Hobby Farm Journal - 3-29-15

Though it started out at only 5*F, it did warm up to high 30’s with the sun shining, so it actually felt like a spring day by the afternoon! When we came home from the gathering of the saints, I checked to see if any of the “Swedes” had escaped. I didn’t see any out, but a few minutes later, Mom noticed one wandering about. I had just enough time before supper to put her back in, as she always know she’s been a “bad girl” & will walk right back in their yard when I open the gate. The warm sunshine felt so good, I knew I wanted to work out there, and the SFH’s  fence obviously needed some repair. Armed with a pair of wire cutters and container of zip ties, I attached a “skirt” of recycled chicken wire to the bottom of the fence where there were gaps. I also discovered another gap underneath the coop between the board & the ground, just big enough for one of the girls to squeeze out of. I also did the same to a section of fence near the pine tree that had large gaps due to the steep side hill. While I was there, I accidentally spilled the zip ties, so I had to play “pick up sticks” among the long dead grass. Once that was finally done, I rolled out a section of fence, so if one of the hens gets again, she can only go so far, and I’ll know what section she most likely got out from. By that time, the Bielefelders and SFHs had gone inside their coops, so I collected their eggs & closed them up for the night.
Since I was already in the “outdoor project mode”, I got some ice melter that I’d found in the green shed, and put it on the icy stairs going down to the “main section” of the chicken yard. I’ve been mainly going up that way when I’m all done in the morning, using Mom’s walking stick & walking on the snow, not even attempting to try the ice. We’re supposed to have some warmer days this week, but I think that section is hidden from the sun by evergreen trees, so it would take weeks to melt without the help of ice melter. And since it’s not directly in the chicken yard, it will be “safe to use”.
The temporary outside shelter I’d put together for the Dad’s coop breeding group, I took back down, as we’re hopefully past any major snowstorms. Plus, it was an “eye-sore” when not covered with snow, so down it came, which was very simple, since I didn’t even use on screw to put it together.
Next, I took down the two tarps I’d used for the winter to provide an extra area between the coop rabbit area that was snow-free for the PA coop chickens. Used the leftover bailing twine to attach the fence separating the extra roosters to the pallet wall, plus patched up a few gaps in the aviary netting. The empty feed bags I’d used as temporary “wind blocks” for the rabbit cages & PA coop door were also removed. Looks much better, plus will let more sunlight in. When I was doing all this, I noticed that one of the “fawn” rabbits that I’d just bred that morning was trying to “dig” in her cage. I gave her some hay inside the cage, and she began putting it in her mouth, trying to build a “nest”. That’s a sign of her hormones being all out of whack, sometimes indicating a false pregnancy. Or, it may be that she was already pregnant, and the re-breeding has caused her abort, as that can happen. I’m curious what I’ll find in the morning, as she’s certainly not far enough along, even if it was from a few weeks ago when I first “test bred” them. So, I guess I better keep putting her back in the buck, until it finally “takes”.
The thing with rabbits is that you never really know if they’re pregnant or not, unless you breed them, wait 31 days, as sometimes they can accept re-breedings even if they are pregnant & at certain a stage.
Other rabbits totally refuse, even if they aren’t pregnant, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all “test”.
“Snowdrop”, the white pullet raised by Daisy this fall/winter (looks also to be her daughter), has been roosting on the two electrical cords running along the coop ceiling. She formed a perfect “swing” for herself, and has spent many a night, even ones that were extremely cold up there all by herself. Now that she’s almost 6 months old and full grown, except for a little more “filling out”, she’s getting too big to being “swinging from the rafters”. So, I used more bailing twine & tied the cords to the rafters, so she couldn’t roost there anymore. She was not pleased, as the other hens pecked at her when she joined them on the real roost. Poor girl, she even tried to fly up there & use her feet to pull the cord back down. I’ve tried to “graduate” her to the roost before, but she always succeeded in somehow getting back up there. This time, her plan didn’t work, and she fell to the coop floor. She flew back up to the real roost, cocking her head back & forth, looking at “where her roost used to be”, trying to figure out what had happened.
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention before, but last week, I decided to move “Confetti”, the mille fluer bantam Cochin, to the SFH breeding group, as I though she was laying eggs, but I couldn’t tell them apart from other small light brown eggs being laid by young pullets in the PA coop. I love that little hen, she is so cute, and makes the most adorable little sounds, which usually have a “happy” tone to them.
She’s friendly, too, so I can easily pick her up and “talk” to her, to which she’ll often respond. I love all her “fluff”, which makes her look like a little round ball of fluffy feathers. She originally came, along with her half-sister “Cinderella” to the hobby farm in November 2013 from a fellow BYC’er, who we met in Tully, NY. I bought them, because I wanted a few extra low-food input adorable broody hens, that even if I kept them past their prime egg-laying years, wouldn’t cost very much to keep for the purpose of one or two broods a year. In 2014, both of them raised one brood of chicks. But unfortunately, “Cinderella” died, as well as, the one and only chick I’d hatched from her own egg. While I could just buy more bantam Cochins, I’d like to try hatching out some from my flock, even if they’re a cross between large fowl and bantam. It would be adorable to have a cross between Confetti and the SFH, especially if the resulting offspring kept its “flower” spots. And yes, I’m pretty sure her eggs are fertile, as I’ve seen the roosters “doing their thing”, but it’ll be a surprise who the “daddy” is, if any of her eggs hatch.