Chickens, Farm Life

Signs of Life

Spring is just around the corner! The signs are everywhere from the tulip bulbs poking through the mulch to the increased egg production from the ladies! Kevin and Noodle are preparing to nest as well, taking long walks into the woods to find the perfect spot for a turkey gal to lay.

Spring also means it’s time for chicks! The local Tractor Supply has some in and I succumbed and added several water chickens to the nursery. But here at Owlcatraz we have grown accustomed to hatching a few of our own. This year there are barnevelders, marans, and Easter egger x polish crosses patiently growing. Children (and adults) enjoy the candling process to view the development of the chicks. This evening we candled our blue eggs and were pleased with the result.

At six days old this chick has a heart beat and if you watching closely, you can see it moving ever so slightly. This website has some wonderful insight into embryo development inside the egg. Only fifteen more days to go until hatch day!

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Farm Life, Goats, Uncategorized

More Kids!

We counted our blessings and one chilly morning (Nina likes it cold) awoke to two sweet does. Nina managed without any assistance from her human servants and under the watchful eye of Nubs. Both kids are healthy and have enjoyed all of the special attention from the human kids.

After careful consideration, the does have been named Daisy and Rose. Our neighbor, who grew up on a working farm, enjoyed a home visit from the kids as well. These two gals just might be staying on the farm, we are undecided if they will be posted for sale or not at this point. Stay tuned!

Farm Life

Where is Spring?

 

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Rufio and his ladies.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun – or does that not stand true during the winter months? Here at Owlcatraz Farm we really can’t complain as this winter hasn’t been too harsh. (Dear Mother Nature, please don’t see that as a challenge.)

Our flock has been routinely enjoying warm breakfasts of oatmeal and sunflower seeds. Boiling water over frozen water jugs is a welcome treat as well; yes, it is safe for the animals.

Even though this winter hasn’t been too bad (compared to a previous year where we received over two feet of snow); thoughts of spring and even summer are welcome!

Egg production has diminished over the winter months, that started with the Great Molt in November. The girls of the flock shed a majority of their feathers in November and walked around looking like zombie-chickens from a low budget horror film. Fortunately all have recovered their runway-worthy feathers. Longer days with more sunlight and warmer temperatures will bring the eggs back, hopefully without too much longer of a delay.

Nina, our Nigerian Dwarf doe is pregnant and expecting kids any day – yet the human version of “any day” and the goat version appears to have some discrepancies. She seems comfortable and content; showing no signs of imminent kidding. Her companions, Nubs and Louie, have been watching over the pen and encouraging her. (That’s how I interpret their calls.)

 

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Noodle and Kevin don’t seem to mind the snow.

 

Chickens

Oatmeal for the Girls

November has brought a few cooler mornings to greet the flock. Our local stores have enormous bags of quick oats that are not only delicious for the kids, but also provide a pick-me-up for the layers. 

I use approximately 5-6 cups of oats at a time; placed in a casserole dish. Boil water and add to moisten the oats, but I try not to make it watery. Then I top it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Turns out Kevin loves this morning treat too! Since she (yes, Kevin is a gal) didn’t get any the first day, I made her a special batch. 

Chickens, Farm Life

Keeping Cool

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This summer has passed with relatively few hot days. But on those days when the mercury is rising, we have used a few methods to keep the flock cool.

– chilled, halved watermelons
– fruits frozen in bundt pan (grapes, strawberries, cherries, blueberries)
– frozen cream corn (used muffin tin)
– lots of ice in multiple watering stations
– kiddie pool / wading pool filled with 2″ water and throw some fruit pieces in (also highly entertaining)

To loosen any of the frozen treats, just run under warm water for a few minutes. During the hottest portion of the day, the gals will normally rest in the shade of the woods or under the deck. How are you keeping your flock cool this summer?

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Chickens

Tricky Six vs Great Outdoors

There comes a time in every chick’s life when its time to fly the coop…

After a week of being kept inside the “big house”, the tricky six were given their first taste at freedom without the security of pen walls. These six were the first chicks we obtained this season.

A batch of silkies, these are certainly quite the characters. Noisy, prone to disrupting the peace, and running rampant on their distinct five toed feet – these chickens needed some more space to party forage.

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Don’t go into the light…

 

It took approximately 2 hours for the first chick to step over the threshold from the coop to the great outdoors. Skittish, they stayed close to the coop for the majority of the day. Our founding hens kept a close watch as did the human keepers.

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Looks lovely outside, we’ll just enjoy it from here.

 

Our area is prime habitat for hawks (we lost a full grown chicken several months ago to a hawk), but fortunately none were present today.

The true fun came at roosting time as it appears these birds need a few more days to realize the coop is home. They came close, but didn’t go inside when it was time to get roosting. Pearl and Nugget tried their best to call them inside, to no avail. That’s what kids are for though – chicken catching.

Chickens

Growing Up

The chicks continue to grow – fast. As evident by their voracious appetites and mobile abilities. Routinely there will be a chick on the top edge of the brooder, attempting to look innocent as we walk into the garage.

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As the chicks mature, they also become less willing to pose for photos.

 

These adorable feathery friends are also dust machines. A result of their constant movement and the shavings we use for bedding, no doubt. In the future, I’ve researched some varying bedding materials, including using dirt from outside in lieu of shavings. (Put that on the list for the next batch…)

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It has been such a unique experience to watch these birds lose their fluffy down and develop mature feathers. Their markings and personalities are also becoming more distinct. There is Dee Dee (the trouble maker); Bruce (the Polish with attitude); and Shirley (the runt of the flock).

Gradually, we’ve been introducing several “treats” including strawberries, alfafa sprouts and bread crumbs. Flock members devour these delicacies! The heating lamp is gradually being raised as ladies require less heat too. We’ve learned in the process how important it is to maintain a raised height for the feeder and waterer – or else these rascals will have the contents everywhere!

The countdown is on for the big move into the main coop outside!

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Brace yourself Isabelle, the chicks are coming.