Monday, April 29, 2013

Nekkid birds

Brand new baby robins.

Awfully hard to get a picture with angry mama dive bombing my head. ;)

The robins' story started here, and continued here, here, and here. By my count, mama started sitting on the nest last Thursday or Friday, which would make today incubation day 11 or 12.  Now the babies have another 14 or so days before they will fledge. Their big challenge will be to survive the raccoons and Batman. Batman especially is a pretty constant presence these days. I caught him in the shed just yesterday, but I can't tell if he's aware of the nest or not.

Fingers crossed for the little songbirds.

Linking to WBW

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The new kids - day 10

Left to right: Um, black chick, yellow chick, bla...    Yeah, no idea who's who.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Family portrait

Batman came by tonight while I was doing evening chores in the barn. I put some food out for him on the sidewalk by the backdoor. He drew quite the audience while he ate. This is the entire set of Batman offspring save one -- Rosebud was off doing her own thing. She is almost as shy as her father. Left to right: Tigger (Mom), Nemo, Little Boog, Tizzie, Sunshine, Buster Vespucci, Phantom, and Solo. Tigger is, in general, very grouchy with her offspring. They accordingly steer clear. Hence the gap between her and Nemo.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Simple pleasures

No, this picture is not vintage. I passed these beauties on my way to pick up our new chicks on Monday. (See, I've done more than stalk my little robin friend this week, who, by the way, seems to be holding pat at four eggs. See herehere, here, and here.) 

For all its faults, my little iphone camera is amazing. Do people remember the cameras we grew up with? I took this shot through the windshield of my car--while moving. I share it now, almost effortlessly, on the internet. I appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Truly. I also like my modern, user-friendly, fits-in-my-pocket, goes anywhere, digital technology, that allows me to photograph and share those simple pleasures with ease. Also, to blur the unsuspecting man's face to protect his privacy. (The rest of the blurs are from dirt on my windshield. ;) )

So, somewhat obviously, our new chicks are from a hatchery in Amish country. The nice lady out front spoke with an accent and double-checked our chick count in German. Four Buff Orpingtons, two Light Brahmas, and two Cuckoo Marans. Plus, they bonused us with an extra Orpington. That more than doubles our current flock! 

Sadly, one of the Cuckoo Marans didn't survive the night. I was disappointed to lose one of the fancy dark egg layers. So, as though eight new birds aren't enough, I went back for a replacement. 

As luck would have it, they had some extra just-hatched Blue Copper Marans available immediately. These are one of the rarer varieties and usually have to be ordered well in advance. Like, January-in-advance. I guess they had a better hatch rate than expected. We got two, one female and one male. I also picked up a black Jersey Giant, just because I've heard good things about them and sort of regretted not including one in my original order. 

All the chicks are now nearing the end of their first week and are doing well. They're living in a dogcrate brooder in the barn. Our first batch of chicks, last spring, lived in a bathroom in the house. Yuck. Lesson learned. I swore I would never do that again. 

The other change this year is the fancy brooder heater. I nearly barbequed the chickens alive last year when our traditional 250 watt heat lamp fell into the bedding of the coop one cold fall night. I couldn't figure out why the windows of the coop were so foggy when I went out to feed them in the morning... ;)  After that particular lesson, I decided we would just have to see exactly how cold-hearty grown chickens are. Turns out, a lot hardier than me.  

This chick heater is only 20 watts. It seems to work well. The chicks disappear under it, like they would a mama hen I guess, and come out to eat and drink. They are super quiet when they're all nestled together under the heater, so I am guessing they are content and comfortable. There is no extra heat to start a fire.

A few glamour shots.

Cuckoo Marans

 Light Brahma with fluffy feet!

Impossibly yellow Buff Orpingtons eating implausibly green gro-gel from the hatchery.

And, still in their carrying box, the Jersey Giant on the left and the two Blue Copper Marans.

Baby says, Enough with the photo shoot, I'm outta here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring housing market shows signs of rebound

It must be spring - the robins are busy.  

The other day I spotted a robin flying in and out of the garage/hay shed.

In and out. In and out.

I went to explore and found this thrown together on a narrow ledge just inside the open doorway. 

 This struck me as a sub-optimal place to raise a family. A narrow, unprotected ledge next to an exposed doorway. A mess on the ground below for fledgings to get tangled in. Also a major raccoon, possum and feral cat highway. 

But nobody asked for my opinion. 

A few days later, I went back and saw the ledge was clear. Thought maybe mom and dad recognized their poor choice and took their efforts elsewhere. 

Then I saw robins flying in and out of the open doorway. 

In and out. In and out. 


On a third peek, I noticed an extremely large pile of grass and twig debris on the floor below the empty ledge. Silly birds. Rookie builders apparently. 

I decided to offer them a hand. I nailed a hard piece of a plasticized packing material up against their ledge, to form a lip of sorts and help hold their efforts in place. 

I interrupted their work to do this. Somebody, mom or dad, sat on the tree in the driveway scolding me. 

Later, I went back to see if they had accepted the help or moved on to more private accommodations. They decided to stay. Determined little things. 

This morning I popped in to check their progress.

Nice job rookies!

I'm going to have to clean up the building site for them. 

ps. Annotated photograph idea totally ripped off from inspired by

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mama P settles in

I'm trying out possible turnout groups for Mama P. She got along well with Bom Bom the other day, so that's one possibility. 

Saturday and Sunday she spent with the little girls. Tyche, Thyme and Tigerlilly. This was Tyche and Tiger's second meeting with Mama P. She spent 2 weeks here last spring. Thyme was still across the road and Mama P played surrogate mom to Tyche, who was much smaller then. They were heartwarming together.

This time, not so much. 

Psst, watch this!

Dum de dum de dum de...


Cut it out brat. 
You used to be such a sweet little thing.

She's calling me names!

My mama loves me.

All day long.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Walkabout goat style

It must be something in the air.

Donnanoble decided it was her turn to see the world yesterday. I found her in Mutt and Jeff's stall.

Psst, lady. These guys are weird. Can I go home now? 

Mutt and Jeff had no comment, but were glad to see her go.