Hobby Farm Journal - 4-4-15

Went to bed at 10pm & got up at 4 am! Lots to do before a family comes for chicks at 9:30am, and our landlord to look at our broken dishwasher at 10am. Spend several hours, like from before 5 am until after 8 am wingbanding SOME of the chicks, writing the group they came from, date they hatched, and their description, including color(s), comb type, leg color, etc. Then, taking a few photos of them & deciding if they were to sell or grow out. Mom brought me “room service”, so I could have a little something to eat & drink, which was greatly appreciated. Then, I quickly cleaned up the storage room, which should be more aptly called “The Chicken Room”, since ¾ of it has to do with chickens - all the feed bins, the chick brooder, the 3-drawer bins with tools and misc things related to the hobby farm. Then, I loaded up the wheelbarrow (yes, the snow has melted enough that I’m no longer using sleds to take the feed buckets to the flock.) & did very quick version of my usual morning chores. I planned to come back & finish up later, but that never happened. As I let out the roosters & ducks, I looked up & saw “Caleb”, the smaller of the roosters that I’ve been using in the Dad’s Coop group. He was on top of the coop roof, ON TOP of the avairy netting! He was all wet because of the rain overnight, but was otherwise fine, thank God! I tried to grab him through the aviary netting, but in the process his one foot got caught & wrapped up in the netting. So, I had to carefully turn him in circles to unwind his foot. Then, I reached up through a gap in the aviary netting & brought him back inside the chicken yard. And that’s even after removing the main “bully” rooster who wouldn’t leave him alone & who’s destined for the freezer anyways. After quickly feeding & watering everyone, I went back up to the house, picked up some “landmines” where McDoogle goes outside. Changed my clothes, as I was now too hot in a turtleneck, cleaned up a few more things, and helped Mom with the dishes, all before 9:30am. The family who came for the chicks was really nice, and each kid picked out 5 chicks.  I wrote down their wing band numbers, so I could e-mail them the info about each chick I’d just written down that morning. Even though there was only 4 extra chicks beyond the 25 they wanted, I think the kids had fun picking out which one they wanted. Lots of different colors, including the adorable chipmunks, blues, blacks, yellow with brown “markings”, black & white, etc. We chatted with the parents for a little bit, then said our goodbyes. Within a short time, our landlord came to check out the various things that need work on. It’s so nice to have a nice, personable landlord who treats you like fellow human beings and who really appreciates “having such great tenants”. I tried to do more wing-banding, as there was still more chicks from Dad’s Coop, the Swedish Flower Hens & Bielefelders left. But, I didn’t get much done until our landlord left, as it was interesting visiting and listening to my parents talk with him.
It was only around 11am when all become quiet at the house again, except for the sound of peeping chicks coming from “The Chicken Room”, aka, the storage room. I got back on task with wing-banding, which took be another hour or two, I’m not sure exactly how long as I had at least another 18 chicks to do. I got some really beauties from Dad’s Coop - quite a few “blue barred”, as they’re blue with a yellow headspot, and a few had a little golden brown fuzz by their face. There are two that I’ll be growing out, as they almost look to be “sexlinked” or something, as one is clearly darker, has a smaller headspot, smaller comb; the other is lighter, larger headspot & single comb.
The Swedish Flower Hen chicks are already showing their “true colors” as they have escaped from their “hatching cage” numerous times, both while still in the incubator & while waiting to be wing-banded. There is one chick who I believe is double-crested, as it looks like a Polish chick! That’s actually considered a “fault”, as the SFH are supposed to just have a small crest, ones not large enough to hinder free-ranging and safety from predators. On another note, on the eggs hatched, supposedly from the “PA Coop” green egg layers, looks to be at least part SFH, as it has the extra fluffy, uniquely shaped head of a SFH, yellow legs, but also has a muff! That one’s a keeper for sure!

After I finished that one project, I emptied out the incubators of the empty and dud eggs, cartons, etc. I still have to remove the water trays, blow out the fans and bleach the interior & hatching cages, but I at least I got them partially cleaned out. I also ended up culling two chicks, one had crocked toes & the other was sitting on its hocks - only the second time I’ve had to cull a chick that’s still alive. Not the easiest thing to do, especially since they were both trying so hard to walk and get around “normally”. But even if they had survived, they would have been weaker and certainly wouldn’t have fit the goals we have for breeding hardy, healthy chickens. And it’s also part of the cycle of life, and if those chicks had hatched naturally under a broody hen, she would have abandoned them, essentially doing the same thing I had to do. I have one chick that I’m giving a little more time, as it’s not yet up on its feet, still resting a lot, but it had a rough start with the other chicks running over top of it and its “navel” has taken its sweet time closing up. It too may be a cull, but I’ll give it a little time, since it really only “just hatched”. But, the good news is that the remaining chicks are all well, drinking water & ate some grit. Sunday morning I plan on giving them their first fermented chick starter, as it’ll be day 3 for most of them.