Monday, December 24, 2007
Three weeks later 6 of them hatched, including the cracked one. Below you can see a chick emerging from an egg. This is actually the egg that was cracked. I really didn't think it would make it, because early on it appeared that the egg leaked a very tiny bit. I can only assume that the leak got plugged very soon and things progressed. I had heard of repairing cracked eggs with wax or clear nail polish, but I decided to just let it be and see what happened.
Below you can see the 6 chicks that hatched. The yellow one in the back corner is the one from the cracked egg. The other egg that I wondered about was the very small egg. It did hatch a small chick. I think it may be a bantam and is kind of cute with feathered legs.
Below is a close-up of the cracked egg after I took it out to candle. It was then that I discovered that it was developing so back in it went. After the hatch was over,I checked the two eggs that didn't hatch. One was not fertile and one had stopped developing after about 8 days. I'm quite happy with the new incubator and look forward to hatching more in the spring.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today is the first snow of the season. It's the slushy kind. not the nice fluffy stuff and won't add up to much. It's predicted to be in the 50s for the next couple of days so I guess it won't even last the week. Here it is not really unusual for it to snow on November 20th. What is unusual this year, is that the leaves just don't seem to want to fall off the trees. You can see a Norway maple, and on the far left some mulberry leaves still hanging on. There are also crab apple and beech leaves still on trees in my yard. The tree in the background, an ash, always drops its leaves early and is the only one bare now. It looks like I'll be raking leaves in December when it will probably a colder than I would prefer for this task.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I was wondering if this hen was ever going to start laying. She finally did start at 7 months and I'm really happy with the color of her eggs. The photo shows it next to a brown egg my Plymouth Barred rock layed for comparison.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I am happy to see that the honey bees like dahlias too. After taking this photo and seeing it on the computer, I noticed that the bee on the left has ragged wings. I'm guessing it's an older bee. It seemed a little sad. I doubt it will survive the winter. To see the wings more clearly, click on the photo.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I started out with 13 female chicks, I brooded them in my garage for about 3 weeks. One suddenly died early on leaving an even dozen. At about 3 weeks I moved them into a 4 x 8 foot tractor in my garden in an area where the winter squash had been harvested. I butchered 3 of them at 26 days to see how they would be as Cornish game hens. They were about 1.5 lbs each and were quite good with a raspberry jam and balsamic vinegar glaze. The other 9 will be butchered shortly.
I often let the chickens out of the tractor while I'm in the garden or volunteering on the adjacent farm. Here you can see Kahlil acting as a good hawk deterrent while the chickens are busy helping eating grass and weeds and helping the soil fertility.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
A few miles to the east at my home in Belmont, Massachusetts we have not had a frost yet.
Note. This post sets a record for time between posts. Where was I? Nowhere, right here. I have been doing lots of work on the house and I did quit my job in May. I guess I just got out of the blogging habit.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Turn the dog crate upside down so rain won't get in and if it's still cool out duct-tape the side vents in the dog crate to let in less ventilation. Wire the cage part to the dog crate so predators can't sneek in. Voila, cheap, cheep temporary housing
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Sunday, April 01, 2007
An Easter Egger chick hams it up for the camera while her fellow Buff Orpingtons and Sliver Laced Wyandottes eat dinner.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I enjoy taking pictures of flowers but about the only thing that blooms now are my indoor amaryillis bulbs that I save from year to year. The red one is the last one that will bloom for the season. The pink one was impressive and is even interesting (to me) in its decay. Now I'll need to wait for the crocus and daffodil bulbs which were poking up, but are under snow once again. Last year I couldn't wait and needed to visit Wellesley College greenhouses.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Today I just want to let people in the Boston area know that Codman Community Farm in Lincoln Massachusetts will be running a class this spring on raising backyard chickens. This will be a great opportunity for people who want to raise their own chickens or just find out what's involved. I've included a description of the class here. Probably most people will be interested in raising laying hens, but it will also include raising broilers.
Please pass the info on to anyone who may be interested.
- Backyard Chickens Class - at Codman Community Farm
This class covers the basics of keeping a small flock of laying hens or broilers in your back yard. Topics include nutrition, housing, regulations, health and behavior. We will also discuss the various breeds of poultry available and observe some of them here at the farm. You will leave the class with a good sense of what is involved in successfully raising either layer or broiler chickens. For those who wish to attend, there will also be an optional 4th meeting in September where the instructors will demonstrate the butchering and dressing of poultry.
Class members will have the opportunity to participate in a group purchase of chicks from the Murray McMurray Hatchery.
Codman Community Farm, 58 Codman Road, Lincoln MA 01773
Saturday, April 7th 1:00-2:30 pm
Saturday, May 12th 1:00-2:30 pm
Saturday, June 2nd 1:00-2:30 pm
Saturday, September 22nd 9:00-11:00 (optional)
Heidi Tafel, Farm Manager, Codman Farm
Joan Teebagy, Volunteer, Codman Farm
$60 Codman Community Farm Members
Mail registration and check to Codman Community Farms, 58 Codman Road, Lincoln, MA 01773. Questions? Call 781-259-0456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: ________________ Email: _________________________
Sunday, March 04, 2007
In case you can't tell, Bogie and Kahlil are brothers. The are also son's of Kia who lives here
Cocoa's job is to be lovable, retrieve something to bring every guest who visits, eat all crumbs left on the floor and to find varmints like opposoms and mice. Cocoa enjoys watching people eat. including neighbors who are having cook-outs. She will ask to go out of she smells cooking outside Cocoa loves water and wishes she could jump into the bathtub when humans take a bath. Cocoa has an excellent nose. She is 13 years old
Kahlil's job is to be lovable, guard the humans, the house and the chickens, and announce and greet each guest. Kahlil enjoys watching neighborhood children playing and often asks to go outside when kids are playing in the next yard. He does not like landscapers entering the neighbor's yard. Kahlil is suspicious of water and worries when any human takes a bath. Kahlil has an excellent memory. He is 2 years old.
Cocoa and Kahlil are both great dogs and I've very happy to have them in my life. I also know Bogie is much appreciated by my daughter and son-in-law.
For more weekend dog blogging head over to Sweetnicks tonight.
Monday, February 19, 2007
The other day when I had plenty of other things that I was supposed to be doing, I decided to build another chick brooder. I’d been thinking about it for a while and guessed that I could build it from scrap wood and other bits of stuff I had leftover from other projects. A few years ago I built a 4’ x 4’ Ohio brooder like the one described here. It will brood (keep warm) up to 250 chicks. I brooded a batch of 75 and then a batch of 100 chicks in it. And all went fine. The main feature of this type of brooder compared to the usual heat lamps is that this type uses about ½ the electricity and is able to use regular house hold incandescent light bulbs instead of the 125 or 250 watt heat lamps.
I made this new brooder about 24 inches by 26 inches. I wanted one about ¼ the size of the original one and found a piece of ½ inch plywood 24 x 26 so went with it. I should be able to brood up 50 to 60 chicks. The sides are 1 foot wide pieces of wood and the legs are 16 inches high. I removed the wiring from my old 4 x 4 foot brooder and put it into this new one, figuring I wouldn’t be using them at the same time anyway. The cords were from old computer monitors. I had partially lined the first brooder with bubble foil insulation which I removed for this new brooder. I didn’t have enough to cover the whole inside, but remembered I did have some bubble wrap. I just took aluminum foil and covered the bubble wrap to make homemade bubble foil insulation and even found some foil tape to tape it on. This was an easier improvement over my original method of gluing the insulation on. On my fist brooder the cover sits down in the frame about an inch. On this one the cover rests on top. I actually like and recommend the first way better and wished I had done this on like that. I think it has less air gaps in the top that way.
For amusement I tested it out in a room that was 57 degrees F. With two 60 watt bulbs it was 91 degrees inside. With a 100 watt and a 60 watt bulb it was 101 degrees inside. I’m guessing that having chicks in it might raise the temperature a bit also. The reason I built it with two lamps it to have some backup if one burns out.
It was fun to make. I made it with things I already had around and now I have an excuse to get some chicks.
Note: Unlike what I did, make the legs 1 inch down from the top and make the frame the correct size for the plywood top to rest inside the frame on the legs.
brooder with cover off showing bubble foil insulation
Friday, February 16, 2007
I haven't had time to work on the new chicken tractor/coop. The only thing different from my last post is that it's encrusted in ice. It may only look like snow on the top, but it's very icy and solid. It still needs wheels. If the wheels were already on, I could have easily moved it into the garage for the recent ice and snow storm, but it's habitable so other priorities win out for now and it sits on bricks instead of wheels.
I'm now toying with the idea of adding a third door. This would be a chicken size door so that the chickens could come and go during the day, but the large egg thief shown below couldn't get inside. Better dog training would be an alternative to the door and I'm considering it also. I've been kind of letting the egg stealing slide because he's been pretty good with the chickens lately. He wasn't always and there have been past problems chasing chickens. When a dog chases chickens, the chickens panic and flap a lot and that seems to elicit even more prey instinct in the dog. It becomes a bad and vicious circle with potentially fatal results for the chickens. The other day, watching from the window, I saw him mostly inside this new coop with chickens still inside it. I held my breath. Eighty pounds of dog and panicking chickens inside a coop this small would be ugly. He slowly backed out with an egg in his mouth. I exhaled. I guess it's better eating eggs rather than chickens, but eating neither would be best.
With the old raised coop, he only ate eggs that I put aside and forgot. I didn't realize that making the new coop low would give him access to the eggs and that I'd create yet another dog training opportunity for myself.
Kahlil eating an egg he just stole from the nest box. He doesn't seem to be bothered by the feather that came with it that's tickling his nose
Sunday, February 04, 2007
I screwed the front door on and added a 2x4 inside to roost on and then threw in some hay over the wire floor. I figured the chickens were not used to walking on wire and the hay would be less of a change for them at first. Tonight will be 8F. with 20-30 mile an hour winds. I figured the hay would help keep lessen any draft so I also added some to cover the opening at the bottom between the tractor and ground.
The front door is covered in plexiglass that I got from an old storm door, and a small piece from another project. An area about 8x10 inches is left open in the upper left corner for ventilation.
Here is a view looking in from the front. The chickens are used to roosting higher so having a roost that is only 2 inches high, for now, will be an adjustment.
Update: I just went out with a flashlight to check on the chickens. They are in the front right corner and one is in the nest box. I guess they don't consider a roost that's 2 inches high a 'real' roost, or they are smart because I think they picked the most sheltered area in which to bed down.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Too many other household projects have kept me from working on the new chicken tractor. Today my nephew Philip helped out. We finished screwing every thing together and moved it out of the garage. It's heavy so it's a good thing Philip is strong. It has no roof yet, no doors yet and no wheels yet, but it's all together. The next step is doors, because even without the roof and wheels it will be habitable.
Monday, January 29, 2007
I’m continuing to build the new chicken tractor, egg mobile, mobile coop or whatever it's called I started it last week. Finally, I finally found the 1x2 inch wire for the floor. It took 7 places, but I found some at Masse Hardware in Cambridge MA. I stapled the wire onto the bottom frame. Then I screwed the plywood onto the top frame. Then because the top frame was too heavy to carry outside, I unscrewed the plywood. That’s one reason I like screws better than nails. They are easier to undo. Because any further work will make the tractor to big to carry out the cellar door, I moved the project out to the garage. It’s a little awkward for one person to maneuver, but with a couple of sawhorses and some blocks I think I may manage. I’ve screwed the upright supports to one side of the bottom. The next step will screw them to the top frame which is actually the bottom in the photos and screw on the sides. After I do this to the other side, I should be able to remove all the sawhorses and blocks and will end up the tractor frame upside down. Probably there is a much easier way to do all this, but I’ll only figure it out after the fact.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
So what you see in the photo, other than my messy workshop, is the top and bottom frame for the new chicken tractor. Those pieces will fit out the cellar door so I was lucky to be able to build them inside on this cold windy day. The pieces measure 4x8 and used 13 2x4s and some deck screws. I still need to go get most of the materials so sadly I probably won't get to work on it again until next weekend.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Among the other things that I got for Christmas, was bronchitis. My cough finally seems like it’s going away. I’ve been taking it easy and my blogging fell a little by the wayside, but hopefully I’ll be back to blogging more now.
I thought of a New Years resolution that didn’t take much effort. It’s so easy that I already did all the required “work” by the last week of the old. year. My resolution was to buy and install at least one compact fluorescent light bulb. After studying the idea I realized that if everyone did this, the impact on energy usage would be huge. We’d all also save some money.
My municipally owned electric company charges 11.38 cents per kilowatt hour. At this time of year I burn a 75 watt bulb for at least 5.5 hours each night during winter in the room I sit in during the evening. A compact fluorescent bulb that gives the same amount of light uses only 20 watts.
Old 75 watt bulb
12375 watts each 30 days = $1.41 electricity cost
New 20 watt compact fluorescent (75 watt equivalent) bulb
3300 watts each 30 days = 37.5 cents electricity cost
Savings with this one bulb in 30 days is 9075 watts and $1.03 in electricity cost. I paid .$1.04 including tax for this bulb so it will be all paid back at the end of the month.
The bulb seems just as bright and doesn’t flicker, or buzz. It may have a very slight green tone, but it really seems very very close to a regular incandescent bulb. It does NOT resemble the light from the florescent tube type light bulbs in my shop in the cellar.
I was so happy with the outcome that I bought some more bulbs for other rooms. Watch the price of the bulbs. They seem to vary wildly from store to store and even within the same store. I found a 75 watt equivalent for 99 cents in a local hardware store. In H*Depot I bought 4 100 watt equivalent for $8 a package and 4 60 watt equivalent for $4 a package but saw others for more. A friend told me some electric companies give them away for free so it may be worth checking that out.
Below is a 100 watt equivalent and a 60 watt equivalent. The size is proportional to the wattage, but I had no trouble using any size in the lamps I have.