Sunday, May 16, 2010
Chick Chick Chicky
We got some chickens...they are sorta' part of the family. They have their own condo down by the log cabin. It's divided into two sections, one for the elite crowd, and the other for the minions, The older chicken Mama's demanded it be constructed in this manner to accommodate the infamous "pecking order". Yes, they have a social structure, and are quite efficient at managing their own affairs. I think they could do without us entirely except for closing the pen at night and letting them out and throwing "scratch feed" every morning.
I bought three Japanese Bantams at the Gray Bell Chicken Auction, an experience in itself. Little Joe, the English Bantam rooster had been a bachelor for most of the winter. His other harem of three pretty ladies were swooped away by our resident hawk family last fall...RIP. Joe was born here a couple of generations ago, and has flourished . I'm sure he could tell tales of escape that would curl your hair...I think Joe has been here longer than any chicken we've ever had. Joe is on You Tube at North Georgia Face Jugs.. a video by Bill Dudley.
Over time I found that the a rooster's job is to watch for predators and warn the ladies...he has a clucking he does that warns of trouble. They can pay attention, or be eaten. Joe is a good rooster...his hens are pretty and stupid. These latest ladies sorta walked in and took over. They don't pay homage to his Excellency as they should, well, enough to carry out an egg settin. Takes two to tango.
I knew one of the Japanese bantams was setting, and finally found her, under an old cable spool. I had my doubts that she could manage to set under there, as there was only 6 inches of clearance. Thursday she came out with 6 bitties, or as they say around here, "doodies." They were just about the size of golf ball. Next day she came out with 10, where did they come from? I guess she decided to come off the nest with what she had, and the rest just hatched they self's and waited for Mama to come home that night...Surprise, Surprise! Mama and golf balls are doing well.
Well, not to be outdone, the other Japanese decided she was going broody on Friday in the small coop built for that purpose. She started sitting hard today and in 21 days we should have another brood. Joe came down to the house this morning as I was drinking coffee and playing banjo to tell me that the girls were preoccupied with babies, and could I get him some more amusing playmates...Sorry Joe. Take advantage of the down time...you'll have a whole flock to watch soon!
Now the down side. We set 22 eggs in our incubator, all Aucana, the chickens that lay colored eggs. They should have hatched Saturday, and Friday night there was some peeping from the eggs...pretty loud...it stopped... and we became suspicious...no chicks in the window. I took the egg turner out three days before hatch date,and laid the eggs o the wire screen for hatching, and noticed the lip of the thermometer was caught in the drive mechanism of the turner, and ceased to turn the eggs for some period of time before I took it came out of the incubator. I didn't think too much about it. All the chick were still born except for two that were too weak to pip out the shell. BUMMER!
Hubert told me up at the hardware one night that he and his siblings used to hatch eggs by putting a quart jar of warm water wrapped in a towel in a basket and lay the eggs around the jar. They had to change the water pretty often to maintain the 100 degrees that eggs need to hatch. It worked, he said, and they raised 'em up and sold them for their spending money. Imagine a kid doing that these days
My daughter lives in town, and want some urban chickens. The city ordinance allows you to have a few hens and no roosters. I told Jesse she needed some Bantams They lay well, and are easy keepers, and are hell on fleas and ticks. She was concerned the eggs would be too small to eat, but I assured her they are as big a a small hen's egg. I'll raise her some of these golf balls and Brian can build a cage, and they can have fancy back yard flea and tick protection, eggs, and something to watch out the window when they are doing dishes chickens. Everybody wins but the insects.
Yep, watching chickens is fun, and if you get tired to watching chickens, I have a bee hive...now that's fun and exciting.