Thursday 29 November 2012

All the girls, except for the original downed hen, made it through the terrible ordeal.  More good news, the bees have regained their composure as well.  So we are all one big happy family again.  What a disaster!  I still feel so guilty about dropping the honey comb and starting the whole thing.

I kept the girls in the greenhouse for a couple of days to try and let the bee "attack" pheromones wear off. The bees would get all worked up if I even went near the hive.  This lasted for four days!!!  The girl's trashed the greenhouse but at least the compost got turned into the soil really well.  I wasn't sure if my sorrel plant would survive the decimation but it came back.  Just like Gaga and Franny bounced back!   
(Big exhale)  Everybody is at peace.  The girl's snack away at the chard that is still thriving in the greenhouse and I am very exited to report that we have built temporary cold frames out of straw bales and old glass doors that we saved from the dump.  The girl's and myself will hopefully have a bigger supply of fresh, LOCAL, greens this winter :)
The bees are mostly in.  However, we have had some exceptionally warm days this November and so they've been out and about.  The garden has been put to rest and covered with leaves which I picked up from the recycling center.  I still have carrots in the ground covered...we'll see how long they last.  We haven't had snow for a couple of weeks now and most days it looks and feels like September!  The hens are not complaining and they're funny scratching around in the leaves.
The girls have slowed their laying down for the winter and we've gotten only a couple of eggs this week but we don't mind.  Call me old fashioned, but I believe in giving the girl's a break during the fall and winter.  I've read that hanging a light for them to keep them laying shortens their lifespan and wears them out faster.  
Being a workaholic, I can relate! 

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Umm... Never thought in a million years that this would happen.

I was working in one of our two hives, checking things out.  The bees had built comb all the way to the back of the hive.  I was hoping to add some spacers into the very back bars.  When I went to pull a bar (gently out) I noticed the comb was going the wrong way and it broke off from the bar.  GRRREAT.  I placed it back it's almost September they will reattach it and I will have to address it in the Spring.
I wanted to check on the brood levels and what was going on towards the front... I should have left them alone.

The comb broke off the bar, it didn't seem like an abnormally hot day, but it just broke off.  The bees freaked out and a normally super mellow hive went HOT on me faster than anything I had ever seen before EVER.  They went for me like flies on you know what.  I was ok I had a bee suit on.  But before I knew what was happening the hens were going crazy.  HOLY MOLY.  They were under full attack.

I went for the hose.  On mist, I tried to pacify the bees and get them away from the chickens.  Two minutes I was spraying trying to get some relief from the swarming pissed off bees.  The girls tried to take cover in their eglu coop.  I tried to close the door for them and kept spraying the air, the hive, myself, the girls...  I went to grab the girls out of the eglu to take refuge in the greenhouse but one of the twins was already down barely breathing.  I grabbed three of the girls and put them in the greenhouse, grabbed one hen that was running going crazy and then the next two.  

It was really bad.  

Bees were all over the girl's faces stinging away.  Burrowing into their feathers to sting them on their bodies.  It was AWFUL...  I was so powerless to do anything.  I had on my suit and leather gloves so I, the loving beekeeper, was going after my bees to get them off my chickens.  The bees were no longer my friends at that moment.  They were trying to get through the open windows and cracks in the doors.  I sealed everything up the best I could went to tend to my poor hens.  The one died in my arms immediately.  There were still bees buzzing around inside the greenhouse!!! AAAAAHHHHH!  It was horrible.  Gaga got it at least 20 times in the face.  Franny took a beating too.  I kept checking their bodies and pulling out stingers as quickly as I could.  The girls were not doing well.  Franny and Gaga that took the brunt of the stinging, were shaking and not moving around.  Just sitting there in the soil looking like they were going to fall over any minute.  I tried feeding them some banana to snap them out of it.  Then I forced them to drink some water by putting drops on their beak.  I was so distraught.  I got them hooked up with a heating pad... they were going into shock.  Moved in their water and some seriously wet feed/mash with more banana and I ran to the Internet.  


Backyard chickens had a stream which sent me to a blog and duh,  give the chickens Benedryl.  
Why had I not thought of that!  
Panic sometimes causes the brain to cease functioning at a normal levels. 

I took a capsule and dissolved it into 2 oz of water and with a head lamp, put drops of Benedryl water on their beaks trying to get them to drink it.  Franny at this point is in really bad shape, she can barely hold her head up.  Gaga, is on the heating pad, eyes swollen shut with labored breathing.  I just want to cry.

The girls took maybe 5-7 drops each of the Benedryl water.  I tried more banana and plain water.  No dice.  I went back inside the house.  10 mins later after the Benedryl, Franny seems the tiniest bit better and Gaga is still the same.  More drops of water and I moved Franny onto the heating pad.  Going to check on them in a minute.  The woman from the blog had good luck with her batam rooster so I've got my fingers crossed.  It just took so long to get the stingers out and trying to get the greenhouse sorted, I'm afraid the Benedryl was administered too late.  

I went on reading the BYC forum and they suggested Neosporin with pain reliever for the stings.  Ran to the medicine cabinet and went to it.  The girls fought me on this hard, especially Gaga, she wasn't having it.  It does look as if her shivering has let up though, I swear it looked like she was having small seizures.  Poor thing. 
Franny enjoyed the application of the ointment to her belly, neck and comb, that's where she took it the most.  She looks less like she is on death's door but I will check on them in a bit.  I don't want to get my hopes up and then be devastated tomorrow.

Lucky, Jack and the other twin seem to be ok.  They were eating the sorrel plant and gobbled up the banana no problem.  They were even scratching the newly placed compost in the beds of the greenhouse before it got dark and they went to roost.

Update: Not so good.
Gaga is standing but and is able to open one eye.  Franny is still on the heating pad, but her wings are drooping and she is panting with an open beak.  She seems more alert and is taking water and banana a little better than before but her breathing worries me.  Do I dare try to give her a few more drops of Benedryl?  I'm at a loss.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Well, we've decided the Eglu will house ducklings! We are going to go with the Cayuga breed because they are least noisy. Unfortunately, we have lots of neighbors we have to cater to!

Taken from

"Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga Ducks characterized by a black bill and black plumage which is a spectacular iridescent green in the correct light. Their coloring makes the adults one of the most beautiful of all duck breeds.

Cayugas are recognized as one of the most adaptable of all domesticated ducks and are active foragers. Adults are fond of eating snails, slugs, and most other insects

They are the most popular exhibition breed in the medium weight class.

For those who wish to keep ducks, but live close to others that would make keeping the Pekin impractical because of the loud quack, The Cayuga duck is a recommended alternative as its quack is not as loud or frequent as the Pekin duck. These ducks exemplify a quiet, calm, docile temperament and they do not fly. Cayuga ducks tend to stay close to home, making them an excellent choice for a home flock or as yard pets."

This taken from

This breed gets its name from Lake Cayuga, just west of New York, America. They were bred from the wild Black Duck and Rouen. They arrived in the UK when they were shown at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851.

As this breed was developed in North America it is used to harsh conditions. The Cayuga is a hardy breed and both the drake and the hen have good temperament and are quiet. When they first start to lay, their eggs can be completely black and this is a good sign that the resulting duck with have a good colour. The ducks do not remain black for all their life and often produce white feathers as they get older, which tend to appear after each moult.

The standard variety is black with iridescent green feathers, although recently a solid Blue was developed in America."

We will place our order soon even though we will get a delayed delivery.

What is so great about, is we can order just a few ducks, geese, chickens or guinea hens. Unlike other websites, where you have to order 25, efowl, for an extra charge, allows you to get what you want (breeds, females or drakes) & exactly how many you want. For us, this is so much easier than trying to find homes for 19 extras!!! Not to mention the mess of raising them all.

Monday 09 January 2012

Well last spring was a tough one. We had a bear attack, more like a massacre. We lost all of our chickens except one, which we renamed "Lucky," a salmon faverolle. It was horrible. We unfortunately, or fortunately were not home at the time. We had a pet sitter who did all they could but it was just too late. Living in the high country of Colorado, it is one of those things that we live with. We have black bears here and they can be quite destructive. All I can say is, we were devastated. RIP: Wee-Man (Seen here in the photos), Victoria, Luna, Fav 1 & Fav 2. It has taken this long to be able to write about it. The worst part is not a week before Wee-Man was skateboarding, yes skateboarding! In attempts to curb as much child trauma in the situation we went with what we know best, distraction.

We got chicks soon after at Murdoch's in Grand Junction. It was Spring time and we were lucky to get there when we did; as they were running out of chicks. We bought 6 chicks (2 which turned out to be males), no idea what they were, and guarded Lucky with an electric fence, provided by the DOW. The chicks were reared in my daughter's bedroom in an aquarium under a heat lamp until it was warm enough to be released into the reinforced, slightly damaged coop. Lucky was still too large to be consolidated into the new flock. It was a warm Spring so we were grateful that the girls settled in quickly. Given that this was our second go around it was easy to spot the two roosters. Before any real neighbor disturbing crowing set in, we gave them to Sustainable Settings in C-dale. I think there may have been one 4:30 am crowing and that was it. I had many nights waking up thinking there was a bear, but thank god no return, knock on wood!

After awhile we introduced Lucky to the new girls: Jack (after Jack Sparrow, since she was/is attracted to my rings), Frannie who is a bit darker golden than Jack and the twins, Sara & Melissa, named after a set of twins I grew up with. Lucky immediately established herself as top of the pecking order going after the new girls and they did the flapping, jumping, pecking clawing at each other dance. The girls avoided her at all costs, we put them together in the coop and for a few weeks it was tenuous then things seem to settle down and now six months later, they're all one big happy family.

Mid June we inherited a Polish from Susti. She had been a special order someone had not picked up, and she was being picked on /abused by the flock to the point that her crown was almost bare. Poor thing. We brought her home and released her into the coop. Lucky wasn't having it for what seemed like forever and I was heart broken but then they all seemed to work it out with out any intervention. So Lady Gaga joined the flock. (She is quite the looker! Black and White and her crown is back and beautiful!!!) So we were back up to six girls.

We had a long exhale when Fall finally took over and the bears went into hibernation.

My husband and I are currently working on a new coop design complete with electric fencing... we will start work soon even though it's January I want to get a head start on the bears!

We are also looking at converting our Eglu into a duck run. I'm not sure about Colorado, but the duck eggs in France were amazing!!! Especially in custards... We found a website that allows you to order less than 25 chicks at a time!!! For a fee of course but this is so much more manageable! I think we will get ducks from these guys check it out:

Click & Drag it the link won't post for some reason... />
It has been a bit of a mild winter this year and we were so glad to get the snow this weekend! I was fearing a drought was coming this Summer, we still have our fingers crossed about that.

The girls have been munching away daily on veggie/salad scraps from the restaurant. Thanks Romi, Alex, Toby & Scott! The girls are too funny and run towards the bottom of the coop for the fresh snacks. Garden planning has begun and seed catalogues are being rifled through now that the holiday season is finally over and the restaurants have calmed down a bit. Looking forward to finally replacing our bees this Spring! So we are a busy family, working, filtering waste vegetable oil for our car, composting in our new worm bin (more on that later), raising chicks (again), bees (hopefully this Spring), garden planning, washing stinky winter dogs, brushing a spoiled cat, rearing kids, and maybe soon raising a couple ducks!!!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

The frost has officially hit! The girls were rowdy this morning making a racket I think they're not ready for the cold either. Last night, with the temperature dropping we rushed out to the community garden where we have extended our growing space. We headed out around 8:45 pm for some last minute veggie picking. Bumping around with our headlamps in the dark hoping not to run into a bear before we got into the bear fence! It was freezing! We picked some cucumbers that we were holding out for and a huge zucchini, not as big as the last though 17"!!! The garden really produced for us this year and the sun exposure at the community garden really is 360 degrees. Makes our little plot in the yard seem like a waist of time. I also volunteered this summer at a local sustainable farm in nearby Carbondale. What a great bunch of folks! I ended up working so much that we worked for a full CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share in trade. We also purchased a fruit share from a organic farm, Ella Family Farms. We have been enjoying peaches, apples and pears! I bought an extra case of apples and canned some apple sauce yesterday and made choc chip zucchini bread! Storing away... so far we have a pantry full of pickles, tomato puree, jams and sauce. Haven't braved the pressure canner yet but we're getting there. The girls have enjoying the scraps from all the sauce making. Our plan was to try to "put up" enough food stuff to make it through the winter with out having to buy canned goods. I also purchased a pressure cooker which has made bean reconstituting super easy. Amazing what little changes can make a huge different in your self sufficiency.

I know that this post hasn't been much about the chickens but I was hoping to inspire some out there that perhaps think that living on a "farm" is too far away. It really can be done in a super small space. I would love to hear about some small victories out there.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Well it's close to the end August and it's been a good summer. Huge harvest this year! And to boot we've added bees to our menagerie. The girls are doing well with the exception of the entire summer Victoria and Sylvia both decided it would be a good idea to stop laying. So weird. My friend Rose said that at times during heat spells, the girls will take a break. I think they're just stubborn! I know that this is a chicken blog but would anyone be interested in hearing our bee story?

We've added to more nesting boxes into the little ones coop and they're loving it. Sometimes they would get three chickens deep in the one box making such a ruckus! So my husband added two additional boxes and the first day they were in there!

They've been getting spoiled on all our garden scraps between the yard garden, the community garden and volunteering at the farm. We've been getting spoiled too!

My favorite recipe this summer has been a quick dish I whipped up at my mom's for my teenage vegetarian step daughter:

3 each Olathe corn cobbs (cut off the cobb), sauteed in a little bit of olive oil, cooled slightly and then tossed with the other ingredients

1 large zucchini, shaved thin on a Japanese mandolin
1 each Kholrabi, peeled and julienned
Tossed in a dressing I made with dijon mustard, Colorado honey, balsamic, chopped fresh parsley, basil and oregano and blended oil (EVO & canola)

It was so amazing and delicious. The corn has to be really sweet other wise it will be starchy tasting

Thursday 07 May 2009

The girls have been piling on in here sometimes three at a time

The weather been amazing here and the girls are loving it. Catching some long awaited sun shine. The girls have been grazing in the yard and living it up getting fresh lettuce srcaps from the greenhouse!

Friday 20 March 2009

Everyone has made it through the winter ok and I gave the girls eglu a good cleaning today and I've ordered my plastic replacement bars! So excited, those wooden bars are so hard to clean!

We are in full thaw now and the girls are not stoked about the mud! I'm busy in the garden prepping the beds for planting and I got a few things in the ground already. The greenhouse has already produced a full crop of arugula and baby lettuces. The swiss chard that over wintered in there has been producing all winter long. Crazy!

The girls laid most of the winter with a bit of slowing down though. The little ones are laying again but few and far between. They need a nesting box witch my husband has promised to build but still no box yet! Honey do list! The girls have been laying but the eggs fall through the bars because they won't go in their little house. So weird!

Look at my pretty Luna!!! Look at that plumage! Such a foxy Blue Cochin! She's my prolasp girl and seems to be doing really well. She is the only one that makes that pek--kaaa chicken sound. My Favs and Wee-man, our bantam make chicken purring (???) sounds. Wish someone would cover chicken sounds in a book some where.

The tulips and crocuses are popping up through the ground and it feels so good to see the signs of the much awaited spring!

Friday 05 December 2008

Suzanne has given me a nudge so here goes! Ok to catch up on the lost chicken. Turned out to be a neighbor's bird we kept her in our yard for a awhile giving her much needed food and water. We talked to our neighbors to see who's bird she was. She seemed to be ok after the "dog fight". Her name turned out to be Larry. I have to tell you, our neighborhood is known for attracting strange inhabitants myself included! Larry the chicken (and yes a female) is named after Larry our local wood carver and manager of our little art gallery here in Woody Creek. The locals call themselves woody creatures, strange I know.

Back to the tale of Larry: My neighbor was kind of wandering down the street looking around and I asked her in passing if she was looking for something. She was, her chicken! I was so happy to reunite her with her bird. Larry was a bit shaken up over the whole experience a couple of days in a strangers yard with other chickens to boot! Not even a thank you for care taking her bird! Can you believe it? Strange, very strange. I was raised for the first 10 years of my life in NYC and I have better manners than that. She was kind of spaced out if that maybe explains it... Anyways long story short. Larry and owner walked off into the afternoon Larry riding away on my neighbor's arm like a parrot. It was so surreal like out a strange artsy movie.

Months later now, I have had an extremely successful summer. We had a wedding (ours), a trip to South America not in that order, a trip to Miami for another wedding in July and then work work work. Being a chef is tough. We did a ton of work on our house with upgrades etc, and I did a TON of work in the yard. The girls had a blast. And I have to say our little feather footed creatures are much easier on the lawn and flower beds! They don't scratch as much but they are not proficient layers. They had their molt late September and haven't laid since. Usually molting lasts 6 weeks.

I extended our yard by ripping out a useless deck that rapped around our porch so the girls gained some more lawn. The green house is still producing Swiss chard and herbs and I planted some new spinach and lettuce which is doing really well even in the cold temps and snowy days. I also added numerous fruit trees to the property and a couple of nut trees. We'll see how they do in the high altitude.

The girls are adjusting to the cold well. It's been down to 8 degrees F (-13 C) only a couple nights. The eglu is double insulated and does really well to keep the girls warm. Thy huddle together towards the back near the egg collection door. I changed their shade back to the full sized winter one and it's given protection from the elements. I have the run literally next to a 5' high wooden fence, so they are well protected from drafts and our harsh mountain winds. The girls do just fine. I close them in at night, which occasionally is a pain in the butt! Victoria likes to run out every time she hears the front door open, I guess she's looking for snacks. What a pill! So I have to wait until it gets late to close the door. I guess when she decides she's not interested in snacks. My little piggy!

The little ones, which aren't so little anymore, have started a weird behavior of perching together on their shelf in their wooden coop. Which is outside of the hut. I'm definitely going to hang a bulb in there for them soon. I have to scoot them up their ramp into their house and close the door on them! They are still sitting out there in 26 F (-3 C) degree weather! And they put up such a stink when I scoot them in. So bizarre! You would think that they want to be warm and toasty. I know I do!

My biggest challenge is keeping the water from freezing. We have a system of pulling in the bowls at night and filling them in the am but during the day, on extremely cold days it freezes. The little ones are going to get a warmer base for under the waterer but the eglu glug is a difficult matter. I have given the girls an auxiliary waterer on occasion and I'm thinking that this winter we may have to do a warmer for them as well. Last winter I just emptied it and filled it enough times that it never became dangerous, but it was a pain in the butt!

I will be starting to put Vaseline on the girl's wattles and combs, this helps to prevent frost bite. I also recommend to all the eglu owners out there, get the winter shade. I have pictures posted from 2 winters ago where the shade created a snow cave and the girls were quite cozy in there. Just make sure you don't let the snow get too deep and heavy! We had a leaning run that we had to shovel out.

Ok and on a totally gross note, our blue Cochin had prolapsed with an egg encased in her cloaca. This is not for the weak stomached but I really need to share this experience in case some one else has this problem. OMG! I really had to fight not to throw up. I brought her in to the kitchen sink and washed her bottom. Really assessed the situation, read so many things online and it scared the bejesus out of me. From everything I read, Luna would be a goner. I had to crack the egg to get the prolapsed cloaca to release it. It was have encased and dried around the egg. I couldn't believe I had missed it. I'm sorry to say that I think it was a couple of days that my poor girl was in this state. I felt so terrible, such a bad chicken mommy! I called the local vet and no one would see a chicken! All this farm and ranch land and no chicken vets? Anyway, I rinsed and rinsed with mild soap and warm NOT HOT water. Then, applied Preparation H (with an exam glove on) to the cloaca and pushed it back in. I started them on Antibiotics right away, I had some from a kit I purchased from McMurray Hatchery online. I was so stressed and scared. We had lost two girls before to strange causes and I was beginning to take it personally. I treated her everyday with the Prep -H and pushed it back in (with a glove) and thank god one day the red and irritated cloaca returned to it's normal position! I was so happy! She's doing well, eating, drinking and gaining weight. I have not been able to determine if she has laid since then, so I'm a little worried to see what's going to happen when she goes back into laying mode. But everything looks ok right now (fingers crossed).

I will get around to taking pictures and posting them! I hope I was able to answer some questions or concerns for Suzanne!
There are tons of books out there on care and maintenance my first one was "Keeping Pet Chickens" by, Johannes Paul and William Windham. It's a good place to start.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Got a strange message from a neighbor that one our chickens was out in our neighbors yard and being harassed by a dog. I ran to the window and did a triple count. They were all there. I thought how weird, it must be a big wild bird of some sort. Then later I ran into my neighbor Rich and he said that there was a chicken in his yard! I thought he was joking until I followed him around his shed and sure enough there was a beautiful big girl sitting in his yard. I know I've inspired some people locally to keep chickens but not anyone this close in the neighborhood. So, I have no idea where this chicken came from. I went to the post office to report and check the board and Sherri of course knew before I did that "my" chicken was on the run. We laughed when I told her that the chicken wasn't one of mine and it was a lost chicken found. We're going to post pictures that she's been found. Rich and I caught her with a towel and I put her in with our large girls since we had a spot recently vacated by Penelope (RIP). We're thinking LuLu for a name. The girls are figuring it out in there right now losts of chicken talk in the yard. Lulu is a big girl with feathers on her legs. I can't identify her breed yet. I still can't get over it. Our neighborhood isn't the type to have random chickens crossing the road or the river! Our nearest chicken farm is across the roaring fork river and there's no way she made it this far. WEIRD! I think she's a Black Langshan. But who knows I'll post a picture later maybe you have some ideas.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

After a month long vacation to Peru and Ecuador and then back to work it's been a busy couple of months. So an update of what's gone on, we got back from vacation and all was well. My good friend Gina pet sat for us while we were away and she did a great job. The garden was looking good and the girls were all still kicking.

We had found homes for half the chicks on a farm in Paonia and then one of ours turned into a rooster and was crowing at 5:30am! EARLY!!! So we placed him with our friends down the road along with some other chicks. They're getting so big and are almost full grown. They're combs are coming in and their wattles too.

About a month ago we lost one of our layers. We came out one morning and she was out of the coop on the ground with her head tucked under. Penelope's comb had never come in after a year and a half. So we're not sure if she was just runty. No answeres on that one. We were all really sad about it. Then all seemed to be well. We slowly tried to introduce our chicks which are now huge to the other girls. In the garden they don't pay much attention to each other but when we placed Franny near the other coop she was attacked by Victoria and Sylvia. We're not sure if was stress or a stroke or a heart attack or what happened but she stopped eating and drinking and had a hard time moving her legs. We were completely beside ourselves. We thought maybe she was going lame so we tried oyster shells to treat against calcium deficency, we treated the girls with vitamins and she just got progressively worse. We separated her from the flock, heating pad, hand watered her and fed her mash but she didn't make it. She passed away today and we're having a hard time not blaming ourselves. I've been on some forums asking questions and talking to other chicken owners and the best we can come up with is that she had a stroke and then refused water and food because she was having seizures and then lost her strength. I called vets up and down the valley and there is no poultry vet. We are crushed. We've lost two girls in 2 months and are just distraught. If anyone has had similar experiences we would appreciate some feed back. We're going to treat the girls for worms again to rule out that.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

We are getting close to putting the chicks outside but it's still a little bit chilly out there so we've decided to wait a few more weeks. It's starting to smell like a zoo in our laundry room! Even with changing the paper and wood shavings frequently it's stinky!

On a beautiful day I captured these photos of the girls lunging for lettuce treats. They've been very happy sunning themselves on pretty days.

I think the girls are very happy with the sunshine and have been producing three eggs a day much more frequently.

Wednesday 05 March 2008

The Chicks have now started to come right up to the camera. We're also starting to hand feed them to tame them a bit. We expanded they're brooder again and they seem excited running around.

I vacuumed in the room because it was getting really dusty with feather dander and feed dust. I also scrubbed all the surfaces with a orange based cleaner because it was getting stinky and musty in the laundry room! The chicks hate the vacuum but it must be done. We are now at 4 1/2 weeks now and the birds are looking less like chicks and more like mini chickens. They're little combs are starting to emerge and they're feathers are really coming in now.

We've also gone to 2 gallon size waterers because they were going through one a day. If the warm weather keeps up then we're going to start to bring them outside for short periods of time. We're also going to assemble their pen and coop. We're also looking to expand our eglu but we're brain storming some ideas about going vertical. But it might just come to buying the expansion piece from omlet. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

King of the roost. I had to move the feeders and waterers back away from the cardboard brooder guard to keep this one in. The girls named him/her Mercutio, yes we've got a high school student reading Romeo and Juliet. I've named the little Batam that I found on his/her back Wee-Man because he's/she's kind of a runt. He/she's still going strong though. Delayed development but it's eating and drinking away. And we have a Houdini that some how escaped to the other side of the brooder guard, thank god it was just for the afternoon. I become accustomed to counting the chicks now just in case.

This little one is trying to get to the heater some how. It's too funny to watch and now the rare breed chick is doing it too. Haven't been able to snag a photo of it yet, but we'll see if I can. Some of the chicks have feathers coming in everywhere!

Since it's the start of their 3rd week we've turned the heater down to 85F. But it fluctuates between 90F and 85F.

Friday 22 February 2008

I put on a ruddy old T-shirt and I took the girls out one by one, bringing them into the house and bathing them. After they were finished I placing them in dog crates. The Omlet website has a great section in the "guide" as to how to bathe your birds.

Victoria went first, then Penelope and finally Sylvia. They weren't so keen on the idea. I think they liked the warm water rinse the most of the whole experience. Although, Victoria surprisingly enough stood in front of the hair dryer (on low so as not to damage their feathers) and when I'd move it around I swear she was posing. Sylvia was the most unhappy about being wet and held in the sink she tried to escape and managed to scratch me on the arm. Victoria didn't mind so much and Penelope wasn't sure what to make of the whole thing. I fed them some treats after the traumatic experience to ease their stress and they gobbled them up.

I made sure that they were completely dry (even felt under their wings just to be sure). They spent a good part of the day in the dog crates and I gave them some food and water. Needless to say we didn't have eggs for two days because of the stress of the experience. Or they were just mad and getting even!

It's been super sunny this last week and a half and no snow so we've pulled back the winter shade and let the girls have full sun all day. We've been getting 3 egg days again so Penelope is laying again! Very exciting. Tonight it was snowing when I got home so I made sure to cover the run back up again, but tomorrow hopefully it will be nice again. The girls so enjoyed the breath of fresh air and the feeling of Spring coming (even though we're a good 2 months out). The yard has started to thaw a bit and the shed doors are no longer iced up. Yea!

Tuesday 19 February 2008

It's been a busy week for us and I haven't been able to keep up with the blog. We lost the two sick chicks a couple of days ago. We had know idea what was wrong with them other than one had a bad eye and the other just wouldn't eat or drink for no reason in particular. It was very sad and we explained what was happening to the 6 year old and told her that they probably would not make it.

The other chicks are doing great however and I expanded the brooder using the cardboard ring from Murray McMurray hatchery. We've also turned down the heat from 95 degrees F to 90. I've stopped adding water to the pellet mix and they've finally started to eat the pellets dry, I did have to remove the lid to the feeder to get them to eat out of it. Now they're going crazy over it. The long feeder with the attached lid, they wont touch. There old enough now and steady enough on their feet that I don't have to worry about them getting stuck on their backs in the dish.

They have taken to jumping up and flapping their itty bitty wings about. The extra rare breed has taken to hopping up trying to attack the heater guard. They've also started to peck at the black lines and numbers on the thermometer. It's extremely funny to watch. Some of them have started to scratch and peck at the pictures in the newspaper. I tried wood shavings but they're still trying to eat it so I removed it since it's dangerous if they get it stuck in their crops and intestines. I've also been removing the poop off their buts when it gets stuck. All of us don't enjoy that process.

One of the Blue Cochins is doing a really funny thing I'm posting this video because you've got to see it he/she does it a couple of times at 1min 40 secs and at the end 2 min! He bumps around backwards on the floor!

Thursday 14 February 2008

One of the Salmon Favorelles isn't eating or drinking. We found her upside down under the heat lamp. When I examined her she isn't having normal growth, she had an empty crop and one of her eyes is terribly swollen. I'm not sure what to do. I've posted on a couple of sites but no reply as of yet. I'm not sure if I should separate her out of the box with the other chicks but I only have one light to go around. I held her in a paper towel and using a zip lock baggie (since I don't have a feeding tube) I tried to force her to eat. You have to be really careful when you do this because they can aspirate really easily. She took some liquid but any mushy solids she kind of pushed away. Baby Parrots are much easier to hand feed because they almost beg for the food. They open up real wide and "take" the food bobbing there heads so the food goes down quicker to their crops. No such luck with a chicken. I've been using the "dropper" method of bringing her liquid to her beak with my finger and she drinks but she is not well. The eye is getting bigger and I've never seen anything like this. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. Can you take a 5 day old chick to the vet? Or should you let nature take it's course?

The extra rare breed chick that McMurray Hathcery sent us I think is a Old English Game fowl. Taken from McMurray website: They have their origins almost with the beginnings of history. With the outlawing of cockfighting in England, the Pit Game was bred for exhibition. Modern Games were developed from the Old English and have an extremely high station with a rather peculiar style and carriage as a result. Modern Games are dubbed (have their combs cut) as chicks when used for showing.

This is our chick. What do you think?

Monday 11 February 2008

The chicks are growing so quickly and it's only been 2 days. They're runing around the box like crazy. Last night they slept so quietly with only a few chrirps here and there. And this morning they're back at it again peeping less then yesterday but still chirping away. They've been busy eating drinking and eating and pooping! Lots and lots of poop! I keep adding more paper towels down for a fresh clean surface. Still wetting down their food because they haven't seemed to take to the dry feed yet. Checking on them every half hour or so now except when we're and they're sleeping. One of the darker striped Bantams got stuck upside down for I can guess a while, and was quite cold and limp when I got to him/her. I was so freaked out and scared but my old veterinary technician days kicked in! I wrapped him/her in a wash cloth and I held him under the heat lamp stroking it's back to stimulate it and used my finger to drip the electrolyte water on it's beak to get him to drink. He/she took the water and I did this for at least 15 minutes almost burning my hand! But it seemed to work and I placed him/her back under the lamp when the body temperature came back up and after a while (which seemed like hours) of watching and waiting and finally after having to walk away and return 30 mins later he/she was up and eating and drinking by himself. What a relief! It's scary sometimes when I go to check in on them and they're lying down sleeping but it looks as if they may be dead. But I watch for awhile and they're breathing. Such a new mom I am.

Sunday 10 February 2008

After working really late last night, 8:30am came really early this morning! Our wonderful neighborhood postal officer called me and when I slept through the call, she came to my house! She had let the driver know that they were coming and he called her to let her know that they would be there at 7am. I'll be baking some cookies for both of them and giving them some eggs!

I was so surprised to see how small the box and the chicks were. They were all snuggled up together in the corner all pushing together like a rugby scrum. And they're peeping and cheeping away! I wrapped up the box up to protect them from draft and Linda gave me a mail sorting box to put the bundle in. I hurried to the warm car and drove them back to the house. Niko doesn't know what to make of them.

I had the box ready to go and warm with the heater, thermometer and I put paper towels on the bottom of the box to keep them from injuring themselves by sliding around. I dipped their beaks in the water before I let them go and they all found the corner again. I must have been sitting there for 3 hours just watching them. All 22 survived (they sent 1 extra rare breed). I'm a little dissapointed that they didn't have a successful hatch of the Partidge Cochins so we they sent 1 extra White Cochin Bantam instead.

The chicks have started to run around, a little wobbely on their feet like they were drunk! I swear that they are growing before my very eyes! The little ones opened their eyes and now they're all eating and drinking. I added some sugar to the their water along with the Quick Chick powder, full of electrolytes and vitamins and minerals to give the chicks a good start.

I gave them some food with warm water to mush it up a bit and they love it. I already see a pecking order being established and the Bantams might have to be seperated out from the rest since they're so tiny. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday 09 February 2008

I called Murray McMurray yesterday to find out if I'd be notified when the chicks were mailed to give me an ETA. She told me the chicks were scheduled for hatching today, Saturday and that they would be placed into the postal system today! We may get a call tomorrow from the Post office to pick them up. I thought it was strange for a Sunday pick up at the Post Office, but I guess with live chicks they make exceptions. We picked up a bag of Start and Grow from the co-op today as well as a long plastic chick feeder and a couple of new waterers! Tonight we're going to set up the brooder to regulate the temperature and get it nice a toasty in the laundry room for the chicks. Wish us luck for a successful clutch.

On a warmer note:

The girls have gotten some extra special attention lately. We've had two warmer (27-32F) days with bright high altitude sunshine! FINALLY! I strong-armed the girls out of their run to sit in the sun for awhile. They were not happy standing on the hard pack snow and at the first chance they had they scooted back into the run behind my back! Tricky birds! Next time I'll try putting a towel down on the snow. I also pulled the run cover off and aired out their space all day letting the long awaited sunshine in. I replaced their wood chips and replaced the straw in the nest area (my girls are very funny, they like to scratch all the straw out of the eglu). Today after returning from the co-op and the dog park, I coaxed them out of the run with some organic sweet 100's tomatoes, they would come out, grab the tomato and run back in. Penelope wouldn't even come out, she'd just chase Victoria (my alpha hen) around and eat up all the seeds that were squirting out in Victoria's panic of losing her tomato. I swear Victoria was growling. Sylvia I thought was second in the pecking order but now I'm not so sure. I'm going to bathe the girls, I was hoping to do this before the chicks came but that's not going to happen now. I guess I'll wait for the next bright warm day. Or maybe the girls will have a night inside in a pet carrier.

Omlet Cartoon