31 May 2015

May eggs

For the month of May, we had two pullets start laying - Beetle on the 2nd and Blackie on the 23rd - for eight to ten layers, with two going broody - Eileen-dark set four eggs on the 25th and one of the Wheaties set five on the 29th.  So, kinda-sorta eight layers laid 183 eggs in 31 days, and nine of those are set.

I am also going to be selling extra eggs, to my friend Lynn up the highway who has a commercial plant nursery and regular egg customers.  If she gets too many eggs laying around, all she needs to do is put out a sign on the highway.  She already gave me a boxful of empty styrofoam dozen-egg cartons to fill, and even with fifteen more pullets that should start laying next month I figure it will take me a while to fill those cartons.  With fifteen more pullets starting to lay in the next six weeks, I needed to find somewhere to sell eggs.

29 May 2015

Capons as chick nannies

We started out using a capon as a chick nanny on the extra cockerels I got from Luanne - that one is Cappy and he is still with his remaining new capons.  He does seem to be a bit attached to them, as I went out the other morning and saw him lightly pecking at one to try to wake it ... when I got closer I saw that would be a hopeless cause.  No apparent injury or illness on that one (the Wyandotte) so I am figuring he must have thrown a clot after the surgery or something not visible like that.

Our second nanny-capon is Puffy, the one who windpuffed so bad.  He is in with his Silkie chicks, which now number only ten.  We have been losing Silkie chicks every so often, and it is always the smallest, least active/vigorous, so I wonder if they are just more delicate or fragile than the regular-feathered chicks.  What is truly adorable - and no, I have not yet gotten a pic of this - is when the Silkie chicks cuddle up to Puffy, and then one peeks up at me from under his wing.  Here is the closest pic I have to Puffy cuddling with his Silkie chicks.
Puffy the nanny-capon and one of his Silkie chiks
Now last night, hubby picked out a capon - the single combed one, who mellowed out significantly when caponized - to put in with the cull Wyandotte pullets from Cackle.  This morning, I had to lure him out, as he had all the chicks huddled into a corner.  So, while most capons will nanny chicks, not all will.  But, as Meatloaf sang years ago, "Two outta three ain't bad."

25 May 2015

Broody bantie!

One of the Eileens went from zero to bitchy just like that.  She came down from the nest box in the bantie house for dinner, then was back on the two unfertilized eggs and the golf ball.  It took both of us to get those eggs out from under her - and hubby wore heavy leather gloves for his own protection - and then we slipped four eggs from Feyd's tractor under her.  She was definitewly broody, as she was hissing like an upset cat and growling like a territorial dog.

I had said I wanted bantam hens so broody we'd need bomb squad gear to go in for eggs (taking or leaving or both).  I now have gotten my wish!  Set four eggs tonight, so in three weeks we should have our first chicks for Feyd's test breeding to see if he has the recessive gene for single comb.

21 May 2015

Solar oven prototype

Hubby and son put this most of the way together last week, and I put the foil in this morning and now it's in direct sunlight to see how warm it gets inside.  I have an oven thermometer in it.
prototype solar oven
Right now, this is only a cardboard box inside of another cardboard box, with the lid of a display case on top and aluminum foil on the inside.  It's not as if we don't still have plenty of cardboard moving boxes out in the shed ...

I didn't blog much last week, due to my son's week and a day visit.  Of course, the weather was a little less than ideal, but it was great having my kiddo around for a short while.  He and hubby also put together another chicken tractor, and helped me pull some larger weeds from the back of the house.  For most of the week my back was iffy ... which probably made me a bit less fun to hang out with, but I was really trying not to be too grumpy.

15 May 2015

Venomous snakes

Hubby and I just killed the second water moccasin (cotton mouth) in less than a month.  This one started out under the carport, then slithered under the car.  Hubby backed the car up after bringing the compost fork and a shovel over.  We use the compost fork the "spear" it, then the shovel to cut its head off, once we can be sure the head isn't going to be free enough to strike.

The previous water moccasin had been inside the electric perimeter, in front of a chicken tractor.  Neither the carport nor the enclosure are good spots for a venomous snake - they are what they are, cannot be anything else, and therefore we kill them.  We had the same issue with pygmy rattlesnakes the first spring.

These are the first two water moccasins we've seen since moving out here, and hubby and I briefly speculated on why we are suddenly seeing them.  The past two springs seemed to have more rain, and the cottonmouth population likely had a boom, but with fewer good rainfalls so far this spring the snakes are probably expanding their hunting territory.  I really don't want them sampling my chicks.

08 May 2015

Busy week

This has been a rather busy and fun-eventful week so far.  Kicking things off, we celebrated our ninth anniversary on Monday by going up to Jacksonville to have a Japanese hibachi lunch with the in-laws.  Before lunch, hubby and I both went "book mining" at a large new-and-used bookstore called "Chamblins Book Mine."  After lunch, hubby dropped me back at the Book Mine while he went off to WalMart with his parents ... there are days I just cannot stomach the noise and crowd at WalMart, and Monday was certainly one of them.  Since the Book Mine is so huge, that gave me the opportunity to look at the cookbook section.  I quickly realized I needed to be extremely picky and choosy, or I might need a semi-trailer to haul home my purchase!  LOL  The theme for cookbooks turned out to be baking.  While I didn't find a bread-specific book I liked, I did get one dedicated to 200 years of American baking, which yielded a new honey wheat bread recipe I made yesterday (more on that in a bit).

Tuesday, our actual anniversary date, was dedicated to the chickens.  Along with caponizing in the morning, my neighbor Maria came over and bought four of the red broilers.  Two were definitely "por comer" (to eat) and one was the lighter colored broiler pullet she had been telling me was too pretty to eat.  The other broiler pullet she decided was also too pretty to eat once she had the bird in her hands.  It amuses me when she tells me my meat birds are too pretty to eat, as I have decided I just don't really enjoy raising ugly birds (like the Cornish-Rocks).

I made cookies this week, using a recipe from that "all-bad-for-you" cookbook and they came out nicely.  I did glazed molasses cake cookies, and they really did turn out cake-like.  Today I will likely be trying out a cake recipe in my new cookbook, which conveniently has a picture of a Boston cream pie on the dust jacket cover.  All I needed to do was hold the book up and ask hubby if he'd like "this" instead of the usual pineapple upside-down cake for his birthday.

Yesterday, one of hubby's friends came down from Jacksonville to hang out, game, and of course enjoy the food here.  Hubby made breakfast of bacon, toast, and poached eggs.  By luck of the draw, hubby's friend got the double-yolk egg.  He thought that was so cool.  He also showed up with an empty egg carton, which I cheerfully filled while joking that, "Every good pusher knows to give the first hit for free."  He agreed, and bought a second dozen.  When he asked the price, I suggested $3 a dozen, which he promptly shot down saying our eggs are worth $5 a dozen up in Jax.  So, he put a five dollar bill on our coffee cart, and went home with two dozen eggs.  He said he'd like to come down once a month to get eggs and he hopes to try some of our homegrown chicken as well.

While hubby and his friend were gaming, I was bartering with the neighbor who raises grass-fed beef cattle for a couple of steaks for hubby to grill today, which is his birthday.  When I asked how much I owed him, he said we could settle that later in the afternoon, as I had mentioned making bread.  The recipe in the new cookbook is for two loaves at a time, and my neighbor says he and his wife LOVE homemade bread, and he returned the half-pint jar that held strawberry syrup (saying it was very good) and I mentioned being up to our armpits in eggs with only nine layers so far (and twenty more due to start laying in the next six weeks).  So, I ended up with two New York strip steaks in exchange for a loaf of honey wheat bread, another half-pint of strawberry syrup, and a dozen eggs.  Oh, and a couple cookies.  He had asked if the cookies were fattening, to which I replied, "Of course!  Non-fattening cookies are as worthless as non-alcoholic beer or decaffeinated coffee."

Now, to start up on the birthday cake, and also start cleaning up to make room for a spare bed because my son is coming down to visit on Monday.

05 May 2015

Three more capons and another maybe

This morning I finished up the January batch of Gold-Laced Wyandotte cockerels from Ideal.  Out of the last four, I feel confident three are capons, and one is a maybe-slip.  The last one may have had a piece of teste fall back behind the intestine, but I could not see for sure and that boy was getting quite cranky by that time.  Chickens don't seem to be very fond of the fasting idea.

This brings my total for the Ideal GLWs to seven capons, two maybe-slips, and one probably-slip.  Not bad numbers.  There is one still cockerel, in with the red broilers, but he seemed to remember the first time around and would not hold still for a second try.

I moved Spikey and the four biggest and brightest Ideal Wyandotte pullets into the tractor with the three black phase Wyandottes from Luanne so they can get used to each other.  None of the black phase cockerels has started kazoo crowing just yet, but it ought to be pretty soon.  The new Wheaties seem to be trying out various corners and cubbyholes in the broody tractor, so hopefully they'll get settled in and decide to set nests soon.

03 May 2015

Little chicks pics

So I made a conciliatory gesture to the digicam (as opposed to my usual gesture) and have a few pictures of the little chicks, including a couple of the Wyandotte babies I got from Luanne on Tuesday.  These pics were taken Wednesday.
a couple splash Silkies and a couple Wyandottes

a Cackle Wyandotte pullet with her face in the feeder

a single-comb blue Wyandotte in front,
Silkies and Gold Wyandottes behind
Most of the Wyandottes I bought from Luanne are actually only one week old in these pics, even though they are pretty much the same size as the two week olds from Cackle.  At least one of the single comb Wyandottes is a blue phase!

The Silkies are absolutely adorable ... but they may not be as vigorous as the Wyandottes.  I had a second dead Silkie chick this morning, and like the other it looked like it simply got crushed under the pile-up beneath the heat lamp.

I thought of a name for the black sex link pullet who started laying yesterday: Beetle.  While she looks jet black in the shade, in sunlight she looks iridescent beetle green.  Beetle has the distinction of being the only single comb chick so far to fool Maria, who thought she might be a cockerel.

Interestingly, Maria thinks one of the New Hampshires Luanne gave me is a pullet, and both of the black Americaunas.  I guess time will tell, although Luanne is certainly more familiar with her birds and I wonder if that many chicks could fool her.

02 May 2015

Five hours of Spanglish

I had everything just about ready to caponize the last four Ideal Wyandotte cockerels when my neighbors showed up in their pickup, telling me we had to go because the feed mill closes at noon on Saturdays.  So hubby put the cockerels back into the isolation crate for me while I changed into non-work clothes.  ("Ay!  Necisito cambiar mi ropa!"  No ... esta bien.  "No, necisito cambiar porque estas son work clothes.")  Then I hopped into the cab of the pickup with both my neighbors (regular size cab, not an extended or crew cab) and up the highway we went.

The feed mill turned out to be two counties over, and over 70 miles away, so between the drive time and the buying part, I had to sink or swim in mostly Spanish, although as usual I will say my neighbors' English is still better than my Spanish.  We did have good conversations about chickens, food, and cooking.  Apparently we both tend to remember/learn words about food and cooking better than most things!  LOL

It was a fun little adventure, and the price difference made it worth driving so far as I bought fifteen 50-lb bags of chicken feed for less than I could buy ten locally.  Now that I know where it is, I can drive next time.  I bought their lunch, which was no hardship as Maria wanted McDonalds.

Oh, one of the black pullets Maria traded me a few weeks ago for a couple meaty cockerels laid her first pullet bullet this afternoon, right after Maria had come over and remarked she ought to start laying soon.  One of the Wheaties laid today, after a couple days of adjustment, and Maria thought the blue-green egg was just the neatest.  One Wheaties lays a more sky-blue while the other lays an almost greenish-turquoise.

For the record, the digicam and I are not getting along very well this week.  Eggs for dinner again tonight, since we didn't get our nice big breakfast.

01 May 2015

April eggs and two more capons

First up, the egg numbers for April.  I counted up 174 eggs, with Bright Eyes not laying until the 18th, and Ninny and Mula leaving for next door on the 29th with the two Wheaties arriving the 28th.  Clear as mud?  LOL  That's a whole lot of eggs for the month!

This morning's caponizing has yielded two new capons and a possible slip.  I couldn't see a piece in the last one, but what I pulled out looked like it might be missing just a small bit.  If he is a slip, he probably won't show until at least July, so that gives him a couple months' more growing time.