Friday, March 27, 2015


As soon as our rooster was killed (remind yourself here), we decided we should try hatching out some of the fertilized eggs. The hens can stay fertile for up to three weeks after having been with a rooster. We thought the odds would be pretty good to get another rooster.

So I dusted off the incubator and chose out 7 nice eggs. I thought it would be best to have a full blooded Black Australorp, so I chose out 6 of the brown eggs from the Australorp hens. Then for fun, I chose one green egg from the brown Ameraucana hens, to see what a Australorp/Ameraucana cross would look like.

We had a power outage around day 14 and the incubator wasn't on for about 4 hours. The temperature dropped from the stable 99 degrees down to about 75 degrees. We thought the chicks would have probably died, but we decided to finish off the last 7 days and hope for the best.

We're so glad we did, because on day 21, just like clockwork, the chicks started breaking through the shells. Two of the chicks were slow to hatch out, but after 24 hours, all 7 had hatched.

I was caught off guard because I didn't expect any of the chicks to hatch. So I hurried to set up a little brooding box for the 7 chicks in the garage. I had an empty plastic storage tub which I thought would do nicely for awhile. What I didn't do was check the heat lamp to make sure it was heating to the right temperature. After the first day I realized it wasn't getting much above 85 degrees, so I bought a new bulb. I could tell almost as soon as I plugged it in that it was much hotter than the old one. Two chicks died in the first two days (possibly the two late hatchers), so I'm guessing it was because they weren't warm enough.

But I have five cute little black chicks for now, and I'm happy with that. They all look alike so I can't tell which one is the mixed breed chick.

On Day 21, all the eggs had cracks somewhere.

This is the first chick to hatch.

You can just see a tiny white dot inside the egg - that's the chick's beak.

It gets a little crowded as they hatch, but I left them inside for 24 hours to make sure they were dry and warm.

It wasn't warm enough for them the first day.

They usually stay huddled together.

They were lined up one time I went to check on them.

Within a week, the feathers on their wings were growing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I wish I knew more about tracking. I've always thought it would be a good skill to be able to read and follow footprints of animals or people. Until then, I have been taking photos of them and comparing them to internet images.

With all the rain we've been getting lately, the animals have been particularly busy and it's been very easy to see the footprints of everything. I noticed the other day lots of triangular holes forming a circle near the chicken coop. I think they were from where an armadillo had been digging.

There was a patch around one of the trees that looked like it had been turned over by something (bigger than an armadillo). The wood chips area has been disturbed by what looks like the same animal. Also something has been digging in an area behind the chicken coop. I think it was a hog.

Guv'nor noticed some prints out by one of the tanks. We'd like to think they were from a bobcat, but they were probably a coyote.

Friday, March 20, 2015


One thing we've realized is that we need a good pair of waterproof boots, which we call Wellies (short for Wellington boots). We try not to wear our outside shoes inside the house. You never know what you've stepped in that you'll bring into the house. Last year I bought a cheap pair ($18) at the farm store not realizing how much I would use them, but within about six months they had split in several places. There is not much else so worthless as waterproof boots that aren't waterproof! So this year I paid a bit more and bought a more substantial pair which I hope will last a couple of years.

I finally persuaded Guv'nor that he needed a pair, too, for his trips out to feed the cows. His first pair lasted a couple of weeks until he stepped on a mesquite thorn which ripped a hole in one. He's on his second pair, too.

Over the years we have collected several pairs of wellies as the children got bigger. For some reason, I saved all of them just in case we might need them. We didn't use them very much, but when we needed them, we really needed them. We've got sizes that range from Child 5 to Adult 11.

I cleaned them all the other day after the family had been home for the weekend. We had used almost every pair we had. I set them out in the sun for awhile to dry.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wet Bonfire

We were wanting the have a small bonfire the other evening. The family was home for the weekend to celebrate a birthday. Guv'nor had been collecting up smaller branches which would burn easily and quickly so that we wouldn't have a huge bonfire that lingered for days or set the woods on fire. (Read about the other bonfires we've had here and here .)

It was a nice clear evening for a bonfire. What we didn't anticipate was that the very wet couple of weeks we've had also soaked the branches in the bonfire pile. Guv'nor started the fire using diesel-soaked empty feedbags, but we just couldn't keep it going very long. So it died out within about 30 minutes. We'll have another go in a couple of months when hopefully we've had drier weather.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I guess it was only a matter of time until I got stuck in the mud after all the rain we've had.

Neighbor's Wife and I were out the other morning delivering Meals of Wheels. It was my turn to drive and I was thinking how nice it was that I didn't have to get out of the car.  It was actually raining that morning so I should have been paying more attention.

At one stop where I pulled into a grassy driveway, my front tires got stuck. My back tires were fine, but since my car has front wheel drive - I was stuck! After a few feeble attempts to put some planks of wood under the tires, the sweet old man came outside with his walker and his cane to help. I then became worried about him falling and hurting himself as he tried to tie a rope between his pickup and my car. He really wanted to help and thought it would work. There was no persuading him otherwise until the rope snapped.

Meanwhile, I phoned my 9-1-1, otherwise known as Guv'nor. He was at home so was able to get over to us in a few minutes. It happened that Factor was staying with us at the time, so I got a two-for-one deal. Then it dawned on me, whenever we happen to get stuck in the mud Factor seems to be here.  (first time, second time) Coincidence?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Too Much Rain

I never thought I'd be saying this, but we've had too much rain lately and we just want it to stop. We've had several days of steady rain which has turned the pastures into mud baths. The ground is past saturation levels and is now just pooling in places.  The run off has made the creek rise almost to the flood zone.

Guv'nor says the reason for the near flooding is due to a much colder than average February and March. The drying out process is slow with the cloud cover. As I write, it is raining again. We had 2" of rain the other day, when the monthly average is 2.6". In addition, the end of 2014 was also wetter than average.

We are thankful we have an additional tank to capture some of the water. We know we will be needing the extra water in the hot summer months.

New tank before the recent rain

New tank after the recent rain

This side of the new tank has spilled over the edge since this photo was taken.

The creek behind our property was almost to the top of the flood zone. (photo taken at the bridge downstream)

The sleet and snow has melted and adds to the overall rainfall.

The cows churn the pasture into a mud bath.

Even the chickens are able to reduce a grassy area into mud in course of one day.