Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Guinea Kind of Father's Day

Those of you that have these crazy critters will know of what I speak.
I purchased these 2 males and one female last year and have had them penned up all winter and finally this spring let them loose hoping that they would return to the coop at night.  Well it worked out better than I expected.  The female even sat on a clutch of about 20 eggs which hatched out 4 chicks and she excepted 2 more from the incubator.  So now I have one very protective hen with a group of unruly keets. Both males try their best to help teach the young, but they cannot seem to get them to understand how to get back into the coop. 

They get a good start at it but then the keets just go crazy,  jumping off the ramp or running underneath it.  If the parents go inside, the little buggers squeeze through the chicken wire and escape the confines of the pen.  This really drives the adults nuts. (The chickens gather to watch the festivities and get a chance to see the babies close up.) They will attack anything that gets close to the fence, which makes herding the babies back in a dangerous venture for them and me.  I have felt mom's wrath 3 times already for being a good samaritan and bare the scratches and bite marks to prove it on my hands, face and head.

The males get vocal and make feint charges but stop short of attacking, (we have gotten pretty close over the last month) and look at her like she's crazy after her attacks.  They even squawk at her as if to warn her not to bite the hand that feeds her, and can't she see I am only helping.

After the reunion all is right with the world....until next time or when it is time to get them in for the night!

My daughter Angie was sick, but Eric brought Aden & Ethan over.

They also brought over Eric's prototype of his recumbent bike for two.  He made the rear pedals adjustable so Aden could ride too.

Aden wanted to show off her steering abilities so her and dad switched places.  Eric was a little uncomfortable in back but managed to pedal them around.

Ethan wanted to show off his first missing tooth.  He pulled it out all by himself.

We let the goat girls out  to browse in the orchard...

Fern noticed the kindling bin and dedided to climb it to try to reach some leaves.

Peaches had to join the fun. 
Finally the day was ending and it was time to bed the animals down and go in for a much deserved rest.....

But WAIT..........

what was that????????????

For ME ???  
No Abbey,  these are going to the farmers market for sale.  36 of the 40 eggs from my hens hatched in the incubator.  I made an improvised brooder and added a heat lamp.  But the peeping noise on the porch was driving the cats and dogs crazy, everyone wanted to see the cute chicks.  My geriatric cat even left the back steps to sleep next to them.   Even though I didn't condone her actions then, I hope that she had pleasant dreams from her younger, bird nest raiding days. 
Say goodnight Gracie....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bunny Nest

We had another hatching yesteraday, 1 pheasant and 1 guinea from the incubator.
Two guineas from our hen who still has 14 more eggs to hatch.
And these seven bunnies, well six, one died.

Mom is doing well and seems to be caring for her litter.

Proud daddy guinea is so besides himself that he isn't sure wether to stay inside with mom & kids or run outside and tell all of the neighbors about it.

The goat girls where very happy to have a nice sunny morning that allowed them to get a ride out to the orchard to browse, in their favorite toy.

They take turns trying to be a hood ornament.

today Peaches was content to stay close....

Fern however wandered afar in her favorite pastime....trimming trees.

On the ride back, Fern got very emotional and took turns kissing Wifey and me.

Then they got penned up for the day while wifey and I do chores.  Tonight they will again go for a romp in the orchard before getting put in for the night.

Our daily goat ritual is a favorite time of day for us.  So far we have had no problems with the girls trying to excape their confines.  Something that has worries us both as we have read on other blogs the problems that some goats can be.  Oh I am not saying that they are angels.  They are still very mischievious/curious creatures.  But so far they haven't problematic. Well I've done it now, I've opened my big mouth, let's see what my next blog brings.  I better go knock on all of the wood I can find.  NOW

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There and Gone - Empty Nest Syndrome

I first met Tony a couple of years ago when he stopped to buy eggs and we have been cultivating a friendship ever since.  This elderly man with a quick smile, twinkling eyes and heavy middle European accent reminded me of my Great Uncle Joe and I somehow knew we were going to be friends.

He lives about a mile and a quarter down the road from me on a few acres that can best be described as a whole in the pine woods.  Until just a couple of years ago when he installed a mailbox and cleared some trees,  it was a home I hadn't known existed.

Tony escaped communist Romania when he was in his early 20's.  He made his way to America and spent most of his life in the Detroit area.  Years ago he purchased this home as his future retirement residence while visiting friends in the area and has been working on it ever since.  A few years ago he did retire and now lives here while his wife continues to work in Detroit and comes up on the weekends.

Tony has raised quite a managerie of animals, mostly birds, and I love to visit him and learn from him.
One day he mentioned that he had this incubator that wasn't working at his house in Detroit (he said his dog had chewed the wires on it) and I told him that if he ever brought it up here I would see if I could repair it for him. Then one day he shows up with it in the back of his pick-up and says here it is, but I don't have room for it so it is yours until I build a new house and shed to put it in. (about 2 years from now).

Then he told me if I needed parts for it he would buy them and to get it working and we would go into the chick selling business together ( I would hatch them and he would sell them). Well I could see right away that there were parts missing even though I knew nothing about incubators. Luckily I found the manufacturer on-line and he sent for the missing parts. Then he told me he had bought some pheasant eggs to hatch. Well now I had to scramble to learn how this machine operated and then he had to order more parts. By the time I got it up and running the eggs were about to the end of their time for use as hatching. In the mean time he had placed 3 dozen of the eggs under a couple of chickens who were sitting on their own eggs which he thought were bad and tossed them. So I put the remaining dozen in the incubator along with 40 of my chickens eggs. And the waiting and worrying began.  Was I doing this right??
A week later he asked if I still had room as a friend of is had some eggs he wanted hatched. I said sure, the following week he brought his friend and the eggs over, an assortment of turkey, guinea, and chicken eggs (most were Banteys). What a mess, the eggs were muddy and dung covered. NOT what you want to try incubating. But I took them and cleaned them up anyway (something you are NOT supposed to do) and loadede them into the incubator.
He also brought me some of his other pheasant eggs because the hen stopped sitting on them and he had no idea if they were still good or not, but I tossed them in too.

Note the very tiny hole.
Those are the ones hatching right now.
The first six hatched with no problem but the next two required my intervention.  After many hours of attempting to peck out of the extremely tough eggs I felt I had to help them.  The rubbery inner membrane was just too tough for them and fluids in the egg had dried and hardened around their esxcape holes and glued the chick to the membrane. So very carefully I removed  some pieces of shell with a pair of forceps and then tore the membrane and peeled it from the chick.  Shortly after releasing their heads, the chicks escaped from their shells and exhaustedly waited to dry.


Tony came today and took last nights hatch of five, making a total of ten Chinese Ringnecked Pheasants that have hatched so far. He is placing them under the hen that also hatched eight of the eggs.  He hopes to domesticate them more by raising them with the chickens. 
I am missing them already, especially the two that I "delivered".  But I am also excited to see how the rest of the eggs turn out.
So in the next 2 weeks I should have quite a lot of experience in incubating and hatching.