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.
Our first livestock experiment was chickens. It looks like we got those the first year we moved out to the farm. It’s funny to think about all the things I’ve learned since our first chickens. I’m especially amused (?) by the changes in the housing. I learned that I really do want a house I can walk into…it’s much easier to maintain that way. Having a house that’s tall enough to walk into also seems to keep the chickens happier (for ventilation/circulation).
Our second livestock experiment was the pigs…in 2016. It took us a couple of years to add new animals; it looks like 2015 was the year of the dogs…oh, and stump digging. The pigs were awesome and I am really looking forward to getting a new herd this year. We’re certainly doing three, possibly four pigs this year. While the work they did turned out to not be super helpful (we learned our planned garden spot was over the drain field…not an option if we want to leave the door open for organic, among other reasons for moving it), it was fun to watch them root around. I learned a lot about not moving animals into an area until the fence is completely finished.
2017 is the year of the goats. We acquired four Nigerian dwarf goats almost two weeks ago. Meet Nanny Ogg (Nanny), “the buck,” “the little calico girl,” and “the other little girl.” As you can tell, only one has a name (they came with names, but to be honest, I’ve forgotten them). The girls are all supposed to be pregnant, but I’m waiting to see babies before we count on them. The buck is supposed to be unrelated to both the girls we have and any babies they are carrying, so we’re set for a couple of years if we decide this is a group we want to stick with.
The goats have been another lesson in fencing. I trained the goats on the stranded electric inside the field fence, just like I did the pigs. I had two strands (probably should have had three, since they kept putting their feet on the hard fence, but they don’t seem to have damaged it). I figured they’d learned about the fence a couple of days in, so I strung up some strands to about where the net is in the picture (I really wanted them to take care of the wild blueberries in that picture). The little calico girl screwed up her nerve and dashed through the fence into the newly seeded field mix. I complained a lot, put the other goats back into the hard fence pen, and had just finished asking Tony to come help me get her back in when she put herself back through the fence so she didn’t get left behind. I was relieved that this herd of goats is so cohesive…the pigs were far less concerned about being separated.
That day, I ordered two panels of electric netting. That stuff is amazing and I think that might be the lesson from the goat experiment so far: the right equipment makes the job a lot easier. It went up faster, it’s more of a deterrent for the goats, the dogs respect it (not that they really had trouble with the strands once they touched it), it went up faster (oh, did I say that already?).
Hey, look, an extra post. This one is asking for you to contribute. Our rooster needs a name and you’ll get the whole story, as well as the chance to help us pick a final name.
Our last young Rooster was George (his story is here). We’ve been enjoying Hamilton, which isn’t for everyone (Mom) and so the names we’re considering were inspired by the musical.
Adams is a reference to I Know Him, when King George is talking about the leader being frequently replaced. The intent is to replace the roosters periodically, so it seemed fitting.
Rex is a longer story. George was the name of our last rooster and George is also the name of the king from the Revolutionary War (although he was the third). Somehow, we came around to Leroy being a corruption of le roi (I’m not sure if “king” is supposed to be capitalized in French without a name, so I’m going with not). Tony said something about “le roi” probably being a corruption of “king” in Latin. I pointed out that in Latin, it’s “rex” and so we came to Rex as another option.
So your choices are as follows:
- something from your imagination, if you’ve got something you think is even better
I think the way I’m going to do this is to suggest that you either comment on the blog or send me an e-mail if you have it. I’d like him to have an official name by the end of the day on April 16, so any suggestions or votes after that won’t be considered.
I don’t remember if I wrote about it before, but when we had the last flock of chickens, Whiskey was quite alert to them and responded quickly if they sounded distressed. When the new flock started coming out of their house, they had the usual skirmishes and just like he had with the last flock, he ran down to see what the problem was. When he determined it wasn’t an external threat (fox or other predator), he left them to their little spats.
The other thing that I’m glad he remembers is how to share. The lard that I made last year started molding (we kept it in the cabinet), so I took it to the chicken house as a supplement for when it gets colder. I’ve also been using it as a bribe to get the chicks out of their house. The dogs, of course, love the lard, but they haven’t bothered the chickens. I have to say that I’m really glad that the lessons from the last flock have carried over to this one.