Monthly Archives: January 2013

Olive Eggs!

My Very First Olive Egg!

My Very First Olive Egg!

Eggs5

The same egg but no flash.

I had read on BYC about Olive Eggers, chickens that lay olive colored eggs. The idea is simple, cross a dark brown egg layer with a green egg layer and Voila! Olive Eggs! I had hatched out pullets from green eggs that had Black Copper Marans roosters for daddy’s. I was a bit underwhelmed by what I thought was the results, some kinda dusky/dirty looking green eggs that didn’t even merit a picture. Today showed me what all the fuss is about. The BCM and GCM dark brown/red eggs are impressive but this true olive egg takes the cake.

None of these are white

None of these are white

Todays Haul with no flash

Todays Haul with no flash

 

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Chicken Fodder

Yeah I know not to creative of a title, give me a break it’s been a long day. Fodder has been a topic of mine before, this morning on my feed run I took some pictures of my set-up and am going to share them with you all. Fodder

I tried the inexpensive black nursery trays you can buy at the hydroponics store but they kept cracking on me.

Fodder2

Now I am using restaurant prep trays, I got lucky and a friend was able to snag these from a local restaurant that was going to throw them away due to minor cracks in the rims. Apparently the health department feels they could harbor bacteria. I did check at a local restaurant supply store and these go for $10-$14 a piece which is a bit spendy but would probably be worth it if you were doing this for a lot of chickens and for a long duration.

Fodder3

 

To convert these to sprouting trays I drilled a BUTT-LOAD of holes in the bottom. Probably somewhere between 50 and 75-3/32″ and 1/8″ holes in each one. I also broke half a dozen bits from trying to hurry. The trays get wet down and allowed to drain once a day and are producing a good tray on an 8 day cycle. Over at BYC they have an enormous thread about fodder . After reading the 113 some-odd pages and over 1100 posts you will basically find out that the whole purpose is to stretch your feed by making the nutrients more bio-available which is basically the same thing fermenting feed accomplishes. If your interested in fermenting feed check out this post  over at Scratchcradle Heather really knows her stuff! As for supplies I bought a 50# bag each of Red Wheat and Barley back in November and have just about finally used it all up. Until the last 2 weeks I had only been producing a tray every other day but am now up to a tray a day. I soak 3 cups of seed for 24 hours or so before dumping into a drilled tray, usually I see roots by the end of day 2 and by day 4 there is teeny tiny greenery popping up. After that the growth rate takes off, on BYC they claim a 7 day grow out but for me 8 days gives a nice tight mat that the chickens have to work at a bit to tear apart. The final day of growth I actually pull the mat out of the bin and let it sit out on an open tray without being watered, why? because I only have 7 bins and it works.

 

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Work Day

Actually now that our brutal winter appears to be over (man that was a miserable 2 weeks!) pretty much every Saturday and Sunday will be a WorkDay for the foreseeable future.

Steven the ChainSaw Master!

Steven the ChainSaw Master!

Karen was focused on getting the mess from cutting down the diseased trees in the front yard cleaned up. Our nephew Steven came over to help cut up some of the brush and logs. He did a great job except for his answer when his Aunt Tuey asked him how many times he had operated a chainsaw before, the answer s should not have been “never”. These two fruitless mulberry trees were infected with sooty canker so we are trying to get as much of it hauled off in the dumpster rather than grinding it up for mulch.January7

Brian brought his own tools for todays work party

January 22

Just about ready for concrete

Just about ready for concrete

My son Brian and I focused on getting the Bathroom(s) ready to have the floors repoured. Additionally we removed the doors, who in the world puts 24″ doors in bathrooms?, and got the rest of the drywall down and in the dumpster. We have decided to focus on getting the bathrooms completed then moving on rather than the shotgun approach we had started out this renovation with.

Raised boxes for the new bareroot trees

Raised boxes for the new bareroot trees

An E-Mail from the UNCE orchard staff that the bare-root fruit trees I ordered will be coming in within the next two weeks, possibly as soon as next weekend has created a bit of urgency in my orchard. Above can be seen the 4 raised boxes that were installed to get the replacements trees roots up a bit to avoid the “wet-feet” problems that cost me so many trees last year. I ordered 10 new trees this year to replace the 9 that didn’t make it last season, 3 just never leafed out and the remaining 6 I drowned. Hopefully this years “raised boxes” plan will alleviate the drowned issue. January6

Sundays first collection

January5

Saturdays haul!

Saturdays haul!

Operation Rooster Removal has started paying off already. The girls are putting out between 4 and 9 eggs a day now. Plans for the coop area include setting up another isolated run and get some form of rotation going so that at least during the spring and fall the girls can cycle through some pasture area. Also on the chicken agenda is figuring out a breeding pen arrangement, I would really like to expand my GCM flock without expanding my mutt flock.

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Rooster Reduction

My whining about lack of egg-production and repeated Ah Hah posts about finally figuring out the root cause of the issue has been a recurrent theme for about the last 6 months on my blog. This month I am blaming it on to damn many Roosters! ImageA large group of my hens had been hiding in the Hen House and looking pretty sad. So I decided they needed some fresh air and tossed em out into the run, boy oh boy did I find out quick why they were hiding! Chicken Orgy, them damn Roosters chased the poor girls down and lined up taking turns going for “piggy back rides” as my granddaughter Alexa called it.ImageIt was past time to cull some Roos, and no I still ain’t worked myself up to “completing the circle” and putting meat on the table. The intention was to pull out all of the Barnyard Mutts and take em to the feed store. ImageAs you can see there were a couple BCM x Production Red crosses and then BCM x Easter Eggers. I thought I had gotten down to 2 BCM, 1 White Cochin, and 1 GCM for a total of 4 roosters, the other 5 went to the feed store where I got a bag of lay pellets and a crisp $5 bill. A couple days later I realize there was some crowing goin on in the Hen House and discovered that the White Sport GCM wasn’t a hen after all.Image

Three days later and I’ve gotten 6 eggs a day 2 days in a row! Image

I’m not crowing yet though, we have been hit with a hard freeze that is supposed to continue for the next 3 days which will probably knock down my egg production again.Image

My two favorite hens, my sweety Karen and my cutie pie Alexa.Image

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Blahhhhhhhhhh………..

Well I think the title pretty much sums things up right now. (note: Blahhhhhhhhhh is pronounced properly with a full extension of the tongue ). Busy season has hit hard at work, the remodel is trying to absorb every spare minute , I am the secretary for our clubs Field Trial in February, and trying to find time to finally close out my Pop’s Trust has been just about to much. But on the bright side the Holidays were wonderful! All of my sons were here along with my sister Lorri’s annual pilgrimage (which I secretly look forward to every year) making things complete.

This weekend I was supposed to be working on plumbing at the Clayton Annex,

The new drain stack

The new drain stack

 

but I kinda played hooky and messed around at The Fruity Chicken instead. It was refreshing to start getting some of the things done that have been hanging over my head in the orchard. The first thing I noticed is that my Hen to Rooster ratio is way outta whack again! Just a rough count turned up 8 horny Cocks trying to mount anything that moved and half the hens hiding in the Hen House. Those poor girls are seriously underweight from stress and hiding out. I chased down four Roosters and headed up to the feed store (the Santa Ria Priest didn’t answer his phone) only to find out that they are closed on Sunday now (maybe they go to the same Church?).

Rooster behaving badly

Roosters behaving badly

 

 

Plan B: Lock them suckers up. All of the Roosters are in the area where I tried to grow winter wheat. That plan didn’t work out to well due to shade. Hopefully it will work to confine these horny bastards for a few days and give my hens a chance to recuperate. Who knows I might even start getting some eggs again. Two of the girls in my juvenile pen are laying now and all I can figure out is stress keeping the other girls from getting it in gear.

 

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

The Kool Krew meets The Ducky Ducks

My baby ducks, The Ducky Ducks, got turned out into the main run last weekend. They immediately went and tried to make friends with The Kool Krew,

Poor Ducken

Poor Ducken

right off the bat the Buff Tufted drake in the Kool Krew grabbed the black tufted baby by the beak and held it’s head on the ground for about 30 seconds! Now the Ducky Ducks are allowed to follow along respectfully but not get to close. Poor little Ducken still aint sure what he is.

 

Planting Boxes

Planting Boxes

 

Last Year I lost several trees to wet feet. I hadn’t taken into consideration the slope of the ground and most of the trees at the bottom of that slope succumbed to root rot. To rectify this situation I am creating raised bed’s for the replacement trees, these are being suspended at roughly the same level as the last healthy row. The plan is to fill these suspended boxes with compost and soil then heavily mulch around them. Over time the surrounding area should form a gentle swale up to the level of the trees so that the boxes can be removed.

Compost

The Orchard in Winter

The compost pile is shrinking

The compost pile is shrinking

Overall it was nice to get back into the orchard/chicken ranch, it kinda gave me my focus back a bit. Those couple of hours inspired me to come home and start reading The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, Lorri got me this book for Christmas. I can’t say that I would have bought this book for myself but that’s why everyone needs an intuitive sister. After the first hundred pages I am already searching for unpasteurized liquid fish and cold pressed pure Neem oil.

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