Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More spring babies

I can see why everyone loves springtime on a farm! So many new things and new babies!

Our Rhode Island Red hen that has been faithfully setting for 21 days, hatched her brood last Friday, May 23rd. We noticed the first "pips" of the shell, and within 24 hours, 9 of the 12 eggs were hatched into new baby chicks. (of the three that didn't ever hatch, two appeared to be unfertile, when we finally removed them from the nest, and one was undeveloped). That is an excellent rate of return for 12 eggs. And we've nearly doubled the number of our flock with this year's hatching.

Of course, we won't know until later how many females we have, to keep. The males will become freezer meat at some point.

It was great to watch this process using the real 'natural' method of the mother hen, and not an incubator. And watch how she protects them and talks to them and teaches them. It is awesome.

This is the nesting box Steven built for her -- using part of an old bee hive box and a portion of a metal barrel. She seems to like it.

For now, we have put a wire crate over her nesting area in the hen house, so that the babies are protected and stay in there with her until they are older -- yet that allows our other hens to continue to come and go as they always have.

We also got two new little white chicks from my daughter, who works at a farm supply store, and had bought two chicks to study in the science lab at college. Since the college was shutting down for summer, those young chickens came home with us. One is a pullet we will keep as an egg layer. The other is a broiler breed -- too heavy to survive long. That will become food.

Steven was given six new ducklings from our friends the Friesen's. (I don't have a photo of them yet). Multicolored and a basic mutt background, but Steven is thrilled with them and hopes to raise them out in the goat pen. He learned with the Cayuga's that once they imprint a certain area as "home" - it is hard to get them to roost anywhere else (the Cayuga ducks still think they have to be in the garden -- but they eat all the spinach!)

We had a wonderful gathering of people out here on Memorial Day, enjoying the chance to see all the new baby animals, and play softball, and games, and have a cookout. It was loads of fun (until the rain started) :)

Steven planting miloWe've had a very wet past couple of weeks. Two and a half inches on Monday alone -- and 11.5 inches for May overall. Makes for lots of weeds and lots of mowing, but it is good for the garden.

Steven also planted his 'milo field' in the middle of our front yard -- a protected area -- to grow our own chicken feed for this coming winter.

Amanda was home to enjoy the baby goats, and David helped to feed the doe a bit. We also have tons of baby kittens - which I always forget to mention because I'm not much of a cat person.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Congratulation on the new babies! That's great that you got some free ducks to raise.