Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Talking Chicken...

Sophie has recently joined the "Cooped Up in Seattle" 4-H club. Their focus is chickens, ducks, and rabbits. While Sophie really wants to be in a 4-H club where the focus is sheep, we're going to start with poultry and see how it goes. 

This past weekend was the Cascade Poultry Show in Monroe, WA, which brought in poultry fanciers from all around the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There were so many beautiful chickens, I love the Standard Cochins, Salmon Faverolles, the D'anvers and D'uccle bantams. Jared, Sophie, and I attended in part so Sophie could get an idea of how the 4-H portion of these events work. She didn't participate in the Fit 'N Show portion but she did do some judging and oral reasons.
Sophie works on her "Chicken Chart" nomenclature
Know your chicken anatomy

We also procured 28 hatching eggs for our new Brinsea incubator. The list goes a little something like this: 
6 Buff Orpington, 6 Blue/Black/Splash Orpington, 6 Ameraucana, 4 Wheaton/Blue Wheaton Ameraucana, 2 Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, and 4 Black Copper Maran eggs. 
A rainbow of eggs
A very full incubator sitting on our bedroom dresser

Not all the eggs fit into the incubator, we still have 3 Ameraucana eggs that are in need of a broody hen to hatch them. Speaking of broody hens...
Pencil, acting a "little" broody.

There's been a lot of nonsense this season about whether or not to go broody and stay broody. So far, we've had two supposedly broody hens, only to have them flake out and decide they'd rather scratch around with their hen friends than hatch some babies for us. Pencil will sit on eggs most of the day, until late afternoon when she gets the uncontrollable urge to be free and race around the yard with her chicken friends, Joyce and Blackcomb. We've left several non-fertile eggs under her with the hope it will encourage her to sit. Maybe today's the day... We just need one broody hen to hatch three lonely eggs.

Blackcomb, in her nest
Blackcomb has made herself a nest in an evergreen tree. We refer to it as the "Christmas Tree". Now that she's got this nest in place, she refuses to lay her eggs anywhere else. An egg or two has fallen out of the tree so Jared was kind enough to layer the nesting area with some orchard grass to protect them from any future mishaps. 

Just a few days left until our first incubator of nine hopefully viable eggs -down from 20- will begin to hatch. Tomorrow is the last day for turning and then we wait...

In the meantime, I've begun chick preparations. Organic chick starter purchased, brooder- really, a large, plastic container- to be washed, dried, and filled with clean litter, feeder and waterer to be washed, ready for placement, and check for proper brooder light operation. I've also got the Marek's vaccine in the fridge, ready to be mixed up and administered. I had to buy a jar of baby food the other day just for the jar, so I'd have an optimal way to mix up the vaccine and it's dilutant.

Stay tuned for more signs of Spring! 


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