Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Big Changes for Kirby

Kirby loves being outside. Up to now her "outside" area has been a somewhat small fenced in area off of the back porch. This has allowed us to constantly keep an eye on her and cater to her every whim, like constantly throwing some bird seed into her rooting box. But pigs root and so our back yard is all torn up and when it rains it is a muddy mess. The rooting is fine and what she needs to do to be a happy pig. We knew this going in and were prepared for this.

She's a big girl now. So big that when I went to put her harness on I discovered that my baby has out grown her size medium harness. This is not quite as sad as when she grew out of her small harness which she did in a matter of a few months. Anyway I squished her into the harness and walked her out of to a new area we had fenced off for her in the pasture. It a great area for her but it is away from the house a bit so we can't just look out and see her. It is probably harder for me than for her. She is in a larger area and having a ball. We will be able to move the fence around give her new areas to root around.

I very much want to get her closer to the barnyard critters. Because the goats can be rough with head-butting she won't be in the same area with them but we will get her just on the other side of their fence. It will be so interesting to see what they all think of each other.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tiny blue egg

From left to right: turkey egg, brown chicken egg, blue chicken egg, banty chicken egg, tiny blue egg.

I love finding surprises in the nesting boxes. Recently I found a tiny blue egg. We have some bantam hens so small eggs aren't anything new. But this was a teeny tiny blue egg. One of the Araucanas must have had an off day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Incubating eggs

It is time to add some new chickens to our flock. I have started researching different kinds of chickens and decided that I wanted to add chickens that lay very dark brown and blue and green eggs. There are actually groups dedicated to chickens that lay colorful eggs.

I started searching for varieties of Maren chickens first. These are chickens that lay dark brown eggs. Some people call them chocolate eggers. I intended to buy day old chicks but couldn't find the chicks I wanted so I bought eggs to hatch myself.

We had an incubator with an automatic egg turner from a few years ago when we hatched our own eggs, but that was just to see if we had any "working" roosters. Now I'm trying to actually accomplish something.
Here's the incubator set up. I had to run it for a week to make sure it would keep the right temperature and that the egg turner was working.

So then the eggs arrived and i loaded them into the incubator and all seemed to be going well.

Here's a view through the window.

Now it would just have been too easy to load the eggs in and have everything run smoothly. On day 3 I noticed the turner wasn't working. So I unloaded it and started turning the eggs by hand. No biggie. Then the temperature started getting wacky. One day it spiked up 4 degrees higher than it should have been. I can only hope it didn't fry the little buggers.

We'll soon find out. Today is day 20 and they should hatch tomorrow.

Beaker surprises me

Beaker is a very smart bird. Sometimes, when she uses the right words at the right time, I think she is the smartest bird in the world. She was having a very good day, smart wise. We had a visitor in the house who asked if we knew who Barney Fife was. I said, "Sure, he was on the Andy Griffith Show." Right after I said that Beaker started whistling the theme song from the show. Now I taught her that song but I don't ever remember saying to her that it was "The Andy Griffith" song. It was just too funny. Then after I got back from the barn, it was getting pretty dark, and Beaker called out from her room, "How 'bout some light?" Every day she makes me laugh but some days harder then others.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gremlins in the greenhouse

It is Spring and I have started vegetable seeds in the greenhouse. In previous year I have had trouble with mice and chipmunks digging up bigger seeds like, pumpkins and squash. Sometimes they eat the seed and sometimes they move them. I think they move them with the thought that they're storing them for later. Then I find I've got pumpkins and squash plants coming up in the pots with the fig trees and the lettuce beds. Sometimes I move the seedlings and they do alright. Other times they can't take the shock of being uprooted.

This year I strongly suspect the peacocks have found out they can get into the greenhouse through the side vent. I do not have solid evidence but I was both Apollo and Artemis running around the greenhouse all agitated and there was nothing bothering them (like Hoover). The destruction was not the typical small critter havoc. The lettuce (a peacock favorite) was all torn up and nice pothos plant I had nursed back to vigorous life was basically destroyed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I need to touch fur

I've started something of a tradition where every winter I drive my parents from Ohio to Florida at the end of January then drive them back at the beginning of April. My parents are great people and really much more fun than a lot of people I know. The driving is the only really hard part of the trip unless my father, who is on blood thinners, manages to cut himself. So far I think he has managed to cut himself every time I've seen him for the last several years. Also he has a bit of a short temper but he's had that my whole life.

The truly worst part of the trip is being away from the zoo. I find my self craving fur covered creatures like an alcoholic craves their next drink. I find myself approaching strangers asking in a pleading voice if I can pet their dog. I only do this to people who are actually walking dogs.

I get some strange looks as I basically mug the animals petting them all over letting them lick me and rubbing my face into their fur. Hey, petting a stinky dog is better then petting no dog at all. I will ask the people any questions I can think of to prolong my fix. Eventually even the nicest people will get tired of standing there and pry their pet from my arms. Worse is when the dog tires of my attentions and tries to get away from me.

Animals are like oxygen to me. I need contact with them to survive. OK maybe not to survive but I do need contact with them to be happy.