Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baby Chick - Guber - Growing in a Shoebox

As I've mentioned earlier, we not only purchased baby chicks from a hatchery but we are also raising chicks from special breeds who are being hatched under setting hens.

Early this week, on a bitter cold day, an egg cracked under the hen and the chick worked hard to get out but couldn't. I brought the egg into the house and had to clip open the membrane inside the shell so the chick could hatch. It was rolled up onto itself, wet, messy, bloody, and peeping like crazy! I got a shoebox, lined it with paper towels and a folded blue towel that it could hide under, like a hen, and turned on the under counter kitchen light and put it there to warm up, dry off, and start being a chick. Note of interest: A baby chick will live for 3 days without food or water which is why chicks can be mailed through the Post Office and ,of course, they can only be shipped within a three day delivery range.

A little handful of fluff, all dried and still peeping
Look closely and you will see the little chick looking
directly at you! Guber is in the shoebox nursery all
warm including a heated rice bag and light above.

So back to the baby chick, it flourished and on day three, I dunked it's beak into water and it began drinking. I put baby chick feed on the floor of the shoebox and it began to eat. And it never stopped peeping until I covered the box at night so it would sleep and we could sleep!

Mark would come into the house during the day and ask how Guber was doing! I guess this chick got a name during the shoebox stage!

The chick is eating and drinking on it's own;notice
Guber is now in a bigger box
After about four days Guber's peeping seemed louder and more stressed so I went to town and bought a feather duster. Guber calmed down, cuddled into the feather duster, slept under the feather duster and overall accepted it as company. Who knew?
Here is the chick with the feather duster friend
Guber finally grew big enough to move to the nursery in the barn with the 20 other chicks who will be giving us eggs.

Pretty big in one week, time to move to the big
nursery in the barn

Guber fit right in and now we can't really identify her in the flock. As it should be. No names for hens outside of the house. You don't want to mourn them if nature takes them away one day.

Friday, April 12, 2013


We had a few fabulous warm spring days early this week. On one of those days we got the early morning call from the Post Office that our baby chicks had arrived from the hatchery. That is always exciting around here and a definite harbinger of spring. We got them home, dipped their beaks into the water so they would swallow and continue to drink, and then put them into their nursery. They are doing so well. We got mostly Araucana/Americana chicks that lay the blue and green eggs but also got a few golden Wyandotte's and cuckoo Marans. We'll continue to have cartons of colorful eggs to share!
The picture looks red because the chicks are under
a red colored heat lamp. The red color helps keep
the chicks from picking on one another. They are
cozy and warm here.
Mark kept two colorful roosters of more rare breeds from last years flock and has made individual pens for each along with their matching hens. One rooster is a Black Copper Marans and the other is a Blue Andalusian. We have two broody hens that are setting right now which means they sit on the eggs and don't get off unless to eat or drink. They are true blue mothers and are trying to hatch the eggs. So Mark removes the fertilized eggs from the nests each day and puts them under the setting hens. So far three black copper Marans chicks have hatched. We've had about another three that didn't live. There are still several eggs under the broody hens so we'll see how many more are hatched.

We also got some 'fryer' chicks to raise for food. They are delicious and unlike anything you can find in a store. We keep the laying stock from the fryer stock because the Cornish X Rock chicks grow so quickly that they are ready in 6-8 weeks! The layers take much longer to mature.
Cornish X Rock chicks
During the lovely warm spring weather early in the week, we worked in the garden on a number of projects. The big one was repairing the asparagus bed.  Asparagus lives for many years and thus it is important to have them situated in the most ideal place. The location was excellent but I hadn't planted them deep enough as I learned after spending time with a local asparagus farmer who shared with me that tip. He said he had to rework an entire field when he first started due to the shallow planting. Mark and I found bricks and blocks on the property in a gully so we brought them to the garden and formed a brick bed around the asparagus so we can add the additional dirt without disturbing the asparagus roots. I'm so excited because this will be the year we can begin harvesting the asparagus. It takes three years of establishment before you should begin eating it so that it has a strong root system to support it for its lifetime.
Here is the bed almost finished. We will lay the red
bricks on top of the cement blocks and then will fill the
bed with great soil and compost.
Thanks to Mark we finished the asparagus bed so then I worked on the flower beds around the house, planting pansy's and checking all the bulbs that were beginning to poke through the ground. I walked the yard looking at all the trees, bushes and saplings to see who made it through the winter and which were ready to break bud. Buddy was with me the entire time, carrying his rope in hope of having a game of tug-of-war. We had many as it turned out.
Bringing me the rope with great hope for play!
And then there are times you just have to play
on your own, or be the watchdog and pause to
Then the skies darkened and the rain came. We were so happy to finally have rain...and a good one, a real soaker... 2.5 inches!
A beautiful sight when you are in a drought
In a brief break in the storm, we saw the rainbow
The rain then turned into hail, then sleet and finally snow and it kept falling...for hours.
See the hail on the deck boards
By the end of the storm, we had between 4-5" of 'ice' and snow on the ground. It is treacherous to walk on but when melted it will add to the overall moisture and that is a blessing.
A picture early in the storm while sleeting
We are so happy about this week's storms. It will make a huge difference to everyone in our area - farmers and gardeners alike.

Today we have blue sky and sunshine. If you look closely in the center left of the above picture, you will see a spot of red. That is a male cardinal. I saw him when I was opening the drapes this morning and he made me smile. He is some distance from the house in the wild plum thicket where the cardinals live all year but the red streak of his color caught my eye this morning and I knew immediately what it was.  With all the white, grey and brown of winter, the color of spring is beginning to slowly show itself as the wild birds take on their spring mating colors. The goldfinches are turning bright yellow, the house finches are brilliant rose, the bluebirds are turning up the color volume and the cardinals are brighter red than usual. The tulips, alliums, and daffodils are up and getting ready to blossom. The lilacs are getting ready to break bud.

Everything is changing because... spring has arrived...at last!