Hobby Farm Journal - 4-12-15

After Sunday’s gathering of the Body of Christ to worship corporately and be fed with the ministry of the Word, we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship, and like we usually do, were one of the last ones to leave. A family acquaintance, Nancy, met us there to join Mom & I  for our afternoon adventure. We headed to Oneonta in Joel’s truck, first stopping at Aldi for a few items. Around 2:30, we met a fellow “hobby farm” gal to do a “rooster swap”, which we’d been wanting to do for awhile. I first found her when she posted a Craigslist ad for Buckeye/Buff Orpington roosters, so I contacted her to find out if she had any Buckeye hens. For several years, I’ve been trying to find a local breeder with Buckeyes, so I could add that extra genetic diversity to the Catskill Homesteader breeding project. Even though I was all set to get some chicks or pullets last year, with moving, it never worked out. Anyways, this lady & I wrote back and forth, as she tried to locate some Buckeyes for me. But as I thought about it, I realized that even though I already have many roosters, getting another rooster from a different bloodline would be a good step to make sure there’s less chance for inbreeding. She took pictures of her roosters, and let me choose which one I liked best, plus gave a little bio about each one. 
I chose rooster #4, as he was the most unique color combo of red, gold, blue & green, had the smallest comb, and didn’t look like any of the roosters I already had. Around the same time, another fellow chicken raiser let me know if anyone was looking for a rooster, they had a 10 month old Buff Orpington rooster that was gentle and friendly, just didn’t need him anymore. So, I asked the lady with the Buckeye/Buff Orp/EE rooster if she’d like him, and yes, she would. Needless to say, it was an unusual “rooster swap”, as it was three-way, and I actually ended up with one more rooster than I had before. While I just sold a hen on Saturday, making the adult hen & pullet number go down to 39, the new rooster made that count go up to 16 again.
But, I’m planning on sending at least 5 roosters to “freezer camp”, as soon as I made their “appointment” with the processor (me). After the rooster swap, we talked chickens, then compared notes about raising rabbits, and I shared about the Muscovy ducks. They no longer raise rabbits, but they used to raise them right on pasture, which was my original goal, not keeping them in traditional rabbit cages, as they are now. But loosing the first two rabbit does to heat stroke was hard, and here there’s not enough land to pasture rabbits. So, I’ve been thinking of downsizing my “rabbit herd”, but I’m just not sure which ones should go. I do have two bucks, but I’m unsure if I should get rid of the older one, or the younger one who’s related to some of the does, but has been more vigorous than the older one. A few does from last year’s litters are possibly pregnant, so I’d probably wait until I know if it “took”. The agouti & white doe from last year was trying to build a nest on Saturday, so I put the nesting box back in. She does look a little “chunky” and refused to be re-bred the last few times. The first “test” breeding on 3/13, when the buck did fall over & squeal, and her nose started to bleed. It’s about the time for her to kindle, but she hasn’t pulled out any fur yet. But, I have to do something, as one of the does who’s so far refused every attempt to be re-bred is having to “live” with the younger buck, as she was sharing the cage with the doe that may be kindling.
Whoops! Got off-track again, as I hadn’t finished telling about the rest of yesterday’s adventure. After the rooster swap, we headed to Otego to pick up 15 roll of heavy duty wire mesh. It’s original purpose was to make rabbit cages, but it also makes great wire for chicken coops, chicken tractors, wire over windows, etc. It’s not the “cheap” 19 gauge hardware cloth that’s found at most stores, but it was ordered wholesale several years ago. It was stored in a barn, so it’s in mint condition, and some of it is even plastic coated. So, we loaded it all up in the back of the truck, talked with the folks, as we know them a little through Nancy, and I’d bought wire from them back in 2012. We then headed home, as I didn’t want to get home too late, as I still had lots to do before bed. When Dad had come home earlier in the day, a local guy in a truck had pulled in behind him, asking if we had any roosters for sale. But since I wasn’t home, he said to call back at 6pm, but he never did. I set up the new rooster in a pen in the garden pathways, for “quarantine”, even though he looks healthy. 

We opted to keep the wire inside the truck bed, as we have another fellow chicken raiser who’s interested in some of it. Plus, I don’t know exactly where to put it yet, as I’d prefer to not store it outside, but may have to.
The chicks from the 1st & 2nd 2015 Hatch are growing quite well out in the shed brooder, even though there’s quite a few roosters in that group. The 8 oldest ones, which are 5 weeks old now, I’m pretty sure the genders on about ¾ of them. It helps that most of them have single combs. The roosters from the 2nd Hatch are already showing bigger, pink combs as well. So, I guess we’ll be having plenty of chicken dinners this year, even though I have yet to get any “meaties”, such as Cornish or Freedom Rangers. Not sure if I will this year or not. Perhaps later in the year?

The 4th Hatch is Offically over - 16 chicks hatched, so it was basically a 50% hatch. Not great, but better than the zero chicks I was thinking it was going to be. However, the 1st chick had to be culled, and the last 3 chicks had to be assisted. One SFH is still partially in its shell, as it pipped on the wrong end, but I didn’t want to help it out all the way, just enough to give it a fighting chance. So, even if 12 survive and are healthy, that will be great. 

Not sure about the eggs under Lydia, if they’ll hatch, but I’ll give them a little more time. Last night she was “sitting tight”, but there was no outside “signs of life” coming from the shells yet. I can always to swap out the incubator chicks for her eggs, bring them inside & see if they’ll hatch or if they all died. Either way, I hope she’ll raise the incubator chicks for me, so I don’t have to try introducing them to the 10 day old chicks in the other brooder.

Well, enough “rambling” for now, have to get dressed & ready for work at the Humane Society, especially since I’m going in early this morning.