Monday, March 31, 2014


Well the hatch came one day early, we had 4 chicks hatch!  The other three eggs turned out to be infertile, so we had a 100% hatch rate on fertile eggs.

The new kids joined Pumpkin the 2 week old and Alice the 1 week old in the brooder box, except for one bantam Belgian d'Uccle chick that hatched with a bad right leg and curled toes on that foot.  Her name is Mailbox, and Mailbox has been wearing a set of chick hobbles and a chick shoe since hatch day to try and straighten everything out.  She has her own seperate digs in the brooder box so that the others don't trample or annoy her.  She has handicap access to food and water, but we are also handfeeding her every hour or so to help give her a boost and make sure she is getting enough to eat & drink.  She had some trouble at first managing the splint, but does manage to get around a tiny bit.  I'll remove the splint tomorrow afternoon and check the progress of the leg & foot.

Meanwhile, here are chick pics!  First, BadMr.Frosty.


NotASandwich (IS a meatball)

And little Mailbox.  The purple stuff is her splint material.

Hatch B goes into lockdown in two days and should hatch on Saturday...but knowing our chicks they may hatch on Friday!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Green Eggs And CHICKAM!

Chickam is live!  We have two eggs pipping so far, #10 and 11.


Since hatch day is supposed to be tomorrow at 7AM, they may or may not hatch today.  All of the other eggs have been wiggling and rocking, and we hear peeping.

So we're off!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Alice Gets A Pumpkin

Our little Tractor Supply chick has been named Alice.  But although little Alice was healing from her injuries well, she wasn't doing too well on her own--chickens are flock animals and need companionship, and our eggs weren't due to hatch until Saturday.  So we got her a little friend, a Danish brown Leghorn chick named Pumpkin.

Pumpkin and Alice are getting along famously, and Alice is much happier and progressing again.  Although they BOTH now sit in the corner of the wire window and watch TV.

Tonight it was a show on robotics, then 'Cosmos'.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Which The Girls Do Their Part For The Community

Yesterday we stopped by the Carson Valley Food Closet and asked if they could use a few eggs...

Seeing as we had a few (10 dozen) extra, and all...Spring is HERE and the flock is well and truly twitterpated.

They were kind enough to give us a huge stack of egg cartons, so throughout the year the girls can fill them!

Also, Hatch A went into 'lockdown' this morning--although with a ReptiPro you don't really do an old-school lockdown, you just stop turning the eggs--hatch should start early Saturday morning, but if they hold true to form it may begin as much as 12 hours earlier!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Club Flamingo Opens Early And Hatch B Gets Annoyed

We went to Tractor Supply to get chick food, and stopped by the chick bins to visit the babies. This little Barred Rock chick had a bloody vent and was being eaten by a bunch of Rhode Island Red chicks, who were chasing her all over pecking at her vent (this is why I don't like Rhodies!). I called one of the employees over and he scooped her out and put her in a box. I could kinda see where this was going (TS doesn't sell chicks except in quantities of 6, and has a sign up over their chick bin stating that chicks are sold for 'agricultural purposes only' don't you DARE even THINK about how cute they are--!) and had a strong suspicion that this chick was destined to be taken out back and tossed in the garbage.

So I told the guy that I could give it a good home, we were hatching chicks in a few days and were all set up. He was kind enough to give her to me.

 I told the kid not to get attached yet, we have to see if she lives or not. We've put Kwik-Stop on her vent and fed her some electrolyte solution, and the kid donated a small stuffed animal for her to cuddle with. She's just starting to get wing feathers and her egg tooth has fallen off, so I'd put her at about 1 week old. Right now she's resting and doing very well under mama flamingo's watchful eye.

But I'll bet she'll need some tractor-related name...

Actually I kinda bombasticmom-bellowed throughout the store that they had an injured chick, now that I think about it, yikes.

Also tonight I candled Hatch B with a nice bright light.  Sadly, non of the Bantam Cochin eggs that I bought developed, and on breakout all were infertile...so no Bantam Cochins for me, I guess.  This is hard because I was looking forward to them so much.

 Of the other eggs, I saw 5 viable, squirmy embryos, one of which is in a Bear egg (Bear being our 12 year old Head Hen who suddenly came back into lay after being shamelessly romanced by Cam, our young Americaunas mix roo).  6 other eggs are 'possibles' and I'm fairly certain they have chicks in them.  One other egg from our flock was a dud and on breakout was infertile.  I'll candle Hatch B again in about 4 days.

Meanwhile, Hatch A should be along to keep our little Barred Rock chick company this Saturday if all goes as planned!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Club Flamingo Lives!

Well, with the hatch a week away the other day we went brooder box hunting and found some behind a local appliance store.  The owner was kind enough to let us take some, so we came away with two dishwasher boxes and one for a huge oven/range.

First to lay them out and make sure they'll fit in the my dining room, which will be given over to baby chicks for the next 8 weeks for our annual Chickam webcast starting March 29th if all goes well.

Then it was just a matter of cutting cardboard and using lots of hot glue and hardware cloth to whack together one giant brooder box!

Black plastic trash bags go under the box to help protect my floor.  When the hatch begins, the webcam will be pointed at the chicks in the incubator, then be moved to the brooder box after the hatch is over and will broadcast the baby chick's antics 24/7 for the next 8 weeks. 

The hardware cloth window is something I starting incorporating into my brooder boxes years ago--it helps keep the chicks from getting bored by allowing them to see out (they can watch TV from there!) and also makes for calmer, tamer birds who grow up used to the movement and noise humans make.  I DID learn the hard way not to make the window quite at ground level--if I make it that low the chicks kick the shavings out and I get to spend 8 weeks constantly sweeping them up.

The flamingo lamp is a running joke with Chickam viewers--it used to be my desk lamp long ago (I have a weakness for tacky crap like that) until one day the ceramic flamingo head shade got broken and had to be glued.  It was no good as a desk lamp anymore, but perfect as a baby chick heat source!  People started calling the brooder box Club Flamingo, and the name stuck.

The food and water containers will go on top of the bricks on the right hand side of the box--the bricks serve to raise the food and water up out of the shavings, keeping them cleaner.  And anything that makes for having to muck out the containers less, I'm all for!

We always start with a quail waterer base (the food and water bases screw onto a standard mason jar)--the quail base has a smaller trough so baby chicks cannot drown in their water--if I used a standard chicken waterer base I'd have to keep a handful of marbles in the water trough to keep the chicks from drowning during their first week or so of life.  With the quail base, after about two weeks I just switch bases to the chicken waterer and it's all good.

Because we also have a family dog, Dusty, who comes into the house at night and in bad weather, the brooder box will also get a nice, sturdy top made of wire on a wooden frame--we also gate off the dining room while Dusty is inside with a big wire gate that she cannot jump over.  You can't ask an animal not to follow their instincts, so we just eliminate any opportunities for tragedies.

I like to keep a broody hen in reserve just in case--last year having a broody saved our second hatch when our ReptiPro incubator broke during the final week of incubation.  To encourage egg laying and broodiness, the other day I took some plastic Easter eggs and made some fake eggs to leave in the nest boxes.

I just picked out four of the most obnoxiously colored ones, filled them with rice for weight and glued them shut.  We'll leave these in place and hopefully a hen or two will go over to The Dark Side and go broody.  We use fake eggs rather than real ones so that we don't end up with a partially developed, dead chick if a hen abandons her nest partway through.

Since we're having a staggered hatch and will be hatching a second group of chicks one week after the first hatch, we'll partition off a section of the brooder box for the first week or so after the second group hatches--once they are strong, we'll remove the partition and all of the little stinkers can run together.

So today marks the final Chickam webcast of the adult flock outside for a while--next Saturday should be the hatch!  While the chicks should hatch starting around 7AM on the 29th, Mother Nature has her own schedule and sometimes brings the chicks a bit early or late.  I'd suggest checking the Chickam UStream channel, here http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008 every few hours starting on Thursday--if you tune in and we are live and the picture is showing eggs, that means the hatch has begun!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Yesterday during Chickam the chickens got some treats, some of which were hung on strings--apples, bundles of broccoli and a HUGE sweet potato.

Now, they've never had a sweet potato before, so it was something new.  I got the biggest, most ridiculous-looking one I could find at the store, because...well, chicken consternation is fun to watch.  And things on strings produces plenty of that.  They went after the apples & broccoli first since they weren't Alien Garden Things and before long were down to just the potato.  I'd carved some chunks out of it to get them started, so they knew it was food...once they'd really started on it and gotten over the wierdness of it all, they went at it with the gusto only a chicken with food can manage.

We promptly named it GLaDOS, of course.  Even Weedcat deigned to get in there for some bites.

Sweet tater, yay!

River the New Hampshire hen really enjoyed it and tracked it's every move.

Lots of the girls did.

Staring contest with a potato, GO!

Bloop got in there as well.

As it got dark they still hadn't finished it and were very reluctant to go to bed and just leave food dangling unattended.  The roos eventually went in and we could hear them scolding the girls and calling them to roost.

Don't worry girls, GLaDOS will still be there come morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hatch B Is On It's Way!

Well, the 13 eggs of Hatch A are a week old, so this morning I started another 18 eggs for Hatch B!

Hatch B includes 2 Bantam Cochin (black parent birds, some chicks may be Frizzles) eggs obtained from a local breeder, 4 more dark green Bear eggs, 3 blue Americaunas, 3 light brown Brahma eggs (I think) and two other darker brown eggs from unknown moms.

The top shelf holds Hatch B, the bottom shelf Hatch A.  The next step will be to candle Hatch A on March 17th at the last turn for the night, around 11PM--it needs to be dark so I can see if anyone is in there--and any duds will be removed at that time.

Hatching dates should be March 29th for Hatch A, April 5th for Hatch B.  Once Hatch A has hatched and is in the brooder box, when Hatch B starts poppin' I'll section off a small part of the brooder box for them for a few days, after that I can remove the partition and all the little fluffballs can run together.  This should work to avoid the fresh chicks getting trampled.

Still no broodies yet, but that may change before Chickam begins!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Capistrano Gets Swallows, We Get Buzzards

Every year at this time our area becomes part of the breeding ground for Turkey Buzzards.  This morning we had some roosting in our neighbor's trees.

They are pretty much unmistakable, being so goddamned HUGE.  There were mostly adults with a few juveniles thrown in.

They are so big and have such large wings that they have to kinda hang out in the trees in the morning and spread their wings a bit, waiting for them to warm up enough to fly.

This group was pretty cool and didn't panic over having a camera pointed at them.

Then their buddy showed up and bumbled his way into the group.

We had a bad accident involving a cattle truck out on the highway yesterday, a bunch of cattle were killed.  That may be why they are around.  They tend to hang around in the same roosting area--my mom gets them in the trees across the highway from her house every year like clockwork.  The chickens kept an eye on them, but obviously weren't all that concerned about them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day Trip: Genoa

So the other day we decided to take a day trip to see if we could spot some bald eagles in the cattle birthing fields nearby, and also wander over to the small town of Genoa, which history claims is the first settlement in what was then 1851 Utah, now Nevada.  Genoa was originally a trading post founded by Mormons and was at first called 'Mormon Station', and it's main street is smack on the Overland Emigrant Trail.

Genoa sits right at the base of the Sierras near a truly frightening stretch of road called Kingsbury Grade--one of those 'straight up and more kinks than a can full of worms' type shortcuts.  It saves you time on the drive to Tahoe but makes for wear and tear on your nerves.  Hell, it was years before they even paved the last three miles of it since the road was constantly being destroyed by landslides.  The kid is dying to traverse it but we told her she had to wait until the snow was gone before we'd drive the thing since her father and I already know what that road is like.

Anyway, in Genoa there is a replica of the original Mormon Station fort/stage/stop/trading post since the original had burned in a fire in 1947.  They've added a small museum, which sadly was closed for the season when we were there.

Like everywhere else up here back in those days, prices were outrageous.  Snowshoe Thompson was a local figure back then, he routinely would traverse the mountain range on skis to carry the mail back and forth--a three day trip one-way--and did this several times a month for something like 20 years.  Even if this statue of him looks like he's skiing on a mushroom.  Also, EVERYTHING regarding this man shows and tells of him traveling on skis, so don't ask me why they called him 'Snowshoe'.

Plaques abound at the little park.  I like how the one beneath this one at Snowshoe's statue talks about how the rock they are mounted on was a 'gift' from some organization...ya know, because if there is one thing we are short on up here, IT'S ROCKS.

Mark Twain was here...

The little museum's door.

It had a small slot you could drop donations through with alittle sign.  The kid and I amused overselves by popping coins through the slot and listening to them hit the concrete floor inside and roll away to parts unknown.

Nearby was the oldest bar in Nevada!  One of the first things they built in the Old West back then was a saloon.  Priorities and all that.

No horses, damn yer hide!  Gotta have SOME standards.

I think I'll take a pass on the buffalo chips.  And God only knows why you'd wanna swap 'em.

And of course, E Clampus Vitus has been here!

One thing I noticed was that they are pretty free and easy about the spelling of Snowshoe's last name--meh, either 'Thompson' or 'Thomson', take yer pick.

Next to the saloon is a small cluster of old buildings that include an antique/junk shop (sadly closed that day).

Detail of the little building.  I think that little green sign should be put up freakin' everywhere.

The entrance to the little yard out back had a sign inviting people in to look around, so we did.  Luckily no ice on the walk that day.

The next-door neighbors had a different sentiment, they could take you or leave you.

An old sign in the time-honored condition of most old signs around here.

A really cool stack of old bottles that had somehow escaped idiots disturbing or stealing them.

One of the little sheds had some pretty fancy detailing.  A lot of German folk setttled here back in the day.

On the roof, the old square nails were slowly working their way loose.  Hell, just grab a hammer and pound 'em back in, that outta hold 'em for another 100 years or so.

The lady who ran the place lived up on the small slope directly above the shop.  We weren't shopping so we didn't ring the bell, we just gave her a friendly wave from the yard.

Gorgeous old doorknob.

Various cool old things sat around in the yard, like this old stove.

Home-made barbed wire!
Another old sign...

Around the front of the place there was more cool stuff on the porch and in the yard.

'Heat Indicator'.

 Another cool doorknob & lock.

Probably a good idea to keep this old girl inside.  She was front and center in the big storefront window.

Maybe she got that way waiting an eternity to have her luggage brought in off the stage.

Fancy stuff!

We then wandered over to the saloon since we'd promised the kid we'd take her inside.  Not sure why they needed a hard candy agency back then...

The inside of the bar was just as quirky and fun as you'd expect.  They also take great pride in NEVER cleaning or dusting any of the old junk hanging from the rafters, so the place has a weird semi-abandoned air to it.  This old sheriff's office safe full of money and bras sat next to the fully functioning pot-belly stove.

Over the years people had carved their names into the brick that lined the hallway to the restrooms.

This was a pretty laid-back place, although I think I'd at least close the door to the booze storage room, if not lock the thing.

The light fixtures and some patrons out in the bar.  Since it was off-season it was locals only.

...and a warning to tourists.

Back outside, this cool thing squatted in the front yard of the bar with picnic tables clustered around it.

A bottle-window on a shed out back of the bar.

And a side door to the bar.  I didn't look too close, but the threshhold pavers look suspiciously like recycled headstones from the old cemetery up the street.

Across the street are more old buildings.  Genoa is a dead-cute little town.

We got back in the car and toodled around town a bit more.  An old ceramic streetlight from what looks to be the 1910-1930 era, still functioning.

Someone's back yard visitors.

VERY cool 'found junk' art.  Now I want to do this on my chicken coop.

The old courthouse, now a museum.

As we drove along there were suddenly about 30 mule deer crossing the road, and in no big damned hurry to do so, either.  Their attitude was , 'Eh, you can wait.'  Especially the little guy on the far left.

They just kinda wandered across the road and stopped RIGHT THERE to eat.  No concern whatsoever, even though we were calling to them and waving to get their attention.  Nope, sorry--busy.

Oh well.  Snubbed by deer, we went to investigate the cemetery.  The arch overhead may date from 1865, but I suspect that they were planting people there since the 1850's.

I thought the 'No Dumping' sign a bit creepy considering where it was and all.

We did our usual and wandered around checking out the old headstones, which are so beautiful.  Nothing like that now days.

One of the German folks.

And hey, here is ol' Snowshoe!  With Variant #2 of his name spelling.

Some were more plain than others.

Requisite spooky graveyard photo.

The cemetery was very well kept, even though some of the headstones had suffered damage.  The winters in this area are super harsh and the wind blows HARD here.

Don't know who they are, but they are at least marked.

Someone's cool carved wood angel from the 1970's.

After this we headed home.  We wandered down several roads with cow pastures on either side but never did see any bald eagles, I'm pretty sure we missed them this year.