|Posted by Joy on November 1, 2011 at 11:55 PM|
It is cold....did I mention I hate cold weather? Well, it's dipping into the 30's here at night and I had baby mallard ducklings hatch today! They are the cutest, tiniest little babies. I didn't let Mama duck keep these. I'm afraid they won't make it through the first few days especially since we have rain predicted later this week. I also have promised these babies to a friend so it will be fun for her to hand raise them herself. Believe it or not, I still have one more mallard duck sitting on eggs. I don't know what these birds are thinking. I guess the same thing as me since both of my incubators are full and it seems I'll be hatching all winter. My greenhouse is full of chicks and guinea keets already. I believe I said last winter that I would never do this again. Keeping chicks warm, dry and healthy through the winter season is not an easy job. But I can't seem to stop myself. As a matter of fact, I have some very exciting news to share. I have purchased myself an early Christmas gift. Some really nice quality silkie eggs from Bobbi Porto herself. I have 2 dozen eggs coming later this week and I feel like I've won the lottery! I should be getting a nice variety of colors - black, white, blue, buff, splash. I will post pictures when the chicks hatch.
Besides hatching chicks, I am trying to think ahead and start winterizing things. I have been cleaning pens, putting down hay and pine straw and fresh shavings. There is still plenty of work to do and I'm hoping for a few more warm, sunny days. The duck house and the quail pen are still on the list. Those are big jobs. I also have plans for my husband to build at least 2 more coops, maybe 4 more coops. We need to finish adding the new breeder yards and get everybody into a nice, warm house with a big yard.
I've also purchased some new layer hens to help keep egg production up this winter. I've added some ISA Brown pullets, can't wait to see how they compare to the comets which seem to be the favorite for brown egg layers. So having added these hens which were just hatched this summer means that I will have plenty of layer hens for sale in the spring. They will be proven layers and still very young first year birds. Keep me in mind if you plan to add some new layers to your flock.
And on a different note, the predators seem to be in full swing now. I've lost a big blue marans rooster to a hawk and several serama hens to raccoons. At least I think it's raccoons. I also lost a little game hen that was in a hospital pen. The predator (I'm pretty sure it was a raccoon) reached through chicken wire and killed her then pulled her through the chicken wire. Those predators are crafty and determined. Be sure to keep that in mind when planning your coops. I always give my birds one completely covered end (2 corners) so that they can get away from raccoons. Raccoons will work together to scare the birds into a corner then they reach in from both sides and grab them. Sometimes even a good shelter isn't enough to stop the predator. Now we are staking out the yard, one raccoon was caught tonight. I love those masked bandits but I've had enough. They've been stealing eggs all summer but now that they've killed my birds, they must go.
I have lots of plans for future growth including a new barn for my layer flock and taking the garage away from my husband. That garage would make a fantastic brooder house. I'll keep you posted as we make progress.