Baby Steps…and Baby Invasions

So, before I fell super sick, we were working on about 2463 projects, all of which are in various degrees of planning or completion. Although most of the daily “stuff the Mama does” has gone undone in my absence, we have been making some progress on some other things.
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The tractor is once again operational. We’ve upgraded the starter and alternator to a 12 Volt system, and as a result had to put in a new ignition switch as well. Figured if we were going to replace it, we might as well prevent the problem from occurring again. Once my honey got all that done, the first of the produce beds got disced, so we are one step closer to planting!

If the weather would only cooperate a little more, it would be lovely. We had a series of unexpected crazy weather days last week. As in, literally 68 degrees one day and wet slushy snow the very next morning. We lost some plant starts, not enough to make me cry, but enough that it was a loss. One of our favorite local farms, Bennett Orchards, got hit far harder than we did. After a six hour stint of temps in the 20’s, despite smudge pots and helicopters, they lost their ENTIRE 2016 peach crop. We pick and buy bushels of peaches and blueberries from them each year for canning, I’ll miss them a lot this year. Thankfully, so far it looks as if the blueberries came through the freeze.
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And our Flemish Giant Rabbit doe appears to have some surprises in store for us as well. She has taken up fur pulling and nesting, and trying to rip my fingers from my hands when I feed, water and clean in her hutch, so it seems she may have already been bred and kits may be imminent. She’s not typically nasty, the rabbit growling and snarling are kind of scary.

The off-the-farm work boss called us last week to remove a large swing set from one of their rental properties, due to concerns about its age, insurance, and the potential for injury to some vacationer’s child. Since the components of the swing set were pretty well thrashed, we decided to save the frame to build a new chicken coop / tractor. I’m hoping to get a jump on that project this weekend, we’ll see how I feel.
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Ryan’s personal 7-egg incubator that he waited so patiently for has epically failed to hatch anything at all. It will likely be trashed after one more attempt with just a couple of eggs to insure that it’s incubator error and not ours. That was a disappointment, but he took it in stride. Having new babies hatching in the big one softened the blow. The season’s next large incubator hatch is due Sunday.

We’ve been peddling a few chicks from home, it’s been nice to have clients and visitors to the farm again. With me being sick, that extra few dollars here and there has sure been a help, too. Our first two hatching egg sales on Ebay have been completed (with a third preparing to sell in just a few moments)  and Ry’s birds now hopefully have offspring growing in Massachusetts and Oakland, California at a school!

We have some new breeds of chickens / chicks. Some Silkies, Lavender Aracaunas, and Blue Laced Red Wyandotte bantams have arrived! The first four of our Black Copper Marans chicks are doing quite well, too!

In our most exciting and happy news, one of my grown children’s families will be coming on the 7th of next month for an extended stay. The babies are invading! They’ve been toying with the idea of a permanent move up this way for quite some time, and recent events in the neighborhood they live in gave them a few more reasons. Dad’s already secured comparable work locally, and my girl and I are making plans for some much needed support for her, and possibly school. I’m excited to have a partner for the shop, and it looks like her artistic and crafty talents may get a pretty serious workout this year. Additionally, the extra hands around here will be a blessed relief, and I think we will make much more progress than I planned on for this year! Now, to figure out where to put six more bodies in this camp!

Hope everyone is enjoying the change of seasons, hope things are going well for all!

 

 

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Grandmuffin Madness

I’ve been a little lax with the posting of late and I apologize. It’s been an uber-busy week.

Terminal broke-ness resulted in me actually having to go and work this week…like, GASP…outside the farm. It was heinous and horrible, but necessary, I’m afraid.  Good timing, though, with my wee man being out of town. Cleaning super funky rental units crawling with insect life that the tenants chose to not take with them for the move for your part time boss will distract you from anything else you’d be prone to put at the top of the whine list. Like missing your 8 year old, who’s off on a Dad visit.

I joked with the boss this week I was going to fire his exterminator and put diapers on a tribe of my chickens and turn them loose in the next one to deal with the insect pets. I’ll call them the “cockroach containment unit”. Environmentally friendly. Chemical free. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah…free feed in the form of pestilence and disease with six legs. Ok, maybe NOT my million dollar idea.

But Friday, all was once again right with the world, Ryan was back home, and my eldest and her hubby and brood of four girls were coming for the weekend. I have been covered up in glorious girly grandmuffin madness all weekend long.

Sometimes I feel like since we didn’t go anywhere or take them to DO anything that I’ve failed at Me-mawing. But the weather was icky, it rained all day Saturday and today was a frigid windy mess. And I found out that as usual, I worry too much, because they mostly just had a blast.

We had eggs hatching in the incubator and we wore a trench of a path from the back door to the incubator / brooder shed with flashlights checking on the progress of hatching peeps. Teagan, my eldest granddaughter, the self proclaimed “chicken mama”, spent a large portion of her weekend on egg collection duty and incubator watch. She takes these duties very seriously.
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We had Easter Bunny tracks through the kitchen this morning, and a two acre egg hunt this afternoon. We’ll be running over the un-found eggs for months to come with the tractor.image

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I occasionally refer to my grandgirls as feral children when they’re here. In the most loving way, of course. Mostly because they walk through the door with the confident assurance that they know exactly who is running the show from that point on, and it is no one over 4 foot tall. They have one of two speeds on this farm at all times. Full tilt boogie and comatose exhaustion. There is no happy medium.

The shoes come off for the duration of their stay and the dirt begins accumulating on tiny faces. The back door never stops swinging and is rarely shut properly. There is very little that a pouty face and threatened tears won’t get you. Or get you out of. Or tiny arms slung around your neck, laden with motives because why should we not have candy before breakfast? The popsicle stash ebbs and flows in great waves. We eat what we please, we play till we crash from exhaustion, and then we get up and do it all over again. Bedtime? What’s bedtime? Pap and Memaws = anarchy. We have soup for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. There are toys in every square foot of the house and stray socks and blankies and stuffed animals, and we all love it. It’s completely unorganized chaos. It’s glorious.

And thankfully, my daughter and her husband accept that. Or they’re just tired. Either way, I love them so much for allowing me to turn their kids into a tiny tribe of anarchists when they come through the door. I miss them already.

 

 

 

Squishy Egg

This morning, one of our Rhode Island girls laid a soft-shelled or “squishy” egg. This is a fairly common occurrence, especially in newly laying pullets, or can sometimes indicate a calcium deficiency in a hen. So I thought I would take a minute and cover egg issues for those who have yet to have the joy of reaching into a nest box and shrieking like a teenaged girl when your fingers touch something, well, gross.
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Squishy eggs: Often a new layer issue but can be indicative in an older hen of a calcium deficiency, or something lacking in the diet. Our particular completely squishy egg had no white, only yolk. No chance of hatch, and I’ve personally never attempted eating one for fear that bacteria could have made it through the membrane.

The next day a second, half squishy egg was laid by likely the same hen. The portion of the shell that was complete was so thin you can see in the photo where my finger went through it, simply by picking it up. This one was all white. No yolk.

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Wrinkled eggs : These can happen when a growing pullet is just starting to lay, or if there’s been some upset or interruption during the egg forming process…the egg can come out with little ridges, usually only at one end. Perfectly safe to eat, and we’ve had them hatch in the incubator as well.d117c0d2_22466_100_5470.jpeg

Under / oversized eggs: Under sized eggs can be from the size of a marble on up…again, usuall newly laying chickens, or sometimes an aging hen. They can be perfectly normal inside, all yolk and no albumen (white), or the reverse, no yolk with all albumen…these are sometimes referred to as wind eggs, fairy eggs or fart eggs.  The over sized variety will often contain a double yolk, and very rarely, an egg inside another egg. You can safely consume all of the above, should you desire to. However, undersize eggs will almost never hatch, because they only contain albumen or yolk, rarely if ever both.  Hatching double yolkers “twins” can be done, but is very rarely successful.

Wind eggs: see above…an egg with no yolk. Never tried eating one, but they definitely will not hatch.

Blood Spots: Little blood spot in your breakfast egg? No worries. Lots of people think this is the indicator of a fertilized egg. It’s not. It’s the result of a tiny rupture in a blood vessel in the oviduct of the hen during the formation of the egg. Scrape it off gently with a knife if it grosses you out, carry on with breakfast as usual.

Lash Eggs: Ok, these are just gross and usually very bad news. Not for anyone with a weak stomach, you can read a fantastic article on them Here: Lash Eggs explained. If you find an egg shaped mass with layers of icky, squishy content, this is probably your suspect. Generally caused by a disease called salpingitis. Prognosis for a hen with this condition is poor at best.

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Ashy Eggs: These are eggs that are laid with a chalky or ashy appearance, like a film of sorts over the usual color of the egg. Not a big deal and I’ve both eaten and hatched them.

There are all sorts of abnormalities that can occur during the formation of an egg during its travels through the oviduct of a hen. Most of them shouldn’t alarm you, but lash eggs or a hen that continually produces abnormal eggs should be cause for immediate quarantine or culling, and a vet consulted if the hen is a pet.

~Lisa

 

 

Tractor Trials

Well…today started pre dawn with high hopes and much excitement.  It’s now nine pm, the animals are finally all fed and turned in, and we’re falling into bed exhausted and still currently tractor-less. Well, sort of, maybe. Kind of. We left home with a tractor and returned with one less than we left with.

I’ll get into that saga tomorrow. However, seeing as how we were all pretty bummed out at that turn of events, I went to relax in a hot bath and was interrupted by T bringing my phone for an important text message. Which of course, I protested because you don’t interrupt mom’s rare bath time unless you are on fire, bleeding, or Publishers Clearing House is at the door. These are the rules.

See, he’s been watching me battle for two weeks now for some eBay hatching eggs I’ve been lusting after. High end chickens from a line I’d love to own but couldn’t justify the expense until after spring. I set a limit, so I’ve gotten sniped on three consecutive auctions.

So, while I was trying to wash this day off, he was being all sneaky and wonderful. I got a “you won this item” screenshot with this photo.

 

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Black Copper Marans hatching eggs. (Insert my dreamy sigh here)

 

I am a lucky gal,  tractorless or not. And for once I can honestly say I’m glad my sacred bath time was interrupted. ❤ night all!  Hope your day was wonderful!