31 July 2015

July eggs

This has certainly been the month for the layers!  All the other January pullets started laying, unfortunately no hen is broody this month, and we weaned the chicks from the broody Eileen, so all 24 pullets and hens were and currently are laying.  This has added up to a new record for eggs: 364 eggs during the 31 days of July, that I am aware of!  To top that off, this week I took 21-1/2 dozen eggs up to Palatka for Leo to buy to supply his extended family up in New York City.  Leo commented to hubby Wednesday that our eggs taste just like the ones they ate when he was growing up, and our impression is that is a high bar to clear.

We also took at least three dozen up to hubby's family in Jacksonville, and another 18-pack may have walked out with father-in-law (with notification, of course) when he came down to help hubby build the back deck.

I do need to figure out which of the red broiler pullets is laying either thin shelled eggs or no shelled eggs.  All those pullets are alive for one purpose: to produce baby broilers.  Eggs with extremely thin or no shell won't hatch, so this pullet needs to be identified, then invited to dinner as the guest of honor.  That sounds like a better euphemism than "freezer camp."

30 July 2015

Guinea keets arrive

They are here, and they are so tiny!  They are also absolutely cute ... quick pic.
25 assorted guinea keets
newly hatched and just arrived
They hatched Tuesday afternoon or early evening, and were shipped out by evening.  Those are marbles in the waterer tray, as the keets are quite clumsy even for newly-hatched birds and could fall in trying to drink and drown.  I fished three out of the waterer tray in the first few minutes.  Hubby put poultry Nutri-Drench in the water instead of sugar at my suggestion ... looks like my instincts were good because I don't think all of them have figured out the food dish just yet.

They need the heat lamp, and after cupping my hands over a second one that was shivering badly, I had the idea of putting in a hot water bottle.  When I went out to check them just now, two were trying to sleep on their feet with their chins on the water bottle (which is actually a metal drink container that does a terrible job of holding its temperature ... which makes it ideal for this!).  As I watched, both slid sideways off the bottle together, like two drunk friends that can't hold each other up.

More to come, as hubby just went outside with the camera that does better video than stills.

29 July 2015

Capon slips

So, as I think I mentioned last week, most of April's capons are actually slips ... even the nannies Cappy and Puffy.  While the caponizing was not exactly a success, it isn't exactly a failure, either.  The slips have had a good three months' worth of growth, and this morning I (attempted to) get a pic illustrating the size difference between Cappy and one of his cockerels who is approximately the same age Cappy was when caponized.  Excuse the blurriness (those who aren't already used to my stunning LACK of photography skills!) because Cappy decided to toss his head in annoyance just as I snapped the comparison pic.
size difference between Cappy (the blur)
and hatchery GLW cockerel the age Cappy was when caponized
Now, for another interesting thing about Cappy in particular: when he started growing his comb at the beginning of this month, it grew fast and tall.  With Azar and Tiny, I have a visual difference in the combs between one who carries the single comb recessive (Azar) and one without the recessive (Tiny).  Now, I have visual difference on hatchery stock: Feyd does not have the recessive, while Cappy certainly looks like he does.  His comb is already a bit bigger than Feyd's, who is two years older.  Here is a clear pic:
Cappy's monstrous comb
If Cappy had stayed a full capon, he'd probably have been our chick nanny for a few years, but as his hormones have come back he has lost his patience with the chicks.  Ah well, he is a good size now for smoking.

28 July 2015

Getting guinea keets

I have shown hubby guineas at the farm swap down in Barberville, and also at the county fair, so he has been aware that not only do I want them, but they can be noisy and are really strange-looking.  Yesterday, I received an email from Ideal Poultry announcing an overhatch special on their guinea keets this week.  The price was tempting enough for me to mention it this afternoon after lunch ... and hubby said, "Go ahead and order them."  I just got off the phone from making said order, which will ship tomorrow and be at the post office either Thursday or Friday.  I am getting the hatchery assortment, which could be any combination of four varieties.
assorted guinea varieties from
Ideal Poultry
It's taken two and a half years, but I am finally getting my loud watch-birds ... and hopefully around spring I'll be roasting my first guinea.  I have recipes, but no practical place to get them.  Oh, they are reputed to be every bit as good as wild turkeys when it comes to eating ticks, too!  The ticks were bad this past spring, to the point we couldn't even hang laundry without having them crawling up our legs.

26 July 2015

Feyd and the Big Butt Girls

Luanne commented in an email this morning about what excellent condition the black phase cockerels are in, whereas between the rain, breeding, and general everyday activity her chickens are starting to look raggedy.  I offered to get pics of the Big Butt Girls, and guess who is out cruising for bugs before breakfast this morning.  Yes, Feyd is looking quite raggedy ... but don't waste any sympathy on him.  He is hen-pecked with PRIDE!
Feyd crowing and one of the Big Butt Wyandotte pullets

Feyd and two of the Big Butt Wyandottes

Feyd crowing for a Big Butt Wyandotte pullet

the Big Butt Girls peeking out of the tractor

the Big Butt Wyandotte pullets in morning sunlight
Hubby snorted with amusement earlier this morning when I used the phrase, "the EverReady Rooster" to describe Feyd.  That silly chicken really is the embodiment of the old joke about a farmer getting a new rooster who proceeds to breed everything in the entire barnyard.  Then when the farmer sees the rooster lying on his back in the middle of the barnyard with buzzards circling, he goes out to scoop up the carcass.  The rooster is only playing dead, points to the buzzards overhead, and whispers, "Don't blow my cover!  They're almost ready to land."

I believe all that white in Feyd's feathers is because of the illness that ran through the flock back in October and November right when everyone was molting.  I expect he'll grow out normal feathers after this next molt.  If he doesn't, then I'll need to work out a plan B.

24 July 2015

Poofy Silkies at 14 weeks

New pictures of the Poofies, aka the Silkies chicks.  They are less adventurous than the Wyandottes, preferring to stay near the tractor, and go into the tractor on their own once they feel they have enough green stuff in their crops.  I haven't seen them chasing bugs when they venture out of the tractor ... but as you may be able to see for yourselves, they are certainly adorable-looking!
one white and a couple splash Silkies
the white seems to be a cockerel

possible pullet, splash Silkie

a possible splash Silkie cockerel

poofy Silkie chicks with their beaks in the grass
One of them is starting to kazoo, and I think I am seeing combs starting to develop but that is harder to see with their black skin.  Hubby had a good laugh yesterday morning when he heard the kazoo coming from the small tractor.

23 July 2015

Chickens do not follow plans

Just a bit of generalized grumping here, because the chickens are not co-operating with my carefully made plans.  Seriously, the chickens do not give a single flying leap about what ideas and plans I might make.

Right now, the biggest rebels are the hens.  They are acting like middle school girls with their little cliques, and Little Girl is the outcast.  I tried putting her in with the layers, Goldie and the three sex link pullets from the October batch, but after the third morning of poor Little Girl with her beak in the corner of the tractor, I gave up and brought her out of there.  She is now in the banty house with the two Eileens ... who were supposed to be in the broody tractor with the Wheaties.  The Wheaties - especially the aptly-named Bossy - will not give either Eileen enough peace to even lay an egg in the new cubby-holed nesting box.  We gave Bossy a 60 hour time out, and she still returned to the broody tractor as the snippy and peckish boss hen, even bossing the cockerel Rock Star around.  Rock Star was supposed to have been a pullet - he fooled both Maria and me on that one.  He is not confident enough to put either Wheatie in her place, so he has a much smaller harem of hens now.

Little Girl got along fine in Tiny's tractor, even after I took out Beetle and Blackie and put in the Flashy Girls ... but I cannot tell her eggs from the Flashy Girls' eggs so Little Girl had to move.  She couldn't go in with Feyd, Beetle, Blackie, and the Big Butt Girls either, since her eggs are indistinguishable from her sisters' eggs.  Spikey and the Broilers' tractor is at capacity with the five red broiler pullets, and besides that the pullets have their own clique and squabble enough as it is.

Most of the Ideal Poultry Gold-Laced Wyandotte cockerels that I caponized this spring are slips.  Even Cappy and Puffy are definitely slips, and Cappy is a lot more irritable with his younger cockerels now that his hormones have been restored.  So far, it looks like Uno and Rumpy are my only capons, and Rumpy looks iffy some days.  Ah well, Luanne gave me a good twenty cockerels to practice on, and the learning curve is pretty steep for caponizing.

So, I need more room because fussy chickens do not want to get along peaceably in the groups I'd like them to be in.  Bah.  I guess we'll be expanding into the back acre sooner than we anticipated.

OK, that should conclude this week's grumping.  Here are a couple pics of Azar and the Layers, Goldie, Darkie, Penny, and Bright Eyes.  Well, it's actually just Azar and a couple of the layers ... they wouldn't stay inside the picture frame.
Penny, Goldie, and Azar

Bright Eyes, Azar and Goldie
Just in case the overall tone doesn't come through properly ... this is wry humor on my part.  Everyone knows the chickens won't even hold still for decent photographs, so how could I imagine they'd like my ideas for roommates?

18 July 2015

Tiny and the Flashy Girls

I promised recent pics of the chickens, and here is another installment.  This is Tiny, the six month old Wyandotte cockerel from Luanne who was originally supposed to be one of my early capons, but I was still scaling the steep learning curve and nothing was removed.  He and Azar take turns as to who looks bigger - Azar one week, then Tiny the next.  The pullets with him are the gold laced Wyandotte girls remaining from the Ideal Poultry order back in January, and that group has the collective nickname "the Flashy Girls."
one of the Flashy Girls,
a gold laced Wyandotte pullet from Ideal Poultry

Tiny at six months old
(and Little Girl)

Tiny and the Flashy girls,
a breeding group
Little Girl is running around with them right as well, out in the rain right now.  If the weather is more conducive to moving chickens around later this evening, she'll move to the tractor with Azar and the layers while Bossy may get to move back into the broody tractor from her current time-out/penalty box.  That will need a separate post and some pics to explain.

While on the subject of moving chickens around, we moved the Flashy Girls in with Tiny, Spikey into the broiler pullet tractor, Feyd into the previous Wyandotte-only tractor with the Big Butt Girls (rose combed Wyandottes from Luanne, half or full siblings to Tiny and Azar) and the two sex links Beetle and Blackie.  These are roughly the first round for breeding groups.  Feyd crossed with the BBGs, Tiny with the Flashy Girls, and Spikey with the broiler pullets.  After we get a clutch of eggs set from Tiny, then he and Azar will switch places.  When old enough, the Pretties will rotate in with Azar and Tiny, while Tribble gets a chance with the BBGs.

Now, just for a little fun, here is a pic of Thursday's eggs.
Sixteen eggs, 16 July
Yup, the layers and pullets are doing quite a bit of work this week.  The new record, set on Tuesday, is seventeen eggs in one day ... but sixteen in a day is nothing to sneeze at either, considering there is only 20 of them laying currently.

16 July 2015

Wyandotte pullets from Cackle

So, I managed to select the Cackle GLW pullets down to 11, from 24, the other week and sold the small ones and color culls.  Now, I need to select down again.  I'd like to narrow it down to only five or six this time, but so far there are only two or three obvious size culls.  I have a hard enough time focusing on them enough to really evaluate ... trying to get the digicam to focus on them for a picture is almost an exercise in frustration.  Hubby gave it a try as well, since there is a fellow on BYC up towards Jacksonville who is interested in some started pullets that will look pretty.  Here are two clear pics (out of about a dozen already this morning!):
gold laced Wyandotte pullets from Cackle Hatchery
13-1/2 weeks old

gold laced Wyandotte pullet,
in focus and in sunlight
Now that I've bothered to put new batteries in the digicam, I probably ought to get pics of everybody.

03 July 2015

Chicken math

There is a joke around BYC about "chicken math," which usually means a person ends up with more chickens than originally planned.  Some folks there understand chicken math involves more than just addition ... it also includes subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I have recently been doing all of those math functions.

First up, the subtraction, not all intentional.  One of the Wheaties died Tuesday.  She had been moping and sulking i the corner since I took away the eggs, nest box, and even the golf balls, so we didn't notice right away when she developed diarrhea again.  By the time we caught it and dosed her, it was too late ad she died about an hour later.  Another subtraction involved two going next door as gifts.  My neighbor Maria had brought us a couple batches of homegrown potatoes, and a couple small loaves of her pan, Mexican sweet bread that is absolutely awesome slathered with butter and with coffee.  In return, I took Whitey over to her (who was originally believed by both of us to be a pullet - oops) then when she came over to look at Feyd's chicks I gave her one of the Delaware cockerels when she remarked how pretty she thought they were.

About those Delawares ... Luanne needed to cull a bunch of her cockerels, and she happened to mention it to me in one of our email exchanges, so I road-tripped over, and brought home over 20 young chicks (3 and 5 week old), two Delaware cockerels (8 and 10 weeks old) and a new Wheaten Ameracauna hen, which Luanne called "Torpedo Girl" because she is pretty sure this is the hen that lays the funky torpedo-shaped eggs that do not hatch.  The ten week old Del is likely to far into puberty already to caponize easily - he is HUGE for his age, and judging from his feet will grow even bigger than the Wyandottes.  The 8 week old Del will get caponized along with the Wyandotte boys that are in with Cappy right now, and the twenty-some-odd young ones are for caponizing practice also.  Luanne needed the space, as not only did she have a great hatch rate, but she has a good percentage of that hatch she wants to grow out, including two very nice and promising-looking Wyandottes I noticed.

Multiplication was covered by the demon-possessed broody Eileen, who is a very protective mother hen.  All four chicks are thriving under her care.

Now, for the division idea.  I divided the batch of GLWs from Cackle into two groups so far, and will take thirteen pullets up to Palatka tomorrow morning to try to sell at the little farm swap in TSC's parking lot.  That leaves me with eleven pullets, and one cockerel to grow out further.  I intend to pare down the pullets to the best three, while I made up my mind this morning to definitely keep the cockerel, Tribble, for breeding.  Along with being a good size and very nicely colored, Tribble is people-friendly and easy-going.  I am banking on that general good-natured attitude being hereditary.  Oh, hubby named Tribble, saying the little chick noises sounded like the tribbles from the original Star Trek series.

I'll fuss and fight with the digicam later for pictures.