First, the pigs. They’ve done a pretty good job of getting things cleared up for me. I’m still learning to manage their destruction well, so there’s some grass left in the part I seeded, but I’ve divided their new space into more pieces (and added some), so I can rotate them through and hopefully give previous spaces time to rest before I bring them back in. I’m hoping that if I bring them in a few times I can get more of the grass and other undesirable plants removed before I try to plant over them. At this point, the area in the middle has been planted and is already starting to sprout.
There are two parts to the chickens: the babies Buffy has been raising and the two she rejected. I’ll start with the ones she’s raising. There were four chicks that hatched at around the same time. They’re about three weeks old now and moving around a lot. She took them out of the chicken house for the first time on Monday (they were locked up over the weekend because we had a wedding to go to and a predator who made two attempts – during the day – just before we left). I was worried that they would have a hard time getting back into the shed with the ramp we have set up. And they did. A couple of the chicks are big enough that they could try to copy her flap up onto the concrete blocks holding the ramp up. But there were two who aren’t quite that big who had to cheep a lot before they figured out that they could walk up the ramp. They all managed in the end though. Tony has enjoyed taking pictures of them and the dogs have been really curious, but Buffy has been really protective. It’s kind of funny watching a bird no more than 10 pounds chase off a 55 pound dog.
The sad part of the story is that she rejected the two last hatches. The first I didn’t find until she’d already destroyed it, unfortunately. And I didn’t realize that’s what had happened until later…I assumed it was another one of the chickens being vicious for some strange reason. But a couple of days after I found the mostly dead chick, I was watching her and noticed that there was a new hatch in the nest (she’d taken the other chicks off the nest to explore the house). I was wondering why she was ignoring such a loud complaint from the new baby, but when she got back to the nest, she started attacking it! I nabbed it before she did much damage (there is a nice chunk out of the back of it’s neck, but it honestly doesn’t seem to notice). I put it in an unused fish tank with the heat lamp I bought a couple of winters ago, when it got super cold (only the second time I’ve used the thing, but I’m glad we had it). Anyway, that chick has been doing really well. I tried to finish the rest of Buffy’s eggs in an incubator I borrowed from someone I know, but I set it up right before I left and the temperature wasn’t right (for multiple days), so we gave the eggs to the pigs. Probably not a bad idea given how bad they smelled when the pigs chomped down. Now I just have to figure out how to integrate the single reject into the rest of the flock. I have a few ideas, but we’ll see how it works.
There are lots more pictures in the album (lots of chick pictures).