Archive for February, 2013

February 25, 2013

Candling eggs

Did I mention we are incubating eggs?

We bought a “table top” incubator last weekend. With the price of the chicks we like being so high, replacements aren’t gonna come cheap. I don’t plan to have a dozen different types of chickens, we’re hardly chicken purists, though it did start out that way. I do love love love the wyandotte breed so I thought it was more economical to incubate our own. I don’t know if we’ll get a broody hen or not. We had one last year, but the fox got her and that’s a real shame because I’d much rather have a hen set and care for her own.

At any rate, we put the eggs in a week ago Sunday, 39 eggs to be exact. They are a barnyard mixture. Some coming from my own Silver Laced Wyandottes, most coming from a friend to include “Easter Eggers”, Marans, White Leghorn, Golden Laced, and several others. The instructions sad darker shells cannot be candled until the 7-10 day mark. I was looking at them on Saturday (day 6) and thought the whole batch was no good. I saw distinct air sacs but nothing more. We had a little mishap mid-wee with the incubator getting up to 104 degrees. I did a little research on spiking temps and most people said they were okay depending on how long it stayed at that temperature. Most of what I read said at 104 and above, the cells begin to fry. I had no idea how long it had been so warm and the reason it got so high was because our wood stove was working over time and it was HOT in the house. The incubator we have does not self regulate at a certain temp, it’s sort of manual regulation. I didn’t know it would be like that but for the most part, it’s been absolutely fine. We do have the egg turner but not the fan.

Saturday I didn’t know what I was looking for apparently. A friend was over yesterday and she spotted eye balls right away! YES! Rachel and I moved the incubator into the bathroom this morning, took a seat on the floor and went to work. Rachel is an awesome “eyeball spotter”. We placed “x” on all the viable ones, and “?” on the questionable ones. We had 34 viable ones, and 5 questionable ones. I think 3-4 of the 5 questionable ones were green shelled and those are proving pretty hard for us. So, we’ll check everything again in a week and, remove what we think is bad and go from there.

We’ll set two clutches and probably shut it down for the year unless any roosters from this new batch we got in the mail from McMurrary are ready by late summer, and they may very well be, and then we can do another batch or two for ourselves. I really like mid-summer chicks as they seem so much cheaper and easier to raise! Come spring, they are laying age and all it took was just a little time in the brooder. These winter chicks are proving to take more care, though they’ll be laying by late summer. Pros and cons to it all =).

We won’t be doing purebred birds or anything as I do not intend to have a separate coop for all the different Wyandottes we have. But since the golden laced and the blue laced led are all a spin off of the silver laced, I don’t have an issue combining them all for our own barnyard flock.

The photo below is not very clear. It’s hard to get a real good clear photo with details.  I was not able to capture the veins, but the black shadow in the center of the photo is the actual chick. The black dot (eyeball) is the easiest thing to spot, surrounding the black dot is a lighter shadow, which is the body. Neither of which I was able to capture but anyway…still pretty cool, I think =).

Most of what hatches out of this clutch will be for sale. If you’re in the market for a good barn yard mix for laying or butchering, let me know!

Candling- day 7. Brown egg.

Candling- day 7. Brown egg.

February 25, 2013

Triplets for Pejamy

This is Pejamy’s 3rd set of triplets. As a first freshening 2 year old, she had triplet girls. As a 2nd freshening 3 year old, 2 bucks and a doe (who, incidentally, just had her first set of kids as a 2nd freshening 2 year old =) ), 3rd freshening 4 year old twin does and as a 4th freshening five year old (and looking gorgeous!) 2 does and a buck. This girl sure does know how to throw the girls, even out of a buck who has been a heavy buck thrower. They say the female has nothing to do with gender given “x” & “y” chromosomes of the whole scenario, but considering a few of my does and their tendencies, I tend not to agree entirely on that and wouldn’t bat an eye at body Ph or minerals playing at least a small roll.

The buck kid was hogging a lot of the groceries in utero  it appears, but that is generally the case. All three are a very good size and Pejamy sure does now how to grow some lovely kids! The first doe she barely on the ground when I showed up. I had been ding barn checks all morning and knew the night before it wouldn’t be long. She looked pretty content to stick it out over night though which I was thankful for because I think it dipped down to single digits. Saturday was beautiful enough. The sun was out, it was just at freezing much of the day but when that sun comes out, it feels pretty warm! There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

I moved her into the kidding pen around 5 AM and gave her a heat lamp. She was pretty happy to get alfalfa all to herself and after about 4 barn checks by 1 o’clock, she decided the time was right. She was cleaning the doe kid -a pretty brown roan- when the 2nd kid was at the helm. I could see though she was having a bit of a problem. She’d lay down and push but nothing, get up, readjust. Finally she had him in a good position but one leg was bent incorrectly (back) and so he was much bigger through the shoulders than what’s “easy “for them to deliver. I didn’t help much. I knew with a little more effort than normal she could get him out that way and his head and one shoulder was already delivered anyway. He’s a flashy robust buck kid and while mama tended to him, the first little doe kid was trying to stand. Those doe kids sure are vigorous. The buck kids seem to be pretty laid back so far, taking their sweet time to decide to get on with walking and eating and such.

The third kid (a doe) was in much the same position as the buck with the 2nd leg completely facing back.  She was smaller and easier to deliver that way though I did help pull just a tiny bit. I actually was going to try to see if I could easily bring that leg around but she ended up pushing past the largest part anyway but then stopped with the kid half way out and just stood there looking at me holding half of this wet kid like, okay, can I have her now? I told her, “Sure, FINISH PUSHING HER OUT, please.” Out with a plop and a mahogany spotted beautiful thing. Three new babies to fill Pejamy’s coffers. What a lucky mama!

The mahogany doe kid’s spots should lighten to white or a mocha brown within a few months.

One of the doe kids and the buck will probably be for sale. When, I am not sure but one of them within a couple of weeks on the bottle, of course. Pejamy has successfully raised triplets before, but she does tend to put a lot of herself in to milk and it can be hard to keep weight on her. I just LOVE this doe. She’s so quiet and easy on the stand, an absolute dream to milk and does a good job putting it in the bucket, so to speak. She has the perfect size teats and good orifices. She’s really just a very nice all around doe scoring well on appraisal, she showed well and she’s proving that patience is a virtue in regard to maturity…slower to mature but worth the wait! And in 4 of 5 freshening years, she’s given us 11 beautiful kids!

1st doe kid

1st doe kid

buck (left) & doe (upper right)

buck (left) & doe (upper right)

3rd kid (doe) spotted (spots should lighten to white or light brown)

3rd kid (doe) spotted (spots should lighten to white or light brown)

does

does

flashy buck kid

flashy buck kid

Em. is next with a due date just a couple of days away. With the weather today (blizzard warnings), she can wait. March will be pretty busy with 4 does due, then a couple in April, a break in May and the rest in June.

February 22, 2013

Pups- 2 weeks and growing like weeds!

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February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: babies

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February 18, 2013

Pups- 11 days old

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February 18, 2013

Greenhouse- Post 1

Saturday afternoon we got a late start on the greenhouse but we were able to get it 1/2 up. We worked on framing the front Sunday but without measurements or real plans – plus wanting to tweak the photos we have seen a bit to suit our needs- it takes a lot of forethought. It’s not huge (6′ x8′), but will suite our needs perfectly and can always be added on to.

Back in Ca. my husband and a friend put up a Harbor Freight 10′ x 12′ greenhouse. He swore NEVER again. He said it was  entirely too complicated to put together plus the pieces weren’t manufactured all that well for pieces to fit together well. We’re no slouches when it comes to construction so it’s not as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. A friend of ours living in NE Kansas constructed one about the same time, I think hers lasted less than a year with the winds we get here in Ks. The spring winds in Northern California aren’t much better. Fortunately for us, we reinforced ours with more than what HF included in the kit and attached ours to 3″ galvanized posts set in concrete, it’s never gone anywhere!

Knowing what a pain in the butt the HF kits are and needing one sooner rather than later, we’re going with a temporary/permanent hoop house design. We had the extra panels and the plastic, staples and some of the lumber.  I’ll update this at a later time with a current supply list. We’re using a lot of what we have around which includes 8′ sections of 2×4’s and our plans are changing some as we go so it’s hard to get an accurate list to start.

  • 2 16′ cattle panels
  • 28′ of pressure treated  2″ x 6″  – (2) 8′ pieces, (2) 6′
  •   fencing staples
  • utility staples
  • staple gun
  • t posts
  • 4 mil plastic roll
  • plywood
  • misc. lumber

Last year when we put up our garden fence to keep the chickens out (cattle panels lined on the inside with 2′ chicken wire), we left a 6′ opening in the fence in the corner of the garden for a future greenhouse. We put up one of our  tubed 6′ gates (lined on the bottom with chicken wire) in the opening in the mean time to keep the animals out. We took that gate down to put in the greenhouse so some of the t posts were already there on the one side.

We’ve seen some hoop houses put together without lumber along the bottom attaching it only to t-posts on each side, with our winds and the dirt, I felt lumber along the bottom would serve several purposes so we started by attaching our panels to a pressure treated 2×6. We used 2 panels side by side length-wise overlapping one square the entire length.

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2x6

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2×6

After attaching the panels to the 2×6 at both sides, we rolled out our plastic and cut it long. Coincidentally the roll of plastic’s width, opened up, is big enough to cover the 8′ span of the greenhouse perfectly so there won’t be any seams. We used double the plastic, one on top of the other. I think it’s 4 mil, it may be 6 mil thickness but anyway, we used 2 layers. The second layer we cut longer than the first and wrapped the 2×6 with it so it was stapled to the inside of the greenhouse. I have no idea what difference this makes, we just did it without any concrete justification =). At the very least it prevents soil contact with the pressure treated lumber, AKA defeating the purpose of buying pressure treated, ha!

I don’t know if it will make a difference or not, but way back when when Jeremiah’s Grandma would cover her windows with plastic in the winter, she’d put a piece of paper between the plastic and the staple gun and tear the paper away after she stapled. He said he had no idea if it made a difference but when I saw him carting a piece of paper, I asked what on earth it was for. That was his response. The whole “tearing away the paper after stapling” left us with nothing but torn paper and nothing between the plastic and the stable so I cut strips, folded it 4 times and then we used those little pieces and actually, it seems to work really well!

First he squared up the corners with just a staple (that was how we knew tearing away the paper wouldn’t work) and the plastic did tear a bit when pulling taught. However, the plastic with the folded paper didn’t budge, so maybe there is merit to it. I just thought I’d mention it.

plastic rolled out

plastic rolled out

plastic stapled down

plastic stapled down in one corner to square it (opposite board stapled in same corner after pulling taught across the length)

hoops complete

hoop complete

stabilizing hoop to t-post

stabilizing hoop by wiring it to the top of the t-post tightly

At this point, since the t-posts (on the left of photo) were already sunk into the ground as the garden fence is preexisting, getting the hoop up meant nothing more than Jeremiah lifting and pushing the 2×6 (right side of photo) as I was lifting in the center. It’s a little heavy but pretty much bounces into place after the initial lift proving the other side is jammed against something (in our case, the preexisting t posts and fence).

We secured the panel at the top and bottom (of the t-post) with wire to the posts in each corner. We’ve seen some people add ridge poles on the inside for stability. With just these 2 panels and in the location we secured our panels (corners), Jeremiah can hang from the panel in the center inside and it does not budge. Unless there is a 200+ lb. snow load, this thing isn’t going anywhere! No ridge pole for us, in other words.

front framed

front door framed

The horizontals are 2x4s cut at 21″. The outside verticals along the panel are 36″. The verticals (for the door frame) came to 89″. The door opening is 24″. The cattle panel is just a tiny bit cattywampus (notice at the top of the door frame there is uneven space?) but this will all be pulled together with a few fencing staples through the panel into the top of the door frame, no big deal.

The horizontals not only support the door frame but they will also hold the shelves inside. I’ll get 6 shelves, 8 foot long (3 on either side).

another view of the front

another view of the front

And that’s as far as we made it yesterday. I had hoped to get farther, but like I said, not having a plan takes a little time to think it all out. Well, then there’s this…

cardio workout!

cardio workout!

I about died when I walked out to the barn, camera in hand to see that the miter saw had not been set up…or even brought out for that matter! Nor had the air compressor, or the nail gun, cordless drill or screws. “Nope”, he said, “we’re doing this by hand. I brought you a hand saw too!”. How sweet! See, we’ve decided we need more cardio in our routine. This was his idea of our cardio workout. Nice right? (Probably why we only got as far as we did!). Well, whatever, it’s good fun nonetheless!

The lower portion of the front will be in plywood that will be painted (red to match the other buildings). The upper will be plastic. The back will not have a door. We talked about it because it leads right out to the garden but, in the end, I think more shelving along the back would be better suited for this application so it’ll get framed differently.

We have majorly high winds today. I looked out the window and it’s still standing well, so all seems to be great. I’m thinking about ideas on how to attach the side plastic to the top plastic and it’s either going to be a “cut long” and fold method into the inside or a seamed method. I’m not entirely sure yet. We also discussed an idea with pipe foam insulation and attaching both roof and side plastics to the inside and installing that but that’s entirely too difficult to describe and something I’d have to show, if it were to even work. I’m thinking a hot glue gun may be a perfect application. But, we’ll see!

We’ll pick up some bags of pebbles too to put into the bottom to help retain heat. We’re a little ways from that. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Our ounce of prevention is a lot of pre-thought so we’re not having to do this 50 times over.

More next weekend…for now, I think I’ll start seeds inside this week =).

February 14, 2013

Pups- day 6

The puppies are actually a week old today…er, tonight. But I figured I may not get to 7 day photos today so I carpe diem-ed (seized the day) it while I could yesterday at the 6 day mark.

Masie

Molly Marie (female)

Baxter

Baxter (male)

Max

Brice

Brice (male)

and Calvin (male)...who was a perturbed participant and would not hold still enough for a clear shot!

and Calvin (male)…who was a perturbed participant and would not hold still enough for a clear shot!

The chicks wore out their welcome in the brooder in the hallway bathroom so I moved them down to the barn. I debated on the shop or the garage. In the end, it becomes a small bit of an issue remembering to feed and water in there…not so much that I forget, just keeping in mind that there are creatures in other buildings and it  becomes somewhat mentally exhausting, so into the barn in a metal water trough with all new shavings they went.

I fashioned a secure lid for the trough out of a piece of cattle panel and covered that in hardware cloth . A. to keep out at kitty cats and B. to keep out any wild life. I zip tied the hardware cloth to the cattle panel and it all looks very nice. I figured with Snow in the barn, the latter wouldn’t be an issue. I plugged in their 250 watt heat lamp and last night, threw a couple of blankets over the lid so hopefully they are all nice and warm this morning after a 20 degree night.

On to the pups…they grow and change so quickly, it’s really quite amazing. Their personalities are starting to develop as well though I will say, so far, the majority of them are so laid back. They get a little perturbed when they are woken from a sound sleep of course but generally fall right back to sleep once in a comfortable position tucked into a couple of warm arms.

They have been outside since day one. Most of our nights have been below freezing and they are handling the cold very well. It helps when you have a fluffy warm mama to cover up with, of course.

February 7, 2013

Goat coats

Winter kidding can be a bit of a challenge! I made an adult goat coat many many years ago for a doe who always seemed to be cold. Here recently with Iris’ buck and doe kids shivering in the cold and her not being able to really care for them being as how she was ill, then she broke the only 250 watt bulb we had for the heat lamp and it was late Sunday and there wasn’t a store open to buy a new one, goat coats were the only answer! Well, that or bringing them in and I am not opposed to bringing kids in the house and occasionally I do but, well, I won’t get into the whole stress on Iris taking her kids away so coats were the only answer!

Paying special attention on the very coldest of nights we had there in January (single digits), these coats did a fabulous job keeping those newborns warm! I’ve used sweat pant legs pilfered from the kids’ sweats to make coats in the past, but to be honest, I found they got gross far too easy and I ended up tossing them. Not to mention, they did fine in Northern California low temps (freezing or above at night) but in the single digits, I personally did not feel they did a lick of good…my kids were still left shivering…and they were cotton. Any moisture on the ground they were laying on, those coats just soaked it all up and you know as well as I do that a wet coat does more harm than good!

Our barn has electricity, however, I am always kind of afraid of a doe knocking a heat lamp down and it starting a fire. They must be hung up high enough so they cannot be hit but with that height, they do no good for tiny kids on the ground. Yes, I could build a brooder box, but I haven’t the space to give up for all sorts of uni-task things which leads me back to the coats…again!

I have used wool, I have used cotton, but I always come back to fleece. Outdoorsy clothing manufacturers have the right idea using fleece! It’s light weight (perfect for newborn kids), warm, washes up nicely, stays MUCH cleaner, dries quickly and is super warm! It’s perfect for goat coats.

My adult goat coat uses velcro for adjustment and while the velcro works fine, I find myself picking stuff out of the hooky part of the velcro and it’s just a real pain so I applied snaps to these kid coats and it’s so much nicer and holds more secure too! I allowed 3 size adjustment in the chest and with 5 snaps for the belly strap, this leaves oodles and bunch of options for growing kids!

The belly strap is placed far enough forward so those little boys don’t end up peeing all over their coats but the strap is placed far enough back it does not impede movement. The fleece does not shift on the body nearly as much as other fabrics either so even on kids who are jumping around it tends to stay put. Iris’ babies were on the small size (5.1 and 5.4 lbs. at birth). This coat fit snug and secure even on their small frames. Roxie was 6.0 (or there abouts at birth) and here she is, 9 days old, sporting the coat on a “medium” setting…still lots of room to grow but technically, our temps have been so nice, even over night, she does not really need it =).

goat coats 011

Mini and Nigerian Dwarf sizes also available. The coats above would probably be too large on a newborn mini or Nigerian. The coat above fits standard size goat kids and lambs from about 5-15 lbs. I find that by the time they outgrow the coat, in most climates, they are better able to maintain a good temperature and stay warm with just their orn fur =).  However, for ill kids or compromised kids, these are a great option especially if you have an unheated barn!

These coats are available in many different prints and solid colors. Print outers are $13 and solid (inner and outer) are $10. Local prick up is free, shipping is also available. Shipping cost is approximately $3.50 for the first coat, $1.50 for each additional but depends on location. Flat rate boxes are also an option if ordering enough to make flat rate shipping boxes more cost effective. Email me to order! =)

February 7, 2013

Plump, precious puppies during a pouring winter night!

Jokingly I told her, six or less. My girl came through. Five perfect little healthy screaming pups last night around mid-night!

Despite the rain, it wasn’t a bit cold and I am ever so thankful for that. Snow’s den was a wonderful maternity ward. Jeremiah and I went out into the dark at 6 this morning to evacuate the pups from the den. With the rain, I came up a bit muddy, to say the least. Drew would have been a good one for that job! Snow was not a bit pleased but she’ll settle in to her new digs in the barn. She curls up around those puppies like a rolie poly to keep them snug and despite being a bit on edge every time one of our mostly white kitties comes into the barn (she thinks it’s a pup & I am sure the kitty would not be too pleased being picked up in her mouth and plopped next to the rest of the screaming fur balls), she’ll get it all figured out.

I have no idea on gender count. Haven’t had much time to look, too busy praising mama for a job well done!