Saturday, March 25, 2017

Goodbye Winter, Hello Chickam!

Despite Winter holding on like your latest crazy ex-girlfriend, I *think* it's finally on the wane.  This week we actually had about two and a half lovely Spring days--enough to melt the snow and trigger my plum tree and one of my shrubs to burst into bloom two days ago...and then today we had a Howling Nevada Windstormⓒ <----- and yes, I think we have these big bastards often enough to have earned a copyright--that blew most of the flowers right off the plants.

But for a brief moment, we had our first taste of Spring!

The snow is, for the moment, gone from the chicken yard!  Look how excited they are!
OK, so they were actually lining up for dinner.

Bowie posed on the little chicken footbridge the kid made for the chickens across a drainage trench...
The kid made it because the feather footed girls had taken to leaping/flying over the trench when it had water in it, because Heaven forbid a chicken foot touch water and get wet, ick.

My plum tree had flowers for exactly two days.

Ditto this Forsythia shrub, although it did better than the poor tree.  The rest of my trees and shrubs have wisely decided to wait just a bit longer and haven't budded out yet.

Let me tell you, that was good enough for me, despite the rain & snow they are calling for the next three days.  Willpower is everything. Time to set eggs in the incubator for Chickam!

When the time comes in 3 weeks for the chicks to hatch, we'll run our Chickam webcast here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008
If you tune in and see eggs, it means the hatch has begun!

Meanwhile I'll update the Chickam2008 Twitter page as needed, probably in 10 days when I candle these eggs to see how many embryos we have starting.  

I'd gotten a dozen Dark India Cornish Rock eggs off of ebay...

...and have a lovely selection of eggs from our own ladies!

So the ReptiPro has been test run this week and is purring along as usual.  The eggs have been labeled and sorted...
Sorting through which of our own eggs we want to hatch is torturous...kinda like deciding who gets to go on the lifeboat and who stays with the Titanic.  You spend a lot of time fussing over them, second-guessing yourself (I've two like this to choose from, what if the one I chose is infertile...?), checking them under a strong light to eliminate any with cracks, poor eggshell quality, bad air cells...

But in the end I picked out an assortment of 13 eggs from our girls: 4 tiny banty eggs, 4 medium/small eggs, and the rest large eggs.  I tried to get a good assortment of colors and types.

So we will have 25 eggs in the incubator this time around.  I'm going to try something new which I think *should* work--I'm going to try to stagger and stretch out the hatch a bit over two days, a Friday and Saturday, so school kids can see chicks hatching, and adults who work during the week can hopefully see chicks hatch on Saturday.  Of course as usual, I fully expect those four banty eggs to hatch 1-2 days early as they sooo love to do.  But I'll be ready this year...

The first 13 eggs I set today, I mixed up the Dark Cornish and our eggs. In addition to being numbered, these are also marked as Lot 'A'.

And here is Lot 'B', which go in tomorrow.

Into the ReptiPro goes Lot A!

Oh yes, I nearly forgot--because it just wouldn't be Chickam without some kind of stupid drama, this year when I unpacked the incubation supplies, I discovered that my water weasel was leaking, and in several spots, too.  A water weasel is the little silicone water tube toy that the temperature probe goes into, used to simulate an egg and so get an exact reading of the internal egg temp. Works a treat for maintaining near-perfect incubation temps.  Naturally, naturally, these things are laughably impossible to find locally in stores, and must be mail ordered, ha ha, when I need it now. Not to mention that going into a store and telling some young clerk you want a water weasel is apt to get security called on you. 

Especially when you start describing the thing.
"See, it's this floppy soft plastic water-filled tube...it's a toy, ya see...you hold it and squeeze it, let it slide through your hands, usually while taking a bath..."

So since my water weasel has failed me, I MacGyver one up using a plastic Ziploc bag, some water and packing tape.  And isn't trying to roll up and tape into a tube-shape a water-filled plastic bag while juggling packing tape fun, kids!

No.  Like, not at all.  Let me tell you, I used most of my $2 cuss words doing it.  But it's done and as you can see in the pictures, working just fine.

Yay for DIY.  And for chicks in three weeks!

And for turning eggs 5 times a day for the next three weeks.  But that's OK, I've cleared my calendar...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wait--Did You WANT That Tree? My Bad...

Another Nevada 'Holy Shit It's The Endtimes' windstorm today.  Let's see what my street looks like!

Two houses down...the fence took one for the team.

Just beyond that though, not to be outdone, is the one that blocked the *entire* street.

At our house the roof to the chicken run was once again trying to leave, so J. had to reattach it in the middle of all this fun. We hopped into the car to pick up the kid from the bus stop so she wouldn't have to walk home in this shit, and took the camera along because we knew what we'd see.

The local park had one tree just plain ripped in half.

The house was saved from one falling tree by another that held, but the fallen tree DID manage to claim the telephone pole & wire as it's victim. Not to mention the fence.

Lots of trees on houses, in every combination you could think of.

This one thought outside the box and instead of falling on the garage it was close to, went for distance and nuked the house. But it did take the trash can with it.

This one decided to make getting into the house a challenge.
'Welcome', my ass...

Ditto for this one, these two trees had a plan.

"Hmmm, let's see--how can we really make this guy's day a royal pain? I know, let's play, 'Where's The Front Door?'"
Answer: It's under two very large trees!  Have fun!

Could have fallen in any other direction and missed the house. But nooo....

This one said the Hell with the house, let's take out some mailboxes!

And this poor guy had such a downed tree tangle, it looked like a tornado had hit.

This was a crying shame.  Beautiful tree.

Some of them had a really strong 'You shall not pass!' vibe. Not content to block the front door, this little asshole won't even let the poor slob up the driveway and onto the property.

This tree gave the homeowner a break and fell towards the street.

While this one fell IN the street.

The local carwash once again had their roof ripped off, peeled like a sardine tin. We just pulled up and went, Yup, it's gone again.

Yeeaahhh, bet those new owners are thrilled.

At least they won't have to go far to retrieve the roof pieces, they were right across the street.

But it wasn't just trees, entire fences were flattened.

Waved to our neighbor calling his homeowners insurance company from his roof...what was left of it.

Are you a lone tree next to the roadway? Well if there's no house around to fall on, do what you can by taking out the entire neighborhood's Internet, dammit.

During the last windstorm this set of trees really wreaked havok.  Not to be outdone, this time...

...they got points for acrobatics.  Yes, that is a chunk of the treetop hung upside-down in the wires.

Don't know how they got that one down. After this we went home and waited for about 24 hours for the power to come back on...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter On Highway 395

Driving highway 395 from northern Nevada to southern California is always interesting, even more so in winter when on average the snow is about 6 or 8 feet deep for several months.  Makes for a challenging drive.

The way the snowplows have artfully and skillfully carved around the snowpoles and signs...

Sometimes the snowplow drivers have been smartasses though.
Oh...did you want to make a call at one of the last surviving, and the only payphone booth in several hundred miles...?  Just to be extra dickish, this particular pay phone is also a Geocache.

In Lee Vining the icicle crop is  just grand, thank you.

And at the bottom of Conway Summit, some crazed skiers have been trying to die by skiing a sheer rock field that terminates ON the highway. Not just a few times, either, as you can tell by the tracks.  These folks made a day of it.

At the top is 395, which curves and drops a few thousand feet in very short order.

At the bottom is the highway again, very suddenly.
The rocks sticking out are just a warning--this area is solid loose rocks the size of your head and fist.  Don't know why someone would risk good skis by skiing here, it's damned dangerous in about 9 different ways.

At any rate, driving 395 in winter is a real maybe/maybe not kinda thing, depending on the weather and your nerves.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Meanwhile In Nevada, My Poultry STILL Hates Me...

...but what else is new--inexplicable chicken 'tude is one of the joys of Winter.  Nothing for it but to arm yourself with chicken goodies.

This morning we had our heaviest snowfall yet.  Which was very pretty, as usual!

It iced the neighbor's trees...

And our patio set.

Out back I slog to go free the chickens from their snug, heated coop so they could stare in disbelief at this fresh Hell.  And throw blame where it obviously lies, with me.

The snow out back was a bit deeper and came up halfway to my knees (But I'm quite short, so take that into consideration, it's possibly not as impressive as it sounds at first blush).  The walkway had disappeared...

And opening the gate to the chicken yard required me having a go at the snow with a shovel first.

In the chicken yard I plonked down the ruler I'd brought along...
Yup, 7 inches of snow fell overnight.

The chicken yard, for a change, looks uniformly pretty.  Bonus:  the snow covers all those eternally present damned rocks.

My future vegetable garden area sealed off by snow.

And the neighbor's trees were gorgeous!

By now the sun was coming up and it was time to release the pissy poultry.

The backyard weather station says, 'Snow!'
 Yup, chickens not happy.  This is as far as they venture out of the coop all day, because God forbid a chicken foot *ever* touch snow.  Goodies are promised for later.

Back into the back yard near the house to let Dusty out to do her thing.

Which due to the depth of the snow combined with her short stature, she is understandably reluctant to do.

But in the end she dutifully slogs through the snow to pick her spot.  A full bladder cannot be denied.

She compromises when the snow becomes too deep and abandons her regular pee spot, instead squatting *very* carefully behind the tree.   I feel for ya, dog.  Hovering so your lady bits do not contact undesireable surfaces is an art all we ladies eventually learn.