Edward

Chciken update for October 2015

Chicken tractor in action

Chicken tractor in action

Chicken tractor functions good. Chickens do their job with excellency producing a new heap of compost every week. They learned to completely level 3 compost heaps inside the fence in 2 – 3 days. The compost they produce is good too. We are already harvesting first winter greens fertilized with chicken compost. Egg production fell down, not yet clear why. Most likely because of the seasonal molt, but also could be because I substitute some grains with bread. Chickens adore moistened pitas that I get from a local grocery store.

 

The silky hen dr. Squicky got broody the second time for this year. Again only one chick hatched. So I bought for her 6 more other chicks. Though this time it was less successful. The next day after I introduces new chicks the first frost came. Cold weather continued for 3 days. Three of new arrivals couldn’t survive the sharp change from a brooder to outdoors.  Poor Squicky continued to heat and protect them even dead.

Ameraucana chick dead from cold

Ameraucana chick dead from cold

Meat hens grow fast. And most likely should be ready soon.

A meat hen

A meat hen

“Do Nothing” tomatoes

Tomatoes on compost heap

Tomatoes on compost heap

Here is a simple recipe how to grow tomatoes with zero effort.

1. Feed chickens with some (spoiled?) tomatoes.

2. Do all the procedures needed by a composting chicken tractor.

3. When there is a ready final heap just leave it alone. No watering, weeding, fertilizing, pruning.

 

The tomato seeds will survive composting. They will sprout when conditions are good for them. I left this heap in the end of May. Tomatoes sprouted in July and were ripe by the end of September.

Harvest of tomatoes from the heap.

Harvest of tomatoes from the heap.

They taste delicious, though their skins are tougher then of good varieties.

Most likely this was a way of natives to grow tomatoes.

Retrospectively, it would be a good idea to put a trellis around the heap and probably do some pruning.

Pictures around the farm

A beautiful caterpillar on wild parsnip

A beautiful caterpillar on wild parsnip

If I didn’t get cabbage, at least a nice caterpillar.

Sweet corm sprouted in compost.

First time on my experience I see “fresh” sweet corn sprouting in compost.

A Tesla car on the way home from the farm

A Tesla car on the way home from the farm

Bees on New England asters

Bees on New England asters

Another bee

Another bee

Those bees come from nearby hive belonging to Ion. I recognize them by light coloring.

Chickens multiply

Since the end of May we have at least one broody hen sitting on eggs non stop. After Puffy it was the turn of Snowflake.

Snowflake is a very energetic white silky hen. She is so mobile that I can’t tell precisely when she sat on eggs. Most likely, it was July 30.  She was sitting on 9 eggs of her own  + one egg from Smarty, the brown laying hen.  On August 19 only one egg hatched. Yes, the one from Smarty. All Snowflake’s eggs were unfertilized… After Puffy’s success with 12 chicks I decided to buy 9 more egg laying type chicks for Snowflake. I got 4 white, 3 brown and 2 black chicks one week old. But this time adoption didn’t go so well. First I made a mistake – when I brought chicks it was not yet complete darkness and Snowflake didn’t sleep. Probably she saw me putting the chicks. Second, chicks themselves were afraid from an unfamiliar hen and didn’t go hide under her right away.

Next morning I discovered that only 4 white new chicks and one hatched locally are hiding under the hen. All the rest were standing in a corner. I started negotiations – closed hen’s eyes and putted chicks under her. After several rounds towards evening all chicks, except two black ones, were accepted.  What to do with 2 poor guys? Here I recalled that Kevin the rooster never attacks chicks and called him up for fatherhood duty. Not in the same cage though, as Snowflake insisted…

Two days all went almost good (I had to put chicks manually under Kevin at night). On the third day it was the turn of Snowflake and chicks  to move the same cage as Kevin. I called my friend’s kids to have some fun carrying chicks to the new cage. All went well, except Snowflake didn’t want to see Kevin in the same cage. So Kevin had to go back to the common coop. And I continued negotiations with Snowflake. The weather was very warm at days, so this time I putted black chicks under her every night, when she was asleep.  By August 27 all chicks were accepted at last.

Snowflake with all chicks

Snowflake with all chicks

After Snowflake, Julie – a bantam hen,  that I got recently, sat on eggs. She did her job with excellence.  Four out of five eggs (all from white laying hens) hatched! I was not expecting this and ordered 10 meet type chicks for her in advance. When chicks arrived she accepted them all without problems, totaling to 14.

Julie with 14 chicks

Julie with 14 chicks

I will try to add a helper hen to this large family, with an idea to have a new babysitter.

Meanwhile the common mobile coop  finished it’s job on my land and was moved to Sanou’s parcel. Puffy and her meet chicks moved too, into a separate enclosure. Before move I lost 2 meet chicks to sickness because I gave them water from the small pond on the entrance. Other chickens never had problems with this water…

Mobile coop moved to Sanou

Mobile coop moved to Sanou

Also a chicken hawk visited the new place and took one chanteclerc chick. Now only one chanteclerc remaining alive and she is limping. Pas de succes avec les quebeqoises…

Good harvest of garlic from hugelkulture

First harvest of garlic on the farm

First harvest of garlic on the farm

Garlic yielded surprisingly well this year. It’s a porcelain type called “Music”. It liked southern side of the hill.  I planted not a big quantity for my first year, so mostly all of this harvest will be replanted for the next year. I used a temporary shelter-greenhouse to dry the garlic and it worked really well.

 

So after drying the garlic I found another use for the same facility – to dry the out of date pitas for chickens.

Drying out of date pitas for chickens

Drying out of date pitas for chickens

Fresh bread attracts an amazing variety of animals. All kinds of birds including crows, wrenches and even woodpeckers; racoons, mice, dogs, foxes.  Before I couldn’t use more then 5 – 10 pitas and had to leave the rest for a landfill.

Dry bread – is a totally different story. Now I can save all pitas I get in my compost from the grocery store.

Kevin’s misterious sickness

Since around June 2015, my silky rooster Kevin got a strange bubbles in his eyes. I didn’t pay much attention to this thinking that it’s because of the stress from competition  with the larger rooster – Petrus. But by the end of July Kevin got worse. His eyes almost completely covered with bubbles and feathers on the head sticky with goo.

Kevin the rooster sick with bubbly eyes

Kevin the rooster sick with bubbly eyes

I started to search Internet and discovered that the problem is most likely Mycoplasma – a contagious sickness. The first thing I was surprised why no other chicken got it from Kevin. Than I started to search for a cure. Apparently a visit to a veterinarian here is $75 + taxes, then comes a blood test, then medications. And no warranty for a recovery. Seems like not an option for me.

Meanwhile I just released Kevin to run free in the marshes with a directive to find a herb. Poor guy could barely see and hence had problems to eat. Birds need good bifocal vision to pick their food.  The only thing he could do – is to sing.

In parallel it came the time to release Squicky, the first silky hen and her 6 adopted chicks into the common coop.

After getting into the coop Squicky decided in my absence to join Kevin in the fields. So she tunneled my electric fence with all her 6 chicks and went to Kevin.  When I was back I herded Squicky and chicks back to the coop, leaving Kevin on his own. Next day  all repeated again and next day too. From August 9th to 14th I routinely returned Squicky and chicks to the coop. On 15th I was busy attending a medicinal plants trip given by Marise. Of course I asked her if there any cure for chickens.

I returned to the farm late in the evening and discovered that Squicky and chicks are back in the common coop together with Kevin. Kevin showed no symptoms anymore…

Kevin is better and back to common coop

Kevin is better and back to common coop

What helped him I don’t know. May be he found a herb? Or Squcky with chicks did it?

For medical success and perseverance I decided to add dr. to Squicky’s name. Now she is dr. Squicky.

 

Recovering from losses

To compensate losses I decided to go shopping for new chickens and soon found on kijiji a sale-off from a breeder. The price was very good, the chickens were healthy. The only condition was to take them all. So I got a funny variety of domestic poultry.

Ameraucana rooster (named Mars), and 3 hens. One hamburg bantham hen, 2 little black hens

Ameraucana rooster (named Mars), and 3 hens. One hamburg bantham hen, 2 little black hens

 

Also I got a large family of ornamental chickens of type Phoenix.

phoenix chickens.

phoenix chickens.

 

I exchanged adult phoenixes for laying hens from Nathalie. And egg production slowly got better.

Now eggs became more colorful.

One of my fears was to loose a rooster in unavoidable competition between newcomers and my old rooster. But all ended relatively good. After a short fight my rooster Petrus accepted superiority of the new rooster whom we called Mars. In this fight Mars lost his only spoor, but didn’t give up!

Bad day for chickens

A predator visited my chicken coop on July 28th. It used a brute force technique against the electric fence. Simply jump over, putting the belly on the fence. The electric shock power was week after heavy rains at night. It could be a raccoon, but the fact that it came by the road and clear experience with jumping over fences… Read more →

Silkies at work

Some good news from the chickens: we have another broody silky hen Puffy!

Another silky hen Puffy got broody. She sits on 5 eggs from laying hens. Due date is July 31, 2015

Another silky hen Puffy got broody. She sits on 5 eggs from laying hens. Due date is July 31, 2015

 

Other two silkies are already busy with their adopted chicks. The chicks grow fast, especially Ameraucana Wheaton. I plan to release them into a common coop on July 31 – the same date as new chicks should hatch.

The silky rooster Kevin and one hen -Snowflake are designated to make a breeding couple.

And the last silky hen – Furbie is still at the common coop, laying eggs. She is in good relation with Puffy, so might be she will become a babysitter two.

I made the second mother and chicks cage to host new Ameraucana chicks and their babysitter. All are happy now.

I made the second mother and chicks cage to host new Ameraucana chicks and their babysitter. All are happy now.

 

One more planned improvement to the mobile chicken coop – a rain barrel with an attached chicken water tube with nipples. There is a bag with dolomite limestone hanged from the lid of the barrel to add calcium and other minerals to rain water. Now the system is self sufficient with water.The most difficult problem now is to teach chickens to use water nipples.

The rain barrel with a tube with nipples.

The rain barrel with a tube with nipples.

One curious thing: one hen laid an egg of double size.

An egg of a double size. The weight is 100g!

An egg of a double size. The weight is 100g!

Eggs are back and other events

There are some good and some bad news with chickens.

. Egg production restored. Now we have a pack of eggs every day.

New record - 16 eggs in one day

New record – 16 eggs in one day

One chicken died. She didn’t look sick or wounded.

First dead chicken since February

First dead chicken since February

In the chick and mother cage the second hen that I added to help mom started to feed chicks and accept them at night. So I decided to buy more chicks for her.

The baby sitter hen adopted new chicks - ameraucana wheaton

The baby sitter hen adopted new chicks – ameraucana wheaton

But when i put her and chicks into the same chicken & mom cage, the mother hen really didn’t like them. She constantly attacked them and herded into a corner. The baby sitter hen doesn’t protect chicks.

As a temporary solution I put a small broody cage inside the large cage to give new chicks some shelter. The separate cage for them will be ready tomorrow.

broody cage inside mother & chicks cage

broody cage inside mother & chicks cage