Brooding Chicks: Week 1

I am coming to the end of my first week with my baby chicks. It has been a rough start, but now it’s more fun.

I think we picked the worst possible time of year to have our chicks delivered. Because we had planned on taking a trip to Lake Tahoe for Presidents’ Day weekend, we decided to have the chicks delivered the week after, the week of the 21st of February.

When we came closer to the due date, the whole midwest and western United States were hit with record-breaking freezing temperatures and storms. The chicks were coming from St. Paul, Minnesota via USPS Priority Post. I don’t know whether they get shipped by air or road, but either way it was going to be cold.

The chicks hatched and were accepted into the postal system on Sunday, 2/20/11, at 5:49 am (CST). Tuesday, 2/22, at 2:30 pm, the post office called me to come pick them up. That works out to about 60-hours in transit, when they need to have water and food within 48-hours… I think the holiday is what made it take so long – that and I probably could have had the post office hold them at the processing center for me to pick up, instead of my local station.

Needless to say, they were stressed. Out of 37 or 38 chicks, one was DOA, and 4 were not looking good. We started them on sugar water to boost their recovery and introduced chick start (non-medicated) after an hour or so. The four that were not feeling well were isolated in a little box, inside the brooder, nearest the heat source. They were given a mash of sugar water and chick start, handfed, for the most part.


27 of the chicks were picked up by my friends that afternoon, leaving us with 8 chicks: 3 not so healthy. The smaller population reduced the stress on the sick ones greatly for the afternoon and evening. By early evening, 3 of them were ready to go back in with the general population. The last one was showing great improvement by eating by itself and looking interested in the other chicks. Around 8pm we let her out to mix with the other birds. She seemed to be getting along nicely when we went to bed, but we woke up to here passed out and barely conscious. I don’t think she was getting any food or water through the night. I tried feeding her again by hand, but she was too listless. In a short amount of time she died. It was very hard on me. She was a Golden Polish, the breed I was most excited for…and I thought she was on her way to recovering the night before.

That second day one of the others started declining again, a Golden Laced Wyandotte, so she went back into the “ICU”. We handfed her the mash…and hoped…and hoped…then another one started declining rapidly. We must have not noticed her declining, because all of a sudden she was gone, too. The other one held on until the following morning.

In the other population that my friend took home, one of theirs died the next day. 5 chicks lost in all, but one bright note in all of this is that one of the questionable ones is looking like she will make it. She wasn’t showing the same signs as the other chicks that died, more like a spaz…it turned out that she has a problem with her eyes, which it seems is getting better. There was never any weeping or crusties around the eye – they just wouldn’t open all the way. Now one eye, the left, seems fine, and her right eye can only open partially. She is eating and drinking pretty well, and the others are not harassing her. She is still kind of a spastic, though. :) We call her Dorcas. I believe she is a Dominique.

Today is Day 6, and all 5 are seeming healthy and playful – chirping away while I work.

Brooding Chicks: Week 2

Our second week with chicks.

All 5 of our chicks are doing great. We had to move them to a new brooder, since the plastic tote was not much of a hurdle for our big Araucana, “Fatty Mama”. She is ready to fly.

Awhile back, in our pre-chick days, I had suggested the guest bathroom shower as a good place to brood our chicks. It has glass, see-through doors, it’s easy to clean, and there’s room to grow. Chris thought I was joking, I’m pretty sure…at least he didn’t take my idea seriously – until he saw Fatty Mama eyeing the boundaries of her little plastic tote. The next day he had found the perfect manzanita branch for a roost and had cut a box for the perfect sandbox for them. He had it all set up for them and was ready to move the chicks by the time I had my first cup of coffee.

Here are their new digs:


Everybody is doing great, even our semi-blind Dominique, Dorcas. She has no problem busting into the feed lines for her share, and the other chicks don’t pester her. She doesn’t really like “lights out” time, though.

All of the chicks are developing their own personalities, the twins, however, have pretty much the same personality, so I can’t really tell them apart. They aren’t really twins, but they are both the same breed (Egyptian Fayoumis) and have almost the same exact markings.

Next week we will start working some veggie cuttings and people scraps into their food.

Brooding Chicks: Week 3

 

We all seem to have settled into a bit of a routine, by now. The chicks all seem comfortable in their brooder (yes, that’s the shower in our guest bathroom) and we are all happily cohabitating in the house. The routine begins with one of us coming in to say good morning and refresh their water and check on them. The water takes constant vigilance, since they seem to love to kick pine shavings & poop into it.

Here’s the sandbox we introduced this week, which they just love! They kick around the sand, take sand baths, and eat it. They seem to just be in heaven when they are playing in it. Almost nothing can get them away…We ended up improving upon this little tray, since they kick the sand everywhere. Chris cut a little porthole into the side of it, which they love going in & out of; you can see it in the background of this photo:

You can also see from this picture that we added a new set of branches for roosts.

Dorcas continues to keep up with the rest of the chicks, even though she looks kinda funny, always with her neck cricked so she can see from her good eye. She is the last to notice treats, and still has a hard time getting up on the roost. and boy, does she whine! She is constantly whining. At first we thought she was in some kind of distress, because it’s a plaintive cry, but after awhile we figured out that she is just a very vocal bird…albeit kind of annoying. Love her still!

They also started eating from our hands this week.

Having lots of fun in the shower!

Brooding Chicks: Week 4

Brooding Chicks – Week 4

Wow, they are growing so quickly! It’s amazing how different they are looking, with their feathers coming in. Here’s a look at the two Fayoumis, before & after they feathered out.

Here they are, 3 weeks old:


and here they are, 4 weeks old:

 

The chicks can all make it up on to the roosts now:

The chicks have started sleeping on the roost now, and we are turning out the lights overnight. It’s funny how they put themselves to bed. Around sundown, we will hear a bunch of squawking (mostly from Dorcas) while they all arrange themselves up on the roost. Then we’ll go in there to check on them, and they all look at us innocently…”what?”…then we turn out the light and shut the door. More squawking ensues then all of a sudden: quiet.

Fatty Mama, the Araucana, has taken on the role of rooster in this family of hens…she is the watchdog. Sometimes I get the feeling she’s calculating square roots, or something, because she just looks like a thinker.

Yellow Brandywine Tomato

Details

  • Open-Pollinated: ?
  • Type: Indeterminate
  • Shape: Slightly flattened fruit, with slightly rough skin
  • Color: golden-yellow
  • Maturity: 80 days
  • Size: large fruit: 6″ diameter
  • Yield: ?
  • Taste: 
    • rich, full flavor that is very uncharacteristic of yellow varieties
    • “one of the best-tasting yellow tomatoes we have ever trialed” 
  • Disease Resistance or Environmental Tolerance: ?

Notes:

  • golden-yellow version of the Brandywine
  • The Amana Orange (from Seeds of Change) is also called a “yellow version of the Brandywine”, so i’m wondering if these are the same…

Sources:

Results from My Garden:

 SEASON SOURCE DATES PLANTS SPACING MATURITY YIELD PER PLANT AVG SIZE DISEASE
                   

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White Wonder Tomato

Details

  • Open-Pollinated: ?
  • Type: indeterminate
  • Shape: ?
  • Color:  translucent skin, yellow more than white
  • Maturity: 85-90 days
  • Size: 
    • large fruits: 1-2 lbs
    • 5-6 oz according to another source
  • Yield: ?
  • Taste: 
    • “extraordinarily sweet tasting tomato”
    • “mild & sweet”
  • Disease Resistance or Environmental Tolerance: ?

Notes:

  • believed to be related to “White Apple Tomato” from the 1860’s

Sources:

Results from My Garden:

 SEASON SOURCE DATES PLANTS SPACING MATURITY YIELD PER PLANT AVG SIZE DISEASE
                   

Viva Italia Tomato

Details

  • Open-Pollinated: ?
  • Type: ?
  • Shape: plum
  • Color: ?
  • Maturity: ?
  • Size: ?
  • Yield: ?
  • Taste: ?
  • Disease Resistance or Environmental Tolerance:
    • “excellent disease resistance” (source?)

Notes:

Sources:

Results from My Garden:

 SEASON SOURCE DATES PLANTS SPACING MATURITY YIELD PER PLANT AVG SIZE DISEASE
                   

Valencia Tomato

Details

  • Open-Pollinated heirloom
  • Type: indeterminate
  • Shape: round
  • Color: orange
  • Maturity: midseason
  • Size: 8-10 oz, large
  • Yield: ?
  • Taste: 
    • vibrantly flavored
    • full, complex tomato taste
    • great balance of acid-sweet
    • bursts with flavor
    • pineapple-like as well as buttery
    • Meaty with few seeds
  • Disease Resistance or Environmental Tolerance: 
    • good choice for northern or cooler growing areas

Notes:

  • family heirloom from Maine
  • is it called Valencia for the orange, or Valencia, Spain?
  • One vendor says it looks just like a navel orange on the vine

Sources:

Results from My Garden:

 SEASON SOURCE DATES PLANTS SPACING MATURITY YIELD PER PLANT AVG SIZE DISEASE
2010                  
2011                  
2012                  
2013                  
2014