Friday, June 21, 2013

Results of a Few Experiments Run Afoul

Hi there!  Everything's been so busy the past month, i hope you didn't think we'd gone out of business. :)  Our homeschool is finally easing a bit for the summer, field trips are on hiatus, the tomatoes are humming along without too much from me, and winter gardening in the greenhouse doesn't start for another month at least.  There is so much to catch you all up on.  We'll start today with our fine feathered friends.

A few weeks back we mentioned a few experiments with the birds we had going: we had the ducks in with the chickens and we had a broody hen sitting on eggs from our friend, Liz.

The duck experiment didn't work for too long.  Our drake started mating with the chickens, and was making an absolute nuisance of himself.  The hens would dog pile him, the lil' puff ball roo would (try to) attack him--not a good scenario for egg production.  The last straw was when he hopped on our broody hen in the nest and crushed all her eggs she'd been sitting on for a week and a half.  He and the duck hen have been banished from the chicken pastures, back to wandering around the property.  Thankfully they've been working diligently on decimating the slug population in the Abominable Growman.

So with a broody hen and no eggs, we asked for help.  Our friend Liz came to the rescue as she had some fertile eggs she was willing to give us to help with our predicament.  Our roo is about half the size of our hens, so as you can imagine, about half the time the eggs we get aren't fertile. :)  So we placed the eggs under the hen, and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately, last week was the hatch date, and no chicks materialized.  We aren't quite sure what happened, but we are thankful the hen lived through the 4.5 weeks she was on the nest.  She sure stinks of rotten eggs, but she's slowly putting on weight again and fitting back into the flock.

With the hatching plan defeated and our egg sales picking up, we started looking for ways to add to the flock locally, and our friends in the farmer's network suggested giving Bradley Farm a try.  We are so glad we did.  It has been the one experiment that has worked well lately! :)  Anthony and Joanne run a beautiful operation, they have the most welcoming place, and their chicken set up is really something to see!  It's amazing!  We were sold with the descriptions of their stock, all touted as friendly birds.  Then to see the chickens at the farm--with more than one roo in some tractors--and nary a one making posturing gestures at us while we walked along their homes.  It's absolutely unbelievable!  Joanne is helping us fill our order of 45 chicks total for our 4th flock we'll be raising.

Today we picked up half our order: 20-ish chicks including Dorkings, Light Sussex, Salmon Faverolles, and a couple Marans.  We're hoping with these breeds, and a few Americanas we adopt in the fall, that we will have designed a beautiful and inspiring egg carton for our customers, starting in spring of 2014.  It's so comforting to have babies in the (pump)house again. :)  The building just behind our house that used to be the old pump house makes a great chick brooder.  Not to mention it's so handy for hourly trips out to daydream with the little ones!!

Ready for your (over)dose of sweetness for the day?

Lil Farmer Mac has nicknamed this little one "Dorky"

Dorky at 1 day old
Dorky's housemates
 If you are in need of some chicks, fertilized eggs, or Patriot Feed, we would highly recommend The Bradley Farm.  Would be especially wonderful to support them now as they are transitioning into meat production.  They are located in Puyallup, off of Canyon Rd.

Did you know that it takes a female chick 20 - 24 weeks to mature into an egg layer?  What is your favorite breed of chicken?