Hobby Farm Journal - 3-12-15

Well, a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his paths. I didn’t get everything done on my list today, but such is life! I was going to do my morning “critter chores”, as I call them, then come back inside and eat breakfast. But, the phone rang and it was about the grass pellets, letting us know they’d be ready on Friday or Saturday. We thought Saturday would be the best, as I work away from home on Fridays. But then remembered that a friend was going to use Joel’s truck on Saturday, so we had to call him and find out what time he needed it by. Got those details figured out, ate breakfast, then I did critter chores.
When I came back inside, I put some of my frozen pre-made meals I’d made for my work lunch in the crockpot with extra frozen veggies. Then, it was time to put the 3rd batch of eggs in the now empty incubator, so there will be chicks hatching before Easter weekend. Do you know how hard it is to select which eggs to incubate when you want to set them all, but the incubator only holds 42 eggs? Well, I partially double-stacked eggs for the 2nd hatch. So I decided to add a “few extra” beyond that, even if I had to hand turn a few until I candle and remove any duds at day 7. I originally had over 90 eggs in there, but took a few out and added some fresh just-laid ones, etc. What makes it so difficult is that I have four breeding groups, and some of them I’ve been able to collect a whole week’s worth of eggs from one or two specific hens. By setting more eggs from the same hen, my theory is that the 50/50 roo:hen ratio is more likely accurate. My theory is that when there’s only one egg each from multiple hens, each egg has a 50/50 ratio. So, if that day’s egg just happened to be carrying the rooster gene, you’d end up with more roosters than the 50/50 ratio. While overall, and with averaging every hatch, you’d still come up with generally ½ females and ½ males, one individual hatch may bend in one direction or another. My basis? Sometimes with a broody hen, I’ve given her eggs that were laid that day & marked them, so there’s no chance there’s two eggs from the same hen. Well, that hatch was mostly roosters, only a few pullets; another time, it was mostly pullets, only a few roosters. The other method I find more successful is to collect eggs for multiple days, grouping together the eggs that look similar or I know were laid by the same hen. Those hatches generally yield a more even 50/50 ratio.
While both methods still yield the same results when averaged out over a year’s time, I’d prefer to have it generally more balanced year-round. But, to achieve this, I have to be more selective in what eggs I do incubate and do less of the “odd ball” egg that doesn’t seem to have any other similar color or shaped egg. And unknowingly, I’m also selecting those that lay the best over a 7 or 10 day period. While I’ll still incubate the eggs with fewer ‘repeats”, it’s usually just to fill up the extra space!

Well, enough “rambling for now” and back to Thursday’s happenings. It took all that to say, it took my far longer than expected to select the eggs that were to go into the incubator. And after I collected more fresh eggs, I did more rearranging and removed some of the Catskill Homesteader eggs from the SFH and Bielefelder breeding groups. Right now, it’s more of a priority to hatch out as many from the PA coop & Dad’s coop, since I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep them separate. Right now, it’s not an issue, but once all the snow melts and the grass begins to grow sufficiently enough, then I’ll want to start using the rotational grass paddocks. Because those two groups are currently separated, and only Dad’s coop has easy access to the paddocks, I’ll either have to 1) put up more fencing  so they can remain separate, yet both have grass paddocks every day, 2) rotate them so they each take turns in the grass paddocks every other day, or 3) combine the two breeding groups together into one again. There is a 4th option ) - but contingent on relocating all the roosters and ducks, so I can use their coop & grass paddocks for a separate breeding group.
Whoops! Side-tracked again! I had to reorganize part of the shed again to make room for the 1 ton of grass pellets I’ll be getting soon. I moved the box brooder closer to the garage door, then put the empty pallet next to it for the grass pellets. But of course, it needed about 3 more inches for the garage door to close, which required me to take all the feed bags off their pallet, move it, re-stack the bags, etc. Then, I stacked the wood shavings bags next to the feed, which left just enough room for the two stacks of empty buckets. I had enough time left over to partially organize the garden & yard tools, as they had become a mess, as we have yet to set up an area for them since moving. But at least now we can find and use what we want once the ground thaws and we need to start using them again.
After supper, I attacked the PA coop for a big “late winter” cleaning, although I’ve thankful for the “poop trays”, as they did make it easier. Once I fluffed up the litter and removed a few chucks of frozen bedding, it was good to go without adding any new litter, for now at least. It took my about 2 hours, though, so by that time I closed everyone up for the night and went inside. A beautiful day, though not as warm due to a chilly breeze. But, still a heat wave compared to the -15* we had not that long ago!