Tag Archives: Barnevelder

Wipe the slate clean!

OK not quite but sorta. Last week 2 things conspired to try to wipe the slate clean at my orchard/garden/chicken ranch.

  1. Mother Nature decided to toss a whompin thunderstorm at the East side of the valley
  2. Somebodies palm frond decided to plug up the brand spankin new storm drain just uphill from me

The Chickens are bouncing back nicely, I never did find my two Barnevelder babies but all of the others are present and accounted for.

A couple Black Copper Marans Roosters trying to figure who is the boss of the Juvenile Pen

The adolescent Golden Cuckoo Marans Rooster staking out his claim in the coop

Little Chickadee Alexa posing like a dork, oops I mean stork

The dominant Black Copper Marans Rooster tending to his girls

Karen had some of the perimeter fencing repaired which has freed up some chain-link gates that I am now planning how to use to divide my chicken run into three separate “paddocks”.The chicken run is approximately 15’x 55′, bouncing around in my noggin currently is a central 15’x15′ enclosure encompassing the coop with a 15’x20′ yard to either side. A Mulberry tree planted in the center of each of the three enclosures would provide shade & food in the summer along with leaves for the compost pile in the fall. We’ll see how those ideas develop, there is a lot of time for modifications as it is still to hot and humid to start on any major projects.

The Orchard came through fine, the flood waters beat up the trees a bit but didn’t rip any out and they don’t seem to be suffering from being waterlogged. Of the 7 comfrey plants I set out along the chicken-run fence only two have sprouted, there was a third before the flood but I can’t find any trace of it now. This whole area was mulched 6″ deep, it is back to bare soil now, just to the right of that bunch of what I think is Milo in the center of the picture was a good sized clump of comfrey that pulled a disappearing act like the one by the chicken-run. As soon as I harvest a couple watermelons and pumpkins that are hiding back under those leaves this area is going to cleared. If you look closely you can see a rebar stake on either side of the picture about the center up & down, they are 10′ apart and define the tree rows of my orchard. You can sorta see to the left lower center area of the picture how the soil looks kinda damp, this is a week after the flood and that section hasn’t dried out. Coincidentally I lost all of the trees on this end of the orchard to what I believe was wet feet. I’m not ambitious enough to haul in enough soil to raise the entire end but I am going to build 3’x3′ raised beds for each of the trees that will be planted this winter and a 2’x 16′ raised bed running down the center of that 10′ wide lane between the trees. I plan on hanging the “boxes” from 3′ T fencing posts driven in at each corner and then filling the raised beds with compost, sand, and native yucky clay soil. There will still be some fall from the North to the South end of the orchard but not as much which should  allow for better drainage. Rather than filling in the area between the “hanging” beds with soil I’m going to fill it in with mulch to create a large sheet composting system which over time will create a great area for the roots of my fruit trees to expand into.I’ve found over the years that if you just sit down and chill out for a bit you can usually turn most anything around. This flood that seemed so horrible last week is the spark that got my fire going for the fall season to come! A couple more weeks of yucky heat to research and refine my plans and I’ll hit the ground running and come next summer have an even better Orchard/Garden/Chicken Ranch. Who knows I might even find time to figure out a way to divert next monsoon seasons storm water!


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Karen and I are semi empty nesters that are never happier than when we can bring some babies into our house, luckily we currently have quite a few in residence. The first ones are my two Barnies.

A lot went into these two cute little fluffy butts. My sweety,Karen, had got me 16 Barnevelder eggs from one of her customers in Utah. Once they were in my hands though things kinda went sideways. I’m still struggling with humidity control in my new Brinsea OCTAGON 20 advance incubator which I think is resulting in over or underdeveloped embryo’s that just don’t hatch. At 2 weeks half the eggs were clear, of the 8 left 6 hatched, 2 died within hours, 2 were fully formed but never hatched, and 2 had spraddle legs and lasted about a week leaving these two beautiful, healthy Barnies! Hopefully Karen will get me another batch of eggs next time she makes a delivery to Utah.

This is Tri-pod, he came to us from our awesome Vet, Doc Henderson. Doc is a true animal lover that shuts down his practice once a week to let the local Heaven can Wait group use his facility to do low-cost or no-cost spay and neutering. Tri-pod came to him after someone had trapped him to have his injured front leg treated, unfortunately by the time he got to into Doc’s care he had been left in the trap for over a week and there was no option but to amputate the limb. Tri-pod was very traumatized and in desperate need of some TLC and socialization. As happens quite often Doc’s daughter Katy called Karen and told her she had a project for her, usually this means they have a batch of feral kittens that are quite literally “scaredy cats” that after a couple of weeks around our menagerie calm right down and turn into the type of kittens that are easy to adopt out, not this time though. Tri-pod came home and spent the first couple weeks in the office just chillin out, we never saw him but the food bowl would be empty and fresh dubage in the litter box every morning.

On one of Lexi’s visits the office door got left open and Tri-pod promptly took up residency under our bed. He started venturing out in the evenings to let us know he was hungry and slowly gained enough confidence to venture out in the middle of the night to say hi. Now he comes out any time Karen has something to eat and joins right in the beggin que with the rest of the critters! Tri-pod has really grown on me and I sincerely doubt that he will be going anywhere.

Karen’s all time favorite exotic birds are African Grey‘s, she currently has 3, Magoo & Molly that are supposed to be breeding, and Sheila who is her absolute favorite. This evil looking creature is a baby that Karen is currently hand-feeding, she jokes that the babies she raises are priceless which most of her customers tend to agree with. Whenever we run into people who have purchased Grey’s from her they all rave about what wonderful birds they have. Karens secret is the attention and love she gives them, some people believe that squirting hand feeding formula out of a syringe into the birds crop through the bars of a cage makes the babies pattern on humans and therefore good pets. That may be true but Karens goal is to create companions not pets, so her babies are always fed while she holds and talks to them. They also get a lot of attention outside of feeding time so that they don’t just tolerate people that actively seek interaction.

Because of Magoo’s apparent incompetence Karen had to purchase the one baby African Grey she is currently feeding, the Quakers shown above though were hatched right here in our bird room. The first 2 hatched out just fine in the nest box and the parents are doing a good job feeding and caring for them. When they get bigger Karen will pull them to hand feed and socialize them. The little tyke in the second picture came from an egg that the parents had buried in a corner of the nest box but luckily Karen found. The egg was cracked and almost got tossed but Karen decided to do an eggtopsy and discovered that the baby was still alive! After carefully removing the shell with tweezers she tried putting the baby into the brooder with the baby Grey but raising the temperature to what the Quaker needed overheated the Grey. Luckily she thought of my incubator and it has worked perfect as a brooder, the fancy digital temperature controls came in handy. I, and I believe Karen to, did not expect this tiny little Quaker to make it but it’s 4 days later and the little sucker is still doing well. I am so lucky to have a friend, lover, and wife like Karen to share these things with. While I may not quite understand her fascination with parrots and cats, its for damn sure that she’s confused by my wanna be chicken rancher/farmer obsession but we both enjoy each others passion in our separate interests. And after all isn’t that what a relationship is supposed to be about?

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Update! Schmupdate:(

A week of plusses and minuses. On the plus side my two new Mulberry Trees are doing great! They have already started putting out new growth, they do appear droopy at mid-day but by morning they are perky as can be. Currently I am watering them daily and probably will for the next couple of weeks, by the end of July I hope to have them down to an every other day watering cycle. All four of the comfrey plants are sending up new leaves and seem to be doing well on the greywater irrigation system. I did hit all of them with a shot of miracle grow solution with a bit of Sprint 138 Iron Chelate thrown in  for good measure.

I have mentioned Sprint 138 on this blog before but it bears repeating, this stuff is great! Expensive yes, but it works to correct chlorosis caused by Iron deficiency extremely fast and effectively. Our soil here is heavy clay and very alkaline, two things that hinder plants access to iron. I have used Ironite and Sulfur but neither one work very well in our soils and what little gain you get is gone by the next year. As of now I can’t talk about the longevity of Sprint 138’s effects but I can say that a week after applying a half a shot glass of the stuff around the base of a bunch of anemic looking yellow leafed fruit trees they were a healthy dark green.

On the Minus side I may have caught one of my egg eatin bastards but I ain’t caught em all yet! I still got eggs disappearing even with a couple that I caught red-handed, so I’m moving on to phase II.

Over on the TBN Ranch Blog I read some good information about controlling this nasty habit. My Granddaughter, Alexa, is going to help by collecting eggs more often, My sweety, Karen, is going to make a couple of mustard filled eggs, and I installed privacy screens over all of the nest boxes today. I am leaning toward the outta sight outta mind theory, in the juvenile pen where all of the suspects, and convicted felons are hanging out I have been getting 4-5 eggs a day out of 6 hens and no evidence of pecked eggs. I believe that even though there are proven egg eaters in there they aren’t breaking them because they can’t walk by and see the eggs in the back of the pet carrier they are laying in.

Another minus was the loss of the two spraddle legged Barnevelders I mentioned last week. Realistically their loss at this stage is more of a -/+ in that their passing now saves them a lot of suffering for little gain.

On the plus side is the 2 healthy Barnies I still have!







I also started a new fermented feed batch, I dumped out and thoroughly cleaned my buckets, enlarged the drain holes a bit then put fresh scratch in the inner bucket. This time I am starting the fermentation culture with both Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and Yeast. The yeast was just plain old bread yeast that I proofed in some warm water with a bit of sugar, when it was good and frothy I dumped it on the scratch and filled the buckets with just enough water to cover. After working in the orchard for a half hour or so the mix was bubbling slowly and smelling yeasty so in went about a cup of ACV and a 1/4 cup of brown sugar for good measure. This batch is gonna set till at least Monday and maybe longer so it gets a good start. Additionally I found a bag of raw soybeans in the barn, so I boiled 2 cups of those to toss in the batch to boost the protein.

It’s been hot as hell here lately and fixin to get humid due to the monsoons sweeping up outta Arizona, but I gotta say that even a smoking hot, muggy, sweaty day spent working in the Orchard/Chicken is hard to beat!

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Barney(s), Comfrey, and Mullberry’s

My Barney hatching went off OK I guess. A 25% hatch rate ain’t great but at least I got 4 cute little Barnevelder chicks in the brooder. WOW that sucks! I just went in to take a picture of my 4 Barney’s and noticed that two of them are having leg issues. 😦 Karen and I just put hobbles on them but I don’t have very big expectations, I tried this once before and all it did was delay the inevitable.

You can see the one in the foreground that is rocked back on his bum, him and the one behind him are the two having issues. They were fine yesterday, I wonder if I am doing something wrong during incubation? Karen thinks maybe the flock they came from is inbred? If you have any ideas let me know!

Tomorrow I am going to plant my two Mulberry trees, one positioned on the west end of my orchard to provide shade from our brutal afternoon sun. The other I am going to plant just on the outside of the Chicken run so that eventually its canopy will overhang the run to provide some shade and drop fruit into the run. Both trees need a little trimming so I bought some rooting hormone and am going to try propagating a couple new trees. While I’m at it I am going to cut a stalk from my Timber Bamboo and try potting up several cuttings to see if I can get the start of a windbreak going.

The 4 comfrey plants are going to be planted in my orchard, two at the head of the lanes between the first two rows. I think I am going to put the last two at the bottom of the center two lanes where the ground dips a bit causing the area to be a little moister than the rest. I’m not quite sure on that though, the idea of putting in a fourth 4’x4′ raised bed keeps popping back up in my head so we’ll see.

Lastly I am struggling with an egg eater(s), I have isolated the likely culprits but my egg production hasn’t gone back up. Before putting them in quarantine I would find 4 or 5 broken eggs a day now I’m not finding any broken eggs or shell remnants but am only finding 1 or 2 eggs daily.

If you have any advice I could sure use it on any of these issues.

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Barney is Stressing me out!!

As all of my loyal readers are already aware of I have a batch of Barnevelder hatching eggs that are due to hatch today. If your new here you can read about my acquisition of these eggs in here: The Carrot and The Stick

I set 16 eggs 3 weeks ago but half of them candled clear at 2 weeks leaving 8 at lockdown last Friday. Last night I noticed one pipping and lo & behold I had one cute little Fluffy Butt waiting for me when I woke up this morning!

When I left for work there were 2 more pipping the thought of which kept me totally distracted all day at work. Karen moved Barney #1 to the brooder and let me know that Barney #2 was hatching and #3 and #4 were pipped. I hurried home expecting Barney #1 & #2 to be in the brooder all fluffed up and fine but that was not to be. Barney #1 is doing great but #2 has what I believe is a prolapsed vent, which basically means its intestines were outside. Hoping it was just the umbilical I snipped it off but it is leaking yellow bile looking fluid and I don’t hold out much hope for poor #2. Barney #3 and #4 appear to be doing OK though and I have moved them into the brooder. 

Above is from right to left Barney #1 #3 & #4 . Hatching chickens shouldn’t be this stressful!

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