Monday, June 20, 2011

The Postman only calls once.

I got a call from the post office today - the new chicks have arrived!

They were shipped from Iowa on Saturday, and arrived this morning.  Luckily, I was at the office at 7:30 when the post office called. 

All huddled together to stay warm.  I ordered 25 Jumbo Cornish chicks - the minimum order - but the hatchery threw in 1 extra Cornish, and an extra "mystery" bird.  Supposedly, the mystery bird is a "rare and exotic" chicken, but I have my doubts.  I think it's a way for the hatchery to get rid of extra chicks.  For me, it's another mouth to feed, with limited return.  We'll raise it and see what it turns into. 

The new digs!  I wanted to get the chicks hydrated as quickly as possible, so I made up some grow gel, a green gel that is packed with vitamins and helps with hydration. If you look closely, you may be able to make out green flecks in the mash.   The waterer is in the corner, and the heat lamp is casting the reddish pall across the scene.

In other news... the turkeys are now developing well into two distinctly male birds.  It's no surprise that they fight.  I've read that if I introduce a female turkey, they'll stop fighting. We're going to look on Craigslist for a lady turkey.

The garden is growing - the peas suffered from our week away and have mostly fallen over.  If they had grown straight, they'd be about 4 feet tall right now.  The first pea flowers are starting to form.  The tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and zucchinis are in, but I have my doubts about the pumpkins - we're already lost seedlings twice to birds. 

The next big project is to get the chicken run built and finish the electrical system.  I have most of the automatic coop door built, I just need power to make sure it works right.  Star tuned, there's more to come.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cold, wet spring

We've had a cold wet spring, and it shows in the garden.  Today's high temperature was close to 70 degrees, but for the most part, the weather has been stuck around 60 degrees.  I think I've watered twice this year - I didn't need to water very often because it has rained so often.

On the down side, the greens aren't growing as fast as they should be - the lettuce and spinach are growing, albeit slowly.  In the picture above, the spinach is to the left of the peas.  There are two rows of lettuce to the left of the spinach.  This picture was taken about a week ago, so they're a little bigger, but certainly not where they should be.  We planted the lettuce and spinach about 5 weeks ago... we should be able to harvest something by now.   The strawberries are growing well despite the cool weather and are in full bloom.  It looks like we'll get a few strawberries this year. 

The chickens continue to grow - here's a pic of Betty, and Austra White hen.

Betty is pretty low in the pecking order, and is one of the smallest hens we have.  Surprisingly, the white turkey is a bully, and picks (or pecks!) at all the other hens.  About 2 weeks ago, the hens injured the smaller Cornish chick, and ultiamtely killed her. Black turkey is at the bottom of the pecking order, and gets picked on by nearly every other hen - despite being the biggest bird in the coop. As a result, (and in light of the smaller Cornish chick) black turkey has been isolated from the rest of the hens.  Earlier this week, I trimmed each hen's beak to limit the amount of damage each hen can do to the others.  The picture above was taken prior to the beak trimming. 

That's white turkey on the right, and Betty on the left.  The two black hens on the left are Cheep and Dale.

Finally, I think Big Bird's days are numbered.  Big bird is the other cornish chick.  At 6 weeks old, Big Bird is easily 5 pounds, live weight.  I think the day of reckoning is tomorrow, followed by an overnight brine and a date with the grill on Sunday.  We shall see.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The plot begins...

You won't read about anti-government rants or fiscal responsibility here.  Instead, you'll find a brief discourse about our efforts at urban gardening in South King county, Washington.

The plot began as a plot of grass and weeds.  Carving out the grass, adding 2 yards of compost, and tilling well results in this:

Of course, no plot is complete without animal husbandry, so we added a few chicks.

We have a Austra White (named Betty), a Buff Orpington (named Buffy), a Barred Rock (named Rocky,  or Maryanne, depending upon who you ask...), two Silver Wyandottes (named Cheep and Dale), and a Rhode Island Red (named Ginger).   We picked up four at the grange, and wanted two more, but when we went to the feed store, we discovered that there was a minimum 6 chick purchase.  As a result, we also ended up with 2 Cornish Rocks (unnamed, but named Thing 1 and Thing 2), as well as a Bronze Breasted turkey (named Black turkeu) and a white breasted turkey (named White Turkey).  The Turkeys and Cornish are intended to be eaten, thus the lack of a true name.

Of course, the chicks soon out grew their box, so a coop was in order.  It took a couple weeks, but the coop is finally finished, and the girls moved in about a week ago.  I'll get pictures of the coop posted shortly.