evening one was hatching. By Saturday we had three out, and Sunday two more. It seems that thanks to egg shuffling from the other hens, we're only going to get 5 chicks from this round of brooding, but that said, it's 5 really cute chicks, and they seem to be doing very well. A piece of advice we were given is for the future is to mark the eggs that were in the nest when she started brooding so we can take out the ones that everyone else lays. In the future, I'm going to be doing that.  My favorite of the chicks so far is the black one Above, which of course means that it's going to be a he because that's how things work with chickens.
Apparently when they're very young because Roosters tend to be more bold, they end up being the favorite chicks of the bunch. We're trying to avoid getting too attached because anything male is going to be getting killed for meat unless someone has a need for a young, and likely good matured rooster. All of the chicks are adorable at this point though, which is about as expected. The thing I will note, chick peeping is louder than Mr. Bond crowing! It's like they're screaming out for every predator in the area "EAT MEEEE! COME, I'M HELPLESS! COME EAT MEEEEE!!!!" I never knew that such small things could be so loud in everything they do. They just peep all the time, dawn to dusk, except when they all cuddle under their mom when they get chilly or scared. We were very surprised that day 3 after all 5 had hatched, the Australorp that hatched them promptly took all of them out of the coop. The little things have to bounce given the falls I've seen them take off the ramp. worry, probably needlessly that they won't be able to get back up the ramp and have been picking them up to put back in the coop for the night.

Though the first few photos show the chicks on their own, the ones Right and Below Right are more what you're likely to see. The Australorp doesn't leave them out of her sight for a moment. In fact, getting pictures of them without her is tough. She gets agitated when I pick the chicks up, but doesn't attack me. She just makes very worried noises as I do so, and follows where I carry them and put them down. We are very glad she's so focused on them because we've had a couple mishaps already. Because she started taking them out so much earlier than expected from the coop, we hadn't quite been ready for them to be out so soon. Especially since I'd put water and chick starter food in for them. That meant that the day they came out happened to be the day I put waste sourdough starter for the chicks to enjoy eating. When I came home I found two of the chicks cemented to the ground in goopy sourdough starter attached to the ground itself.  I had to bring them inside, and attempt to clean them off with warm water. It worked, but getting them fully dry didn't really work out so well. She however promptly sat on them and warmed them up, and they're doing very well. The little things can get into or out of anywhere, and I think they're going to do very well with their mother watching them so closely. I actually hope that we have another hen go broody shortly since we were definitely hoping for more chicks to replace our losses, and increase our flock. We have a LOT of ticks to eat.
Right now we're trying to figure out what to do with the remaining eggs, they're going to have mostly formed chicks, so we're probably going to have to toss them in the compost pile. Seems a bit gruesome, and if we'd realized the hen was going to stop sitting we'd probably have tried to incubate them. Unfortunately we didn't realize until they were cold and it was too late. Learning experiences for the future.
At this point I realize, I haven't touched on the seedling swap from this weekend or the fruit trees. I don't even have any photos to share from the swap, or getting the fruit trees in the ground. For now I'll leave it at, those happened and I'll talk more about that Thursday since I have enough to say about those to talk for a whole new post, and as I said, I don't have photos yet so . . . see you Thursday!


  1. Just for future reference. At the late stages the eggs can get cold and still be ok. In fact the conditions for the last few days are a bit more flexible than for the first 80% of incubation time.
    Early in my chicken rearing years I had a similar situation to you and after a few eggs hatched the hen stopped brooding. I didn't notice for a day and a half. I was sure that the cold day and cold night would have killed all the un hatched chicks. I began throwing the eggs into the woods when I realized that there was peeping coming from the egg I was about to toss. I used a heating pad, a wash cloth and a paper bag to incubate the egg for 3 day until it hatched. I felt really bad about the eggs that I had hurled into the woods before I noticed the peeping since some of them may have also been alive.

    1. We still have the eggs inside, I'm fairly sure it's been too long though since it's been 4 days now. Ahhh well, next time I'll know and see what we can do. That said, 5 chicks is probably a good start to try this without getting overwhelmed space wise.