We were pretty surprised when one of our seven month old hens decided she was broody, but we’re drowning in eggs, so we thought we would let her hatch a clutch. She had 14-ish eggs and 6 of them hatched (from what I’ve read, 50% hatch rate is about average). We lost one to a small black snake (the snake was rehomed…black snakes are useful…away from the chickens), but otherwise they are doing well so far. We have one Rhode Island red (cross?), one buff Orpington (cross?), and three black chicks. I don’t remember how to tell which is which and most of them (if not all) are crosses.
The hen’s been taking them out of the house since about the second day, which surprised me, since Buffy kept hers in for over a week. They are keeping up with her pretty well. We tossed the babies up into the house for her the first couple of days, but they’ve figured out (somehow) how to get in on their own now.
One of the nice things about this hen (who has no name) is that she’s pretty unconcerned about us messing with her babies, especially compared to Buffy (last year’s mom). It made helping her get her babies into the house a lot easier. Tony also said that as long as the dogs aren’t being too rambunctious, she isn’t bothered by them being around.
In other news, the three roosters were overwhelming the hens, so we finally took care of processing the two we decided not to keep (the buff Orpington and the Rhode Island red). We were surprised at how large they were, but definitely not disappointed. Between their size, the practice I got last year (I spent a day processing chickens on a farm about an hour from home last year), and only doing two, it felt more worthwhile than the days we spent last year culling our flock.
[One very important thing to remember for this story: the goats and the sheep both hate getting their feet wet. Even the smallest mud puddle is skirted like a snake-infested river. If the ground is wet, they tiptoe through the least muddy parts and dance from grass tuft to grass tuft whenever possible.]
On Thursday, work was pounded with rain the entire time I was milking (two hours and change). Fortunately, the rain stopped right as I was ready to take the animals out to their paddock for the night. I didn’t have any kind of water proof/resistant jacket (it’s a 40 minute walk, round-trip, to that particular paddock, plus the time to close up the fence) and had more work to do before I could go home, so I wasn’t excited about getting soaked.
I was merrily leading the animals out to their paddock and noticed that the path to one of the other fields was blocked by an overflowing creek (usually the creek runs under the road). I enjoyed listening to the sound of the rushing water and ogling the scene, but didn’t really think much of it.
Then I got to the road to the paddock the animals were supposed to go into and realized that was a mistake. The path was completely covered by a lot of water. I was getting my phone out to text my boss to see if there was a backup plan, when three of the goats charged across the water to their paddock. Following them was the rest of the herd. At that point, I gave up on a backup plan and watched to make sure they all made it across the water and closed them in for the night.
Fortunately, I had my rubber boots on, but even then, I put my foot down in one spot where the water came in over the top of my boot just a little (for reference, they’re 13 inch boots). Fortunately, the animals all made it across without floating away and only two of the goats (the white one, who’s going the wrong way in this picture and one of the others) made any kind of fuss about crossing the water.
For reference, this is the same spot as the first picture the afternoon after all the rain.
Things have been chaotic (chorus for the summer, I think), so I’m going for more pictures and fewer words.
There were two (human) babies expected at work, a month apart. They came one day after the other. While they planned to let the parents take time off, I’m not sure how much time they’ll actually get before they have to come back to work. There’s only one full-time person, me (about 25 hours per week), and another girl (about 10 hours per week), so losing two full-time people at the same time is hard (especially since full-time is more than 40 hours).
Dad came out to the farm last weekend and I showed him what I’ve been doing, which was fun. He enjoyed feeding the goats some maple leaves.
Our goats are doing better since losing the one (I think I wrote about her? I don’t remember). The pigs are happy, though I think they wish it would rain. It’s pretty dry and they seem to like a little damp dirt/mud.