rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “chickens brooders”

A “Brutal” Winter

So, it has been a few days since my last post. Been busy around this “ranch”. Had new pens to build for the “rancherette’s chickens and what with the weather being nice, I just could not bear to sit myself down inside.
I decided to close in the carport where I keep my mowers. Much of my lawn equipment is currently stored in the garage and we house our brooder pens there as well. Forget about parking a car inside, that will never happen.

New eggs arrived from Oregon and Georgia last week so we need the covered room outside for all my “stuff”. This will give us a bit more room for the brooder chicks when they hatch.
I made a trip to the “big box” lumber center to pick up a load of material for the carport project. You will notice that I mentioned earlier the weather was nice, in the mid sixties near seventy degrees.
I managed to lay the block foundation for the wall on the north side and frame the wall with high hopes of completing the job by early next week.

Well, that was then and this is now.

The temperature has plummeted all the way down to 28 degrees, expecting to hit 24 by Tuesday morning. The wind chill hovers near 18 degrees. We have almost a half inch of sleet that has practically covered the back yard and now it is snowing a bit. I have on two layers of clothing with a third on standby for when I venture outside. The furnace is working overtime, (not to mention the electric meter). And did I mention that it is very difficult to type this article wearing insulated gloves?

Each day, we let the kennel dogs out for their morning constitutional. Have you ever seen dogs tiptoe? Most took one look outside their pens and made a beeline back inside. I can’t know for sure what they were thinking but I’m guessing  the question they were asking me is, “What were you thinking? I’m NOT leaving the comfortable warmth of my inside pen!” Yeah, well, guess what dogs, I’m not rushing out for your afternoon pleasure either.

Before storm

Kennels

After Storm

Backyard kennels

This kind of weather keeps them inside on days like today. Their heaters keep them at a constant 60 degrees. Aah, such is a dog’s life. I noticed this morning a coyote in the pasture across the road and he was high tailing it towards the woods. He apparently does not like this weather either.

However, there are some animals who enjoy a cold snap. Such as the Silkie chickens. At least the four adults do. They thrive on the rush of adrenaline. However, there are some young birds we call “juvies” (short for juveniles) who are not as well versed as the adults. They have a heat lamp and readily stay near the warmth. These are the residents of the “Chicken Condo”.

Chicken Condos

On the hill, over looking the pond, we have a “High Rise” where eleven adolescents, four “juvies”, one blind hen, one broody hen and one smashing rooster reside. There temperature is also at 60 degrees. The only problem I see, is the hens are not laying eggs.Must be too cold.

 

High Rise

Yet, all the animals are in their comfort zone, including the geese.

Snow coverd geese

I, on the other hand, am dismayed at this weather.
But I am not too worried. By Thursday, the temperature will be back in the low to middle sixties, maybe even seventy, I will be back, hammer in hand, working on my carport, the dogs will be barking to be let out, the chickens will be laying eggs again and winter in North Texas will be back to what we call normal.

I realize my friends in New York and Atlanta and other places with “real” winters will scoff at my account of our latest winter barrage, nevertheless..,

Hmmmmm, Are those snow clouds I see on the horizon?

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Important Inventions I Like

We have two brand new baby chickens in the brooder and I was concerned about their warmth, so I got up out of sleep to check them out. They were fine however, I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. My mind began to wander, that happens a lot.

Anyway, I spent a good part of the night thinking about what is the world’s most important invention. I do not know which the most important one is, but I have my ideas.

My first idea of that subject is the wheel. You surely have seen the cartoon character riding what appears to be a unicycle. A solid stone carved into a round shape that resembles a unicycle. For a cave dweller, I think he was pretty good at keeping his balance. I have difficulty in walking, let alone, riding a unicycle.

But, if you think about it, the wheel led to many other inventions. Just look around you and see how many things have a round shape like a wheel. Pies, cakes and cookies are but a few. Everybody knows that pie are round, cornbread are square. I don’t believe I have ever seen a square wheel. Flat maybe, but not square.

But, if there were no wheels, we would have to walk everywhere we go. I already mentioned the balance thing .We would not have vehicles, if there were no wheels. If we had no vehicles, there would be no car radios, if no car radios, then no satellite radio, no satellite radio, no Blue Grass station to listen without commercials, and so forth. Stagecoaches had wheels, but no satellite radio. And GPS. If they had, then maybe they would known about the robbers waiting in the hills. And did I mention that radios have round knobs? So, you see, wheels are very important.

I don’t know if this qualifies as an invention or not. But, in the early days of Adam and Eve, they wore no clothes. After that old serpent seduced them into eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they discovered they were naked. They covered themselves with fig leaves. I looked into that and discovered that a Fig leaf does not cover as much as a Catalpa leaf. If it had been me, I would have used a catalpa leaf. In Texas, the Catalpa worms are famous for fishing bait. You look at these images and decide which would cover more.

Catalpa leaf                          Fig leaf

Catalpa Leaf

Fig leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, God did not like that, so He expelled them from the Garden of Eden. I’m thinking they had it made in the shade and they really messed it up. But if clothes had not been invented, or discovered, whatever the case, then you can imagine the sights to which we might be subjected. Plus, here in North Texas, the weather is not conducive to running around in your birthday suit. In the summer, one may sunburn in places where the fig leaf would not cover. So, clothes are very important.

Next, we have the television remote control. This is important to the male species. Usually, the other gender is not remotely, (notice the play on words) concerned about the gadget. For example, with a remote, one can view two or more football games in the same picture. Or, you can switch back and forth between two different TV shows.

Do you remember when the father would tell the kid to get up and adjust the volume or change channels? That worked for other things as well. Like, get me a beer or fix me a sandwich. But those are other stories.

I remember; I was a kid once. Had to go outside and turn the antenna while my dad would yell from the window, “a little more right or that’s enough.”

Anyway, the remote was a very important invention.

As I got into writing this piece, my mind began to wander and think of many more inventions that are worthy of being on my list. I need to keep this short so I will save those for another article. In the meantime, if you have a list of favorite inventions, please let me know. I would love to hear them.

I hope you have a wheely good day.

It’s Time

Well, it is about time. The incubator has been running full cycle for 21 days. And it finally happened. We have been waiting for three weeks for our firstborn. Firstborn Silkie chick, that is! It made its presence known early this morning. We do not know its gender. Thus, we call it an it. And unlike human babies, we won’t know the gender for several months. The “Rancherette” AKA, mother hen, did one of those chicken ultrasounds on the eggs, but it did not disclose its gender. I looked very closely and could not see anything dangling.  But, then, I can’t see anything in human ultrasounds either.

There are “old wives tales” that suggest how to tell the gender but most are only meant to predict a boy or girl after the chick is hatched. I read on http://www.backyardchickens.com of a method that says, “If you pick a chick up with two fingers by the neck, the pullets will draw their legs up to their body and the cockerels legs will dangle.”  I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to hold up anything by its neck or anything else that dangles before my eyes.

As I write this, it is nestling among the eggs that have not yet seen fit to join the birthing club. The newest chick in our flock is starting to exhibit its authority by cheeping loudly, rolling the eggs around, and in general, explaining the process to those still enclosed in their shell. This is how the pecking order begins.

When the one with the strongest pecker makes its debut, it begins to order all the other chicks around. This will continue throughout life. Authority goes to their head. I suppose in this hatch of eleven, if they all hatch, another authority figure will stand up and demand homage from the passive underlings be they cockerel or hen. Then the battles will begin. Of course, some old biddy hen may revolt and argue the circumstances.

Anyway, I hear it cheeping and am trying to translate. It is very difficult, however I think it is trying to say:

       Come out of there, I am hungry and the mother hen (that  would be the “Rancherette”) will not take me out to feed me  until I have companySo get out of there.   Use your little pecker. It will break the shell.”

So we are waiting and pacing, pacing and waiting. The incubator is in a spare bedroom for now, That makes it convenient to do that. The “rancherette” goes back and forth from room to room; she cannot stay away from the incubator, sort of like watching a pot of water waiting to boil. She sits and watches, just waiting for another mouth to feed. It’s not as if we have so few mouths to feed if you count our ten canines. Sitting and watching, that’s the “rancherette”.

The “rancherette” may be the mother hen of sorts, but it isn’t like a mother-to-be, it is more like a grandmother-to-be. You have all the thrill of delivery and none of the pain. It is all pleasure.

Around the world, there are people waiting to hear about the newest additions to our flock. We appreciate your enthusiasm and best wishes. I am sorry we did not have any baby showers; however, we are registered at Neiman Marcus if you are interested. Not to worry, though, we will let you know ASAP. In the meantime, here is the first baby picture.

Our first born november 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, it looks dead, but it isn’t, it is our firstborn.

Mother Hen

On a cold and windy day here in North Texas, I find myself dreaming about warmer weather. Oh, well, I can look forward to the middle of April when it begins again.

In the meantime, I spend my time working with the “Rancherette” as she prepares for the new chicks that will be arriving into this world on or about the 18th of this month. We know this because she has placed the fertile eggs in an incubator. We know fertile eggs are in the incubator because she has candled them. That’s like an ultrasound for chicken eggs. You see, you run a little gel on the stomach, then rub, no, wait, you don’t really do that.

Anyway, I built a Candler for the “Rancherette” to use. It is a simple little device. I took a  large commercial size green bean can, cut a hole in the bottom of the can smaller than an egg, turned it upside down over a keyless light fixture, placed a 60 watt bulb in the light fixture and voila, you have a Candler. You cannot tell if it is a boy or girl like human ultrasounds but I’m working on that.

Candling is where you place the egg over the hole in the can. The light shines through the egg and you can tell if there is a mass inside. If there is a mass, then the egg is fertile. The rooster did his job. The way he struts around in the pen, he already knew that. He’s as proud as a peacock. The hens, however, look like they just went through a windstorm. Talk about a bad hair day.

There is a lot of work to do to prepare for the new additions. We set up the brooder in the garage, with the infrared lamps, new pine shavings, and all the paraphernalia that goes with baby chicks. You should see the “Rancherette” acting just like a mother hen. Change this, fix that, turn this, move the box here, test the humidity, the temps too low, are the lamps working… etc. Just like a mother hen.  I’m thinking that the real mother hen could do this job without all our interference. When she sets on the eggs, she doesn’t know or even care if they are fertile or not, she just likes to set on the eggs. In fact, if she is broody, she may even set on golf balls.

I wonder if when the feathered mother hen does this on her own, does she discuss this with the father of the chicks before hand? I’m thinking that if he had to go through this kind of hubbub he would elect to disregard her flirty eyes and keep things to himself. Just saying…

Well, we are just playing the waiting game now. “The bags are packed the car is gassed up, and we are ready to go”. The expectant “Mother Hen is nervous but not nearly as nervous as the expectant “Surrogate Father” is. Please keep that under your incubator.

Stay tuned. For your information, in the back room, there are other incubators. On the top of each is a schedule. In the second incubator, a hatch is scheduled on or about the 26th of this month and another hatch on or about December 2nd. The good times just keeping a coming. Bach, Bach, Bach. Cock a doodle do!!!

I think we should plan the next mating season for a delivery in warmer weather. The rooster may not want to cooperate, but we can “fix” that. I got to go now, must go to the store and get some cigars or should I get donuts? Maybe some of both.  I have to be ready.

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