trystinn: (Eggs)
Wendy, our Ever-Ready Mama, has another set of eggs ready to hatch in the next week (or so). I've popped her in the freshly cleaned Rustic Roost. She has 6 eggs, which is a very small clutch for her.

Meanwhile, I've popped a handful of quail eggs and unfertilized Silkie eggs in with one of the Silkie hens in hopes she'll brood them. I'll gradually remove the Silkie eggs and pop in more quail eggs if she does. I'll likely have to remove the chicks once they hatch, from the accounts I'm seeing online, there's a possibility the super-activity of baby quail can spook Silkie mammas, so they may need to be brooder raised. We'll see how this goes.

Rachel came today to do the farm chores. I helped her with the quail and she still managed to let one of the quail loose. *eye roll* She'd already let one of the Ameraucanas loose. Banner day. She'd forgotten to clean the hutches, so I reminded her about that. She'd also not cleaned the pens, so that's not done. *extreme eye rolling* I've been outside about two hours total, helping with the quail and moving the Silkies around. Its now about 73F or so, likely a bit hotter in the direct sun, so I'm hanging out indoors. I'm thinking our little loose quail will return to hang out near the quail cages, so I keep checking through the windows. *cross fingers*

I hammered out the opening of the TOL workshop on Sunday while doing farmchores. Yay for multi-tasking. I've only 20 minutes, so its really only an overview. :D

Still dealing with the issue of gnats and the fodder system. I need to figure out what is safe for the sprouts and the chickens. Wondering if a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar would do. Must do some more research on this, so far I'm completely stalling out on finding anything.

And now, I think I need a nap. *zzz*
trystinn: (Default)
After considering our unusually sunny weather, I decided to go ahead and stick the Geo-Bachelors (aka the returned Silkie cockerels) into West Wing Pen #2. The extensions don't have any roofing, so very little shade from the sun. Just what they can gleam from nearby trees and what little roofing kicks out over from the regular pens.

They seem okay, just a bit confused. Frankly, I'm not sure they've noticed, these are Silkies, yanno.
trystinn: (Default)
Sold 16 chicks/adolescents today. Thank Gods Rachel could come and do a thorough cleanout of the pens. Whew!

Pen #1: Fizgig is down two Frizzle pullets and is *most* concerned. Once the new Frizzles are older and if female, they will be (hopefully) moved in with him.

Pen #2: currently vacant now that the Lavender Orpingtons have been sold. Woot-woot! Plan: Partridge breeding program.

Pen #3: Wendy is back in with Napoleon. Gods, are they ever happy about it. *wince*

East Wing:

Pen #4: The white Silkie mamma, Ivory, is currently in the hutch in East Wing #4 with her new chick! She has 6 more eggs. *fingers crossed* The two Frizzle chicks I'm keeping for my breeding program are growing out in the pen, still using the Rubbermaid coop as they are accustomed to it.

Extension: Currently hosting the two Geo-Bachelors (cockerel returns from previous sales). I'm going to keep the Partridge because he's GORGEOUS. Selling/bartering the black, though. Already rehomed (as a freebie w/ today's sales) the B&W barred. Slumming it with a dog crate coop until I can get them rehome/auctioned, etc. He'll likely be moving into West Wing #2 then with Evie (Partridge hen in the Rustic Roost with DB chick).

Pen #5: The B&W Barred and two black Silkie cockerels needs to be rehomed/auctioned. They share the dogloo.

Pen #6: currently vacant. Shady uses this as her day pen for exercise. She needs a few accoutrements to her pen, poor thing. Everyone has a sandbox and coop but her. :D

Yeah, yeah, this is me taking it easy. Sore as hell (sunburn, too), but feeling very satisfied about the day's work and glad to have money in my pocket for an hour and a half of selling.
trystinn: (Default)
I was on such a roll today!

I sold all but the two Frizzles chicks I wanted to retain for the breeding program, so all Wendy's chicks have been sold. She'll be reunited with Napoleon this afternoon. The two chicks will be relocated to Pen #4.

The Silkie cockerel bachelors will be relocated to Pens #5 and #6, since I'm awash in extra cockerels, having taken back 3 from a customer. I did manage to rehome 1 with a customer today - gave him away as a freebie for her having bought 8 chicks. The others are up on Craigslist, if they don't sell I may end up taking them to the auction a week from Monday.

I also sold the two so-so Frizzle pullets I wasn't thrilled with, as well as Salt's pullet. Salt has been returned to the main flock. I made a wonderful deal for the Lavender Orpingtons because frankly, I'm just tired of them and wanted them GONE. So they are. Abracadabra, I'm $20 richer for having done so!

Now, we just need to get the Rhodie pullets moved over to the main flock tonight and tucked in the coop to acclimate. Otherwise, we're doing pretty well on our goals. And yanno, those Silkie eggs to hatch!
trystinn: (Default)
Wendy and her chicks are enjoying their pen, even their "neighbors" the Rhodie pullets:

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I'm particularly fond of this little Frizzle, I hope its a female:

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Salt's chick is growing like crazy and absolutely beautiful, I'm truly hoping its a female because I'd love to breed her:

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The two of them together are quite striking:

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The shy little Partridge Silkie always hides from me. I barely get pics of her:

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Napoleon Blownaparte is not shy. He desperately misses Wendy and cannot wait to have his lady back. One of his ladies is brooding, the white Silkie, so we'll be moving Wendy back in and the white Silkie and her nest into the Rustic Roost soon.

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They aren't ready to go it alone, but they are a lovely bunch:

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In fodder news, we've started the Farro (its kind of boring as its in the pressing stage):

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The Red Barley is doing pretty well, not great, though:

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The Black Oil Sunflower Seed looks great. I do love it!

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trystinn: (Obey the Basset)
I found even more Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (apparently there were some in the cupboard), so I'm soaking another set for fodder - they take 48 hours before they are ready for pressing. The Farro seeds only needed 24 hours to swell and begin rooting, so the seeds are out on the rack pressing for another 24 hours. I've updated my post on BYC, but I need to add pictures tomorrow. Which reminds me, I need to buy more seeds!

In chicken news, we've moved Salt and her chick (needs a name STAT) to the Chickenheim pen #6. Immediately, Salt and Wendy started sparring. Ugh. Hopefully those two ladies will simmer down and things will be peaceful from here on out. Salt's chick and Wendy's chicks are about the same age, but Salt's as a standard sized one is roughly 4x the size!
Must get pictures tomorrow if the weather holds, tonight the rain started up so I wasn't going to take my camera out in it, sorry!
trystinn: (Default)
This week we cleaned all the bins, then reset them with freshly soaked seed - Black Oil Sunflower Seed and Red Barley. I'm very excited about the Red Barley, as we've not sprouted Barley previously and we're not sure how long Barley will take to reach 4 inches. Its a lovely color and if it wasn't currently being pressed to simulate the weight of soil, I'd show pictures here. This morning, when we pulled out the soaking seed, even the water was red!

Barley is traditionally a Spring crop, but with sprouting it doesn't matter what the regular harvest date is. I'm very curious to see what the sprouts taste like!
trystinn: (Obey the Basset)
We have three broody mammas who should be hatching chicks (not counting, just planning) sometime soon.

Salt, our grumpy Cochin, is sitting on a solo egg. We tried to sneak more eggs in, but she would carefully push them out from under her.

Wendy, our marvelous smooth-feathered Silkie cochin mix, should be giving us a huge clutch of Frizzle and other chicks.

Ruth, our delightful Ameraucana Cochin mix, has a nice group of green eggs that should be hatching lively feather-footed Ameraucana mixes.

The trick is finding places for all these mammas and their chicks. And of course, keeping Big Blue from going crazy. He's already insanely protective, trapping the dogs under the porch for vast quantities of time! We've got an idea to section off the Blue shed pen and possibly the middle section of the blue shed.

We're also going to move Napoleon to one of the new pens, Pen #4 this weekend. He'll have some new hens to keep him company, Silkies courtesy of my breeder buddy on the peninsula. Just waiting on confirmation we're good to go. We may end up moving the Orpingtons, as well, to Pen #5.

Picy goodness once movements have been made.
trystinn: (Default)
Yesterday, Josh and I volunteered for the 4-H "Coop-ville" Tour. Basically, we were to help distract folks between the Chicken Olympics by bringing showy chickens and answering chicken questions as an on-site chicken expert or 'chixpert'.

We brought Big Blue (our gorgeous Splash Cochin roo), one of his blue daughters, Fizgig, Fooz, Fuzz, a selection of Silkie chicks, and some Frizzles. We also brought a pen so folks could see the Silkies and chicks run around, which kids really loved. As we do, we had a great time giving folks are big friendly rooster to hold and walk around with! Its a sight to see! Everyone had a blast holding Silkies and chicks, asking questions and I handed out ALL of my business cards, hopefully that will lead to some chick sales this week because our budget is tight this week. *sigh* Gotta sell some eggs!

Our friend, Synda came with a beautiful silver pin of a rooster, hen and their chicks. Its beautiful! Now, I just need an apron or something to wear it on at these events! She's just gotten her first set of chicks, so she's gearing up for her own chickens.

Today, unfortunately, I'm all out of spoons. So we're hanging around the house and taking it easy. We have some housework to catch up on. And a computer to screw with - a Windows Update likes to screw up the communication with the printer, so I had to do a system restore which seemed to set Windows back about a decade. And I need new business cards printed for the farm. Grr.
trystinn: (Eggs)
So far, the Rye seeds are by far the best sprouters!

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As expected, the Black Oil Sunflower Seeds with their harder shells are growing a heck of a lot slower. Roughly a day behind, so we'll be starting them today one day ahead of the next batch of soaking seeds.

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Basically, we're having a Day 2b.
trystinn: (Eggs)
Again, please, I beg you - go look at the Silkies. This is boring in the extreme unless you're interested in the idea of starting your own or you just want to laugh at my insane OCD requirements that the whole thing be color coordinated. In that case, grab a bowl of chips and laugh yourself silly.

The top shelf currently holds extra trays, 2nd shelf holds our two seed containers and the seed soaking bowls. 3rd and 4th shelf holds the BOSS and Rye seeds, extra trays are lightly resting to simulate weight. On the porch floor, two roasting pans catch extra water. We reuse that next time to re-water the seeds, roughly every 4 hours. The fodder system uses gravity. I water the top trays and they slowly drip down to the next. So for now the 3rd shelf trays drip water down onto the 4th shelf trays. The 4th shelf trays drip down into the water collectors, which I then use to water again in a few hours. :D As we continue, I'll fill up more the shelves by dividing the 4 in half, so we'll have 8 trays tomorrow.

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Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. Day 2: Freshly watered in their tray. Each tray has at least 4 and up to 8 holes drilled in the bottom to facilitate the weeping system.

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Hobo supervises my every move. My. Every. Move.

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Gracie was up on the porch watching everything I did until she decided it would be a lot more fun for her if I'd throw a ball. A dozen or so times. Or more. She's standing on the ramp, blocking it from the Bassets. And she really doesn't care.

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All zipped up, dripping and hopefully growing. *cross fingers*

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trystinn: (Default)
Earlier I posted Silkie chick pics, go back and squee over those. This will bore you to tears unless you're into sprout juicing or fodder growing.

Day One - (Tuesday) - Rinsed 4 cups each of both Rye and Black Oil Sunflower Seeds multiple times, then set them individually to soak in their respective bowls. Since I need to find binder clips to enclose the tarp cover, we're temporarily using the oven! :D

Day Two - (Wednesday) - Rinsed both sets of seeds, used the ricer to drain. Then divided each in half, set in respective trays with drilled drainage holes. Used unused trays to provide gentle pressure to simulate soil weight. Will be providing watering 3x Thursday.

Looking ahead, here's our plan (gleaned from BYC):

Day Three - Take both trays, rinse seed thoroughly (usually 2 or 3 times) and divide up into 4-6 trays filling about 1/2-3/4" set on shelves in living room rack, water 3x

Day 4-Water 3x

Day 5 thru finished height-water 3x day

When dividing them up into 4-6 trays, the rinsing helps a ton, plus they're well sprouted and there is plenty of airflow to keep the souring problem away.
trystinn: (Eggs)
I've been trying to get pictures of Flash and Hobo duet napping, with Flash on his window bench and Hobo up on his window bed, but the dang twits keep waking up when I tiptoe over there! So I will keep trying. Because I know you all need double-barreled furkid napping goodness.

On with the rainbow cuteness:

White Silkie:

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Porcelain Silkie:

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Black Silkie:

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Splash Silkie:

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Pheasant Silkie:

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I tried to get a picture of the blue Silkie, but I could not get the camera to focus! Its difficult to get the camera to focus on these chicks because of their down and silkie-type feathers to begin with, you add a soft color like blue and the pre-flash darkness and its nearly impossible!
trystinn: (Default)
You've all been very patient as I've droned on about the West and East Wing chicken breeding pens. And possibly you've been fortunate enough to miss our experiment with mealworm farming. Now, you're going to hear about our newest idea, fodder growing!

Using no nutrients and no soil (or replacement), fodder uses only the seed itself and water to grow a grain replacement for livestock. Basically, you use organic seed grasses, water them several times daily over the course of a week or thereabouts (depending on the crop) by draining the water, re-capturing it, then harvesting it. The seed husk and roots become the base of the sprouts, forming the "biscuit". Watering is a pretty basic, quick maintenance program. Feeding a biscuit is a hell of a lot faster than walking around throwing feed at chickens! :D Efficiency is good!

What I love about hobby farming is the ingenuity of folks - people use tiny greenhouses, spare bathrooms, corner hallways and spare materials gleaned from yard sales. Sure, there's gorgeous setups and expensive systems you can buy. But there's a lot more thrift store systems out there. Ours will be one of those. Likely, using a lot of the stuff we have around here and a few things we've loaned out to folks that we need back. (Alicia, this means you!)

Basically, we're trying to bring down the cost of our chicken hobby. The biggest cost is feed, by growing our own fodder, we'll buy a pound of feed and get roughly 8 pounds of fodder out of it. Since we have around 20 standard sized chickens and 10 bantams, that's roughly 30 chickens. One biscuit should last us a few days. Not sure how many chicks a biscuit will feed, but we'll need to supplement with medicated starter, in any case.

http://fodderfeeds.com/Overview.htm
trystinn: (Eggs)
The folks I sold 4 chicks to are now having trouble. They are having trouble because they didn't listen to me! *headdesk*

I told them to get an infrared heat lamp. They got the white one. The white ones are for broody hens who need help heating up their bodies, because that's what the white ones do, they raise the temperature of the object the light rests upon. That sounds like what you want, its actually exactly what you DON'T want.

What you want is to raise the ambient temperature of the air around them. You want their environment to be warm. You do not want to overheat the chicks! Overheating them makes it difficult for them to digest food, it dehydrates them. It also makes it very difficult for them to sleep, because to get good rest, their body temperature needs to drop a little. Just like yours. Also, there's that whole DON'T BBQ THE CHICKS!

Now yes, sometimes chicks will be just fine with the wrong lamp. Sometimes, despite all our stupidity and arrogance, chicks do just fine. Except one of theirs aren't. And that's because (chime in with me now) they are doing it wrong!

Yesterday, these idiots insisted that they've done this before and they know what they are doing. So the smallest one is having trouble now. And of course, they are scrambling to get chick booster and hopefully a proper damn infrared heat lamp!

In the interest of fairness, standard-sized chicks may have done fine with that sort of lamp. More body mass and all. Silkies are true bantams. Smaller bodies, not as much resilience. And of course, they are coming from my house where I know how to take care of them exactly as they need it. So now, that little guy is in a foreign environment and his system isn't doing well. *shakes fist*
trystinn: (Default)
I made the sad realization that I really need to get selling ASAP before someone (aka hubby) begins accusing me of hoarding Silkie chicks. 25 Silkie chicks is really too many for our brooder as they continue to grow, though its acceptable right now. I'm also looking at the month-old Silkies running around the bottom of the blue shed, who need to start migrating outdoors, likely to the interim hutch with Snow. There's barely a week's growth difference between them so perhaps in the next night or two, I'll start moving the two month olds out with Snow for company and to allow them to acclimate to the weather.

To do this, I've put the black Silkies up on FB, CL and BYC Washington forum. I'll likely need to put them up on BYC Auction, perhaps even a notice on the local feedstore bulletin board. We'll give CL a few hours and see how things go.

I'm also strongly considering selling off the Birchen pullets. I'm giving them until Monday morning to begin laying then they are off to the auction. Lay or else!

*sigh*
trystinn: (Default)
Saturday, we finished the West Wing pens! Unfortunately, it was a bit overcast so I waited until Sunday when we had better weather (and more sun) to take pictures. And of course, when the chickens were settled in. We did end up moving the chickens mid-pictures when it became obvious that the two roosters were going to fight at the fence, so we separated them by putting the Orpingtons between them.

Clicky )
So for those wondering why I'm working on the pens, breeding and getting two rabbits when we're planning to move when Josh retires, good questions all. The thing is, its looking more and more likely we're here for a few more years at the minimum what with the economy. I'd rather be enjoying the property, putting good energy in and having the use of it, then frustrated and bitter. And certainly, the house is better off on the market with completed pens. After speaking with folks in Josh's industry, real estate folks, doing a lot of divination, etc. we've decided that its in our best interests to stay active in the community and continue to improve the house and property. Which of course includes seeding the damn yard. Ugh.
trystinn: (Eggs)
Gearing up for my Flame Keepers schedule and wanted to take inventory on what's going on vs what's been completed.

Ongoing:
Silkie chicks - we have LOTS of Silkie chicks. Honestly, I've no idea how many, its roughly 35 or so. 24 I picked up last week, the 6 we hatched here (mostly Frizz), then the ones we purchased earlier. I will take an inventory! Update: 33 :D

Orpingtons - the waiting until they are old enough to breed has begun. Geesh. This will take until roughly July.

Ameraucanas - I'm THIS CLOSE, to pulling eggs out to have Silkies brood, since the Silkie mixes aren't laying anyway.

East Wing - Kevin dug the fence trenches, so we'll need to staple boards to the bottom of the fence and bury it, then back fill the trenches. From there, we need to finish the upper fencing (i.e. between the pens so they can't fly from one to another), connect the upper to the lower fencing (likely tightening the lower fencing in the process), then hang the gates (after purchasing them, budget ouch) and procure 2 additional coops. I'm thinking a minimum of 2 more work days here. *cross fingers*

Flash's ears - poor guy, he's had yeast infections on and off all winter. We've finally found a natural herbal product that seems to be working. He's not thrilled by the process, but he's definitely finally on the mend. Hopefully, this time the treatment will last awhile. The prescription stuff never seemed to last long.

Done:
Denim bench pad: I still want to decorate it with a few stars, but otherwise its holding up well. Proud of it and its likely to get a few matching pillows at some point.

Wormery: Josh is finishing up as I type by drilling holes (in fact, doubling the number) in the other two Sterlite containers for air circulation. Lori is coming by to see them around noon. I'm tapped out budget-wise, so the rest of the worm purchasing is on her.

West Wing: Up and running, all we need is warmer weather to paint the coops! I'm pretty thrilled to have it good to go. We'll be moving around some chickens (an eternal process) but its great.
trystinn: (Eggs)
Saint Lori and I are setting up a co-op wormery to raise mealworms for our chickens. *happy dance* These will be very happy chickens!

I've been doing research for the last two weeks and have figured out the system I think will work for us both, we're using her greenhouse to keep the worms warm and safe. I've got three opaque containers ready to go in a lovely blue to match her greenhouse decor (she re-tiled the countertops in there) and bought 4 pounds of wheat germ for the mealworms for their media.

Now, we just need to get Lori's approval of the containers (they are going in her greenhouse, after all), then once that's done drill air holes in them and move the mealworms in! From then on, its feeding them scraps (apples, potatoes, etc.) and once a week cleaning out and checking on them. They'll develop into beetles, which we'll remove from the worms and place in another container using tongs (no contamination), then allow the rest of the worms more time to develop. The beetles will lay eggs, then we'll remove the beetles once again to another container. The eggs will be allowed to develop to mealworms, extras will be placed in the fridge and used at our convenience while some will be retained for breeding stock.

And the whole cycle begins, again!
trystinn: (Default)
Our pretty little Ruth, who is still dreadfully camera shy not to mention cranky about the cold morning:

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The joke that will never die, my gorgeous cock, Quicksilver (aka Blackbeard) our Silver Duckwing Ameraucana:

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One of Wendy's white chicks, 4 out of the 6 look Frizzled, this one looks very much like a little duckling, don't you think?:

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Our little Silkie chicks have entered the dinosaur phase:

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One of the Lavender Orpingtons. I'm particularly proud of this photo, she looks surreal, almost too perfect to be real like she was made in a prop department for a movie:

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Here's where I laugh at myself, this is Fooz, our Black Silkie. Fooz needs a haircut as you can likely tell, so I asked one of my Silkie breeder friends how to do this. My dear friend assumes a few things about me at that point: 1) that I have blunt kid scissors (I do not), 2) that I know how to cut "like a pie crust" (I do not) and 3) that I have the nerves to give this a shot (I did). So here's Fooz, before her haircut (feathercut?):

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Here's the $10 double up cat condo I bought at the livestock auction (you can get all sorts of wonderful things at the auction, you never know what folks will bring in). Libby and Hobo adore it, mostly Libby likes getting in the topmost condo and whacking Hobo as he sits nicely on the shelf below, death from the skies.

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Nobody uses the bottom one, except Doodle sticks his toys in it to keep them away from Gracie (it doesn't work, she finds them). Tonight, Hobo decided to get up top - frankly I'm somewhat surprised he fit. He's basically a bowling ball surrounded by fur at this point - he's 16 pounds and growing! His nickname is The Belly.

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