Monday, August 31, 2009

Old is new again

A booklet came in the mail to my parents farm and in it there were articles about people trying to rescue heritage breeds of farm animals. The stories that interested me the most were of course the poultry stories. For those not in the know, heritage breeds are breeds of farm animals that our grandparents or great grandparents used on their farms back in the day. These breeds no longer function in today's markets for different reasons, however they often excel on farms that want to return to a more organic way of living or farms that want to have animals work with each other, example chickens on pastures where cows had been or ducks that eat flies in barns or off other livestock.
It may sound funny to say some farm animal breeds are becoming extinct but it is the truth and sadly those genetics will be lost as well. My girls are mostly hybrids and that is because they were the only breeds I could find when I started to get back into chickens at the time. I was very interested in a story where it was suggested, chicken producers try to sell the old breeds to the back yard poultry keepers. Many would probably be better suited to this type of home flock situation and it would help preserve a breed. It was a little scary to read that some breeds of chickens or animals only have a few breeding females left in my country. If you can and are interested, see if you can find a rare breeds club in your country, find out the chicken breeds that are in danger and may be suited to what you want. I am going to try and get Silver Laced/ Golden laced Wyandottes if I can. They were one of the breeds suggested and I like the look of them. There were also many other breeds suggested that I like, I do not have the list with me but I will put it up later. I think it would be a good idea, this way we can have fun with our small flocks and help out hurting breeds as well.

I have a green thumb besides liking chickens, my garden was way behind this year because it never stopped raining since June, this garden is actually at my parents but since I am staying with my Mom, I planted and took care of it. The clip was actually taken about three weeks ago so things have grown much more now. I am getting lots of vegetables now but sadly our growing season is over and I expect a killing frost any day. I have snow peas (my favourite), red and yellow tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, purple beans, onions, cucumbers, butternut squash, honey dew melons and carrots. For the first time ever, I don't have lettuce. Giant slugs came out and ate all my lettuce.

Oh yes and the morning glories, I just like the look of them, they have now climbed higher than my head and will get an updated picture.

Monday, August 24, 2009

In the chicken news

Regarding the girls, I actually have really good news. If you remember weeks ago I mentioned that Delia seemed to be really sick, she would not go outside and hardly ate anything. Her feathers looked bad, her comb shrunk and her eggs were cracked looking. She always seemed to be the weakest even when we first bought her. I was about to have her put down as she seemed to be in pain, since I became tied up the last few weeks that just never happened. Delia has made a full recovery, her feathers are clean and shiny, her comb is full and red, her eggs are still large but no longer appear to be cracked. She runs around with the others and seems fine, even her vent has shrunk to a normal appearance and she never looked normal in that area.

I have not had the time to baby the girls like I used to, the weather here has been a really bad wet summer and I think it has affected the girls, they lay less than they did in winter with only an average of 4 or less eggs a day. Could be also their ages, the reds will be two years this fall and the blacks are over a year now but I don't think that should make a difference yet. I try to bring them clover from the farm when I have a chance, I think it gives them a boost. Could be also that people in the village where I keep them, like to give them treats, maybe they are eating a lot of junk food instead of their real food. Still they give enough eggs to sell so no problem as they are just pets.

Now as promised, killer Chico Chicken, for some reason he has it in for me! He feels I am an intruding rooster that he must drive away, he never attacks Dan! Must be because I am not around any more.

He is too little to do any damage but I would never walk in with shorts on. Don't worry, I'm not kicking him, I'm just holding up my foot and he is going nuts! He seems to need this competition, once he feels that he has shown me he is boss, he will go outside and crow for almost an hour. He even starts to crow the second he hears a stranger's or my voice. I guess it is the "little guy syndrome" as if to say "theses are my girls, come in here and I'll give you a lesson in who is boss around here"!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy place

With the loss of my father, my friend Dan wanted to cheer me up. He knew just the thing to give me a much needed smile. He built a pen for me in my Dad's barn and showed up with a surprise.The pen, but what or who is that inside?

Dan showed up with a large box... with Gracie and the chicks! I was so happy to hear that little cluck cluck, telling the kids "you are okay, mommy is here with you".
These pictures are about a month old, the chicks are actually larger now. The black chicks are half the size of their mother and Paris is taller than her mom since she is off of Marlene. Paris is I am afraid going to be a boy. If so I will call him Rico Rooster, it just sounds like a good rooster name to me. I had thought it was three girls and two boys but one of the other black chicks is showing signs of being a boy or a really bossy chick. In the picture above you can see one of the chicks is a lot smaller than the others, of course this one I baby. She was actually nearly killed by the other hens, that was the day they turned on the chicks for some strange reason.

Gracie is still a good mom, she cuddles all the chicks at night and finds food for them. However she is too good of a mother, she can't let them go. If you look back at the dates they were born you will realize the chicks are over three months old! I was hoping for a second batch but that will not happen now. Maybe because the bantam chicks were so small she never stopped brooding, she is slowly letting them go off on their own but calls them to her if they wonder away. I guess that is why they say Cochins make the best moms but I guess you would have to take the chicks away to get a second batch out of them, at least with Gracie anyway. I am trying to get them to sleep up on the perches at night, however if I don't go in after dark and place them there, Gracie will not lead them up. Paris really wants to sleep on the perches, at night she will walk over and try to get the others to come up with her, she will give up and lay down on the floor but I could tell she is not happy about that so I put them up after dark. I am also hoping this will help Gracie let go and start to lay again.