Monday, April 19, 2010

Excitement at Rebel Hen Ranch!

well there certainly has been a lot of happenings and excitement around the rebel hen ranch. now, hang onto your boot straps i am not a confederate. just want to make that clear as it seems like anytime one uses the the word "rebel" in rural settings folks immediately jump to conclusions. we call our little homestead rebel hen ranch because we live on rebel ridge. glad to have that out of the way.....

most of you think of april 15th as tax day. well, it turned out to be birthing day here on the homestead. two of our bantam hens had gone broody but they were always nest hopping and being a bit sporadic about the whole thing. so, i didn't really bother to count the 21 days it usually takes the eggs to start hatching. but in the back of my mind i figured i had at least a week to get prepared for the newcomers. the banty bungalow is not set up for a brood of baby chicks.

but last thursday when i let the bantams out of their hen house i noticed that the two broody hens were sharing the nest with the most eggs. hmm. they looked pretty cozy so i didn't separate them i just stuck the other eggs underneath them. i heard a strange noise but then broody hens always make strange noises.

we were headed to sacramento that day and liam and i were checking on the chickens when i heard a tiny "peep!" i opened the nesting boxes and there was a tiny chick the size of a golf ball. bantams are miniature chickens so the chicks are almost like bumble bees! here is Georgette and Ruby with their first hatchling.

i started panicking(remember i'm the worry wart)- we were leaving for the day and i hadn't set up any kind of brooder for them. the nesting boxes are high above the floor and the food and water are outside-there would be no way for the chicks to get around. we had to think fast! i had an old kennel from blue's puppy hood that i had been trying to sell. so we stuck the kennel into the bungalow -filled it with straw, food and water. then we had to move both broody hens, 2 baby chicks (at this point) and all the eggs into the kennel. hubby, liam and i worked quickly! after lots of flapping and pecking we managed to make the move.

i worried the whole day we were in the city. the next morning we were able to check on the situation. we now had 4 babies. i realized this dog kennel was not going to big enough and they would need to run around. so we brought out the old chicken brooder cage from past babies we have raised. we put it inside the hen yard and and hooked up the dog kennel to it. this seemed to worked. here are two of the chicks learning what to eat from their mamas.

chicken mamas are amazing mothers. here is a video-listen to georgette talking to her babies:

sadly one of the babies died. it appeared that the little one was squashed by one of the mamas. it was rather flat. so then there were 3. there were 6 eggs still unhatched and the mamas didn't appear to be setting on them anymore. i wondered if i should just get rid of them as i had heard they won't hatch if they are not getting mama warmth for all but 20 minutes of the day. i called my friend sue who has much experience in these matters and she said to leave them for a day or two. so glad we did as much to our surprise we had a new 4th baby after waiting a few days. so we decided to let the eggs stick around awhile just in case.

meanwhile....a storm brews. suppose to be a a big one! rain and snow expected thru thursday. today i was feeling horrible. sore throat achy-just plain awful. tried to homeschhool liam but spent most of the day on the couch napping.

around 5pm i realizes holy crap-the babies and their mamas are not in a storm proof arrangement. with not much energy liam and i whipped together quite the "crackshack" out of pallets and tarps.

it's really quite embarrassing as i take pride in my coops!

It had been several days since that last chick was hatched and the mamas really seemed to be ignoring the remaining eggs this time. i was able to reach in kennel when we were building the crackshack and they were not warm. i decided to to take the eggs out to give them more room. liam put them in shed while we finished. later i had forgotten all about the eggs and began doing a storm clean(putting all tools in the shed.)

much to my dismay-i knocked over the container with the remaining eggs. they fell on the shed floor and rolled away! i found 2. they were cracked and one egg was peeping!!!! yes, peeping! i quickly ran it to the mamas and stuck it under georgette getting pecked in the process! i have no idea what will happen i guess i'll find out in the morning. hope they don't shun the baby if it survives.

i managed to find all the other eggs in the shed-rotting eggs in the shed would not be pretty. the eggs seemed to be dead-cold, cracked and no peeping.

not knowing what to do with them i threw them into the burn pile hubby had going. i didn't want rotten eggs around. wait!- was that a peep i heard? liam said it wasn't but i'm not so sure---

in my haste to get my last post up i forgot some "green" to share with you. i finished my "wandering the moor shawl." a delightful great pattern from ravelry!

it is a delight. i ill make it again in the larger size!

i finished the green batt from rowen as seen in last post. i love it! it's so soft and shimmery-from the bamboo that is in it.

i have much fiber to show you but this post is too long so i leave you with a small skein of yarn. i found 2 balls of single ply handspun that i had left over from previous projects and i decided to ply them together. very happy with this spring color way.


soxchik said...

The wandering moron came out lovely. Nice work and beautiful color. And your new peeps are the cutest. I did not know they were so small. Thanks for sharing them!

Beryl Moody said...

Delightful post. Baby chicks are the best thing in the world. I love your new font too.

Carolyn Crane said...

OH, cute! I love that little video. Congrats on your new chicks. I hope that one last one survives.

Sharon said...

Ups and downs - the unpredictable. It's what you signed on for, but ya know - it's hard when you anticipated a strong healthy brood~ You know you're going to have a hearty group but no one likes loss.

magnusmog said...

such drama - good luck to the little bantams.

Luci said...

It's so exciting that you have broody chickens. None of mine have done that, but seems to be something that the bantums are especially good at. And I can't believe that you already have so much knitted from the batt.