Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Icky Chickies have arrived!

And, the next-to-final shipment of springtime fluff balls has been picked up! (still need to get some turkeys) Today we brought home 17 Cornish X meat chicks.  Ordered 20, but the gals at the local feed store mis-counted, and when we got the couple miles home and called, they had already sold the few birds they had left... grrrrr!

Behold an Icky Chicky, while it's still cute (the cute phase only lasts about a week).

Haven't posted in a bit, as we've been running our butts off. Over the last couple weekends, we have ground out around 20-25 stumps and smoothed the stump areas out in preparation for more lawn/chicken/goose/duck yard locations. We've seeded and leveled and seeded some more.  This last weekend we thinned a small grove of alders and maples to the north side of the current chicken yard. We limbed the saplings, and will use them to beef up our chicken run construction. Last year the heritage turkeys (never ever again) liked to jump to the top of the chicken run and they collapsed it more than once. Since we're pretty sure it will be a prime guinea perching spot, we need to beef it up before we put those birds outside. And now for the rest of the happenings....

Yes, we're getting bees this year (or rather, LJ is getting bees this year). The hive is painted lemon lime and is sitting in the shop. The plastic inserts are in the house where shop-living mice can't gnaw away at the beeswax coating. We've cleared an area near the garden but away from any areas we want to clear this summer (don't think the bees would take too kindly to saws and the tractor running next to the hive). We leveled the area, and LJ seeded it in clover in the hopes that the clover will spread and help to choke out other weeds. He picks up his 3lbs of bees on Friday, so we need to get the hive set up this week.

Yucky Duckies-
Are growing like weeds. They are freaking huge at just 4 weeks old, and are out in the chicken tractor. We're planning some brooder musical chairs, hoping that the layer ducks can go outside before the Icky Chickies outgrow their brooder. The Icky Chickies will go in the big brooder when the laying ducks go outside. The guineas will go outside so the turkeys can go in their brooder. And, if all goes well, the Yucky Duckies will go to the processor just in time for the Icky Chickies to go into the chicken tractor. That's the plan, in any case. *fingers crossed*

Are also growing rapidly.  They are scared to death of us, unless we're refilling their feeder, at which point they jump all over our hands to get to the food (which they mostly fling out of the feeder and onto the floor).

Laying ducks-
More quick growth! All 4 run away from us. Darkwing the runner is sweet and calm once caught, as is the Swedish female (I named her Olga, which LJ does NOT like). The white-ish runner is a spaz, and very vocal (still no name), as is the Swedish male (Sven… LJ doesn't like that name either. Lol). I hope the runners are both female, but we'll just have to wait and see. They were straight run, so we have no idea. I'm thinking at least one male, one female, given the difference in personality and vocalizations. Darkwing is rather quiet and raspy. The white-ish no-name is a freak and extremely noisy. Another we'll see situation, eh?

Are doing well, though one has a cough and we'll need to catch him and give him a shot. We've had to treat two others. Not fun trying to catch a 60 some-odd lb pig, sit on it, and jab a needle in its neck. Not fun at all. You wouldn't believe how loudly they scream.  Not over the needle, but over being caught.  Craziness!  We don't like medicating, but neither do we want to have animals that are sick or unhappy. It's a line to walk. I've read blogs/stories of people that just let their critters die rather than call a vet or administer wormer or antibiotics… all in the name of "natural". The way we see it, that's cruel. Additionally, they're LIVESTOCK, not wild animals. The "natural" has been bred out of them over countless generations. True, some are a bit more hardy or disease resistant, but all the same, I don't get letting an animal suffer. If it doesn't fit your ideals, treat it and sell it so it doesn't "contaminate" your farm. Ok, ok, turning my rant off now. :0)

I have 4 eggs in the incubator right now, and they seem to be doing well.  My only concern is that the eggs have not lost enough weight.  I've been trying to follow the incubation guide that a wonderful dude named Pete posted on the backyardchickens.com forum.  The ideal is for the eggs to lose approx 13%, so the goslings aren't overloaded/overheated, and so they have the room they need to breathe and move in the egg.  I've been doing a daily water spritz and 15 minute cool down for the last several days, which mimics momma goose's getting up/taking a swim/setting back on the eggs.  We'll see how it goes.  They are due to hatch next Tuesday or so.  The goosey gals are still laying eggs.  I checked the nest last night, and they had built up a nest of 27 eggs.  One egg had broken on top of some of the others.  I removed the broken egg and the ones that had been contaminated by the contents and threw them to the pigs (the pigs LOVED that).  I stole the four freshest eggs (for another incubator run), removed the eggy straw, replaced the eggy straw with fresh, and replaced the good eggs in the nest.  Baby Girl hollered at me from 3 feet away the whole time I was in there, and has since been on the nest.  Perhaps my messing with her nest convinced her to get down to business?  Hope so, because it would be great to have some naturally hatched goslings.  Again, fingers crossed!

And, that's about it for the moment. Lots and lots going on, and dreaming of SUN. Right now it's a dream, but hopefully will return well before July this year!

Hope everyone is having a great week!


kpannabecker said...

There's so much in her I can identify with like moving one animal into a space another had been occupying then waiting for another to open up.

I also like to treat animals as naturally as possible but get so frustrated when I see people losing animals and they still don't change their practices. Sometimes you just need a good ol' chemical dewormer and there's no getting around it.

Charade said...

Love the musical chairs, er... I mean critters. How you find any time to blog is beyond me.

Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Thanks for the comment Rae! Love seeing all your animals.

Have a great day!

Love, Taryn

Heidianne said...

You have a proper farmstead there, most awesome.
I would love some runner ducks to eat the snails and slugs in our yard..One day, after the fence gets redone.
As for medicating your pigs, you are right! They are not an ancient swine breed that has the immune system to handle being "natural". It IS cruel to standby and do nothing while your livestock suffers, and it is just bad farming practice. Love the descriptions of all the critters, stay warm and dry. When do we get some sun for more than a day?

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I think the goose just needed an extra kick in the butt to get down to the business of sittin on her eggs. A little push ain't so bad and she has a nice clean nest to rest in.

I agree on the inoculating pigs thing. I do interventions on my chickens when they are not feeling well and I concur that they are livestock not wild animals and I need to take care of them while I have them.

Paula said...

Wow! 27 eggs among 3 geese- that seems like a lot!

You guys are up to your ears in babies. Glad to hear about the bees- I hope your first year is a lot more successful than my first year.

Miriam said...

Holy smokes, you've got a busy operation going there! I'm exhausted just reading your post...

Rae said...

KP- hear hear!!

Charade- well, when you get down to it, I rarely do seem to find the time to blog! :)

Heidianne- hopefully the sun will break through this godawful rain. Looks like we may get a little this weekend!

Lindsey- Baby Girl must have really panicked over me stealing the dirty eggs and messing with the nest... She's been on it since! Finally broody! Woot!

Paula- I think overall we've gotten about 50 eggs between the 3 of them. I'm so excited that they're actually fertile this first year!

Miriam- lol! And I've got a full time job on top of it. :) Gotta love springtime busy. By mid-summer, I'm ready for winter again. :)

Andrew von Zuben said...

Before giving medications, it's important to at least know what you are treating and whether or not there are some good alternatives. Our pigs had weepy eyes. On a hunch, we changed their bedding from cedar shavings to straw. It was the cedar irritating their eyes.
Worms can be treated by adding diatomaceous earth to the feed, daily. There is also an herbal alternative that we haven't tried yet.
Also, organic feed gives all animals more vigor and better overall health.