Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Size matters

In case you thought that I was overstating that the bantams are much smaller than the standard birdies, here is a side by side comparison. The black ones are even smaller than this!

Also, meet Henrietta. She will hop into my hand as soon as I stick it into the stock tank. Mostly to attempt to escape, but it still is endearing as hell. I'm glad that the Barred Plymouth Rocks are the friendliest ones, since they make up the majority of my future layers.
(Edited: I think this may be a Henry, instead of a Henrietta. Either way, I am keeping 'em, since this is the only one who likes to be picked up and held. Fell asleep on me twice today. That's a heckuva improvement over the terrified shivering that happened when I started picking 'em up.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


My cousin Kristy came to visit my farm after an excellent trip to the Estes Park Scandinavian Solstice festival this last weekend. On the festival side of things, Daven and I have been recruited by live steel Viking re-enactors. On the farm side of things...Well, Kristy has birds.

We sat and hung out with the chickens for a while. She mentioned that most people freak out and jerk back their hands if a chicken pecks at them. Ahem. Guilty as charged. :( So, she just left her hand in the enclosure for a while, and sighed sadly. "You should really work on socializing them."

Well, yes. I should, I suppose.

So I have.

The results:

I'd say that worked out pretty well. :) Now I can get a few of them to eat out of my hand, and hop up to explore my arm, too.

Somewhat unrelated, but because I mentioned the alpaca chickens, but haven't been featuring them in photos, here ya go:

They are really itty bitty things. Bantams look somewhat hilarious compared to some of the bruisers that I've got in my flock. Soon enough I'll have to split the roosters off from the hens, though I'll leave the silkies with the hens, since they have, shall we say, longer term plans.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In just seven days, I will make you a chii-ii-ii-iicken!

Today, the chicks are 7 days old. The changes are remarkable! Look at those wings! Scroll down to the previous entry for their little fluffball stage. Some of the chicks have tail feathers, and one of my favourite boys has feathers growing in on his fluffy feet. Ah, pre-teens. Next week: teenagers.

Rhode Island Reds - 5 days old

Rhode Island Reds - 6 days old

Rhode Island Reds - 7 days old

Today got up to 97F, which is REALLY HOT for wee chickies. Cooling them off was a multi-step process!
Step 1: Turn big fan on.
Step 2: Try to explain to chickens that the noise is really not going to kill them.
Step 3. Realize I am trying to rationalize with week old chickens.
Step 4. Sigh.
Step 5. Investigate giving chicks cold food to cool them down.
Step 6. Steal frozen strawberries from husband, have him chop them up.
Step 7. Put frozen strawberries on dishes, place in pen.
Step 8. Try to explain to the chickens that the little dishes really don't have poison, and they can stop flipping out.
Repeat step 3.
Step 9. Sit and watch chickens as they eventually get the idea, once I add some feed to the top of the strawberries.
Step 10. Watch chickens start swarming like sharks, then start playing a game very similar to football, where one chick gets a stained bit of bedding in its mouth and runs like hell whilst the others chase it.
Step 11. Try to explain to husband that the chickens are playing football. Husband was lifting weights, seemed amused but dubious.
Step 12. Realize that chickens will never replicate this game in front of husband, no matter how long he sits there.
Step 13. Contemplate if chickens are trying to make her look bad.
Step 14. Go inside and post instead of repeating Step 3 in regards to talking chickens into playing "football" when anyone but she is there.

I've also dropped a small fortune on materials for a chicken run. Hopefully the little buggers like it, as we'll start working on it tomorrow. Photos...eventually.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chickies are delicate.

So, just lost a second chick. (No, it wasn't the one my mother was holding in the above picture. I just thought I'd start things off with some cuteness.) They got riled up yesterday due to being startled, and one of them got knocked down and trampled. He seemed fine last night, but this morning he had a sticky bottom with bloody stools. I put him in the Box of Isolation (which seems to be an elaborate coffin, at this point) and he had died by the time I came back out to check on them 2 hours later.


Well, I still have a lot of chicks. This is why I bought oodles of the little buggers. I knew there would be a certain, shall we say, shrinkage to the flock.

It is disappointing, but not unexpected.

In other news, some of the chicks are already getting wing feathers! These guys are only 4-5 days old! They'll be out of the cute fluffy stage sooner than I expected.

Here is a comparison of one of the Rhode Island Red hens:
2 days old
3 days old
4 days old

Crazy, innit?

Sunday, June 20, 2010


There is always one in every crowd who can't act natural, and ends up looking at the camera.

Completely unexpectedly, my chickens arrived today. They were supposed to be here on Monday or Tuesday, so Saturday left me in a bit of a tizzy. We had an exciting run down to Fort Collins (they didn't go to the Wellington post office) to pick up the little peepers. In the process, we ended up missing out on a family dinner, but I think everyone understood.

When we got to the post office, we opened up the box and the chicks were so excited/freaked out that they started trying to hop out of the shipping box. Everyone looked OK from the cursory glance, and after another errand, we headed home. This is the box:

I had just found the kind of bedding I wanted today, which was really opportune, as well as getting the length of chain we needed to hang the heat lamp. Here is our setup:

The little box contained Steve, The Sickly Chicken (as dubbed by my cousin Brandon who came with his folks to see our new house/visit the tiny baby chickens). Steve was one of the silkie bantams, and got a little smushed during shipping under his many (44!) fellow chicks. After general shenanigans involving Nerf Swords, and impromptu prayer session/vigil for Steve (as headed by Brandon), sadly, Steve didn't make it. I didn't really think he would, but man, nothing like a 12 year old's perspective to make you look at livestock a little differently.

And now, to shake off the woes of Steve-the-no-longer-with-us, here is a photo of a chick asleep in his food trough:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where do you go?

So, I'm giving up on the whole "keep this all fibre, all the time" premise of this blog. There will be anecdotes from the farm, possibly wibbling about health and general "huh, that's weird" stories.

To start this off...

We have a spider. He (or she, but I randomly have deemed it to be a him), lives in our downstairs bathroom, up on the ceiling. He has been there since we moved in, and since I'd rather have a non-dangerous spider keeping bugs under control than using a bunch of chemicals, we let him stay.

At first he had a friend of a similar size. Then, one day, no friend. Oops.

But this is all just background. The real question I have is to his whereabouts in the morning. By noon and into the evening, he is in his normal spot. Mornings, however, he is missing. I honestly can't figure out where he goes, since there aren't a whole lot of places to hide in that bathroom. Maybe in the fan?

Or, I can go with the solution that my brain presents to me: Trans-dimensional spider. Aw, yeah.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Estes Park Wool Market

Today was very very different than the trip to MD S&W. MD was immensely crowded, we had a minivan full of people that we hauled up there, and it was HOT. We went up to the festival today with just Daven and myself, and due to the weather being around 44F and drizzly, there was not so much with the crowds.

The first thing I have to say is that this is an amazing location. Estes Park is so very beautiful. The drive was about 1.5 hours from our house, but the lion's share was through some amazing rugged mountains. Estes Park is about 2000 feet higher than our house, so there was a little *gasp gasp* when we first got out of the car and started walking around, but we adapted pretty quickly.

With the weather as it was, we were wearing our oil skin dusters and cowboy hats, along with combat boots and bdus, as we knew it would be rainy and horrid. We got a lot of odd looks, but we got even more "You guys are the only ones who are actually dressed appropriately" comments from folks. Yes, I admit to snickering at the drenched girls in shorts and flip flops., people. Use it.

The festival is much much smaller than MD S&W. Whereas MD has an air of "family fun fair that happens to have a billion sheep", this was more "so you want to show your critters; we can do that for you." The vendors would fit into about 1.5-2 of the smaller vendor buildings at MD, but the quality of products was excellent. Creatively Dyed was there, as was my favourite sheep artist (shut up, I'm allowed to have a favourite sheep artist), but just due to the fact that it is kinda out in BFE, there was a much smaller group of people vending and displaying.

There was a much better variety of critters though! The organization is that each critter type got its own barn/tent. There were adorable yaks, including a baby that made the cutest noises ever. I got to pet a Paco Vicuna fleece, which was stupidly soft (I got the contact information for the breeder; she wasn't allowed to sell her fleeces at the market for some odd reason). There were actually as many goats as sheep at this festival, which is a contrast from MD. But the main critter types there were definitely alpacas, and even more so, llamas. They had llamas comin' outta their ears! Rather than the one or two alpaca farms, there was an entire tent of breeders, so you could wander around and eyeball a bunch of different livestock.

After I purchased a light grey alpaca fleece (surprise, surprise), we ended up over talking to a couple that have been raising alpacas for 12 years. They give seminars on raising alpacas, and initially invited us to join one of their classes. We talked a while longer, I gave them a general rundown of what my plan was, and they then modified their invitation to "come and have a beer with us on our farm". We'll probably be taking them up on that offer the last week of June. They're down in Loveland, about 45 minutes south, but they're familiar with our area. I was stupidly proud of myself for actually talking to some alpaca people, as this was on my list of things I must do at this festival. I get weird and shy about talking to folks on occasion, so it was nice that they were friendly and had really quirky senses of humour that we clicked well with. :)

I did manage to pick up a couple of ounces of angora bunny fluff, as well as some cards for breeders in the area of various types of bunnies. Again, I must find out if I can *spin* the stuff before I'm all crazygonuts and get a bunny, even if they are adorable and fluffy and...yeah.

Another triumph was getting the contact info for the bison ranch just north of us on the CO/WY border. One of the vendor's sister owns that ranch, and hooked us up with a card. Yay! Tasty meats for our freezer!

Unlike the feeling of being rushed and having to tear ass around MD, this was a very relaxed place. We ended up only spending about 3 hours there, and saw pretty much everything we wanted to see.

The drive down wasn't quite as much fun for me, as we were pointed downwards and I was definitely having some control issues with not driving. The last 5 minutes in the mountains was very close in, which triggered a bit of claustrophobia, but I lived through it. Apparently it is just a craps shoot for what the weather will be like. The vendors we talked to said that it can vary between snow and running around in shorts and tank tops. Variety pack weather!

Estes Park is absolutely going on the list of places to bring visitors, and I know I'll want to come back to the Wool Market next year. Hopefully by then I'll have some critters of my own!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life in the clouds

The tree that is an excellent landmark, which shows people where to turn onto the dirt road to get to our house. This picture makes me want to buy a nice camera to take more photos. Totally wrong species, but very reminiscent of Yggdrasil to me.

So, the move is done. We still have piles of boxes, and a lot of work to do to settle into our new farm, but so far, so good. Some of this information will be repetitive for those of you who see me on Facebook, but it should be a little more fleshed out here.

Moving to a farm has a few novel expenses that you don't get when you move to just a new house. I've purchased a scythe, the better to mow my field. I'm not terribly good with it so far, but I'll get the swing of it eventually, and it is a darn sight cheaper than a tractor. I also picked up a livestock tank, which will be the first home of the baby chicks when they arrive in a week and a bit. A chicken light and infrared bulb were also acquired.

My dad was able to scrounge up the chicken feeders and waterers from back when we raised chickens when I was growing up, and will be bringing them down to me next weekend. Lest you think that he is mad enough to drive from ND to CO just with some chicken supplies that I could easily purchase, he and my mother will also be bringing down the antique dining room set that I grew up with (It was 85 years old when they bought it. I was 3 at the time.), along with an antique table that my maternal grandfather's aunt had owned, and a bureau that has also been around as long as I can remember. The dark woods should go nicely with the new living room set we purchased. Hooray for Memorial Day sales, and delivery people who know how to drive down a narrow driveway!

Daven picked up a nice Weber grill and a table saw (the better to build chicken coops with, my dear), with my encouragement, and a few 10% off coupons for Lowe's.

My "office" is set up in the corner of the living/dining room. I've got my loom next to me and my spinning wheel on the other side of the big brick fireplace. I've got a great view, as illustrated below:

Our neighbours on all sides have horses. Must re-learn how to ride. After the house is set up, maybe.

Speaking of neighbours, we've actually met quite a few of them! We've been taking walks in the mornings, and some evenings, and have had a chance to chat with the folks to the east and west of us. The fellow to the south seems a bit reserved, but that is fine; not everyone has to be my friend.

We've got all sorts of critters here, too. Especially birds. I was simply thrilled when we arrived and one of the first things I heard was a Western Meadowlark. These were my favourites when I was growing up, and the fact that our land is simply filthy with them makes me grin. They have such a unique call.

Gratuitous critter photos:

Chicken pictures will be coming soon! Also, I failed to check in with my knitting progress for April or May. Those pics will turn up...eventually.