Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chickens keeping me away; Fall Ripple and Celtic Solstice updates [LONG!]

Life with the family and animals continue to fill the days...
we're working hard
{{Cassie and I stacked another couple dozen loads of wood}}

playing hard
{{Caitlyn and Candace --moreso Candace-- were enjoying some mud created when watering the garden}}

and stealing time for a mid-day nap whenever downtime happens!
{{Cassie SHOULD have been cleaning her room!}} LOL

and enjoying some evening s'mores around our little rock fire ring.

BUT, life also was offering up frustrations!
Truly, part of the reason I've been so quiet in blog land was part depression due to our chickens.  Yah, yah... sounds stupid, but...

Two weeks ago Wednesday (July 2), I went out for my morning walk about the yard.  My first stop is ALWAYS the chickens to see how the two flocks are gettin' along.  As I approached the south chicken-run, I saw one of the new chickens, dead in the corner of the run.  Uh... not a good feeling.  And I knew INSTANTLY who the predator was.  THE OWL IS BACK!!!!  Two years or so ago, we ended up putting a trail-camera out when we were losing chickens on a nightly basis.  I haven't done research at all to know why owls prey on chickens the way they do;  I only have my hunches.  Ya see, owls don't carry chickens off {I think they are too big to fly away with}.  So, owls essentially eat on the spot, starting with the head/neck and then help themselves to the 'goodstuff' inside.  It was clear to see that Pepper (chicken) perished at the hands/talons of an owl, just as our chickens in the past had.

The new chickens had been living in a tarped-off, makeshift coop in the south chicken-run while they waited until the new coop was finished.  Our 5 original chickens were in the old/established coop.  Combining two groups of chickens isn't as easy as putting everyone together in a room and saying "be nice to each other."  However, that day -- I opened up all the access doors to allow them to mingle at their leisure.  I was hoping that after a 1 1/2 weeks of being in each others' presence, albeit separated by a chicken fence, that they would have become acquainted enough to get along together.  For much of the day, the two groups kept their distances from each other.  Steve (our rooster) and Rex (the new group rooster) came within feet of each other without any scuffle.  Cassie and I kept a tight eye on the chickens all day since we were working out in the garden for much of the day.  As we saw the roosters edge closer and closer, we thought that combining the two groups may be easier than expected.

LOL.  And then, they close the gap and held their lil' scuffle!  It lasted all of 30 seconds, and Steve scurried away with Rex standing tall-n-proud as the dominate rooster.  Recall that Steve was new to us just a few short weeks before receiving the new flock;  he came to us from a farm that had 4 other roosters.   I think he's always been the lil' rooster that scurries away!  
Anyway, despite really really really wanting to house both groups of chickens in the safety of the chicken coop that night, Cassie and I set out to problem-solve the makeshift tarped area as best we could to keep the owl out;  Paul was working night shift.  

The next morning, bright -n- early at 6AM, I took my morning walk.

...... :( :( :(

Rex, the new rooster, had been the newest victim of that owl.

Losing Pepper the day before was saddening, but I hadn't attached myself all that much to her;  she was one of the crowd.
But Rex!  **sigh**
I was mad.  I was frustrated.  I truly was fighting off the first stage of depression probably.   I.  Was.  Bummed!
So, I texted Paul right away.
"Rex is dead.  Owl.  It's a done deal.  The two groups are being combined tonight!"

And that's what Cassie and I did.  As soon as all the chickens were starting to settle in for the night, Cassie and I wrangled up the 12 remaining hens from the new group and shooshed them into the chicken coop.  Some needed a lil' persuading, and there was a small amount of scuttle-butt pecking between some of the hens, but..... the chickens were ALL going to safe from mean Mr. Owl that night. 

And the coop has been put on lock-down everynight since then.  The access doors are closed once all the hens are safely in the coop.  And I've been setting my alarm for 5AM every morning to let them all out.  The things we do for our pets, right? :)
By the second night, most of the new hens had made their own way into the chicken coop without any persuasion needed;  and by the 4th night, all of them were in the coop on their own freewill by the time I ventured out to close up the coop.

The new coop is nearly completed now.  In fact, Paul plans to move it into place tomorrow!
However, there is a new plan in the works for this new coop.
Since the two flocks (our 5 original chickens and the 12 new {remaining} hens) have been mingling on a daily basis for over a week, we are going to keep them all in the old coop to continue to establish their routine.

The NEW coop is going to be the new Skattebo's Chicken Sanctuary for our 9 adolescent chicks that have been growing up in one of the 8'x8' temporary chicken-tractor-style rearing boxes.

... for these guys!!!!!

Last Monday (7/7), I was ACTUALLLLLY working on my Celtic Solstice.  And making GREAT progress too!  The final borders were in the works when I happened to peek into the incubator that was sitting on table next to my layout area.

OoooooohhhH!!!!!!  The EXCITEMENT was simply too MUCH when I saw those lil' peck holes!!!!!
It was only Day #19;  I truly wasn't expecting anything until Tuesday (day 20).  {{Chickens have a 21 day incubation period -- Interesting Fact #1 for the day}}

ANYWAY... for the rest of the day, I was sitting at the computer, researching endless topics on chicken growth, chick hatchings, time from peck to hatch, etc, etc, etc....

And then on Tuesday (day #20), 10 of them hatched safely...
On Wednesday (day #21), three more hatched.
We lost two who were fully grown and were even able to make a peck hole, but weren't able to make a zip line to get out.  By the time they were checked on Wednesday, they were no longer moving or breathing.  Four others, for one reason or another, were also not able to hatch despite giving them 2 more days of incubation time.  So, 13 of the 19 hatched.  And we are more than okay with that.

Stinkin' CUTIES!!!!!!
I have been asked what breed they are.
Ha......that's a good giggle.  Steve is part Ameraucana;  Big Mama is Ameraucana (she lays the green-blue eggs).  Three of her seven eggs hatched, and all of hers are bleach white chicks.  The other hens we have -- ??? I'm not really certain of their breeds;  I think some truly are mutts.  Therefore, these chicks----- they're kind of like a lot of us.  Part Ameraucana, part this, part that... ??
We really don't have a care in the world what kind they are.  We enjoy their eggs.  We enjoy them as pets.  Names are already being given.  We have a Bear (the only black one), Rapunzel (or Eugene/Flynn if she ends up being a rooster), Blondie (the lightest of Big Mama's), Chipmunk (for obvious reasons), Chubby Cheeks (another of Big Mama's -- classic sign of an Ameraucana, I think :)), and that's it for now.  The rest will be named as their personalities start to show.

So, now... with these 13 new hatchlings, we have 38 chickens on the property (not including the 4 meat-bred birds (Cornish Rocks) that are still awaiting their time in the chicken plucking machine.  They are bred for meat.  Fat, big chickens! 

So, back to the new coop.  Once it's placed into its new location tomorrow, the 9 adolescents will move into it, and will have access to the north chicken run.  Eventually, the 13 new hatchlings will be incorporated with them;  that'll be another interesting week or two when that happens.

Hair?  Or paint brush?

The other animals are enjoying the days of summer with all the extra attention from me and the girls.  

I'm not saying that coffee is going to remain on Tristen's breakfast menu, but she certainly was persistent at licking the lil' bit of coffee that was still in my cup.

The nest of duck eggs has a Mama Mallard sitting diligently.  She started sitting on July 1st, so it'll be easy to keep track of when these lil' guys should hatch.  {{Ducks have a 28 days incubation period -- Interesting Fact #2 for the day}}.

Amidst all of the animals and gardening (oh lord!  I haven't even started on the gardening yet!  Strawberries and raspberries gaLORE!), I have been sprinkling in some crochet and quilting projects.  Celtic Solstice remains on the basement floor, with all borders attached and backing fabrics beings auditioned.

My Fall Ripple was worked on heavily on Wednesday (July 2) with hopes of seeing a finish.
Sadly, with all of the chicken fiasco and gardening that happened later that afternoon, it didn't.

But, it's getting closer.  I predict another 5-6 hours.  It should be a good Twin-sized afghan once finished.
My ADHD is starting to affect my crochet world as well as my quilting world!  I was enticed to start a Summer crochet challenge sponsored by the Crochet Crowd -- the blame will go completely to Judy.  Paul and I had stopped at a local ReStore store (a local donation place).  There was a small bin of yarn that I emptied;  some classic vintage yarns came home with me.  Together with some scrap yarns, the challenge is underway!

Hopefully, I won't be away from the blog for so long again.  But truly, losing the chickens was enough to have me not caring about blogging.  Yeah, go ahead.... call me crazy chicken lady.  It's okay.   {{I actually prefer Crazy Chicken Guardian, though.}}   I've really been working on the challenge of trying to get everyone to get along ... and be happy.

To close:

Caitlyn is taking a Science/Nature Photography class in summer school.  I'm simply amazed that my camera has the capabilities of producing such a COOOOOOL picture!  Look at the COLORS on this guy!  And having the background blurred like cool!  That lil' girl is simply going to have to show me how to do this. ;)

And of course, how could I forget to mention Friday, July 11?
Paul and I celebrated 16 years.


Andee said...

Happy Anniversary! So sorry about both the chicken and the rooster, what a nervy owl! Glad you got them combined and all should be safe from here on out. Happy to see some quilting and crocheting going on amidst all that gardening and farming!

Quilting with Jannette said...

Happy anniversary, a bit late... Girl, I wish I had half your energy!
You get more accomplished in a day than I do in some weeks! On the other hand, I'm thankful that I don't have half the amount of work you have to do!
I always enjoy hearing about your "ranch" - reminds me of the days on our farm.

katie z. said...

Rotten luck on the chickens, but as a fellow crazy chicken lady, I understand. This year we've been fortunate to have only one death, but last year we lost multiple to foxes (dang foxes!). Our neighbor sees the fox on top of the coop in the middle of the night. So far, our defenses are holding!

Jenny Watson said...

All of these images are looking superb. Thank you very much for the sharing.

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