Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just a couple more new baby pics

They're just so darn cute.  Three days old now.

Black and gold - Steeler chicks!!

This one has black stripes down its back. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One Day Old

We ended the day yesterday with 6 chicks - 4 yellow and 2 black.  Three other eggs had pipped and I could see that one bird was breathing and trying to get out, but nothing yet.  I'm afraid it won't make it.  You can't help the bird while it's trying to get out.  If it's not strong enough to break through the shell, it won't be strong enough to survive outside.  There's no NICU for chickens.

These babies have moved from the incubator to their first home in an aquarium.  They'll live in our guest bathroom for a couple of months or until my house smells too much like the barn.  Then it's moving day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Baby Chicks

We finally have some new baby chickens.  Our first 2 attempts using a broody hen failed.  Our first attempt with an incubator failed - thanks to TXU for a 6 hour power outage.

Three weeks ago today, we put 17 eggs in the incubator.  We candled them at 10 days and removed 5 that we could see weren't developing.  This morning at around 8:00, 2 were showing the "pip" - the place where the beak first breaks through the shell.  By 11:00, we had our first chick - a black one.  We watched it break through and emerge from the egg.  Amazing!  It's exhausting work being born.

Seven hours later, we have 2 black and 3 yellow peeps.  They're all still wet and will stay in the incubator until sometime tomorrow.  I'm hoping we have at least 3 more before then.  There are pip holes in at least 2 other eggs that I can see.

We're hoping these chicks (assuming some of them ARE hens) will start laying eggs this winter when production from the rest of the flock goes way down.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Farm Business Cards

We got our new business cards today and I really like them.   Thanks to Ellen at Top-Dog Marketing for helping with the design.  Ellen did my Distinctive Dog Training business cards as well and I've been really pleased with her creativity and prompt handling of my orders.  Next thing - getting a web site up and running!

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Digs

I knew it would happen sooner or later....Chet wants me out of the house.  Or rather, he wants all my dog training and fiber stuff out of the house.  Over the winter we had some construction work done on an open shed on our property to make it into a real building. 

This is what it looked like then:

And thanks to my wonderfully motivated hubby, this is what it looks like now:

These photos are from half the room which will be dedicated to my fiber work and sales.  I'll bring my spinning wheel and carder up here along with the fleeces I'm working on.  Nice big windows and lots of natural light on this side.  The other half of the building, not finished yet, will be for dog training equipment and an area I can work with clients who want to come to me with their dogs.

Our house is small, about 1600 square feet, and having this extra space is going to help clean out a lot of clutter there.  Working out here will also get me out of the house, which may be Chet's ultimate ulterior motive :-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Growing and Dying

It's been a hot, humid spring and summer here - my first in Texas.  After living 9 years in Tucson with little to no humidity for 10 months out of the year, I've been extremely uncomfortable since around May.  It's only started to let up in the last few days and actually been nice to be outside.

The alpacas had been enduring the heat as well.  They got their bellies squirted every afternoon and played in the sprinkler in the pasture.  Their fleece actually acts as an insulator from the extreme heat, but they enjoy the coolness of the water on their bare undersides.

Two of the boys we got from the LSU vet school in March, Excalibur and Durango, were extremely thin and never gained much weight over the summer.  These guys were part of a research study looking at the effects of anesthesia on alpacas.  They were put under anesthesia every couple days for about 6 months.  They were kept in stalls and not allowed to graze at all.  I'm sure the stress level was pretty high.  We lost them both in the last 2 days.  Durango was our oldest boy - 12 years old - and a real sweetie.  He loved to eat and wasn't shy about trying to get whatever you had in your hand.  He was a fun personality.  Excalibur was a little more shy.  He never really warmed up to us, but would take food if you offered it.  He was 5 years old and a cute little boy.


We're not certain what caused both of these boys to die within a day of each other, but we're keeping a close eye on the rest of the herd.  All the others are a much better weight and aren't showing any signs of illness. 

We only lost one chicken this summer, but the heat has caused them all to slow down on the egg production.  We're trying again to hatch some eggs, but this time in an incubator.  Our last couple attempts using the broody hen didn't go well.  We're hoping to have some nice young laying hens for the winter.

Chet's garden grew really well this year.  We're getting peppers galore right now and beans are starting to come up again.  The surprise crop of the year is cotton.  Chet planted it for fun to see what would happen and he got a bumper crop.  He's been picking it and pulling out the seeds so I can prep it to spin.  Spinning cotton is pretty tricky, I guess, so I'll be learning something new.