Sunday, May 31, 2015

Baby chicks...again

Introducing: our fourth batch of baby chicks!  I realized we are so much more relaxed about this venture compared to the first time we got chicks back in 2009.

The chicks were supposed to arrive yesterday, Saturday morning. We had gotten the brooder moved into place, but that's pretty much it. I'm not sure when we were planning to figure everything else out - Friday night I guess. But at 5:45 Friday morning Jeremy got a phone call that bolted us both out of bed. The chicks were at the post office ready to be picked up!

While Jeremy went off to the P.O. I cleaned out the brooder, found a towel to put down, and turned on the heat lamp. Our brooder can be made three different sizes by sliding a piece of wood into slots in the sides. Where that piece of wood went - who knows! I found a thick piece of cardboard and cut it down to shape. I dug out the food and water things...then realized we hadn't bought any chick food yet! Geez.

Then the front door opened and I heard the mad sound of 25 peeping chicks moving through the house. Jeremy brought them down the stairs to the brooder and we moved them in. It probably wasn't warm enough for them yet but there wasn't much we could do. Jeremy mixed up a little sugar water for them - I guess that's a helpful thing to do, though I don't remember us doing it last time. They had to wait a few hours for the stores to open for chick feed!

Around 3am Saturday morning Jeremy woke up thinking about the chicks, wondering if they'd gone through their water. He went down to check on them and discovered the heat lamp bulb had burned out! The chicks were all huddled in a corner trying to stay warm. Poor baby chicks! If there is one thing we know, it's that being too cold can be the death of a baby chick. Jeremy dug out our sweeter heater. With a little pushing he managed to wedge this into the brooder in place of the cardboard for the fourth wall. Perfect! The chicks snuggled up to it to get warm again.

We're still trying to manage the heat. Chicks need to be at about 95 degrees the first week, then 90 degrees, and going slowly down as they get bigger and grow in their adult feathers. After we put in a new heat lamp bulb and the sweeter heater, the temperature was around 100 degrees! One of the chicks seemed to be panting, but others were snuggled right up to the heater. We moved the heat lamp up to help regulate the temperature. It was still pretty high, so we unplugged the heat lamp to see if just the sweater heater was enough. That's how I managed to get the lovely video below where you can actually see the color of the chicks. The heat lamp is red, so a previous video I shot was really weird with everything looking kind of red.
I went to check on the chicks an hour later and they were all quiet, snuggled in a line down the side of the heater, trying to stay as close as they could. Okay, too cool! So I turned the heat lamp back on. Goodness, with all this heat fluctuation we might lose a chick or two. It's a bit stressful on their little bodies!  But so far they all seem healthy and active - so fingers crossed!

The yellow ones are Delaware. The black ones are Cuckoo Maran. The brownish ones are Americauna. The grey ones are Blue Cochin. I have always wanted blue chickens! So I'm excited about those. We are very likely to end up with some roosters. Hopefully we'll have a quieter rooster than we had in the last batch!

Sunday, May 17, 2015


More pictures from the past. This is a project from exactly one year ago today!

We took three ash trees out back in 2013 but I had them leave these tall stumps. I'd always thought it would be fun to have a bird bath on one of them. I still haven't gotten around to having a proper bird bath... some day! (The third stump is off stage left.)

But what to do with the other two stumps... I decided to screw this large plastic pot onto the stump (so it can't be blown off) and plant it with trailing plants.

Here it is with alyssum and nasturtium.

It worked pretty well. I planted two nasturtium in it last week and I'm thinking about what else to plant this year. I'd love to get some lobelia or other similar trailing flowering plant. Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

When life throws you tires...

Looking through photos on our camera is now a fascinating trip through the last year...or more. We used to pull photos off right away and tuck them safely in some folder or other on the computer. But now they languish on the camera with plans to someday do something with them.

For instance, eight months ago (last September) I put a plan into action regarding a pile of tires that had been dumped behind our fence. It started with just a couple tires. We didn't do anything about them, so a few more showed up. I realized if we didn't do anything about them, we'd soon have a VERY large pile of tires. So I brought them in to the yard and started thinking.

I decided to try growing garlic in two of them. The garlic plants didn't do so well last year - not sure why. This new spot is right outside the back door. It's also close to the house and Jeremy prefers not have any food items here because of the possibility of lead paint in the soil. So I put the tires down and filled them up with compost. I planted five or six garlic in each tire, put some hay down for mulch, and put fencing around to keep the squirrels out.

The black of the tires causes the soil to warm up faster and stay warm longer - I suspect. The garlic actually started growing before the winter. Now that winter finally seems to be over, the garlic has grown like crazy and is mostly doing very well. (No pictures of that just yet.) If the garlic is actually growing nice and big down below, I'll be repeating this experiment!

I save the other three tires to make a potato tower. I haven't grown potatoes since I was in high school, but this seemed like a good time to give it a try. When life throws you tires... grow some food in it!