Friday, March 15, 2013

New Additions and More to Come~

When Sean and I gave the coop a good clean out a few days ago, several things came to light. One of them being that a couple of our ducklings have gone broody. This is good news since we want to hatch some ducklings to sell at this year's farm swap at the Tractor Supply Company (TSC) in Bangor, Maine. Another revelation was that the fencing was due for some repairs; winter had taken a toll on the chain panels we use. Most surprisingly, was the discovery of an additional 3 roosters in with the hens- no spurs yet, small, and previously crow-less, we had hoped that we'd separated all the lads that needed re-homing about a month ago. If their "interest" in the hens was not a clear give-away, the new ability to crow was. Ugggh. Did we hatch out nearly entire clutches of roos??? Shouldn't it, at least statistically, be a 50/50 ratio??? Adding to the insult, these roosters were ALL Cochins; 2 partridge colored and the gorgeous little copper one I was so pleased with hatching. Let's do the math. That makes a total of 11 roosters living in separate quarters awaiting sale, re-homing, or a soup pot plus our 4 breeding boys; Aloysius, Ruffeo, Sebastian, and Cooper, AND 3 more Cochin roos! 18 Roosters!!! Which means, considering the hens that are "retired" and the gang of 14 roosters all NOT laying eggs, we are down to only 30 or so hens a laying. We did not like those numbers.

Though I prefer to purchase chicks from local farms, I wanted chicks immediately; I was "jonesing" for a chick fix- STAT! Which is why I started to call around to our local TSC to see if their chicks were in yet. Being in Maine, local is relative. I checked Ellsworth, Bangor and when neither of these had chicks, I also called our local feed stores. Chicks are expected, but no one had them in-store. I planned to head into Belfast for some other errands, so I popped into Yknot Farms on Route 3. where we purchased our Wyandottes a couple years ago. I was in business, not only did they have chicks, but they had some 10 day old, Rhode Island Red, pullets. I bought 5 for $20 and happily brought them home.

I want to breed some black and white speckled Cochins this year. I plan on breeding Cooper with our 4 Lacey Wyandotte hens and 3 Barred Rock hens to see what comes of that. I ordered 6 Black Copper Marans chicks from Muddy Hoof Farm and will get those at the first chicken swap in April. The new Copper Marans and our Americauna hens will be bred with Sebastian to create more Americaunas and "Olive Eggers" for next year. Aloysius will cover our Cochin hens. And, that leaves Rufeo to remain in the main yard with the Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Australorpe hens- which we will use exclusively for collecting eating eggs.

So, with all these plans in the back of my mind, we purchased our first chicks of the year. We will need to purchase some additional Cochin pullets, too- because we have 3 less than we thought!

Since the ducks and geese have obliged us with eggs at a steady rate, we borrowed an incubator and set some eggs. We are trying a little experiment. We set 24 duck eggs in the incubator along with 8 geese eggs. The remainder of the eggs collected over the last week were placed back into the duck nest in the coop- 10 in all. Our experiment is two-fold. First, we want to compare the hatch rate between the incubator and what the ducks hatch out. Last year, we let a duck go broody, but her eggs disappeared from her nest until we rescued the final 2 and finished hatching them inside. We are hoping for better results this time around. Secondly, it is cold still. Today was only in the 30's outside with a steady wind. I am curious to see if the eggs are viable so early in the season or if the cold impedes them from developing. We'll candle the eggs in the incubator next weekend to see if any have developed. If broody duck cooperates and sits on the clutch we gave her, we'll attempt to candle some of those, too, to compare. I am interested and hopeful. It would be great to have a couple dozen ducklings to bring to the TSC "Chicken Swap".

Our goats are still pregnant and growing those kids! Ruby has gotten HUGE in size and ungainly with it. Her greatly enlarged udder is producing milk in anticipation of kidding, but when that will happen is any one's guess. Sean felt the kid(s) moving this morning, but there are no clear signs of impending kidding. Leah and Rachel are both smaller in girth than Ruby. We think they are several weeks behind her and won't kid until next month. But, who are we kidding? We do NOT have this down yet. I am just happy they are showing all the sign of radiant, impending motherhood; fat bellies, shiny coats, enlarging udders and good appetites. And, that I have my kidding supplies ready to hand, just in case.

An unexpected and pleasant addition to our homestead is Jane. We heard through a friend about a 3 year old, French Alpine doe in need of a permanent home. Sean called the owner to discuss the situation and then drove to check her out after work on Monday. She is lovely. Jane looks very much like our Oberhausli, except her coat is longer, her head is slightly different in shape and she has a wicked set of horns! Sean checked her eyelids for color, nose and tail end for discharge(s), her stance, hooves, and overall appearance among other things. Jane was a pet doe and thus is wonderfully friendly. She walks on a leash better than our dogs! She birthed a single kid last year and was milked a little. All in all, she was a great find. Sometimes "free" is code for a "very costly vet bill in the making". This did not seem to be the case with Jane and we decided to take her. She is in isolation for a little while until we make certain that she is not carrying anything nasty that could impact our herd, but I have every expectation of her being a great addition for us.

That is what is going on in our corner of the world this week. In addition to animal gains, we got started with planting some 6 packs of tomatoes. I worked on creating additional mosaic eggshell jewelry pieces and I tried my hand at sewing some grain bag totes. I prefer making our jewelry, soaps, and scents, to be honest, but the totes came out decently and will certainly be more useful in this form than taking up space in the "milk room". And, if I can sell them, all the better!

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're glad for the company.
Sean and Sonja ♥


  1. What a beauty Jane is! Congrats on her and the new chicks!! :)

  2. Yay! Baby goats are the cutest, my doe just kidded last night. I can't wait to see the kids...

    Jane is very cute and I hope she doesn't have anything icky.

    And those chicks are totally cute!

  3. Such exciting times on the farm, enjoy those babies and your sweet Jane Doe.

  4. Congrats on the new additions! How exciting. Crazy that you guys have ended up with so many roosters! I really want to hatch out some of my own eggs, but I am so nervous about having to figure out what to do with the roosters.

  5. Great photos! Jane looks like a wonderful addition. Good luck with your new chickens - I got three Black Copper Marans last year. They lay beautiful eggs, but are the LOUDEST birds ever!