Tag Archives: baby chicks

One Week to the Next

This weekend was not exactly balmy, but it was warm enough to continue melting the snow.  What a difference a week makes during spring in Minnesota!  It was only 9 days ago when we were dumped on and school was canceled because of all the snow. (See my last post).  Besides a few random piles here and there, all the snow is now gone.  Hooray!  (It is Minnesota though and more snow over the next month is a definite possibility).

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Last weekend our vegetable garden had a foot of snow covering it.  Today?  No snow in sight and the rhubarb is even peeking out of the soggy soil.

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The chickens were finally able to escape the coop and do some free-ranging after a long winter.  They headed for a dirt pile that we have and got busy scratching and doing whatever it is that chickens do.DSC_0115

The warmer temps allowed us to get outside and start working on all those spring chores.  I spent a lot of time walking around with my garden shears and cutting back various plants, like the Annabelle Hydrangea along the pole shed…

DSC_0110…And the ornamental grass, Sedum, coneflower, and miniature Joe Pye weed along the granary.

DSC_0120Jesse helped me clean up our raised beds with strawberries and blueberries.  We raked out the dead leaves, pulled some random weeds, and raked up some pine needles to freshen up the mulch.  This will be our third season with the blueberry plants and we are hoping that some of the big bushes finally produce a good amount of fruit.

DSC_0118We also found time to prepare for our baby chicks that are due to arrive some time at the end of next week.  They will be inside the house in this box for the first five days so that we can keep an eye on them and make sure to keep them warm and drinking water.

DSC_0122Jesse also cleaned out the brood boxes for his beehives and they are all ready for the new bees. We are not exactly sure when to expect them, but likely at the end of April.

Spring is definitely rolling along here in Minnesota and we could not be happier.  🙂

Lynell

 

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Filed under Animals, Chickens, Daily life, Flower, Gardens, Vegetable

A Blustery Day

I think we can all agree that it has been quite a winter, no matter where you live.  The days with snow and subzero temperatures have been too many to count for us here in Minnesota.

Today is just another one of those days.  The wind is absolutely howling out there at around 30 mph. With temps around 5-7°F, those high winds are creating wind chills of around -16°F on this bright and sunny day.
DSC_0001Jesse has spent a lot of hours clearing snow around the farm this winter.  He is outside now trying to clear the snow and break through the drifts, knowing he will need to do it again later this evening again because of the blowing.

DSC_0002Like so many days so far this winter, we are in a wind chill warning through Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to plunge further below zero and we can look forward to wind chills of -35° F to -45° F tomorrow.  Brrrrr!!!!

We just received the robo-call from the school district that all classes and activities are canceled for tomorrow…again!! We have had 3 days of school canceled because of frigid temperatures so far this month.  Our youngest (and the only chick left in the nest) celebrates every time we get word of another cancellation, but I doubt he will think it is so great in April when he is making up the days over the scheduled spring break. 🙂

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Since I am not outside doing this…

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I have managed to entertain myself indoors by starting to dream of spring.  We are going to refresh our flock of laying hens this spring and have also decided to order some chicks to raise for eating again. So, I have been paging through this catalog… (Murray McMurray Hatchery).

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After much deliberation, I ordered 12 baby chicks of 7 different varieties for our new laying hens and 25 chicks for meat birds.

Thinking about and planning for spring makes the long cold winters a bit more tolerable, don’t you think?

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Another way of coping with blustery winter days is to find a sunny spot inside and curl up on a cozy blanket, bathing yourself in sunshine.

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Wherever you are, I hope you are staying warm and finding your own ways to cope with this crazy winter!

Lynell

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Filed under Daily life

More Chickens…Whether we need them or not

In the dark days of this past winter in Minnesota, we once again found ourselves paging through the McMurry Hatchery catalog and trying to decide if we should order some chicks again this spring.  We now have 7 laying hens who are keeping us well supplied with eggs (see their winter free-ranging escapades here).  In our freezer, we have about a half-dozen chickens remaining from our last batch of meat birds.  Although we probably did not need any more chickens, we could not resist and placed an order anyhow.

On April 21st, the phone rang early in the morning.  It was the post office letting us know that our chicks had arrived and were available to be picked up.  Yes, these cute little baby chicks got shipped from the hatchery to our post office in this box.

Our order this year was the following:

  • 18 Jumbo Cornish Rock Hens (meat birds)
  • 2 Partridge Cochins Hens
  • 2 White Polish Hens
  • 1 Aracuana Hen
  • 2 Dark Brahmas Hen
  • 1 Free Rare Exotic Bird
I was most excited about ordering the White Polish hens because they have never been available when I have ordered before.  When fully grown, these birds have a big plume of feathers on their head and I find them very comical.  Even as a baby chick you can see the beginnings of the hairdo on this little girl.

We picked them up at the post office and quickly got them settled into their new home – a box that we will keep in the house for about a week so that we can keep a close eye on them to make sure they are all eating and drinking.

Initially, we keep all the chicks together because they are about the same size and the numbers help them stay warm.

Another reason we keep them in the house at first is to protect them from their primary predator – our cats.  When I opened the windows for some fresh air on a nice day, Tiger heard their little peeps and could hardly resist trying to jump through the screen.  He spent a good part of the day gazing longingly into the sun room at the chicks in that box.

Just in case he slips into the house unnoticed, we keep a screen on top of the box as a second line of protection.  I am happy to report that unlike every previous year we have had chicks, to date the cats have been unsuccessful in scoring a tasty chick snack.

After about a week in the house, we moved the chicks out to the chicken coop and separated them into two different boxes:  the meat birds in one and the new laying hens in another.  The meat birds grow at an alarmingly fast rate and quickly outsize the layer chicks.  In fact, they grow so fast that we only kept them in their separate box for about another week before moving them into the barn where they have a lot more space.

The meat birds basically spend their days eating, drinking and messing up their pen.  These commercially developed hybrid birds are bred to only be interested in eating so they grow fast and tender.

They have already grown very big and are starting to fill in their feathers.  The cruel reality however, is that in another 3-4 weeks, we will load them all up and take them to a farm about an hour away for processing.  We will go pick them up about a week later…and they will provide many wonderful meals for our family.

Our new layer chicks on the other hand…well, they are still pretty darn cute.  They are growing steadily and all seem healthy.  Their feathers are starting to fill in and most of their chick fuzz is gone.

The White Polish hens are starting to sprout their crown of feathers now and they already make me laugh.

We have only lost one of the layer chicks.  I found her dead by the feeder one morning when I came out to the coop.  We know it was not the cats, but have no idea what caused her death.  Thankfully, everyone else seems to be doing great and in a month or so, their larger size should minimize the threat of any cat attacks.

Once they are bigger, we will slowly start to introduce them to the rest of the flock.  These gals should be laying eggs beginning some time in September or October.  We will have to start selling our overflow of eggs!

Maybe next year I will resist the urge to order more chicks…or then again, maybe not.

Lynell

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