As November draws to a close and the nights fall below freezing water is becoming more of an issue. Due to the lack of power out in the coops and the colony it’s becoming necessary to replace the water jugs and bottles regularly. The animals drink their fill when the fresh water is put out and usually eat a belly full of feed while they’re at it. The fear of fire is the main reason we don’t run electricity out to the animal housing and the amount of dry straw and shavings that is used for bedding. The chicken coops are directly under some giant evergreens which provide shade and protection from airborne predators in the summer but present a substantial fire hazard. The animals have done fine under the current system with nursing does successfully raising litters in the winter and the chickens having no apparent issues.
The last turkey boarded the bus to Freezer Camp on Wednesday. The turkeys have been a very successful project this year with over 360 lbs net weight of turkey being processed. Next year should prove to be less work and stress due to the infrastructure now being in place and the processing procedure under our belt. There will be a few design improvements incorporated into the system over the winter and the processing area redone in the spring. At this point it’s likely that we will raise a larger number of turkeys next year and keep a better eye on their weights so as to provide a bird in a more acceptable weight range for the table.
Dawn is hatching her eggs now. She started off with ten and there were eight as of a couple days ago. One seemed to have been crushed, likely with another bonehead hen trying to lay eggs in Dawn’s nest. It was partially hatched but did not survive. At last check tonight there were seven eggs left with a couple of breaches and some tiny peeping sounds. Hopefully she will take care of these chicks with the gusto that she has raised the last two batches this year and we hope the weather holds out with the temperatures not dipping too lo for at least a couple of weeks so the chicks ill have a chance to grow some feathers and get stronger. They will likely spend most of their time under their mother so we hope it won’t be a problem.
We passed the 2000 egg mark this week since keeping official records of the egg count in July. Some smaller eggs have started making an appearance in the nests now so the chicks that were hatched in the spring are starting to lay. This is a good thing since some of the regular layers are molting now and they stop laying when they molt. We are down to an average of less than ten a day at the moment but are continuing to keep the solar lights on in the coop until at least nine o’clock to give the birds the illusion of longer days. Some renovations of the coop including relocation of a few of the nest boxes and the addition of new roosts should help sort some things out. The flock has basically doubled in size this summer from the chicks that were hatched in the coop and the incubator. There will be no need to buy new chickens next year, in fact there will likely be more hatched next year so the flock seems to be self-sustaining at this point which is one of the basic steps on the path to self-sufficiency. Now we just have to work on the expensive food issue…
Lucille Bunnyrabbit continues to renovate her fancy nest but still no kits yet. It is built pretty deep with straw and lots of fur so it seems she is expecting something but nothing yet. Fred Bunnyrabbit is still going strong at age seven, the poor guy is molting right now and looks like he has a serious case of bed head all over his body and enjoys a good hard back scratch as he is probably itchy as hell. Some renovations and redesign will be coming for the colony to update and reinforce things and make it easier to measure the food so as to keep an eye on expenses.
Poor Fred looking kind of ratty:
We here at The Welcome Homestead wish everyone a happy and productive week!