Thursday, March 28, 2013

Growing our flock: Hatching Eggs

About a week and a half we got a borrowed incubator from a friend. We got it all set up and let it run for a day to make sure it was in good working order. The plan was for this to be a homeschooling project along with growing our flock. However I might just be having more fun than the kids. ;) My friend Andrea, from Cluck Dynasty, gave us a dozen hatching eggs. Before introducing you to the eggs, I'd like to introduce the parents.
The mothers:
Rosie: not sure what her lineage is, Rhode Island Red cross??

Buffy: Red Star crossed with Ameraucana??

Midnight: Black Australorp/Ameraucana cross

The father:
Westly: Black Copper Maran

They have another rooster but there's hardly a chance he's the father of any. Too bad though b/c he's adorable!!
Cotton: Bantam Cochin Frizzle

The eggs:
Before setting the eggs I candled and marked the air cells. I also marked an X on one side of each egg and another letter for identification on the other side. 

The brown eggs are Rosie's, the grey-blue ones on the left are Midnight's and the blue ones on the right are Buffy.

At the end of day 2, I candled all the eggs again. Rosie's eggs are hard to see in but all the rest had this circle in the middle of the yolk. By then the eyes,head, ears and heart already started developing.

I candled the eggs again on day 4. Every one of them had veins!! It was difficult to photograph but so exciting to see! By then their noses, tongues, legs and wings all developed.

Today is day 9. By now, their genders have been determined. Their beaks and feathers have begun to form. And the digits on their legs and wings have become visible. As of today, the embryo has begun to look like a bird. Last night I candled all the eggs once again and marked the growth of the air sac. All air sacs are growing nicely. Some of the embryos were hard to see but the lighter eggs showed me something very exciting; movement!! I watched several little tiny embryos swimming around in their eggs.

12 (+/-) days until hatching! I'll update again before then.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Suburban Homesteading - March 2013

Spring is here and our new little suburban homestead is coming together nicely. Recently I was reading a local urban homesteader's blog and was inspired. Lanette at Homesteading on the Home Front has a series called A Walk Around the Homestead. That was where the idea for this post came from.

Betsy says "Whatcha waiting for!? Let's go!" 

The girls: Cottontail and Mopsy
The rabbits have done some growing!! Hubby needs to get working on adding the extra cages to the hutch. The girls are close to old enough for breeding so they will need to be separated. We'll have baby bunnies before we know it. I'm beginning to think we may end up having someone else process them once they are old enough. I have no problem with them going from our backyard to our freezer, I just don't know if I'll be able to do it myself. But we have quite awhile before we need to worry about that. The rabbits have another job and that is to help fill the compost bin under their cages. It is coming along very nicely. It's almost deep enough to add the worms. I'm looking forward to some amazing compost for next year's garden!

Speaking of gardens; we've rethought the garden for this year. This year we're giving square foot gardening a try.The bed is all ready and the strawberries are planted. We have more strawberry plants than we originally planned. The 6 plants we bought last year turned into 82 plants this year. We've given a lot away and still have 8 squares of strawberry plants! The rest of the garden will be planted soon. There will be tomatoes, peas, carrots, spaghetti squash and cucumbers.

Last, but not least, the chickens! The chicken coop and run was finished a couple weeks ago and the girls are loving it! We had a very windy storm their first week out and it all stood up well to the test. The girls haven't needed any help in learning to go into the coop at night but still haven't been roosting. I think it's the round roost that's the problem so we'll have to change that out. Their personalities are really coming out now. Betsy, our Buff Orpington, is our tame one that likes to be held and petted. She's the first out of the coop in the morning and the first to greet me when I bring their daily treats. Amelia, our Black Australorp, is the next tamest. She likes to be petted but not really held. The other night when I peaked into the coop (through the nest box) before closing it up for the night, she jumped into the nest box to be petted. Henrietta, our Easter Egger, tolerates being petted but doesn't love it and doesn't like to be picked up. She, however, is the one that will chase a dog and jump for treats. It's so much fun to watch her. Our flock is not complete yet. The city allows us to have 6. We have the room for 6. So we'll have 6. We're not ordering chicks this time though. We're hatching eggs! Soon we will be getting a dozen eggs from a friend and setting them into a borrowed incubator. The kids and I are so excited!

I plan to do more of these post throughout the year so be on the lookout. Until then, here's a few more pictures:

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Monday, March 18, 2013

March 5th - March 17th in Pictures

March 5th

March 6th

March 7th
Betsy says hi!

March 8th
No picture :(

March 9th
Riding through a car wash for the first time

March 10th
Someone climbed into my spot as soon as I got up.
March 11th
Em and Gizmo: Gizmo's gated off b/c she thinks the chickens want to play with her.

March 12th
The cat sleeping very soundly

March 13th
No picture :(

March 14th
Sean's crazy hair!

March 15th
Sick baby :(

March 16th
Betsy and I

March 17th
Sprouts for the chickens

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Feb. 16th - March 4th in Pictures

Feb.  16th
Not the best picture but it's the only one I got that day.

Feb. 17th
Em has learned to color and she loves it.

Feb. 18th
Reading with a friend.

Feb. 19th
Breakfast: Em now sits at the table with the big kids.

Coloring again.

Feb. 20th
Taco night: Em enjoyed it.

So did Spencer.

Photo fail of the big kids! lol

Feb. 21st
Sleeping beauty

Feb. 22nd
Donuts and coloring

Once the sugar high wore off they needed some down time. 
Cartoons to the rescue.

Feb. 23rd
No picture...oops!

Feb. 24th
The coop is nearly done!!

Feb. 25th
Em welcoming our new daycare baby. If you look closely you can tell that Em was actually patting her back.

Feb. 26th
Happy birthday me!! Sean told Grandma that a princess Lego set would make a great gift for me. I love it!

Caught red handed! Maddy moved her pillow and blanket to her door way so she could look at a book at bed time. I didn't make her move and she eventually fell asleep like that; book open and all.

Feb. 27th
Em thought she's big enough to skip naps. She was down for the night by about 6:00.

Feb. 28th
Em loves her new friend! 

March 1st
"Whatcha doing daddy?"

March 2nd
Already loves books.

March 3rd
The chicken coop and run are done! More on that in a later post. For now, here's the kids with the chickens.

March 4th
A story of the pug and the chickens:

Gizmo says "hi, do you want to play?"

The girls gang up:

Henrietta takes off chasing Gizmo. You can just barely see Gizmo's back leg right under the nest box. Later, Gizmo had her front paws on the wire. Betsy, with wings flapping, charged Gizmo, jumped up and kicked Gizmo's paws. I'm sad I missed that picture.

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