Saturday, January 28, 2012

Houston, we have a problem

We appear to have an egg eater. . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Juju here.

Tonight as Mom walked in the backdoor after work, she annoyingly interrupted the Lego game Mesha and I were playing to ask if one of us would go get eggs.

As I said, we were playing Legos.

At first, we ignored her.

"Will somebody please go get eggs?" She repeated.

I sighed.

"Mesha, will you go get eggs... it's my turn anyway."

"Hey, I'm not wearing shoes, and you are." Mesha protested.


I stand up and slowly walk to the door.

Outside, I quickly check the coop, just to make sure there were none in there.


I open the latches on the chicken run door.

"Last chicken, or duck, to run away is the rotten egg!" I laugh, stepping inside.

The response? Quack, squawk, quack. No running, no nothing.

I find a blue egg and a white egg laying in a small hole. I find a brown one in the duck house.

I'm about to step away when I notice another egg in the opposite corner of the duck house.

I bend down and pick up the egg. It was large and white with buttery spots.

Could it be?

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" I yell, running inside. "Duck egg!!!"

"No way! Let me see!"

I hand her the egg. She studies it.

"It is a duck egg!" She says.

(Happy dance)

"Can I show Dad?" I ask. Mom gives me the egg.

"Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!" I shout. "Look!"

"It is a duck egg." He says.

"Will you make brownies?" I ask my mom with big, pleading, puss in boots eyes. "Please?"

"No, but I will make banana bread."

"Okay..." I sigh.

Well, even with no brownies, a duck egg is a duck egg!

The duck egg (bottom left corner) and the other eggs of the day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mutt & Jeff

The girls were skyping with Mom before bed so I brought up the Naked neck so Juju could show her Nana how much the pullet (fingers crossed here) has grown.

Her coloring is quite lovely - chocolate brown with random white feathers or black penciling. Although it does give her a more vulture like appearance than the white feathers of our previous flock.

Juju was holding here in front of the web cam when we heard it.

From the basement brooder the New Hampshire Red was protesting the disappearance of her smaller companion.


I got half way down the stairs, NN chick in hand, when she let out her own indignant chirp. And was immediately answered.

I could almost envision the NHR hopping up the steps in search of her lost brood mate. Luckily she has not yet figured out how to fly, so she was still in the box. She continued her rant after the NN was again with her.

I think I was being scolded.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Movin' on up

The new chicks outgrew their Rubbermaid tub. They were tripping over each other as they maneuvered around the thermometer, water and feeder - the larger New Hampshire starting to peck at the Naked neck.

Luckily we had this great box from Hubby's new wheelchair lying around. With a box knife I cut a place to hang both the thermometer and the feeder - the waterer now on a 4x4. There is even roosts in a couple of the corners.

Upscale chicken living.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Silver lining

We have 10 pepper plants in the basement in front of the east window overwintering until spring. I had read somewhere that they are actually perrenials grown as annuals outside their native area. The thought was to get extra early harvest by putting them outside, full grown, instead of new transplants.

Well, we had 10 anyway.

They are infested with white flies. Not enough attention was paid, and the area was not quite right for healthy plants.

So the hens and ducks have fresh greens this week.

So we start from scratch, and this year we will try again. With a fan. And better light.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

nesting issues

The hens are not laying much these days. I rarely put light on in the coop, so they do not often get the 14 hours they need to lay consistently. And when I do put the light on it is a 60watt regular bulb - so much of their energy goes into keeping warm.

This I do not have a problem with.

However - they have 2 perfectly good nest boxes inside their coop.

That never have eggs in them.

I have had them on the ground, or raised up on milk crates. I have fluffed them up with fresh straw and moved already laid eggs into them (baiting the tip jar so to speak)

We also have a second outdoor area for them - the duck hutch (that the ducks refuse to use) they instead make a point of scratching out all of the straw and it mostly sits empty.

They like to lay eggs here:
(under the duck hutch)

And here:
(under the ramp to the duck hutch - that's Pippa in the way)

It reminds me of when my brother and I were kids we found a clutch of 25+ eggs behind the woodpile, after days of finding nothing in the accepted nest areas.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

History Museum Dress

Two Chicks

Juju here.

On the first Saturday of every month a chicken swap is held in Denver. Even though we were having a party and we had guests over from out of town, my chicken obsessed mom decided to go. (In her defense, she almost never gets Saturdays off, and I had been to it before with my dad when we bought Sonja & Heather II)

I decided to tag along. Our urban cousin from MN was visiting and she came also.

It was small and outdoor. There were ducks, quail, turkeys, rabbits, pygmy goats, pigeons, and of course, chickens. Earthdog Denver, who sponsored the event in their parking lot, was next to the swap, so the background noise was mostly barks. I wandered around petting goats and rabbits. My mom lingers at groups . "No more chickens" and "Maybe goats in two years" I hear her mutter, as she makes her way through the parking lot.

In the back corner there is a trailer containing baby pygmy goat. I look inside briefly, not sure if I want to pet one. Next to the trailer is a car with chickens and pigeons in its open hatch. A small box sits between a cat carrier and a crate on the ground with hesitant peeps coming from it. I watch as the woman displaying her various adult birds moves the carrier and opens the box. She hands a small ball of fluff to a small girl there with her mom. IT'S A BABY CHICK! She is letting people hold and pet the chicks in the box. I walk over and she gently takes the chick the little girl offered back and hands me a tiny Naked Neck.

I look in the box. Two more chicks. She tells me one, a Lakenvelder, has already been sold. The Naked Neck I am holding and a New Hampshire Red remain.

I just got my allowance, and the chicks were in my budget. I look over at my mom, she is looking at turkeys and doesn't notice me.

I look at the chicks again.

I look at my mom.

I pet the Naked Neck again. I miss Daffodil & Mina.

I hand the chick back and run to my mom. My words slur.

She blinks. "You want baby chicks?"

I nod quickly, biting my lip. What if she says no. . .What if she says yes???

"They would be your responsibility"

I nod, my eyes getting wider. She looks over at the Subaru I just ran from.

"They may end up roosters, you know"

I don't say anything. Just continue to bite my lip.

"It is your money - if you want to spend it on more chickens, it is up to you"

She walked back with me and I purchased the little birds (box included!) While mom and our cousin were in the Denver Urban Homesteading market I sat inside the sun warmed van, talking to my new birds.

We barely had time to put them under a light in a 5-gallon bucket (with water) before my birthday party started.

Before I got to bed that night, the chicks had a decent setup and are safe in the basement. They are unnamed, but here is a little bit about them:

The New Hampshire Red is the bigger of the two and often uses her wings. She is honey colored and very soft.

The Naked Neck is small and is very (to the power of, well, 5,462,701.9261) loud. She has a black streak on her back, unlike the New Hampshire Red. She is a jumper.

They often snuggle.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicks, now plural

This year, Juju wants to collaborate with me on this blog. Stay tuned to see her posts, photos, etc.

January 1 plantings

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking back

I am not sure where on the scale between success and failure we ended up at.

GOAL:6 roasters in freezer (#1 - 6.25 LBS, #2 - 7.25 LBS) - well we ended up with 2. I never did find more Cornish Cross chicks, but then I didn't look very hard.

GOAL:Lavender planted at clothesline (IN POT BY COOP) - I don't know if it will come back in the spring. I really should have put it in the ground.

GOAL:Side of beef or pork in freezer - we didn't really try to do this.

GOAL:wheelchair ramps CHECK

GOAL: try making bacon and ham - so I tried to get to the Asian market on Federal in Denver to get pork belly - but got lost and gave up.

GOAL: cord of wood split and seasoned - yeah, that didn't happen. But I did agree to trade some of my time helping a neighbor clean her basement for enough seasoned wood to fill our indoor rack, although the swap has not been made yet

GOAL:All landscaping weeded. Although we still need to do some heavy pruning - I consider this done. Having been so overgrown for so many years this will take vigilance.

GOAL: Top bar hive - move to this year's list

GOAL: Cherry tree, Rhubarb, and Raspberries planted CHECK

GOAL: acquire unwanted fruit from neighborhood - I did get tomatoes, squash, etc. But I meant actual fruit. The apple harvest was non-existent this last year, but we did not take advantage of the alley grapes at all.

GOAL: Successful garden = all canning jars used. - Last year's garden was mediocre. And I did not take advantage of all of the harvest we did have - a lot went to the chickens cause I just didn't feel like dealing with it. Need to get the rest of the family involved in preserving. I do think, sometimes, the more I want to be successful, the harder it is.

GOAL: Quail "tractor" (HUTCH CHECK) - the hutch I built turned out to be not right for the situation, but the free hutch is perfect.

GOAL: Attractive coop built. Not only did the coop never get finished - but we need a bigger and better designed one. This one will be a great duck shelter though.

But we learned things that I think were important:

Teaching the girls the difference between livestock and pets and that it is good to have both.

Learning how to grow more starts, earlier and indoors.

Learning not to plant the P-patch boxes so tightly - tomatoes and nasturtiums will take over!

All of the amending to the soil with the chickens, rabbits, etc.

That this makes us happy.

That in itself makes last year a success.

(I have no idea why this post ended up in caps. I did not look that way when I was writing it.)