New Chicks

This week was filled with new life in the form of hatching eggs.  The Swedish Flower Hen broody had 6 SFH eggs to hatch out and the IncuView Incubator held 13 fertile Silver Gray Dorking eggs.

Broody SFH hen: 6 Swedish Flower Hen eggs

Monday night October 23, 2017:  Broody hen 1, Incubator 0.

Tuesday morning she was hiding whatever she had.  I decided to leave her alone.  I could faintly hear at least one chick chirping above the multiple rooster crows.  Another part of a shell appeared in front of her part way through the day

She stayed on the nest all day Tuesday. But one chick appeared in the evening.

   

On Wednesday morning she was off of the nest.

Oh the fluffy cuteness of newly hatched Swedish Flower Hen chicks.

I think she did good for a first time broody hen less than a year old.  This hen sat on eggs for 5 weeks at least.  She is being a good momma to her 3 chicks.

IncuView Incubator: 13 Silver Gray Dorking eggs

I found the first pip Monday afternoon shortly after 3 pm.  Oh, I felt excitement.  I always do when an egg pips!  Now this rainy, dreary day had new life written into it.

It was Tue morning about 8:30 am before the piped egg hatched.  There were 3 more eggs piped by this time.

The anticipation and excitement continued for the next day and a half.

As one or two would hatch a couple more would pip.

I kept a close watch and if one was not making progress and it had been several hours, then I helped out a little.  Deciding to help has its benefits and heart aches.  I have helped chicks out finding them perfectly normal.  Some times there is a reason the chick is not making it out on its own.  Those reasons are unpleasant.  More on that in a future post.

Thursday morning I moved the chicks to their brooder pen in the house.  This particular group of chicks will be going to a new home in a few days.

Hatching chicks keeps me young at heart.  I never seem to tire of the beauty of new life in babies.

 

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Using what I Had

2014 found me feeling frustrated and defeated with my present circumstances….

I knew I was not going back to previous jobs(for a long term solution) working as an equine trainer and manager.  My current health would not allow it. Recovering from a tough onset of Mono while dealing with other chronic illness left me floundering. I found some encouragement in 2015 as I participated in the 2015 TCA Thoroughbred Makeover with Navajo Bo.  As 2016 rolled around I was giving serious thought and prayer to what was next. I strongly desired to raise my own food. I had a few ideas rolling around in my head. Chickens for eggs and meat, my own milk, butter and cheese via a cow, a garden, canning, a green house, perhaps a spring house, and a hydroponic system were some of my farming/homesteading ideas. Somewhere in all that I should be able to find a way to earn an income was my thought.

Using what I had….

​I looked around at what buildings were currently standing on the almost 12 acres.  One was a large chicken barn.  The design did not leave room for creating stalls for horses or cattle.  It was however double walled and even had some insulation were it looked like a previous owner had started to make a shop out of it. 

Chickens became the first project to pursue.  With 3 heritage breeds, they are all a developing work in progress.  I like many qualities of Scottish Highland Cattle for milk, butter, cheese and meat.  I do not have them yet and have strongly considered the American Milking Devon.  Truth is, until I actually own them, there is that possibility I will change my mind.

Chicken Project

Thirteen Swedish Flower Hen chicks were my first purchase in May of 2016.

I have since added Swedish Flower Hens from 3 additional farms to create diversity in the breeding stock.  In the fall of 2016 two more breeds caught my eye, Silver Gray Dorking and Lemon Cuckoo Niederrheiner.  Both are rather rare and hard to find I discovered but by mid November 2016 I had chicks from each breed.

Fruits and Vegatables

I planted garlic for the first time in the fall of 2016. I also grew Sweet Potatos in buckets during 2016.  I transplanted wild Black Raspberries to create a row of black raspberries. I started some grapes plants from vine cuttings and will be producing concord grapes in the future.  Did you know that in 1849 Ephraim Wales Bull planted 22,000 seeds before deciding on the what we now call the concord grape?  Amazing!  Has me wondering what variety I could develop.

The spring of 2017 found me foaling out mares for an Arab training barn.

The additional work left no time for me to plant and garden in 2017. The exception being a harvest of garlic in August.

I am always on the look out for ways to accomplish my goals with what I have, be it material possessions or personal skills, and building on that to achieve other dreams I have.

One way I helped to finance my chicken project and this website was through Swagbucks.  In 2017 I earned over $225.00.  While not a huge amount, it all adds up.

What ways have you accomplished goals and seen dreams come true using what you had available?

 

Misfits

Misfit #1

A few weeks ago I shared that my growing Silver Gray Dorkings were struggling with Coccidiosis.  I ended up with one that is coming along nicely.  He has been getting stronger and proving how quick he can be.

He resides in my office in a card board box at night and….

has an outdoor pen during the day.

A few days ago it was too rainy to be outside. He escaped his box and by the time I went to put him back he had made himself at home on a fiddle case.

He does do a nice job of blending in.

Misfit #2

The broody Silver Gray Dorking (SGD) hen that was given the hatched chicks has struggled to rejoin the flock.  She had been penned in a separate cage with in the SGD pen.  Since allowing her to rejoin the flock she has been treated badly by one of the other SGD hens.  Now, she too is in need of special accommodations.

She has been pecked repeatedly by the other hens in spite of my best efforts to provide multiple food and water sources for her and the other SGDs.  Time to make some changes.

She spent the day in her own outside space, next to the grow out cockerel.  She is an observant hen.  A large bird flying overhead had her attention.  She cocked her head over to the side intently eyeing the sky til it was gone.

 

Integration

In my mind I would like to allow them to share the same pen both inside(the barn) and out.

Day 1 ~  AM : I put them in the same pen and sat down to watch.

The young cockerel was hiding under his shelter and cautiously exited to drink water.  The hen who had been happily eating became bent on pecking at the little guy.  So for today, they will go back to separate pens next to each other.

 

PM:  I put the SGD hen into the same outdoor pen as the growing SGD.

Day 2 ~ AM:  I will call this successful.  They are not exactly best friends but no one is being hateful either.

I am undecided if they will become a breeding pair.

A Broody Swedish Flower Hen

Fact: 20% of Swedish Flower Hens go broody.  Not a high number really considering 50% of my Silver Gray Dorking Hens went broody at under a year.  (3 out of 6)  My first group of 8 hens(SFH) are well over a year old and no broody among them. Out of 18 (SFH) hens this is the first to go broody.  I was trilled to realize that one of the Swedish Flower Hens was indeed broody and at 6 months old.   Hatched on March 9, 2017, she had only started laying the beginning of August.  I have not even placed a rooster in that pen of hens yet.  Her efforts are in vain. There is no way she has fertile eggs.

If you have read any of my September posts, I was having a rough time loosing my horse McCoy, struggling with my own health challenges while attempting to keep up caring for the animals.   “There is nothing new under the sun.”  The truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 has been a source of comfort to me, knowing others have indeed experienced these trials and lived to see another day.  I chose to see an opportunity for growth.

Catching up on pen cleaning and farm maintenance needed to come first, in my opinion, before giving thought to hatching eggs.  Happy when I received an order for Silver Gray Dorking chicks,  I decided to use the IncuView Incubator.

 

Thursday(yesterday) proved to be a beautiful October fall day.  I did not move quickly for that is not in the best interest of my health, but rather I slowed down, accomplishing needed tasks in a relaxed fashion.  For one who once sported the nickname “energizer bunny” slowing down is an accomplishment in itself.  That, readers, is my sense of humor showing, for the simple truth, presently, I am not physically capable of working as I have in the past.

Feeling confident that I can, once again, care for the animals to meet my standards,  (Clean! Clean! Clean!)  I decided to attempt to give the broody hen eggs to hatch.  After consideration of different options, I brought in a 100 gallon tank and set her up in there.  Bedding and Swedish Flower Hen eggs from a different pen went in first.  I removed her from the eggs she was sitting on, totally changing her environment.  It was a bit of an experiment for me.  I felt hopeful but not sure what to expect.  I chased away the believe that I required a perfect outcome of my choice. It was going to be okay if this didn’t work.  I would learn from this.  I was going to get feed back from my results.

She was drawn to the eggs but was anxious about her new house.  She became occupied with pecking at the hardware cloth top.  I added feed and water after seeing her sit on the eggs.  Oh, but then when I came back she was off them.  I lifted the lid, a quick intent look from her and suddenly she flew out.  I caught her after what felt like several minutes, but did not take me that long at all.  Well, “I will give you 24 hours”, I decided silently.  I told myself I was going to stay away from her to give her time to settle.  NO peeking at her for one hour and I looked at my watch.  In my excitement, I had not realized she was receiving constant checks, like every few minute checks. Silly of me really, but I so badly wanted this to work.

I reduced my checks to periodically throughout the evening.  Before going in for the night she was indeed setting on the eggs.  This morning found her still flattened like a pancake covering all 11 eggs.  Excitement!!

Both, the eggs in incubator and the broody hen should be hatching near the date of October 26th, fulfilling the 21 day incubation period.  Did you know the exact temperature will shorten or lengthen the time it takes for chicks to develop?  Stay connected on social media for up to date reports on the hatches.

 

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And the Greatest is Love

Along the lines of keeping my farm/homestead experience honest I am moved to write this post.  I have been struggling to stay positive and it began the night of my aunts passing on July 31, 2017.  Grieving is expressed through various emotions over time and loosing my horse McCoy added a sadness of its own.  I needed to look deeper for the root of my heartache and the Lord is showing me a little at a time areas I need him to heal my heart in.   Sunday I was feeling better, nothing like sitting around the campfire with friends Saturday night to ease ones pain.  But a series of events had me reeling back into heartache by Tuesday morning.

Finding one of my grow out Silver Gray Dorking birds dead Sunday night had me perplexed.  Finding another Monday morning and then Monday night was upsetting me!  I found a clue though.  Blood in the stool of the living birds in that pen lead me to believe they were fighting cocidiosis.  Not completely uncommon for chickens to acquire.  I felt self loathing creeping in.  I had not kept their pen clean like my heart intended.    For over 2 weeks upon returning from being gone for over 4 weeks, I had been able to do only what was absolutely necessary.  I want to insert here that I struggle with low functioning adrenal glands, leaving me easily exhausted.  I am learning to pick and choose how and where to expend my energy.  Also these chicks were hatched to sell, not to keep.  The intended buyer was unable to take them and I found myself raising chicks I had not planned on.  Monday night I began treatment for cocidiosis, removed them from their pen, and began cleaning the pen they had been housed in.  No rain was forecast to my knowledge.  I looked.

Tuesday morning I had hopes of attending the Scottish Highland show at the St. Joseph County Fair in Centerville, MI.  Attending the 2016 show taught me basics of where the breed is today while providing an opportunity to meet SCH breeders.  I awoke to realize that it had rained overnight on the Silver Gray Dorking grow outs and one of the newly hatched chicks did not make it. (That chick was in the barn)  No cattle show for me, I was staying home to attend to the animals I have.  I am not sure what happened to the one little chick.  Perhaps another hen had killed it? Not sure, but I had believed it to be safe.  Lesson learned!  That being said I am still working on a plan to move the momma and baby to a different area.  So far as of Wed morning the other chick is doing well.  New pen for them is in the works.  I felt horrible the grow out SGD chicks had no cover from the rain and dealing with an illness to boot.  By Tue evening I had 6 left.  I doubted some of them would survive, but at that point I only wanted to show them love.  I do not like to play God and decide who lives and who dies.  Although I have in the past culled diseased chickens.

One protocol for not spreading disease is to care for the sick chickens last.  I practiced this yesterday, spending my energy first cleaning waters and caring for the healthy chickens to help prevent future illnesses.  After that I brought the sick chickens into my house.  Some I warmed with a hair dryer.   I have saved kittens that way in the past.  One in particular I spent well over an hour removing eggs from it’s feathers.  It seemed like it had some fight in it.  Little thing woke me up chirping during the night.  The only way to quiet it was to sit by it or hold it.  I opted to wrap it in a towel and sleep with it sitting on my chest on the recliner. I don’t know if it is going to make it or not, but I know I showed it kindness and comfort by holding it.

These events have me questioning my goals and my ability to achieve them.  My head knows, setbacks are common and no failure only feed back.  My heartache and feelings of failure threaten to overtake my thought patterns.  Oh, but I know I can change my thoughts.  I am reminded that the Lord says He loves me in spite of my shortcomings.  That I am more than my failures.  I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

It seems the more I have been hurt, the harder it is to put myself out there. For instance, I felt hesitant to put forth too much effort to save those growing SGD yesterday.  I felt, what would it matter, they might die anyway.  After all, I had pushed myself beyond what I felt capable of to try to save McCoy and I lost him anyway.  I prayed and found peace in the simple act of showing these birds love even if I knew they probably were not going to make it.  Translate to human relationships.  I find it easy after being wounded by people or circumstances for me to withdraw and give up.  It feels safer to stop putting my true heart out for all to see.  Truth is my expected outcome is not the most important when relating to others.  Knowing that I showed someone love while maintaining healthy boundries becomes more important than my personal expectations of a particular outcome.

Scripture taken from the NKJV

I am still discovering take away lessons from the first half of this week.  I tend to feel like things are my fault.  I strive to look for what I can do differently.  I see several areas that a different choice on my part would have provided a different outcome.  Feeling like a failure seems to follow.  I need to remember NO failure, only feed back!  Have you ever felt like you were not enough?  That it might be easier to give up on a dream or plan?  Or perhaps give up on yourself?  Leave me a message or a comment about how you went from a valley to a mountain top.  If we are honest, we all have both in our lives, don’t we?

 

 

Silver Gray Dorking Hens go Broody

I did not get a picture of all three hens in one nesting box, but that is what I came home to when returning from my trip out west.  I am excited to share my trip, but that is for other posts.  They had been setting approximately a week when I returned on August 29th.  I have been rather impatient checking under the hens.  If one left the nest another one would gently use her beak to pull the exposed eggs under her.

Sunday morning at feeding time I found a lone Silver Gray Dorking chick out with  the adults birds.  I placed the chick back in with the setting hens after offering it a drink.  I knew I needed to set up a pen for the coming chicks but was still working out ideas in my head.  There was only one chick so far.  It was going to need a momma and access to water and chick starter.

This is what I came up with.  I pulled out the closest broody hen and placed in the cage with the little chick.  The chick could get out of the cage, but I was hoping with time it would bond with the hen and remember where the food and water was located.  I was confident the adult birds would be kind should it wonder out of reach of Momma hen.  Earlier on Sunday I observed the chick had left the broody nest (again) and was following one of the roosters around.  The rooster was talking to the little chick!  My heart loved that!

Yesterday, as in Tue, two days after the first chick had hatched I was being nosey again and found that a chick had piped under the die hard broody hen.  I still have two hens broody but one is definitely more dedicated to her position.  I was excited and impatient.  I know it is best to allow nature to run its course.  I have had enough heart ache to last me for quite some time and I was looking for some positives around here to ease my broken heart. More on that in another post.  Last night, at last, I felt the tiny legs of a chick under broody momma.

This morning I removed it from the broody nest and gave it to momma hen.  Kind of like natures version of an incubator and a heat lamp when I am presented with 3 broody hens.  Oh yes, I have tried moving the hens to other boxes and giving them other eggs.  They left them.  Perhaps, if I placed them in a separate cage I would improve the outcome.

I never get tired of watching babies.  Check out this video.