Meet My Fine Feathered Friends

I have been meaning to do a pictorial of our menagerie of chickens and such for about a week now.  Unfortunately, a rotten cold plagued me and my family and I haven’t felt much like sharing anything, this past week.  Luckily, I am on the mend, and aside from two, the rest of my family is much better as well.  HALLELLUJAH!!

So, allow me to share a few of my favorite chickens, as well as a first look at Supermom’s 10 kits, and a sample of our daily egg collection as of late.  There might even be a surprise or two sandwiched in between all the cluckers.

First is Mickey, our young, handsome Black Polish Bantam Rooster.  He’s a real looker and seems to know it, but he’s not friendly with others, which is why he has a bachelor’s pad all to himself.

Mickey's named after my new brother-in-law

Mickey’s named after my new brother-in-law

Next is SilkiePoo.  Again, exotic and lovely to admire, but this Silkie is a bit spastic at the moment.  She/he/it is also in her/his/it’s own cage.  I tried to pair SilkiePoo with Mickey, but Mickey is just too aggressive.  So, until she/he/it is old enough, and/or the run is finally finished, she will be a bachelor/ette/whatever!

Kind of wicked lookin', really

Kind of wicked lookin’, really

Then there’s Granny, who isn’t as old as her name would suggest, but doesn’t she look like Granny to you?  She’s so sweet like a Granny too, this White Crested Polish hen.  She is bunked up with Daffy-Doo, another White Crested Polish hen.  However, Daffy’s crest is more like Mickey’s, spikey and jagged.

Granny

Granny

SamKitty just explained that he would really like to be right in the middle of these beautiful chickens, because he admires them greatly.  He also admires himself greatly and believes he’s too sexy for his shirt.  So he wanted me to share this picture of him, shirtless, of course, because he always models shirtless…because he is so hot…his words, not mine.

don't hate me because I'm beautiful

don’t hate me because I’m beautiful

My Dad is really getting nervous about SamKitty and his attraction to pretty chickens.  So he will probably not appreciate the humor of sticking this troubled, vain man-kitty in the middle of his chickens…or will he?

 

I’ve introduced Mr. M to you already.  He really is the finest specimen of Blue Copper Maran to be seen.  He was however, disqualified, for being mis-labeled a Blue Maran, when he was the only Blue Copper Maran in the building and was sure to win the grand champion prize.  Bygones.

I’ve also mention my fear of this dominant roo, as he truly gives me the strangest chills when he is around and has charged me on several occasions.  He actually got my youngest son in the lip, the other day.  So not cool!

He is suffering from double Bumblefoot at the moment and has been caged for the time being.  Dad will be operating on him real soon.  It’s a simple enough procedure for a man like my pop!  Mr. M will be good to strut again in no time.

It’s a catch 22 really, because I rather enjoy him caged, as do many of our other free-range roos.

Anyhow, here is Mr. M with two of our four guineas.  They have no names…they live to annoy us all.  But they are a beautiful annoyance and one day I will enjoy creating something with their beautiful feathers.  Until then, they serve as extra eyes on the farm, alerting us to anything out of the norm…and squeak, squawk, and honking all other hours of the day for no particular reason except to hear their own voice.

Some folks might say that about me and my writing!  Haha!

Supergirl, the high-flying hen, totally photo-bombed this pic

Supergirl, the high-flying hen, totally photo-bombed this pic

 

These guys just have one thing to say:  “We are the Sultans with Wings”(think Dire Straits)…that’s all…autographs are worthless, as no one can read the henscratch, but you’re welcome to try.

(think Dire Straits)

 That’s Daffy-Doo up on the feeder

 

Here’s a group of our free rangers going mad for greens, which were just delivered to their coop.  The second-step brooder box is above, with feeders for the layers and for all, hanging below.  In the spring, we will clean the coop real good, raking a lot of the mashed down, soiled hay into the compost and spraying down the roofs of the brooder box and laying boxes.  During the winter, we let the hay and shavings and compost-y materials such as discarded green scraps and chicken poo accumulate, as it adds needed warmth to the coop.  We also have the coop’s open chicken wired areas tarped securely to help with the heat and the brooder box has a heat lamp as well.

They go cuckoo for greens

They go cuckoo for greens

Right now, the ducks are in a large cage in the corner of the coop.  They are so nasty!  They destroyed two cardboard brooders in a matter of days, which is why they wound up in the coop.  Their food is suspended and their water is a dog bowl dish, since they wanted to swim in their waterer and spilled it everywhere anyways!!  We have to give them a fresh hay bed, daily, and put them outside in a larger, bottomless pin during the day, due to their mess-factors.  But even the chicks in the brooder box need fresh paper and shavings every 2-3 days to maintain sanitary, healthy conditions.  It’s about stewardship.

Our baby khakis, with a crested Huey, and then Dewey, and Louie

Our baby khakis, with a crested Huey, and then Dewey, and Louie

Aside from our quail, which a whole blog post was recently dedicated to, and our caged bantams, the majority of our laying hens are happy free-rangers.  They are supplemented with laying pellets, fresh garden greens, as well as some dinner scraps, and we will from time to time, put a little apple cider vinegar in their water.  Our eggs have won several ribbons at the few shows my dad has shown them at.  That is why I boast of them being award winning eggs.  Here is Sunday’s collection, although a few more were collected later in the evening.

Since their release, I hadn’t laid eyes on our pair of Sumatra Bantams, with the exception of Saturday evening.  They are a beautiful ornamental Japanese breed, given to us late last year.  They have made a home in the woods behind the caged area, and only pop up when they think no one is looking.  Dad told me that they are sleeping in the trees and do not intermingle with any of the others.  I miss them.  They are beautiful.  Now that Mr. M is caged, they have been spotted closer to the flocks, but they still kept a healthy distance and disappear when they realized humans were near.  This is the first time chickens didn’t automatically get with the program and enter the coop with all the others in the evening.  It’s rather amazing, really, how quickly new groundlings find their safe havens.  Proof those clucks are more than clucks!!

As this pair is ever elusive, now free, and I did not get a picture of them, while caged, you will just have to google them.

 

One of the many things dad has entrusted in me, is pairing mates.  I love this.  I was actually pretty good at this back in the day and got 4 human couples together based on my feelers, and I’m proud to report that all four couples are still together to this day.

Here’s a young couple, I recently paired, sharing their dinner.   Isn’t that lovely?!  When you allow the little things to give you joy, inevitably, they will.

True love in bloom

True love in bloom

A major predator on the land, that was caught red-handed today, carrying Lavender, our Pearl Guinea in his mouth, is Skaar.  BUSTED, BUDDY!  You can only imagine how I hate this.  This is why I am crossing my fingers for the soon return of a healthy husband and a week of warm, sunny days, so they can get the well-house/coop/run combo up and running.  But you know how things go; so many things pop up that demand attention and priorities shift.  It is the way of the day, I tell ya!~!  GEESH!

Here’s the naughty doggy, just a waggin’ his tail and grinnin’ next to his humble abode.  This is where he gets to hang out during the days now, chained to the tree.  Hopefully the chickens will keep their distance, because the boy has the thirst for chicken blood.  SUCH A BUMMER!!  The good news is Lavender, who believes she is a chicken, survived the ordeal.  Bad Bad Puppy!!!

will he ever learn??

will he ever learn??

These two are part of our quartet of fellows on death row.  They had the unfortunate misfortune of being born male, and we tend to eat males around here, since our ladies know how to work it in the egg laying factory.  It’s a shame such handsome fellas have to meet such a fateful demise, but alas, it is their purpose, after all.  Before you ask, yes, roosters tend to be tougher.  They need to be boiled longer and make great soups, as well as chicken and dumplings.  We fatten them up before the culling.  They really don’t know what’s happening until it’s too late.

our two-headed roo...or not

our two-headed roo…or not

My baby brought our favorite little girl into the house and put it in the tub.  I’m really not sure why, as I’ve learned not to question the Littlest Chicken Whisperer.  Like all boys, he’s prone to lie anyhow, so why bother!  Mamas has begun laying.  I was so excited, you would’ve thought I just became a grandmother.  Chickens have an odd effect on people, I tell ya!

cutest and sweetest lil' girl in the whole world

cutest and sweetest lil’ girl in the whole world

 

And then there is Chaca, our garden hog.  My crazy dad and crazy son captured Chaca and they are letting her root around on our spring/summer garden plot to get it all nice, aeriated and fertilized.  Chaca is just certain that one day she will escape her fate…but she’s destined for a luau.

The guys also killed and cleaned two wild hogs for the freezer.  It’s been a good hunting season with 4 deer and 3 hogs.  Our freezers are blessed beyond measure, our God is a Master of Provisions.  I give Him all praise for what has become of our lives, since our move to the farm.  He has taken us to a new level and is growing us, just like we’re growing the veggies and animals.  Life is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

I come from a long line of crazy

I come from a long line of crazy

 

Let’s not forget the bunnies!  Here’s SuperMama’s babes as well as the proud pop, Buck.

you can't see them all, but believe me, there are ten burrowed in there

you can’t see them all, but believe me, there are ten burrowed in there

Such a handsome bloke

Such a handsome bloke

 

 

Mr. Dominique met an early demise upon release.  I’m not sure if he was chased or trying to escape, all I know for sure is that my Lil’ Chicken Whisperer came back reporting that he’d found Mr. D’s body in the creek bed.  It’s a pitty, though I admittedly blamed him for the untimely culling of (un)Lucky.  His wife is still with us and has been claimed by Mr. Wellsummer.  What I’m not sure of, is how Mrs. Wellsummer feels about that.  But she seems happy enough to be a free-ranger now, so I’m not too concerned.

Mr. D, before his untimely demise

Mr. D, before his untimely demise, in an action shot

There are so many other chicks, pullets and older layers that I’ve not snapped a picture of.  These are a few of the ones that have a particular claim to some acreage in my heart.  Chickens know voodoo.  I’m just sure of it.  They have me under their spell.  I think about them all the time.  I talk about them and write about them and sing about them, even.  Working with them brings me an immense joy that I can’t describe except to say it surely comes from my Lord Jesus Christ, son of the God of Abraham; my stay and my stead.

He makes everything magical…just wish I could explain it in a way to save the world.  His majesty is beyond me, and at the same time, within and all around me!  Oh me oh my, my God is Good.

And on that note, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

VAYA CON DIOS

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Quail Isn’t That Special

Here on the farm, we raise various poultry.  We have our award winning chickens and roosters and their award winning eggs. We also have guinneas, quail, and our newest feathered friends, three baby ducks.  Each of these birds have different needs and different problems.  The guinneas pretty much care for themselves, and honk their annoying alarms on and off through out the day, while perching in trees, on the roofs, and occasionally bullying the chickens.  They are a rather rogue gang of noisy birds that I really don’t have too much to do with.

pretty pullets

pretty pullets

Our quail, however, are another story.  Quail are tiny and delicate and flighty.  They operate under a cult-like mentality, and rarely, will you be able to differentiate between the hens and roosters, unless you catch them in action, as they look nearly identical, male and female.  Some more avid, hands-on quail folk will tell you to squeeze their bottom, and if foam comes out, that means the quail is a girl.  I’ll pass on that.

A few days back, my Dad noticed that one of our quail hens was egg-bound.  In other words, her egg became stuck inside her on it’s way out.  This does not bode well for birds, being egg-bound, but at the time, I didn’t know that.   I did as instructed; we sat the lady in some warm water, and we could see that the worst possible outcome in such situations had taken place.  The egg had broken inside her.  The shell was most likely causing internal damage.

The bitty darling was not happy in the water and after cleaning her, helping to dry her, and moving her back to the infirmary cage, I knew things weren’t looking good.  She was stiffening.  She laid on her side with her legs unusually stretched out…she was dying.  We put her in a small animal carrier and brought her into the house to keep an eye on her over night, but when my Dad came over for a visit, he said she was not going to make it.

Farm life is full of both life and death.  Truly, there is no where else on earth that continually offers you all the aspects of life than the farm…besides a hospital.

Walking into the caged area often brings surprises, both good and bad.  From new layers, and new chicks to baby rabbits who didn’t make it through their first night, and bloodied roosters who apparently looked at their neighbors the wrong way. Some days bring about sorrow, as one fine blogger pointed out, the other day, when she lost a kit of baby rabbits.

She wisely shared Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 here.  Farming will help you grow a thick skin, but God’s Word will help you gently cope with the facts of life.

From the incubation stage forward, you deal with loss.  As you candle eggs to see which were truly fertile, you cannot help but mourn what might have been, with the unfertilized eggs.  No longer edible, these eggs are disposed of and forgotten.  It was the day before Christmas when our first quail hatched from the incubator.  Quail incubate fully within 16-24 days, depending on the breed.  Ours usually hatch around day 17.  They are a variation of Chinese painted quail and they lay the most precious mottled brown and khaki egg.

baby quail are itty bitty cuties!!

baby quail are itty bitty cuties!!

Our first quail hatchling did not survive the night.  It’s enough to make you question your methods.  But we know, from practice, that we did everything according to book.We dunked it’s little head so that it discovered water and consumption, we kept it’s box at a cozy 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some babies just weren’t meant to flourish.  Thus is life.  Like many premature births in nature, nature took it’s course.  Out of a dozen quail eggs in the beginning of incubation, 7 were born and 5 survived.

We feed our quail specified quail feed.  You can get this at your local feed store. It is of the utmost importance with all caged fowl, to keep their water and food containers clean and fresh.  This wards off disease and illness.  During the cold seasons, these little delicate birds require extra warmth.  With the use of heat lamps, you can keep your quail happy and cozy.

 

Quail eggs are such a rewarding, precious protein, and pairs will lay you an egg a day, if you offer them a comfortable environment.  I use 4-5 quail eggs per standard egg in recipes.  They are also fun to boil and peel, just remember to let them age in your fridge or in your cool cupboard for at least a week to allow air between the shell and membrane.  This will help with peeling all boiled farm-fresh eggs.  The tiny boiled quail eggs are fabulous uncut, in potato salad, but it’s hard not just to pop a few freshly peeled delicacies right in your mouth.  YUMMO!

Three week old quail note the temperature drop as I prepare their water

Three week old quail note the temperature drop as I prepare their water

After a few weeks in the hatchery box, with a warm lamp and a small amount of ventilation, these little peeps are ready to move to the caged area.  We have a pretty awesome assortment of chickens and roosters to keep our quail company.  Within only a month we have received eggs from the hatchery graduates.  They are of course unfertile, but even that changes quickly.  Yes, quail roosters grow into their roles of dominance and seeding rather quickly, and if you have the time to watch for such action, you can then band the leg of your hens and roosters, respectively.

I have yet to enjoy a bacon-wrapped quail or any other prepared quail, but my parents say they are divine eating.  We are definitely building our quail up for such a time.  But in the meantime, I truly enjoy watching them hop around in their spastic manner, attempting the occasional escape, only to find a waffle wall of wire in their way.  I love the rooster’s shrill-full crow.  It never fails to take me by surprise and give me a rush of goose flesh.

The latest surprise on the farm came in finding our first d’Uccle egg yesterday. D’Uccles are an exotic breed of bantam quail, and are originals. So I’m curious to see if we have another egg waiting today. I just know my dad is going to want to whip out the incubator when he sees what has been collected while he was gone. So I better be off! The farm work calls!

Mamacita and Papacito, the d'Uccles

Mamacita and Papacito, the d’Uccles

Until next time, this is the Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

Vaya con Dios!