Pictures of our mystery chicks at 8 weeks. Any new guesses? If so, see the original contest page!
Pictures of our mystery chicks at 8 weeks. Any new guesses? If so, see the original contest page!
All the chicks are starting to get their wing and tail feathers, and we’re getting a bit more convinced of what breeds our 3 mystery birds might be. Here are some new photos. If you think you’ve got an answer (or your answer has changed), post a comment on the contest page.
Any new guesses?
The chicks are doing well for the most part. We lost two barred rock chicks in the first few days, but the others are thriving. We’ve already removed 2 sides of the smaller enclosure to allow the chicks a bit more room. They grow pretty quickly, and for those of you participating (or desiring) to compete in the contest, here are some updated photos. Feel free to change your answers at any time as the chicks become more recognizable.
Feel free to join in! Just click here to read the details and submit an entry.
Our first contest… Be the first to identify (correctly) the breeds and genders of our mystery chicks and win our grand prize!
As a surprise for David, we added 3 hatchery-choice “mystery chicks” to his order of Barred Rocks without his knowing it. They are supposed to be 3 different breeds of brown egg layers. The kids have made guesses on their breeds, and I think they’re definitely right on two of the three, but I’ll keep their guesses secret for now.
1) To enter, simply post a comment with ONE guess for each chick’s identity. Something like:
2) We’ll keep the blog posted with pics as the chicks mature, and announce our findings when we’re really sure.
3) Any disagreements on the breed will be settled by Judy, “the Chicken Lady,” at Clark’s Grain Store.
4) Winner will be the first (based on the time/date stamp of the comment) with all three breeds and genders correctly identified.
5) Make sure there’s some way for me to get in touch with you – if your sign-in name doesn’t have a way to do that, you can shoot us an email (our contact info is on our farm website: http://www.flyingtnh.com). Just make sure to identify yourself and your post.
The prize? Public recognition on our blog, bragging rights, and (if you desire) a guest-post on your blog acknowledging your chicken identification expertise!
1) They should all be breeds that lay brown eggs.
2) They are supposed to be females.
3) Hatcheries make mistakes from time to time, so the above hints might not apply.
So, without further ado, I present the lineup of our dastardly suspects:
David’s original hens are approaching 2 years old and starting to slow down in production, and a skunk took out the eggs our broody hen was sitting on that were planned to be replacement layers.
So David used some of his profits to buy more chicks. This morning, just after 6, the nice woman who runs the local post office called to tell us they had arrived. So we hopped into the car and drove down the hill.
David ordered 25 barred rock hens, plus 2 roosters. We also added an additional free chick the hatchery calls a “meal-maker” – in return, David promises to give the eggs she produces to needy people. Then, as a surprise for David, we added 3 “hatchery choice” mystery hens (the brown ones in the photo). The kids are trying to figure out what kind they are. The hatchery also added a couple extras just in case there were losses.
They should be laying by May!
David has these words of wisdom about showing well at the fair:
“You need to clean him well and wash his feet with a toothbrush with a little soap to get the dirt out. Clean feet are important. The judge may pick up the bird and look at his feet. When you wash them, you have three containers. One is soapy water, and you dunk him three times and get soap on his back. In container two, you put water in it and dunk him three times. The next one has vinegar in the water, and you put him in that and it makes his feathers all shiny and ready for the show. Then you gently gently wrap him with a dog towel like he’s in a sleeping bag. Then you dry him off. Then take a little petroleum jelly to rub his wattles and comb and shanks on the day before the show to make them shiny so the judges are impressed.”
Mom’s disclaimer: Be careful when you dunk the chicken not to immerse their heads – they can easily drown.
Many kids had their first week of school last week, as did ours. However, as homeschoolers, we can be a bit creative in how we spend those days. Last week, from Tuesday through Labor Day, the kids hit science hard… animal science. They did this through their participation in the Hopkinton State Fair in Contoocook, NH. This was the capstone event after a year of hard work with animals, crafts, and other 4H and farm endeavors. All that effort really paid off!
Our 8yo son’s big project this year has been his chickens. If you’ve read our blogs, you know that he runs the egg business on the farm. Since he is too young this year to show animal projects with 4H, he entered his barred rock rooster in the open class… and won best in show! We’ll add pictures later of him holding his rooster and ribbon, but here are a few we’ve already downloaded.
His sisters also won blue ribbons for their duck pairs, with Hana winning “Best pair of ducks” overall.
Friday was the horse show, and Holly was blessed to have her coach, Janine, from Gelinas Farms volunteer to spend the day with her. Janine’s biggest challenge was not helping with getting Zip ready (4H rules state that the kid does all the work), but she really helped out with last-minute coaching tips.
All that coaching made a difference, and Holly ended up winning Grand Champion for her class!
Saturday was the 4H goat show, and the girls really enjoyed doing that for the first time – they earned blue ribbons in several events, with Holly and Ruby edging out Hana and Samy at the end.
Sunday and Monday topped off the long weekend, with pack and obstacle courses, knowledge tests and a quiz bowl, volunteering at the 4H exhibits and food stands, and lots of feeding, cleaning, and talking to the public. The kids had earned enough ribbons to fill their walls (and enough premiums to treat themselves and their animals to some new gear). By the time we pulled out of the fair Monday evening, we were all ready for a rest!
It’s been a hot and dry summer up here, and I think that’s why the predators have started to become more of a problem in our area. Our vernal pools are low or empty, meaning that the peepers (what our forester calls “Nature’s little protein pills”) and other small prey animals are scarce.
Though we’ve seen a fox around the neighborhood, it hasn’t been a problem. Our chief invaders right now are raccoons. A week ago, one of our neighbors lost all but three of their layers when a raccoon broke into their coop. They’ve since caught the bandit, but that doesn’t bring back their flock. The next night, I shot another raccoon in our barn that was breaking into one of the feed bins. Since then, I’ve killed three more. Today, we found out that another neighbor lost a good portion of her flock to raccoons.
Then this morning, we discovered that one of our Barred Rocks, who chose the corner of an unused goat stall to set her nest, had five of her nine eggs stolen from right underneath her when a predator dug under the walls and grabbed them. Fortunately, she was unhurt.
So, instead of getting some more wood put up, I had to do some modifications to the building to prevent further loss of either the chicken or her eggs. Here was my solution: hardware cloth attached to the base of the building and spread about 1′ outward.
In the pic above, you can see that this is the corner they dug under. Hopefully this will help.
After securing all four sides, I buried the cloth in dirt (actually composted manure, because that’s one thing we have a ton of).
Finished project below… topped off with a live catch trap to hopefully snag the next bandit.
Hopefully, this keeps our future momma hen safe!
A while back, one of the kids wrote a blog post about “Chuck the Chicken Duck,” one of our Araucanas who felt more comfortable with the ducks than her own flock.
Today as we were cleaning the barn stall the ducks stay in at night, we found Chuck inside. Normally, she lays her daily egg in one of the nesting boxes. However, Midnight started setting yesterday (Katy has already been setting in the other box since the beginning of the month), so now both boxes are occupied.
We tried to shoo Chuck out the door to keep her from disturbing them. Every time we did, she ran back in, or flew over the door or stall wall. She was very determined, and agitated that she didn’t have a place to lay her egg. We finally gave up, figuring that the ducks would scare her away and Chuck would find somewhere else. The ducks are quite grumpy when setting, and aggressive at driving intruders away.
Sure enough, as Chuck hopped up on the nesting boxes, Midnight chased her away. But Katy evidently is more patient, and we returned from a wheelbarrow dumping to find this:
Katy is quite the patient one. We’ll wait till she makes her daily jaunt off the nest to eat and drink to get Chuck’s egg…
Yesterday, at our request, a representative from the Department of Agriculture came out to visit and test our chickens in conjunction with the National Poultry Improvement Program. NPIP is a voluntary program that provides testing for common ailments in home and commercial flocks. NPIP helps us to ensure a safe food supply and avoid the transfer of disease through other means (after all, taking care of chickens is not a hands-off activity here at the Flying T). In addition, it allows those who raise chickens to avoid unnecessary medicines and antibiotics. Finally, by working exclusively with NPIP-certified hatcheries and home producers, we can reduce the chances that our healthy flock is infected by birds or chicks we purchase as replacement stock.
Some of the NPIP tests are required for 4H and other shows.
The actual process is quite simple for a relatively small flock like ours (23 birds)… or at least it should be. First, you need to make sure they’re contained. To accomplish this, we simply turned off the coop’s automatic door after the chickens had gone to roost for the night. Simple, right?
However, about an hour before the NPIP representative arrived, our son went to change the chickens’ water, and six of them slipped out the door. The three kids and I had a heck of a time chasing them down. Free range means no fences, and lots of places for them to hide, squeeze under, and run through. It also means that trying to entice them back into the coop with grain doesn’t work well, because there are lots of other, more tasty things to sample out in the woods. However, after a bit of running, diving, and even climbing the compost pile, we managed to get our escapees back into the coop. Unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated the exercise, and so I have no pictures to share. They would’ve been worth sharing!
OK, it is a simple process, once you’ve got the chickens back in the coop!
We enlisted the kids to help, and they crammed into the grain room along with the NPIP tester, Tara. One kid would go into the coop and pick up a chicken, then bring it out to Tara, who would start by banding their legs with a numbered tag (for our older chickens, this also required removing their previous NPIP tags).
Then, she turned them onto their backs, and plucked the feathers from a small area under the wing.
A quick scratch with a scalpel to draw blood, a few drops in a plastic vial, and the chickens were released to go .
Within about an hour and a half, the vials were filled and the process was complete. Tara said that she recently did a flock of 250 birds, and that took all day (with several helpers).
The chickens were none the worse for wear (though they were a bit indignant).
We should get our NPIP renewal certificate in the mail in a few weeks!