Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ben meets Gordon

Welcome to the world, little Gordon. Ben is holding him just hours after he emerged from his shell. He is a feisty little guy - we could hear him cheeping from inside the shell, in the incubator, and all the way across the house! He continues to have a major personality. I will have the rest of the hatch day pictures up tomorrow hopefully. We've been busy with our "hatchery" the past couple days, making sure the little ones adjust to the outside world. We also have little Alex who looks like a Reese's peanut butter cup, and little Buffy, a Buff Orpington hen. Pictures of hatch day when you click. Just go up a folder in the album to see more from May.

Ben’s 4th birthday!

Neighbors and friends over for Ben's party. We had a wonderful time despite the sprinkles - I didn't even notice the misting! You can see Ben's requested blue cube cake here. He also brought his uke out to play. Pictures available by clicking this one.

Mother’s Day Magic!

On top of Mt. Walker for a Mother's Day weekend treat - such a fun time with my three men! Mt. Rainier is just to the right of my head - maybe you can see its faint outline. Click photo for more pictures.

It has been VERY exciting around here! Two hens have gone broody for Mother’s Day weekend and are crammed into the same nesting box every night helping share egg warming duty. And I have seen three viable embryos squirming around in their shells (in the incubator). Merlin is assuming his fatherly role with great seriousness, too. I try to linger at the coop during tuck-in so I can talk sweetly to Jersey (the broody hen) and commend her. But Merlin leans way over and looks upside-down under his roost to check on the two hens crammed into the nesting box. Seeing them there, he then glances over at me and hops right off his roost, landing with a thud on the floor (because he is so big) and comes over to the coop door and sharpens his beak menacingly while glaring at me sideways from under his floppy comb. I back up and start closing the door, assuring him I am just looking after the food and water. Then I go to the other door to check on the food and he ker-thunks his way over there to glare at me until I close the door. I am going to start wearing my chaps down there because it’s getting warm here and if he decides to use that beak on my bare legs it won’t be fun! He has small claws on his feet but they are growing, too. As is his spur. Funny guy – such a real character! It is so interesting to watch!

I’ve already had a wonderful breakfast made by Dave – as he always does here – and the boys are all outside playing or working in the sun. I wanted to get these pictures up for family far away, but near to our hearts, so you could be part of the day. I hope you’ve enjoyed your Mother’s Day as well and know we are thinking of you! I had fun talking to Mary and my mom this morning, with the loud racket of boys in the background. And I’ve left a few surprise Mother’s Day calls to dear friends – and fellow mothers 🙂 Love you all!

UPDATE UPDATE! Dave just reported in that there are BABIES now in the robin’s nest (not sure if she is a robin) and the kids just found TADPOLES in their little tub they’ve been watching for over a month! BIG tadpoles swimming around! It’s magic here!

spring chickens!

Ben is helping me turn the eggs at least three times a day. He is looking forward to meeting some baby peeps next Sunday!

Last night when I candled the eggs (with a new contraption I made from a flashlight, a box, and a piece of wood, and a lot of tape – see box at right of this photo) I got to see some embryos MOVING AROUND! It was like holding a piece of the Creation moment right in your hand. Or watching an alien on a space ship. It was so cool! I am so excited to see some life in there at last. My candling efforts had been difficult the last few days – it has to be pretty dark, and you have to block out almost all the light from the candling source so your eyes can focus on the egg contents only (otherwise they’re too stimulated by the contrast between light and dark and your rods can’t help you pick up the subtle movements). It is getting really exciting here!

Then the most exciting finding of all this morning...Jersey is broody! She and HollyRamona had snuggled into the same nesting box last night (the most preferred one in the back corner) and I couldn't get the eggs out. So I came out this morning and found Jersey still there, carefully concentrating on those eggs. She wouldn't even blink when I opened the hatch and offered some corn. They say you need to move broody hens somewhere quiet but she sure looks happy and just fine in her box. She is a big hen so she put her rump out to the open area and I put a bunch of new shavings in up against her so she would feel cozy and private. We'll see if she sticks with it. This is so exciting! So 21 days from now could be interesting, too!

Here are all the eggs, and the largest one in the front with the HR on it was found this morning - it is from HollyRamona I am nearly certain! She is the only other blue egg layer, and it's bigger than the "girls'" eggs who just started laying. Finally, I found it on the coop floor - she lays her eggs from the roosting bar at night and that would explain why many of them have broken depending on which roost she's on (how high up and how many shavings to cushion the landing). SOOOO exciting to see our girl doing well and even laying! So of course I trotted it right into the warmer and we'll see if we can hatch another factory of sweet.

the geoducks won the day

It's a gorgeous sunny day here so we took a long neighborhood walk down to Manitou Beach because it's super low tide. I hoped to dig up a geoduck, but Dave wasn't fully briefed in on the objective. He thought we were just going to linger on the exposed tideflats. Sam and I got spit on and started to dig (the geoducks spit up a huge spout of water, sometimes 3 ft high, if you step near their hole) and so we started digging a moat around them. The idea is then to dig inward toward the spout hole and trap it. But man those guys are fast for huge clams! We tried three times and failed each time! Sam even tunneled his arm straight down a spout hole to try and grab the long neck, but the suction got him. He almost lost an arm down there! We did dig up this long worm, which we haven't identified yet. Davey made motions of helping with the geoduck, but was rather uncommitted. This is the sort of adventure you have to just go for, all out. You're going to get dirty and wet, and your hands are going to smell like clam or tideflat ecology for the rest of the day. I have mud all over me from boys helping to dig. I also don't believe in using man-made tools to dig these guys up. If you need a huge pipe to trap them, post-hole diggers and shovels, then you shouldn't be doing it. I dig with a clam shell until my hands are raw. Oh well - glad they won the day! We think that you should dig for the clam giving off the highest spout - it is likely closest to the surface. Another day we'll get you, geoduck!

Day 7: feathers beginning to form

We are on day 7 of our incubation adventure and we saw the vitelline vessels were visible on about half of them (at least) when we candled the eggs last night! So exciting! It basically looks like a little spider sitting on top of the egg yolk. We are not sure how many of our eggs were fertilized by Merlin, so we don’t know how many of the dozen will hatch. I have them marked X on top and O on the bottom so I know if I’ve turned them. You need to alternate the overnight sides so they don’t spend the overnight on the same side each night. The hen turns the eggs about every 35 minutes, but in an incubator you shoot for at least 3 times a day, always odd number of turnings (to alternate the side exposed to the heat source each night). I also keep water in the incubator to ensure humidity levels are about right. I don’t have a hygrometer, only a thermometer, but these incubators have been around a long time so I’m hoping for the best. And this time I AM actually following directions! Ben will hopefully have a peep or two pip out on his birthday May 21! I will try to attach a picture of candling this evening so you can see. Here’s a link to what we saw just in case I can’t get a good shot: