So Fred mentioned in one of his recent entries that we’d decided to put together a purebred flock – Black Copper Marans – to raise in the old chicken yard. He ordered eggs from two different places, and one of the shipments came in two days, but the other one was shipped in Georgia and … Continue reading “3/31/09”

So Fred mentioned in one of his recent entries that we’d decided to put together a purebred flock – Black Copper Marans – to raise in the old chicken yard. He ordered eggs from two different places, and one of the shipments came in two days, but the other one was shipped in Georgia and went to freakin’ NEW JERSEY before it finally ended up here, a week after it had been mailed out.

Good thing she shipped them Priority, isn’t it? I guess Parcel Post would have taken a month.

We put the first batch of eggs in the incubator (I have the hardest time coming up with the word “incubator” – my mind always serves up “humidifier” instead for some reason) as soon as we got them, and since the second batch of eggs arrived five days later than the first, we put them in the incubator, but had to order a second incubator (as eggs reach time to hatch, they have different humidity requirements) to put the second batch of eggs in when it was time for the first batch to begin hatching.

Several days after the second batch of eggs were placed in the incubator, Fred candled them (ie, held a bright light up to each egg to see if there was anything growing in them). He reported to me that of the 40 eggs in the incubator, it looked like only one – possibly two – had any growth.

He informed me that chicks raised singly are “weird” and “warped.” We began brainstorming about what to do. We dithered for a few days. He called around to various hatcheries. He offered that we could get a batch of chicks from one of the hatcheries to arrive the day before hatching (on the first batch) was to begin, and then they could all be raised together.

Once he’d offered up the idea, I pushed him to do it. Who wants a chick who’s “weird” and “warped”?

(Yes, I heard you say “Fred does. He married you, didn’t he? LOL!” Shaddup.)

So Fred ordered a batch of what I call the “Shit no one else wants” special. Basically, we’d get a mish-mash of chicks that hadn’t been sold in a batch to someone else. After the chicks were ordered, Fred went and candled the eggs again.

Suddenly we potentially have 20 eggs hatching, but some of the “membranes are loose and weird.” (I am declaring this goddamn chicken thing to be right the fuck out of control. This time next week, depending on how many of the Marans hatch, we could have 150 chickens. JESUS CHRIST.)

We got 26 chicks from the hatchery this morning. They’re awfully cute, and we got some interesting looking ones. I expect there’ll be more roosters than hens (even though they’re supposed to be “straight run”, ie – “you get what we grab.”).

And tomorrow the hatching begins. Maybe. Or maybe nothing will hatch at all.

I find that this whole ordering-eggs-through-the-mail is really not my sort of thing. I can’t handle the stress – will they get here in a timely manner? Will they have been run through an X-Ray, thus potentially causing deformed chicks? Will any of them be fertile?

I’ve suggested to Fred that if we get less than 10 from the eggs, we cut our losses, add them to the General Chicken Population of the Back Forty, and make a purebred flock of Buff Orpingtons. If we get more than 10, we’ll go ahead with the Marans flock.

I bet you never knew life with chickens could be this fascinating, did you?


2009-03-31 (8) 2009-03-31 (9)

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I started off the day angry and annoyed yesterday, actually. I had a dental appointment at 8, an appointment that’s been scheduled and written on the calendar for about a month. But then Fred informed me on Sunday that the chicks might arrive, and when they arrive the post office always calls pretty early, and though I suggested that Fred go into work late and deal with the chicks himself, that didn’t happen.

Naturally, TEN MINUTES before I needed to be on the road driving to the dentist’s office, Fred called to report that the post office had called and I needed to go get the goddamn chicks. I swore a blue streak during my drive to the post office (it’s really close, so I had to swear fast!), I got the box o’ pissed-off-sounding chicks, and drove them home. Fred had set up the brooder in the garage on Sunday, so all I had to do was take each chick out of the box, dip its beak in the water, and then set it free in the brooder.

Except I had to LEAVE RIGHT NOW or risk being late for my appointment. I called Fred and asked, in an exasperated manner, if the beaks needed to be dipped RIGHT NOW or if I could wait ’til later. Exasperated by my exasperation, he said it could wait.

I made it to my appointment about three minutes late (according to the clock on my cell phone. The clock in my car said I was ten minutes late. None of the clocks in my life are in accordance with each other.). I was there to have a filling replaced in a tooth on the top in the front of my mouth, which meant they had to numb up my lip, and part of my nose went numb as well.

It’s not a pleasant sensation.

That went pretty quickly, and I was out of there by 8:45. Since our litter reserves were hitting critical levels (I only had two 40-pound buckets of litter, and one 25-pound bucket of litter left – not NEARLY enough!), I went to Sam’s.

Did you feel the earth shake yesterday? I’m sorry about that. For the first time EVER, I went into Sam’s with a list (kitty litter and an entrance mat), and left (duh duh DUH!) WITH ONLY THE THINGS ON MY LIST.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I eyeballed the yoga pants, and I stared longingly at the underwear, and I considered the 300-pound bag of M&Ms, but I walked out with just the litter and the mat, and had to call Fred and report how awesome I am, because I’m pretty sure that has never ever ever happened before in the history of me.

Fred was distinctly underwhelmed. HE JUST DOES NOT UNDERSTAND.

Naturally, since my numbed-up lip made it hard to talk clearly, the cashier struck up a conversation with me. OF COURSE.

I left Sam’s and stopped at Wal-mart on the way home to pick up dog food and a few grocery items (I’m pleased to see that the price of milk had dropped to a reasonable level), and OF COURSE on my way out the door the women working at the door had to strike up a conversation with me. She wanted to know what kind of dogs I had, and how big they were. And did I mention the numb lip making it hard to speak clearly? I could see on her face that every time I said something, it took her brain several long seconds to decipher what I’d said.

I stopped at the bank, and then headed home.

At home, I unloaded the car, then went out to the garage and proceeded to dip the beaks of the new chickens into water – well. Actually, first I had to ask Fred where he’d put the rocks that we put in the bottom of the waterer. Little chickens are tiny and stupid and prone to fall over asleep where they stand, and it is no fun to find a drowned baby chicken, believe you me. So Fred didn’t know where he’d left the rocks, so I was wandering all over hell and creation before he decided that maybe he’d left them over by the wood shed after he cleaned them off a few weeks ago.

I found them, put the rocks in the bottom of the waterer, dipped the beaks of the new chickens, and then left the garage and almost had a heart attack when I found someone waiting in the driveway. It was a guy who regularly buys eggs from us, stopping to see if we had any. (I am coming to decide that the only real service the “Fresh eggs – $2.00” sign provides is to bring in new customers. People who’ve bought from us before stop by regularly to buy again. I find that the more often it happens, the less it bothers me, actually.

(And at this point, the money we make from the eggs we sell pretty much pays for the chicken feed and scratch. They’re paying their own way, bless their hard-working little hearts.)

The baby chicks taken care of, I went over to the blue chicken coop to check on the other little chickens. Fred wrote about this yesterday, Charlie is recuperating (reCOOPerating, HA HA!) in the blue coop amongst the smaller chickens, and also the white silkie went broody, so we moved her into that coop (and some eggs for her to hatch. I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH CHICKENS.) as well because we’re a little leery of the dogs around baby chickens.

When I went into the coop to check on Charlie, she was in a nest box, and she was laying on her side with her head bent at an odd angle, and I panicked.

“Chuck!” I said. I went over and touched her, and she started flailing around. “Chuckles, buddy, what’s going on?” I said. She honestly looked like she was dying. I picked her up and set her on her feet, and she fell over again and began flailing. I finally picked her up and put her on the floor of the coop and she sat there and blinked and looked around, both her wings trembling, and then walked over to the food and began eating. I decided that since there wasn’t much straw in the nest box, she’d slumped over onto her side in her sleep, and then since she didn’t have the use of both her wings, she couldn’t get back up.

Later, I saw that she’d left the coop and was out in the little yard with the little chickens. When I went over to toss some scratch she said “Hey, lady, I would like to get back into the coop, but as I have twisted-up toes and cannot use my injured wing to balance myself, what happens is that I begin walking up the ramp, lose my balance, and go tumbling off the ramp. Look! Let me demonstrate that for you! Don’t you feel like a cruel and abusive chicken owner?”

So I helped poor crippled Charlie back into the coop. When Fred got home, he filled up the nest box with straw, so that hopefully she won’t go falling onto her side and flail around and scare me (because it’s all about ME, duh).

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Yesterday I dragged a Cat-It water fountain out of storage. I’ve had it for a while (I got it for free – earned it with Fresh Step Paw Points! They don’t seem to offer the water fountains anymore, though.) and the last few days I’ve been trying to decide what to do about the water bowl situation in the kitten room. I have two big bowls filled with water in there, but they’re awfully high and heavy and it’s a pain to always have to fill them (and I kind of worry that the water level will get too low when I’m not paying attention and a kitten will have to lean over the bowl and end up falling in and god knows kittens are not the most coordinated little beasts). I used to have a lot of smaller bowls, but I think I tossed them in the great “Oh my god, I have TOO MUCH STUFF IN THIS HOUSE!” purging of 2008.

Anyway, when I got the Cat-It last year, I set it up in the front room for my cats and they completely ignored it – it appears they prefer the Petmate fountain in the bathroom upstairs, or the Drinkwell fountain in the laundry room. (Actually, a couple of them just prefer their water, unmoving, in a bowl. SO unadventurous.) So I put it in storage and forgot about it until recently.

Yesterday, I filled it up and took it into the kitten room, and plugged it in. I half-expected there to be a stampede of kittens to the new exciting thing in the room, but they completely ignored it for about half an hour. Eventually, Phinneas went over to check it out, he sniffed at it, and then he REARED UP ON HIS BACK LEGS AND DANCED AWAY FROM IT.

Oh, if I’d only had the camera with me. And turned on. And pointed at him.

Ah well – I can live with missing the photo opportunity, since I was snuggling kittens at the time.

This morning, I saw at least two kittens drinking out of the fountain, so apparently overnight they had a meeting and decided that the water fountain was A-OK.

2009-03-31 (1)
“Madame, quite frankly I am appalled that you would take such liberties with me. Did I indicate that a belleh rub would be welcome? I did not.”

More kitten pics over at L&H.

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2009-03-31 (11)
One thing Mister Boogers does not het? Sleeping.

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2008: Shea Butters would be an excellent stripper name.
2007: No entry.
2006: It was so friggin’ cute I made Fred listen to it, too.
2005: I have my finger on the pulse of pop culture, apparently.
2004: A day in the life.
2003: What makes me crazy.
2002: No entry.
2001: No entry.
2000: Okay, enough of the wallowing.