Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Is In The Air!

OK--so actually, technically Spring is in the ground.  Hey, whatever, the bulbs I dug last year from my mother's house and transplanted into my front yard--daffodils, lovely bright red tulips and delicate little muscaris--survived both my brutalist guerilla gardening and the winter and are starting to make flowers!  I planted them in an area where there are already bearded iris creeping over from the neighbor's yard, so over the years they can go nuts and fill in the space, I'm not worried about them spreading.  As a matter of fact I think I'm days away from my neighbor knocking on the door asking for some bulbs!

I already have hollyhocks, California poppies and dwarf snapdragons from my mother's house that I started from seed practically the first week we moved in 5 years ago (first things first, after all!), they come up beautifully every year.  The lilac starts I got from her yard last year are starting to bud out, so it's good to know that they made it, too!  Now if they'll just flower...

The tulips are still tight buds but should progress in a few days, so no pics of them yet--but the muscaris are getting a great start!

The mini daffodils, again, give 'em a few more days...

But hey, I officially have my first flower! 

 Every time I look at the flowers I got from my mom's house it gives me a wonderful, warm feeling; I'll always think of her when I see them...

Our weather is still giving us at or below freezing nights, but at least for the next few days our daytime temps are supposed to be in the low to mid 60's--best part, no damned wind

A chance for flowers to actually stay on the plants, yay!

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...